As 2019 comes to a close I wanted to say thank you to all the people in my community for your valuable contribution to my life. Last weekend, I was in Florence and it was a chance for reflection on the past two decades and one of the big messages I received was how grateful I am for all that has happened and for having you in my life.
So I give thanks to all the people in the past two decades who have bought my books, participated in my workshops, collaborated on your portraits, joined Yes, Yes, Yes, hung my prints on your walls, published my books, art directed the magazines, and for you for being a valuable part of this community. Without you, I wouldn’t be here.
I am currently re-looking at how I can do things better in the coming decade, provide more information and inspiration that is useful to you on the blog, and I would love your valuable feedback. If you have time to fill out these 5 short questions, I would be forever grateful.
Do you feel like you don’t belong? You may feel like you don’t belong to your current town, country, community, group of friends, your job, creativity or most importantly to yourself.
Often we can’t determine what that ‘belonging to’ is but we know that deep down inside of us that there is something missing. We feel adrift or untethered like we could just float away.
So many words and feelings have accompanied me on my journey over the past twenty years and when I set out on a fine summer’s evening to innocently get my Thai takeaway, who would have ever thought that night would turn into one of the greatest turning points in my life and to finding my sense of belonging.
Winning the present at my local Thai Take-away forced me to ask myself many difficult questions, hold the mirror up to the reality of my life and all the feelings I had been feeling but just kept pushing down hoping they would go away. Well, in that moment, I ‘let go’ of trying to hold the ship, I surrendered to a deep intuitive feeling of ‘hey babe it’s time to go’ and I took the first step towards finding the right life for me.
In 24 hours, my life shifted onto the next stage and there I was starting to imagine leaving one life for all the exciting possibilities of a new life. For the best part of my adult life, I felt like I didn’t belong. I didn’t belong or feel connected to the place I was living in, I didn’t feel connected to what I was doing, to the people around me but most sadly I didn’t feel like I belonged to me. Who the hell was I?
So much of this I put it down to the fact that my whole life I had moved town almost every three years and a lot of this would be resolved when I found the right place for me.
I did find that place one night in a piazza in Florence and I did start my journey to belonging but back then I didn’t how many deliriously gorgeous levels of deep profound belonging and connection were possible.
I loved Florence and felt good there and for me that was enough, it was a starting point and I loved everything about it. I wanted to learn about her stories and history and without knowing it for the first time in my life I would start to ‘belong’ to a place. As I would ride through the streets on the way home in the quiet of the night, the smells of the earth, the damp and the stone of the streets would rise up, allowing me to feel connected to an ancient world of rhythms, simplicity and part of a the streets, stones and gardens.
The next step was about starting the process of belonging to me and for that I can thank photography and creativity. It helped me stop, be present, form an opinion and gain a voice. Every photo was a question that I had never asked myself, photography and I had this internal dialogue for many years to come. Photography took me on a wild adventure to new people, places and experiences. It opened my mind and my heart. Till one day I had a deep feeling of who I was and why I was here. I knew what I stood for and though there would be storms my tree remained with the roots firmly planted in the ground. I started to belong to me.
Then came you. You came slowly, you bought my books, you became my friend online and in person and without knowing it the sense of community that I so desperately wanted almost 20 years ago I found in like-minded creative souls online and in person.
You came in droves, people like me looking for something else, for a deeper connection to creativity, to the world around us, to mother earth, to what we do and to like-minded souls. You were my people and I would never have imagined all those years ago that my people would be spread around the earth, in Greece and Canada, Hong Kong and America, In Australia and the Netherlands, in Italy and Africa.
Belonging is a fundamental part of the human condition and if you feel like you don’t belong today take heart because you already belong to collective consciousness that wants more.
Here are 3 quick tips to start you on your path to belonging:
Love the one you’re with!! And by that I mean where you are. Make peace with your place, stop wanting to be someone else, that will come when the time is right but imagine the soil beneath your feet is your friend, be curious about your place, get to know her and her stories. If you are in a city you don’t like, start to love her. Be curious about her like she is a new friend you never took the time to get to know. You can grow a garden to feel connected and realise as you love and nurture that garden you are part of where you are.
