Lighten Up!

Rowers on the Montlake Cut passing a seaplane

I’ve always wished that I could be one of those women who goes through life with nothing more than their cell phone in their back pocket ensconced in one of those really cute Kate Spade cases with a sleeve for their drivers license and debit card. A quick swipe of mascara and lip gloss, hair flip and out the door. Nothing weighing you down. Secure in the fact that everything you need will be there when you need it. But I’m not that woman. I’m a planner, a list-maker, a sweat-the-details, an early bird (this is serious- if I’m late call the National Guard because something is seriously wrong). I was that kid in elementary school who launched the backpack controversy because mine was so overstuffed with markers and pencils and extra paper and my dad’s slide rule (yes- you read that right), I was in danger of tipping over. Of course had I tipped over, I would have been fine because I was dressed for the next ice age and therefore well padded. Suffice it to say, the Boy Scouts had nothing on me. I was prepared.

I still am. Last night as I was preparing to shoot Head of the Lake, I went through my camera bag. “Camera bag” does not do it justice by the way. It’s big and holds pretty much all of my gear. I could easily tip over. But I digress. I am going through my gear and taking out the things I know I don’t need to shoot this race. I don’t need my flash or my light meter. I definitely don’t need any lenses other than my 600 mm Tamron. I take all the lenses out. And then I think of this great shot I got off the Montake Bridge last year as all the boats were coming back through. The blue water speckled with shells and teams in every color flashing their oars proudly. It was spectacular. So I put my landscape lens back in. And then I thought, what if something happens to my 600? I must at least have a suitable back up! So I put my 200 back in. (Eye roll completely justified.) Then I remembered it was likely to rain all day and I would not be changing lenses in that. So I took them all out again.

Here’s the beauty of being my age. I’m a grown up. I carry my own load. I know I don’t want to miss a single moment of my life. So if I want to go through life with a 50 lb camera bag or a slide rule, it’s OK. But I’ve also realized that it’s time to lighten up. It’s time to focus on what matters. I’m taking my big beach chair so I can be comfortable sitting for the next 6 hours in the rain and possibly snow. I’m bringing one camera and one lens.  I’m going to focus on what is happening on the water. I can’t get much lighter than that.

I selected this as my “Lighten Up” picture because what are you going to do when a seaplane drives through the race course.  Just go with it I guess. And lighten up!
DSC_6588.jpg

Head of the Lake 2017
(1/500 sec., f/5.6, 2800ISO, 260mm)

Copyright Catherine Matthews 2017.

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Catherine Matthews is an educator and author living north of Seattle with her husband and two boxers, Delta the Destroyer and Buttercup the Bored. She is currently querying her debut novel, Becoming Benny. Her essay, Deeper Than Social Connections, is featured in the eBook and audiobook editions of the anthology Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19. After a lifetime of academic writing, Catherine discovered her passion for creative writing when she dove into writing her blog, Life Through My Lens. In contrast to her dissertation, which should not be read while operating heavy machinery, her stories will make you laugh and cry as she recollects the follies of her youth, and her adventures in parenting, teaching, and leading schools. A learner at heart, she is an active member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Hugo House. She is up before dawn to start her day with her two favorite things: riding her bike and working on her latest novel. You can connect with her on Twitter (@cmatthewsauthor) or Instagram (@catherinematthewsauthor), or visit her webpage www.catherinematthewsauthor.com.

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