Yesterday I started editing some images I had shot a few weeks back with no notion of if they would work out or not. I pulled old stock images I had taken years ago combined with one that I purchased online as well and started playing. My friend Dave Junion is always telling me to play in my craft. It is too easy to be too serious. We put such pressure on ourselves to create something good that we lose sight of the fact that what is good now won’t be good later. And, that if we continue to create what we feel is good we will never progress to what is better.

That said, yesterday I played. I played from morning until night and then this morning again, working on this image, not caring if it turned into something or not. I followed my vision, made a few changes, and experimented. All-in-all this edit took a few hours which I recorded and condensed into one minute, so chunks of the process are missing. Notably, the cutting of the various figures to fit into the scene.

I record these quick editing videos not to share my whole process or to show what I do, but to show what is possible. You don’t have to create like me. You may not even be an “artist” in the traditional sense at all. But the fact is that we all create, and we all need inspiration to go further in our craft. I hope that my videos like this, if nothing else, inspire you to try new things. To see what is out there and to believe that your vision can be brought to life.

This image is called “Contact”. My fascination with two worlds colliding has been growing and growing ever since I started reading Myst. Have any of you read it? It was my husband’s favorite book series (and game) for a long time and I never got around to digesting it. Now it is all I can think about. The premise of the book being that there is an underground race of people who can create new worlds. Pretty much right up my ally.

I hope you enjoy this speed edit! Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see me share!

Image: “Contact”, self-portrait (x6)
Music: “An Old Picture” by Above Envy

  • April 25, 2017 - 9:49 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Unbelievable! What a powerful image! Loved it! Well played! 😉ReplyCancel

    • April 26, 2017 - 7:14 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you, Paulo!ReplyCancel

  • April 25, 2017 - 6:52 pm

    Fit BMX - Editing looks so easy at that speed! LOL
    Just playing with our art is a good idea. I have a problem with worrying about the end result too much.
    I have never read Myst, but will check into it. I had the game as a kid, but was quite young and never able to figure it out. LOLReplyCancel

    • April 26, 2017 - 7:14 am

      brookeshaden - Hah! It does look easy at that speed. I should watch my own videos more often to gain confidence 😛 I haven’t played Myst yet either but I will be soon!ReplyCancel

  • April 26, 2017 - 7:12 am

    Ellie - Watching your process is so, so inspiring. It looks so seamless – which is where I want to be while I’m editing. Thank you, Brooke, for always sharing things to push me in the right direction and remind me of where I’m going. <3ReplyCancel

    • April 26, 2017 - 7:15 am

      brookeshaden - Thank you, Ellie! It wasn’t so seamless. I did a lot of things that I then doubled back on and undid. Part of the process, though! <3ReplyCancel

  • April 26, 2017 - 8:27 am

    Amani - This is so cool! I agree with everyone, you make it look easy! This image kinda reminds me of something you’ve done a long time ago. I remember seeing an image in your book with a giant hand. It was much darker than this (and creepier, but in an awesome way), but they’re both incredible. Sometimes I wish I could get into your brain.

    That book series sounds so interesting, I’m gonna check it out 😀
    Sending you lots of hugs <3ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2017 - 11:09 am

    Mati Gelman - Hi Brooke!

    This post is beautiful…And for some reason it got me wondering…
    What is your favorite paper to print on? Would you choose a different paper to display in a gallery compared to a portfolio review?
    I will see you soon in Palm Springs! Can’t wait!ReplyCancel

“Rough Waters”, self-portrait taken in Brazil, April 2017, background from Iceland (2015).

I am so worried all the time that I will never again create something that is meaningful to me. I spend days thinking and thinking, hours staring at blank walls. My husband walks into my office as I’m sat in the middle of my floor, staring. He backs out slowly. There is nothing to say to me. I am within myself, brooding.

I travel through Brazil and teach workshops. At some points I feel like a fraud. I teach, but I feel stuck. The best I can do is be honest about that with the students. I tell them I know my process but that what I will do next is out of my reach.

I drive through Brazil to a remote location with my dad. I come up with a new novel idea that excites me so much I can hardly sleep. I excitedly chat to my husband about it and he adds even better details. I wake up wanting to write, but I look around at my surroundings and I feel guilty. I am looking out over a huge river, a myriad of birds and vegetation, and an old, crumbling house that I call home for a few days. Why don’t I take pictures?

