10 Lessons on Life, Creativity & Being a Girl Boss

“The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with joy.”

The last few years have flown by. It’s been a long, emotional roller coaster in my personal life. It’s been hard, but I know that we’re so lucky. It could all have been so much worse. A lot of you know that I had a beautiful little girl nearly 6 years ago now named Bella. She’s awesome. She was also born with a very rare genetic syndrome called Langer-Giedeon Syndrome.

She’s had 6 surgeries and is booked for another this Friday. She struggles with a lot, including school, speech and social settings on top of her physical difficulties. It’s strained our family, my marriage and our finances. It’s not all doom and gloom though. She’s also brought a light to my life that I couldn’t have imagined existed.

She’s taught us to live in the present, to let go of expectations and to dream big.

“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

For awhile I managed to throw myself into my work, heart, and soul, and that creative outlet was my sanity. Along with that amount of work, something had to give, and unfortunately, it was my own self-care that went down the drain. After years of shooting 20 plus sessions a month, I hit my limit. I just couldn’t do it and manage my life at home at the same time. I made a fast and hard decision to take the winter off almost entirely of shooting. It was the best decision I could have made. I think sometimes we just need to reset, recharge and get back to the basics. I needed to learn how to take care of myself again.

I’m getting to yoga regularly, I’m on a cleansing spring detox and hoping to run a half marathon at the end of the summer. Our family has settled into our normal. I can breathe again and I’m excited about what’s next for me.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what I was going to want to do once the fog lifted. I have a secret wish to start a flower farm on Vancouver Island, but that might not be realistic right now. I thought maybe I would start a food blog (I actually did do this, more on that later) or maybe I would focus on design only.

Now that I’m seeing clearly again I know that photography is what I love more than anything. I think that it’s possible to balance it all, but it sure isn’t easy. With a little time to reflect, there are some hard-learned lessons that I’d like to share with you.

“It’s ok if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.”

In the past eight years of being a stay-at-home mom, full-time entrepreneur girlboss and wife I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. These are 10 things I know for sure.

1) Work life balance is hard but necessary.
It’s so easy to head back onto the computer when you work from home. You know there’s a long list of emails and clients waiting for their sessions and sometimes that mounting stress is hard to deal with. Without set times that are ‘work times’ it can get out of control really quickly. We need time to recover to do our best work. This is true for anyone, but especially creatives. I’ve made plenty of mistakes by not allowing myself the time to recharge. Find the right amount of sessions that fits you, your family and allows you the time to take care of yourself as well as build a career. Don’t take more sessions just because you can.

2) Self-care needs to be a priority.
Going for a run, taking a sweaty hot yoga class, getting enough sleep, reading, eating well… these are the things that make me feel like me. I’m no good to anyone else if I’m grumpy, anxious, tired and worn out. It can sometimes feel like selfishness, but as I’ve taken the baby steps towards taking care of myself again, I’ve seen that it benefits everyone when momma is happy!

3) Personal work sparks creativity.
It’s hard to find the time for personal work sometimes, but I’ve found that when I have no expectations of myself and I’m just playing, I am much more creative. Ideas are sparked and I just have fun doing it! You can use that work to create a new niche for yourself, or just to make sure you maintain the passion and love you have for your craft.

4) Don’t compare yourself to others.
No one is you and that is your power. You have a unique view of the world, sharing that view is how you will find our own style. It’s fun to try out other styles to see what fits, and over years your style will change… but staying true to yourself and what feels right for you is how you will be the most successful. Now when I look at other photographers work it’s with a supportive spirit. It’s important to support each other, to value each other’s work, but to not compare ourselves in a negative way.

5) Never stop learning.
There is always room for growth and creative development. For me, that’s what makes this life interesting. Create challenges for yourself, join a group, take an online course. Some of my favourite shots of my kids have come from taking online workshops that force me to look for new and interesting ways to shoot.

6) Forget safety.
The only way to be great at something is to do it before you’re ready. To risk not being good at something is hard for me, but what fun is life if it’s only lived in your comfort zone? The only way to find out is to try! I’ve been playing around with food photography lately. I’m not great at it yet, but it’s fun and I’m learning something new. Why not right!?

7) Love yourself, but know not everyone will love you.
The world is made up of all kinds of people and that’s what makes it interesting. Not everyone will like you, and that’s ok. Not everyone will like my work, and that’s ok. Be thankful for who you are now, and keep fighting for who you want to be tomorrow.

8) Choose happiness.
When life gets hard it’s easy to get down. Finding gratitude, choosing joy and deciding to be happy regardless of your situation is so important. We get to choose, every day, who we are and what we believe in.

9) Hustle.
I think it’s a bit of a myth that once you find something you love and are passionate about, the rest is history. Success just finds you… Uh no. You have to learn to market yourself, get comfortable talking about money, put yourself out there on social media. Success doesn’t just come… you have to hustle and work hard to be successful. Being your own boss is awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But it certainly doesn’t come without a lot of work.

10) Value yourself and your work.
Price yourself so that you are in line with others at your level. There are a lot of great workshops out there that talk about how to find your pricing and how to value your work. My personal path has been to do portfolio work when I’m starting something new and not charge at all for it. That way I don’t have to ‘raise’ my prices once I’m ready to charge the industry standard for it.

I certainly don’t know it all. I’m learning as I go… but these are a few things that I’ve been able to reflect on and change as I start a new chapter of my career and life. I get to choose what I want to do and be in control of the amount of work I take on. This will always be something I have to balance, but it’s worth it!

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