As I think forward to what 2022 might have in store for myself, my brand and the people I get to live this life with, I can’t help but to think back on the lessons, missteps and adventures from 2021.
What’s funny is, that while I am a person of words, I have to look back at photos to really wrap my head around the year. Where did I go? What did I do? What did I feel? It’s the images that remind me of the story I want to tell to you.
Like many of you know, I’m a dog person and I know that more than I know anything else. (Literally before I could put the period on that sentence, my dog, who was sunbathing on this cold January day, started barking. Now she’s inside wandering around while I finish my thought.)
2020, like I share about in this post, brought the loss of my soul dog. That loss brought more grief and depth than I knew existed. And while I made strides in healing towards the end of 2020, the pain and growth continued into 2021.
So, to root myself back to life, and to ensure that I didn’t just work for fun, I adopted a puppy. Surely a puppy would both heal me and and prevent burnout, right? She came home on New Year’s Day, which felt like the fresh start I needed. (I’m secretly a bit sentimental and superstitious so that had to be a good omen even though she was supposed to be a rescue adoption for Christmas.)
Nutmeg, named for her pumpkin spice personality from her birth month of October, was a hard puppy. A teether and a fighter, she consistently made her presence known and I could hardly get a cuddle out of her! Gone were the nights of uninterrupted sleep and days that were fully my own. She was no senior dog and with a life ahead of her, she had the energy to match.
Getting a puppy felt like starting a business or attempting a rebrand — it looks inspiring and beautiful, but it takes so much work. Discovering who she was and what she needed felt like the brand discovery process I have with clients, but without words, there were canyons between our understandings of one another.
But when we stuck to routines, took time to play and faced the wild nature of life, we figured some things out. Nowadays, she’s my office guard dog — sleeping most of the day and occasionally resting on the bench next to my desk that looks out the window. And I’m happy to report that she fulfilled one of my selfish purposes for adopting another dog — we get daily walks, plenty of breaks and some good sunshine-soaking moments at lunch time. (These are the things I struggled to do without a dog at my side because I could work nonstop! That was a burnout recipe.)
Between puppy training and work, I took to the ocean to recover and rest. A trip in March to Carmel by the Sea in California was intoxicating. It was one of those places I had heard of when I was younger, secretly wishing to visit, but never quite certain that it would happen. It also happened to be that town’s first few days with in-person dining (from COVID restrictions) and we felt lucky to travel, eat and enjoy life like that once again. Exploring the windy coast of Big Sur (inspired by content I had written for Heather Anderson Photography) was breathtaking.
And yet, behind the scenes, I was still exhausted. My mental stress became physical pain — stiffness and pain in my fingers, hands and even in my feet. I pushed through it, and a year later, am just barely beginning to work with doctors to identify what’s really going on. But I took the first steps and that felt so good, even if it took me over a year to listen to my body.
Of course, like a lot of entrepreneurs, I’m really good at serving others and giving my all, saving almost nothing for my own personal endeavors. I became SO guilty of the burnout and lack of creative nourishment I had sworn I would avoid. It turns out that you can get tired, even with your own business; it’s not reserved just for the corporate world.
I hired my first-ever business coach and she wasn’t even a business coach. She was a stress coach, and she helped me realize that I was the only one who could prioritize self-care, learning and creativity for myself. Emma had shared similar loss in her life and as someone who used to be a copywriter too, it was such a relief to share and grow with her. I attribute a lot of my healing and just-for-fun creative content to her.
One of the hardest parts of my journey the last few years has been the inability to travel, due to pandemic concerns. As someone who is 50% a home body and 50% a wanderer, that was hard. It was the one thing I hoped to tap into for healing, and it was impossible.
I went 21 months without traveling to Europe, and the only reason I got in after 21 months was because I’m married to a German. I literally had to show my marriage certificate at the airport before they would let me go through security.
I get chills thinking about this because it makes me so grateful. Mary, a hotel photographer and now friend, has always been a kindred spirit to me. We connected back in 2019, worked on her website in January of 2021 and met in person in September. I barely saw the city because I was so engrossed in our conversation, as if we had known each other forever.
Katie from The Kate Collective and I have long been business partners of sorts (or business besties is you prefer). We’ve worked on countless projects — I write the copy and she designs the brands and websites for the most amazing clients. So, naturally, when I wanted to host a business retreat, I flew to Phoenix to brainstorm the day away with Katie. It was needed.
