Last year I thought I was wonder woman. I thought I could do it all, and that I would try to do it all. But if I learned anything from Radiohead, its that This Just Feels Like Spinning Plates…and sometimes they all come crashing down. Hard.
So, last year when I was booking my schedule for 2014, I thought “sure, why not book two trips a month…just eat healthier and suck it up!” It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would, physically and mentally, to always be traveling. I found myself looking up to my friend Lindsay Adler, as I do so often, and admiring her determination to keep going and “get it all done”…but as much as I’d love to be, I’m not the wonder woman that Lindsay is.
To Lindsay: You amaze me.
The things that I value are making sincere connections, creating art, and writing. And at a certain point, trying new things and growing your business has to take a back seat to what you love, because if it doesn’t, what you love might be something that gets put on the back burner. I don’t want to get distracted from the things that are truly near to my heart.
With all the traveling I’ve been doing, I haven’t been taking time to just stop and create. To plan whole days worth of shooting and editing and other such nonsense. I mean, that’s why I wanted to be a full time photographer in the first place. Freedom. The thrill of creating. And above all, living a happy life.
So all of these thoughts culminated in, truth be told, nothing very spectacular. My plates didn’t fall. They are still spinning, but I’ve taken time to do what I need to do. And I’ve taken steps to spin fewer plates in the future. Because even though that may result in a number of things: less money, fewer connections, less travel, etc…I will gain so much more. What I lose from one category I gain in another, and happiness cannot be measured against anything else.
When I was shooting recently at the sand dunes and I heard the quiet of sand rustling hurriedly down the slope and I saw the spectacular sunset (it screamed to me silently), I realized that this is what I need more of: the tranquility I feel when I am free to create. I had to decide what is important in my life, just as we all must do to find happiness. What do I want to be doing on an everyday basis? Well, for me, the answers are as basic as they come.
I want to be home more and cuddle with my kitties and play that Doctor Who video game with my husband.
I want to cook more delicious food from all of my vegan cookbooks.
I want to create ALL THE TIME.
I want to write and be able to do so without a shaky hand on a plane.
I want to be able to reach people through my blog, videos, and education.
And so then, once those objectives are laid out, they must be put into place. Simple or not, it must be done, because happiness is what I hold most dear.
So instead of privately putting on 15 workshops a year in all different cities, I’m going to start an online interactive workshop. Instead of trying to focus on 10 different projects, I’ve determined which are most important and I’ve resolved to work on them exclusively. I started saying no where I felt the decision was a “make or break” for my happiness.
And most of all, I had to be okay with letting the wind take me where it will. Like a leaf gently falling from a tree, I am content to see where life goes.
So, from a hopeful me that these new decisions will inspire others to take hold of happiness…and with arms spread wide open to new opportunities and the opportunities I will create for myself…
…I’m off for an adventure.
How are you making your life a happier one to live?
Ana - Dear Brooke, I understand where you’re coming from, and I too feel the need to be creating all the time. But what I’ve also learned in my life, that without variety, having all the time in the world to “just” create is counter-productive, and will become dull. The fact that you yearn that time and space to create comes from a place of yearning. You know what they say; yearning (absence, hah) makes the heart grow fonder (until a certain point). It is the fact that you have to fight for it that makes it so exciting. You’re traveling now, you’re dictating courses, dealing with business aspects, I understand how frustrating it could be. But you could also be working on something else completely unrelated to art, that not only takes all your time, but also your mind. Now THAT’S frustrating! What you’re doing is still creative and still exciting, you’re inspiring people wherever you go, and it fills your heart. Variety in your daily life is one of the things that will inspire you the most. Don’t be discouraged. It’s cool that you are planning more down time, but beware on going to the other extreme 😉
brookeshaden - Hi Ana!
Yeah I definitely get that. And all my life I’ve struggled with trying to do too much, and I know that I am happiest when I am focused on a few things that I love rather than trying to do too many things at once. So even though I’m going to travel less and focus more on what I love, those tasks will still be extremely varied – from working on a documentary to starting a charity and doing photography as well, I’m excited about what the future holds and it is so empowering to think that I have the ability to shape it. I am, however, a huge encourager of trying new things…something I will always do, just perhaps not in such large quantities that I lose time for what I love spending my time on. Xoxoxoxoxox!
