Here we are, at the end of March. Life is so full, and I juggle it all: work, freelance work, my yoga practice, birthdays, social engagements, making time for friends, family, my partner. I try to be a great employee, an organised businesswoman, a dedicated yogi, a loving, patient partner, a doting daughter, and a loyal friend, but it's usually at a cost, and that cost is often my own wellbeing. In saying all this, I want to be clear: I am more fulfilled, more content now than I have ever been. I am calmer, more accepting; still driven, but free from the fear and expectations that I created for myself by being extraordinarily goal-oriented; never knowing what it was like to enjoy everything as it is, for what it is, in this very moment.
What I'm grateful for:
My migrant upbringing.
Despite all odds, my parents made the difficult decision to leave The Philippines. For many years, we were a single-income, 5-person household. My mother worked full-time, didn't know how to drive until she was 45, but somehow still found the energy to check our homework, draw and read with us, talk to us, and make our lunches for school every day. My dad would do the odd night shift at petrol stations and so on, but he didn't have a stable job until we'd already been in Australia for a few years. My parents did not believe in—and could not afford—daycare; all our furniture, clothes, cars were from whatever we found at garage sales. We had no extended family in Auckland or Brisbane who could have helped my parents take care of us. These are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg.
It meant that my sister and I (our brother was too young to really know what was going on at the time) were present for our very difficult beginnings, the most tense time for our family. We witnessed first-hand the meaning of hard work, and we will forever carry eternal gratitude because our current lives could have been so very different. Where we came from has made us more compassionate, more generous, persevering human beings, and we'll never forget it.
What I've been thinking of:
Not having all the answers, and not chasing someone else's definition of success.
In society, there's plenty of expectation to get to the next level, the next stage, the next tier of something: when you've been in one job for a certain period of time, you're expected to want a promotion; when you've been with the same person for a certain period of time, you're expected to get married, after which time you're expected to have babies, and then they're expected to be shipped off to school, after which they're expected to get married—just an endless merry-go-round of stages of "accomplishment".
But what if we simply aimed to accomplish genuine contentedness, instead of assuming that reaching certain milestones are that which will make us happy? It's also important not to assume that what makes you happy will make the person next to you happy. There is no one right way to do things, and there is no one right way to be, so long as you're truly content and you aren't harming anybody.
What I'm excited for:
My second and third big shoots for the year.
In about a week's time I'll be shooting Typism Creative Conferences for the 2nd year running; a week and a half later, I'll be shooting my first wedding for the year. I'm really looking forward to both, because every year I know I get just that little bit better. In terms of the challenge and the pressure, I'd say conferences and weddings are on par: they're not exactly events you can re-shoot, you barely eat or sit down for hours, you have to be alert and observant for the whole day (but you can't overdose on coffee because your hands need to be steady), and of course there's the lengthy editing process afterwards, during which sometimes I kick myself and go “why didn't I shoot it this way instead? I should've tried this angle! Why didn't I step a little further to the left?”, all of which I take to be signs that I will constantly be keen to improve and thus why this craft will never be dull for me.
This year I'll also be filming Typism—I filmed both days of Analogue/Digital 2014 as a one-woman show, so I'm really looking forward to bringing those skills to Typism this year, especially as two of my favourite ladies, Jasmine & Jess, will be speaking.
What I'm doing:
Clearing my backlog of photos.
I'm really grateful for this long weekend, not only for the chance to relax, but also for the extra couple of days to have a much-needed catch-up with work. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to remove about 1,000 photos from my "Quick Collection" in Lightroom (this is where any of my open projects typically sit until editing is complete). It was also really critical for me to get these photos out of the way before Typism & my wedding shoots—even though most of my open projects are simply personal photos and there's no critical deadlines or waiting clients, there's still no worse feeling than knowing something hasn't been done. Plus, the longer I push it back, the more likely it is that the photos will simply never see the light of day.
What I'm reading:
My yoga teacher training manuals.
We have two thick and incredibly thorough manuals for teacher training: the first on postures & alignment, and the second on the philosophies, history and sacred teachings of yoga. I'm really going to enjoy going through these during the course, especially deepening my knowledge of anatomy which I studied in senior biology and have had a keen interest in since childhood.
Peppermint is the only magazine I subscribe to. It arrives every 2 months and I obsessively check the mailbox when I know it's about time. If you feel strongly about the environment, sustainability, fair trade, holistic health & wellbeing and want to be inspired by amazing people working hard to change the world for the better, Peppermint is for you. I also feel a bit of pride knowing Peppermint is based in Brisbane!
Below: life in pictures, March 2015.