I recently ventured to North Carolina during the hurricane in the south to meet one of my favourite photographers and participate in a life changing convention. Brooke Shaden has inspired me over the past year to follow my heart, look deep inside and listen to my voice. She gathered together one hundred creatives from across the globe for four memorable days hidden in the rain and fog. Despite the white nailed driving conditions (the thickest fog I have ever witnessed….driving through the mountains in the pitch black, with no guard rails, and thick thick fog…I honestly thought that I would drive right off that mountain) I made my way higher and higher up in the mountains (3400 ft) and was greeted by Brooke and received one of her signature hugs to boot. Bucket list moment!!!!
The biggest take away for me from this convention was the concept of fear. The concept of letting go of fear and living life authentically. I had heard this before many times….in fact, one of my professors in college sat me down one day after class and said “you have so much potential. So much talent. But you are too scared. Your biggest obstacle is overcoming your fear”. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t feel afraid. I was reinventing myself dammit . I had left my career as an Occupational therapist. I was back in college. I was fearless. Or so I thought. Most of my adult life has felt as if I am searching. Searching for that feeling…..that light…..that spark. I tried job after job as a therapist trying to ignite it to no avail. I knew I needed to be creative. Yet, I was not sure why my life took such a turn in the opposite direction. I wanted to help people. But didn’t realize that I could do both. I can help people tell their story. I can help people see their beauty, their strength and their soul.
I decided to pursue photography after never really ever picking up a camera, other than a point and shoot. I enrolled in a community photography course and began to feel that flutter…that energy I was craving. That spark that I had been searching for. But it was faint. It was quiet. It was only a whisper. I forged ahead, welcoming any opportunity to practice and hone my craft. During the process, I started to hear that little voice inside me. A little voice telling me that I was on the right track. I was going in the right direction. But, still, that voice was quiet. Just a little louder than a whisper. It wasn’t until I was on the plane returning home from my time with Brooke, that the voice screamed out at me, almost slapping me awake……..”Follow your heart” it screamed. “What are you talking about?” I asked myself. Following my heart is my motto. I have it tattooed on my wrist for pete’s sake. But, sitting alone on the plane looking out the window, digesting all the information that I had acquired from people such as Me Ra Koh, Brooke Shaden, Branden Harvey, and Nirrimi Firebrace, I realized that I have made a career out of running from fear. Doing what I think others would like or make them happy. Making little changes here or there, but never really living fearlessly. All the while, only partially listening to my own inner voice. It was at that moment that I made a promise to myself. I have decided to embrace the way I view the world unapologetically. Embrace those I am fortunate enough to work with, with the same fearlessness. Tell my story. Tell their story. Stray away from what’s safe and embrace the eccentricities of me.
My little black umbrella accompanied me on my journey to North Carolina. It helped protect me from the rain, the wind and the cold. But, during the process, it fell apart. Slowly and with much resistance it continued on it’s quest of protection. But in the end, I was me standing there alone, not needing to be protected. it is quite symbolic of my journey. I have kept my inner voice quiet…..resisting it’s message, but slowly it has broken down barriers of resistance and has finally been heard. Thank you Brooke for welcoming me into your world. And thank you to my little black umbrella.