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Well, it’s officially here.

Twenty-fourteen came rushing in like a hurricane and eight days later I’m finally (mostly) ready to talk about it.

2013 was a beautiful year; genuinely the best year of my life thus far. But it wasn’t without hardships, massive failures and really difficult conversations with family and friends (at times, it felt like, on repeat). I think, though, that is why it was so beautiful. The fact that despite the heartache & hurt, there was growth, (metaphoric) new life and such beauty in the ruins.

I shot less. Lived more. Pursued a passion. Traveled. Spent so many wonderful evenings with friends. Truly loved Jesus. Gained what is a mildly respectable Editorial Client List. Took a solid two week vacation(slash)staycation. Failed. Hard. And a lot. Explored. Photographed the most amazing weddings, families, homes and people. Coordinated beautiful parties. Found out that I love beautiful parties. Got my priorities straight. Fell in love with babies. Celebrated eight incredible years of marriage and 30 crazy years of life. 

You may remember last year, I made the bold statement that I had realized that my definition of success within my business had nothing to do with money,  but had everything to do with the people I was lucky enough to meet, the clientele I was privileged enough to work with and the ability to focus my business on the connections that made my heart soar. If that was my life altering realization in 2012, then 2013 was the year of fully living in that fact.

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Maybe it’s the decade switch (hellooooooooooooo 30) that brought about the introspection, maybe it’s just a matter of a priority shift or maybe – and likely – it’s a reflection of the things I failed (miserably) at in 2013 but I find myself starting 2014 with a healthy desire to simplify life just a little bit more.

Monday I walked into my office and, for the first time this year, sat down behind my desk, pen in hand and ready to do this. Just like every year in recent memory, I started a running list of things I wanted out of 2014: Even less shooting. Even more living. Even more passion. Even more incredible partnerships & contributions. More vacation days. Buy less. Save more. LOVE MY CLIENTS LIKE WOAH. And love my family & friends even more. Be kind. Work smarter. Read more. Jesus before everything. More spontaneity.

Those are stellar wishes, right? Right. But without concrete steps to make those concepts & ideals a reality they are just nice thoughts. And, no offense to nice thoughts, but they are empty without planned action.

And if there’s one thing I know, I am a rockstar at planning some serious action. Here, we go.

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This past year was, by far, my most definitively successful year to date; in both terms as I define success and as my accountant defines success. For both reasons, I am unendingly thankful.

What often goes unmentioned in the “I’m Starting a Business” thrill is that being a business owner often feels like marathon of progression and, true to form, I’m likely never going to be 100% content with where my brands are at even after years as great as this last one. However, this year is the first year that I realized that my undying need for progress is actually healthy (as long as I can keep my perfectionist tendencies in check) and that complacency equals certain death in an industry like ours.

Woah. Woah. Woah. I just said death in my “YAY 2014!” blogpost. I know. It’s a strong statement but honestly. Growth is both equal parts amazing and empirically hard but without it, we face stagnancy. So, in efforts to thwart static growth here’s a little peek at what is on the (ever-developing) list of Oho Business Improvements for 2014:

1. Blog more. (Photos. Brand Strategy. Personal Stuff. Successes. Failures. Just more everything.)
2. Streamline my packaging process.
3. Create an Oho Brands Webpage to add to the website.
4. Boldly submit my work to publications I’m dying to be published in.
5. Read one business related book a month.
6. More Styled Shoots.

(Are you guys as pumped up as I am? Because, REALLY. I AM.)

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Gaining a sense of balance in my life was my Great Goal of 2013. In so many ways, I KILLED IT. Major priority shifts. Better calendar planning. More time with Matt. Less time with social media. A TWO WEEK VACATION(slash)STAYCATION. But in so many other ways? I really, really failed. Time with either side of our family was either basically non-existent or not-focused. I read a total of 5 books this year and 3 of those were over Christmas break. My “hobbies” became trying to balance two new businesses and therefore equaled NO HOBBIES AT ALL.

A friend recently challenged my “balance” resolution saying that she didn’t believe that there was such a thing as a true balance in life; that it’s become a thing that women, in particular, feel they should be constantly striving for but never actually can achieve. (She also called me boring for wanting a sense of balance BUT WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT OK?)

I’m still working out my feelings about what she said (except for the boring thing, I KNOW MY FEELINGS about the boring piece) but what I do know is that every time I try to think of an example of balance – either a time that someone got it totally right or a time that I got it totally right – I’m stumped. I can’t think of a single one. Ever. Maybe, for me, it’s less balance and just more SPACE. More free evenings. More free weekends. More free time to explore, create, do and learn. More room for spontaneous days spent with friends. More time for leisure reading. More room for just…everything.

So the big question is how, right? How do you do this when extra time is already a luxury?

Here’s my plan:

1. Say yes to people, projects & clients that inspire.
2. Say no to people, projects & clients that don’t.

Is that harsh? Maybe.

Is it necessary? Completely.

I don’t want to sound like a big jerk but if the past 10 years of our lives are any indication, life is only going to get busier and infinitely more complicated. And gosh darn it, I want to do things like take a class on calligraphy and have time for spontaneous lunches and happy hours when the opportunity arises and I want to get back into dance classes and learn how to paint and travel to see our families more. And I want more lazy movie nights and time to read more books and feel inspired and have extra love to lavish on those around me, including the ones I love the most.

So, I’m doing it. I’m saying no to more things and yes to the things that create joy & life.

Instead of balance, this year I am striving for more S P A C E.

And just so we’re all on the same page? We have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce.

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One last thing.

To my astoundingly incredible 2013 clients? I LOVE EACH ONE OF YOU TO INFINITY. Thank you for trusting me, loving me and for just being the most amazing people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing.

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(9) Comments

  1. Krista Earl

    Sweet Friend,

    You know I adore you, I am proud of you, and I love you dearly. I loved this post so much, and you know how there are some people you just really want to see get everything and anything they ever desire? That is how I feel about you. So go get ’em – I know with all my heart you will succeed.


  2. I think balance is a total fantasy, and chasing it is a recipe for disaster. Juggling my biz, kids, and husband has taught me that the best I can do is put the most time/effort into the things that matter the most. Everything else be damned (within reason, obviously).

  3. Stunning images and beautiful recap and goals! I remember one of the times we worked together this year and you told me that for you it was all about work that inspired. I love that and think of it often when I’m taking work now. Sometimes I have to say “yes” because of money, but more often than not, I think about it long and hard before deciding. I also always choose to work with others (like you) who I get joy working with, people who are kind and forgiving and smart and creative and genuinely good people. Can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring for you and CAN’T wait to work with you again soon!

  4. Yeah, this kicked my butt. So focused and inspiring. LOVE the goals, agree with the balance thing for sure, and am now thinking maybe I really WILL take time to make my goals, instead of just adding it to my daily to do list and pretending it’s not there :) LOVE YOU!

  5. Amy

    Rah you! Now go relax a little and soak it all in :)

  6. Yes to this all. xoxox.

  7. I could really relate to your post. I try to remind myself that it is all about the JOURNEY not the DESTINATION. I wish you love, peace and much success (as YOU define it) in 2014