Normal day, before Covid-19
Wake up, get the kids ready and into daycare, shoot starts with hair and makeup at 10am, followed by a shoot and in-person viewing, pick up kids at daycare, go home for a family dinner and dessert, a tv show, kids to bed… unwind.
First week in Quarantine
Wake up, kids want to go somewhere, explain for the 100th time we have to stay around the house, lots of tv, lots of snacks, a lot less time on my phone (because what is work?), check news, routine and kids amuck (amok?), shop for all the things we might need, try to keep positive, repeat.
Day number 2020 in Quarantine
Wake up (Sleep in), slowly make an overly indulgent breakfast, take kids for walk/bike ride (or four), think about doing more than an hour of work (but don’t), think about doing a home work out (but don’t), try not to check the news, actually keep the house tidy because the closets now have space and things have a place, the 5 o’clock somewhere mentality slowly creeps to 3 o’clock, post way too much to Instagram, stay up til midnight binging shows, Repeat.
And that’s how the cookie has crumbled.
These past few weeks surrounding Covid-19 have been nothing short of stressful.
It almost feels similar to those days during THE October snow storm, when the snow came early and took basically all the trees and power down with it. This came shortly after I found our dog Stella in the streets of Hartford, and while my now-husband Dave was in LA and missed all of it. It was freezing, there was nothing to do except stay home, worry, and cuddle with a super chilly pitbull pup. Working corporate was miserable, cell phone service was horrible, I had to sit in Dunkin to charge my phone, take cold showers when I could already see my breath in my house, and I had no idea when I could expect power back on. But everyone was doing “their best.” At least this time I don’t feel so lonely.
This virus has brought similar feelings, but now, I have a business, two kids, basically a farm at home, and so many normal things just don’t feel right. I smile at people in the grocery store or on a walk, and I get the feeling that my friendliness is unwelcome. Some people wear masks, and some people say masks could do more harm than good. I try to keep working, but my mind goes blank. I try to keep present and my business relevant on social media, but the words don’t come easily. It’s a battle to think of something worth saying. I’m a natural optimist, but am I being overly hopeful? Or am I somehow offending a person who’s experiencing this world-altering completely different than I am? Am I being insensitive, or sounding like every other entrepreneur out there-- like a broken record? Ugh, it’s exhausting.
Things I do know:
I’m very lucky.
This has been way worse for so many others. Those older than me are at a much higher risk if they get the virus. There are so many healthcare and other essential workers busting their butts on a daily basis while I’m at home safe with my family. I have nothing to complain about, do I?
While I can’t actually photograph clients, what I do is still very relevant and comforting.
While I can’t actually photograph clients, I can still use my camera in other ways. I can photograph my children, my husband (maybe how he’ll actually let me), our animals, I can do self portraits...I can find so many other ways to be creative with my camera than people portraits. Photography is not just my career; it’s my passion, and something I feel is very necessary, therapeutic, and fulfilling. I always thought of myself as very lucky to be a photographer, because if shit hit the fan, and I couldn’t use my camera to make money from clients, photography is still so relevant. For history, for personal memories… photography will always be needed on some level, when many other jobs would disappear if not needed. Also, for me and in general, photos do a great job of telling a story. Words were never my strong suit, so I enjoy taking and showing photos more. Just one photo can say a lot of things, whereas I have a hard time keeping my blog posts and anything else for that matter to less than 1000 words (I’m at 720 right now, with no plans for the end of this post.)
A slow-down was much-needed.
While I’m normally a very active person who spends most of my time outside of my home, this break in normalcy has made me realize that having to stay home is more of a blessing than I could have imagined. Slowing down isn’t so bad, and I’m actually still being reasonably productive. Especially getting things done at home that have been on my list for quite some time. Cleaning out closets, getting rid of unnecessary clutter, and finding a better system of organization are all things I can proudly say I’ve accomplished. Now if only I could get more motivated to work out from home… 🤔
Going with the flow never felt so good.
I've always been an impulsive person. Some might say I'm one of those fly-by-the-edge-of-my-seat kinda people. I've never been good at routine. I've never been neat, and I love doing anything last-minute. I've been on synthroid since birth, and wouldn't ya know, I'm still horrible at remembering to take it daily never mind first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. But at some point, with a business and kids entering the picture, routine took over and a to-do list started. Less time meant more planning, and less spontaneity. This slow down took an adjustment, but I have to say, it's been nice getting back to my old ways (just neater, somehow.) Some days I feel like cleaning, some days I feel like playing with the kids, and some days I feel motivated to do some work. Some days are pajama days, and others I feel like getting dress and looking presentable. At first, this was challenging, but now I’ve decided that I feel the most at ease (and most accomplished) when I just do what feels right. The guilt has subsided and it’s feeling really nice to just listen to what my soul needs. I hope some of this sticks when things get normal again.
