October 2016 started like any other month for me. We were busy at work and I was busy in my photography business outside of work. I didn’t know this would be one of the hardest months and the hardest week I would go through in my adult life. (I promise there is a happy ending to this!!)
For most of 2016 I had been spreading myself thin. I continuously tried to keep up with my photography business, my horse, my dog, my family, my job, and myself. Life has a funny way of working itself out and apparently life thought I should fix all of this at once.
It started in the second week of the month when my foster pup Brutus made his way to his new home. I had seriously thought about adopting him and keeping his cuteness all for myself. In the end, I decided he wasn’t the right pup for me and he moved on to an amazing family that could give him everything he needed. In the meantime, this got me thinking about the possibility of another dog in the future.
A couple of days later, a Berner mom friend of mine posted about a little Berner that was in search of a new home. I passed by the posting a couple of times before finally messaging her asking for a few more details. I didn’t know if it was the right timing for me but something made me type out that message.
Not much was known about this pup other than she was four months old, in a rough situation, and in need of a new home. My heart was in love with the idea but I needed a couple of days to process it. I talked with a breeder that was involved in finding the new home and was told she would speak with the owners and would get back to me. A few days went by and I didn’t hear anything, assuming they went a different direction.
While all of this was happening, I was preparing for the weekend that my roommate was moving out. We had lived together for months and we had gotten along amazingly, so I was sad to see her go. I had also made the (hard) decision to reach out to my horse, Marquis’, previous owner. I knew I wasn’t making the time I needed to spend with him and he deserved all of the love in the world.
So with the backstory in place, this is how the week went.
Saturday afternoon I received a call that this puppy would be mine and I would need to pick her up from Red Deer at 8:30 Sunday morning. I finished photographing a wedding at 11:00 Saturday night, crawled into bed just after midnight, and was back up at 6 AM to drive to Red Deer. I didn’t know her name, her personality, nothing, just that she was in need of a new home. The second I locked eyes on her, I fell in love. She was a four month old little spitfire with personality for days. I learned her name was Layla and it was a perfect fit for her, which was a great thing as I hadn’t come with any good alternatives.
We headed back to Edmonton so I could drop her off at home and leave to photograph an event. I got home and my roommate was nearly moved out. Baloo, Layla and I began to adjust to our new “normal”.
On Tuesday evening, Marquis’ previous owner came out to see him on her way home from a trip to Germany, and we made the agreement for him to make his way to southern BC and live out his retirement with her. Through many (MANY) tears, I justified the decision to myself and knew it was the right one, as heartbreaking as it was. I felt a lot of guilt that I had just gotten this new puppy yet I was sending him to a new home. It was much easier to add time for a second dog when you already have one at home than it was to make time (and money) for a horse.
On Wednesday morning, less than 12 hours later, I connected the dots that I was being laid off from my job. I had worked in sales in the oil and gas sector and unfortunately, along with many others, we were no longer required. By noon that day, I had dropped off my keys and was sitting on my couch in a pile of Kleenex, wondering what else could possibly go wrong this week. We were in the middle of a deep recession and the thought of looking for a job was terrifying. Not just because I didn’t know where to find one, but because I didn’t really want one. I was tired of building someone else’s dream. I grew up in a family business and had seen what could be achieved through hard work and vision. I wanted a “job” where I felt valued and could use my skills for good. I wanted clarity, and passion, and processes, and the idea of gambling on another job scared me.
By 9:00 that night, I had made my decision. My mom called me and, as mothers do, was helping me solve the problem of having no job. She asked where I intended to submit my resume, and I could hear the shock in her voice when I said I didn’t plan to. My photography business had been slowly building over the previous year and I had no doubt that it could continue to. I had enough severance pay to cover my expenses until Christmas so if all else failed, I would find a job in the new year.
Many thought I was crazy (which I kind of am), but I knew I had the education and drive to make this happen. I began marketing, and connecting, and building my brand and the craziest thing happened: within eight weeks of being laid off, I had booked eight weddings for 2017 and 2018. Eight! That was way more weddings than I had ever photographed and it proved to me that I could do this.
In hindsight, I have no idea when I would have made the jump to full time photography but I am so glad I did. I have the best job in the world, I get to photograph amazing weddings, I have the opportunity to travel, and I got to be home with Layla as she grew up (such a dog-mom thing to say). To everyone who has played a part in my first year, thank you! I am so fortunate and can’t wait to see what this next year brings!