So if you’re a subscriber, you would’ve recently witnessed my “oh… crap” moment in which I hit the blue “Publish” button, which looks an awful lot like the blue “Save Draft” button. Everybody’s hit the wrong button – even the head of Twitter accidentally (and rather embarrassingly) tweeted something meant to be in a private message – so I figured I’d get on actually writing the post those notes were intended to be, stat! It takes me a while to compile a post. I have to have a good chunk of information and thoughts to share before sitting down to share something, and I’ll often spend weeks jotting things down to later revisit – events, stray fragments of opinion or imagination floating around inside my head whose home will eventually be on this page, or articles I’ve read that have given me food for thought. Such was the case when my cursed fingers hit that button today, so hopefully everybody just hit the delete button and didn’t read the part where I called somebody an asshole. #WishfulThinking #StupidBrainWhereAreYourManners
Anyway, enough about cock-ups, and on with the actual piece! Life has continued to be busy and wonderful, filled with good friends, art projects, big strides in music, expanding my photography skills with classes, and lots of love and excitement. J. and I booked an epic trip to Europe for the end of July in which we’ll be jetting off to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Paris, and London – all within 16 days! It’s going to be an absolute whirlwind, but I can’t wait to see new friends and old, take in breathtaking sights, learn and be moved by our human history, and watch with glittering eyes vast cathedrals and structures by night. Not only do I get to see some of the things I’ve wanted to my entire life, but I get to see them with the love OF that life. We’ll be spending our half-year as well as the Perseid meteor shower under foreign skies, and it’s going to be nothing short of incredible.
The downside is it has left me thoroughly poor with a hefty chunk of debt to pay off, and short of selling my furniture (seriously, come and take a look at my empty house!) I’m looking for opportunities to earn extra income to get me out of this hole. It’s just money – we have one life, and this is going to be massively up there in terms of memories, joy and experience – and I’ll always make more. But I hate being tied down to this. Need an extra job doing? I can burst into song for you. Make you a costume. Cook you dinner? Take your photograph? Clean your house. I’ve already turned down my dear friends’ suggestions of prostitution and drug lording it up, but any suggestions that don’t involve either of the aforementioned career avenues or online surveys would be more than welcomed. Especially if you’re in the development stages of some new Fringe drug and need test subjects; I’m all for the potential side effect of random super powers.
I’m hoping that in time, photography will be something I might be able to earn from. It’s become such a huge passion – I’ve fallen in love with not just simply capturing images, but creating art – telling stories, and transporting people to magical worlds through whimsical photographs. I want to create more magic. But it’d be nice if it occasionally paid. Over the last couple of months I’ve been developing my skill set in taking classes at our photography school, and I’ve learned a lot. I just started a second class, but with all this new knowledge (and determination) comes the sad realization that I just don’t have the equipment to create things as brilliantly as I want to. I have a camera that cost me $500, two kit lenses, and my MacBook Air, upon which I do all my editing with a tiny screen, no mouse, and a little trackpad. It’s basically finger painting. Now I know things about aperture and ISOs and shutter speeds, I know what I need to be able to create REALLY good images. But these things are expensive as all hell. I did finish my website, and I finally got approved as an Official Registered Business (like a real grown up!) with the province of Manitoba, but I think my next step has to be looking into grants, perhaps? I can’t take on another loan. My friend Jen, who’s created some amazing images with me lately, is currently working on a “downgraded” series after her lens broke and she’s stuck with an old kit lens herself. To show that no matter what your equipment, if you have the drive and imagination you can still create great art. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. I have big dreams for this summer, and every intention of making each one something real. Besides, although being successful financially would be nice, I consider being of value to others more a success than having a healthy bank balance.
