'Bout To Get Reallll Vulnerable

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm queen of the longest captions ever. I decided at the start of this thing that I wanted a personal brand, because I didn't want to strive and be something I'm not. I just wanted to create a space where I'm free to share about life and be an inspiration and encouragement in the normal, day-to-day. But, for the first time ever, I actually ran out of space for a caption from my last post and it was a pretty obvious clue that my thoughts were probably better fit for my blog. It's been two month's since my last blog post anyways, so why not.

So, where the heck has Taylor been? I’m sure you’ve wondered that or maybe you haven’t because I just like to think I’m more important than I probably am. I’m still here, and here’s a quick piece of my heart.

I opened my website to write this blog to see I have 9, NINE, unfinished blog posts and if that isn’t the perfect preface to this whole post, I don’t know what is. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 3 months on a rollercoaster ride. So many highs, so many galleries out the door, so many new clients, and so many new projects that haven’t even been announced yet. I’ve also had a lot of lows, a lot of sleepless nights with little direct payoff, a lot of foregone time with my people because this type of business demands a lot of time and TLC, and even the best and most efficient workflow doesn’t eliminate the effort required to make this dream a reality.

You’re judged on price first, skill and equipment second, despite the amount of effort you pour in to be sure you’re able to give it all you’ve got.

You’re thrown into a constant state of competition, even if your intention is true community with your neighboring business owners.

Something as simple as a referral to potential clients without your name on immediately feels like a confidence kick and you're stuck spending valuable energy wondering where you went wrong.

Your intentions are so, so good, but expectations are set so high that you’re literally unable to perform flawlessly because perfection is just not real.

And all of this piles even higher the weight you’re expected to carry around, without showing any sign of weakness because weakness doesn’t market quite as good at superwoman does.

That’s all part of being a small business owner. That’s the side of dream-chasing no one really talks about. I’ve spent a lot of time soul searching. I love this business so much, but also launched this business and set my foundational goals during a time when life was much less demanding. Sure, that season of life had it’s own challenges, but my current life looks 150% different than three years ago. I literally have people tell me multiple times per week that they don’t know how I do it. I’ve been labelled the perfect mom, perfect business owner, perfect accountant, and I guess from the outside looking in it’s miraculously looked like a lot less of a circus than it’s really been. Because the truth is, I’ve only been able to achieve both large and small successes over the last few months because my priorities have been straight jacked. up. 

Here’s what I want you to remember:

Behind every mansion is usually a mound of debt.

Behind every fancy car, is usually a hefty payment that is fun to drive until you have to pay for it each month.

Behind every stay at home mom, is usually an overworked husband and a lonely wife that has all but lost her identity beyond motherhood and housework.

Behind every working mom is usually an eternally exhausted woman carrying more guilt than you could imagine.

Behind every Facebook-perfect marriage is sometimes a really ugly one in real life.

And I can assure you that behind every business just like your’s that seems to be more successful than your’s is a human, just like you, who struggles, just like you.

The point is, we’re all human and sure, keeping up with the Jones’ is a real thing we all face. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted to sell my home because it’s average and not a larger, craftsman-style space with perfectly decorated farmhouse interior. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at cars that brake themselves, steer themselves, with seats that perfectly either cool or warm my butt depending on the season, only to feel bad about the pretty basic Honda Pilot I bought used (that was actually my dream car not even a year ago, and I still love her and all of her space!!).

I think the problem is that we all want what we don’t have because we don’t really understand what it takes to have it. Whatever “it” is for you. We all want the next best thing than where we are, and we let those desires steal from us what’s truly important. I’m sure at this point you’re thinking I’m about to announce the closing of LTP, and I’m not. But I have spent a lot of time wondering what in the world changed – this used to feel much easier, natural, I used to feel less tired, I used to feel like I’d nailed work-life balance, and now I find myself suddenly trying to redefine what that looks like for me.

All of that only to realize that nothing on the business front has changed. What’s changed is that I have the most perfect little 17-month-old at home. Three years ago he wasn’t even a thought, a year and a half ago he was so tiny and sleepy and I was down to one job throughout my extended leave. And now he’s his own, little person with a laugh that captivates me every time, with the most beautiful facial structure that I study every time he sleeps, with the sweetest voice that I’ll never tire of hearing with every new word he learns, with a love for playgrounds, dogs, and playing ball, all of which defines me to my core and simply comes first.

As I was rattling off some of the most typical comparisons we face as humans, the one that was easiest to write was the working mom, because I don’t know what it is to own a mansion, a fancy car, or stay home. But I do know that my days are really long and guilt-filled starting from when I have to choose between waking him from peaceful sleep or letting him sleep just to rush him out the door, to drop him off to spend the day with someone else, to try and maintain focus all day when in my head I’m thinking of how much I miss him. When I spend every day wondering if we’ve made the right decision for me to work because it means he will have a financially secure future, but also means missing out on a lot of time together. And then I rush to him at 5:30pm, feeling guilty that I’ve left work on time while some of my staff are still working, only to hurry to try and fit in dinner, bath and play time before bedtime comes just two, short hours later.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

And then photography fills some nights and weekends, and if that makes you tired reading it, you’ve gotten a tiny glimpse at how it feels to live it. About a month ago we reached a stage where he’s really fun to go out and do things with. And by “things” I mean child-friendly things like playgrounds or the pumpkin patch, and not going out to a restaurant 😊 (all mom’s of toddlers say AAAA-MEN!), and I realized that I’ve unintentionally allowed making memories with my people come second to hustling to impress the world.

We live in a day and age where social media is so powerful that it feels like business and social media cannot be mutually exclusive. So we get sucked in, and we never put our phones down because it’s too important to respond to emails in 24 hours, or to post consistently 2-3 times a day. Here’s the deal – in short, I’m concerned with creating beautiful art for those who trust me with their memories, and it was and shouldn’t have ever been about maintaining a perfectly cohesive couple of squares or getting the most likes or shares.

So, where have I been? Where I should’ve been all along. I’ve been working my butt off to provide for my family, and giving every last second I can to the people who define me. I’ve let e-mails slide past the 24 hour mark, I’ve taken the pressure off of blogging every last session and maintaining a perfectly present Instagram account. Because these pressures were preventing me from being the best possible wife, mom, and even business owner that I can be.

At the end of the day, my son and future kids will never thank me for working hard if it comes at the expense of our quality time together. At the end of my life, my God won’t say well done because I hustled hard at the expense of pouring my best self into those I love most. At the end of all of this, what I want YOU to know is that comparison steals a lot of joy if you let it, but you’re still the one in control of how it affects your life. If you’re existing by the standards set by everyone else and choosing to not show yourself grace in these seasons, what and who is being neglected to make that happen?

Are you so beat down in your own juggling act that you've lost yourself? I encourage you to re-prioritize today, to show yourself grace, to walk away from the computer screen you've been staring at for hours, set your phone down and remember that no amount of hustling will ever win the love of Jesus, the love of your family, or your friends. And what is a ton of clients if you lose Jesus, family or friends... or yourself?

Anyways, if you made it to the end of this novel, thank you for being such a supportive pillar of this dream of mine. I simply don't want to be labelled as perfect or put on a show that life is perfect, because that does nothing for anyone going through something hard. So, here's to embracing really inconsistent posting to social media, saying screw it to beating the algorithm that changes 14,000 times a week anyways, and to just continuing to give my best self to everything I do and letting that be good enough. I'm not advocating for you to quit the hustle, I'm encouraging you to not lose sight of the important things in life at the expense of it. Life is way, way too short.

Thanks, as always, for following along on this little dream of mine.

XOXO, Taylor