Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Creative Unknown




I've never really considered myself a creative person. In fact, I've actually said the opposite, that I'm really not that creative. In reality, when I look back on my life as a child, I was very creative and was always interested in activities that involved creativity like dance, art, and even poetry! I'm not sure when it all came to an end, I think probably when I stopped dancing. I spent my entire youth fantasizing about a life in New York, dancing on the big stage with Alvin Ailey Dance Company and living the life of a creative. Things happened and that dream did not become a reality, so maybe that's when I shut it down. I remember feeling a sense of loss that came with the end of my dance career. As I sit here typing this, I can feel a swelling in my chest and a heaviness on my heart. That was a loss much greater than I ever admitted.

After buying my fancy camera and beginning my journey into photography, I felt that little spark again. I was thrilled to take that very first photography class and I spent days and nights studying everything I could about taking photographs and editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. I feel that over the last few years, I've grown tremendously and have come to appreciate connection I seem to have developed with my intuition. In yoga, creativity is associated with the lower chakras, especially the second and third chakras. As I have allowed myself some freedom in exploring my photography, I've connected with my inner voice in a way that I haven't been able to before. The interesting thing is that as I've tried to study and perfect my craft, I get a little lost in the perfection of it and lose that inner feeling so I'm trying to remember that there is a balance between the two.

The challenge for me in the moment is that I feel totally stuck right now. I feel a longing to do more than what I can yet I don't have the technical understanding to produce what I envision. I'm doing a 365 project where I shoot daily to help me further along in the process. I think what I'm missing in the moment is the feedback of the outside world. It's time for me to put myself out there in a way that I've never done before, AND THAT IS FREAKING TERRIFYING. Having this little hobby where I take pictures here and there and post them on Instagram and Facebook is one thing; getting the feedback from peers in your field is a whole other beast. I joined a small Facebook group, I'm talking a group of 6 or 7 people, with a goal to achieve CMPro. I won't go into a bunch of detail about what it is, but just know it's a difficult task to achieve and to get to the point of this post, involves the critique of others. It hit me hard when I sat down to critique the photographs of others and then read their feedback of mine. As I thought about each person examining my work, I felt a panic rise in my body. I felt a burning in my stomach, a tightness in my chest, and a frantic desire to hide and quit the group. Because I was having such a visceral reaction to this, I wanted to explore it further. As I thought about my fears, this is what I came up with.

1) They're going to discover I'm a fraud, that I don't belong to this group, that there is absolutely no reason that I should even be considering a feat such as this

2) They're REALLY going to discover I'm a fraud when they read my critiques of their work because what the heck do I know?

3) They're going to think that I think more of myself than I should

4) Oh gosh, maybe I do think more of myself than I should

5) I'm the "worst" one in the group

I think that's it, though I'm sure I could come up with several more.

Wow, that's a lot! I mean, wow. I let those feelings of inadequacy come up because I needed to feel them. Then, I let them go. Because the thing is, those things might be true. I might be the worst one in the group, I might be a little inexperience technically and not ready for this process, but I'm ready to put myself out there. I am ready to here the truth about my work and to learn from women with the knowledge I seek. I am ready to be raw with my inner voice and trust that it's all a part of the process. I am ready to enjoy the process and be where I'm supposed to be, in the process.

The next thing I did was go to that Facebook group and tell them, hey guys, I am totally nervous about this and worried y'all are going to wonder why I'm here. Of course, they were all very supportive and the fear disappeared. For now, anyway. I've learned, though, that this whole being authentic thing is a lot of walking through fear and trusting in my ability to handle what comes my way.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Healing Inspired by the movie Trolls - cause ya know... that's all I watch are kids movies







I've always been a person kind of obsessed with pop culture. I remember the early days of MTV, even though we're both about the same age. I always feel a certain nostalgia when thinking of shows like Laugh In, The Gary Shandling Show, Empty Nest, and so on. My friend, Jennifer, and I used to watch movies religiously until we could recite the lines. Big Business was one of our favorites. So was Ernest Goes to Camp and The Parent Trap. The trend right now is that television is not good for us and while I agree, I feel like I learned a lot about the world through pop culture. Maybe it helped me develop that desire for things different from the "norm".

As I've gotten older and my life has become filled to a point where I can no longer binge on shows and movies, I still have a strange addiction to the sinfulness of pop culture. The weird thing about it is that I can hear so many little life lessons if I pay close attention. One example is from watching the show "Southern Charm". They were all drunk and arguing, per usual, but Thomas Ravenel (T-Rav) began to quote Shakespeare, "To Thine Own Self Be True" and I felt like a light bulb went off. You're totally right T-Rav. Screw trying to be the perfect mom and trying to fit into a one size fits all parenting style. To thine own self be true, I'm just going to parent what feels right intuitively. From that moment on, I began to slowly allow myself to be weird, to be different, and to do what I want without regret.

If you're a parent of a young child, I'm sure you've seen the movie Trolls. My kids and I watched this movie recently and I LOVED IT. In fact, my oldest kind of liked it, but didn't care too much, so I just made us watch it several times until she started loving it too. I was telling my therapist about it the other day and I told her the funny thing was that Branch, one of the main characters, reminded me of my old boyfriend. It was someone that has come up in several sessions, so we started to explore this all a bit more. Branch represents the cynical, the curmudgeon, the alarmist of the group. He was closed off from everyone, from the fun, because he always expected the worst to happen. It turns out that something tragic happened early in his life, and that tragedy caused him to create this persona as a form of protection against future hurt. As I described this to her, a light bulb went off. BING!  BRANCH WAS ME. Who knew I was a little brown troll with a leafy vest raining on everyone's parade. Seriously though, my teens and early twenties were a time where I was Branch. I was closed off from the world in a form of protection, unable to experience the joy that others felt around. It's only been because my inner Poppy that I've been able to help Branch heal. Branch is a necessary part of the story, he's the hero! Without him, Poppy dies and the movie is over.

