How My Clients Created My Christmas

   Working for 18 hours straight as a server at a very busy restaurant pushed me to look at my life and decide that it wasn’t what I wanted. Yes it payed the bills, and I loved the people I worked with, but I came home an overworked and exhausted grinch.

I worked 9 days straight before Christmas with the madness of downtown Bozeman’s last minute shoppers, holiday parties of 20+ people, and groups celebrating the holidays. Some days I opened and closed. But what really pushed me over the edge was when my younger sister got to come home for a month and I only really got to see her when she visited me at work. I had to say goodbye to her on my shift at the restaurant before my family took her to the airport.

I was jealous more than anything. I was seeing friends reunite after semesters apart and family members coming in to exchange presents with each other over pancakes and Irish coffees. It was like the beginning of Love Actually, except I was the TSA agent in the background. I had the money to buy presents for my loved ones but I didn’t even get to see them.

I closed on Christmas Eve, jumped in the car with our last minute presents and fell asleep the whole way to Billings. My husband and I had Christmas Day together and then hopped right back in the car that afternoon and trekked across the icy roads to Bozeman because I had to open the next morning. I then worked 9 more days (yes, New Years Eve and New Years Day).

I am truly not telling you this to prove my martyrdom, because I know so many people who make this sacrifice every year, but to tell you that you don’t have to settle with being miserable in a job or let your job rob you of your joy and time with family. For me it was my breaking point to decide I didn’t want that for the rest of my life. I wanted to enjoy the holiday season and make memories and create new traditions with my husband. I chose to fight for my happiness. That is when I decided I wasn’t going to repeat this feeling next year. I made a plan in the bathtub on that New Years Day (after another shift) of how much money I needed to put away over the next 6 months to get out of that job and into full time photography. I needed to completely focus on photography because I was letting things slip due to the exhaustion of a 9 to 5 (or 6 to 4) job.

I had to tell myself, “not someday, but now!”

That was my first Christmas with Kyle and I have to say I don’t think we made any new traditions or memories at all. We were just checking things off of the list rather than enjoying it. This Christmas season has been what I was working for. I cannot thank my clients enough for supporting my photography so I can have a more fulfilling life.

I could have never done this without all of the support of the friends and family that booked sessions with me. I felt like Lorelei on Gilmore Girls when she can sense snow is about to fall. I was giddy with excitement like a little kid!

We filled this Christmas with so many fun memories. We went into the forest with friends and cut down a tree, made hot toddies and played with the cutest dogs. We didn’t get a tree last year, so we went all out this year, fighting over what color lights belong on a Christmas tree; white or colorful. Kyle won. Colorful lights it is!

We started running around the house looking for things we could hang on the tree because ours was huge and we only had 5 ornaments. I had time to make cookies for our neighbors, give a child in Bozeman a Christmas present through the Salvation Army, and see White Christmas with all of my girlfriends. We also got to cheer on our friends as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas….and then celebrated with too many margaritas! We ran around the Christmas Stroll, slept under the Christmas tree, made sugar cookies almost every night, took our pals to the airport and wished them Merry Christmas, sang karaoke at work parties, and danced till the New Years ball dropped. And not once was I worrying about heading home to open at 6:00 am the next morning.

So, again, I just want to thank every single client that trusted me to photograph them this summer season. I am so grateful for all the amazing relationships and memories I made this year! Your families helped my family so much during this holiday season, more than I can even explain to you! So thank you so much for trusting me with capturing your beautiful moments. Here’s to more of the same!

Love,

Leanna

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