Oh my friends, it has been a wild journey this year. And perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to let go. To let go of what holds you back, makes you feel scared, or tells you that you can’t achieve what your greatest hopes are. If we feel those negative feelings, if we feel held back, it is so often because we ourselves will not let go of what makes us feel safe. In a span of one week, between an experience I had in Chicago and hosting my Promoting Passion Convention, I had that epiphany. I realized that I could blame others for failures or, even, a lack of success, or I could own up to my shortcomings. Good things come most reliably when you change. Moving the thing that was blocking goodness from coming in is the way to move forward. And so I decided to remove that blockage.
A couple weeks ago, on the last night of PPC, I gave a closing statement to everyone gathered in our room. I recapped what we had talked about, and the ways in which we had grown together as a group. And then I made my final point, the thing that I felt that PPC was hinged on: Letting go. And so I did. I called for a pair of scissors, and in that moment, I hacked half of my hair off in front of everyone – a gesture, an invitation, for everyone to let go of something that holds them back.
Have you any idea how silly I am for caring so much about my hair? Chances are, you get it! It is just one of many things that we hold tight as something that defines us. Do you know that when I asked around if I should cut my hair, the number one response was “No, what about your pictures!”. Can you even believe that I listened to that horrible advice? “Yes,” I thought, “what about my pictures!”. And so I held on to my hair for the last six months. Until I had a revelation:
What kind of artist am I if the success of my images resides in my hair?
I’ve noticed something fantastic since I chopped my hair off, too. And that is this: When I allowed myself to release one burden, many more fell away. I no longer felt trapped by who I am as an artist, I felt the freedom to grow and change as I wanted, and I felt emboldened to share more of my true self with those around me. Vulnerability comes with letting go, and with that vulnerability comes strength. I would rather be a stronger person because of being more raw and true, rather than building a casing around myself that no one can crack. There are two ways to fight a war.
I am going to be a bit quiet over the next three weeks as I travel. I have videos prepared for you but likely no way of pressing upload on them as I’ll be traveling between India, Cambodia, and Thailand with limited internet access. And I’m going to soak in every bit of it. I’ll update you when I can, and will share lots of videos when I return!
And for an update right now…I’m going to open THE LIGHT SPACE! Thank you all so much for supporting this project through and through. The Light Space is a photography school for survivors of human trafficking in Kolkata, India and thanks to your support, we finally have enough donations (monetary and equipment) to open the school and get things running. The Light Space is in partnership with Blossomy and New Light India, and my dear friend Amy Parrish will be teaching the first semester along with local guest instructors.
And did I mention I’m going jungle exploring in Cambodia/Thailand with Lindsay Adler? I’m still waiting to see if she brings hiking shoes instead of heals! Just kidding…mostly.
All my love during this grand adventure!
And a question…