Today I didn’t die

Today I didn’t die.This morning, as I rise, I should be happy, the sun is shining, it’s the morning after receiving an honourable mention in the Monochrome Awards, this is an international competition, for one of my favourite photographs.

BUT

My reality is different, I wake on the sofa, after finally falling asleep about 3am, it’s now 10am, the heat from the sun has made my apartment resemble a greenhouse. I wake feeling unrested, puffy all over, confused, hopeless and lonely.

I’ve wandered around my house aimlessly for an hour and now find myself in front of Mac, where I sit in tears, not entirely sure why..

I feel a sense of shame in floating my own boat and celebrating my small win, convinced that others will be saying things like “she always seeks attention” or she thinks hurt shit doesn’t stink’ or any other slur that suggests that I think I am better than others. My reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Never have I felt good enough, never have I felt truly liked(only by a very select few), never have I felt like I fit in.

Always have I felt crazy, Always have I felt awkward, Always have I felt avoided, Always have I felt unliked, Always have I felt that I don’t fit in, Always have I felt ‘not good enough’ or ‘not deserving’, Always have I felt ignored, Always have I felt the need to ‘be’ more, Always have I felt replaceable, Always have I felt misunderstood.

What a jumbled up clusterfuck of a human, I know there are plenty of us out there, so what’s the fucking point to life?

I’ve been feeling this way since I was born, but only in adult life have I felt the increased need for forcing myself into societal standards so I can leave the house and ‘adult’ to show the world how I am rocking this life, but the second I return to my own space I take a sigh of relief, I resume the confused state and do the bare minimum to pass the time.

I know how good a walk in the fresh air would be, but that would mean showering and pulling through all the filthy clothes that are overflowing in my basket to find something clean enough.

My house, seriously, it’s the beginning’s of a hoarders space, I can’t let go of things, just in case, I feel comfort in clutter, I am overwhelmed and don’t know where to start and have very few days of motivation to get through what needs to be done. If anyone came to my house the shame I would feel in them seeing this mess would break me and yet it doesn’t motivate me to sort it.

I spend time googling the pro’s and con’s of admitting myself to a mental health hospital, what stops me is not knowing what to say or how to explain what I am experiencing, because one day is not the same as another, when I am not in it, I kind of forget it, similar to how you forget how cold winter can get until you’re in it and the same reversed for summer.

The other thing that stops me admitting myself, is the reality of the pressures of life, needing to provide a home to my children, needing to promote an Instagram perfect existence in order to secure the right client base for a successful business. If word got out that this bitch be crazy then who the fuck would book with me? I fucking love what I do, I don’t just take pictures, I am invited into a circle of love and trust to record that, that’s all I want is to RECORD WHAT IS, not create what isn’t. It’s witnessing the pride of a man as he looks at the new mother of his child, it’s the horror on a mums face when her son pulls the booger out of his nose and stuffs it in his face as I click, that shit is my oxygen, my next breath, it’s what keeps me alive. Hopefully REAL people will relate and bypass the rest and know that despite my shortcomings, I’m worth investing in and sticking with? I guess time will tell…

For months I’ve been thinking to myself I should write things down when I am ‘in it’ as they might be important flags for the Doctor, but the effort involved in opening my phone, or finding a pen to do so quickly puts that idea to rest. Plus, as soon as I try to formulate what I feel, I feel my left brain activating which quashes all hope in trying to articulate what I need to.

Until today, where, with a blank page in front of me, I am taking the time to write what I feel, allowing my left brain to sort through it, but making sure my right brain is editing enough to keep this real.

So for the longest time, I’ve wished that I become terminally ill, doesn’t matter what, i’ll take anything, my rational side says WOW, you selfish bitch, but my emotional side feels comfort in the thought of dying slowly or quickly, but to have my life taken from me. I know how this sounds, I know people who have lost loved ones to terminal illness probably hate me right now, but it doesn’t make it any less true for me.

Don’t worry, I am not going to suicide myself, far from it, I am not brave enough or I’m too lazy to carry it out, I’m also too scared of it not working and then living with the pity of others and the shame of failing and the dismay of loved ones in ‘why would I want to do this to myself’.

As for terminal illness, I also know that if this became my reality, I would shit myself, I would be activated to live my best life and wish for good health, I get it, I know this isn’t how I should feel, but it’s so very real for me and a constant in my mind. It doesn’t have to be an illness, it could be a head on collision, a tree falling, some kind of freak incident that ends with my life being taken so that I don’t have to keep waking up to my reality everyday and going through the motions.

Poor mental health sucks monkey balls, there’s no sense in the thoughts that I have, they are not always my thoughts, I also know how batshit they sound. My true self, is that bubbly, easy ‘can do’ person that most of you have faced at one time or another, it is truly me, it’s forced, but it’s not fake, it’s not a fake personality, I’ve learned over the years how to stay true to my inner self as much as possible.

