Hello all! Last month I was inundated with posts and articles and newsletters on mental health, and it was awesome. I’m late to the party, but I’ve got a few things to say as well.
In the shared life experiences of just my husband and myself, two people out of millions and millions, we’ve been touched by suicide, depression – both clinical and postpartum, self harm, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, mental illness and psychotic breaks, and many more issues that were present in our circles, but were never revealed or discussed. Now that’s not to say that all of those things happened to us directly, but we were close to it and affected by all of it. Because that’s how mental health works. There is a ripple effect for every positive and every negative aspect of mental health. When someone you love is struggling, you’re struggling too, albeit in a different way. When someone you love it thriving, you also reap those rewards.
In this house, self care is a very real and serious thing. It’s something we constantly work on as a family, and individually, because without a focus on self care, our mental health pretty much goes to hell, and let’s be honest – it’s a short trip for a loving relationship to follow one’s own personal trip to hell. I have my things that I like to do for my well being and Jared has his. They’re not the same things and that’s great. We have never been that couple that has all of the same interests and passions, so why force it now when it matters the most?
My thing is, like most of my interests, art based. But spoiler alert: It’s not more photography. My “me time” is doing pottery.
I love to make bowls and mugs and pots, glaze them in all of my favourite colours, and then force them onto friends and family. I set aside time once a week for this and I rarely miss it. When I do miss it, I notice a huge difference in myself. Without that meditative release and that feeling of creating something, I can become a real… er… not nice person. My pottery has nothing to do with my photography, and also has everything to do with my photography. Stay with me here for a second, I’ll explain. When I make pottery, it isn’t because I’m trying to influence my photography business. I’m not doing it for praise or recognition, and I’m not trying to make money from it. But. When I make pottery it centers me (pun intended) and gives me a small moment that is just for me. It’s a selfish act but not the negative connotation of selfish. More like taking care of oneself-ish. It makes me a better person and artist, and the inspiration I get from pottery definitely affects my photography. When my head is clear, I am able to focus (omg another pun!!) on my business and get shit done. So, my pottery has nothing and also everything to do with my photography.
Jared’s thing is… well he’s got a few. Sports are big for him, but winter is so so SO long, and in the past year he’s developed a passion for traditional wet shaving.
He started small with one razor, one soap, one brush, and has grown to completely take over the downstairs bathroom with his collection of shaving treasures. He’s super interested in the history of the razors and brushes he collects, so he’s constantly chatting with other shaving enthusiasts about where and how to find the coolest stuff. You wouldn’t believe this community of (mostly) guys. They’re all bonkers for wet shaving and I’m so glad that Jared has found his tribe. They’re all about sharing, from soaps to razors to information and experience. He’s had one of my grandfather’s straight razors restored (Grandpa was a barber and had some pretty cool things) by one of his wet shaving buddies and not only does he use it periodically, he’s going to teach our son to use it when it’s time. How special is that??
He started a blog: The Thirsty Badger and eventually added some of his other passions to the site. He writes reviews on the many MANY different products he tries and is constantly posting SOTD photos. (Shave of the Day for anyone trying to keep up – the photo in the snow above is one that I got to shoot.) Sometimes I get to help with these photos, sometimes I just get to sigh deeply from across the room and hope he’s not actually going to stand between his subject and the light from window and my god change your angle andwhatifyoumovedthebrushjustalittletotheleft…. In truth, I’m impressed with how far his photography has come. He actively pursues the light in our house now, taking note of cool shadows and interesting side light. He can “see” what he wants before setting things up, which is half the battle. I’m so proud. Sniff. He makes shave soap and 3D prints various items related to shaving (I won’t go into it all in detail, just go look at the site) and here’s the cool part – he’s found a way to work my pottery self care into his shaving self care. He sells the textured shave bowls that I make to his crazy shave dudes. (I haven’t yet come up with a proper name for his shave zealots, so I’m trying a few different ones out.)
Every time I bring a few bowls home, he has “notes” on what works and what doesn’t. Straight handles suck, angled handles are better. Glossy all over is tricky to hang on to, try leaving some raw clay. Shallow texture doesn’t work well, try a deeper pattern. Too big. Too small. How about trying a shaving scuttle? (look it up, they’re cool.) Now, that all might sound critical and/or demanding, but another of my passions in life is solving problems (hello “oldest daughter” syndrome!), so it’s really just another challenge for me to knock over. It works for us.
Between mom’s pottery and dad’s shaving and 3D printing, Cole is learning that it’s important to take time for oneself. He sees that Jared and I are into different things, and he knows that neither of those things need to be of interest to him. (Although, let’s be real, LEGO is all that’s really of interest to him right now.)
Cole staged this photo and I only moved a couple of guys so that I could see Batman better. Maybe he’ll be into photography one day… but only if it makes his LEGO look super bad-ass.
He understands that sometimes daddy has rough days (read Jared’s full story here) and that’s not because of anything anyone did or said. When I leave for pottery, he doesn’t feel like I’m choosing something fun over spending time with him – he feels excitement over Boys Night where supper is served in front of the tv.
So, to sum up this super-rambling post, I’ll say this. As adults and as parents, we tend to always put the kids and work first. We sacrifice our own interests and activities in an effort to have the smartest and most well rounded children, and in order to get the promotion and make the almighty dollar. This is garbage. We’re no good to anyone if we’re falling apart behind the scenes. Take some time for yourself. Not for the family, not for work, not for your spouse, just for you.
In the end it benefits all those other people anyway.