July 4th - I hurriedly gathered my things, but that's the thing with chronic lateness - you are late. As I walked my mind was racing and I realized that being late for sunrise was only hurting/depriving myself. I jokingly asked God to pause the rise until I got to the Hamilton Mountain Brow. But He didn't. It went on without me. And then I realized on a whole other level that "life goes on" and if you're always late, you're going to miss it.
July 5th - Cotton Candy Clouds
July 6th - As I stood in the mirror this morning and put on my mascara I thought, " Am I trying to look pretty for the sunrise?"
July 7th - Morning came again today and I was not ready.
I wandered around downtown Hamilton, the quiet streets gave me comfort.
July 8th - This morning I stayed close to home to see the sun.
Oreo enjoyed playing in the garden while I took photos and tried to keep warm.
July 9th - This morning I had plans to go to my parents house for breakfast. I decided to do my #riseandshine at their place as it would be more efficient. I brought my camera, Bible and waffle iron over to their place. After I took my photos and walked Charlie I went out in the back porch and started my morning reading, just to see my dad in the kitchen making his coffee and getting out his Bible. I settled back in and just as I was finishing my mom came downstairs and brought out her Bible reading material onto the back porch. I can honestly say that it was a somewhat comical, and definitely an extraordinarily beautiful moment of realization that we were starting our mornings in similar ways. I don't live with my parents and haven't since I was 17 years old. I had no idea that they did this, so to me it was fascinating and heartwarming to see it unfold.
July 10th - Each day I find new flowers to take photos of, which reminds me that there is so much beauty all around us at any given moment.
July 11th - I am not sure if there was a spectacular sunrise today - with the cloud cover, it wouldn't appear so. I woke up later than usual today so I did miss the actual rise at 5:50am. However, the sun did peak through the clouds before I left and the grey sky gave a different ambiance for my photos.
July 11th - I am not sure if there was a spectacular sunrise today - with the cloud cover, it wouldn't appear so. I woke up later than usual today so I did miss the actual rise at 5:50am. However, the sun did peak through the clouds before I left and the grey sky gave a different ambiance for my photos.
July 12th - The days pass and as I go I realize just how many photos that I am taking. Not all of them are spectacular, many I don't even share, but I am learning. I am happy that one day I can look back on these mornings and see how I saw the world as a fumbling 25 year old in 2019.
July 13th - Today I woke up at Grandma Sharon's house in Chatham, Ontario. Charlie and I are staying with her and the rest of the family (minus Claire) is staying at the Super 8 down the street. We're here until Wednesday on vacation, so we will see how I keep up with this challenge.
July 14th - This morning I stayed inside to take photos because yesterday at the beach I got a massive sunburn. This gave me the opportunity to observe how the light inside can also be gorgeous.
July 15th - The way that morning light interacts with the physical space around me does not cease to fascinate me. Morning light is honestly so beautiful and does not seem to run out of ways to be captured. The sun here at Grandma's seems warmer, or maybe it's just me?
July 16th - I carried my camera around with me all morning around the house and on my morning walk with Charlie. Finally, as I was sitting in the hotel having breakfast, the lighting of this scene spoke to me. There is some natural light coming in from the left, but the lighting is mostly artificial.
I am still going to count this as part of my #RISEANDSHINE journey as I did take a photo with my cellphone of the sun this morning and posted it on my Instagram story.
There is another element to this challenge which I did not disclose originally, but I also have been reading at least one passage of Scripture and exercising for a minimum of 25 minutes a day. I have been keeping up with those elements even though here I did not FULLY document the sunrise.
July 17th - It was raining when I woke up at 7:14am this morning - no sun to speak of. I promise this isn't a pattern. I walked over to the hotel with Charlie in the rain. Just before we went for breakfast there was a brightness coming through the clouds and leaking in through the back door on the unmade bed.
July 18th - If I am honest, today was a hard day to wake up. The grey sky with no clear sun, the first sleep in my own bed in almost a week, a new cozy blanket and nursing a small headache. I took photos of Oreo looking out the window. I am not impressed with the shot but half-asleep at 7:30am this was one of the better shots.
