WHAT COULD'VE STOPPED ME
When I decided to chase after my dream of becoming a "successful" photographer, life started moving fast. It was as if someone had flipped a switch in my life; I went from "Idling" to "WHOA BABY!" in what seemed like seconds. It began with a request for me to photograph a friend's destination wedding in January 2014, to another request to photograph an elopement, to yet another wedding request, before a life-changing "Hey, can you make it to Abu Dhabi?" telephone call.
Once I arrived home from Abu Dhabi, life didn't slow down. I tackled editing thousands of images, finishing the first step of branding myself with Creme Brands, received two more requests for destination weddings, booked two weddings for 2015, and was taking on other sessions when I received inquiries. I was also soaking up as much education that I could, submitting everything I shot to blogs/publications, all the while attempting to maintain my household, teach my children (we're a homeschooling family), and find time for "everything else". Once October came around, I had been going, going, going non-stop for seven months. I felt like a spinning top, and that feeling didn't stop until mid-January, when I was met with a very different type of year.
I thought life was going great; my photography work was picking up momentum, I loved the new "look" I had for my business, the experiences I was having; there didn't seem to be a cloud in the sky! I thought, many times, to myself, FINALLY! Everything is working OUT!
As such is life, the tide turned, and waves began to roll in. Autumn wasn't as bright as I had imagined; health issues I had attempted to ignore for quite some time finally caught up with me, my husband was away with his own work for weeks, and a wedding I had imagined would be THE BEST EVER... wasn't. I started to second guess and question myself, as I had for many years prior to embarking on this journey. The doubts about my abilities as a photographer began to creep in, and then the Comparison Monster showed up, all the while life continued, business as usual.
When I arrived in Miami in October I was excited to meet up with my gorgeous friend Kristyn and her husband-to-be, Jay. I was READY for the wedding weekend, to push myself further, and to have FUN. Just shortly after landing and heading to the lively Wynwood area to shoot a colorful pre-wedding session, the South Florida skies opened up, and Kristyn, Jay, and our sidekick/wedding planner/Official Best Girl Ever, Dalynn, ran back to our car.
That's when life got real serious.
I can still hear myself scream, no, wail, "NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! when I came across the smashed windows of our car. I can still remember feeling utterly hopeless as I came to the realization that I had just had over $4,000 worth of gear stolen. The rain had stopped, but I was left with a mess, and Kristyn and Jay were also experiencing loss on a massive scale.
I remember thinking that it was done. The jig was up. My business would surely be finished. How was I going to pay back that kind of money in my first year of business? How am I going to be able to make the money if I cannot rent any more gear? How can I buy all the gear I need when I am, essentially, paying double? I felt physically ill, and the all too familiar feelings of, RUN AWAY. GIVE UP. STOP. RIGHT. NOW. came creeping in.
I wanted to quit. I was MAD. Really mad. My thoughts were constantly streaming--Why did this happen to me? I'm trying so hard to do things the "right" way--with no debt, with a careful plan, a budget, for goodness' sakes! Why is it so easy for others'?!
Fast forward to now, August 2015. I've had the incredible fortune of working with a company that values who I am as a person, a photographer, the life experiences I had, and has been my saving grace throughout the entire ordeal: LensProtoGo. Without their compassion, empathy, and downright unparalleled customer service, I wouldn't have made it through my first year. It was their kind voices, their reassurance that we'd work through it all together, that helped me to move on, to stay in the game.
That's not to say that since then life has been without it's valleys. It hasn't. I've come face to face with many obstacles this year. One of those obstacles has been my website. I recently found out that SIX MONTHS of emails were not getting to me. SIX MONTHS of inquiries, job offers--whatever--gone. I also had to battle with BluDomain to regain control of my own domain. There have been other issues, and I still have had those feelings threaten to overtake me, and allowed myself to question everything that I'm doing.
But then it hit me.
As of today, I have been in business for fourteen months, fourteen days, and I have done a whole lot in that time. I traveled across the world, the country, and I have met beautiful new people along the way. I've made some money doing something I absolutely love, and have had an enormous amount of support and kindness from friends, and even strangers in the process. I have had my work published on over 15 blogs, and in three different magazines, and I've been able to successfully homeschool my children alongside my business for two consecutive years, to which they've grown and flourished.
I realized that no amount of followers I have, or 'Likes' I receive on social media will ever make me feel proud or successful. That cannot come from anyone other than myself. One of my clients (I hate saying that, because that just doesn't fit the description of the people I work with!) gave me a good talking-to via text this week, based on her own experiences. She said; "YOUR HAPPINESS is your responsibility". NO ONE ELSE'S.
Boy, did that hit hard.
At first I thought, Well, duh. Then I began to consider what this meant. That yes, while it may seem like a trite thing to say to someone--easily dismissed in it's simplicity--it's a statement that I believe each and every one of us need to hold dear to us.
As I was focusing on all of things that were going wrong, I was missing invaluable life lessons, and not focusing on what I could do to change those things, to turnaround. I was missing the BIG PICTURE.
THE BIG PICTURE is the future; what's to come. Possibility. I fully believe that each and every moment has the potential to be wonderful. It's part of why I love shooting moments unplanned; love. It's unpredictable, powerful, and unveils layers of who we are ; uncovers a new awareness that I am so deeply passionate about capturing. I know that no matter what life throws my way, no matter how desperately I may want to quit, I will be unable to.
Therefore, I am looking forward. There is much to come! I have an autumn planned with couples and individuals who are exciting, intelligent, and passionate; images I cannot wait to capture and share. Today, and each day, I will choose to be happy. I will choose to rejoice in what each day brings--the good, and the bad, because it's most often in those "bad" moments where we begin to live. It's under extreme pressure that we break free to become the people we are meant to be, and why this blog post will always be what could've stopped me, instead of what did stop me.