Life, Lately // Fall 2019
So… it’s been a little while since I graced this space with my words. This past year has been a big one, and on top of simply feeling like my time and attention were torn in so many directions, I also struggled to find my voice once I became a mom.
But I’m in a place now where I’m ready to dive back in and resume sharing in this little online space of mine. I miss writing and having an outlet for what I’m working on or lessons I want to share, I miss telling stories in a longer form than the tiny squares we all have a love/hate relationship with.
I figured the best way to do that would be to start with a little life update. Consider this a peek into my past year…
We welcomed our daughter, Nova.
Chances are you already knew this, especially since it’s been almost a year now, and Nova has changed just about everything for us. My day-to-day has shifted, and likely will continue to with every new stage we enter. New schedules, new responsibilities, new priorities. I’ve never felt a love like the love I have for Nova, but I’ve also never struggled as much as an individual, navigating this new role and all the change it’s brought.
Though I have no intention for this space to become a “mommy blog”, I’ve also embraced the fact that who I am and what I do now is so intertwined with being a mom, so there’s going to be some crossover, and I’m finding this new part of my identity has also sparked a shift in my work, whether that’s through more kids’ focused content on The Mom Lists, or simply a desire to narrow in on work that lights me up. So stay tuned for that shift, which is likely to follow in the direction I’ve taken with my instagram.
I underestimated how hard it would be to run a business and be a working, stay-at-home mom.
Not just in the attempt to find balance between it all (spoiler alert: there’s no such thing), but in a deep down, incredibly personal, “who am I?” way. As someone who has always been largely self-defined by “what I do” and placed most of my self-worth in my work (which is a lesson in and of itself), when that role shifted for me and my work hours were cut down, I fell into a dark place and my mental health suffered. I’m going to save this for another post, because I think it is so important for us to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety as new moms, especially given how alone I felt during this period and how unsure I was about what I was experiencing. But know that that’s coming soon.
It didn’t help that my depression clouded over me at the beginning of a new year, in the middle of winter in a city that I still felt very new and alone in. One of the most unexpected aspects of becoming a mom for me was the isolation I would experience. I’m introverted and shy by nature, so it can take me awhile to make new friends, especially in a season that feels like it’s working against you, daring you to venture outside amidst what felt like weekly snowstorms and ice-slicked sidewalks.
My work has always ebbed and flowed with clients’ varying needs and timelines and the various demands of a project or its scope. But I also experienced some really big shifts in client relationships that had been long-running and key to my business model and overall workflow. With those changes, I not only felt the financial repercussions, but also couldn’t help but take it somewhat personally — which yes, might be a fault of mine, but the reality all the same. Running my own little creative agency, I’m often an extended team member on larger teams, and I realized that that external position didn’t actually provide me with long term security as these teams dealt with their own shifts.
So for various reasons — including the fact that my week’s now have less time dedicated to work as I balance motherhood, I have fewer monthly commitments to past retainer clients and I’m slowly gaining clarity about what I really want to be doing, we come to my next update:
My business continues to shift — and I think I’m finally realizing (and embracing?) that this will continue to happen, and I may even prefer it this way.
I’m working less in the social media-specific space (ie. creating content calendars and running accounts) and more on the brand design, visual strategy, and creative direction space. It’s not necessarily a change in what I do, but more of a shift in how it comes to life, or how I work with my clients. So you’ll see that begin to infiltrate the website and my portfolio as I also (finally!) share more of what I’ve been working on as well.
I used to find and dedicate time to create for my own business, and that’s something I’m creating space for once again. More writing, more playing, more creative challenges and more photo shoots.
I’ll be giving this site a little (long overdue) refresh, and relaunching my services.
The first step was finding my flow with blogging again (hi!), and now I’m working on getting this site to a point where it reflects the work I’ve done and the work I want to be doing. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself for a huge revamp — I think I probably speak for a lot of you when I say that it’s often working on my own business that falls to the wayside first with everything else that life and work demands. So it’ll likely be tackled in small steps, or page by page, as my vision becomes more clear — and I have the “free” time to dedicate to it.
We bought our first house — and therefore moved (again).
Long story short, we found out about two weeks after Nova was born (and after being in our rented house for about six months), that the owners were selling. They had bought the house shortly before we moved in, so this was not something we were expecting, and needless to say, it threw us for a loop, as we were planning on staying there for awhile. The next six months were filled with unknowns, daily viewings, and a lot of stress because of it all as we found ourselves in this weird limbo of not knowing if we were going to stay there or not.
But then we finally had a few things shift into our favour and we were able to make the leap and buy our own place. And here we are, now about five months in.
For the first time, I really, truly feel like we’re creating a home for ourselves. Obviously when you own there’s a whole new level of permanence, and I think because of all the change we’ve experienced over the past couple of years, both personally and professionally, I’m finally ready to feel settled and to pay particular attention to designing a space that works for our family, both in form and function. Because of how much time I, in particular, spend at home, it’s become increasingly important to me that we have a space that we love, that feels like us and serves our needs. And because I’m a mom in her early thirties now (aka, an adult with real responsibilities — and yes, I’m being somewhat sarcastic here…), I have fully embraced my inner organizational nerd and have discovered a newfound love for baskets, drawer organizers and finding the elusive balance and absolute necessity of both open shelving and hidden storage. All kidding aside though — I’m completely serious. Room by room and corner by corner, I’m on a mission to find a spot for everything in our home, whether it’s decorative and out on display, or hidden away because it serves a purpose but isn’t so pretty.
You’ve likely already noticed more home details and decor inspo creep into my social feeds, and I’m planning on fully embracing that and likely carrying that over onto the blog as well. I see it as fairly aligned for a number of reasons. Firstly, because my business is really about visual storytelling and lifestyle branding, and I think interiors play such a strong role in that. More and more I’m working on projects that involve creating a 360° brand experience (which I absolutely love), and so whether designing a space is actually within the scope of a project or not, chances are there are at least a few interior shots popping up on the moodboards and inspiring the direction, and we’re likely having discussions about what a branded space could look like. And secondly, I’ve been working with a number of super talented clients in the interior design, property styling, home decor etc. space, and I am here for it.
I decided to move my studio back home.
A few months before Nova was born, I moved into a private studio in a coworking space in downtown Hamilton, a 10 minute walk from home. And it was perfect for what I needed it to be at that point. I was shooting a lot of monthly social media content at that point that required more space and ample prop storage — both of which I was able to take advantage of in the new space. I craved separation between home and work, and the reality was that the house we were renting just didn’t accommodate that.
But then a few things happened: We moved farther away from the studio and I lost two monthly clients and had one scale back significantly (which meant losing those retainers I was accustomed to). It also became pretty clear to me that the two days a week I had with childcare, and that were therefore dedicated to work, was probably going to be my reality for awhile, and that didn’t really justify having an out-of-home space, especially since we had the space in the new house. I was feeling guilty when I wasn’t at the studio, and the cost just didn’t make sense. So I moved out at the end of June, and though my home “studio” is still a work-in-progress and you’ll find me most days working from the dining table or shooting wherever the light is best, it was the right decision, for now.
Lastly — and as I’ve kind of alluded to throughout this update, this space will continue to reflect my shifting work-life balance.
I’m not sure exactly what this will look like, but I’m excited about it and feeling inspired again for the first time in awhile, and it was important for me to wait until I felt that spark again. I have a number of projects on the horizon that I can’t wait to embark on, and I’m excited to take you along behind the scenes again as those come to life.
So thank you — for sticking around, for being part of my community, and for sharing this journey with me.
Image: From a soon-to-be released creative with Jo-Anne Haley.