once you understand what it means it will change your life

“I am” is a significant word. I explored it through photography.

I am – a deep understanding of this word can change your life. “I am” is one of the more significant words.

Notice that when you ask yourself what “I am” means, a feeling arises. You feel something inside you. Isn’t it interesting?

Of course, you know you are and it goes without saying. But try to understand and feel it more deeply.

Stand with your feet on the ground and think “I am.” Repeat the word in your mind several times. Start walking with that awareness of “I am.” You can also run or dance with “I am”. Check how you feel and what you feel when you realize the meaning of the word.

I feel joy. And gratitude.

When you understand with all your heart the meaning of “I am,” it can change your life. So, please do experience. Knowing something and experiencing it are two different things.

“I am” – with this awareness everyday life is better. You notice more around you and enjoy it more. Gratitude awakens in you, which brings positive energy. It helps you live with a lighter heart.

Hardship and pain are part of life. They cannot be avoided. Thanks to them, we make effort and achieve something. We keep developing. But we have a choice to see consciously what gives lightness, relief, comfort, and what gives a sense of power at the same time.

“I am” is a powerful word.

To understand and see it better, you can go for a walk and photograph the topic “I am”. You don’t need to know in advance how to do this. Ideas will come. Walk, look around you and you will discover an unlimited source of wisdom, creativity and joy. Below are my photos of “I am”.

Inspired by Mooji.

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2018-2021 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

About the author: Dorota Raniszewska – certified professional coach, EMCC Coach and Mentor – Senior Practitioner, accredited coach Izba Coachingu, certified trainer, author of the book “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS. Photography in personal development, healing and education. Notes from a personal journey”.

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When you ask your coaching client to look for his or her Most Important Photo, they will reflect on what matters to them in life.

This article is going to be a coaching exercise for me 😉. Why? I’m pretty good at spreading ideas and sharing my knowledge but I’m less good at celebrating success and showing great feedback received 😊. Sometimes I’m too busy and run fast forward, but many times, I’m simply having this kind of inner dialogue which you might know about modesty, temperance and letting things speak for themselves. 

But this time, there is a special occasion. It is about coaches feedback received after the ‘Photography in Coaching. Making the Future Visible’ presentation at the EMCC Global Coaching, Mentoring and Supervision conference that took place recently. 

Together with my colleague, Bara Belova who is a manager, mentor and coach we challenged ourselves to demonstrate a live coaching session on ‘The Most Important Photo’ – which is a coaching process that I’ve been developing based on the use of client personal photos and the model of neurological levels.

And here is what some of the conference participants shared:

This sort of topic can be filed under ‘Creative Stuff’ all too often. The use of personal visuals in our lives today is part of our everyday conversation; whether that be a visual or spoken exchange. This is so relevant to all natures and approaches to coaching. 

My comment: Yes, indeed. The experience shows that clients personal photos are very useful in all coaching niches, i.e.:

  • life coaching – think about personal resources that are visible in the photos,
  • executive coaching – think of values that drive behaviours and leadership style,
  • career coaching – think of profile photos that are our public messages about our uniqueness,
  • relationship coaching – think of emotions and thoughts that relationship photos can evoke,
  • wellbeing – think of taking photos as mindfulness practice or creative thinking,
  • team integration and coaching. 

Also, active taking of photographs is an excellent way to facilitate people communication and exchange of ideas, especially when there is a need to think out of the box and to speak beyond language limitations. 

I found this very thought-provoking and powerful. I have been incorporating pictures and art into my coaching over the last year and will use ‘The Most Important Photo’.

My comment: It’s so nice to read that other coach also uses photos. Many use ready decks of photos to stimulate thinking and communication. I’m happy that you are inspired to use this process of the Most Important Photo. The use of clients’ personal photos is something unique in terms of connecting to the true self.

Learning a new way to help the client tap into his/herself was very helpful. Especially in this day and age of “selfies.

My comment: Well, yes. Memories and emotions triggered by our personal photos remind us of parts of ourselves that we might forget in a daily race. A simple photo from holidays, work, graduation, family home or the one we took and are proud of, can be very insightful in talking about what matters to us in life generally. And authenticity is a meaningful topic today.

Great appreciation to Bara for being willing to act as a coachee and great appreciation to Dorota for taking us through the coaching exercise. Using the personal photo was very inspiring. Thank you

My comment: It was an act of openness and courage. But we also benefited a lot from it. We learned a lot. I think that the session we presented was the most reflected one I ever had. Also, we were supported by the EMCC team in all the preparatory tasks, including the pre-recorded session, conference papers, promotional interviews. The work that was done by the EMCC team to organise this conference deserves the highest admiration and gratitude. 