I am going to keep going - some days are easier than others. Some days I am excited to take photos, other days it's a real struggle to tap into that creative headspace and I barely get there. This journey is really making me even more self-aware of my own self-talk, rationalizations, habits and patterns. It is supposed to help me with my consistency and self-discipline. You will see the fruit of my labor as I continue.
July 19th - Good morning! I can feel the routine kicking back into gear. As much as I just wanted to stay in bed all morning, it is very encouraging to realize that there is only one morning each day and my commitment is to document each one.
July 20th - This morning the sky was calm and quiet. I felt the vibration of my being. I sat at the empty schoolyard on the steps for a half hour and cried my heart out to the camera. I found space for myself to heal today. Today has not gone according to my plans, but beauty is unfolding regardless. Sometimes I think we forget how simple and peaceful life can be. There is no real rush. Embrace yourself fully - freedom is here, love is accessible and real.
July 21th - Today was a long walk.
July 22nd - This morning I observed how the 9:00am sun peeked through the windows.
July 23rd - The birds were amazing today, fluttering all around at the brow.
July 24th - This morning did not go as intended. As I finally realized what time it was, I scrambled to take a photo that used morning light in some capacity and then proceeded to give Oreo a little photoshoot.
What I did realize today is that I have good days and bad days. I have productive mornings and begrudging mornings. I have mornings that are filled with enthusiasm for life and mornings where the blankets on my skin is comfiest feeling in the world and I never want to leave their protection. There are mornings that I force myself out of bed as the moon is still bright in the sky to get to the sun and mornings where I hold off until the sun has risen and I capture a late light. Some days I take hundreds of photos, other days I take less than 10.
I have not necessarily been as consistent as I have wanted to be, but I am enjoying observing the fluctuation of my person. I am getting to know myself, my struggles and the areas where I am weak and strong on a different level. I am almost 1/3 finished this challenge and I look forward to see where I am at day 67.
I also included a photo of the backyard which is currently under reorganization and a glimpse of my current workspace. I try to collect things and surround myself with items that are beautiful and inspire me. This has now become more like a blog entry... which I find occurs when I take less photos.. am I overcompensating for my lack of photos? Or am I holding more creative energy because I did not go for a long photography walk today? Probably both.
July 25th - Shameless laundry detergent promo.
July 26th - This morning it was hard to find inspiration. I navigated the local streets scavenging for something to catch my eye, but my mind was running in circles. It was as though I was walking down the streets but my mind was somewhere else entirely. I spent most of my walk that way. I was on the final leg when I found some flowers with some bees. Then it is as though I found my whole mind shift gears. I was suddenly captivated, not caring about whether people drove by, walked by, the only thing that had my attention were the bees and the flowers and the settings of the camera. It was very interesting to feel the wave of thoughts and concerns simply vanish and just disappear. Creativity is this odd process of having no idea what you're doing, but then you're doing it and then you're owned by it and then it vanishes and you are left ruffled until the next creative wave approaches. Which could be in 2 minutes or 3 years.
July 27th - Today we had an impromptu morning trip. My sister needed to take a specialty CPR course in Ajax. I joined my father as I needed to pick up my painting that was on exhibit in Brampton. We dropped her off at her course and proceeded to enjoy a father-daughter afternoon.
July 28th - Today I will be 100% honest. Last night I slept for nearly 12 hours. I woke up at 9am and I did manage to take my cell phone photo and post it on my instagram/facebook story but I did not take any photos with my DSLR camera.
I have heard that some people in this instance might restart a challenge entirely. But rather than restarting, I think this is an opportunity to forgive myself and keep going. This slip up accurately describes the process of life and I am interested primarily in working on my consistenecy. The only way to be consistent is to compare to those days in which I am not consistent. Contrast creates depth and meaning. To see at the end of this challenge that I overcame personal obstacles and managed to find a flow where I achieved my targets MOST days is significantly more valuable to me then trying to portray a perfect 67 days.
July 29th - Today I decided to take photos while I made my breakfast. Black coffee, fruit, and a homemade breakfast sandwich. The sun was beautiful as usual. I enjoy morning so much. There is honestly nothing better than that first sip of coffee as the warmth of the sun blinds you in bliss...
