This post has been a long time coming and it is going to be a long one so grab some chocolate chip cookies and milk and get comfy. So, I am nowhere near where I thought I would be in my life right now. This year I had my 10 year high school reunion and it really made me stop and think about a lot of things. 10 years sounds like a long time and if I am being completely honest here, I have no clue where the last 10 years went. If it weren't for my two little humans I might be convinced that there was no way it has been that long since I got into my little red 1996 VW Jetta and drove to my first basement apartment in Salt Lake City.
Lets do a quick run through of these last 10 years: I graduated High school (Go Darts!!) and literally moved out the very next day after graduation. Attended the University of Utah because my whole childhood that was my only dream.... no idea what I wanted to study there, just that I really wanted to be enrolled there. I spent my jr. high and high school years making sure I would be accepted even though I had no direction of what I wanted to be or what I would study. This led me to just start following in my siblings footsteps, because when you have four older siblings who always seemed to have clear direction and passion, thats just what you do. For me that meant either cosmetology, teaching, or something in the medical field. I looked at them all and for some reason I settled on nursing as the best fit for me. I started taking pre-nursing classes amidst other random classes on my schedule such as film and dance. I got a job at a hospital (courtesy of my sister and brother) and spent the next 3 years moving as slowly as possible towards that goal.
Now don't get me wrong I had always had an affinity for health care and I did enjoy it but, real talk, as cliche as it sounds, I had absolutely no passion for what I was doing. One day, during my film class, a friend told me about this new photography studio that he was managing. He wanted me to come apply for a job and honestly at that time I had never actually picked up a DSLR. I laughed him off for his first couple of attempts until one day I decided to just pop over for an interview. That interview changed everything. I was given the job on the spot, promptly called in sick to my shift at the hospital so I could start training, and got started that day on my journey with photography. That studio was Fotofly and the owner, Eric Adams, changed the course of my life that day. In photography I found a passion, a love, and a drive that I had never known and I was addicted. In the midst of all that, just a small mention, I had just gotten married a month prior. Talk about a crazy couple of months..... oh man if I had only known what was in store for me.
Fast forward 3 years, 1 new little human (MayLi), a husband Commissioned in the US Army, literally thousands of photography sessions, trainings, personal development courses, and at least a million mistakes. Now we arrive at the birth of MayLily Photography. My little family was moving out of state to Arizona. Eric (Fotofly) helped me set up my own photography company so I could continue shooting. I took a full year to get it up and running the way I wanted and then we moved again... this time back to Utah because my husband Austin was slotted for a deployment so we wanted Mayli and I to be close to family. It was 5 months of build and preparation on our little families part then a 6 month deployment (add on the pre and post shenanigans and it ended up being about 8 months). Everything we had originally planned for that year, in terms of Austin's career plans, got basically put on hold. It felt like our life was standing still. I was super antsy. Eric and his wife Marci helped develop me as a trainer and I worked really hard with them that year which helped me from going crazy but also caused a whole new level of mom guilt because Austin was gone. I started feeling like I truly couldn't be the mom I wanted to be AND the professional I wanted to be at the same time. I thought I had to choose. I believed that lie for too long.
When Austin retuned from deployment we promptly picked up and moved....again. This time to Seattle for an unpaid internship with 2 dogs, a toddler, and what we could fit in our Jeep Cherokee. It was a big risk but we felt that it was the right thing and it was something he had to do for the career we were pursuing for Austin. I say we because this journey has been no small feat. We are a team and it wouldn't work any other way. Anyway, I got a couple nanny jobs in Seattle, we lived in 2 different AirBNB's, and we thought after the 3 month internship was up we would have a job and get to settle there. At least that is what we were led to believe. When the 3 months was up they had not even started the hiring for the position that would hire for Austin's position. We were out of money and credit and we couldn't stick around and wait to see what might potentially happen at UW. We were both really frustrated by the whole thing BUT during it all, we started to narrow down exactly what we wanted Austin's career to look like.
If you are keeping track of dates we are now in April of 2017. Austin was applying to Masters programs and we knew we would be moving somewhere come August. Soooo...We all (2 dogs, 1 toddler, and Austin and I) moved into one, yep one, room in my in-laws basement. To say it was hard would be an understatement. My in-laws were unbelievably gracious and amazing but boy I never realized how amazing it was for Mayli to be in her own room. Austin was accepted into a couple different programs and we spent a solid month going back and forth on where we should go. On paper, numbers wise, St. Mary's in Moraga, CA (just east of San Francisco) was literally the worst choice we could make. But for one reason or another we kept coming back to it. We both felt that this was the place we needed to be. So we took the leap and moved to Walnut Creek that August. A couple weeks before we got out here we found out we would not be receiving some government money that had been guaranteed to us. It was a huge blow. The next 6 months were the hardest 6 months our family has faced and the 6 months after was only slightly better. Honestly, just writing about this makes my anxiety bubble. It makes me want to cry both because of how hard it was/has been and how many miracles we have been blessed with. From family to friends we were blessed beyond belief. The last year changed Austin and I. I know we are better for it and I know there was no other way for us to grow the way that we have, but to say we are tired is possibly the biggest understatement in this post.
