a creative journey into the unknown

I said to my friend last week … “Thaoski has been pissing me off”

… he responded with “You sound like you are pissing yourself off”

… which is truthfully how I feel.

No I don’t like referring to myself in the third person. To me … “Thaoski” reflects my creative journey. My creative spirit. It has a mind and life of it’s own and sometimes it wants to take me places I don’t want to go. And that shits me. There is tug of war between where I want to go and where it wants to take me.

Thaoski started off as an internal journey. I didn’t expect anyone to read my blog or like my work. And then soon it progressed to a hobby. And then a little obsession. And then a potential business idea … and now it has turned into something that I have been trying to resist and avoid for about 6 months.

Thaoski … my creative journey … has become a platform, a method, a process, a way for me to heal.

Heal what you ask? To heal the part of me that is scared shitless and never wants to fall in love.

Ironically, what makes me an emotive art director is my ability to draw on pain to see love.

You might find this somewhat a strange confession given my subject of choice. I specialise in telling romantic photographic love stories of couples who are deeply in love and engaged. And yet, I have only been in love once. And it was so long ago I wonder if it actually counts.

So why am I sharing this?
Because it feels like, unless I’m honest with myself, I can’t move forward creatively. And in some weird and strange way, a part of me wants all my couples to know, their love stories heal me in a way they could not have imagined.

I may be telling their love story but somehow through their love, they are igniting something in me that I have not felt for so many years. It feels a bit selfish for me to use my craft to heal. But I never intended or expected this to happen. I was hoping my creative journey would simply move from a hobby to a business.

But healing? Healing means digging up the past. Feeling emotions I have repressed. It means re-evaluating priorities. It means facing demons I have long forgotten. And for the past 6 months I just haven’t been ready to admit I’m on a healing journey.

My story … and some really personal stuff that I hate talking about …

I know you might find this hard to believe but I am for the most part, a really private person. My parents had a very public divorce when I was 13 (when I say public I mean it was a big deal in the Catholic community we were in) so my preference has always been to keep my personal life very personal (so sharing this is a really big deal).

When I think of it now, my story is pretty basic. Three relationships. Fell in love once. But the big thing (that I hate talking about) … is that I haven’t been in a relationship since I was 21. On the 5th August 2000 I put a ban on relationships. I still remember that day so clearly. I decided I didn’t like who had become in my relationships and therefore I was going to stop being that person.

I had heard from somewhere that you learn and inherit your relationship skills from your parents. This scared the shits out of me in ways you cannot imagine. So I embarked on what I thought would be a short journey to uncover who the hell I was. I also switched my name back to my real name (Thao). In grade 2 they changed my name to Mary (my baptismal name) because it was easier for people to pronounce.

So at 21 I started on my spiritual journey. I wanted to uncover why I was attracting destructive relationships and friendships in my life. I did everything you could imagine from rebirthing to pranic healing. I went to vipassana meditation retreats. I learnt about NLP, the enneagram, time line therapy, hypnotherapy, somatic psychotherapy. I read so many books by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Anthony Robbins, Dr John Demartini, Neal Donald Walsh, Brian Tracy, Caroline Myss, Louise Hay etc-. I was young, confused and hungry to change the direction of my life.

I remember reading a book called “Women who love too much”. It was the hardest book I have ever read in my life. It talked about co-dependent relationships and I could no longer pretend I was ignorant.

After about 7 years of being on my spiritual journey (which I’m so thankful for) I decided to pack my bags and move to the UK. I was 28 at the time and I was in search for new type of adventure.

Why am sharing this in so much depth? … Because some how 12 years has managed to pass without me being in a relationship. I hate it when someone ask’s me when my last boyfriend was because the look on their face is always one of shock horror. Like they almost feel sorry for me. It makes me feel like that maybe there is something wrong with me.

The thing is I just took a little detour. I had to unlearn a few things. And discover who I was. My need or independence far exceeded my need for a relationship. And being on the other side, I really feel sorry for people who jump immediately from one relationship to the next because I feel they are missing out on so much good “me-time” stuff.

So there I was … going happily on my merry way. Enjoying my independent journey, hanging out with my awesome friends, doing the things I love. And then Thasoki comes along. And with Thaoski comes all my awesome couples, with amazing love stories, deeply and truly in love.

And their love stories are re-defining my beliefs around love. I’m finally starting to feel that maybe I’m missing out on something. That maybe falling in love isn’t such a bad idea after all. That a relationship might actually be something I want.

And these thoughts have been percolating in my head and suddenly, the foundation I have spent so much time creating is starting to change form. My love for freedom and independence is being challenged by my creative Thaoski journey.

To share or not to share …
I have wanted to tell you this since I attended Noa’s Artist Workshop in August. But I feel embarrassed. That I took such a different journey (compared to most people I know) and I was scared of being judged.

