(Editor's Note: Today's very personal post is a collaboration between WeddingIQ co-editors Jennifer Reitmeyer & Kyle Bergner.)
So as happy as we are to once again be blogging for WeddingIQ, it’s become painfully obvious that sometimes, life just gets in the way. In the way of work, in the way of motivation, in the way of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary for day-to-day survival.
WeddingIQ has always been known for its candid tone, and that’s never going to change. It’s with that in mind that we share a little bit about how life has gotten in the way for us as businesspeople. Because our readers and colleagues have always been overwhelmingly positive in their response to blatant honesty about the imperfections of business and life, we hope this post will offer some encouragement to those whose life is currently getting in their way.
Jennifer: So, by now, most of my friends and associates know my marriage (to the co-founder of my primary business, MyDeejay) foundered in late 2012. I wrote about my initial separation in an old WeddingIQ post here. Suffice it to say, as my now ex-husband and I navigated the rough waters of divorce, things got pretty contentious for a while. I know we’re both relieved that our divorce was finalized in the summer of 2014. I retained ownership of MyDeejay, while my ex has started his own business in the wedding industry. We’re currently working on co-parenting our two children and learning how to relate to one another in an entirely different way. Sometimes those two things alone feel like a full-time job, but hey, what can you do?
Another adventure, to put it mildly, of the last couple of years has been adjusting to life as a single mom. I’m fortunate in that my kids do have a loving father involved in their care, but make no mistake – any parent who does the work of raising kids without a live-in partner is absolutely a single parent. And that shit is hard. My kids are amazing: they’re smart, funny, kind, and fairly independent for their ages (8 and 5). They’re also both neuroatypical; my older son is autistic and my younger son has ADHD and a secondary disorder, and both were diagnosed during/after my separation and divorce. It’s been a fun-filled ride of psychologist/psychiatrist appointments, teacher conferences, IEP meetings, medication management, independent research, and (to be truthful) lots of tears and “why us?” moments. Still, we’re getting by, and dare I say there’s been a pretty bright silver lining to these diagnoses. It sounds obvious, but learning how my kids’ brains work differently than other people’s has taught me there’s such an incredible gift in our uniqueness, and I couldn’t feel luckier to have the specific kids that I do. They’re totally rad, and they’re perfect for me.
So yeah, combine the total life upheaval I just described with a few other things thrown in for flavor – health issues here and there, three household moves in 18 months, and the typical stuff we all deal with – and I think it’s understandable I had to step back from a passion project. Glad to say, though, that the passion is back and so is the blogging.
Kyle: I remember the exact moment Jennifer told me what was going on in her life. I marveled at her strength and admired how she handled herself. Not long after, I was going to begin a struggle of my own that would last the next two years and solidify our friendship. I now believe our shared experiences helped us both through a very rough time.
That very winter my Mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. As per her request, I refrained from mentioning it on social media and only my close colleagues, friends and family knew of her struggle. As an only child of divorced parents her care fell primarily to me with the help of my Aunt that lived close by. We made all decisions together, I accompanied her to every doctors appointment, and escorted her to each of her treatments. She wanted to fight and I was going to be right there by her side.
I was on call 24/7 and often had to re-arrange my schedule at the last minute. So many times I spent one day at the hospital and the next photographing a wedding. I went from client meetings to doctors appointments and learned how to function on four hours of sleep. During this time I photographed over 50 weddings and produced some of the best images of my career.
The thing about crisis is that it teaches you to prioritize very quickly. I learned how to squeeze a week’s worth of work into three days. I learned to ask for help and trust those closest to me. More importantly, I learned to enjoy the positive moments and rid myself of negative influences. Unfortunately, my Mom passed away recently. I am so extremely thankful for the time I got to spend with her and the support of family and friends. That being said, I did not survive unscathed. My business has suffered set backs, I am emotionally scarred and it’s going to be a long road to recovery.
Part of that recovery is this very project. I’ve been in business long enough to weather recessions, changing technology, countless trends and now, personal tragedy. I’ve watched small businesses in my industry explode onto the scene, change directions multiple times, merge with other companies or just disappear into oblivion. Even when it’s something you love with a passion it can be trying at times, enough to make you wonder if it’s worth your continued effort. I want to use my experiences to help individuals and businesses prosper.
...Now that you know a little about what we’ve been juggling recently, we want to emphasize the importance of ensuring your business is as organized, streamlined and self-sufficient as it can be while life is still running smoothly. That way it’s possible to endure various disasters and dramas without completely going under. We’ll be writing plenty about this topic in future posts, and we invite you to submit any specific questions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you navigate your own storms.