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April Misogi. Surrender, invest in thyself and the art of now

Intro and current thoughts

Is it just me, or is this year evaporating like raindrops on hot concrete? 4 months down already and the completion of my fourth Misogi. This month has been wild, but in a really good way. Taking the learnings from March, I threw myself headfirst into the abyss, open to opportunities and experience. If I could fit it into my day, I did. Less thinking, more doing. Out of the head and into the body. It's easy to get lost in "the work," and while I appreciate and value all of the spiritual healing modalities, it's important to remember why we engage in these practices. Ultimately, it's about healing and returning to love and life. These practices are tools to help us on our journey, not the end goal in and of themselves. I believe it's important to integrate what we learn from these practices and continue living our lives, fully engaged in the human experience.

I recently stumbled upon a phrase or idea that deeply resonated with me. In a video from Chris Williamson, who hosts his own podcast, he said;

"I had a psychotherapist called Adam Lane Smith on my podcast and he has dealt with attachment issues and depression from both men and women for decades and he said that male depression gets treated like female depression. Men are made to feel loved and accepted when all they want is to feel capable and powerful. Give a man a purpose and the ability to achieve it and he'll crawl over broken glass with a smile. Feeling capable and powerful and confident and respected and admired will get a man so far. You give a man those things and he'll deal with suffering until the ends of the earth. We're designed to do that, we're designed to deal with that suffering, but it needs to be in service of something."

The takeaway theme for me was PURPOSE. Sure, self-love helped me (although I prefer the term honour), but what's really been the catalyst for change is making a clear decision about what I'm pursuing and running with it. You can do (almost) anything you want, but you can't do everything. Choosing to pursue one thing comes at the expense of another, but you know what? You, me, and every other human on the planet are adaptable, and for most people reading this right now, you have time to change your mind and change it again (and again) if you realise the road you're on isn't taking you where you wish to go. There's this old Chinese saying by Confucius that you may have heard: "Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realises he has just one." Meditate on that: knowing that you've only got one life, would you spend it living in quiet desperation, wishing and hoping for more? Or would you choose to write a fucking great story, filled with the things that you love?

Of course it's a balance, right? Rent ain't gonna pay itself, but don't get caught up in the rat race (unless that's what brings you joy). If you have a feeling that there may be more, then there probably, most definitely is, and it's up to you to chase it.

Living in the moment was never really for me; I was always a planner, gravitating towards structure, goals, and the knowing rigidity of routine. All well and good, except for the fact that I hated feeling so stuck and desperate. If these monthly Misogi challenges have taught me one thing so far this year, it's to continue choosing the "HARD". It's hard to be vulnerable, to break the cycle, and to take ownership, but once you make the decision to choose the "hard" daily, your life will change, and it will change fast.


The April Recap

I started the month in Auckland catching up with a really great friend, Ram. We ate, laughed, reminisced and chatted all things life; business, relationships and everything in between. Next, I had an inspiring catch up (as we always do) with my man Cam. I always appreciate his energy and his input and just his all-round work ethic. I was also fortunate enough to catch up with Moses, another friend I've met along the way, and between these three, the inspiring chats we had set the tone for a great month ahead.

I don't want to brag, but when I say this was an epic month, I mean it. I got after it; I did my absolute best to squeeze everything in, and if something didn't quite fit, I made it fit. I had at least 25 awesome humans through my door for a headshot session and even got to shoot Liam Knight from the Rabbitohs and Codie Taylor from the All Blacks, who were both working alongside Nigel Beach (a local legend). I had my best friend Jamie Weedon come up and stay for a few days, where we trained, ate, took photos, discussed the world, and, of course, laughed. I met a brand new friend, Sam David Smith, who had reached out via the gram, and we went on an overnight adventure through Ruapehu, staying at Whangaehu Hut (unfortunately, I packed a kid's sleeping bag, but that's a story for another day). He was one of the first Instagram photographers to get a following in New Zealand and had some bloody great adventure stories. I went on an extremely last-minute mission to Auckland to catch the

launch of Moses Mackay's new album; we tried to do a single-take music video, and finally... I saw my Mom for the first time in eight years. Wow. All families have their issues, and mine is no different—perhaps my mother and I are just more stubborn than the average. It was an amazing catch up - we've both aged - I guess almost a decade will do that. My heart is getting fuller, day by day.

