I used to tell myself – and sometimes others when I felt brave enough – that I was a wedding photography because my idea was always to work hard all spring-summer-autumn and then to take off for the winter. To travel. To explore. To live in new places. It was a great plan and it was totally feasible. Fourteen years later, I have yet to live that life.
We often tell ourselves stories about your lives. Stories about things that we would love to do, if only we had the time or the money or the support. Stories about who we are are people. Stories about what we are capable of in our everyday lives and capable of accomplishing. We tell ourselves these stories and often end them with “if only” and then these stories remain that way. Stories of why we didn’t or couldn’t do all that we dream about. We are our own greatest enemies in this sense. We hold ourselves back from so much because we tell ourselves that we cannot. We cannot be selfish. We cannot spend the money. We cannot put ourselves out in this world. But why can we not? Because we are afraid? Because we think that no one is listening or witnessing our actions?
For a lot of my childhood that I can remember, my parents often talked about their retirement. They were constantly saving money for that time when working was no longer a necessity. When they would be free to live their lives. What I don’t remember, is what their vision for that life looked like. I’m not sure if they even knew that it looked like. I think that it was a faraway magical idea of when life would be so much better and brighter and stress-free. There was always this idea of somewhere out there being better than it was now and that is what they seemed to live for. That is what a lot of us seem to live for. We have these dreams and we think that once we accomplish them, everything will be perfect and easy. Except oftentimes when you get to that dream place, it doesn’t look or feel exactly as you imagined.
This year has been one of transition for me. It was a year ago that I got rid of my studio, after working from that space for thirteen years, a space that shaped much of my adult life. It was a year ago that I made the permanent decision to not have children. It has been a year of personal work and of personal growth. Where I traveled to the desert of Australia and really sat in my juicy and uncomfortable bits. Where I learned to set boundaries and where I learned more of what it is that I want to do in this life.
About six months ago, I revisited that dream of working all spring-summer-autumn and then taking off the winter and this year, after fourteen years of living this life as a photographer, I am happy to say, I am finally doing what I have always told myself I would. While, I am not disappearing for the entirety of winter – we will be traveling for nearly five weeks and that makes my heart soar. For the month of January we will be staying in a gorgeous apartment in Southern Mexico. Where we will fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and where we will wake up to the sounds of unfamiliar birds Where we will have an open calendar to fill with running on the beach, reading that pile of books and writing. Writing, writing, writing. The biggest thing that I tell myself I would do, if only I had the time: more writing.
The truth is: we are not our stories. The stories we whisper to ourselves as we are falling asleep each night don’t have to be the ones that we live. We are capable of doing great things and of living the lives that we dream of. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.