Testing & Offering Something New

posted on: September 23, 2018

The audio version is 11 minutes long if you'd prefer to listen instead of read:


When I need to restart my business in a new region, there's a built-in need to test offering my services and skills to different people.  There's a built-in need to meet new people and make new connections.  There's a built-in need to better understand a new place and the perceptions of the people who reside within it.  I have to see how they respond, what they like, what they don't like, and what they value before I can understand how my service or product fits into their needs.  I also need to understand what questions they have, so that I can consider more thoughtful answers.  I have to do all of those things even when I already fully understand how people perceive what I'm offering every other place I've ever lived, because every single market, city, state, country, etc. is just a little bit different.

What if they gave up after folding one crane because it was not big enough, or seemed too mundane, or not perfect, or was going to require too much work, or didn’t make them happy? . Is there something you want to give up on because it isn’t coming togeth

Since the information I need about new clients is stored in their heads and not mine, I have to talk to a lot of people in the community about the work I do and ask them questions in order to see how they respond.  Having people click a thumbs-up icon on facebook or a heart-icon on instagram isn't nearly as helpful as having face to face conversations with full body language included.  I learn so much more in a shorter period of time by talking to as many people as possible about the kind of work I do and why I'm passionate about it than by doing something like running ads or just posting online.

This is true when changing careers, changing industries, entering a new market segment, introducing a new product in the market, or doing anything in a new space or with a new audience.  We need to talk to people about what we're creating in order to get rich feedback.  The more we listen to the feedback of others, the more we can cultivate an offer and find the right market.

When I started testing the waters with being a reiki practitioner and whether or not I wanted to offer it to more people, I attended several local BNI meetings in NYC, where I had to deliver a 30 second pitch about what reiki is and who it's for.  BNI is a small-business-focused networking environment designed for speaking publicly about your offer and pitch in a short period of time, which is great for testing something new and getting immediate feedback.

During the causal BNI networking time before and after the formal part of the meeting, I also had a chance to ask questions, and I learned that the people who did not know what reiki was either nodded like they knew until I asked about their experience, or they just admitted they didn't know what it was.  When people really knew what it was, they immediately conveyed their prior experience, a healing story, or a story of someone else they know who practices reiki.  These conversations really helped me understand what percentage of people in this metropolitan area already had some experience or understanding with what I was offering, and how much advance education I'd need to do if I were going to make an offer, as well as how to identify what issues reiki could help with.

Another thing that happens when speaking to other people face to face about what I'm offering is that I contextualize my description differently based on the person I'm speaking with.  For the waiter who goes to the gym all the time, I describe reiki as a relaxing therapeutic method that can be similar to massage, but without roughing up muscle tissue.  For the cardiologist, I describe reiki as a method of practice that can help people regulate their own heart rate better, and it can be learned as a personal self-care practice or received hands-on as a therapeutic practice.  In one case, when I encountered a cardiologist, I also learned I didn't even have to describe it, because it was already in his medical understanding- so I got to check my perceptions as well about who may or may not understand it.  The main point is that by speaking about what I'm creating or working on with different people, I'm forced to make it relevant and understandable to many different types of people, which expands my vocabulary about what the work is and how it is relevant for different people.

This is either madness or brilliance.

This change of career, change of offering, and change of market is the first time I've really needed to reintroduce myself to people I've already met, as well as finding new people and new markets to introduce myself to, while living in the same place.  I'm discovering that it's much easier to step into a new city and introduce myself in a completely new way than it is to remain in a city with the same network I've had while going through a process of introducing a totally different direction to people who had already placed me into a comfortable and understandable box in their brain.  It's not really "difficult" to do this, it just takes time to catch everyone up on all the changes.  

Some people don't get the memo that I've made a big change until I see them again in person, so it can be a regular retelling of the change in direction story for a good year or more with people who had already known me under one industry title (Photographer) and now need an update on my change in direction (Reiki).  Luckily, most people I stay in touch with are totally cool with this change and still like staying connected even if we're in different industries.  Smart people stay connected no matter what because it can mean more referrals for them.

Ironically, the process of reintroducing myself and new work to familiar connections is almost the same as just starting up a new business in a new city anyway.  If there's anything I've learned over the last 14 years of working for myself and moving to multiple cities, it's how to introduce whatever I'm doing to an entirely new group of people as quickly as possible.  Doing this process with people who already know me is what makes this particular transition more unique than the others I've done.

Another thing that makes this particular transition unique for me is that I've been traveling a lot internationally and I have more international travel ahead, which means changing a lot of things about how I'm used to working.  So, I've been testing and trying more ways of working asynchronously so that I can have more time for adventures offline or just time to deal with spotty internet connections while traveling.  Photography required me to be with a client in person on a specific time frame, which just doesn't work when I don't even know exactly where I'll be in a week or a month down the road- let alone several weeks or months.

Ancient Temple Doors on a Modern Restaurant

One way I've been building capacity for working asynchronously is to put everything I regularly help people with during consulting sessions into a DIY workbook format that makes it easy to go through the process I've perfected in a very simple step-by-step way.  It's a lot of time investment up front before there's a return on that investment of time, but getting it into the hands of people who can test the workbook part by part allows me to make progress on it more quickly before bringing it to the public.  I'm very proud of what this workbook will mean for the future of self-employed creatives and I can't wait to share it publicly.  There are still parts of the process that are a challenge to put on paper when I'm used to doing them it quickly in my head, so it takes time to break down the process into parts and pieces that can be accomplished in a simple step-by-step way.  I also have another book in the works, but if I can get the workbook done and ready first, that would be a huge packaging of so many things I've learned and would love for others to be able to do for themselves.

Another thing I've been testing is an asynchronous method of energetic and intuitive body readings, using what I've learned from reiki and medical intuitive clients.  It still requires getting permission from a client up front, but I've learned that I can do the work over a few days without the client needing to be present on video or the phone, and I can deliver the work in a tangible format that makes it easier for the client to undestand.  

In order to test whether I could do this work asynchronously and it would be viable and valuable to a client, I made a very easy and affordable offer to a facebook group of people who are open to taking a chance on a type of intuitive work they may not have experienced yet.  I limited the offer to a certain number of people and a certain timeframe in order to make sure I could deliver on my promise without being overwhelmed.  I learned that I was able to work with 6 people over the course of 3 days, which also helped me understand that I could only do 2 readings each day due to the energetic and entanglement nature of the work.  The clients provided feedback that let me know the work was still just as valid, confirming, and insightful even if I wasn't working in a synchronous way with them on the phone.  That was pretty cool, and when I feel ready to package that and make it available online, I'll gather a few more testimonials from clients about the process, and probably create a video about the process to help people better understand what's possible and why they might want to try it.

