2013 :: 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One thing that has been sorely neglected this year is my blogging, both personally and professionally. It just hasn't happened. This was both due in part to lack of time and some negative criticism. I'd be the first to tell you I'm sad that I let the latter effect my writing in anyway, as there are so many memories from this year that will undoubtedly be lost.

I can't promise that I'll return to writing with the same frequency as years past, as I just don't find the same time to think reflectively at home, at least, not yet, but I really hope that will change in 2014!

This past year has been an explosion of change.

An absolute explosion.




In all honesty, I look forward to a quiet 2014. 

A good year nonetheless, but quiet.

It begins.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Some days your life changes in very unplanned ways, other days like Friday, December 20th, were counted down for weeks, months or years.

It was a dream realized.

I left Capella, 8 years in the corporate world, 7 years downtown Minneapolis.

I am self-employed.

I've tried writing this post several times and have put it off several times, but I have to write something, even if I don't feel like it will do justice.

What began out of desperation, just short of 5 years ago, when Isaac was born and the idea of returning to work in a position I despised, at a company I disliked even more, has now allowed me to stay home with my children. 

In December 2008, we combined our Christmas bonuses to purchase a Canon Rebel XS and two kit lenses. Reading back, I was surprised to read that it was Tony who teared up when telling me it was what we should do with our money and how proud I was of those 10.1 mp. Two quotes immediately stood out to me:

In what may prove to be the worst money management decision that we have made to date . . .  

It's the most illogical decision we've ever made, but I think that the results will far outweigh the cost!

What I didn't anticipate however was that my pictures wouldn't magically appear professional with just the click of the button. I shot on Auto for a few weeks, but grew increasingly more frustrated, discouraged and ultimately embarrassed, so I put it away.

The pieces didn't start to come together until after I met Gina for a maternity session at 29 weeks pregnant, while she was offering studio mini sessions. It baffles me how much God has accomplished in our lives through our friendship in the last 5 years. Truly baffles me.

With her encouragement and our budding friendship, which only took me a few months to realize that even though we weren't hanging out weekly, the girl kept calling me daily, my desire to pursue photography was reignited. We went from high school rivals to a genuineness and authenticity that astounded me. I honestly never believed a friendship could be so beneficial, uplifting and challenging. From the beginning we didn't stay surface level, we were honest and that honesty has been nurtured since.

The single largest catalyst was when Isaac was born. I was absolutely beyond desperate to change the course of our lives and cried out to God to hear my heart, as I was not in any position to do so. Just prior to having Isaac, my pay had been cut in half, leaving me to change jobs at 5 1/2 months pregnant. Tony and I weren't living extravagantly, but suddenly the income we relied on had been stripped away. Our need to budget became acutely painful and we slashed our bills severely. Our grocery budget for our little family was $30 per week, for all meals. There were some days that I ate a can of tuna for lunch, and that was it.

And there I was, with the pipe dream of starting a photography business.

Tony appealed to my Mom, who was already helping us by watching Isaac at daycare, without charge. He came to my Mom and stressed how much I was floundering and the depth to which I hated being away from Isaac and specifically my job. My Mom in turn picked up an extra daycare child and bought my first nice lens, a 16-35mm, allowing me to shoot sessions indoors.

Tony believed in me, especially when I didn't.

There were so many times I questioned why I was pouring myself into something that clearly would never come to fruition.

But Tony never once, in action or word, ever cast doubt on my dream. He never once uttered a word to undermine my efforts. I find it absolutely astonishing that, even through some truly dark days, he didn't ever lob an underhanded comment. 

I had so much to learn, but Gina helped me at every step, from creating my business, emails, client interactions and letting me 2nd shoot for her. It wasn't a mentor relationship. Our friendship strengthened nearly every day and I'm so grateful that God paired us.

Without a shadow of doubt, I wouldn't be here today without Tony, my Mom and Gina.

I'd be remiss not to mention the dozens of friends and family who early on and have continued to put their faith in me. This blog has also played a part, as I've met several blog readers, some of who have even become real life friends. Thank you.

Last Friday I cried several times.

Not once was it out of sadness.

There wasn't a tinge of bittersweet.

I cried out of feeling inferior to receive such a lavish blessing, or I should say blessings, year after year. Oh, their were hardships of course, but so many more blessings.

I cried to remember how much effort it took to finally be able to say, "I quit." The late nights that started with earlier mornings to edit essentially around the clock. There were months where I didn't get a day or night off.

I cried to think of how much our marriage has survived, how thin Tony and I have stretched ourselves, but especially our relationship, in order to be in the house we are, and the ability to say that I am a full time photographer. I thank God that through it all we chose to find our way back to each other.

I cried to reflect, to actually let my heart hold the weight of so many memories that led to this day. The depth of the panic, desperation, failures, pessimism, all of which shrank in comparison to the effort, encouragement, successes and wonderful connections that led to this day.

I don't know what the future holds.

But I'm not afraid of it.

God has shown His provision and faithfulness, despite our lack of understanding of the circumstances, and I trust in His plan far more than the ones we put together.

I quit, but it only just begins.

It's the final countdown.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our paper chain is looking pretty sparse.

I'm daydreaming about sunlight.

And today I can say that it's my final corporate Monday.

Four days.

In four days, I will walk away from security and pursue the goal that God put before me just short of 4 years ago.

