This was a tremendous year of growth or me and I can’t help but feel like, even on this second-to-last day of the year, I am still learning lessons that 2016 wanted to teach me. For example, I started my morning before the sun rose climbing a mountain with my love, remembering the importance of connection, vulnerability and bliss.
Here is a look at my highlights from the year:
- You can never know your impact on someone else, not fully. I was reminded of that during some personal hardships that I will not detail, but taught me how to grieve, how to be stronger, and how to more closely embody empathy.
- I realized that I have too much, and that I would rather downsize, sell my house, live a more minimalist life and be debt-free completely. 2017 should be interesting in that sense!
- I lessened my “victim” response. I started to react to situations from a stronger, more decisive place that allowed me to feel less like a victim and more in control.
- I traveled to: California, India, Wisconsin, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, New York, Pennsylvania, England, Florida, Illinios, Peru, Colorado, and Washington, several of them several times!
- I started doing yoga and hiking 3-5 times a week (though still thought I might die climbing Machu Picchu in 90 minutes flat!).
- I finished writing my novel!
- I got to meet the Doctor Who cast IN PERSON. Enough said. I can die happy now. My husband is the greatest!
For those inquiring minds: Matt Smith, Alex Kingston, Arthur Darvill (and watched John Barrowman speak…phenomenally inspiring!)
- At the end of 2015 I had a brutal portfolio review, the gist of it being that I’ll likely never be a serious artist, my images lack depth and meaning, and that a solo show in NYC would be unlikely. I wallowed for 2 hours and then conceived of a new series, complete with many layers and meanings, that I began working on in December 2015. By September 2016 I finished the series, booked a solo show in NYC to debut that series, won a grand prize award for it, printed it, and the show opens in early January. I do not, in any way, say this to brag. I say this to prove that someone’s opinions of you should never define your future. Take control of what you do and you will control your life. I see myself as the kind of person who doesn’t win things, who doesn’t come out on top – very much an underdog mentality. But I am starting to change my narrative.
- I partook in a December self-portrait challenge that I allowed to consume me. It brought me out of a slump (personally and professionally) and added half a dozen new images to my portfolio when I thought the year was finished. Challenge yourself to create. It can never hurt. Never.
- I know I put finishing my novel in the personal category, because it was a massive personal triumph, but I put it here, too. I learned this year so much about commitment through the 30 day self-portrait challenge, finishing my novel, and finishing my series. I can say, without much doubt, that I lack natural talent in many ways – but what I have is commitment in abundance, and that makes all the difference. I learned how to outline plot and characters, how to structure a novel, and how to let go of something so personal. My husband will be proofing my novel in January and then it’s off to my darling Editor.
- Big changes happened this year, as I will continue into the new year with a drastic lessening of help in my business. At first I was nervous until I started doing everything on my own. I realized that I had grown up a lot since I felt I needed help. This year I learned how to set guidelines, goals, and a great routine to allow me to achieve my objectives. My routine: emails, creative time, daily business goals, writing, yoga, cooking, and snuggles. Always snuggles.
- I finished 100 weeks of Promoting Passion videos and started a 10-video series called White Wall Wednesday (most likely TBC in 2017!). They are all on my YouTube where you can subscribe to get new content!
- I started two “pay-what-you-can” challenges that have allowed me to create content from home and share it with others for whatever they want to pay for it. This allows those who can’t participate in other events to have a chance. The 20 Day Portfolio Renovation Challenge is still open for registration until tomorrow evening! Begins Jan 1!
- I auditioned for a TED talk and didn’t get it. This was the biggest blow of the year for me in business. It is my greatest dream. But I’m not done. I will work harder for it than ever before, hopefully finding a conference theme that is more in line with what I do.
- I designed a portfolio case to produce and met with several prototype companies, but as of yet cannot afford to personally fund the project. I will continue to pursue this in 2017.
- I hosted my 2nd annual Promoting Passion Convention! This year saw an increase of participants, incredibly inspiring speakers and educators, as well as the most authentic, genuine connections. It was a glorious sight, that is to be certain. I can’t wait to share the video with you!
- I directed two music videos! They were mostly for fun, but taught me a lot about film and I can’t wait to do more!
- I photographed this kick-butt opera singer in London and then got to see the pictures on a bus. Super awesome moment!
- I finally embraced Instagram!
- <Insert exciting thing that I can’t share until the new year>
- The Light Space had it’s first successful year running!!! TLS is a practical photography training program for survivors of human trafficking in India.
- I raised over $13,000 for The Light Space through the pay-what-you-can challenges as well as the Promoting Passion Convention!
- I raised over $2,000 for Blossomy, my partner organization for TLS.
- I donated to over 25 charities this year for causes I believe in greatly.
- I started the process of turning Promoting Passion into a nonprofit! More on that in the new year!
- I began teaching self-expression workshops to underprivileged communities here in the United States.
- Thanks to new equipment donations, I’ve got a whole suitcase of new equipment to take to India in just 5 DAYS!!
I am beginning 2017 with a flight to NYC to attend my show opening, and then I’m off to India and Thailand to teach 4 workshops for survivors of human trafficking about photography and self-expression. I’ll be gone for 3 1/2 weeks, and when I return, I’ll be diving into so many exciting projects!
Thank you endlessly for a year I will treasure and continue to learn from. It is thanks to you that I have a business that I love, a community that I cherish, and notably, together we are changing the world by helping charitable efforts.
2017 is going to be a year of power. That is my dedication. However I choose to grow, help others, change, or shed light, I will do so with as much power as I can. In doing so, I can only hope I will find others who are radically dedicated to living in their power.
HUGS and LOVE,
Melissa - Thanks for sharing your passion with us, Brooke! I love your work, but what I love the most is to read your stories. You are so kind and you really encourage me to pursuit my dreams. I hope you have a 2017 full of joy, creativity, love and blessings. <3
brookeshaden - Thank you Melissa! I am so honored that you are here to follow along and to share part of yourself as well. Many happy wishes for the new year!
Kristy - Amazing!Thank you got sharing your journey and being such an inspiration!
Fit BMX - Holly monkey you did a lot in 2017!!! Reading all of this really inspires me to do better this year.
I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in 2017, wishing you all the best,
Marjan de Jonge - Hello Brooke, I’m a big fan of your artwork!!! I’m a student at the art academy in the Netherlands. I would really like to paint on of your photo’s on a big canvas, but I think it’s decent to ask your permission to do so. If not …. I will respect that.
Greetings from Marjan de Jonge in te Netherlands
brookeshaden - Hi Marjan!
As long as it isn’t for sale, I’m happy for you to do that!
Terri Lindholm - Hi Brooke
I just popped back to your blog after discovering it over christmas, but seems I totally missed the ‘pay what you can’ challenge deadline. Is it too late to hop on board? Your pictures have just stuck with me so much this past week and I feel so motivated to get on with a great challenge like this. Good luck with 2017!
Alan - Brooke, I started following you last year and absolutely enjoyed every one of your videos. I must say there has been a huge void in my life since your last White wall Wednesday post ;-). I truly hope you do continue with that series again. Your series is like fuel for the fire of mine and I am sure many others creative imagination. Thankyou for everything you have shared and continue to share with us.
Beata Rydén - As always, you inspire with your open heart and your serious commitment to what you do <3 I am so impressed by all your accomplishments, but also by your "mistakes" and how you´ve managed to make even bad times into something inspiring. I believe that the most important quality to be able to run your own business/be an artist, is to continue in spite of all the No´s and dissapointments. You inspire so much with your deep passion and commitment to your work <3 I can´t wait to share 2017 with you! <3