Start following your heart and intuition about what you like. Follow the feel good and start doing more of what you like instead of what everybody around you wants you to do. Feeling good is an indication it resonates with your soul.
Find your people. That can be in person or online but connect with people who have common interests, where you don’t need to explain yourself, apologise for the way you think. You can just be you. This requires you taking a step, following up on a hunch or something you are curious about. Going out of your comfort zone but we all know that is where the magic is.
Thank you for being part of my journey, for giving me that deep sense of belonging to this earth and myself.
Leave me a little comment in the comments section on where you are at in your journey to belonging and any tips others may enjoy.
If I had to give the last decade one word it would be ‘growth’. This decade I had my arse kicked from Sydney to Paris by the universe when it came to how I was doing life, work, love and health and it made me stop, take notice and change the way I was doing EVERYTHING.
It sent me on a whole wonderful journey to learning about health, the human body and the power of our mind. I fell in love all over again with humanity and became a life coach and wanted to shout AGAIN from the highest mountain that YOU can do it. Whatever your hopes and dreams are, you are powerful beyond belief and what it takes is a little curiosity, being conscious and you can set your life on a whole new course.
This decade also challenged my relationship. It taught me the tough lesson that someone once told me that “a relationship is like a garden and needs tending everyday otherwise it starts to dry up and die” – is true. Relationships like gardens need nurturing; you can’t put them on the back-burner whilst you run off and do life and hope that it will be exactly the same when you are ready and waiting. The universe kicked my arse again, it put a big dent in my heart and asked me to take another big look. It sent me through a burning ring of fire, kind of like the ones you find at carnivals and you would never jump through if you weren’t forced.
Well, I went through the ring of fire and on the other side I was forged in the most beautiful peaceful way. I found that sometimes you need life to get really, really messy, so messy that all you can see is mud for miles before you can start to clean up. I learnt that things that appear broken can be fixed if you are willing to put the work in and that sometimes when you jump through a ring of fire somewhere in there you let go of your old baggage, it just gets burnt off in the process and you are lighter, clearer and freer.
But the greatest lesson I got from this decade was saying YES to myself again. Asking what I wanted from life, what brought me joy and to feel the freedom and love that I felt for life when I embarked on this journey 20 years ago. I reconnected to the most pure of loves, my passion for life, what it means to be a woman and creativity and it lead me out of the maze and back to me.
Would I want to go through the last ten years again? There has been so many dark days, so many tears, so many questions, so much to learn, so many courses, so many new relationships and so much travelling.
My answer is YES. To have gained this much of me I would go through it all again. There has been so much joy, love, learning, laughter, creativity, friendship, personal reward and illumination for one girl. All I can feel is gratitude. I feel roots deep down into the ground that only can come from knowing who you are and what you want. I feel a deep love for you, sweet you, who is bothering to read this and the knowledge that you too can feel this way if you are willing to let go of the reins and let life’s magic show you the way.
So as the year starts to come to a close, what do you want, dear friend, from the next decade? How was the last decade for you and what are you grateful for?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section and I will be sure to get back to you.
“Do what you love. Do what makes your heart sing. And never do it for the money. Don’t go to work to make money: go to work to spread joy. See ye first the kingdom of Heaven, and the Maserati will get here when it’s supposed to.”
~ Marianne Williamson
Dear Creative Friends,
I love this quote by Marianne Williamson on doing what you love and the Maserati will follow! So many us have been convinced by what we see others doing around us that we can’t do what we love. Somehow we think to make money, we have to compromise on doing the creative work that lights us up. Instead, do the work we THINK others want!!
Mode Personelle copyright Carla Coulson
I have learnt that the more you go to work to spread joy, the bigger chance you have of the Maserati showing up (that’s of course if Maserati’s are your thing). You can compromise and go against what your heart wants to do and make money and you can do what makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and make money. Here’s the difference, one is done with grace, ease and joy and the other one is an energetic uphill battle.
So many creatives have swallowed the story that to make money we need to do what ‘everyone wants’ and not what we want. Well here’s the news, most people don’t know what they want till they see it. So often it takes us to have the courage to put the work out into the world that we want to do so that like minded folk can find it and fall in love with it.