Kimberley Yanick - ana,
Wow you speak my truth. I struggle with the wanting it different, more time to create, be working less, doing more of what I want… and then I get attain those things and well I stagnate a little and I get depressed. It is rather interesting and frustrating process to find that balance of staying creative, not stretching too thin and still hearing the sand blowing in the wind. Brooke, I envy you and having the ability to be creative even in the down times (ie quieter times). This post is so very timely and thank you for sharing.
Kathleen Blacklock - Hi Brooke,
I have been a fan of your work for a while now. I am an aspiring artist in Los Angeles and would love to take one of your classes someday. I met Lindsay Adler on her look fab tour last yr. I’m a huge fan of female photographers because we are determined. I hope you get a chance to look at some of my work. I’m lost and need direction. Just a small critique would be amazing 🙂
brookeshaden - Hi Kat! That is wonderful! Isn’t Lindsay great? I do love an awesome determined woman! Send a link to your work and I’ll do my best to get back to you 🙂
Lisa Lizarraga - This is the exact reason I decided I did NOT want to be you. From the outside your life looked so amazing to me but as I started to live your life through my eyes I began to really miss all that I love so much. I love to create, to be free, live healthy, run, shop for vintage dresses and just be in nature and love my babies. Brooke you are amazing and such a smart girl, I’m excited for you to embrace more of just what you love. I can’t wait to continue to see the art that comes from you when you are living your most authentic life <3
brookeshaden - Ahh I love that Lisa! It just got to be a bit too much. And truth be told, I am extremely happy and so grateful for everything, but at a certain point one must be reflective and refocus. I’m so glad that I lived the last year the way I did – I wouldn’t change a thing – but now I want to get back to what makes me feel whole <3
Andrea - Brooke this is a great post. Meeting you and seeing how much you give at your workshops was truly a beyond amazing experience for me. You constantly give yourself to others and pour your passion out. It is really awesome. I am sure it has to be draining as well. I truly believe the best creating comes from a place of freedom in the mind. A freedom that is attained by surrounding yourself with things that stimulate your heart and soul and by changing the things that don’t . <3 I have been on the road to doing this for a while now. It is a really awesome thing to say "I want …" and know it as a truth for your soul. I feel like in Seattle I got so much clarity on this exact topic. Thanks for everything you taught me Brooke 🙂 Thanks for this post 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration. xoxo
brookeshaden - Aww Andrea thank you – You are such a rare gem of a person and I am so excited to see you embrace all that you love and move forward with power!
Danielle Schriever - Hi Brooke, What an extremely inspiring woman you are, and not to mention a photographer who’s beautiful work I can get lost in!! Ahhhh…Keeping all those plates spinning is hard work. I’m trying to do the same with my passions which are photography, playing in a band, and belly dance. I often feel like Ive stretched myself too thin and worry I cant focus enough time to each of the things I love the most. I guess its about balance v’s overload, which I am working on!!
Your online interactive workshop sounds great, any more info on that??
brookeshaden - I hear that! Belly dancing and a band and photography!?!? You sound sooo awesome!!
The workshop will be announced in April once all of the video content is created for it – I’m so excited and also taking suggestions on what would be most beneficial for it, so let me know if there is something specific you’d like to see covered 🙂
Danielle Schriever - Ohh..shucks (Blushes), back at you awesome lady!! I would love to see some workshops on how to Utilise your house for photoshoots to create other worlds. I have this large spa bath that I need to use somehow in a shoot. So I would also love to see workshops involving water, baths, or pools/underwater photography.
Cheers from Australia 🙂
Tom Newforge - Already said this once but I absolutely adore this image. Not sure why but it really speaks to me. It speaks to me in the same way I heard you speak at PSW out in Vegas.
I will never forget how you spoke about how you wanted to be a photographer but you disliked the typical “wedding” beat and wanted to create and tell your own stories. You were so enthusiastic and seemed so very content and confident.
A lot of top level photographers spoke that day and throughout the expo but none of them were able to gain my full attention the way that you did. It was truly as if you were speaking directly to my situation. I knew I wanted to be a photographer but I definately didn’t want to be the “wedding beat” type. I knew that day that you were the one to watch. You were the one who was going to give art that much needed kick in the pants and hopefully I’d be able to take something away from that.
