Generally speaking, confidence hasn't been one of my life's great struggles; after wading through those childhood and pre-teen years, hunting around often fruitlessly to figure out who I was and what matter or purpose I possessed, I settled into myself with a quiet and sure recognition that I am a strong, capable and beautiful person, understanding that unanswered questions are altogether okay. I learned that I didn't need to have everything sorted out, that growing and forming my being was a process, and that every step along my way was one that I should be grateful for. I grew up and into myself, spending my formative teen and early-twenty-something years being loved well and held up strongly by those closest to me - by those who loved me into being. To those loves in my life - those loves of my life - I owe a great debt of gratitude for reminding me that I am loved deeply and always, in spite of everything and anything at all. 

So it wasn't so much a great struggle for me when I stripped down to my underwear last year to be photographed as a participant in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project - not in the sense of overcoming some deep-seated insecurity about my body - so much as it was a great and mighty triumph of will that brought me to a place of whole acceptance of who I am, of the circumstances and events that molded me into this person that I so proudly am, and of exactly the power and strength I inherently possess - that which enabled me to grow, birth and raise this little daughter of mine, who so swiftly and beautifully turned me from strong and steady girl-person to exhausted and lost and entirely sure and simultaneously unsure mother-person. 

It was a triumph for me to bear myself openly because it pushed me off that ledge - that ledge on which I sat comfortably inside my neat and tidy glass box, and shattered me open in order that I might share myself with those around me; with those who know me, and with those veritable strangers out there - those women who are uncomfortable, upset, dissatisfied or longing for change when instead acceptance and self-love is sitting right here waiting for them. It's as a message to all those women, and for all those women, that I sloughed off my clothing and my great barriers and released myself out unto the world. 

It was one year ago today that I took in one swift breath, threw my clothing on the floor, and bore my body, my heart and my story for any and all to see. Joining the ranks and becoming a part of the 4th Trimester Bodies movement was, for me, not only an opportunity to be a part of the change, but to allow for the change to be a part of me. To have willingly stepped forward in order to help further this movement that is sweepingly overhauling the way in which women and society overall see postpartum bodies is far and wide one of the most profound and empowering things I've ever had the honor of doing. 

I've never owned my story or my body in the way that I do today, and in the way that I have done every single day over the course of this past calendar year. 4th Trimester Bodies was a springboard for me - it allowed me to be nudged forward and broken open, and it enabled me to peel off that outer, protective layer that kept me at an arm's distance from those around me. To say that I am overwhelmed with gratitude would be an understatement - because the me pictured here below burst outward into the me that exists here today; and that me, without a doubt, is the best me of all the mes there have ever been thus far. 

So happy anniversary, me. This past year has been a wild and unspeakably beautiful go-round. We're one year down, with endless more to go.