Something to SEA: A New Direction for Me

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

This week, I finally did it.  After hemming and hawing, weighing the pros and the cons, discussing it with treasured friends and family, I finally took action to alter the direction of my life, and I couldn’t be more relieved.

I spent almost 8 years as a part-time photographer, shooting weddings, portraits, events, parties, and more.  I always loved taking photographs, and I thought that the natural step was to take the plunge and go professional.  I had a good eye and people told me I was good, so why not?

I didn’t mind in the least giving up my weekends to document major events in the lives of my clients.  When I would get a new booking, I would be elated and share my joy with friends and family.  Sometimes there were over 4,000 images from a job to edit, yet I was excited while editing each and every one with care.

I thought I could do it all, while holding down a full time job as an educator (and with Lupus and Fibromyalgia in the mix, too).  I bought backdrops and lights.  I made sample cards and albums.  I joined professional associations and went to conferences because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.

And I did do it all, for a while.

But only for a while.

However, what nobody saw was how “photography” actually changed me for the worse.

First of all, I did not care for the business end of it.  I quickly learned that while I might have a good eye, I did not have the persona of a savvy businesswoman…and if you are a savvy businesswoman or man, may I say that I admire you!  My ethics and morals came before the prices I charged, and I always put my client before my profit, no matter what I had to give up.  Believe me, I know what other photographers charged for their work, but I could never bring myself to that level.  Perhaps it was because I didn’t feel worthy, or that my work was good enough.  Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter now.

Secondly, it became more and more difficult for me to properly do the job of a photographer because of my health.  What most people don’t know is that after every wedding I shot, I was laid up for two or three days afterwards and could hardly walk.  The sudden increase in activity, the stress, the long hours on my feet triggered my Lupus and Fibromyalgia symptoms terribly.  Thankfully, my health never resulted in me having to cancel a gig, and I always let my clients know of my condition and what Plan B was beforehand.  Even an hour long beach portrait session took a physical toll on my body.  Exhaustion, headaches, and leg pain are the norm on a good day, let alone on a day when I have extra activity.

I began to realize the sacrifices I was making in order to record someone else’s life events, and I no longer wanted to compromise my health for someone else.  I no longer wanted to miss my family events to photograph someone else’s family event.  I wanted to live my own life, not document other’s lives.

Additionally, as the list of professional responsibilities as an educator has exponentially grown over the past few years, I had less and less time each year to not only accept photography gigs, but also to edit the photos, design albums, market my services, attend trade shows, and more.  I could not keep up with other area photographers who were able to pursue photography as their only career:  their marketing, their equipment, their editing, their studios were always superior because they had the TIME to dedicate to their craft, time which I did not have.

The personal frustrations of turning a loved hobby into a career, at times, resulted in me actually hating photography, something I never confessed before now.  But it wasn’t photography that I hated; it wasn’t putting the view finder up to my eye and capturing what I saw.  Instead, it was everything else having to do with the “photography” end of it.

And I gave into that hated and put my camera down for a long time when it came to taking pictures of people I care about, or of my own life events.  And at what cost?  Not having my own photos of, say, my father and I at Thanksgiving, or my father in law and I at Easter…photographs that can never be taken again because both passed away last year.

I hate that I let that hatred affect my life.  I hate that instead of real pictures, I have to rely on mental photographs of many people I love and care about who have passed on.

This week, like I said, I finally took action.  First, I deactivated my portfolio site, which hasn’t made a sale in over 3 years.  I cannot not justify paying a pretty hefty yearly fee in case someone might want to buy one of my photos for cheap.  Additionally, I deactivated the url address I used for my business.  Again, no hits in a few years, so no justification to keep it.

It was time for me to do this. And as I read both cancellation confirmation emails, I was filled with reassurance and contentment.

I am eternally grateful for the clients who put their trust in me to document their weddings, their milestones, and their events.  Words cannot express how flattered I am that you thought my work was good enough for you. I am who I am today because of all of you.  YOU are what brought me to this epiphany.

Today, I am MORE than just a photographer. And “photographer” is no longer my sole identity.

I will still photograph school events and get excited when, for instance, I capture a soccer player mid-air with a soccer ball pressed up against his head, the moment a baseball player makes impact with the baseball while swinging, or a cheerleader in a perfect layout more than two stories up in the air.

I will still educate my students about photography and techniques they can use to capture similar images.

I will still photograph my niece and nephews, from being silly and selfies to milestones and card-worthy portraits.

I will still take photographs of where I go, who I am with, and what I see.

I will still share my photographs with you.

Not because I am a photographer.

But because I love photography.

And I will photograph and document MY life as I live it:  MY travels.  MY celebrations.  MY sorrows.  MY days.  MY sights.  MY memories.

MY LIFE on MY TERMS.

What a sigh of relief.

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Sea The Importance of NOW

20150904 Quote

You know that place you want to see?

Go there.

The thing you want to try?

Try it.

The book you want to write?

Write it.

The book you want to read?

