Admittedly, at first, 64,000 thoughts came to mind, but after 30-45 seconds, only one remained: nothing.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Even if I could, I wouldn’t change anything. Not the deaths of my babies nor anyone else I’ve lost. None of the struggles, the triumphs, nor the challenges. The fact is, every moment of my life—the good, the bad, and the three-ringed shitshow moments—have shaped me and grown me into who I am.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And I love who I am. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I love all of my light and my shadow, my ever-present sense of humour, and the way I feel too much about certain things and nothing about others. I love my strength and resilience and my vulnerability. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
As much as life has hurt at times, it has always been balanced by periods of growth, usually followed by joy. It’s been a perfect balance and I wouldn’t change any of it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When I was a little girl, my mom told me that when a dragonfly lands on us it is always one of our deceased loved ones or spirit guides checking in and letting us know they’re around and watching over us. I grew up obsessed with dragonflies—always wondering who was stopping in to say hello when one perched delicately on my hand or shoulder. It wasn’t until I was regularly swarmed by dragonflies after my mom’s death that her story and my obsession really started to wake me up. After a few years of dragonflies following me around and landing on me all the time, I finally figured out that my energy changes with their visits.
After my daughter Cora died, a little blue beauty landed on my leg and hung out for hours through periods of ugly sobbing and total numbness. Lightly perched on my knee, it would look at me, turning its head from side to side like a dog who is trying to figure out what its human is saying. When my sobs shook me too hard, it would flutter up and land on a different part of my body, always looking at me, turning its head. It even rode around on my dog Juno for a little while. On some level, I knew that the moment was significant and that I should pay attention, but I was too exhausted from grief to acknowledge it. Months later, when some of the haze of grief cleared, I remembered the little blue dragonfly and finally recognized it as the first sign Cora had sent me to let me know she was still with me.
Now, nearly nine years after losing Cora (and 20 years after losing my mom), I always recognize the significance of dragonflies. I giggle when they only land on me and follow me, even though there are other people around. I recognize that my vibe jumps instantly when I even see a dragonfly flit by, let alone when one lands on me.
Yesterday while I was outside in the yard, attempting to finish up the ties on our new chain link fence and cursing the pain and lack of strength in my fingers and wrists, I had a quick visit. It’s very early in the season, but a small red dragonfly flew by my face and landed briefly on my gloved hand. The shift was instantaneous. The pain in my joints lessened, my frustration with my body’s limitations right now eased, and I felt sunshine fill my darkest places again.
Believe what you will, but I am 159.6% convinced that dragonflies are my spirit animal…bug…spirit bug? LOL
Yesterday, I listened to Dr. Adam Alter’s Calm Masterclass on Social Media & Screen Addiction. I cannot recommend it to ya’ll enough. It will open your peepers wide, even if you think you are already quite savvy about screen addiction.
The doc covered a lot of info in three short classes, but my biggest takeaway was that we don’t allow ourselves to be bored anymore. If we have a lull in activity, such as when we’re riding in an elevator or waiting for an appointment, we pick up our phones. Boredom is the gateway to creativity. When our brains relax and begin to wander, we generate ideas and solve problems. In this way, meditation is incredibly beneficial to us because it leads to regeneration of ideas and inspiration. It allows us to be mindfully “bored” and gives our brains a much-needed technology rest, which leads to an increase in creativity and innovation.
Since I’ve been using the Calm App to meditate nearly every day, I have grown quite conscious of this boredom trap, but I still have to fight the urge to pick up my phone when I have a lull in activity. The thing that stops me from doing it is looking around and seeing 95% of people on their phones or knowing that my brain needs to refresh to be as creative as possible. Plus, walking into a room and seeing nearly everyone on devices disturbs me, especially when I see entire families glued to their screens while out for dinner together. Screen time is killing our ability to form communities and forge strong relationships. More connected while also more distant than ever before.
