It’s about this time every year when everyone starts reflecting on the year that was and if I am to be completely honest it’s taken me a long time to write this, not because I didn’t have much to write as it’s been a big year, and one that has had a lot of downs but the most amazing ups.
On January first this year we drove up from Sydney to begin our new life in Brisbane, all to support our little man who was offered a placement at AEIOU (www.aeiou.org.au). We moved in with Michael’s parents and travelled roughly 3 hours a day for him to go there. We sold our home which we had built a mere 2 years prior and dreamt about for many years before that (I’m sorry to the people living there but it’s never really going to be your home – and no I’m not happy you cut down my lavender bush). Life however did become much easier though when we were offered a placement at a closer center and that’s when things started to fall into place.
At this point we took a huge gamble and decided to reboot Love Letters Photography in Brisbane with leasing out a shopfront in Hawthorne. As soon as I saw this little shop I knew I had to have it and started planning about how to turn it into a reality. It took the whole family and a few months to transform it in to the studio that it is today, a dream that I hoped but never really thought was possible.
About six months through our Queensland adventure we found and purchased a house to live in and Michael was lucky enough to secure a job up here and stop commuting to Sydney every week. Although he loved his job the travel each week was hard on the family and hardest on Lachlan who was not coping with only seeing daddy on Saturday and Sundays if he was lucky. Our little family was back together again albeit a little bruised from the rough first half of the year.
At this point business had started to pick up and I was starting to find my place in Brisbane. I went to the Baby Summit, the first massive get together of baby photographers who all want to learnt, grow, (and party). It was a wonderful experience and got to hang out with some very beautiful friends as well as make some new while I learnt a bunch of little tips that I couldn’t wait to start using at the studio.
I also had my first speaking engagement at the ProPhotoMums Retreat, talking about business, branding and IPS. The whole retreat was life-changing in several ways. Being able to spend the weekend away with a bunch of awesome amazing photographers was one, and the other was teaching others what I had learnt which was just so,
wonderful, empowering, amazing, eye opening, no I really don’t have the right word. It showed me that I not only want to be a photographer but a teacher as well. Years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Israel who taught me so much early in my career and I feel like this is giving forward. Another big part of the retreat for me was watching Beth and Beloved, it’s not just a way of photographing but also of being. I was completely captivated and although not too different from what I have already done in the past I wanted to be part of it’s world. I also made the decision not to enter APPA this year as I already had a full plate and wanted to focus on my Friends, my friends, my clients and learning beloved.
Lachlan was also doing great, he had settled into the new house very well and had stopped worrying that daddy was leaving, he had also been making progress at AEIOU including the occasional words which sounded like mama, dada, ni (goodnight) and no. He had started to show interest in PECS too so he was getting less frustrated. We started Indi in a daycare so I could get some work done without staying up to stupid o’clock and she was blossoming and loved it so much. She started saying the cutest things out of the blue and as I had found out was making her own friends.
Then amongst all the wonderful beautiful things that were happening, my mind reminded me that there is only so much one person can deal with. So much change, so much expectation and pressure, and most of it from myself, life came tumbling down. I tried to keep on top of it all, pretending everything was perfect. I even entered APPA as a last moment decision. I even came away with two silver awards which I was proud of but in my mind I expected more, more from myself.
Unfortunately as much as you try things don’t always go to plan and I learnt quickly (but stubbornly) that you can’t get through this alone. That everyone, we all need support. I felt like life was out of control and that it was too much to handle and that nothing really mattered any more. It’s at this point I want to tell everyone how hard this is to open up publicly about this (#removethestigma) and if you are experiencing trouble please seek professional help. I am incredibly surprised to see how common this is within the creative world and that many of my friends have also struggled with mental illness. I am hoping that by reading this they know that they are not alone. I still have moments, blank spaces and times where things are a bit much but the haze is lifting it’s being managed. It took a tribe to get me back on track. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and of course I couldn’t have done it without family and friends both old and new and I’m so happy to be feeling once more.
During my recovery (I guess that’s the right word for it) I started my Beloved training. I was given the option to delay this due to my circumstances but I wanted to proceed, the universe was telling me this was the right thing to do (and it usually points me in the right direction). Although it was a lot of extra work it was right and I found it very healing. I cried healing tears, those of love with my clients and with my family. I had started to find myself again, not just myself but a new me – one who is more in tune within myself and the world around me. I’ve found that my photography is changing and I’m pushing past boundaries I had created for myself in the past.
Our Christmas was the best on record. I received the most amazing gift from Lachlan (Michael), a silver necklace with the soundwave of Lachlan saying “mama” from before he lost his speech and NO MELTDOWNS! We spent it with the family and even went to a family lunch with the extended family and Lachlan played with the other children very happily. He also completely surprised us all and used his brand new lego blocks to put the alphabet together several times in the right order. WOW RIGHT! Indi is growing to be a beautiful little girl who cares so much for everyone around her and who finds joy in so many little things. She’s even started singing (yes she loves singing Let It Goooooooo!)
In all honesty, I’ve been exceptionally blessed this year and had so many great things happen, as well as so many wonderful people around me and my family, so many opportunities with AEIOU, the studio and Michael’s parents taking us in – that’s so much more than most. I’ve also had so many beautiful clients come through my studio already this year who are beyond wonderful. I’ve also had a bunch of Sydney clients have me back to what still feels like home to photograph their beautiful families. Their trust and loyalty is forever appreciated. Each week I receive more and more enquiries and bookings and people who love what I do, when all I really want to do is photograph love.
As I enter 2016 I can’t say I’m sad to see 2015 end. There’s been far too much heart ache, too much hardship, too many friends left behind in Sydney, and too much questioning. What I am excited about is the promise of 2016, seeing where my business and personal goals will take me, watching my little ones grow more and more each day and spending more time with my family.
Hoping that you all enjoy these final moments of 2015 and that 2016 is a year of wonder, success and most of all love.