The off season and the turn of the New Year (although it is looking like not much of an off season this year) brings the opportunity to move at a bit of a slower pace. To choose to embrace the moments rather than bulldoze through the crazy.
To anyone that knows me well, 2016 was a very challenging year. While my business completely took off, at times, it came at the cost of my sanity. So often we find ourselves answering the question “How are you?” with “Busy”. To be honest, I have taken pride in that. I have found my worth in my accomplishments, in the ability to feel like I can do it all. But at what cost? Most of my weeks consisted of me attempting to simply stay above water, working an average of 70-90 hours, but never feeling like I could quite get ahead. I convinced myself I could do it all, be it all, and then I discovered I could not.
I am energized by my work, which is why it is so easy for me to get lost in it. I LOVE my job. The fact that I get to wake up every morning to continue to pursue my passion leaves me humbled and grateful. I get to work with some of the most incredible couples, capturing their stories as well as working with businesses and families. But I have let my job define me. I let it completely control who I was, often times at the cost of my community, my faith and my family.
As the year ended I chose to refocus. The crazy didn’t end but I found a new resolve to make changes for the future to allow for margin. I want to create an unmatched client experience, but I also want to leave breathing room to just be. I want to be known for how I love, not for what I have accomplished.
The cabin with my family last weekend was one of the first times I was able to allow myself to do just that, to simply be. On Friday night I handed over my phone to my father and told him not to return it till the end of the weekend. I picked up my camera purely for fun and only when I felt like it and I allowed my soul to breathe.
My favorite book of all time is Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niegiest. More pages have been underlined then not as the words echo exactly how I want to live my life. The following passage is lengthy but dripping with the good stuff.
“If perfect is plastic, present is rich loamy soil. It’s fresh bread, lumpy, warm. It’s real and tactile and something you can hold with both hands, something rich and warm. Present is a face bare of makeup, a sweater you’ve loved for a decade, a mug that reminds you of who you used to be. It’s the Bible with the battered cover, the journal filled with scribbled, secret dreams. It isn’t pretty, necessarily – it isn’t supposed to be.
Present is living with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem. Present is choosing to believe that your own life is worth investing deeply in, instead of waiting for some rare miracle or fairy tale. Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.
Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice. Present over perfect living is the risky and revolutionary belief that the world God has created is beautiful and valuable on its own terms, and that it doesn’t need to be zhuzzed up and fancy in order to be wonderful.
Sink deeply into the world as it stands. Breathe in the smell of rain and the scuff of leaves as they scrape across driveways on windy nights. This is where life is, not in some imaginary, photo-shopped dreamland. Here. Now. You, just as you are. Me, just as I am. This world, just as it is. This is the good stuff. This is the best stuff there is. Perfect has nothing on truly, completely, wide-eyed, open-souled present.”