If there is one certainty I’ve learned about life in my short, thirty years, it is that life never turns out the way you had hoped it would. One day, life can be filled with so much hope and certainty; the next, full of despair and fear.

On a late July day deep into the wilderness, I knew I had to do this. I knew I had to reclaim the only thing left that I felt like I had control over: my body and the ever imperfect, complicated relationship I’ve always had with it. What would it be like to be bare, in nature, completely naked in every imaginable way? I was already in an utterly raw emotional state, and I wanted to let myself also be physically raw, to allow whatever needed to come to me to come and be within me as I stood in the woods completely bare.

And so in the early evening, as the sun was setting, I let myself be bare. And I was shocked at how little fear I felt as I stood in the middle of our wild Earth feeling completely vulnerable and yet utterly powerful. And it came to me: This body is mine. All of the lessons, comments, and messages from my years as a Mormon woman have no place within this body. It’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and I refuse to feel ashamed of it anymore.

In this natural state, I found my power amongst the trees and reclaimed myself. The Earth swallowed up my fears, my shame, my hopelessness, and left me with my true self: a strong, resilient woman who loves herself completely. In that moment, I found my power, my sense of self, and I felt at one with my body, my struggles, my imperfections, and I accepted it all. This is who I am, and I love who I am.

My body has carried me thus far and hopefully will continue to carry me as I experience more pain, more happiness, more uncertainty. And I will look back at this moment in the woods and remember who I found that day as the sun set on my bare form. And I will continue walking and running and crying and loving and living and experiencing everything through this beautiful, vulnerable, and powerful body that I love.

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