Remember back to that day in January when I announced I was finally, after 9 years, completely full-time with this business? I have thought back to that day numerous times in the last 30 days and wondered what I would have told myself if I would have known what the last 8 months would be like.
Can we be 100% honest for a minute?
1 - I would have told myself to buckle up.
2 - I would have reminded myself to make time every day to get outside and breathe fresh air without my cell phone.
3 - I would have recommended a daily schedule that's regimented and yet balanced, because I thrive on regularity and consistency.
4 - I would have reminded myself to go to a workout class every day at lunch and make sure that's not the only time that day I see or talk to someone because at heart, I'm an extrovert!
5 - I would have told myself to keep trusting. To keep having faith. To just keep moving forward. Onward & Upward!
The last 8 months have been nothing and more than I ever expected all at the same time. I think back to the days when I was juggling this business, 2 part-time (okay, actually full-time) jobs, relationships, sometimes marathon training, sometimes schooling, giving talks and presentations to up and coming photographers, and I wonder how in the world I kept my head above water. Emotions were sky-high during those days, probably from all the endorphins of constantly needing to be in motion!
But when you take away everything from that list above and replace it with a full-time business with an employee list of ONE and suddenly, you've morphed into the boss, the social media expert, the photographer, the editor, the business meeting taker and the HR rep all at once, it's more overwhelming than I ever expected.
When you move from being constantly surrounded by people and motion to putting yourself at home in an office with no one to communicate with except your circle online and the construction crew outside, it's more overwhelming than I expected. My daily step count went from over 10,000 a day to maybe 2,000 - because the steps from my chair to the coffee pot and back is maybe a grand total of 25. Oops!
It was surprising to finally see fully and completely that my busy season for the bar & bat mitzvah market is the entire year minus July and half of August. I kept my nose to the computer for January through June and when July came, I looked outside and thought, "goodness! It's summer! Time to relax, take a break, rejuvenate ..." And I have done that. YAY for me!
But what's most challenging about this almost constant yearlong busy-ness is that when I'm not busy (summer), everyone else in my circle is. Vacations, weddings, photography business is booming ... and social media is the way everyone shares their busy-ness.
I realized quickly that I needed a real break after I returned home from a week with my grandparents, during which, I actually took a break from social media and email and my phone. I felt so disconnected and so connected all at the same time. I was investing in real face to face time with two people who mean so much to me and it felt so honest and so real life. I started knitting and doing embroidery and would sit on the sofa with my Gram for hours working on something that I could visually see growing and taking shape and moving forward.
When I came home, I felt more changed than I had expected to feel. I felt renewed and ready to make a fresh start. I knew I wanted the rest of the year to look differently than the first half. I felt ready to share more thoughts and stories and images than ever before.
But that week, three significant events happened in our city, our state and our country that caused me to continue pressing pause on sharing. I felt like all those words I was ready to share weren't adequate enough. I felt like I was boasting my success when others were in the trenches of mourning. When it felt like a collective crying over loss of life, loss of freedoms and loss in our community. It felt dark. How was I going to share something light hearted and an image filled with smiles when hearts were breaking?
I stopped sharing and I haven't shared for the last month. A full 30 days since I posted the image above on Instagram with a huge question mark of when I'd be back. I even removed social media from my phone for the majority of that month.
Here I am, back in the saddle again. I took another break, because #summervacation. Luis and I visited friends on the East Coast and I can't wait to share those stories with you. I shot only film for 1 week and it was downright glorious. It felt so good to be back where I first started - the mystery and magic of film is something I never want to take for granted.
Life looks different now than it did in January. I've started a new daily routine that's more balanced and rigid, but turns out, I need a schedule. If I don't have someone telling me where to be and when, I'll probably watch the Olympics 24/7 for the next month. I started listening to a podcast or two in the mornings, I'm still knitting dishcloths like 3 generations before me and I started running again (after an injury - more on that soon).
I realized that progress over perfection is really the way to live the next year, 5 years, 10 years in business and in life. I have my structured work times and deadlines, but every night, I close the computer and the office door at 6 pm. I make dinner and turn my phone off at 9 pm. I knit a few rows and chat with Luis about his day. I take a morning walk with my coffee and spend the first hour of my day without technology or screens.
And for now? This works. It gives me energy. I think about my social media posts and what I want to say that day on my morning run because I don't run with music anymore. PS. Have you guys heard the birds on these summer mornings?! I'm starting my running "career" over again - just over a mile at a time and slowly building it. I got back on the bike and Luis has officially turned me into a biker, padded shorts and all.
I don't have a real social media marketing plan. Yet. But I will, because I joined a social media class online with a community of people all across the world when I realized what I was doing wasn't working. I want to continue to inspire and be inspired. I want to motivate you not just to hire me to take your photo but in how you live your day to day.
Because if I've learned one thing in the last 30 days / 30 years, it's that we're really all in this together. It's not one over the other, but when we look at each other as equals and as partners in learning how to live life to the fullest, it feels like the journey is filled with more hope and more light.
And aren't things like hope, light and community what we're all searching for anyway? :)