Friends, can you believe 2015 is coming to a close? I heard on the radio today that we have less than 36 hours (at the time of it’s playing) left of the year. I can hardly believe it! I’m so thrilled and a little bit anxious (I’ll explain later) to share this year’s recap with you. First, I want to take a detailed look back and share genuinely some of the struggles I faced this year. Second, I’ll be sharing some of the highlights and celebrating the successes of 2015. Third, and what I can’t wait to get into written words, I’ll be sharing a peek into my vision for 2016.
Perfectly-captured photo with my favorite little guy from my new friend this year, Daniel Kim.
Taking a look back. I’ve been equally excited anticipating the writing of this post as I’ve been absolutely terrified. When considering the words of this post, I would find my heart beating fast in excitement, while the next moment wanting to curl in a ball under a blanket and never post another piece of my heart on the internet. Really, friends. But I have to share. I have to share because there may be someone out there just like me who has faced/is going to face as much of a roller coaster as I did this year…and because it’s genuinely my story. Unexpectedly, I spent a lot of time in the desert (what I dubbed my season of struggle) feeling inadequate, insecure, and a complete failure this year.
Mid-2014 I decided to take a leap into what I’ve always loved: film photography. Shooting film felt natural and helped me achieve the look I’d always wanted–I was smitten from my first full session on this North Carolina beach. After a few months of shooting it, I rebranded to a fine art film brand and was ready to rock and roll with this new endeavor that had fully captured my heart! This decision, along with the desire to further streamline my business to accommodate our current and future family needs became a journey of “starting over” in so many respects. I didn’t expect that! I thought, hey, I have my “stuff” together more than EVER before: a focused vision, clearly identified goals, and better ‘art’ than ever. I thought this was enough to catapult me into a new targeted market, but that wasn’t the reality.
Friends, what happened next was one of the hardest seasons of this dream I’ve ever had to walk through. I was turned down time and time again, not always with a clear understanding of why. There are things that absolutely make sense to me in hindsight, and there are things I still don’t understand. I’m going to save specifics here but I’m so willing to share with anyone who needs a bit of encouragement (firstname.lastname@example.org). The point is, what I felt was constant rejection to the point of doubting my own ability. I shed so many tears this year that Andy can confirm. As my faith is always an integral part of my processing, I pled before God on “why?”. Why was this dream that stood for so much good not working? His answer came with more silence than I liked. My first response was to fight: do more, post more, meet more people, make it happen. Friends, all this did was wear me out more than before.
Breaking Point. After months of this tactic, I think God finally got me where he wanted me: a point of surrender. I let it be His. Obviously my tactics for success were not working. I began to see things in my heart that were off, primarily a need for success in this job as a sense of worth–a struggle I often face with the blessings in my life. I began to see how my identity was so much tied to the success I had here. God took me to the bottom to show me a powerful truth I didn’t have ears for with all the noise of success: I have infinite worth in Him and am loved with a love that is so able to fill the void my heart so feels. Disappointment still seemed to come in numbers, but I started to change internally. I become more humble. I became more whole. Slowly, sprinkled in with the pile of disappointment and rejection, success started to come. But when it did, I wasn’t clinging to it like I used to. I really am blown away (as I am every year, but this time in a different way) with what God has brought me and put in front of me in 2015. For 2016, I’m humbled and refined, and begging that the Lord remind me of these truths over and over as I need them.
My favorite little face! All dressed up for Christmas. 🙂
With those honest words to close, I’m going to now transition to sharing some of those highlights of the year I mentioned prior (if you’ve managed to make it this far with me! ;)):
-Starting the “For Photographers” series (set to restart in the new year after a much needed break to get through wedding season!)
-Regaining my love for reading! I read a total of 11 books (12 if I can finish my last read by tomorrow! ;)), 5 of which were business books.
-Hiring an admin assistant. There are officially two people a part of this team! 😉 Adding April has been such a great addition and so in line with my long-term goals.
-Crossing off 15 of 18 of my overall year goals for 2015. Some fulfillment came in unexpected ways (not how I would have had it), and some (3) not at all. I’m thankful and okay with both. 😉
-Successfully launching into a new market and becoming a film/hybrid brand
-13+ publications (thanks April!)
-Making lots of new friends in the industry that we love!
Vision for 2016
-Further outsourcing/training April to take over tasks I don’t absolutely have to do to free up my time to do what I absolutely love and to spend more focused time with my family.
-Exploring further opportunities for teaching/educating/encouraging.
-Further defining my ‘core’ purpose and living that out through my brand.
-Reading many more books and growing through education.
-Further integrating/refining steps and workflow to really serve and bless our clients through our service.
-More traveling!! Both personal and for business.
-More open-mindness and humility towards change and working ‘smarter’.
And that’s a wrap, friends! Thanks so much to all of you who have joined me at any point along this journey. It’s been a wild ride (especially this year!), and I so hope sharing the ‘hard stuff’ encourages and brings hope to someone out there. This year, I’ve learned some important truths and found that time in the “desert” is, sometimes, exactly what our hearts need most as it refines us with purpose and a good measure of humility.