seher

i don’t owe anyone my inner world

upon deciding that i wanted to talk a bit about my depression that consumed the second half of my 2017, it took me a moment to realize that my previous post was in part about the bliss i was able to connect with earlier in that same year. i also recalled how the bliss itself was borne in response to pain. all around, the duality of that year was profound.

over the course of 2018, i couldn’t quite comprehend what the fuck 2017 was. because 2018 was confusing as all hell on its own; it was this extended sense of being suspended in transience, which i was aware of the whole time and simultaneously knew that it wasn’t something i could control or fight. i just had to be in this long ass incubation period of what felt like a whole lot of nothingness.

i still don’t have enough distance from 2018 to have much clarity on what quite happened— but my sense is that my system was integrating the rollercoaster of transformational experiences and deaths/rebirths that 2016 and 2017 brought me.

now having some distance from 2017, however, i can see what an important example of duality it was. it’s fascinating to know that what we view as opposite or polar are never too far apart— particularly with the recognition that duality itself is a construct. the only thing that is actually true and real is oneness.

i remember being awe struck by the daoist view of impermanence and the ever-changing nature of what we view to be opposite or contrasting; for example, light is not light but light-becoming-dark and dark is not dark but dark-becoming-light. because everything is constantly shifting, a static assumption or prescription upon anything is essentially inaccurate and moot. it’s deep and something i’m still unpacking.

existential interlude aside, i want to share a couple stories related to my experience with depression— particularly within the framework of vulnerability, authenticity, and personal boundaries.

to first offer some foundational context: i was on and off depressed from 15-25, then was totally in the pits from 25-27, and started therapy at 27 in 2010. i felt the depression pretty much fully lift after my first eight months of therapy and my first two months of a naturopathic regimen for my neurotransmitter imbalances. since then, i’ve had depressive dips for a week or two on a handful of occasions over the years and one few month long very low point around early 2013.

what i experienced in 2017 was the longest and most nuanced, shape-shifting, unrelenting depressive period i’ve experienced since what brought me to therapy in 2010. shit was real as fuck. basically, a succession of deeply traumatic and very unpleasant challenging things happened back to back to back— it took me out and knocked me all the way off center.

thankfully, i had my awareness tools to keep from completely going off the deep end, but i was literally teetering on the very edge of that hole for months. it took all my energy to at least just stay teetering and not fall in. after several months, i got two steps away from the hole— my awareness allowed me to measure that— and it took everything in me for another several months to maintain those two steps away from the hole. sometime in the first quarter of 2018, i felt like i got beyond two steps and finally was able to feel more grounded and self-possessed.

in fall 2016, i started sharing my poem-quote things and occasional reflective thoughts on instagram; some people decided i was wise and woke and zen and shit. i am, thanks. i’m also human and have eccentricities and quirks and seeming inconsistencies and personal boundaries. though that may be confusing for some, i get to contain all of that and still be authentic and in integrity.

in fall 2017, during the peak of the aforementioned deep depressive period, i ran into an acquaintance at an event.

she asked me how i was and before i could answer, she said something to the effect of, “and i know you being you, you’re gonna keep it real and not just be like, ‘i’m great!’ if you’re not.” i know she meant to be complimentary, but it was not what i needed to hear in the moment.

in those months, my whole life had been consumed around salvaging my mood the best i possibility could; my own thoughts on ‘how i was doing’ were already encroaching on my space in my alone time. i had decided in advance to do my best to act as if i was okay during this event— because that’s what i needed; i needed a goddamn break.

i got extremely uncomfortable and began wondering if i was inauthentic because i didn’t want to put energy on naming that i wasn’t well. i wanted to answer that i was good and move on to some other type of conversation that i could actually enjoy.

i told myself that saying “good” was true in a sense; because ultimately, i am always alright. and at that time, i was simply experiencing an ebb of my human experience.

i think my discomfort with her remark and my ensuing internal conflict blew my cover; i’m quite certain she felt my reservation and unease when i said “good.” it changed the vibe. and i mostly didn’t care. i wasn’t there to cater to her vision of me.

