Present Tense…

Last night I couldn’t sleep. It was a confluence of things: the wind, the dogs, and thoughts of inadequacy all conspiring to keep me awake. Wide awake. If I’m going to be real here, I am terrified. It feels like things are going really well in all parts of life, but just below the surface is where the fear sits…waiting..waiting for that moment of doubt to trickle into my brain, then, it pounces. My heart quickens its pace, I begin to sweat. My mind races, simultaneously thinking about all of the things that must get done and all of the things yet to be done and trying, frantically to control these thoughts and my body’s reaction to them. That was me, last night…for most of the night.

I know why. But, even admitting that scares me. Here goes nothing though… I am scared of failure. No, I am a scared I am failing. Present tense, failing. But why? As I said, so many things are going so well in my life and business…

And I rack my brain: I can’t seem to keep the house clean to save my life, I haven’t walked the dogs in a week, I went over-budget AGAIN…I can’t seem to make it out the door, even for a little run. But that’s not it. Those things will happen, and I’ve learned that those things don’t define me. They are just parts of my life that sometimes get out of balance, until I decide to make them a priority again. I, Kathryn, am not my lack of perfection. So, why the heart palpitations in the middle of the night?

When business is booming, I am on top of the world; when couples aren’t knocking down the door to work with me, I am failing….yep. That’s it.

On the last morning of the What If Conference in Portland last July, we had an unexpected surprise. A couple named Mary and Joel (The Joel, actually), the Portland-based husband and wife wedding photographers, known as Blue Window Creative, spoke to us. And, they spoke to my heart. Above, in the photo, the are describing how they feel during different aspects of doing business, and the endless up and down that we put ourselves through….IF we hitch our self-worth to our work. Yep. That’s it.

I have been hitching my self-worth to how many couples want to work with me…and then to the work that I am producing.  You might think this makes me feel better to say out loud, I assure you, it does not. I am queasy about sharing this. And more, I am queasy that this is the absolute truth.

Mary and The Joel talked about this for themselves, but if I remember correctly, they didn’t have an answer for how to disengage from this clearly destructive pattern of thought. I do know that these two people are extremely passionate about what they do and are true creatives. They put their whole self into the images they create as well as everything else they do. This is often why it’s so difficult to separate out the parts of our life that make up who we are, so it’s no wonder we wake up in a cold sweat wondering why we aren’t just better

So, I am looking to you, friends to share with me how you have learned to separate what you do from who you are. How do you learn to define yourself, beyond your work?

If you have any advice, please comment below …I’d like to sleep better tonight 😉




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