2017 was a helluva year for many, myself included. It was unpredictable, it was heavy, it was full of good and beautiful and wonder. The world seemed to change a lot in 12 short months, it became a bit heavier and a bit more confusing but I still choose to see the good in what these past 52 weeks brought. My year was certainly one filled with many emotions and many memories. Often at the start of the year I tend to panic a little, as I look out over blank calendar pages and fear “I have nothing planned, I have no work lined up, what will I do all year long?” But as always the tiny squares in the diary fill up and I can look back and see everything that came my way.
It certainly isn’t always good, starting the year with a sudden and shocking loss in my family that left a lot of questions and a lot of sadness was difficult but despite that loss I tried to remain open and curious. I spent a lot time figuring myself out and trusting the process of what was coming. I traveled and rested and spent time doing things that felt peaceful and calm and balanced that with many adventures and things I didn’t expect I’d do. Most of all though I stayed open to learning and accepting what came into my life in 2017, I tried to not hold on to the things I didn’t want and I’m ending the year feeling happy and and content and looking forward to all that 2018 brings.
I always try to share some things I learned in the year, maybe you learned the same things too. I’d love to hear the lessons you learned in 2017 or what you hope to learn in the new year.
- Take Care of Yourself
It should go without saying that when you start to take care of yourself, mentally and physically, things begin to shift in your life. I like to think that I live a rather healthy life but I also know that I don’t often follow the ideals that I’d like to have for myself. I drink more coffee than water, easily convince myself that it’s too cold/windy/rainy/hilly to go running, that sharing how I feel won’t help. But I learned this year, as in years past, that the time and energy you invest in your health really does have an impact. I started trying to drink more water and I noticed I had more energy, less headaches, and my skin looked healthier. I signed up for a half marathon and during training I felt my mind was clearer, my energy was more balanced, I felt happier. I opened up and shared how I was feeling with people close to me and while I felt vulnerable I also felt nurtured and cared for and that helped me feel like everything was going to be ok.
2. If you don’t See It, Make It
One of my goals for this year was to spend better time online. As a photographer, teacher and “content creator” I typically spend a lot of time either editing images or on social media. I started noticing how the photography communities I was in were getting quite toxic. It was less about sharing your success or artwork and more about picking apart gear, techniques used by professionals, or making fun of things found online. I didn’t want to be a part of that community but I didn’t see many other ones out there. So I started my own. I created a creative project called The Lightbulb Project, and opened up the invitation for others to participate. What followed was incredible, a naturally supportive, inspiring and creative group started to form and week after week it grew and became a place where people could create without fear, create without judgment and create without feeling pressure. It was the type of community I’d hoped that would exist online but I hadn’t found yet, which showed me that if you can’t find what you’re looking for, sometimes you need to get out there and make it for yourself!
3. Let It Go
I often find myself holding on to things for a long time. Fears, worries, annoying little thoughts. I’ll think about something that someone said for weeks after, often letting it build up in my mind until it becomes something much more intense than it was to begin with. I’ll start to worry about things long before they happen. I’ll build up the worry and hold it close almost to guarantee that it’ll happen. But this doesn’t help. So this year I tried, as best as I could, to let it go. I remembered the story a teacher told me about placing my worries into a hot air balloon and watch them float away, so I tried to do that each time I felt something was weighing on me. If someone’s posts online were becoming negative or bothersome or making me feel frustrated, I unfollowed them and let it go. If someone left a comment or said something that I felt was unfair or judgmental, I let it go. I started to treat things in my life less like huge emotional bricks that were building walls in my mind and more like tiny pebbles that I’d throw back into the water. I’d look at them, say to myself “ok, I don’t need this” and toss it back in. Letting go is hard, we want to keep habits and memories and even fears and worries close because we ‘know’ them, but there’s something refreshing and freeing about being able to let them go and start fresh.
4. Put It Out There
I’ve longed believed in the Law of Attraction, in the idea that what you focus your attention on will come into your life. I’ve had it show itself to me many times in the past. When I wanted to move into photography full time but couldn’t find a way, I would put it out there in to my work and into my thoughts “I want a sign to say I can do this” and I got a contract to work with Coca-Cola and FIFA that let me transition from working to photography full time. There were times when an unexpected bill would come my way and I would worry at first but then think to myself “I will find a way to pay this” and I would sell a photo or receive a payment for enough to cover the bill. So this year I started to look at this a bit closer, to manifest the things that I wanted and to put it out there if I couldn’t find the way myself. One of these examples of just putting it out there happened back in October, I’d come home to BC and found out that the astronaut Chris Hadfield was to be speaking at a sold out event, that I wanted to see but didn’t have tickets for. I have this nagging fear that asking for help is an inconvenience to others but I’m trying to fight that so I put it out there, on Facebook, that if anyone had any spare tickets or information on how to go, I’d love to connect. Less than 20 minutes later and I’d received about 10 messages including one invitation not just to attend but to photograph the event. On the day of the talk, I was able to not just attend the event, but meet Col.Hadfield and spend the day photographing him. And only because I put it out there, that it was something I wanted. This coming year I have some projects in mind that are centered around this, brands that I admire or things I want to do, so I’m creating the energy to make it happen.
5. Take More Photos
As a photographer this was a rather obvious lesson I learned, to take more photos. But it’s one that I often need to remind myself of. Sometimes, especially when travelling or when I’m with other people, I get distracted or overwhelmed or even guilty about stopping to take photos that I don’t take many at all. I learned this year to make the time and energy to take the photos I wanted. That if this is my job, I need to do it the way I need to do it. And of all the images I took, all the travels and adventures, and moments, I don’t regret stopping and taking a single image. I look back through all my folders, literally thousands and thousands of images and I feel so much happiness, so much presence in this world. I used to only shoot photos for creative pieces, I’d neglect the sunsets, the food, the interesting things happening around me, even the people in my life, but now I see that being able to have these images, to document my life and the lives of those that are important to me, brings me so much joy and love. So I learned to take more photos, even if it meant being cold or tired or asking someone to stop the car for a minute or two.
I hope you learned a lot in 2017, that you remained open and that you’ll step into the new year ready to embrace what comes into your life and to learn from the lessons that appear.
Happy New Year to you!