February 27, 2024

#22: Celebrating You: The Power of Empowerment Photography with Alexi Cox

Having a positive body image of yourself is much easier said than done and all the physical changes you experience as a woman and a mother only makes it more difficult to feel confident in your body. That's why in today's episode I talk with Alexi Cox about her journey of self love and how she cultivates and celebrates positive body image with her clients. Learn about Alexi’s unique style of photography, how it creates a transformative experience mentally and emotionally, and how you can adopt her guiding principles into your own life.

About this episode

What you'll learn

  • A new type of photography that combines portrait and boudoir with meditation and therapeutic practices
  • An inside look into an empowerment photoshoot with Alexi
  • Why investing in yourself is worth the time, effort, and [sometimes] money
  • How to create your own empowerment photoshoot at home by yourself
  • How to love yourself as you are without dismissing who you used to be or who you want to become

Guest Bio

Alexi, age 33, currently resides in Monterey, CA with her husband and cutie golden doodle, Zero. She loves the ocean, chocolate chip cookies, walking her dog, finding good deals, blabbing on her podcast (In My Humble Opinion), cooking up mean new recipes,  traveling with her husband, and her newfound hobby of reading fantasy romance novels (usually with dragons). She enjoys art in many forms, will try pretty much anything, and likely has some music playing in the background.


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Connect with Alexi on Instagram @paperairplanes.empower and subscribe to her podcast In My Humble Opinion


Hey mama, welcome back to another episode of the Well -Nursed Mama podcast. I am so stoked for you to listen to my interview with Alexei today. We talk about a very unique style of photography that she actually created and came up with.

It's called empowerment photography and we get to learn a little bit about what it is and why she created it in the first place. But really the overarching theme of today's episode is celebrating you, finding ways to show self -love and practice self -care in your life.

As women, we not only struggle to make time for ourselves but to love ourselves in every stage of life, especially as our bodies change through motherhood. And this is something that I have been struggling with for a really long time.

And I was neighbors with Alexei when I lived in California. And when I found out that she did this really unique style of photography, I was like, oh my gosh, I am spending the money. I'm going to invest and I want to do this because I truly believe in what she did.

And let me tell you, my experience was transformative. Not only are you going to get to hear about what empowerment photography is, but you're going to get to hear about my experience with Alexei and what we did to help me celebrate myself and love myself for where I was at in my life and appreciate everything that made me me and really appreciate just like every little part of my body.

I did this photo shoot about a year and a bit postpartum with my first baby. So it's been a little while since I took these pictures, but these pictures mean so much to me. And the whole premise behind empowerment photography is just a really good message that I think every woman needs to hear.

We all need to hear that we're beautiful. We all need to hear that we have value irrespective of what our body looks like or how healthy we are or how good we are at doing our hair and makeup. And so if you resonate with anything that we talk about in today's episode, if there's something that just really stands out to you, please share this episode with a woman that needs to hear it.

I truly believe, not just every episode that I share, but I truly believe that every woman needs to hear what we talk about in today's episode. There are some things that Alexi says that just like hit you right in the feels.

And she has such a good way of saying it too, where you're just like, Oh my gosh, you're right. I never thought of it that way. And she just is so good at helping you feel comfortable and feel at peace with yourself and just.

love yourself for who you are. So really, really excited for you to listen to today's episode. Again, please share it with every woman that you think needs to hear this. Hopefully it's everybody. Um, and don't forget to leave a star rating and review if you loved this episode so I can understand what you liked, um, the kinds of guests that I should bring on in the future and then also just help the podcast grow.

So with all that being said, let's jump into today's interview with Alexei all about celebrating you.

Hey Alexi, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today. Thank you so much for having me, Brooke.

I'm so excited to be here. I am so excited to talk to you about your very unique style of photography because before I met you I had never heard of empowerment photography before and my experience with you as a client totally changed my life.

It was so incredible so I'm really excited to talk about that today but before we jump into all of that good stuff can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into your career? Yeah for sure.

So I am a very vivacious, energetic, take -life by the horns kind of person. I love experiencing things fully and I love trying new things. I'm an adventurer and I have always had this vision that I wanted to change the world and throughout my life that's kind of shifted from small -scale to large -scale but I feel like I'm Finally, at this place where I'm starting to do that, person by person.

My introduction to photography started probably with, you know, little cameras that you take to launch drugs. I don't even, what are the disposable camera? There we go, yes, that's the word. I take them on trips and I take them to school and I use them at home and take very unflattering photos of my family members, much to the dismay.

