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June 9, 2014

Balance | Work and Life

My friend Ashley posted a blog the other day about life with their newborn and what it’s been like to balance work and times to snuggle with and take care of him.  And something she said jogged my memory… “Part of the reason why I wanted to pursue photography as my full time career was to live my dream and have space to breathe… to live.”

St Simons Avenue of Oaks Spanish Moss

I wanted to pursue photography because not only did I love it, but working from home and making my own schedule would allow me to be a wife and mom and to have space to grow and do things on OUR schedule.  But I was having these thoughts back in 2009, way before Ben and I even met.  I never would have dreamed that this business would continue to grow as it has.  It hasn’t boomed and grown over night… anything that does is a little scary actually.  But it’s been a slow and steady growth that God knew I needed.  Along the way I’ve learned how to be a business owner first, then I learned how to be a girlfriend while working one job and running a business on the side (I think that may have been the most difficult transition!).  But because of that stage, the transition from being a girlfriend to a  business owner/full time church staff/wife was much easier.

But part of that growth has been learning to keep the balance between work and life… and it’s sometimes a daily project.  Every day when Ben comes home from work, I jump up from my computer to greet him at the door.  It’s my second favorite part of the day (my first favorite part is getting to wake up next to him every morning!).  And usually, that’s when the office closes for the day.  Occasionally during the busy wedding season (aka, May-June-ish), he’s super understanding when I need to spend a few extra hours at the computer at night or on the weekends.  I don’t like doing that, but it helps to get images back to my clients in the time that I want to and it ends up causing less stress as the weeks go by.

Several friends in this industry have been so encouraging along the way in terms of this life balance… the reason we own our own business is so that WE can run it because if it runs us, then it will run us into the ground and burn us out.  And having a business that runs us – where we feel like we always have to answer that email immediately, answer that text pronto, always be at the computer, etc. – doesn’t actually do anyone any good.  Because the truth is, life isn’t about work.  It’s not about getting the most clients or the biggest weddings.  It’s about people, relationships and community!  It’s about having friendships where the word camera or photography isn’t mentioned in conversation.  I’ve never heard one story about anyone on their deathbed saying that they wish they had worked MORE.  So I’m making choices today that will allow me to smile at the end of my life, so that I’ll be thankful that we chose life over work.

So what does this look like practically for me?

  • For starters, I rarely answer emails over the weekend.  If I was at any other job, I wouldn’t open my work email until I was back at the office on Monday morning, so why do that now?
  • When Ben comes home, that’s when my office closes (minus the caveat I mentioned above during the busy season!).  He’s my husband and we made a vow on our wedding day that except for our relationship with Christ, we are each other’s priority.  So, he (and our future kids) will always come before work.
  • We take vacations!  The last several years, our vacation has been around the time of our anniversary and we’ve done our best to disconnect from social media, email and even texting.  Two of those years we were out of the country so all of that was pretty easy!  But, I highly recommend this to anyone going on vacation this summer… yes, still take photos with your phone, but turn off the wifi and don’t spend the majority of your time on social media when your family is right there beside you.

Running our own business and living life has plenty of challenges, but it’s so worth it and so rewarding.  Especially when we connect with clients that get what we do – in work and life!

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