We are all doing the best that we can, but it is so easy to feel like we are not doing enough or doing it well enough, no matter how hard we try.
And yet we try.
We try to do it all, because we are ambitious and driven, because we care deeply about what we do, because we want what's best for our kids, and we want to make the world a better place while we're at it.
But we also try because it's what we've been conditioned to do.
We've been conditioned to dream big and work hard, yes, but we've also been told, especially as women and in a particular way as moms, that we're not enough.
And so we beat ourselves up.
We beat ourselves up for every missed dance recital or each time we have to leave work early. We beat ourselves up for the store bought valentines cards and the cookies we didn't have a chance to bake. We beat ourselves up for brushing our kids off because we were working on a deadline, or for losing our patience and yelling at them after asking them to put their shoes on for the tenth time.
We fail to live up to our own standards on a daily basis, not always realizing how those standards have been shaped culturally and are likely unattainable.
These past few weeks, I've been talking about how tired I am of women beating themselves up for not doing enough when in fact we are already doing so much, it's just hard to see it.
The answer isn't to try to do more, it truly isn't.
Instead, I've been talking about speaking up for yourself, and about feeling and expressing your feelings without defending them (and listening to others in the same way too).
Today I want to talk about another component to this that I believe is critically important as we rise up as women to stand up for what we believe, increase our impact, and make the world a better place for ALL.
What a week it has been. I know that it feels really overwhelming right now. On top of all of our usual responsibilities, being an informed and active citizen is starting to feel like a full-time job in and of itself. Fear, horror, outrage, and anxiety are everywhere, and it can be a struggle to get basic tasks completed.
Take a deep breath. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is really important right now to put self-care practices into full force so that we have the energy and stamina to keep moving forward and taking action, whether politically, personally or both.
If you've been reading or listening to my blog posts lately, you'll know that I've been thinking a lot about how we as women in particular feel like we are never doing enough, or doing it well enough.
We beat ourselves up, and we try to do more until we run ourselves ragged with no end in sight. We are holding ourselves up to impossible standards of perfection. And we are not doing ourselves, our families, our jobs or our communities any favors.
I'm tired of seeing women beating themselves up because they're not doing enough - for their kids, their families, their jobs.
I'm tired of seeing the work that women do remaining invisible and undervalued - even by ourselves.
I'm tired of seeing women's needs and voices being overlooked, silenced, undermined or downright attacked.
Enough is enough.
Yesterday morning as I walked to my office, I had a “life is beautiful” moment of well-being. It wasn’t that the street I walk along is particularly picturesque - it isn’t, plus it was below freezing and dreary, and I was trudging along in snow boots in the left over muddy dredges of snow.
But it felt beautiful to me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience lately.
I remember the first time I played chess with Liam. He had been learning via a Kindle app, but when we played, he was adamant that I was not allowed to capture any of his pieces… but he was still allowed to capture mine.
It’s pretty hard to play chess that way, let me tell you!
I also remember the first time he played a video game and he was about to “die.” He totally freaked out. I told him it was ok, that he would lose and then he could start over and try again. And sure enough, he did.
I've been talking about how what you do matters, and how understanding this is an important step in addressing one of the biggest parenting challenges we face - that of time and balance.
And I know! "Time and balance"... blah blah blah it's such a cliche and an unsolvable problem.
We accept that not having enough time to do everything we want is a given condition of being a parent and that there is nothing we can do about it.
One of my favorite questions to ask recently has been “what is your biggest challenge as a parent?” It’s the question I’m most passionate about asking and hearing the answer to, and it’s the question I most like helping to solve, using photography as a surprisingly powerful tool to do so.
I've been having the most amazing conversations lately, and I am feeling very very grateful for the people I know and the work that I get to do, not just now but throughout my life, both personally and professionally. Some of you are reading this, some of you are not, but I am really sinking into that feeling of gratitude right now. I am honored and privileged to have been in incredible company throughout all phases of my life, and I try not to take this for granted. This feels especially important, meaningful and helpful now as, like many, I continue to struggle to process the US election and the still developing outcomes.
In light of the devastating US election results last week, I want to reach out and ask - how are you holding up?
I am slowly piecing myself back together, but I have had a very hard time in the wake of an outcome that I had very much feared but had allowed myself in the last few days leading to the election to hope would not come to pass. I know many of you have been struggling too.
I have been starting to feel that "I love my life" spark a lot more lately. This is interspersed with feelings of fear and anxiety as I dive deeper into growing my business, but I've been working on making myself feel cozy and safe.
My photos of my kids help me with that. They become almost like a place where I can go where there is an abundance of love and joy - through my photos I see the best in them, and as a result, the best in myself and the best in life.
This is not a "good" photo.
The lighting is bad, and there is all kinds of background clutter. As a professional photographer, I would never share this photo.
But as a mom, and as a photography coach for parents, I am sharing it with you because yesterday it made me feel better as a parent.
A few days ago, I asked you what you most wanted as a parent, and what your biggest frustration with photographing your kids is (if you didn’t fill out my quick poll, you can still do so here.
I then explained how the two are linked - how I have found that your camera can be a surprisingly powerful catalyst for creating more of what you want in your life as a parent.
And yesterday I told you that I know that you've got this - and showed how Photosanity parent Andrea Rizvi has been using photography to be more present, connect with her kids, and focus on the day-to-day joy in her life as she captures the moment.
But I know that you still want to know how.
A couple of days ago, I asked you what you most wanted as a parent, and what your biggest frustration with photographing your kids is (if you didn’t fill out my quick poll, you can still do so here.
Yesterday, I explained how the two are linked - how I have found that your camera can be a surprisingly powerful catalyst for creating more of what you want in your life as a parent.
I talked about the role that photography likely plays in your life right now (that creates the opposite effect to what you desire) and how photography helps me be more present, connect with my kids, and know that my kids are self-confident and happy, amongst many other things.
But I know that you may not feel like you can do the same, given that you are not a photographer and you don’t feel that you have that same “creative eye."
So I know that when I say that you can create the life you want as a parent through photographing your kids, your reaction might be one of confusion.
What does one have to do with the other?
I know what it’s like to feel that your busy life keeps you from getting to what matters most to you. I know that likely you are juggling a million different things - not just parenting, but a career (yours and/or your spouse’s), your relationship, as well as your household and community responsibilities, not to mention relationships with extended family and friends and any other commitments you have. Likely you’re feeling forced to drop the ball in one or more of these areas, and it stresses you out to feel that you are not living up to your own standards.
Dear Stressed-Out Mom,
I know that you love your kids, but that sometimes that feels like the only thing you know for sure.
I know that you're exhausted and overwhelmed. I know that you are drowning in the day-in day-out drudgery of parenting. I know that you don't have enough support and you feel like it's all on you. I know that you worry about how it's all going to turn out.
And I know that you second guess yourself all the time.
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with fellow photographer, mother and entrepreneur Beryl Ann Young as she interviewed me for her podcast, Recapture Self. We spoke about photography, motherhood, identity and creativity - some of my favorite topics!
Listen to the episode (also on iTunes or Stitcher) to find out how it is I came to become a photography coach for parents, the one thing you should do to use your camera to connect with your kids, my favorite parenting book, and how I use photography to help diffuse meltdowns.
It's the night before the 15th anniversary and still I feel so raw and traumatized and heartbroken. Other sadnesses have passed or at least lightened over the years.
This one is deep in my bones.