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A Big Break = A Big Post


Oh, Hello New Year.

You like the cake I made above? It was delicious and hilarious to hold in a three hour card ride to Steph and Beau's Ranch this past weekend, let me tell ya! :)

It's been awhile y'all; I know. I've actually been trying to decide when and how to approach this post, but when I'd sit down to write...I'd quickly close my laptop. I don't know why, but I just haven't been wanting to sit down and re-cap...well, anything. I know, that sounds super depressing and blah-like for me, but if I were to be honest, I really needed a break. I haven't been on Facebook much, blogged, and I have been more or less annoyed with this electronic life we live and breathe called Social Media.  I don't really have a reason, but I just needed a break. I needed time to breathe. I needed time to rest. I needed time to refresh and just live my life.

I get it. I totally deserve a "L" on the big ol' forehead. I mean, what blogger doesn't recap Christmas, or New Years with a list of resolutions? I've enjoyed reading blogs the past couple of days. I love seeing people making changes, and wanting to do new and better things to ensure that this year is amazing for them. It made me happy.

However, I have been focusing on refocusing. Y'all, I barely even picked up my camera over the holidays. Barely, meaning I didn't take A LOT of photos...don't worry, I DID take some, but I just wanted to literally lay, sit, watch, and observe life around me. I can't say I took a break from Instagram, because I didn't, but for me, this was a HUGE deal. (I had to let you know I was in fact, alive & breathing!) :)

A lot has been going on behind the scenes of So Shay this year.The one word to sum up this past year: HARD. This is a dull, over-used, and boring word; I am in fact aware. This is just the word that comes to mind, and it depicts the last 356 days of my life perfectly. Many depressing, life-altering, and trivial things have happened and I have cried a lot of Alice and Wonderland crocodile tears. There were times where I found myself at an all time low, and more stressed out that I could even think about feeling. It sucks because I'm being super vague, and I know how annoying it is when people say this, but I have to be that girl for a minute and just say, trust me.  I hope you can just take my word for it and know that it was a serious and personal time for me and my family.  Let's just say I had to basically watch a close, loved one fall apart, reach out for help, in my own home, and it was the saddest, most horrible thing I've ever, ever witnessed. I had to take on the roll of "mother" and that just wasn't something I was prepared for. I thought I was an adult before because of my age and lifestyle...but this year really made me grow up. I was forced to face situations that didn't seem real, and I have become a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be.

On top of hardships, it was also the second year of my business. As much as having a business and still being in business for two years is a BLESSING, I've also heard and been warned (and now, whole-heartedly agree) that the second year of your business is one of the HARDEST years you will ever have. WOW, were they right. You fail at decisions, you compare yourself to those who have been in the business a long time, you aren't fast enough at turn around, your process is still developing, your wearing a ton of hats, and you learn things the hard way, basically. You want so much and you work your ever living rear-end off...and guess what? All that "money" you are "making" goes STRAIGHT to investing back in your business, and it goes STRAIGHT to taxes. You honestly don't touch it. That was something that was really hard for me to become comfortable with and the more I talked to other photographers, the more I felt normal and on the same boat. I kind of felt like a little mouse in the middle of a rough sea, where it was constantly storming and I was being soaked by wave after wave. I kept paddling and paddling and even though I haven't found land yet (the peace and comfort), one thing for sure is that there are now some sunny days and I know there are more in the future headed my way.

I made mistakes in my business. Very, very expensive mistakes, and a lot of stupid mistakes. I was terrible at managing my time, and put entirely way too much on my plate. I kept focusing on finding a system that worked for me, and never found one. I'd get too busy to even have a system. It was more of a "OMG I have to do this NOW and this and this and this and this TOO, ERMAGHERD!"

