Photo by Jenn Reid.

BODY/IMAGE/OBJECT (BIO) 

Women, my sisters, you are beautiful works of art, and you are beautiful because of all that has happened to you.

BIO starts with the body, where women feel the most messaging. We are judged, praised, elevated, and/or dismissed because of our bodies - our biology. Our entire lives are influenced by our shape, size, color, “ableness,” etc. - determining the stories we are told, and tell ourselves, about where and how we belong (or don’t) in this world. The stories told to us by our families and friends, the stories fed to us by the media, and the stories we tell ourselves eventually become our understanding (or image) of reality and often leave us feeling profoundly unworthy, less-than, too much or not enough - caught in an endless catch-22 of conflicting expectations.

I have struggled with my body my entire life. I was a performer for 25 years. I started dancing when I was five and acting when I was seven, and the "body policing" started young. My weight has been a yo-yo, and my worthiness with it. I was praised and admired when I was smaller and fitter, and I was shamed when I was heavier. I spent most of my life thinking I couldn’t get what I wanted (jobs, relationships, happiness…) unless I changed something about myself - primarily my physical appearance. There was a lot of yo-yo dieting and exercising for nearly three decades - hoping if I “fixed” my outsides it would somehow “fix” my insides - so I’d feel and be worthy/desirable/successful. It would work for awhile. I’d have intermittent stretches of feeling good/attractive/confident, but it never lasted. I never quite felt at home and safe in my body or mind. Never felt like I totally belonged or had agency. I apologized for my presence and existence a lot.

And I was more than tired of it.

I wanted out.

Actually, I wanted IN - an “IN” to myself - to feeling at home in my body, my mind, and my spirit. I wanted to feel worthy regardless of what I looked like, or where on the emotional roller-coaster or mental hamster wheel I was on any given day. And I was not alone. A lot of my friends - women I loved and admired - had similar feelings of “not enough-ness” or “too much-ness.” Other women who I thought were brilliant and accomplished were telling me about how they weren’t good enough, how much they feared and felt less-than, how much they struggled. And I wanted to help. For me. For them. For all of us.

I wanted them to see themselves the way I did - loving, intelligent, creative, fierce, compassionate, hard-working, forces of nature.

I wanted them to see themselves with the eyes of love.

I created BIO to help women, like me, to recognize and inhabit all the love, strength, and beauty they already are by accepting and speaking their stories, especially their pain stories, and being loved and accepted through them. So they can get to the point of recognizing that all of the struggles, traumas, and pain points that they have experienced, when looked at from another perspective, have been the scaffolding that has led them to all of the loving, amazing work they are currently doing, or attempting to do, in the world. BIO helps women move more quickly into consistently seeing all of themselves - especially those parts they are normally told are problems, or brokenness, or <insert soul-destroying adjective here> - as beauty, wisdom, and strength. I want them to see that their struggles, failures, and fears can be (and have been) as helpful as their strengths, successes, and desires in helping them do and be exactly what they want to do and be in this world.

The premise of BIO is that you don’t have to be anyone other than who you already are. It’s about changing your own perspective on yourself - on what was and what is. Everything in BIO is about how to practice changing your perspective on your stories and choosing the ones that allow you to show up in the best possible way. I am here to support you on that journey - as loving witness, as guide and facilitator, and occasionally to (metaphorically and always with love) kick your ass into gear - to help you PRACTICE shifting your perspective so you too can see yourself with the eyes of love.

Body/Image/Object (BIO) PROJECT PROCESS

So what does this all mean in a practical, what happens and what do you do/get sense? Short(ish) answer, I do both highly personalized one-on-one work with women and I lead/teach small group workshops. Below is a breakdown of the full BIO Project process.

For the full BIO Project, we start with a 2 day intensive conversation, healing, and casting session. I create sacred space for you, my client, and we start our conversation.  I listen as you tell me your stories, starting with how you are feeling in your body right now and working backwards and forwards through time - following the connections and paths of your own inner wisdom. Over the course of 6 to 10+ hours (yes, I’m a marathon listener), you speak your body stories, your life stories - and how you truly feel about them - into being, with me as loving witness. Throughout this process you will receive Reiki to help balance and integrate all you are sharing and discovering. 

On the second day, we continue and/or review the conversation from the previous day. It is usually clear from these conversations where in your body both the pain and the power of your life is living. I cast those parts of you body in a ribbon or “apple-peel” style (so you can see the inside and outside of the form).  Your stories always point the way to which body part(s) I am meant to cast. You will then self-identify what colors, textures, images, and more you associate with the major events and relationships in your life. This information will be used to create your BIO sculpture.

After that initial conversation and casting session, we meet once a week (virtually on Zoom). In our weekly meetings we focus in on the main stories, the pain points, that you would like to heal and/or shift perspective on. Everything is self-identified because really, you already know yourself. Each week I’ll teach/offer you practices to help shift your perspective on those stories and actively move the emotion through and out. Giving new ways to approach old problems - new and different ways in. For some women, art practices help. For others, dance practices work best. For some people, writing is the way both out and in. So I give you multiple ways to approach things. Each session also includes Reiki to help your body/mind/spirit to relax, rejuvenate, and balance itself.

