For this post, you might want to grab your favorite cup of Joe, your favorite leggings and settle in for a read. So much has changed in the last few months and I felt it was high time to update you all. This is a longer than normal blog post.
As we move into 2020, I can't help but be overwhelmingly grateful that 2019 is fully and completely over. Easily, one of the hardest years of my life where I consistently felt wave after wave of brutal growth. I have no idea why God chose this specific year to pull out all the stops and throw me on the roller coaster of struggle. But He did and it hurt more than all my cumulative years put together. While I am grateful for every loss (in a weird way), every hurt, every heartbreak and every thorn in my side I am praying that this year is much different.
This created issues in my business where I was dropping the ball, too enveloped in my own pain to even begin to problem solve or sort through the chaos that was starting. Just when I thought I had found my wings, something else would dive in and create a tidal wave of chaos that would throw me off course and rip the band aid off to start all over again. But still….I remained grateful for the pain because in pain, is growth. For me, that growth came in many different forms. It came as a wrecking ball tearing down walls I didn’t even know I had built to keep every single person I knew out. It came as blinders being torn down and seeing the things I was doing as self sabotage. It also came as an unveiling of who I really was. I was insecure, afraid that if I looked weak I would lose myself, and somewhat bitchy. None of which are true in my identity in Christ. I used my business to give me meaning and a deeper purpose. But I know that I have MUCH to offer the world. I am loving and kind and I have a deep love for others, even those who have wronged me. I am compassionate and genuine. I can offer that.
In December I spent the better part of the limbo week between Christmas and New Year writing down and planning the goals I prayed and thought about for three months prior. I sorted, prioritize and designed them in an agonizing and frustrating way. I am first a believer in Jesus. Then a wife. Then a mama and then everything else. I had this completely out of order for most of my life. But I would do this process again because it gave me perspective on where I wanted to be and what God has called me to be. I am my husband’s wife. A calling I thought was tiny in the grand scheme of life. What I have discovered this year more than anything is that when my husband and I are working towards the same goals, same result and same heartbeat, things can change. I was usually so wrapped up in my own goals that I didn’t think about his or why he was working toward his particular goals for himself and our family.
My husband is an extreme mountaineer. He climbs mountains way taller than man has any business being on and does it well. I don’t understand it. I relate it to birth and forgetting the labor pains the second you hold that new fresh sweet one earth side. All the training, all the pain, all the struggle, all the brushes with death are forgotten the second my husband stands at the summit. He conquered all of it with the gifts and talents God gave him. He owes it all to Jesus. Just like I do. I want my husband to be able to do those things that he desires to do just like he does for me. He stood by me more this last six months than ever before. Cheering me on, supporting me, giving perspective on the goals I had and pushing me for greatness.
This year, I want to really focus in on those things that I know without a doubt that I am called to do. I know I am called to be a mom to my girls. To teach them about life, the saving grace of God and to give them perspective. Perspective comes in so many ways. One way, is by taking my oldest to Romania this year prepared her for her first year in public school from private school. She saw some of the worst living conditions imaginable and the worst discrimination possible while there. She saw how it effected the lives and futures of children. So when kids in the United States would complain about how awful their lives were she couldn’t relate. She’s seen how hard it is out there and we have no room to complain. It gave her an incredible amount of perspective. I remember sitting in the dining room of my future in-laws before I left for bootcamp and before I married their son telling them how I wanted to be able to share the world with my children. I wanted to be able to take them all over the world and show them how they can serve others and change the lives of those around them. I KNEW this is what I wanted to do. I knew this is where God was calling me. I wanted them to know the world is bigger than themselves. Which is weird how badly I wanted that for them because I was incredibly selfish almost my entire marriage.
I have also shifted when I am editing, answering texts and emails and when I meet with clients. I am giving my girls and husband the best of my day when they need me and my clients the best of my day when they need me too. I have started an evening routine with the girls that draws us closer together with Christ in the middle. This has been the favorite time of day for the girls and they all look forward to it. So much so, that when they aren’t home, we have to FaceTime to do the routine.
For most of my marriage I didn’t feel my needs were being met in a supportive, loving way. So walls went up. I started seeping into that selfishness as a way of self-preservation. And it was wrong. I was consumed with myself that I couldn’t even think of trying to encourage my husband to shooting for his stars. Only mine. It was poison, folks. Pure poison. I didn’t even see all the ways that he supported and loved me. All I saw was my perception of all his failures that weren’t even necessarily true. I am called to be a helper to my husband. To aid him, to plan and prepare for the future, to be an entrepreneur and to serve others. This is God’s plan for all women according to Proverbs 31. And I was failing. My anxiety was flaring and I didn’t even know what it was. Now, two years into that diagnosis, I have started to see where it originally came from, how to recognize the symptoms and how to battle it. And it’s a battle. Daily. I have the big symptoms under control naturally but the smaller ones take more time and patience.
With the junk aside now, I can now focus more on my priorities and changing habits that were drowning me. I am implementing changes in my business that will make my family my number one priority. Which means first up, the studio is moving. I am actively searching for a new studio and have a potential property that is being nailed down as we speak. No details can be given just yet but as soon as I sign the contract I will be sharing more. You can still expect the same homey and welcoming feel like walking through my bright yellow front door but my work and home life will be separated a bit more. I am limiting certain sessions that take me away from my true passion and focusing more on those that bring me light. I specialize in maternity, newborn, babies and children. I will also secondary focus on families. This is where I find my heart. I love seniors as well and will be accepting seniors on a first come basis. I will no longer take any seniors who are rushing their yearbook deadlines or are past their deadlines. This creates massive chaos in my business where I am rushing and pushing and moving other clients and my editing schedule to make room and it literally sucks the life out of me.
