I won’t lie, it’s been an intense few weeks for me. I’m still reeling from Charlottesville, Harvey, Irma, DACA under threat, and the 16th anniversary of 9/11.
While these events don’t necessarily have a direct and immediate impact on my day-to-day life today, nonetheless it’s brought up a lot of feelings of trauma and grief for me, especially around my own experiences with race, immigration, and personal loss.
Add to that the usual September transition back to school. What I’m realizing based on stories from other parents is that the meltdowns and exhaustion of the first couple of weeks back are common amongst kids of all ages (as well as their parents!) It has been exhausting.
I’m also feeling stronger and clearer than ever before.
Preliminary women’s leadership survey results are in! Although the sample size is still small right now, what I’m seeing so far is really interesting.
What I’m seeing is that there is a lot of commonality in the challenges we are all facing, but when it comes to what we need help with, the responses get more specific and varied.
The third main question we asked was: what is the biggest change you could make over the next six months that would increase your impact and/or decrease your levels of stress and overwhelm?
This question had the widest variety of answers, with no conclusive frontrunner.
At Photosanity, women’s leadership is NOT just about your career, job, work or professional life.
It is a holistic approach to aligning your life with your values, and who you are with how you present to the world. In this way, you can increase your personal and professional impact without sacrificing yourself in the process.
Fill out this quick survey by September 8th, 2017, and the following week you’ll get the survey results plus our brand new "5 myths of women’s leadership" series delivered right to your inbox. You'll also get information on how to find out more if you’re interested in women's leadership coaching.
This is a conversation I had the other day with Liam, my eight year old, and Jack who is five.
Me: Good news - I am now officially certified as a women's leadership coach.
Jack: Wait, does that mean you can lead planes now?
Me: No, I cannot lead planes.
Good thing I don't use how impressed my 5yo is as a benchmark!
But yes, I am officially a Gaia Project Certified Women’s Leadership Coach. This program, and the work I did with my volunteer coachees, has been life-changing as far as how I see the role I can play in the world.
A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lou Blaser of the Second Breaks Podcast, a show about what it takes to make a career move in today’s economy.
In the episode, we chat about my journey from architect to photographer to business owner, and the role motherhood played in that journey.
Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 003: Joy Through Passion Projects, a conversation with Beryl Ayn Young, founder of Recapture Self, a community for deeply feeling, giving moms who are ready to reclaim their identity beyond story reader, snack maker and boo-boo kisser.
Motherhood is a role that we love, but the day-to-day grind of being a parent can be exhausting and all consuming. However, it’s possible to be an amazing mom (even on the hard days), fiercely devoted to our families, while also making time for ourselves too.
We’ve been wrapping up 7 days to finding joy though photographing your kids (even if you’re having the worst day) and on Monday I went live on FB to do an epic recap of each day’s challenge and some of my findings.
If you didn’t get a chance to join in on the challenge, this is a great 45-minute 7-days-in-a-nutshell recap, and if you prefer listening to watching or reading, you certainly can go audio only for most of the broadcast (although I do go on camera with my Timeshel prints and Rag and Bone Bindery albums and show MySocialBook and Chatbooks albums too).
Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 002: Joy Through Slowing Down, a conversation with Allegra Stein, a Thought and Action coach who helps driven women move towards their big, scary ideas.
For ambitious and high-achieving women, slowing down might not seem feasible, let alone something worth considering as a means for achieving more. I’ll be chatting with Allegra about what can happen when we slow down, and where to start when we are all struggling to balance so many things. Why is slowing down important when there is so much more we want to do for ourselves, our families and our communities?
Allegra is also a mom of two, and we’ll also talk about using photography to slow down.
This live interview series is a little bit of an experiment, but approximately weekly I'll be chatting with different interesting people like Allegra about a variety of methods of finding resilience through joy no matter what's going on in your life or in the world. This is all about increasing your personal and professional impact without sacrificing yourself in the process.
Welcome to the Resilience Through Joy Show - Episode 001: Joy Through Decluttering, a conversation with Amanda Wiss, founder of Urban Clarity, a professional organizing company that helps busy New Yorkers get out from under the clutter, streamline their spaces, and maximize their lives.
For many parents, clutter is a big thing that ends up stealing joy as all the toys, gear and clothes quickly get out of control. Amanda shared with us some practical tips as well as mindset shifts that can help create less anxiety and more joy in your home.
Amanda is also a mom of two so towards the end of the show, we talked about how she finds joy through photography, and I answered some of her questions about organizing and decluttering your photos.