But it finally occurred to me, being judged happens in life no matter what you do and don’t do, no matter what you share and don’t share … and at the end of the day, the only person I’m living with is myself. So I may as well be honest with myself and own it. So I can move on and keep growing.

A really big shout out and thank you to my couples for igniting something magical in me again.

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24 Responses to “a creative journey into the unknown”
  1. Humaira says:

    Thao, thanks for sharing something so personal with us. The couples each have their own story that you tell absolutely beautifully through your work, but I see a lot of you in the way you describe their love for each other, like you can see past the first flushes of love to the deeper, painful things that form the beauty we appreciate. I think when you’re ready for love, to truly embrace the good and the bad, then it’ll find its way into your life and heal all your doubts.

    • thaoski says:

      Thanks Humaira. I think ur right : ) .. and falling in love today isn’t really something I want immediately. Don’t think my lifestyle and identity could handle it. But I am ready to explore what it’s like to be more feminine and to be more open … and to see what triggers me to shut down emotionally. It really is a journey into the unknown …

  2. DH says:

    Thao, your blog post raises so may questions that I cannot hope to cover all of them in this reply. Much of what you have said is familiar to me, and I wonder wether part can be explained by our Myers Briggs personally type – the preference for internalising things and thinking them through, sometimes for long periods of time.

    I also wonder whether there is a possibilityt that you have a tremendous capacity for love, so great that you sense you might care too much rather than too little, and the easiest way to deal it’s this is to shut down emotionally. It is something I am discovering about myself, and doing so through professional intervention – OK I’ll come out and say it, therapy.

    I spent most of my 30’s and early 40’s not in a relationship, and on reflection although very comfortable with my own company, I cannot say that I was happy. Yet even when I did enter into a long term relationship, it was not the deep and fulfilling relationship that you seem t describe ‘your couples’ experiencing. But exploring my own thoughts and feelings, and being helped to do so, is bringing profound changes t how I approach my world and the people within it.

    This feeling of being judged is perhaps less about wha others might think, and more about whether you are prepared to let go of thoughts, feelings and values that you have wrapped yourself in. These are things that have protected you this past 12 years or so, but which might no longer be fit for purpose. The courage needed to go out and tread a new path is bigger than we imagine.

    I am really pleased for you that you are taking a look inside yourself, confronting your thoughts, and challenging the way you have been thinking. You have clearly taken a big step to share this with your readers, but I also suspect that now you have revealed something this private, you are now feeling as if a weight has been removed from your shoulders. To mangle a well worn saying – a troublesome thought shared, is a troublesome thought halved.

    • thaoski says:

      WOW! thanks D for sharing all of that!!! I think we need to go for coffee lol : ) a lot of what you have said feels and makes sense to me (except the weight off the shoulders bit … still processing that I have shared this!) … but I do feel like I’m learning and discovering a new reality when it comes to relationships (via my couples and by being open) and what I thought was true about me, about others … may not actually be true. I don’t understand what’s going on, but I’m open to seeing where the journey takes me. Let’s catch up when ur next in town. X

  3. carima says:

    dear thaoski *
    doing a creative job or hobby is always very personal. You are giving so much. You are reveling ur biggest fears and hopes by creating something for others and with that, for your self. You may have never believed in it but there is nothing wrong with sharing your personal life if it helps you to grow. It’s your blog honey, it’s your passion, you give your greatest and worst and that’s the most authentic way of continue your hobby to become even more successful!
    You are writing about love and couple life-don’t be afraid to life it! You started realizing that u need to be healed and that’s the first step of healing. But while healing don’t forget not to be afraid to be hurt again. For the worst and the greatest of you and that u share it with who you want!
    Wishing you true love and that you’ll be on one of those picture on ur blog one day!!!

    • thaoski says:

      thanks Carima for your words. i feel like i need the encouragement right now. although it’s my blog, some days it’s hard to be authentic because you (i obviously mean I) want people to portray me a certain way (ego) but the reality is, if i can’t be myself on my blog, how can i be authentic in my work. sighhh. i just need to go with the flow. thanks again for your words X

  4. Avni says:

    Thanks for sharing something so personal. I related to so much of what you said and really see your courage and authenticity . x

  5. Kristie West says:

    Love that you finally shared this.
    And this isn’t just your story you’ve shared . I’m sure more people relate then you might realise. Of course I’m not talking about me….but….ummmm….some…..other people….who definitely aren’t me………. 😉

  6. Anne says:

    Dear Thao – I love your beautiful blog, your vulnerability and your honesty. Wow. I take my hat off to you for following the breadcrumbs of your heart and your creative journey. It knows exactly where it is going and it is going to take you home. All you have to do is to surrender to it and receive the love. Soo easy to say and something I dont know HOW to do yet and I am soooooo much older than you but it is all in the WHAT of what we love. I know that now and I so look fwd to hearing more about the unfolding of your journey. So definately lets do coffee soon. I am back in Londono 12 March so 15/16 would be good for me 🙂 Love, Anne

  7. Thaoski,

    Superb blog – real, honest & compelling

    You are right you are on a creative journey and as someone who has spent much of my adult life as a single creative person this path is not always an easy one and certainly a rich and fruitful time when much of my most inspiring projects were brought forth.