And that kind of ignited the love of it. I know that sounds hilarious, but I really love getting these unique perspectives of people and places, albeit not always flattering. I really enjoyed it and I feel like that kind of started my interest with photography.

My dad also was a hobbyist photographer and he would sometimes take me on his little photo ventures. which I would get a little bored because he was more of a nature photographer and we would be in the same spot taking photos of the same things for a long time yeah so I didn't have the patience for that I feel like I learned that pretty early on and then when I was in university I took a nature photography class where I purchased my first DSLR camera which is a heavy larger camera and the digital was so much better for me and my personality because I love taking photos of lots of things and a lot of the photos didn't turn out especially when I was first starting out and this class introduced me to how to use my camera it was a requirement to read the entire manual so I really learned my camera backwards and forwards I learned what everything meant of course some of that knowledge has left since then but just really learned to love my device my camera and I saw the world in a unique perspective starting then I feel like with with nature and noticing things and noticing color and noticing depth and during the trips that we would take with my class I would always be picturing somebody in the photos even though it was just a nature landscape I would think oh it would be so much better if I had a person here just to kind of merge that landscape and human together and then from then on I decided I wanted to do more portraiture and have kind of moved through a bunch of different phases since then so I've worked abroad with different organizations I've done a lot of branding photography and now have kind of settled in with small intimate weddings and allotments couples photography and empowerment portraits and I feel like coming full circle with that idea when I was younger that I wanted to to change the world, I feel like I am able to do that through photography and through helping empower women.

That's so cool. Something that I love about you as a photographer is that I can tell how much you love what you do and how genuine you are when we are at a photo shoot. It's not just like, oh, I want it to be a photographer because you can set your own rates and make lots of money or it's not for anything like that.

You genuinely love what you do because you have discovered this passion throughout the course of your life and the type of photography you do is a result of a lot of different experiences that you've had and things that mean a lot to you.

So I just love how genuine you are like when you're actually taking pictures and that really comes through in your empowerment photo shoots. And before I met you, I had never heard of empowerment photography before.

And so I wanted to ask you, you is this an established niche of photography? Is this something that you created? Did you learn it from somebody? What is empowerment photography? So as far as I'm aware, it doesn't exist elsewhere.

But I'm sure I know that photographers incorporate elements of empowerment within their photo shoots as well. But I felt like there was a lack of it in the industry. And so yeah, I decided to create it.

I was initially drawn to boudoir photography because I loved the empowering aspect of helping women feel comfortable and at home in their bodies and in their own skin. And I too wanted to help women feel that way as well.

Being a woman myself and having gone to a boudoir shoot before getting married, I recognize the value of that in my life and in my confidence levels before combining my life with someone else. And so I started kind of going down that avenue.

And then I recognized that there were aspects that I felt were missing in these shoots. And I really wanted to help women see themselves more wholly, more fully, help them recognize and celebrate their sexuality as a part of themselves.

And then bringing it back to I am this full and complete person. And this this beautiful part of myself, my sexuality is just that it's a part of myself, it's not all of myself. And so to celebrate that kind of as a whole.

And that you can still have that sexuality and that femininity about you without a partner attached to it, right? You don't you don't have to be married to feel empowered to do a boudoir photo shoot or to you know, to want to take pictures that honor and celebrate your sexuality.

It's just for you, and it's something that makes you feel amazing, even if you have a partner, even if you don't have a partner, right? Yes, yes, I think it's so important to be comfortable in your own skin, regardless of who you're connecting with.

I think that that breeds so much confidence, just appreciating and loving what your body, what your vessel is. Yeah, so really quick, can you just walk me through the difference between portrait photography, boudoir photography, and then how you kind of created empowerment photography based off of those?

Can we just kind of compare and contrast for the listeners who aren't familiar with these different kinds? Yeah, for sure. I would say that portrait photography is kind of the overarching umbrella. There are a lot of different categories within portrait photography.

Portrait photography generally just refers to... People being in the photos so that can be a lot of times It's for like business related things that people get their portraits taken, you know, professional head shots But sometimes it can be more fun creative portraiture editorial portraiture and then shifting into boudoir is more focusing on you're celebrating your sexuality and perhaps focusing on your body a lot more generally you see more lingerie or nudity those kind of things that are taking time to really appreciate your body and then the empowerment photography to me is more of a celebration and a recognition of how far you've come in your life at that point, so When you work with me It doesn't need to look a certain way and see your shoe did kind of focus on some boudoir elements while some other clients prefer to Show up in a really fancy dress and go to the redwoods.

