It took me about five years of being self employed to learn that even though I love my work and it doesn't really seem like work, I still need to take a day off once in a while. Like....at least once a week.
I have somehow always known that it was more important to do what I loved for a living. It never made sense to me to go to work doing something I disliked just to bring home a paycheck. Somehow I knew that if I did what I loved, the money would come.
So, when I was in my 30s, I started my photography business. I loved it! I got to go to different places every day, meet different people all the time. I was in my element, and I simply did what I loved to do, every day. This was way before I had much in the way of what I call "deeper living life skills." I didn't know about spiritual practices like meditation and introspection. I didn't know that paying attention to what was going on with me was essential to a happy life. I just merrily proceeded along until one day I realized I was becoming a nut!
Yep, bonkers. As in, ready for some professional help. I was irritable, short tempered, dissatisfied, wasn't sleeping well, and wasn't very physically healthy either. I did have a mentor at the time, and when she discovered I didn't take time off from work, she suggested that perhaps I might want to explore that. (don't you just love the way they put things sometimes?)
So I told myself I was going to take one day off per week.
It seemed easy enough, right?
It was very very difficult. This was back in the days before computers. It was SO HARD not to answer the phone! It was SO HARD not to send out a letter to a potential client! It was SO HARD not to work on a wedding album! It was SO HARD not to just step into the darkroom to work on this one image. (also before digital) It wasn't like I didn't have other stuff to do. I had all the stuff everyone else has: family, housework, physical exercise, just resting.
I forced myself to do it. I took one day off, every week. Admittedly, it was a different day every week, because weddings and portraits don't keep to a set schedule, but I took that day off, every week. I didn't study photography on that day, I didn't pick up a camera on that day. I went skiing, or did some gardening, or went on a hike, or had lunch with a friend.
And something began to happen: I wasn't so nuts anymore. I was happy! And I was shocked to find out I was much more effective when I went back to work the next day. I took better photos, responded better to client requests. I felt better physically. I began to know what feeling balanced felt like.
Today, I still own and operate that photography business but life changes, and I now supplement that income with something else I love for a living: I help people. I see clients one on one, I teach, I design and facilitate workshops, I speak. I am totally immersed in this relatively new career. It energizes me that same way photographing a wedding does. And I still take that one day off, each and every week.
Yesterday I took a day off. Guess what I did? I took a road trip with my fiance, we went to a place called Daffodil Hill. We had a picnic lunch, and I got to take photos of the daffodils. I took the convertible, and felt the warm sun on my face, and got a wonderful dose of spring.
And today, I am happily back at work, loving what I do, and feeling in balance!
The photo on this post is one of the images I created yesterday. If you want to see more, you can head on over to my web site at www.imageangels.com.