As I watch the water I begin to see the metaphor emerging. There is a cure to the unknown in it. The key, I see so clearly, is not to hold on to inspiration tightly. It is to know when to let go.

As an artist, we should not seek to contain our inspiration. We should seek to know when we are riding a wave and when we are trying to catch one. Or, simply, when we are in calm waters awaiting a storm.

Right now I see my photography as a wave I am trying to catch. I paddle hard and fast but each time it comes I miss it. The wave isn’t right. That wave was meant for someone else. I sit and wait again, I try again, and still it is wrong. I feel like I’m not on water at all, but some dried up space that leaves me wedged between rocks. There is maturity in recognizing this process. There is peace in it. I find acceptance of the self in giving permission to wait for the right wave.

My change in mind is a beautiful thing. It means I have moved on to another level of creating. No longer am I satisfied with easy concepts and beautiful locations. I want something more than cheap clicks. I desire to be challenged.

I am sitting looking at the river. It is constantly changing. It is never the same river at any two moments. This is why I have always been connected to my name. I am constantly changing. I am chasing myself into new forms. I may not even be me, anymore.

Now I’m home, finishing these thoughts after having created. I did explore Brazil, and I did take pictures. I was inspired, all at once knowing that what I would create would not be my best. Sometimes we do not seek to create our best work, but to create at all. Sometimes creations are stepping stones to what we are meant to do, and they are no less special despite their lack of staying power. They are beautiful in their own way.

Where are you in your creation process?
Riding a wave or trying to catch one?

 

If you want to grow your craft and be inspired in your art and life, join the Promoting Passion Convention.
I put my heart and soul into this 3-day event and would love for you to be there!

  • April 23, 2017 - 6:46 am

    Geetha - I’ve recently discovered this blog and the promoting passion videos you’ve made and they’ve been an incredible help to me. I feel supported and comforted hearing your words and it’s helped me push my limits. I started a selfportrait project as a way of coping, kinda like therapy and now months in I want to do more, create things that are really meaningful to me and some days I feel like it’s all settling in the right place in my head, some days it’s like the wind knocks me off my feet and I need to take a step back. I have taken lots of pictures this past week, but something’s keeping me from editing. So I’m trying to let go and catching the wave as soon as it rushes past.

    Thank you so much for these words.

    GeethaReplyCancel

    • April 23, 2017 - 6:52 am

      brookeshaden - Geetha, that means more to me than I could possibly say. Thank you for being here. I love that you are proactive in your approach to creativity and that you recognize this ebb and flow. I’m inspired by you today!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 7:16 am

    Tiina - I love this blog post Brooke! You just created an amazing series and poured so much of yourself into it. Maybe you now need to recharge. I can’t wait to see what you create in the future <3 .

    I've been writing down ideas all throught the dark winter and now that there's light again, I can start actually working on them. I love all these ideas I have and they feel so perfect in my imagination. I'm so scared that they won't turn out as good in reality. At the same time I can't wait to get started!

    Much love!
    xoxo
    TiinaReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 8:20 am

    Patty Maher - Hi Brooke,
    I completely hear you on this…I think this is the great mystery of creating. We run, we chase, we pause and then we run again. And pause some more. It’s like trying to catch the tail of a dragon. A beautiful and mysterious dragon.

    Best to you,
    PattyReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 9:02 am

    Paulo Carvalho - Rough waters indeed!:)

    Sometimes I’m impressed by your posts are so assertive about what I face right now!

    So, how’s your art? Someone asked me recently! I said I had only done 2 works this year! And I’m still with these two works yet! I have not done anything else until now! And that starts to worry me! As you know, I am always immersed in projects and soon another will come. This involved more focus on that projects than creating images. I have felt that I have evolved in my last images and I am afraid now that there may be a setback in this evolution. And I say this because I would like to create more this year and I have ideas for it! However, when I try to idealize this idea in an image, I cannot! I do not feel inspiration and the flame of creativity inside me! Am I losing my will? What is happening to not go ahead and create again? In recent weeks, I have gone several times to shoot, but nothing comes out right! Frustrating! Yesterday was one more of those days and I returned home with hope! Was it the right wave?! Have a nice week!

