November Recap + End of Year Thoughts

Hi beauties!  How was your November?  

To be honest, I can't believe it's already December - I haven't stopped to really consider all that has happened in November, but I just know it was a lot!  A lot of great things, memories made, laughter, family time, a couple of tough moments, and celebrating.

Work

  • Road-tripped to the Outer Banks with Nancy to do a tag-team hair/makeup and photo session for my cousin's engagement photos!  
  • Met with one of my favorites (& designer of this website) Sarah of Native State Design to dream about some creative endeavors I've been combing through over the last several months, hopefully to come to life in 2018!
  • Partied hard at the Southern Weddings Volume 10 Launch Party!  What a fun night to dress up to the nines, celebrate a beautiful print magazine & their team, & hug people I love but don't often get to see outside of a wedding day!  By the way, did you see this editorial I was a part of?
  • Did hair and makeup for my friend Katie's wedding day (& tried Lipsense for the first time for her wedding! What do y'all think of Lipsense?? Gonna compile my thoughts here soon!)
  • Did hair and makeup for my sister-in-law and one of my dearest friend's, Jess', wedding!  I was running behind with HAMU, I was sweating like a pig, I remembered what it's like to be IN a wedding whilst getting hair and makeup done (& have a renewed sense of purpose to provide as much structure, peace, and stability as possible to my clients!) It was SUCH a beautiful day!  Joanne & Amy joined as well to help out the rest of the girls, and did a fantastic job as always!
  • Joined Beautycounter!  After a ton of time, a ton of thought, trying out product, reading up extensively on the business, purpose, and mission.  Click here to read why I chose BC for me and for LULA, and click here to shop with me!
  • Facetimed with my sweet friend Rhi of Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations and got encouraged about business, taking time away, the highs and lows of social media, and dreaming of 2018.  It is SO good to connect with other business owners in your industry to be encouraged and uplifted!

Personal

  • Took care of my little Milly niece and Winston for a couple of days
  • Helped host a bridesmaid day at my home to celebrate Jess pre-wedding!  We got our nails done, visited her new beautiful home, ate lunch back at my place, watch Gilmore Girls, did a little gifting time, and ate dinner at Bartaco (if you haven't been, you need to go! And trust me when I tell you to get a margarita and a pork belly taco!)
  • Left for the beach and celebrated all week long for Jess and Kyle's wedding!!  Woohoo!
  • Slept one million hours after that
  • Had a Thanksgiving Eve surprise date-night with John to Brewery Bhavana at the bar - Pork Bao, trust me on this one too!
  • Made the most kickass apple pie - I use this recipe from BHG every Thanksgiving and it's not for the faint of heart, but it is SO GOOD.
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband's family on T-giving day, then my family on Saturday.  On the day in between, we hiked part of the MTS trail in north Raleigh and the day was just the finest Raleigh in the fall has to offer.  We got our tree - at Kroger : )  Nothing like good prices and simplicity sometimes! 
  • Decorated our tree and our home for the holidays!  
  • Dealt with a little surprise meltdown moment, only to realize I was still dealing with loss - it was the 2 year anniversary of being pregnant, our only time conceiving in the last 3 years.  What a journey!  God is good and present through it all!
  • Reading Animal Vegetable Miracle still, and finishing up the last chapter (December) of The Life-Giving Home.  I highly recommend both of these for your 2018 reading list!
  • Trying to wake up a bit earlier to enjoy more daylight and have extended morning time to do all the things I like to do - time with Jesus, a few chores, breakfast, and working out.  Going well so far!

December + End of Year Thoughts

What an amazing year.  I really want to thank you, my kindred friends, for supporting me through so much change this year!  It wasn't easy, but I'm glad I told you all about it.  I really believe that being vulnerable and transparent is one of the strongest tools God uses in us, to encourage one another, bridge the gaps of isolation, and do some real healing.  I'm really thankful for you!  I can't wait to see what 2018 brings, and I can't wait to share what I've been dreaming up for all of us.  Thank you for your patience, your kindness, and your encouragement with and to me!

In December, I'm looking forward to a few things:

  • One engagement session, one trial, and one wedding (because let's be honest, the extra money is going to be helpful for holidaying!  And, I want to keep my skills sharp and my heart soft!)
  • Hosting our first ever holiday party for a few friends in our home.  I'm a little nervie but the best way to get over that is to just do it : )
  • Maybe sing a little
  • Go see the Governor's Mansion all beautifully decked out in red, gold, and green
  • Hang out with friends and family
  • Attend a few parties as well!
  • Do a little more shopping and wrap my presents
  • Get back in the gym with all the pre-wedding gusto I had a few weeks ago!  It really does make me feel so much better physically and emotionally!

