COVID-19, riots, climate suffering.
Each devastating in their own right. Each a severe problem. Each containing their own solutions.
I tend to focus on the things I have control of, those things I can change, and the actions I can take to move me toward that change.
From the time I started my photography business, 11 years ago, in October, I lived a series no body wanted to watch. It was a personal series of internal struggles. While the specific struggles have changed faces, there was always one common denominator.
That common denominator looked a lot like, smelled a lot like and acted a lot like, fear.
Fear surrounds us in many aspects of our lives and often it comes forward in situations where we feel most vulnerable. In my case, my fear was based our of my own misunderstanding. I didn’t take the time to evaluate why I was afraid, I just felt safer hiding in the emotion I already knew.
It wasn’t until recently, I discovered what it was I didn’t understand about my fear. It was value.
The initial struggle around fear of printing my images was about moving my images from the digital world into the physical world. The thought of printing left me so terrified that the pictures would look drastically different when they went from my computer screen to my fingertips. That terror allowed me to deny myself and my clients the opportunity to touch, feel and physically experience our precious life moments.
I now understand the value of that printed photograph which floods our memory banks with emotion.
I remember spending hours as a child looking at my parents photo albums. I’m talking the type of hours where you sit on the floor in one position for way to long and then half of your body falls asleep – yes, even as a kid.
In these albums, I got to see my parents as children, my grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles as young people, my parent’s wedding day, former family pets, and my own childhood from times I was too young to remember.
Once I overcame my fear and understood the printing process, I realized the phenomenal value I get to offer families for generations to come. Until, another conflict arose.
How was I going to remain sustainable while providing physical lifelong stories for my clients?
This is a place I sat in for a long time, years, actually, and searched for solutions to my equation. “How do I overcome this?” I would ask myself. The answer was so simply once I started listening to what felt totally natural.
I searched trade show floors for green and Eco-friendly options for printing and finally found what I was looking for. A beautiful creamy, archival bamboo paper was presented to me. With this paper, I could, finally, feel 100% confident in offering lifelong memories to my clients in a way that was no longer in conflict with my personality or my business.
Fast forward several months and years: I now offer a line of sustainable paper, an Eco-friendly album, recycled metal prints, a sustainable inspired line of decorative window films, and relationships with vendors that use recycled paper, plant trees with my orders and are local to my own economy.
There are other measures I have taken in my business and personal life which are greening up: I don’t print as much, when I do I use double sided paper (junk mail is great for this), make more options available online, I collaborate with other green minded organizations, I research companies and products before I consume, and I choose the most sustainable option.
There is not one minute that passes where I don’t think about the by-product of our purchases, which motivates me to be more proactive about my motives, actions, educating and sharing with others.
So, do I still have conflict? Sometimes. I believe, many of our social norms stem from messages we receive from our social networks and sometimes these social norms makes us feel guilty if we are not “picture perfect” – excuse the pun.
We have limiting beliefs, we feel bad about things we do, or do not do, say, or do not say, feel, or don’t feel, but we forgive. We forgive our friends, our families, our children, our pets, even strangers, and so, we forgive ourselves.
We do what we are personally capable of doing and when we are motivated, we do more. Good for us! Pat yourself on the back more often, tell others when we are overwhelmed with joy or love, be free, be kind and be responsible. Let’s all focus on healthier habits and minimize those which blacken our soul.
I know I am not “picture perfect” (whatever that means) and that there are so many new things I still have yet to learn. So, let’s be forgiving of our imperfect selves and love on.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put back more bliss in our days. Let’s sit on the floor for hours with our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews and tell the stories that have shaped us. Let’s learn from one another, let’s teach the value of memories and honor our history.