People love all the time, inherently, no lessons required, yet the world somehow seems short of it.
- Forgive. Sometimes you just have to accept that people are imperfect and will hurt you, and instead of trying to pay them back, or staying angry… just let it go. Act like it never happened. For me, empathy and forgiveness go hand in hand. If I can feel what they are feeling or understand why they are doing what they are doing, it’s much harder to stay angry. I am not in any sense advocating going back into toxic relationships. But even if you cut these people out of your life, for your own sake, forgive them and then move on from the past.
- Have empathy. When someone does something to you, try to think why you would behave that way. Are you grouchy because you didn’t get enough sleep or things are just going poorly? When someone mistreats you, assume the same. If you give yourself grace, (which you do) give others grace. Never assume they hate you. Always assume they are just having an off day, or are nervous or have social anxiety, or are over-thinking. You do it, they do it too.
- Just be kind anyway. If someone doesn’t talk to you, don’t avoid talking to them. Try to make a conversation. For some reason, we are taught that small talk is the devil, but the reality is, small talk helps make connections, so you can have “real” talk. Some people are just shy or feel like no one is interested in what they have to say.
- Compliment people. Sometimes I think I’m borderline creepy with how much I compliment people, but honestly, I like compliments, and it’s an easy ice breaker so I say, go for it.
- Give people a chance. Our society is full of mixed exceptionalities. Just because a person doesn’t achieve a high IQ score, or has autism, or even a physical disability, doesn’t mean they aren’t the sweetest most interesting people in the world. A friend of mine always asks me to fill in greeting cards for him because he can barely even sign his own name, but he is the funniest guy I’ve ever met and totally deadpan. Sometimes he tells the same jokes over and over, because he knows I thought they were hilarious the first time, but my life wouldn’t be so complete if he wasn’t in it.
- Listen. People have stories and they want to tell them. The biggest thing you can do is just listen.
- Don’t judge. You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t do it. Just because someone does something differently from you doesn’t mean they’re wrong or less than you. The world takes all kinds of people. Someone has to collect garbage, someone has to protect children. Someone has to educate, someone has to sell coffee. Each of us does our job, raises our children, teaches, dresses, eats, in a way unique to us. Love the diversity. Love people.
- Assume good first. No one is perfect. And sometimes people just need you to believe in them in order for them to achieve their potential. When I was teaching, another teacher said to me, “Hold the standard high, children will rise to the standard”. If you don’t believe in someone being their best, they will get their in spite of you, or not at all. That’s no fun.
What other things do you suggest? I’d love to know.
This started out as a post on different types of love, because of Valentine’s Day yesterday, but instead, it’s a gallery of family photos from the last year mostly. I started going further back than that, but realized I just had too many photos of life – of people being sweet to each other and loving each other and just having fun – all the reasons you start lifestyle photography in the first place. I also use the term “family” loosely. I tend to include close friends and my church community into my definition of family, so some photos are just of friends doing their thing. All of this to say, Happy Family Day Ontarians!
And my family (aunt, uncle and cousins), out for dinner last November.
My dad and brothers, when we were all young.
Always be grateful for your families, even when it’s tough. Not everyone has one, as weird as that sounds. And welcome people into your families; lots of people. It makes life so much richer and they will be grateful for it.
First thing’s first, I definitely don’t love myself, not usually. I created the following list of ideas because I want to remember to do them, either because in the past they have helped or I suspect that they will help.
- Write down your strengths and accomplishments. Even random things. I like that people bring me their broken jewellery to fix, even if it’s just a case that I’m the only one with the tools. It’s something practical I can do.
- Refuse to talk negative about yourself. When I was in teacher’s college, my placement teacher pulled me aside and said, “You have to stop saying, “my example isn’t good, you can do better” because it’s self-deprecating and that doesn’t give a good message. Do you want your children to talk negatively about themselves? Of course not, so don’t do it either.
- Write about what you love doing and doing it. (Obviously).
- Treat yourself to something nice. I only find this helpful when I do it deliberately. If I’m just in the mood to eat junk food and I start doing it everyday, it’s not rewarding. If I consciously choose to eat my favourite food as a reward to myself, it’s so much better and gives you something to which you can look forwards.
- Get “fixed” up. I don’t mean on a date. I mean shave, do your nails, try a new hairstyle, don’t go out in yoga pants. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself.
- Positive self-talk. Stop dreading things. Remind yourself you can do them.
