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. 

I chatted with Beryl about how she believes creativity isn’t a thing that you either have or don’t - it’s a way of life. Beryl uncovered her own creativity after a devastating loss, and her passion project turned into what is now a thriving business. 

Developing a passion project may be the last thing on your mind right now, but it may be exactly what you need, and not as far off as you think.

This live interview series is a little bit of an experiment, but approximately weekly I'll be chatting with different interesting people like Beryl 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.

Don’t have time to listen?

Here are the key takeaways from our conversation:

A summary from Beryl on her creative journey:

  • Beryl’s journey started with photography classes as her main creative tool
  • Now she attracts women with all kinds of creative interests
  • She has a small group community called The Village that is about how to be creative and balance that with life - right now they are talking about resilience

What is a passion project and how do you get started if you already feel overwhelmed with everything you have going on in your life?

  • The term “passion project” makes it sound so big, like you have to have a deep interest in something.
  • However, a passion project can be something that’s for you, an act of self-care that gives you energy.
  • It will take a little bit of commitment, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of commitment.
  • For example, if you think of a big project like writing a children’s book, you can start out by giving yourself 10 or 15 minutes a day and committing to that process.
  • Sometimes it’s about unraveling the way life is and what things look like in order to fit it in.
  • Internalized patriarchy means that we can find ourselves feeling like we’re not allowed to take care of ourselves and that we have to stay small and not take up a lot of space.
  • A passion project doesn’t have to be a big deal in terms of incorporating it, but it’s important to recognize that we deserve to have things that we’re passionate about.
  • If you’re stuck on how to incorporate it - ask yourself “how can I do this wrong?” You don’t have to do things the way you’ve been expected to, or how you feel like it should be done - we are grown adults making our own decisions.

More on Beryl’s creative journey:

  • Beryl never set out to start a business.
  • Before kids, she had a friend doing a 365 project, and so she wanted to do something similar and have a visual diary like that.
  • She started down the path to photography, but experienced pregnancy loss before giving birth to her daughter that is now almost seven.
  • Beryl’s story is one of resilience as she was gifted a DSLR as an early baby gift, and ended up using it to heal from the loss. It felt like something she could do to get out of bed - she could take a walk and photograph things. 
  • She started a blog with no other purpose than to share those things that she wanted to people to know without, as an introvert, having to have those conversations. 
  • This unraveled everything about how she saw her life - her business was an offshoot of her willingness to start that blog.
  • First she offered photo sessions, which she hated, but then she started to teach photography classes.

What was it about photography that helped her process that loss?

  • Beryl shares how she would envision how she was feeling on a particular day and try to photograph that
  • There was a lot of black and white photography, and a photo of her on her due date standing by her daughter’s crib holding a candle.
  • She tried to capture what the emotional journey looks like… but the surprising thing that came out of it was the joy piece. She would start to notice light in a different way, or how the flowers were blooming, and she started to photograph those things too - it shifted her perspective.
  • Yes there are still beautiful things even in the midst of tragedy.

Alethea’s definition of joy:

  • I like to talk about the “happy joy” that we immediately think of where people are smiling and laughing and having a good time.
  • But there’s also the joy of being present to all of our emotions - photography is a really good tool for doing that.
  • There are all kinds of mediums of expression that can help us do this - words can be great too, but sometimes words can keep us up in our heads.
  • Photograph is a different medium for expressing ourselves - it’s a way of getting out of our heads and tapping into feelings.

Alethea’s creative journey:

  • My dad is a photographer - he was never a professional, but he was a serious amateur photographer, and I grew up with a dark room in our bathroom. It was his passion project, but I never considered it as a profession or career.
  • My background is in architecture - I went to architecture school at an art school, so I do have that kind of creative background and training.
  • I took a couple of photography courses, but it wasn’t until just before I became a mom that I got my first DSLR just over 8 years ago.
  • I did get my first digital camera over a decade before that - I remember the excitement of being able to take photos and see them right away. I remember the kernel of an idea that photography could be a different way of experiencing life.
  • It wasn’t until I had kids that it really skyrocketed - I fell in love with photographing my baby at the same time as I fell in love with my baby.
  • It was a different way of processing what I was going through and sharing it with others.
  • I was on maternity leave and didn’t want to go back to architecture, so it started as a passion project, but the obvious next step for me was also to start a family photography business.
  • I enjoyed it, but at the same time, I had just joined Facebook when my son was 6 weeks old, and so I was seeing everyone’s photos that they were sharing, and was also getting a lot of questions from friends and clients about their own photos - so Photosanity began as a two hour local workshop and grew from there.
  • For me, my business has also evolved to where photography is one tool of many within a toolbox - I’m bringing women’s leadership coaching into it as well, so what I really want to do is help women increase their impact without sacrificing themselves in the process.

What is creativity?

  • Beryl talked about how there are more traditional creative pursuits like knitting, sewing, photography, but there are also people who like being out in nature, or are super organized and like to spreadsheet things out for their family.
  • You have to take stock of what it is you love, what your personality is, who you are and what do you want to create from that?
  • What you create doesn’t have to literally be a piece of artwork - it doesn’t have to mean making something. I like to think of creativity as transformation.
  • Beryl shared the example of her current quarterly goal of working on her relationship with her body and how she’s had to “do it wrong” because her body doesn’t necessarily work to optimal performance like everyone else’s does - it’s required her to be creative. 
  • Even having a family is a form of creativity, especially as it’s constantly changing and you never really get to master it!
  • Parenting can be an act of creativity even in how you approach some of the drudgery aspects in a joyful way - this is how you can find resilience.
  • One way to do this is to find ordinary moments to photograph, not just the big moments.
  • Photography can help you see these things in a different way.
  • For me it’s about using photography to be more present, which is often the opposite of how people experience photography when they think of it as a visual art that is focused on the end product.
  • It’s not about being a professional photographer showing photos in a gallery or even on social media - it’s not about what everyone else thinks of your photos, but about taking photos for yourself that make you feel a certain way.
  • What is the purpose behind your photos? Knowing what you want to get out of your photos is important.
  • Printing is important too so you can see that visual in a different way - it can really amplify the joy you felt in the moment.

To connect further with Beryl visit http://recaptureself.com and you can take a quiz to find out what kind of creative you are, and then get some suggestions on how to tap into that creativity. 

To find out more about Photosanity, sign up for our free online challenge, 7 days to finding joy through photographing your kids (even if you're having the worst day) and you’ll get your first month of 30 prints free from Timeshel (a $14.95 value).