I don’t know what else to put down at this point, so I’ll stop. Maybe I’ll publish this, maybe I won’t. Guaranteed if I do I will regret doing so. Let me make something clear, I’m not doing this for a barrage of adoring friends who I haven’t heard from in months or years to feel the need to socially validate me, I absolutely don’t want that, so why bother posting?

Because I really can’t be fucked putting up this facade any longer, because I am tired, I know I am not alone, because I’ll take one for the team and share my truth. Because if just one other friend – or stranger reads this and relates and takes some comfort in knowing that my headspace is a fucking mess, just like theirs and it’s OK, then hopefully it gives them fuel to go and talk about it to someone, that’s what I am doing today, this is my 2021 journey, owning my shit, speaking TRUTH, receiving the consequence, whatever that may be.

I cannot and will not keep living this way.

So here you are people, my truth laid out for all to see, cleansing? who fucking knows, regretful? who fucking cares? This won’t be my truth for much longer.

Peace.

What now world???

G’Day world….How is isolation treating you?

For me, I’ve so far quite enjoyed the time delving into my box, making myself feel good….. alright I’ll stop now, as I know where your minds are already going… that says so much more about YOU than me!! eheheh!

The box I am referring to is my little whirring vibrating storage box with all my photographs stored on it, photo’s I have taken and never had the SPARE TIME to look at and edit. So amongst keeping the kids from strangling each other, engaging and being ‘present’ with them, I have taken some ME time to do what I love. For me that is staring at a 27inch fruity screen and looking at beauty that I have captured photographically.

You see, for 20 something years I was a slave to the corporate grind, I was just a number, a tooth on a cog, my mind bustling everyday with new ways to do things, creating, creating, creating, it never stops, but it isn’t stressful, what is stressful is being told NO, or being challenged by the creatures who hate change, the “this is how we’ve always done it” types….I am not saying I am right, but for me and my brain, it’s a daily challenge.. I think I fell into the wrong industry, one that wasn’t really for me, but with the modern day pressures of needing to keep up with society, I stuck with it, I put my ALL into my work, I was missed at the dinner table at meal times with my kids, I was interstate missing key milestones for my baby, until one day, REDUNDANCY. This happened TWICE in a 2 year period, what that does to ME as a person, is personal, VERY PERSONAL. I mean, I get the top level shit of economics and business doing it tough, I know why it’s a necessary evil, but that doesn’t change HOW it makes ME feel, how it CRUSHES my self worth. 

So, here I am jobless, a little money in the bank and a desperate need to feel relevant, to feel needed, but at the same time so fearful to put my trust in another employer, my lifelong chronic anxiety paralysing me to take another plunge to the gods in another corporate firm……

FUCK THAT

Ride or die bitches, Hayleigh’s coming through and is going to do something that makes HER feel good, that gives HER SELF WORTH. Maximum earning potential is no longer going to be my reason to get up in the morning. 

Turning 40 has been beautiful in my awaking of self, am I alone or do you still wonder when you’re going to stop feeling like that scared teenager you once were? What will it feel like to grow up? When will it happen? I’ve noticed a slight change in that outlook in my 40’s..more of a who gives a fuck attitude, this is me now, this is me always and if it isn’t, then whatever I am is who and what I am supposed to be in that moment, so fuck it! 

I’ve wanted to get more out of life for ME, as I have felt that through relationships I have had, I have always been the one to be cheated on and to forgive, rinse repeat. Deception forgiveness, rinse/repeat. This is my sole crushing cycle that I have allowed myself to continue in. Until now that is… as my awakening continues and I can quite proudly say, that no longer is the case, I am coming out of my crysalis. I will make decisions that consider others, but ultimately I will not let others make decisions for me. My gutt is AWESOME and it’s instinct is attuned to me and therefore I WILL listen to it!! SO there!!!

What does this have to do with Isolation I hear you cry, she’s gone fucking MAD!!! I was always mad…. But now I am sharing it with you, simple.

This sunrise brought to you by Covid19

I’m getting to the point, anyone who knows me knows that I am a long winded story teller, details details.. “get to the point” – NOPE, that’s not me, see for me, every minute detail IS IMPORTANT, just because you flakes only like to scrape the surface of life and not immerse yourself into the depths of it.

I had an idea, I took a leap of faith, I started researching, before I knew it, I had a built my website, I had compiled a proposal and an email campaign and I launched it! Within 10 minutes, I had received 2 phone calls, both of which blew me away… 2 clients both telling me my photos were phenomenal and that they just had to book with me! 2 bookings in 10 minutes, this shit’s amazing!! and it didn’t stop there, it was paying off

Fast forward to today, all bookings on HOLD until……………..

My main stream of income occurs between April and November, photographing kinders, preschools, daycare centres and playgroups, I also take maternity sessions, newborn sessions, cake smash, corporate head shots and whatever else comes my way that involves a camera and me. Between February and April, I contract to school photographer companies too. 

