Last year, just before my 40th birthday, I attended a photography conference in the Hunter Valley.

On the first night, I happened to hear the very fabulous Israel Smith speak about the concept of doing ‘enough’ and I’m not sure I really heard anything else for the following three days. His words were ringing far too loudly in my ears for me to take in much of anything else.

He had sat down with his wife and they had mapped out their dream life and worked out exactly how much work he needed to do for them to have that and that’s what he was doing. Just that much and no more. Just enough. Their dream life was simple. In a nutshell, live in a place they loved (beachside, Sydney eastern suburbs) be there for the kids when they got home from school. Have a beautiful family life. Nothing fancy. Just enough. But filled with time for what was important. Not easy, but simple. Perfect.

It stopped me in my tracks. In that moment, the goal posts shifted, the freight train that was my out of control, ever growing business derailed, the dream changed and I was shaken to my core. So many of my darling photographer gang came away from The Event that year so pumped about their businesses but I just wanted to shut mine down, wrap my exhausted arms around my children and never let them go. I was bewildered and frightened and unsure but mostly, I was done.

2012 was a huge, crazy year. We wanted (or so we thought) a big business, big enough for Nick to quit his job in the city, come on board, run it with me and live happily ever after dancing in the freedom of the vast amounts of money we would earn and long exotic holidays we would take with our children to the far flung corners of the globe each summer.

And so bigger it became until last year it exploded and grew bigger and more stressful and less fun and soon I was not shooting at all but desperately trying to run a business that had become a wild animal and hiring more and more people to work in it and paying more and more people to help me look after my children and manage my home. I didn’t know what my place was, only that I was trying to be everything, everywhere and was nowhere. I was lost.

Nick and I would handover when he came home at 7pm, I would go to the office to try and snatch an hours work, he would put the kids to bed, we would quickly eat around 8 or 9pm then I would come back to the office and he would start work, on our business, on the laptop in the kitchen. Most nights. Most weekends. For what?  I don’t think we even knew anymore. We didn’t have time to ask ourselves. We were too committed, had sacrificed too much to give it up and so we kept going.

We were getting what we thought we wanted but I was exhausted at every level of my being. I had no time for my children, my husband, my family, my friends, myself, my life. I had shingles three times in three years. My GP and homeopath both shook their heads in disbelief that anyone could be that stressed and have their body try and tell them in such an extreme way and still not stop. I didn’t know how to stop. I thought it was it was what we wanted. It was the dream and we were achieving it and I couldn’t let it go.

Until 10 minutes with Israel Smith. Until the concept of doing enough. Until someone wise pointed out to me that in chasing the dream, we were missing it completely, couldn’t I see that? Killing ourselves to create a business to give us more family time and in the process missing out on exactly that. Family time. I turned around and Oscar is nearly 10, Eli is 8 in May and Willow, somehow, is almost 3. Another minute with them became just too much to lose.

And so, this year, I am doing enough. Enough to help my husband support our family. Enough to send our children to the school we would like them to have the opportunity to go to. Enough for us to have a modest family holiday each year. That’s it. That’s all we need. We sat down, like one particularly inspirational family had done before us, and talked about what was important, really important to us, and what we needed to do to have that in our lives. We came up with a number and that number will allow me to scale our business back by almost 75%.  And what we will get back in return is time. Precious, glorious time. Worth it’s weight in gold.

And that makes my heart jump in the right direction. It doesn’t frighten me. It doesn’t make me feel like we failed. It makes me feel free. Free to walk my children to school every morning and stroll home with Willow, slowly and spend all day with her. Free to do my own housework (even if I don’t enjoy it),  free to cook for my husband and sit on the sofa and hold hands with him and watch TV if we want to. Free to volunteer at school and be there every afternoon to collect my boys and actually have the prescence of mind to listen to the important stories of the day they have to share with me. Free for coffee with the girls and playdates and homework and walks to the park and a somewhat reluctant return to exercise.  Our business will still run and it will be a small and perfectly formed version of it’s former self with an equally small and perfectly formed team running it with very little involvement from me (just between you and me, I think they’ll do a better job without me ;)

And me? You won’t find my anywhere particularly exotic. You’ll find me on the phone to my mother while staring in confusion at my recipe book. You’ll find me in the herb garden trying to work out my thyme from my coriander and attempting to convince my husband to let me have chickens. You’ll find me on the reserve watching my funny little family play soccer or cricket as the sun goes down. You will find me lazing about on the trampoline with my loves because it makes me happy. Happier than I have been in longer than I can remember. Feel free to drop by. It’s a simple, happy place to be.

It’s enough….