While my announcement in November about leaving photography and focusing on reiki may have felt abrupt or fast to people who don't speak with me offline, this process has not been without extensive testing along the way to see if I feel comfortable stepping into this new space and ready to deal with the challenges that may come along with it.  Testing my offerings and speaking with people was the only way I knew I could potentially pursue it all more fully.  I needed those conversations and confirmations along the way to feel confident about taking those next steps, regardless of whether I felt like I'd actually figured it all out.

I hope my personal examples and story inspire you to test anything new you're considering doing.  Life is far too expansive to limit yourself into one thing your entire life, or to never try to pursue something you're deeply passionate about.  You don't have to give everything up to test something out, you just have to be willing to be open with people that you're testing something you're curious about and looking for people who are open to trying it out.  You just might be surprised by who is willing to take you up on your offer, and where it goes from there.

Everything After Leaving It All

posted on: September 6, 2018

Well, I think I've made this process as easy on myself and my clients as I possibly could, but there are still things to wrestle with even 9 months after announcing my retirement.  I'm sharing this in the event that you're also exploring leaving a business that has been running for a decade or more, with regard to how you might plan your exit strategy.  (all photos from my instagram feed)



When I announced the changes in my photography business last year, I had that very optimistic outlook about how much time I'll have "after I retire" to think about everything else I've been wanting to do and create, but the reality has taken much more time to get to a place of being able to think about anything else.

The first 4 months after my announcement were spent finishing projects that were still immediately on the table, as well as a few more projects clients wanted me to take care of before I completely unplugged and spent the summer traveling.  It turns out that wrapping up a photography business and pulling back from awesomely loyal clients takes almost as much headspace, time, and expense as keeping the business going.  I should have known this based on the other businesses I've helped close or transfer, but of course it's always different when you're in the middle of doing the work.

The second 4 months were pretty splendid and blissful, traveling city to city and country to country, while allowing myself to be completely disconnected from email, or managing client needs, or customer service, or responding to bid requests, or following up with new leads, as well as not feeling the need to have any of my photography gear with me to complicate my travels or find more work while on the road.  In a way, I think I really needed those months to fully step away and disconnect, otherwise I would have been tempted to continue responding out of kindness and loyalty.

It was freeing, and definitely gave me more headspace, but how I spent that headspace was truly just enjoying each moment as it unfolded, rather than planning for what would be next.  I learned that I need more stillness to create what's next because travel and adventure keeps me focused on just what is right in front of me at that moment, rather than giving me the stillness I need to plan ahead.



So what did I actually accomplish in 6 months after announcing retirement?

1. Stopped taking on new photography clients.

2. Finished up photography projects that loyal recurring clients were counting on me for so they had more time to plan and try out other replacement solutions on a longer timeline (there are still just a couple left this second half of the year.)

3. Shipped out as many of my printed sample products as possible to clients who were featured in the samples.  This actually went much smoother than I thought it would, and most wedding and portrait clients were happy to cover shipping costs.  There were a few times when checking back in with former clients that I learned of tragic events or separations, and those were hard to check in on, but I tried to get as many products as possible out of storage and into the hands of former clients.

4. Decided to keep the photography equipment assets to continue to be sure I don't want to use them for personal projects or other random things.  The value declines every few months, so eventually they are actually worth more to keep than to sell.  If I wanted the money out of it all, I'd sell it all and get what I could from it, but obviously that doesn't matter as much to me as the creative freedom of keeping it.

5. Traveled a whole lot, and I still have some more travel ahead.

6. Freed myself from my inbox by essentially letting one inbox get so full it would bounce back emails, and putting a long vacation announcement on the other.  This is so different from those years when I was completely addicted to my inbox... I never thought there would be a day I could just walk away from my inbox.  Clients who still wanted to reach me basically needed to reach me on Facebook, Instagram, or by Text Message- which they already had access to and had already used to reach me at some point anyway.



Things I still wrestle with 9 months out.... 

How much longer do I want to keep my website and work out there while I'm not taking new clients?

  • On one hand, the website continues to represent my work and experience as a photographer as well as a copyright holder in order to defend any copyright issues for myself or my clients.
  • On the other hand, it also creates the impression that I might still be taking clients, and online high resolution storage is a recurring expense that continues to be billed to a closed business.
  • Ultimately, I may still keep a portfolio out there of some kind featuring my work, but more as a creative archive and copyright placeholder rather than as someone seeking new clients, so I'm still figuring out exactly what to do with my copyright archives.

What is "AnneRuthmann.com" if it is not a professional photography portfolio?

  • Considering the hundreds of links already out there online pointing to "AnneRuthmann.com" were pointing to a photographer's website, do I want to continue directing traffic to a gallery that makes it appear like I'm still an active photographer?
  • Do I want to reuse anneruthmann.com for anything else after it has been so established online as a photographer's website?
  • After my announcement, I decided to point the domain to my "Changes at Anne Ruthmann Photography" blog post, since that would be the most practical way to tell people what's going on, but as time goes on and I debate whether I want to reclaim my domain name for anything else, I still wrestle with exactly where that domain should go and what the consequences are with google when it comes to pointing it in other directions.  I keep playing with it to see what happens regarding traffic.  
Accounting & Taxes
  • I'm not really wrestling with this, it's just a reality of closing out a business, but it obviously has to continue through the next fiscal cycle in order to be fully accounted for whether you're selling the business to someone else or just closing it down for yourself.

What I'm excited about now... 

I feel like I've only just started having time to scratch the surface of what's next for me and how I can help more people.  I have two books that are rattling around in my head right now and each day I plug away bit by bit at the content, outlines, and writing for both of them.  I go between just launching them as books or turning them into workshops to edit and refine first.  For one, it may be better to launch as a book, and for the other it may be a launch as a workshop.  We'll see, as the process continues to unfold the more I work on it.  I just have to keep plugging away and creating what I need to create based on all the rich experiences I've had so far.

I'm spending more time doing reiki energy healing work, both in person and at distance, which feels so aligned and uses all of my very unique body sensitivities and ways of perceiving unseen things.  I even did a couple sessions while I was traveling - and I was grateful I could serve in that way when people were in need.

I'm also spending more time doing consulting work for creatives who want to achieve more freedom and flow in their business.  After creating so much freedom for myself in my business in the last half of my self-employment career, I feel like the only way to truly honor all of that learning and experience is to share it with others to help make their path easier in a much faster way than mine was!  I still look back at what I built, and how easy I made it, and have those moments of thinking "Why couldn't I just keep doing that?!" - but I know why- because I love a challenge, and when I no longer have challenges, I need more.  Now it's much more fun figuring out how to help other people finely tune and optimize their flow!

If you follow me in all the usual social media places, you'll probably see me trying a few different things, asking for people who want to test some things, and throwing a few offers or polls out there to get some feedback and direction as I create new things.  I've learned that I work better in zig zags rather than straight lines.  It almost seems important that I work on two projects at once rather than just one, so that I can switch to another productive thing when I feel stuck or stagnant on one.  It also seems that documenting this process in various ways has become equally important for me to move forward as well, so you'll likely have more to read from me as I work through it all.  