I said YES to everything. Someone wanted me to go to dinner when I had a lot of work to do that night? I said yes, and then said yes to working until 4 in the morning...multiple times. Softball games on Tuesday nights after work? Yes. And then I'd go home and edit until the wee hours of the morning. Oh, and volleyball games and weddings, and photo-shoots in and out of town, working all WEEKEND, every weekend, or if I didn't work a wedding or have a shoot, we had something else planned with the people in our lives because it was a "free" weekend. I knew I needed to spend time with the people in my life, and that was really important to me. I gave up ME time and I gave up HUSBAND time, and I gave up REST and mental capacity. I said Yes to every opportunity that came my way because my intentions were to make EVERYONE happy and I wanted to be able to help people, and be there because I said I would be. My good intentions got the best of me. I never had a break. I never got to sit down and be caught up or content with my work. I basically had something to do that stressed me out every single day and night. If I did something fun, I felt guilty. I felt so eaten up with guilt because I went to dinner with my husband, when I had work to be doing at home waiting on me and clients waiting to see their photos. I forgot what it was like to feel normal and sit on the couch and watch one of my favorite shows for down time. All of those things I used to do to just "relax" or that were normal guilty pleasures, were no longer even an option because I was so stressed out about work, work, work. My mind could never stop worrying about it and all the work that I had to do. Being overwhelmed was my biggest monster Obviously, my priorities were jammed up and not at all, prioritized or managed efficiently or by importance. The big picture was quickly fading and I was letting it happen. I finally realized that I could have done ALL of these things and not felt so stressed out. I just didn't realize how to at the time. Time management, something I was pretty good at once upon a time, went out the window as soon as I took on more than I could handle.

2012 was a repetitive cycle of yes's and empty promises and I was SO sure I was doing SO well at managing it all. I was trying so hard, but if I were to be completely honest? I sucked at everything. I was doing SO much that I didn't have time to even take care of myself, my work, the quality of my work, my clients, my husband, my family, my friends, or my God.

I don't know how many times I complained, cried, and crawled into a ball and said, "I can't do this anymore" but still continued to do the same thing over and over without making any changes. I knew I was taking on too much because I was trying to be all that I could be to everyone and everything, and when it came down to it all, I was literally just SUCKING at life.

Eventually, enough was enough. I had to slap myself silly and give myself a million pep talks before I was able to face these obstacles. Hello, wake-up call!? The rooster went "WAKE THE HECK UP SHALYN! QUIT BEING A CHICKEN!" ;)

And so I did.

I now look back and it's all an emotional ball of blur that I don't ever want to experience again. Granted, even though I sit here and write about how horrible this year was...I'm still so thankful for it. I know this sounds contradicting (it kinda is), but if none of the mistakes I made this year happened...then it would have happened this year, or the next. I'm just glad to have it behind me. I'm thankful for the opportunity to feel empty, overwhelmed, lost and like I had nothing more to give. I'm thankful that I realized that it's important to say no as much as it is important to say yes. I am thankful for the challenges, just as much as I am thankful for the mean people out there that tried to suck every positive vibe out of me. I'm thankful for not having the blessings I thought I deserved and for all of the family emergencies and financial hardships that turned my world upside down and then some. Why? Because it brought me closer to God more than ever. I didn't even know it was possible to love Him more...but I do. It made me re-think my purpose in this life. It made me realize I needed focus on the important things; the things that matter to me and my husband. Something so simple was so hard for me to completely may have taken me awhile to come to my senses and then start piecing it all together, but once I did that, the hardest part was actually DOING IT. Actually putting everything into action. I know now, and all I can do from this point, is change the things that didn't work and do better. I need to work SMARTER and not HARDER. This is such a true and vital statement I have had to really grasp and hug with all my might in the past few weeks. I am still challenged daily with hardships, inconveinences, problems and stresses, just as much as the next person, but I'm learning to conquer and deal with these these things with a better attitude, and a balance for the life I want to live.