Listening to the doc explain how screen time removes our creativity, I was startled to realize that I have begun to struggle while writing. Where I used to be able to spit out original, descriptive language naturally and quickly, I have become sluggish and lazy. Can’t think of something unique? No worries, just throw in something boring and predictable. Can’t think of a suitable word? No prob, just fire up thesaurus.com and choose one. It’s so easy to “cheat” when we have unlimited access to technology that can take the thought process out of everything we do.
All of this has inspired me to change up my patterns. I tried to cut off my screen time, cold turkey, last year, and it did not work—the addiction and convenience were too strong to resist. So this time, I’m trying Dr. Alter’s approach. I’ve set up time slots for screen time and I’m going to do my best to stick to them. When I’m writing, I’ll be shutting off internet access and my phone to focus on writing and using my own brilliant brain (because I know it’s still in there, somewhere).
Lastly, and perhaps BEST of all, I’ve set aside an hour each day to grab a journal and brainstorm words in an attempt to revive my formerly extensive vocabulary. I did it this morning and it was SO DANG FUN!!! I chose the word “miffed” and then wrote down every synonym that came to mind. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I still have many words lurking in the depths of my lazy-ass brain.
What do you do to cut down on screen time and resist the addiction?
“You’re a really good photographer! Why did you stop shooting Boudoir? ” A good friend of ours asked me that yesterday and I had a really hard time framing my answer. I sputtered out, “After trying to convince women of their beauty for 11 years, I just kind of gave up.”
And, since the first answer that comes to mind is usually the real answer, I realized this is my truth.
I gave up. It lost its lustre and I lost my passion for it. However, I didn’t give up in the sense that I failed, more that I realized that in a world where 90% of people we see on social media and in print are filtered, what the fuck is point? Women have to have the presence of mind (or find it through life experience) to realize that they are comparing themselves to bullshit.
I would often do a shoot with a gal, show her the final result, she would oooh and ahhh and say things like, “I can’t believe that’s me!” or, “I feel so beautiful and more confident than I ever have.” But then I would get, “Can you just tuck in my rolls a bit?” or, “ I don’t like the way my ass looks. Can you lift it up a bit?” Uhm, no. If you want your ass lifted, get off it and go to the gym. Boudoir is not supposed to be about digital nipping and tucking, it’s about seeing your body in a new light and learning accept it and love it, even if you are working hard to change it. Then she would start posting photos on IG or FB that were filtered AF and all I could think was, “Do you actually think that people don’t see that you’ve completely changed your appearance? Why are you so terrified of letting people see the real you? Why isn’t the real you good enough?”
Exerting futile effort is never a good feeling.
I know I did make a difference for some of my clients and it is a beautiful thing, but after so many just reverted to that place of insecurity that has existed for so long within them, I eventually just said, “Fuck it!” I wanted to feel the passion and satisfaction of creativity running through my veins again, so I moved on to the one thing that has never left me feeling disappointed or burnt out—writing.
I figure if I can’t reach women with photographic proof of their innate beauty, I’ll reach them with my words.
Every morning I wake up simultaneously grateful to still be alive and disgusted with roughly 80% of the human race. I live in a constant state of duality and, even though it is ridiculous on the surface, deep inside me, it takes me to places I would never get to without it.
I recently devoured Ainslie MacLeod’s brilliant book about the soul called The Instruction. When I say devoured, I mean I sat down on the couch at around 7:30 a.m. with my coffee and flipped it open with the intention of having a quick boo…only to look up six hours later to realize I’d read it cover to cover and had barely moved. (This ability to completely withdraw and focus on nothing else ONLY ever happens to me when I’m reading a fascinating book.)
That book REALLY opened my eyes wider than any other spiritual book I’ve read (and there are…uhm…a few…LOL). It left me with a much deeper understanding of humanity and the reasons people do the shit they do. It also gave me a much better understanding of myself and why I am the way I am. Up until reading The Instruction, I had only been able to feel a person’s energy and try to puzzle them out based on that. I was often completely flabbergasted by the behaviours exhibited by those around me because of constantly fluctuating energy.