Thanks for joining me for the journey!  If you have any cautionary tales or suggestions about the whole "AnneRuthmann.com" domain thing - please do share!





Day Trip Downtown NYC - 9/11, World Trade, Battery Park, South Seaport

posted on: August 1, 2018

I love creating great experiences that make visiting New York City easier, and since so many people ask "What should we do?" when visiting NYC, I thought I should create a guide that will walk you through the neighborhood the way I would if I could be with you.  Most people have an interest in visiting the 9/11 Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, but this neighborhood has so much more to offer if you know where to go!  So, I've laid out my insider perspective stop-by-stop in an order that helps you spend a day on foot in this neighborhood anytime of year in order to get the most out of it.  If you start this tour around 9am, you'll be in good shape to do all of it!  Some sites may require advance tickets to be purchased in order to avoid a long line or not getting in, so please check out those websites in advance if you've interested in spending more time at those sites.

9/11 Memorial Park & Pools

Address: 160 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10006
Hours: Park Open 7:30am-9pm, Museum Open 9am-6pm 
Time: 30 minutes for just the park & pools, or 2 hours for the museum
Cost: Free to visit the park & pools, Museum is normally $18-$40 but free Tuesday evenings
Start here in the morning, when the air is cool and the tourists haven't fully crowded the park yet.  You'll see the two large pools that are memorial footprints of the buildings and the people who died in 9/11 carved out of the pool's edge.  If you have young children, the actual museum may not be the best content or environment for them.  If you have older children, you may be interested in visiting the museum, which has a somber and reflective tone as it shares movies, memories, and moments of the day and the people who were lost.  If you plan to visit the museum, check in advance for tickets and entry times available: 

One World Trade 360ยบ Observatory

Address: 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10006
Hours: 9am-8pm
Time: 60-90 minutes depending on wait times or lines
Cost: $34-$61
Is the sky clear enough to see the top of the One World Trade Building?  If so, you should have a good clear view across the city from the top of the observatory as well.  If it's a rainy or low-cloud day, it may not be worth the visit, but if it's clear, take advantage of the weather and enjoy the elevator ride up which has basically been turned into its own amusement ride through time, history, and space as you soar the 100 flights to the top observatory deck over the highest view of NYC.  

Oculus / Westfield World Trade Center 

Address: 184 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10006
Hours: 10am-7pm
Time: 30 minutes to explore different levels and views without shopping
Cost: Free to enter,  Retail shopping available
A modern skeleton designed to be a grand public space for commuting downtown, shopping, and viewing the ever upward skyline and perspectives through the various windows and skylights.  Architecturally unique and spectacular as it connects the descent and the ascent of the new world trade center.  After walking around here, take the underground tunnel past the Path Train and down the hallway to Brookfield Place, which has many great food options for lunch!

Hudson Eats / Brookfield Place

Address: 230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281
Hours: 10am - 7pm
Time: 60-90 minutes to explore, order, wait, and sit down for lunch 
Cost: Free to enter, Food Court, Restaurants, and Retail Shopping Available
This is the best place to eat downtown because it has the largest selection of restaurants and high quality food options to stay, to go, or to sit down and enjoy as long as you want.  The lower level near the palm tree atrium has grocery and some sit down restaurant options, while the top level has a food court where you can order at individual eateries and then find a table.  If you can get a table near the windows overlooking the Hudson Yacht Marina, that's one of the best views here.

Battery Park City Esplanade / South Cove Park

Address: South Cove, Battery Park, New York, NY 
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Time: 30 minutes to walk, stop, take photos
Cost: Free
After a good meal at Brookfield Place, take an easy stroll along the waterfront as you make your way down to Battery Park.  It's so easy to forget that this metropolis is an island surrounded by brackish river and ocean waters, and a good walk along the water will help put that back into perspective.  There are plenty of places for shade to stop and sit, as well as a few public restroom options along the way.  If the weather isn't great, it's a short taxi ride to the Ferries at Battery Park.

Take a Ferry - Pick One Option... 

Option 1: Ferry to Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Address: Castle Clinton National Monument, Battery Park, New York, NY
Hours: 8:30am - 5pm
Time: 4 Hours
Cost: $9 - $21.50
If you love history and landmarks, this is the choice for you.  Stand at the feet of Lady Liberty or book a visit to climb into her crown.  Walk in the footsteps of early immigrants as they journeyed from other countries to create a new life in America.  Look up your ancestors in advance through the Ellis Island online registry to see if anyone in your family shared the journey of arriving at Ellis Island.  Reserve your ferry time with Statue Cruises, departing from Battery Park:

Option 2: Staten Island Ferry

Address: 4 Whitehall St, New York, NY 1004
Hours: 24hrs
Time: 2 Hours
Cost: Free
This is the fast & free way to get a closer view of the Statue of Liberty.  New Yorkers who don't want to visit Ellis Island will often take their friends and visitors on this ferry just to pass by for photos.  It's also great if you're just tapped out and tired and want to sit for a while, which I've found has been appreciated by my family members and friends who aren't used to walking all day long like I am.  There isn't much to see in Staten Island right now (they have plans for a large Ferris Wheel attraction), but you still have to hop off when you get to Staten Island, so if you can't catch another Ferry back to Manhattan right away, grab an ice cream cone and look at the little aquarium in the terminal until the next Ferry takes off back to Manhattan.  You can find the ferry schedule here:

Option 3: Governor's Island Ferry

Address: 10 South St, New York, NY 10004
Hours: 10am - 6pm Summer May 1 - October 31 (Closed November 1 - April 30)
Time: 4 Hours
Cost: $0 - $2
My personal favorite way to spend a good weather afternoon is at Governor's Island (not open in the winter).  Most tourists never even learn about Governor's Island, let alone visit it, which is another reason why New Yorkers love it.  It's a place to escape the city while still being close by.  The island has zero traffic because it's designed for pedestrians and bikers.  There are historic sites on the island that are operated by the National Park Service, there's a small farm and eco-education center, there's a food truck alley, a hammock grove, a slide hill, and a bunch of other things you can discover while you're there.  It's a space to relax, breathe some cleaner air, and slow down the pace a little.  Find the Governor's Island Ferry Terminal by looking for the historic victorian ferry terminal to the east of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.  For information about events happening on the island, visit the website:
https://govisland.com/things-to-do

Seaport District Fulton Market 


Address: 19 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038
Hours: 10am - 10pm
Time: 2 Hours
Cost: Food Court, Restaurants, Retail Shopping
The perfect ending to a full day must include good food and good drink.  As the rest of the financial district closes down and empties out in the evening, the Seaport District and Fulton Market area restaurants light up as a place to relax, eat, and drink after a long day.  Getting here from the Ferry terminal is either a long walk along the waterfront, or a short taxi ride.  You can find restaurants and food options for all diets, as well as indoor or outdoor seating in the good weather months of the year.  There are retail stores for all ages as well as a Seaport Museum and a Pier with Brooklyn views along the water.  This is one of NYC's hidden districts that often isn't explored by visitors unless someone tells them about it.  The district website lists a few of the businesses, but there are many others not listed here:
https://www.seaportdistrict.nyc

Do you have sites you'd recommend to visitors spending a day downtown?  
Leave a comment and share your favorites!

