…I can’t even begin to describe all that’s taken place in our lives this last week. There has been a lot of turmoil, a lot of anxiety, and a lot of heartache. Please know that I do intend to return to this space when the fog has lifted a bit. For now, I need to focus on my family, as they are my utmost priority.
(Thank you to everyone who’s contacted me about being a part of the soft launch of our LIFE:CAPTURED site. Your enthusiasm and support has greatly encouraged me during this time. I will be in touch with you very soon.)
Last weekend, I attended a Christian conference for women here in the Northern Beaches called Inspire. It was held at and organised by our partner church, St Faith’s in Narrabeen. The two main talks were about thankfulness and forgiveness, and I was greatly challenged on both these topics. In particular, the speaker Kara Gilbert issued us a coffee shop challenge: the next time we meet up for coffee with friends or family, we are to do our best to not grumble or complain about anything at all, and instead, to only talk about things that we’re thankful for. I think this is a tough one, but I’m up for it! The day ended with a Q&A panel session, and one of the questions was about contentment: How can we, practically speaking, find contentment when our entire lives seem to be geared towards ‘the next thing’ – whether it’s finding a relationship, getting engaged, getting married, having children, getting a good job, getting a better job, having more children, seeing your own children get married, etc. In response to this question, one of the speakers shared these words, which been ringing in my heart and mind ever since: “You can’t do anything about yesterday. You don’t know anything about tomorrow. But today. Today is a gift. Embrace it. Cherish it.”
Honestly, none of us knows what will happen to us tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how many projects I plan, or how many lists I write, or how organised I try to keep our house – tomorrow, it could all be pulled out from under me. The best thing I can do, in amongst all of that, is to thank God for today and to embrace it. And so friends, with this printable, I encourage all of you to embrace today with me. Like last time, I’ve created a 6×4 card and a 3×4 card. Use them as filler cards for Project Life or simply tape them to your wall as a gentle reminder that today is what matters.
The photo was taken back in July when we were down in Gerroa on our family holiday. A few of the boys had woken up before dawn, and both Rick and I had gotten up to resettle them all. As I was walking back to our bed, I happened to peek through the blinds, and I saw this: an immaculate sunrise. It, quite literally, left me breathless…
Last Tuesday, Silvie from Little Gem Flowers supplied these beautiful blooms for my photo shoot with Trish. Silvie had been the mastermind behind the stunning florals for our second LIFE:CAPTURED workshop so I was pretty stoked when she wrote back to say she would be happy to help us out again. I’d sent Silvie a very vague brief by email – something along the lines of “some purple flowers and maybe some neutral-coloured ones.” Despite my bared-boned instructions (and my obvious lack of savviness when it comes to florals), she somehow managed to grasp my vision and we ended up with some blooms that were simply perfect for the shots: white daisies, pale pink magnolias, beige orchids, purple sweet peas, dusky pink carnations, violet orchids, and my personal favourite – orange pincushion flowers…
I wrote about a week ago that I’d been battling a good dosage of self-doubt and insecurity about my creative work. So much so that it’d become quite a stumbling block for me, and I was finding it hard to push ahead with my business timeline. Obviously, I’m not alone in this, and I also know that this is something that will come up again and again. So today, I thought I’d share three things that have helped me along the way this past week.
The first I’ve already spoken about. I reached out to my friend Liz who shares a similar design aesthetic to me – I guess you could say we are both minimalists at heart. But more than that, I admire and respect Liz for her work ethic, her humility, her kindness, and her genuineness. She is truly one of a kind, and I’m so thankful that we’ve become friends through our blogs. I trust that no matter what question I ask of her, she will reciprocate with nothing short of 100% honesty. Anyway, in one of my more severe bouts of self-doubt, I wrote Liz a rather heartfelt email – inquiring about her experience in building and launching her Paislee Press brand, and whether she thought I was heading in the right direction. Despite the fact that it was close to midnight her local time, she wrote back immediately and basically implored/instructed me to keep going. This was exactly what I needed to hear, and every time I find myself hesitating and doubting, I simply repeat Liz’s mantra to myself: “Just keeping going.”
