When I was 27 years old my life dramatically changed with the birth of my son. I made a commitment that I would use my single parenting experience as a strength towards achieving my goals and not as a weakness. Don’t get me wrong, this was far from easy. As much as I wanted to believe I loved myself, and I did to an extent, I still had a long way to go when it came to believing in myself. To the outside world I was fun, outgoing, passionate about life and social issues, but I still fought with the inner demons from my past and those nagging limiting beliefs that I “couldn’t” do it, that I would fail at achieving my goals and dreams. Even though I had come so far and had already achieved so much, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to silence that part of myself for good. I wanted to truly believe in myself.
I had just finished my six months skills training in documentary filmmaking and had been recruited to take part in a job creation partnership as a Public Relations Officer for a local theatre. The partnership was a government-subsidized employment skills program that gave people job experience.
I had always noticed that when I focused my intention on wanting something it just seemed to magically appear. Even though so much of it was magical in my mind I always chalked it up to coincidence. For example, a few weeks before my job started I told my fellow filmmaker friends, “I really could use a vacation and would love the opportunity to go to Toronto.” As a parent on government assistance that was impossible, but sure enough, two weeks later I was on a flight taking part in a documentary that needed to be filmed in Toronto.
“Wow,” I thought, “That is so crazy that just when I asked, the opportunity appeared.”
The next week I remember clearly saying to my friend, “Is it so crazy to just want a job that pays $10 and hour?”
To me at that time it was a lot of money compared to what I was making and would enable me to get off government assistance. (Oh how little I knew back then)
That was when the PR position was offered to me, and I was so excited that I would be making not ten, but $11 dollars and hour.
The problem I didn’t see when asking for this was that I did not specify working in a “Good” job. At first everything seemed fine. I was excited about the little things, such as my desk, the job title, and being in a space with so much creativity, while surrounded by such wonderful talent. What I was not excited about was that my boss, unknowing to me, was going through her own life crisis, and was an absolute bully.
She made the job awful: Everything I did was wrong even if it was right. She began gossiping about me in the office, and the tone in which I was spoken to was coated with spite. I would start my day off praying before I entered the building that God would give me the strength to endure whatever came my way.
As a person who hates confrontation this was an absolute nightmare. Wasn’t bullying supposed to end in high school? The stress started to get to me and I developed migraines, and was feeling sick most of the time.
Then one day my great aunt called me. She was my Reiki teacher and had taught me so much about my true self; I really valued her knowledge.
It was 2005 and the book and movie, The Secret, had just been released. It was making waves across the globe, and was teaching an age old lesson in The Law of Attraction.
My aunt called me and told me about the movie and how it could really help me develop a new way of thinking.
“Cara,” she said lovingly, “You are so amazing at attracting things into your life. The problem is, you don’t ask for big enough things!”
I sat there for a minute and really took in what she was saying. For some reason the age old expression, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” because so prominent in this moment of reflection. I had never thought about it before, but she was right! I started thinking of all the things I had attracted into my life that year so far, yet it never occurred to me to ask for bigger, better things.
I was at the end of my rope so I was willing to give anything a try. I bought the movie and as it played, I had an epiphany, and the only response I could seem to muster continually was, “HOLY SHIT!”
The Law of Attraction States simply that “Like attracts like!” So whatever I am focusing on either positive or negative, I will attract more of the positive or negatives.
I had nothing to lose so I decided to give it a shot. I wrote down these three key desires:
1) I will win an international award for my work as a filmmaker
2) I will own and operate my own studio
3) I will travel to Africa and be paid to do it.
At the time I couldn’t even comprehend these events actually happening, but according to what I was studying I had to believe without a doubt that they would. I wrote them on a piece of paper and kept them by my bedside. Each night I would say each one out loud, close my eyes and start to picture myself having these things as if they already existed. All of a sudden situations started unfolding.
There was a formula I had to follow in order for it to work.
1) As for what you want as if it already exists
2) Visualize what you want and believe that without a doubt it is manifesting for you
3) Let go of the intention and trust that it will happen for the highest good of all concerned
4) Receive the manifestation and be grateful.
One day while at my job my boss asked me to make a poster. When I was completed she told me it looked like a grade five science fair project. A simple silly thing to say, but it was one comment too many. I put down my marker, told her I was going to the washroom, and then walked out the door. I was scared and unsure of how I was going to make a living, but I could not take the way I was being treated anymore.
Two weeks prior to this I had a few people on the street ask me what I would charge for them to have their photos done. I told them politely that I was not set up for a photography business, but the truth was I had no idea how to accept money for my artwork.
After I left the job at the theater I decided to give the idea and my skill the benefit of the doubt. I had graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in photography, and here I was turning down work in the field. So I took a leap of faith. I told myself that if I could make take one family’s photos on the floor of my kitchen and have them look good, I would consider it. So I had a wonderful family, my best friend, and her sisters come to my house. These were the results.
These are still some of my favorite photos because I know the environment in which I took them. and the cheap equipment I captured them with. One of the biggest insults to a professional photographer is to look at their photo and say, “Wow, you must really have a good camera.” A good photography can take the same shot with a pinhole camera because they understand light and composition. I was not confident until that moment. I was ready to start my journey as a professional photographer.
Things just started unfolding from there. I got an offer from the local Regional Development Office to subsidize my rent for a studio space in exchange for work. Then I was asked to be part of an amazing documentary film project that would tell the story of Jimmy Tompkins and the Antigonish Co-operative Movement. The director and I wanted to go to Hot Docs in Toronto in order to pitch the idea to producers, but we had no way of getting there financially. A few days later I got an email that told me about a competition called The International Documentary Film Challenge. The top 12 people would get flow to Hot Docs and your film would be screened across the globe on the documentary film festival circuit. I decided I had nothing to lose so I entered the competition.
The competition required you to shoot, edit, and secure original music in five days. The genre of your documentary was sent to you the morning of the first day. You could choose from two of the genres. My genres were “Sports” and “Experimental.” I decided to go with Experimental because it was March in Nova Scotia, so there really wasn’t a whole lot of sports happening, and I really wanted to embrace my art school roots.
I did not have a crew working with me so I had to do everything myself, except for occasionally asking for a person to hold the camera for me. This was when I had to overcome my mind. You see giving up under that kind of pressure was an easy option. Thoughts like, “As if I am going to win– I am from a small town in Nova Scotia without a crew,” or, “I am not talented enough to pull this off,” rushed through my head. Somehow I managed to silence the voices of self-doubt and submitted my documentary, “Yesterdays News.” I choose to do the documentary on what I knew best, my story of being a single mother.
Remember how I asked on my list to win an international award? Well I didn’t win one, I won three! There were 95 different applicants, from nine different countries, and my documentary placed in the top 12. I won best writing for a documentary, best use of genre, and best original song.
It truly taught me that once you put your thought and intentions towards something and take action, amazing things can happen.
Later that year I was asked to travel to Ethiopia, Africa as second camera for the documentary project, “You can do it.” Not only was I getting the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling to Africa, I was getting paid to do it.
Learning the power of my own thoughts combined with taking responsibility, believing, and letting go of the outcome, continues to show me the path of creating incredible things in my life. With this new way of thinking I started attracting like-minded people, teachers, and friends. Although the road is not always paved with roses, each lesson always led me to something even better than I imagined for myself. I hope it does the same for you.