I did a thing yesterday:
I realized something big. A few things actually.
I came to a big realization about myself and I discovered a few new ways to help overcome it. I didn't imagine I would have this kind of a day when I woke up. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not usually an anxious person, but there are some times when big bad thoughts catch up with me and I start to second guess my career choices and the validity of them. Just as much I worry about staying present with my kids, the house chores, and helping my husband do whatever he needs to do to be happy. I think I start to get that thing called "imposter syndrome" where I feel like I have no right doing what I'm doing and being who I'm being and that I'm faking everyone out around me and even myself. I love being a photographer so much that sometimes I question if I have my shit together enough to actually own my own business and do what I need to do to make it survive. Following all of these amazing photographers on Instagram and seeing their unbelievable photographs and the captions beneath them does not help. I lay awake in bed at 4:30am thinking Should I be working 9-5 somewhere to afford this passion and just do it on the side? Am I even good enough at it to make this my career? Do I deserve to have the luxury of daycare? And then my kids wake up. I really need exercise, I think... but that thought is quickly replaced with all the other things and all I can actually wish for is God, please let my kids be peaceful and compliant this morning... just until I drop them off, anyway. So instead of dressing in my gym clothes I throw on jeans, hustle to make them healthy lunches and snacks for school, try to remember to pack all the things and do my best to get everyone out the door without meltdowns. Then there's the home stuff. Making sure we have our staples, keeping the house clean, tending to the animals, and right now Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping, especially for the kids, is stressful for me because really I just want to throw away everything in sight. There's just so much crap in this house and all I want is a pristine, white, empty, minimal house like all of the beautiful, peaceful spaces I see on social media. But come on, for real.... I have about 18 more years until that can possibly happen. But no, wait, I'm impulsive and messy so I know so it's never really going to actually happen because I'm going to buy them more things (mostly thrifted toys because its the only way I can get them to behave at Savers) and then these things are going to fill all of the rooms of the house and it's just going to lead to more messes and more cleaning. And then there's work. I have three days per week when from 9-4:30 I can actually get to work on my business. I can't tell if it makes me happier or more stressed, but photography in itself brings me so much joy. I do have my own business and it's just me which is my favorite part, but it also means I wear a LOT of hats. I'm the owner, the photographer, I have a studio, I'm the salesperson, the retoucher, I answer all the calls and write all the emails, I do my own marketing and social media, bookkeeping, and the list goes on. Just reading that last sentence makes my head spin! Because I really wish that I could just shoot and forget about all of the other stuff. And the idea is to grow my business every year however that in itself seems like such a daunting pursuit. How in the heck can I take on more than I already do?? Sometimes it dawns on me that even if I didn't have my business I would never put down my camera. I'd still take just as many pictures as I do now, just of different things. Does that make it a better hobby than a career choice? Is my heart in it just a bit too much? I always wonder. On top of all of this, I'm also one of the biggest self sabotagers I know. I procrastinate, buy unnecessary things, and convince myself that unnecessary things need to be done. And you can probably see now why every once in a while I feel like I'm drowning. But doesn't everyone?
So yesterday after drop-off I headed to my favorite monthly networking group called "TuesdaysTogether" put on by Rising Tide Society. The website describes it as "A meetup on the second Tuesday of every month where creatives + entrepreneurs gather together for coffee and conversation. An open space for idea sharing and goal building. Separated by distance, but beautifully united by a shared desire to empower the creative economy." And it's just that. I'd been invited by Alexandra Beauregard of The Productivity Zone via Facebook for so long but always overlooked it... until one day a couple months ago. I decided to go and take my good friend/studio mate Jamie Bannon along with me. We were floored by how much we learned that first meeting and we couldn't wait until the next one. We have attended three now and are still very much in love with this network. I have learned so much and actually won a sweet deck of Affirmation cards from Abundant Affirmations from the last meeting! Yesterday's meeting was Self Care. I didn't expect to take as much away from this particular topic because I really thought I did pretty well at taking care of myself; I try to make time to hang with friends when I can, I have daycare three days per week so I can get things done without kids in tow, and I like to think I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. Of course today's meeting floored me once again. We went around the group and took turns talking about what we do for ourselves while we're not taking care of everything else. One said read books, another said take my dog for a walk, another said journaling... We talked about what gets in the way of this time we need for ourselves and how we can make better choices to help keep those activities a priority. Because honestly, if you can't take care of yourself then how can you take care of anything/anyone else? Alexandra asked us what our Word or Phrase of the Year would be if we could have one. There were so many different answers; Arrow, Simplify, Thrive... I told her this quote that I keep coming back to but I feel like I haven't lived up to: "Once you know better, do better," by Maya Angelou. I told the group of my impulsiveness in so many areas of my life and business and how I'm going to strive to do better with that. I feel like this is what therapy is like.