I needed this time with my kids more than I could’ve known.
Since they could crawl, they’ve been in daycare for at least three days per week, sometimes five. Running a business means I wear many hats, and it was really REALLY hard for me to slow down and be present at times. Like picking up my phone while Sam’s trying to show me his new trick, and only giving him half of my attention. Or having them do an activity solo while I was seemingly always trying to get other things done. Or read something I thought was worthwhile. I didn’t realize how much of them I was missing. These are the days, man. As hard as this all is, I am enjoying my uninterrupted time with them so much, and I’m also enjoying the sudden lack of guilt I would have felt for not finishing some work thing which I now realize is way less important than giving my babies all of me and not just a small slice.
I married well.
My husband could sustain our family through the apocalypse. This guy has a major greenthumb and appreciation for the living off the land. Sometimes I feel like he saw this coming. The week before Covid hit, he ordered 20+ ducklings and chicks. He started seeds, built a small greenhouse, and shortly we’ll have more veg than we know what to do with. He cleaned out the stinky chick bins 2+ times per day, wiped chick butts to keep them healthy, and let the ducks swim in our bathtup upstairs (sometimes a bin in the living room!) And after keeping them safely inside for a few weeks, in our family room so they could get to know us, he built them a whole damn coop and dug the ducks a pond. Literally, unreal. He takes pride in our land, our home, and keeping us all safe and prepared. He and I might not agree on some things, but I think we can all agree that I’m one lucky mama.
Since Covid-19, writing hasn't come easily-- 'til now.
Lastly, this blog post has been the easiest thing I’ve written so far since all of this virus business started. While I could consider myself a people pleaser in some instances, there’s also a part of me who doesn’t sugar coat anything and can be overly truthful. Both sides of me here are stumped, and I feel like I can’t write an instagram caption or anything for my business to save my life. Should I mention quarantine, or stay off that topic? Should I keep things light and comical, or take it more seriously? Should I offer my advice, or ask for it? My experience of all of this is so different than the person standing next to me (er… 6 feet away.) I’m safe at home with my family, while they might be struggling to stay home and healthy in care of a fragile elder. Or maybe they’re on the front lines at the hospital as a doctor or nurse, or a chef at a restaurant trying to help their essential business stay afloat. Writing this, right here and right now, though, I guess I’m just describing everyday life, aren’t I? Life in general is different for every single person, whether we are dealing with a virus or not. I feel like I’m having a real-time epiphany right now to be honest, and this all of a sudden feels like I’m writing a personal journal entry (hmm… maybe I’ll start journaling... ) But ya know what, I’ma just go with it. Maybe I shouldn’t be so stumped, because in reality, every single person, every single day, is dealing with sort of internal or external conflict that I’m unaware of. Whatever I say, at any point, could set someone off or make us feel more connected, depending on who they are and what they’re going through. So what’s so different now? The fact that we’re all in this Covid-19 situation together is suddenly starting to feel more comforting the more I type. In fact, I don’t know why I’m so surprised; the members of the creative community I belong to have been so uplifting and helpful to one other, even though they’re feeling the challenges themselves.
Realizations through writing
1976 words later, I think I just solved my own issue. I'm realizing I'm actually as blessed as I ever have been. I feel it even more so now that I've had this opportunity to slow down and take the time to write it all out. I think the truth of the matter is that the best any of us can do is to stay present, give ourselves grace, stay true to ourselves and our missions, and just roll with the punches. Through writing this blog post, I realized that this is what I do. I share my story. With strangers, with loved ones, and with anyone who asks. I don't necessarily do it on purpose, but I've been told that in sharing my stories, I break down walls, provide a safe space for others to tell theirs, and in doing so I welcome healing. So, at this point, having told you everything on my mind, I hope that you can use it to find your own silver linings.
Want to see what's keeping me inspired?
If you’d like to keep up with me on the daily, I have an absurd amount of Instagram accounts and, probably like you, I've been posting to them regularly.
Here’s what your photographer has been up to since the camera’s been turned inward:@LFBoudoir
My boudoir photography. Longest captions ever.@Tina_Shoots
My non-boudoir portrait work. Less-long captions.
Families, newborns, maternity, seniors, professional and lifestyle portraits@Tina_Wesl
Personal life (basically my only life right now.) It's a crapshoot.
Lots of animals, family, and travel
See you there!
**In the meantime, I’m still offering an amazing special on Gift Certificates until the end of April. **
To those of you who have purchased gift cards, thank you SO much for the continued support and hope, and I'm so looking forward to shooting with you!! Discounted Gift Certificate
To those who would like to learn more about this gift cards special,
Thank you so much for reading my novel! If any of this resonated with you, or if you'd like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you. Stay safe, stay home, and let's work together to get this show back on the road.
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