After my initial write-up in February around vulnerability, I realised that full ownership doesn't' cut corners; you cannot simply cherry pick the parts of your life that you need to heal. Maybe that's a strategy at the start, but like a wound that continues to fester, the things that you're ignoring, will continue resurfacing.

Full ownership doesn't cut corners; you cannot simply cherry pick the parts of your life that you need to heal.

Surrender, invest in thyself and the art of now

I truly believe that investing in myself, surrendering to the process, and being "here, now," has led me to unlock another level. It's almost like the universe was testing me and asking, "How bad do you want it?" and only when you reply with sheer dedication and work does it allow you into the next dimension. Oooof, sorry guys, maybe that's a little esoteric and spiritual, but fuck it. It's how I feel.

How can you ever grow yourself and your business to a successful level if you do not invest in yourself and go all in? How can you grow in self-worth without believing you are worthy of success? It's easy to say the right stuff, but our words don't mean anything if they don't align with purposeful action. Investing in yourself means that you are willing to set aside time for learning and money for equipment, choosing to essentially "suck" because you're starting from the bottom. It's an inescapable process, and while some people may have a shallower learning curve due to talent or resources, the fact remains that you cannot skip the work, so don't even try. In fact, trying will probably just knock your confidence as you wonder why you aren't progressing as you'd like.

While chatting to a friend on the phone the other day, we were discussing the Misogi concept. I was curious or concerned as to whether or not some of these challenges actually qualified as Misogi (overthinking, haha), but again, that's a topic for another blog. Chatting things through always helps me decipher and make sense of certain thoughts and feelings, and while discussing Misogi qualifications, I realised that while a big part of these challenges is about seeking growth through discomfort, another positive effect has been living in the now. Having a monthly goal or challenge has really helped me focus on being here (at least being in the current month and not 5 years down the line, lol), and as a result, appreciating each day has become easier.

It's so easy to live in the distance or in the past, but none of that is real. The past has been and gone, and all you have is your somewhat exaggerated memory of it. The future is yet to happen. What we do have, though, is this very moment and the decisions that lie within each second. It's time to make those decisions match your destiny.

@samdavidsmith effortlessly leaping over flooded rivers on the dangerous face of Mount Ruapehu, NZ.

My April Misogi

I had set a goal for myself to capture 30 headshot photos, with the ultimate purpose of building a portfolio that I could use for my new website. Throughout the month, I had the pleasure of photographing at least 25 amazing individuals who came through my front door, and I also shot 6–8 headshots or portraits as part of paid shoots, which I'm fully counting towards my goal of 30. This experience reminded me of how volume is a crucial component of skill development, and this exercise allowed me to hone my craft in a lower-stress environment.

As with any creative endeavour, there were certainly some doubts that arose. Photographing a person's head is quite different from photographing a house, after all. While a house is devoid of emotions, people are acutely aware of their own appearance. As a photographer, it's my job to first make them feel comfortable and at ease before coaxing out the perfect look that captures them in a way that they love. Did I nail it? Absolutely not! So thank you to all who let me practice. Did I get better? I'm pretty sure!

Moving into May, I'm going to build my new headshot website, open up a few more portfolio spots, and begin some paid advertising. I'd love to build this headshot business into its own thing that runs alongside my more creative and adventure photography, so watch this space. Stay tuned guys; is coming soon!

This last Misogi was actually kind of fun, so as I write this, I'm not entirely sure it qualifies as a Misogi but I guess it still ticked the box in terms of taking big action fast. For May, I'm bringing it back to the physical, so more updates on that soon!

I don't claim to have all the answers, and I'm far from knowing what I'm actually doing, but it's my promise to continue laying out my lived experience and all it contains—the good, the bad, and plenty of other adjectives in between.

Continue mission my friends.


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