A quick rundown before I go any further: According to Mr. MacLeod, the human race is comprised of younger souls (Levels 1-5) and older souls (Levels 6-10). The younger souls haven’t learned how to be introspective, think for themselves, see the connectedness of the world, or seek change for injustice and inhumanity. Older souls are introspective, see the connectedness of the world and advocate for change through all sorts of avenues (including protests, art, caregiving, or, interestingly, pacifism).
I can now sit back and see the whole of every person I have a connection with. I now understand people better than I ever have. I see the reasons behind their actions and words and I finally just get people.
However, this doesn’t help me to like people or feel more compassionate toward them. Understanding, I’ve learned, does not equate tolerance or love. Both of those involve a conscious choice.
After doing all the meditations in his book to figure out what I am, I believe I’m a Level 6 Soul (just making the switch after many lifetimes into a greater awareness of connection and figuring out that change begins within) with a Thinker influence (spend a lot of time within my own head just trying to puzzle everything out) punctuated by a Creator influence (writing, photography, art, etc) and some leadership tendencies. So, as soul ages go, I’m somewhere in the middle.
Hence why I’m living in a constant state of gratitude and disgust. I feel that connection of all of us together, but I still can’t quite let go of my judgement of others—most specifically, anybody out there who believes abusing or neglecting animals is, in any way, acceptable.
Here’s a fine example of how I wrestle with my thoughts and emotions each minute of each day. A few weeks ago, I opened up my Instagram and there was video playing in my feed that instantly enraged me. I wanted blood and my mind immediately ran through about 29,000 scenarios that would bring about vengeance.
The video was about a litter of puppies, in a third world country, who were living in a pile of garbage. One of the puppies—perhaps 8-10 weeks old—had a broken leg and was yipping in pain and trying to hobble away to hide. The man who rescued the puppies (and helped all of them find homes) explained that the puppy had been stepped on, ON PURPOSE, by a young boy around the age of 10. When the man interviewed the boy on camera and asked him why he did it, the boy just shrugged and said, “Because I could.”
As I was watching this, tears streaming down my face, chest constricted with disgusted disbelief and totally fighting the compulsion to throw my phone across the room and collapse in a heap of sobbing blubbery, I was instantly filled with rage. I HATED THAT BOY. HATED HIM. I wanted to pin him down and smash the fuck out of his leg and then throw him in a pile of garbage and stand around laughing while he screeched in pain and cried out for help.
However, at the same time that part of me was wrapped up in this retaliatory fantasy, the other part of me was also chatting away, working out the reasons behind this kid’s brutality…The boy is poor. He is a young soul. He lives in a shithole in the middle of a third world country that has never known peace. He is malnourished and his brain has never been given a chance to properly develop. He is most likely surrounded by other malnourished, angry people who take out their frustrations about life on everyone around them. Malnourishment and improper brain development perpetuate feelings of anger, resentment, apathy. No one has ever taught him to respect himself, let alone the lives and well-being of others. He cannot possibly understand why he has acted this way nor would his mind even try to understand why it is wrong to hurt others. Perhaps this man who is saving the puppies—with his obvious compassion and higher level soul—can help this kid’s soul to evolve faster. Perhaps their connection is exactly what the boy needs to progress and learn to love himself and others.
So, even though I get it and even though my soul intuitively understands the what and why of everything happening in the world right now, it’s still a constant struggle to accept it. It’s still a struggle to stop wishing that anyone who subjects another being to intentional harm or neglect should be given a good dose of their own medicine before being obliterated from this plane. I know that to keep learning and growing we have to have all levels of souls existing together in a big ball of turmoil punctuated with moments of peace. But even so, my heart and logic wrestle with each other all the time. One feeling, the other reasoning, but both working together to make sense of it all. My soul still, clearly, has a lot of learning and growing to do, but I know I’ll get there eventually.