lessons learned, 2016.

lessons learned, 2016.

No.1: Everyone says to find your tribe and I agree 100% that having a community to support you is key to living a fulfilled life. Although, I feel like most people use the phrase to be exclusionary. The kind of thought that once you find your tribe, that's it. What I have found this year, is that the way your tribe evolves and grows is almost a direct reflection of the love and light that you are putting out into the world. This year I grew closer with friends I've known longer than I've not, I've made an entirely new set of friendships, and some friendships have taken on  smaller, though no less important roles. I will say that this represents substantial growth from my perspective last year. Some experiences last year left me carrying jaded views into 2016, but I've been throwing grace around like confetti to every relationship I have and learning the importance of meeting people where they are. It's a lot easier to approach relationships with love when you aren't projecting who you want someone to be on them but instead love the heck out of them just where they are. 

No.2: Being honest with yourself isn't easy but it's necessary. We all have little stories that we tell ourselves for some reason or another. Maybe it's something to excuse away bad behavior from your past or a little lie you've convinced yourself is truth out of habit. This year I really worked hard to start chipping away at my truth and understand why I behave the way I do. Why am I quick to say no? Why have allowed myself to hold on to resentment? Why am I not motivated to create the life I want for myself? The answers (and actions you take) after asking yourself the hard questions, help you become the person you were meant to be. And if you're really feeling brave, present your short comings to someone you love and trust and have them help keep you accountable for working on better habits. I do this almost daily with Mike. I try to explain my actions or shortcomings in our marriage and then ask for forgiveness, guidance, or acceptance over and over again. It has been extremely healing and encouraging.

No.3: Fear can't run your life. I have had a lot of big ideas this year. Many, I haven't seen even a quarter of the way through. I give up before I even get started out of fear that my idea or product won't be received well. Mike and I recently took a trip to Puerto Rico. While we were waiting for our connecting flight in Tampa, I spotted a book I've been meaning to read, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, Gilbert likens her goal to live a create life as a road trip with herself, creativity, and fear. She continues to describe the trip and speak directly to fear, stating that he is welcome to come along on the trip but that he can not call the shots. While reading her words I realized that on my current journey, fear is in the drivers seat. Steering me away from opportunities, blasting the music too loud, and making it easy to lose focus. So my goal for next year is to be intentional. I want to be intentional about the life I'm creating without succumbing to fear. 

No.4: Stop saying no out of cowardice. This kind of piggybacks off of point No.3 but it seriously needs to be stated over again. This year I said no to so many things that I didn't even realize it until the last days of December. I was looking at all the creatives I follow put together their 'Best of 2016' posts only to realize that I only shot like 3 times. Three. All year. And I didn't even feel bad about it until I realized why. I was 'Cowardly Lion'ing' my life. Friends reached out to me for design work and the answer was an automatic no. Followed by something like I just had a baby or my 9 to 5 is stress enough. People reach out to me to shoot their moments and the no's followed there as well. I was afraid that whatever I did wouldn't live up to what people thought I could do. That's crazy! They were coming to me because they had saw something I'd previously done or just down right believed in me and I was shooting them down with a 'no' that was pretty much saying I know you believe in me but I don't believe in myself. That almost brings tears to type. But it's true and I'm working on kicking that habit of 'no'. Good riddance. 

No.5: Love yourself, now. Like in this moment, period. So let me share a little bit about my personal struggle. When I get pregnant, I know I am going to be sick for 10 months. And while I loathe throwing up every morning, part of me likes it because I get to stay small and not pack on the pounds. During both of my pregnancies, I delivered not weighing more than 15 pounds of the weight I started at. None of this is to brag, but to help you understand where the insecurities come from. The weeks spent breast feeding the boys are even better! The pounds drop and in no time I'm skinnier than I was before the pregnancy and I put the completely unrealistic goal of staying that small on top of an ideal that is far to fragile to attain. But of course the weight creeps back up leaving me feeling like I let someone down. Who? IDK. The Internet telling me it's natural to snapback? Y'all. Can we leave in 2016 all versions of any word that make a woman feel like she has to rush to not look like she JUST HAD A BABY? The pressure to be fit right after you have a baby is terrifying and ridiculous. I have had to remind myself constantly that how I am right now, is not only enough, but it's perfect. Belly over the top of my jeans, perfection. I take a selfie for myself in every moment that I'm feeling down right gorgeous. One with the tummy sucked in and then one with it all hanging out. I'm going to do it until I feel like both versions of myself are sexy, desirable, and bad ass. If you get to feeling down about yourself I say you do it with me. We don't have to swap selfies or anything but let me know if it helps! It's doing a lot to help me love myself as I am, right now.

So there we have it. 2016 seemed to really fly by without much of an impact but I guess all it took was a little bit of reflection for me to truly feel the weight it dropped on my shoulders. Here's to chipping away at making 2017 the best year yet. 

+ Photo above taken by Stephanie She