"Awakening the Spark"

I found myself randomly breaking out in tears one evening a few months ago.  I didn't know how it had happened, but I felt like I was at a stand still.  Maybe it was because it has gotten cold, or because it gets dark so early.  Or maybe its because I don't have to make as much painter's tape in the winter (my 9-5 job is in the tape industry if you didn't know).  But life seemed to be moving slowly. Occasionally life can burn you out, make you feel not good enough, make you question what you are doing here and what it all means.  Sometimes it's long days in an office cube, sometimes you're sick for the holidays, sometimes you forget your passions and just sink in your heels and simply go through the motions...

And that was where I was at.  So where to go from there?

Well luckily I feel like I have a good grasp of what my passions are.  I love problem solving, and feel like I was given a gift in the fact that I love challenging myself to big, overwhelming, complex problems that I can pick apart, analyze, and come up with a creative solution (hence being an engineer).  But I am also drawn to human connection.  I love learning what makes people tick, what motivates them.  Instead of where do you live and what do you do, I want to know what is in the in between.  I have always loved photography, but more so I have learned, I love the ability it gives me to capture someones story; a moment in time that is authentically theirs.

But knowing your passions is only half of it.  You also have to figure out how to live out your dreams.  How to spend your days doing the things that make you feel most fulfilled.  Thankfully, a couple weeks later I came home from work with the hugest grin on my face as I had found my answer to my rut!   The Define School offers online courses for photographers of any level to learn from experts in the field (who simply want to share their knowledge).  Awesome!

(Of course this solution led to more tears as I realized it would be really hard to justify paying for further education, when what I need to be doing is saving for our September wedding.  But after sitting down with Rich and looking at our budgets, we decided it was feasible, and honestly, good for my health.)

Well today was the sign up!  Yay!  The course I picked was this:

Taught by Molly Flanagan.

It is so perfect.  Its all about non-intrusive photography, no posing allowed; simply being a witness and learning to let life speak for itself. Yes, perfect.

But then later this evening, I found myself on the website again.  I knew thatMichelle Gardella was teaching a course, and if you remember from an earlier blog, I had felt inspired to support her Kickstarter campaign "River Stories."  Since then I have followed her travels with her family via social media (instagram and her blog) and multiple times have found myself feeling deeply connected to her message, and impressed with the level of honesty and vulnerability she was willing to share with the world.

Then I read her class description:

I'll say it a hundred times: This is not a photography class. This isn't about taking pretty pictures or being the next famous photographer with 25K instagram followers. This is about creating a corner of the world that is authentically yours, and creating a life set on fire.

What moves me most is work/art/life with a purpose. A REAL purpose. And that's really the heart of my class/life. Bring purpose back to your work, your life, your moments here on this Earth.

At the end of each goal, each dream, each task, we must ask ourselves, "What is the story I am telling with this action? Is it greed? Image? Fame? or is it something with a much more beautiful and magical and meaningful footprint on this world?"

When we use our hands, when we break out of the safety zones, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in the company of other creatives, for me, that's where the honest answers to these questions can truly be found.

This.  This is what I need.

Looks like I will be taking two courses this January!  Thankful for that inner force that always keeps me seeking, for letting curiosity and bravery lead me into new challenges, and for the things in life that bring light.