True coaching, thus very relevant!! 🙂

Insightful, innovative, valuable. Loved this session thank you both!

One more thing to share maybe. Besides the conference presentation, we also prepared a conference paper dedicated to ‘The Most Important Photo’ and the power of photography in coaching. I will be happy to share it with you. If it is of interest to you, send me an email at dorota@photo-in-coaching.com

Here are some of my quotes from the conference paper:

Photography assists us from birth on in all we create in life based on our dreams and hopes, strengths, relationships and achievements.

Photographs mirror, materialize and document the experiences of human life – our biography. They make it easier to connect to what matters to us. They trigger memories and provide a lot of material for the thinking process.

The Most Important Photo connects you to something meaningful in your life and to the essence of who you are and what is your core life experience. It is one of the important photos that are kept to remember important moments and people in life.

When you ask your coaching client to look for his or her most important photo, they will reflect on what matters to them in life.

If you wish to learn more about photography in coaching, you can reach my book ‘ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS. Photography in personal development, healing and education. Notes from a personal journey. It is available here

Thank you for reading this article.

Dorota Raniszewska – certified professional coach, EMCC Coach and Mentor – Senior Practitioner, accredited coach Izba Coachingu, certified trainer, author of the book “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS. Photography in personal development, healing and education. Notes from a personal journey”.

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2018-2021 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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“Sunrise – My moment of the Day” and a photo on my desk

I took this photo during a bird-watching at sunrise with my son. It shows “My moment” of the day 🍀 – it is when I’m in nature at sunrise, observing how the world wakes up, listening to delicate sounds of early morning and bird voices, feeling the fresh air. It is a moment of full connection when I feel to be truly a part of the universe.

And what is Your Moment?

Having the photo of “My Moment” on my desk helps me to relax during my working day. When I see it, I immediately feel a bigger space inside myself.

No rush. No stress. Life is the now.

I recommend you watch this film “Waves – A Portrait of Maria á Heygum“. It inspired me a lot some years ago and I have watched this film many times and share with many people. It helped me to put in words “MY Moment” 🙂

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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In pursuit of colours with my camera

“We only see what we look at.”

– John Berger “Ways of seeing”.

Spring has come but it is all grey and cold outside where I live. We have a lot of rain with snow, and the trees are not yet ready to blossom. But I desperately need colours of Spring to feel more joy and beauty. So I decided to go out every morning in pursuit of colours with my camera.

And I found them!

I can’t find words to describe my joy and satisfaction from doing that. But when you look at my photos you will probably imagine it.

So when you need to look for the sun, for the colours of life, for beauty to feel more hope and calm, just go out with your camera and look for it. And you will find what you are looking for. Attention follows intention. Just:

“Open your eyes, enjoy what you see and be mindful to it.”

– this is the quote from my book “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS.”

It is amazing how thoughts come and go and come again in a new light.

Thank you Life and the Universe.

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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“Becoming Visible to Yourself” – upcoming workshop

“Becoming Visible to Yourself – Photography in Coaching and Wellbeingis the title of the workshop that I will lead for the Finnish PhotoTherapy Association.

During this workshop participants will experience the power of personal photos in building positive narratives about themselves, understanding their needs, values and the essence of their life experience, of what makes sense for them in life. In a process of a self-reflection based on “The Most Important Photo” that is facilitated with the use coaching techniques and personal photographs, life achievements, relationships and character strengths become visible and expressed. I will teach how personal photos can be used to connect to inner wisdom, a sense of meaning and build bridges between past achievements and future possibilities.

The Most Important Photo? What is it? The Most Important Photo is a photo that the client is choosing deliberately from his or her photos that are kept to remember important moments and people in life. This is a photo connects you to something meaningful in your life and the essence of who you are and what is your life experience. It can be used as a gate for reflections about someone’s values, needs, future career choices, or life changes, etc. It is generic process.

During the workshop, I will also show two examples of using active photography to support wellbeing.

The first one is a case study from a one-to-one coaching process with a client who struggled with low energy in life and blocking self-beliefs. Daily morning photography and grounding practice helped the client to regain a sense of purpose, joy and self-drive in life. It resulted in significant changes for better in life.

