Friday, June 12, 2015

Lessons and Photos from April Love 2015

I enjoy the challenge of trying to take a photo a day as an exercise in awareness but, before April, had never participated in a formal photo challenge with other photographers.

Signing up for Susannah Conway's April Love 2015 was an exercise in self discovery and learning to love yourself. And I think it was the impetus I needed to rehaul this blog.

The event comprised:

  • Posting photos and reflections to social media based on a daily prompt
  • Receiving daily emails with tales of self love and self care from people from so many different walks of life—yoga teachers, life coaches, therapists, artists—tales and insights to help us find self-love.

What is self-love?

So what is ‘self-love’ and ‘self-care’? The terms seem self-explanatory; loving and caring for yourself. Yet, to do so can be difficult.

I remember listening to Jamie Ridler talking about self-care—how she had been working hard to try and meet self-imposed deadlines before getting away, wanting to ensure that everything was ‘perfect’—and thinking “that's me”. It was Hubby's and my third day in Townsville but I had spent the week prior trying to prepare classes in advance for the week that I returned and, having not managed to do so, was planning to prepare those classes during our time off. (I didn't.)

Her key message:

“Rest is part of the work too.”

and there I am, watching her video and nodding in agreement.

I ended up falling behind with the emails, focusing more on the daily prompts and taking photos in response to those prompts, but they all had similar messages.

So, what ‘lessons’ did I pick up from April Love?

  • Self-love is about caring and nourishing yourself. If you cannot care for yourself, how can you love and care for others?
  • Satya (truth). Be truthful with yourself and with others, recognising your capabilities, admitting that you need help.

    Sandi Amorim mused:

    “Perhaps the secret to self-love is to admit that we don't love ourselves, that the challenge of putting ourselves first is too great.”

    Or as Tiffany Han said:

    “[Self-love] looks like saying “I don't know” ...

    It looks like letting go of keeping everyone else around me comfortable just because.

    It looks like letting people help ...”
  • Ahimsa (non-violence) towards yourself and others

    How often do you berate yourself: “I look awful.”, “If only I lost some weight?”, “Stupid, silly, ... you should have done ...”, “No-one's going to want to do that ...”.

    Be a friend and ally to yourself.

    Hannah Marcotti offered this simple waking mantra: “Today, I shall be ...”.

    She found that negative thoughts she woke up with and carried into the day “manifested into truth”. Choosing consciously to be something positive helped set an intention and tone for the day.

    Danielle Dowling shared a letter to herself, with gems like the following:

    “You don't have to always be so strong ...

    ... have a good cry if you need to. Doing so doesn’t make you weak or any less resilient or capable.

    For years you have shown up and done the responsible, noteworthy and ... necessary. Now it is time [to] celebrate your accomplishments + soak in gratitude.

    ... pulling back does not mean you will have to go without.”

  • Voice your needs; do not be afraid to admit and ask for help.

    I found Lianne Raymond's article on mother and daughter energies, and her discovery that she had a weak daughter energy resonated with me.

    “What this meant for me was that though I was able to engage in self-care and inner nurturing, it was always from the mother energy — in other words, I was the one taking care versus the one being taken care of. ”

    I find it easier to give than to receive, and sometimes I need to be truthful and kind to myself and admit I need to rest or need help.

The people that Susannah invited to write or speak with us provided much inspiration, points to ponders, and tools to help with that process of self-discovery. It was, and still is, quite a confronting journey.

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The photos

My favourite part was the photo challenge and being on holiday for the first three weeks in April gave me plenty of time to scout for photos. The prompts offered a creative challenge and time for reflection. For example, how would you photograph an inspiring quote?

What I was not expecting was the camaraderie that came from April Love and the sense of connection of the Instagram community. I ‘met’ some inspiring people through the challenge, people who share a love of yoga, photography, and social media.

A couple of my favourite photos:

  • My brother, sister and I on two family trips down to the Snowy. (That was before both of them shot up and passed me in height!).
    Day 21: A Happy Memory
  • Beads against a patterned fabric highlighting my favourite colour, purple

    Day 5: My Favourite Colour
  • Trees silhouetted against a darkening sky, one of many photos that we took on our holiday

    Day 4: Shadows

This is probably my most creative photo and the one that I felt most vulnerable (I managed to avoid taking a lot of photos of myself during the month). It is a patchwork of my eyes created from photos treated with different filters.

Day 29: My Eyes

Following are thumbnails of the photos I posted for April Love 2015 with a link to the larger photo in Flickr.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Day 1: My Morning View

Day 2: Favourite Flowers

Day 3: An Inspiring Quote

Day 4: Shadows at the Rock Pool
Day 4: Shadows at Mt Stuart

Day 5: My Favourite Colour

Day 6: Touch - First Contact
Day 6: Touch - Sand beneath my feet

Day 7: What Nourishes Me

April 8: From Where I Stand

Day 9: Five Years Ago

Day 10: My Super Power

Day 11: An Inspiring Person

Day 12: Evening Rituals

Day 13: Note to Self

Day 14: Current Obsession

Day 15: Yellow - Lady in Yellow
Day 15: Yellow - Yellow Above

Day 16: Ten Years Ago

Day 17: A Life-Changing Book

Day 18: Sweet

Day 19: I Live Here

Day 20: My Scent

Day 21: A Happy Memory

Day 22: Spring or Autumn

Day 23: When I was Small

Day 24: Trees
Day 24: Trees - Trees along the Strand

Day 25: Simple Pleasures

Day 26: A is for ...

Day 27: Love is ... a warm puppy
Day 27 - Love is ...

Day 28: Clouds

Day 29: My Eyes

Day 30: Thank you for ...

The photos are also available on my learneryogi Instagram feed. The first post is of the Big Wind Coming sculpture <>, the last is a photo of two tea lights and shells <>.

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