Sorting Out My Clairsentience

posted on: April 17, 2018

For a long time, I thought empathy and clairsentience were the same thing, but once I gained more control over my own emotions, sensory experiences, and energetic field in general, here's how I now sense the difference between the two:

Empathy - an emotional attachment to the condition of another living being
Clairsentience - an intuitive felt understanding about another being's condition

Lately my super powers have been those of observation, concern, and a motivation to take action by saying something when things don’t seem right. It takes so little energy to care and take action, and yet thousands of people think someone else will do it,

When I see someone stub their toe, I might cringe and say ouch because I have a memory of what that pain feels like and where it's stored in my own body, which is empathy because I'm responding with emotional attachment to something that triggered a feeling.  When I see a foot that has no obvious signs of issues or pain, but I begin feeling an odd pain in my own foot when I'm close to someone, that's clairsentience working between two energetic sensory fields full of information and awareness.

When I watch the news and begin feeling the weight of the world weighing down on me and depressing me, that's empathy triggering and engaging my emotional response.  When I watch the news and suddenly start feeling a sense of tummy issues when a particular person is on the screen, even though I can't see their tummy, that's clairsentience working with my intuitive awareness of what may be happening in that person's body.

The challenging part of clairsentience is that you can't exactly tell what feeling is yours and what isn't yours until you know your body so well that you know what you're feeling can't possibly be yours because it makes no sense based on everything you know about yourself.

Meditation helped me learn how to treat all of the sensations and feelings in my body more like clouds of information that simply move through the body so that I can be less attached to how things make me feel emotionally and a much better observer of my own sensations.  Once I was able to see sensations more objectively and less emotionally, it was easier to notice what sensations would come and go from my body and how it correlated with what I was doing or experiencing in a moment.  This made it easier for me to understand clairsentience as an energetic awareness full of information rather than an annoying physical sensory experience.

By being such an intensive observer of myself and of everything else around me in my environment (thank you photography career), I began to notice that some feelings would enter my body when people would get close to me and then leave my body when people would walk away from me.  Likewise, I would have some sensations that only happened in certain buildings or rooms, but not others.  The quickest way to figure it out was to step in, and then step out, and then step in again to see if it was just me or my proximity to something. Those were the first clues I used to help me understand and make sense of my clarisentience and sensitivity to my environment.

I've had these sensations all my life but never understood them.  They would just bother me and distract me and make me self-conscious or not feel well, but I didn't know how to sort them out from myself until I figured out how to manage my mind's observation tools separately from my emotions and sensory experiences.  When emotions and sensory experiences are tied together, it's really challenging to sort out our own stuff from other people's stuff, because emotions make it all personal.

Once I became more aware of what sensations came and went, versus which ones traveled with me all the time, it became easier to sort out what was and wasn't mine.  My aches, pains, or tummy things that travel with me no matter where I go, or only happen when I eat certain foods or move in certain ways, become so predictable that they are like learning how to ignore the sound of an air conditioner or refrigerator.  Knowing the hum of our own body means that it's easier to be aware of what is unusual and how it seems to pair with environmental changes.  This is also why it's important to observe your own body's reactions to different foods, different lighting conditions, different temperatures, different everything.  If you can't sort out what predictably makes you feel a certain way, it's hard to sort out a lot of other things, so we always need to start from within first.

Once I was finally able to understand what was mine and what was outside of me, I also became aware of ways my sensitivity grew or diminished in relation to certain things.  I noticed that clean living foods like fruits and vegetables made me more sensitive to the environment around me, and heavily processed or fried foods and alcohol dampened my sensitivities more.  Once you know this, you can really use food and drink to shut down your intuition and awareness when you just don't want to feel things, and I'm sure that's why people make the worst decisions when they are drinking or have reached a point of feeling numb to the environment around them.

Until I learned the daily practice of reiki self-care, it was almost a fight between wanting to be healthy and sensitive, versus not wanting to feel everything around me.  Reiki gave me more balance and control over my energy, my sensitivity, and the reach of my energetic field as well as more practice in containing it when needed.  I eventually learned how to move through the world much more comfortably even while having my sensitivities engaged.  I learned how to gain a little more control over my energy field, and how to push it outward, build an energetic wall, and pull it inward.  This is mostly just a process of controlling our thoughts and awareness, because our energetic field actually has some level of conscious control.

I'm not unique in being able to control my energy field and awareness- we all can place our awareness in someone else's field.  As an example that most people have experienced, or that you can try the next time you're in a crowded space... it's looking at someone across a crowded room and then having them suddenly look directly back at you even though you're far enough away not to be easily noticed.  They become aware of you specifically because you placed your energy and awareness next to them on the other side of the room and they intuitively picked up on it, whether they knew it or not.  Now, when you do this, because your awareness is across the room, you may not be completely aware of the person right behind you that may be eyeing your wallet or about to startle you, because your awareness has been placed on the other side of the room, so use with caution and don't be creepy about it.  Likewise, the next time someone startles you or catches you off-guard, double check where your awareness was just before you were startled- you were likely mentally focusing on something away from your immediate surroundings.

Now that I have better control and use of my clairsentience and ability to feel into things, I don't have to go around feeling everyone's stuff when I don't want to.  When people ask me to "see what I can feel about them" at random in public, it's easier for me not to immediately feel it, because I've actively learned how to turn the sensitivity down in public spaces.  Having control also makes it easier for me to have a level of sensitivity and clarity when I do want to feel deeply and accurately for clients during reiki sessions and distance medical intuitive work, because I'm not carrying a bunch of other confusing stuff around with me or trying to sort out other information when I'm not doing a client session.

Do you recognize your own sensitivities?  Have you learned how to work with them and better control them as they show up in your life?  Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

Anne Ruthmann
www.abundantsphere.com

Heart of Healing Podcast Interview - Anne Ruthmann / Reiki Energy Healing

posted on: March 19, 2018

I'm so grateful that Tom Fuld has created a lovely show full of healer journeys and information about holistic healing practices.  It is often the unknown that intimidates most people, and by giving a voice and set of stories to relate to, we help reduce the barriers in ways that help people seek greater healing in their lives.

 Heart of Healing Podcast Interview with Anne Ruthmann


When Tom invited me to share my story on the podcast, I have to admit I wondered if I was ready, since this journey seems to be moving so quickly for me, but just like being invited to give the TEDx Talk, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share what I've learned so far, that I would feel like I was throwing away a lovely opportunity if I passed at the chance.

