2018 has been one of my best years ever and not because everything went perfectly. Lots of scary and unexpected things happened that forced me to step outside my comfort zone and face my fears and anxiety. But because I did all those things, I was able to grow, change, and experience things that I would never have had the opportunity to do if I had stayed in my comfort zone.
I am not the most naturally positive person you’ll ever meet… In the past (and let’s be honest… I still struggle with this) I have tended to focus more on what’s going wrong then what’s going right. It’s taken me years to see this, but lots of times the “bad” things that happened were actually setting the stage for something amazing to happen. I see that over and over again already when I look back at my life.
One of my goals for 2019 is to continuing working on being positive and cultivating gratitude. I think a really good way to start working on that goal is looking back at this year and making note of all the highlights and situations I grew from. So here they are…
Starting the Year Off With a Crash
The first week of January I had to say goodbye to my first car, Laci (Yes. I name everything). She was a great first car. She was relatively cheap, relatively safe, and had relatively good gas mileage. The very last thing I was thinking of when I left for work that Tuesday morning was getting in a car accident… There I was sitting at a red light, minding my own business, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat when I got hit from behind (at about 35-40 mph…) and the back of my car was demolished. I’m so thankful no one got seriously hurt (although I can now say from personal experience that whiplash isn’t fun.), but Laci wasn’t as lucky. She was totaled.
The bright side of this is that I got more money for Laci then I paid for her and was able to buy the car I’ve always wanted, but wasn’t able to afford the first time around! 🙂
Meet Phoebe, my Kia Soul.
I’m going to give the condensed version of this, because it could take a whole blog post to explain everything that happened over the last 4 years that got me to this point.
The short story is that I had a very serious wrist injury 4 years ago. We didn’t know it at the time, but I actually had a detached ligament. The way my ligament was torn off the bone was very uncommon and not at all what we expected to find in surgery. I’m going to omit the gory details incase anyone else is squeamish like me – we’ll just say that what they had to do to fix it wasn’t pretty. The good news is that painkillers are GREAT, for a short period of time. Then they just make you sick.
I spent the following 6 weeks post surgery in a long-arm cast and during that time I learned that: cast claustrophobia is a very real thing, it is extremely humbling to not be able to take a shower or wash your own hair without help, I am very prone to overestimating my own abilities, and my Mom has the patience of a SAINT- I don’t think she has had to deal with that many meltdowns since my sister and I were toddlers.
I started rehab the same day I got out of my cast with almost ZERO degrees of movement in my wrist in any direction and very little grip strength. But after 6 weeks of intense therapy (with my amazing therapist Cheryl!) I was discharged with about 60-75% movement back in my wrist, I was able to lift 5lbs, and my grip strength was back to about 50%! I am also expected to make a full and complete recovery, which after being told I was permanently injured and four years of chronic pain was definitely the best news I got all year!
I am so incredibly thankful for all the amazing doctors (if you’re in Augusta and you need a wrist specialist- go see Dr. Simeon Fulcher, he’s the best. And if you just need a good orthopedist- go see Dr. David Minter, he’s the one who determined there was something really wrong and sent me to Dr. Fulcher), nurses, and my therapist that took such good care of me.
Went Full-time With Photography
Because my surgery ended up being much more involved then originally thought, the time off I needed to recover (amongst other things) created a conflict with my part-time job and I ended up having to put in my resignation. This was a terrifying decision at first, but I stepped out in faith and being able to devote my full attention to my business has opened doors I would have never been able to go through had I stayed at my part-time job.
One of the perviously mentioned doors that opened was travel, with my new wide open schedule I was able to go almost anywhere. This year alone I traveled to Denver, Cape Cod, Fripp Island, Nashville, New York City, Philadelphia, AND Boston!! My travel bug has officially been woken up and I’m super excited about some trips I’m already planning for 2019!
One of the best parts of my life is my little snuggle bug that calls me “AJ”. There are times that I wish she didn’t make as much noise as she does… (Like early in the mornings- Auntie J is not a morning person.) but it’s all easily forgotten when she comes and climbs in bed with me to watch Daniel Tiger. (If you’d like, I can sing the theme song for you!) I was in the room when she was born and I photographed her first breath, so I’m very excited to get to do the same for the next little munchkin who’s due in June.
Julie Paisley Workshop
Most of my photography education has been through online courses I’ve purchased, but in the spring I took the leap and signed up for Julie’s Styling to be Published workshop. I’ve never been happier about stepping outside my comfort zone, because this workshop has been a huge turning point for me in my business. Julie gave us an inside look into how to style details on weddings days, why it’s so important, and what publications look for in submissions. PLUS- we got to photograph a styled shoot (Yes. We got to watch the master at work. It was incredible.) I walked away from those two days in Nashville so encouraged, so confident, and so excited for what lies ahead. If you’re a photographer looking to further invest in your education- RUN, don’t walk, and sign up for one of her classes or workshops. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself or your business.
I turned 21 in May, but the whole family had a lot going on at the time- so we postponed any big celebration and went to Fripp Island in October as a half birthday/half family vacation. I don’t think any of us realized how much we need that break until we got there. 7 days of laying on the beach, breakfast on the porch, and hunting for seashells at low tide.
Chloe & Coco
This is also the year I got my crazy cat lady starter pack!! 😉 For as long as I can remember there have always been cats in our house. We’ve had 9 over the course of my life and most of them have adopted us and not the other way around… we don’t know what it is about us, but we attract strays. We’ve been feeding a stray cat in our neighborhood (while attempting to catch her so she can be spayed) and one day she showed up with 2 little kittens after multiple attempts to catch the kittens we finally got them inside and took them to be fixed. We tried finding homes for them, but everything kept falling through and I ended up becoming attached to them… (surprise surprise). So I adopted them and one day when I move out, they’ll come with me and we’ll be our own little family. <3
Looking forward to everything ahead in 2019! Happy New Year!
Styled Shoot Vendor Credits
Creative Direction: RSVP Events | Lead Photographer and Mentor: Julie Paisley | Venue: Riverwood Mansion | Floral Design: Melissa Broadwell | Bridal Gown: Carol Hannah | Hair and Makeup: Leslie Ellis | Paper Goods & Calligraphy: Wood & Grace | Table Linens: La Tavola | Shoes: Bella Belle Shoes | Tabletop Rentals: White Glove Rentals | Rings & Ring Boxes: Rough Luxe Jewelry | Cake: Copper Whisk Cakes | Menswear: Street Tuxedo | Furniture Rentals: Grand Central Party Rental | Bride Model: Alexandra Madar | Groom Model: David Joniak