This post is to let you all in on a little secret – my life isn’t perfect.
I know, I know… the pretty pictures can sometimes paint the wrong idea in people’s minds. It’s been said to me: Wow your life is so amazing! You are living the dream. I wish I could do what you do!” Well, part of that is true…I do love my job and I am definitely blessed in my life. But it’s not all amazing. Some days are definitely difficult, and I go through hard times in my life like anyone else. I am sorry if I have painted the picture of a perfect life. I try hard to not look like that, but I also want to be positive since there is so much negativity on-line…which I think causes people to assume I have nothing to be negative about if I seem so happy all the time. And that, my friends, is simply not true. Some days I feel doneskies. Some days or weeks or even months are sooo hard to get through. If you feel like that right now, let me assure you, I’ve been there. This post is to share my thoughts about what I have been through recently, what I’ve learned along the way, and what I hope to do in the next year or so.
2013 was a big year and mostly felt like a season of “lessons”. The year taught me so much about myself that I truly believe I walked away from 2013 a much wiser person from when I entered into it. As I often felt like things were crashing around me in my own life, I looked around to my friends and family to only see the same things – 2013 seemed to be a hard year for everyone. I don’t know if that can even be possible… that everyone can be going through similar things at the same time but I did notice a reoccurring theme going on in my friend group: that 2013 was a painful year. I have learned to seek privacy out of a longing for peace in my life and to make memories feel more sacred and special between the people who were there to experience them. It doesn’t mean I have completely withdrawn from social media, just that I am much more selective about the life that I share on-line. I am learning to take photographs for the sake of cherishing them and not just for sharing them. That doesn’t mean I am NOT sharing any of them, since sharing photos can bless many people (especially if friends are in them and are waiting to see them…lol) but I am learning to ask myself before posting anything on-line, “how is this helping others?” Sometimes I am hoping to make people laugh, sometimes I think what I am sharing is thought-provoking or touching…but if what I am sharing seems to just be seeking approval and “likes” from others, I stop myself before posting. It feels good to know I am in control of my social media life and that it doesn’t control me. I am really liking the articles I’ve seen lately about putting your phone down and not spending so much time on it. My friends get irked at me that I am sooo slow to answer texts and msgs but I really do enjoy the freedom of being more hands free. My phone is NOT my #1 in my life and it’s often sitting around on silent in my home, unable to be found for hours…lol. It’s been freeing to care less about it!
Through my experiences this year, I have learned a lot about friendship and the importance of having “people” in my life. Rather than turning to a social media feed or profile, I turn to PEOPLE. This to me is what community is all about: having people to turn to and lean on, while also being there for people to turn to and lean on. I hope and pray for all of you that you find this sense of community in your life. I think it makes all the difference when times are hard. Journeying through life together is what community is all about. I get this sense of community with my close friends and also my church family. Between the two, I no longer am pining for people’s attention and approval. It has taken me a long time to be able to say that! I like the quote “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” It makes me laugh because it sounds funny for some reason, but it’s true and this year has definitely been a year of self-evaluation and holding all of my thoughts and actions accountable. I focus on bettering myself a LOT. I am not afraid of spending time alone, in fact, I love my alone time. I am always on the self-improvement train and sometimes it’s hard to just stop and realize how much growth has already taken place so I am learning to try and slow down time a little. To appreciate what’s in front of me. It feels really nice.
I also learned this year the importance of being inspired. It’s easy to feel inspired and connected when things go as planned and life is great, but finding inspiration becomes a whole other thing when life doesn’t look the way you thought it would. I make a POINT of spending at least an hour a day collecting inspiration. “Inspiration for what?” Well, I am an artist not only in my career but also in the way I think and process the world around me. When I don’t take the time to feed that side of who I am, I definitely notice. Life becomes really hard. I feel worn out and empty. Taking the time each day to spend time being inspired has been my lifesaver. I know for me I gather inspiration from many things: beautiful movies, home decor, nature, drawing, fashion, writing, reading, music, cool spaces like antique stores or coffee shops, driving through small towns, etc. Taking time to fill up on inspiration so I don’t burn out is so important to me and may I suggest the same to you – find what inspires you and always make time for it!
