the story behind the pics

By April 5, 2016 17 Comments

Hi5 Studio-Tara Mohr

I want to tell you the story behind these new photos.

I didn’t schedule a photo shoot. I didn’t pay attention to hair or makeup. I didn’t think through what I was wearing that morning.

I’ve been working at a beautiful, new co-working space – The Hivery. It’s an amazing place that supports women in creating the lives and work they desire.

In that community, there’s a lovely woman, Sophia Mavrides, who is a brilliant visual designer and photographer, and she offered to take these pictures as a gift.

I’m honestly a little surprised, and teary, that I could show up in a community where I felt comfortable enough to ask someone to help with photos – and help that very same day – so I could send them on to Design*Sponge for a quick turnaround. It was incredible that that person said yes. While I truly love (and believe in) paying other women for their work, it was also very special to do something outside of that transactional mode. And it was incredible to have such a beautiful place, a place lovingly created for women, to take those photos.

I was surprised to observe in myself an attitude that was essentially this: “I’m going to take some quick photos at the end of a rather hectic day, without any attention to my hair or makeup, and with no thought to what I’m wearing, because I have bigger fish to fry today, and I’d rather look like the real me anyway.”

That attitude in me is partly, I think, a fruit of motherhood but it was also about the place and way these photos were being taken. With the support of people who embrace me, value me for my contribution and make me feel at home, I didn’t have some of the self-objectifying and self-critical thoughts I’d otherwise have on a photo-taking afternoon.

I am an only child. I grew up with lots of friends, but not with what I would call community. Community – understanding what it is, finding the communities that are right for me, feeling a sense of belonging – continues to be a growth edge in my life.

It has been so moving to me to be a part of (and feel a part of – that’s the harder part, no?) this particular community at The Hivery, and to see how it is nurturing all the women who are a part of it, including me.

So what does this all mean, and why is it relevant to all of us?

1. Hurray for virtual and independent work, but don’t forget about the nourishment of community. It’s remarkable to be alive in this time when working independently and flexibly is easier than ever, but this wonderful way of working can also leave us isolated. Virtual communities can make a huge difference, and physical community undeniably gives something different and important. I think we often intuitively know if we need more community in our lives, and if you have that inkling, I hope you’ll listen to it and do something about it.

On that note: before this co-working space existed, I was part of a small, roving co-working group with a few other women entrepreneurs. A few days a month, we met in one of our homes, working in a shared space for the day, then breaking for a long catch-up, brainstorming, laughter-filled lunch. It was amazingly nurturing for all of us – personally and professionally. Any woman working from home can do that – for free – in her community. Just put out the call.

2. Hurray for doing inner work, but don’t forget about the importance of being known and loved by others. I’ve spent the last several years helping women develop the inner resources, the mindset shifts, and the daily practices for their playing big. This is so important, particularly as a corrective to the way women are socialized to put others’ opinions above their own, to people-please, and to turn outward rather than inward for guidance.

And yet, it never felt right to me to do this work primarily through one-on-one coaching, because I’ve always seen how women make the journey better when we do it together. Being seen for who we are by others matters. Learning from others and cheering them on helps us. This is why I believe so strongly (and have focused my time and energies on) group programs for women. Both inner work and supportive relationships are needed.

I know that many of you already live and breathe community in a way that I am eager to learn from. I know many of you, like me, find this an area with some edges and challenges. I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts and wisdom in the comments.

Love to you –


Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Lindsey says:

    I love this. These photos, this backstory, and frankly everything that The Hivery represents. xox

  • Leila Fanner says:

    You were happy, and it shows. Love the idea of The Hivery…wow!

  • Jacqueline says:

    Yes! I’m an artist and us artists have a tendency to stay in our studios, not venturing out into the “real” world. I’m ok being on my own but I recognize that it’s not good for me – I become sullen, de-motivated, lonely. I run an arts nonprofit and honestly I do that as much for myself as I do for the other artists. People thank me for volunteering so much of my time to help them, but they don’t realize that I NEED it otherwise I’d go crazy!

  • What a thoughtful and important post. I have been working in virtual environments- first as an adjunct professor and now an energy healer for the past 10+ years- I too look forward to easing more and more into community with grace.

