2017 : Live Loved, Be Brave

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. -Hal Borland

virginia-beach-family-photographerIn the last seven years that I’ve maintained a blog, I’ve searched and questioned. I’ve tried my hand at different kinds of writing, different voices, different ways to communicate. I’ve gone absent. I’ve returned. I’ve been unsure. I’ve found a wobbly confidence. I’ve been focused almost solely on writing as a business pursuit.

It mimics quite a bit of the reality of my life and my usually overflowing and anxious brain, and sometimes it’s frustrating to see so much back and forth, so much sway between focal points and commitments. Hyperfocusing is my pattern, and it’s taken reaching some fairly low moments in the last six months to see how damaging that can be. To live incredibly out of balance with who you are and what your needs are for over two years finally brings you to a point of feeling completely suffocated and paralyzed.

Alarmingly, I was feeling many of the same emotions and reacting in many of the same ways as I did immediately before and after my divorce (even down to weight gain and a dramatic haircut). The impetus and situations are totally different, but my reactions to feeling lost and suffocated were not.

It was incredibly confusing to see my life and know it was good, to love so much of it, to be so grateful for how amazing it was, and to know that I had no obvious reason to feel so frustrated and listless.

Despite having figured out so much through the summer and actually being brave enough to write about it here, I wasn’t ready to fully understand what I needed to do to gain a better balance. I was hashtagging #liveinthelayers but not really grasping what it meant for me to actually do that. I was not understanding that I really needed to make choices that brought those layers I so desperately needed back to my life. Instead I continued to hide, to feel more fearful than ever.

In my relentless pursuit of building a successful photography business, I all but abandoned any real physical goals. Running, swimming, and biking dwindled even with half-hearted attempts of signing up for races and then finding injury around the corner. I felt paralyzed from writing and expressing my heart the way I had been doing for years on my blog and on social media because it didn’t feel like it lined up with branding goals, a curated and polished feed, and what is taught as the methods used by successful creatives to build a brand and business.

It’s incredibly important for me to note that none of this is wrong empirically. It simply didn’t work for me, for my heart, and my goals for my life and business. But I mostly kept up. I forced myself to play by the rules.

Until it became too painful and too exhausting. I considered giving up my business. I checked out of social media for a while. I stayed quiet because that is the only way for me to regain understanding. Thankfully, this pattern was ready to be broken, and despite having gained 25 pounds in two years, having a growing out haircut I don’t totally love right now, and having flailed a bit business-wise in the last six months, it is no longer 2006, post-divorce. I am not the unhappy girl who sat on the sidelines at the Shamrock wishing for the confidence to do something real, to feel real and alive. I have done real and hard and meaningful things in the last ten years. Running away is simply no longer an option in my life.

It feels perfectly timed that so many realizations came at the end of 2016. December brought such light and courage and well-timed conversations, and I am entering 2017 with a lightness and confidence that has eluded me for a long time. And while it is a leap for me to share so honestly here because I’m out of practice, I believe it’s important. It’s important for me to acknowledge my journey. It’s important for others who may also be struggling for any reason to recognize themselves in these words.

I am ready to fully dive into the layers.

I’m carefully reconstructing a business that truly reflects who I am. I’m not sure exactly what it will look like yet, and I’m comfortable with that mystery for now. I do know that it will continue to focus on loving my families and newborns well.

I’m taking charge of my fitness. I found a new gym that is personal and ego-free. I’m running again without the pressure to tackle huge distances. I’m eating healthily. I’m feeling better about myself.

I’m reflecting and writing and reading and journaling again. I realized, sadly, that I haven’t dedicated a year to a theme or a word in two years.

I’m not considering 2017 a new beginning, but a going on, a continuance of this life’s story that is threaded with more wisdom and experience and intention.

I’m chasing down me again (and again); I’m remembering to live loved and be brave.