How can I encourage you this month?  Message me or comment below.  Do you have goals posted - link em!  I wanna cheer you on!

All my love Lulettes,

Sam

 

Summer Recap + Fall Happenings

June & July:

  • 7 weddings - my last weddings for 2017.  Hooray!
  • 6 trials/misc photoshoots (including Anna P.'s headshots, Nancy's maternity & newborn photos, and doing my aunt Becky's hair and makeup for her 60th bday!  Such a treat!)
  • Was featured on the Something Pretty blog ("True Beauty, An Interview with Samantha Ray"), What Inspires You Daily #peoplewhoinspire series, and Kristin of Rebecca Rose Event's Fangirl Friday roundup!  Thanks ladies for sharing so much love!
  • I turned 30!  John planned a beautiful evening party at my favorite park with all my best family & friends present.  We took a communal train ride, ate pizza & chips (my idea), and I was serenaded by my best friends.
  • Enjoyed a surprise visit to Nashville thanks to John who purchased tix for me, and arranged for me to stay with my TN BFF Laura
  • Hung out with a bunch of friends over lunches & dinners - Fiction Kitchen, Brewery Bhavana, Sola, and PDQ
  • Went to Beaufort twice - for July 4th and then later with my mom
  • Hung out with my nieces & nephews, and welcomed my newest niece Lyndon Whitfield into the world (P.S. - that middle name? Totally my middle name.  Yes.  I have a namesake!)
  • Sang BGV's on a dear friend's new project - Taylor Leonhardt's album River House is coming out this fall!  I can't wait.
  • Celebrated John's 27th bday with cinnamon rolls, morning/noon/night presents, Mexican dinner with friends, and Goodberry's!
  • Swam at the beach and the pool
  • Girls nights - it's not good until someone's crying : )  And we usually do!
  • Lots of rest, relaxing, fun, BBC shows, vitamins, water, sleep, laughter, church, family, and friends.

August & September:

  • Enjoy Saturdays with John! Woohoo!!
  • Hang with the Cultivate gals for a promo shoot!  Can't wait to share more!
  • Work with Kat de la Cruz for a "Beautiful You" styled shoot - 2 days, 6 women, tons of fun! 
  • Apple, pumpkin, squash, and gourd season at the Farmer's Market
  • Camping over Labor Day weekend
  • Planning an autumn weekend getaway to Blowing Rock, NC
  • Writing music
  • Another guest blog publication or two ; )
  • Mighty Leaf "African Nectar" Tea
  • More resting, laughter, reading books, watching shows, and getting outside

How has your summer been?  What are you looking forward to this fall?

On Life & Stopping Weddings (for now)

I finished my last wedding of 2017 on August 5th, and will be taking a sizable sabbatical from weddings until further notice.

Don't worry - it's more of a "yay!" for me!  I am looking back at a finish line that, at the beginning of this year, I didn't even know was coming!  I am filled with so much gratitude, love, settledness, and peace on this side of things!  I am really so excited for all that is to come in life and in LULA.

    Photo courtesy of Ally & Bobby

    Photo courtesy of Ally & Bobby

    Those close with me know that this year has been a really tough one for me, and if you've been reading some of my posts from the last 6 months, you may have an idea of what's been up.  You can read the progression in these posts -

    Just to answer a few FAQ's from the get-go:

    • Will you be taking weddings in 2018 & beyond?  Are you done with weddings forever?   I don't know yet.  I know that I need a sizable amount of time to rest and then figure out what will be best for me and my family, so I am currently saying no to all wedding inquiries to allow that.  Thanks for your patience during this transition!  If you are getting married January-June of 2018 and want to secure your HAMU artist as soon as possible, I recommend reaching out to other artists first!

    • Does this mean LULA is closed/over/finished?   No, I'm still here!  I will still be taking HAMU clients for headshot sessions, branding photo shoots, commercial and corporate work, inspirational photoshoots/styled shoots, maternity sessions, day-in-the-life sessions, parties, nights on the town, etc. : )   I will also continue blogging on the LULA journal and sending out the LULETTE GAZETTE, and hopefully contributing to other publications regarding true beauty, self care, and some good old fashioned hair and makeup tips.

    • How did you come to make this decision?  Is everything ok?  Everything is ok, but I definitely didn't have this planned!  For the full story, skip to the lengthier portion below!

