Quieting Down: A Simplified Lifestyle

Knowing When to Quiet Things Down

Summer / Fall of 2011 was literally the busiest time of my entire life. Juggling a studio/business, teaching three online courses, selling products from a second business website, and struggling to keep up with all of life’s regular responsibilities, I found myself overwhelmed (and not handling it gracefully, to say the least). I remember Megan Miller of Picture This Photography walking into the studio one summer morning and I had been there working all night without much sleep for the third night that week. “Oh my God, you look terrible,” she said. And I did. My son was sleeping on the studio couch. We brought his video games and bicycle so he could ride around for entertainment while I worked.  Since when did something that I love so much (my business) become such a distraction in my life? And not only that… I realized my values were shifting as a result. The large townhouse I was living in took so much time to clean, the photography studio needed to be tended to, and let’s not mention keeping up with all the paperwork and organization of bills. Thanks to Megan and her husband Adam for making that part easier on me:)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been in this predicament.. where life’s responsibilities weigh so heavily that you’re not sure how to find comfort or balance. The key is realizing that something needs to be done, and then doing something about it.

 

Simplifying Your Life

Since that time I’ve had some heartfelt discussions with Nate Embrey over at TheShotShot, the incredible Tina Dolin ( who has been an incredible asset to my journey ), Amy Parrish of Atelier,  Taisha Holland at Cloud 9 hair design. Josh Branstetter ( jabberpics.com ), the spectacular Kina Williams ( who has become quite the spiritual mentor ) — my sister and grandparents, and some wonderful friends. Yes this is a thanks to you all before continuing <3

I’ve been wanting to write about this for quite sometime but it wasn’t until a trip to the mountains a couple of weeks ago that all of the manifestations of “letting go” seemed to become very clear to me. (I’ll be posting a video blog about that soon.)

Although it isn’t an easy thing to do but here are some basic steps: 

1) Determine what is absolutely necessary, and what is important to you. Once you do that, it’s time to start “cleaning house” so to speak. It just so happened that a move was in the cards for me, so it helped me rid my life of a lot of material things and focus on what was sentimental. One thing I knew I wanted to do was move into a smaller living space for awhile (if not permanently). It’s taken some time to adjust to the smaller space, but again, after my visit to the mountains and returning home, it feels more like home here than ever now. You have to be happy where you are and appreciate it for what it is — if you can’t do that then ask yourself what needs to change, and change it! You can do it:)

2) Accept that this is a gradual process. You aren’t going to just get rid of all the mind clutter and the stress, you’re going to have to make a plan of action and stick with it. For example.. I decided I didn’t want a car payment anymore, so now I’m driving my sister’s first car that’s paid off. That was my “step one.” When you can act on things with a step by step approach, you’ll be more likely to follow through.

3) Accept that you might cry a lot. (haha). This is emotional. But again — you can do this.

4) Determine what will make your life and well-being a healthy place to exist. For me, that meant cutting out alcohol, staying away from situations that distracted from my personal and spiritual growth. I realized that more than anything else I wanted to be a good parent, a good friend, a helpful person, to be truer to my motivations and aspirations as a businessperson (or do something else and preserve my love for photography) …… and ultimately to evolve spiritually and manifest a sense of composure in all that I do (instead of chaos). It didn’t start out as chaos, but if you’re unprepared it sure can get that way in a hurry.

5) Accept your faults and forgive yourself. More tears probably. But that’s okay… let’s just call that “adult growing pains“.

6) Changing your values really does change your behavior. I promise that lying beneath all of that doubt, confusion, and worry, there’s a pretty amazing individual under there.

7) Be willing to be alone. People are going to “go away” so to speak. You’re on a journey. But rather than looking at it as “losing people” look at it as staying true to your path. There are billions of human beings and when you follow your bliss, you’ll run into others who are following theirs. It’s incredible! You’ll also realize that there are people right under your nose that have been there with you all along. People come and go, and that’s okay. If you have to stay away from things that distract from your path for a little while until you’re more secure in the transition, that’s okay too. I find that even the simplest social gatherings aren’t good for me sometimes. Knowing your own boundaries is essential to the development of self-discipline, and surprisingly it is through discipline that one can find a true sense of freedom.

8) Be aware of the energy all around you, and of the energy that you transmit. That always sounds so vague. But I believe that we all have a sixth sense and we all know when our environment doesn’t exactly match our “flow” of energy. The important thing to understand is – it’s you, not them. Not that there’s anything wrong with you, but it’s up to you to decide what to do with the energy around you in varying situations.