Copyright Carla Coulson
Linda Karlsson copyright Carla Coulson
One of the amazing things that happens when you do the work you love and share it, is that you attract your ideal client. Yes, by you creating the work that only you can do the people that are attracted to it get you, get your vision and want what you are having. You don’t need to change who you are, you don’t need to change your style or vision and you don’t need to convince anyone of anything. Oh and you are literally so excited about what you do and create you want to shout it from the highest mountain.. Match made in heaven!!! And massive bonus, you find your people, now that’s something to celebrate.
Linda Karlsson copyright Carla Coulson
So my lovelies if you would like to throw your camera out the window, put your paint brush down, walk away from the graphic work you are creating, here are some of my tips to get you back on the creative love train.
What’s You Biggest Vision?
It would often take me to look backwards to when I started out in photography, when I had no constraints or to my biggest heros in photography or sometimes out of my field, to see how they dared to live their creative dream and how they could inspire me to live mine.
One of the things that really distinguishes you from your competition is your creative eye and voice and what you have to offer. The wedding industry is a classic where you flick from one photographer to another and you can hardly tell them apart. So the less that you are offering is ‘cookie cut’, the better for you.
Your clients will want to work with you because they have fallen in love with your work and it won’t come down to price. It will come down to your unique vision and they want to be a part of that.
I would ask you where you are you on the path of 1-10 of how much are you in love with what you are doing currently. If you are a 5 and under you might need to look close at what you are doing and re-envision it. It may need daring to go back to the drawing board.
If you are at a 6 and over it may need tweaking. You might like to take some time to remember why you got into your chosen field and what lit you up at the beginning of your love affair with it.
In the following exercises I am going to encourage you to reach for your greatest creative vision and start there. If you are excited and in love with what you are putting out into the world and add structures to support it, it will almost sell itself!!
Let’s see where you are currently on your path:
1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your current portfolio of work as the work you have always dreamed of doing?
2. What type of work are you currently doing that exhausts, frustrates or causes problems for you? What would you be willing to let go of or how can you modify it to bring you joy? What are the pain points?
3. If you had an endless budget and incredible skills what work would you do? How would it make you feel to wake up every day and do this? Get into to detail, imagine the places you would work, the clients you would work with, the work you would create. Write a short free-flowing text on what you are seeing.
4. What comes easily to you and what would you consider your natural gifts? Such as working with children, getting people to relax, working with light etc.
5. Are you regularly complimented on something that you take for granted but others seem to find attractive or powerful? It could be personally or about your photography.
6. Who Inspires you? Who’s work makes your heart sing. What is it that moves you about their work?
7. In your career or life what has been the work that you have loved and enjoyed the most, paid or unpaid? That made you smile with pride and earned the respect you want? Who were you working with? Write a short text on your learnings.
8. Take the work you are most passionate about that you have created and make sure you can see it. Write a short text on why? What made you proud of this?
9. After doing the above exercises pinpoint what you need to do to get out of your creative rut. What could you tweak to re-envision what you do and move forward with clarity, joy and love?
I hope this little bit of advice has helped and kick starts your creativity and reminds you that your work is unique, beautiful and only you can do it. Do you, it’s always easier than trying to do something outside yourself!!!
Love to hear your view in the comments section and I will get back to you with any advice I can share.
I love the young ones!! I love to be surrounded by people of all ages, there is so much to learn from babies, kids, teenagers and beautiful gals like Katie McNoulty in their 30’s. She’s a writer, photographer and digital nomad and I just adore this term, on the go with a computer and a passport. Recently, Katie became a nomad of another kind. On the blog today, read what inspires Katie and all the good and beauty she is bringing to the world.
Your beautiful blog The Travelling Light takes us with you on your travels to over almost 40 countries! What initially attracted you to a path of nomadic travel and inspired your blog? How was life different before you started The Travelling Light and did you have an inkling that there was another lifestyle that you needed to explore?
The idea for The Travelling Light definitely came first, before the nomadic idea. I was working in travel marketing, for a tourism board and then an airline, and I had such a strong urge to create travel guide books that were a bit different; that only featured really beautiful, unique, smaller, lesser-known places. I wanted to make guide books for the kind of travel I liked to do because I was convinced that the generic, one-size-fits-all travel info out there, telling you to go to Big Ben or visit the Eiffel Tower, was not covering the entire gamut of travel possibilities! But the road to publish a book is long so I settled on making a blog to publish the project instead. The ideas swished around and sometimes just sat still in my head for about two years before I actually started working on it! After about 10 months of collecting content and creating the brand and website, I then finally launched it and it felt so good and my life moved very quickly in a very good direction after that. A lot of fortuitous things have happened in my life as a result of starting The Travelling Light.
