“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the forms of people, situations and things can only come to you when you are open.” – Stephen Russell
A few weeks ago one of my friends sent me a message commenting on how authentic my Instagram posts had been over the past week. Mainly just pictures of me working out as per usual except instead of them being of me in a group of folks or of my workout from my viewpoint they were of me – hanging from the pull-up bar at Fuel Training Club, getting my sweat on the at Nike NRC+NTC event, working on my handstand prep after a run and just living my life.
I’ve come along way in the past 365 days, the one thing that remained constant and a vice throughout it all was my #runfamily and #sweatlife crew. This time last year I realized I wasn’t doing what I loved, I gave notice at my job, booked a plane ticket to NYC, decided to give myself time to find the next step in my career, chased my heart across the country, let go of the past, found mentors in friends/professors/co-workers, ran my first 15km race, spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted and for once the gal with the plan didn’t have everything set out in stone but she was learning to adapt to change, live more in the moment and throughout it all embrace vulnerability. I explored this country a bit, while also exploring my heart, mind and soul as I spent some time in the back trails and along the water of the west coast. I let go of someone and for the first time in a long time I made space in my life for someone new and threw caution to the wind. Fast forward 365 days there is a fresh perspective, a job that is challenging + rewarding at the same time, the team I work with is a group of folks that act like a second family, I’ve loved and lost, I run two half marathons, I saw more of the west coast then I ever planed or imagined, I’ve reconnected with old friends and let go of some of others and my passion projects are giving me opportunities I never imagined. But throughout all of this change I’ve evolved into this woman who cares less about what people thinks and lets her actions speak for themselves. Throughout it all I’ve learned how powerful it can be to embrace vulnerability.
I went through a lot of personal change, most of it of my own choice but long the way there were bumps in my journey that I didn’t foresee or had things occur that no one could have predicted. Here I am almost 12 months after the cycle of change started in a much better place then I ever was, because even though it may not have made sense at the time, everything happened for a reason. I have a job that I love where I have learned more in the past 6 months than I have in the past 3 years, I have a close knit group of friends who are always there, a family that stands by me no matter what, a new home to move into + share with everyone come August and a community of folks who no matter what is going on allow me to have time for myself and let go of all the thoughts in my brain when I hit the pavement or mat with them – my tribe, my #runfamily, my #sweatfamily.
Through it all this community was here for me. Maybe they know it, maybe they don’t but I’ve become this more true version of myself because of them, because of these experiences that have shaped me and as a result of how I determined I would come out on the other side. Through them sharing their stories, life experience and vulnerability with me, they have empowered me to be more myself every single day.
The Story Behind the Photo & Nick’s Camera
I’ve known Jay for a number of years, we actually met at a Hamilton holiday charity event – he was taking pictures in his awesome photo booth and I was attending. Over the years he’s shot events for me, I’ve had the opportunity to participate with his incredible charity Friends With Hearts and we chat about photography and design. After securing his studio space and making it his own, I came across a post a few months ago from Jay looking for folks to shoot portraits on his film camera. There’s a story behind this stunning camera that Jay takes these portraits with, the camera was given to him as a gift by his late Grandfather and it wasn’t until recently that he decided to use the camera as a way to stay connected to a man that I know was very influential and important to him. Thus the birth of the project Nick’s Camera.
Film photography is a dying art form, it’s an art form that is raw, authentic and honest without any modifications to the original shot. I have a strong appreciation for black and white photography, I studied dark room photography for over 5 years growing up, but today with digital photography we have the ability to alter, retake and edit the image both before and after it’s captured, sometimes we fail to maintain the sense of realness within the moment. I’m usually one who stays behind the camera, I let the objects, environment and moments around me speak for themselves in my photography especially on Instagram. When Jay and I finally found time to meet-up he wanted utilize a roll of film to capture some raw moments of me, I felt that this post would be a great moment for me to celebrate the strides of made this past year and remind myself of where I’ve come from.
A few weeks ago Jay captured one role of film – it may have been a total of 8 shots, it wasn’t many but it was enough to capture where I am today. Truthfully I was nervous about what the images would look like, but this is the true representation of the past 365 days, while I had a vision of where I was hoping to go the end result may not look exactly like how I would have planned it, but it’s better! This shot captures the raw emotion of pride for where I’ve been, what I’ve accomplished and the community that has supported me both on the pavement across finish lines and through this pivotal moments in my life outside of my running shoes. I should note that the roll of film Jay used that day only the photo above turned out, all of the other images had a light leak that left the other frames blank with white/grey. To me it seems fitting that this happened (1) because it is a direct reflection of this article and honouring the things in life that we can’t control and (2) because a man who was very important to me – like Jay’s Grandfather was to him – is always present in my family members’ lives through light. We are sure that my Great Uncle plays with lights to let us know he is present in our lives and I am almost positive that these light streaked photos are a partial result of him acknowledging that when I wasn’t sure about certain things over the past year the highway lights flickering or going out was him telling me that he was there. Oh universe, you sure are crazy.
The next few months have a lot in store for me, things seem to come in waves and as my journey continues on I’m going to continue to embrace my truest self and try to worry less about what could happen and live more for what is happening now.