Fast forward to finishing my first year as a full time photography business owner. My days are spent editing wedding and event pictures. This is NOT where I had hoped to be at this point. I am just barely scraping by (as a business) and have very little time to create my own worlds. That takes time and a lot of trial and error. Precious time that is tough to come by this early on in my career. Much like your radiohead reference, I feel the plates could come crashing down with one bad twitch. There are quite a few times where I am questioning my decision to become an artist. I am barely creating for myself and spend my time sprucing up and documenting the lives of others.
So what can I do to make myself happy?
I think I need to spend some more time finding my own voice. I need to stand out from the crowd much like Dariusz Klimczak or yourself. (The two of you are so very different but both produce amazing images using the same tools.) I have a few ideas I am sitting on and will keep you posted.
Right now my “me” time consists of hiking out into nowhere alone and getting some decent landscape and sky images. I am creating a library if you will for my personal composite work once I discover my own voice. I need more of this “me” time to start putting it all together.
Thanks so much Brooke for giving me hope that there could be a career beyond the “bridezillas” and thank you for posing these questions which force us to think about what it is that will ultimately make us happy and how can we get there.
brookeshaden - Tom, thank you so much for all of your kind words. You have truly touched me and I can’t help but feel as though I don’t deserve that much kindness, but it does lift my heart and give me so much to be thankful for today. I am grateful for you. I hope that you do find the time to hone that voice of yours. I can already tell that you are so giving and I hope that you find time to give back to yourself. To do what makes you happy and focus on living that happy life. It is not always easy, but learning to be content with the small things often leads to bigger happiness – so celebrate your small victories – like knowing how to want to spend your time (I’m always amazing at how many have no idea) – and run with it. I am excited for your future.
natascha van niekerk - Brooke, such valuable words, and even though I’ve tried to adjust my life to live by similar principles in the last few months, I needed to hear it again today… Thank you.
brookeshaden - Thank you so much Natascha 🙂
Akhilesh Singh - Hello Brooke.
I have came across your work and character recently, and i must say that your work is amazing no doubt, but you are a wonderful person too, through the video’s of ‘The Concept’ been able to experience your wonderful, generous and ‘ample in giving’ nature .I am Aspiring Photographer from India.
Thanks for all the inspiration 🙂 🙂
brookeshaden - Aww thank you Akhilesh! Xo!
Kristin V. - My dear sweet friend:
Balance and taking care of self is something so many of us struggle with but rarely ever share or address. You give me something to aspire to in finding my own balance in life. Thank you for sharing yourself and also for caring for yourself. Because without one there might not be another. ((HUGS))
brookeshaden - Oh Kristin, I adore you. Thank you for being so kind, always.
Crystal - Brooke,
I only recently discovered your work via the Creative Live three day workshop you did. So much of what you said on that first day, after your passion and knowing what you love resonated with me and where I am. Your advice, suggestions, and tips for photography were indeed helpful, but while listening to you speak of passion and love of what you do, I could hear my own heart. I love photography and writing, those are things I do creatively that bring me the most pure joy and yet, I’ve spent so much time following the standard track of a work-a-day life doing anything but. I also know that it is my deep desire to connect with others, to share beauty and magic of our world with them and to help them seem their own beauty and magic. I don’t know yet how to do that in a way that allows me to do what I love most and be financially compensated enough to do more than ‘get by’., but I have opened myself and my life to the possibilities and am actively seeking a way to align my life and my heart. I want so much to help others, to be part of things that make a positive difference in the world, that much I know.
Your post comes at the most perfect time because I am that point of scaling back in some areas to give more in others. The view from of the sunset atop the mountain speaks to me of the inner stillness I need to hear what my heart is saying… Thank you for sharing your own striving to find balance and for fanning the fires of a more passionate world… 😉
brookeshaden - Oh Crystal, I am so grateful to you for so many things – for watching the class and for taking away from it the things I hold most dear…for pushing your life into a happier place and for refusing to live a life you don’t love…for being bold enough and brave enough to understand what makes you happy and confront that. I love it all. Thank you for being you!
Rebecca Cobb - I honestly don’t remember the last time I felt truly happy with my life. There are things here and there that pull me out of the funk and make me happy for a time…like watching movies..and spending time with my friends. But…the movies end, and friends go and lead their own lives..and I’m back to thinking and drowning in all my personal insecurity and self pity. And I have no clue how to climb out of it. I just got back from a meeting with some of my Photo professors for them to critique my ideas for projects I am working on. They didn’t dislike them..but they urged me to get more personal..because personal stories are how I have succeeded in the past. And I want to be more personal, and I want to pull from my feelings and experiences. But…I just feel stuck.
