Mikkel Paige is a NYC and Raleigh based wedding photographer who travels domestically and internationally to capture couples in love. She thrives on new experiences and meeting new people and her outgoing, optimistic personality allows her to meet incredible people and experience new things everywhere she goes. She always has a camera nearby and a full schedule on her calendar. Thus, when a cold brought her down for a few days she had to regroup and refocus. Getting sick reminded her that as much as we all push ourselves, it’s very important to remember to take some time to relax. Below are her words, republished with permission.

When I’m on the couch relaxing you know something’s wrong: sickness has arrived. Yes, it’s true – I don’t really “relax” in my apartment unless I’m sick. (Everyone’s definition of relaxation is different.) I guess this is the universe’s way of reminding me, “Hey Kel…slow down, relax…”

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This photo is a rare scene. Lights off, sitting there.

If I have a visitor then sure – I’ll sit down and relax. But alone in the my apartment? I’m usually doing work (because it doesn’t feel like work – I LOVE what I do) and getting things D-O-N-E. If I’m on the couch, snuggled up with my favorite grey throw blanket, hydration nearby and tv during the day? Something’s wrong: I’m sick. (That’s iced tea by the way, not soda – I never drink soda!)

You can’t avoid getting a cold. If it’s coming and it’s “that time of year” then it’s probably going to happen anyway. But I really have been on-the-go so much. I even had a breakdown about it two weeks ago, totally out of the blue, while attempting to visit a new friend in San Francisco when my drive back from a vineyard wedding south of the city was less than desirable circumstances. I stood there trying to hold back tears (maybe the “hold back” part was unsuccessful), apologizing to him for not making it in the time I thought I could. I t was more than that – it was a breakdown of being tired – utterly exhausted – from driving about 14 hours within a 48 hour block. (I think I scared him that day – maybe I scared myself. So out of character for me…)

It didn’t stop there. I came home from the west coast on a Tuesday and left again on Thursday morning to drive south to see a friend for a fun weekend getaway in Savannah. I came back from 7 hours of driving the following Sunday (actually on my birthday, now that I remember) and flew north for a family matter in the morning. My flight was delayed…and delayed again…and again. My head physically hurt from my exhaustion. There I was standing in line for Starbucks, trying to stay awake sane to get home to my family, and lamenting to my best friend, “I’m so…so…so…tired….Becca. I am so tired.” The struggle is real sometimes, my friends.

More and more I understand why photography businesses bring on additional staff members to aid in their growth. But those thoughts are a story for another day Today: a reminder to relax. 

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I grew up with my mom making her three kids Lipton’s Noodle Soup when we were sick or when it was cold out (don’t worry mom – I hereby give you credit for making amazing soups from scratch too!) and I still make it when I don’t feel well. It’s delicious and so easy to whip up. So naturally I made some today. And because it’s really weird for me to do “nothing” I enjoyed the downtime.

Editing images really takes brain power, if you ask me. I couldn’t do it in bulk, as per usual, the past couple of days. So I did OTHER things. The minute I told myself “Sit your ass down on the couch and watch HBO Go,” my brain switched, kind of how train tracks switch to take the other route, on the alternative geographical line.

reminded myself allowed myself to believe, “Oh you know that proposal you shot when you felt like crap Saturday night? You don’t need to get the images to them the DAY after.” I kid you not. I usually turn around engagement and proposals shoots in 24-48 hours. But I’m sick. It’s okay – it will get done this week, just not today. (Let the record reflect: I was still as enthusiastic as ever to photograph that proposal! The feverish feeling was canceled out by the adrenaline fueled excited feeling. If you’re curious, there are a few images up @mikkelpaige on Instagram.)

I took a bath (who else loves relaxing in hot bathes? Can I get an a-men?) and left my phone in another room. Am I the only idiot who takes my iPhone into the bathroom with me while I’m trying to relax? WTF? I’m not doing that anymore. Thank you, awful cold, for helping me see the light. Talk about being sick helping me put things into perspective.

Know what else I did? I have a stack of wedding and photography magazines that usually just piles up until I get a “chance” to read them. (Aka: the “chance” time I’m not answering emails, uploading galleries, editing a session, sending out links, helping vendors with images they need, calling couples back, setting up meetings, marketing my business, FaceTiming with new clients…all things that glue me to a computer.) The couch was calling and the magazines were nearby, eyeing me from underneath my coffee table. “Hey Mikkel….readdddd ussss….” And I did! I felt like that was a big win that wouldn’t have happened without this illness.

I travel a lot, I work, practically, all the time – and it’s caught up with me. After two weeks of being semi-severely on-the-go and lots of working I think that cold I felt lurking since WPPI became full out sneeze and congestion fest of spring 2015 for me.  But you know what…it was okay. It was a reminder to regroup, refocus, relax. (May I add that I am grateful I’m otherwise healthy? Because I am!)

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I leave you with the PG Tips Monkey, something a friend got me for my birthday a few years ago. When he told me that he had a few options for what his t-shirt would say he thought it saying “RELAX” fit me best. Thanks for the reminder, Monkey.

(You know I’d never actually watched all of Thelma and Louise until last night? It’s good. I recommend it.)

Mikkel Paiges a NYC and Raleigh based wedding photographer who always has an optimistic thought on her mind, nail polish on her toes, several meetings on the calendar, and a daydream for her next adventure. For better or worse, she is a night owl who often can’t bring herself to go to bed before 1:00am. Her love for seeing the world and meeting interesting people has made her value the unexpected, good communication and finding inspiration in anything from street art to a thoughtfully crafted meal. She’s a sucker for blue skies and sunshine, sour straws, a good dirty martini and an amazing fireworks show (not necessarily in that order) ;-)…and emoticons.

She is a perfectionist who puts her all into every aspect of her life, from doing things that will make her family and friends smile to going the extra mile for her brides and grooms. She feels incredibly grateful to be living her passion and is continuously enthusiastic about capturing such important days in the lives of those who entrust her with such an honor.

All images and text republished with permission.