It’s finally winter, and although Austin’s weather has been hemming and hawing over whether it should be crisp and cold or rainy and muggy, it’s the off-season for weddings and I have a chance to breathe. I didn’t realize just how stressed and exhausted I really was until I had a weekend off and was able to sleep and sit in my apartment in my pajamas, just enjoying the quiet. Now, looking back, I’m surprised that my body didn’t fail me during the very busy months of this summer and fall. Every weekend, I was shooting something — either a wedding of my own or assisting other photographers at theirs. I slept little and edited a lot. I learned so much but still have so far I want to go.

      I didn’t realize how much I had neglected to nurture myself, the me that isn’t a business owner/artist, until my third weekend off. The sleepless nights evolved into restful slumbers, and my harried and anxious body finally found the time to exercise and loosen. I’m three days into working out every day of the week and I’m remembering just how amazing I feel when I’m properly rested and active, instead of sleep-starved and immobile in front of a computer, for weeks at a time, swinging a kettlebell just once a week.

      This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this year’s wedding season. I thoroughly immersed myself, determined to get better, shoot more, edit more, learn more, understand more, seek new opportunities, try all the cake, work smarter, work faster, get efficient, see in new and different ways, train my reflexes, anticipate moments before they happened — but I admit that while I did this, a healthy part of myself withered from disuse. Now that I’ve stepped back, I see that I was neglectful of the relationships around me, and a tad obsessive about the direction I wanted my business to take. I didn’t spend enough time with my husband. I wasn’t around on weekends to attend parties or get-togethers with my friends. My interactions with people were relegated to Facebook statuses and Twitter conversations. I didn’t email my grandmother back for months.

      The scary thing about owning your own business is that you feel that you are alone. It’s your vision, your art. If your business fails, it’s like you have failed. It’s understandable that you spend so much time on bettering your business, thinking it may better yourself. But I think this is a trap. I can’t bring ME to the surface if I’m too busy to recognize myself.

      I’m happy that things are slowing down, because I can slow down too. Instead of gobbling down the entire box of chocolates I received as an early Christmas gift, I eat them one at a time, one a day. I close my eyes and take three bites of one truffle to make it last longer. I feel the chocolate slide around on my tongue and melt between my teeth. I feel the grit of sugar in my mouth and the taste lingers on my breath.

      I work out and feel my body stretch and tighten. There are no excuses. My mind clears and I feel a fuzzy blanket of warmth and the prickle of satisfaction covering me as I work to better myself. Get stronger. Get more flexible.

      This winter, I plan on working on personal projects. Drawing again, maybe. Painting a picture of where I want my business to go in 2012. And sleeping.

      Thank you all for being so supportive in 2011, and stay tuned for wrap-up posts (with lots of photos) coming soon.

      Photo of Walt & me. Taken by Nessa K. I would have used a photo I took of someone else, but this is about me, so I thought it appropriate.

      YES. THIS: “The scary thing about owning your own business is that you feel that you are alone. It’s your vision, your art. If your business fails, it’s like you have failed.” I’m so glad you’re finally getting some down time!

      Thanks so much, Katie Jane!