Read it.

The song you want to sing?

Sing it.

The journey you want to take?

Take it.

The recipe or craft you want to make?

Make it.

The person you want to share time with?

See him.  See her.

The person you want to hug?

Hug him.  Hug her.

The person you want to forgive?

Forgive him.  Forgive her.

The words you want to say?

Say them.

The memories you want to have?

Make them.

Now.

Tomorrow is not promised.

Do it today.

Live in the moment.

Cherish the present.

You only get one life to live.

Live it.

Now.

 

“Sea”ing Direction

I was going through an old journal and this is what I wrote on March 28, 2010:

“I’m sitting at the beach, sand covering my feet, listening to and watching the waves roll in.  What is my place in this world?  I’m lost.  No idea about what my purpose is.  Somehow, I expect the answers to come rolling in on one of the waves, but no answers, yet.”

I probably have written the same type of journal entry at least 50  times in my life.  While I might have been distracted at times throughout my years and made more terrible decisions than I’d like to admit, I have led a pretty simple life, comparatively speaking.  But there, always lurking in the background, was a map without any path laid out.  The one constant has been the refuge of the beach and the sea.  Ever since I was young, I looked to the sea to find the answers…answers to guide me on the right path to find my true calling and purpose on this earth.  I expected the voice of the sea to literally SPEAK to me, time after time.

I’ve always felt as if I should be doing something MORE than what I do, that my purpose was something more, but I have never been able to find what THAT is.  For a while I thought it was photography, and I jumped into that arena with my heart and soul.  However, long story short, that detour ended up being a dead end for many reasons (I will elaborate on this at another time).

Prayer after prayer, good decision after good decision, setback after setback, life change after life change, I’m still here, trying to find what THAT is.

Just as I was 5 years ago.

Just as I was 10 years ago.

Just as I was 20 years ago.

Just as I was as I graduated high school.

And just as I was as a kid.

At the end of 2014, a few clicks on a Facebook page I follow brought me to a website I had never visited before, and I found a wonderful writer named Susannah Conway (please check her out, as she is such an inspiration).  She offered a free workbook called “Unraveling the Year Ahead 2015.”  I completed the workbook, and the word I chose for me this year was DIRECTION.  A summary from what I wrote (which looks so similar to what I wrote in 2010):

“For years, I have felt lost.  There are things I want to do, but I do not know what to focus on or how to do them…I need direction on so many levels.  Direction will help me nurture me. Direction will help me nurture my relationships with others. Direction will help me see where I am going, and how I will get there. Direction will help me see the world. Direction will help me focus on a purpose for my writing. Direction will help me find my purpose in life. Direction will lead me there. Direction is my word for 2015.”

2015 happened, and I was once again ready to find my path, looking for direction everywhere…clues to guide me, signs to direct me.  Looking again to the sea for answers, for some whispering just a little louder than the surf, something to show me the way, even just one word to move me forward just one step.

This year I made it a point to be more involved with life.  I embraced my birthday in February and started a blog to document what I do during my 44th year, and have since made progress on my goal list.  I have said “yes” to more invitations this year.  I began meditating and reading books by a lot of new authors to me, such as Mallika Chopra, Brene Brown and Eckhardt Tolle.  I read Susannah Conway’s “This I Know” 3 times. I take a lot more notes and reflect a lot more about my daily happenings and observations.  My planner is a rainbow of “me,” filled with ideas, snippets and thoughts on multi-colored post-its with coordinated ink.  I’ve made great memories with great people and seen a lot of new places, some which were right around the corner all along.

However, through the daily ins and outs, I saw nothing leading me in the right “direction,” if you will.  No clues, no signs, nothing leading me to what THAT is.  Just the same old, same old to do list, meeting agendas, responsibilities and the like.

In June, I began thinking about how half of 2015 is almost over, and I have not found my direction.

And then, out of the blue, it hit me…the idea for this blog.  And hit me it did, like a ton of bricks, in my semi-sleeping subconscious.  And for the first time in what I can remember, I felt like I made it over the proverbial hump of life.

Now, I don’t know whether this (SoulSEAKer) is THAT, my purpose or calling, but what you are reading right now IS my direction.  I do not know where my words and photographs will take me, but what I do know is that I feel a little less lost these days.  I feel like I am ON the right path on my life’s map.  I know that I am headed in the right direction.  And if the answer is not my words and photographs, I firmly believe that my words and photographs will lead me to THAT.  The answer.

When I look towards the future, I am excited, yet filled with calm and peace.  I am right where I am supposed to be, and instead of looking back and wishing “what if”, I am looking forward and saying YES to what might be.

I will continue to listen to the sea’s voice for guidance, because at the every least, it will provide me with solace and a sense of renewal.

And I plan to embrace every opportunity that is good for me with open arms.

While the path of my future is still unknown, my compass is finally pointed in the right DIRECTION.

I’d love to know your reaction to this entry, or something that helps you find direction in your own life…please comment if you’d like.