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Ramblings

  • How a Leadership Program Transformed My Art

    The weekend started off in a particularly innocuous way, a dinner party at Fort Mason. On the ride over I was still unsure of what I had gotten myself into with the Hive Global Leaders Program, but having formed the habit of hurling myself into the unknown, I was feeling at peace with that. I walked through the door of the General’s Quarters and was greeted by an unfamiliar face, “You must be Tom.” It felt like a date with destiny. “Welcome home.” 

    This was the beginning of a weekend that would challenge the way I define myself. Over the last 18 months, I have been in the fortunate position of examining my life from many sides, like a Rubik’s Cube, turning and twisting with Mama Hope in East Africa, followed by a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, Burning Man, and a New Year’s Eve trip to the permaculture farm, Kalu Yala in Panama. Each one of these events was like a 7.5 earthquake to my house-of-cards-like sense of self. The upheaval power of Hive was no exception. Through the next couple of days, we incorporated a beautifully designed curriculum that incorporated original content, time tested principles of being, and phenomenal lineup of guest speakers and workshops with people such as Tom Chi, Ashanti Branch, and Lynne Twist. It was blissfully terrifying. What makes it all manageable is the incredible support system Hive defines from the first night, digging deep without hesitation and staying there. In the small groups are little pockets of comfort to return to for a soul cuddle or a hug when things get tough. Whenever anyone trips on their words at Hive, there’s an eruption of “YOU’RE AWESOME!” from the crowd as a reminder that we are perfect even in our flaws. Because of the power of community and acceptance, each Hiver is free to fail forward, or as Tom Chi says, “Don’t fail. Learn.” Palomi and Jesse guided the program through insightful reflections and beautiful grounding exercises that kept us in the present and focused. 

    Sunday we engaged in a workshop around life design. “Why do you exist on this planet?” Ryan Allis asked calmly and assertively while beaming at a man that was searching frantically in his soul like he just lost his wedding ring. Many of the 115 participants of the 12th Hive Global Leadership Program showed up thinking that with all of the hours, days, months, or years of work each had put in leading up to this point, surely that question was already solved. From highly accomplished founders and industry leaders to lost souls hacking through the bush looking for a path, all of us sat in this moment with Pascal, who was staring back at Ryan rummaging for the ineffable language to describe the force dragging him towards his destiny. After two days of intense deep reflection, sharing, open-heartedness, and community each one of us was wondering “Why me? Why this? Why now?” and 24 hours later, we would all take turns standing amongst our fellow Hive members and courageously proclaim our purpose, each one followed by the howl of the galvanized group. 

    As a working artist I’ve discovered that the biggest growth in my career comes from the biggest growth within myself. Gregory Crewdson says “I feel very strongly that every artist has one central story to tell. The struggle is to tell and re-tell that story over and over again in visual form... and try to challenge that story. But at the core that story remains the same. It's like the defining story of who you are.” The journey as an artist is the journey of discovering every nuance inside of you that can help tell your story over and over, in a more complete way each time. Art is in the intent. What is your intent and how do you plan on living in a way that makes that real?

    There’s that little something, that spark behind anything we do in life that we truly connect with. Many don’t take the time to dive in and consider what kind of fuel is feeding that fire. I’m so thankful for all of the Hive staff for helping me understand that the reason I pull myself out of bed in the morning is to catalyze deep human connection that ignites love and ripples through generations.

    Hive 12 gathered 115 people representing 43 different countries. If you are looking to expand on your life purpose, trying to find it, imagine a more cohesive world where everyone has enough, grow as a leader, or if you've been looking for a group of kind and compassionate people like yourself, I encourage you to apply to Hive and get ready for a transformation.

  • Avoiding The Pitfalls of an Active Social Life

    Ah, the social life of a freelancer: 10-12 hour days, to happy hour, to networking event, back into another 10-12 hour day the next day. All these pieces are totally necessary, but we all know how a bad day at work can put a big dent in our career. That last cocktail and a poor night’s sleep can seriously hinder creative ability and ultimately make the difference between a great shoot and one that sends the client looking for another option. It’s what people talk about when they talk about the most successful: reliability and consistency.

    How can we maintain continuity in our practice with such variable schedules? It’s hard enough trying to find the time to throw the undies in the washer or get through my tower of snail mail that slowly builds as the week goes on. Here are 3 things I do to help me stay mindful and focused no matter how hairy the day gets.

    1. Be physically active, damn it

    I know that lugging gear around all day and running from meeting to meeting can feel like a workout alone but let’s be real, craft services and catering does a great job of keeping us plenty fed most days. More so than that, however, is exercising with intention. Being physically active and physical training are very different. My routine is climbing (usually in the gym) and yoga. These two activities are both so mentally intense that it doesn’t leave room to think about other things. They are a holistic approach to fitness that tunes your critical thinking and mental wellness, but also your physique. Double whammy! 

    Rather than getting fixated on a specific schedule that you’re bound to break due to some unexpected job or meeting, try to set loose goals for yourself. I say that I will make it to a combined 3 climbing/yoga sessions per week. Ideally I would do more, but part of creating successful change in your life is setting realistic goals to keep you feeling accomplished. Maybe start with 2 days a week and work up from there. You’ll start to crave it, I promise.

    2. It’s true, you are a giant bowl of pasta (if that’s what you eat)

    Unless you’re a marathon runner, lay off the carbs. Carbs weigh you down and, like their nasty cousin sugar, may produce short term energy but will make you crash hard. Look, I’m not an animal. I’m not asking you to give up carbs all together. Just be watchful and think about slowing down when you hit that second piece of focaccia. 

    On shoot days I try to stick with light proteins like chicken, quinoa, fish, and beans along with hearty greens like arugula and spinach. Quick tips for cutting back on carbs: wraps instead of burgers, stay the ef away from pasta mostly, snack on nuts and other good fats like avocados. It’s good for your brain…no seriously…check it out. Going on a low fat diet could actually decrease your memory and cognitive abilities! Just make sure it’s the good stuff, not red meat. 

    I hate to break it to you, but if you look inside yourself, you’ll know it to be true. That third cup of coffee isn’t doing you any favors. Not only can it cause some pretty gnarly problems with your body that are sure to distract like shakiness (hope you have some room for a faster shutter speed), heart palpitations, but maybe the worst side effect of all — rambling thought and speech. How embarrassing is it when you just can’t stop rambling, each moment getting more outrageous and incomprehensible?

    3. It’s all in the breath

    There is a HUGE connection between breath and mood. This Harvard study found that certain breathing techniques can actually force you to relax. There’s an old Catholic saying, “If you have time, pray for 1 hour each day. If you don’t have time, pray for 2 hours.” Taking time out to center yourself and relax can actually save you time in the long run. You’ll be more productive and perform better! Everyone wins!

    Every once in a while you get a client that you feel really resonates with you, like they are on to something big. I had the pleasure of working with Spire recently on an all new lineup of images from lifestyle to product. I was so thrilled about what they are doing that I worked a device into the estimate for myself. Spire clips to the waistband of your pants and tracks the vibrations of your diaphragm, alerting you when you’re feeling tense, and offering guided breathing exercising and mediations to help you recenter your focus or calm. At the end of the day Spire tallies up your moments of focus, calm, tension and tracks your activity as well. 

    The most important thing for us as freelancers is that our clients leave happy. Our reputation and our future depends on it. Stay on top of your physical and mental state to keep yourself at rock star status. 

    And check out these rad images for Spire!

    Prop and Wardrobe styling by: Joanna Andreoni

    Hair and Makeup by: Nessa Nemir