While it’s always the intent to blog my recap of the year BEFORE we ring in the new year, it never happens. And that’s okay. For the most part, the past two weeks have been spent:
a) Being sick. Boone and Crew got the stomach bug the Monday before Christmas within 30 minutes of each other, Geoff came down with it on Christmas Eve, and I rounded it out getting it on Christmas Day. Obviously, getting sick is inver ideal, we were grateful that we didn’t get it at the same time so we could take care of each other, that it didn’t happen during a really busy time or on a wedding day and that it came and went quickly.
b) Potty training. Man, oh man. Today, thank goodness, has been a “win” day so far. Yesterday, I was needing someone to talk me off the ledge. Potty training this boy has been quite the trying experience.
Anyway, moving on. :) Our two-thousand thirteen recap. I decided to do this year’s recap a little different than previous years…split it up by personal/business and by highlights/challenges. Let’s dig in.
We purposefully took a lot of time off from our business this year so we could best embrace this season of our lives with two little people to love and care for. I look back so fondly not only at all of the fun outings/activities we got to do together as a family this year, but at the everyday, “mundane” moments as well.
In 2013, we made snoopy pancake waffles together, we read books, we watched “Free Willy” and “Polar Express” more times than we could count. We brought our sweet baby girl home from the hospital and played in the snow.
We potty trained Boone….twice (try #2 has been much more successful). We fought hard, but laughed harder. We forgave each other. We cuddled on the couch, we chased fireflies in the front yard, we made a mess of the dining room decorating sugar cookies. We saw Boone off for his first day of “school” (waving and calling to me as he walked to the car, “have a great day, Mama!”).
We made homemade lattes. A lot of homemade lattes. We rocked our babies to sleep…and we woke with them before the sun rose. We trick-or-treated with sweet neighbors, we ate Cheesecake Factory takeout on the front porch on warm nights and we celebrated Geoff’s 30th birthday with his favorite batch of brownies.
We rode the train for uptown adventures and we went apple picking and ate cider donuts. We watched Boone lose his mind at the mere sight of “Thomas” at Tweetsie. We beat the storm to the airport to watch the planes take off and land.
We road-tripped to Savannah twice, flew to California to visit family and shared a cabin in the mountains of Boone, NC. We had date-night on the rooftop of a parking garage at dusk with good conversation, cups of Starbucks and a great view of the skyline. We laughed until it hurt when we rode through Lazy 5 ranch to see the animals.
Joy. Just so much joy.
Of course, as much as we might want it to be, life isn’t always puppies and sunshine. While we do feel that we came on on top and had more to put on our highlight reel than we did on our list of challenges, we still went through some really difficult times in 2013.
New Baby Struggles. The delivery recovery, the feeding issues, the bouts of mastitis, the sleep deprivation, the “coming to grips with a changed body” reality, the hospital bills. Yikes. Tough stuff.
Adjusting To Two. Caring for a newborn and a toddler simultaneously was most difficult in the beginning, but of course, it got more manageable all the time. A couple of months before we had Crew, someone with two kids of his own told us that – especially in the beginning – it would feel like Geoff and I each had our own child. He was so right. Being that I was Crew’s primary food source, I naturally cared for her needs the most. One of the hardest things for both Geoff and I was feeling emotionally connected to the other child – for me, it was Boone; for Geoff, it was Crew. I can remember the feeling of realizing that Boone was beginning to prefer Daddy over me. While, of course, I was beyond grateful that he has a Daddy that is amazing to him, it still hurt my heart. I still struggle with how to show them equal attention.
Downtime. Carving out and prioritizing downtime for Geoff and I individually and together became more and more difficult as the demands of the year wore on – especially once we picked up at full speed with the business again. After getting the kids down to bed around 8pm, we would head straight downstairs to the office to knock out as much work as we could…day after day after day after day. This brought fatigue, burn out, a lack of connection, irritability and guilt. Something really has to change here. It really does.
