Taking care of me

I’ve been starving to write. The past several weeks since the beginning of wedding season have been packed. That is a good thing. The feeling has nagged at my stomach like it does after I’ve eaten a burrito with too much hot sauce.

I have a career which finds me giving and giving until the balance in my emotional bank account has reached zero. I love doing therapy but it can be emotionally draining.

I’ve taken several vacation days wrapped around both sides of this weekend. I have no specific plans in mind other than to update the photographs on my website Christopher Kijowski Photography and catch up on both reading and writing, but what I really want to accomplish is simply taking time for me.
As a social worker I am constantly taking care of the needs of others. It becomes very important I take care of my own needs first. Selfish? Absolutely! If I don’t meet my needs first, the sound coming from the mouths of my patients is reminiscent of the sound which leaves the mouths of the adult characters in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

As a wedding photographer I am in a similar position of taking care of the needs of others. I don’t just show up with my camera in hand and take pictures. I help the bride to ensure she has the least amount of stress to manage during what is already a stress filled day. I’ve tracked down florists and family members while organizing members of the bridal party to ensure we have all of the photographs the couple wants to mark their day.

Therapy and photography are my creative outlets. To stay in a place of creativity, I have to be able to retreat and find quiet; to find solitude. I have always known this but am really coming to accept it this summer. When I say “know it this summer” I really refer to being able to accept it. Acceptance has always been difficult for me. For example, as I write this I think about the 8-mile run I was “supposed” to go on.

I have been moving away from the “supposed to’s” and living or maybe practicing my life so it has a more natural flow. When I don’t follow this natural flow, life feels too full. There is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. I become overwhelmed and quickly shut down. I dislike the pace at which the world turns today and today I can say I choose not to follow that pace.

Recharging my internal batteries is of utmost importance. I utilize several outlets as it often is dependent on the level of emotional need. If there is a primary way to recharge my emotional batteries it is running. All I need is time. A couple of weeks ago I returned home after what could only have been described as a “really bad day.” I slipped into my running shorts and laced up my running shoes. Seven miles later I returned home, sweat pouring from every pore and washing away any trace of what was difficult.

Secondary, but no less important is “being in nature.” There are two ways I like to “be” in nature. The first is to literally immerse myself in the outdoors. I am blessed to have easy access to many serene locations; locations which allow the sounds and stresses of the day to be lessened if not completely removed. The second way to “be” in nature is simply to be aware, to be mindful of what is around me. To listen to the cicadas as they make themselves heard in the heat if the day. To hear the breeze as it blows through the trees rustling the leaves. To see the hawk as it circles overhead riding the rising currents of air while looking for its next meal. This is to be mindful of nature. This is to recharge my batteries.

With batteries recharged to full capacity, I now have the energy and the desire to take on the things which must be done. On my desk sits a “mindfulness cup.” It is filled with water. I check the level of water held within the cup daily as it is a daily reminder of the brevity and impermanence of life. It is also a gentle reminder of the beauty and simplicity of nature. A reminder to ensure I take time everyday…even if it is just for a few minutes to be mindful of the creations around me.

Take care of yourself.

Namaste.

Chris

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4 thoughts on “Taking care of me

  1. We can all learn so much from you and how you live your life. I am so much more mindful of nature, especially when I am near water, after reading your writing! My favorite is the sound of the water rolling into the shore. It is amazing and, as I get older, I pay a great deal more attention to what is around me and enjoy it at a much different level. Thank you for helping others understand that we need to appreciate the beautiful things in life!

  2. Chris: I know when I’ve been away from meditation too long. My life points it out to me “in spades,” just like this past weekend. We have ample opportunities to remember, as long as still vertical and breathing!

    Namaste.
    Rich

    • Absolutely! Last night I completed a final meeting with a bride. She reminded me of an item in her contract which stipulated 2-hours of coverage at her rehearsal dinner Friday night. My heart immediately sank as I thought of a 12-hour Friday and then a 14-hour day to photograph the wedding coupled with another long day Sunday as I edit and upload the photos. I hit the meditation cushion last night and was able to stop the rubber band from stretching to the breaking point.

      Sent from my iPad

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