10 things that changed my life and work in 2021

I wanted to share a few things that I hope will be inspiring and encouraging.

I saw Austin Kleon posting annually "100 things that made my year" and felt inspired.

The last year was tough. The last two years were also tough.

But there is light at the end of every storm. I hope this may help and inspire you in your own journey.

This is for both creative makers and people who just need more hope in their lives. 

Let's chase light. Seize the moment. Bring hope.

Just click and enjoy.

1. Inspiration is...
Inspiration is outside and not on a phone screen. Go outside. Look at the trees and sky. They will heal and inspire you.
True inspiration is in the air.

This might sound cheesy and like I'm trying to put myself on pedestal. I'm not. I just noticed that the best pictures turned out from something I imagined in my head with out help of an online resource. It happened often enough to learn that I must find inspiration outside of a screen. Resources on your phone I believe are there to find references to help you express your inspiration. It's a tool and not the muse itself. The sky, the leaves, the wind, people, feelings, the beautiful nature and everything in that God has created is where the true inspiration comes from. At least for me it is.
Inspiration is in the air.
This idea has started to guide my work. I started to spend more time outside, pay attention to what resonates with me, pay attention to people and what inspires me about them. I've started investing my time into my inspiration. It's been therapeutic, life changing, meaningful and life giving.
2. Stop listening to the news
When was the last time you heard good news? Exactly.

Read books. Listen to podcasts.

I try to be aware of what goes on in the world and my local community. But I don't listen to the radio anymore. I limit my time on social media and any news feed. And I used to be a journalist. I know exactly what kind of news are brewed out there and what they are meant to do to you. I know they won't make me happy. I won't learn anything new. Instead of a radio I'll turn on a podcast or an audiobook or just inspiring music. I try to switch my focus to things that actually bring me joy and some use.

I'm not trying to live in an ignorant bliss. But I won't survive the current dark age if I focus on its darkness. Rather focus on the good things I have. Being thankful for them. That is what helps me to survive.
4. Listen to Podcasts. Audiobooks
"Search for what is meaningful and not what is expedient."

Jordan B. Peterson and his Maps of Meaning and Biblical Series podcasts helped me to get through some dark times. I can honestly say he changed my life, my view on life and gave me courage to face the unknown. I found his books and podcast deep, refreshing and meaningful.

Jai Long and his podcast was the best practical tool to start photography business I have ever used. I listened to him as I was preparing to quit my job and go full time with my dream. He inspired me to invest into my business and myself. Podcasts led to more online workshops and summits. Because of him I probably learnt more in 1 year then I did in all of my years of photography.
3. Invest rather then spend
Invest into what matters and not what brings instant gratification. You spend money on stuff you want. You invest into long term solutions, education and health.

My financial motto is "there is no such thing as "expensive" there are expenses and there are investments and what you are willing to pay."

I've stopped thinking of things as expensive and cheap. I started to think what can bring me money or resources and I invested in that. I'm not saying I got rich or something. I just look at money as a tool. I stopped buying unnecessary stuff. I invested into software that speeds up my work, into workshops, learning, my office space, the mini photography studio, better gear. I hired a professional muse, my branding specialist who helps to break down who I am and create it into a brand that I'm proud of.

But I've been investing into things that matter to me. It's all about shifting to the right mindset - It's not about the dollar amount - its about the value. Be smart with your money. Invest into what matters.
4. Follow your intuition
In photography it's a lot about human psychology. 
I have tried to implement what I like to call - intuitive photography.

To me intuitive photography is about letting my subjects go. Letting go of poses, directions and allowing them to be themselves. 

This works especially  great with kids.

Capturing kids intuitively through play made me wanna rewire my whole work. For the longest time I didn't think I would be a family photographer. The idea kinda scared me. Trying to keep kids still, stressed out parents when kids don't listen and all that stuff made it too stressful and not fun for me. And then it hit me. I don't have to hold them still. I don't have to try to pose them and get that perfect smile. I just need to let them be themselves and simply observe that. While playing kids personalities flourish. They have the best smiles when they run freely.
5. Therapy
Growing up in school we are taught how to read, to count, spell. We are not taught how to be an emotional human being. But therapy helps you to untangle all those little knots of your soul that hold back the best version of yourself. It teaches you to understand yourself. Understanding yourself helps to understand others better. How to be a good friend, a spouse or a parent.

Understanding who I am, how my mind, my heart, my feelings work and how I can take care of them helped me to create differently. More deeply and more intuitively.

Therapy helped to deal with things that previously blocked my true inspiration and true artist within me.

I'm not yet the best version of myself but I'm definitely better then myself 5 or 10 years ago.
6. Community
Surround yourself with kind people. And be kind to your community.

I was raised as a very independent being. I immigrated very young. Basically a kid who needed help and was never allowed to ask for it. I used to feel tremendous amount of guilt when asking for help. As a result I was nervous, behind on projects, bitter and resentful. Not my best self.

But I learned to ask for a little bit of help here and there and it made my life easier. The guilt went away cause most of the time people do wanna help. I surrounded myself with kind people who I know won't reject me when I need them.

Make friends. They will keep you safe and sane.
7. Puppies bring joy
Puppies bring joy. Can't argue that.

The best way to improve your intuition is by learning to listen. Listen to creatures that don't speak your language. Like dogs or cats.
Since animals are so different then us I find that the best way to understand them is to listen to them intuitively. Trying to understand them on their terms and not ours really teaches you to listen.

Plus, puppies are so therapeutic. Animals bring joy.
Go to a farm and pet a goat I promise you it will make you feel better. Drive through a country side and look at cows. Pet a cat that walks by. 
9. Eat more soup
Soup is good for the soul. And your gut. Eat more soup.

I started to listen to my body and trying to heal it. If you have met me you probably heard me talk about meat stocks at least once. I know it's not trendy. I know I sound like an annoying grandma "eat your soup!". But seeing some healing powers of broth made me wanna investigate further and get into my health. I have had a few issues I struggled for years and broth healed it.

So now I'm focusing on a diet and lifestyle that actually works. Not by listening to trendy health experts. But by trying different things and seeing what actually makes me feel better.
10. Trust God through and through
Best time to learn to trust God is during uncertainty. I have never been able to trust God more then this year. Once I quit my well paid full time job I had to rely on my own hard work to make a living. I was worried at first for sure because it feels like it's not just about working hard but also your luck, the government and all the things. That turned out ot be not true. No matter the things that limit you, if you work hard, you can make a living.
I decided I won't worry and I'll trust God. Recently I noticed how I wasn't afraid anymore and I got used the uncertainty. When I needed help opportunities came along. It's not easy relying on blind trust. But it works. It makes you stronger. 

If I were to sum up all this... My life changed when I switched my focus to what matters.

Philippians 4:8 ESV
Whatever is true, whatever is honourable , whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.