The second one is a project reflecting my practice of photo-walks that I offer in order to support clients in connecting to themselves, supporting habits of self-care, finding joy in life.

I hope that I will start offering this workshop soon as an open-enrollment workshop!

thank to the photos express our admiration for the world every day and celebrate the joy of creation. 

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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The Forest and Our Wisdom – the Close-up project/ week #1

The first week of the Close-up project is behind us. It was dedicated to the virtue of Wisdom.

What were the photos taken by the participants of that project? Where did photo-walks take us? What did the old photos say to us about wisdom?

Many reflections were connected to trees and forests. Here are some of them.

Whoever you are, a man or a tree, wisdom is in all of us.

Trees teach us how to grow. The higher a tree grows, the deeper its roots go. As it grows upwards, it finds an anchor.

What’s in it for us, people? Let’s remember to ground ourselves as we move up. Find time to rest, reflect and learn from experience. Let the body-mind stay alone from time to time, far from noise, pressure and anything that prompts to move forward. Find an anchor in the breath, peace of mind, and quiet.

Go to the forest or to the park every day. Find space where you can meet yourself and listen to your inner voice in silence. The longer you listen, the more you will know.

“Spend some time alone each day.” The Dalai Lama

Below, you can see the slideshow of some of the photos taken as a reflection about Wisdom during the first week of the Close-up project and our photo walks.

And now, you can go out and take a walk yourself. Just let yourself travel. Find a moment to sit and reflect on your wisdom – how can develop and use your wisdom to live better and happier? What will you start doing, what will you continue doing and what will you stop doing based on what you know is best for you. How can you take a better care of yourself? And finally, what will you do in the the coming week in order to live wisely.

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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The Life Photo Album and a Tree

“The roots are our family and important persons in our life. The trunk of the tree includes our strengths and skills that we have. The branches with the leaves are like all the things that we have done in our lives and we are proud of. The fruits are the emotions that we feel about our achievements. Life is like a tree that is alive in all seasons. In difficult situations, we have to connect to our emotions and also, to remember who we are and what we achieved.

I think that “The Life Photo Album” is a perfect tool to help people to understand their strengths and achievements.”

I received this nice and pictoresque reflection from Katerina Michael, a psychotherapist living and working in Cyprus, who attended the Course on “Photography in Coaching”. She was very inspired by the experience of the Life Photo Album Process. Thank you, Katerina.

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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On gratitude

Yesterday, I met with a group of international coaches and photographers for a workshop entitled “Powerful Start with AHA – photos, that inspire”. I was explaining the reasons behind several coaching questions which I included in this tool, called “AHA – photos that inspire”.

There are 12 questions in the AHA. One of them is about gratitude.

I asked the group “Why did I put gratitude to the questions. Why gratitude is so important that I included a question about it? How do you think?”

The answers were very good. And they helped to formulate a very special reflection on gratitude. Just read.

  • You see life from a completely different perspective. A new point of view.
  • To be positive. To see what you already have instead of what’s missing.
  • Gratitude is some form of strengths.
  • Gratitude is difficult. And some people don’t know how to express it.

Exactly, I answered.

And today, we have to learn it. We just have to learn gratitude to be happier. Consumption will not make the world happier. But gratitude can do it.

Imagine a situation when you put this question about gratitude in front of the eyes of team members or a family or a teenager who suffers from depression. It can help to change the perspective for a better one. It can help to turn the face to the sun! But not only.

Gratitude helps to understand better the resources that we have within and around us.

It’s a deep thought, isn’t it?

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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Using personal photos in coaching – we are going to speak at the EMCC Global Conference in May 2021!

Using personal photos in coaching

Photographs are the records of our life. Photos are made from light and time, but they are also made from people’s perceptions and memories.

Each photo we take has a beginning. It is an impulse from our mind as we see, feel or do something. Each photo has a unique meaning for us. It presents our achievements, relationships, dreams fulfilled. It shows what we like in the world and what inspires us. Each photo is a way to remember what we are proud of and what we create in life. While looking at our snapshots, we can talk about our motivations, values, needs and most of all, what is important for us.

There is a story behind each picture. Someone once took it. Maybe someone gave it to someone else on an occasion. Someone has kept it for some reason. Someone chose to show it to you. So, what’s so important about it?

This is the question that I ask to start a meaningful conversation when looking at a photograph.

Personal photos connect us to ourselves, our inner wisdom, what we know and learned through our lives.  Using powerful coaching questions, these photos can provide unprecedented access to deep thoughts and important insights.