July 30th - This morning it was raining. I was dog sitting Charlie at 7am. I was concerned that I would not get to take my photos, but then my parents came home early and were generous to offer to go for a short drive so that I could get some photos of the city and perhaps catch the sun.
July 31st - Today is the last day of July. That is crazy! We are 7 months through the year. That is insane! Time is going by so fast. It feels like just yesterday I was down at William's Cafe posting on my instagram that "Clear minds with clear goals GET RESULTS!" That was back on January 16th. I had just had the revelation that this year I was going to be 26 years old! And for some reason, last night as I was drifting off to sleep I felt like there were parts of my brain that were shrivelling up.. that is the only way I can describe it...
Self-discipline is like pruning the shrub that makes up your brain. I remember after going to the dentist late last year (after not going for several years) making the commitment to brush, floss and mouthwash daily. The nightly routine at first was like I was fighting everything in my body to force myself to go through with it. Seems super basic, but I prevailed and now successfully perform that mundane task with ease. I have noticed now that the uncomfortable feeling is on the other side. If I try to push myself NOT to brush or floss or use mouthwash, I am met with that same resistance I felt doing it before... which is proof that habits are powerful and can transform your life if you push through the initial barriers that your mind puts up. That is why I felt part of my brain shrivel up...
As I work hard to add walking, Scripture reading and photography/website maintenance to my morning routine, soon I will have overcome morning dread and the urge to stay in bed and waste away the wee hours of the morning. Soon I can implement more and more things in my life that will guarantee success. I am a firm believer that self-discipline and strong setting of positive habits are core elements to curating a life that is designed for optimal productivity and confidence.
There are many emotions that have to be overcome, many self-destroying lies we tell ourselves, many excuses we try to use that only cheat us out of our own success - which is a direct act of self-deprecation and self-hatred. Once you become aware of the ways in which your shadow self tries to manipulate you and tell you that you "can't" do something, you regain power over your free-will and autonomy and can see things for how they truly are. You can recognize that you might not "want" to do something but your long-term goals require you to do so now in order for you to get to the next level.
Not everyone is going to like you or understand you but it is imperative that you remain consistent and firm in your daily practice. Not every day is going to be easy, and the shadow will manifest in the people around you, trying to push you off the track you are on, but you will prevail. You will find that the reward of staying true to your values and what you know you need to do to be the person you are determined to become.
August 1st - The beginning of a new and glorious month. The 2019 calendar got flipped today and the quote I wrote beneath the butterfly (as seen as the splash photo for my home page here on my website) is quite fitting:" Transformation requires uncertainty - trusting a process you cannot see. Things will unfold as they should." This is truly the reminder I needed today. Like the caterpillar goes into it's chrysalis and emerges a butterfly, we too go through dark, transformative times (sometimes years) and then we emerge ready to fly. I look forward to what this month will bring and am ready to emerge. :)
August 2nd - Yesterday is not today.
August 3rd - Today I had high hopes for my photos, yet I ended up snapping snapdragons in the backyard... again. I wonder sometimes if what I'm doing is just simply mundane... sometimes I feel like all I take photos of is flowers.. (and the sun, obviously).
I feel like most of my photos are cop outs because it's easy to find new flowers and zoom in. I wouldn't say that this #riseandshine challenge is improving my creativity, if anything I am noticing how boring I actually am as a person... lol
That might sound harsh to some, but honestly, snapping photos daily is showing me how UNORIGINAL I actually am, how unoriginal most of us are. This creates a huge existential problem for my psyche because I realize how meaningless the pursuit of newness is... What I think is new has been discovered many times before, by all those who went before me.
I have had thoughts like these for years, fortunately I can talk myself out of their depressing nature and restabilize with ease these days.
Today I have accepted this harsh problem of human existence as a reality and recognize that unoriginality is no concern to someone who is supposed to be aiming for self-discipline and consistency.
August 4th - It's Sunday. A few days ago I walked a different way home from the gym and thought it might be nice to catch the sun rising above the Linc. It was a nice view. I'm happy I tried an alternative vantage point today.