Obviously, I wouldn't rank 2012 as my most favorite year...but I can gladly say that I wouldn't change a thing. A lot of amazing things happened that I selfishly overlooked when I did my mental recap because I spent so much of my time dwelling on the bad things that constantly took over any happy that I had. That sounds terrible, but I'm being honest. In the darkest times, there were things that happened and helped me in more ways that I can count. When I sat down to actually list out the "good" that happened...I couldn't help but just feel ashamed. This year was full of some amazing people, amazing friendships, and some amazing trips. Shame. On. Me. for not focusing on them. I am so thankful for my one life, and everything I've been blessed with. It is so important to change your attitude when you start feeling negative. It's the best feeling and those little moments you have every year add up to so many incredible blessings.

For starters, I was working a desk job 8-5 at a company that had no more growth for me...and literally was not my passion. I prayed and prayed, and I was given the opportunity to work for Hey, Sweet Pea as their Project Manager. It allowed me creative freedom and a brand new opportunity to start following my goals and dreams. I also got this job RIGHT when the biggest family emergency happened, and if I were at my other other job, I wouldn't have been able to have been there for this person in my life, which was crucial. It was a miracle, and it was a HUGE blessing in disguise. I still can't believe I got to take a Leap of Faith but I did it, and it was a big turning point in my life.

I got to attend Making Things Happen in Chicago and I got to meet some AMAZING women. I'm talking, just, WONDERFUL, lovely girls that I will always love and support. It was a huge day for my heart and I got to do some soul searching that was needed more than I knew. I was holding back and still struggle with this daily...but I'm making the right steps in order to achieve my dreams and make it happen.

My most favorite moment of the year goes to this guy. My precious baby nephew Ty was born in August and he has stolen my heart, let me tell you! I love him like he was my own. He's my diddle buddy.

I got extremely personal and shared Part I of my journey to photography...and shared a lot about my upbringing. 

I got to visit Erica, Sabrina and Kurt in Boston and had SO much fun. This was our second annual blogger meet up with each other and I can't wait for this years. It will be epic ;) It also just doesn't get much better than these people. They are my soulfriends and I couldn't be more thankful for them.

I finally got to meet Stephanie and Kristen and have found REAL, hilarious, and honest friendships with them that I'll always, always cherish.

I celebrated 3 crazy and loving years of marriage with DDHP and 7 crazy and loving years of "being together." :)

I got to shoot a total of 12 weddings (not A LOT, but enough :)) and way too many to count photo sessions. My clients were amazing, and I am so thankful for each lesson they taught me.

Drew and I MADE me an office...and I promise to reveal this really soon. Trust me, I know. My wall makes me smile every day. I still can't believe this is MY office. MY place to be creative and learn and dream and ohhhh. I just love it.

I got to go snowboarding with friends in New Mexico which was a blast. I wish there was a mountain in my back yard because I'd snowboard on it every single day.

I turned 26 and revealed my fear of dying at 25. 

I went to SXSW for the first time, ever.

I got to travel to Northern California and visit my best friends from High School.

I participated in TWO 5K's. Say what!?

DDHP and I got down with our badselves.

We sort of kind of tried out for The Amazing Race. Muhahahaw.

I've been able to watch DDHP grow his hair out for an entire year and BOY is it sexy. He wants to cut it soon, though :( Wah. (It's much longer now than in this picture btw...but I like this makes me weak in the knees.) RAWR! (Lame wife, raise your hand... Oh, and DDHP also broke his hand the day before Thanksgiving. I forgot to mention that. Oops! :))

I participated in a blogger mash-up of Call Me, Maybe?

I started to find my consistent photography style. It's not there YET (I wish), but I'm getting closer and closer. This is something I really want to master and soon.

I attended The Fix with Drew and not only did I meet Jasmine Star, but totally weirded her out by asking her to do The Bernie with me. Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do!? :)

I switched to MANUAL and will never go back. This was scary and really rewarding all at the same time. I got out of my comfort zone and it's been the best decision EVER.

