Advice for Moms

My Self-Portrait with My Twelve Year Old Daughter

Me Ra Koh

Get ready, it’s a long one today!  My self-portrait with my twelve year old daughter is where I start my new year.

My Self-Portrait with My Twelve Year Old Daughter

What started out as a creative experiment six years ago became a passion.  Self-portraits are my way of visually documenting the different seasons I walk through as a woman, wife, artist and mom.  I envision my children someday drawing strength from this growing photo collection, as they see the many struggles and dreams their mom embraced.

Why this self-portrait?

I wanted to capture a portrait that expressed the churning inside me.  As many of you know, we are working on all the logistics to begin filming our family travel show concept that we’ve created which will cover six countries and five continents.  For the next year, our little family of four will live like nomads going from one country to the next, capturing, filming and embracing adventure at every turn.

But over the last year, I’ve struggled to fully embrace the vision.  It has been a heart process, combined with grief and passion, to respond to the pull both Brian and I feel.  When a new creative vision comes knocking on your heart’s door, you know it’s true if it requires both passion and sacrifice.  Even though our family has lived in a house in Thailand’s jungle for months at a time or journeyed to Egypt during revolution, I have always lived near my dear parents.  Why not rent our home and just return?  We may return.  But when I’m quiet with Brian, and we listen together, we feel the pull to let it go and trust what we can’t see–to fully step into the unknown.

With Brian’s help, we created a self-portrait that symbolizes the transition my heart has been going through.  We set up our bed, writing desk, and a number of other details in the middle of a field.  We even lined up the bed to where the grass changes from being cut to uncharted–even wild–because that is what I sometimes feel we are headed into.  I am climbing the steps to get a higher vision, bigger perspective, but I’m struggling to let go of my sweet home, my wonderful neighbors, my incredible parents being only twenty minutes away, all that is familiar and safe.

My twelve-year-old daughter, Pascaline, is standing in the field already.  She is fearless and already way ahead of her mama.  But she is also drawing, a deep passion.  She is symbolic of the truth that my children are always watching mom and taking notes, whether they are conscious of it or not.  Whether I am conscious of it or not.

I want to model courage for her.  Not fear or doubt.  As I walk through the process of finding a deeper courage within me, I’m inspired to not give up because she is observing and learning from my actions all the time.

Phew.  That is my self-portrait for 2014.

The creative process came as I stepped forward.  I started with a picture of our bed in a field and me climbing up steps but had no idea how to create it.  I’m not great at drawing like Pascaline, but I did sketch the idea out so Brian could visualize it.  He added his thoughts, and then we just got out there with everything and groped around in the dark to create something I so deeply felt but couldn’t tangibly see yet.  The placement of Pascaline came unexpected, and yet I can’t picture this self-portrait without her.

Forgive me if my process gets repetitive.  You can tell I am in the heart of it all as the day to leave draws closer and closer.  And yet we still need a couple miracles to happen in the next five weeks for this to all be a go!  Talk about living on the EDGE!  And then there is the small voice in the back of my head that says “What if you do all this preparation and don’t end up getting what you need to leave?  How foolish you will look.  How much time you will have wasted.”  Does that voice sound familiar to you?  It’s a nasty one that is so tempting to curl up with at night.  It is one that I can’t afford to acknowledge.  If the voice proves right, there is still a deeper truth.  I have ALREADY grown so much through this process of letting go and trusting.  And that can never be taken from me.

Self-portraits are powerful, visual place markers.  They validate the constant process and transformation we are going through each day, whether we are aware or not.

What would your self-portrait look like this new year?

See the results when 11 Women Open Up about Their Self Portraits for a New Year.



*Shot with SONY NEX-6, using SmartRemote App.


  1. So awesome! Little p just looks so confident and I can feel you are getting strength from her. Amazing.