So guess what? I’m relaxed, rested and entirely recharged after my only 2 week holiday in 6 years. For the first time since setting up the business in 2010, I have totally tuned out of it – but only because I now have a trusted studio manager who kept things running whilst I came to a standstill.
By about November last year I was exhausted but I had become a machine – marching relentlessly on in the pursuit of other people’s happiness. Mine didn’t really matter or at least that was my frame of mind and the business was thriving whilst my health wasn’t. Everyone was telling me to slow down but I felt that I couldn’t and then I realised I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.
Within a week we were booked to fly to Cape Town following my final wedding of 2013. Immediately I was in a better frame of mind and found everything easier to deal with. I landed with a cold and felt exhausted for the first 3 days (hence a week never being long enough) but then I began to relax. I wasn’t looking for my phone anymore, I was laughing with the kids, drinking wine and staring at my feet in the golden sand slightly incredulous that I was sat doing NOTHING.
We met up with friends and had late night after amusing late night. I started to forget my phone when we went out and it didn’t bother me. On separate occasions I spent an hour in a rough sea – diving through wave after wave – being tumbled and thrown around – finally emerging exhausted with the biggest smile on my salty face. I felt alive again and I loved it.
I didn’t touch my camera for days and began to worry I had lost my mojo. In reality the light was harsh and I knew any images would be about compromise. So instead I made a plan – to be on the right beach at the right time. My golden hour app told me this was 7.35 to 8.00 and so we took a picnic and wine and waited. And suddenly I was up and you couldn’t have wrenched my camera from me if you had tried. I admit to being relieved that the passion was still there – big time.
I got on the flight back with a heavy heart but I’m a big girl and know that times like this don’t last. That’s what makes them so special. So if you are reading this and feeling like you need a break – carpe diem – get one booked because I truly can’t recommend it enough.
On the flight home I dug out my laptop and started my SWPP talks which I had intended to do on holiday. Within 24 hours of landing I was selling the dream of professional photography and then drinking my profits in the bar! It was great to see so many old friends and meet plenty of new ones. I sat and listened to the ever inspiring Kevin Mullins and chastised myself on my recent blogging performance. I took Becky around the trade show and chatted to my lovely suppliers. I laughed a lot with our Ed, Scorey, and I listened to many tales of a hard year from fellow photographers. After a very late night and two seminars I was feeling weary but quite a few friends had texted me to see if I wanted a coffee. Normally I would have said yes but do you know what I did? I sneaked back to my room and had a nap and then I went for a swim and sat in the sauna. I was desperately trying to hold on to my holiday vibe and put my wellbeing first.
Today is my first proper day back in the office and it’s taken most of the day to catch up on email. And go for a run. By the end of last year I wasn’t exercising because I was ‘too busy’ and my back was giving me muscular problems. I’m really going to try and maintain some work life balance this year but it’s early days. I also began to put together a list of all the changes I need to make to the business. Last year was about being inside the business and now it’s time to step outside and make plans for evolution. It’s wonderful to know that the business is established – that my word of mouth referral system continues to bear fruit -unaffected by my 2 week hiatus.
I hope that when I read this column in print I am still feeling the benefits and managing to not let the business overwhelm me again. If you see me looking tired – please, please stop me and have a gentle word….