It's really I kind of take the things that you're struggling with and turn it into an experience filled with activities and Mindfulness that will help help elevate your mindset into a place where you feel stronger more capable and empowered So what I'm hearing from you is that your Empowerment photography isn't just about beautiful images Although that is part of it because we want to look at pictures and feel beautiful and feel confident but another element that you bring into it is the mindfulness and the experience with The self where it's like a transformative experience for the client and it's it's you know Focusing on the mental health and your self -love and your self -image and Yeah, absolutely.

I I definitely want to co -create artful images with you that you'll look back on and be excited about and that will help you see yourself through different lens, through a different perspective. But yes, it's so much about the experience and those photos serve more as than just art.

They're also a reminder to the experience that we have together and that's really what I put so much time and energy into in preparation for your empowerment. It is a preparation of those activities with the mindfulness, with the activities that I put together to help you through your current challenges and to help you see yourself differently and also to give you tools, equip you with tools that will help you past our time together so that you can practice those in the future if you're feeling sad about yourself again, which is natural.

It will happen again. It's not a cure -all. It's an experience in your life journey that will help alter your trajectory. So basically what you're saying is it's therapy, basically, but like a really fun way of approaching therapy that we get to like have pictures to remind us about, right?

Yeah, I don't claim to be a therapist. I didn't go to school for that. I don't have certifications for that, but I do have my own life experience that I am a woman and I have experienced doubts about myself and my body.

And so I've been there. I've experienced a lot of the same feelings that all of us women have felt. And I feel like that qualifies me alone, women to see themselves differently too. So although not a therapist, it is kind of a therapeutic kind of experience, yeah.

Well, and that's what it was for me when we did my photo shoot is I remember walking away feeling like not just, oh my gosh, I'm so excited to see my pictures, but like, wow, like I feel like a better version of myself.

I feel like I just got to experience something that will help me in future circumstances be like, but wait, remember how you felt then. Remember how you felt during that photo shoot. Let's reflect back on that and hang on to that.

And it like, yeah, it gave me a tool in my tool belt that I could use moving forward to help keep me in a state where I appreciate myself and I love myself despite my flaws, despite what my body may or may not look like right now or despite the struggles that I'm going through.

So it really did feel like a very fun form of therapy to me. So what I want to do now is I want to kind of do like a sneak peek for our mamas into what an empowerment photo shoot looks like. And we can use as a case study.

So can you just kind of walk me through some of like the key general aspects of what you do and what it might be like and then I can kind of fill in with what we did for me specifically. Yes, absolutely.

So to start off, I always send a questionnaire and these questionnaires help both you and I prepare for the experience. For you, it kind of puts you in a mindset of what exactly it is that you're wanting to glean from the experience and the time that we have together.

Is it that you want to feel sexy? Is it that you want to feel capable of how capable of approaching a challenge that's approaching? This questionnaire helps me figure out who you are as a person as well.

It helps me learn some of your favorite things. It helps me learn what kind of music that you love because I create a playlist for you and it helps set the tone for what experience that you're wanting.

we can decide what venue you want for your photo shoot. And it really helps guide me in deciding what activities would be the most beneficial for you. So following this questionnaire, we then decide on the venue, we decide on the time of day for the shoot.

And that is also dependent on what you want as a client. Do you want it out in a public place where people can be walking by, but you love nature. Do you want it in a really private secluded place like a studio or a room in your home?

That will really set the tone for what the experience will be like for you. So we do that. And then leading up to it as well, if you have any inspiration of photos that you love the posing or you love what the image makes you feel, those things you send my way and I help kind of create the experience based on those images as well.

And then the day of we meet for the shoot, I do not provide hair and makeup services as I really want all of my clients to feel like they can come exactly as they are, whether that's with makeup and hair done up, which is awesome.

Or if you want to come without makeup or doing your makeup yourself, that's also awesome. I just want people to feel comfortable and secure and whatever makes them feel the most empowered. And then I show you around the space, if it's a studio or you show me around the space, if it's your home and we familiarize ourselves with the area.

And then we sit down and we have a conversation and this conversation will be somewhat similar to the questionnaire in that I'm asking what exactly you're wanting from the experience as it could have shifted since you filled up the questionnaire and I talk about any concerns that you might have and really just kind of get familiarized with each other because sometimes I've never met you in person before the shoot experience.

And. and help you just feel a little bit more comfortable and confident. And then we launch into the deep breathing exercises and often a guided meditation. And this will also help calm nerves and help set a really great foundation for the rest of our time together.

And then we go into the shoot. Usually I put on the playlist I created for you. And at this point, things can look really differently depending on what kind of experience you're wanting. For example, with one client, I just had her meander around a beach for a good portion of the shoot.