You may not know it, but my first role out of college was at a chamber of commerce. It was the local business hub with weekly events, mentorship opportunities, conferences and so much more. It was heaven when it comes to connection and community. In contrast, working from home as an entrepreneur in the middle of a pandemic felt like complete isolation. So when the chance came to partner up with my local chapter for Global Entrepreneurship Week, I leaped. I brought branded notebooks, arranged for coffee and taught brand messaging to a small group. And it won’t be the last time.
Words can’t even begin to describe this brand photoshoot with Rudney and that’s coming from a copywriter! Rudney is also a Salted Pages client from way back in early 2020! We’ve become good friends over the last couple of years. When I finally made it out to DC to meet him and take some photos, our hair and makeup artist thought we had surely already met in person because of the way we both spoke about each other. Spending time with Rudney and getting to experience his photography style firsthand was incomparable. He even surprised me with a whole rack of clothing to wear for the shoot from Linda Ha Events! I cannot wait to spend more time with Rudney’s beautiful soul. These photos felt like a handcrafted gift and well, they really are with the way he works.
I’ve dreamed about this for a while and this year, that dream came true! Thanks to design help and print advice from Elby Creative, I now have custom brand boxes and messaging guides, along with chocolate greeting cards (from Sweeter Cards!). I adore finding the cutest gifts for my clients and it all comes packaged just perfectly (for custom copy clients).
Oh and you bet that everyone (including coaching clients) gets a little salted caramel at least!
We saw a floorplan and a plot of dirt back in March, and moved into a new home on the last day of September. I was too afraid to share as it was built, worried that it would fall through, that my business wouldn’t be seen as reliable to the banks. But here we are, living in a quieter town with a gorgeous home and the relief that entrepreneurship can be just as dependable as any other job. It’s crazy to think that I’m the primary homeowner because of Salted Pages, and I’ll never not be grateful for that.
We bought our first home back in 2019 and didn’t plan on moving again so soon, but our first neighborhood had a lot of crime and made me feel so unsafe for so long. That lack of security was really eye-opening, but we had the sweetest neighbors who made me feel more peace when my airline husband left the pup and I alone for days at a time.
The city, the accents, the public transportation that is somehow seductive with its ease of access. Exploring this city split my heart into two because it felt like I should be living there.
Going into my fourth year of full-time entrepreneurship feels so much more intimidating than the first few. Perhaps I’m more aware of the pains and the untapped potential. Or maybe I’m worried about falling below a standard that I’ve set for myself. It’s funny how imposter syndrome can turn into feeling like an imposter as yourself. So please bear with me as I share from the heart.
While working on my husband’s resume the other day, I ended up venturing into my own resume and past emails from my life as a university student. I was so bold and committed. Reading those words, words that were once mine — it felt like they were written by someone who was dauntless, but also a bit naive. I think all of us are naive in someway, but now, I do believe I’m more aware, more rooted. And it’s those roots that I want to be more vulnerable with.
Michael Hyatt said, “More often than not, being brave means doing it scared.” That’s how I want to run my business. As someone who is raw and more willing to connect with the hidden and unpolished versions of ourselves. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my first project for the year of 2022 is rooted in a story of grief, of a photographer who lost her sister and who uses that pain to further her work’s impact.
Along with being real, I want to dare a little. I want to step more into the unknown, to try other paths that I previously avoided because my comfort zone was too inviting. I want to step into foreign territory with my eyes wide, my heart-rate up and my soul on fire. This might mean hiring a team (so Salted Pages can grow beyond my own calendar limits) or selling digital products or hosting masterminds. I don’t known yet which direction I’ll go, but I know that I’m ready for a direction that takes me away from the dimensions of previous years.
I almost titled this as a goal to fall in love, and that is accurate too. I want to fall in love with life again — to feel curious, to dream and to play. To experience the contrasting depths of it all. I’ve often said that I can’t fully tell the stories of others if I don’t experience my own. So that means I need to take the reins on what happens day in and day out. I’m going to unplug more, spend more time in nature and look around for the paths not taken.
Thanks for being here, and for making this path, whatever it looks like, feel less lonely.