At the beginning of the summer we started talking about what we were going to do once August came and our lease was up. Did I mention we now have 2 littles which really just makes everything even more stressful. We were sending out resumes locally and throughout the country. We got a couple job offers here but it is so expensive in this area that our number to survive is astronomical for someone straight out of masters school. Nothing seemed to be working out. There were some baseline things in Utah we could fall back on but we REALLY did not want to go back to Utah. It just is not were we want/feel like we should be. And since this post is all about honestly, I truly felt that if we ended up back in Utah....again... it would be a failure and that thought was debilitating to me. So, as we rounded into mid July we started getting nervous that we not be able to make things work out here, the way we needed them to. We set a date of August 15th. That was the cut off. We were making a decision that day whether we had figured anything out by then or not. Then, before we knew it, it was August 13th.... and still nothing. A couple other opportunities and popped up and faded but nothing stuck. So we started talking about some of our Utah back up plans. We felt like that was the only option, so on August 14th we decided to move back to Utah. We gave notice at our apartment, I notified my boss at Lululemon and I even told my friends. Austin and I spent the next 12 hours apart at various jobs and such. When I got off work that night at 10pm, I walked in the door and found Austin on the couch. I sat down and we both told each other how awful we felt about the decision. It was wrong and we could feel it. It was wrong because we were making it for the wrong reasons. We were afraid. What if we can't make it out here financially? What if what we want to do doesn't work out? What if it is hard again? What if we completely fail? What will others think about our decision? What about Mayli and Maggie? We should have some sort of stability by now shouldn't we?
We spent the next 4 hours building spreadsheet after spreadsheet of work schedules and finances. Could we do it? Could we make it work to stay for 6 more months? Could we give the opportunities here that were starting to sprout 6 more months to blossom? Could we fight for the dream that had always been there but that we always ignored or assumed we would address later when we had more stability, more money? Now you are wondering what the dream is aren't you? Well I wont get too specific, but for Austin it is to eventually own and operate his own gym. For me, well, honestly its simply not choosing. Being able to be the mom I want to be with my little humans all while being the professional I now know I can be. It took me until now, in the last 20 days, to realize that I can do both. I am going to feel mom guilt no matter what I do, home 24/7 or not. I am finally past that, thanks to the amazing momma examples around me and Rachel Hollis (read "Girl, Wash your Face" you won't regret it). I have opportunities here that will potentially allow for this so, we are staying. We are going to fight for it. Anything worth doing is usually hard.
Let's jump back to MayLily. I have spent the last 4 years of MayLily being inconsistent with my content on my "blog", my social media, and even my overall business direction. Im changing that now. The reason I just laid out my personal life to you is because I want you to have some vision and background on why. Why now? Whats different? It boils down the the fact that I finally found my true passion and I am willing to fight for it. That passion is you. I love photography but the main reason I love it is because I love you, my customers, my clients, my friends. I have finally given myself permission to give you what I feel like you deserve.
So lets talk about my plans for the future.
The FIRST change I am making is MayLily's focus. I will be focusing on: Families, Bloggers (specifically with children), and children's or motherhood related brands. This will include slight rebrand but nothing major.
The SECOND is video. I will be introducing a new concept that will combine family photos and a family video that is more that just you guys looking adorable all in one session. By the end of the year, I will no longer be offering what has been my standard in the past of a one hour, strictly photo, session to families. Now, thats not to say I will no longer be offering photo only sessions, because I will, but they will look different then they currently do. More details on that soon. (It is going to be AWESOME! I promise you will adore the new structure).
The THIRD is YouTube. Working from my personal Instagram I am going to be starting a YouTube channel centered around baby, kid, and motherhood products. I will be focusing on comparing similar products and introducing new things on the market with reviews. I am an avid online and Instagram shopper. I LOVE to try out all things child and momma related and I want to share with you my findings. Everything I talk about and share on this channel will be something I have actually tried and my true thoughts and insight on the products. My hope with this is to save you both time and money by helping you find products that fit your needs. If I am going to be a shopaholic, you might as well benefit from it too :D
LAST but not least, I am changing how you know me. I have spent a lot of time trying to be who I thought I should be, specifically online. I have been afraid of what people would think of me and my weirdness and I want to push past this. So now it is your choice to take me authentically as I truly am, or not at all baby.
If you stuck with me through this whole post I commend you. In fact, go leave a comment about what you are most excited about on a photo on either my personal IG (@michelleataylor) or MayLily's (@maylilyphoto) and make sure to tag me and I will pick one person to win a free surprise gift(I'll give you a hint. It is a product that I love :D).
I love you so much. Thanks for sticking with me through this crazy journey. I cannot believe how lucky I am to have the tribe that I have.
Thank you! Thank you!
P.S. Those of you who are waiting for Utah fall photo session dates, I will post them in my stories on IG tomorrow and everywhere else next week. Sessions will be first come first serve. Last time I didn't even fully announce my slots before they were filled so this is your fair warning. <3