During the interview for this podcast, Tom asks me to answer the following questions:
1. What is reiki?
2. Who uses reiki?
3. What is it like to practice or experience reiki?
4. How did I come to reiki as a healing practice?

To hear my answers click play in the player below or load a copy to your playlist, the podcast is only 30 minutes long and he does a great job of moving it along quickly and keeping it interesting...

Anne Ruthmann

Abundant Life Retreat - Bear Mountain, New York

posted on: March 8, 2018

Abundant Life Retreat - Bear Mountain - April 13-15, 2018

As life gets fuller of responsibilities and giving to others, it gets harder to make more time for self-care and wellness unless we really make it a priority and carve out the time in our life.  The worst years for me were the ones where I was giving all of my energy to others and never fully recharging my own batteries.  I felt like I was always running behind, always ragged and pulling at seams, never feeling caught-up or peaceful inside myself let alone with anyone else.  Once I finally learned how to reclaim some of my energy for myself in small regular ways, everything else in my world started to get better.  My relationships got better, my workload got better, my health got better, and life just started to feel way easier than it ever had before.

It still amazes me how just investing a little time into my own energetic self-care each day shifted my entire world into a more positive, loving, and abundant place.  I'm not even talking about going to the gym, or doing yoga, or eating healthy, or any of those other good healthy habits - just 15 minutes of dedicated energetic self-care each day turned my entire day around even when I couldn't do any of the other healthy things I wanted to do.  It was so simple, so easy, and yet so profound.

Before becoming a reiki master, I studied a lot of energy healing and self-care modalities just to help me manage my mind, my anxiety, and my stress before I ever came to reiki.  I took time to learn which modalities seemed to work best for which types of stressors, anxieties, and energetic moments of unraveling.  Some were best for the "quick-fix" situations of releasing the energy built up after an argument or difficult client interaction, some were better for anxiety or panic in anticipation when getting ready to face something difficult, and some were better as a daily self-care practice that was just simple and easy and didn't require any special equipment or space.

Self-Care Energy Healing Practices


If I can help by guiding other people into how and when to use these beautiful energetic self-care practices that are easy to rely on in a wide variety of settings without the need for a gym, yoga mat, or specialty foods, I know it will create a ripple effect of peace and joy for everyone who uses them.

When I thought about what kind of environment would help facilitate this type of work, I really wanted it to be a place where the land added its own naturally cleansing and refreshing element, while still having access to many different food options to serve all diets as well as traditional spa services for extra self-care needs.  Bear Mountain Inn offers all of that and more, which makes hosting the retreat in this space even more rewarding and special.

Bear Mountain - Hudson Valley - 90min North of New York City


I hope that if you know of anyone who is interested in regaining control over their energy and moving from a place of feeling depleted to more energized, that you'll share this retreat with them.  I would be honored to help guide them on their path to greater abundance and deeper self-care in their life.

Early bird pricing ends soon and there is limited space available, so I hope you won't hesitate in sharing this retreat with someone it would be perfect for.... https://www.eventbrite.com/e/abundant-life-retreat-april-13-15-bear-mountain-ny-tickets-43613596441

Anne Ruthmann
Reiki Energy Healing & Abundance Strategy
www.abundantsphere.com



The Mud of Realignment - Gratitude Journal

posted on: February 12, 2018

If you'd rather listen to an audio version, here's 5:28 minutes of me trying not to screw up my own words:


I am deep in the mud of realignment right now.  Most days it feels like pure torture compared to living a life that I already figured out, but I'm so familiar with this part of the change process because of all the other big life challenges that I've gone through already, that I know I just have to live it, feel it, breathe it, and keep walking through it.  This is my own version of the Winter Olympics, full of icy unknowns and potential falls.  Even physical body aches and pains tend to come with realignment, and I just have to keep remembering to put one foot in front of the other no matter what.

At an energetic level, everything inside of me feels torn between two realities.  The old one is the one that I am so familiar with, and it has given me so much comfort, joy, safety, and security.  It's the safe one because I've walked those roads before.  It's easy because I've already overcome the challenges.  Yet, there was a time when that path was once scary too, and I have to keep reminding myself of that.  The new path is only scary because I haven't walked it before.

What do you DO? This is now a harder question than it ever was. I really enjoyed the freedom of saying I was a photographer. People just “got it”. It wasn’t complicated, misunderstood, or hard to explain. . Even though Reiki is a medically recognized comp

Then there's my own damn inner critic.  That critic has built a lot of nasty brick walls in my brain around what I can or can't do and what people will or won't value enough to support the work I need to do.  It's frustrating, it's maddening, and I know it's all just part of the process of sorting out my own inner blocks.  The inner critic is the voice of everyone who has never dared to try, or who gave up instead of getting back up, before they actually succeeded.

The worst days are when I look at what other people are doing and go down their rabbit holes of success, trying to reverse engineer what might work for me.  Those are the worst because I'm not focusing on what I want to offer and I'm not doing the work of creating what is unique to me and my experience.  I'm getting shiny-object syndrome and following the glittery path of unicorn poop other people have left behind rather than picking my head up, looking in the mirror, and digging into my experience for what I can uniquely offer from what I've learned and personally overcome.

The best days are when I just dig in and just start creating stuff.  When I put my thoughts and words into writing, into images, into workshops, into pages, into actions- that's where the flow is.  That's where my experience pours freely and fully into something that can be molded into more- into something that can actually help other people have an easier road than I did.  That's when I feel like I'm doing what I need to be doing, rather than getting distracted by what anyone else is doing or how they're doing it.  I have to keep reminding myself to stay in my lane and to stop looking at what other people are doing.

Just today, I caught myself going off on a tangent of trying to determine what should and shouldn't be part of a brand as it starts to take shape.  I know the dangers of getting wrapped up in the psychological mind game of branding, trying to figure out the big picture first, rather than just creating the work that needs to be delivered.  I was falling into the trap I have warned other people not to fall into.  I know the more aligned process is to just take action and create the content part first and then figure out packaging or branding after you can take a look at what you've actually created.  I know this, and I still fell into the trap.  I am human and sometimes my mind forgets what it already knows.

I'm sharing this part of the journey because it's the part no one talks about.  It's messy.  It's uncomfortable.  It's like being an awkward pre-teen who has outgrown clothes that used to fit but isn't quite fully developed enough to hang with the older cooler teenagers.  All those same insecurities about identity.  The familiar discomfort of not knowing who to stand next to in the room.  On the dance floor, swaying a little awkwardly, but not yet fully getting into the music.

Growth beyond anything we've known before, even when it comes late in life, is a little bit like those pre-teen years of just trying to figure ourselves out... and here I am... finding that alignment into the next thing, once again.  I know I'll get there eventually and find my stride.  I just need to spend more days creating what's next in actions and remember not to get too distracted by the glittery unicorn poop everyone else has left in my view.

I'm grateful that at least my life experience has made me very well-versed in the process of change and pushing through discomfort.  I know that on the other side of every challenge is something even better and more aligned than what I've created before.  If you're in the mud of change and finding your alignment, put on your waders and let's keep on walking.

