Body Partnership

My Cross-Country Hula-Hooping Adventure

This post is about a cross-country hula-hooping adventure I had this summer what it taught me about social media and pressures to have a perfect life.

Under Pressure

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with social media. I think a lot of us do.

On the one hand, I love using social media to connect with friends and family and express myself through writing, art, and photography.

Selfie #4

On the other hand, I am certainly aware of the pressure social media can put on us to look perfect and to tailor our media pages to look polished and posh. Social media can make us feel as though we must have everything together and live perfectly beautiful lives all the time.

Worse yet, sometimes when we look at social media pictures, we worry that no matter how much we try, we will never look like that. We think that our life does not deserve to be highlighted, capture, or showcased—on social media, real life, or anywhere else.

Insomnia #6

This is definitely the dark side of social media. It can sometimes make us feel that only perfection deserves to be celebrated.

Trip Planning

I recently struggled with some of these worries while planning a cross-country road trip with my husband.

I love sharing beautiful, unique, and interesting things on my FB page for my friends and family—including interesting and silly photos of my husband and me. So, it would be totally normal and like me to post pictures of us doing stuff on our cross-country trip.

But posed pictures often make me really nervous. They often feel unnatural to me. I never know what to do with my hands; I get stage fright. And I feel all tense and scrunched up.

Weirdly enough, I like looking at other people’s pictures. I just don’t like posing for my own very well. (The exception to this is selfies, which have taught me a lot about self-love. You can read about that here.)

Comparison Games

On the other hand, some of my discomfort with posed pictures is due to the fact that I have a lot of problems comparing my pictures to other pictures on social media.

I look at professional yoga photos or the pictures of social media influencers. And I feel like in comparison, my pictures often look like those weird pictures from the eighties that people post as a funny meme on FB. (Also, I grew up in the eighties, so I probably have a lot of those pictures lying around somewhere).

I decided I wanted to honor my feelings of discomfort with posed pictures and to get over my socially-constructed feelings of not being polished enough.

So, I figured out a compromise.

I really loved being active and often feel comfortable with semi-posed shots that occur while I am engaged in some kind of joyful movement. One of my favorite activities is hula-hooping and hoop dancing.

So, I decided I would hula-hoop across the United states to document our cross-country adventures. (Of course, we took other pictures, too.)

Hooping #1

Hula-hooping somewhere in Utah

I loved my hula-hoop, photography adventure project.

Hooping #2

Hooping #2

Hula-hooping in the Salt Flats in Utah

I took some great pictures and some not-so-great pictures. (You can see some of my awkward ones at the end).

Hooping #4.jpg

Hula-hooping in Ashland, Oregon

Very few of my hooping pictures look perfect or very polished

Hooping #3

Hula-hooping in Crater Lake, Oregon

but they sure look like me doing something I love and having a great time.

Hooping #8

Hula-hooping in Smith River, California

Sometimes I look downright graceful . . .


Hula-hooping in Smith River, California

Hooping #12

Hula-hooping in the Redwoods in California

. . .and sometimes I look pretty awkward—that’s pretty much me: a whole lot of awkward grace.

Hooping #14

Hula-hooping at a beach somewhere in Oregon

I think that is all of us.

Z #8 (1).jpg

Hula-hooping in Newberg, Oregon

My hula hooping adventure made me reflect on life in general. For a lot of my life, I struggled with acute perfectionism.

Z #8 (2)

Hula-hooping in Bandon, Oregon

I used to feel like I had to be polished, professional, and in control of every situation.  My perfectionism pushed me to achieve a lot, but it also often made me miserable. (You can read more about this here.)

Hooping in Idaho

Hula-hooping in Snake River, Idaho

I avoided many wonderful, potentially life-giving activities because I was afraid of looking unpolished, ridiculous, or imperfect in some way.

Idaho #14 (2)

Hula-hooping in Bonneville River Basin, Idaho

My hula—hooping adventure reminded me that our purpose in life is never to look perfect and polished at all times. Our purpose is to live our unique, beautiful life in all of its perfect and imperfect moments.

Nebraska #9

Hula-hooping around Kearney, Nebraska

When we do this, we create a life that is uniquely ours and spectacular in its originality.

That’s when the magic happens.

Me in Nebraska


Photo credits go to my husband, John:


Also, thanks to my FXP Fitness hula hoop that breaks down into segments, so it is easy to transport on trips:

travel hoop #1

travel hoop #2.jpg

You can read more about this product here.


Whenever I take hooping pictures, some of them are always poorly conceived or executed. So here’s me, keeping it real:

awkward #3

Lopsided hula hoop–weird hand pose.

Awkward #2.jpg

Me trying to balance and about to fall over.

Idaho #3

This idea was good in theory but just looked really odd in the end.

24 thoughts on “My Cross-Country Hula-Hooping Adventure”

  1. Oh my goodness! I love this! Your are beautiful inside and out! The hula hoop is fantastic! May I reblog this? Such a powerful message!!

      1. Also: I am so happy about the award nominations you have given me lately, and I am going to be doing each of them. We just go back from our trip, so it will take me a few months to catch up!

  2. Reblogged this on Growing Self and commented:
    When I woke up this morning, Shelly’s post was one of the first things I read. What a powerful message to us all! Shelly sure knows how to Love Herself and Embrace Herself! I hope her post sets the tone for your day, on this beautiful Friday!

    As always, thank you Shelly for your gifts! You are a blessing!

    Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

  3. I love your pictures! You are so talented and creative! I’m glad you had a great trip and we loved seeing you and John!

  4. This is so beautiful Shelly and you look gorgeous. There is so much to say about this post and the pressure we as a society put into ourselves. It’s not just social media, even though it is a bragging platform for many and few actually have the life they portray there. The friendly competition has gone out the window and many feel the stresses of keeping up in order to be accepted and validated by others while losing themselves a little more as time goes on. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and everybody is beautiful and unique in their own way. I loved that you made your journey your own with your hula hoop and that you are staying true to yourself. The right people will always love you for who you are and in the end that is all that matter. You are a beautiful soul and you don’t need to change a thing. Be-YOU-tiful. Hugs xo ??

    1. Rhapsody, this is such a kind and generous comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I totally agree with you that we often feel so consumed by keeping up, and we lose ourselves along the way. Thank you so much for the beauty and light you share and for inspiring me and so many others!

      1. Thank you sweet Shelly. As always your words are the kindest and come from a heart pure and sincere. It warms my heart to have been able to send some inspiration here and there and that my ramblings matter to wonderful people such as yourself. Thank you. Keep going, you are doing it yourself and in the most wonderful way. Hugs xo

  5. Great pictures! Great adventure! Great thoughts on social media and the potential harm we must be aware of to maintain our confidence and reality. If you get stage fright, check out Liberated Performer. It’s for classical musicians but can help if you ever perform!

    Rock on.

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