August 5th - The terrible part about the human brain is that if you're not careful you can fall prey to your own defeat. Every day the battle is against yourself. Every morning it is you against all the myriad of thoughts that go through your head.
I woke up before my alarm today - a good time. At the time I am trying to wake up daily, that I am slowly working towards. Yet my head grappled with this notion of waking up 2 hours before my alarm and I proceeded to sit on the edge of my bed in conflict with myself. I fought with myself for a good 15 minutes, completely unsure if I should grab an early sunrise or curl up back under the blankets because it's a "holiday". The holiday excuse won and I fell back into a calm sleep.
I do not regret going back to sleep because I know that I did not go to bed at a time that waking up that early would be a feasible option for the day, but nonetheless I do wonder how much more could have been accomplished with my morning if I had...
When you start to wake up early and make productive morning routines for yourself it is amazing what you can accomplish by 10am. It is a beautiful feeling of awe in your own capability, because as the average person is rolling out of bed you have already conquered the morning - the hardest part of the day. If you incorporate physical exercise, mindfulness/meditation/prayer, creativity or the pursuit of a passion, reading/research, or simply cleaning your room and doing all the tasks you dread for the day... then you can actually enjoy the rest of the day and have minimal stress as you progress through.
Master one day at a time and you will master your life... I cannot take credit, many great voices have said this before me... but I repeat it for my own benefit. Drilling it into my brain so that it no longer becomes words but a way of being.
August 6th - On the hard, hot mornings I try to remind myself that this greenery won't stay all year. I need to enjoy the beauty while it lasts.
August 7th - Last night I camped out at Valen's Conservation Area. I had been eager to camp out alone and have some much needed alone time with nature, but to be honest I could not get sick of having that alone time. After a rough night of mosquitos and crying babies in neighboring sites, dogs barking and temperature changes I woke up at 5:30 and set to work on having a great day. I went for my morning walk, took photos of the sunrise. I went to the camp store and treated myself to a coffee, a pepperoni stick and some chocolate. I came back to the site and built a huge fire and set up my creative supplies. I wrote and drew, listened to my old iPod shuffle that I found before the trip and made a video. I packed up the tent and cleaned off the tarps. The hours flew by, before I knew it my ride had come to pick me up. This time alone really made me feel like I truly like myself.
August 8th - Today's weather was very confused. I caught the sky at a cloudy moment. Not long after this it rained, and then poured. By the time I was done making blueberry pancakes at my parent's it was sunny.
August 9th - The sunrise time has shifted now to 6:18am. I would say I am thankful but I just started getting used to waking up at 5:30am most days... I do not know what I am going to do when the winter comes... sure this challenge will be over by then, but how will I keep up with my pictures?
I do not want to get bundled up... do I? How would the camera survive? How would my fingers stay attached to my hands?
I suppose that problem is one for another day, but this morning's chilly air made me wear a sweater and I still felt cold.
Sooner then I care to think the sunrise will be after 7am and my whole internal world will be thrown off the new balance I have found.
August 10th - Today I bussed down to the Westdale Ravine. I explored the trails and enjoyed the tall trees.
August 11th - Today I woke up with a headache... again, so I spent the morning resting before church instead of going on a long walk.
I chose to document the progress on the backyard as it is still going through reorganization.
August 12th - I wanted to limit my walk to a half hour today as I had a lot on the agenda. This time restraint was surprisingly helpful because it forced me to pay attention to different things then I normally do. I recognize that I am slowly opening up to new directions for this photography thing - especially since today there was no sun.
August 13th - This morning, the upload took WAYYY too long to complete. I guess my computer is struggling to process all these images. I'm going to need to do some cleaning up soon and do a back up.
August 14th - I woke up today before my alarm and I felt part of me say, "I don't want to take pictures today." Another voice spoke up saying, "Too bad." The conversation in my head is starting to sound much more pleasing and self-loving. I am realizing on a deeper level that there are things in life which we do not WANT to do but we HAVE to do. I find the more I surrender to the bigger picture of who I want to be, it is like the old ideas start to fall away. It is gradual process though.
I put on a sweater, purple leggings and my grey and bright yellow (highly noticeable) Batman socks. I felt like a happy kid when I got dressed. I caught a glimpse of a younger version of myself and that filled me with joy.