    Stay well!
    xoxoReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 9:46 am

    Michelle Sibrian - Thanks for sharing your vulnerabilities with us. I was just brooding about my insecurities and my lack then I read your blog post like a ray of light. I may not be at your level, but it helps me to know that you and everyone in the comments feels themselves in a low dark place. Whenever I see your posts, I know the act of picking up my camera will help me see the light (literally!).

    I also want to admit to you my deepest fear is to do self portraits. I have been planning to do it as an ongoing project but have been putting it off for years. I have been waiting to lose weight, get prettier, and become younger. I know I am a talented retoucher and that I should share my magic with myself. I know that I am blocked by an enormous amount of fear. I am going to do it. Admitting it to you is my first step…ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 9:52 am

    Rob Domenech - I love your transparency! I have recently been feeling like I’m equally on both ends of this spectrum where I am riding a wave and trying to catch one all the same. I look back at my old work and it doesn’t feel satisfying enough anymore, yet, I still have a sense of pride about it. Growing pains are definitely a very real thing.

    Thank you, Brooke, for being all that you are. September cannot get here quick enough!

    -robReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 9:57 am

    Ruth - I experience the same. It made me sad, but then I noticed that I’m just growing. It feels like the shoe is not fitting anymore. I wrote a short blog post about this (in German) and made some quick smartphone pictures which I want to recreate some time. http://www.edelfrosch.de/2017/04/11/ruckedigu-blut-ist-im-maerchenschuh/
    We can sit by the river and watch, Brooke! And some day or the other we’ll fly if we wish to. :o)

    Love, RuthReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 10:42 am

    Heather - You absolutely take my breath away! If I did a self-portrait right now, I think I would be standing very close to the edge of a high cliff with the ocean raging below. My gown swirls around me and one lone curl of ribbon ripples within my reach to keep me on land but I can’t seem to raise my hand to grab on to it!

    I love photography – it’s food for my soul as I see it is for you – halophotography.500px.com – need to have my own business as I am being pulled in so many directions in my personal life that would help to have my own schedule – just feel paralyzed on how to go about it. I look to those like you for my inspiration! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 10:46 am

    Denise Neale Jensen - Hello Dear Brooke,
    Yes, your name certainly fits the flowing and adventurous nature of your spirit. Your shared ‘stream’-of-consciousness on your river trip gave me the vision of you enjoying these watery worlds that are guiding you around the next bend, although blind to what it may bring. It made me think I too should be content as Inspiration takes its own course and time. The imagery you inspired in me, was that of you floating in a river of watercolors. Your physical and creative travels were each adding a new pigment to your brush from the river’s source. Although you (I, we) may be wondering what new creation this brush will make, for now, just gathering the lucious hues – loading the colors onto the brush, is enough… is perfect, is necessary. I know you will find the right canvas for your ever flowing creativity. You are a Brooke of Inspiration, and as you gift it to us, it seems to be the type of current that flows back as well.

    Best Wishes Always,
    Denise JensenReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 11:20 am

    Sue - I JUST read this post and feel it is meaningful to you where you are at in your journey. I call this “The Creative Storm” (so funny that you are here depicted in a boat without water) and it’s where my brain runs ramped full of ideas that don’t connect. Lately, I’ve discovered that the ideas just need to be attached to an emotion or a challenge I haven’t met with yet and that’s ok. They will be born when they are ready. The post I found said something to the extent that when nothing seems to go right it’s the negative energy around us as it leaves and will soon bring us clarity.

    As usual, I’m in owe of your work, your truth and your heart. ✨

    -SueReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 1:12 pm

    Ann Wehner - Dear Brooke, I have awoken this morning to an email regarding your new blog post and it feels like you have been reading my mind as I have been filled with such dissatifaction with my work of late, so envious of other’s successes yet so concious at the lack of mine and my inability to sell even one piece of my artwork. I sit and try to find inspiration yet fail to find it and I can’t decide whether I should be trying another style of art in an attempt to become satisfied again. Yet something holds me back, be it ability in technique, lacking the creative mind or am I just waiting for that wave on my own familiar sea. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with all of us. Your vunerability brings the mother out in me and I just want to hold you close and tell you how very special you are as you give so much of yourself in your art and to artists around the world. Thank you. Best wishes. Ann WehnerReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 4:57 pm

    keesha - I appreciate your candor, transparency and honesty in the sharing of your journey as an artist. I would not even begin to put into words .in this season of my life, what I have been feeling or articulate it clearly. Reading this gave me a sense of relief, as I can identify with much of what you said.ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2017 - 5:59 pm

