Updated: Dec 17, 2021
I used to dislike taking photos. I was not particularly eager to do a "fake" smile or even take pictures in general. I thought images would not mirror life. The energy of life is to be felt with all senses awaken, which cannot be perceived in a photo – naively, I thought… Until my father died. As time went by, my mind started to play tricks on me. My memories were blurry and disorganized, and remembering was so precious and vital. Suddenly all the photos taken were a precious treasure.
Now, I am organizing the photos of 2021. I revisit all the joys and moments together with the people I love. Photos from my friends or family, from whom I am 2000 Km away, claim a powerful emotional dimension. And while organizing, I went further in this process. I started to go into the memories as an observer of my own life during 2021. Sometimes I cried or/and smiled. Noticing what was making me happy, uncomfortable, sad, or joyful. From that instant, I started personally to close the year 2021. The feelings and emotions that emerged gave me shreds of evidence on how I want to continue to live in 2022. Because curiosity was encouraged as I noticed:
-When I had happy, contented, or joyful moments: Did these moments come spontaneously? When did I do something that created the possibility for happy moments to occur?
For me, some of the joyful situations were related to the decision to have at least one day during the week where my family and I would do something enjoyable or/and funny. Here, I want to take these decisions and actions in my heart and develop them in 2022.
-Some painful discoveries: as the finding of some deep fears, I was unaware of how I embodied them and limited my life.
The process of revisiting moments of my life turned into a personal discovery of how I used my time and how I related to myself and others. Observing some photos catalyzed the rise of other memories - expanding the instant from when the photo was taken to what happened before and after that precise moment. Because observing our photos may activate our memories, our senses. Sometimes, the mind and the heart may lead us to remember things that are still deep inside and indirectly related to the pictures we are seeing.
For me, it helped to organize my photos using the 12 months as a reference. I tuned into the experience the picture brought to me, much more, by using a time frame. I found this experience practical as I could enjoy organizing the photos and doing it! At the same time, I could engage personally and internalize deeply the commitments I want to implement next year.
What do you think about this end-of-the-year exercise? Would you like to organize and see your photos as a curious explorer?
If so, here are some guidelines:
1 – While organizing the photos, select some that are important to you for each month. You will know which ones. You will catch yourself smiling or feeling uncomfortable feelings. Those are the ones to select.
2 – Separate them into two categories: the happy moments and the unpleasant ones.
Maybe you will find yourself choosing a picture that will go for the category unpleasant although it makes you smile. The story around that picture is perhaps the reason.
3 – Be curious! Explore questions like:
-How do I feel when I see that photo? What does that tell I?
-Which moments would I like to promote more? In these: Are others involved? You alone?
When you identify the moments you want to promote: what about not waiting for them to come but being an active part of them? What about taking a conscious decision to plan those moments with commitment and intention? What about doing something to deliberately create the possibility of having joyful moments? Whatever decision you make, be the best option for you while making a positive difference in your life.
-If a sad/uncomfortable/unpleasant personal story comes across you through the photos, and if it's appropriate: What do you notice in your body? A vibration, or a pressure in your throat, for instance? Is your breathing getting faster? Be with it, if it’s tolerable, and listen to what your body and heart have to say. Ah, and compassion is the key! If you find it challenging to give compassion towards yourself, you can imagine a friend, a family member, or a pet giving you the "hug" you need while dealing with that unpleasant personal story.
-What can be learned when I observe my photos? What did I discover about yourself? Am I avoiding something?
Let the answers come to you. One of the best ways is to write what comes to you, without any concern about how you write. Just write what comes to you for a couple of minutes (2-5min, for example). At the end can be a text or single words that come into your mind. And then see. New personal discoveries and insights might emerge, and usually, the best ones will arise from your heart. Trust yourself.
If for you, it works better to make a year-end balance by answering thought-provoking questions, you can download my End of the Year Exercise (attached bellow as a word doc) or read last year's article.
I invite you to share in the comments what do you think about this practice and if you do it, how did it go for you? You can also use my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have another interesting way of closing the year, please share! I really like to explore new ideas. Thank you!
Wishing you and your family a joyful and safe time full of love, and connection.
Sending you twelve warm wishes and Metta,