2016 was kind of awful
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December 31, 2016
By Amy Matthews
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Officially, I am on vacation until January 10th. By vacation I mean complete and total burn out, physically and mentally exhausted, hiding from the world and all adult responsibilities, and I'll do my best to sneak and check emails in between but I sure can't promise anything. You know how it goes, we all need a break sometimes! And when you have no boss to call in sick to and work 60+ hour weeks every single week of the year, you take extended breaks whenever possible. For photographers that's only after Christmas. No adulting for me.

 

Hey there! Yes, the poor blog was abandoned. It always happens when work and life get crazy in the fall. It's right there at the bottom of my priority list with cleaning out the 50 empty water bottles in the floorboard of my car. The blog deserves more respect, but like the water bottles in the car, it can't yell at me.

I thought 2015 was a little of a wild ride. Turns out, it was only a primer for 2016. This has been the most difficult year of my life. We won't yap on too much about personal stuff cause let's be honest, who cares? We're all fighting one battle or another. But I'll tell you a little. And then in my next blog post I'm going to ruffle feathers of some and have many more fellow photographers spitting their wine and/or coffee on the computer screen laughing. They won't comment publicly, cause anyone with half the sense God gave a goat wouldn't dare, but they'll contact me and quietly whisper by the dark of night-  thanks for being our spokesperson and saying what we can't say- ya big dummy. And I'll say thank you, and feel quite satisfied with my commentary, and then 2 days later beat myself up and say I should have kept my stupid mouth shut. But I don't say much around people I don't know or speak up. Once you get to know me personally, you can't shut me up, but the point is, if I've got something to say publicly, then I sure do have something to say, y'all. First the personal, then the feathers ruffled. Let's roll. See where this train-wreck goes shall we? 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I won top 20 wedding photographers in Durham, I won a merit (quite coveted and VERY hard to get) from competition on the state level,  Wake Forest Florist used one of my bridal portraits in their full page ad in The Knot Carolinas, and I was the spotlight feature photographer in the December issue of Carolina Photographer magazine.  Behind the scenes, I was fighting tooth and nail to stay afloat. Those close to me and the folks I have worked very closely with are aware of some of the challenges, but not the whole world. It's always a balancing act. You walk the tight rope leaning side to side one day thinking you really should share because what if what you're going through could help someone? The next day you're leaning to the other side, still about to fall, telling yourself to keep it quiet because you know any and everything you say can and will be held against you, misinterpreted, or judged heavily, so plead the 5th and keep your mouth shut.  What do I do? The stupid thing and start typing. When we get to the next blog of making people mad, cause you can't tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth without doing so, keep in mind those awards I've won before you call me bitter, jealous, or a million other things. 

The two big ones- 

I've had migraines since I was 10. They've been better or worse over the years for no apparent reason. I've tried every old wives tail and remedy you find on pinterest and it just does not work. I can take 50 baths a day in Vicks vapor rub, eat tree bark, have some asprin with my benadryl, cut out every food but celery, and chant til the cows come home but it doesn't help. My record is currently 17 days straight of torture and let's hope I don't break the record. Yes, that is 17 days of pain, puking, exhaustion, and the unfortunate inability to stare at a computer screen.  I have (painfully) shot weddings with migraines, a smile, and a lot of sweat from being in excruciating pain, but I have yet to find a way to sit at a computer with them. If you don't have them, you are quite blessed. They have been SO BAD that I kept quiet and waited them out before I went to full time photography. At that time 7 years ago, I thought we had them under control. For years I'd have maybe 4 a month and that, I could live with. They decided to come back with a vengeance and a pitchfork at my door this year and there was no way I could have seen it coming. For that, I apologize for being late with delivering work. But- we did get everything done by Christmas as promised! 

Number 2 thorn in my flesh, degenerative disc disease. It started in the fall of 2015. My regular doctor thought it was just bone spurs in my hip joints and a little sciatica. So put the ice on it, rest a couple days after your wedding, and keep moving.  Due to many fights with our insurance company and hoops to jump though, I didn't receive a proper diagnosis until the MRI results came back in April. I still didn't quite understand it until I went for epidural steroid injections in October. The doctor giving them to me was kind enough to explain in laymen's terms exactly where the problem (S)  were.  I have one collapsed disc, some bulging and herniated, and some sort of issue with a nerve. Because I'm just freaking weird, instead of hurting where I should, I have a lot of what they call "referred" pain. That means it doesn't always hurt where the disc is collapsed, it may hurt in my hip joints. Not gonna lie to you, it hurts like the devil when you're on your feet for 9 hours carrying 30 pounds of equipment, climbing, running, squatting, lying in the grass, sinking in the mud, or countless other crazy mess that we dedicated artsy fartsy photographers will do just to get the shot we have in our heads. It hurts 10x worse the day after. I'm old school, we know that. So I do my best to get everything right in camera rather than sit around in photoshop and fix it later. I keep it real, yo. Em,K? If you hand me film and a light meter I can handle it. Not many photographers can say that, and I"m not tooting my own horn, I'm just a firm believer in knowing your fundamentals. Still, with weddings, you don't have time to set a proper white balance when you move from one room to the next or perfect your exposure when you swing that camera around and half less than 2 seconds to get the shot. It happens ok. So there's a LOT of sitting at the computer correcting color on every. stinking. picture. because if my name is on it, then it better be right. And all that sitting at the computer does not make messed up discs happy. 

I'm a tough old goat so I carried on and got the job done. I'm not perfect, I couldn't stick to some of the deadlines I set for myself, but I tried my very best to stick to my word and the things I promised people. So no matter how bad it hurt, there were promises to be fulfilled and there was work to be done. I can't tell you how thankful I am for the kind people who were understanding and sympathized with me. If there is ever anything I can do to help someone who is fighting similar issues, please don't hesitate to come and talk to me. Unfortunately I was cursed with the gift of empathy and I'm quite good at keeping secrets. I'm here for anyone who needs a shoulder to cry on! 

As for my personal life, my husband works ALL the time. He's the middle man of sorts in one of the departments of Revlon. He gets the crap hours. Thank God they've made a new rule that you cannot work more than 13 days straight, cause I was about to offer to go decorate his home away from home and put our pictures on his desk to remember us by. So with that, it means the weight of the world is on MY shoulders. It's not his choice, it's just the luck of the draw. If you don't have a family, you cannot fully understand this. But when you have children and family to take care of, you most certainly do. All the bill paying, grocery shopping, cleaning (ha! that's last on my list), calling family members, going to family functions, taking our daughter back and forth to school, dealing with anything related to school, washing clothes, getting oil changed in the car, preparing meals, chauffeuring teenagers, and a million other things you single parents and stay at home moms have to do yourself - was all on me and me alone and you know that's a heavy burden to bare. Throw on top of that trying to run a business on your own because you can't afford to hire employees and now we're all ready to take a nap or just roll over into the fetal position, wave the white flag, and confess our defeat. 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times........  

So much good happened. But now you know what went on behind the scenes and why I was so hesitant to give anyone a solid date of when work would be completed! Next blog post, I promise to be entertaining and not so Eeyore-like. 

 

and the next blog, I got something to say! Look out! The typing fingers are hot y'all! 

 

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