How did I discover the power of personal photographs in coaching?

In 2007, I started a family search project. Old family photos, portraits of people and places helped me collect information and memories about my family from relatives and friends scattered around the world. Photos helped me to connect to them. During my search, and many travels, I realized how photographs trigger long-term memories and bring the past to the present. In my work with photos I see every day how personal pictures help to start meaningful conversations. They provide us with memories and stories to tell. Once an important photo from the past lands on the table, an immediate connection is made between people, engagement is increased and very often, joy or intensity appear on people’s faces.

Through my family project, I discovered photography as a vehicle for thinking and communicating.

I remember one day when I was arranging my photos from when I was younger, a short time after I had married, and my husband entered the room. He saw my work and started telling me about his memories related to the photos lying on the floor. I was very surprised to hear that his memories and feelings about the same images were different from mine. He sat on the floor with me, and we started talking about how we remembered those moments from the past. It became clear to me that talking about old photos is a great exercise for people who need to listen to each other. It is a dialogue exercise that has transformative power. It can help people to hear and understand each other.

Working with my life and family photos was only the beginning of experiencing photography in personal development. In 2011, I started my blog on reflective photography, jerozolimskie.wordpress.com. It is a life photo-journal that I’ve been writing for 10 years which has led me to develop a practice of active photography with my clients. “One photo a day” is an example of a technique I use that supports life coaching and well-being. The idea is to go outside every morning for a walk and take one picture on a topic that is related to the client’s coaching process. It can be about seeing the positive side of life, appreciating beauty, feeling gratitude, connecting to oneself, or developing self-esteem.

All these experiences helped me to become confident about using photography as a means of communication in coaching. In the beginning, I proposed to team members to bring their own photos for ice-breaker activities. I wanted people to open up a little bit more than usual with their personal stories. Also, I wanted to create space for authenticity and appreciation of others.

When we show our personal photos to others, we show ourselves more than we do it in our everyday work. It is engaging because everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is unique. Everyone can be a “hero” for a moment. Personal photos open a gate to people’s hearts, minds and souls.

Over the years, I developed several coaching processes with photography and regularly teach them to other coaches. These include: “The Most Important Photo,” “Life Photo Album,” “Profile Photo,” “Photo Poem,” “Relationship Photo” and “Self-Portrait in the Future.”

I will be presenting one of these processes during the 27 EMCC Global Coaching, Mentoring and Supervision Conference, together with my colleague, Bara Belova, coach, mentor and manager from the Czech Republic. The title of the presentation is “Photography in Coaching. Making the Future Visible.”  Here is the link to the conference: LINK

I also invite you to see us and listen to the “fireside chat interview” by the EMCC: Link to the Interview

It will be our honour to host you at our presentation. Please join us on May 12ve, at 12:45 UTC+1.

With very special thanks to my Friend, Shelley Lippman-Lewkowict, a certified professional coach, based in Montreal, Canada for reviewing and editing this article.

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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A simple walk with a camera can help you to find time for yourself

This was the case of Kate. Kate’s issue was that being a mother with small children and working full time as a therapist she was finding no time for herself and felt often stressed.

Following the idea of a photo-walk she went out and looked for frames that give answers to her issue. When she returned from a 15-minutes photo-walk she said: “I found a lot of answers on the way. Just from what I saw before my eyes. I saw a cup of coffee in the kitchen and thought that I can enjoy my coffee every day. Then, I went towards the window, saw the blue sky and clouds and thought that I can stop for a moment at my window and watch the sky with awe and pleasure. It is all about using small opportunities and moments to stop and sense that I’m with myself.”

It is so simple and beautiful, isn’t?

When you have a dilemma and it is hard for you to find solutions right away, go for a walk, stand at a window and just watch, listen, sense. Notice subtle signs from outside. The answers can come when you stop focusing on being confused. Stop taking “I don’t know” or “I don’t have” as an answer from yourself. When you observe the world around you, when you are open, not stuck, answers come from outside and from within.

You can use photography to become mindful. Once you formulated your question or dilemma, start looking around, observing and taking pictures that seem to give answers.

This activity combines concentration, mindful observation, thinking with ease, fun and letting go of pressure. This is when moments of insights – called “aha” moments, take place.

Good luck!

Written with gratitude for an inspiring example from Kate. Thank you – Kate for allowing to publish it!

All text and photos on this website are © Copyright 2020 by Dorota Raniszewska; All Rights Reserved

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