Next up, no more birth photography. As much as I adore birth photography, it pulls me away from my passion. Destination work, mission work and humanitarian work is my main focus. I specialize in work that fills me with creativity, love and passion so that I can give back to the world through the God-given gifts and talents that I treasure deeply. Maternity, newborn, kids and families do that for me. They fill me up so I can give back. So keep in mind that every session you book, every print and collection you invest in, you are being a part of a much bigger picture. One where the under privileged have their stories told, their hands held by someone who loves them deeply even though they just met them and who will share their name to anyone who will listen.
I will also only be accepting two weddings a year. Once those spaces are filled, my wedding calendar is booked. Again, my specialty niche is where it is because it fills me light and creativity. I want to be able to focus on that while also serving my clientele in different areas. Weddings are not off the books completely but it will be limited.
I have a few goals this year that I desperately want to hit and I want to be able to serve others in that. Over the last six months I have been working on a project that has been pretty hush hush. I am writing a book for the mom/wife entrepreneur on how I balance it all and make it all work. Researching and writing has been a process and I am no where near done but I am hoping by the end of this year to have that in the hands of my publisher. I have been reading other books and trying new practices seeing if I see a change in my family and productivity in my work. Stay tuned on that one.
Next up, my big goal was getting a studio. But not just any studio, one that I could see myself being in for the next five years successfully. That one is about ready to be tangible. I will be having an open house in April depending on moving schedule and building furniture. Also, stay tuned. You can see most of the updates on my facebook page.
Finally, I am battling anxiety and depression. I am pretty open about this except the real battle is always not told. I hate it and I know my family and my business suffers because of it. One of my big goals is to start therapy for that so it’s no longer a huge battle. I am not a medication driven person so I’d like to avoid that route if at all possible. I know modern medicine is there for a purpose and to help. I know many people who have seen success using medication and I am so insanely happy for them! But for me, I’d like to see if I can get down to the bottom of it and heal it where it began…in my brain. My physical health depends on it. I have a plethora of issues that need to be dealt with physically that have been brought on by anxiety. All I can say….you are not alone, sweet sisters.
I am also working very hard to be on staff with National Geographic. This is probably my biggest goal of 2020. I desperately want it. While I love going on mission trips and humanitarian trips, they are all based on being self-funded. Which means I need to fundraise to make it happen because they are not cheap. I get the most God-given joy from this type of work but its quite taxing on my family when I am stressed to the max trying to cover all the expenses from these without pulling away from my family. I know the route I need to take and I am busy doing that.
I submitted twelve images from my work in Romania for publication and I’ll find out the last week of March if I was accepted for that. March is the same time that I find out the results for the world’s largest photography competition that I am prepped to submit everything to this month. So lots and lots of big things happening in this area. This is the first time that I have submitting anything for publication. My work in Ghana was globally published but they sought my work out, I didn’t have to submit it. So this is massively nerve wracking and intense.
I also applied to Colorado State University for a degree in archeology. I have always been drawn to ancient cultures since I was a child. Had I thought that it was in the realm of what I was physically capable of doing, I would have pursued it while I was younger. I drastically sold myself short when I was a teen. My husband was able to shed some light on this goal to where I could still be a photographer for an archeologist, which is what I really wanted to be able to do. He’s such a genius, I swear. So I am going to attend the classes I need to have the basic knowledge of archeology and ancient cultures while taking other classes and workshops to hone in on the skills I would need as a photographer in those situations. It’s literally perfect. I will hopefully be attending a class in Guatemala focusing on those exact skills in October/November of this year.
Up next, my logo is shifting slightly. I am loosing the floral design above my logo and to make it a bit more professional. I will still keep my signature boho vibe and still the same talent. Most of you probably didn't even realize I had floral in my logo since I can't use it in my watermark because it makes it look wonky and weird. Once the new studio opens, all signage and letterhead will be the new logo. Not big news, but still wanted to update you.
I almost forgot to mention my fitness goals for this year. I have surgery on Wednesday to get a bladder sling. Being pregnant sixteen times has taken it's toll on my body. I've been going to my gym, HIIT 30, pretty regular for about six months. I've seen lots of great things happening but I want to push it some more. I signed up to do the Battan Memorial Death March in March which is 14 miles in the blistering desert of New Mexico four weeks after I am supposed to be cleared from my surgery. It's not a lot of time to train for 14 miles. Not only that, I also signed up for a Spartan Race in August....I may die. But I want to become an athlete like I was all my life before children. If I become more physically fit, I can go with my husband while he's out there chasing his dreams on those mountains, I can carry my sixty pounds of equipment better while on assignment and I don't feel terrible all the time. So here's to new challenges that force us into greatness.
And finally, I wanted to be able to do another project with Photographers Without Borders. I loved working with them while on assignment in Ghana and I shot them an email with my resume and the projects I was interested in. I literally just accepting an assignment in Bali for 2021. They sent me an email back the same day saying they wanted me on the project and that I can set the date for 2021. This is a massive big deal for me. PWB is very elite and they are extremely selective on the photographers they invite on board for their projects. Sometimes I get pretty down on my work and start to second guess my talent and expertise. I know we are all our own worst critics but it’s extremely validating when another highly selective organization wants you on board with them. It’s a colossal honor and I can’t wait to work with these kids in Indonesia.
I know this was an insanely long blog post but there’s been so much going on and focuses that are shifting and honing that I needed to update you all.