Tag Archives: life blog

Where did I lose my “me” time? | Photography by Brea

When I was 7 or 8 years old… I had a “thinking tree” (as I called it) just down the alley that ran beside my house.  It had a thick branch just low enough that I could pull myself up to sit on it, and leaves that sagged down almost to ground level to create a natural little tent inside which no one could see me.

I loved that tree.  It was my “space” where I went simply because I enjoyed alone time… and it also served as a “safe zone” I could retreat to when I felt emotionally overloaded or sad.

Lately I’ve been noticing that my daughter has a WHOLE LOT of me coming out in her personality… specifically in the way that she also finds ways to make time to be by herself.  Whether it’s taking her stuffed animals into her cardboard “house” (made of the shipping remnants of our patio furniture we got this summer), and closing the door for a half hour while she plays make-believe with them…. Or how she’ll be playing with a group of neighborhood friends and then find a way to make space for herself to dance or to sing “Frozen” songs away from the crowd.

And watching her little “keep to herself” personality has brought me back to the peacefulness that I used to feel doing the same thing.   While I LOVED my time with my friends and spent the majority of my time with them…  I equally loved those quiet times just hanging out by myself.   Whether it was in my room journaling/writing poems… or just hanging out on that low-hanging branch.

But somewhere along the way… that little girl stopped going to that thinking tree.  She stopped giving herself a time and a space to retreat to when her emotions were on overload, or just to be alone with her thoughts.   And today… if I DO decide to spend that time alone…  it’s uncomfortable, can be filled with guilt that I should be doing something “productive” or with my family… and simply just not as peaceful as I remembered it being on that branch.

So WHY did that little girl lose that awesome recognition that “me” time is so important…so healthy … and so necessary to stay level-headed in an otherwise uneven world?


I know I lost it a little bit in adolescence when I got made fun of for being “too deep” and started trying to hide that side of myself.

I know I lost it a little bit in my twenties when I spent my time defining myself based on how many friends I had around me.

I know I lost it a little bit when I entered the corporate world and got caught up in the belief that time spent on emails/meetings/deadlines were more important than time spent acknowledging what my own needs were.

I know I lost it a little bit when I had kids and listened to the societal voices that labeled Moms who openly admit that they want “me time” as selfish.

But looking back… I realize that I didn’t lose it. I gave it away, didn’t I?  I gave it away to the chaos and to all of those other voices.  I spent more time listening to that noise, and NOT listening to the person that I used to listen to when I sat on that thinking tree branch 25 years ago.

There are times that I watch my daughter retreat by herself and worry for her…  that she might be an outcast at school when she’s off in the corner of the playground by herself while all of her classmates are playing kickball.  But you know what? I hope she doesn’t listen to me – or anyone who calls her out for it, for that matter –  and instead…. that she never stops listening to that smart little voice of hers that tells her how awesome it is… and always will be… to give herself some “me time.”

And I hope she’ll let me borrow her thinking tree … whenever I decide to start listening again to the voice that really matters.


Throw on the Scuba Gear | Photography by Brea | The Mom Blog

I’d like to think that I get to know my clients decently well.  I spend a lot of time with them before, during and after a session – and I get to ask a lot of questions about them along the way that helps me not only capture their families authentically, but helps me get to know them a little bit as people.

But a recent interaction with one of my client Moms made me stop and think about what it actually means to “know” someone… and at what point can you really say you know someone “well.”

It happened like this:  We had never met in person…  but I felt like our connection was immediate even from the first time she contacted me.  We emailed a bunch, we talked on the phone and we did a novel of texting leading up to our 1.5 hours together during the session.  Add a little more texting and calling after she got her images …  and I had definitely formed an opinion about “who she was” as a person based on those interactions.

But then – in one of our back-and-forth texts about her final gallery – she shared something extremely personal with me about a life event that she went through… and it made me pause.    I started thinking about my “opinion” of her prior to her sharing this with me and how “well” I thought I knew her. My thoughts prior were:  gorgeous girl, incredible spirit about her, infectious personality, extremely authentic in her interactions, funny, a beautiful family full of a lot of love (proven by the pictures), has it all together.    So when she decided to share something that was so personal and so absolutely defining in her life … while my opinion of her certainly didn’t change, my respect for her went through the roof.  And more importantly, every part of me wanted to know more about her.   How she overcame things.  How she made decisions.  How it affects her (or doesn’t affect her) today.   I wanted to “know” her better … I wanted to understand the “true” her. And I wanted to kick myself for thinking that I had done that previously through emails, texts and a couple hours of photographing.

This whole “make an opinion about someone with little information” thing is not a new topic, you guys… I know that.  But I also know that this concept is rocking all of us more than we want to admit.  And I’m not just talking about the “book by its cover” judgment you make about the Mom sitting across the play area at the library – I’m talking about those people who are daily parts of our lives.  Our friends. Our family. We don’t ask the real questions of each other anymore.   Are we afraid of prying?  Or maybe afraid that someone will ask us something more deep and we’ll have to face “real” topics ourselves?   Or maybe we’re all to busy with our own “stuff”  that we don’t have time to hear about someone else’s.  Or maybe it’s just more comfortable to not go “there.”  But what are we missing out on because of that?

Think of it like this:  you have two people who know nothing about the ocean and have never seen it.  You send them both out on a boat with scuba gear to explore for two hours.  Person one opts to sit on the boat the entire time and takes in the view from the surface.  Person 2 uses the scuba gear.   Which person is going to come back with a better understanding of the ocean?  Both will have an opinion… but who will truly “know” the ocean better?

But we are so often Person 1.  And that ocean of friends we think we know?  There is SO much going on with them … so much history… so many thoughts… so many stories.  And we probably don’t know half of it.

I remember going through a really weird, emotional and rough spot personally during what would seem to be one of the best times of my life.   Everyone around me was just telling me how lucky I was based on their view from the surface – and I just nodded and agreed even though I was secretly begging for someone to ask me how I felt on the inside so I could maybe make sense of my feelings through a conversation with someone other than myself.    And in that same breath, I can also vividly remember times where I spent an entire phone call with a friend going on and on about something “surface” related… only to find out later that she had something important she really needed to talk about.  And I never opened up that door to let her do that.

But this is what we do!  We ask stuff like  “How’s work” and “How was your weekend” … and then we give surface-level answers of, “You know, the usual” even though we have a million things going on in our minds.  And the conversation’s over there.  A missed opportunity to connect.  A chance missed to go deeper into the stuff that matters.

Am I here to say that we can realistically have these kinds of conversations at every interaction? No. It’s not realistic. But we sure as hell can give ourselves more opportunities to make those connections.   How do we do it?

We start asking better questions of our friends.  We start opening the door and letting them know that we are someone they can talk to.  We start answering other people’s “surface” level questions with more real answers to open up the dialogue about the important stuff.   We plan dinner nights with our spouses without the kids to open up conversation that’s deeper than “what do you want to watch on TV tonight?” We start being more honest about our own struggles to make our friends more comfortable to voice their own.   We plan coffee dates with friends where we both agree to keep kids and work off topic and talk more about life.   We strike up a conversation with that stranger Mom at the library after we apologize for our kid stealing a toy from her kid.

And most importantly – we stop making assumptions about people until we’ve done these things.

So the challenge is this:  when we find ourselves in a situation that we can really connect with someone ….  whether for the first time or the 50th time …  that we leave the comfort of the floating boat – and experience the fulfillment, the connection, the joy and the LIFE that happens when you choose to throw on the scuba gear.