Sunday, September 13, 2015

Head/Heart: August 2015.

I came out of a full and fast July into an even fuller August. I spent most of it alone, with Martin being in Sydney for two weeks: the longest I've ever been at home by myself. I knew there was a lesson there, in my being completely alone in one of the busiest fortnights of my year: I balanced my final month of yoga teacher training (with 2 exams and an assignment), 7 unexpected shoots, and my day job all at once. It was a pretty unique fortnight, one I handled surprisingly well.

Years ago being alone with my own thoughts for any period of time would be pretty anxiety-inducing. This time, I cherished it, and in a fortnight so full it was probably just what I needed. I savoured the silence and the stillness, but more than that, I was able to remind myself how truly capable I was; how truly strong and calm I could be. I was given an opportunity to meet any and all adversity from the position of a witness: simply observing what came without getting caught up in the mental drama of the thing. Besides—I was probably too busy to even be stressed.

What I'm grateful for:

To have been born into a life of safety, health, and good fortune.
There is so much pain and suffering in the world. There always has been, and most likely always will be. With Syria's refugee crisis continuing to make headlines especially after the heart-breaking images of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi circulated worldwide, one of the simplest, smallest things we can do is to hug our loved ones close with deep gratitude. Every conversation, every thought about him, every outpouring of love in his honour comes from a place of good, and we take that goodness out into the world with us. Little ripples of kindness flow into the big ones, and before long the changing will become the changed. Be grateful for all that you have and for who you have, because it is from this space we can all be compassionate to all beings, without judgement or fear.

Before you sit there and think, “what?”, I really mean this. How often do you stop to be thankful for yourself? Not from a place of narcissism or ego, but rather from a place of self-love—a concept most of us are not familiar with! Self-love and self-compassion are just as important as loving others: how can we love others to the best of our ability if we are constantly being hard on ourselves? Most people can't even find 5 nice things to say about themselves. Eventually that internal negativity spreads to everyone we come into contact with and before long, we've started viewing the world through a lens of pessimism, cynicism and resentment.

On Saturday, as we graduated from teacher training, for the first time ever I thanked myself—thanked myself for showing up, for being committed, for making the decision to start teacher training to begin with, knowing full well how much “stuff” it would work up and how much would be involved. When was the last time you thanked yourself for anything—and what if we all made this a daily ritual?

What I've been thinking of:

How can I do more?
Each and every one of us is in a position to do something for another, or for a cause greater than ourselves. I regularly think about how I can marry photography or design with my desire to help humanitarian causes. I'm still waiting for that “aha” moment, and I know it will come when I least expect it, but for now I keep doing whatever small things I can. I am hoping to incorporate regular volunteer work into my life as the years go on. What do you do to contribute or do you do any volunteer work on a weekly basis? I'd love to hear from you if you do.

Ever the forward thinker, I'm envisioning what next year looks like. Admittedly I usually look ahead 2-5 years (okay, maybe 10, or 20, or 30...), but the closer the future gets, the better able I am to make more specific decisions for my goals according to my current circumstances. I usually start each year with some overarching goals, some loose goals, some definite goals, and my year (as with the years thereafter) gets shaped by the things I say yes or no to today. I'm pretty happy with what I've achieved this year so far, and lots of opportunities have come up that I didn't even expect to have so that's been a real bonus.

What I'm excited for:

Photography Basics Workshop, Brisbane.
Yes, this girl moves fast! Just last month I mentioned here that I'd like to run a photography workshop, and today I can say I am. Life's too short not to say yes to things you want to do. I have partnered up with the folks at Work-Shop to bring you the Photography Basics Workshop on October 17, held at South Brisbane. If you or someone you know would love to improve their photography skills and refresh their knowledge of the absolute basics, come and join me—I hope to see you there.

The next chapter of my yoga journey.
As of Saturday last week, I am now a certified yoga teacher! What an incredible journey the last 6 months has been, and what an honour to be able to share the gift of yoga, mindfulness and self-love with others for the rest of my life. Next year I will most likely take up more training—there's so much more to learn! I am taking a small pause before I actively seek teaching opportunities, teaching family and friends in the meantime. I'm sure I'll keep you posted when I start public classes, but for now, if you, someone you know or a studio you know of is looking for a yoga teacher, do feel free to let me know.

