As I reflect back on this year I am somewhat amazed. Amazed that it is November. Amazed that there are so many good things going on in my life and those around me. Amazed that it has been 8 months since I took time to write out a blog post that didn't involve photography.
So there are 7 weeks left in 2016. I am coming off of a typically intense September and October schedule. Commercial photography, wedding photography, family portraits, weddings to attend, couples to counsel, a co-working family to walk with. There has been a ton going on. It is time to take inventory, time to rest a bit and time to receive a fresh set of eyes for these 7 weeks and the 52 weeks that lie ahead of us in 2017.
I have been thinking a lot about perspective lately. Sometimes the voices that seem to be the loudest can lead us to believe that the sky is falling. I came across a blog post recently that listed 4 different charts reporting various stats from the world around us. The information on the charts was so loud that it did not require a bunch of words to go with it. Among other things the charts detailed how world wide battle deaths have decreased dramatically since the 40's and 50's and have continued to decline in the decades since the 1980s. Another one showed how life expectancy continues to increase. Yet another series of bars and lines depicted how private sector employment has gained jobs consistently and steadied in the last 24 months. The words that accompanied the post were simple. What sort of story are we telling each other?
The way that we choose to frame the world around us has a dramatic impact on our insight and our dreaming. It affects the hope that is in our heart and the lens through which we view the future. It can be easy to hand other people the paintbrush and let them paint the picture for us. As I walked with my youngest daughter this morning around the rolling hills where we live I was allowing that to happen. Heaviness, weight, anxiety and pressure were my companions as I strolled. Never mind the 4 year old who was walking hand in hand with me past piles of pretty leaves. I was letting someone else paint the picture in my head.
When I got back to the house I decided it was time to sit down and write. Not because I felt like I had something profound to share but because it is part of who I am and I generally feel a lot of life and passion and perspective when I put a pen in my hand or a keyboard beneath my fingers.
So as I write this I am thinking about 2016 and 2015. I am thinking about how afraid I was when I launched full time into photography in 2015. How nervous I was to spend money renovating an old cigar box factory and how I hoped that people would want to come and find a home in the community of creative entreprenuers that we were making space for at the end of last year. As I sit here today I realize that it is working.
The cigar box factory that we poured a lot of blood and sweat and tears into over the last 12 months now houses more than 15 unique businesses. Outside a new street is freshly lined and painted. The potholes are gone, the road is smooth and it is no longer one way, traffic moves smoothly in both directions. Inside I sit in the midst of passionate creative milenials every day who are constantly honing their crafts and finding new ways to connect with the world. They are bringing who they are to the table and making me better in the midst of it.
Our photography business continues to grow. Ours because my wife Heather is in this with me. She photographed half of my weddings with me this year and continues to bring vision and perspective to the business and the co-working space every week. We are doing it together.
A year ago the room where I sit every day was covered in industrial revolution era dirt, dust and grime. Today it is home to a family of creative entrepreneurs who have each other's back. We routinely laugh and cry together while bringing who we are to the marketplace. We are helping each other to become who we have been designed to be. We make a ton of mistakes but we help each other not to settle, not to give up and not to let someone else hold the paintbrush. We don't have a ton of answers but we are creating every day and we are bringing who we are to the place that we have been lead to in this season.
As I see it 2016 has produced a lot of victories in the lives of people in our community. I am thankful to be surrounded by people who are choosing to show up and be who they are. I am thankful for people who bring their hearts to the table. I am thankful for people who have each others backs and are learning how to be ok with who they are. With each others help we are moving forward.
I am taking the next seven weeks to breathe. To rest a bit and consider what I see when I look to the future. I am going to think about the story that I want to tell. I am going to talk to my wife and my kids and my friends and I am going to write.
And I am going to ask questions.
What do I want to celebrate during the last 7 weeks of 2016?
What do I want to honor during Christmas this year?
What do I want 2017 to look like? What is really on my heart? What do I need to say yes to? What do I need say no to? Where do I want to invest the next 12 months of my life?
So take a deep breath, take a look around you and celebrate the goodness that you see. And pick up the paintbrush that you have been given and picture 2017. Something tells me there are going to be some incredible things created next year.