Struggle can be good

We’re having an unbelievably gorgeous month in the Northwest. It’s bright, crisp days full of color. With autumn weather like this, I’m usually all over the place, Big Kahuna in tow, capturing every inch of the season.

Big Kahuna (my Nikon, not a large Polynesian fellow) has been resting peacefully in my studio closet for many weeks now. Of course, the iPhone does a great job of stealing my Nikon’s thunder with its apps. Yet, I haven’t been snapping away with the camera phone either like the shutterbug I’ve been known to be. I haven’t had that fire in my insides to run toward the dappled light in the woods with a reluctant teen (mine) and a colorful costume of sorts flailing behind me.  In the past I would have never let days like yesterday go without some sort of photo session, even if it was just my dogs wrapped up in leaves, resting in the sunlight.

What’s going on? Have I lost my creative mojo?

Yet…I can tell you that the creative dial has been cranked up in my classroom. I’m using every artsy trick known to man to communicate the importance of using capital letters and learning multiplication facts. There have been a ton of songs memorized to facilitate the best kind of learning. It has created an extremely colorful and fun environment and I can honestly say it has made me very happy….an I’m-doing-meaningful-work-I’m-in-love-with-these-kids kind of joy. Is it possible that a medium that was so ingrained in my routine (and at times felt like a love affair with a new boy) has been exchanged for a completely new way of expressing my creativity?

How can I possibly close the door on this thing I loved so much so easily?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that many years ago I took an art form I loved and worked very, very hard to make it a successful business. It’s not that I don’t think an artist can have a creative outlet and financial reward simultaneously. People do it all the time. For me the two had a hard time living on the same planet and it was making me resentful…an emotion I’d prefer to let go of completely.

It’s so bizarre. I haven’t slept this well in years. I actually have mornings where I wake up with only the memory of taking off my slippers and turning out the light. Then there’s the deep, dream-ridden sleep where I’m swirling with kids and the world of teaching (even though it might be underwater…or on a ship…or they’re all adults from my high school in my room. Weird) and it’s always a haze of positivity after I wake. I feel different. Transitions can do that, I guess…especially when they’re swift and unexpected.

I’ve finally learned that really good things can come when you struggle.

Trying to mask struggle and frustration or just make it go away has not been the answer for me at all. Deciding to leave photography and embrace my old life in the classroom was such a surprising thing for me (and the people who know me). Why in the world would I choose to do this right after my book came out…after I’d worked so hard to be the it girl in this niche market…after I’d invested in so much equipment?

The fact is I couldn’t not do it.

I faced the struggle that was going on inside me and I journaled myself to death. I talked about it with girlfriends (and a husband) I trust. And every time the answer that surfaced didn’t make any sense at all. I had that “people will think I’ve lost it” feeling. I soon came to realize that it didn’t really matter. The heart wants what the heart wants, right? And for me it came in the form of being surrounded by energetic & eager kids and immersed in a career that has the potential to do some major good in the world every day. I chose what felt the most peaceful and meaningful…even if it meant letting go of working really hard for something I’d always wanted.

The truth is sometimes we really don’t know what we want until the struggle comes.

Luckily, mine was intense enough that I recognized the path I was on wasn’t making me happy, even though everyone around me was saying that it should.

I will admit that sometimes I get a tug on my heart (ego too) when I read my photography magazines (note to self..cancel subscriptions for awhile) or talk to my cohorts around the country (relationships can morph into friendships without shop talk). I had a client come to have me sign a bunch of books for her dog-loving friends. It made me feel so great, but it was also weird to tell her about my career change. Her response was so lovely—something to the effect of “You’ll always be a photographer, Lara. It will never leave your life just because you’re doing something else for a living.”  ‘Made me feel good.

* * * * * * *

I’m interested…what struggles speak to you in your life? When you feel the tension in a decision, do you brush it aside or do you dig deep to examine its message?

I hope the fall is beautiful and bright wherever you are, Lovelies.




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8 Responses to Struggle can be good

  1. Kristin Keller Pfeltz says:

    I love reading Modern Prairiegirl and am a retired educator(34 years teacher, mentor and principal). Your career as a photographer was my retirement dream. So WOW when you went back to teaching, it was a surprise. Keep searching for those creative ways to teach the basics and yet instill love for the “arts” in all your instruction. Yes, I am taking many photographs and traveling in StarDreamer, our travel trailor. Just not enough time in retirement for all my “favorite crafts” ( Nantucket Lightship Baskets, beading , and knitting). Teachers are so special and do an extremely important job!
    Keep loving it! Kristin Pfeltz

  2. Marita says:

    Love this Lara! I totally agree about you being a very talented photog- no matter what else you may be doing. So glad the fall is off to a great and beautiful start… xoxo

  3. Glenda says:

    I want to bookmark this post so I can read it again and again. I’m struggling. My story seems long and complicated, so I always fear trying to type about it, or speak on it. I want to brush decisions aside, and almost hope for the best. I made a decision back in the summer to leave a business and business partner. The business appeared profitable to the outsiders, the shop loved by customers, but was draining me. I felt at times robbed of creative energy, and at other times felt I was losing my integrity. Friends and customers asked repeatedly, why I would leave something that seemed so rewarding, a dream position, I stumbled as I tried to answer. Some felt it was a rash decision, but they were wrong. I fought long and hard inside to make this move, I was just not sharing it publicly. Now, I’m not yet at the place you are. I haven’t been able to make the next move. I’m going to be fifty this next year, where do I begin when I have known only one self investment. My search continues. I’m so grateful I stopped by this post tonight. We are so many miles apart. Through the years, I have read so many of your post, looked at your images, and very seldom commented. Tonight, I had to. Thank you for your words, across the miles it has helped me to not feel so alone.

  4. larablair says:

    You’re living my dream with your StarDreamer! We hope to drive off into the sunset some day in our Airstream…quite a few years to go, but I’m having fun doing this work. wow—34 years–awesome. Think of all of the lives you’ve helped shape! Very, very cool, Kristin. Thanks so much for reading my blog and happy trails :) ox Lara

  5. larablair says:

    Hello, sweet friend. Thank you–I appreciate your words of always. How goes the studio?! I love seeing your Instagram shots…so lovely. oxxox L

  6. larablair says:

    I’m so glad you did stop by, Glenda. Reading your words makes me think that you knew EXACTLY what was the right thing to do…it just took courage and my friend, you sound very brave. A trait that is lacking these days…so good for you for listening so intently to your heart and do something that didn’t appear like the “right decision” to the outside. Maybe if you just rest in the gap for awhile…wait and listen closely, you will hear what’s supposed to be next. Don’t forget to breathe and find joy every day in your passions..they will lead you to your next move. Thinking of you—Please let me know how your story takes shape! Hugs to you..Lara

  7. Cindy says:

    I am glad I read your blog today. I have been struggling with my creative side and my professional side. After reading your blog, I think I will not put so much pressure on myself and just live and do what comes naturally. I always come away from your posts feeling good! I am happy that you are enjoying your teaching! Yay!

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