And I gave her a prompt of something to think about or to do or to write. And that's what she needed in her life. And then other times it's me helping guide you through a series of different poses based on what kind of photos that you're wanting or dancing or playing.

And throughout the experience, we do two to three different. activities and take some great photos. It really is such a fun time. So let's talk about what we did for me. So I remember when I came to you, I kind of wanted to do it twofold.

I wanted to do half of the photo shoot for me where the images were just a celebration of me and the journey that I've been through with my body and my self image. And then I also wanted the other half to be more of a Boudoir photo shoot for my husband.

I was gonna surprise him for Christmas, which was also fun because, right, I wanted to feel sexy and all these different things and be like, okay, like I'm proud of where I'm at post -baby. I was a year and a bit post -partum.

So we started out with my own empowerment session and you had me do some deep breathing and some meditation. And we, I remember you had me sit on the bed and you started from my toes and went all the way up to my head and you had to, I had to describe to you what I was grateful for about each part of my body.

So why am I grateful for my feet? Why am I grateful for my legs? Why am I grateful for the stretch marks and the extra loose skin on my stomach? And just like all these different parts of me that I either hadn't thought about before or I was very aware of and very self -conscious of.

And just that exercise of like celebrating each little part, not just saying, I'm grateful for my body, my body's great. It was being really intentional with each different part of my body. That really helped me shift into a state of just like really, really deep gratitude.

Like I was like, oh my gosh, my body has done so much for me in so many different phases of life. I've traveled the world. I've, You know done sports in high school. I've had a baby. I've done all these different things and oh amazing Yeah, my body has served me in so many different ways over the years and once I once I shifted That mentality into gratitude and celebration I felt I remember feeling so much more comfortable to take any pictures Because it didn't matter.

I wasn't concerned about like what I looked like it was no I want you to take pictures of me because I'm amazing and my body is amazing and it deserves to be celebrated Absolutely. So we did that and they were just pictures And like a really cute underwear set I don't know just so we could see my stomach from post -baby and celebrate that I remember even gave me like a small little body mirror and you took pictures of me looking at myself in the mirror and at one point I I decided to give myself a high five and you captured that moment where I gave myself a high five in the mirror and it's one of my favorite pictures of myself.

And you know what, you can see my stomach folding over on itself because I have so much loose skin and you can see my stretch marks on my legs and I don't even care because I remember how I felt when you took that picture and that's what I think about when I look at that picture.

I think about the experience that I had and how it impacted the way that I see myself moving forward, which was so cool. And then after that we did the boudoir photo show and I was like, girl, let's do all the pictures like I am so ready.

So I switched. You were so comfortable at that point. It was awesome. It was so fun. I was like, here I am with this other woman and I'm like in my lingerie that has only ever been seen by my husband and I don't care.

This is great. And we're taking all these really sexy pictures and we're like, we did it in my bedroom, right? We were, I remember I was like, hey, Alexi, I will text you when my son goes down for his nap and we're going to try and do this.

I remember. He was like sleeping in the room next door and we were like doing this boudoir photo shoot in my bedroom. But it was really fun because I did my own hair and my own makeup so it was nothing fancy.

But I like did a little bit to like feel pretty. And then we just did it in my bedroom, a place where I felt safe, a place where I felt comfortable. And I also wanted to have an empowering experience so that as I continue to come into my bedroom and go look in the mirror, I was like, you know what?

I've had good experiences here and I'm going to celebrate and I don't have to hate myself anymore. I love that. So it was just now that he's beautiful. Yeah, it was such a cool experience. Tyler is obviously very grateful for all the pictures that you took.

But when I think back on it, I think. more about the yeah I keep saying transformative because that's what it is. I think about the transformative aspect of it of this is how I thought about myself prior to it and then after our photo shoot was done I was like I don't even care if she shows me any of the pictures because I feel great and I was a model for her like I'm feeling so good so it was just an incredible experience.

Well and so much of that was because you came with the intention and the wanted to see a change and that you wanted to see yourself differently and I think that is huge. So many women come to me and they say oh I need to change this about myself before I'm ready and that's that's okay to want to change things about ourselves and to want to improve and to be healthier and stronger but what I love about these shoots is you don't have to because it really is that shift of perspective of gratitude.

And then once we recognize, like actually stop and think about what our body has done for us, it's less about what it looks like. And like I said before, it's okay to care about that too. And I do want you to see, actually see yourself differently and see that it is beautiful.

But once I shifted my own perspective from, oh, I actually don't have to love every part of myself, I actually don't have to love how every part of myself looks. I can simply say I am grateful that it is performing the functions it needs to perform or it's doing what it needs to do.

