Be Better

2014-02-25_0001It's kind of our mission in life isn't it? We're always supposed to be better and do better. There's nothing wrong with that until it starts making people feel unworthy or insecure. Luckily, I've always held a pretty high opinion of myself and haven't had too many issues in that department ;) But I do want to do better. For myself, for Erik, for others. I tend to get complacent when I'm happy or at peace. It's when I'm super stressed and unhappy with a situation that I scramble to make life improvements. I started running during student teaching because I just hated it so much and felt an enormous amount of stress at the prospect of graduating with a Masters degree in a job that I was hating and feeling terrible at. I gave myself a routine and stuck to it until I was in (another) car accident a few months later. Then physical therapy replaced the jogging and all of the improvements I had made.

So waking up in the mornings these past two months, since the photo sessions have disappeared and the little girl I used to babysit has moved on to the great big world of preschool, I've been complacent but restless. I've said before that I don't get bored and I really don't. I could happily entertain myself at my computer, in front of the TV, with my Kindle (technology oi vey!) for weeks on end. But that's not how I want to spend my time. Part of the challenge in starting your own small business is that, despite plenty of books and internet articles on the topic, there is no clear path for where to go and what to do next. That's kind of the nice thing about school and traditional careers. You go, you graduate, you apply, you intern, you work. Pretty straightforward. For me, what's overwhelming is that I can do so many things! I could do ____ to improve my business. You could fill in the blank with a million things. The problem is deciding where to focus.

As far as my photography business goes, I've definitely been working on how to BE BETTER. I went to Justin and Mary's lighting workshop to BE BETTER with off camera lighting. I'm watching online photography classes for at least an hour every day to be a more prepared wedding photographer. I'm writing out my philosophies and working to extract a clear brand and purpose from who I am and what I want to do in this industry. I'm playing with my camera and lighting set ups every chance I get. I'm working on my packaging and little this and that projects that make my clients' experience BETTER.  I'm forcing my introverted self to go to networking events, to meet with other wedding professionals for coffee, to grow relationships and give what I can.

But all that is not enough. They are good things to do, but they don't fill the day. Even if I could fill the day with photography missions, I wouldn't. So while I have this luxury of time, I've decided to better my daily life as well.

I'm trying to make healthier meals (sorry Erik, I know enchilladas should have meat in them but eating vegetarian sometimes isn't SO bad). Last week, I got together with some friends of mine from high school and we did some freezer meal cooking. We wound up with sixteen healthy dinners that we can pop out of the freezer whenever we want them. Most people do this to save on prep time, but I do it to utilize fresh ingredients that tend to go bad when they sit in my refrigerator.

1912416_10101569599876139_1827816251_nMy camera was on vacation last week (being cleaned and calibrated at the Canon lab), so I don't have any other photos of the process, but we got a lot done in about five hours! We made chicken fajitas, chicken cacciatore, Hawaiian chicken, Santa Fe chicken (we like chicken), tinfoil meal packets full of ground beef and veggies, lasagnas, sweet potato enchillada casserole, black bean tacos, beef stroganof, pizza dough for three pizzas, and managed to wind up with a ton of extra tomato sauce and ground beef that we'll use for pasta or tacos. If you're interested in getting the recipes/grocery list for these meals, or you just think I should write a whole post about this topic, leave a comment and I'll be sure to email the lists to you. We spent about $65 each for all these meals, including the aluminum trays and ziplocs we bought. Not too bad.

I'm also trying to be better and get out of my house some. I'm such a natural hermit. I love my house and I love being home in my sweat pants and hoodies. But I know that just because I'm not overweight, doesn't mean I'm in shape at all. I'm naturally thin so I've never felt any pressure to go work out and improve my eating habits. My eating habits have never really been horrible. I LOVE desserts and coffee, but aside from that I'm pretty healthy. We don't do TV dinners or anything like that. I don't drink soda very often at all, just lots of water, coffee, and tea (my poor teeth). And I've always been good at stopping when I'm full. I'm a slow eater. I'm usually 1/4 done with my food by the time Erik's finished. I think that helps me realize when I'm full and stop eating. Even if it's DELICIOUS, I think how great it will be to eat this again for lunch the next day :)

But back to inactivity, I was saying I never felt any pressure or incentive to work out and I realized I shouldn't have to feel those things to do something good for myself. So I've started swimming again. I'm putting that out into the internet world in hopes that I keep moving forward with it. Swimming has always been my favorite form of exercise. I've done it all my life so it's just natural for me. I hate running. I suck at it. I hold my breath like an idiot and I blame swimming for teaching me to breathe in giant gulps at a time. And I hate the feeling of people watching me. That sounds so ridiculous, but there's a quiet peacefulness to swimming that appeals to me. I am alone. No one can stop and talk to me. It's just hypnotizing repetition (yes I do see how people might find that boring) and before you know it, you've been swimming for forty five minutes. That's not to say it isn't hard because wow! After years away from it, it is hard. I don't think I could ever unlearn the strokes, but my endurance is pathetic. But I'm working on it.

2014-02-25_0002I'm working on being better. So when Spring comes and the photo shoots and weddings begin, I will be better and this time will have been used for good.