People always talk about searching for a soul mate, but I don’t think you can really. He or she just has to be there. If you search, you put conditions on what you’re looking for – you go to places where he or she could be – then you look for people who fit the the qualities on your internal check list. You ultimately decide on the one who most closely resembles your soul mate within that pool. I am not saying this approach is never successful. I am suggesting it allows many people to settle down with the best “of the worst”, or the best of that particular group. There is a degree of compatibility and a mutual understanding that it’s the right time to step into that phase of your life, then three kids later, you have a life together. Maybe that’s not so wrong. In reality, the human race definitely would not have survived otherwise. But it’s not just that. That process isn’t less reliable or faulty necessarily.
All I’m saying is, I’ve never been able to do that and not even by any choice of my own. I’ve tried and failed, and ultimately feel like garbage and a terrible human being and like surely I have malfunctioned. My internal warning instinct goes off – like a skunk emitting spray – there is no helping it – it is a defence against predators – or maybe I’m the predator – out to rip apart an unsuspecting victim as an innate natural ritual. I’m exaggerating, A LOT. I probably just haven’t liked anyone enough or the right way. I have a really tough time with the idea that someone who is a complete stranger becomes your family. You rely on that person entirely and trust them entirely, and if I’m ever going to do that, it’s not because the person meets certain adjectives on a list. In fact, I don’t know how I’m ever going to do that. Maybe I won’t.
The point is, there isn’t a formula. You can say “try online dating” or “travel” or “be more open-minded”, “take risks” and although that may widen the prospects – it will no more guarantee that that one person will finally find the way into my heart before I turn wild on him. I have to trust in something greater than myself for this. I have to have a little faith (and confession, 50% of the time, I don’t).
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.
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!
One of my dearest friends got married this weekend, and I was invited to be in the bridal party. As a result, I didn’t photograph the wedding, even though I would have loved to, but I loaned out my camera to basically anyone who was willing to use it. Here are a few of my favourite captures from the day!
pink fascinator for a wedding
DIY wedding shoes, sneakers covered in paint
We probably had the most relaxed bridal party morning ever. We kinda just sat around in pajamas and ate pizza. I had my hair and make-up done when I got there, but the bride’s aunt and cousins worked on everyone else’s hair and make-up. Then we got dressed and arrived at the Church basically on time. We did a few photos in the backyard, and there were tons of crickets and they kept jumping up our dresses! Apparently the groomsmen had a blast doing their photos and the dock they did their photos on separated from the land while they were out there, so we almost lost the groom. But it all worked out in the end… and the ceremony was truly beautiful. Jennah looked so, so lovely walking down the aisle and the flower girl was perfect! She loved everyone looking at her, even though she woke up literally a minute before it was time to start.
A few of my favourite photo booth photos.
And finally…. photographs from the dance. I’ve only met a few people in my life who loved to dance as much as these people. They danced and danced all night, even as they cleaned up after the wedding. And… it was contagious. Plus it wasn’t just shuffling from foot to foot, it was arms waving, full body dancing!
And…. my favourite photograph from the day….
And finally, the dreamy lanterns we sent into the night sky.
I was so grateful to be a part of this truly magical day, and I wish Jennah and Cam all the happiness in the world. I love you guys.