Monday, May 2, 2016

Go See the Warthogs

"You don't stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing."

It's not quite that I stopped playing, it's that I forgot how to have fun.

Somewhere along the line, all of my fun hobbies became work. Love photography? Let's turn it into a business.  Love writing? Let's turn it into a brand. 

My husband can come home, log-on to his favorite video game of the month and...play.

I'm working with deadlines and stress. And I'm not having fun. When did my hobbies become work?

Look, I have a job. I love my job. I actually have fun at my job, but somehow, along the line, those hobbies that make me me became something else.

I want to have fun again.

The first step? Changing out I approach these hobbies I love.  I'll stop "marketing" my photography so much - no special sale offers, no major pushes for bookings. I love photography, and I enjoy the little bit of "fun money" that comes with the hobby, but I want to get back to the passion of it. I'm going back to special projects like babywearing and breastfeeding. I want to take friends' engagement photos for free or newborn photos in exchange for wine...I want it to be fun and light.  Maybe someday, the business side will rise in importance  (and that's why I'm posting this on my personal blog and not my photography site), but for now, it's back to a true hobby, and the joy, excitement, and freedom that comes from that.

The second step? Letting go, a bit, of this whole "branding" idea.  I know that might not be the wisest thing to write here, but as I've seen these campaigns seeking bloggers with 30,000 followers, not only do I wonder not only how on EARTH I would ever get 30,000 followers, but if I even want 30,000 followers.  And also? I don't actually want to spend my spare time courting brands and asking to try out their products - I honestly would rather be racing Hot Wheels. If something naturally comes my way, I'll be happy to work with a brand, but really, I'm okay connecting with a smaller community of friends, family, and moms who simply need to know that they aren't alone in the sheer crazy that is parenting. 

The third step? Saying no to a few of my obligations and not adding any more. I've been teaching children's church, thinking that would be a great way to ease my son into attending.  Nope. That hasn't worked. It's become a stress in my life - planning a lesson, gathering supplies for a craft, buying a snack, and then getting out of the house early to set up.  And to top it off, the boy is at his most, uhm, challenging, when I'm the teacher in the room.  No, thank you.  Like with photography, this may come back at another point in my life, but for now, it has to go.  I hate that feeling of overwhelming stress and panic, and I can't have that in my life.

Beyond that, it's about making the choices that let me have fun, about letting go of expectations and needs - it's actually quite liberating. 

I tried it this weekend.

I had planned to take my kids to the zoo, but at 8:30 on a quiet Saturday morning, with both kids occupied with their various toys, I felt the strong pull to stay home and clean.  My house needs it. My life needs it.  But you know what I needed more? To go to the zoo.

So, in we piled, got our Starbucks treat on the way, and wandered around the zoo, encountering Star Wars characters, feeding a giraffe.  I felt not one ounce of stress. It didn't matter to me whether we saw the lion or the flamingos. I let me my son guide the trip, and we saw what we saw and didn't see what we didn't. And it was so fun.  I saw the zoo through the eyes of a three-year-old, in all of its random glory...

"What do you want to see now that we've fed the giraffe?" 

"Warthogs," he said, without missing the beat.

And that's the life I want whenever I can find it. 

I want to see warthogs because I feel like it.

I want to rock my daughter to sleep without a running list in my head of work I need to accomplish for all of my hobbies.

I want my kids to have passions that don't nag at them - to play sports because they love them, to jump on stage because they feel called to act, to play an instrument because they just can't stop the music.  

In order to set that example for my kids, I must shed some of the obligations that have begun to clutch at me. I'm trying to keep myself here as I dive deeper into parenting, but I can be comfortable pursuing what I love without making it a job. Really, I can. I know I can.

I'm going to bless it. Release it. And remember what it is to have fun.

Wish me luck.







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