It’s that time of year again. And it seems this old blog hasn’t be updated in a year, which is funny to think that just 8 years ago I didn’t miss a day without making an entry. Ah, but people’s attention spans get shorter and social media gets more visual and abbreviated, so what else would one expect. So, here goes it—my official end of year reflection post for 2018.
This year kinda sucked. I don’t want to come off as a total Negative Nancy, or as an ungrateful jerk because I absolutely am grateful, but man, parts of it really kinda did. That’s not to say it was without fantastic highlights, because there were many. That’s life though, right? Peaks and valleys peppered with both ugly and beautiful moments that we compartmentalize into days, months, and years. And I feel like it gets harder the older I get. In some weird way, I often feel more clueless the older I get not sure what or where I am suppose to be. Perhaps this is due to my background in philosophy (ie meandering mind), or the state of the USA politically right now, or our dying planet and the constant helpless feeling that elicits, or the overwhelming and overstimulating technology these days, or the fact that I am nearing middle age.
Whatever it is, as I type this I must admit - I have no idea what I am suppose to be at this moment, or where I am going professionally. That’s actually a really scary thought at the age of 43, at least for me. I’ve not quite hit the “Is this really all there is to this thing we call life?” point just yet, but I have my moments.
I have to rewind a bit, and revisit a post on Instagram I posted during my visit to England this past October working with The Fox Project and spending time with colleagues and friends at WildScreen and Falmouth University:
I’ve been back here for the past couple of weeks once again working with and documenting-for a larger project of my own-The Fox Project, the foxes that come through, and the many people who are in some way involved with it, even if just momentarily.
It’s had me thinking. What makes you happy? Not in a superficial way, but deeply at peace and content at your core. I realized I feel my peace most when I am:
Helping to lessen the suffering, no matter how great or small, of a living being who is rendered helpless by no act of their own (that’s usually animals for me).
When I’m teaching others things of value and shining a light on the qualities and talents I see in them that they don’t necessarily see in themselves.
When I’m out photographing the things that make me dream during the day and wake me at night-those subjects that I so love or the ones I am forever curious about.
When I’m out “there” observing nature, wildlife, or the ephemeral remnants of our human existence.
Find your points of peace. Start there. And do more of that. :)
When I wrote that I was in a moment of being at my best. I was surrounded by people who I felt “got me”, I was feeling supported and appreciated. I was enjoying the work I was doing so much, time flew by, and I was hyper-focused on the task at hand. I was in the flow. It’s times like that when I feel and do my best. But when I am lacking support or inspiration (morally, financially, emotionally, creatively etc) I can not do those things that give me my peace. It’s a delicate balancing act and one that ought not be compromised. And when it is, it can be a slippery slope, and this year I lost my balance and I am still trying to get up, career-wise.
This year has been an incredibly tough one for me professionally and business-wise. I am going through some huge transitions with my businesses right now that leave me feeling quite vulnerable, and sometimes a bit hopeless. It’s not all figured out, but I have to accept that. And it will be ok.
As a result of that my personal and family life has suffered a bit. I’ve just been absent. I tend to go into hermit-mode and close myself off at times like this. And if you’ve felt that from me this year (more so than what you would expect normally from introverted me), I apologize. It’s not you, it’s me (really). And if you are one of the very very few I bitch and moan to—you have been a lifeline and I love you dearly for putting up with me, and for being a calming light.
I want to end this by saying a few things…
Yes, my business is changing. I am giving up my studio and therefore my local classes. I just can’t afford that business model any longer, as the photography environment changes locally. I want to thank my students over the years for making the local classes work and for supporting them and me. You all mean the world to me. It saddens me greatly to see this chapter end, but I will still be offering private one-on-one and private group lessons. See more HERE. I will also be offering some really fantastic wildlife photography workshops (with really amazing co-leaders) in the US and abroad, a handful of which help to support The Canid Project. I’m really excited about these so please do check them out HERE.
This year was full of some fantastic experiences, workshops, and meeting new amazing photographers and humans. Thanks so much to those of you who were part of those moments.
While most of my photo gear is literally (and sadly) broken and useless at the moment (I kid you not), I do feel more motivated than ever to hyper-focus on The Canid Project this year in the meantime; my heart is there more than anywhere else at the moment. Thank you to those who continually support these efforts of ours. You are an instrumental part of this fledging organization and I appreciate you all more than you know.
And lastly, I must mention…this year I lost a friend and colleague, someone I had known since my late teenage years. She died rather suddenly and it was awful and unexpected, and as cliche as it sounds, she really was one of the most lovely, kind, giving, and selfless humans I have ever known. She saved me a handful of times when I was about to have a mental breakdown from my business’ books and taxes over the years. And she was a calming light that helped guide me through those tough points. Her death made me realize how quickly people can vanish from your life, in just an instant, and all that you have left are these memories that come together in this abstract kind of way, like the energy of that person makes itself known all at once, and becomes this feeling, this emotion, that hangs heavy around that vision of them you see in your mind—and you see them as they truly were. And I realize it all comes down to one thing— how we make others feel. It’s so important.
Just remember as we enter the new year… we all have our struggles and we are all worthy of kindness and love. It’s ok to ask for help when we need it. It’s ok to outgrow people or careers. It’s ok to let go and start over. It’s ok to be exactly who you are and never have to compromise that or apologize for it. We are not stagnant beings, but rather constantly evolving, and it’s ok to not know where, to what, or to whom you are headed. And lastly, let those you love know that you do. Tell them. Sometimes that can mean the world to someone who really needs to hear it.
Here’s to showing up and looking forward. Godspeed to you all.
Stay tuned for my end of the year photo post for 2018!