This past weekend, I had scheduled boudoir sessions in an amazing downtown Detroit loft. It's been my goal to return to a more urban environment, that's no secret, and something about the revitalizing of Detroit has completely lit a fire in my artistic side and awakened a deep longing to integrate myself and my business into the city. Also, truth be told, I wanted to see what I could do with the ability to spread my wings a bit from my slightly smaller, natural light-lacking studio in northern Michigan.
To say it went smashingly would be to understate the profound experience that Detroit was for me. I gained a new level of confidence in my abilities, and I fully opened my eyes to the reality that not only could I build the life of my dreams, but I'm actively doing it right now.
After a full day of shooting, I felt like it's all paying off. The online classes, the memberships to boudoir bootcamps and tutorials, the near constant stream of business podcasts and seminars, the planning, the working, the practicing, the desire to consume every resource and all the knowledge I possibly can, the drive to become better and better until I can someday count myself among the best--it was getting me where I wanted to go.
After spending this year connecting with so many driven, inspiring, and motivated women, I know that I'm not alone in what came next. Rather than taking a moment to revel in the fact that yes, I am slowly climbing the mountain of my goals and making my way to the top one step at a time, I felt like I had to ramp up my efforts. If I was making such great progress at a slow and steady pace, think of what could happen if I sprinted to the top! Without any gear or climbing equipment holding me back! And stopping for rest breaks? That shit ends NOW! Double up on podcasts! No days off! Never mind that you're also a full time mom with an 18 month old daughter home with you all day, sleep when you're dead, loser!
While culling photos and checking Google Analytics, I took a quick second to check out my card of the day app. It's a tarot card app, and I like the new perspective each day's card gives me; a way to look at problems or challenges from a different angle or mindset. That evening, almost as the day was completely over, my card mentioned Savasana, or the Corpse Pose. It's meant to consciously relax the body and mind, and although the pose itself is lying on one's back, many yogis consider it one of the most difficult asanas to master.
As I skimmed the text, I realized that this was the universe speaking to me, and I needed to listen. There I was, having just completed one of the most delightful, difficult, amazing days of my professional life in one of my absolute favorite cities with a devastatingly handsome guy who had dropped everything to assist me with whatever I needed for the weekend, and I was stressing out!
I sometimes fall into the trap that so many women do--of feeling like immediately after smashing one goal, the next logical step is to move onto crushing the next. Or the second we cross an item off our To Do list, we've got another that's just as important and needs to be dealt with. There's no slowing down, because failure is waiting just around the corner to catch up with us, I guess. We've got to do it all now, so we can keep doing it all tomorrow, and the next day, and add more items to our lists to get done after that. I've got to build up my business RIGHT NOW so that...
Why? I don't plan on letting my business die. I don't plan to ever NOT be actively working to make it better, to make myself better, to create a brand and experience that only I can provide. But I think sometimes, especially for small business owners, it's easy to get sucked into the mindset of Business = Life. And that's just not true.
I don't want my whole life to be Michele Zee Photography. And allowing it to take over my mindset the way I was is not only mentally taxing, but it's incredibly selfish. The universe has given me such an amazing gift in my circumstances and the ability to build up a business, to be at home with my daughter during these precious early years, the people and lessons its sent my way in the past year, the opportunities and connections and beautiful, amazing signs I've been fortunate enough to receive...to demand MORE MORE MORE RIGHT NOW rather than trusting in the universe to continue leading me the way I need to go in time is definitely not the attitude of gratitude that I should be practicing.
While I was focused almost singularly on creating a stable life for Rowena and myself through my photography business, I lost sight once or twice of other gifts the universe has given me since I started my new life. My amazing and beautiful daughter, born after 4 years of tears, treatments, and surgery. New friends who juggle motherhood, businesses, personal challenges, and everything in between. And a crazy, cosmically organized reconnection with the absolute love of my life. I can't believe, with all those miraculous and beautiful things in my life, I'm frustrated that I'm not magically two years ahead of where I want to be in business. Why--WHY--would I wish time away like that when my life is so fucking magnificent right now?
I want my business to grow, of course. I want to create a brand around the luxury experience and products I offer, and make a name for myself in the industry. But more than that, I want to be happy. I think a lot of my tunnel vision as far as becoming "successful" stems from being part of an unhappy marriage, feeling alone and helpless and stuck, and a determination to never feel that way again. But the thing is, I can't live a new life while being caught in the mindset of the old one.
In my new life, I have a wonderful partner, a teammate in every sense of the word. I want to enjoy that, and be everything to him that he is to me. I want to enjoy our kids, and be a loving, positive, and safe presence in their lives. I want to spend time with friends, laughing with them and having little adventures without feeling guilty that I'm not spending every spare moment mastering a new editing technique.
It's more than okay to allow myself the room to breathe. It's necessary. Everything doesn't need to happen right this very second, because I'm not living a life I need to save myself from. I'm living one I get to enjoy, and that's a gift I just can't waste.