9) Practice kindness and respect towards all beings. 

10) Remember that your happiness depends on your perspective! 

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
― Howard Thurman

 

That’s all for now.. I’m hoping this was worth something to you all. Until next time.. I leave you with a mobile photo of the place I was when the “light went on” in my head… at Mt. Pisgah in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Have a beautiful weekend and a lovely holiday everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read!

 

 

xo,

EscapeToLight

Trixie - October 7, 2013 - 11:25 pm

:-)

Out to a Frosted Morning

There are surprises in every day.

I welcome and accept what each day and its new light brings.

 

 

What I’m currently working on:

  • continuing to update the new online portfolio (website)
  • Finishing up November / December 2012 clients (Closed to new projects until 2013)
  • Inspirational Video Blog Posts:)

BBC Planet Earth on a New Level

 

I’m sure most of you have watched the beautiful series called Planet Earth that was first aired on the BBC in 2006. The film crew spent 5 years documenting the high – def footage. I was pleased to see them using a Nikon D200 in some of the time lapses, not because I work primarily with Nikon but because it goes to show that if you know your gear you can produce ‘miracles’. I’ll call this series a miracle because it combines unexplored terrain with pure art.

I was introduced to the idea of watching the series on mute, while playing an album in place of the narration. Strangely enough, friends and I discovered a perfect match up when we paired the “Caves” episode with Tool’s 10,000 Days album. Of course you need to start the music where the footage begins and the music fits perfectly with the imagery throughout the entire episode. I went on to discover that Beef Terminal’s ‘The Grey Knowledge’ fits just as well with the “Caves” episode. Point being… if you’re looking for a way to sweep yourself away into oblivion with inspiration, try experimenting with different albums paired with different episodes.

My 10 year old son and I enjoyed this phenomenon together lastnight and ordered a pizza; let’s just say he was nothing short of thrilled:)

alternate versions of self

We fluctuate between alternating versions of the ideal self in search of the perfect balance.

 

Recent Work: Film

Recently shot on Kodak Professional 400 BW Film using a Holga toycam.

 

SELECTIVE LISTENING

What I realize as I continue on, is that photographers tend to cling to what they think they should do, based on “industry standards” — what they see, how to “properly compose” an image or “get the light right”. I started off selling photoshop actions that represented what I taught myself, then. I designed a ton of stuff and absorbed as much of what was going on in the industry that I possibly could. What I realize now is, I was flooding myself with the wrong things. The internet and the opinions of the mainstream make it very difficult for a photographer to truly come into his/her own vision. But there are no rules. I’ve had to completely strip myself down to the place I was when I started out so I could begin again, only with a fresh mentality and a clean slate — that was NOT easy. Even some of my recent work isn’t entirely what I (now) know I should be doing. But I’m here at this new beginning, right now, and that’s what’s important. Listening to a lot of inspirational speakers and taking in a lot of new knowledge, inside and outside of ‘the industry’ has helped me to arrive at a question: what kind of a photographer am I? Not the first time I’ve asked myself this. Any photographers reading, I’m sure you’ve stopped and asked yourselves as well….

 

KNOW WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING

I have an answer. It takes some people years to find a true voice, while some start off right away working in their true voice. Some drift and try new things. Ultimately….. it’s inside of you, whatever it is that you do — not just photography. You don’t have to listen when someone says “this is what you should do,” ” this is how it’s done” “this is how we do it in the industry” “it needs to look this way or that” “the light should be here” – NO.

No, no, no!

It is only right when it feels right for you. You can find that place and exist only there, separate from the others. It doesn’t mean you aren’t connected or can’t learn from them, but you have to listen to you. And when you’re truly doing that, others have something to gain from you in return. When you figure it out, go do it. Don’t think about how you’ll do it…. don’t think about what others will say… and especially do not think about what someone else is doing that you aren’t doing. You’ll get to the place you need to be when you take your abilities and use them. All you have to do is recognize your strengths. It’s easy to get lost in what everyone else is doing. Love what they’re doing, but nurture what you’re supposed to do. Let it guide you.

 

Star-Gazers

Sometimes a moment feels so surreal that a soundtrack can almost be heard playing along in the background. In this case, there was one – sort of. As I was going through these images, a remix album called “Missing Deadlines: Selected Remixes,” featuring Ulrich Schnauss songs, was playing. It turned out to be the perfect soothing-spacey-airy music and really pulled me back into that summer night, beneath the stars drinking cream sodas out of glass bottles.