2017 Review: End of An Era

posted on: January 9, 2018

I don't think any of us knew what was in store for us when 2017 started.  Our electoral college voted for a president that over half of the actual population didn't vote for, women marched and flooded social media in mass quantities to have their concerns seen and heard more publicly, outrage and violence reached a new level of public demonstration in the American culture, and here we all are in the middle of it, trying to pull together some kind of normal life and get by to see tomorrow.  Somehow, in the midst of all the cultural chaos, we've made it to the end of 2017 and have managed to see another year, and for that alone, I am grateful.

This year I fully embraced the fact that I've been splitting myself between three professions, so my annual report will be broken down into how each one of these things has played out this year:
- Commercial Architecture & Interior Photography 80%
- Business Consulting 15%
- Reiki Energy Healing 5%
- NYC Marriage Officiant* (this came as an unexpected last minute request, but I was ordained and licensed last year just in case such an occasion happened!)

Untitled

How do you schedule and manage a multi-passionate working life?
At the beginning of the year, it seemed that I could and would do all three of these things indefinitely, and so I simply planned my schedule and divided my time for all of these different things by appointments.  Photography clients were scheduled for a photoshoot date and post-production date, consulting clients were scheduled for our consulting time, and reiki clients were scheduled for reiki sessions.  To manage it all, I reserved Mondays and Wednesdays for pure office and administration work to keep up on communication and appointments, and offered clients opportunities to schedule in-person work on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  This kind of schedule allowed me to live a multi-passionate life to the fullest extent and make the most of every opportunity that came my way, no matter what direction it happened to be coming from.

Most clients scheduled one or two weeks in advance, so I never really knew what my schedule or income would look like from one week to the next.  This made me operate at the highest level of financial and schedule unknowns that I've ever dealt with, but it also provided the most freedom to travel as much as possible.  Not knowing what my schedule would be one or two weeks out also meant that I could easily say yes to an opportunity to travel with friends or family one or two weeks out as well, which allowed me to travel for a lot less as a last minute companion, than if I needed to preplan all of it on my own.  Ultimately this translated into me traveling 136 days this year, and only about 35 days of that was travel I planned more than one month in advance.

Convertible hair, don't care. When you can ride with the top down, you choose the bridges. . #carsharenyc #roadtrip #sponsored #newyork #nyc #manhattan #beachday #windyhair @enterprisecarshare

The freedom of not knowing what's next... 
In the past, the financial insecurity of not knowing how much would be in the pipeline for the month might have crippled me and kept me from traveling and taking advantage of great travel opportunities with family and friends, but the practice of reiki has helped me immensely with learning how to take every opportunity as it comes, even if it's one that is going to take me away from paying work in a month where it all feels too lean or insecure to leave.  Amazingly, the universe really does have a way of making it all work when you operate at a crazy level of trust in the flow of life, even when your human mind can't possibly conceive of how it's going to work out.

Just reading that last sentence would have made me roll my eyes in disbelief or feel terrified as an entrepreneur even two years ago, and now I truly get it and do my best to live in that level of trust and flow on a daily basis.  Make no mistake, it's not an easy thing to do when it goes against everything rational that has ever given you security in life, but when I'm successful at really taking life as it comes rather than trying to force it into a box of pre-conceived ideals, it always amazes me with what is possible when going with the flow that wouldn't be possible if I limited myself to my own ideals.  Developing this level of trust, this lack of fear, and the ability to recognize where the flow of life is going and supporting me even when it doesn't make sense is a form of self-development work onto itself- which is what the daily practice of reiki has given me.

There are several callings on my life, and when I'm not doing any one of them, they beg me to get back to doing them again... . - Photography (currently doing this with architects & designers) - Teaching (currently doing this as a consultant & writing blo

Commercial Architecture & Interior Photography


At a more practical and less esoteric level, the main base of what made it all possible this year was a fabulous set of recurring Commercial Architecture & Interior Photography clients who have been the absolute best to work with these last few years.  My dream clients may not look like yours- they aren't celebrities you'll recognize internationally (yet)- but they are awesome people who have been fabulous to work with and to continue working with.  We create images to market their designs and work accomplishments, which helps them grow their project scopes and client list, which grows the scope and number of projects I photograph for them as well.  It's so lovely to have a recurring working relationship with clients, and it is so rewarding to reach a point in business where things can grow with less effort, because you're just building and scaling on a system and team that already functions smoothly.  It is largely because of our recurring relationship that I could feel confident about paying the bills to keep my business running even if I didn't know what projects were coming around the corner.  Having 12-15 recurring commercial clients who needed an average of 5 projects photographed over the course of the year became an ideal level of flow and balance to make it all work.  This number is different for everyone, so I don't expect anyone else's numbers to look like mine, this is merely what worked well for me this year and the level of personal service I wanted to be able to provide.

So, how did all of that translate to actual photography clients and projects?  Let's take a look....

20 Photography Clients:
12 Returning Clients
5 New Clients
3 Licensing Clients

66 Photography Projects by Type:
15 Residential Renovation
15 Residential Rental/Real Estate
11 Residential Interior Design
10 Business Portraits
7 Image Licensing Only
2 Commercial Furniture Products
1 Performing Arts Centers
1 Commercial Office Spaces
1 Retail Location
1 Family Portrait
1 Wedding* (subcontracted)
1 Social Media Sponsorship

Photography Professional Giving:
1 Nonprofit Event - NYC Women's March - 16hrs
1 Family Portrait - 2hrs

Professional Photography Development:
6 Commercial portfolio reviews & interviews with major editors, agents, and art directors

What is the longevity of what we have created? How many hundreds of years should a staircase last? How many footsteps should it hold? How many hands should it’s railings support? These stone carvings outlive the stone carver, but continue to remind us of

Business Consulting 


As I mentioned at the beginning, photography clients were 80% of the work I was doing this year, and consulting clients represented about 15%.  I only offered private one-on-one consulting sessions this year and learned that while running a photography business full time, I really couldn't take any more than 5 one-on-one clients simultaneously, and I certainly didn't have time to plan workshops or teach classes with all the travel I was doing.  With consulting clients, I invest just as much brain power into the strategic growth of their businesses as I do with my own, which then means I'm strategizing for 6 different businesses, not just one.  Consulting client challenges and issues are always on my mind so that if I come across a resource that will help them with their next challenge, I can relay it immediately for their benefit.  I've also been very generous with my one-on-one clients, allowing them to schedule at will and extend their contracts with me over a long period of time, which means taking a longer business journey together than we would if I were strict about time.

