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Posts tagged Self-reflection
Gratitude Lists: I am grateful for not getting eaten by a Lion.
 

In 2009 I lived on a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. For three months, I slept alone in a safari tent and every night a pride of lions gathered outside my tent and roared. I was lonely and scared. I made sure not to drink any fluids with dinner, so I wouldn’t have to walk to the bathroom hut after dark.

Last week I published my first official newsletter, and the topic was Gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d take the chance to expand on that a bit.

But first...

 
A pride of lions at sunset, waiting to see what mom brings home for dinner... I hope it's not me!

A pride of lions at sunset, waiting to see what mom brings home for dinner... I hope it's not me!

 

After a month of sleepless nights, the lions moved on and my terror subsided... Until one day I had to take a trip to Nairobi, by myself, on public transit. For non-getting-eaten-by-lion reasons, people traveling between cities didn’t move around after dark: car-jacking at gunpoint. An actual, for-real threat. Crazy, right? Again, I was scared. I left in the early morning; took my trip and was greeted at my destination by a friendly face. All went well, and at the end of my third month, I came home to Toronto. 

What does this have to do with Gratitude? 

Sometimes, when my mind is racing with the to-do list, current events, irritations, or worries about the future, I get out my journal and do a simple activity: I write five things I’m grateful for, and five things I appreciate about myself. 

Ten things is a lot, and sometimes I run out of ideas. And it’s in that moment, I find myself writing, “I am grateful for living in a safe city where I can move around freely, without threat.” Even though it’s something I hardly ever think about, when it comes up on my list, the feeling in my heart is an overwhelming WOW. I am so lucky. 

So what does gratitude have to do with weddings & family photography? 

Getting there! You see, it has to do with life. In my attempt to be proactive about emotional health, I got into this little gratitude ritual and discovered that it actually works! It’s great for any time… But if nothing else, times of stress are when it’s most helpful. And let’s be real: holidays, family time, and big life changes and events (i.e. weddings) are both WONDERFUL and STRESSFUL.

Try This Out: 

  • Grab a piece of paper and write 1-10 things you’re grateful for

  • If you can think of 1, 3, 5 or 15, that’s okay

  • Try this at night right before you sleep.

 
Looking across the savannah, at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. One of the most challenging and transformative three months of my life. 

Looking across the savannah, at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. One of the most challenging and transformative three months of my life. 

 

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to go to Kenya. Despite the fear and loneliness, I learned what I was made of that summer. My eyes were opened to issues ranging from global poverty, cutting edge environmental and community development projects, to what it means to have white privilege. At the same time, I made interesting friends and had indescribable adventures exploring the savannah.

 

Click Connect below to let me know what you think and read a description of my newsletter offerings right here. 

2014 Year in Review
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I often hear myself telling people, "I have the best job in the world" ...So, yesterday I compiled a slideshow of images I shot in 2014, and it's confirmed: I do have the best job in the world! The exercise of making a 2014 year-in-review struck me with a simple truth: we are surrounded by love. I know, I know - so cheesy. Well, I don't care! It is true, and it's beautiful. Once you see all the things I witnessed in one year - the faces, the laughter, the tears, the eyes with that spark of light - of hope - from the very first days after birth to the late years of a great-grandfather... You'll feel it too.

Life is a collection of fleeting moments. All we can ask is to notice them as they happen. To feel our feelings and not be numb. To shriek with laughter, to cry from sheer joy, and to confront the crush of sadness - the loss inevitably tied to love, that knowledge that someday life will take the ones we let ourselves love. This year I learned something else though. (And now you'll Really think I've gone off my rocker.) We are together. 

We are in this crazy world, humans all sharing our lives. And so we are connected, not alone. So go ahead - feel the things that hurt so good in your heart, and let them be. I am with you. And let me see you - let the world see you - it's okay to be afraid. Because something amazing could happen: I could love you.

I already do.

I feel so so incredibly privileged to experience these deeply personal moments with the people around me. Thank you to each and every glowing soul who shared a part of your life story with me in 2014. I wish you adventures, love, and even more laughter for 2015!!