I am grateful that my stomach is turning my food into energy so that I can go and do things that I want to do. It's okay that today I don't love how my stomach looks in these genes. I can still have gratitude for that.

And I honestly think that changes everything. Yeah, it's recognizing that your self -worth isn't tied to how you look. And I also think being grateful that that's the case, that your self -worth is not tied to how you look and you can feel amazing and special and beautiful and strong and all these things, regardless of what you look like.

And you can still live in that space of I want to celebrate who I am as a person and I can still want to lose some weight or I can still want to put on muscle or I can still want to cut and color my hair, whatever it is, we can have both realities.

We can live in a place where we want to improve, we want to make changes and yet still feel grateful for who we are now and where we are now. Well, and I think that's what's so beautiful about photos in general and it doesn't need to be a photo shoot, but I find that so many of my friends that are moms, I'm not a mom myself, but they avoid getting in the photos with their kids because they still have the baby weight or whatever.

the case might be but get in the photos with your kids celebrate that time of their lives because they'll want to remember that you were in that moment with them right and you will too ultimately down the road and you're like oh I remember that time we went to the zoo but then you won't be in any of the photos and what a shame that is it doesn't I don't feel like it you need to set up a photo shoot to document your life I do I mean obviously I do what I do for a reason because I think it's important and I think adds value but I think if you're at the point right now we are not even showing up in photos with your family start with that you know start start showing your face in the photos or like putting not hiding your body behind your child's body in photos just being there because you're there and they'll want to remember that and so will you.

So let's talk about that then. Let's talk about how we can, let's say a mom's listening and she loves the idea of an empowerment photo shoot, but maybe she doesn't have the money to invest in a photographer or there's not a photographer like you that can kind of create this kind of experience.

What are some tips for moms who maybe want to create their own empowerment photo shoot experience or just kind of practice this on their own so that they can be more comfortable showing up in pictures with their families so that they can still have a transformative experience like on their own time in their own way?

How would they go about doing that? I love this question because I love the what now question after you learn something or you're excited about something because if there's no way to put it into practice then there can still be value in something, but it's not as long as it's done.

lasting. And that's really why I want to incorporate these tools in my shoots, because I don't want it to be a one time experience. I want you to keep learning and growing from it. So I love this. I love this idea and this concept of doing it yourself, because it can have a lot of the same benefits.

So I'm actually working on offering this as a little course down the road. But in the meantime, I would say just following some of the same steps that you would with an empowerment issue with me. So first of all, thinking about some of the challenges that you're facing right now, what is it that you're wanting to feel?

What in your life are you wanting to change about yourself, your insides? And, and how do you think that some photos could help change that? And then trying, trying and creating those feelings that you want to feel by creating a mood board on Pinterest filled with images of things that ignite whatever that you're wanting to feel, maybe it's more joy, maybe it's more confident.

So finding photos that reflect that, and maybe it's that you love the colors, maybe it's you love the outfit, or the attitude displayed on someone's face, or the pose, just compile this big mood board of feeling.

And then finding those similarities between photos and kind of picking apart that mood board of is it the outfit that I love? Is it the way she's smiling? Or is it the pose that she's in? And then creating a playlist.

I think music is so integral and helping feel feelings and also shift moods and mindsets. And so compiling a list of songs that make you feel what you want to feel. And maybe like with the empowerment shoots that I do, it's really quite a wave through emotion.

It's not just, if you're wanting to feel joy, it's just joyful the whole time. I like that idea of wholeness. And so perhaps feeling some lows and then feeling the highs, just like our life experience, it's composite of so many different emotions.

And maybe in this experience for yourself, you can feel a bunch of different emotions too. Maybe that will help feel more whole for you. So creating a playlist that reflects that. And then practicing some mindful techniques on your own.

There's a bunch of different resources out there that are free of charge. You can look up meditations, guided meditations on YouTube or Spotify and find some things that work for you. You can also just look up healing hurts.

There are different tones and sounds that can help bring up different emotions and tap into different parts of the body. You can do that. You can tap. You can use different techniques that perhaps you've learned in therapy or you've heard about.

So integrating that into your own little experience. Really quickly, when you said healing hurts, is that H -E -R -T -Z? Z. Okay, it's not hurts like H -U -R -T -S. I was like, that doesn't sound like something I want.

Is that right? Okay, so if you wanna look up- Healing hurts, guys. Yeah, okay, so if you wanna look up healing hurts, it's healing and then H -E -R -T -Z, T -Z. I always say it wrong. Yes, okay. Hey, yeah, it's not wrong.

