Nicole O'Neil Photography
I debated whether to write this post on my personal blog (which hasn't seen me for quite a while) or here (which, again, hasn't seen me much recently). It is going to be a deeply personal post but the truth is, I want clients to know me for who I am. I am an open book and want clients to trust me and share their families, those they love most and to share themselves. So, why wouldn't I do the same?
I have spent weeks with waves of emotions hitting me. This emotion isn't sadness. It's been tears. but tears of gratitude. It's the culmination of a very tough decade that has resulted in so many beautiful things and people.
I started the decade, a 29 year old coming off of a tough decade before, filled with depression and the long illness and then passing of my grandmother, one of the most important people in my life. I was looking forward to the next decade to be much better. It started off well. I decided to take the plunge into photography as a business. I started to work on myself with intensive work and saw change in myself and my life.
Then, in 2013, my entire life was shaken. I was shaken. It seems like a distant memory now yet I can be right back on Boylston Street with chaos around me if I allow my brain to go there. Luckily, it does not affect me in the way it did then. Sometime it's even like a story I'm remembering. Like a movie I have seen so many times, I have it memorized. I can say that at the time, and a lot of people will attest to this, I had a lot of ups and downs and probably seemed fine at times. But I also had many many times that I thought I would never be the same again. I had never felt so alone as I did that year, even with the mounds of support around me. I had many times where I felt hopeless, anxious and sad. It sort of became who I was and most days I refused to accept that and was determined to move through it. Other days, it completely consumed me.
Maybe it's because we are afraid. Maybe we are scared to see what's deep inside and work through it. I get it. It is so very hard. But the other side is amazing.
I worked hard. I felt like there was literally something living inside me that had a hold of my heart and my soul. I remember telling a friend how I felt like I lost a piece of my soul. But I was going to get it back.
So I put in the work. I did something I never did and I asked for support. I publicly shared my struggles which in the past, I would NEVER have done. I hit it from every angle. I worked on ME mentally, emotionally energetically (this was by far the most effective part), spiritually and physically. You can't just hit it from one angle. All of it combined helped me. I moved. I moved through and forward.
I had a physical illness that hit me after a year of the intense trauma effects that is still with me to this day. It's hard. This body I'm currently in doesn't feel like me. However, even that, even feeling crappy most days, I know it will be figured out soon and I will overcome this as well. It has been frustrating and a roller coaster but I've never given up on believing it will get better.
So, what has this decade and it's experiences taught me?
AWARENESS: I am more aware of myself and my connection to every other single person on this planet and to the planet itself as well as the energy around me. I am more aware of my place in all of it and how I want it to go. I am much more aware and compassionate to other's struggles, even those who do harm or "bad". I am aware that we all come from somewhere, we all have traumas big and small, even if we don't want to admit it and we all have work to do to be our best selves, constant life long work that can be heartbreaking and wonderful and beautiful. I am also aware on how I want to treat people and this planet and that has led to many lifestyle choices to mainly plant based (my health issues led me to this as well but I believe that was a sign), changing most of my household and personal care products, using eco-friendly products in my business and many other choices and changes I have or am implementing.
GRATITUDE: I am incredibly grateful for those who supported me and continued to support me in my lowest points, in my high points, in my business and my life. I am grateful for the true love I feel from those people and the love I feel for them, for myself and for so many other things and people in my life and this world. I've made so many new friendships that feel like they were always there. You now when people just perfectly fit into your life as if they are meant to be there? Well, guess what? They are. I also have the most incredible family. In all of it's imperfections, there is so much love.
EXPERIENCES: I traveled to a place I've wanted to go since I was little thanks to my aunt and uncle, hiked mountains, established myself as a honorary local in Cinque Terre, learned new ways of healing, and had many more experiences. I FOUND a love and a light inside of myself that I never knew was there. I started to see life and the world around me in a completely different light, a beautiful light. Even those in the world who weren't "good". I've FELT love like I never had with the people in my life.
STRENGTH: It's true that "You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." You DO get to decide. Strength doesn't mean pretending you're okay when you're not. It doesn't mean holding it together when you're in pain. It means getting out of your comfort zone. It means asking for help when you need it, not caring what others think and doing what's best for YOU.
LOVE: I already talked about love before but like I said, I didn't know how to really love anyone before all of this happened. I couldn't fully love because I didn't even know or love myself. It's funny because I always told people in my later 20s that I didn't want to date because I knew I wasn't ready. I was right. After I came through, I was ready. And it came to me in a way I least expected. A person who had crossed paths with me but I had never met. A person who has shown me that what I thought I wanted and what I thought a relationship was "supposed" to look like was not even what I wanted. A person who supports me unconditionally yet also challenges me and helps me grow. A person who makes me laugh constantly, who has this way of debating topics with me without things getting heated and if anything, many times ending in a laugh or shake of the head. A person who has a completely different way of communicating than me and yet, I've wholly accepted and learned that and man, does it work. This is a love I didn't know I wanted and didn't know existed. Another love I didn't expect was the love I have for Lucas, my nephew. More great things that happened included my sister's marriage to someone wonderful and the birth of this little boy who has such a strong hold on my heart, I get teary just thinking about it. What a great way to end this decade with these two loves.
BUSINESS: I learned what I truly wanted to do in my business, how I want to do it and what other areas I wanted to explore. I learned that it's not worth working nonstop if you aren't enjoying life. I thought I was going to die on April 15, 2013. I have been in car accidents before and those were scary but there's nothing like a fear that keeps going for minutes and days, that feeling that another bomb can go off where you are. So, it taught me that LIFE IS PRECIOUS. You don't have endless amounts of time to ENJOY IT. I want to enjoy it. I want to enjoy those I love and places I love. I want to spend time alone and knowing and growing myself. I'm still building and working to get to that place where I have a perfect balance of both business and personal life, but I'm always moving closer to it. I have met some of the best clients and truly LOVE what I do. I love the connection I make with these amazing people and the way I get to watch families grow. After my realization on how precious memories and having those memories to enjoy and share (see my previous blog), I am also blessed to provide amazing eco-friendly and heirloom products so people can share their family stories with future generations.
SENSE OF SELF: I have come to know myself and how my body speaks to me in ways I never knew were possible. I know when I need rest and when I have something I'm holding onto and need to release. I know when I'm feeling someone else's anxieties, sadness or anger and when it could be my own. I know how to work through it easily and quickly. I know WHO I AM and I know that person will continually change and embrace that.
I have hope for the future. During my hardest times, I said I wanted to be who I was before that day. But once I was moving through it and saw who I could be and who I was becoming, I changed that to not wanting to be that person I was before. That wasn't possible but the person who came out on the other side was lightyears better. I can't wait to see what this decade holds. I will always look at this decade as the one of extreme growth and I'll always be thankful for it.
Thank you to those who have been a part of my journey. I look forward to you staying along for the next ride.
Here's what I'm doing in 2020:
Here's to a happy and successful decade that will have more ups, downs and growth but it will all be leading somewhere amazing for all of us.
DO THE WORK. YOU HAVE IT IN YOU.