Do What you LOVE, LOVE what you Do

February 19, 2016  •  5 Comments

My parents always preached to us as kids, "no matter what you choose to do in life, do something that makes you happy.  You will work a lot of years and it is not worth it to be unhappy".  My parents are pretty cool, wise and have ALWAYS been supportive in me and my brother's career decisions.  Even when I decided to rent cars right out of college (which had nothing to do with my major, nor the student loans I was paying on), they were happy for me (probably just because I had a paycheck, but that's another story).  

In 2012 I found myself at a crossroads.  I had spent approximately 15 years working in higher education, more specifically working in financial aid.  While I thoroughly enjoyed working with students and assisting with their dreams of earning their degrees, I had worked my way up the "proverbial" career ladder and spent a lot less time assisting students one on one and a lot more time navigating politics and dealing with tragic budget cuts.

My husband and I decided to start our family in 2010 and our precious little Kody was born.  He changed my life in so many amazing ways.  My "no problem" one way hour commute to work became a "major PIA" because it meant less time with my son.  I started having uneasy feelings about all of the time I spent away from him, but would push it out of my thoughts as I knew so many other moms that were working and raising kids.  After about 1.5 years of pushing through, driving far and becoming more and more cranky, I realized it wasn't about working and raising kids, it was about quality time and being HAPPY.  

One of the things during this crazy time that made me HAPPY was my camera.  I won my first film camera in the 6th grade selling magazines (remember those glorious fundraisers)? From that time on, I usually had a camera in my hand taking photographs of everything and anything.  My husband, Dave, bought me a DSLR right after Kody was born and I began taking workshops as I wanted to learn how to use the beast off of auto mode :).  I took pictures of Kody almost every day.  I LOVE photographs.  I have TONS.  I have albums and albums of old photographs that I still proudly display on my bookshelf in the living room.  I can probably dig up some oldies but goodies on some of you reading this blog post :)

Back to that crossroads.  I was pretty miserable.  Do I stay doing something because my Masters degree lead me to that and because it's what I know or do I leave and take a leap of faith that everything is going to be ok?  Dave encouraged me to leave on many occasions and finally helped me make the difficult decision of packing up my stuff and never looking back.  I thought he was crazy, I laughed, I cried and I was scared.  

I spent the next few months soul searching and spending every quality moment I could with Kody. I started reading and immersing myself in all things photography because that is what reignited my soul, made me happy and also kept my love of learning in tact.  I remember when I told Dave that I wanted to start a photography business.  I'm sure on the inside, he was like "what the HELL", but on the outside he said, "well all you can do is go for it and we will see what happens".  

So that's what I did.  I read more, I got my license, starting building my portfolio and started putting all of my years of learning in action.  I'm not going to lie, the first year was so hard financially, but mentally I was in such a better place, I got to spend much needed time with Kody and Dave stuck with me and my crazy dream.  And we grew our family in 2013, with our little guy Jakob and I got to spend so much time at home with him during his first year, that we often call him my "mole".  He is definitely a mommy's boy and at 2 looks at me and says "mommy, hold me" and I wouldn't have it any other way :)

Speaking of dreams, I have many but one of those was to open a studio to better serve my clients.  I have been talking about this for a long, long time. About a month ago, Dave spotted a new building in our little town of Rimrock, called and within 3 days I signed a lease on a cozy studio!  If you would have told me 3.5 years ago that this would be happening, in the midst of my tears, I would have looked at you and laughed.  But it's so important to follow that "gut feeling" and to do what makes you HAPPY.  Do what you LOVE and LOVE what you do.  Take the LEAP, it's scary but we have to face our fears to move forward...and I still have to tell myself this on a daily basis :)

SO with all of this blabbing, I'm SUPER excited to announce that I will be hosting a Grand Opening/Open House at my studio on March 12th from Noon-4pm!  It's located at 3470 E Beaver Creek Road, Suite A, Rimrock, AZ 86335.  Come stop by for some appetizers, cocktails, fun photos and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!  

This studio has come together with much love and I can't thank Heather Swigart enough for the endless hours that she has put into to helping me with my crazy ideas and lending me some of hers ;) 

Here's a teaser of the studio, but I'm hoping that you will still stop by to see it for yourself, besides it's so much better in person <3






Ivory LaNoue(non-registered)
Congratulations on your new studio, Michelle. Heather told us about it. I plan to come by during your grand opening and see it in person. It looks gorgeous in the photos. Very glamorous and fun!
Thank you for sharing this personal statement. I can feel all your passion and emotion about family and photography, and I really appreciate it! Congratulations Michelle. Your work is beautiful and I hope one day to learn something from you so I can also shot my camera off auto! Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
Kristie Jones(non-registered)
Michelle, I remember when you were in the midst of making your life changing decision. You are so right and courageous. Congratulations! We would be there if it weren't for the distance. :) maybe one day we'll stop by. :)
Pamela Bridgnell(non-registered)
I truly wish you all the luck in the world...but I know you, your making your own luck, leaving nothing to chance. You go girl!
Auntie Bert Anderson(non-registered)
Your studio is beautiful Mija! You are so brave to take that risk and so right to take it because you MUST do what you love to be happy in life. I am so proud of you and Dave! I love you!
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