Oceans of self.

As I’ve been packing up my apartment preparing to move, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we create spaces, and importantly how can we be intentional with the spaces we create.

This doesn’t just apply to homes, but also classrooms, social places. We are affected by the environment we surround ourselves with, but as David Korins ponders in his TED talk, “…what would happen if the space revealed something about yourself that you didn’t even know?”

Pondering this further led me to the realisation what living and growing up in Australia has revealed about me. When I was living in Germany, I started to get a relentless itch because I was landlocked. I yearned for the salty sea breeze, sand in between my toes and the sun on my skin.

So what does an aversion to being landlocked and a yearning for the ocean and sea reveal about me?

For some, the ocean represents stability (as it has remained relatively unchanged for centuries). For others, it represents fertility, or where life came from. It can also represent a yearning for connectivity to nature.

As I’m sitting on the porch, taking a break from packing sipping my tea, my reflections lead me to this conclusion:

I need to take more mind and heed when I’m yearning for the ocean. For it is a reminder for me to reconnect. Reconnect and become one with nature, take greater heed of my emotions and of others.

But most importantly, it is a reminder to reconnect with myself.

Yours,
Sophia
xx

Analogue photography’s magic

When I was 13, my sister was just a wee-baby wobbling around as she got used to walking. But that wasn’t the only thing in my life then – my family still enjoyed vinyl and a very old grammar phone. Digital cameras were only starting to appear in the photography scene, and my family were still resisting – we still loved the analogue Canon camera. By “we”, I should really mean “my parents”.

They were capturing family life on the camera and printed off copies to send to family members across the world. Every now and then, I would be allowed to take photos and it was these moments that laid the foundation for the love of analogue photography that I still have.

When I was 18, the Canon camera reached the end of its life, which gave room to this beautiful, heavy East German Praktika camera that I found in this wonderful camera shop on the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt.

I fell in love with that camera and would take it with me everywhere. Then my dad’s old Pentax camera (alongside several lenses) joined my small camera family. My heart became bigger and I’d take analogue photos whenever I could.

But, then all of a sudden, I fell out of love. I lost confidence in my analogue photography skills. It didn’t help that, for some reason, two film canisters came back blank – no photos were captured. So I gave up. I couldn’t bring myself to part with these cameras, so they just collected dust on my mantelpiece.

For years I stared at the cameras, longing to pick them up and take photos (and for it to work). But I never dared to. I was a student, I couldn’t justify the cost. So I left them on the mantelpiece collecting dust.

Then, several years later, I walked past the Red Cross op-shop in Fremantle. In the shelves laid a point-and-shoot Kodak analogue camera. It couldn’t hurt to try again? I thought. So I bought it, walked to the camera shop a few blocks down and bought a film.

I started to take photos again, albeit haphazardly as if I was gingerly testing the waters, of the various moments in my life. Today I picked up the photos I got developed. Needless to say, I fell back in love with analogue photography – and I learnt something.

It’s okay to fail, it’s okay for things to not work – but the important thing is to keep trying because you won’t get anywhere if you just give up if things do not work – there will always be a solution to your problem. Just keep trying, and don’t give up on things that you love.

Yours,

Sophia
x

PS: Because I’m that proud of these photos – here are some of them:

C001971-R1-04-5C001971-R1-11-12C001971-R1-07-8

Forgiveness.

In July 2015, I wrote a facebook caption forgiving the individual (or individuals) that broke into our car (twice).

I forgave them because I was taught to “forgive those who trespass against us.”

I forgave them, after spending several hours mulling on the problem, not just because my faith told me to but because I started to understand why my faith’s teaching focuses on forgiveness.

But before I continue with this blog post, I need to confess something – I dragged this example out of my Facebook archive not to share a pretty story but because in the conversations I’ve had over the past week, it turns out I haven’t learnt the lesson as effectively as I should have.

Recently, I reverted back to the selfish, self-righteous thinking that my forgiveness is key to the healing of others. And by doing so, my actions were hurting others.

For a while, for me, this meant forgiving others that trespass against us is all about those who hurt us. About forgiving them meant they can heal. That my forgiveness is an important, necessary part of their healing.

But I learnt that I was wrong. I learnt that following that line of logic was easier to follow because other people’s problems are sometimes easier to fix than my own.

