Friday, 12 December 2014

On The Right Path - Day 13

Day 13
13 - A Baker's Dozen 
(The practice of baking 13 items for an intended dozen was insurance 
against the items being lower than the statutory weight & incurring a fine)
Illustration of ancient Egyptian bakers from recently discovered tomb of Ken-Amun,
he was in charge of overseeing the royal records during the 19th Dynasty (1315-1201 B.C.)

Today's post is by Susannah Wheeler. Susannah is a freelance creative photographer and writer, with a background in customer service, before branching out on her own. Susannah's passion for photography shows in the pictures she posts via social media - check them out on her Twitter account (@EnglishFreckle). She is a capable writer (as you can see below) and also edits and proof reads for others. This is a brave and impactful post. It is a pleasure having Susannah as part of my Twitter community; as yet we do not know each other well but I am looking forward to deepening our relationship in the year to come. 

"Paths and Perceptions"

Seeing that title struck a chord after a week when everything shifted. My perception of my life is very different to how everyone else seems to see it. Aged 14 at school, if we didn’t score above 80% in an exam, it was classed as a fail, ‘everyone’ except a couple of us from that school went to University, I chose a different path. I’ve been choosing different paths since I was a child. Show me the easy way and I’ll go the other way. My ambition when I was younger was to be a mum (and married), to be like my mum and dad, to provide children with a kind, supportive and loving childhood like they had.  So reaching 34, having not scored above 80% in every exam (or indeed many), not going to Uni, and getting divorced with 2 children, my perception of success was a bit skewed. 

Reach 44 and it’s definitely time to take stock and reframe things.  In the last two months the word ‘Mindfulness’ has been brought to my attention with increasing regularity – visually and actually – watching and listening to a speaker talk about it, while I was there as a photographer, not as a conference delegate. But it made me think.  Shove it to one side once the usual day to day stuff takes over, roll forwards a couple of weeks and the woods and trees are closing in.  A friend mentions it in passing in conversation.  So I downloaded the App and bought the book.  After five minutes into a ten minute meditation session, I fell asleep.  Guess that worked then – clearing everything out of my mind and thinking.  But the thoughts got too much and I didn’t want to face them all. 

Overwhelmed by Elena Covalciuc Vieriu
Until a different friend asked why? From his view point  I was fine and doing very well.  So I explained and talked a bit more.  So ‘forgive your younger self’ he said. OK, what for?  For following her own path, her heart and her instinct at the time? Looking at it like that, there’s not a lot to forgive. What a moment.  Hello – you can now get on with the rest of your life!  So I’m not living in a big house, with a husband and our children, like a lot of my friends are. But I’m living my life, walking my path with the people I love close by.

There are a lot of things that I have done that I’m very proud of, making the decision to leave a job of 7 years that, whilst emotionally fulfilling, was neither helping my bank account, nor my creativity.  So I left to become freelance; to take photographs and to write for a living. A massive risk but one I had to take and really I wasn’t as concerned as many of my friends were. A year later, I’m still doing it – unexpected people have opened doors for me, and pulled me through them. With masses of encouraging words, they have rebuilt my confidence, which I had thought was a bit more than broken.

Doors opening to new opportunities
(view in Tuscany)
Some of these are brand new friends, who I’ve met through the world of Twitter. Without them, hearing about their perceptions and the paths they’ve chosen, I wouldn’t be quite where I am today.

Last week I posted a photograph of a tunnel of trees saying ‘there’s light at the end of the tunnel’ – the week before, my light seemed like it was turned off.  It wasn’t, it just had some unhelpful thoughts and perceptions covering it.  With a bit of help from the right person at the right time, the light at the end of that path is shining more brightly than it has ever done.  My perception has shifted, it’s changed and I will be eternally grateful.  Just because I hadn’t taken the path that I thought I would take when I was younger.  Whether it was actually there and I chose a different one, who knows.  Ultimately it’s the path I’m on right now that matters and it’s a pretty amazing one and I do know I’m very lucky.

Light at the end of the tunnel
by Susannah Wheeler
I’m not living happily married in a house with a husband and 2.4 children.  I’m living happily in a flat, with two children and a cat.  My life path isn’t the one I thought I’d be on when I was 14 or 24.  But finally I’ve got there, at 44 to understand and accept that the path I’m on is mine. Chosen by me.  There is a lot of light surrounding this path and I am appreciative of everything that I have.  I’m also very aware that nothing stays the same.   Just because I’m not on the path I’d imagined, doesn’t mean that I’ve failed.  It means I’ve lived; I’ve made my own choices and walked the long way round. 

Maybe next time there’s an option I’ll choose the direct route.  But somehow I doubt it!

One of Susannah's photos
Robin singing his heart out

amongst the poppies at The Tower of London
Take The Long Way Home - Supertramp, 
composed and sung by Roger Hodgson

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