As I was nearing home, for the first time on one of these walks, I felt like my heart was activated. I had the knowingness that I am so deserving of the best in life and one day someone will love me like I love myself. I smiled. I felt my body tingle. My inner person felt the most healed it's ever felt in a long time and that is a beautiful thing.
August 15th - This morning I am embarking on a journey... an unknown journey, I am uncertain of where it will lead... but I literally felt that this was an opportunity to trust God and grow in that relationship. I just grabbed my iced coffee from Timmies and I'm about to pick up some friends from the community and then it's off to Chicago.
August 16th - Today I woke up in Momence, Illinois. Last night I struggled to sleep because of my driving leg acting up, but a few stretches did the trick to improve it. We made coffee and had a snack, now we're off to find a place to eat brunch. I am very grateful to Father and brother for allowing us to stay at the Good Shepherd Manor here.
August 17th - I woke up today on Prairie Star Ranch near Kansas City, Kansas. Today we begin our retreat. I slept well last night but briefly. I am learning more deeply to live in the moment and go with the flow. Trust the process.
August 18th - A new day has begun. We had pancakes for breakfast. I am so blessed being here. Everyone has been so kind to me. The retreat is in Spanish, so many are taking turns helping myself and another girl understand. Muchas gracias!
August 19th - Today I woke up at the Sisters of the Poor of Jesus Christ's house in Kansas City. The morning light was beautiful. I did my best to commit to my photographic challenge. It was nice walking around the block. There were some stray dogs roaming around the streets. A kind man sitting on his porch asked me to take his picture. I felt the closest to home today.
August 20th - Today is the last day of our journey. I am feeling very at peace deep in my spirit.
August 21th - Last night I did not get to sleep until nearly 3am. I was unable to get out for my photos today. I also feel slightly under the weather with a sore throat and stuffed up nose. My bed has never felt so comfortable.
The rental car is returned. Usually here I might say that life after vacation will go back to normal... but not this time. I was truly transformed on a deep level and really feel as though I have new eyes. I am very inspired by our adventure and very encouraged by my own sense of trust that I developed in Lord God, Jesus.
August 22nd - Today is my mom's birthday. I am so grateful for her and all that she has done to help make me the woman I am today. We have had our ups and downs over the years but I am so happy to say that we are in a VERY good place right now.
My mom is a hilarious person, filled with joy and generosity. She is always thinking of everyone else and making sure everyone knows what's going on when it comes to scheduling. My mom is so strong and has overcome SOO much! She is in a stage of transformation and I am so excited to see her emerge on the other side.
I love you, Mom. <3
August 23rd - Today is Friday... and I slept in again to nurse my cold.
August 24th - This morning Oreo got a photoshoot again. I have been battling a cold and so this was a way to get my photos in without going for an extensive walk outside.
August 25th - Today I brought my camera over to my parents and after brunch I decided to take photos in their backyard. This was not a morning sun photoshoot, but I felt it was better to take some photos, then none.
August 26th - No photos again today. The sun was beautiful today though!
I went to upload the previous pictures and get ready for my walk when I realized my computer was critically low on memory storage. This derailed my morning and before I knew it the morning had passed and I had to go out.
August 27th - Unfortunately today I was not able to get outside to take photos with my camera. I feel kind of guilty to be honest as it has been the SIXTH day where I did not take photos within this challenge (most of which has been within this past week). I think about it and I probably could have pushed myself today.
However, I think this a good opportunity to reflect on self-love and self-acceptance. Originally I feel guilt, but then I think longer, what is the purpose of this guilt? How is this guilt serving me? Is it making me better?
Initially the guilt is good, it shows me where I did not honor myself ... but then that guilt NEEDS to turn into acceptance and love. Yes, I did not do what I said I was going to do, but beating myself about it today will not make me more likely to wake up positive tomorrow. I need to be kind to myself and realize where I am struggling and look deeper into the WHY I did not push myself today.
August 28th - Today I did not go for my morning walk but I was committed not to have another empty post on here so I decided to take photos in the afternoon when I went out to Dundas Driving Park and William's Waterfront. I did not capture morning light in these photos but I felt that it was important to at least get back into the habit of actually taking pictures.
