Boundaries

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Arbus is no fan of wash day.   This is a snippet from the weekend, my son at the ready with the hose and spraying his father mostly.  Arbus gave me her brave smile which eventually gave way to the, “help me momma!/clubbed baby seal” face.

Its time to admit to some of the lies I’ve told myself about why I haven’t pursued full-time, ass kicking photography since diagnosis.  Weekends play a roll…

Its true that Fiver needed round the clock care as a toddler and that he still needs someone tuned in to blood sugar through the night when it can soar and crash without explanation.  Its a fact that I am sleep deprived and therefore easily overwhelmed.

Everything else is a softer science.

The story I have been telling is that shooting for other families takes me away from my own son on weekends (cue Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle).   The story I’ve told is that I’m needed at home, that medically trained care givers are out of reach on our budget.  The story I tell is that I am getting too old, too irrelevant, my body can’t do this work much longer.  The story is that clients here in DC people won’t share their photos online so I can’t advertise and attract new clients so I should just quit.

I’m a control freak unwilling to delegate or accept help.  I fear burnout similar to the wedding era of our business life, knowing how common it is and how quickly it creeps on creatives.  And – in ultra honesty – I like the “Good Mom” badge of honor I get to wear for giving up so much.  Ouch.

The desire is here, to work, to serve, to see the magic that happens.  What I need are  boundaries.  The very word provokes more limiting beliefs: your clients won’t understand!  They demand round the clock availability and quick turn arounds!  You can’t compete in today’s marketplace with boundaries.  You must be limitless!

But what if boundaries are self care?  Its like the thing where you put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on you kid when the airplane is crashing.  Terrible analogy really but you feel me, right?

I think its fine to put away my phone at night and respond to work inquiries during work hours.  I think its fair to designate one day a week, fall excepting, to my family with no shoots on the books.  I think its OK to charge more in order to provide my family this day.  I think its good to incentivize week work.  I think it makes sense to welcome work outside of family photography that will push me out of my comfort zone while still delivering an authentic, heartfelt product.  I think its important to stick to time constraints (my biggest weakness) . I think its fine to hire editing help if and when needed so that I can remain present to my family in the evening.   I think its reasonable to ask for specific image usage because there may be a share we’re all comfortable with.  I think its crucial to put one hot stone massage on the calendar for every 10 shoots.  (Actual frequency TBD) . I think its compulsory to continue working out, eating well and caring for this body so that it can do extraordinary things.  I must plan more in both my business and personal life in order to become less frazzled.

All of this sounds and reasonable.  And if it doesn’t … well there are plenty of other photogs to choose from.

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What I am realizing is that boundaries are real self care but proactive: they are rules we must put in place to protect our space, time, creativity, energy and balance.  What boundaries do you put in place to maintain your sanity and balance?

 

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