Some days I find it ridiculous to write blogs like this on my website - as a wedding photographer it's tempting to fall into the routine of only sharing a full wedding post, maybe an engagement here or there, a creative shoot when it's on my mind. But I have so much to say and I think part of this new mantra for 2020 is doing things like this - taking the ideas on my mind and putting them to use.
Today I want to talk about romanticizing your life. Before I jump into an explanation of what exactly I'm talking about, here is a series of posts and images I've found (thank you Pinterest!) to develop this idea. I want to share these first in hopes that it'll get you into the mindset we're about to explore! So here's a few ideas to start:
So do you kind of get what I'm talking about now? I'm talking about taking every piece of your life and giving it love and intention. The dictionary definition of romanticize is as follows; "to hold romantic notions, ideas, etc." And the definition of romantic is, "imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc." Or at least, out of the four definitions given, that's the one I liked the most.
So let's break it down - dissect a day in the life, an average work or school day, and see what it might mean to romanticize a life even when it doesn't feel romantic in the slightest. This might help you to better apply this concept to your own life, and get a better understanding of what exactly I'm trying to convey. Let's look at something we all collectively hate - a Monday.
6am - Wake Up Call
An unromanticized life: snoozing, maybe twice or three times, a frown as you think about a long week ahead of you, regretting getting up so early, maybe skipping breakfast and heading into a long commute. My life isn't like this every day per se, but I've definitely had days like this before.
A romanticized life: waking up alongside the sun, soaking in the silent moments before the day starts, making or picking up your favorite coffee to enjoy, spending some time just breathing or stretching, picking out an outfit that makes you joyful, appreciating the clouds in the sky or the rain on your windshield.
Kind of getting the swing of things? Still a little foggy - still a little skeptical? That's cool, let's keep it up.
10am - Life at Work
An unromanticized life - meetings, meetings, unnecessary meetings, cold coffee (that we still drink because god do we need it,) all your least favorite coworkers, a new assignment piling up every hour, maybe a gloomy look outside at a grey morning
A romanticized life - using your favorite pens and stationery during the work day, appreciating your favorite coworkers, seeing how good you are at your job, chatting and passing notes with your favorite people, looking outside and appreciating the rain that helps the grass to rise and the flowers to bloom
I know it's starting to make sense - but what about when you get home from a long day at work or school, how are you supposed to look at that through a new lens? Like...
5pm - Finally at Home Again
An unromanticized life - an exhausting commute home, crashing on the couch, an endless to-do list of assignments and homework, a family or pets or friends who need help or attention, dinner that needs to be made, appointments that need to be kept, responsibilities piling up (you've got so much to do and only so many hours in a day)
A romanticized life - taking the long way home to appreciate your surroundings (I can't be the only one who has a Favorite Route Home, right?), saying hi to your pets who missed you so much, making yourself an excellent dinner, doing some deep breathing, appreciating your capability with your responsibilities, working on homework with pens and stickers, a soft study playlist in the background, spending time with your family
So, not everyone has a life like this - and not every day is the same either. So let's break a few more examples down piece by piece, for anyone who felt like the examples I wrote out feel far too distant from their own lives.
"I feel so stuck - every single day is the same."
Appreciate the passage of life you're in right now - whether that be in school, just working to pay the bills, lying in wait, planning - there's nothing wrong with being at an in-between stage. Remember you don't have to rush to the next spot - maybe appreciate where you are now and remember you might not be there forever. You might miss it tomorrow.
"I don't like myself or how I look."
This is a tough one too - we have unrealistic standards for ourselves which can feel impossible. But our uniqueness is beautiful and it is romantic. Romanticize your curves, and your stretch marks, your scars, no matter where they came from. Love the color of your hair and the spark in your eye. Your freckles, your moles - the acne, the hair, your height, your weight. It's so deeply YOU. Nobody else can be that.
"I hate when the weather is x, y, or z."
This is one of my favorites - and depending on my mood, it can be really hard too. It's raining and the wind is rising - but so are our hearts, and you can let the storm take you away into a passionate thunder. Our maybe the sun is too bright and your heart feels low - appreciate the relentless blue of the sky and the way it reaches down to touch your roof. Every day is special, even if the sky is a monotonous grey.
"I'm just so bored of waking up."
I think we all get to points like this sometimes. I took this line from a song actually, but I still think it's true. Remember to give purpose to every little thing you do. Some mornings I hate feeding the dogs - some mornings I remember how much they'll love me for it, because they can't do it themselves. Doing the dishes can suck - but I love how the dish soap smells and I always puff out some bubbles to poke in the air. Making breakfast on a summer morning, with no agenda for the day; scrape that avocado on your toast like it's the most important thing in the world.
I hope you can take these examples and apply them to your own life - but you might be asking, why should I romanticize my life? Because with purpose, every single day can be special. Every single day can feel like your birthday, can feel like the best day. We don't have to feel perfect every single day, but sometimes romanticizing what we do can help lift our spirits and help us to appreciate life on days it becomes hard. This next list is of ideas of things you can add to your life, maybe rather than changing some of your already developed habits. This comes straight out of my journal, and straight from my heart.
-Wear what you want and dress how you feel
-Cook your favorite meal
-Jump in the mud
-Take the long way home
-Photograph absolutely ANYTHING that feels beautiful to you
-Give everyone a compliment when you can
-Smile at strangers
-Donate and volunteer
-Start a garden
-Paint and journal
-Write down how you feel when you feel it so you don't forget
-Breath in the air, no matter the season
-Celebrate every single holiday with vigor
-Spend time with family you don't see often
-Open the windows in your bedroom
-Go to the farmer's market
-Try yoga or meditating
-Bake bread or cookies
-Make a new playlist
These are all suggestions but they come from a genuine desire to live life with a purpose. Personally, one of the biggest barriers to romanticizing my own life is my habit of living vicariously through all others. I grew up in that weird transition into a digital world and I love watching Youtube and seeing other people live fantastic lives all over the world. It's a happy trap - I enjoy this immensely but it can leave me searching for something that is personally unattainable. Or even worse; I complete forget and overlook what is attainable and wonderful for myself.
While taking a break from that content is certainly helpful, it's good to step outside of it and remember where you are. Sometimes we feel like we won't live somewhere or experience life in a romantic way - that sometimes it's out of our control. I totally get that - I grew up in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. I had to drive twenty minutes to school; my first job was at an ice cream shop and around every corner was yet another corn field or massive farm.
How do you reframe that? How about this - I grew up in a small rural town, sprawling fields of farm mixed with a gentle suburbia. I got to drive to school with my friends every single day and I loved picking them up every morning and listening to music together. My first ever job was at a local ice cream shop - I loved seeing people I knew from the small town coming in and I got to know my community really well.
I learned recently that we as human beings find it easy to focus on what we don't have, rather than what we do. Think about it in the easiest example. You need to go grocery shopping - you know you don't have butter and cheese and broccoli, but do you know what's in the cupboard or the fridge? This concept is what makes it so difficult for us to reframe the negative filter we apply to life. You have to be in an active participant - this isn't a subconscious idea, it's a fully cognizant one.
But still, maybe that's something you should try if you're still feeling stuck on how to romanticize your life. I hate all those phrases that say everything in life is up to you and is under your power - I don't believe in that. I've struggled with mental illness for most of my life and there were days when none of it felt like it was under my control, it was just chemicals in my brain doing whatever they wanted. Romanticizing your life is a great way to exercise control. It won't always work, and that's okay.
Sometimes it's just about taking the first step.
Thanks for reading!