i chose my self-preservation. and that’s what i’ll choose in the vast majority of cases. i know how useless and even harmful i can be when i’m unwell and not tending to my needs. when i’m real low, any filter i’ve got to maintain a semblance of normalcy and civility with the outside world is paper thin— i know this.

i don’t think we need to feel obligated to say we’re feeling unwell while we are still amidst that experience; it doesn’t help my healing to put energy on a given challenging thing that i’m already working on for the sake of updating someone— especially an acquaintance—perfectly truthfully.

when i’m not intentionally going into my shadow to do work, i want to focus on light to help raise my vibration. note, there is a distinction between mindfully raising my vibration and avoidance/distraction.

online and on social media, there’s a  pressure to name our precise reality while we are still inside of a challenging time— in the spirit of “vulnerability” and “authenticity.” nah.

internet and instagram vulnerability culture has distorted our vision on boundaries and what actually constitutes healthy sharing. this culture, which can also be beautiful, has also somehow allowed certain folks to think that they have license to our inner worlds.

our own vulnerability isn’t supposed to harm us. and it isn’t a service to others if we are self-sacrificing our health to share before we feel ready.

important: vulnerability online isn’t a replacement for professional help if you think you might need that. no shame in it— i’ve been in some form of therapy or another for a decade.

some things are only meant for specific people and specific communities in my life. and even then, that doesn’t mean i ever owe *anyone* anything i don’t feel called to share. for more introverted folk like me, certain things may be meant for us alone (and perhaps a therapist or healer, if inclined).

basically, we don’t owe the internet shit— least of all our bleeding hearts. <3

living the feeling first: a means to manifestation

i’ve been thinking about joy lately, especially as it being a way of manifesting our dreams even before they materially come to fore;

a couple nights ago, i picked up the book creating money by sanaya roman after a long while. i re-read my notes and a bit more of the book. i’m only about 20 pages in; i tend to read very intentionally, stop to reflect a lot, and simultaneously take notes.

in my review, i was reminded of a powerful perspective shift:

i manifest best when i choose to *right now* genuinely live out the higher qualities i believe money (or whatever i’m looking to manifest) will bring into my life.

an exercise + illustration:

  • think of something you’d like to manifest

  • what higher qualities do you think that manifestation will bring into you and your life?

  • what are some easily accessible ways you can bring those qualities into your life now— today, this week, in this moment?

unfolding the perspective shift:

  • i want more money because i believe it will bring me freedom.

  • i realize that i can also easily access the feeling of freedom when i’m being silly, when i’m being fully myself, when i see children being free, when i deeply connect with someone in a way that i can almost touch the entire universe in that moment

  • when i choose to be in the vibration of freedom *now*, i am calling in the matching/correlating vibration of that which i desire. and because i am coming from a place of authentic connection to source, i am simultaneously manifesting 1) what i *really, actually* want and 2) more precisely for my highest good.

before finding this book, i intuitively created a similar practice and paired it with intentional action towards manifesting the money i needed. with this way, i catapulted myself out of major, heart-wrenching brokenness in early 2017.

it was a time where every other day i was getting notices of bills being declined, my credit cards were maxed out, i had no idea how i’d be paying rent, and my cash was just enough to feed myself.  it was the closest i’d ever been to feeling like i could soon be out of choices— and would possibly need to move back to cali to live with my parents.

i decided that if this was it, i was going to respond in the best way i possibly could and opt out of weaponizing my pain against myself. i was going to live my best life with what i had been given. it almost felt like that choice was all i had left.

i chose to:

  1. live in joy anyway, because i was alive— that was something i did have

  2. try my best to turn things around— i did have agency over my actions

  3. accept any outcome with grace— i always have a choice in how to respond

from this space, i found myself the happiest and most magnetic i had ever been— socially, financially, and with the opportunities that flowed to me like a force of nature (because it literally was).

since then, my path has ebbed and flowed as i continue to dismantle old programming and belief systems. however, now i have the gift of the experience and evidence of what is possible. i know what i can access when i am in flow. i know that making *who i choose to show up as* my starting point is what truly creates the type of life-affirming magic that is beyond dreams.

