This week has been a dream. I feel so so humbled and grateful to be chosen for a giveaway to a 2-days workshop, in a beautiful chateau in FRANCE. Organized by our very own wedding photographer Jennifer & Conrad and another photographer Anouschkar. I met a group of 19 creatives – from different stages and walks of life. But they all had one thing in common – they were all walking, running in the direction of their dreams.
The entire experience – from even entering the giveaway to coming home yesterday, was unreal and overwhelming. I was browsing Jennifer’s instagram, even though i do not use it myself, when i saw this giveaway. I debated whether to apply – i dont’ do this full time – i dont have xx followers on instagram, I literally googled what regram meant to make sure I follow the instructions correctly – i just did my first wedding this summer – and it was already the last day to enter. Chance of winning looked pretty small, but i figured, i wouldn’t lose anything. My camera was even at repair still, and i didn’t even think what i would do if i won. The next day, i saw myself tagged on facebook, and my heart just BURST with Gratitude. When i got home – Tom was jumping up and down when i opened the door, “imagine how much you gonna learn!!!”.
When i reached home yesterday in the afternoon, Tom said go to sleep you must be tired. Why would i be tired ? i had a full 7hours sleep the past 2 days, so i opened my mac while on the sofa – i hadn’t checked emails in 2 whole days. In fact, I hadn’t checked FB or email or whatsapp except for talking to tom for a bit at night for 2 whole days, like a full retreat. And 10 mins later, i was out on the sofa. When i got up – it was like i had a DEEP sleep – which was so WEIRD because if there was a third day – i would still be running about. It made me realize i was soo alert and on my toes these past 2 days, that i had finally allowed myself to relax upon reaching home. Like holding your breath for 2 days and not even realizing it until you suddenly let out your breath.
I had driven alone for almost 400 Kms through a beautiful straight long road lined with trees, arriving at the beautiful Chateau de Mairy full of character and charm. Over the next 2 days, we had presentations, and 4 beautiful shoots styled by a talented team of florists, stylists, makeup-artists, chefs. I felt so humbled to be there. They were all so kind, down-to-earth, real. My roomies were SO SO nice. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive and positive, regardless if you were full time photographer or a newbie like me.
I came home, and started seeing beautiful photographs, and embarrassment washed over me – I told Tom – I think I’m embarrassed to share my images, everyone was so much more experienced, my pics are gonna be so shabby (esp after I realized I had the focus on “continuous” the entire time on the rental). And tom as usual said the wisest thing – imagine you came home and told me you were the most experienced? Isn’t it awesome everybody was more experienced and you could learn from each one? SOOOOO true. We had 4 gorgeous shoots. I learnt so much about posing, both what I liked and what I didn’t like, what resonated with me, just by watching every other person pose. Tricks to Lightroom, business stuffs, learning to critique my own images!! oh my goodness, so gonna delete more now. Even though I’m just one small photographer on a giveaway, these people took the time to share and teach. I left with all these photography knowledge and then 3 big takeaways:
1. To have met a group of creatives, chasing their dream. How did they find their dream? How brave they are. How confident they are. And I envied each and every one of them. For KNOWING what they want. For being so brave. For living their dream, or chasing their dream. Will I ever know what I want to do? Am I always going to be chasing a dream undefined. Will my life pass me by as I pass my days at my job. I don’t hate my job, it’s a good job, and I am extremely extremely grateful I could find something here in Belgium. But that is the irony of life, when the basic needs are met, then you allow yourself to want beyond the basic needs of food and shelter. To dare to want something beyond the need. And still feel guilty about wanting “more” . I met the owner of the castle too – she was a nice British woman – with a Dutch husband, now living and managing this chateau in France. It was inspiring – how did they know they want to do that ?? Even someone who grew up generations in the same country – had a calling to go somewhere else. It reminded me of the dutch guy we met in Schladming, who one day just quit his corporate job in Michelin and became a B&B owner in Austria. I never feel attached to anywhere. My heart is where my loved ones are. I dreamt our family would one day be in the same place, and it seems that won’t happen.
2. And on the other end of dreams – were the fears. I felt humbled someone was willing to open their heart and share something so private and intimate. And it was so ironic to see while I had the exact opposite situation, yet I still had the very same fears. Will I ever make my parents proud. Can I ever repay them back for all that they have sacrificed. People with a business feared they would never save enough to build their own home. And at the same time I thought, we’ve had a steady income for over a year now as a couple – and yet I have the exact same fear as you can SEE exactly what your income is. Its – limited. Will you ever save enough. That one day we might lose everything and be so poor. That one day, if I’m still working at a company, I will be older and “overpaid” and the first to be fired. And I know this fear stems partly from living in a dingy little room in Hong Kong, watching people around me travel the world, dress in fancy brands, with a high pay job in the shining financial industry. From knowing I’d never be able to afford an apartment larger than 500 square feet no matter how hard I worked. Fear that we might never be “rich” or “successful”.
3. I learnt I need to be confident, and have more faith in myself. Susanne the stylist came up to me at the end of the first day and told me I should just “go for it”!!! Don’t hestiate, don’t worry about others. Man, I come home and I still feel like I should have asked more questions. Or sat myself next to the people I want instead of being afraid of hogging their time. I learnt I won the giveaway because Jennifer & Conrad BELIEVED in me, and believed I would make the most out of it. Took all my nerves to be calm and nod while I was SOOO happy and and moved to hear that! It reminded me of this quote from Good Will Hunting “Some people can never believe in themselves, until someone believes in them”. And it is such a humbling feeling when someone believes in you more than you do in yourself. I mean, the winner had already been picked. I feel so so, so, so grateful, gratitude is the word, and to think what if i did not taken that chance to enter? The irony was that when we left the mentoring session in May (behind the scene pics here ; ) ) – I remember asking T: do you think they like us too? I hope they don’t think I was asking too many questions. And of course it made me so happy and relieved now to hear that they valued I had so many questions! We had some good conversation and I learned about another moving WW VETERAN story in addition to our experience in Normandy. It was great hanging out and I wish I had not been so shy to hang out with them during the dinner times. I realise that i still seek connection. And that instead of being so afraid, I need to just seek it out.
We’re gonna be moving soon, and I’m determined to continue this in Shanghai although it seems cut-throat in this area there. And at the same time,more importantly, to continue to find that thing – that place to belong to, or the thing to do. Whatever or wherever that may be.
Despite taking hundreds of pictures from gorgeous shoots,
somehow, this is my favourite one from the entire experience.