This year it became more clear than ever that there are some basic structures and education that I can create to help a vast majority of freelancers get over the major hurdles of pricing products and services appropriately, but it also became clear that I'd need a good chunk of time in order to create that education and set of resources for people.  The deep financial work I've done with consulting clients has led me to develop a method that makes it blatantly clear what a creative's price needs to be.  I've learned that when people do their own math in very specific ways, they gain the knowledge and confidence to defend the value of their time and talent without hemming and hawing about what a client might be willing to pay.  When creatives know their numbers in a few simple but essential ways, they negotiate better agreements and contracts for themselves that help them weather more financial insecurities.

Even though I've written about this in many different ways through PhotoLovecat and other online resources, I have also come to realize that most people won't do the work unless they've committed a dedicated time and space for the work as well as having a support structure to help them do the work. I didn't have time to dedicate myself to creating those resources and structures in 2017, but I'm hoping that my retirement from photography will allow me to make it a priority for 2018 so that I can help more people live a creatively cultivated life that aligns with their talents, passions, and what they can uniquely offer the world while being appropriately compensated for it.

I continued to regularly engage in business consulting through professional giving as an informal consultant for other creatives through ASMP business discussions, Photoshelter get togethers, and B-School Entrepreneur discussions.  These discussions helped me realize that I've negotiated many more commercial accounts than most working creatives seeking business help, that there are still far too many creatives who are not compensated appropriately, and that I really need to make this information more accessible than just through individual conversations and one-on-one work.  It has been frustrating for me to meet other creatives who are so dedicated and talented, but not doing as well as they should be simply because they allow other people to define their worth rather than standing firm in the value of their own work.

This is something that has been brewing under the surface for a long time, but because my focus has always been primarily on serving my own photography clients, I've never really created the time or space to develop something more cohesive and supportive for creative entrepreneurs.  The few times I've dipped into teaching workshops in the past has let me know that teaching business to creatives is a very intensive effort that requires a lot of time and attention to answer questions and provide support more regularly, and I want to make sure I can create a structure for that to happen in a way that facilitates greater success for anyone who seeks that help.    

7 One-on-One Creative Business Consulting Clients
5 Recurring Business Consulting Clients
2 Single Session Business Consulting Clients

Business Consulting Professional Giving:
PhotoLovecat Articles Written - 26hrs
5 ASMP Business Discussion Meetups Hosted - 15hrs
4 B-School Entrepreneur Meetups Hosted - 16hrs

How is this a real place? This light, this lushness, this perfect little garden setting? Even standing here, photographing it, knowing it is a real place, I feel in awe and understand why the riverside towns of the Seine inspired so many artists, painters

Reiki Energy Healing


Reiki has first and foremost always been a daily energy healing practice for myself as an enhanced form of meditation- to help me better manage the flow of life and to embrace the ups and downs more fully in ways that allow me to ultimately come out on top.  Not only did my own daily practice of reiki really help me get through all of the tragedies, insecurities, and opportunities that came along this year, it also opened me up to more fully helping other people get through major life difficulties their personal healing journeys as well.

One of the things that happened this year, which I felt brewing last year but had not materialized yet, was finding a professional space to operate in as a Reiki Practioner, as well as finding a space to host monthly Reiki Circles as a way of giving back to the community and building a community of people who might be interested in studying Reiki more formally together in the future.  In January, I was approved to practice professionally at the New York Open Center, where I could rent space as needed for private reiki client sessions and I discovered that the Sheen Center in my neighborhood was now becoming a space rental resource that allowed me to start hosting a monthly Reiki Circle.  Both spaces have been welcoming and supportive of allowing this work to unfold and grow organically without needing to make a longer term financial commitment up front.

As I worked with more people professionally through reiki sessions, it became clear that I have some other unique gifts that can also be offered very clearly through reiki sessions.  I have always had a level of clairsentience accessible to me even before I started practicing reiki, but my daily practice of reiki has allowed me to more clearly sense energetic and physical issues in the body of others that need additional healing work and focus.  This year, those insights started coming in other forms that were more visual (clairvoyance) or auditory (clairaudient) above and beyond clairsentience, and the detail of these sensory insights has also been increasing as well.

One perk of living simply and cultivating a serene mind and body is getting to a state of finding pleasure in the simplicity of a walk in the forest, a fish in a pond, or a perfectly shaped cloud. If we need more drama or excitement than that, we will never know happiness.

In the first couple years of Reiki practice, the sensory information was more generalized, like a feeling of compression around a general area.  Lately, as my own sensory clarity increases, it becomes more clear what organ is being affected and what the specific issue may be with that organ.  However, because this is still only sensory energetic information, much like having an intuitive feeling about our own issues or illnesses, I will always refer a client to see a doctor for an official scientifically based diagnoses when it seems that treatment above and beyond energetic healing would benefit the client most.  Energy healing and medical intuition works best when it is used in tandem with scientifically based practice.

When I started to research other people who've had the same type of detailed medical insights and sensations about people that I've been having during reiki sessions, since not all of my fellow reiki practitioners were experiencing the same things, it led me to learn more about Medical Intuitives like Carolyn Myss and Tina Zion, who have now moved into teaching positions of helping other people better understand medical intuition for themselves and for others.  Reading about their experiences has confirmed that what I occasionally experience through various sensory experiences is medical intuition as they have experienced it as well.

At this time, I prefer to offer this information through a reiki session, since I often pick up on even more than purely medical information, some of which I can actually help move and do something about during a reiki session, which ultimately benefits a client even more than just offering them medical intuition.  I've had an increasing number of medical intuitive moments happening outside of reiki client sessions as well, which has presented a unique challenge that I've been learning how to deal with in an appropriate and delicate way when it seems important enough to mention.

Just for fun, I had an Aura Portrait taken at Grey Gallery while I was in Detroit, to see if my daily reiki practice in general does anything unique to my personal aura, and to my surprise and to the surprise of the person taking the photo, the portrait revealed a movement of energy in a rainbow-like pattern.  She said that she's only seen 5 auras like this over the hundreds that she's done, which made me feel special on one hand and somewhat like an alien on the other.  When I saw the portrait as a visual of colors, it helped me better understand how I take lower energies in and then process them through for higher energetic transformation.  At a practical level, I will warn you by saying this process isn't always a good feeling.  Just imagine how dirty and gross your air conditioner filter can get- sometimes that's how I feel after a very intensive energy healing treatment when I just need to clear my body of all the crap I picked up and filtered out of someone else's energetic system.

Anne Ruthmann Aura Portrait December 2017

I've energetically processed a lot of other people's pain over the last year, and while it ultimately may make other people feel lighter and perhaps it makes me stronger in some way, going through the process isn't exactly without some level of personal challenge.  Energy healing work is no joke, and it takes a lot of personal investment in our own balance, clearing, and strengthening in order to actually do it well without bringing our own shit to the table or being totally knocked out by other people's energetic baggage in the process.  With some client sessions, I may need an entire day to process and recover from one 60minute session, so I've learned that the first time I work with someone, I don't schedule anyone else for a Reiki session that same day.  Eventually I may not need this much recovery time, but I acknowledge where I am in this moment.  There's an energetic baggage that can sometimes stick around after the sessions, which is also why most people choose reiki as a personal practice or something only to be shared with immediately family or friends, rather than doing energy healing work professionally for others who bring much larger and deeper unknown issues to the table.

