The path of finding ‘me’ again after years of favouring my professional journey was both bumpy and smooth, depending on the day. The task of choosing to rediscover the things I knew of myself when I was younger was, and is, a rewarding and challenging one.
It can open wounds and make you question your choices. It can also shine a little light on achievements forgotten in the crush of moving forward to the next project, meeting the next deadline, pursuing the next opportunity. And like most things that are worthwhile, the bumps and bruises along the way are worth the new outlook, once you’ve found your bliss.
For me it was simple – I’d never doubted I was creative – I had simply given away my time to my career, usually greatly enjoyed, but time engulfing, nonetheless.
After more than 25 years in the communications sector, having moved from designer to communications advisor to manager, along the way, time for me – to be creative in ways that nurtured me – had almost disappeared. I was on a path of rediscovery.
Thankfully, through all that work, I continued to enjoy the opportunities to travel. And travel kept my mind and my eyes open to the possibilities of storytelling. Travel filled my soul – visually and intellectually.
With family in Australia, England and Canada, most of my travels had centered on these three countries. It is one of the delights and challenges of the kids of expats – you want to see your extended family? It will include international travel, which sounds great, but can create limitations in how you connect with your extended family. So it wasn’t until June 2011 before I spent time in Paris – my choices had always been to build the connections with family.
Paris in the spring is spectacular! Yes, it can be cool, and rain. But it is Paris! The days are longer and warmer than winter, the crowds are growing but not crazy, and the flowers are spectacular! The gardens of Versailles, the Jardin des Tuileries, and Monet’s water garden – each whispered to me… come and see me, come and stay for a while.
In previous chapters… or were they lives… I’d studied floristry and garden design, 11 years apart. And while seeing these magnificent structured gardens made my heart sing, and learning the stories connected to them made my heart race, it was the quiet beauty of Monet’s gardens that excited me the most.
The water lilies were in bloom, and the last of the wisteria winding its way across the elegant green bridge. I could have spent hours there. It was the perfect antidote to hours behind the computer in my office, to months of freezing winter in Calgary, and to the years of not doing the creative work my heart longed for. That first week in Paris, I took nearly 600 photos, with more than 100 in Monet’s garden. And months later, back in the cold of Calgary’s short winter days, it was those photos that encouraged me to look for the beauty in the chilly world around me.
I was finding my way back to me – this path to rediscover my passion was completely empowering. To glimpse that 2011 trip, and my 2012 return visit, visit my Travelling in Europe gallery. While certainly not my favourite photos, they are part of the journey, and that is half their charm.
I’d love to hear if visiting a particular place speaks to you. Is it the stories or that images that entice you most?