I started living nomadically at first just by dipping my toes in the water and then kind of doing the full jump! Before The Travelling Light, I was living in London, working a 9-5 job and found myself pretty unhappy after living there and working for a year. I definitely thought there was another life I had to explore but I thought it was in advertising/creative agencies. I tried to get my foot in the door in that world but all the doors seemed very closed to me actually. My first freelance client was also my life coach at the time, I did her branding and marketing work in exchange for sessions to begin with. It went well and in time she started paying me and she didn’t care where I was in the world when I did the work. So the first seeds of nomadic life started to take root from there. I remember there was some point where I realised I wasn’t going to try to look for a regular job anymore and was just going to take off to the U.S. and work online and travel and see how long I could last until my money ran out! There have been ups and downs since but there’s never been a point where I thought I couldn’t keep making it work; work and clients for my Brand and Marketing consulting work always seem to show up when I need them.
You have a beautiful warm photographic style and your writing is always incredibly insightful, refreshing and personal at the same time. Did you see yourself as a creative from a young age and know it could be a career option for you or something you considered later? What were some of the steps you took to create The Travelling Light blog as we know and love today?
I always knew I loved writing, I read so much growing up. My Mum would deliver me travel memoir after travel memoir to read as a teenager, they were always some variation of a girl finding herself in a very foreign country and navigating and eventually finding her place in that place. I wanted to study and become a journalist but practicality won in the end, so I ended up studying Marketing and French at University instead knowing that marketing could be a pretty creative career involving communicating. In my marketing jobs, I was working with travel photography and photographers a lot, as well as copywriters and graphic designers. This part of the job was always my favourite. I learned so much just watching all these creatives work. I never thought I could be creative myself until I bought my first camera (in Tokyo, Japan!) and started writing and taking photos for my blog project.
For The Travelling Light, I was all about figuring out the feeling, the look and feel and meaning of what I wanted to say first. I’m all about branding being a Brand and Marketing Consultant in my freelance work! Then I had lots of fun on my travels over the next 10 months collecting lots of stories and images to publish. I spent a month holed up in rural Italy working on creating the website myself at all hours of the day and night. I remember it then just sat there for quite a while and finally a few months later my friend gave me the final push to put it all out there; she said ‘just ship it’ haha! So I ‘shipped it’. Over the next year I was posting regularly from my travels and slowly collecting a few readers here and there but I think it was mostly just friends and family to be honest reading it all. But I didn’t care, I loved creating that content so much and I think that came through in the final product. After a year of posting just for the love of it, I got a few ‘big breaks’ where women’s magazines from all over the world and travel sites I admired so much started posting my content and including me in lists of bloggers to follow and it’s snowballed from there.
Looking back on your journey, how did your blog and travels evolve over time? Do you choose and plan exactly where you want to go next and explore?
As time has gone on, the site has become not only about sharing my travels but also about sharing my personal, emotional and spiritual journey as a nomadic freelancer living a weird life. I started to figure out that that’s something people found interesting and helpful! I also started to meet the people living in all these amazing places I wanted to visit and found their stories inspiring so I started interviewing them for the site too.
My travels have evolved just to become slower and slower until I’ve now found myself wanting to live minimum 4-6 months in one place before picking up and moving again. I had started to feel like I needed more of a stable base to travel from. At the start, I was happy to move to a new place every month or even less, and it was really dictated by friends I knew with a spare room or couch I could crash on or a place with lots of affordable Airbnb listings. I also really mapped out where I wanted to explore and cover for the site at the start and I really pushed myself to visit them all. But over time I learned that the best stories were always the ones I didn’t plan, and the best places were always ones I found by chance or by someone taking me to them, not by lots of internet research. So I learned to chill and trust on the travel planning a bit which has been much more enjoyable.
