Sunday, January 31, 2016

Head/Heart: January 2016.

It's February! The speed of life is truly amazing. We only ever have the choice to go forward and go with it, come what may—which is why it's so imperative not to waste time and energy we will never get back on something that is keeping us from our true potential (sometimes, that something is ourself). I have, metaphorically speaking, emptied a lot of the contents of my heart and brain into this post already, so I'm just going to let you get right into it. Plenty of Canada photos at the bottom to reward you for getting to the end!

What I'm grateful for:

Beginning again.

There's something about the new year, or a new day, even. An opportunity to reinvent yourself; to learn from past mistakes; to make new choices. Today I am grateful for having been able to find peace—but I am even more grateful for the fact that this peace is here of my own doing. By being aware and accepting of who I am, by listening to my body, by actively choosing not to get involved in whatever crazy story my mind conjures up to disturb that peace, today I can rest in the comfort of knowing that for now, the dust has settled. This too shall pass, and I'm sure come a weekday morning I'll be feeling anything other than this—but I'm at peace with that, too.

The moments between.
I am also grateful for a specific moment in time. On our very last day in Vancouver, Martin and I walked around Stanley Park, Vancouver's giant, beautiful park sitting right at the edge of a bay, in the heart of the city. As the sun set, we decided to stop by a park bench and sit there awhile, underneath a great big tree that had long lost its leaves to winter. There we sat in a comfortable silence, perhaps the most comfortable silence I've ever known; even my heart and my mind were still, something that, for me, is rare. So relaxed I was, nestled in the arm of this man who takes care of me in more ways than he knows, that I fell asleep right there, to the sound of the gently lapping waves; the cyclists, the runners, and the conversations of passersby; the many birds, the light breeze through the many trees around us, and the low hum of city life. All the world fell away and became quiet, and I was safe, even from myself. That half hour, a seemingly ordinary and mundane way to spend the last few moments in a foreign city, is a half hour I will cherish forever. It's these little things that make life. A photo from this moment is the very last photo in this post.

What I've been thinking of:

Designing life.
Martin and I have continually asked ourselves: what kind of life do we really want? What steps can we take to design the life we want to live? What does that look like? We certainly don't want it to be full of stress; we do not believe in the proverbial rat race, and we don't care for riches, fame or glory; we want to travel often, and spend lots of time in nature. I personally want to create meaningful work more often, because my creativity is my vehicle for expression and I'm not sure I'd know life without it. But even that has started to wither and suffer, left behind while the rest of my life races ahead. I feel like I've forgotten how to create and that really, really bothers me. Only we are to blame for our own schedules being overwhelmed (this applies more specifically to me, than to Martin) and letting that lead us away from what makes us truly happy.

Upon getting back to our lives, we spent some time throwing things out (for what you own tends to own you) and adjusting our daily life to that which better aligns with our vision. Even something minor can be done every day to meet a goal; you can avoid buying lunch if your goal is to save money, disregarding the little voice that says “but it's only $5!”; you can take the stairs instead of the elevator if your goal is to be more active. One of my goals this year was more self-nurturing; more space between thoughts, speech, movement; to apply an almost meditative quality to all of life, which brings me to what I'm most looking forward to this year. Read on.

What I'm excited for:

A year of transition.
From next week onwards I will be working part-time, earning myself two extra days off every week. Whilst I've enjoyed working in design, photography has called for my attention more and more in the last few years. They always say that what you do in your spare time is what you should be doing for a living (although if what you do in your spare time is binge eating on the couch...or being a criminal...ignore this message). So, those two extra days off will earn me more time to keep up with my freelance work & personal projects whilst still working in design, which is not something I want to let go of completely.

I had always set out to be a designer during a day, and a photographer outside of that. This lifestyle kept me really quite content for a while—I was high off the momentum of finishing my design degree at uni, feeling inspired more than ever; I got a job within the same week of graduating and I was stoked to finally start my creative career in the real world. It felt like everything I got to do in my spare time during high school was something I was now going to be able to do all the time, and it kept me going.

Part of the reason why that was always my plan was because I never thought I'd be a good enough photographer to “make it” without having a day job. Further to that, I never thought I could be a full-time freelance designer or freelancer of any sort because I was convinced I wouldn't be good enough to survive. I think I actually still believe that, but working part-time is me dipping my toes in the water. I've suffered from massive burnout in the last three years from trying to keep up with it all, and I really do need the space to recover and retrieve my enthusiasm for a craft I love.

So, with that, I hope to present more personal work this year. I feel that I've been creatively held back for far too long.

What I've been doing:

Oh, Canada.
Most of this month was spent in Canada! Oh, how we adored Canada. Winter truly is my favourite season. Snow is more magical than I'd ever imagined, and it just makes you feel like a kid again. I think I love snow more than I would love any beach.

We spent time in both the west and east sides of the country, in several different cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Banff, Montréal, Toronto, and Whistler. I will of course, be expanding upon our adventures when I post the photos to the blog, but for now let me say it was nothing short of amazing.

P.S. I'll be posting the Tasmania photos to the blog soon, and (hopefully) shortly after will come the Canada photos!

Easing into life's routine, and making a new one.
It really is a new year. So far I've been doing well at holding myself accountable to my own goals. Martin and I have spent every weekend at home since we've been back in Australia—this is so rare and has probably never happened ever. Contrary to Camille as I've known her in the past, I've rather enjoyed staying home, not trying to cram an unreasonable amount of activities into a mere two days. I think this new attitude to having time off has come about from a number of things: yoga, teaching me to honour and love myself enough to relax; life, continually teaching me that I do, in fact, need time to myself, and that a busy life does not necessarily mean I am being more productive, nor does it help me to be more creative; and finally, perhaps the main catalyst is Martin, who for half a decade has truly, albeit unintentionally, taught me a thing or two about going with the flow. Martin and I are true opposites, but in our contrasting attitudes to life, we have grown.

In having more time, I will feel more focused elsewhere in life, and I'll have more energy to dedicate to what calls to me.

I'll have plenty of busy weekends ahead of me as the year starts to ramp up with all that I hope to achieve—but for now, I'll be here, re-watching Harry Potter (and the Prisoner of Azkaban) in my lounge room guilt-free as the summer rains go on outside.

What I've been reading:

40 Days of Dating, Jessica Walsh & Timothy Goodman
If you're unfamiliar with 40 Days of Dating, go to the website right now and prepare to spend lots of time there. I won't explain the project here because I don't really think my words can do it justice (plus you can find a great summary on the website), but designers Jessica & Tim wrote a book shortly after the project was finished and subsequently went viral. Martin got the book for me over a year ago but I haven't been very good with my reading, so it sat on the shelf for a long time: until now! I haven't yet finished, but I really loved this project so I know I'll enjoy the book.

On this, Jessica & Tim have started a new project called 12 Kinds of Kindness. As the name suggests, they go about learning how to become kinder, more empathetic people in a series of 12 steps. I really admire Tim & Jessie's commitment to their personal projects (especially as this is something I want to get better at), and how they have a mindset of play, creativity and experimentation. These guys are so great at thought/life experiments; their projects are fun and well-executed, and they tend to open up a meaningful dialogue about the human experience. I am so inspired by designers who can design beyond, well, design. Jessie is actually coming to Australia very soon and is hosting a series of AGDA talks: find tickets here.

Below: a month of play, January 2015.

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