    Kate C - Such a wonderful blog post, Brooke. I wish every artist I admire was as honest and happy to share both their successes and their challenges as you are!
    The wave analogy really struck me – it’s definitely how I feel. Right now, I feel like I’m there, in the ocean, watching the waves go by one after the other. But, it’s that I don’t have the skills to catch that next wave, or I haven’t made enough time, or I’m just too scared that the ride won’t be as wonderful as I’ve conjured it in my head. I’m not too worried, though – the more I do this creative work, the more I recognise the ebb and flow. Thanks again for your beautiful words and images.ReplyCancel

  • April 24, 2017 - 8:42 am

    Hazel Blake - Hi Brooke,
    Get topic Brooke. When we met in Melbourne at your retreat, I was so sure that I would follow your lead into conceptual fine art. I was so sure!! You inspired me, and began taking self portraits to put in myself into my art. But that one small thing changed everything. After spending a whole year studying portraiture so I could take decent shots of myself, I finally did. But as soon as I could make myself beautiful in portraits, I knew I wanted to do that for other women too. So now I am a portrait photographer. I use my digital editing skills in a different way, so make beautiful artistic portraits for people. Who knew 12 months ago that I would change directions this way. We just never know what is around the corner. Just keep walking forward and the path will be revealed to all of us. Love and Hugs Hazel.ReplyCancel

  • April 24, 2017 - 11:19 pm

    Koustav | Candid Photographer Kolkata - Some interesting and never-seen-before stuffs I saw here in your website. It is one of its kind and executed with beautiful passion.

    I wish all round sucess to your team and hope you continue doing great work.

    See you

    KoustavReplyCancel

  • April 25, 2017 - 1:58 am

    Norma - Dear Brooke, I am so happy that you share your thoughts and insecurities with others! Sometimes it’s so frustrating to see many others succeed where you (I) do not and that can make me feel insecure. You know, there has been a time I didn’t want to pick up my camera anymore and photography has always been in my blood! I have learned to let go of the NEED to create. If I push it, my inspiration is poor so if I don’t feel/see the ‘wave to ride on’ I go and do something else because I know it will return when my head is clearer.ReplyCancel

  • April 25, 2017 - 6:43 pm

    Fit BMX - I can’t believe it took two days to find time to read this post! 🙁
    That exciting that you have an new idea for a novel, it is just wonderful when an idea just pops into your head like that, I love it when that happens.
    Right now I feel like I am waiting for the wave. I just haven’t been in a creative mood for some reason.ReplyCancel

 

Pretense is strong here online. We see people making their lives seem happier than they really are, or sharing their successes when failure comes more frequently. I love to share my joy, and I feel joy a lot of the time. Sharing only that becomes a problem when we decide to take responsibility for the mental health of those who follow what we do. I don’t think it is necessary that anyone take on that responsibility, nor do I think one can, fully, do such a thing. However, we can learn to be more honest about our lives and in doing so, give others permission to have bad days – to feel bad things, and to consequently dig themselves out of that rut.

In that spirit, I’m starting #FailureFriday where each Friday I will share an image/story/etc. of a failure. It could be photographic, it could be in business, but all of them will be in good humor. I have learned to laugh and learn from myself. Who better than the person embodying this life and all of it’s demons and butterflies? I decided to start this after having a long chat with my darling friend Lindsay Adler. We were helping each other with our businesses and talking about connection, when I thought it would be a great idea to intentionally show more of who we are.

Share your #FailureFriday to create a kinder,
more human online experience!

 

For this first Failure Friday, let me note, that I use the term “failure” very loosely. I don’t consider most things I do to truly be a failure, because when you learn something from your experience, that experience has value. Hey, you might like these pictures (if so, I appreciate that! and if not, I feel ya). Take failure to be whatever you feel. For me, I categorize a failure as a project that doesn’t turn out how I had hoped. Failures often lead to even better things, so keep an open mind.