I used to be a lot more cynical and angry. I’ve mellowed out considerably over the years, but still, as a type A ambitious professional, I’ve never really considered myself a particularly warm or joyful person.
In fact, when a colleague a few years ago commented on how warm I am, I was rather surprised.
Society ingrains all kinds of false dichotomies into us, and one of them is success vs. joy.
When I started Photosanity in 2011, I was a new(ish) mom and family photographer, and it was in response to a lot of questions I was starting to get from parents about taking better photos of their own kids.
So I developed a workshop that would teach parents just that, but not only how to take better photos, but how to handle the organizing, editing and sharing piece as well that can be so overwhelming.
However, from the very start, I always taught photography from the perspective of a mom who derived a great deal of joy and satisfaction from photographing my own kids, not just because of the resulting photos, but because of how my camera helped me to process the whole experience of becoming a mom.
This will come as no surprise to anyone, but being a mom is hard. And although I know this is an exaggeration, I feel like I would never have made it as a mom, had it not been for the amazing group of moms I met when Liam was around 6 or 7 weeks old.
We were all first-time moms with babies born within weeks of each other, and we met weekly at a local cafe, huddled over our nursing or feeding or sleeping or crying babies. We exchanged stories, information and commiseration from the front lines of those early and mysterious days of trying to figure out diapers, feeding and sleep schedules, postpartum recovery, and the crazy transformation we had experienced where we were now taking care of tiny, helpless, living, breathing, human beings outside of our bodies.
I was recently invited by Light.co, a brand new camera technology company, to write about how my photography career has evolved, along with my style and technique, in relation to technology. I thought this was such a great topic to write about, so here is my response.
And actually, it just so happens that I was doing some decluttering the other day and came across the very first camera that I ever owned. It was a small point-and-shoot, film of course, and I was in middle school at the time.
This was way before smartphone cameras or the internet became prevalent - in fact, people were only just starting to get “personal computers” in their homes. You took 24 or 36 photos per roll of film, took it to be developed, and a few days later, picked up your prints, and then mounted your photos into albums. I’m guessing most of you reading this are familiar with what I’m talking about, but our kids would be flabbergasted!
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about joy as not just a nice-to-have, but essential if you are to survive and thrive. Last week I took a look at what gets between us and joy.
Today, I want to talk about specific, concrete, simple actions you can take to find the joy that is already in your life without having to deny the things that are causing you to struggle, and without having to create joy out of thin air.
Last week, I talked about how joy is not just a “nice-to-have” but essential if you are to survive and thrive. Because what I’ve been exploring and experiencing these past few months is about how joy is an incredible tool for resilience.
As I was writing that post, I thought to myself that I would be interested to read and research more about joy (I’ve already been reading about resilience)… and so I’ve been reading The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World based on a week of conversations between none other than the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu, as told by Douglas Abrams - not a bad place to start, right?
Chills, I tell you. Just chills.
I've been thinking a lot about joy lately.
As a former straight-A student turned type-A overachiever, and as an ambitious and serious professional, that’s hard for me to admit.
Because, at least in my mind, we have a tendency to think of joy as frivolous, and somehow uncouth or undignified… or very unicorns and flowers and rainbows type of “woo woo.”
And yet it is also very liberating for me to own it, and to realize that everything that I’ve been teaching and exploring and experiencing through Photosanity comes back to joy.
We talked last week about how it’s totally fine if you just want to use your iPhone to take photos. However, your DSLR still offers some significant advantages when it comes to really being in the moment and capturing it in a way that best reflects how you experienced it.
If you missed it, don’t forget to grab our “get out of auto” cheatsheet to get started. You’ll need this in order to use “shallow depth of field,” where the subject is in focus, and the background is blurry. THIS is what will make it worth carrying your DSLR around with you.
Along with the best camera bag for moms that I talked about last week, there’s one other piece to the puzzle that makes camera-toting life so much easier as a mom, and that is the camera strap.
I talk with a lot of women with kids, and while everyone has their own unique situation and approach, there are some questions and themes that come up over and over again, some of them bigger and more philosophical, while others are more practical such as:
How on earth do you lug your big camera around with you?!!!
It’s a challenge, I know, and what’s happened is that as smartphone cameras have become better and better, and as we rely on our phones more and more, the upside of that fancy DSLR you likely bought when you first became a parent becomes less and less.
I was chatting with a friend the other day about my blog and what to write about next, now that I wrapped up my series on “you don’t need to do more, ” and she said, “Alethea, you have to tell them about the skirts with pockets!”
I thought this was hilarious, and I couldn’t believe she remembered this, as it’s been at least six months since this first came up.
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.