You’ve been featured in The New York Magazine, People Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘Top Instagrammers to Follow’ lists to name a few. Do you have any special advice for someone who is considering making a career change into something more creative? Is there a way to work out what your personal brand or expression could be?
My best advice would be to find a vehicle to practice on and explore your creative talents. You just need to spend time in the energy of that creative pursuit and feel that good feeling you get from doing it, and then more opportunities to keep doing it will show up, I promise! But you also need to spend time doing that creative thing because you will need to hone your skills. It’s amazing to me looking back at old photos I took or articles I wrote and at the time I thought they were flawless and now I cringe! And I’m sure that will continue to happen as I keep getting better and looking back. So you just need to spend hours and hours doing it I think. But I think you can start slowly and maybe start working for free too, you can start taking photos of your friends, you can create a website for someone you know to test the waters, you don’t need to dive straight in and quit everything, it can be process of taking the pedal slowly off your current career and slowly putting it onto a new creative one. Whatever needs to happen in your life will happen when you’re ready. It’s true what everyone says when they say, ‘just start’.
Taking the leap into the unknown and following your heart is a hugely rewarding path that takes a lot of courage. What have been the biggest challenges for you in launching your creative life? Did you always know it would work out?
I think believing in myself and my talents has been the hardest challenge for me. When you love doing something and it comes naturally to you, the way that creating communication pieces, writing and taking photos now do for me, you can’t really see from the outside why you should get paid to do it or why that could be valuable to someone else. It’s hard to recognise your value when it’s so in you I think. But every time I reach a new level of understanding my value and believing in what I have to offer, a new, more exciting level of work shows up for me. So I really believe that changing the internal world first, working through those uncomfortable negative thoughts and turning them around, is the best way to move forward in a creative life.
I kind of did think it would work out, my creative life, but I kind of didn’t at the same time. There never was a point where I thought, ‘oh well it’s time to pack up and go home and get a real job Katie.’ But the fear of that moment coming has always hung in the back of my mind and ruled my life and decisions a lot I think. I think I’ve always had an attitude of ‘well you better make this work because going home’s not an option’ so I’ve lived out of a fear a lot over the years. But of course going home is always an option, Australia’s a pretty beautiful place! But I’ve unearthed this strange background thought recently and am doing some good work on letting it go and living from a place of trust instead, of knowing that if it doesn’t end up working out here in this nomadic existence it’s only because there’s something better waiting for me somewhere else.
One of the best things about The Travelling Light Instagram and blog is the level of realness and authenticity in your posts. Has it come naturally to you to always feel able to talk openly and share your story with the world?
Absolutely not! I remember when I first started writing blog posts and social media posts for The Travelling Light I would completely obsess over every letter and syllable. And I was only talking about cool places to visit back then! In time, I started to find it exhilarating sharing my deeper, more honest thoughts, and I found it exhilarating too that people out there on the internet could connect and relate to them and share their own similar thoughts. That started to become addictive sharing on a deeper level. I started to ask myself before I posted on social media, ‘what is the thing that’s really going on for you today, what do you really think?’ I think started to try to share that kind of thing more and I noticed that people connected with it and I mean, that’s what social media and blogging are about right? They’re about connecting with each other.
We’d love to know what’s up next for ‘The Travelling Light’? And lastly, what would you say to yourself if you could go all the way back to the beginning of your journey when you were just starting out?
I’ve just moved to rural Italy to be closer to nature and to loved ones and to just chill out so getting situated here is up next! But also up next for the The Travelling Light is a website refresh – I want to focus more on sharing stories from people, myself and tips and articles too on living a life of your own design, of finding and following your own light. I would also love to start making videos from my travels and interviews as I just find that you can tell such a rich story through video and honing that craft would be a huge challenge. I’d love to produce a coffee table book too! Plus in the next few weeks I’ll be launching my new website for my branding agency, The Light Studio where we help emerging businesses with brand and social media strategy, content creation and some other creative services.
If I could go back to the beginning, I’d tell myself that all those sneaking suspicions and intuitions I had about my life and how it was going to unfold were right and to not worry. I’d tell myself that I deserved to have everything I wanted and dreamed of as long as it was in alignment with the higher good. I’d tell myself that my creative ideas were good, my talents were valuable and to just trust them and put them out there more!
Thanks to beautiful Katie for sharing so generously.