A few years ago, I distinctly remember feeling a deep restlessness. It was an unidentifiable dull ache that I could not brush off. I didn’t know what was happening. I had a sense that there was something more for me.
I was standing in my kitchen, suddenly overcome with tears. Crying isn’t unusual for me. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I see other people crying. But in this instance, I realized that the unexpected tears were happening more frequently. Random times and out of no where. I wondered why?
To channel energy, I decided to start a year in photos on instagram. Creating and consistent action gets me moving and unstuck. To make the project more doable, I only shared photos taken and processed with my iPhone to limit the creative parameters and make it easy to share quickly. Keeping me from overthinking or procrastinating. Don’t get me wrong, it took me some time to find a rhythm. I did not post every day. Some days I felt uninspired. By day 365, I had formed a new habit and felt a void, if I did not continue. So I continued.
What I learned is that there are many benefits of photography that go beyond documenting memories and collecting beautiful images. It encourages:
Slowing down. Being present. The stillness makes space for connecting and clarity.
Seeing differently. Noticing the beauty in each moment. Celebrating the extra in ordinary.
Having gratitude. Encouraging feelings of joy. Something deeper and more sustaining than fleeting happiness.
Keeping a journal of any kind is a way to collect evidence, makes sense of what is typically uncertain, unconscious, and intangible. It’s the visualization of dreams, feelings, abstract thoughts. Allowing us to connect dots. The year in photo project helped me tap into parts of myself that I had forgotten or been too busy to acknowledge. Playing, gave me permission to explore opportunities for rediscovery and acceptance of myself. I saw things that in the past I could have easily missed because I was rushing from one thing to the next.
On long wandering walks, I consistently witness that when I follow my curiosity, staying open and present, I stumble upon the most unusual light sources. Over time, I have learned to take these as cues. “What is the message that is meant for me?” This has become one of the most profound questions to ask in any experience where I feel conflicted and at a crossroads.
There is on distinct moment that brought it all home for me. I was walking home from school with my kids and feeling preoccupied with a client project. My daughter is chattering about her awesome day. Suddenly, I was snapped out of my thoughts, when my youngest squeals in delight. She’s running off ahead and ends up at a tree to touch the bark. I catch up to her. “Wow,” I thought, we have walked by this tree for years and never noticed. Taking my daughters cue, I have since adopted this mode of marveling. A practice of finding joy–the extra–in ordinary.
So back to that moment in my kitchen. I have learned to see that crying is an indication that there is something meaningful at the root. To dig deeper. Rather than it being a weakness or embarrassing, as I had learned at a very young age because I was teased or criticized. An opinion that I had maintained as truth throughout my adult life. I began to embrace crying as strength, courage, and love. A light. A light that I chase.
My given name means Silver Lining.
I learned that the restlessness I felt was me not being in alignment with who I am. For me to feel grounded, means to be from a place of hopeful optimism and I had lost my way only temporarily. By making intentional choices, I gained a sense of time and energy abundance that fuels my creativity in a sustainable way. I invite you to be the maker of your life, rather than waiting for it to arrive. The unfolding happens with each step that you take. Seek and create moments that bring joy throughout your day. What gives you reasons for being so that you can show up fully? Identify what lights you up. We all have stories inside of us ready to radiate.
Let me know in the comments how this resonates with you.
We must bring our own light to the darkness.”
– Charles Bukowski
Fun Fact. My given name in Vietnamese is Khánh Vân, the respective meaning is “Celebrate” and “Cloud”. I have adopted this to mean “Silver Lining” because it’s not coincidental that one of my gifts is optimism. Being able to see the brighter side of any situation by looking for the lessons gives meaning to the unknown. Reveals opportunities.
Image Credits: All photos by Van Cooley