This month, more than ever, I've felt the consequences from a year of tackling everything head-on. Beyond the little frame that is our life depicted on Instagram, Facebook and even this blog space, I have felt frustrated, bitter, burnt out, sad, and at times, angry. A unique kind of exhaustion came over me—not the kind of exhaustion that can be remedied by extra sleep (although that can certainly help), but the kind that weighs on you the moment you wake up, and continues to eat away at you even when you go to bed. The heavier kind of sorrow that sometimes comes with no clear warning or reason, nothing heralding its arrival. This leads people with depression & anxiety, like me, to go a few steps backwards and I went from managing my mental state well to not at all in a very short period of time.
The unexpected arrival of these emotions have left me lost and confused. As a yogi, I have learnt to step back and observe, to be a witness to my own reactions, emotions and thoughts so that I may be mindful of my subsequent actions—but even as I did this, I found myself more and more bewildered. Still I kept trying to figure out what was wrong, why I was feeling this way—I'd had a great year after all, and yes, I may barely have anything left to give, but life is pretty good. As the feeling lingered, I began to lose hope that this, too, would pass. It's also hard to fix a problem when you're not even entirely sure what the problem is—so you bury it and internalise it and overthink it until you're so confused and exhausted from the thinking and you feel ridiculous so you don't share it with anybody else because you're not even sure they'll love you after (I sure as Hell wasn't loving myself).
Just the other day I realised: I was beating myself up for it all, and it was making me feel worse. Rather than accepting it, I was resisting it, hanging onto some notion of how things “should” be. I've always had high expectations of myself, and although I have become more of a friend to myself than I ever have before, I've been punishing myself for not having figured it all out. I kept thinking that because I had been managing myself so well over the last couple of years, that I wouldn't fall into bad, lengthy slumps like this any more—I was wrong, but I was also unforgiving of myself.
Recently I've been presented with so many different opportunities and paths I could take in the future. I am being pulled in all sorts of directions, wishing I could fit everything I ever want to do on this planet in this lifetime; biding my time and waiting, waiting, holding on with faith that I'll figure it out and letting myself be guided by the forever-present (perhaps not always obvious) signs of the things I am supposed to do. I have known myself deeply and for long enough now to know what my soul needs; what it yearns for—but as the new year looms ahead, I am struck by an unfamiliar sense of vagueness and indecision. There are three lessons in one here: I am still being schooled in going with the flow even when the flow may be stuck behind a rock or when I don't know where it's taking me; I am being taught not to try and do everything for everyone, the world and myself all in one day; and that the answer, as always, will be revealed to me when I am not looking for it, when I least expect it, only when I am truly listening, and only when I am ready for it.
As I was writing this post, fellow yogi & photographer Tahl Rinsky just happened to post this on Instagram: “The only thing we are bound to is change. If you're feeling stuck and can't seem to find the way out look again, it might actually be you blocking the exit.” How apt, and how true.
What I'm grateful for:
Despite all the internal anguish that's been stirred up, I still am grateful for so many things. They're little and simple and that's all they have to be: getting up early to go for a walk with Martin; being able to plan trips and go overseas; that I've been able to swim twice within one week when there have been some years I've only made a single trip to the beach. I'm even grateful for the numerous & different opportunities pulling me in all sorts of different directions—it means that I have in fact worked hard and it is truly getting me to the places I want to go. Even though all the different choices I could make is making next year look fairly up in the air, that's okay. I think of all the people in the world who never get a chance to follow their dreams, who aren't allowed to have a job or choose a partner for love or don't live in a place safe enough to even leave home and I am deeply thankful for how lucky I am.
What I've been thinking of:
Creative projects next year.
I think it's safe to say I've been thinking of the same things over and over again, to the point where I'm actively trying to think less (can you “actively try” less?) right now because it's clearly not doing me favours. However, something I'm mulling over at the back of my mind is what creative projects I want to take on board next year. As yoga teacher training was my major commitment for this year I wasn't able to do as many portrait shoots as I liked, but next year that's all going to change. I'd love to shoot & work with more people, so if you know someone who wants photos for themselves or their business, get them in touch with me.
What I'm excited for:
Sydney & Tasmania.
I know I already mentioned it in a couple of posts, but it's constantly on my mind. I booked Tasmania so long ago it feels bizarre to think I'll be there for two weeks from next Saturday. This weekend, however, I'll be visiting Sydney ever-so-briefly just to spend time with my sister before she travels to America. The Santiago kids are all over the world this year! Also, Christmas week is 7 Mondays from now. Wow.
What I've been doing:
Trying to honour myself.
Being in tune with how yucky I've been feeling means I've been trying to spend quality time outdoors. Being outside helps me get outside of my own head, soak up the sun and admire the beauty of the world, even if at times I'm viewing it through a lens of melancholy. It reminds me of all there is to be grateful for, it helps me to deeply relax and let go of the anxiety and heaviness, even if it's just for a few hours. It is better to accept that I'm not feeling great and to stop resisting it so that the feelings don't linger or become bigger than they have to be, and showing up for life helps me to move on and let it be. I've also made sure to spend time with friends and family, because although I don't often feel like socialising when I'm down, being around other people who can make me smile or check in on me can really help boost my mood and remind me that I'm not alone.
My first Photography Workshop
A couple of weeks ago I held my first Photography Workshop! I had a group of 10 great, attentive & keen students who were really delightful and it couldn't have gone better. I'm looking forward to hosting more next year.
What I've been reading, learning, making:
Reading: A Modern Way to Eat, Anna Jones
I've been vegetarian for almost two years now. It's definitely a lifestyle I wish I had sooner. I feel healthier, lighter, more energetic, less bloated—the health & environmental benefits are countless, of course, but one thing that sometimes gets tricky is mixing up your weekly meals and getting creative. A Modern Way To Eat is heaven-sent, seriously—not only is it full of only vegetarian recipes, it's well laid out, suggests substitutes for ingredients, has slow & quick options for breakfast, lunch & dinner, isn't overcomplicated and the recipes don't have ingredients that I'd have to travel to Narnia with a lot of money to find. Best of all is that Anna, the author, has created sections to help you create your meals by helping you to understand what base ingredients to combine with others: really useful if you're not super familiar with what matches what.
Below: seeking light, October 2015.
|One of my photos for Abi & Joseph printed massively at their Garden City store.|
|Taken by Ellie|
|Taken by Sarah|
|Taken by Brett|