mind-full-ness

In 2013, I undertook a project where I tried to take one photo per day to share with my family and friends through Instagram and Facebook. While I did not quite achieve doing it every day (I missed probably 20 days – mostly at the start when I wasn’t sure what I was doing!), I achieved much more than I ever thought I would. It started out as a simple way to keep in touch in my year of adventure, but it became a task in mind-full-ness. Yes, I write it like that: I know the convention is “mindfulness” but I find that my mind has become very aware and very full of the world around me. Every day I see more things – sometimes everyday things, sometimes special things – and I appreciate more in my life. Sometimes it’s the simple things such as a beautiful flower; other times it is an experience that is overwhelmingly beautiful or sad or loving or engaging. But the point is that I see more than I ever have before. I take less for granted and when I think I can’t find a photo for a day, I realise that I have a lot to be thankful for and that perhaps I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be during the day. This means that I sometimes needed to hunt for a photo that could represent my day. Other times, I have so many photos that I find it incredibly difficult to choose just one – but I only choose one.

Later in 2013, I found a wonderful article written by Nic MacBean titled Snap happy: bestselling author Matthew Johnstone finds peace through photography. This article helped me put my project into clearer words and to realise what I was trying to do with it. It also gave me another book to find and read! (Note: I love books – I can’t get enough of them – more about my year in reading in a post to come.) However, being able to articulate why I am taking photos and why I want to do it every day has been enormously beneficial in understanding my motivations and intentions for myself – something deeper than just sharing images from my year of adventure – something more basic in understanding myself and my life.

Here are some of the highlights from my year of adventure, mind-full-ness, and understanding.

a beautiful flower

beauty

a sad experience

a sad experience

loving experience

a loving experience

an engaging experience

an engaging experience

a beautiful experience

a beautiful experience

…these are just a few of my favourites – you can see more on my Instagram account: http://instagram.com/tabras {shameless plug – I know!}. I intend to continue to share one photo per day throughout 2014 as well, even though my “year of adventure” is over and I’m “back to reality”, as such. Who says we can’t play with reality and enjoy what we do? 😉

Bonfire Heart – James Blunt

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days like these lead to…
nights like this lead to…
love like ours…
you light the spark in my bonfire heart…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

days like these lead me to you
to your arms
to your warmth

nights like this remind me why
you are my all
you are my only

love like ours gives us
strength
passion
beauty

you spark my flame
my flame ignites your heart
together we are everything
for each other
for us
together

pretending

I found myself surrounded by a group of pretenders. Pretending to be who they thought everyone else wanted them to be. No, these weren’t the social clichés of hipsters or rappers or emos or anything like that. These were a group of women in their late 20s and early 30s – mostly single, professional, “stable” women – and they were pretending to be who they weren’t. They were hiding their own truth in order to fit in with each other. Seeing them interact with each other made me quite uncomfortable because I didn’t want to be like them and just try to “fit in” with their discussions. There was nothing really wrong with their discussions or their topics for discussion, just they weren’t being true to themselves and true to each other. I could feel this, see this, hear this, know this. It was like they were speaking in a false code that helped them identify as a social group that was different. Listening to their words but watching their actions (and hearing about their actions) was difficult – I wanted to scream at them to “be real!”, but it just wouldn’t happen. I felt very outside of conversation and outside of the little group they had created despite having been invited to join them.

Just being there and feeling their lies made me wonder what this world has come to in order for these beautiful young women to distrust themselves so much that they lie to each other just to fit in. I sat there wondering how I could contribute to the discussion and when I realised that I had nothing to contribute because I couldn’t lie like that: I just watched and listened. There were some blatantly obvious lies, as well; not about little things like how much they spent on something or what they ate for lunch (which they were not truthful about), but about big “life” issues – children, marriage, commitment…