What I've been doing:

I seriously thought I was done with new shoots from June onwards, until a couple of opportunities came up that I couldn't say no to. The great news is that they will be ongoing client relationships, so it will be nice to have regular, minor shoots in between my big jobs. I can't share most of these shoots until November, but if you follow me on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram I'm sure you'll get an update when they're released!

Saying yes.
Throughout my life I've said no to a lot of things, opportunities that could have enriched my life experience and help me grow as a person: mostly because I doubted myself, and I was afraid of failing before I even started. In the last few years, I've learnt to say yes to that which ignites a fire within me: teacher training was one of those things, Borneo was another. It's not about saying yes to every single thing that comes your way, but rather taking the plunge with things you can feel your heart yearning for even when your brain tries to come in, rationalising everything and ruining the whole party. Typically, when you feel passionate about something, you are being gently nudged to your deeper, more meaningful purpose. You don't always need to know where saying yes will lead: it's enough to simply take the first step, following the entire staircase to see where it can take you.

Since 2013 I have kept a journal. I've had one on and off in the last 10 years, but this time the habit has stuck. It's incredibly important for me especially in this age where we're constantly typing away in front of screens or rushing about, never having enough time to pause and reflect. It's also a really great way for me as a deep feeler, a deep thinker and an introvert to be able to express myself, empty my brain and speak to someone without speaking to anyone. I always feel a lot calmer, because journaling is one of the best ways to process, pause and appreciate everything that's going on before continuing on with life from a clearer headspace. Bonus: I have a stronger ability to articulate and express myself to others in real life conversations, and every now and then I flick back a few pages to see what the Camille of the past was writing about. It's a great way to see how far I've come on whatever I'm working on within myself.

What I've been reading, learning, making:

Français: French
I took up French in high school and I've been recently refreshing my knowledge before our trip to Canada at the end of the year. I know we'll be able to get by with English, but my brother will be staying in French Canada during his study abroad semester and it will be good to teach him a few things. Plus, I keep hearing that sometimes, if you try to order from a café in Francophone Canada without making the effort to speak French, they can get offended (much like how some people in Western countries tell you to learn English or leave, I guess). If you've been to French Canada, you'll have to let me know if this has been your experience! Also, I really need advice on suitable footwear that won't get ruined by the salt they use to melt the snow.

Safari: A Photicular Book by Dan Kainen & Carol Kaufmann
This book was first pointed out to me by one of my colleagues during a trip to GOMA. I loved it and knew I'd have to get it one day—watch this video here if you aren't familiar with photicular/lenticular imaging, it will explain why the book is so much fun.

I bought this for Martin's nephew's 4th birthday (a present that is both educational and fun—I am a great aunt), but I'm going to have to read it before I hand it over. It's got lots of information about animals in Africa and a little story about a safari (which I hope to do one day). Hopefully it survives the life of a 4 year old!

Below: diving in, August 2015.


  1. I always love reading these Camille, they remind me to step back and reflect too! I studied abroad in French Canada too (though I'm American so I guess that barely qualifies as "abroad" ;) It depends where he will be. I went to Concordia in Montreal; if he's in Montreal they won't be offended if you start in English but of course they love it if you start with a "bonjour." Often, they'll hear your accent upon greeting and switch right into English with you. There are many Anglophones there who will want to start in English with you anyway. I remember finding the places I knew hired people with not so great English just so I could finally practice some more! The other cities in Quebec, like Quebec City have less Anglophones and will appreciate some French upfront the most! Quebec is such an incredible, incredible place. He is so lucky, you'll have a great time! ps: French Canadian is quite a bit different than Parisian French, I didn't realize that until I got there and then I felt like a pompous idiot, haha! It's more relaxed (like Aussie/American English versus posh England English). If you order food you don't say "Je voudrais..." like in France you'd say "Je veux...", etc. You both might like this site I practice and keep up with since it's so hard to find real Quebecois resources:

    1. Hey Rebecca, thanks for taking the time to comment, it's great to hear from you! I think studying in Canada even if you're from America still counts as “abroad” ;)

      Luckily the formal vs. the casual is one of the first things we learnt in French at high school. In terms of France, I've been told it's generally okay to use the formal if you're speaking to someone you don't know but now I'll keep in mind that it may be more comfortable and more expected to speak casual French in Montreal! Thanks so much for the website link also, I'll definitely have a look and pass it onto my brother too. :)