• Riley

More than images.

Have you ever had an experience where everything appeared more vividly and sort of in technicolor? Where the breeze brushed your skin and swayed your hair just a little differently? Where the warm of the sun melted into you a little deeper? Maybe the sounds around you felt so incredibly nourishing and nurturing?

It's all living universal magic. Creation. Full presence and purity of heart + soul.

Last night I had the opportunity to adventure with my dear friend Jamie of Jamie Woytiuk Photography.

"I have been feeling inspired and you came to mind. Wanna do a photo shoot with me? It would be a truth session kind. No pressure."

It's been a few years since I've been behind the camera in, well, any type of way.

"I want to do it at kinokimaw on the rocks by the water. Nature, energy, and intuition."

Deep breath.

"oh wow! I'm sweating 😅 Yes!! A thousand times yes."

Growing up with anxiety really limited where I went and what I said yes to, and I often felt like it wasn't really me making the choices - it was heavily influenced and based on what the anxiety dictated. One of the most fear-inducing situations to consider was being in a more remote area, no bathrooms, accountable and bound to another person (it was always easier and felt less pressure if I was solo because I could leave whenever with no fear of judgement), and the inability to "get out" easily if I was struck by anxiety/an anxiety attack. It coloured so much of my life and I felt like I didn't get to enjoy experiences that I genuinely wanted to take part in because I was so stuck in that fear. So I almost always said no so that I didn't have to even be placed into that situation where anxiety took over. I remember one instance so vividly when I was in grade 9. I had just been allowed to go to the movies with friends/without a parent. I wanted so badly to go and enjoy and I hated missing out when my group of friends were doing fun things, so I said yes. I talked myself up, I took multiple over the counter meds (more on that another time), and I went. And things were going great! Until the all-too-familiar wave of anxiety started at my head and swept down my body and I heard my stomach grumble. Instant panic. I got up and went to the washroom and had another very common conversation with myself:

you can do this. you can get up again if you need to. you've got this. you're totally fine.

So I went and sat back down. By this point the hyper-tuning to my body was turned WAY on and I felt every movement of my stomach until I felt the heat move up to my face and that flush of the cheeks that happened so often right before a panic attack.

I got up. I went out to the pay phone (yes, those still existed) and called my mom.

"I need you to come pick me up"

"Okay hunny. I'll be right there"

I went back into the theatre and told them I wasn't feeling well and was leaving. I didn't feel they really cared much which kind of made me more sad. Almost the minute I walked out again and entered the hallway to wait for my mom, the heat drained from my face, my heart slowed and I could breathe. And just like that I was totally "fine". And from there the inner voice chirped up about how I should have tried harder, waited a little longer, took more pills. How I was a failure and I was NEVER going to be able to enjoy life or go places and do things like other people could.

Then the fear turns to sadness and defeat, and I'm once again driven further into the darkness that I felt I wasn't ever going to get out of. I literally thought that was going to be my life forever. I was broken hearted and felt broken.

So why am I sharing that story, and what does that have to do with this photoshoot last night?

I said yes. And I said it BEFORE the thought of potential anxiety. That thought popped up but it didn't linger once I connected with my 11 year old self. I said yes with genuine excitement and belief that I could go do this thing I wanted to do.

As I waited for Jamie to pick me up, I felt calm and excited which is notable as well because anyone who experiences anxiety would likely share that anticipation is the WORST - it's like a beacon for anxiety to come in and get it's grip on you. At least it was for me. But not last night. As I got into the vehicle I felt joy, and the warmth of Jamie's energy, and of course there was a little nervousness - but that is much different than anxiety. Oh! And I didn't mention this before but the drive out there was about 45 minutes which typically would have also been anxiety inducing because again....no way out. Instead it was full of deep conversation and connection and all of a sudden we arrived.

There are some large rocks and she asked me to go stand on one a little bit into the water. Then....magic. heart. soul. breath. presence. I was standing on this rock overlooking the water, listening to seagulls, feeling the breeze and watching the most beautiful peach and blue sunset.

"Put your hand on your chest. Close your eyes. Breathe into your heart. Exhale. Feel the breath going into your heart and just be."

I did just that. As I stood there in a form of meditation connecting with my body instead of fighting with it or internally berating it, I was just there. Just standing on a rock in my body with my breath.

"Now tune into the warmth of the sun on your skin. Close your eyes and just feel it."

And then Jamie wasn't there anymore. It was just the sunset and my body. Our energy mingling and intertwining in a beautiful, calm, and uplifting exchange. Co-creating together.

"Draw the energy in, and push the energy out. Fluid, free movement. Just let your body move in and out and focus on the energy."

Me: I'm sorry, what?! lollllll This was most certainly a stretch for me. But I surrendered to it because I was present (for the most part...my head got involved at this point a little telling me I wasn't doing it right). So I moved my body. I imagined green heart energy around me. I imagined releasing and moving out stuck and stagnant energy from within and soon I was ebbing and flowing with my breath and my body. Again, Jamie disappeared.

There were more instances like these but near the end, she asked if I wanted to do a little closing meditation. I was wrapped in a white sheet at this point sitting on a big rock as the sun was just below the hills over the lake. There was an orange beam across the clouds and the water was sparkling in the breeze.

I closed my eyes.

And my spirit was flooded with gratitude. I was doing it. Something I wanted....without anxiety. Mama's medicine took over and I was moved to tears as I sat on this rock being photographed. I could feel my heart but it wasn't beating out of my chest, it was open and so full.

I worked in the fashion industry for 8 years with a multitude of photographers and I have never ever had an experience with one that was not only connected to creating energy but so graciously engaged in a conscious exchange of that energy. She guides you to embody energy and that is why her images are so much more than a still photograph. They ARE energy. And you can feel it when you look at her images; she's not just snapping someone who's posed. She's co-creating with a divinity beyond this earth and bringing it energetically through her lens.

And for me, this was a coming-home moment of realizing that the healing work I've been committed to, the connection to myself, and the ways in which I have consistently rebuilt my internal foundation to support myself on a much deeper level, have become stronger than those anxious feelings. I got to witness the work in action. I was able to CHOOSE. I was able to connect to my body instead of be at war with it or angry. I was able to feel my breath and my heart for it's truth.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. This path has been so fucking hard at times and, while I know there is more to go and more layers to peel back, it's these moments that make all the patience, trust and effort all worth it. Staying with healing wounding, working with and nurturing my inner children and showing up for myself (alongside so many other elements), WORKS. It just works.

And how blessed am I to be living proof of that? Turns out, it can happen for you. You just have to be willing, and trust in God/Goddess/The Universe over and over.

Thank you for the opportunity to feel this and experience it, Jamie. I cannot wait to see the magic through your lens. Please go check out Jamie's work, follow her on instagram and let her main seep into your soul.





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