Some of Jen‘s amazing work from our shoots
People keep asking me lately how (and why) I do so many things. If you looked at my Google calendar, you’d probably get a bit of a headache. It’s quite impossible for me to entertain the thought of leaving work for the day at 5:00 and going home and not having plans. Sitting on the sofa and watching television? Nope. I can’t do it. I have to be actively socializing (sometimes that entails sitting and watching things, but with company, it’s a shared experience you can bond over), being productive, or creating. There are so many ideas, projects, visions and dreams in my head, and it kills me to think of their existence ending there. They need to pour out into the world and I must be their vessel. It’s not a chore – it’s a continual awareness that a) our time on this earth is finite, and I don’t want to look back and say I wasted a single moment, and b) I already did waste far too much time up until a few years ago, when something catastrophic happened that turned my world upside down and propelled me toward changing absolutely everything from the inside out. Sometimes, I think the universe tries to guide you with whispers and little signs, but our inner monologues can become so loud, we don’t hear it. Then sometimes the universe shouts louder. Shoves consequences to your current actions in your face until you have no choice but to look them square in the eye and ask yourself, is this really who I want to be? My answer was a massive no, and the road has been rocky, but as I’ve mentioned recently, people I’m meeting now describe the person I was as unrecognizable. And that means more to me than I could ever say. I’m not saying I’m done yet. I don’t think any of us are ever finished products. We’re works in progress. Beautiful, half-finished paintings on this canvas of life so vast and ready to be filled with colour and stories and adventures. Empty maps awaiting the paths of our travels. Even if we don’t know where we’re going, we all have the power to shape the way we want to get there, and foster the spirit with which we go. Starve the mental voices that tell us we can’t and feed the ones that fuel our growth as people. Changing our habits can be such a powerful thing.
I’ve been thinking lately about that. The power of choice and control over our own lives. We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, and we all get to choose what we do with them. I’ve posted the jellybean video before, but it’s worth a re-watch. Look at how much time is spent on sleep, work, chores, running around, commuting. Look how much has already been used up. And look how little is left. How much is already gone? That residual time is yours. You may feel the need to be filling it with obligations to others, to catching up on chores, to responding to e-mails leftover from the day… but none of us are going to look back on our lives and remember all the time we spent fulfilling duties. We’re going to wish we had more spent with our loved ones, or pursuing passions, learning new things, going on adventures. Loving. Listening. Laughing. And guess what? We can all do that right now. It might sound a little morbid to look at your life “from the deathbed”, but the good news is we’re not on our deathbeds. We have the rest of our lives, and we get to choose how we spend that extra time. Fill life with what makes you happy. Fill it with what makes you grow. Fill it with experiences and build memories and blanket forts and go and see things on the other side of the world. Learn people. Truly and deeply, from the inside out. Build bonds that transcend the everyday into something sacred and beautiful. Don’t be afraid to share your heart or tell others how much they mean. They could be gone tomorrow. You don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings or respond to a message the moment it arrives. The world won’t end if you wait until you’re ready. And don’t feel you have to keep people in your life who aren’t contributing to it positively. You get to choose. Choose wisely, and happily. Be a leader.
I’ve thought lots about the idea of leadership lately, too. I’m not sure why – perhaps it was the article I read in Time recently about career choices of all things, or perhaps it was that John Maxwell book I read a few years ago, but I don’t think the term “leader” has to be restricted to positions of authority. Anyone can be a leader, a person of influence. I think a true leader doesn’t stand at the top, barking down orders, telling others what to do. I think a leader is someone you find beside you, who just by being who they are, inspires you to see potential within yourself – but more importantly, inspires an intrinsic motivation to reach it. The ‘traditional’ leader will tell you what to do and you’ll do it because you have to. And it won’t mean a thing, because the choice wasn’t yours. A true leader inspires and encourages, shows interest in you as a person, and sees you for what you can be. That can be the most powerful catalyst in the world in terms of motivation. I wouldn’t have been led so quickly and deeply into this world of photography and making music had I not met J. He has a gift of seeing potential and making you just want to go out there and make it happen. It’s quite remarkable, and something I aspire to – I’ve always wanted to help others, those who are stuck with dreams believing they can’t ever achieve them. I’ve always wanted to show them they can. I think we can all be leaders in this way. By seeing people, and encouraging them. Making them feel they can do anything. I feel extremely lucky, these days.
“It is our duty to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.” So proceed. “The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.” (And isn’t it wonderful, to do impossible things?) And a favourite, from my all-time favourite television programme: “Only one who risks going too far can truly find out how far he can go.” That one was Walter Bishop. A cornucopia of wisdom. 🙂
Life is good. I feel more real, more myself, happier and more confident than I ever have been, and I’m truly happy. I hope with everything that in your world, all is good too.