Finances. Just being real here. While the decision to take time off from the business was healthy from the perspective of our family life, it didn’t do our pocketbook any favors….especially in the wake of a down payment for our home, hospital bills for Crew’s delivery and unexpectedly having to buy a new car. 6+ months with no income that we normally counted on left us nearly (like, REALLY nearly) in the red at the end of my maternity leave. It was stressful, yet a blessing. Our vulnerability led us straight to God and a greater reliance on His provision.
I have to say, getting real with these challenges is going to be super helpful as we make a plan for our 2014 priorities.>
Weddings. As mentioned, we made the decision to basically take half of the year off from photographing weddings so we could focus on family life and make the transition from one to two children as easy on myself as possible. Thankfully, we were still able to shoot 10 beautiful weddings.
Q&A Night with The Schultzes. At the end of May we hosted a free webinar out of our home office to answer pre-submitted questions. We answered everything from what gear we use to how we balance work and family to sharing posing tips. We really had fun with this and are toying around with hosting a second topic focused webinar in spring 2014.
Mentor Sessions. After years of wanting to launch some kind of mentor program, we finally bit the bullet and began to offer mentor sessions for both aspiring and established photographers and business owners. We were beyond pleased to have mentored 8 photographers and are looking forward to announcing available winter session slots. Stay tuned.
Making Things Happen Conference. Mid-October I traveled up to Chapel Hill to attend this two-day conference. I STILL haven’t gotten around to blogging about my experience, but will try to get that done as soon as I am fully caught up with my 2013 editing (I am close!). In short, I walked away from those two days feeling more capable and more confident than I had in a very long time.
Studio Assistant. We did it – we hired someone to help us with our business and our life. She began working with us in December and has been SUCH an amazing help. Keep a look out on the blog for her official introduction. :)
Speaking. We were delighted to give a talk to 20+ photography students at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC in early November. It was nearly a 3 hour class and we darn near filled every minute of that time.
Rebrand. Oh, the thorn in my side. It’s really incredible how long this process of rebranding can take. I have said it time and time again for the past two years…”it’s coming soon!”, but really….it is coming soon. We are on track to have everything launched early this year – we are aiming for Valentine’s Day (also our little Crew’s first birthday) as our launch day. We thought it appropriate. :)
Creativity. I don’t know what to attribute this to exactly, but I kind of felt like I was in a rut as far as creativity in my shooting went in 2013. To be really honest, there were times that I just felt really creatively stale. At this point as a photographer, my head knows what it needs to do with my camera to create good pictures. It’s my heart that is feeling left behind. In 2014, I need to scratch this creative itch and really let go of the rules and roadmap to good photography that has nestled itself inside my head. I need to stop being safe. I need to feel inspired.
Trust. We’ve always trusted in the Lord with our business. Truly, we have put it in His hands and we’ll allow him to do with it as He pleases. The past six years of our business, things have been up and to the right. Always growing…never slowing down…no chance to really catch our breath. We know that all of it has come from God….we can’t deny that.
2013 (and now), we’ve had to put our money where our mouth is about trusting in God’s plan for our lives and our business. When the inquiries have slowed and the bookings have stopped rolling in as freely and as swiftly as in years past….trusting Him has been a gut-check for sure. When the doubt and the worry and the fear try to seep their way in, it’s time to knock the devil down and put my faith into the One that has ALWAYS provided…has ALWAYS had our best interest in mind….has ALWAYS protected us. Only He knows what is in store for 2014 and beyond….and we will trust His will for us.
Along the way, however, I won’t be sitting back and doing nothing. A past teaching on church growth from our Pastor has always stuck with me….there is a time to work IN your business and there is a time to work ON your business. I CRAVE having the time to work on my business to make it better. Now, as we begin 2014 with half of the bookings we normally have at this point in the year, I’m not worried…I’m PUMPED to work on this business.
Again, taking time to reflect on what challenges we had in the past year is a great way to have a starting point to make plans for the upcoming year. Still, it can be hard to get real with myself about what our challenges were. And, it is straight up terrifying to put them out for the whole world to see. The great thing about the new year is a whole new start; a chance to own where we’ve been and a chance to do things differently…to do them better.
And so, cheers to a banner year in 2013 and cheers to what lies ahead for us in the new year!