Last night I was in the shower and I had an epiphany.
It was eureka and duh at the same time. I’ve seen plenty of other photographers blog, but I have never felt like it was for me.
Back in 2018 when I first moved to Texas with my husband, Max, I dabbled in blogging. I wanted a career I could control. I wanted to be in charge of my job because, with Max in the Navy, we'd be moving around a lot and for a long time. I saw bloggers getting PR packages and taking fun pictures all the time. How hard could it be? Ha. Hard. You need to be committed. It takes work to come up with content on the daily, post regularly and consistently, and persevere through weeks and months of building your brand.
Blogging (when done right, in my opinion) is personal. It’s kind of like a diary. At least..that’s how I would like to consider mine. I have been working (for years, really) to get myself into a daily writing practice. I have always loved writing, public speaking, communicating, and creating. A blog about my life and my photography is the perfect outlet.
Again…duh! Why hadn’t realized this sooner?
I want to blog to keep myself accountable. I want to design a daily outline for work and start treating my photography like the full-time job it is. I will push myself to write DAILY and I will put my energy behind it.
In order to be successful, I believe I need to take action with sincerity. I need to enjoy what I do and not “care” about the outcome. This may seem counter-intuitive, but I think that if my energy and intention behind my work is genuine and receptive, it will become aligned and everything will fall into place.
Over the last four months, my life has changed a lot. On may 15th, my husband Max left for his first deployment in the Navy. He would be in Japan for six months. Amidst the anxiety of our first deployment as a couple and his first personally, cue COVID 19. Cue a company acquisition at my job. Cue mental illness..
Full disclosure, I’ve experienced depression for as long as I can remember. Depression, suicidal thoughts, mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, self-loathing..a brief period of eating maybe 300 calories a day (most of that I'm really uncomfortable writing and sharing, but I have found that when I hear other people talk openly about mental illness and suicidal thoughts, it makes anyone who does experience it feel like they are't alone.. so that is why I mention it.) Really, it's everything that many women experience now, in the wake of a life defined by, constrained by, technology and social media. We constantly COMPARE ourselves to our perception of others, never feeling fulfilled. Not appreciating or, maybe, appreciating the wrong things.
Of course, I've sought to feel better - medication, talk therapy/counseling, exercise, journaling, etc., and often I would feel better. However, I knew that a good mood was fleeting, temporary, a distraction from the darkness for a little while until it dissipates and I’m back in the throes of mental illness again. I’m sobbing on the bathroom floor feeling utterly alone and lost. Therefore, I took the time during deployment and COVID look inward and make a real change. Cue: Gabby Bernstein.
Gabby Bernstein is a spiritual teacher, speaker, author, and all around ANGEL. Her teachings are heavily influenced by the book “A Course In Miracles,” written in the 1970’s. This book teaches the value of forgiveness, healing, releasing judgment. Gabby employs Hindu and Buddhist techniques, beliefs, and practices, but her work is non-denominational. Her teachings are feel-good and positive. She encourages you to find your own version of healing and happiness. I first listened to Gabby in 2018 when her book “The Universe Has Your Back” was recommended to me by my best friend. I loved it, but I wasn’t at a point in my life where I was ready to receive guidance.
Fast forward two years later in May of 2020, when I wanted to read a self-help book. I remembered that author from the Universe book and Googled furiously. I found her! And perfect, she just released a new book! So I listened to Super Attractor. I loved it, so I went back and listened to The Universe Has Your Back again. Then I listened to May Cause Miracles, then Judgment Detox. I listened to every video and podcast that featured Gabby. You get the picture.
I began applying her practices into my life, dipping my toes into meditation, running outside, and waking up early to light candles and practice yoga. Gabby taught me to surrender to the guidance of the Universe, to pray (something I have always been uncomfortable doing), to change the self-limiting narrative in my mind. I put in the work and I started feeling the changes.
I quit my full-time job because it had been making me unhappy for months. I’d bring home the feeling of defeat each day. I didn't really want to be a medical receptionist, I worked there because I'm *supposed to*. When my husband asked me what I wanted to do for my career (I’m pretty sure he was secretly hoping I’d say nursing school or real estate), I’d say I wanted to do my photography. Pursuing a career as a professional wedding and portrait photographer has been my dream for a few years. I had been taking portraits on a DSLR since I was 14 years old. It was an activity that brought me a lot of joy.
However, I put a LOT of pressure on myself and convinced myself I deserved a lot of shame for taking out so much money in student loans and not being immediately successful or not "using my degree". So, I was afraid to pursue a career in photography, deeply fearful of failure and embarrassment. I couldn’t necessarily fail at achieving my dream if I never made a true effort to pursue it. But, this time was different. The age of COVID is a world upside down and I was ready to stop feeling bad.
Since leaving my full-time position less than two months ago, I’ve shot one wedding and booked two more after that. I've improved at meditation. I am better at eating intentionally. I became physically stronger and lost weight by exercising and eating differently. I felt the best I had ever felt, truly. I was thriving. I AM thriving..but let me stop myself and tell you why I’m writing in the past tense.
Once I started seeing results, I dialed back a little. I was feeling so good, I had "reached my goal". My body was where I wanted it to be and I felt STRONG. I stopped waking up early to practice yoga in the morning. I fell into a pattern of not eating because I like the way I was looking and I was afraid to eat the wrong thing and ruin it. Thus, I less energy. I slept more, exercised less, and felt myself slip into just a straight-up icky mood.
I told myself this was a lifestyle change, but I really pumped the brakes on the practices that had gotten me to that incredible place. That’s when I realized this truly is a process. There cannot be such thing as a "before" and "after" photo because "after" is just a construct of the imagination. If you're ok for me to get a bit woo-woo on ya, consider this: there is really only the now.
Throughout the last four months, I allowed my own body and mind to become a safe place for me, no longer a place of judgment, fear, and shame. When I learned to look inside, discover root causes of my fears, and heal those root issues, my whole world changed.
So..here I am, September 20th, with about 8 weeks left in deployment. I promise myself: I will continue to put in the work. I will push harder and meet goal after goal. Last night, in the shower, I decided to write a blog. Now, I'm doing it. There is no time better than now.
I have so much gratitude for my life, for everyone in it, and for YOU, being here, reading this. Thank you. You are a miracle to me.