Lately I've been listening to Jeff Curto's History of Photography podcasts, which has been an awesome refresher from my RIT History and Aesthetics of Photography class with Ken White 11 years ago. I recommend this podcast to any photographer to gain a better understanding of where we've come in the past 172 years of photography. In Walk Through a Wedding, we spend a good bit of time talking about the "WHY" in what we do. Our "WHY" is about preserving life and love for future generations. To provide someone looking at our image 172 years from now, a story of a life and love that existed. And I think classes like the History of Photography are a big part of why we do what we do.
I wanted to end with this haunting photograph that Curto talks about in his class of Lewis Payne, co-conspiritor against President Lincoln, photographed by Alexander Gardner. And if you want to sign up for the podcast you can do that HERE for free. I highly recommend them!
I race down the stairs with a coat slung over one arm and a lint roller in the other. In the greatest of ironies split-woven through the twists and turns this life has to offer, we own a golden retriever yet work a job that requires us to wear mostly black. Lint rollers are a big deal in our world. As is irony.
I pile these worldly belongings I possess, along with a second pair of shoes and enough Odwalla power bars to fuel a small, but highly organized insurgent army, into my already overstuffed black bag and rattle off questions about info sheets and church waiver forms.
This is our morning routine on a wedding day.
I run from room to room checking to make sure everything is off, and I flip the burner to double check that we don't have a gas leak. Because this makes perfect sense to me. He shakes his head and somewhere in the midst of the flurry I've created, he reaches out and catches my hand to brush a strand of hair off my face.
Hey, is that a new clip in your hair? It looks really pretty.
And I stop to stare at him in awe. Because somehow, even in the upside down, right-is-wrong, left-is-right chaos of our lives, still....he sees me.
We get in the car and drive and drive, and he lets me leave Justin Bieber on the radio. Because secretly, I think he likes it too. He pulls off for coffee without me even asking; and when we have to hit the brakes hard, he lets go of my hand to keep both hands on the steering wheel. Because he knows it's safer that way.
We shoot the wedding, and I pile more and more on him. Always asking for perfection. I run through mental checklists of the details and the family shots in my head, and ask him to take one more shot of the centerpieces without the salt & pepper shakers in there. Because this makes perfect sense to me. He shakes his head at the worry I've created, and reaches out to flip the pony tail I am definitely wearing by then.
You're lucky you're cute.
And as he walks away to do this work I've asked of him, I can't help but stop and stare. In awe. Because somehow, even when the makeup is gone, the clothes are hot & sweaty & wrinkled, and the hair is plastered to my head, somehow in the chaos of what we do...
Still he sees me.
J, I can't thank you enough for all that you do and for holding that mirror up to my face everyday. The good, the bad, the hard stuff. So that I don't lose sight of me either.
After getting back from Hawaii (more on that to come this coming week, I promise!), we jumped right back in yesterday with the absolutely exquisite wedding of Anne & Bill at the Fairmont Copley up in Boston. These two are so gorgeous and I can't WAIT to show you everything, but for now here's a sneak peek of all the Old Hollywood goodness.
And we're off to brunch!
And since we've been absolutely LOVING this song lately, it seemed really fitting for this post!
When Justin & I were on our honeymoon three years ago, I took with me a book that I can now honestly say changed my life: Your Best Life Now.
Now, I'm not really somebody who throws that kind of thing around casually, or even someone who would've believed that a book could really do that...change a life...until it happened to me.
I can now tell you that there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of something that I learned from this book. And when I read it, I felt like Mister Joel Osteen was speaking directly to me. Like he knew everything I needed to hear, and had a way of saying it that made it make sense.
Basically, this is a book about giving up whatever pain, regrets, mistakes, setbacks, obstacles, hard starts or.....guilt you've always carried in the past, and for once believing that anything is possible in your life.
This book has really been on my heart a lot lately, starting with our trip to Minnesota. And I think I'll be picking it up to read again in the very near future. And after yesterday's post on Guilt, it seemed like the perfect time to tell you guys about it too.
So there you go! Your Best Life Now.....read it! :) It's a life changer. And to prove just how good I think it is, we're giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!! Just leave me a note in the comment box below and tell me the one thing you would do if you knew you could not fail. Extra brownie points if you tell me what's holding you back now. Go!
Someone once said to me that guilt is the most useless of human emotions. And I believe them to be right.
Rationally, I believe they were right when they argued that guilt is really just feeling bad about something (usually in the past), but not really doing anything about it. And therefore not moving forward.
