Finding my authentic self
I don’t see myself as a leader, but perhaps through sharing more of me in this space with you all, I might nourish someone in a small way.
I’m not entirely sure what this Blog will become, however I’m diving in. It will likely be a mixture of sharing of humanity, life experiences and of course Photography related content. I’m constantly learning myself so often don’t feel equipped to ‘teach’, however I’m open to sharing what I do know and give more insight into how I work if it is of interest to others, and like I said, may nourish. Nourish learning, nourish confidence, nourish the thirst to express and create. Nourish a sense of community, because we all need support to grow and thrive.
Time to dive on in to my past...
How I Found my Authentic Self
I am always surprised when people tell me they didn’t realise I’m a single mum. I feel like it’s almost written in Texta across my forehead. I don’t like calling myself a single parent as both myself and my children’s father parent them, we just do our stints of it apart. So, I’m single. Single Loz managing whatever tasks need doing in my household and business.
Over the last five years, I have navigated the path of being a solo parent and shifted from feelings of shame to really owning it. In a way, I feel like I’ve never known myself better than right now and my photography has been an enormous part of that process.
To become a photographer again, I had to get reacquainted with my emotions. It required me to become vulnerable and experience my feelings in a way that I had been avoiding in recent years. I believe that a photographer can’t be in tune with observing and photographing other’s emotive moments if they aren’t in touch with their own.
The Art Easel
In many tales about women discovering their authentic self, there is that moment-big or small- that serves as a catalyst for change. Spider Woman had her Uranium exposure and Elizabeth Gilbert had her trip to Italy. Me? Well, I had my art easel. Let me explain.
I was married and deep in the trenches of motherhood with two kids under 4. My much-loved piano was rarely played. I wrote occasionally, trying to make sense of what I was feeling but other than that, I had no creative outlet. Then one day in the garage of our family home, I saw my old art easel with the name ‘Lauren Murphy’ painted on it and just broke down. I felt so lost. I was unsure who she was anymore.
The process of reflection, darkness, conversation, counselling and change began. My marriage was moving into a divorce and thus began the hardest time I’ve ever gone through in my life. Any relationship breakdown is stressful for all involved; it’s a time of tremendous pain, vulnerability and fear of not knowing where the path ahead will take you.
I’d already left my career as a social worker to care for my children who were two and four at the time, and, like many women in similar situations, I felt trapped by circumstance. Starting that first conversation with “I’m not happy” was the hardest step. I didn’t know where it would lead at the time, but I knew I needed to start breaking down the wall that I had been hiding behind for so long.
One of my biggest fears in life is causing hurt to others, letting people down. To know that decisions I would make would cause my then husband enduring hurt was like being torn apart. Guilt will always have a small home in me. Knowing that my children have to grow up in two homes weighed heavily on my heart. But deep down, I knew things had to change.
The first three months of my separation were spent living together while we made alternate living arrangements. I found a rental house nearby, and once the kids were asleep, I’d steal off in to the night to clean, paint and ready the house for the day I’d finally move in. It was a surreal time and I often wondered to myself “How am I going to get through this?” My Social Worker days had been filled with me enabling and advocating for others. Suddenly I found myself being the person needing help. It was an adjustment that came with many tears, sometimes even to strangers on the phone. Financial stress while we navigated settlement meant my rental was filled with pre-loved op-shop finds and items donated by family and friends. I’ve always loved something that tells a story, so despite the eclectic mix of styling, I was proud I’d made this house a home.
Top images: Mia wanted to take photos when we were busy making decorations for her birthday cake. James decoration versions were in play dough, bless him. These were some of our first moments in our new house before we fully moved. Transition time.
Bottom left: For my first birthday alone, my family gifted me a day out with a stylist shopping. The wonderful Kim Kennedy took me out, nourished my confidence and helped me start to feel I should value myself a bit again. This photo was to send to her, as I never fully found the confidence to wear that dress out or had a reason to if I’m honest. I felt it drew attention to me and at that time, I still wanted to hide. I still have it and would wear it confidently now, but have to get back into shape a bit more again to pull it off ha!
Last photo credit to the lovely Melanie Leighton, fellow Photographer who dropped in to share soup and creative chats.
I needed a job- and fast. I decided to trust in my old skill: photography. I crossed my fingers and called up the local newspaper to see if they had any casual work available. The Universe timed it well, as that same week the Editor had decided she needed another Photographer on staff. I got the job! Balancing my ill health at times (chronic fatigue), the need to swap work days when child custody arrangements changed and being back in the workforce was made so much easier by having an accommodating boss. Carolyn just got it and trusted my work ethic and taught me an incredibly valuable lesson; when you reach out to people and be honest, the kind ones will have your back. Put in extra when you can as karma brings it back when you need it.
Two years on from starting at the newspaper the demand for private photography jobs had increased and I decided to take a leap-renovating a space for a studio. The story of that renovation deserves its own blog post!
My new reality
Now I like to be real. I don’t ever want to pretend again that everything is peachy and perfect. The word ‘authenticity’ really means something to me. Yes, most of us are guilty of wearing little masks from time to time, but I hope people feel like they see the real me. I pride myself on letting people in and I’m not afraid of being who I am, flaws and all. Authenticity doesn’t equate to self-confidence and that is something I continue to work on.
It’s my journey. It’s moved from darkness and taking life day by day, hanging on to any semblance of my optimistic nature, to where I am now. A successful, full time photography business, a nurturing and immensely valued co-parent relationship, two kids doing amazingly and confidently expressing themselves, renting a house I love and ever-improving health.
Thank you to those of you who made it to the end of this piece! It feels indulgent to write about myself in this way but I know many others are on journeys of working out who they are and navigating challenges so I know it is worth sharing. To those people out there doing the work to stand in their authentic selves, stay with it, find the courage to talk and try to love yourself even if just little by little.
I have so much to be grateful for and I know when you put your energy into kindness,
love and hope, so much can be overcome. x Loz
Feel free to leave me a comment or send me a private message with any thoughts, questions or topics you would like me to cover in future Blogs. I really appreciate you taking the time to join me on part of my journey x