When Brittany officially asked to bring me to her wedding in the British Virgin Islands, I couldn’t believe it. I had shot their engagements but I knew they were getting married out of the country so I wasn’t sure what their plan of action was. And of COURSE, I totally understood if they didn’t bring me…after all, we’re talking international flights, hotel accommodations, etc.
Brittany knows and everyone knows, it was easy to say yes and then consequently hard to accept that I was leaving my girls closer and closer to the date of departure. As a mother, so many of us can empathize with one another that plans and events, in theory and set in the future far enough ahead of time seem like a wonderful idea at the time and then they are harder to acknowledge as part of something that is actually going to happen at the date nears.
In fact, it became something that I battled with because I felt guilty about leaving my two very young daughters and that I was both desperate to bring them with me and sad about how excited I was to go do this at the same time. The level of excitement that I was about to shoot not only an incredibly amazing couple defining what true love embodies but that I was going to do it in one of the most beautiful places in the world made me constantly wonder..am I balancing business and motherhood well enough? I’m leaving them for four days but I have this wonderful opportunity. Is it selfish?
It wasn’t long after I arrived at St. Thomas to catch the first ferry that my feelings that I thought were set in stone started to change. I love my daughters with every single fiber of my being, piece of my soul, my mind and body and emotions are all attached to them and invested in them so leaving them is saying goodbye to my heart…and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been crying buckets yet. I missed them, but there was an undeniable sense of peace that I had never felt before. I felt so completely stress free for the first time in….my life. I have had peaceful moments, but this was something different. I was okay with my wifi not being connected all the time (despite the fact that I desperately wanted to see my babies faces via pictures from my husband and FaceTime) and when I saw Brittany and Kris at the ferry dock there to pick us up, I felt instantly like they were old friends we hadn’t seen in forever.
Then, we joined them at the house and threw back some white wine, Caribs (like the Corona of the Caribbean) and their families gave us the most amazing welcoming we could have asked for. I looked horrible and well traveled and they didn’t care. We all hugged, snuggled and laughed through the night. It continued to be like this for the rest of the trip and I’ll never have any way except delivering these wedding images to show them how much of an impact they’ve had on my life and how much I adore them and their enormous hearts.
I began reading Thrive on the beach and fell in love. I only even got through the introduction of the book when I realized that this book was meant to be in my hands on THIS beach during this season of my life. The way Arianna Huffington connects with her words is an incredible and intense power. To be very vague but catch you up to speed on the concept of this book..it focuses on how we are incredibly “plugged” at all times, extremely overworked and burnt out and how to stop living a life full of busy busy busy and put meaning and value and what matters back into your precious time. On this beach in BVI, outside of the Mango Bay Resort, this book was in my hands giving me a grand wake up call. My life has needed a change for so long and I had accepted burnout and busy as a way of life. I thought, well, I have two kids under three and run a business of my own, burnout is okay because it means I’m successful.
It’s not. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You guys, it’s so hard to admit this, but although I think I do balance motherhood and business well, I also do feel burnt out. I accepted a huge amount of work this Spring because to be quite honest, saying no is still a work in progress for me. Also..my workflow is so helpful and precise that it allows me to stay in burnt out mode in an organized manner. I actually stay on TOP of being burnt out and working too much which is why I continue to justify it time after time. My turn around time is weeks less than many photographers and I have 20 weddings this year, sessions monthly, a 2 ½ year old and 4 month old and we are moving out of state in just weeks.
I can balance all day long, but I am missing so much in just maintaining and trying to “fit it all in”. I never stop to breathe, just to breathe and take in a moment. I have NOT read a book since my oldest has been born..that’s 2 ½ years ago. Opening this book on the beach, being on “island time” and watching the natives take their time with everything while being so laid back and kind…it was inspiring to me and life changing. The one lesson that I took from this trip is that we really, truly for ourselves and for our souls need to slow down. We are literally at people’s beck and call every single day..answering emails as quickly as we can on our iPhones when they are emails that aren’t even time sensitive, they can wait. SO MUCH WE RUSH OVER…it can wait. I’m not telling you to ignore your clients but setting boundaries and answering emails during office hours and not responding to late night emails and texts is necessary to stop encouraging others to continue to demand you always be “connected” and available to them.
I have to take this blog post today to say something to my oldest daughter, because one day, I know Cammy will have my blog as a journal of her life to look back on. Little girl, I am SO sorry that the majority of your sweet short time on Earth..you’ve had to see my face with a phone in front of it. For every time I’ve answered an email at the computer while you came up to me and talked to me at the same time and I exhaled with frustration when I lost my train of thought writing because I was too burnt out to handle everything going on. For every time you wanted to play outside but I had to blog, edit or feel the need to obsessively clean the house. I’m so sorry. I can never give you this time back but I sure as heck can spend every single day for the rest of my life working to make it up to you. You’ve always been my little rock to lean on, holding me when I need you and taking care of me. Love you always little mama, here’s to a big life change we’ve needed and you’ve deserved.
And here are some wonderful thoughts from Tara and her wonderful post yesterday! http://www.taraliebeckphoto.com/scheduling-time-life/