At the end of our time together, there will be a closing weekend where you will participate in and receive:

  • Reiki Level 1 training and certification for self-care;

  • A closing conversation to review the past 2 months and plan for the future;

  • A PDF booklet with all of the personalized practices and rituals developed over our time together;

  • A copy of your initial conversation in digital format

  • Updates on your sculpture (sculptures can take up to a year to complete - there are monthly check-ins to see how you are until they are delivered).

So at the end of this process, you will have digital recordings of your life stories and how your perspective on them has changed, a booklet with your personalized practices for continuing to shift and move your perspective, and a deeply personal, ritual object made on and of you. In the recordings you have your history to pass on to future generations if you want -  the real story of what was going on, not just the highlight reel. When it is completed, your BIO sculpture will be a reminder that you are a beautiful work of art, and you are beautiful because of all that has happened to you. Although some of your experiences may have been deeply painful, they are supporting and contributing to the passion and compassion you are bringing to the world. Ultimately the sculptures are inspirational. On those days when you feel unable and not good enough, your BIO sculpture reminds you of everything you have already survived and accomplished and transformed. And to remember that it’s not about this - the externals - it’s about everything underneath.

Working with women in this way has been one of the most profound, joyous, and expansive experiences of my entire life. The work challenges, opens, and expands my being on all levels and allows me to constantly question my own stories, my own limits, the edges of my love, acceptance, and creativity. I am grateful everyday for the opportunity to get to know amazing women like you. Getting to create works of art on and of women so they can see the beauty, strength, love, and resilience they have described to me, and that I see in them daily, is an honor and privilege. 

IS BIO FOR YOU?

If you are:

  • feeling trapped in, or at war with, your body/mind;

  • struggling with your sense of self worth;

  • in a constant merry-go-round of unmet expectation around your self-image;

  • if you are actively seeking ways to feel good about yourself - on all levels - on a daily basis;

    BIO is for you.

    OR

  • if you are in a life transition (eg. pregnancy/motherhood, menopause, retirement, end-of-life) and want to support and celebrate both the old and new chapter of your life in a unique way

  • if you want to create a piece of living her-story for yourself and/or your family

  • if wish to strengthen and honor the healing and transformation you have already achieved.

    BIO is for you.

I'm offering introductory BIO sessions, complete with energy balancing, as a way to feel into this work. This is my gift to you. Click HERE to schedule a call. Don’t see a time that works for you? CONTACT ME to arrange a session. I invite you to dream your dream with me and shift your perception, and therefore the trajectory, of your life. 

BIO CIRCLES, WORKSHOPS & RETREATS

I lead BIO Circles and small group workshops to introduce women to my work - teaching emotional embodiment techniques, how to be a loving witness to yourself and others, and the fundamentals 2D and 3D collage techniques for auto-biographical story-telling.  These BIO Circles & BIO Workshops also allow like-minded women to meet each other and grow their networks.

BIO Circles are two hours long and focus on emotional embodiment and release. They are usually focused on channelling and transforming a specific emotion (eg. Fear, anger, etc.).

BIO Workshops are a minimum of 4 hours long for 2-D techniques and 2-3 days for 3-D techniques. Workshops can be tailored to specific issues and I am happy to offer them as part of retreats, or as additional class programming at community, health, or wellness centers.

CONTACT ME for more information on bringing BIO Circles and/or BIO Workshops to your community.

ABOUT ME

I'm Jessi, a Waking Dreamer and Energy Artist with 20+ years of experience in the visual and performing arts. Over the years I have trained in numerous forms of dance, theater, and visual art techniques, all of which, though seemingly disparate, are rooted in the recognition, modulation, and transformation of human energy, along with our individual and collective capacity to direct that energy as we choose. We can use the practical, concrete practices taught in the arts (such as body awareness; how to manipulate color, light and space to create specific emotional states; and how to break down a story to explore intent, desire, and meaning) and apply these practices to the creation and appreciation of our own lives. 

For those who like to know about schools and credentials, I have a BA in Theater Performance from James Madison University and was an Acting Apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville (KY) and Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre (Brisbane, Australia). I have also trained with the SITI Company, the British American Drama Academy, Tina Mitchell (Suzuki, Viewpoints and Laban Instructor), Deborah Black (Viewpoints). I am a former member of AEA and SAG and have performed in numerous productions in the United States and abroad. 

I have trained in various forms of dance including ballet, jazz, contemporary, and West African dance at schools including James Madison University (VA), Joy of Motion Dance Center (DC), Dance New Amsterdam (NYC), and Peridance (NYC). 

I've been creating visual art of one kind or another since I was a child and have a mix of formal study and extensive personal exploration and experimentation. My visual arts & crafts background ranges from drawing and painting to mixed-media sculpture, collage, mask-making, beading, and mosaic. I have studied at institutions such as the Alexandria Art League and the Art Student's Leagues of New York. My work has been displayed in venues including MANA Contemporary (NJ), the Art Student's League of New York, and the streets of NYC (Herald Square, Lincoln Center, Central Park, DUMBO and more as a Sing for Hope Piano Artist). 

Last but not least, I am a certified and insured Reiki Master in the Usui/Holy Fire III tradition & a Shamanic practitioner.