I left this meeting with so many thoughts going through my head. I am terrible at managing my time. I have total squirrel brain. I open my laptop and before I know it I have 10 tabs open and 10 activities started; 5 hours later I haven't finished one. I don't make time for exercise as much as I need to. I have so many books I want to read but can never find the time. I always tell my husband that I just need 4 more hours in the day. Alexandra told me about this book called 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam and told me I NEED to read it because I have more time than I think I do. I also started to think about what really makes me happy. I remember a time before kids when I worked in the corporate world and we rented an apartment, when Stella was a puppy and would drag me out at the ass crack of dawn on the coldest of days to go to the bathroom. I hated it before I got out there, but as soon as I touched the cold air and saw her excitement I felt alive and well and ready to start my day. It was a blessing in disguise and I realized I miss that time outside with her. I thought about how much I love to learn whether through classes, reading, or podcasts. I know it's an investment in my time and business, but it can be so hard to get to with everything else I have on my plate. I thought about how much better I work when my house is clean, and how much happier Dave is when he walks through the door and there's no mess, and how much better we are as a couple when we fill each other's happy tanks. Corny, I know, but so true. And I realized how much I HATE to be stressed out and scrambling in the morning and how much of an impact is has on my kids. I don't want that for us anymore.
So I returned home from the meeting and without even thinking, I grabbed my dog's leash and harness, grabbed my head phones, turned on a business marketing podcast, and took that girl on a walk. I usually listen to podcasts while retouching but I end up getting distracted by 10 other things and not listening. Dog walks fell by the wayside a while ago because my business started, I had babies, and I said I don't have time. So I combined the two activities, got in an extra long walk, breathed in that fresh cold air, and Stella & I both got what we needed. I learned so much on that walk and was so pumped up by the time I got home that I continued listening to marketing podcasts and tidied my entire house within 45 minutes. I worked on my business, exercised, took care of my dog, and cleaned basically all at the same time. By the time my kids got home with Dave I was not frazzled and frustrated because I felt like nothing got done. I was ready to be present & play, and I was in a great mood. I decided that I'd prepare school lunches directly after dinner instead of running around like a mad woman the next morning trying to prepare healthful meals before taking them to school and stressing myself out before sitting down for work. I had a great night's sleep and awoke this morning feeling completely refreshed, cuddled with Sam on the couch before getting ready, got them to school extra early without any meltdowns (which I'm now convinced are a product of my own stress), and was ready to tackle my day.
My blog posts are few and far between these days, but they are sparked when I feel like something has made a big impact on my wellness and has me excited enough to tell you all about it. These TuesdaysTogether meetings have me like Whoa. I am so, so thankful that I took a leap and tried something new, even when everything in my mind told me I was too busy to stray from the norm. The norm wasn't good enough, and I wasn't even close to where I wanted (needed) to be. I still have a long way to go, personally and within my business, but I feel like I'm so much closer than I was before I started attending. My time is worth so much more than how I've been spending it, and now that I know better I'm going to do better.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
Are you making yourself a priority?
How can you change things around to make it happen and lessen your stresses?
And here's one from my new favorite podcast by Angie Lee:
What needs to happen right now for this (work, marriage, motherhood, LIFE) to be fun?
♥️ Happy holidays to you all ♥️
Thanks for reading!
Photo cred (top image) Ashley Enns for my favorite picture of me and my baby boy. Love you, girl!!
My girl Stella, below, on our walk today