Hi friends! I know this blog is viewed by my beloved families who I photograph every year, but I think it gets equal attention from my fellow Photographer Sisters and also my fellow Mama Sisters. Actually, what I am finding is that a lot of my Mama Sisters are getting curious. Maybe they are wondering how I built a business while raising a family. Read on... ;) 

I literally get asked every day "how do you do it all?" or When a well intentioned fellow Mama Sister knows I have a thriving business she says "how in the world do you run a business while still being so involved with your children?"  Usually with a look of sympathy on her face. Or from my fellow Photographer Sisters "how do you manage your business and family life?" With a look of exhaustion. I get asked this all the time. So I have really started to think about it. And like most of us, I sat with this question and told myself a little story in my head (thank you Brene Brown for that mental exercise) "Am I being a bad mom and that's why everyone always asks me this? Why am I able to manage my time well? Maybe I should be giving all of myself to my kids" 

Well...After much thought I came to this... I would say there are two things that I feel the most passionate about in life and those two things are my family and my business. Now you may be wondering why I didn't say photography...and why I said my business. Maybe you aren't. But I think that distinction is important. 

Okay, let me back up a bit. I think that life comes in what would seem a lot like seasons or at least that is how it has been for me. I can divide up chunks of my life and distinctly pull out the difficulties and the joys of each of those seasons. I can get into individual seasons in another post or at another time but this time I want to talk about the season I am in. In the past three months or so I noticed something. An agitation really. I felt like I was short tempered and agitated more often than not. By the way, I haven't really even shared this fully with my husband. Hi honey. :) Well, I decided to look inward. To really dig in and see what the hell was the matter. I realized that a few things were missing. One. Exercise. I have been spending so much time these past six years having babies and growing my business that I wasn't prioritizing exercise. Two. Spirituality. Now I feel I must be clear. I am not religious. I was raised catholic, however don't think that spirituality needs to be based in God (not looking for a debate here.) I think of spirituality as an inner connection with yourself and a connection with something outside yourself, whatever that may be. I also think it stems from a deep connection with your loved ones. Three. Writing. I have always journaled. Always. Up until I had my second child I blogged or journaled. But while growing my business, and again, having babies I let that practice go. I think it is because photography has become an outlet much like writing for me, but I am realizing that I miss writing. Four. Reading. I love reading. But I have a hard time making the time for it. So in the last few months I have made these things a priority again. And to multi task I have been really getting into Audio books. I listen to them while I run. I have been making time to meditate, a new practice for me but I can't believe the things I am noticing about myself. I have always done yoga but meditation is a whole new spiritual practice.  I have also been journaling again. 

So that long winded explanation of the past few months lead me to the answer. Why do I say my business is my passion and not photography. After much self reflection I am realizing that this business means so much to me. When I was knee deep in baby, I had this urge to create, and that lead to photography. But I also had an urge to create something else. Something bigger than myself. I wasn't sure exactly what that was.  And I already had a career so this made no sense to many around me and it really didn't even make sense to myself. Why would I go out and seek out a career as an artist when I had such a solid job as a nurse? Why not just continue to photograph my children as an outlet? Because I know many women who do that and they are some of the best artists I know. But being a women of intuition I kept leaning into that feeling. The feeling that I wanted something different. I felt a drive, a fire in my body, that kept me going. I just knew. Six years later I have left my career as a nurse behind me, created a business I am so proud of and have expanded my business to include photographer education. What I am learning is that I am an entrepreneur and what I am discovering is that I am a special type of entrepreneur, a creative entrepreneur and it is AMAZING! I feel like I just want to create, create, create, and grow, grow, grow. It is like an addiction to my own life, as crazy as that sounds. 

My business is everything to me. I think something that is very unique to creative entrepreneurs is that our business is a true infusion of who we are and what we do. My photography is an artistic outlet based on human connection and authentic moments. I have literally built a business based on me and connecting with me. It's funny, because while I know I am no longer helping people in the same way I did as a nurse, I still feel like I am connecting to humans in the same way. I have had many clients tell me that their photography session felt therapeutic. Strange I know, but true. I feel drained in a similar way after a shoot as I did after a nurse shift.  But I like it so much more. I own it so much more. I want to work all the time. I want to build my brand all the time. I want to create all the time. All. The. Time. And that is incredible. I didn't know this kind of work satisfaction existed. It took me a long time to realize that nursing probably was never my passion. It was a job that fit my desire to connect with and help people, it fit my passion for birth and life, but it never made me as excited as my photography business does. And that is okay. The time I spent in college and the time I spent as a nurse were part of my journey, part of the path of life that lead me here. 