So a big thing I learned this year that probably affected me the most was that I am not really cut out for running a big business. One of the biggest changes of the 2014 year for my business is that I have shifted from expanding my team in 2012 to shrinking it back down in size again for 2014. This doesn’t come as bad news – everyone was at complete peace and understanding when we decided to scale back again but I still want to share what happened to bring closure to that side of my business. I thought by expanding my team that I could free up more time for myself by sharing my workload with others. I found the most amazing people to work with me and to come on board and I was so excited. Sometimes I think my excitement in life stops me from being completely practical lol but regardless, I overlooked a lot of things mostly from inexperience. I ended up actually losing money this year when I should have been turning a profit for sure. This was because the extra time and editing required for our second team took up all of my time so I could not answer emails or blog. I am sure there are ways to have ironed out these kinks and to make things work better this year moving forward, but I felt complete peace and ease with shutting down the expansion rather than working harder to make it work. I actually never really had a goal to run a larger business – I only expanded because there was a demand for it and I found the right people to join me. However, I quickly learned that expanding brings on more stress when the purpose for my expansion was to try to alleviate the stress I already had to deal with. I took on too much and it was a heavy load to carry. There were days where for the first time I really felt like a failure. I have to say though, through all the disappointments that came from being too stressed this year, my second team was amazing through it all. I love them all so much and will continue to collaborate with them in the future, just not as team members of SEP but as great friends in my life. We grew and learned and were stretched in the same ways and I know we are better people because of it, which I am very thankful for. You definitely can’t put a price on becoming wiser and stronger, and I have no regrets! Plus my team did AMAZING work for our clients this year. I am blown away by the photography they created for us and I know our clients are so thankful for the great images they will cherish (I know because they told me!)
So that pretty much sums up my thoughts moving forward into 2014. I know this post is scattered but I just wanted to share what is on my mind. A lot of my goals are still in the works as I continue searching my heart to bring out new dreams and to know where God is leading me in the coming years. I definitely want to have children and as many of you know, with having endometriosis that can be a bit of an uphill journey statistically but I continue to trust God everyday that His plans WILL come to pass. I don’t want to get all preachy on y’all but since this is my personal life it’s important that credit is given where credit is due and I can only thank God more and more each day for His faithfulness and provision in my life, even when my plans fall through. A verse I have clung to all year through everything is Romans 5:3-4 “Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.” I am so excited for this coming year and am filled to overflowing with HOPE. I am excited to spend time with my husband. To be able to photograph the awesome weddings we have booked. To hang and make epic memories with friends. To learn and grow. I have a great feeling about this year and am thankful for the people who are in my life whom I am blessed to share the moments with.
Here’s my list of “to-do’s” for 2014:
be on top of my blog posting. make a to-read list and stick to it. dream bigger. worry less about things i cannot change. travel to new places (and maybe some old favs). save money for the future. cook at home more. see an awesome concert. avoid gross snacking. create beautiful art. love people more deeply and openly. go for nature walks. focus on understanding and not judging. grow more mature. give back to my community. bless the people around me. learn to give stress a good kick in the ___. get a tattoo. support community theatre. write everyday. take time for myself. take photos for fun. commit to weekly date nights. get better at calligraphy. let go of what’s not meant for me in order to grab hold of what is. to prepare my heart for motherhood (whether it happens this year or not).
Well friends, that’s all I can think to write today. I hope we can all continue to seek to be authentic and transparent instead of putting on a front where we appear perfect, and yet may we remain positive and hopeful so we don’t become people just complaining and pointing out what’s wrong. If we all work to put others first, social media would be a whole other world entirely. I think balance is key, in everything, and I am learning to completely shut down the glorification of being busy. I hate being busy. We all do! Let’s stop and take time for what matters. Life goes by so fast and I am DONE with filling my schedule to the point of insanity.