Escaping Business With Our First Family Vacation

Like white water rafting or flying through a good book in one sitting is for some people, Fearless and Framed® is my thrill. Truthfully, I’m the opposite of someone that experiences business burnout…. I can’t get enough.

I’ve been running businesses since 2008 and though there’s been some zigging + zagging, I truly enjoy the journey. I mean, I’ve definitely experienced all the fears, ideas that flopped, and uncertainties that entrepreneurship brings.

The point is, turning off work-mode is a challenge every day for me.

I call it sickly-driven and carry a lot of guilt over this. I’m not being the best mom or wife I could be. I’ll catch myself spending time with the kids as they play with the hose + buckets; while physically present, my mind will drift back to work.

Typically, when I’m not supposed to be working is when I have the best ideas! Those ideas ignite the need to get back to work (to create, to play) – like a primal need within. It’s a hard cycle to escape when you’re in it deep, but I’ve cracked the code for myself (another story for another day).

So this is a message for all of my go-go-go, hustlin’ readers that have a hard time letting themselves chill out, work-free, and guilt-free.

#dreamobsessed

I have big, ambitious dreams too.

These dreams often set me apart from friends, family, colleagues, you name it… making me feel like the weird one. It feels like there’s a whole part of me my family & friends don’t know, because they don’t get it. Talking about it results in blank, confused stares.

F&F® has become a virtual family of people who get it… who get me. You see, sometimes people I know in real life, I hear their big, ambitious dreams. My mind automatically translates the dream into an action plan.

And then I hear it.

“Yeah right, Marie” or “I wish.”

It crushes me, because I know they could achieve the life plan they want.

You can achieve the life plan you want (and I can sprinkle a little #mariemagic into your doubts if it’ll help).

So, in a nutshell, that’s why this vacation was such a big deal + outside of my norm: 

I decided to take a mandatory mental break from business, immerse myself in my family, and reconnect to my values. The secret is, doing this actually sparked up more energy for my business on the other side of that time away. Win / win all round.

Our first vacation as a family of four:

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work-life balance for photographers

Destination: North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Kendall and I have been to this resort before. I loved how relaxed this place is and NOT full of spring-break kids like downtown Myrtle Beach is at Spring Break.

I was worried about what this trip would be like with our son, Levi. Oh, how I cannot wait until he’s an adult and I can tell him all the stories of how he lovingly drives us bananas most of the time. The energy this child carries is like nothing I’ve ever seen, challenging every direction we give and laughs in your face at any kind of discipline or firm talkin’ to.

He did wear us out, daily.

This trip was a total re-connection for our family. We swam, we barbecued, we saw tigers, went to an aquarium, we played in the sand, we visited old friends and had fresh shrimp & fish for supper. Mostly, we ate up the time together.

Most images my Canon 5D Mark III 24-70mm 2.8L and a handful of iPhone photos:

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Oh yes, we ended our trip driving through a blizzard in Ohio and kissing a cement guard wall head-on on the highway.

Way to go out with a literal bang, right?

Luckily, no one was hurt (except for the truck) and we didn’t ricochet back into traffic or anything. The crazy snow photos from above will forever be a reminder of the hand that was on us that night making sure we got home safe.

If you’re submerged in life day in and day out, I challenge you to consider doing something for you. Your mind and body will thank you. Tell me in the comments:

What have you done lately to escape all the business and chaos and treat yourself?

Bonus content:

Achieving Balance for Your Work-Life Boundaries

There’s no reaching a perfect work-life balance, but doing your best to do what you can, day in and day out, is a constant dance. You choose how you perceive “constant” – as a drag or as a privilege (control in what you decide, in what you allow, etc.).

That mindset can make all the difference.

Michael Hyatt wrote a book called Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want (affiliate link), which talks about designing your life plan (if you purchase the book, make sure you visit here to grab the bonus workbook).

Before learning about the book, I listened to his guest appearance on Amy Porterfield’s podcast. Michael spoke about drifting in life and referenced a story about him and his wife drifting out to sea while snorkeling in Hawaii. Scary stuff! The point of his story was to say that we do that in life.

No one intentionally gains a ton of weight or heads down a path far from their dreams. Instead, we drift to these places, slowly and almost near invisibly. This resonated with me deeply, because sometimes I wonder, ‘How on earth did I get where I am?!’ in many facets of my life.

Think about the areas in your life you’re constantly trying to improve or get by on:

Your creative side, your health, spirituality, money, love, family, friendship, etc.

Is there one area that’s totally stressing you out or bringing you down?

What if instead of whittling away on each area daily, you intentionally focus on one area (the stressor or the one that would result in satisfaction + motivation + energy)?

How would alleviating that stressor make you feel?

How would that feeling impact other areas of your life?

For example, say you’re painting 4 walls in your home. You roll one stroke of paint on each wall, rotating walls with each stroke. The energy it takes to complete the room will feel like little progress is happening. Instead, focusing on one wall at a time will result in a achievement providing a burst energy to move onto the next and belief in reaching the finish.

Total motivation.

This is why financial advisors want you to aggressively work to pay off your smallest debt first rather than spreading around payments making little progress.

Spring 2015, my stressor was inconsistent income, which resulted in FEAR.

Will I be able to pay my bills in a few months? Am I wasting our family money on childcare + the one at fault for doing so? All the thoughts!

Trying to run both my photography business and Fearless and Framed® was like running a business plan of passion & hope. I was excellent at marketing, audience growth, and building community… I was not so great at selling.

(yes, there’s a difference in marketing and selling)

I had no business or marketing systems in place, which resulted in over-working + stress.

If I could alleviate that one stressor, I could then: 

  • be a better, relaxed version of myself when with loved ones
  • have the ability to hire out pieces of business rather than doing-it-all myself
  • feel less wound up like a top over finances, allowing less clouds and clutter on my mind when focusing on other goals

So I set out on a mission.

I wanted a certain amount to come in each month – not enough for lavish vacations or new toys, but enough to pay the bills and set a little away each month.

This didn’t come without some sacrifice.

The artist within has suffered a bit TEMPORARILY. In a way, I’ve drifted from being the shooter to being so deep in making Fearless and Framed® a viable business.

There were many Sundays I shipped the husband & kids off to their Grandparents, so I could work. Hello guilt from choosing work over family.

Sometimes, 2 months would go by before I’d edit some of my personal photos. What?! This is not me.

I never wanted to teach marketing. A documentary shooting blog was my original vision for F&F. But listening to the Fearless and Framed audience, photographers were struggling to find clients and help them to “get it” when it comes to documentary sessions. So, another zag happened.

Over the past year, I’ve found much joy in watching how to connect with potential dreamies click for photographers.

It’s fueled me.

All that to say, once you have an idea of where you wanna go, it’s just a matter of moving forward with one step.

More answers and clarity come from DOING.

Finally, my secret to making the dream happen: dedicated time away.

I struggle here, because business is fun for me. However, taking time away always results in a fresher, better you to give back to any area of your life, business or otherwise.

It’s non-negotiable.

In April 2016, we took our first family-of-four vacation. As soon as we left Michigan, my mind let go of being the boss lady. I was able to immerse in the thrill of the beginning a great trip. By the end of the week, I felt refreshed like I had no I idea I could be.

Since then, I’ve made sure I give myself plenty of “pleasure breaks” as Melissa Cassera calls them.

What can you do to give your mind more space?

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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