I dyed my hair brown? I don't really like it, so I'm sure I'll go blonder here in the Spring. Haha.

I was featured on Wedding Chicks. It almost made me cry when I got the green light from them. I also made the stationery.

I met approx. 15-20 bloggers IRL for the first time throughout the entire year. Who's cool!? SHAY'S COOL! Haha totally kidding. I guess if you heard the way I just said this in my head it would be funny. Ha. Ha. :\ ;) I also did meet Rissy though in a random spontaneous way at the airport in Baltimore and it pretty much made my year. Blogger meet ups were a highlight for sure, though.

I got to travel to Santa Barbara for Megan's Bridal Shower and see Sabrina for the SECOND time this year (luckyyyy me!) and also meet a ton of beautiful blogging ladies.

I got to attend a taping for the Jay Leno Show with Sabrina which was super cool because it has been something I've wanted to do since I was really young.

I got to shoot my first out of state wedding in New Mexico with Drew and also visited one of the most breathtaking places I've ever been.

I taught DDHP how to use a camera and I love the look on his face when I say, "That's an awesome SHOT babe!" It's the absolute cutest. I'm very, very proud of him.

I dressed my dog up as a Panda.

I've come to find out that not everyone will like you. Even if there isn't a reason...some people don't need one.  It's a sad truth.

Christmas was smaller and sweeter this year. Drew and I didn't do gifts for one another, we just went to a small dinner (something that we don't do as much as we'd like to these days) and it was just really special for us. We drove to Lufkin early on Christmas morning and found ourselves 13 miles from a spotted tornado, and trying to windshield wipe our way through a downpour to his parents home. As soon as we got there, we were told we needed to take cover as Tornado Warnings flashed across the television. I of course, grabbed my coffee first, and the weather passed shortly after. Christmas commenced and you know I wore cute, gold polka dotted PJ's from Target (along with the rest of instagram land;)). I even matched my wrapping paper. Cool points for sure.

New Years was spent at Stephanie and Beau's ranch shooting guns, hunting, spotlighting, drinking champagne, eating, playing with sparklers and catching up on life. It was relaxing, and overall just a really fun time. I really love that girl.

I really want to express my gratitude and thanks to all of you who take your time read my blog. It's been so wonderful getting to know so many of you. I love rooting for you and the things going on in your lives. We are crazy, we know it, but I think that is what makes us so freaking amazing. Can I get an AMEN!? :) But in all seriousness, your time, comments, love, and support have made such an impact in my life. If you only knew... I know there isn't much to read right now here and I've been full of empty promises...but just know, that my heart is in it, and I have a lot to share...but I just have A LOT to finish sorting out. I'm working on it. My blog sucked big ones, I am fully aware. Thank you for sticking with me through this crazy, soul searching year. I hope it's going to be used as a huge building block for my future and I'm glad you got to see that life isn't always beautiful, but it's about what you make of it that really counts.

It's a New Year...and I know that it's a perfect template to start NEW. And trust me, I have that mindset. I have goals and I have things on my list that need to be knocked out before I can clearly focus on my business and my life.

I would LOVE to sit here and say, "2013, you're mine" like the rest of the world. I mean, I could say it. I could. But do I know that? NO. I have no idea what this year holds for me. I can only have Faith that God knows what my goals are, and I'm praying he will give me the things I work for and deserve. I'm going to be real and take all of the lessons I learned in 2012 and I'm going to work on them this year. I'm going to plan. I'm going to say NO. I'm going to want LESS, and DO more with the things I have. I'm going to value the time I have with my family and friends. I'm going to say YES to the things that matter. I'm going to take chances. I'm going to blog more regularly. I'm going to share more.

I want my business and my customer service to be better than ever.

I want to find a system that works for me and works well.

I want to hire an intern to help me blog my photography because we all know how AWESOME I am at that. (Hello, Sarcasm!)

I want to open up my new additional photography business venture and share it with you.

