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  • Writer's pictureJulie M. Gile


You are not supposed to play small.  I know that, I’ve read that, I’ve been coached for that.  This past year though I made a choice to go above the noise and play small, and I’m not apologizing.  Here’s what I learned--

1. Energy leaks

It’s been a year of shifting for me.  I’ve been taking the time to move big things off my plate this past few months.  When a project or a person is taking up more energy to keep stable than to just transition away from it may need to be shifted. 

For those of you who deal with family members struggling with mental health issues then you know what I mean about energy leaks and the need for boundaries.  It’s been big, it’s been painful, it’s scorched me, and this is giving me momentum for deep personal and professional growth.

The next chapter will look different, and I am ready.

2. Quality over quantity

I’ve always been blessed with amazing friends, and even back to my highschool days friendship has been about quality over quantity.  For my business in the past year I made big strides for quantity, but found myself just really not enjoying the process or the result. Driving, pushing, striving just didn’t feel meaningful to me.  It felt like a distraction from the heart of what I want to do--connect brand stories through intentional, targeted photography. Dig deep with my clients, and create.

What DID feel meaningful was making solid connections, amazing clients I can count on, connect with, and represent in the most authentic way.  Authentic clients who opened their hearts, passions, and purposes to me and let me return in kind with my most creative self. Genuine clients who trust me with their moments, their passion, their team, and trusted me again and again.

I played small and took care of these clients fiercely, and celebrated their wins.  

3. Diapers

I played small this year because of diapers, the stinky ones and the super saturated ones too.  My littlest son Henry is 3, and just getting ready to start potty training. The diaper days for us are almost over, and while some parents celebrate (I’m sure I will eventually) I want to savor these days before we have both kids full time in school and everyone’s world just gets bigger. It’s an amazing responsibility being a Mom, and I’m holding on to this time with fierceness.

When I was pushing and pushing the business I was resenting my homelife for taking up too much time. There were times in my business I treated my kids like the problem instead of the amazing solution and excuse to be present. 

Then I shifted. I played small in business so I can play big at home.

My Mom always used to tell me being a Mom was her “most favorite job in the whole wide world”, and not only do I tell this to my kids daily but I make sure we live it. Lego parties, sushi nights with Old Maid, camouflage band-aids, picnics in the homemade forts, storytime, ninja course in the basement, races, hide and seek flashlight tag, and who knows what else we’ll come up with.

My Mom passed away 4 years ago, and you better believe she never wished she had spent more time working. Her void in our lives is palpable, and I’m cherishing my time as a Mother.

I played small in business so I can play big at home.

4. The Candle

I learned a hard lesson this year about myself--there are consequences for not paying more attention to yourself.  Hands down the best lesson of business ownership I have had, mixed in with the best lesson of motherhood, and the best lesson of dealing with a mentally ill sibling ALL at the same time has been this:  hold onto yourself in the middle, white knuckled

I lost myself in the middle, and it’s been a long, slow process of healing.  Burning the candle at both ends just burned me. I was pushing hard at work, staying up WAY too late, treating my kids like they were the reason for all the stress.  The reality is my kids are the solution to stress--they are divine teachers in being present.

Then I shifted.

I played small so I can support myself first and foremost, and it’s working.  More nourishing, less hustle. This may come easier to some, but it’s been a whole new enlightening practice for me. There is now non-negotiable meditation twice daily, and even my kids ask me about it.  My creativity flows in more colors than ever, and my body energy is cleaner. It’s a process, but it’s also a practice. Your life grows from your energy, so make it healthy.

I played small this year so I can grow.

5. Hit Delete

You know exactly what I’m talking about--all those emails in your inbox about what you absolutely NEED, what you MUST HAVE NOW, and people who don’t even know you telling you what you’re ABSOLUTELY missing out on. 

I had to S T O P.

Then I hit delete.

Then I unsubscribed.

While I believe those people have passions and purposes too, the email bombardment is NOISE. These emails distract me from what I am driven to do, they sell me stuff from people not invested in me.  In reality, the problems so generously poke and prodded at are issues I will address, and being sidetracked wasn’t serving my goals. I played small and I focused on my path and put more of what lights me up in my path instead of what drains me.

I’m sure there are hundreds of amazing business coaches out there who will say “you can have it all!” and “it’s a confidence issue, I can help you with that!” but the reality is this lesson in self worth was something I had to learn on my own--my body is my best teacher.  Your life and your business grow from YOU, and this is the single most important place to put your energy. Anything leading you astray from nurturing yourself first needs hard evaluation. Shifting life around to honor myself in the middle is the major change I needed this season, and I am tremendously grateful.  I’m fully aware there will be other seasons personally and professionally for me, but this winter has been a gift.

When it comes to photography, I am ready to connect and hear your story.  To represent you and what drives your passion in the most authentic, quality over quantity. Connecting your brand story through intentional, targeted photography.  

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