These monthly interviews help keep me inspired to live my own heart's true path. Meet heart's path explorer Maren Cotton. When she's not home with her kids or working part-time as a clinical psychologist, Maren actively pursues her passion for photography. Images courtesy Maren Cotton.
What activities make your heart happy and your life full of meaning and purpose?
Aside from parenting, photography is what makes my heart happiest, and gives my life meaning and purpose. Photography truly feeds my passion. I love everything about it from the interaction with people, to the technicalities of photography, to editing photos, and running my own small business. I get to help other people find and preserve meaning, which in turn gives me a sense of purpose and happiness. I have always been interested in people’s stories, and I believe photography is one special way to capture a particular moment in someone’s life story. My style is about capturing a person, an expression, a relationship, or an emotion. My style tends to be simple, real, and natural. I like to spend time with mamas-to-be, newborns, babies, kids, couples and families, and catch them being who they are.
I started taking pictures at age 8 when I received a Kodak Disc camera for Christmas. Even then, it brought me a great deal of joy, and my excitement for photography has continued to grow over the years. I know it is something important to my heart because of how easily I can get lost in what I am doing when it has to do with photography, and I lose track of time.
What rituals do you practice that help you listen to and honor your heart?
Many photographers recommend trying to shoot every day, and I do have that as a goal. At this point I have some kind of connection with photography every day, whether it is reading an article, editing photos, looking at others' work, or actually shooting.
I got on and off track many times over the course of my 20s and early 30s, many times because I didn't yet know how to create the ideas in my head and got frustrated. But I always had photography in the back of my mind as something I wanted to come back to, and felt like I always would. I wonder now if that was my intuition telling me this was something important for me.
Are there tools (e.g., vision boards, to-do lists, mind maps) that help you stay on track?
Definitely to-do lists! I am always making and losing them - filling them up with short and long term goals. But I need to see those tasks on paper - the process of writing things down helps keep me motivated and remember where I want to go. I know what needs to happen will happen and when it needs to, even if the timeline isn't always the way I want it to be. That is a lesson the universe continues to teach me in many areas of my life!
My husband Sean is definitely my biggest supporter! He has been very generous about letting me take time to pursue my passion, and is willing to listen to me yammer away about the latest exciting thing in my photography world. My friends and family have been very encouraging and several have allowed me to photograph them...some of them many many many times. I have also been lucky to find some photographer friends in town, as well as in on-line communities so I have some folks as excited as I am to talk shop with!
What is a book, song, artist or quote that inspires you?
More than anything, I am inspired by people who take risks. I believe we more often regret the things we did not do in life, and the risks we did not take, than the things we did do. I love the idea that we cannot fail - we can only continue to collect information about what does and does not work for us. Everything is just a learning experiment!