the belief that something outside of us will give us the higher qualities we desire is false; if we do end up manifesting what we think we want while we are out of alignment, it’s always ultimately a lesson of some sort. sometimes we can be taken through a long journey before we realize we are still unhappy and unfulfilled. think about the loads of celebrities who have all their “dreams” come true, only to feel more alone and lost than ever. most might not show it, but this phenomenon is very very real.

dreams without grounding in your higher qualities usually end up empty.

if i lack freedom in my life already— before having the money i desire— deep down i will continue to lack freedom even once i have said money; that is, until i practice cultivating freedom from within and with what is already available to me.

so, let’s ask ourselves:

how am i choosing to engage my most basic blessings on a day to day?

how am i showing up as “the person i think i’ll be when i have everything i want” *today*— right now, in this moment?

much love <3

my first printed photo portfolio

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this post was created in partnership with blurb.

i got put onto blurb years ago when i first started shooting -- roughly 8-ish years ago -- and remember being in complete and total awe that any regular person could self-publish 'a real professional book' about whatever their heart desired. i decided that one day i was going to make an awesome book about something and print it through the blurb platform, even if it was just one copy for myself.

years passed and no book, but the dream remained. recently, i was able to realize my fantasy after blurb themselves offered me an opportunity to create a book to celebrate the launch of their new layflat book format. i was like, 'duh, hi. yesplz.'

the layflat book format is blurb's fancy new creation that allows books to -- wait for it -- lay completely flat so you don't lose any part of your image to the center. aka you can have full bleed two page spreads that win at life more than any other two page spreads in existence. 

of all the things, why did i decide on making a photo portfolio? when i first moved to new york about six and a half years ago (i have no idea where the time went), i was looking into printed portfolios; i'd been researching a screw-post situation for which i'd have to buy inserts and then pay for prints -- the smallest size for maybe a 40ish image portfolio was going to run me like $600-700. i decided to opt for an ipad solution instead and that's what i've been rocking with since about 2012.

this blurb project finally allowed me to delve into the long-time-coming realm of printed portfolios in a new way and presented me the super valuable opportunity to practice laying out a photo book -- something i've never done before and is really its own art form.

i prepared myself for a daunting task as i've been told that book and magazine layout design can be a beast. however, thanks to blurb's bookwright software and preset layouts to get me started with how things work and can look, the task was much more approachable than i thought it might be. and honestly, praise due to layflat book format for greatly expanding my layout possibilities and ability to play; i can imagine that with a limited gutter situation, layout options would be much more challenging.

i felt so gleefully reckless splaying photos across the gutter on as many pages as possible.

i got the large landscape style book and upon receiving it, i can tell you that the thing is not a casual situation -- it is an event; it is also neon grellow -- because, why not? the build of the hardcover is solid and the pages are substantial. to create the layflat effect, all the pages are essentially two 100 lb. stock pages glued together, yielding a luxurious page weight of 200 lb. in effect. not for the faint of heart.

the opening page is my only full bleed spread in the book and really, i sort of made it by accident; i dragged the image in just to see what would happen and it looked so good, i kept it. the feel of this layout combined with the richness of the color in the print quality is especially bold and striking.

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the cost of the book with shipping came out to something like $250ish (which i luckily didn't have to pay, compliments of blurb). crazy that it was about half the price of the portfolio option i was looking at some years ago. that considered, i could see printing a portfolio like this bi-annually or quarterly as a real possibility for adding a special touch to portfolio review meetings; i find that photo editors really welcome and cherish the nostalgia and tactile nature of print.

if you feeling extra fancy, blurb books can be sold on the blurb bookstore (which ships worldwide), apple ibooks, amazon, or via ingram (a distributor to many bookstores). and if perhaps, maybe, you feel like getting your very own copy of my october 2017 portfolio from the blurb bookstore -- that can happen.

perusing through the leave behind series some photo editors have on their instagrams, i've become quite fascinated with the creative ways people choose to present their printed photo portfolios; any fun ideas you have in mind or have seen out there in the world? also curious to hear your experiences about self-publishing since this is a space i'd love to grow into more with time -- maybe next time with a magazine or a trade book :)

how do you showcase your work or photography?