Monday, March 30, 2020

Documenting Your Everyday - Step 1

      I don't know where you are right now, as we begin week 3 of the US shut down.  Perhaps you have been counting down the days until day 15 was done, excited to socially reengage, only to feel defeated to find out that day 15 was not the end.  Perhaps you haven't seen much of a difference in your everyday because you typically work from home and don't really spend a ton of time out and about.  Or maybe you are somewhere in the middle, like I think so many of us are.  Where ever you are right now, it's likely that you have had time to do many of the things you always find yourself saying you wish you had more time for - like having family meals and spending family time together.  Extra time on your hands may have even led to a list of things you seem to never have the time - or maybe energy /desire - to tackle.  {Unless, of course, you are one of the countless of essential workers that are literally the heartbeat of our country right now.  If you are, there are simply not enough words and ways to tell you how much the people of this country appreciate all you are doing and sacrificing for us all.  My family is so very grateful to you as we have been as isolated as possible for the last two and half weeks because of and for you.}

     While you have had the opportunity to spend some extra quality time with your peeps, I encouraged my FB followers to be documenting their days in the ways I would, were I to be with you.  In case you missed it, here were my exact words: "What a beautiful time to be engaging as a family, building both memories and wonderful habits of spending quality time together. As you start making time for just living plain old life together, with no busy schedule, hear me cheering you on and being stupid excited for you. How I would love to be taking beautiful pictures of your lives right now, so make sure to take pictures yourselves. This is a historic time in our world and lives and you'll be so thankful for pictures of it later."  Now that the time has been extended, I wanted to do something more than just cheer you on.  I wanted to help you make the most of this time and give you some tips that might make your photo journal more meaningful, and more beautiful because of that.

     Enter in this series, "Documenting Your Everyday".  I have made a short list of the things I believe will be most powerful to you as you go about being immersed in living everyday life to help you see the beauty of it all.  I am going to break this down into separate posts, using images from our quarantine time, in hopes that it will give you a chance to practice that skill before the next step comes.  SO, I'm going to start with one of the steps I think is not just a necessary step for being a better documenter, but for improving lots of things in life.  I believe it can improve our relationships, our attitudes, and our lives overall.  What's this magic step?

Learning to be present.

Now, before you blow right over this step, I want to tell you something critical about this one.  Without it, your documenting may lose a lot of its meaning, and the rest of the steps really don't work.  Also, that's kind of the point of this thing we call life - having meaning in what we do.  You will miss what is going on under the surface when it comes to your kids, your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, and so much more.  Missing that will mean that your relationships will suffer.  Trust me on this one - it is a must.

For some of you, this will be so much easier than others.  I admit, depending on what is going on, this can be tricky for me.  I want to take pictures of all the beauty I see, which tends to be allll the things.  And I want to be able to show people how their everyday can be just as beautiful.  But that doesn't really allow me to be present, so there are times that I just have to put the camera down.  God has made us all uniquely different, but whether you are a do-er whose task list never seems to dwindle, or a natural social distance-r who gets drained by engaging, it's important to be present so you can actually see the story as it unfolds.

So, what does this look like?  Simply put, it means single tasking.  If your family is playing a game or taking a walk or having dinner or watching a movie, that is the only thing you are doing.  You are not on your phone or laptop.  You are not on social media or doing chores.  You are not listening to music or texting with a friend.  You are simply present and engaged fully in what's going on.  (But, Melissa, how will I take pictures?  Cool your jets.  You aren't there yet.  We'll get there.)  In the beginning, this may be difficult.  You will want to be constantly multitasking, but resist that urge and learn to be present.  And resist your need to control and direct things.  (More on that next time.)  Your goal is to be able to SEE what is happening, by focusing on just one thing.  I know you can do it!  I would love to hear how this goes for you over the next week.  I know it isn't going to be easy, because it isn't going to be your default move, but then again, neither was cancelling all your plans for three weeks, and social distancing, but you did it - or at least did your best, so, give this one a shot.

Until next time,