In November of 2018, I left my full time job to pursue photography full time. Every month since then I’ve blogged what I learned from the previous month. This is month 20.
“I don’t wanna work.”
It was one of those days. I pulled the covers up over my head, only interested in drowning out the daylight and all that came with it. We had open orders waiting to be filled, a full gallery waiting to be delivered and all I could think was “I’m exhausted. I don’t want to. Not today.”
Normally this behavior would cause me to channel a Football Coach as my inner voice. Or maybe a Drill Sergeant who would shout at me, reminding me of my responsibilities until I put my feet on the ground and went through the motions. Today though, the voice said something different. It said, “Okay. You don’t have to.” Because I hadn’t given myself a day off in over six weeks and I wasn’t being dramatic, I really was simply tired. Because rest was just as important as work. And because in a sense, it was work. It was work on my well being.
The thought developed until I decided the following game changer:
Everything is work.
When you start the day with Yoga, you’re working on your physical and mental health. When you read a book on innovation, you’re working on your creative health. When you organize your home, you’re working on your environmental health. When you ditch work to sit on the sofa and watch a Marvel movie, you’re working on your emotional health, you’re working on unwinding, on catching a breath so you can give other areas more when you come back to them.
This door can swing in all different directions. Choosing to skip an impulse buy online can be working on your financial health but on another day, splurging on a new outfit can be great for your emotional health.
Choosing to eat a healthy meal is work on your physical health but then indulging in a meal including cheese is also a mood booster.
You see where I’m going with this so before we get too far, let me introduce the next development in this month’s lesson and that is:
Everything you do is building a muscle. So be careful.
That meal of cheese and more cheese just a minute ago? If you do it too much, you’re going to get used to it. You’ll build up a muscle of eating unwell and because of it, eating healthy will feel painful. Eating healthy will feel like a chore. Luckily, the opposite is true as well. If you build up an “eating healthy muscle”, then you’ll be like one of those people I’m always jealous of at restaurants who order salad like it’s no big deal.
What do you think? Are you with me so far?
Let’s talk about building real muscles. When we hit the gym again for the first time in years, it sucks. It hurts. Everything is painful, everything is uncomfortable. The same is true for all of the above actions. The first time you drink water instead of Coke with dinner, it sucks. The first time you sit down to map out an entire week worth of Instagram posts, it seems to take forever. The first time you decide to invest income back into your business, it’s depressing. It’s only after a month of swapping Coke for water that your skin starts to illuminate and your energy starts to improve. It’s only after three weeks of Instagram planning that you realize how easy it actually is and how much time it’s saving you. It’s only after seeing bookings increase that you decide investing back into your business is worth it. Building new muscles takes some effort. It’s only once they’re a bit developed that the pain subsides and you’re able to enjoy the benefits.
I’ve loved this way of thinking because it gives a lot of grace and a lot of permission. I’m not skipping work to take a nap, I’m choosing to stop ignoring when I need to rest. I’m not ditching cooking to play Mario Kart, I’m giving my attention to something my son enjoys so that we can have memories together during quarantine.
Everything is some kind of work and everything builds a muscle. If your word for 2020 is “mindful” or mindfulness has been on your radar, I’ve found this mindset to be a great way of navigating those waters.
I’m excited to see how this thought process plays out in my own life and invite you to share with me how it translates in yours. As we head into month 21, I’m wishing you every good thing. Thank you for being here.
|Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris|
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Special thanks to Erol Ahmed, Jon Tyson, and Christin Hume via Unsplash for the awesome photos!
Hey. Do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one of you. And there will never be another.