This is something I’ve subconsciously thought about blogging for a while but I never knew how. It’s a subject that isn’t easy to approach and I knew I would always go at it with caution, but when my bride emailed me back last night– she opened it up for me BEAUTIFULLY. And for that?! Mike and I are so excited to send her a special gift after her wedding day coming up this month..for her kindness, her understanding and her beautiful selfless heart.
Last year I started reading the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington and my world was rocked on so many levels..especially because I started reading it while in the British Virgin Islands for Brittany and Kris’s incredible destination wedding! It was the first time in YEARS I had really opened a book, and started to read. All things that I did for myself and myself alone, like reading, journaling, etc..they were on the back burner for years. And this book was about stopping and taking CARE of yourself. SLEEP MORE. Stopping the overworking, the notifications on your phone demanding your attention 24 hours a day that made you stop other activities to give attention to…and it was also about how as a society, our country has sadly become a place where the more you WORK, the MORE you are celebrated and my friends…this is wrong. One of my favorite quotes from the book says it all: “it is very telling what we don’t hear in eulogies. We almost never hear things like: “The crowning achievement of his life was when he made senior vice president.” Or: “He increased market share for his company multiple times during his tenure.” Or: “She never stopped working. She ate lunch at her desk. Every day.” Or: “He never made it to his kid’s Little League games because he always had to go over those figures one more time.” Or: “While she didn’t have any real friends, she had six hundred Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her in-box every night.” Or: “His PowerPoint slides were always meticulously prepared.” Our eulogies are always about the other stuff: what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our family and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.”
Dear friend…I GET IT. Do not feel guilty, do not blame yourself. Because of the ideology society has created for us, we are MEANT to think these are accolades and they are not. In a recent newsletter I sent to my Boss Ladies + Babies Subscribers, I shared something kind of crazy. A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to go to Australia for business. How beautiful would that have looked on my “resume”..not to mention it’s on my bucket list? I looked at the dates for the event and realized I wouldn’t see little Ellie on her 2nd birthday. Yes, there is Skype. Yes, there is always another day to throw her birthday party…but something in me really clicked that day. I realized that I can’t choose to not wake up and see and kiss her face on her birthday because something in me told me I would regret it. So…I said no. And it was hard but it felt good. And right. And if confirmed the evolution of Amanda as a mother and business owner, I could balance both simply by following my heart.
To be completely honest with you, if that question was asked to me two years ago, I would have gone. I would have worked on her birthday and taken the trip..and I’m NOT saying you are a bad person or mom if you do that!! I just know that for me and what’s right in my heart, being there with her is something I know I need to do. My priorities have changed and I value occasions and celebrations far more now…because I know what it’s like to over work and miss out on them. I know how it feels to work around the clock and be burnt out and being a burnt out mother and business owner is a horrible combination. I have changed the structure of my work. I believe VERY deeply in working smarter, not harder. Another one of my favorite quotes from the book sums that up: “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” — but what if you SCHEDULED your work and editing? SCHEDULED your email answering? What if you spread it out in a healthy way that still allowed you to sit and have dinner with your family, even if you’re not knocking it all out at once..but still getting it done within a decent time window?
We have options..we just don’t know what they are until we become brave enough to let ourselves stop working around the clock and stop being “accessible” to everyone around the clock. Let me remind you of something VERY obvious…you went into business for yourself for a reason…so why did you end up overworking and working more hours than you did at your previous day job? We are SO excited to become our own bosses and then we become the worst boss we’ve ever had..the hardest on ourselves, the strictest, the one distributing horrible hours and guilt. This has to change and you have to find a way to change it now. Don’t waste another minute hard on yourself setting unrealistic expectations, but rather come up with systems that both get the work done in a timely manner AND allow you to see your family!!! Yes, there will be some later nights, yes, I MAY need to skip a dinner every now and then…but it’s not a constant anymore at all. I won’t let it be!