It's the Canadian way. It is the Canadian way. Working always says that too. Okay, and then go ahead and pull up your mood board, your Pinterest board, look at some of those pictures that you liked the posing in and then set up your phone.

You can just use your regular phone and you can put it in whatever mode you prefer, whether that's selfie mode or selfie mode, you will be able to see yourself so you can see as you're doing it. Or you had a suggestion as well of doing video, right?

Yeah, so when I've done this in the past, what I'll do is I'll just prop up my phone where I want it. I'll press record on the video and just like move through poses and then sometimes I'll hold a pose for like one to three seconds depending so that it can be really clear and then you just have one composite video.

You go in and you pause the video and you screenshot stills from the video and if you took enough time to be still during the video then you'll get a really clear image and you can obviously like crop out the time and the battery life on your phone or whatever and just save it that way so that you don't have to worry about like pressing and being like, okay, I have to go beat the timer and like getting my pose on the other side of the room.

Yeah, I love the idea. I think that's so smart. So doing little videos of yourself and then another thing that you can do is you could invite your partner in to help you with the experience. If you want them to take photos of you, you'll be kind of in a different mindset at this point after doing the meditation or whatever you choose to do so you could bring someone else in.

You could do a girls night with your friends and you could all get dressed up and take photos of each other. It really kind of depends what kind of experience you're seeking and you can do it different ways different times too until you get some photos that you love.

Yeah, okay. So I was trying to think of some really simple examples just in case the mom was listening or like, but I still don't know what to do. So I was like, okay, what if, let's say there's a mom who is feeling like she just can't be happy with herself.

She's not happy in her own skin. Maybe there's just a lot of really hard things going on in her life and she just doesn't feel joy or maybe she's like right in the thick of motherhood. She's got lots of little kids and it's just more stressful and just like die.

diapers, tantrums, all the things all day long. And so she doesn't feel a lot of joy in motherhood. So my thought was, okay, how can we create an empowerment photo shoot that helps her feel joy in her own skin?

So maybe what you wanna do is you wanna do it in your own room just because you have kids at home and you decide to dress completely in yellow, right? Yellow is a very happy, bright color. You're wearing yellow and you do your hair in two big pigtails on the side cause it's like silly and happy.

And then you have sunflowers and a yellow umbrella and just like all these props that are yellow and you're just being in silly poses and you've got like, you know, your favorite music from middle school playing in the background cause it just makes you happy.

So that could be an example of how to like set that up on your own if you want to just experience joy or maybe you wanna practice being more confident in yourself. So, to emulate that, you could, you could still do it in your room if you wanted to.

You could go anywhere, but we'll just stay in the room for now. You're in your room and you are wearing an outfit that is bright and bold and full of color. You've got bright reds and bright blues and maybe some gold earrings and just like all this bright pop of color.

And maybe you just have a picture frame that's just the wooden frame and you can stick your head through it and just kind of be fluid through the picture frame and be like, look, I'm bold. I'm happy.

And you've got a playlist that makes you feel like you're walking down a red carpet or something. Just things like that where it's not anything fancy. It's just like you said, it's thinking about the concept and the mood of what you want the experience to feel like and what you want the pictures to evoke and then finding things that create that like colors and outfits and props and then just going for it and just like having fun.

Yep. And I think, I think music is a great way to bring that. I love you're talking about outfits and color and I think that that really helps shift shifts moods as well. And I think you put on a song from middle school that you were, you always jammed out with your friends and you jam out, you know, you dance around the room.

You sing into your spatula. I don't know. Yeah. I've been playful. I think a lot of times, especially moms really struggle like bringing out that inner child because they're constantly tending to other children and they have to be the parent, but giving yourself a time and a space to feel that childlike wonder, joy, exploration, curiosity, whatever it is that you're feeling lacking would be so, so beneficial.

Yeah. And I do want to make a note about the boudoir. I think it is worthwhile for every woman. regardless of whether or not you're married, regardless of whether or not you're a mom, to do one of those photo shoots.

I was like a little bit nervous at first, but it was so cool to do that. And again, if you're not in a place to invest in a photographer, you can still do it like in your own room. Just find a spot with some really good shadows and put on the lingerie that makes you feel good, not the one that your husband likes the most.

Pick the one that makes you feel the best and kind of, you know, do the same thing. Find some music that sets the mood and maybe just do a 10 -minute video. It doesn't have to be crazy long. Just give yourself that chance to experience that and create that for yourself.

I can't remember her name. But she is a boudoir photographer that I follow on TikTok and her whole TikTok account is Helping women take spicy selfies at home. Oh, I love that And so I'll find that after we finish recording and put that in the show notes So if if the mom's listening are like, okay, what if I wanted to do boudoir?

