How 365 Days of Photos Changed My Life (Kind of)

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I found fmsphotoaday on Instagram late in 2012 and enjoyed it immensely. That’s where this all started. The frustration of enjoying what someone else was doing, but wanting it to be more of what I wanted it to be. I set out to take the photo-a-day world by storm and launched #ARphotoaday in January 2013.

I was excited to venture out on my own and quietly expected my new project to change my life. What I realized along the way is that if I left it up to my project, my life wouldn’t change at all. I had to do some changing on my own, mostly of my mindset.

Here’s a little of the practical side of learning along the way:

Just because you build it doesn’t mean hordes of others will flock to it, so love the ones who do.
Just because you’re committed to a project at the beginning doesn’t mean you’ll be committed at the end.

If you do something for 365 days in a row, you have an amazing opportunity to learn about yourself.
If you do something for 365 days in a row, you won’t learn anything about yourself unless you actively reflect on what you’re doing, rather than just take a picture of it.
If you do something for 365 days in a row, you will get tired of it and have to force yourself to carry on at various points.
If you do something for 365 days in a row, you may feel accomplished at the end of it all, although you’ll mostly feel relieved.

At least, that’s how the practical side of the project went for me.

The photo-a-day project was a challenge. A challenge in creating new prompts every month. A challenge in posting a photo every day. A challenge in remembering what day it was when posting photos. A challenge in spreading the word. A challenge in quieting my ego and moving forward with the prompts each month.

And in the end, I’m glad I did it because I did actually learn (or re-remember) a few things about myself.

  • I am, through and through, and animal person. This showed up in the number of pictures I took of animals throughout the challenge: 63. More than any other single type of photo I shared. (A close second was sunrise/sunset/sky photos, with a count of 50.) Animals are a constant reminder of the balance between conditional and unconditional love.
  • I love sunrises and sunsets and skies, and feel cheated when a week goes by that I can’t fit one into a prompt. They make me feel like I’m honoring the Universe by bearing witness to their existence.
  • I love taking photos when inspiration strikes; forcing prompts on inspiration feels icky. There’s a fine line between waiting for inspiration to strike and being lazy. When I notice myself being lazy, it helps to go in search of inspiration and forget about the outcome.
  • I secretly love taking selfies, and rarely feel comfortable sharing them with others. This speaks volumes about my self image. I really do love and have great respect for myself; I just need to find a healthy way to embrace it all publicly.
  • It’s difficult to capture the essence of an entire day with one photo; hats off to photographers who do it every day. The trick is capturing the day with many photos and then choosing the one that represents the essence.
  • When I get caught up in the outcome I forget to enjoy the process; this is not a fun way to move through life. I must enjoy some part of the process in order for the outcome to feel like it was worth it.
  • When I don’t enjoy the process of something I put it off ’til the end of the day (hence, many late night postings when I wasn’t inspired by y own prompts). Procrastination is a tell-tale sign of being out of alignment with my values.
  • When I procrastinate I stress myself out and tend to eat poorly (unconsciously). It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when I’m not motivated to be my best self.
  • When I eat poorly I feel like shit and don’t feel motivated to do what really excites me. The mind is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal for living greatly. Motivation is all about mindset.
  • When I don’t feel motivated it helps to take a walk, go for a run, or chat with a friend. I learned how to tell when I’m in a rut, and what to do about it that works for me. Not everyone is motivated by the same things in life, we’ve got to find our own things.

I’m sure there was more, but it’s all muddled with what I learned via the challenge and what I simply learned from living life this year. But ah, isn’t that the best learning of all? From life’s actual experiences? I won’t be doing ARphotoaday in 2014, but if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to repeat the prompts from last year. But only if you’ll enjoy the process…

With that, I’ll sign off with the wrap-up photo for the year and bid you a a blessed 2014:

Here's what 2013 looked like for Dian Reid over at Authentic Realities.


Love and Light to you, friends!


{ 1 comment }

Kelly Gill January.9.2014 at 10.09 am

I didn’t see this post until late last night, about five hours after you posted the #imontoyou comment on my facebook page, and just before I had planned to go to bed. I read this post and chose to put off sleep for a while longer in order to take some time to reflect on what this project has meant to me = my more of/less of decision (plus, I wanted my thoughts to ruminate in my mind while I slept.). So I filled my mind with every image under the #arphotoaday tag on Instagram, and then I went to sleep.

This morning, when I woke up, the first thought I had was about #arphotoaday. My second thought was Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” For me, this quote IS what #arphotoaday is about.

In Family Studies, we spend a great deal of time discussing change and learning how to make change in our lives. And there are two types of change: One: 1st order change (temporary; an intellectualized change) and Two: 2nd order change (permanent; a change created within our spirit, shifting us in a new direction). Obviously, 2nd order change is preferable, but not always easily unattainable — trust me, I’ve spent many hours trying to force 2nd order change; it doesn’t work = we learn when we learn, so be patient.

But the thing is, you can’t have 2nd order change without first experiencing 1st order change. One must think (awareness) before one truly changes (mindfulness + inspired action).

For me, #arphotoaday is a public demonstration of an individual’s 1st and 2nd order change. It’s an opportunity for an individual to see (intellectualize = awareness) the lives, the truly lived lives (= mindfulness + inspired action living [2nd order change]), of another.

So last night when I looked back over the photos, my 1st order change was seeing: a dog wearing a pair of reading glasses; a woman’s hand tenderly yet securely laying on top of her wife’s hand with their wedding rings in view; I saw sunsets/sunrises/skies that were cherished; I saw hobbies proudly displayed and beers that were about to be consumed; I saw friends and family; I saw blood donated; I saw struggle expressed; and I saw laughter.

In all these photos, I saw authentic expression of one’s self. I saw values being honored. Love being given. I saw so much more than just a quick photo taken, even if it was a late night post. In these photos I saw connection: one person giving a tiny piece of themselves to the others, and the others were the world — you can’t get more vulnerable than showing the whole, wide world.

For me, #arphotoaday brought me laughter and connection. It brought me healing. It gave me something to think about each and every day. It brought me awareness of my world. Sometimes a photo brought me so much joy I didn’t think my heart could take it. And sometimes, a photo made my heart ache seeing the other person’s pain.

But through every photo, I learned, and I found great value in what I discovered — this is my 2nd order change. So in the end, I was shown in each photo the change I want to see in the world, and BE in the world: love, laughter, honoring nature, connecting with others, being vulnerable, loving our family/friends/dogs/cats, expression of self through hobbies and writing quick post messages, making a contribution to the community, and above all authenticity.

Thank you, Dian, for this learning opportunity.

P.S. I will post a comment on a couple of #arphotos that really touched me in some way (#arphotorecap). Just because I want to honor what was given in that moment.

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