Thursday, September 11, 2014

Low Expectations

by Judy


At Focusing on Life we try to promote positive feelings and inspire all of you, but we are also honest about the fact that sometimes life isn't always pretty. 

Right now I'm struggling my way out of what has been a very low time for me. A summer filled with physical pain, and side effects of medication, have brought me to one of my lowest points - mentally, emotionally, and physically.

In the past I have known that when I am down, doing what I love can really help.  Since photography is that 'thing' for me, it would make sense for me to go on long walks, camera in hand, and spend an afternoon shooting whatever catches my eye.  But this time it's been different.  For most of the summer I haven't even had the desire to shoot.  On the rare days I did want to shoot, my motivation level was so low that it seemed like too much work. 

As time went on, and it was longer and longer since I had picked up my camera, the thought of doing a photo shoot was almost scary.  I haven't shot in so long, what if I've lost my skill?  I'm so low, what if nothing inspires me anymore?  Packing up my gear and trekking to one of my special places began to feel like too much work. The longer it went since I had used my camera, the harder it seemed to start. And so my camera sat idle all summer.

I'd notice the light, just like I always used to, but I didn't run to my camera to capture it.  A foggy morning, a dew laden spider web, an interesting shadow.  All of these things would have found me with camera in hand -  but not this summer. I'd look, I'd notice, but it simply seemed like too much effort to do anything but that.

Seeing all of my friends sharing their beautiful photos on flickr, and on their blogs, made me feel even worse.  I wanted to be doing that, but I knew that when my heart wasn't in it, beautiful photos wouldn't happen.
 
This was the week that I finally felt brave enough to pull out my camera.  I went out with my camera -  and some very low expectations.  What?  In this world of lofty goals and high expectations, that seems very strange to say, but it's true.  I didn't expect to have the best shoot of my life.  I didn't expect that I'd get many, or any, shots that I'd be really happy with.  I didn't plan on trying to capture anything in particular.  I just went out.  I can definitely say that I had set my expectations low.  And though it sounds strange to admit, I feel that it helped.

 I got the 'feel' of the camera again without feeling like I needed to create the perfect shot.  I felt the joy of a quiet wander while looking for the light and searching for my subject.  I didn't get any great shots, but I did get some that were pretty good.  I didn't shoot anything that was unique and amazing, but I did shoot. It's what I needed at this point in time, and I have promised myself that I will remember this. Sometimes expecting perfection can deter us from doing something. Be kind to yourself.  Some days we all need a break - including a break from what we expect of ourselves.

Of course, as I begin feeling like myself again I look forward to challenging myself, but in this world of striving for perfection and lofty goal setting, there will be days that we just need to lower our expectations.  









12 comments:

Liz said...

I totally understand what you are saying, Judy! I have been in that position many times over the last 5 years. I live with chronic illness & since my car accident 5 years ago, my pain levels have skyrocketed. It's very difficult to have motivation for anything while in pain. I hope you are feeling much better.

Helena Heart said...

Great that you managed to do something, it is so hard when you feel like that, but it almost always makes you feel better in the end. Have you looked at the symptoms of depression? Sending you love!

Dotti said...

It is so true ... when we don't feel well, we seldom shoot well ... if at all! But eventually it comes back to us, like riding a bike. And usually that first time we pick up the camera, blow off the dust, get out there and shoot ... well, anything ... we begin to feel better and our cameras do, too. {I'm convinced my camera has a personality and feelings and doesn't like being ignored.} Oh, Judy, Judy, Judy ... Galveston is going to be so good! xo

Dotti said...

And by the way ... your photo today is gorgeous ... a perfect example of the transitional season we're experiencing right now, not quite summer but not yet fall.

kelly said...

hello my name is Kelly and I am an overachiever...

judy I so totally get this. but I think it's these kinds of moments, when we exercise a little self-compassion - I mean what would you say to your best friend if she was going through what you've been going through?? - that's where the grace comes in. letting ourselves off the hook sometimes is the very best medicine.

and p.s. 'pretty good'???? I would say your photo is extraordinary.xo

Susan said...

Judy, I can completely relate to how you feel! I haven't picked up my camera this summer as much as I wanted to. I will be completely honest in saying that depression has really gotten me down. Almost to the point of not wanting to get out of the bed. Then I realized…no one is going to get me going except myself…and the help of an antidepressant. I also find that yoga and meditation helps a lot. Wishing you more pain free days, with that camera at your side…love the fall leaf twig!

CarolHart said...

You are so right Judy. Often we set expectations so high it is like a wall we cannot scale. Some of the best images I've ever taken are those when I had absolutely no expectations at all. Oh, and I love your image. Perfectly captures the change of season taking place before our very eyes.

terriporter said...

Oh, my dear Judy, such heartfelt words. What is it about photography that makes it harder and harder to pick up your camera the longer you have ignored it? Having no expectations of perfection and just getting out there is probably the best medicine. So happy you are able to do that again! And I will agree with all those before me, your transition into fall image is pretty close to perfect.

Kim Stevens said...

Judy, your photo is beautiful and I can see why you were drawn to it...I see growth and reaching out. This summer was difficult for me as well and I struggled going out with my camera to the places that I absolutely love. And on the occasion that my husband and I went somewhere I left my camera at home and it was so liberating. And this I know...even though you haven't picked up your camera, you have been observing far more than you know and when it's ready it will come pouring out. Like Dotti said, Galveston is going to be so wonderful and I'm so looking forward to meeting you in person. xo

Roxi Hardegree said...

So glad you're feeling better about shooting. I seem to have more fun shooting and hardly get around to processing let alone posting. I've come to realize the joy is in the shoot. And if I don't see the images or anyone else until a month later, so be it. How about that for low expectations? Never would have thought I'd say that.

Viv@within the Frame said...

I too find that the first thing I lose when I go through a period of illness (Fibromyalgia) is my creativity. The thing you most need is lost. So Judy I am so glad that you have been out on a photo shoot, sometimes the smallest, simplest thing is just right.

Sarah Huizenga said...

I completely agree, once we take the pressure off of ourselves things get so much easier. Not every shot has to be the perfect shot, it is the practice. That point has been coming at me from all angles this year. Hang in there Judy and keep practicing :)

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