And this is where my last point comes into play and I want you to REALLY do your best to live and breathe this one not only for yourself but when giving grace to other small businesses that YOU work with. We are human beings. We are NOT perfect and we are certainly not machines. There is a person with a story, a struggle, a family behind that small business you are working with. Last night, I opened my emails and I saw that there is a ballet rehearsal for my little girl’s FIRST recital on a date where I had engagements booked. I instantly felt the knots in my stomach, it’s a required rehearsal and I’m the only one who can take her, so the thought of emailing a client and asking her to switch a date, when I’m a professional business..it just felt so rough for me. I NEVER want to do that, and be an inconvenience. And of course..I started thinking like America does..WORK WORK WORK first. You be the good worker you’re supposed to be! Disconnect the human aspect and just suck it up, she’ll have to miss rehearsal. But then I remembered the kind of bride I book. They are sweet. They are kind, they are understanding, and they see the love I have for my girls and they know they are supporting a business that supports a family. I don’t hide images of my family, I don’t avoid sharing them on social media. I don’t have separate Instagram accounts to only show business on one and family/life on the other. I am my business and my business is my life and my life is my family. On wedding days I document two people who often times, shortly after become three. And four. And some of my brides tell me their pregnant the second they find out, texting me, emailing me, crying happily! BEFORE their groom ahhaha! There is a distinct kind of bride I am booking after years of trying to get the “right fit” and what they have in common is that they show grace, they have kind hearts and they are GOOD girls. They treat others how they would want to be treated. So emailing this bride and asking her if there was a possibility to move the date to SOME would be a no no, and so unprofessional, and SO unheard of. But I took a chance and connected on that human level…and she not only agreed but insisted I get that baby girl to rehearsal. She knew she wasn’t going to miss OUT on part of her investment because of the schedule change, I would still be delivering and holding up my end of the bargain. Talk about tears…that bride will NEVER know how much I appreciated her in that moment, and how much I realized we have to truly start shifting the idea of consumer-to-transaction to human-to-human connection when it comes to small businesses. I repeat…staring to shift the idea of CONSUMER-to-TRANSACTION to HUMAN-to-HUMAN.
I’m not afraid to be a part of this movement. I’m not afraid to tell people the truth, like when I sat waiting for a Skype call for over an hour at my desk for an inquiring client, and they never showed to tell me later work held them up..and I had to email them to tell them now it was family time and I wouldn’t be able to continue to sit and wait to be available. When a potential bride and groom wanted me to Skype on a big holiday and I committed to my family that day, for them to email me and have gone with someone else…that’s FINE..oh gosh just go, haha!! Gosh that would have bothered me a few years ago, but I was relieved, I didn’t want to work with someone who wanted me to stop a holiday with my family to be “interviewed”…and I say that with complete kindness in my heart..but just to be honest and put it out there. Quality over quantity also applies the the heart of the clients I book and Mike KNOWS I believe in that wholeheartedly!
Business owner friends…you’re a person. Please stop forgetting that. At the end of the day, you couldn’t have done it all. Don’t keep sacrificing family times and experiences for business and work. Because I’m open about my family and blog about them and share on social media, it’s generally already known how I feel about them and what they mean to me. Seeing is believing..and people SEE plenty of my girls, haha! I know some people prefer to stay more private, but remember you are also not giving people a dose of your life and reality for them to connect with you as a human and understand. The separate Instagram thing..I mean, I guess I get it for some people but I can’t IMAGINE a bride wanting to follow my personal on Instagram and me not accepting their request and telling them they can follow my business account…when it comes down to wanting that human-to-human understanding..that’s where you’re blocking that potential relationship for yourself…that’s just my opinion and what has worked for me! Some people LIKE that transaction bride though! Take the money, be done with it. Not me. I want to see them travel the world, become mothers, enjoy their marriages 🙂 From the beginning, I’m connecting as a human..and I highly recommend doing the same!