Going Full Time Month 17

In November of 2018, I left my full time job to pursue photography full time. Every month since then, I’ve blogged what I learned from the previous month. This is month 17.

It almost seems like a joke to write this, which is fitting since it’s April 1st. March was a month that lasted nine hundred and twenty two days. March was a month that will be talked about in the history books. My grandchildren will have “When did the Coronavirus hit America?” on their 7th grade test to which they will answer “March!” and surely, somewhere out there, more than one person will get a tattoo that reads: I survived March 2020.

We all learned the same things this month. We all learned how fragile small business is. We learned that our health is far more important than money. We learned that we actually miss being social when social events aren’t an option (Introverts anyone?). We learned that together we can do great and powerful things like allow the Earth to start actually healing. We learned human life is much more precious than we gave it credit for. We learned that in a time of crisis, we answer in kindness and community.

This post is hard to write. First, because I feel like typical month posts are a reflection of my own personal journey and this one is a reflection of a shared journey and how do I even begin to speak to that? Second, because these “Month Posts” are supposed to be from a business standpoint, and the biggest lesson in business I learned this month was to prepare for hard times.

But this isn’t merely “hard times”. This is a total and complete shut down of all non-essential businesses. This is the entire world stopping. This is bigger than anything we or our parent’s have ever seen before. We couldn’t have seen this coming.

A couple days ago I saw a Tweet from @Tzimmer_history that read:

The weirdest part of living through the Covid19 pandemic is this strange mixture of normalcy and emergency that we’re all experiencing. I constantly feel like I’m either over- or under-reacting, or really both at the same time. It’s surreal.

Doesn’t that about sum it up? I had always thought something of this magnitude would have us packing our bags, standing in lines to get a box of freeze dried government food and a ticket showing us where our newly assigned cot was. Instead I’m fairly certain my afternoon will involve my Kindle, fuzzy socks, and a plate of snacks while sitting by the window that best lets in the scent of my blossomed grapefruit tree… how?!

So what do we do? Where do we go? How do we prepare? What even is the lesson here? Because the overabundance of options in what direction this post can take is making it feel directionless… so I’m going to go here:

We build up strength when it doesn’t matter so that we can have it when it matters.

Two weeks ago, the Click Bloom podcast was centered around three things I do to avoid anxiety attacks. For the last few years, I’ve built up a tool kit of mental exercises that help me in times of stress and anxiety. Typically, stress and anxiety for me is that my toast burned and it was the last of the bread. Someone on the internet doesn’t like me. My last branding marathon didn’t sell out as quickly as I wanted. You know, stuff that in today’s world looks like child’s play. But NOW, giiiiiirl, this is some real stress. This is some real anxiety. I can’t shoot for a minimum of two months. What’s gonna happen after that? Is this killer virus going to get in my home? Why is my neighborhood having a block party?! Is someone actually suggesting sacrificing my mom for the stock market?! Problems got real, real quick! And the thought that kept coming back to me was this: Thank goodness I built up all these tools to handle stress and anxiety back when it was burnt toast and Instagram because now I can use them on the things that really matter.

Five weeks ago, with all thumbs, I launched my pop up shop and created a new Instagram for it. It was an unexpected turn of events in my business but it forced me to quickly build a small online presence for Click Bloom and now, just over a month later, I’m SO GLAD I did because just as unexpectedly, my online store is 100% of my income for the foreseeable future.

The things you do today don’t matter today, they matter tomorrow.

There are places in my toolkit that are dead empty and I’m kicking myself over it. Then there are places that are packed full and I’m thanking myself daily for it. The same is likely true for you. So while we’re here, while we’re all in this limbo of half panic, half boredom, let’s start to build up the areas we know we are pulling up short in. This can be as simple as reading a book on the subject or texting a friend who is strong in that area. These steps might seem small today, but they will seem big tomorrow.

Stay healthy and safe friends, sending big internet hugs to you and thank you for being here. See you for month 18!

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris


Thanks to Sasngga Rima Roman, Joacim Bohlander and Emiliana Hall via Unsplash for the photos.