- Keep a sleep routine. I find it nearly impossible to feel good about myself or anything when I’m overly tired.
- Help people. I always feel better about myself and just genuinely happy when I find a way to help someone else.
- Give gifts or notes to someone who is lonely. When you’re wanting to make someone else feel good, it’s much harder to feel bad about yourself. Plus the reward of cheering someone up and showing them they are loved, is one of the best feelings ever. It’s actually scientific.
- Refuse to dwell on your past. Good or bad. It’s over. Let yourself move on.
- Realize life and Art are beautiful for their imperfections.
- Give yourself down time and don’t feel guilty about it.
- Know your convictions and stick to them. This was a big one for me personally. If you know that you don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, or you give your food banks because you want to help the poor and think that’s super important, be happy about that. It’s good to have convictions.
- Listen to your instincts. Everyone will have advice about what is best for you. What does your gut say? If you do, no one else will be responsible for your choices and you won’t hate yourself for letting everyone else decide for you.
- Have a solo dance party.
- Find your best pose and take selfies. Try new outfits, new angles, new make-up. Find a you that you see is beautiful and capture her or him.
- Write reminders to yourself that make you feel strong. For me personally, I like to write “Stay gold” and “Shine like Stars in the Universe” because it reminds me to not let life ruin me. Sometimes things are tough, and people are cruel, but if you stay gold, you love people and life despite it all.
- Find a community and people that love and support you. There will be days when you don’t want to see people, but it’s such a good feeling knowing they are there and care anyway. I’m so blessed to have a tight family, Church community and small town home, I get lots of reinforcement.
- Embrace your quirks. Do you want to be just a faceless member of the crowd, the proverbial sheep? No! So be happy with the things that make you special.
- Hang on to your values and build your life around them. If you want a big house, I mean really truly deep inside you, then work towards that. If you prefer a minimalist lifestyle, then do that. If you want to be a free-spirited hippie, that’s good. If you prefer strict structure and routine, perfect. You are who are, let your life reflect that. If you love people, love people, be kind to them, even if people say “you’re too kind”. Live your values. You’ll love yourself better for it.
I also want you to remember, that God loves you. He fully believes that you are worthy of life. Jesus loves you, so much that He died for you. If they can love you, you should love you. It’s hard to receive love though sometimes, and I think that’s because we can’t always believe that we are worth loving. These are things that I THINK are helpful in learning to love yourself. If you have other suggestions, I would love to hear them. Thanks!
A friend of mine said to me “When I’m feeling down, I go for a walk and suddenly, something will just grab me, and I’ll have to photograph it”. That is exactly what being a photographer is like, and more than that, that moment when you’re taking the photo, everything that is bothering you is gone.
Another favourite cure for sadness is spending time with sweet, fun people, even though you don’t usually feel up for it before you get there. Amanda contacted me for photos because her boy was turning two! The weather hadn’t been great, it was rainy and grey, but we got together anyhow.
I had such a great time, capturing Amanda and Brandon chasing Damien through the evergreen tree tunnels and cuddling with Kamron who is definitely one of the happiest, cuddliest babies ever born. For that reason, these photographs are some of my favourites ever. Personally, they feel like some of my best, but that may just be because I had such a great time creating them.
I use to think that being in love, being married, was like being in a bubble. The world would go on around you, but you were safe in your family unit because you had each other. You had thoughts that only your family/partner knew and you could be yourself. If you were insecure, or had an argument, you could come home and find comfort knowing that you had that other person.
Then I forgot that I thought that. Life changed, I changed. In November, I went over to visit James and Tori, Jax and Beau, and I was editing a few photos I snapped of them while I was there, and I remembered the bubble. I didn’t really achieve the photos I wanted to take, ones the accurately capture them, but that was because of my own insecurities (also an important lesson) but here is what I did see.
This beautiful, amazing mama, who despite being (probably) an introvert has married this silly, big hearted musician who is always moving and rocking and full of life… and it works. He shelters her so she doesn’t have to face people more than she wants to, and she supports him so he can live his life out loud, taking chances and making music and laughing. And they encourage their boys to be creative and brave and to love each other. You know that even if they argue, or get tired of chasing after small children, they always have each other’s backs… and that is exactly how I figured the bubble would work.
I will also mention I can’t take full credit for the photos, Jax was my assistant photographer that day, even though he’s less than two!