Going through old photos has become my favourite activity of spring 2020.
Before almost anyone lost their job in Canada, my husband Tony was laid off mid-March by Porter Airlines. We had just returned from vacation to Hawaii and were expecting he’d go back to work. Except Porter Airlines was among the first companies in Canada to fully shut down in response to COVID 19.
Porter’s total shutdown was shocking at the time, but several weeks later, we’ve adopted a bigger picture view. How many people would have come into downtown Toronto from New York City if Porter hadn’t closed early? I don’t like to think about Toronto’s alternate reality on that one.
We both like to be busy and were looking to cut expenses. Tony moved quickly to empty our storage locker into our main floor before the lock down began. Into our house came all matter of things. Item by item, box by box, we’ve been sorting, shredding, reorganizing, and moving old stuff out as we can.
Last week Tony started scanning boxes of his old photos. I always need pictures for my website, blog and social media. Unable to shoot anything new in Toronto, I’ve been diving into my hard drive for spring shots.
The past has literally come home to roost
Because of the circumstances, I’m currently reliving the spring of 2006. That April, my photography soul mate Beth came to visit me in Kelowna from Boston. Beth and I had met at a 2004 Freeman Patterson photography workshop in New Brunswick. For five days, Beth and I drove up and down the Okanagan Valley, unleashing our cameras on every thing in sight.
In those days, we shot with transparent slide film and early digital cameras. Those slides and all their requisite peripheral equipment are currently in a box on our living room floor. I feel a mixture of joy and sadness in their presence. Joy for all the beautiful places I’ve traveled and taken in through my lens. Sadness for all of the weeks, months, and years that I’ve barely touched my camera.
The past has come home to roost in other ways, too. Thanks to all the COVID 19 time at home, I’ve been going through a life review, realigning how I show up in the world. In truth, my realignment started before we left for Hawaii. Travel always brings out my photography equipment. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I kept thinking, “I’m not meant to be on my ass in front of a computer, talking to people on Zoom all day.” Oh, yes, I’m a long-time Zoom user in my coaching, and I get the irony of now. Sometimes before we make an evolution, we are shown more of what we don’t want!
Truth in the form of a pandemic
My pandemic truth is something I’ve known for years. I am happiest and feel most connected to life when I am somewhere new, camera in front of my face, lying face down in the dirt. Current reality says that won’t be happening for a while. Besides, I am multi-dimensional and multi-disciplined, just like you.
So while there is much uncertainty moving forward, sheltering in place has provided valuable opportunities to reinvention, renewal and a return.
I’m reinventing my coaching practice. I love coaching, but I can’t ignore the other parts of me. Besides, it would make me a hypocrite to ignore my inner wisdom when she tells just won’t stop speaking. I – and Free Your Inner Guru – stand for full self expression, for crying out loud!
Here’s where it gets interesting, and all starts to come together. I’ve experienced community trauma and loss before. That’s why I started doing free group Zooms the moment we got home. I didn’t know what they’d be like, I just knew I wanted to help, if anyone was interested.
I didn’t know who’d be attracted to it, or if anyone would have the bandwidth to jump on Zoom with a coach. I didn’t know how quickly they would grow, or that they’d become my favorite hour of the week. I didn’t know they’d turn into a source of inspiration for the shift in my coaching practice.
Most of all, I couldn’t anticipate how they would resuscitate my passion for leading and guiding.
Alongside all of this, I’ve renewed my commitment to writing, and writing, and writing. I have journalled on and off throughout my life, but right now, I’m writing every single freaking day. Many days that looks like a Daily Letter. Behind the scenes, my memoir is taking shape as I fully embrace every aspect and event of my life – including the Sedona sweat lodge.
Oh, yes, there has been a lot of recent interest in the worst day of my – and so many others’ – life. Prodded by this outside interest, I’ve embraced telling the story through my eyes and experience at the time. I don’t mean the eyes of hindsight, or what I could have known, or didn’t know or couldn’t possibly have understood.
It’s grueling work. But I notice a huge difference between revisiting it now versus revisiting it in years past. The blows of trauma are blunted, if not entirely absent. I know this becauseI can be inspired in the present as I delve into the past.
Finally, my return: I’m reminded of some of my father’s last words to me when we were together in cottage country in 2014, “Laura, why aren’t you taking pictures?!?” He knew it then as well as I know it now. If I’m not taking or making pictures, I’m not happy. I’m a creative at heart. That’s the real return. The return to the heart.
So I’m paying attention. When I kept persistently thinking of Beth, I sent her a message and last week we met – you guessed it – on Zoom. When people keep sending me messages telling me how much they get out of our community Zooms, I know we’re on a positive track. When all I want to do is sit my ass in front of the computer and write, or sort through my old photos instead of wimping out with stock images, that’s what I’m doing.
My creative love has called again, and this time I’m picking up. Which means I’m happy, healthy, and alive.
And grateful for it all.
📷 Spring Blossoms, Summerhill, British Columbia, April 2006