Right now, I'm sitting on JJ's porch, it's a beautiful 60 degrees here in Huntington Beach, I have a blanket and a laptop, coffee next to me, and a lot of thoughts in my head. (For those of you who don't know, JJ is the incredible love of my life who I have been blessed to be with for a year and eight months now. We are long distance from California to Texas, and I'm very lucky to be visiting him for two weeks!) JJ is at work right now, and I decided to (as many have been) share my thoughts and goals for the coming year.
Let me preface this blog post by saying that yes, I understand not only am I one of many wedding photographers that is taking the time to reflect on their year, but one of many people that seem to be taking the time via the Internet to share their New Year reflections. Though I'm led to think this can be cheesy and overdone, I actually believe that it's something that be extremely invigorating. Inspiring. Refreshing. Not only our own writings, but seeing what other people have to say and being inspired by their goals for 2014 and their successes in 2013. Not only am I blinded sometimes by the competitive industry that I work in, but also the competitive world that I live in. I read other photographer's blogs thinking, "gosh, they freaking blew through all of their goals this year plus some. Look at how successful they are. Look at how successful I'm not." I read friend's blogs thinking, "look at how happy and Christ-centered this person's mind is. Why am I so selfish? Why is this person so much better than me?"
Friends, clients, and potential clients, if you are looking for a photographer who has the perfect mindset and who does everything for herself and her business right, I'd suggest finishing this blog post and finding someone else. Because I have done a lot of things wrong this year. I have had to face a lot of defeats this year. And I did not handle most of these with grace. I handled most of them with anger, with tears, and by hiding myself under a blanket. I look back at 2013, and find it hard to be proud of myself.
Pause. Before you think that this is going to be the most depressing blog post in the world, I ask that you stick with me for just a couple more paragraphs, and I promise it will end happy.
To continue. How can I be proud of myself this past year, when so many things went wrong?
Because for once in my life, I need to accept that among the midst of all this horrible, terrible, and hurtful, this is so much more. So much that matters more and means more.
Let's get honest. I struggle with contentment a lot. Even when I do reach a goal, I have a hard time being happy for long. When something awesome does happen, I move right on to the next awesome thing that I wish would happen. But if I want to stop being selfish and finally start being content, then, well, I have to start.
I keep thinking that contentment will just "happen." That BOOM. One day I'll wake up, and God will have magically turned my heart into this grateful, joyful, everything-is-perfect Christian/business owner/person that finally stops wishing. And hoping. And yearning.
But God will not let me have it that easily. And I recently came to the revelation that He intended it like this. He is not punishing me for my selfish heart by holding off the gift of contentment, He wants me to wake up and say "today, I will try. I will not assume that it will come easily. But today, I will pray, and I will try."
Because friends, all of the amazing things that did happen this year had nothing to do with me, but completely by the grace of God.
(I truly am not a fan of Katy Perry, but this song is completely breathtaking.)
Awesome Things that Happened in 2013:
- I GRADUATED COLLEGE.
- Two of my very best friends got engaged, and now I am both a bridesmaid and a maid of honor this coming May.
- I started grad school.
- I quit grad school. (Seriously, best decision I could have made. Completely God's plan. I would love to tell the story over a great brunch or coffee, but this blog post is already a novel.)
- I became a mom to the sweetest baby corgi ever.
- I shot/second shot so many beautiful weddings.
- I rebranded and completely reorganized my business.
- I got my LLC and am finally a registered business in the state of Texas.
- I attended Half Orange Photography's "Merrymaking" workshop and so many wonderful friends/business-lessons/photography-lessons came from that.
- Made even more awesome photography friends and learned even more from them (Sara & Rocky!)
- Family/friends/boyfriends (JK I only have one) continued to love me and completely encourage me.
Even though I am positive it will take me until the day God calls me home, contentment will finally come. And I cannot expect it to come naturally. Or to someday "fall" on me. I need to wake up everyday, and choose to be content. And understand that I cannot do it alone. I need prayer, I need hope, and I need guidance.
