Facing Fears and Dreaming Bigger // 2013 Recap

I’ve sat here for the good part of half an hour wondering where to even begin with my end-of-the-year post. ‘Should I even write one?’ has been revolving around this little brain of mine, frightening me, but also reaffirming that I do in fact need to write one or I would do injustice to all of the people who have allowed this year to be such a positive one for me. I remember this day last year, and I was on a flight back to Texas at this very moment. I remember my thoughts clearly – the ones I had as I stared at the blue sky grounded by the clouds… and in a way, I feel the same as I did that day. But as I look closer, I feel completely different. I know that makes no sense, but carry on.

Through 2013, I discovered exactly what I wanted out of my business.  I realized what I wanted my photos to consist of. Authenticity. Real moments. Connection. Love. I realized I wanted to learn to know my clients on a personal level as opposed to a business level. I wanted to be able to know their stories and be able to document their true emotions and what was most important to them. I wanted them to look at their photos and be reminded of those things most important to them. To display those moments in their home and wake up to them every day. I realized I wanted to be a part of their family.

Although there have been many, many mistakes I made this year, those mistakes turned into lessons that allowed me to better myself through my business. I know that I’ve surpassed a significant number of goals I didn’t even set for myself at the beginning of the year. Why didn’t I write anything down? In all honesty, I didn’t even want to continue my business on this day last year. I had no goals, and I surely had no motivation to make any.

And since I had no list of goals for this year, I’ll take this moment to write down my most memorable moments.

1. Not being scared of the gym - In April/May, Cassie and I turned our fateful meeting into something more than just the documentation of important photos for her last October. We started going to the gym together and she began to open my eyes to an outlet that I never knew existed for myself. Fitness, although I’ve fallen off quite a bit (Cassie will agree to this – haha) has allowed me to relieve daily stress in a way I can’t explain. A lot of the time, I feel like I don’t even know what I’m doing in the gym, but as long as I walk out feeling emotionally and physically refreshed, I know I’ve done my job. I lost a total of ten pounds this year, and I’m excited to continue learning more about health and fitness and incorporating it more into my daily routine for next year.

2. Having a wedding - Holy shit. This one was tough, but so worth it. I really feel like going through this experience taught me what it feels like to be a bride, and I feel like I can connect with my own brides much easier. I know the stress you go through, ladies! Personally, I wish I had let the reigns down and allowed people to help when they offered it. I learned this year that I really needed to stop feeling like I had to be such a perfectionist. That I needed to take control of everything in order for it to be exactly how I planned it in my head. As much as I look back and feel happy about how beautiful that day was, I wish I had been more focused on the people we were celebrating with as opposed to worrying about the little problems. The morning of the wedding, I’m pretty sure I had an anxiety attack times 100 because of the things that weren’t done – including those damn ants that were all over the chairs and tables in the tent (which miraculously weren’t there by the evening – thanks dad!) Yes, that’s all I could think of while I was getting my hair and makeup done. Try relaxing while beads of sweat are running down your face because you’re worried about ants. That’s how I felt. Also, I learned not to procrastinate to be better about not procrastinating. I wrote my vows five minutes before our wedding. Now, hold up, don’t go thinking I was so foolish for not writing them beforehand. I had them saved in an email, but Verizon decided it didn’t want to give me service that day, so I frantically searched around for someone with a phone so I could log into my account and handwrite them. Haha. It was awful. Just don’t do it. Regardless, I’m so appreciative of my friends and family for celebrating with us, to James & Christy Tyler for giving us beautiful photos to reflect on, to my dear friend Lauren for capturing video for us that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, to Ron Swisher for offering us great tunes for the night, to Brush Creek Golf Course for giving us the opportunity to have a chill, laid-back celebration, and to Lori Heck for the amazing “backyard summer food” that was catered in. In the words of Ice Cube, it was a good day.

Rustic-Chicago-Wedding_0022Photo by: Christy Tyler Photography

3. Attending Turning Tides Retreat – When I say I don’t have words for this one, I mean it. I have no words that would fairly explain how incredible this experience was for me. I felt like I was given a new life by going – I know that sounds drastic but it’s the truth. In July, Jessica, Lauren, and Christy were giving up one seat to a very lucky winner – so I turned in my submission with fear in my heart, but hoped for the best. I needed this. A few days later, they announced the winner, and I was so happy for not one, but TWO women who were given the opportunity to go. I was upset that I didn’t have the money to make it happen, but I knew that I needed to accept it and understand that it just obviously wasn’t in my plans for that time. A day or two later, I got a text from Christy offering a seat in exchange for a simple task. I was pumping gas at the Cedarville Mobil station and I have to say, I’m really not sorry for any of you who may have witnessed me do a giddy dance around my car when I received her text. This was the moment that would be the start to a life-changing event for me.

I was hesitant upon meeting everyone, as I’m really quite socially awkward. But those fears were put at ease when I realized we all had one thing in common - we were all there to better one another and push ourselves to reveal the scary thoughts that had been consuming us and keeping us from being our true selves. Going to Turning Tides was more than I ever could have expected it would be, and it’s the truth when I say that it saved my business. Not only did I leave with a new perspective, but I also left with eleven new friendships and a support group that I never knew I was missing from my life.

All you creatives out there. I’m telling you. GO. GO. GO. It will change your life.

Check out more info on this incredible opportunity here!

Turning-Tides-Creative-Retreat_007Photo by: Christy Tyler Photography

4. Making this video - I don’t have to explain. I love this girl and everything she’s taught me.

5. Photographing a love like this – Realizing this is exactly what I want fifty years from now.

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6. Going to Colorado – This was seriously one of the best events of my life. Hands down. Amazing. Cassie and I knew we wanted to go somewhere, and I’m pretty sure our plans changed a million times before we actually booked our flights to Denver. Haha! Hiking Pike’s Peak was one of the most difficult, if not the most physically difficult obstacle I’ve ever overcome. I learned that no matter how much you feel you need to quit – no matter how much your mind tells you to stop – you just need to keep going. This lesson can prove to be used in so much more than hiking seven hours up a mountain. Cassie and I pushed each other so much. She’d take five steps forward. I’d take five steps forward. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. If you haven’t done something like this before, please take advantage of it. The feeling I had at the top was indescribable. I know my exact words were “That’s one thing you do once, but never again. Never again.” Four months later, I’m sitting here wishing I could go again.

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7. Witnessing the strength shown by the Cahoons - Over this entire year, you have taught me so much. I love you all.

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8. Volunteering in Washington, Illinois - I'd say I learned to be thankful for what I have by visiting this community, but that would be an understatement. If you haven't already, please volunteer or donate to help Washington rebuild. I was taught so many lessons by the people of this town in a short six hours. Be so grateful for what you have... the people of Washington were grateful just to have each other.

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I was going to make my own list of goals for 2014, but Christy shared this link (24 Rules for Being a Human Being in 2014) this morning and it speaks for me completely. I feel as though I’m being lazy by not making my own list, but each one of these is something I need to work on and I couldn’t help but share too.

I love you all for pushing me to be a better version of me this year – for teaching me to be okay with facing my fears and for helping me begin my journey of finding who I am. I can only hope I’m able to do the same for you in 2014.

Here's to dreaming for a fresh slate.

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