Because, just like Prince Ea says, “people suffer when we place our views, our morals onto those living totally different worlds than us.”

“[Forgiveness] does not mean that we condone the actions of wrongdoers, or that there are no consequences, or that you should continue the relationship with an abuser. Forgiveness could mean that you have nothing to do with them ever again. Forgiveness is about your mental peace in your heart. Getting yourself out of your prison. Because forgiveness is about you, them.”

Sometimes forgiveness is a tool in breaking the violent cycle of hatred, of self-doubt and negativity. Sometimes forgiveness can make a difference to other person but most importantly, forgiveness breaks the internal, violent cycle of self-hatred to make a difference to your own mental peace of mind.

I forgave them, not condoning their actions or to say that their actions have no consequence. I forgave them because I needed rest in my heart. I needed to be at peace. Because my anger and hurt at that situation, at all of the frustrations caused by the inconvenience of leaving work early to ensure that someone was home when the RAC came by to fix the car, helped no one and caused more damage to myself and my loved ones, than to any strangers.

I learnt that my forgiveness is not the most important part of their healing. By assuming that they need my forgiveness to move on made me self-righteous, and without knowing it, I participated in a system of judgement, of anger.

I need to show grace and transformation, because just like Glen. H. Stassen wrote “Transformation and deliverance correct the vicious cycle of self-righteousness. Grace teaches peacemaking, not putting all the blame on others and building up hostility against them but acknowledging our own contribution to the problem.”

My faith teaches forgiveness, not just to ignore our own contribution, our hypocrisy towards problems, our own self-righteousness, but to include people in this community of love. It teaches us to name the wrong that occurred, facing it realistically and truthfully. It teaches us to overcome hate and the vicious cycle of vengeance, and it teaches to find empathy for the person, not the deed. In doing so, it teaches us to look at how our actions have hurt others.

But most importantly, it teaches us to establish a friendship with those who hurt us – because if we’ve excluded the person, then we haven’t learnt our lesson.

It’s a painful lesson I’ve had to re-learn over the past few months, and I can only hope to continue to walk in humble, repentant love and ask for forgiveness for the times I’ve tried to remove the speck out of my neighbour’s eye but ignored the log in my own eye.

Yours,

Sophia x

Dear self.

liebe + letters blog photo

Dear self,

Okay, writing this letter isn’t going to be easy. Because frankly, you need to be told some home truths, so I’m going to just going to be blunt. So here it goes: you need to stop it.

Yeah, that thing you do where you put others over yourself and then as a result you suffer mentally and emotionally. Yeah, that. You need to stop that.

(Here comes the vulnerable bit.)

You’ve invested so much in helping, loving others that you’ve lost track of who you are.

You’ve invested so much in helping others you have some how managed to self-doubt who you are and what you can do. You’ve let yourself be overruled by your lack of self-confidence and let your self-consciousness influence far too many decisions.

You’ve lost yourself so much that each day blends into the next and you’re still running on the same spot. You don’t set goals anymore because what’s the point you think. You don’t set them because you (somehow) think you’re not going to reach them.

No matter how many notebooks you buy for writing notes in (because this time you’ll set goals and stick to them), you don’t let self-confidence seep past your barriers of hurt, doubt and pain.

But enough is enough.

You are important. You are kind. You are smart. But most of all, you need to stop this disassociation with the positive, confidence-filled words you write for yourself and what you actually feel.

You need to start prioritizing yourself. Start setting boundaries. Because you are important.

And you know what? This whole “I’m just as important as everyone else” thing starts today.

No buts.

Yours,
Sophia x

Dear self

liebe + letters blog photo (1)

Dear self,

Clean room, sunshine, coffee, different shades and hues of purple and pastel pink. Remember this combination. Because someday you’ll need something to calm that panic attack brewing within you.

Sit, breathe, pray. Feel the last remnants of stress ebb away, the way the ocean waves ebb away from the shoreline.

Always, always remember that you are loved by so many different people. You can’t control everything so just sit and observe. Observe how the world continues turning and you’ll come to the realisation that you can only control how you react to events, so you may as well react with love.

So this is your mandate for this week – sit, breathe, pray, write. Laugh, cry, smile, frown.

Breathe, smile, pray and laugh your way through the week.

Yours
Sophia x