It's a Choice

Monday, December 9, 2013

Last week, as the temperatures plunged, Tony and I knew we were dealing with a bad battery in the car. Unfortunately, story of our lives, we were a little short on time to deal with it.

You know those nights that make you want to cry, so you just have to laugh? That was my Thursday night. Leaving the bus to seek out my car at the Park & Ride, Tony sent me a text "I hope the car starts." I did as well and as much as I prayed it would, it was deader than a door nail. I quick checked in with Tony, who was on his way to Menomonie to ref a college game. He asked if I needed him to call around for help, but with jumper cables in the trunk, I was certain I'd have no issue.

I'd already parked the car facing front out, so I just popped the hood, pulled the cables out and approached the line of vehicles waiting for the next bus, which hadn't arrived yet, to unload. The first guy didn't seem like he'd be one to help, so I moved on to the big truck that had just pulled up, summoned all of my cheerfulness in a smile and asked for the driver's help. Since it was so cold, he did seem a little hesitant, but when I gestured to just how close the car was, cables out and hood popped, he was a little less reserved. He had his teenage son in the truck, who gave him a little grief for not having his jacket on, but within just a minute, we had his truck hooked up to the car.

After just a short amount of time, he asked me to try it and I knew it wouldn't be charged enough yet, but I hopped in and gave the keys a turn. Sure enough, the engine still didn't turn over, so I jumped back out again, shutting the door. As my mind replayed the door shutting, I knew instantly that I'd just locked my keys in the car, including my purse, wallet and phone. It was just as I told my helper this, that his wife came walking up, getting the synopsis in less than 30 seconds. His wife didn't seem put off at all by the situation and instead offered right away to drop me off at my Mom's. I quickly called Tony on her phone to let him know the updated situation and to confirm that the hideakey, was in fact not hidden [I hate when that happens!].

So, I hitched a ride with the family of three, chatting the three minute ride to my Mom's. Only really learning that the wife loved photography and me telling her my business site. I didn't even ask their names, although neither did they ask mine!

I then took my Mom's vehicle back to the P&R, with her phone, called 911 and had them send out a CSO. I was so thankful to be sitting in the warmth of her vehicle, opposed to just outside my car, as the temperature was barely above 0. The Community Service Officer had a little trouble with unlocking the door, but once he got it, I then informed him of my next issue: the battery. He was quick to inform me that he couldn't jump the car, but when I spelled out for him that all I need was supervision to apply the jumper cables he was quick to help. It took a solid 7-10 minutes, but we finally got it jumped!

I then went back to my Mom's to pick up my Stepdad, to bring him to the P&R to get the Jeep! My plan was to go straight to a battery store by myself, but my Stepdad insisted he come with. He did more than that too, with paying for the battery, although I greatly protested!

I type all this up, because the factors of the night were so frustrating and yet, with my interactions with the family of three, the CSO and the two high school kids who were best friends at the battery store, the night was still all together fun. It completely highlighted the number of choices we get to make regarding our attitudes and the impacts that they have on more than just ourselves!
[picture from earlier in the week, as I wasn't quite this happy! ;)]

Well, that's different.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I think I've mentioned it before, but the night we went out to do the pizza pictures, we met our first neighbor. Tony and I cautiously introduced ourselves, as we literally found out that day that our mortgage had been denied and we weren't sure any longer if the house was in our future.

Mike had his two children on the sidewalk with him and within a minute, Isaac and Ben were fast friends. Ben is 5 years old and obliged Isaac when he asked to see his toy. You, as well as I know, that as far as preschool boys go, from there on out they were practically best friends. Progressing from playing with the toy, they were then playing tag in the front yard, declaring who was fastest through excited screams.

I listened with my heart guarded, as Tony and Mike talked, establishing a common desire for pond hockey on our backyard pond, as my eyes drank in the sight of Isaac and Ben chasing after each other. Ezra and Josie kind of pretended they didn't know what was going on and will not think twice about when they first met. I was having a pretty hard conversation with God, trying to refrain from berating Him for this memory. Asking if He was only trying to make the uncertainty of the house harder to handle. I didn't know Mike, and I didn't know his son, but I saw the opportunity for my boy to have a close friend.


Last night we had quite the snowfall and after dinner, as I was surveying the mess of our house [most of which is still in boxes], the doorbell rang. I knew there was pretty much only one option, so without much more of a pause to confirm I told Isaac that it was Mike and Ben. Mike asked if Isaac could come down to play with Ben in the snow as he blew out their drive and that they'd come back to do ours.

You guys, I think the State Fair has only made Isaac happier.

He had a friend.

At his door.

Specifically asking for him to play.

I have so many hopes for this house of ours and all of the changes we've gone through to get here and in just one evening I can see that the ball is rolling.

God is so faithful.



Monday, December 2, 2013

If you follow me on IG, you know that we had our last goodbye at our old house this weekend, with the final push before handing over the keys today. While we were there, Tony had the boys come on inside so that he could rearrange the vehicles in the driveway. Isaac starting whining as soon as he got in the house that he wanted to watch his Daddy, when in mid whine, he stopped and said "Oh yeah!" And off like a rocket, I found him peering out the window . . . just like I had a 1,000 times previously. It's a memory I hope I will always endear of this house.

Even though hockey season is upon us, Tony and I are very hopeful that with the Mounds View house work put behind us that we'll be able to enjoy more time as a family, resulting in more new memories in our new house!

ps :: 16 days to go.


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