I'll put her in there so you can get some poses from her But yeah, so just try so hard to create this experience for yourself If you can't find a photographer because it is so worth it It's so worth the investment of time and energy and getting a baby sort of for the kids or whatever and just making it work I really think I love that you use the word experience because I do feel like spending more than just 10 minutes on this for yourself is very worthwhile and whether that's going to target and buying a new set or a new one piece for yourself or Going thrifting for something or or digging up something that you haven't put on in a while I think it's worth the time, you know, it will take a little bit of time to prepare this for yourself But it will yield such beautiful results.

I think you'll be really surprised Yeah, so with that I want to ask you what if you learned about self -worth? Through your own journey and through your experience as an empowerment photographer So much so many little tidbits, I think that One of the biggest for me really was that finding gratitude for For myself and you know, I like I said before I I go in waves to currently I'm really struggling with My body image.

I've gained a lot of weight recently I haven't been exercising and I've been feeling a little less comfortable in my skin And I think it's it's not taking time to recognize how good my body is to me, and then also recognizing that it's my body.

It's not who I am, it's not my soul. And I think celebrating not only the wins of your body, but just the wins of you as a person and what you've accomplished and the complexity of your mind and the ability to communicate ideas and just all of these things and recognizing them has been such a beautiful journey.

Very challenging, but I keep a little folder on my phone of little love notes that I get from other people. If I'm feeling really low and I'm struggling to see my own worth, the people that I love and trust when they message me or tell me how they see me, I love reviewing those.

And also if I'm feeling better about... if I'm in a state of feeling really good about myself and taking note of those things that I'm proud of and reviewing those as well, like love notes from myself, and I read that compilation, it's a really good reminder and keeping things a little bit more separate.

I love that idea of keeping love notes from yourself. That is so cool. I think I'm gonna start doing that, just like having a note on my phone. And maybe you can put the date, do you put the date down?

When you write a love note to yourself? I don't think I do, but that would be really good to do. Okay, I think I wanna put the date down. And then having new notes in that would probably be the best way to organize things.

Yeah, just like one continuous note where, yeah, you just write down, okay, today is, what are we? We are Tuesday, February 2nd, 2024, and I'm feeling XYZ and this is how I feel about myself. And then maybe you don't write in the note for three months, but then in five years you discover this note on your phone and you're like, oh my gosh, all the way back in 2024, I loved my thighs.

Never thought I would say that out loud, but I love my thighs, you know? And you can be like, wow, okay, I did appreciate myself back then, and I appreciate myself now. And something I want to, something that just came to mind is I remember looking at pictures from like middle school and high school a couple weeks ago, just because they had come up on my phone.

And I remember one of the pictures that I saw from middle school. It was a selfie that I took. And I look at the selfie now and I'm like, girlfriend, what were you doing with your hair? Like, oh my gosh, I cannot believe I thought that was pretty back then.

But then I sat there and I was like, but I remember being 13 and taking that picture and feeling like the most beautiful 13 -year -old on the planet. Yeah, and the fact that I could feel beautiful at 13 and Then look in the mirror now and feel beautiful now, and I don't look the same.

I'm not the same person I think that speaks volumes to what self -worth is really about it really is not about what you look like It's about how you feel and I felt beautiful at 13 Hmm, and I feel beautiful now, but the reasons why are totally different It's not because I can curl my hair better or because I finally figured out how to do my eyebrows it's because there's so much more that I appreciate about myself and Realizing that I've been through a lot in my 26 years of life and that's worth celebrating and being grateful for absolutely so With that is there anything that you would say to the mama's listening who might be struggling?

With how they look when they're pregnant or how they feel in their postpartum body. Maybe they feel so foreign because so much has changed or maybe they are far removed from having kids and they just feel lost because they've just been a mom for so long.

They don't feel like Karen or they don't feel like Shelby or they don't feel like Allie anymore. What would you say to those moms that are really struggling with themselves right now? I think that in our lives we change so much and I think it's totally valid to mourn the loss of who we once were because we are always shifting.

I remember recently, I remember in one of my classes in university which was over a decade ago, we did this personality test and I was yellow, like pure yellow, which is like the party fan. Wow, girl.

And my teacher, in fact, he said, well, Alexi is pure yellow. Am I right? And I was like, yeah. And I've taken the test recently and I am no longer pure yellow. I am much more divided in my personality type.

And when I received the results, honestly, instead of thinking, wow, I'm much more well -rounded, I mourned that. I thought, I'm not as fun anymore. And that made me really sad because I don't think I'm as fun anymore.

