Well, I can't sleep and all I keep doing is writing this this blog post in my head so I may as well write it down. Am I the only person that talks to myself all the time? Anyone? All. The. Time. Sometimes I even have full conversations with people in my head and I anticipate every response they will have.... And then I see the people the next day and have to clarify to myself that the conversation did in fact NOT happen and I need to actually have it with the person and not just myself. I am strange. Of this, I am fully aware.
2015 was a huge year of growth for me. Both in my personal walk and in my business. In March, we had the opportunity of a lifetime to get some therapy for our son Dylan. Someone heard Dylan's story and shared it with a colleague, who had access to this amazing program and he fought hard to get Dylan onto the treatment list. We got in! The only problem was that it was in California, and we would have to move there for an unknown amount of time. If you know me, you know I'm a bit of a control freak. There, I said it. I love schedules, I love boundaries, I love familiarity. I don't love the unknown....
But I also love the Lord and I trust Him, and He was telling us to go. So we went. We left our home in March and returned in July. Little did I know what those next 5 months would bring. I know what you may be thinking (because remember, I have conversations with people in my head!), oh poor you has to move to the beach and incredible weather for 5 months. Well, I would tend to agree with you...but I also moved away from everything and everyone who made me feel secure. My home, my family, my church family, and my friends. God was stretching me. Big time. During our stay, we lived in 6 different places. Many weeks I was alone with the boys while Erik was back at home at work. Alone with two toddlers who made crazy some days. Alone at night in a strange condo or hotel room with nobody to protect me. I had never felt so alone and insecure. I would lie awake listening to every little noise and just cry myself to sleep while praying for the Lord to protect us. We didn't know where we were going to be next, but we knew the Lord would provide and He did. Sometimes at the last minute. We didn't know how we were going to pay $1000+ a week to stay in California, but again, the Lord provided. Always providing, and always guiding us and forcing me more and more to rely on Him and less on myself. Stretching. Growth. It's painful sometimes, but necessary. To hear more about that journey, go here. During our time there, we also had an anniversary. The one year anniversary of losing our baby girl. That was hard. It is hard. More stretching. More growing. To hear read more about Joy, go here.
Then, I saw a new photographer I was following on Instagram was having a contest. She was offering one of her workshops for a HUGE discount to one of her followers. All you had to do was write to her and tell her about your journey and why you wanted to attend her workshop and then she would pick a winner. At the time I didn't think I'd actually win, but gave it a try anyway. Then guess what, I WON! I haven't won too many things in my life and I was ecstatic! Then reality hit. I had just won a discounted photography workshop in Tennessee. I was both thrilled and scared to death at the same time. I tried to back out but Erik, God bless him, wouldn't let me. He encouraged me to go. To learn, to grow, and get out of my comfort zone. So that's just what I did!
I packed my bags and flew to a city I had never been to and met up with a beautiful Canadian girl and fellow workshop attendee at the airport whom I had only talked to online. I don't know about you, but this was not normal for me! More stretching and growing! Thankfully, Danielle turned out to be a completely normal person and not an axe murderer. We hit it off right away and enjoyed exploring Nashville together the day before the workshop. It worked out well because I was super nervous to walk into Julie's cottage the next day not knowing anyone. Now, I had a friend!!
When we arrived at the cottage, I was in awe of how adorable the whole place was! I wish I had taken more photos of it! Julie thought of everything and made us feel at home from the moment we stepped into the door. Not only was the cottage GORGEOUS, but she made it feel so comfortable and homey.
Everything was picture perfect! Once all of the girls arrived, all of my nerves were gone. Julie welcomed us with open arms and really was as sweet as she seemed from social media. She is amazing! If you have never met her or have been thinking of going to one of her workshops, JUST DO IT!!! You will NOT be disappointed!!! She is such a incredibly talented photographer who has a heart for helping others. She spent 3 days pouring out her heart and soul to us. She spent time with us one on one and we had a lot of "lightbulb" moments. There were also tears. From everyone.
When you go to a workshop like this, you have to be ready to change, to find the missing pieces in your business and to dig down deep to find the real artist in you. That is exactly what this workshop did for me! From the heart to heart talks, the hard to hear critiques, the amazing food and fellowship, the new friendships, the styled shoot, the teachings, and the laughter and the fun.....I cannot tell you how much this workshop changed me! It helped me grow as a photographer and a person. I was pushed past my comfort zone and I am so very happy I was pushed. I needed it! I came home refreshed, inspired, and excited to implement everything I learned.
Julie, if you are reading this, I cannot tell you thank you enough!! You will never know how much of an impact you had on me. You turned on the lightbulb that had been burnt out for quite a while. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are truly inspiring. Your deep love and care for other photographers (and people in general) is very evident in how you teach. YOU ARE THE BEST!!! I hope to be able to learn from you again....very soon!!!
If you want to check out her workshop, go here! http://www.juliepaisleyeducation.com/
So, for those of you still reading this crazy long blog. If you are being pulled out of your comfort zone in any part of your life.....let it happen. Embrace it. Change is good. Stretching is good. Growing is good. Take the pain, the trials, the teachings, the exciting times, and learn from them.