finding time to exhale

recently, looking for feedback and thoughts from other photographers, a photographer friend shared this (i'm sharing with you, with her permission): I jumped into this business without a plan without knowing what I was truly getting into. I thought it would be easy, I thought it would be easy money, I thought I could do it all at night while the kids slept. Working outside the home was something I never wanted to do. I don't do it for the money; I don't have to work. I would rather downsize than be in a position where I had to work. I always wanted to be there 110% percent for my kids like my mom was for me. And I'm not, I am failing miserably in those areas. Yes, I am a perfectionist so I am hard on myself, but truly I am failing.

Allow me to consumes me. It's gotten better with time, but it still consumes me. I get ugly and nasty when I am on the computer. It drives me nuts to be interrupted when I am on the computer and I basically turn into the HULK when someone tries to talk to me or ask me a question. It's awful and I hate it but yet I still do it!

Before photography I used to have a clean house, super clean house, you could eat off the floors clean house. I need clean to feel relaxed. I used to workout 4-5 times a week. I used to teach kickboxing. I used to cook healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I used to hang out with friends. I used to have people over. I used to go to weekly Bible Studies. I used to read to my kids and rock them to sleep at night. I used to watch tv with my husband. I used to go to bed at the same time as my husband. I used to plan elaborate birthday parties for my kids. I used to help in my kids classes and do lunch duty. I used to plan crafts for my kids. I used to play playdough. I used to take the kids to the zoo and parks. And on and on the list goes.

i could have written so many of her words myself.  my friends and i often talk about this--not letting photography consume us, finding the balance, getting off the computer, being a better mother, being a better wife...balance, balance, balance. and yes, finding the time to just breathe.  deeply.

many people think that having a photography business and working from home would be easy.  it is so not easy; it's damn hard.  working from home is the toughest job i've ever had.  what's easy is--getting caught up in editing photos. and blogs, flickr, facebook, twitter, etc.  and when we spend hours doing that, we call it networking. and of course, we need to network, right?  that's what we tell our spouses.

my goal in 2010 is to truly be on the computer less and be with my family more.  i mean really present with my family.  not just sitting in the same room with them--my butt on the computer chair and all of them on the couch.  one photographer mentioned that at 3 PM, she shuts off her computer and doesn't turn it back on until her kids are in bed.  i think i'm going to start doing that.  and you know what, if i can't make it work, then i need to take on less clients.  there's no reason i should be giving my photography business more than 40 hours a week, but i do (most do!).

one of the things i remember most about my dad is that after he came home from work, all he did was sit and read the paper.  ugh...that's one of my biggest memories? :-( as things stand right now, i know that one of my kids biggest memories would be, my mom spent most of her time on the computer. and that makes me so sad!!  the time to change is now!!  they're young enough that i can transform that memory.  i want my kids to have memories of me laughing, playing, sharing and doing projects with them.  i want my kids to have memories of me truly being present with them.

for aspiring photographers, with families--don't rush.  do things right.  take the time to enjoy.  and work hard to find balance and structure from the very beginning as it truly is one of the most important things.  and one of the easiest things to spiral out of control.

just yesterday, this article came out yesterday in the NY times--this hobby looks like hard work, an article about building a career on etsy.  how yes, it is possible to make a lot of money doing what you love, working from home and selling on etsy,'s also a hell of lot of hard work.  i loved this final quote in the article:

what's the point of doing something you love, if you're too exhausted to do what you love?