I don't think I'm as party girl, but I am all of these other things instead. And it's not that it's bad, it's just different. And I think my advice would be to take yourself on dates and get to know yourself.

There's nothing wrong with shifting through motherhood or shifting as we age. It's good and it's part of the human experience. But in that phase of losing yourself, I think you just need to find out who you are now.

And it's gonna look different. And that's okay if you're mourning who you once were. But there's room also for loving who you are now and for getting excited about, hey, I used to love sketching, but now I actually love pottery.

Well, now I actually love pottery. I love doing this other thing and that's so exciting. So discovering new things about yourself, nuances about yourself, what things make you tick. Just like you would be dating someone new or when a new child comes to your home, you birth a new child, how do you get to know that soul?

And just take time with yourself getting to know. yourself. That is so beautiful, and you said that in such a... such a profound way. I've never heard it put that way. It made me think of a quote that I have to continually remind myself.

It says, the longest relationship you will ever have is with yourself. The idea that yes, you have your siblings, yes, you have your partner that maybe you'll get to celebrate your 50th anniversary with, or your kids, and hopefully you live longer than your kids, like all these things.

But the longest relationship you'll have is with yourself, and you are worth investing in. You're worth, and not just like money, but like investing time and space, being like, you know what? I need two hours by myself.

Maybe it's you go get french fries and a frosty, and you sit in a car, and you're just by yourself. But like you're putting aside that time, and that is so valuable. And also, like you said, recognizing, wow, I actually am kind of sad that I'm not like this from two years ago, or I don't enjoy doing this activity like I did five years ago.

And that makes me sad, but how have I changed? Oh my gosh, well guess what? I actually like this now, and this is what makes me happy now, and that's incredible. I remember, I was at my auntie's house the other night, and she was telling people, you have to listen to my niece play the piano.

She was a concert pianist. And I sat there, and for a second I was like, oh my gosh, I'm not a concert pianist anymore. I can't play music anywhere near how I played when I was 18, a senior in high school.

And I was like, that's really sad that I am not a concert pianist anymore. And then I was like, I was like, wait a second, but I still love music. I still play the piano when I can, and I'm showing my kids that I love the piano, and that mommy...

can play the piano maybe not as good as I did back then but I can still play now and I can still share that talent with other people and I had to have that conversation with myself so yeah I really love what you said about taking time to experience both mourning the loss and sitting with that and being okay with that and not feeling shameful or guilty that you're mourning or that you've changed either one and then being willing to recognize who you are in the moment and who you can become moving forward yeah exactly well we have had such an incredible conversation today and I just love I just love you Alexi you're so incredible and I'm so sad that we don't live near each other anymore for the mom is listening we were friends well we're still friends now but we were neighbors when we lived in California and you're still in California and I'm sad that we're not neighbors anymore but I just love everything about you and what you do for women and I'm so glad that we got to just peek into your world a little bit today.

Before we close I have one question that I ask all my guests and I would love to hear what your answer is. I'd love to know what a non -negotiable is for you to living a well -nourished life. This is kind of funny but having something on my calendar to look forward to I just it makes me so excited when I have something on my calendar that gets me excited so if I don't then I feel sad.

I don't feel very well nourished. So what's on your calendar for the next month? What's something you're looking forward to? Well tomorrow night I'm going to a fancy restaurant with my husband for dinner and they play live music like five nights of the week so I'm really excited about that.

That sounds so fun. Yeah. Oh my goodness wait do I know this restaurant? Where is it in town? It's on Geebo. It's on Alvarado street. Okay. Okay that's so fun. We haven't been yet. It's been on our list since we've lived here so finally we're going.

Yay okay well if any of the mamas are ever in Monterey, California when you're visiting Big Sur or you want to come see the Monterey Bay Aquarium, tell us the name of the restaurant. It's called Geebo.

C -I -B -O. It's an Italian restaurant. Okay I'm going to remember that for next time. Thank you so much Alexi for your just your expertise and being so vulnerable and raw and real with us today. I would love to know how we can connect with you and stay in touch with you moving forward.

How can these mamas be a part of your world? Yeah oh I love that little aerial quote there. So my empowerment portraits can be found on Instagram at paperairplanes .com empower and my regular photography is paper airplanes dot photo and then I also have a podcast called in my humble opinion you can find that on spotify and apple music and also instagram at humble opinion dot pod perfect well mamas if you are ever in the bay area monteries a little bit south of that but if you're ever in the bay area it is one thousand percent worth investing your money in having a photo shoot with alexi so please remember her when you end up in the bay area thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today and mamas we'll see you on the next episode.