Mojo Monday ~ In Your Own Skin Project

What word or phrase would be
absolutely true about you;
but not obvious to strangers?

With her camera, body paint, and the quest to explore how people choose to show themselves to the world, Katheryn Trenshaw—photographer, documentarian, and artist— approaches total strangers and asks: What is true of you that is not obvious to strangers?
After conferring with Katheryn and consulting with their hearts, those who agree to participate choose a word (or phrase) that reveals something about themselves that is unknown to others. Katheryn then paints the word on the skin of the person and photographs them. The result is as moving as it is unexpected.
Her background in art, psychology, and language allows her to connect with her subjects on a variety of levels. This multi-layered perspective comes through to the viewers of her moving photographs. Over the past year, Katheryn has created nearly 150 portraits of subjects from more than thirty countries and all walks of life. Each photograph documents a personal story.

Katheryn Trenshaw shares this about the In Your Own Skin Project:
“Some years ago during a silent retreat I had an epiphany. I realized that the greatest treasure I hold is buried deep inside the thing I least want anyone to know about. Within this wound inside of me lay a rich treasure trove. I was a living paradox and the sooner I could learn to dance with this, the sooner I could unabashedly share my gifts.
I have been inspired by the work of many, especially Brené Brown. She comes from a social work research background and began wanting to know more about what makes us happy. She teamed up with neurobiologists and other researchers and basically discovered that if you want to look at happiness you need to look at shame. Happiness is directly linked with reducing shame, and this takes us to vulnerability, authenticity and ultimately to resilience in transition / changing times.
As an artist, I have specialized all of my professional life in the masks we wear, and am passionate about ritualistic mark making on skin and bodies. Breaking the Silence was a body or work I created consisting of 100 masks that toured the United States and Europe for over 15 years. It was all about revealing our true nature and looking at what we conceal and has had a huge influence on my subsequent work, life and respect for peoples traditions throughout the World.
I’ve always been fascinated with “shadow” material, the taboo that no one wants to speak about. I tend toward, what Robert Bly calls “our shadow bags”: Sex, death, money, and power. These more hidden aspects of ourselves hold great treasures and vitality when they are freed.
These elements combine to create what is now the In Your Own Skin project: A community multimedia art project, connecting us all by revealing hidden truths from around the world. With your participation we can create the powerful 1st documentary short to share the normally hidden wealth of wisdom that unites us all. And I have to say that I haven’t been so passionate about anything since the birth of my son.”

The overall project as described by Katheryn:

This In Your Own Skin documentary short is about nothing short of unlocking human potential and joy. I’ve seen the potential for human beings to share in such a powerful openhearted way. The further I go into this project, the more I trust our deep intelligence. I experience people being genuinely authentic. We are living differently now in these challenging times. We are living more and more in community and in ways that we really support each other.

Projects like this one and the others I have created ( like my Breaking the Silence Project) show that love always trumps fear.
I am passionate about this project! I love every minute of this mad and wonderful process: creating these ways to reveal and share our hidden stories with each other. I love how this process can weave into the every day aspects of my life, parenting, community and travels. I recently was reminded of the obvious… that the meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give that gift. Each of the In Your Own Skin portraits gives a gift and reveals a part of each of us. Now that is worth getting up for in the morning! I am so very grateful.

To learn more about the In Your Own Skin ProjectYou can visit the following web sites:

Kick Starter Fund Raising site –

Facebook Page –

Mojo Monday ~ Breaking Patterns

Many who find themselves drawn to the Cosmic Cowgirl tribe of women would probably shake their heads knowingly if I was to say that becoming a Cosmic Cowgirl tends to shift things in one’s life.   I have heard stories from various Cowgirls about the changes that occurred after becoming a member and taking courses, some of them huge, such as moving to a different state or country, leaving a dead end relationship, quitting jobs or retiring in order to pursue an artist life. 

The common thread I have pulled from their many stories is the courage and the bravery each of these women finally found deep in their souls to find their voice, pursue their dreams, to claim who they are and what they really want in life.  Sometimes the journey is not smooth or easy.  Change may challenge not only those taking action, but also those close to them as well.  Sometimes family and friends look on bewildered.  Sometimes they are fearful of the change.  Sometimes those who love us the best are not the most supportive traveling partners. 

If all goes well everyone adjusts.  If all goes well, when the chaos settles down, all those ties that bind will be strong and intact.

Here are some thoughtful words of wisdom about this very subject from author Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening.

Breaking Patterns
If I contradict myself, I contradict myself.  I contain multitudes. ~ Walt Whitman

“We create patterns that others depend on, and then the last thing we ever imagined happens; we grow and then to stay vital we must break the patterns we created.
There is no blame or fault in this.  It is commonplace in nature.  Watch the ocean and shore do their dance of buildup and crumble and you’ll see this happen daily.
We know we are close to this threshold when we hear someone say, ‘You’re not yourself,’ or ‘That was out of character for you.’  What is difficult at this juncture is to resist either complying with how others see us or withholding who we really are.

The challenge, which I don’t do well but stay committed to, is to say to those we love, ‘I am more than I have shown you and more than you are willing to see.  Let’s work our love and know each other more fully.”

  • This is an awareness meditation.  As you move through your interactions today, notice whether you arecomplying with how others see you or withholding who you are.
  •  After each interaction, simply breathe slowly once or twice and return to the fullness of who you are.

The reality is that things don’t always turn out as we think or hope they will.  Sometimes relationships do not survive change and growth.  Life continues on though.  Hopefully one finds peace in one’s heart for those things that may feel unresolved.  Forgiveness for one’s self is paramount and ideally forgiveness for others follows.  There is also a jewel of advice again from Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakeningregarding the role of compassion.

Feeling Beyond the Hurt

Withstanding the tension between opposites until we know it is ‘enough’ releases us from the swing between one extreme and the other. ~ Helen Luke

“Sometimes, when I think of my parents, who have hurt me, I am lulled by a wintering sky to feel for them, to try on their view, but in my empathy an old pattern kicks in and I start to lose the truth of my hurt, as if there’s only room of one set of feelings – theirs.
The struggle is a common one.  So often we feel for others and lose ourselves, or cut others off to preserve ourselves.  Like a radio that can only tune to one station at a time, it seems like only one side of things can be received, though all sides are broadcast.
But compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides.  Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality.  Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us.  Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us.
This does now remove the emotional facts of our lives, nor does it ask us to remain in a hurtful situation.  Rather, compassion asks that we open like mountains to the sky, like mountains that can withstand every kind of weather.”

  • Sit quietly and bring to mind someone you are at odds with.
  • Breathe deeply and allow the truth of your feelings, not just the truth of your position, to rise.
  • Breathe evenly and allow the other person’s feelings, not just their position to rise.
  • Let your breathing ease and tension in you that either undermines yourself or undermines this other.

What are your experiences with change and growth?

Has it had any impact on your relationships?

Have you ever complied or withheld your true self from others?

How have you held true to yourself?