The Season For Balance

 
jennifer hulley food photographer writer hamilton ontario
 

Food, travel, creativity, photography, writing. They have been the pillars that form my being for so long. The strength I relied on to build me back up during a time of painful transformation and now morphed into “my thing.”

 A source of emotional perseveration recently is the concept of identity, balance and wellbeing. Photography, writing and creative entrepreneurship has been an integral part of my being for so long. These activities ground me, inspire me and form my identity. And yet while food and travel photography, writing, and blogging are a huge part of my life they don’t pay 100% of my bills  (because let's be honest the jobs are few and far between, the competition is fierce and there is always someone willing to undercut your price point) and so, the reality is that I also work full time as a teacher on top of all that.

It’s been alright. One that I can maintain without going broke or being completely overwhelmed. Some weeks I manage to keep both afloat better than others and sometimes one of these things gets demoted on the priority list du jour, occasionally on the borderline with neglect.

I can’t help but wonder how the heck I will keep it all going in the future when my available hours in the day shift dramatically. This conundrum has sent my brain wheels into a spin trying to anticipate, plan and prepare for the shift, often landing in a landscape of panic and fear upon realizing that balancing it all will likely be impossible. Balancing motherhood, alone - solo, single, however you want to describe it AND living a happy creative life AND filling productivity and goal getting needs? Surely it can’t be done?

The Seasons Will Shift

I recently was listening to a podcast about motherhood and creative entrepreneurship and the speaker’s opinion was that there is actually no such thing as balance. None. Imagine my heart sinking and pulse racing as I took that in. Somehow I managed to not crash my car. The speaker continued on to explain instead of establishing a sense of balance, life rather moves in seasons. And with the changing seasons there are different opportunities, different challenges, different moments that make you laugh, cry, wonder and do.

I think I like this concept a bit better. At times the winds will blow, heavy rains will come down and you'll need to hunker down in the warmth and safety of your home, riding it out waiting. Then one day the sun will sneak out and you'll step on to your back porch, draw in the air and realize you actually can breathe freely again as the sharp stabbing pain of winter no longer pierces your lungs. A concept that is not only for motherhood/creativity/entrepreneurship but for life in general.

 
 

CONNECT, DON’T PERFECT

A dear friend of mine, Anne Peace, once wrote a book about the first year of Motherhood. She describes Motherhood as a season of connection, not perfection:

"We were taught to work for the outcome we wanted - to push for that good grade, promotion or new job. We made lists, set goals and completed tasks. And hard work brought success…

Motherhood isn't like that… 

There is a happy side effect. Here is your chance to start to give up trying to be perfect and become a more authentic version of yourself in a life that doesn't always sparkle. Any maybe you will settle back into the self you might have lost before everything became so fast paced and ruled by outside pressures, agendas and expectations"

Creativity and this “work” has been much about self expression, learning and exploration but I’d be lying if I said the feelings hitching a ride in the passenger seat wasn’t a desire to set goals, work hard, crush them and chase the next high.

My first post on My Modern Momhood was written at a time when the anxiety was swelling about how the heck I was going to manage, and holding on to the fear that I would be mourning a loss of sense of self and normalcy. Since then I have whipped back and forth between the seasons of productivity and creation back into to surviving, and not so much thriving, over and over again.

It is exhausting and terrifying and exciting and lovely all at the same time and I am learning to take advantage of what each season has to offer, even if it means being trapped on the couch for hours on end watching Netflix, something that makes my skin crawl with restless energy. This doesn’t mean it is easy, or natural or enjoyed all of the time. After nearly 37 years of programming my desire to think, dream, do and go go go is still in the driver’s seat.

So where am I now? Are the skies stormy and dark or bright and airy? Well It’s ironic that as I get ready to hit publish on this post, 7 weeks after the birth of my son that we are just coming down to land in hopefully a season of calm after some pretty heavy shit storms. Depleted, overwhelmed and reeling from frequent freak out episodes (both mine and his) I opened my mailbox after finally getting a good night’s sleep to see this note from the universe waiting for me:

 
 

HARVEST WHAT YOU HAVE

Realize that the “season” you’re in can shift monthly, weekly, daily and even minute to minute. The key is to remain aware of your surroundings and grab at whatever it has to offer. The summer bears sweet fruit, buzzing energy of the cicadas and freedom to run wild while the arrival of winter brings a sense of solitude and calm best enjoyed with a heavy glass of red.

Actually screw that. Every season is wine season.

 
Jennifer Hulley food stylist food photographer food writer hamilton ontario
Jennifer Hulley food stylist food photographer food writer hamilton ontario
 

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