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.
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.
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 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’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 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 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."
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.
I hope that through the course of this past week of tips, you have started photographing your kids daily and have found that you have far more moments worth capturing than you realized.
If you've been following along with the 7 day challenge to take better photos of your kids, whereas before you might have felt that you kept missing the moment, now you almost have an overabundance of moments worth capturing!
This is a good thing, but it can be overwhelming. How do you decide what is most worth capturing? How do you decide what is most worth sharing?
We’ve been talking this past week about not asking your kids to smile and say cheese, and instead capturing natural emotions and interactions as they are engrossed in the things that they love.
We’ve looked at capturing the full range of emotions, not just the happy ones, as a means of validation as well as a much more rewarding approach to photographing your kids.
If you’ve been following along with these tips, you already know by now how much confidence and joy you can experience daily when you broaden your concept of the moments that are photo worthy.
However, I know that you still want photos of your child smiling and looking at the camera - I do too!
You see a precious moment that you want to capture... yet when you go back to look at your photos you are disappointed.
Why is that?!!!
One frustration that I hear over and over from parents is that they struggle to capture in photos the feeling they were experiencing in the moment.
There are many many reasons for this, and my first suggestion is always to focus on how it feels, not how it looks as you will find that your photos start to become like shorthand notes to yourself about what you are feeling in the moment.
But I know that you want more than that.
Today I want to share with you three very specific steps that you can take to start using photography to help you achieve many of the things you want as a parent.
Let’s take the core parental desire from the poll as an example.
You want to know that your kids are self-confident and happy
Have you signed up for the next free 7 day challenge yet?
If you're not sure about signing up, here's what some of our past participants said they liked most about the challenge:
I like that it made me look for something specific and loved the interaction on FB with everyone... great seeing other people's pics and struggles. - Brigitte Hradsky
Last week I talked about using photography to connect with your kids and be more in the moment with them. Photographing your child can be a meaningful rather than a utilitarian endeavor. Your camera can change how you experience a moment, not just help you capture it.
Yet most photography courses take the opposite approach.
To be honest, words such as “mindfulness” and “gratitude” don’t really resonate with me. I am horrible at meditation. I dropped out of yoga in college - I think it was the only class I ever dropped.
When I was pregnant with my younger son Jack, I remember a friend telling me "with the first kid, it's all about the first kid, and with the second kid... it's still all about the first kid."
A few weeks ago I was in Portland for a long weekend - yes, my husband stayed home with the kids while I got to connect with old friends and new.
You love photographing your kids, but are you frustrated with the results?