For example, one woman was ten weeks pregnant and was telling the others to never get pregnant – it’s the worst thing ever – and that she never wanted to be pregnant. At all. Ever. Five minutes later, she mentioned that she had maternity leave written into her work contract four years ago. Four. It was something that she actively decided to do and that she planned to do because her boss was “impossible at best”, so she had to get it written into the contract. In another discussion a little while later, she talked about how easy it was to give up drinking, smoking, caffeine, processed meat, soft cheeses, long distance travel, and whatever else. She said she had no side effects, no bad moods, no cravings. This was coming from a woman who had been the typical “life of the party” girl who was never seen without a cigarette or a drink in her hand; someone who lived from coffee to coffee and cigarette break to cigarette break. Yet, as soon as she realised she was pregnant, *poof* she’s given up everything. So many people cannot give up just one of these things, let alone all of them. (Even if they really want to; even if they have strong motivation like creating another life inside them; even if it was a life-and-death situation.) If she didn’t care about her unborn child and if she didn’t want to be pregnant, why would she give all of this up? I’ve known others who did everything that they could to end their pregnancy early because they didn’t want to be pregnant. Here, a woman who claims to not want children, to hate being pregnant, to be dreading the next eighteen or twenty years of her life, she is doing her best to provide the safest and healthiest home for her unborn child. Is this not a contradiction between her actions and her words?

The list of blatant lies told in this conversation goes on – it really does. I spent most of those two hours just sitting in shock and wondering how this group of women would react if I told them exactly what I was thinking. Or if I told them that they were basing their friendship and conversations on lies. If they truly looked at themselves and truly allowed themselves to be who they are, then they would be shocked – more shocked than I was when I was listening to them. Really.

I wonder how we have gotten to this place – to a place where being honest with ourselves, and one another, is regarded as being a social taboo.

A clean slate.

The Question: What would you be more of if you let go of the past?

I’m trying this one. I want to work out what is holding me back from my potential. I know I can do this and I know I can do it well. But something stops me. Continually. There’s moments when I can say “Well, just do it already!” and I will start to do it. Then I get distracted or have to do something else that cannot wait. Then I lose the thread again. I look for it everywhere, but to no avail. So what is really holding me back?

This burning question has been burning in me for a while now. I keep coming back to “…but there’s nothing in my past that’s holding me back! I have no regrets and I love who I am, and how I have come to be!” But something is holding me back. Two weeks ago, I think I found out what it might be. It might be fear of success. That’s right – fear of success, not failure. This realisation made me start to think again. Am I fearful of success? What happened after the last time I was truly successful? Let me tell you. I burned out. I crashed. I couldn’t do what they asked (and expected) of me. I bombed out so hard that it’s taken me at least a year to recover. (Yes, a year is not that long, but in my life, it’s painfully long. Let me digress for a moment. Imagine being separated from your loved one for an entire year because some government official wrote a silly sentence that meant that everything was not “safe” anymore despite the world around them being safer than ever before. It’s like weather forecasters who don’t look out the window to see the sunshiny beautiful day, but would rather imagine the rain and create the sounds of the rain. Being separated because of one person’s introverted, convoluted view on the situation. Frustrating. It’s like that.)

So, if I look back into my past and see that I have a fear of success and this is holding me back, what can I do to make this change? What would I be more of now if I let that go? What would I be more of?

I would be more of:

  • joyfulness in writing
  • happiness in living
  • confidence in understanding
  • security in loving
  • success in being me.

Not a long list; a long list would not be my reality. I am happy with who I am; I have no regrets; my life has shaped me in ways that I don’t always understand or appreciate at the time, but I love it now. If not for my past, then I would not be who I am today. I love who I am and who I am becoming. For now, though, it’s time for me to face my fear of success. And just succeed anyway.

How much do I love you?

You’ve never asked me this question, but I ask myself.

Every day, I wonder, how can I tell you how much?

I begin with the cliches: “I love you as deep as a river, as high as a mountain…”

But this wrong. Wrong in so many ways.

I’ve told you that I don’t have the words to explain my love.

You said I have a way with words.

You’re right; I do.

But I don’t have a way for this.

My love for you is larger than the distance between us;

it’s brighter than the full moon on a clear night;

it’s deeper than the darkest depths before the sun rises;

it’s warmer than soft puppies breath;

it’s that spark like a twinkling star at night;

it’s that hitch in my breath when your image pops into my head;

it’s that moment when my mind wanders and it wanders into your arms;

it’s my blood;

it’s my heartbeat;

it’s all that I am,

and more.

Simply, I love you.

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