A Time for Everything

I’m dusting off the old blog to share some things that have been on my mind lately (both personally and professionally). I’ve been playing tug-o-war with my heart/my mind and God for the last 7 or so months and it feels good to “come clean”, I guess.

Becoming a mom proved itself to be a lot more trying (for me) than Instagram and pretty photos lead you to believe. I cried almost everyday, fighting back the urge to say, “I can’t do this” over and over again. Thomas was and is everything we prayed for, why was I not happier? I felt so good during my pregnancy, the realities of motherhood swept in with a colicky newborn boy and it felt a little like I imagine drowning feels like. The crying. No one warns you that your baby MIGHT cry the majority of the day. He never seemed to be content.. and if he was it was so short-lived, I wouldn’t even get the chance to appreciate it! I was breast feeding, pumping, washing the supplies, then starting again. And repeat. Turns out, Thomas was just hungry. My milk was not enough. And pretty rapidly he fell off the growth chart (that thing is annoying). Anyways, we were happy to get that worked out and see him with a smile and a full belly but then I beat myself up for not knowing my sweet little cranky as hell boy was just HUNGRY for months (😩). You go into everything thinking you’ll “just know”, but will you? I’m here to say.. maybe not. ha! It all sounds trivial when I type it out, honestly, but man there was a time when he was about 4-5 months old that I thought I. just. can't. do. this. another. day. 

I went back to work when Thomas was about 6 weeks, but was already back on email long before that. My body felt ready. My mind and heart, not so much. But it was hard to tell at the time, because I wanted to “do it all”. I wanted to make Andrew proud, and Thomas proud, too. The thing about the work I do that I think made going back to work tricky, is it always seems all or nothing. The flood gates opened. It seemed like everyone needed me, at all times and in so many different ways. I know this isn’t the reality but that’s how it felt. I’ve always been one to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, this is no different (have you ever noticed my posture? Lol jk kinda). But in retrospect, during those tough months with Thomas, work was probably a Godsend. Giving me little breaks here and there to go freelance and my sweet Mother in Law would take over with a peaceful heart (I was basically running out the door but then would cry on the way to where I was going because I didn't want to leave him... #hormones).

And now, in his 7th month, I finally feel like myself again. My heart could burst when I look at him! He is just perfect and he is growing SO FAST. He learns something new every single day (or hour it seems) and I hate missing even a moment. What I hate most are the days I have a long list of work to do and I catch myself wishing for him to nap so I can run to the computer and answer the many people who are EXCITED about their wedding days, and want immediate responses. I log on to my email and feel tinges of resent that it is more important than my own shower, or eating breakfast, etc but you only have so much time to do this (Thomas seems to hate my office, p.s.). Then toward the end of day I feel sad that I didn’t look Thomas in the eyes enough. Or didn’t love on him enough because I was so worried about him napping so I could give that energy to a stranger. Wow. Those crazy Mom guilt feelings just repeat everyday.

Then there are the days when Thomas doesn’t nap at all. And just like that I am anxiety-stricken (I kind of get irrational work stress ha). I don’t sleep well, don’t eat well, don't enjoy evenings with Andrew because off to the computer I go. Anyways, I say all this not to de-glamorize working moms. Because let me tell you... the work they are doing inside and outside of the home IS glamorous. To do all that with poise and still manage a household is pretty incredible. And some women (and men) do it SO WELL. I’m not that person, yet. When I would reflect on my days and the mother I was learning to be, I didn’t love what I saw. I felt like I was always just getting by. Not thriving at work or at home. And I didn't like the chaos I saw of rushing, running late, on the road, etc. 

I picture(d) a different lifestyle for myself and for Andrew... and mostly, for Thomas.

I DEFINITELY don't say any of this to make anyone feel guilty, either. The work I have done since Thomas was born has been some of my favorite and some of my best. And those clients worked with me through such a complex time in my life (and certainly the hardest). So in most ways, I am so thankful for the clients I had this year. Because one, they put up with ME when I felt like an emotional headcase and two, they have helped me realize so much. Without their business, I would not be where I am right now (which is happier, healthier, and more content than ever).

So, there is a time for everything and right now, it’s time for me to scale back on VAD weddings. I know the only way to hold myself accountable to actually saying no, is to put this all out there. VAD will be back, a little more refined, refreshed and understood but I won't be booking any more weddings until I feel ready to balance the two "babies" simultaneously.

Of course I’ll be finishing out some beautiful projects and weddings this year (and lots of pretty paper), and plan to share all the fun motherhood moments (and DIYs, duh) along the way. 

If any of this resonates with you, or you feel like you’re in the thick of things with motherhood and/or work.. keep praying. Eventually, the tugs on your heart will be strong enough not to ignore. And then, you’ll know exactly what direction you need to go in. 


Ecclesiastes 3 - "a time to plant and a time to uproot..."

A Little Branding Love

Branding, branding, branding. This seems to always be on (creative) small business owners' minds! For obvious reasons, though. We live and breath the success of our businesses. Most times, we are the face of them, the main contact, we've invested every dime we've made (and then some), and we unfortunately identify parts of our being with these brands and businesses. It's amazing, fulfilling and freeing but can also be exhausting and draining.
I've spent years working on my business (so far from where I want it), but it's just me, myself and I. Sans a degree in business (Family Studies.. what was I thinking, haha). I exhaust all my resources, and work really hard to do the one thing I know a lot about, right. And that is my branding. Of course, at the beginning, I would have loved to hire for this service. But I couldn't afford it on the long list of expenses so it continued to fall to the waistline. I always make sure to put out as much cohesive work as possible, which can be really hard when you work all four seasons with so many different types of clients. My first question to clients is always "have you taken a look at my work, or website?" because I want to confirm that they have, in fact, looked at my previous work. They don't have to love everything but I want to weed out as many inquiries as possible that could be barking up the wrong tree. Example; when an inquiry tells me they "hate greenery" or prefer a "tight, ball-shaped bouquet"... that's usually a dead giveaway that they haven't looked at my work and maybe got my name or contact from someone else. There is NOTHING wrong with this, but it's the perfect opportunity to direct them to your work so you don't waste their time, either. 

Victoria Austin Designs | Fairhope, Alabama Wedding | Joelle Grace Photography

This is all to say that branding is really important in your overall marketing plan. If your branding isn't cohesive, complete or on-point... you'll be booking the wrong clients for the indefinite future. And go through one season of that, and you'll never do it again! :) I've compiled a quick small business branding guide for beginners. These tips may help you get started on your own branding or even assist with your marketing plans. I'll expand on it in time! 

To View/Download the Guide:

Let me know if this guide helps you, or if you have any questions!