August 29th - I took morning pictures today! I did not leave the backyard. This morning presented me with a powerful moment of introspection as I woke up at 7:30am and was prepared to go for my morning walk. I went on my phone to play a morning pick-me up song and wound up spending the next hour on my phone. I never played the song. This caused me to really take to note how I am self-sabotaging myself... Since being sick this past week I have noticed that I have slipped back into checking my phone in bed... This practice is awful because it steals away the best time of the day for productivity. By the time I got dressed and ready to take pictures I could have gone and come back... If I do not take my time and myself seriously, who will? I need to be committed to myself and my growth. I need to honor the goals that I have mapped out for myself.
August 30th - Today is Friday. Everything I planned today got cancelled or rescheduled. So I cancelled plans with myself too. I crossed a few things off my TO DO list, but going for morning walk to take photos did not make the cut.
August 31st - Last night I went to the movies with my parents and my brother to see Overcomer. Afterwards we went to Valentino's for a late snack and picked up dessert. It was nearly 11pm when they were going to drive me home. I decided that I would rather sleepover as I had to bake a cake today at their house anyway.
I woke up today and had my breakfast and walked Charlie, but I did not bring my fancy camera to take photos.
September 1st - Today is the first time I am posting photos that were not taken with my fancy camera. These were taken with my cellphone. I was determined not to have another empty slot. I want so badly to finish this challenge strong. I do not know what has happened to me the past 2 weeks. It has been SO HARD to motivate myself to get up and take photos of the sun. I do not know how to reclaim all the progress I made. I feel as though I have digressed so much! I was doing so well!
Life is hard. The SIMPLEST things can be SOO challenging. I have a week left until this challenge is over. Wish me luck.
September 2nd - Today I'm going to call it #FALLANDSET. Today was the holiday Monday of Labour Day. Why does the word holiday automatically make me think i don't have to do anything. Today was a nice and relaxing day. I finally decided at 8pm that I was going to take my photos of the day. I explored some night-time photography. I also took some videos that I will likely use for stock later.
Maybe I am just getting bored of the sun and the flowers? Maybe I am hitting a wall? Maybe I've walked these neighborhood streets and after 45 days it looks the same? Maybe I am just lazy? Maybe I am going through a funk?
September 3rd - I went through a bunch of childhood photos today. I guess I am maxing out on my desire for #RISEANDSHINE, but I am finding alternative things to document that have nothing to do with the sunshine. But maybe I am the sunshine. Maybe low-key this challenge has been about more than just getting up and taking photos of the sun. Maybe it is about getting up every day and showing up. In some ways, this summer has been very hard and this challenge has been a motivation on a lot of days to fill my mornings with purpose.
September 4th - I honestly don't know where today went.
September 5th - This morning I went down to the employment center to have them help me fix up my resume. Afterwards I met up with a close friend from high school and we caught up, opened up and spent time working on our personal goals at the library. I did not take my morning photos today. My stories on Instagram and Facebook have, however, had a #RISEANDSHINE photo pretty much every day of this challenge, so if I haven't posted on here you can count on me sharing at least SOMETHING there... though the high resolution photos here taken with my fancy camera are significantly more spectacular if you ask me.
September 6th - This morning I did not go on my walk... AGAIN. I have worked so hard to reclaim the sunrise, but for some reason I have hit a wall and I have not been able to get back into that routine. I have decided that my next challenge is going to be shorter... 35 days of portraits. I worry that bringing that number down might be a sign of weakness... but I have realized that too far past 45 is not achieveable for me right now...
September 7th - This morning I went to Latin Mass with my parents, then we did some errands and shopped at some local farms and shared a brunch together. Today I brought my camera and delighted in taking some photos.
September 8th - Today is the official last day of #RISEANDSHINE. I am quite relieved to one degree, but I also look back at some of the photos and I am so happy that I took the time to explore the world around me and my skills. I really do enjoy taking photos as a hobby and maybe one day I will redo the challenge and commit more consistently and fully. I have a long way to go to being fully disciplined and productive in the mornings but one thing I learned is that so much of the morning is actually based on the evening routine.