And rationally, I can agree that that's a pretty useless way to spend our time.
But as any of us who are business owners know (and from what I'm told, all you mom's out there also know a thing or two about this) our form of guilt tends to look a lot more like this: feeling guilty for not doing more right now, right this very second, for our business, for our clients, for our kids, and being driven into a frenzied panic to do something, Lord help us anything, to stop feeling that way. Until we guiltily force ourselves into working all the time and ruining whatever little "us" time we do have.
And the thing is, I also believe that's a pretty useless way to spend our time. Rationally. But irrationally, emotionally, humanly.....I still allow myself to feel that guilt all the time.
See when we first start our businesses, the first stage we go through (after that "holy crap, how am I gonna do this?" stage) is the quiet stage. The phone's not ringing stage. The how will I ever get my name out there, let alone book a client who's not already my first cousin and I'm doing it for free stage. And...it's scary. So when stage two-the I'm super, super busy all the time and there aren't enough hours in the day stage- rolls around, we can't help but feeling really happy about it. No I'm talking fist pump in the air, jersey-style happy about it. And that's only natural when you've just lived through, and some how come out the other side of how scary the quiet stage is.
But the problem is, because we associate being really busy with "this is actually working," we start to worry that taking any time off whatsoever from the action of DOING will slide us right back in to stage one. Scary, quiet, lonely stage one. So busy for small business owners starts to equate to happy. It's a win. It's a rush. It's maybe the world's best legal high. And taking time off from that high, by comparison, in a very real way starts to resemble withdrawal.
You feel the twitch in your arm until you can't restrain yourself from hitting "get mail." Your mind races with all the things you could be, scratch that should be, doing. You beat yourself up for how much farther you have to go, and all you can think about is how good it feels when you're making progress, any kind of progress, toward that goal. So you sneak a little. Cause just a little won't hurt. But....it's a slippery slope. And soon a little turns into a lot. And you're right back to working yourself til you can hardly recognize the face you see in the mirror. Because working is better than the guilt.
Rationally, I know this is not good. :) Somewhere in the rational part of my brain, I know that we need rest. I know that when we take that rest we come back stronger, more productive than before. That rest is what's needed to sharpen the saw. And I know that every time we force ourselves to work toward balance, to take time off, we come back and our business grows by leaps and bounds above what it was doing before. So why do we all continue to feel this way?
For me, I think it boils down to permission. In this life, we've always had someone else tell us when it was time to rest. Nap time in Kindergarten, winter breaks in college, a boss who made our schedule at work. But now, we are the boss. And it just doesn't feel right giving ourselves time off. Like it's wrong in some way.... that we're cheating. Like it's something that we shouldn't be allowed to do.
And that brings us back to guilt. Useless, irrational, sword-dulling guilt.
Well this last week, I had a revelation.
Because this past week spent in Hawaii with Justin & my dad was the first time (maybe in the past four and a half years since we started this business) that I was able to go away, take entire days off at a time and not feel the slightest tinge of guilt about it. On the contrary, I was defiant. I almost dared anybody to question it.
And of course, I think the reason it was like that is because we were doing this for someone else. Which came with it's own natural high. And also, I knew without a doubt there was nothing at work more important than this.
So like I said, I had a revelation. I realized two things: 1) it is possible to take time off without guilt when we truly believe that time off is important (this was a revelation in and of itself!) and 2) we need to start thinking of that time we take off for ourselves (not just the time we take for others) as falling well under that important category.
I know this post has gone way too long as it is, but let me just end by saying this. Stage three (the stage we're just now entering in our business) is the stage when you finally start to realize that what took four and a half years to build cannot be undone by taking one day off. Or even one week. And that constant action does not breed success. Intentional action with a clear vision does. And finally, rest and balance are absolutely necessary if we want to be able to stick around long enough to ever figure out what stage four and five look like.
So, if you're out there and you're feeling guilty for the rest & play you so badly need....take it. Don't wait another second. And if anybody dares to question you about it, just tell em Mary Marantz told you you could! :)
I give you permission.
And since this is a Pancake Session after all, here is an Instagram picture from my pineapple stuffed french toast from Lulu's in Waikiki. And I didn't feel a bit guilty about those either. :)
**If you're new to the blog, Pancake Sessions are a series of business & life FAQ's we do on an ongoing basis. If you click "Categories" at the top of the page and then "Pancake Sessions" you can see all of them we've ever done!