Setting intentions might be the most important thing happening in my life right now.
I set intentions at least 10 times everyday, sometimes more.
I set intentions before meetings, before photoshoots, before I eat, before I sleep, before I take a call or walk into an event. Really, there is no limit.
My favourite thing about setting intentions is the echo.
I’ll give you an example. I attended an event a few weeks back. It was a screening and Q+A for a terrific film called A Better Man. I highly recommend watching it. Just be warned, it can be a really tough film to experience.
It was a community event, intended to create a safe space for men and women to connect and engage in productive dialogue, around assault and injustice against women.
Before I walked into the event I took 30 seconds, closed my eyes, squeezed my gratitude rock and searched my heart for my intentions.
Here are the 3 intentions that came up for me:
“Be authentic and speak heart-to-mouth.”
“Make space for others to share, contribute and heal.”
“Listen to any voice that is ready to be heard”
I went into the event a little nervous (I always get nervous at events). Then I noticed a few old Camp Reset homies, which I love dearly and am super comfortable around. So I instantly gravitated towards them. We started chatting, nothing in particular, just casual chit-chat.
At that point I also noticed several other people scattered around the room, all sitting quietly. I began to notice a big energy deficiency between us and them. What I mean by this is, we had a massive advantage of knowing each other for years, whereas most of the other people in the room, where strangers and considering the subject matter of the film, they were justifiably nervous. For the record I was very nervous too, it was just easier to mask my feelings in casual conversation with old friends.
So here’s how intention can be a powerful tool.
As I was catching up with these old friends, the energy I put into my intentions a few minutes back, kept building in my consciousness. I began to hear my intentions echoing through my mind, like a caring, but nagging mother, reminding me of what I had committed to earlier, and how I was not living up to those intentions. The echo got louder, until it was unavoidable.
Then, I knew what I had to do. I found a respectful and honest way to end my (causal) conversation with my old friend, and I walked towards this individual that was sitting on her own, in the back. I did my best to engage in an honest conversation with her. Turns out she was hella cool and we really connected.
Building off of this momentum, I continued to let my intentions guide me. I decided to sit in the opposite corner of the room, intentional away from my old friends. This part was tough. I felt guilty for not sitting next to my Camp Reset buddies, but instead of letting my emotions guide me, I listened to the wisdom of the echo from my intentions.
I ended up sitting in-between two men that I had never met before. Turns out this was a really good decision, as I later had several incredibly productive and healing conversations with both of these men. We did some deep sharing and it honestly felt like we all walked away a littler lighter.
Without my intention this evening would of ended up very differently. This was a small example of the power of intention, but it works just as effectively for massive life events as well. These smaller day-to-day intentions are practice, for when the big whoppers show-up.
What Did I Learn?
By setting clear intentions you are turning on a GPS that is guided by the wisdom of your Soul.
At many points in your life you will reach a fork in the road. You will need to quickly decide if it makes more sense for you to go right or left. This decision will have an impact on your life. Some decisions are transformative and leave a massive imprint, others leave a smaller impact. There are plenty of both in our lives.
If you took the time to set a clear intention ahead of time, then when these forks in the road show up in your life, your intention will echo in your mind like a soul-guided GPS.
If you don’t set an intention, that in itself is also an intention. It’s the intention of randomness. So when you reach a fork you will randomly chooseAND your outcome will be randomly selected. You can see how easily you can get lost with this type of intention.
What’s more concerning, is not that you might make the wrong decision when you reach a fork in the road, it’s that you won’t even notice that there is a decision to be made.
It will just seem like one singular path, which of course is not true.
This inability to even recognized the forks in the road, removes your agency and your power from the equation.
This is why intention is such a game changer in my life. It made me realize how much of my power I was giving away to randomness.
Last week might have been my most productive ever.
What’s more interesting to me, than what I managed to complete last week, is how smoothly the week flowed. It didn’t feel like work. There wasn’t much struggle. I would definitely not use the word hustle to describe the week. It just flowed and felt great the whole way.
I got lots of positive feedback on my work. More than ever before. I was humbled by the flood of incredible support, especially after my post about goals for 2018. People from all over wanted to help me achieve these goals. I sincerely did not expect that response and still to this day, don’t fully understand why people felt so moved by that post. Just being honest.
Since that post:
- I’ve been taken on as a client by a professional speakers coach, with a great track record
- I was invited to speak at a really cool event in March
- A yoga instructor has offered to teach me new flows
- A meditation instructor has offered to show me a new advanced meditation practice
- A friend sent my work to a few prominent magazine editors, to review
- I booked several coffee meet-ups with really amazing people
- Somehow I achieved over 280,000 new views in one week!!!
Honestly, I am shocked by all the love and support.
I got to ask — was this support always there and I chose to ignored it because I was afraid to ask for help?