  • Michelle says:

    Community is SO important! And I love the connection you bring between motherhood and a new attitude. (But I am a little biased about how motherhood is such a gift for personal growth! ; )
    Love your work Tara.

  • Andrea says:

    I love this gentle motivator to venture out! I tend to get into a rut and because I have my family around me I don’t notice that weeks can go by where I don’t connect with my “tribe”. Thank you!

  • Bonnie says:

    I find myself hesitating at the possibility of being part of a group of women. As much as I love women and enjoy working one on one with other women, I have always found female groups intimidating. At some point, I usually end up being ignored, insulted, or otherwise disrespected.
    I know that other women don’t usually have this experience and I don’t have it with men or mixed groups. I love being part of a community, but women in a group can be very cruel and disrespectful of other women.

  • Kaye says:

    hello Bonnie I’m sorry this has been your experience.

  • Kaye says:

    Yes I’m too isolated and I do need to make some efforts to compensate for that. Thanks Tara.

  • Wow, thank you for being brave enough to share that experience Bonnie. That is a reminder to all of us that when we see women behaving the way that you have described that we need to speak up, stand up to the ‘Queen Bee’ attitude, and catch ourselves if we are not being inclusive. I have two teenage daughters that I’m trying to coach around calling out the ‘mean girls’ – not an easy thing to do when they attend a small all-girls school where there is a lot of pressure to ‘blend in’ rather than ‘play big’.

  • Heather says:

    At times, I have also found all women groups to be judgemental and ruthless– like I was at my job with the pack of men I work with –only the women were harsher and had zero humor. I would come away from the encounters feeling like an alien. Where were all the kind people? I know they exist — in my family, online–mmm, in books? For a while, I quit socializing with any women my age –I went 10 years younger or older. Finally, now I have some female friends my age. It has definitely been a process, but one I’ve found brings me both anxiety and wonderful rewards.

  • Kathleen says:

    I’m moving north next month and have had the Hivery on my list to explore. Excited!

    I love so much about what you wrote here Tara… I so agree that we do require community to most fully thrive – and group programs are one way to create a beautiful space for community. I do feel, however, that there is an equally empowering transformation and sense of support that can only be accessed in the intimacy of one-on-one work. My stance is to encourage women to explore both avenues and gift themselves with what best serves their needs in the moment.

    It made me smile to see your fresh and vibrant photos. Bowing to Sophia for her generosity and your willingness to receive. Beautiful! That you had such a luscious day and photo experience that left you feeling really good in your own skin is wonderful. But you made one comment that left me feeling a little uncomfortably tickled – “without any attention to my hair or makeup, and with no thought to what I’m wearing, because I have bigger fish to fry today, and I’d rather look like ‘the real me’ anyway.” I raise this because in my work of supporting women around Personal Presence (how we show up in the world) I hear so many women making this kind of reference – as though when we add a little makeup or pay attention to what we’re wearing – we’re somehow not being or looking like – the “real me.” There’s a quiet reference that suggests we’re being contriving. And sometimes I see this land with women as though there’s an air of judgment (for others and ourselves) I want to present an alternative way of looking at this topic.

    I often use food as an analogy for this idea around “looking like the real me” commentary. Bear with me. As a chef, I can take a simple medley of beautiful fresh vegetables and toss them on a plate. Do they taste delicious? Yes. And there’s nothing lacking in this offering of good, healthy food. But I can, on occasion, cut the same vegetables in certain lovely ways, and then plate them on a beautiful piece of china or pottery and present them on a white tablecloth and somehow those same fresh vegetables are enhanced and it can uplevel your experience of them. It’s not a falsity… it’s an enhancement – an alternative. It’s not required in order for us to savor or enjoy the fresh veggies… but it is a different and lovely experience. I look at “enhancing ourselves” the same way. Sometimes, running-out-the-door being our most simple and fresh selves is perfect and fitting – and sometimes enhancing our Presence with some makeup or intentionality around what we wearing, can be equally fitting, lovely and respectful to our environ. I contend that if someone doesn’t feel like the “real me” because they’re putting on a little makeup or dressing for a certain occasion… perhaps they haven’t yet learned to align their inner self and have it reflected naturally in their exterior presentation. There’s no reason to ever feel that you’re showing up as inauthentic or untrue to you. There’s every reason to learn how to never feel that way again! Learning to create your Signature Presence is in support of that… helping you learn how to take the beauty and brilliance of what’s inside you and have it reflected in everything you do… how you dress, how you speak, the environments you create – the way you move through your world. It’s a very empowering process that leaves us feeling more fully expressed as our truest selves… not our false or contrived selves. It’s so much less exhausting than trying to be on trend or showing up, as you stated, not feeling like you.