So... I love my job. And just because I love my job doesn't mean I love my kids or family any less. 

So often as mothers we feel heavy guilt. So heavy, like we can feel it holding us back, gripping our shoulders and saying "no, you can't be you." Guilt about working out, guilt about working, guilt about being anything but a mother. Guilt about being a bad mother. Guilt about everything you can think of. And I notice this with all the mothers in my life. Those who stay at home and don't work outside of motherhood at all and those who work 40 plus hours outside of the house. We all feel it. But we don't have to. We can be excellent mothers and still have interests and passions. We can still be creative and sexy, fit and fashionable. We can enjoy alone time and time with our husbands and friends, and still enjoy our children. We don't have to be one thing. We can be whoever we want to be.  I read a book in a women's studies class in college, The Awakening by Kate Chopin and I remember feeling the heaviness of this quote then, before I had even had children. I remember it made me feel uncomfortable, but I remember it so well. It was powerful. It is like it was a little message from the future saying, "hey young lady, remember this one, you will need it later." I want to share it with you here.

" I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear ; it's only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me."

Kate Chopin, The Awakening 

I can love myself and still love my children. I can be a kick ass mother and a kick ass entrepreneur too.

These past few months and deep introspection have introduced a new passion to me. Like many times in my life, a little inner turmoil or agitation usually means something new is brewing inside me. I want to help other women realize their full potential. To realize that if they want to quit their day job and pursue a dream, they can. And if they want to be a full time stay at home mother, I want them to know that they can find joy and fulfillment there as well. I want to help women realize that each of us has something to give, to share, and that we can do that. I want to help other mothers leave guilt behind them and embrace the fire inside them. To listen to that voice inside. Weather that voice says "start a business" or "leave this shitty day job" or even "be a better mom." You should listen. 

So when I get asked about work life balance the answer is simple, even though it has taken me a long time to realize it. There isn't balance. It's all mixed up in one hot pot. When I worked as a nurse there was much more balance. I left for work and worked, came home and was mom. But now, it's all mashed up. But I am SO MUCH more fulfilled. I get asked EVERY day "how do you do it all?" I don't. I do what I chose to do. I don't have more than 24 hours in my day. I choose to spend time on my business. I LOVE it. I chose to show up and try to  be a good mom EVERY DAY. And I am not always a good mom. But I try. Now that the babies are growing up I am making a conscious effort to be a better wife, because lets be real, when they are babies being a good partner is freakin hard. But as recently as the past few weeks we have started making a conscious effort to work on US again. And when I wasn't making exercise, reading, or journaling a priority, I didn't do it. But as with everything I realized, all it takes is making time to do it. Simple as that. 

So I don't do it all. Just because I have a business and am a hands on mom doesn't mean I do it all, it just means that I have made a choice to do those things. And my short journey on meditation is showing me that we are 100% in control of our attitude. 

So why the long winded post? I don't know. But I am feeling called, as silly as that sounds, to help other mothers who want to find purpose and intention in their lives and business. Because for whatever reason, society wants to put us in a box. It want's to categorize us. Mother or working mother? Career woman or stay at home mom? Creative woman or practical woman? These past few years as a photographer, creative entrepreneur, and mother have taught me a lot. My values are still the same. I am passionate about positive parenting and mothering and I am passionate about helping others and connecting, I am passionate about photography and art, and I am going to find a way to blend that all together. I want to help every woman "do it all." Because doing it all doesn't mean you are doing it all, it means you are doing all that is important to you. 

So again,  I don't do it all, folks. But you better believe what I do comes from a place of deep rooted passion! So stay tuned...my brain is working on something for my Sisters out there. I am not exactly sure what it looks like yet, but the wheels are turning. And fast. 



Elena <3


***Photo in header by Rebecca Hunnicutt Photography