How much potential is slipping through my hands, by letting my egos run the show?
Speaking of my ego…
This week felt different.
It was all hustle. Lots of struggle. Felt like I was chasing all week. After almost every interaction, I felt depleted and diminished. I had a very productive week, in terms of content, but every time I posted something new, I felt rushed, forced and uneasy.
What was I chasing?
If I’m honest, I think I was after the approval of the all the people in the previous week. I was writing to achieve the same ends as week one, instead of just letting go and flowing. I was chasing the past, chasing approval.
The thing with chasing, is that it can feel invigorating while you are doing it. There is definitely a runners-high you get from the process, but the moment you stand still for second, the emptiness floods through. So either you continue chasing forever (not humanily possible), or you face reality.
Yesterday I stood still…
…and let me tell you how shitty it felt. I finally stopped chasing and was promptly smacked in the face by reality. The emptiness hit me hard. I realized that I had forgotten about the magic of the process and focused entirely on the ends, which whether you get their or not, always feels empty.
I realized that the chase was less about achieving a specfic goal and more about running away from parts of myself that I am not yet ready to face. This realization was really tough. It hurt, because of how true it was.
What’s The Lesson?
Chasing is equality as toxic as the denial.
Both, put my ego in the driver’s seat.
Both, inevitably lead to emptiness.
Both, ignore the infinite wisdom of my soul.
After Gord Downie's passing this fall, there was an outpouring of love and recognition for the legendary Canadian rock musician.
I remember hearing dozens of stories on the radio from other musicians who intimately knew Gord.
Gord was that guy who would always be on the side of the stage, at music festivals and concerts, dancing and cheering other bands on. It didn't matter if the band was a major headliner or if this was their first real concert. Gord would always find a way to show genuine love.
What Can We Learn From This Beautiful Man?
Competition is an illusion that keep us apart. You don't have to believe or participate in it.
You can choose community over competition.
What would happen to your life (and the world), if today you decided to be your industry's Gord Downie and found a way to forever be a fan.
That's my goal with photography. I want to be the world's biggest fan. It doesn't matter who shot the photo. If it pulls at my heart, I want to cheer and dance from the sidelines. I want to lose myself in that moment and forget about silly concepts like "me" and "you".
I want to close my eyes and watch as everything collapses into just "us". just "one". just "love".
Callen is one of my new favourite artists.
His work and his process are both extraordinary.
Mark my words, Callen will very quickly become one of Canada's most sought out abstract artists. This dude has tapped into some true magic and I can't wait to see where he goes from here.
Click to Enlarge Photos
Sometimes, I imagine a time after my death.
I imagine my Facebook memories feed. You know, that reminder everyday that tells you what you shared on this exact day, in past years.
I imagine convincing a friend to login to my Facebook account after my death and re-share one post from my past, everyday.
My intention isn't to fool anyone into believing I am still alive, but instead to (hopefully) bring value to peoples lives with my content after my death. That value could be laugher, insight, vulnerability, kindness, support, goofiness, etc, etc. It doesn't all have to be serious and philosophical. It can also be fun and light.
For me, there is something very empowering about imagining my social media content and my self-expression through the lens of eternity. I prefer that perspective, much more than through the lens of instant gratification and "likes", which I also fall victim to, much more than I'd like to admit.
Here's what my Facebook memories looks like for today (Jan 10th).
What would your feed say about you, after your death? (see your own here)
Is that message how you want to be remembered for eternity?
Personally, I know I have many posts that are not how I want to be remembered.
But that's okay. Those posts got me here and for that I am eternally grateful.
I used to loath social media. Facebook and Instagram used to make me incredibly mentally unhealthy.
As a photographer, Instagram was really hard because at the core of the experience is comparison. You can't avoid looking at people's likes, comments and followers. You quickly ascribe value to users who have more of each. Also, you are overloaded by an endless supply of content. It literally never stops. Which is another point of comparison. e.g. "I am not doing enough. I need to be working/shooting more."
For years, it was very stressful opening Instagram on my phone. I would fall into these roller coaster usage patterns. Classic addictive behaviour, playing at the extremes of love and hate.
I'd hate instagram and stay fully away and call it a "social media detox" to make myself sound enlightened and put together (hilarious!). After a month or two I'd start-up again and post a shit ton of content for a few weeks. Not seeing the results I expected (which were totally unreasonable to start with), I would go down the comparison rabbit hole all over again. It would take about 1-2 months before I would feel so mentally drained and unstable, that I'd need to detox again.
This past December, something shifted.
The best way I can describe it was that I stopped seeing with my eyes.
I know that sounds crazy, but when I close my eyes, there is no "me" and "you", no "us" and "them". With my eyes closed everything collapses and there is only, all of us. I know that might sound totally hokey to you, but I'm okay with that. I don't need to prove this to others, I am good with just feeling it for myself.