To explain this in non stay at home mom terms, the period in my life where I was a closed off curmudgeon was necessary to allow my inner soul to live. It was all too much to exist as open as I was without the tools to move forward. And so, my inner Branch arrived, to rescue me from the dangers of the forest. Once I learned more about living life, and began to grow spiritually, my need for Branch disappeared and so I had to look for my inner Poppy, or my inner soul, to reappear again. One of my favorite sayings is that we no longer regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. In each phase of our lives, we're doing the absolute best that we can. Who I am in this moment may be a necessary piece of my puzzle and so instead of denying it, why not embrace it, learn to love it, and understand it's place? Being on a focused, spiritual path in this life is not going to be easy and I'm not going to be perfect. I'm not supposed to be. Without the dips in the valley, how can I enjoy it's peaks? How can I have gratitude for abundance when I haven't experience that lack? And so, that's my task, to accept life as it is, with all of it's adversity, because that's LIVING. I have to learn to sit in the discomfort of the forest to be able to see the beauty of mountains.

Who knew so much healing could come from Dreamworks? Am I right?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Authenticity






Authenticity is a HUGE buzzword right now, and it's one that I've been excited to discuss. Because I am trying to grow a photography business as well as a styling business, I am entrenched in the land of creative entrepreneurs and the word authenticity is thrown around a lot. I absolutely LOVE the idea that everyone is striving for this because I feel strongly that we have so much to offer when we are 100% true to ourselves and to others. I have written about this before, so I know this is something you've heard me to discuss many times (especially if you know me in real life). You may be wondering, then, why in the freaking heck I am here, writing about this again. Why am I showing up umpteen years later on my abandoned old blog to discuss authenticity? I've been listening to a bunch of podcasts recently and have had the inspiration to write again, and so I'm just going for it. I don't have a specific timeline or goal, I'm just writing because that's what I feel like doing. And for today, the topic at hand is AUTHENTICITY - WHAT DOES THAT REALLY MEAN?

I am part of an online community that includes creatives trying to build their business and lift each other up. It's such a wonderful group and even though most of the people live abroad, there is a small portion of them living here in Greenville. I have gotten to meet some cool new people and I've learned a bunch about running a small business. One day, someone wrote a post about a client and this person not being her ideal client. She didn't enjoy working with the client because she felt she was too harsh with her kids and she didn't feel comfortable. She wanted to know how to handle the situation and how much she should tell the client. Should she mention that she was uncomfortable working with parents because they're too hard on their kids? How much truth should she reveal to the client? She didn't want to "sugarcoat" her answer because she wanted to be authentic.

I don't want to spend too much of this post defining authentic itself, because 1) I've talked about it before and 2) there are thousands of posts about that right now because it's so popular to discuss. In the effort of supporting my thought here, though, let me just say that for me, authenticity means being exactly who you are as an individual without fear. Letting all of our defects of character shine through, discuss our struggles and adversity, ESPECIALLY when they're not pretty. By doing so, we can find our tribe and be an inspiration to others.

WHAT AUTHENTICITY DOES NOT MEAN

In yoga, we always talk about speaking our truth. This is related to the throat chakra and through having balance in our throat chakra, we are not afraid to speak our truth. We are vocal about our needs and not afraid to ask for help. We USE OUR VOICE TO BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS. We are honest about our weaknesses and we are truly free of judgment towards ourselves and others.

Being authentic does not mean walking around and saying whatever we want to people without regard to their feelings. Being authentic does not mean speaking every single thing that comes to our mind. As a person who tends to talk way to much, having balance for me is actually learning when to hold my tongue because what I say may not be true or helpful. Not that I purposefully lie, but I talk A LOT and so that means I tend to work through problems by talking about them. That means I sometimes say things that may not actually ring true to me, but because I haven't really worked that out yet, I say it without realizing I don't believe it, if that makes sense. It's an extrovert problem.

In this situation, I would recommend (and I actually did comment and say this) that the creative speak her truth by saying that she wants to move in a different direction with her business, realizing that she enjoys (insert style) of photography versus what she was doing before, children. By being in tune with her feelings, and allowing them to exist, she is hearing her inner voice tell her that she doesn't enjoy working with children in the way she did before and so she'd like to move towards a different goal. What I would not recommend is passing judgment on another by saying that she doesn't like the way someone else is doing something. We're all doing the best we can in the moment we're in and while many times, the best we can just isn't very good, we have to accept that it's not our battle to fight. There's a fine line with that way of thinking and I'm sure I'll write about that another day but every time in my life I have passed judgment on another, I find myself in that situation, eating my words. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I have learned my lesson quite a bit.





I feel strongly that always always always, our issues with others comes from a past situation that needs to be healed and is never about the person or situation at hand. Having that information at hand helps me stop being so judgmental and it helps me to let other people be who and where they are. We are humans, doing the best we can in that moment, coming from all different backgrounds, and while we may be different and we may disagree, we are all on a path moving forward.