I admire you so much Brooke, and you have helped me and inspired me a lot lately…but..I still can’t seem to crawl out of my hole..but I long to more than anything. That’s how I want to make my life a happier one to live. Living and not hiding.
brookeshaden - Aww Rebecca, I was so sad reading this – I want you so badly to find true happiness. I agree with you though – living and not hiding – perfect words to live by. I do hope that you can continue to create art that is personal and cathartic and fulfilling. And if ever I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Emma - It is so important to make time for the things you love, but so difficult to do. Despite being in a wonderful situation where my husband supports me no matter what, I find it really hard to concentrate on what truly makes me happy and get so incredibly distracted. This image will remind me to just sit and watch the sunset sometimes.
(also very excited about your online classroom!)
brookeshaden - Sunrise, sunset – I adore taking time each day to savor them, even if only for a minute each. It is the perfect time to feel centered and focus on a new day.
I can’t wait for the online class too! Woo!
thomas miles - Hi, I am making my life happier by conquering my fears! I am taking risks that I would have never imagined I would a year ago! I am trying to create pieces of art that make me feel like a new person and a better one! I love beauty! And my goal this year is to capture that in anyway I can! You know its only until now that I’ve been able to realise that, I think knowing you may read this makes me feel a lot more open with myself! Im hoping I can come to one of your workshops in the UK! 🙂 good luck on your future endeavours! 😀
brookeshaden - That is so wonderful Thomas!
Kimberly A Edwards - Thank you for your inspiration Brooke.
My mind has simply been blown away over the past month and a half with inspiration, one being you.
I have people telling me what to do. My heart is telling me to do something else. I feel pulled in different directions. I trust God will give me a clear vision.
Thank you for your inspiration.
brookeshaden - I am so incredibly happy to hear that you are inspired!! You will see everything clearly eventually, and one can never go wrong with finding, following and conquering passion!
Jody McNary - It is simple. I need to say NO!!
I continue to take on Projects, not necessarily ones I want to do.
I am always the one who works the extra hours at work, thinking I am earning bonus points with the BOSS.
What it really comes now to at the end of the day is, I have made everyone else’s life HAPPY… not mine!!
So here is to my new word “NO”
and “Yes” to more me time and creating what I love!!
brookeshaden - I am so glad that you have a game plan for moving forward with happiness!! I am so excited to hear about your journey!
Elisabeth on Earth - Another awesome post, Brooke! Below your video is the question, “How are you making your life a happier one to live?” Well…
•I like to send unexpected care packages to friends filled with random goodies.
•A daily, one-sentence journal: even on your worst days, it forces you to draw out and focus on a happy moment that would otherwise be forgotten.
•3-5 yoga classes/wk, including aerial yoga.
•I write a newsletter and blog called Color Me Happy.
•At even the littlest accomplishments, I think, “Ta-da!” Though sometimes I accidentally say it out loud and get funny looks.
•I go to bed early, occasionally take running jumps onto the bed just for fun, and always make the bed in the morning. Ok, except Sundays.
•Trying new recipes.
brookeshaden - Oh my gosh, you have just given me so much joy!! Sending unexpected care packages…perfection! I am inspired!
Elisabeth on Earth - Hooray!! I’m so glad!
Tara Eveland - Hi Brooke, I am very pleased to hear you have decided to slow down and just live and let be, even if that like you stated, means giving up something else.
I cant say just yet publically what it is that I have in the works, but its a big, life changing decision that my husband and I have made and I cant wait to do it! 🙂 hugs and talk soon
DanielCely - every now and then I find people I truly admire, either theyy’re talented or humble in spirit and you are both, all your posts are a source of inspiration, I know this post is old now (at least in internet age 8 dyas is like a year) but I still feel the need to express my gratitude towards you, your talent, and your selfless and giving spirit.
Let me address this goal of yours: “I want to be able to reach people through my blog, videos, and education” I can tell you, you have reached me, and you continously do through every blog post, video, creativelive workshop etc. it is just amazing.
Slowing down is important, to take a step aside of the rush and frenzy of running a business of your own. do slow down, don’t stop creating…