I can't wait to share what I'll be going with Shalyn Nelson Photography. There are a TON of changes and stories to share with you about this whole ordeal. It makes me anxious just thinking about it. SOON my loves, so soon.

I can't wait to work with Hey, Sweet Pea in person and grow and do more for them. They are truly amazing.

I can't wait to grow closer to my husband and have guilt free date nights regularly.

I will read more and draw more like I used to and draw inspiration from that, rather than Pinterest. I want to work on being more original and inspirational, which is something I constantly strive for.

I can't wait to have business hours and FOLLOW them and stop apologizing to people when I don't respond immediately.

I can't wait to move out of my house and move into a home that isn't falling apart. (Ohhhh haven't shared this yet have I!? More on that this year too. ;))

All of these things, I'm implementing. Actually, they are currently in process, and that makes me happier than a bird with a french fry.

Life is just weird and crazy y'all. It's not always playing on your team, and that's okay. It's okay. It's important that you know this. When life just sucks, and I mean...SUCKS...have Faith and know that this sucky season in your life is temporary and will one day prove to be a learning lesson and building block that will make your future make more sense. It will be worth it.

All in all, this break was to just refocus and think about the things that matter.  I can't find myself victim to wanting things that aren't a priority for me right now, but may be a priority for someone else. I have to focus on what I know is best for me and my life, and trust in God that by doing that, all of the things that I want, I'll have. I just have to be patient, and I'll do the best I can the best way I know how. I'm going to focus on the relationships that matter and on the people who love me no matter what. I'm no longer going to focus on the phrase, "What will they think?" I say, to heck with it.

Be yourself. Always. Always. Always.

One more thing - I'm going to work on being BOLDER. More bold in my thoughts, my life, my style, my visions, and listening to that little voice in the back of my head that that tells me to GO FOR IT.

Happy New Year Y'all. I know this was a long and weird post, but I guess that's what happens when you let spider webs and dust bunnies take over your space in your corner of the web.

I'll work on getting it cleaned up and super shiny, real soon. :)

Happy Weekend! :)

post circle 23 comments :

  1. I love you more than ever for sharing your heart. It's one of my favorite hearts ever. Enjoy DDHP time and be happy.

  2. Wow this is SUCH an amazing post. I just love you and your heart! You have such an incredible heart and it really shows through your blog. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful 2013.

  3. Shay, Happy New Year! I've been thinking about you often since MTH and keeping you in my prayers. God will do amazing things this year. It seems like your heart and your head are in the right place. E-mail me sometime if you want to catch up!

    Keep smiling, girlfriend!

  4. I seriously LOVE!!! that you just shared your heart and soul. I love that you were raw and real and just told it how it is. This is what I truly LOVE about blogging and reading other bloggers. Life is tough. It isnt all about happy times. Fun times. There is sad and anger and hurt. Sometimes more often than not unfortunately. But we all make it through...usually. God has our backs...we just gotta lean on him. Even if it isnt easy. ThHinking about you lady! Cant wait to see what 2013 has in store for you. But remember to take YOU time and HUBBY time!! It is super super important!! :)

  5. My wittle ShayBayBay! i just love you. I have missed your posts and I know 2013 is your year. You are one of THE most inspiring people I have ever ever ever met and I have experienced it!!!

    Not only were you on vaca in Boston, but were constantly making people happy/getting things done with work while there, being committed and AMAZING. You are a true hard worker!!

    the most amazing thing about you is no matter how stressed, sad, upset, overworked you may be, you still manage to keep a positive spirit and attitude and i LOOVE that about you and look up to you for that!!

    keep on smiling pretty lil thang! I am constantly thinking about you! I LOVE YOU!

    and i love those PJs...and your pose. WORK IT!


  6. the most perfect blog! I don't know what all you went through but I can totally relate to a lot of this! you worded it so wonderfully & showed your heart! wish you the best for 2013 and all its ups and downs!