It was June 2015. I was in Australia – Perth – for my first solo trip to the great continent. I was speaking at a convention (AIPP) and didn’t know a single soul. I was scared out of my mind. I am the first in a room full of people to turn bright red, break out in a stinging sweat, and locate an exit. I found that this event had a lot of socializing and I was so uncomfortable I didn’t know what to do with myself. I tried, so hard, all week to connect and put myself out there and make friends. And, I’m proud to say, I did. But I did a lot of floundering as well. I spent too much time in my room refusing to come out. I even tried to go to the big event party, but in reality all I did was get in the taxi, get out for 5 minutes, and immediately run around the corner and call the same taxi back.

When it came time to give my speech, I knew that I had to break out of my shell. So, when I was finished talking, I told everyone about how nervous I get in crowds and how this was so very out of my comfort zone, and how I wanted to change that habit. So, I invited everyone in the room to come with me the next morning for an impromptu photo shoot at a beautiful location, locally known as the secret garden. I had scouted it the day before.

I woke that morning with trepidation, as my demon brain told me that no one would show up and I’d be there by myself. At least, I said aloud, I would have a camera and a smile and some neat pictures, so it wouldn’t be a waste. To my surprise about 30-40 people showed up and I did some shooting demonstrations. We started branching out, using each other as models, and soon everyone was laughing and having a good time. I do better in those moments, when I have some control over the situation and I’m doing what I love.

It was very, very muddy that day. We were sometimes knee deep in thick, sticky mud. I decided, after about an hour of shooting, that someone had to do something about it. Naturally, I volunteered myself for a self-portrait. I asked for help, and everyone gathered around me with their tripods set up and helped slather mud all over me.

 

When I was well up to my ears in mud, a girl appeared. She said she had driven hours to join the group and possibly be photographed, and there I was literally covered in mud and unable to take her picture. I felt terrible! So, I said, join me! I asked her to jump in the mud, on a leap of faith with people she had never met before, and that we could be in the picture together! Her name is Laura, and she was such an inspiration in that moment.

We finished the shoot and laughed so hard I thought we were all going to have sore stomach muscles the next day. We tried our best to wash off in the creek but it was of little use. Some people offered us towels or clothes from their cars which we tried to change into, but we looked like we had just been dragged through a swamp…which was not far from the truth. I was having such an awesome time connecting with everyone I didn’t want it to end, so I suggested, looking like a crazy lady, that we all go out to eat. Looking like we did, embracing our complete weirdness, we went to lunch and made even more new friends as people asked us what – in the world – had happened.

The images never turned out how I wanted. I have worked on them every single month since I went to Australia and played in the mud with my new friends. It breaks my heart that I just don’t like them, because the experience was so rich with wonder. That’s how it goes sometimes. Sometimes the picture was never the point. It is just a bonus if it works out. If the experience itself isn’t worth it, don’t bother. If you can’t say that you would still have done what you did without the success, don’t do it. Life is too short to rely on outcomes when the journey is so much richer.

  • April 7, 2017 - 9:05 pm

    Fit BMX - I love this idea! I recently made a YouTube video, I spent two days filming my building the project together. It is a WiFi shielded cover for a microwave, (since Trumpy’s people say the microwaves have cameras in them. Idiot! LOL) but after it was all done the WiFi shielding fabric I bought doesn’t work at all! LOL My sister said that if it didn’t work I should fake the results, or not bother posting it. I told her forget it, I am posting it just the way it turned out. That’s the fun of it! 🙂
    There would be no fun in life if everything always turned out.
    You should check out this channel ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3KEoMzNz8eYnwBC34RaKCQ ) Her whole channel is based on her building robots that never work.

    “Failure is always an option!” Adam Savage.

    P.S.
    I love that photo of you and Laura, you look so goofy covered in mud with that big smile! LOL LOL LOLReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2017 - 9:10 am

    Dana Theiler - Hi

    I love your vision and work a lot. I’m an actress / writer / director and for my work I have similar visions. Thats why I would love to work with you on some pictures for my portfolio and future work in the industry.
    Do you also work with designers and make- up artist for the shoot or do I have to contact them on my own?

    Please let me know the conditions.

    Looking forward and I’m already very excited.

