One should never start off with an apology, so I won’t apologize for not posting on my blog. I have learned that rather than focusing on things that can’t be undone, it’s far better to focus on the things that I can do, going forward. The mind is a powerful tool. It can either defeat me or guide me in directions that I may not think are possible, if I have the capacity to embrace the word “yes” and be open and committed to possibilities.
My life consists of a series of choices. Most are small choices that I make on a daily basis like “what should I wear?” or “what should I prioritize for my business today?” Should I get that new promo out, write a new post for my blog, start looking at footage from a film that I’ve just started production on, or pay the bills? All these things are important, but not everything can be a priority, so choices need to be made.
I am keenly aware that all of the choices that I make throughout my day ultimately determine my future. But it’s easy to forget that and instead get caught up in a series of daily actions that really don’t lead anywhere. When I find myself spending more and more days without direction, I know I need a reset. I need to shift my thinking and start paying attention to some of my larger ideas, instead of dismissing them because it’s easier to tell myself “no” and give in to my resistance.
I suppose you could say I’ve been on hiatus at least in terms of writing for my blog. The truth is, I have been sidetracked by other things that I’ve had to make my priorities. But, I am also going through a “reset” period and shifting my thinking and paying attention to my ideas that aren’t going away. I,m embracing those ideas now and starting to break them down into actions. The tough part is staying focused on those actions and making them priorities on a daily basis. But when I do, I’m saying “yes” to possibilities and directing the future I want.
With all the hype happening this week around the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles coming to America, I couldn’t help but reflect how much this band influenced my own career as a photographer and filmmaker.
- I was inspired me to “capture” history (and use my camera as a means to that end). To start with, the first pictures that I remember taking as a child were photos I snapped of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I vividly remember as I anxiously awaited the show to begin, that I needed to document it somehow. It was just too important not too. In fact it was so important that I have kept that snapshot in a small box of memorabilia for 50 years! I’ve spent a career documenting some of the most incredible places, people and events of my time.
- They inspired me to be a storyteller. I used to orally tell stories to just about anyone who would listen to me when I was a very young child. But when the Beatles hit the scene, about the same time I started noticing the opposite sex, I turned my fantasies into my own written stories. I’m still writing stories and now translating them into ePubs, books and movies.
- They expanded my universe. I began to “see” things differently because of the Beatles. I became aware of different cultures, countries, music and wit. It was like an awakening for me and I knew then that I wanted to explore as many cultures and experiences as I could. I’ve spent a lifetime exploring the unknown.
- They taught me to always learn, grow and challenge myself. I grew up as a child and later a teenager, during one of the most pivotal and changing decades in America. As the Beatles moved beyond the “feel good” and innocent lyrics of songs like “She loves you…..yeah, yeah, yeah”, to the lyrical depths found on the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, I too was changing. It was like we were growing together. I remind myself daily to always be learning, exploring, growing and challenging myself and that has helped me stay fresh in my career.
- I learned that “The Beatles” were more than the sum of 4 individuals. John, Paul, George and Ringo all brought their own unique talents and personalities to make up the most phenomenal band of all time. But they were also savvy enough to know they needed expert guidance and collaborated with great people like Brian Epstein and George Martin. It taught me the importance of collaboration and to surround myself with people who have talents that I don’t possess.
Do you ever feel stuck – like you just can’t quite make it to the finish line? This can happen for a number of reasons – your plan wasn’t well thought through – your perfectionism has stopped you – you don’t see the big picture or you can’t break down the details – or maybe you never had a goal to begin with.
The one thing I try to do whenever I think about embarking on a project is to define my end goal – “What are my expectations?” When I make myself think about my end goal, it forces me to clearly define it. This allows me to assess my underlying motivations, cut out the chaff and move forward to stay on target and reach the finish line.
Sounds simple, but the problems arise when I let other people sidetrack me from my original goal. For example: when I was working on the trailer for Opening Our Eyes, I posted my work in progress on Vimeo and shared it with friends and colleagues. Many people offered up advice and solutions according to how they wanted to see the story to unfold. Some suggested that my daughter and I (the filmmakers) should be more present in the trailer and in the film itself. Some thought we shouldn’t be in it at all. At one point I started to incorporate everyone’s suggestions and ended up with a trailer that was neither here nor there. I had lost sight of my own end goal and I needed to step back from the edit, the technology and the influence and ask myself “What is it I’m trying to say?”
Well intentioned people in our life can easily distract us from our own purpose and before you know it you’re not living the life you are meant to live and you can’t understand why you’re not getting anywhere. When this has happened in my life’s journey, it’s usually taken something “bad” or “good” to take place, that stops me in my tracks and makes me step back from the noise and ask myself “What is my end goal? – Where is it I’m trying to get to?” I don’t always have a clear answer but at least I’ve taken notice of the question.
I think that’s the key – to take notice of how you’re living your life and if you are on the right path. Goals come and go and it’s all those little unexpected surprises that life throws at you that determine the outcome. We can’t control everything in our lives but we can take notice of where we are going and ask ourselves “Is that the destination we are bound for?”
Have you had any lately? Expectations that you may have had – pinned your hopes on and had to abandon? I have had to let go of more than a few hopes, dreams, and desires over this past month alone. My struggles seem to always come in cycles and there are some days when it seems like I’d be better off not having any hopes and dreams at all. Those dark days are tough and tax everything I have and am, but I try to remind myself of one very important thing – and that is – that all this “bad stuff” has to happen in order for me to grow and be the person I am meant to be.
If you are like me (and many creative people are) the passions inside of you can act like a double-edged sword. They can move you up and down on a roller coaster of emotions and wreak havoc inside your head. But rather than succumb and be a victim to those emotions, I try to channel them into something more positive and productive. Writing helps me a lot. Just trying to articulate how I’m feeling, seems to move me through whatever it is I’m struggling with.
I imagine that most people who may be reading this are creatives, and have had their share of “strawberry days” and “onion days”. Strawberry days that are so sweet and onion days where you just want to break down and cry. But maybe that’s just how it should be – because that means that you are “feeling” and “trying” – both essential ingredients for personal growth. I know that my onion days make my strawberry days that much sweeter. I also know that every successful person has had more failures than triumphs along the way. Its just part of the process.
So, here are a few things that I do when I hit a string of onion days:
- I remind myself that those days will pass and there will be better days because of them.
- I reach out to my friends. Your true friends will be the ones who are listening.
- I tell myself that everything happens for a reason in order to get me to where I need to be.
- I walk.
- I meditate.
- I think about everything I have that I’m grateful for.
- I think about others and I try to help them with their own challenges.
- I find something to love about who I am.
- I seek to understand others.
- I carry on and do the dance I was meant to do.
- And I listen to music.
With that said I’ll leave you with some wise words (lyrics) from Jackson Browne:
From For a Dancer:
Keep a fire for the human race.
Let your prayers go drifting into space.
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear.
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainly turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know