    So keep searching, creating, inspiring firstly yourself and countless others. Then the rest will follow – whatever be your heart’s desire! And be open to it happening just when you least expect it!

    You rock xx

    • thaoski says:

      Thanks Anna. I feel lucky and scared … choosing the path of an artist means constantly redefining my boundaries around life. As you know, our experiences define what we create and hence change and growth is essential. It just sometimes happens in areas we don’t expect! Thanks for the comment and look forward to continuing the journey with you X

  8. Dear Thao,

    Thank you from my Heart and Love for sharing about your Love and depth of your Being. Sentence – ” Being judged happens in life no matter what you do and don’t do, no matter what you share and don’t share … Is brilliant. Also, can be that people will LOVE YOU whatever you do and don’t do…
    Personally, I am blessed with meaningful and wonderful Love relationship that allows all my independance, freedom and acceptance for expanding my passions and who I am in my essence to be present and keep developing.

    I do not know if you are familiar with Barefoot Dr – Stephen Russell? I have been part of his Satsang – sitting in truth series.. Now I am expanding Love not just towards one person but towards Being Alive, Loving Who I am and Loving Tao. It is interesting that your name is Thao and Stephen specialised in reminding that Tao presence is in everything and living with an OPEN HEART all the time. As I am leader of Passionate and Purposful living, coming from and leading from an OPEN HEART is very important to me. Love Marina xxx

  9. Stephanie Maybe says:

    Hi Thao,

    Thanks for sharing this. I can relate to this 1 million percent. I’ve been went on a very similar journey to you… and it’s still going! I’ve always struggled to believe that I’d ever be ‘that person’ who has the great relationship. Because I’d never really seen one. Mum left my Dad when I was 2 and swore off men and relationships for life. Dad went on to get together with my first Step Mother when I was 3, and went on to marry 2 other women, and return to my original Step Mum after each divorce. He’s been back Step Mum number one now – been with her for 10 years now – and threatens to leave her all the time. I just am so aware I have never witness to something that resembles a happy marriage. And when I see it in other people – it is really really strange. Like I’m watching some very unrealistic play!!! I now know what love isn’t. I’ve had quite a few lessons in that – that is for sure!!! But I’m not too sure I know what love from a man really feels like. But I know I want it in my life. And I haven’t given up. I have opened my heart, and am keeping the faith. And at a time when it feels like I’ll never get that clue – your blog has given me a lot of faith and a lot of happiness. Being present to love is such a gift. I always look at your photos to remind me of what it looks like. And hopefully… it will find me! Thank you again for sharing. It’s made a real difference to me.

    • thaoski says:

      WOW Stephanie. Thanks for sharing your personal story. I had no idea! Us independent women seem to progress in all areas except this one – I guess it’s the most scary because we open ourselves up to getting hurt. Prior to thaoski, I had only met a handful of relationships I respected and admired. But since starting this creative journey, I’ve met so many great couples it’s hard to deny what is possible. I hope my couples and shoots continue to inspire and remind you to fall in love. And thanks again fro sharing your story! XXXX

  10. Leigh says:

    Thao this is such a moving display of honesty and self awareness. I applaud you.
    This shows that you have taken a positive step in the direction of your heart. Well done you!!!
    Do I relate to your blog…absolutely. I have shut out the idea of an intimate relationship for almost 2 years.
    It seems the time for change is NOW for both of us. Thanks for sharing xx

    • thaoski says:

      Thanks Leigh for commenting. I think 2012 is going to be a magical one for both of us. Really looking forward to continuing the journey with you on so many levels! So glad you are in my life XXXX

  11. estelle says:

    Wow, you are amazing, awesome and brave. Thank you for sharing your story. A total inspiration.

  12. Being honest to yourself, despite who is listening, is the only way to live a full life, and to connect with other fully. Often when we fear being judged, those judgements come from within ourselves, not from others. I salute you for making brave decisions by listening to your heart, and also having the wisdom to undo them if that feels right. And about the pain versus love thing.. if I’ve ever known one thing for sure in this life, it’s the fact that there is no light without dark. No great happiness without knowing what the bottom feels like, no selfless caring without the possibility of loss. Our fatality and our darkness is what gives focus to what is most important… otherwise it would be just ordinary.

    • thaoski says:

      WOW Marianne … I read your comment twice … love the way you see the world and express yourself. Especially love the last line!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot to me! X

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