Ghandi said that “True happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”. I don’t think I’m there yet. Just under a year ago I wrote a post about letting go. Letting go of my career, the expectations I’ve had of myself, the success, etc. And though I wrote about it last year, it’s still an evolving concept/feeling/thought/meditation that I want to talk about… apparently… because I’m writing about it now. Again. Maybe that’s because being a mother, for me, is like dying and being born, over and over again; my identity being crushed and created in a constant cycle. And I certainly believed that “letting go” would be a good thing, but I’m not sure I’ve been able to let go of me and I’m not quite sure if I’m happy. Or maybe two years into motherhood with another one the way, I’m a bit more sober.
It’s five degrees outside and I eagerly ventured out in blizzard-like conditions to visit a suburban pizza joint to savor my weekly glass of wine and some alone time. Romantic and adventurous, right? Let me tell you that just three years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of visiting a suburban pizza joint for a glass of wine. It would have needed to at least be a bottle to endure a strip mall. But let’s just say a few things have changed in the last three years. Just a few.
About a month ago after one of my weekly self-pity breakdowns, I pleaded to Jesse that I needed some “me time”. I had a realization that having a two year old, being pregnant and living out in the sticks should buy me a night out once a week where I might read, write, go to a movie, see some live music, drink alone in a seedy bar… whatever. The notion excited me and Jesse was just as excited to have a night to himself without my griping and to have a happier wife for the few days that would follow. Strip mall (still not my cup of tea, but certainly better than putting a 2 year old to bed for the 7th straight night in a row) or strip club, I am thoroughly enjoying the luxurious time alone where I can gather some thoughts and feed my hungry ego. Let me reiterate the “hungry ego part”. I’ve been struggling a bit with what you might call an identity crisis of late. In just 2 years, I have gotten pregnant, had a baby, become insanely disillusioned with my career of choice, moved from LOHI to a house out in the country, lost 2 dogs, swallowed my pride, have daycare three days a week and have finally decided to leave the wedding photography world altogether. Oh, and did I mention that I am pregnant? Again? With another girl? I think in the same rant pleading for this weekly date night with myself, I dramatically flung myself onto the couch and sobbed “Who am I? What happened to the Gypsy in me? I don’t recognize this girl! I don’t even know if I like her!”. Jesse just nodded and listened as he often does, knowing that I would be just fine after a hot bath and some sleep.
There is a quote that kind of sums all of this up for me by James Balog, the photographer who inspired the documentary, Chasing Ice. He said, “The brashness of youth takes you far”. When I heard that quote the other night, I literally jumped up and yelled “EXACTLY”. What happened to that brashness that I used to have? By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was making a six figure income as a wedding photographer, had purchased two homes, traveled, partied, and basically denied myself nothing. I had attained my dreams at the ripe age of 26 and basically lived under the assumption (the brash assumption) that anybody could do anything that they dreamed of as long as they fearlessly pursued it. I thought you could have it all. By the time I was 30, I had purchased another property, this time a commercial property, a gorgeous store front property in the up and coming neighborhood of LOHI and was at the height of my success. I was more popular than ever amongst my peers and colleagues and was overall quite satisfied with myself. BUT. BUT… with success comes many obligations–social, financial, energetic, etc. And it wasn’t long before I got fed up with my own dream. I started to realize that you have to give to get. I was tired. So I got pregnant.
The rest of this story is history. I am reevaluating my life these days. I spend these nights alone doing serious soul searching. I don’t make the money that I used to–partly out of choice and partly because the wedding photography industry has gone to pot due to over-saturation of weekend warriors, and, of course, because of Pinterest. Ugh. I have a love hate relationship with that one. I don’t know if I am a cautionary tale or a success story. Perhaps I’m both. But there isn’t any question as to whether I am at a crossroads in my life. For the first time in 20 years I don’t know what my dreams are. I am in a scary and vulnerable place and am just hoping and waiting with an open heart and mind for something to move me into a creative alpha state where I can once again dream and love photography, or writing or both. Who knows.
I do know this about myself and for now it’s enough. I know that there will always be a little gypsy in me. I do know that when my two year old daughter kisses my booboos, that I am the most wealthy woman in the world. I know that I will always be a fun mom-, taking my girls on some of those same spontaneous (less expensive) trips that I did in my twenties. And I know that I will never ever live a conventional life. So maybe it’s not an identity crisis that I’m experiencing. Perhaps it’s the wine I’m drinking, but I will say that today, I know that you have to give to get. Nobody can really have it all. I have traded success for peace, partying for wholesomeness, and late nights for early mornings with my sweet Ramona. And today, for this moment on, I am trading in the nostalgic yearnings for my “brash youth” for some wonderful, lovely, glorious freedom.