    • Who do you recommend for my wedding day hair and makeup while you are unavailable?  Thankfully our industry is growing and getting more amazing all the time.  Please see this post of a list of other local women I trust immensely!

    The Backstory:

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    In January, like many of us, I made a plan of what all I wanted this year to hold.  By the end of February, all of those plans got stuck in a blender and life hit PUREE.  It took me several months to even understand what all I was experiencing, so it was especially hard to vocalize to others what was going on.  I was experiencing scary physical symptoms I didn't understand, was taking a new medicine to help our chances of getting pregnant (we've been trying for three years with the scary diagnosis "unexplained infertility"), was constantly meeting with clients, and endlessly planning with new brides about their weddings through 2017 and into 2018.  I thought I should just sleep more, relax more, work out more, eat better, cut caffeine, get out of town for a minute, say "no" more, get a mani, read another .pdf about how to run a small business/automate/get your ideal client, make better goals, or pray better.  

    I remember going to a girl's night, what was supposed to be chill fun, food, and girl talk, and full-out ugly-crying in front of everyone.  I couldn't control what was happening.  I couldn't stop shaking or feeling panicked - even simple things like waking up, watching a movie, talking face-to-face even to a friend, or reading a book would cause feelings of immense fear.  In the middle of bridal trials (where I was supposed to be putting brides-to-be at ease) I would feel like I was going to pass out, throw up, or be unable to do their makeup or hair because I was shaking so badly.  I had never experienced panic attacks or anxiety on this level before, so I didn't know what it was, and I didn't have a language for it.

    If that paragraph was tough for you to read, it was tough for me to write and relive! 

    There is an unspoken lie that small businesses, #influencers, and #brands aren't supposed to show you the real ugly personal stuff, because if we're really doing things right we aren't supposed to have real ugly personal stuff.  We show a "real" that is mostly endearing and tied up nicely with the hashtag #reallife - a mound of unfolded laundry, a blouse with spilt coffee on it - not a breakdown.  I felt like a fraud, like I had to push through so business could carry on as usual.  

    Well, when pushing through didn't work (no surprise there),  I had to have a lot of hard convos with God, with my husband, with Nichole my admin assistant, and figure out what should happen with me and with LULA.  We reached out to a pastor at our church, and he connected me with a trusted source to provide healing and deliverance counseling.  Since I was feeling unable to provide the quality of services I promised for brides on their wedding days, I let several of my booked clients out of their contract and had to pay back deposits for the first time. So, freakin, humbling (humiliating? embarrassing? yep.  All the girls were so understanding - I am so thankful!)  My only business goal from then on was to complete the rest of my weddings with as much strength, joy, and professionalism as I could, enjoy the new margin time to heal, and make it to August 6th.  

    With that decision came so much relief!  I immediately felt space to heal, space to hear myself, and space to sort through everything that was happening.  And this summer has been wonderful, with great wedding experiences, healing friendships, and lots of rest! (I wrote a separate post recapping what I've been up to this summer - check that out here!)

    I just want to say, the following is not normal.  Another lie is that even though it's not exactly healthy, it's normal for success.  

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    Photo courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography

    • Living your life in a constant inner conversation of "go go go," or "what's next," or "how can I be/do better" - a Busier-means-I'm-Better mentality
    • Looking at your life activities in terms of blog post/social media/business content
    • Living for efficiency, or defining success by the amount of things you cross of your goal list
    • Regularly feeling tense, behind, out of date, like you've missed something direly important, or disappointed in yourself
    • Heart racing
    • Regularly feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping
    • Exhaustion, or not being able to rest during allotted rest times or vacations
    • Feeling like you must account for all of your time to your people/tribe/sphere of influence, if you don't, you will disappoint people or hurt your reputation

     

    I really want to be a voice in this powerful world of blog personalities, "influencers," and boss ladies - give your self permission.  You have permission to be a human.  You don't have to hide your ugly for fear of being an untrustworthy business.  Take care of yourself before you take care of your business and your tribe.  Use the list above loosely as red flags to look out for.  Just because there are common prescribed ways to own a small business and do really well at it (I mean just search that in Pinterest and get ready for a black hole of overwhelming information), doesn't mean you have to do it all just like that.  Make things work for you, where you are.

    I'd love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment or email me at sam (at) lulahairandmakeup (dot) com.

    I love you and am so thankful for you!  Thank you all for your continued support during this season.  Thank you for celebrating with me and for encouraging me along the way.  Really hoping I can do the same for all of you, too.

    With love, joy, thankfulness, and an open hand from me to you,

    Sam