Shutting Down
Every day, I am someone’s wife, mother, warden, chauffeur, cook, friend, mentor and more.

There is a time to be just me.  There must.  It is not often – I frequently forget in my quest to be all things to everyone.  Even “relaxing,” I am a photographer, an author, a hiker, a traveler.  Always something.

This week, my husband insisted that I take time for myself.  I went to a national park to photograph with friends.  I have been away from photography for several months, my former passion reduced to a passing interest

I was on the fence on whether or not I should go – why spend my vacation time doing something that no longer brought me joy?  With my husband’s push and the desire to spend time with friends I would likely only see on a trip focused on photography (which is how I met them to begin with), I forced my way out of the house.

Doing NothingA lot of the images we took this week have focused around reflections in water.  It reminded me of something I once read, that it is only in a still mind that we can truly reflect.

Being busy, being everything to everyone, brings constant thoughtus interuptus.  I have operated in constant noise mode for a very long time.  I would listen to music while I read or kayaked, ponder a work problem while I was driving, or write while watching a movie I’ve seen a bazillion times.  I honestly believed that I did my best thinking while focusing through the various distractions of everyday life…whether they were there naturally or I added the noise to my own daily existence.

Lately, I’ve been rethinking my position.  I don’t know if it’s age or circumstance, but I have been finding it more and more difficult to experience clear thought in the midst of chaos.

I still put on favorite old movies while I work or type, but with the sound off.  It may seem odd, but it’s comforting to look up and know exactly what is going on with the movie, get my mind away from what I’m doing for a moment that I choose, and then get back at it with limited distraction.  There are other changes happening as well, all that point to the need to shut down the noise periodically.

My friends were a little concerned going into our journeys this week.  They knew I had a new job and had put photography away for a while.  As much as I wasn’t sure what I would do with myself, they were unsure as well.

They have only known me to take off to the four winds, intently capturing my images with single-minded focus.  This week, I confounded them.  I took a few images here and there, but otherwise put my camera away.

I was exhausted – mentally and physically – and I didn’t realize just how much so until I arrived.  I spent the better part of two days sleeping.  I took some images here and there, but otherwise I slept and watched.  Absorbed and thought.  Sat quietly and pondered – something I almost never do.  That would imply stopping, and I never stop.

This week, I took time for myself – spending at least some time at each location to enjoy where I was and what was going on around me.  As a result, now I have really “seen” a sunrise, with my eyes and not through a lens.  I have heard the waves crashing against the rocks, booming out around me.

I have also written at length, pouring out the thoughts that came while I was being quietly thoughtful.  Ideas and notions that I doubt can come while I’m charging through the chaos of life.  The woman that never sits still and is always on the go, stopped.  And I lived to tell the tale.  Maybe even celebrate it.

What I figured out this week is that…I am not only defined by what I am to others, but who I am to me.  I am not only defined by what I do, but by who I am when I’m doing nothing.