through my eyes and not my lens

Today was the best day. And we didn't take a single picture.

I know. I know. Kind of a sad thing to be proud of. Not even a big deal right?

But it was for me.

Taking pictures isn't a new thing for me. It's not something I've just recently picked up or started to love. It didn't start when I had Sawyer or bought my first 35mm. No - it's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. Ask my parents, ask my brothers, ask my husband. It's just simply my favorite thing to do. Taking photos. Call it a hobby, a passion, an outlet whatever. Having Sawyer has only unfolded it.

I know it will never stop. But I want to be better - more aware I'd rather say - about how I'm living. I mean like really REALLY l i v i n g these days that I'm also capturing. I want to be there. Here. All there. All here.

Both focusing and [un focusing] on the demand to capture these moments is a real thing. It's a thrill and a struggle all at once.

As one who adores, thrives, enjoys all things |photos| I am the first to defend that having [or not having] a lot of pictures correlates zero percent to the amount of one's memories. Some of our best days spent together as a family haven't a trace of physical preservation while others were effortlessly captured on film. Because usually, grabbing my camera that's slung around my arm is as natural and un-noticed as anything else, a habit - an unconscious movement.

But lately - for me - I needed a refresh. A break. A day at the least that wasn't documented, wasn't evidenced by virtual and tangible proof. A technology timeout.

I recently attempted to tackle the daunting and ridiculous task of sorting through my last THREE iPhones I've filled since having Sawyer. 53,429. You read that right.

Fifty three thousand %#^*+# photos of my one year old exist. I'll just go ahead and attempt to make an excuse that some of those photos are screen shots, work inspiration or duplicates of when I'll snap a burst (or 10) of 30-40 pictures at once.

Excuses or not that's a shit ton - excuse me - of photos that I can only imagine will continue to rise as she... well, continues to grow.

But that's not the point. So I take a lot of pictures. I won't and don't feel bad about it but it does make me think. Do we really need a picture every.single.day? I mean really, does every fleeting moment and laugh and outing and park swing and funny accident or trouble making toddler need an iPhone rectangle?

I think we all know that answer.

And I know - for some, taking a picture everyday is something they want. Maybe it's for a project or because they want to get better about having more pictures of their kids in the moment, or more pictures of them WITH their kids. Maybe it's not about your kids or their kids. But - for me, I know that although I may think I need or even w a n t a picture everyday. I do not.

It's a sensitive thing for me, to admit that I struggle with wanting it all on film - feeling that when Sawyer does something so new, so amazing to me that I have to capture it. Craziness. I just never want to forget. I know that. But never wanting to forget can become consuming - exhausting to try and save these moments like pebbles in a jar. I suffered greatly when Sawyer was first born over the agony that time could not be stopped. Refusing to take for granted one bit of every milestone that could be preserved for later viewing. I both loved and hated time more than ever. And I do, still feel that way. I think it's a Mom thing |wink wink| But I am better. I am okay. I am okay that sometimes, I don't need to reach for my phone or my camera on the shelf to capture the way Sawyer was kissing Taylor or saying banana because I'll never forget those images. Sometimes I'm going to miss the moment completely or capture a blurry one instead. It's ok. Sometimes she's not going to want to take pictures. Sometimes we are going to be on a beautiful ferry with a cloudless sky and glittering water and she's going to throw herself overboard before she lets me pose in a picture with her. I'm getting to be okay with that. The moment - the day - the memory. It's all still there. With or without my pictures.

This morning I woke up and drank coffee with my husband uninterrupted by a morning scroll through our virtual world. I sat with him and not just next to him. I enjoyed my coffee reading a book I'd been collecting dust on for months while I waited for S to wake up. When she came downstairs I pulled a kitchen chair up to the counter so she could help me stir in the chocolate chips before I poured the pancake batter into the hot pan. She held the measuring cup while pancake batter dotted her forehead from licking the spatula and for once I didn't reach for my phone or my camera to snag a picture that would steal that moment away from us. Just us.

I laughed and I watched her laugh. I watched her through my eyes and not my lens and I knew. This is what's important. Not a perfectly composed set of brightly edited squares or 25 more photos to add to my next shutter-fly book on the coffee table but real, messy gooey-good-rich l i v i n g.

I know I'll never stop taking pictures. It would be like removing a body part from me. But Ive been consciously aware - intentional - and purposeful about what it is I take photos of. And the breaks I take |although slightly forced by myself| are small - they are welcomed reminders why sometimes we really do just need a pause. Just a tiny - slowed down minute to remember that not everything has to be captured and preserved. I know for myself I need that reminder more than most.

Having just one or two days a week that I designate a no pictures day is one of the best things I've done for myself. It takes away all pressure - any time spent deciding if I should or shouldn't reach for my phone. It is simply not enough to challenge myself to do "less". On days we dont take pictures we dont take pictures. No matter what. It has redshifted my focus, my mind. Refreshed me and given me new ideas. I know this balance is not something everyone needs but I did. Some days are better left to the memory and some memories are better left as just that.

And I remember - many of my best childhood memories don't exist in tangible photographs I can hold. They are stuck, engraved forever in my head and my heart and I know - really, in the end what else could you ask for? Photograph or not, I just want to remember it all the best I can.


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