  7. This is seriously my favorite post ever! So honest and true to your heart, and you are an awesome writer! You should write a book! For real, just put it on the 2014-2015 list :) haha. Anddd, can this possible intern be located in another city? Because I know someone who loves you, and photography, and weddings, and blogs, and gold, and puppies... and would love to start something to be truly passionate about! Just sayinnn. You are amazing and I have a feeling 2013/2014 will bring on some great times! :)

  8. I love when bloggers are honest on their sites. Sometimes things are hard and sometimes you dont want to blog, and that's totally okay :)

    Sounds like you had an amazing year through the good and the bad and I'll be looking forward to reading about this year to come!


  9. What a FANTASTIC look back on the past year in words and pictures galore...LOVED it!!! Also, I just MUST note that I am in love with the office space Drew helped you make...that gold print is fabulous!!! Hope 2013 is truly magical for you both, Shay!!! :)

  10. I'm in the process of talking my hubs into converting our guest room into an office for me and that wall gives me A MILLION TIMES more incentive to convince him.

  11. Can't wait to hear more about all the awesome things to come for you in 2013! I just love the attitude that you have toward life and all that it brings, good or bad. If anyone deserves great things, it's you two!

  12. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.

    I am feeling so overwhelmed and as though my job is crushing me and eating up the last bits of my soul, the last bits of "me" that there are. It's so easy to look at everyone else and feel like I'm the only one struggling right now.

    Thanks for your honesty.

    I'm glad that you're finally in a new year and are ready to start something new. I pray and hope that this year brings a brightness into so many lives.

    There's nothing I can say to make any of it better, I know. I'm glad you're at the end of the tunnel now and can look forward to bigger and better things!

  13. I've missed your posts!! You're such a wonderful and beautiful person inside and out! So hardworking and dedicated!

  14. Thanks for you honesty with everything.
    Life does suck sometimes but it's a part of it. Makes new experiences and lessons that much better since we went through them. You have such a heart of gold Shay. Love you and your blog (and DDHP too, cutie patootie)

  15. Wow, what a humbling, mature post that should dilligence, classy, and more importantly, faith in God. Your posts are always so uplifting and genuine, I would love to strive to have your attitude. I hope this year is filled with rich blessings. You are an inspiration to women all over blog land. I hope that you know that. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post! xo

  16. I ditto everything everyone else has commented. You are one of the most genuine people and it shows through your writing. Even through the tough times you never let it show, you have one of the most positive attitudes towards everything it seems like. Keep up the good work girl!

    And make sure you take that ever-so-important you-time. I had no idea how important it was until now, I catch myself just wanting to sit in a silent, dark room or even my car in a parking lot haha. Life just gets cray cray then you add in a bebe and it goes from cray to insane. I wouldn't change a thing though. ;o)

    Also, I happen to love your brown hair!

  17. gosh i feel and get so much of this post girlfriend. you have no idea. love YOU and your heart. cant wait to hang out again soon.

  18. I read your post. Then I had to stop before I could comment, to review our Sunday school lesson. And it was so relative to your post. [[For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him. Philippians 1:29 ]] To all your trials in 2012 - wishing you a blessed and prosperous new year!

  19. SHAY!!! Every time I read a new post of yours it just makes me heart you more and more! i hope 2013 is the year of the shay and ash meetup!! and i know this year was H-A-R-D for you and DDHP but you always kept your chin up with some grace...and looks like you fit in some amazing adventures. i love you so much....and your polka dot pajams...and your hair <3.

  20. LOVE YOU and love this post!!!! You are amazing!

  21. I just want to say what an enjoyable time to look through to this post thanks for the sharing.

  22. Thank you very much for sharing such nice post.

  23. You had a tough 2012, yet God brought you out of it a stronger and more beautiful woman! Looking forward to following your 2013 journey because I'm sure there's going to be SO MANY awesome things that you're going to do and accomplish!