    Cheers,
    DanaReplyCancel

Lately I have been reminiscing over my earlier photos from when I first started photography. There are still, miraculously, some people who support my work that have done so since those earliest days. And sometimes I hear people telling me to go back to what I used to do. Some days I agree. Some days I want very much to be overtly deathly and creepy and to create more simply. Some days I try. Other days I rebel. Sometimes I recognize my growth and I revel in having come so far. This month has been one of those times when I keep looking back and desiring to create as I used to.

The problem is obvious, once you are on the other side. I am a different person from who I used to be. My interests/talents/mindset is new. I can’t create those images again. They were golden, but they are stale. Still, my desire remained so I decided I would put myself in the same situation I used to be in, with some of the same inspirations, but resolved to do something new.

This resulted in a rather hilarious photo shoot. Picture this: Me, in my bedroom, with a Disney princess kiddy pool, black fabric, and a jug of almond milk. Cue my husband, wondering 1) what I’m doing, but more important, 2) how I plan on doing it without soaking the floor in almond milk. That was when he found helping to be less futile than letting me alone with the soon-to-be mess.

I set my camera up on the tripod above me, using a Sony a7ii and 50mm lens. I made sure my shutter speed was high enough to catch some motion of the milk splashing, and after I was in focus, I got to shooting. Using a 10-second remote timer, I was able to click, get rid of the remote, and wait those L-O-N-G 10 seconds until the milk splattered all over me.

The first time, I actually forgot it was going to happen. I was so focused on trying to get my pose right that it hit me in the face like a huge shock, and I proceeded to laugh uncontrollably for a whole minute. Afterwards it started getting easier, we got timings better, and it took about 30 (very cold) minutes to finish. I realized my error of refrigerating the almond milk only after I started.

I pieced together various splashes onto my body and then manipulated the color/lighting to look more selective. I wanted a painterly feeling in this image. I also added hair on from a separate shot that I took before the milk portions were photographed, knowing that my hair would get soaked. Thankfully my shower was only a few feet away.

In the middle of shooting I had a moment, as I so often do when finding myself in a strange position, where I was filled with gratitude. These are the moments I remember. These are the memories I want to keep close. Some people may say I’m bonkers for wanting to do things like this, but I say the rest of the world is mad. To not desire a more interesting, fun and joyful existence is insane to me.

We might choose different ways of achieving it, but I can say something with certainty: The more you put yourself out there and do the things that other people think are crazy, the more alive you will feel. Trust me. It works every time.

 

  • April 5, 2017 - 8:42 pm

    Angel L - This is amazing and thanks for sharing. I love your behind scenes footage as it also helps me grow.ReplyCancel

  • April 6, 2017 - 7:10 am

    robin spalding - hahah your comment about the mistake of refridgerating the milk had me cracking up lol. i love your behind the scenes posts. i love all your work it all speaks to me and i think its all the joy and heart you put into the creative process that comes through the pieces! one thing i love most about you is the weirdness and how u embrace it. i love being the odd one it makes life so much more fun and interesting!ReplyCancel

  • April 6, 2017 - 7:41 pm

    Fit BMX - This really made me laugh! No wonder you decided to do this now, you didn’t want to get milk on the floor of the new house! LOL 😉
    Anyone that thinks this stuff is crazy, just needs to look at how much fun you are having.:)
    Love the photo by the way.ReplyCancel

  • April 9, 2017 - 2:46 pm

    Ronne P. - LOVE this! “The more you put yourself out there and do the things that other people think are crazy, the more alive you will feel. Trust me. It works every time.” YES!!!!!! <3ReplyCancel

I’m in the process of moving, so I’ve gone through each room in my house to see what stays and what goes. After all, moving will be much easier if I know that I actually want everything that I’m packing. Somewhere between lamenting over old photographs and packing a suitcase of old clothes for Goodwill, I realized the metaphor in the process of “out with the old, in with the new”. One might argue that I am a chronic metaphor-er. I see them everywhere and I revel in deep thinking about seemingly mundane things.

This one really stuck, though. What if, I thought, we treated the chapters in our life like moving from one house to another. What if we only brought along the best parts of ourselves and left the rest behind?

Chances are, if you are a passionate person desiring to live life as fully as possible, your chapters come and go very quickly. You find something you want out of life and you go for it…and then something new appears. My life shifts constantly. I attribute this constant shifting to my desire for a stationary and calm existence outside of my passions. I love being home, having routine and being able to settle. My brain, however, is constantly working. I never stick with one passion flow for very long. I amble from one photograph to the next. I want to make films and the next day I start writing a book. I love an active brain.