» Parrish The Thought - August 22, 2012 - 11:05 am

[...] morning started with a blog post from the incredible Michelle Black. She posted lovely text and images from the “after party” of our Summer Solstice [...]

Getting to Know Jupiter

Jupiter was bright, and my heart was light, before sunrise. And everything is changing.

Phonecam.

 

Also, I’m ‘escapetolight’ on Instagram. Have a great week.

Chamomile Mint Tea

 

Benefits of chamomile:

  • sleep aid
  • stomach soother
  • wound healer
  • cancer protector
Benefits of mint: 
  •  reduces pain
  • helps digestion
  • soothes sinuses (HELLO)
  • sedative/relaxes

 

Recipe I use: 

Just fill a tea infuser with about 5 fresh mint leaves and 2 tsp of dried or fresh chamomile flowers! Boil water and steep in your favorite mug:)

strip down to nothing

remove what ails you

you can

rig up those sails, new

 

hearts on trial, grew

we did

without further ado

 

austere, clear, taboo

don’t need

the money, the image, the froufrou

 

a strengthened worldview

(restful)

get to your dreams before curfew

 

(c) Michelle Black April 2012

 

Presence

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who take the time to make positive, optimistic posts on your blogs. Danielle LaPorte and Jenna at stopdropandblog.com are two of the first that come to mind! Sometimes all it takes is one sentence to give someone the motivation to try a little harder for themselves, or for someone else.  So writers, you’re doing a great thing for people and hope/encouragement is where it starts. Words are an extremely powerful thing and those of you who are making an effort to send out motivational messages have encouraged me in SO many ways. Thank you. Sometimes, even just telling a story that another person can relate to is enough to offer some consolation. Please, keep writing and keep blogging.

I recently read a rather cynical blog post about “people writing and talking about positive things on the internet isn’t as necessary as doing things and not needing to talk about it” – basically saying why not go out into the world and be a physical example of hope and help without having to say anything. Actions speak, but words are equally powerful. That’s why there are books;)

For starters, those of you who sit and make time to write out your thoughts and start up important discussions, raising important questions, pointing out beautiful things about the world —- you’ve helped me realized that my photography work alone, as a profession, or even just a hobby, wasn’t *quite* enough. And while I LOVE helping educate other photographers, being an educator in the field of photography isn’t quite enough either. Having been so busy with work the last several years, I haven’t had as much time as I would like to get out there and use my talent differently…. to throw myself into situations where I’m directly involved with the things that move me. I’m grateful for my friends and colleagues at SEE [Stories for Everyone, Everywhere] who are providing a stepping stone for others to get out there and make a difference, no matter how small. Even just a simple conversation with someone else, even if just to listen and not say a word. SEE has already given me opportunities to work with and get to know people – for the sake of the experience.

TO LEARN OR NOT TO LEARN

I’ve mentioned that I started school again recently. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to manage the time involved in learning and working, all while balancing the time I spend with my 10 year old and the activities he is involved with. Two weeks into classes, and still adjusting, I have zero regrets on making the decision to return to school. I chose to be a sociology major with a minor in philosophy, as I feel both subjects relate directly to photography and I have every intention of using these skills and knowledge to take on more documentary assignments. I’m already rearranging the kinds of sessions I’m doing, with a special focus on storytelling this year (as mentioned HERE) and am very enthusiastic about focusing more on wedding coverage. I’m also prepared to be a completely poor college student if I have to, in order to fully absorb all of this new information.

The Value of Your Services

Whatever it is that you do professionally, you are an asset to someone. Don’t ever feel less valuable than someone else. Don’t ever let someone tell you that what you’re doing for humankind is any less important than what someone else is doing. Anytime you put forth an effort, you’re making an impact. If you’ve read this far, it’s because you care and you are thorough in what you want to understand, and that in itself is a quality that deserves to be praised.

The Value of Your Interests

Is there something that has been tugging at your heart, something that you feel like you need to do… but you’re afraid, or don’t think you have enough time? Here’s the thing: do it. Talk to people who support you. They’ll tell you the same thing! You only live once – ONCE! It isn’t setting or even accomplishing goals that gives something significance – it is the effort you put into your experiences along the way.

 

Enjoy your weekend and thanks for reading! Until next time….