5 Essential Tips to Slow Down & Appreciate Life a Little More
I’m excited to share some insight on how my sabbatical made me better at my job and improved my documentary skills for you and your family.
CAUTION: this post may induce an overwhelming sense of wanderlust. 🙂
“There are gifts that come from grief.” I heard this from my therapist in the beginning of my journey after Jeff passed away.
I didn’t really learn what this meant until I was traveling the world on my year-long sabbatical. Grief and traveling abroad taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my lifetime:
(drumroll….)How to live in the PRESENT.
I now feel like maybe I was never truly living in the present before. Well, at least not as an everyday way of living with intention. You see, I always had a plan in place ahead of me. I had so much arranged that it rarely left space for things to just unfold organically. So is the life of an entrepreneur (and Capricorn).
What I’ve learned though, is that the present is the only time we are guaranteed. This moment you and I are breathing in right now. Wouldn’t it be amazing to simply hold this slice of time and take in every sense available to truly be here and nowhere else, cementing the memory and gratitude of this moment in your mind?
I discovered that this newfound gift of living in the present was a tool to learn more about myself while building trust with my inner voice and fostering spontaneity.
So you ask, “How exactly do you live in the present?”
Here are a few questions I found helpful to place myself in the present moment and environment. I hope you find them helpful. They’re really surprisingly simple and effective.
- What do you feel like doing right now?
- What kind of food do you want right now?
- What’s one thing you want to do today? Everything else is gravy.
- Ok, you don’t feel like doing what you planned. What would you rather do right now?
- What will bring happiness to you right now?
You’d be surprised what doing this day in and day out teaches you about listening to your inner voice while developing a new appreciation for your surroundings and environment. You’re only facing the step in front of you, not looking 5 strides ahead of putting every little jigsaw in place to craft a day. See where the adventure leads you!
Here are four ways that traveling and living in the present helped me grow as a person and an artist, making me better at what I do for my clients.
- Street photography made me hyper-aware of your surroundings and developed a spidey-sense about anticipating micro-moments. Living in the present and wandering the streets of a city for 8–12 hours a day took my intuition to a whole new level. I’m pretty sure I could catch a fly with chopsticks now. This hyper-awareness allows me to see things that other people often miss. Sometimes I feel like it’s almost a superpower and I am so grateful for that gift. I like to call it my spidey-sense 🙂
- Photography taught me patience. You know who can stand outside a corner brasserie waiting for the server to come to the outer 1/3 of my camera frame to set a table in my shot? Me. You know who can sit and wait for that next Tube train to roll in after missing the last one by 3 seconds? Me. You know who can let your kids be free and wait for their true smile. Me. You know who can hang out and wait for a 7 minute lull in foot traffic for a clean composition? Me. Street photography has taught me to slow down and be patient at every single turn. It still amazes this Type A gal how photography can both energize me and encourage me to slow down, breathe, and just be. Awaiting the decisive moment where all the elements come magically together is a learned skill and requires a special kind of patience. Try sitting in a public space and observing a scene continuously with no distraction for 10 minutes just to observe what unfolds. I think you’ll be surprised!
- Shooting for myself made me a better artist for my clients. When I started my trip, I had no idea what I was going to photograph. You know why? Because I hadn’t been shooting for myself in years on a consistent basis. I was always shooting for clients. I was not exploring and discovering new things out in the world that fascinated me through lens. I didn’t realize how important this was for strengthening my voice and point of view. I finally considered myself an artist with a unique way of interpreting the world around me.
- My curiosity mushroomed. I think I’ve always been a curious person, but the more I saw, the more I wanted to know. The more diversity I saw, the more I craved. I asked questions. I heard stories. I tried to communicate and interact with people as much as possible. I studied the crowd and interactions when I was alone. I dined and eavesdropped. I learned so much about people and life. And I still want to know more. Always. This curiosity applies to every situation I am in now. When it comes to photographing your family, I use these skills to dig deep and really capture your moments and tell your stories.
- Variety helped me figure out what I wanted to shoot. I was at the photography buffet. All you can eat style. I tried so many different things and like throwing spaghetti at a wall, I had to see what would stick. What got me out of bed, excited to shoot? What did I feel motivated to walk around for 14 miles capturing when someone wasn’t paying me to shoot? I didn’t have to shoot anything. I chose to shoot. Every day. I certainly learned a lot about what ignites my fire and why wouldn’t I want to choose to do that in my everyday job? My ah-ha moment revealed itself. I love finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world. Your everyday life is worth celebrating.
I want to learn more about your world. I am curious about what you love about your life, your rituals, and your existence.
Stay tuned for the next four lessons...coming soon!
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