Then COVID MOTHERFUCKING 19 takes grip of the world, changes the way of the world as we knew it and here we are, skuttled up into our boxes, no touching, PLENTY of panic and hysteria. Screen time for all through the roof as this now is our only way for OTHER human interaction. MENTAL Health for everyone being pushed to it’s limits. The irony is, that for anyone with anxiety, now may be a time for you when you are stuggling more, for me I have found the opposite.

I am in a state of total peace(other than when I am pulling the kids apart) I feel I have permission finally to just STOP. I don’t have concern for how long this lasts, I am at the mercy of this invisible enemy, why stress over something that cannot be controlled singularly, this is a community effort, something we all have to hope that the person we call our neighbour is behaving within the guidelines as much as you are… trusting that the daycare workers that cuddle and care beautifully for my baby each day, don’t go home at night and break the rules to expose themselves today and then my child tomorrow…anyway.. I digress…

So income – immediately ceased, 3 kids to feed, rent to pay, public liability insurance renewal, 4 bald tyres and an engine light that comes on every time I start the car, we are ALL (or at least some of us) in the same boat, or our own little boats without oars on the CoronaOcean.

My mind is a constant whirr of ideas, I think I have a entrepreneurial(OMG I actually spelt it without needing spell check!!) brain, loads of ideas, but what I lack is confidence in self, fear of failure, fear of hearing it’ll never work or resources(i.e.cash) to follow through with any of the ideas. And yeah, I could put a strain on a collapsing economy and apply for benefits from the government for the foreseeable future and I will do that, but WHY if there are other means to generate income? 

Restaurants & cafes are doing take away, Maccas is selling bread and milk, everything has become take away, delivery or drive thru. ScoMo did himself say, he doesn’t want for sole traders and small businesses, peoples livelihoods, to be flattened, so rather than enforcing closure, placed restrictions, personal trainers have been limited to 2 people, weddings & funerals 5, maybe that’s even changed now, I’ve given up on the news….

So I got to thinking and since my income is solely based on being in relatively close contact with others and in deed an element of touch, I am somewhat limited to income stream ideas, all my daycares have postponed until they receive advice that external visitors can recommence, schools, the same……

Sure I can sell my photos as wall art, I do that now and am praying that anyone who wants a piece of my art on their wall continues to support me this way. But this is the obvious ‘go to’ for a hopeful income stream that is currently, more so than ever, flooded…..

Creatively.… how can I try and bring an income to my family, whilst respecting the distancing rules? I thought of Skype family portraits, you know, skype me, I’ll direct you to a suitable pose and positioning, ask you to adjust lights and then get you to use a timer on your webcam. Of course, this limits the quality of the photo to the webcam you have, the lighting of your room etc, but nevertheless it would be an iconic family portrait in unprecedented times. This would also open my client base to potentially, the world, no boundaries. Once the photo was sent to me, I would then use my processing skills to work as much magic and sprinkling of creativity to produce your family portrait. Any takers??

The other idea for avoiding starvation & eviction, was “drive by” family portraits, (or rather “walk by”) at home to my local community, that is Doncaster, Templestowe & Lower Templestowe. Everyday, I go for a one hour walk, sometimes alone, mostly though with the kids to stretch their legs. I take my camera with me EVERYWHERE on a normal day, so when the streets are carless, there’s no way my camera is staying home.

So whilst out walking, I thought, I wouldn’t be breaking any rules if a family were standing in their driveway and I was on the opposite side of the street taking their family portrait. After all, if everyone’s home it’s the perfect time for family portraits as no one needs to take time off work to make it!

So here’s how it goes in my head. Email me, pay deposit, I arrange a time, you get yourself ready, dress up, do your hair and make up, put on a chicken suit, whatever, set up a house party in your garage, whatever, that’s all on YOU. I take my daily exercise and rock up at your driveway at the agreed time, I keep my distance AT ALL times, I’ll even wear gloves & a mask even though the only thing I am touching or going near is my own camera. I set my lights up quick on the pavement, shout across the road to get you and your loved ones into position, then BAM, history made, Iconic isolation portrait. The possibilities are endless!! And yeah I know there will be plenty thinking STAY THE FUCK HOME, I get it, I am following the rules, I don’t want COVID 19, I am not going to take any risks, I am getting my daily exercise for FFS and BTW, I come into closer contact with humans when getting my groceries at the moment… so …..Any takers, email me

Then if all else fails, I thought of selling my kids, they’re pretty cute, fairly helpful at times, not too smelly…. nah just fucking with you, they are MINE!

So where will this brain spill of nonsense take me? maybe a bed at a luxury insane asylum?(I’m I allowed to call them that these days?) who knows, but it’s made me laugh to write what’s in my brain and hopefully gives you a chuckle at one point or another…

And I do need to credit the lovely, but crazy Scottish family that sparked this temporary confidence boost and their photographer whomever that wonderful sole is over in the USA. This morning I woke to the family photo above, it was like someone had been reading my thoughts and created it, then I realised, there are other creative geniuses in the world 🙂 So for those of you require visual stimulus to see an idea, this is it, this is an iconic family portrait.

Thanks for sticking with me folks, if you got this far, let me know!

PEACE