Getting Back on the Path

Well, I’m back. This has been one of the longest breaks I have taken from writing here in a while. It has been a mostly unintentional break.

I have several pieces written and ready to go. They have been written for a while and just awaiting addition of my photography before publishing and for some reason I found myself stuck on that and unable to move forward. Usually my photography has been the one part I am able to make progress with most fluidly without much hesitation. Once a piece is writing selecting the photographs to accompany it and publishing is almost automatic. I don’t know what this hiccup was all about. Anxiety, stress, self-doubt, self-sabotage, procrastination, lack of desire, lack of motivation? I don’t really know. I hope I am over that. So hopefully I will be getting the train back on the track and making steady progress in the near future.

Flowers in our deck flower box on our first day of vacation.

One difficulty of living in the times of a global pandemic is that on top of the uncertainty and constant mental strain of thinking about a pandemic is that life continues to throw its regular curve-balls at you and now you just have to try to hit them while blindfolded. About a month ago my computer died. The hard drive was a complete and total failure. Nothing was recoverable. Fortunately I was able to get it repaired locally and up in running in not too long of a time.

Once my computer was running again I set about the business of reinstalling all the programs I normally use and loading all the files etc. that I use regularly back on my computer. Then the next big hurdle became obvious. I had not backed up my Adobe Lightroom catalog at all in 2020. This may not mean much to anyone who is not a photographer, but for all the photographers reading this I am sure most of you realize what kind of a headache this has now resulted in. I am not going to go into the details of how Lightroom works or what specifically I lost. Just think of it this way. You use a program every single day for 7 months. Your hard drive crashes. You have now lost all of the work you did with that program for the entire 7 months. That was a really blow for me. Anyone using lightroom reading this, do not learn this lesson the hard way. Stop what you are doing and back up your Lightroom catalog to an external drive right now. Then set a reminder on your calendar to do that at least once a month.

Butterfly on Joe Pie Weed at Allegany State Park.

I really just did not know where to go from here. I wasn’t sure what path to take to begin recreating all the work I had done in Lightroom in the past year and I didn’t know how best to move forward with any new work. I was paralyzed in the middle of a crossroads. Just hope a tractor trailer doesn’t hit me while I sit there stuck.

I had thought that once my computer was up and running I would at very least I would be able to quickly dive into Lightroom and find the photographs I had been preparing for the above mentioned already written articles and get those photographs integrated into those articles. Now after losing all the work I had done in Lightroom to prepare those photographs it felt like daunting task to find them and add them to the articles. I was stuck again.

After that it was thankfully time for vacation. This vacation due to the pandemic would be different than most vacations we take. Normally we like to go someplace and camp. Often we go someplace we have not been before. We decided that in light of current circumstances the best option would be to take a series of relatively local day trips every day of the vacation. The goal for me for the 10 days was to really do vacation despite being home every morning and every night. While I would be off from my day job there would be a real temptation to work on photography and writing projects while on vacation as well as being tempted to engage in social media for photography. I really struggle with feeling like there is always something I could or should be doing in this aspect of my life.

Salmon River Falls.

As someone who both loves photography and works in photography on any vacation I create a lot of images of our experiences. It is one of my favorite parts of vacation. But sometimes it can be stressful because I want to capture great images and I want to create a lot of photography and sometimes there are very specific things I want to photograph that can stress me out if I am unable to do so. I did not want to do any of that on this trip. I wanted to photograph things simply for the joy of creating photos. And I didn’t want to create a ton of photographs that would then result in a ton of work later. Or that would result in me feeling like I needed to work on them when I got home each night.

I think I succeeded in this aspect of vacation. I created a lot of photographs but not nearly as many as I would have normally on a vacation. I feel like I didn’t stress too much about the photographs either. Mostly all I did each night is download the new photos to my computer. I did look at them a little afterword but didn’t really do any work on them during vacation.

I think I really succeeded on the social media front. People who follow me will see that I did actually post on social media regularly mostly via Instagram, but my posts there are almost exclusively on morning runs before our days’ vacation adventures began or after returning home for the night. I refrained from posting about what we were actually during on our trips during the trip itself as a way to try to relax and unplug. As well as not posting myself to social media I tried to really limit how much time I spent on social media at all during vacation and I think I did really well with that as well. It was a nice break. But it was also hard because there are lots of aspects of social media I genuinely enjoy. But I really wanted to relax and enjoy vacation and I think a big part of that was staying off my phone.

Colton relaxing near Cayuga Lake.

I huge goal for this vacation was to really emphasize the rest and relaxation part of a vacation. Generally on a vacation we like to do something every day. It doesn’t have to be anything stressful, but we are actively doing something. We go sightseeing, visit small towns, or go for a hike. While these are things we enjoy they are not always relaxing or restorative.

We spent 6 of our 10 days of vacation very intentionally relaxing. By relaxing I mean we went somewhere and just stayed there in essentially one spot for hours.

One great thing about this form of vacation was it enabled us to share it even more with our dogs. Often when we camp we take a dog with us, but we have always had more than one dog so that means inevitably our other dogs have to stay home and are either cared for by family members or boarded. It was really nice to just vacation with more of our dogs more. We took 3 separate trips with two of our dogs along for the ride. On two days we took two dogs to a state park and stayed there the entire day until we went home and on the third day we visited to different state parks on the same day. We basically took our dogs to the park and sat and had a picnic the entire day with the exception of one, two mile hike to start off one day. It was great to just relax and do nothing. And by nothing I mean look at beautiful scenery of our great state parks, talk, do puzzles, read, snuggle dogs, laugh at dogs, and take naps.

Cayuga Lake.

I often struggle with the concept of true relaxation and rest without feeling guilty about it. It is something that I have tried to incorporate more into my life especially on vacations. I need to make it part of my life on a regular basis. I think I can work on that in some very specific ways.

This was a perhaps surprisingly enjoyable vacation for all its atypicalness. You will see more of what transpired on this vacation, hopefully sooner rather than later as I now set myself back to work and figure out where to go from here in this bizarre world of 2020 we are all experiencing together.

Stay Safe.

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