In December, I decided I was going to let go of "competition" as a limiting belief and become the world's biggest photography fan. This radically changed my life.
When I open Instagram now, I don't see competition, I see art. I started letting my heart do the scrolling, instead of my very insecure mind. My heart is constantly losing its shit (in a good way) over the insane amounts of talent on my feed. Honestly, I am literally yelling and clapping constantly as I scroll through Instagram and Facebook.
When I feel an emotional charge from anything on my feed, I do my best to comment or "like" immediately. My intention is to speak as directly as possible - heart to mouth, with no detours in my mind.
This behaviour definitely trips people out. Especially local photographers. I can tell they are very confused and doubtful. I can see them thinking "Why would a local competitor, publicly recognized AND praise me?!
It so obvious for me now. It's because I love what you stand for. I love your passion for photography. I love your composition and use of colour and texture. I love your ability to tell a story with a single frame. I love your mastery of light and shadow. I love your commitment to the city, to art, to human expression!! I love your hustle. I love your struggle. I love your persistence and tenacity. Why in the world would I not hit that like button?!!
What you stand for and who you are in this world, is important. So fuck yeah, I will recognize and praise you.
Don't buy into to the concept of competition. It's an illusion they created to separate us. I know this makes no sense to your mind, but that's okay. Some things are best left for your heart.
They say "give away, that which you seek". That's sort of what I am doing here. But it's not likes or followers I am seeking. It's community and impact. It's support and love.
In my heart I know these quality are not captured by simplistic metrics, made-up by some dudes in their 20's, in a dorm room in Harvard, 15 years ago. It's important to remember that.
Love is much bigger than likes and followers.
To the insanely talented photographers that constantly inspire me on my feed - I want to thank you for being so committed, passionate and loving to the craft of photography. In a way, we are all in an open relationship with photography, and the better you are to her, the more LOVE she has for me.
Shout outs to Tina Picard, Brian Ypperciel, Verne Ho, Jon Simo, Soteeoh, Patrick Tomasso, Ajani Charles, Luis Mora, The Sensual Eye, just to name a few. You homies are so brilliant and so talented. Your work lights me on fire, daily.
I've known some of you for years, others, only a few weeks and only online. Regardless, you have each left a deep imprint on both my work and my life, and it's about time you knew that.
D (aka Wolfee)
Why trauma? Why all this pain and guilt? Why monsters? Why me?!
Then, without warning, a voice whispered:
Silly boy, don't you see, I gave you darkness and pain so you could help and heal from a place of "lived-it" I gave you integrity so you would not swallow your voice, when courage didn't show up I gave you sons and daughters so you would always remember your actions echo for eternity Silly boy, don't you see, I gave you monsters so you could hitch them to your cart and LEAD
Our most important task as creative beings is to make space, so that God can flow energy through us.
If you want to create more, you will need to let go of anything that is needlessly filling you up. Otherwise, there will be no room for greatness to flow through you.
Letting go can feel overwhelming. It requires radical self-awareness and honesty, both of which will leave you stripped naked and exposed.
Sure, naked can be terrifying, but it can also be one of the most liberating human experiences - if you let it.
See the full photography collection for the above photo here.
I was tempted to re-order the list below, with the aim of making myself look better, but I decided to keep the order exactly how it was originally written.
Not sure what the order says about my priorities, but at least it's honest.
- Call men "beautiful" 365 times. (daily)
- Call women "brilliant" 365 times. (daily)
- Tell 104 new people I love them and mean it. (2 per week)
- Write 365 blog posts. (daily)
- Record and release 52 podcasts. (weekly)
- 10 million views on Unsplash. (I'm off to a great start 100K+ in the last 5 days)
- Over 50K followers on instagram. (no idea how!)
- Have my photography published in 10+ legit magazines. (no idea how!)
- Say "yes" 4 times as often as "no". (4 to 1 ratio)
- Provide 12 free photographer workshops for anyone interested. (monthly)
- 26 quality family hang sessions. (bi-weekly)
- Practice yoga and mediation 365 times. (daily)
- Read 1095 poems. (3 per day)
- Sincerely praise and support 1095 people online. (3 per day)
- Make over $120K gross revenue for my business. (I've never shared $ numbers before!!)
- Book 1 paid speaking gig. (first ever!)
- Have my writing published in 3 major publications (first ever!)
Now to compare this list to my 2018 intentions and make sure the two align and support each other.
Lastly, if any of these goals align or resonate with your own, pls let me know. There is power in numbers, especially when people are aligned in values.
So, if my work (photography or writing) resonated with you, then I urge you to connect.
Let's create some cool shit together and use our gifts to make the world a better place, for all of us.
Sincerely and with love,
D (aka Wolfee)