    I know I’ve rambled (give me a soap box 🙂 but I want women to feel like the creative Chef when it comes to their Presence. Play with the fresh veggies all different ways. Keep it simple and fresh and sometimes, pull out the white tablecloth and good china… The Art is to learn how to allow YOU to shine through beautifully, brilliantly and authentically – no matter how you show up!

    Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. Hope to see you at Hivery soon!

  • Karen Bongiorno says:

    Hi Tara, This is so true! Community is very important. Love the Hivery. Best!

  • Tara, we couldn’t be more grateful for the positive, honest, and thoughtful presence that you bring with you each time you enter The Hivery.

    The Hivery is a community with core values of kindness, connection, and support. I have a deep and firm belief that women instinctually want to support and help each other; this is our natural, resting state. I think that women (or people, in general) only move outside of these supportive values when we are put in structures that focus on comparison or competitiveness. When we frame our potential as women with a strong focus on supporting each other, the most beautiful, reciprocal connections and growth are created. I am grateful and privileged to watch women every day at The Hivery share their expertise, voice, encouragement, and true selves with the other women in the community, and I am constantly blown away by the contagious, reciprocal effect of their kindness and interest in each other.

    Thank you so much for writing about the incredible power of women connecting to each other and creating communities of support. You are such a shining example of women helping women in powerful and meaningful ways.

  • Linda Lesem says:

    I am touched to have read this blog, Tara. I feel much the way you do about the Hivery. I am a coach and a counselor, and for years and years, I have had clients write their visualization statement as part of a process towards identifying their own goals and moving them forward into a life they would be delighted to live.

    The instructions were very simple, “write about what you can imagine for yourself as a future self, that is wildly delicious and utterly fabulous, and would be a dream come true….”

    When I found mine, written years ago, I had started this way….

    “I would be part of a group of caring, smart, kind, talented and gracious women, in some type of cooperative community where we all inspire and help each other to be our very best selves.

    Need I say more? Thank you Grace for the HIvery, thank you Tara for putting so beautifully into words, what I feel in my own heart.


  • Madeline says:


    Cool post! This same topic has been weighing on my mind…

    I just moved across the country to a new job in order to “play big,” and the experience has been very disheartening. Very little respect in the environment—which I can live with and try to inspire change. However, I never realized how important my old community was in motivating me (and others like me) to create positive change! There’s something important yet intangible about that kind of community support.

    Anyhoo, there is a 75% chance that “playing big” for me will mean moving back to my old community, where I will try to live out the hopes and dreams I had when I entered this job across the country. 🙂

    In other news: I have a “Playing Big”book group with some phenomenal women who range from a high-ranking exec to a just-graduated future yoga teacher. So inspiring to learn from both ends of the age spectrum and come together around the message of “Playing Big”!

    Keep up the good work PBers!

  • Jennie Moore says:

    This really touched me because I noticed how you just glowed and looked so natural in the photos before I even read the article. I’ve recently updated my online portfolio and launched a blog, and have wanted for nearly a year to have some new headshots taken, (cause the portrait my 5 year old did is cute, but people probably want to see what my face looks like when it’s not drawn in brown crayon.) Except there’s so much PRESSURE around getting a photo taken I keep putting it off! There’s even a very talented photographer where I work who’s offered to shoot me anytime if I just let him know. But I’m so wrapped up in wearing the right thing and waking up with no visible undereye bags and making sure my hair looks respectable (but not too respectable) and on and on, that I have yet to do it. So you have inspired me to just go for it, (in so many ways) and care less about the color of my lipstick and more about the happiness and confidence I’m projecting. So thank you for this, and everything you share with all of us!

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