If that is you, or if you can stick this metaphor out, I think it can really help.

Imagine you are cleaning out a room in your home. You have 3 piles: Stay, Go, Unsure. We all have the unsure pile, don’t lie! What if right now you looked at your life critically. What activities do you pursue, what does your career look like, how are your relationships, etc.? Start to think about each piece of your life as an object you can put into a pile.

If you come across something in your life that you know is toxic, put it in the GO pile. If you cherish something in your life, put it in the STAY pile. If you are unsure about something, ask yourself if it serves you and your ultimate life goals…and then categorize it. No indecisiveness. Gut reactions.

Sometimes we realize certain people don’t serve us, or a career pursuit isn’t turning out to be what we had hoped, or even that the things we surround ourselves with don’t bring us joy.

Sometimes we realize that things we didn’t put a lot of emphasis on are actually more helpful than we realized, or that a certain passion deserves more attention.

Life evolves so beautifully. We can enact change whenever we want to. Let this article serve as a shifting moment. Start to categorize your life and start making piles. You may even pull out note cards or post-its to write on so that you can physically move them into piles.

I’ve done this exercise myself and wanted to share it here so you can see exactly how I put this into effect. I used YELLOW post-its for STAY, RED post-its for GO, BLUE post-its for ADD (meaning I want it to become a yellow post-it! They are things I don’t do enough of and want to do more of).

My list could easily continue…

STAY: Retreats, Promoting Passion Convention, inspiring video games, mentoring sessions, nonprofit work, yoga…

ADD: Discovering new places, creating a new fine art series, trying new techniques, regular poetry writing, talking to strangers, making a documentary…

GO: Frequent interviews, wasted free time, driving when walking would suffice, fear of social engagements…

Try this exercise out and let me know if you find it helpful. For me, even though a lot of this is something I know instinctively, it helps to see it written out. I look at my red post-its and I actively remember to do away with those things that don’t serve me anymore. I see the yellow post-its and I feel good about decisions I’ve made. I see the blue post-its and I am motivated to do more with my life.

Tell me, what are you STAY, GO and ADD lists?

Did you find this exercise to be helpful? Share below!

I have made some active changes, like walking to the grocery store instead of driving,
filming more of my creative process, and reading 50 pages of fiction every day!

I did some purging, like scraping away old Facebook groups and making a donation pile of gear.

For my STAY list, I made some changes, too! I added a SPEAKING page to my website so that my
motivational speaking services are actively promoted. Hoorah for taking control!

  • April 4, 2017 - 4:13 pm

    Marcy Criner - I love this idea Brooke! It’s so helpful to know that I can let things go and not feel like I have to keep hammering away at them. My blue post-its are exciting and feel good!ReplyCancel

    • April 4, 2017 - 4:14 pm

      brookeshaden - Fantastic, Marcy! I’ve added so many blue and red post-its since I even made that little picture. It is freeing and focusing and so helpful in moving forward. You are always doing great things, keep it up!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2017 - 5:07 am

    Ruth - Wow. I will try this myself. Change is so important, everything influences us so much. I’m reading a book by Lily Brett right now (forgot the title though) and the protagonist’s father creates a “forward department” for the protagonist’s company. I think I just needed your colourful method to do exactly the same! 😀

    Thanks, and lots of love from Germany,
    RuthReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2017 - 7:48 pm

    Fit BMX - I love this idea! didn’t you just move to where you are not that long ago?
    I am planning on moving in less than two years, so I have also been thinking about what I don’t want to move. It turns out I have very very few things I want to keep! LOL
    He is my short list as you asked for. 🙂

    (Yellow)
    Photography
    YouTube video making
    Riding freestyle BMX
    Hiking
    Woodcarving
    Gardening (of all kinds
    Learning French

    (Red)
    wasting time (in a lot of ways!)
    My current day job
    Repairing my own and my families cars
    Helping others instead of myself (wow, that one makes me feel like a scum ball!)

    (Blue)
    Exercise more
    Be a little more selfish
    Be much more consistent writing my novel
    Take bigger risk in life
    courage

    Writing this out really helps. I never would have thought of this, and I already feel better, thanks! 🙂ReplyCancel