The second thing that has helped me was watching Joy Cho‘s video from this year’s Alt Summit. In her speech, she talks about her creative journey and all along the way, she shares her experience of creating something from nothing. It reminded me of a post that Elise once wrote on her blog: the fact that everybody starts from zero. Together, Joy and Elise’s words have reminded me of two simple truths. First of all, it’s pointless to compare myself with other people because everybody has to start at the same point (ie. at zero). And second of all, hard work is what matters. Behind every thriving brand or business is someone who has put in days, weeks, months, years of work. It’s almost ironic that I needed to be reminded of such wisdom, considering it’s what I grew up hearing from my parents. I guess our parents are (almost) always right after all.
And the final thing? Going away. Having two whole days of not thinking or worrying about my work or business was arguably the most helpful thing that could’ve happened. Two days of being free to indulge myself in rest, relaxation, and the things I actually enjoy doing: writing, journaling, reading, and chasing light and shade. It was incredibly refreshing for my creative soul, and I came by utterly re-energised to take on what lies ahead and to make it happen.
What has your experience been like with battling insecurity about your creative work?
If you don’t have a tripod, use your partner instead.
When Rick and I were away last week, we both got to indulge our creative loves: Rick read (three books) and I took (more than a thousand) photos. There was so much light and shade in the cottage we were staying at that I just couldn’t stop clicking.
There were also beautiful rooms and, therefore, beautiful backdrops, so I could hardly resist capturing some self-portraits while the sun threw beautiful country light all over the weathered, timber walls.
Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to bring my tripod. (Or more accurately, I didn’t think to bring it along at all.)
Thankfully, my trusty sidekick of a husband was more than happy to stand in for me.
I would set up the shot, frame the composition exactly as I wanted it, and then Rick would take over and hold the camera where I’d had it.
It worked a treat, and even more awesome was the fact that I didn’t have to use the self-timer and wait ten seconds between each shot.
Rick was incredibly patient and put up with my endless instructions.
“Keep the lines straight. Don’t tilt the lens. Can you count to three? Just keep clicking! Try not to get the floor. I want more ceiling. Let me have a look…”
On the way home, I made an offhand comment to Rick about needing to bring my tripod next time so that I wouldn’t have to interrupt his reading, and you know what he said?
“No, don’t bring the tripod. Use me instead. I liked being a part of it.”
Have you taken any self-portraits lately? Feel free to link below.
(You can see the other posts in this series here.)
On Tuesday night, I held Bear close to me at bedtime. He didn’t want to drink any milk so I read My World to him instead (“The fire burns. The pages turn…”). Afterwards, I switched off the light and handed him his two dummies. He popped one into his mouth and clutched the other in his small chubby hand. I put his head down on my shoulder and sang his bedtime songs: Amazing Grace, and You Loved Me. I then prayed. We hugged each other close. I breathed him in, and he tried to put his dummy in my mouth. In the darkness, we smiled at each other.
* * *
It’s been a long time since I last chased shadows at twilight, and I miss it. This is the sort of imagery that I love creating. This is the sort of imagery that speaks to me.
I may have to do this more. Yes, I must do this more.
Grey light, darkness and shadows – who would’ve known?
* * *
Looking back over the last few years, some of my most poignant memories have been made at twilight.
It is the hour I hold the boys close.
It is the hour I read to them.
It is the hour I sing to them.
It is the hour I slow down to embrace the moment.
It is the hour I remember how blessed I am.
So from hereon, I plan to document twilight more – both in words and images.
And if you don’t mind too much, I hope to share all this with you.
What about you? Are you impartial or partial to the twilight hour?
I have to admit that I haven’t touched my Project Life album in the last couple of weeks, but I’m okay with that. Once life settles down, I’m confident I’ll get back into the swing of things. My strategy of simply doing two weeks at a time makes it easy for me to catch up, so it’s all good. I’m also behind on the boys’ albums by a few months but the cool thing is that Rick and I have both been making a concerted effort to write down each day the special and funny things the boys are saying and doing. In fact, Rick is really good at it, and I’m truly thankful for that every day. (He’s a keeper.)
What happened in Week 22?
