So, I’ve recently dropped the ball a bit with writing. I’ve spent my life being a very all-or-nothing person. If I don’t stay 100% consistent, I might as well not do it. If I eat a cookie mid-day, welp…I’m screwed already and I might as well eat nachos and cake for dinner. But, I’m cutting myself some slack and accepting that sometimes you just don’t have time for stuff…so pick it back up when you do and don’t stress about it. The old me might have just not written again here at all if I skipped a week or two. But life happens and things get in the way…and I’m learning to be OK with imperfection.
I just got back from Hawaii, which was MAGICAL. Although, I feel immediately thrust back into reality again of the scheduling, kids stuff, emails, the bills, doctors appointments…”life.” The experience I had away was different than I’ve ever felt before, and I’m trying to figure out why. I’ve traveled a lot, but there is sometimes a restlessness with it. I’ve never been very good at…relaxing. I’m good at fun, but not good at relaxing. What’s next…what’s the plan…is everything working out…how many more days do we have…what’s going on at home…am I doing the most with my time that I can? It’s like - shut the f up, head!
What was different this time? I went to Hawaii to shoot an amazing wedding, and the day after the wedding, D and the kids flew to Honolulu and we spent a week there as a family. I flew in alone on a Thursday, and the wedding was on Saturday. Which left me with no agenda (and no company) in Oahu on Thursday night and all of Friday. So I checked into my hotel in Waikiki in the late afternoon, dropped my bags off in the room, and immediately ran across the road to the beach to take in the ocean. I literally didn’t even sit when I got to my hotel room. I just ran to the ocean. I didn’t feel the urge to look at my phone and check in with the world - and I was alone and far away, but somehow didn’t feel lonely. I was just there and content. And that’s not something that comes naturally to me. I can be laid back, but I’m also tightly wound. So it struck me.
I had dinner that night alone at an open-air rooftop bar overlooking the Pacific. On my way back to my hotel, I slowly wandered in and out of shops, watched people walking by, and took my time. The next day, I woke up early enough to see the sun rise. I didn’t set an alarm. I didn’t have to coordinate anything. I just got up and did what I wanted to do at that moment. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I literally had NOTHING on a list to accomplish. For one day, I had nowhere to be. Nobody to plan things around. I literally just did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
I walked for miles that day. I walked miles along the beach, in the town, all over. I didn’t talk to anyone (besides calls to my family, of course). But I needed nothing from anyone. It was like this little gift of time and space. And I realized a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a business owner, as a person who cares for the needs of others and loves to take on that role and does it with pride…we don’t let ourselves just BE. We feel guilty for actually allowing ourselves to ENJOY alone-time. Because if you enjoy being alone, do that mean you love those around you less? NO! On the contrary. But even typing it I’m wondering - will people judge me because I felt full even when my loved ones weren’t physically there? Did I miss them? Of course! I miss them every time I leave the house. I miss the kids every time I drop them off at school - I even miss them when they are asleep. I miss them when they’re in the next room. I was eagerly anticipating the minute D and the kids were to land in Honolulu and we’d get to be together again.
But for that moment, for that day - I realized that I’d also missed ME. The ME that’s not a mom and wife and daughter and photographer…the ME that isn’t something in relation to anything else. Just ME. When we’re younger, we know who we are in a way that we forget as we assign ourselves to roles. I used to spend hours drawing, or holed up in my room singing to nobody, or writing in my journal the most random trains of thought. I was connected to myself. And sometimes you just need to take away all of the stuff that make feel responsible for things outside of you to remember again that YOU are still in there. I realized that while I was physically alone, I didn’t feel by myself; I felt WITH myself. And that’s a pretty magical feeling.
And in other magical news!!! I want to share this brilliant artist with you today - Max Darwin! The Amazing Max. The New York Times and countless others have raved about his magic skills and performances - but maybe the very best things about Max is something that nobody can replicate or teach. It’s the way he makes people FEEL. It’s the connection he gives to his audience - it’s his edgy playfulness and the way he really gets how to connect with people. He was born into a family of Scottish performance artists, so I guess he’s been training for this his whole life.
Also his Instagram videos always crack me up…
(Click HERE for more from my shoot with Max - NYC)
JACKIE: What was your very first job?
MAX: Unpaid. My parents put me in their mime act when I was in a stroller. I couldn’t protest.
JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up? Do you have a ritual/routine?
MAX: Drink water. immediately go to the gym.
JACKIE: What’s one lesson this past year has taught you?
MAX: The positive effect that meditation has on me.
JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?
MAX: Walk away from it, go outside for fresh air, and come back to it later.
JACKIE: What’s your favorite thing for dinner?
MAX: Chicken or steak and vegetables.
JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?
MAX: Less partying. More structure and schedule.
JACKIE: What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail?
MAX: Being John Wick. Or a Ninja. But mostly John WIck.
JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?
MAX: I always knew I wanted to work in the arts. And then at performing arts high school it was solidified.
JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?
MAX: On stage or set.
JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?
MAX: With my wife if I can. Otherwise writing or doing something fun. That can be a lot of things.
JACKIE: Self-care – do you practice it? If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?
MAX: meditation, trying to eat clean and healthy, and physical exercise.
JACKIE: Dream travel destination: what is it, why, and have you been??!
MAX: Any destination with Bear Grylls.
Max recently had his first play, Arthur and Merlin, produced in China, is performing all winter in his New York based Off Broadway magic show The Amazing Max, and writing and new play as one of the 2018/19 selected artists in the New Victory Theater’s Labworks program.
Insta: @realmaxdarwin and @theamazingmax