Changeling

12 Aug 2018

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Who do you think you are? I am someone who has worked hard to become very sure of who I am. It’s interesting how we learn to define ourselves. The things I knew defined who I was were things like I liked to wear flowing skirts, I loved straw boaters, I didn’t ever paint my nails, I loved weights at the gym and I hated outdoors. It’s interesting, the long list of things that I thought defined who I was. After all, it’s just a list.

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

At the start of last year, I challenged myself to become more vulnerable and emotionally available. It was a big year with lots of growth and at the end of the year, I did a heap of reflecting. I had grown a lot. How could I get that sort of growth again? I decided I was going to give myself more challenges that lay outside my comfort zone, just like showing my emotions had once been uncomfortable. What if I did more things I didn’t like? What would I learn if I did that? So I decided to try something that I very very much did not like. Outdoors.  I started to get interested in landscape and nature photographers because my dislike of the outside world beyond cities meant I knew so little about that side of photography. It meant I started seeing new places and new ways to explore.

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

When I was in primary school I started camping with a local church group. My memories around it are of always being wet and cold and uncomfortable. I was always tired. In summer it was disgustingly hot. Camp toilets sucked. I hit puberty during the time that we were participating in the camp activities. I remember worrying about what to do if I had my period and we were camping. This is one of the reasons I ended up on contraception early; it was so much less hassle if I could control when I got my period because, far out, it was stressful having to figure out how to have a period when camping. I also struggled a lot with UTIs when I was younger and for that reason, I have horrible associations with camping and peeing. When I moved to a new school in grade five, on our camp I wet myself (and I mean proper wet myself) no less than four times because I had a bad UTI and was physically incapable of holding on. I can also remember a state camp gathering we had by the beach when I was in year seven or eight and I had the same nightmare happen again where the toilet at the campsite was locked in the morning and due to a UTI I couldn’t hold on. It was incredibly humiliating, especially given it was under the watchful eyes of all the other teenagers around. So every year of camping I had experienced was associated with being homesick, uncomfortable, tired, dirty, too hot or incredibly cold and stressing about periods and opportunities to pee.

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

I also had a crippling fear of spiders when I was younger. It’s not as bad now, but I dreaded the inevitable huntsman spider in a tent (if you’re not from Australia and you’re not too freaked out by spiders, google them) or even when someone would, as a joke, try to drop one down the back of your jumper. I remember once getting a leech in my belly button. I burnt my hand badly on a rock that had been in a fire. I often ended up with bad sciatic nerve pain because of muscle weakness or tightness that would be aggravated by sleeping on the ground or going for long hikes. Camping and outdoors stuff were most of my least favourite childhood experiences. I did get some good skills, though. I used to be amazing at knots, reading maps and orienteering.

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

So, what if I challenged this essential understanding about both myself and the world: camping and doing outdoors stuff was shit. I hated doing it.

After the four months early in my year were hijacked by a post-viral chronic fatigue type illness that was never identified, I wasn’t well enough to do all the hiking and exploring around me that I had wanted. I was booked in to go to Canada to meet up with one of the greatest people I’ve ever met. If you follow me on Instagram you probably know him as @climboncollins. As my body was slowly freed from the illness, I started going for small walks, low-level gym visits and then drives to try out landscape photography. Sometimes I would take my favourite French armchair out to the trees in the cradle of Mt Franklin and sit on it in the sound of the trees as learned my lines just so I could breathe air that wasn’t touching concrete. The many photographers and adventurers I’d been following on social media had me incredibly excited about getting there and seeing the mountains, particularly The Chief, in person after seeing them in so many photos. I was still properly unfit, and I was hella nervous about camping in a car for two weeks. I didn’t do camping. Where was I meant to go to the toilet? How many showers would I get? How would I do my hair? I had never been overseas with only a small amount of stuff, but then this is the first time I’d travelled after taking on minimalism (New York I had two epic suitcases).


Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

I can still remember the feeling of seeing the mountains as we drove up Highway 99 around the Howe Sound from Vancouver. I leant forward and back and twisted around looking out the windscreen trying to see where the huge mountains finally met the sky. I don’t know if it was the months feeling trapped in my body or that it was because I had been opening myself up to the outdoors or because I’d been working being present and vulnerable but those mountains were so huge and it was like the first time I looked at them they got into my blood. I had never seen anything so vast, but the more I looked at them, the more I felt like those mountains were inside me and I was just as vast as they were. (You can explore this concept more with me if you check out my first blog post about Canada here).

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

The most important thing about those feelings was that I understood how vast I was and that what I had defined as ‘who I was’ was such a thin, superficial thing compared to the complexity and depth of who I actually was. Can that actually be defined? Can I just name and label and define myself and say, this is it? It was like…fuck! FUCK! What is this? Who am I? I have told myself all along that I hate this outdoor stuff, that this isn’t me and yet I’m standing here in the shadow of these mountains and I can feel their shadow in my bone marrow. It was like I was so sure of myself before but now there are mountains in me and I’m so vast. It was like the end of where I defined myself was where I began. It was like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and I had crossed over the threshold and now I couldn’t go back unchanged. So many things changed about me over there. Importantly, my concept of home changed. I suddenly realised wanted to see the entire world and not just the big cities that everyone puts on Instagram, but every part of the world that was covered in mountains or canyons of rivers or forests and that I couldn’t fully know myself if I didn’t. With that my understanding of what home was dissipated like a popped bubble. It was replaced with a new understanding of the phrase ‘home is where the heart is’. I realised I wanted to be where my heart was full, where I could love, where my heart could be its biggest, where my heart could be stretched. 

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

And, as in The Hero’s Journey, I came home from the adventure a different person. Doing everything like I was living someone else’s life. ‘Do I wear this? Is this what I like? Do I like dresses? Do I listen to music like this? Do I sleep through sunrises? And with each question, my heart seemed to weigh it to judge it’s truth. Sometimes I didn’t know the answer. That was ok too. But sometimes my heart would ask a question and it would be true and I’d know because the answer would make my heart so full. So I started with those truths and I’ve just kept moving towards anything that fills my heart: acting, photography, this blog, skating, climbing, getting a van. Mountains. 

I am still unsure of who I would define myself as, but now I know I have mountains and lots of lots of love inside me, names and labels seem rather irrelevant. 

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Hat: Birds and Freesia via Etsy (if sold out they can make to order)
Earrings: Lovisa
Skirt: eBay
Shoes: ASOS

Location, styling, photography direction, camera set up and edits by me.

This shoot is inspired by the iconic Aido Dapo (@iddavanmunster)



Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

Liana of @findingfemme in Sportsgirl vyshyvanka embroidered top and black skirt

- L
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