In doing Lara Casey's Powersheets lately (GO CHECK THEM OUT. LIFE CHANGING.), I've settled on my vision for 2014, and what matters. And from this, I have set my goals for 2014. And as Lara says for the Powersheet process, the goal is not perfection, but progress. Holy cow do I need to remember this everyday. I am about as perfectionist as they come.
Although I won't be as specific as I have written down, here are the awesome things that are to come in 2014, and that I hope to come.
Awesome Things That Will Happen in 2014:
- I will be a better business owner, and a better photographer. I will strive to read and continue to learn more about entrepreneurship, leadership, and my art. I will learn how to be responsible with my business, yet take risks. I will learn to make my business a ministry, and not a selfish ambition. I will put my clients first, and make sure that they receive the absolute best from me. I will push myself to be more creative, more professional, more focused, and more personable.
- I will target and search for more of my ideal client. I will market my business intelligently, and center the vision for JWP. I will continue to spoil my current brides, and make sure that they feel as loved as possible. I want any current and future bride or client to feel respected, cherished, and cared for. I will make sure that my brides are not only happy, but feel safe and trusted with me as their photographer and friend.
- I am very blessed to already have 7 weddings booked for 2014, and have a goal of booking and shooting BLANK total. (I am terrified to reveal this number!)
- I will spend my free time more wisely. I will commit myself to learning and cultivating my mind with things that matter, and things that will keep me refreshed and alive. I will commit to reading and finishing a book every month. To playing piano and guitar more. To exercising more often. To visiting a museum. Riding a bike. Studying a new language. Cooking new recipes. Sky diving. (Not really, you couldn't pay me a million dollars.) I want to fill the time apart from my business and loved ones with things that are important, and things that will keep my mind and body renewed.
- I will commit to being a better daughter, friend, and girlfriend. I will love others selflessly, and I will give to others more than they have given to me. And not expect anything back. I will those that are difficult to love, and pour into those that need it most.
- I will be a better daughter and servant of God. I will commit to serving His kingdom, and committing everything to His glory. I will spend more time reading His word, and keep my vision focused on Him. Because without Him, I truly am nothing.
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2: 1-4
I wish all of you the best in 2014, because well, you freakin' deserve it. (Fantastic grammar, right?)
To my clients.
Thank you for trusting me to capture your memories. Thank you so much for choosing to invest in me and my art, and thank you so much for letting me be able to give you something. You guys are truly the reason why I created my business, and are the reason why I'm inspired to keep going. I hope you all feel so loved and cherished, because you don't deserve any less. I strive to give you all my best in 2014, and without you guys, I wouldn't have any of this in the first place. You guys are awesome. And beautiful. And rock.
To my friends.
Thank you all for encouraging me when I needed it the most. Thank you for not running away from me when I wasn't the best friend I could be, and thank you all for giving me second chances at being a better friend. Thank you so much for keeping me focused where I need to, and giving me a kick in the pants when I needed it. Thank you for not always telling me the prettiest answer, but for telling me the truth. Thank you for supporting me when I needed it, and praying for me when I needed it. Without you all, I'd probably still be under my blanket. Thank you for celebrating with me, for laughing with me, for crying with me, for praying with me, for grieving with me, and for rejoicing with me. I hope I can be half the friend you guys have been to me, and 2014 is my year for giving back to you. Be ready.
To my family and JJ.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for not giving up on me. I know I am not the easiest person to handle sometimes. I know I can be extremely discouraging. I know I'm not the easiest person to bring back to life. But without you, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be able to work at a profession I love, I wouldn't be able to go out and live my life, and I wouldn't have any of you. There's no way I will ever be able to give back to you the way you have given to me, but I will try. You believed in me even when I had no hope left. You picked me up when I had no joy left. And you continued to love me when I felt like I didn't have anything left. I am eternally grateful, and I hope this year, I can be a better daughter and a better girlfriend for you. I hope I can love you selflessly, and be more of a servant and support for you. Thank you. So, so much.
If you read this entire thing, you seriously deserve a pat on the back. With a candy bar. And dinner on me.