My friend Reena lent me a book to read last week: The Moth Presents ALL THESE WONDERS – True Stories About Facing the Unknown. I was reading it last night before bed and I came across this quote that made me pause.
“Brave men are always afraid. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the willingness – the guts, if you like – to face the fear.” – Noreen Riols
It’s incredible how a few words butted up together can force you to stop. Sometimes these words hurt. Sometimes they make us feel good. Sometimes they cause us to cry. Words. They sure can be powerful.
I have been thinking a lot lately about life. About this wild life that I am currently living in. About how different it looks today than it did a year ago. About how different it looks today than it did six months ago. Then it did three months ago. Constantly changing and spinning and evolving. I like the direction that it is going. I like who I am now. I like where we are all going in this.
A year ago was when I began contemplating changing this li’l ol’ life of mine. Changing it from what had always been for my adult life to something more unknown. It was so easy to stay with what was. To have my studio. To have my six tenants. To create portraits there in that space. Everything worked. Everything was the same. It wasn’t always easy. There were definitely times when I struggled. There were definitely months when I had offices sit empty and I was stressed about covering that rent until I found a new tenant. But overall, it was easy. My life was set out and I could do certain things in a certain way and it worked. And when it worked, it worked really, really well.
But what I was missing was that I wasn’t being challenged anymore. I loved my office. I loved traveling across town to work out of that beautiful space. I loved photographing people there. I loved all of it. But it was easy. On any given day, I knew how the light in that space would be. I knew what the final images would look like. It was all so predictable. And while it worked and I created beautiful images there, after thirteen years of doing so, I wasn’t being personally challenged anymore. I realised that my heart wasn’t being fulfilled. I wasn’t being pushed. I was floating along in a stagnant body of water and while it was comfy and cozy, I knew I needed more.
So in September I made the decision. I said it out loud that I would be leaving that space. And by saying it aloud, it became real. I gave my tenants notice and I began making plans for how the hell I was going to empty out that 1800 square foot space that was filled with years and years worth of things. It took months of preparation. It took weeks of driving boxes and furniture to my home. Dump runs. Tears. Emails. Harsh words. Legal things. Emotions. This studio had been my life. Since graduating from University it had played a huge role in my life. Without having had it, I’m not sure where I would be today or who I would have become. But I was brave. I recognised that in order to be happy. To continue to evolve as a person. To be fulfilled, I had to let it go. Good things must sometimes come to an end. And once I made that decision. Once I said it aloud, I felt something release. My words floated out of my mouth and out in the the Universe and I was set free.
January felt new. December was spent really clearing the space, returning the keys and saying good bye. By January, my home office was set up and I was in it. I began a new routine. Without having to travel across the city to work anymore, I found myself more productive. I suddenly found myself with extra time. Extra time to *gulp* do all of the things that I used to tell others I would do “if only I had the time”. While I was happy with my life, I felt unsure of not having that security of having a studio anymore. I had always been a photographer with one. When someone would ask what I did and I replied that I was a photographer. They would often ask where my studio was and I would proudly reply. But now, I felt a little insecure and unsure of myself when asked that. Would they judge me for not having a professional space? Was I no longer a “real photographer”? It’s taken me a few months to realise that no, no they won’t. This insecurity is purely coming from me. And if this entire time, I was using the studio to up my game and confidence in being a photographer, what does that say about me?
I spent most of April in Australia and I am forever changed from that experience. I promise to one day write about it. To share more about the learning and growth that came from that trip. I spent most of May swimming in that adventure. Allowing it all to unravel and to process what it was that had just happened. And then I found myself in June. As a wedding photographer, June usually marks the beginning of the busy season. I felt great. I felt that my clients I was working for and the jobs that I was shooting were exactly me. These were people who booked me because it was me and because I was being my authentic true self. It was then that I realised that it had been six months since I said good bye to that studio of mine and it felt like I was in a new phase of my life. That I had had six months of floating in this in-between state of studio to working from home. Of structured “this is what I gots to do to make this all work” to a more free life. To where I get to make more choices because I have less (most especially financially!) riding on my life. It’s just me in my photography business. Li’l ol’ me and I get to make all of the decisions. So in June, I realised, this is it. This is now my life and I am fully totally 100% in control.
And it feel scary. And at times I miss that space and at times I wish that I had the security of it. Because life there was easy. Pretty darn easy. But you know what? So is this life that I am currently swimming in. And I feel confident about it all because I have made every single decision to get me to here. To this moment where I sit typing now. We will always have struggles. There will always be potholes in the road or currents in the water to get around. But what is different for me now is realising that we are in control of our lives. We get to choose how we spend our days. How we react to a situation whether it be happy or sad or life-changing or heart-wrenching. We get to choose. All of our actions, our choices, they have lead us here and they will continue to lead us to new places – should we choose them.
I’m now eight months into this life, what was a new life, and what is now simply MY life. In the past month, I spent a week in Antigua on a trip that my camera enabled me. I spent a week with my 11 year old niece spending quality time with her as we celebrated her birthday. I then spent nearly a week in New Orleans with Bartender Atlas, my joint-venture with my husband Josh. This week, I have spent nearly every day on the mat at MISFITSTUDIO, I have had quality catch-up time with a bunch of girlfriends. I have laughed with my husband and cooked delicious food. And yesterday we took the day away from work and rode our bikes to the island. Because it’s summer. Because this is how I am choosing to live my life. Because these are things that are important to me. I think that I am doing pretty good at this life thing. No longer a new life. But this life. This one where I stand today.