Right now, some reiki clients work with me intensively for a short period of time to get through a major healing moment or to boost their recovery time from a medical procedure, and some people work with me on an as needed basis over a longer period of time to make more gradual life shift upgrades and to reveal and heal hidden issues that get in the way of current abundance in life.  One of my goals this year is to better document various client case studies and what has been possible to accomplish through this work so that more people can better understand the potential benefits of energy healing work in their own lives.  Ultimately I would also like to participate in more energy healing research for better medical research understanding and documentation.

Professional Reiki Practice:
20 Reiki Sessions
12 Reiki Clients (4 Recurring Reiki Clients)

Professional Reiki Giving:
4 Reiki Circles Hosted (Began a Monthly Circle in September) - 16hrs
3 Reiki Articles Written - 11hrs

Professional Reiki Development:
Began Reiki 4 Teacher Training with Joanna Crespo

After receiving Reiki III Master Certification, it had been made clear that I didn't need to do teacher training in order to begin teaching my own reiki classes.  Yet, because I did Reiki I, II, and III with Joanna through the New York Open Center, I also witnessed the benefits her Reiki IV teachers in training received, like getting a chance to work with a larger class size and a larger variety of issues that more reiki students would present.  I also know how much I've been able to fast track other people's businesses by being hired as their professional mentor, and I'd seen that Joanna was offering a similar level of support to those who committed to participating in teacher training with her.

I approached entering reiki teacher training like I had done with all former reiki training and classes- by making an agreement with the universe that I'd only walk that road when a certain amount of money presented itself to me and made me more feel fully supported in giving the additional time to the training commitment that would be necessary.  As it had each time before, the money came in a very unusual way, and initially, Joanna didn't have the room to take on another teacher in training, but as the universe works in mysterious ways, one student left the program and created room for me to enter shortly after expressing my readiness.

So much of this reiki learning journey has been like walking into a black tunnel with a tiny light at the end.  The illumination of the journey itself and all of the learning comes from moving through the darkness of the tunnel of not knowing what's next by taking one small step in front of the other and shining my own light of curiosity and learning onto the dark walls to see what they reveal along the way.  My daily practice has created a framework of cleaning the light off regularly as well as providing a steady reminder to trust my footsteps, listen inward, and learn how to see into the darkness.

I've spent so much of my life learning how to see light and shadow with my eyes, that the experience of learning how to "see" beyond three dimensions into what cannot be physically seen with the human eye is an entirely different sensory process that requires a mental and physical clarity well beyond what an eyeglass prescription can correct.  I've also spent a good portion of my life learning how to hear and discern sound and music within the auditory spectrum, such that the experience of learning how to "hear" beyond what can be perceived with just our ears is a journey into a space of knowing and understanding well beyond my own mind, while also recognizing that these ways of knowing and sensing have been available to me all along and I just didn't know how to access them and how to use them to benefit myself and others.  One thing I can say for sure is that doing the work of reiki practice for myself and for others is never boring- just when I think I've learned everything I can- I feel like a new level of depth and understanding unfolds and requires more discovery.

Part of my own energy healing journey has taught me how actions from one lifetime can ripple forward into the future of another lifetime. This creates a need to be fully present to our journey, so that we can ask where our decisions and choices come from,

Travel


I feel like I spent more of this year away from home than any other year I can remember.  Most of my international travel this year has been as a companion to my mother's international adventures or my husband's international travels.  I'm so grateful that they are both so invested in seeking opportunities internationally and that they enjoy inviting me to join them if I'm able- it's the best of all worlds for me because I don't have to invest much time into planning in advance, many costs are shared to make it more affordable, and I get to enjoy a new place with people I love.  Some of this travel was done for business purposes or as part of a social media sponsorship, and of course I'm always looking for ways to connect with international entrepreneurs and set up meetings internationally to see what might be possible even when I travel as a companion.

8 New Territories/Countries Visited
33 New Cities Visited
(links go to instagram posts):
Labadie, Haiti
Willemstad, Curacao
Oranhestad, Aruba
Kralendijk, Bonaire
Danbury, CT
Redding, CT
Norwalk, CT
Kent, CT
Old Westbury, NY
Mill Neck, NY
Huntington, NY
Centerport, NY
Cold Spring, NY
Grace Farms, CT
Seaside Heights, NJ
Freehold, NJ
Berlin, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic
Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
Marionbad, Czech Republic
Karlovavary, Czech Republic
Krakow, Poland
Lily Dale, NY
Shanghai, China
Hongzhou, China
Newtown Twp, PA
Saratoga Springs, NY
Le Pecq, France
Giverny, France
Rouen, France
Normandy, France
Les Andelys, France
Ironton, MO
Elk & Bison Prairie, KY

I have come to realize in my photography career that one of the most "lucrative" parts of being a photographer is the freedom and flexibility to go anywhere on a moment's notice with friends or family to share expenses, or to travel on a date with a hot travel deal.  You can make more money with your time, but you can't make more time with your money.  At this moment, I can't imagine going back to a 9 to 5 job after experiencing so much freedom as a photographer and freelancer.  Having someone else tell me when I can vacation or how long I can spend with family?  It now feels like giving someone else control over my life.

I'm not saying this is the right answer for everyone else- because self-employment has its own stresses and insecurities that cripple other people in ways that don't stress me out, but when I look at the sheer amount of travel I'm able to do with other people on a freelancing schedule, it's hard to imagine going back to a situation where that wouldn't be possible.  This year the amount of travel I've done almost makes work feel like a vacation from traveling and vacationing.  I never thought I'd be in a place in life where I'd say something like that, because it's a very far cry from where I was 10 years ago posting my year end review on this very same blog about how I was overworked and never spent any time with family or friends.  When you're honest about your struggles and willing to document them and review them later, you really get to see how far you've come in your life and your business.

I knew that it was time to leave photography this year when I felt like I'd solved all the problems I wanted to solve.  Nearly every question that was being asked on photographer message boards was one I was able to answer with a post I'd written on Photolovecat (unless it was too personal or too specific to be written about in a blog post.)  All of the growth and learning felt like it was coming from helping other people with their problems in business as well as figuring out how to manage and understand all of the learning happening through reiki work.  In order to more fully move in the direction of personal growth for myself, I needed to let go of the thing that felt like I'd done everything I had set out to do.  I'm not saying I did things perfectly- I don't even think there is such a thing as perfection- but I did everything the way I wanted to do it and found out how to make it work in a way that supported me and the life I want to live.  Now it's time to try and make that happen with a career focus that can allow me to help others have an easier path to fulfillment than I did.  Otherwise, what the heck was the point of going through all of those challenges if it doesn't end up helping someone else have an easier time?

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