August 14, 2021
I absolutely LOVE what I’m doing!
Here’s the amazing thing. There are no “buts!” It thrills me so much to say for the first time in a VERY long time I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere.
Come with me. Let me show you.
Just as I’m taking you on the journey of independent film-making and novel-writing and baby-raising (and sometimes grieving and wishing and praying), I’m determined to take you on this photography journey too. I have a lot of kettles on this gorgeous, vintage black stove: the one I see inside my head that SOMETIMES needs to be cleaned. And yes, sometimes I get tired. REALLY tired. But daily, I’m in awe of the fact that I have functional eyes, hands that work, and a body that can get up and move around. I don’t take these gifts lightly (though I often taken them for granted). I hope that you don’t, either! Life on this planet (and our health) is so temporary. I’m SO grateful for all that I can do.
But, I’m not always this optimistic.
I don’t always feel as confident as I look or sound.
Sometimes life happens.
Call it the pessimistic gloomies. Maybe it’s just weariness from parenting. Call it a mid-life crisis. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m dealing with. I know MANY of you have experienced this, are experiencing it, or dread the very thought of experiencing it. But, it’s a very real place, and I think it’s a legitimate place to be.
And there’s no shame in it.
I turned 41 in July. It was a lot easier to turn 41 than it was to turn 40. Maybe because I feel like the number-counting-thing has “shut off” inside my head. Ha! So weird. I feel like it doesn’t matter how old I am now. Birthdays are milestones when you hit the age of 18, 21, and so on. But now, I feel like they are just a reason to get together and eat my favorite birthday treat: molasses cookies from Falls Baking Company.
I LOVE that I’m free to think this way! But, in 2020, I felt very differently. I turned 40 in the middle of the pandemic. My husband understood me when I refused a party because I didn’t want to make it a big deal. I was sad to see more wrinkles on my face, and my pregnant body was crying out to me, “THIS NEEDS TO BE THE END of baby-making!!” At the same time, I’d already decided to re-launch my photography business but JUST before the virus hit the country. Suddenly, in the midst of my renewed excitement, everything shut down.
I questioned a LOT of things.
“NOW what am I going to do?? I’m turning 40! I’m running out of time! I can’t run fast enough, work hard enough, be creative enough to make all of this pay off in time to make a real impact! A year is SO LONG to sit and wait for life to happen!”
I’m so thankful that my husband is always a voice of reason in all of this emotional chaos (multiply that exponentially in pregnancy). I’m also thankful that our family doesn’t currently rely on my income. More than once, Caleb and I found ourselves so grateful as we know others were trying to navigate tricky, Covid-related financial circumstances. But, I was SO disappointed. I was beginning to really warm up to the idea of being a photographer again. I’d only booked one wedding, and I knew that nobody knew that I existed in this capacity. I didn’t have a website, I had no updated portfolio, and we (as so many people that year) were STILL waiting for an income tax return to invest in new equipment.
SO. MUCH. WAITING.
When I turned 40, (and still without much of any of that) I found myself doubting the decision to be a photographer again every day. Should I be trying this? What will come of it? God was already asking me to set aside Redeemer’s Song Ministries, and that hurt A LOT. Maybe teaching really IS where I needed to be. And, as much as I love students (I crave and miss those precious relationships), it didn’t spark a fire in me the way it used to and that SCARED ME.
After all, I HAVE a teaching degree. I’m good at it. I enjoy it. People appreciate me. A steady paycheck is nice. We’re paying for that degree (and more). I’m capable, I know how, it would be easy.
No student deserves that kind of apathy.
I’d wallow in this, almost depressed. Then, the shame of debt would come into play. Caleb and I used to stare at this mountain of student loan debt like two deer in high-beam headlights. Sometimes, we still do. We didn’t accumulate this debt overnight. We will never dig out from under it overnight. It’s a scary situation when you REALLY stop to think about what all of this debt means. But, then we remind ourselves of all that we’ve learned through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. It’s possible to pay it ALL off, just as many others have. We remember this, and we breathe a little easier. But, because of what we know, we are fully aware that we don’t make enough to pay this off very quickly. This means delaying important goals like college tuition for the kids, a paid-for house, and most importantly, retirement.
“Sarah, you’re not THAT old. Are you certain it’s even worth it to try?”
Nothing is certain. But, we live our lives in certainty anyway, and we are CERTAIN that retirement is a WHOLE lot closer to us now that it was when we met.
“Great! So, you know exactly what to do!”
Yes. Which is why urgency is such a very real part of my life.
“Aren’t you stressing out over things that really don’t matter in the end?”
No. And yes, I talk to myself.
Here’s the thing. I’m not afraid for my LIFE. But, I’m not ok sitting on my butt nor making the assumption that things will be ok if I just let life happen to ME. I found in myself a desire to make changes. The idea of my kids having debt-free parents someday was SUPER motivating. Wanting to make choices not based on financial limitations made me REALLY want to clean the slate and dump the debt for good. In fact, the word “motivation” doesn’t cut it. I needed a new word. Or, more than one.
Living. On. Purpose.
In 2020, in order to live well and do what inspires me, LEARNING had to become a top priority. Truthfully, in the Great Pandemic Shutdown, I had nothing else to do. It was the perfect environment. The desire to learn more so I could do more when the world opened up became the catalyst for completely overhauling my business. I feel like I made a brand new start emotionally. Discover Larson Photography became tremendously intentional with EVERY decision, and I now know my WHY more than ever: to serve peaceful, passionate, purposeful women and their families.
Whoa, my year got SUPER busy when I discovered this! I found like-minded photographers, learned how to successfully create communities, became obsessed with Hex Codes, and learned how to build my own website. Most of my time was spent practicing skills by renting higher-end equipment every chance I got. Bit by bit, I explored a style that I never realized I had. I made friendships, connected with photographers around the world, and started creating a dream list of the countries I’d love to shoot weddings in. I never considered being state-wide, let alone global.
AND I fell in love with flowers.
All of this gave me peace-filled, passionate, purposeful excitement for loving people in this way!
One night, I remember praying in tears, “Lord, WHY not Redeemer’s Song Ministries? Why does it seem like You mean to take away the ONE thing that creatively feeds me!”
“I want to feed you.”
“But what if I never get it back?”
“You might not.”
“If I give it You, maybe someday You WILL give it back.”
“Or, maybe I’ll give you something even better. For My peaceful, passionate, purposeful reasons, and for the people that I love.”
It’s quite a humbling experience to realize that He has given me an opportunity that I would have NEVER considered on my own. I didn’t know I could love people with a camera, serve Him in this capacity, and be a part of people’s lives from such a personal and priceless perspective.
Friends, please know that it’s not too late to start something new. It’s not too late to give something up. Sometimes giving up means getting, and sometimes getting up to do things means letting go.
What a year. What a ride. Let’s go!