Fired to full-time photographer! Cheers to risk taking in business & chasing dreams in the New Year!
I've attempted to sum up the year SO many times. I've struggled. I'm still processing, I suppose. . .
We usually discuss all things Evermore Stories in terms of "we" and "us" but, my personal path is important to our story this year, so please forgive the first person perspective for the moment.
Even considering the shit storm that was 2020, 2021 came along and still managed to take us by surprise. It started full of uncertainty and chaos. The world seemed upside down, but you don't need the play by play. If you're reading this, you've lived it. If you've lived it, you surely appreciate being spared the recrap!(Misspelling intentional!) The silver lining is that we learned the value of living life to the fullest, the meaning of community, and most of all, the importance of authentic connection. Despite the mess - those were GREAT lessons to learn, both personally and professionally.
Rewinding a bit, when Evermore Stories was established in 2017, I wrote out a 5 year plan. Top of that list was to always keep our brand authentic, genuine and real. This is why it's important that I shamefully admit, I lowballed that list (and myself). I set my bar absurdly low. So low, in fact, that I'd met my marks by years end (2018). I mostly added things that made sense for a business to accomplish in their first year:
Establish the business legally
Hire a CPA
Build a website,
Book a hand full of gigs etc. ....
Come on, right? What's worse; I let myself be proud of hitting those benchmarks without bothering to push myself to set more challenging ones. Should I have been proud, yes, but I also should have acknowledged that I was timid about my abilities and petrified of failing, even if only by the standards of my own personal journal. (Seriously, who would have known if I didn't cross everything off my 5 year plan, right?) I didn't revisit that 5 year plan because I was afraid to fail. I also knew, NEW goals would have to be BIG goals.
Have you ever been here: at the precipice of something amazing, but too afraid to take the leap? Well... just keep reading while dangling at the edge. By the end maybe I'll have you convinced to leap too.
Fast forward to 2021, despite the brutally hard hit Covid took on the wedding industry (you know, big parties in a world scared to gather) our business was (by the grace of God) flourishing. Still, the trouble with a beautiful flourishing plant is sometimes, it starts to outgrow its pot. (If it wasn't obvious - I'm the pot). The business was demanding more of me, but I was still pulled between passions. Evermore Stories was sort of "the other woman" to my first full-time job. I was working toward my 11th year in radio, meaning TWO full-time jobs, while trying to be a shred of a wife and raise two tiny humans. It was something I'd convinced myself I was good at juggling. In August of 2021, I got a message from a co-worker that confirmed a theory of mine. The big wigs at my day job (aka - people that provided my salaried job security & benefits), decided they would mandate the Covid-19 vaccine. Politics stole enough from this year, so I will not address anything about my choices other than the fact that I believe firmly in my freedom to chose them - and as a result, I was terminated in October of 2021.
I was devastated to have been put in that position, but the cruel year didn't care. It happened. There wasn't even a funeral. It seems dramatic, but all jokes aside, there wasn't a farewell party, outside of the one amazing gesture from one co-worker; my manager and friend. My office was packed up by peers and loaded into my car without me ever stepping into the building. That seemed sad, especially after spending a third of my life growing up in that building and as a huge part of my life was just suddenly OVER. My identity had been messily woven into this career. It inherited all but my name. My radio persona was ME, but by a different name. For a moment, it felt like without a voice for that name I'd created -"I" would sort of disappear with it.
BUT... then something miraculous happened. God is so good and the real me reemerged in all her damn glory! Not like saintly glory, don't get weird... I just mean "glory" by it's definition: "magnificence or great beauty." There was a great beauty in discovering who "I" am again. I had lost my sense of self. (Example: For a DECADE...my main duty, first thing in the mornings, was to gather news. The task.. easy enough.. but the CONTENT, wow. The negativity was exhausting and draining. I didn't even realize how bothered by that process I really was until it was over). I was starting to realize something felt off in 2020, but this main event of 2021 really set me on a new path of deepened self-awareness and discovery. I learned that I loved bits of my day job, but truth be told, I was leaving behind so much negativity, pressure, and pain. Leaving - freed up 40 hours of each week. Most importantly, it freed my mind and energy to pour more into myself, my husband, my kids and into being a better pot! (yea.. I hear it too. The analogy was good, but there IS something odd about calling myself a pot.)
As it were, we've come full circle.
In October of 2021 - the day after I turned 32 years old, I started working FULL-TIME for Evermore Stories, LLC - aka myself. No salary, no stability, no benefits, no safety net. Still, I have ultimate career freedom. There is no one to tell Grant(husband/business partner) and I, how to create the art we aim to. Less than a month later, I also started an amazing work collaboration with Ksquared Creative. While I add to their creative team, they pour creativity, energy and inspiration into me. Best yet, in November, we expanded our Evermore Stories crew, taking on a new hire of our own, to serve even more amazing clients while maintaining our same level of quality and consistence. Photo, video, and business.. those are my ONLY career focuses now - and finally I feel like I have the best core group of people working with and around me!
Our original 5 year plan expires at the end of 2022. It goes without saying - we crushed it, but I'm refusing to wait another year in complacency, and not reaching for the stars. I held onto stability for so long that I pigeon-holed my own potential, and as a result, our company's potential - for years. I'm proud to say, that was an outdated version of me.... and Me2.0 is amending and expanding my 5 year plan. It is now OUR new 1 year plan, complete with ambitious goals, to strive to accomplish so much more in 2022. We might not achieve them all. We may fall short. Still, we'll be more proud of our effort and our company will be better for it! Evermore Stories, LLC, (yep that's new too), aims to tell beautiful stories; boldly and assuredly. Today, in the same fashion , I'm SO proud of the opportunity to tell my own story, shortcomings and all. We're expecting big things out of 2022... and either way, when the fireworks sparkle in 2023 we'll be celebrating our huge successes and our lessons learned from our failures - & I assure you.. it will be a party! Now it's your turn.
Even if you're not a fan of vision boards or goals lists, commit to your dream and don't let your own insecurities convince you it's too risky. "Put it all on red" and take a chance on yourself! Thanks for reading, and an even bigger thank you to all of those who supported our dream, a dream that is getting better all the time!
Images from a fun New Years' streamer inspired portion of a bridal shoot with the beautiful, Jill Ortego - Photographed at Exposure the Selfie Experience, in Lafayette, Louisiana. © Evermore Stories, LLC - 2021