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.
This past weekend, I finally got to see Moana with my husband and two boys. I'm aware of the issues of cultural appropriation and accuracy, white washing, and commercialism AND I thought it was so much progress over what we typically see in mainstream media and a beautiful and uplifting film in its own right.
My favorite moment was when Moana was abandoned by demi-god Maui on her mission to save the world (meanwhile, he is making amends for causing all the trouble in the first place). All along, her mantra has been that HE will replace the heart of Te Fiti and restore abundance to the islands, but he's gone, and instead she realizes that SHE will be the one to do it.
"I am Moana of Motusi and I will restore the heart to Te Fiti.”
She saves herself.
And the world.
Her journey is that of trusting her voice, honing her skills, learning from others, taking risks and making mistakes. She is creative and resourceful. She is compassionate and unwavering. She takes action.
She is a leader.
Now, more than ever, we all need to step forward as leaders in our own lives.
And what I believe is that being leaders and saving ourselves starts from within.
It starts with a commitment to stop beating ourselves up for not doing enough, and instead treating ourselves with the kindness and compassion that we treat others.
It means recognizing what we are already doing for our families and communities and workplaces - I guarantee that it is way more than we give ourselves credit for, let alone anyone else.
It means owning our strengths and weaknesses unflinchingly and making decisions accordingly.
It means placing value and worth on what we are doing and looking at how we can increase our impact by doing less, because we're acting from a place of strength, not trying to cram in more, because we're acting from a position of weakness.
Earlier this week, a friend reminded me that the one thing that always brings me joy and validation is the process of photographing my kids, and by that I mean, taking the photos, and then editing and sharing the ones that mean the most to me.
When I fall into negative thought patterns and find myself asking "why bother," my photos are guaranteed to snap me out of it more reliably than any of the other tools at my disposal.
And it's not because I have a creative eye, or a particular talent, or am an experienced photographer.
It has nothing to do with being a photographer, and everything to do with the practice I've developed, as a mom, of using my camera to capture the moments that have meaning to me.
I’ve focused a lot lately on joy, but I’ve come to realize that this process is not just about capturing joy, but is actually a mindfulness practice of recognizing all emotions. It’s not just about the positive emotions that we might typically think of as photo-worthy, and it’s not just about the negative ones we might naturally tend to dwell on without tools to help us do otherwise, especially when there are so many stresses on our lives.
It's not about only feeling positive emotions, or turning negative emotions into positive ones.
But only giving space to the negative emotions is debilitating, and I know that we cannot afford to be debilitated.
We need to be activated, and that can only happen when we can feel positive as well as negative emotions.
For me, the joy comes from seeing the beauty in all emotions, and from feeling and celebrating all those emotions, through the photos that I take.
This broader perspective gives me the validation that comes from seeing that my kids are healthy and thriving and living life fully, with all the attending emotions.
I’m not perfect, and nor are they. But my photos allow me to know that I’m doing the best that I can.
And that’s what I want you to know too.
It's not that you're not doing enough. It's that a focus on the negative makes it hard to see what you are doing, and how much you’re doing.
So whether it's through photos, or journaling, or talking to your best friend, or recording little voice memos, or videos, or a therapist or a coach, or yoga or meditation…finding a way to be more present to all your emotions will help you to claim your value and your worth, and know that you are doing enough
You deserve it.
And the world needs it.
For more on finding joy and connection through photographing your kids, I invite you to check out my free 7-day challenge on taking better photos of your kids using only your smartphone. You can sign up for instant access.