I spent a quiet Monday with the boys, and then the rest of the week was taken up with preparing for our third LIFE:CAPTURED workshop. Compared to our first two workshops, I remember being relatively calm and everything happened rather smoothly without much stress. We held the workshop at Studio Neon and spent a wonderful day teaching photography, photo organisation, memory keeping, and design to a lovely group of people. The day after the workshop, Rick and I took all four boys down to the lake where we ate buns and drank coffee (us, not them). I remember that day being quite gloomy but, all the same, I cherished every moment with the family after so much time apart.
How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken on my Fujifilm x100s and processed with VSCO Film. You can read more about how I edit my photos here.
Favourite photos from Week 22?
Definitely the photos of the children: of Bear climbing and standing on the little white stool despite the fact that I was telling him to get down (middle row, first page); of Pete and Jamie playing in in our lounge room bathed in golden sunlight (bottom right, first page); and of Angus and Bear having a moment alone with daddy after quiet time on Saturday (top right, second page).
Number of extra pages and inserts?
Just two 8×10 inserts containing photos that Rick took while he was out with the boys.
The photo of the workshop venue with the big clock and the gorgeous Chesterfield couch anchors the layout of the first page really well. Even though it’s a busy page, it feels very balanced to me. As for the second page, I love all the warm, golden hues.
I sat by the seaside one evening after an intense day of work. It was like another realm: quiet, serene, and beautiful beyond measure. I watched as two little girls played peacefully on the sand, with their mother close by. In the distance, two figures strolled along the water’s edge. The beach was otherwise deserted. I stayed only a short while but still long enough to calm my heart and mind before returning home to my boys…
Last night, I slept for only one hour as I pushed myself to finish preparing for our photo shoot today. I am so much more efficient under pressure, it’s not funny. Despite my exhaustion, I am very excited for today. It’s always a treat to work with Trish and hopefully, today, we can make some magic together.
This beautiful winter light danced around my studio all yesterday afternoon. Inspired, I picked up my camera – something I don’t usually do on Sundays because I’m often too exhausted. I’m so glad I did. These images broke me out of a rut. For several weeks, I’d been somewhat disconnected from my photography. My images weren’t speaking to me. But yesterday, as I was capturing these frames, it dawned on me that I’d been expecting too much of myself and my camera, and that I’d been inadvertently comparing myself to other photographers. Which is completely counterproductive because, when it comes down to it, the most important ‘requirement’ for my own photography is for me to remain true to myself. And these seemingly ordinary frames are just that: a perfectly simple reflection of me and my surroundings.
I realised something else this weekend too. For the past week, I’d been struggling with the notion of leaving our boys behind for two days while Rick and I get away to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Even now, I am still torn between craving time for ourselves and wanting to be here for the boys. It’s almost ridiculous, really. It’s just two days. In fact, I’d always thought of myself as the type of mother who would cope just fine with having to go away for work for a week at a time. But last night, it suddenly struck me that if I ever had to work away from home, I would find it much harder than I could ever have anticipated. Obviously, this has no real repercussions since my work doesn’t require me to go anywhere for now, but it’s always disconcerting to realise that you’re different to who you thought you were. I shared this with Rick as we drank our bedtime Milo together. He just smiled, as if he’d known all along…
This week, I will be drinking Nespresso coffee, directing a product shoot, cherishing moments with my boys, packing, going away, making the most of it, coming home to cuddles, and hopefully doing some journaling in between.
How was your weekend, my friends? And what’s in store for you this week?
My friends call me Ronnie, and you can too. I'm a graphic designer by trade, and a neat freak by nature. I started my own design studio in 2005 and ran it for seven years. I live in Sydney with my man, Rick, and four of our five little boys. We lost our first son, Cameron, at 41 weeks and we miss him every day. I love memory keeping, I love coffee, and I love de-cluttering. This year, I'm making over my life. I've been blogging for ten years now, and love how it keeps me sane. Grab a cup of tea, and have a browse. It's lovely to have you here.
This is my other blog, one that's close to my heart. It is a chronicle of our journey after losing our firstborn son, Cameron Angus Mason. Cameron died in utero at 41 weeks on 15 September 2007. He was born the day after on 16 September 2007. We love him dearly and miss him terribly. We will never forget him, our beloved first child.