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2020. WTF was that?

January 1, 2021

Hey everybody!

Each year, I reflect, either publicly or privately, about the year. Typically, it’s to celebrate some successes, give thanks, and then make some goals for the upcoming year.

2020: One of My Favorite Years Ever

This year was one of the best of my entire life. Yeah, you read that right. I am thankful for 2020 because it brought me Scout Lucille Benfield. We were so naive… I remember being worried about bringing home a baby in the midst of flu season. L-O-freakin’-L. Tyler and I both took off January 1 – March 15 to stay home with our baby.

modern family photographer shot of a newborn baby on a bed wearing a cute red outfit

On March 12th, I boarded a flight to Chicago to watch Ellie dance at Regionals. Mid-flight, I received a a text that the competition had been cancelled. It was the first of many cancellations that would shake my world in 2020. Being alone in Chicago, which was shutting down more and more with each passing minute, I decided to move my flight up and head back home. It would be the last time I flew, or left the house, in a long time.

The wedding I was supposed to photograph in Santa Barbara on March 25th was the first to cancel. In the end, 3/4 of my weddings canceled or postponed or canceled. Can you imagine getting a 75% annual pay cut? It’s pretty rough. I did get to shoot a handful of weddings, which was wonderful.

Carnall Hall wedding reception

Rolling with the Punches

Looking back, it’s clear that God was looking out for my family when he blessed my side business, Rose Gold Flamingo. I had started the photo preset boutique in 2019 as an extra revenue stream and to help pay off Tyler and my debt and grow our savings. We knew we wanted to buy a house, and being payment-free was crucial to our plan.

To say that Rose Gold Flamingo saved us financially this year is not an exaggeration. I learned a lot about e-commerce and marketing and was able to scale the business working from home. We ended the year still debt-free and with a down payment saved and a savings cushion. Also, I got to meet and work with a lot of really cool influencers, so that is a great bonus!

Tia Booth in bralette and sweater look from Alexis and Bolt in Nashville

On the photo front, because most of my weddings experienced a date change, I had to get a bit creative so I could keep shooting. I announced the curbside captures in late March, which allowed me to donate to a local charity while being able to pick up my camera.

The Extroverted Homebody?

My favorite part of 2020 was getting to stay at home with my girls. Walmart HO told Tyler she would be working from home for all of 2020, so we got into a nice little groove of hanging out together, playing with Scout, going on walks, cooking together, and planning our future. For me, it turns out that when you have to stay home, it’s actually a blessing in disguise when you get to hang out with your best friend and daughters.

Speaking of our future, we battled the housing shortage and it kicked our ass. We lost house after house after house. All said and done, we put in offers on more than two dozen houses without success. I’ve shared my frustrations with you on social media, and you’ve helped remind me that when it’s meant to be, it’s worth waiting for. We know that the right situation will present itself and we are already started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No, we haven’t found “the one” but we have a new plan that I’m particularly excited to share with you when it’s time.

Top 5 Lessons I learned in 2020:

I know that 2021 didn’t just fix all the world’s problems, nor did it have any magical change in our house. If I could take away any lessons from 2020, here they are:

1) in business, always be innovating

More and more of my industry friends closed their business this year. Not to mention the bars, breweries, restaurants, etc. that fell victim to Covid-19. The ones who stayed open were the ones who rolled with punches, innovated, pivoted, or had enough savings to make it through. My heart goes out to those businesses that were not able to survive, and I’m even more thankful that my dad instilled the business practices in me that he did.

2) remember that facetime is a gift.

Not being able to be face to face (especially for extroverts like me) can be rough. It has made me appreciate all the face time I get with my daughters and wife. I got to see my mom three times this year. I miss her face when I don’t see it for too long. 2020 made that a challenge.

3) distance has no bearing on the depth of friendship.

This is probably the biggest lesson I learned in 2020. Some friends who live right up the road from me drifted away this year. And while that’s sad, I’ve learned to stop pouring into a friendship that takes and doesn’t give. On the other hand, two of my very best friends live on opposite coasts and we text every day and facetime often. We counseled each other, made each other laugh, cheered for each other, and lived life together 3000 miles apart (not an exaggeration, I mapped it).

4) even these will be the “good ol’ days.”

We all came out of 2020. Congratu-fucking-lations! We survived. By God, we made it. We will tell our kids about this year their entire lives. This is our “walked through the snow, uphill both ways” hard times that we have every right to brag about for the rest of our lives. And to be honest, I’ve loved the relationships and moments I experienced. 2020 will for sure have a special place in my heart.

5) the way you react to a situation defines you.

No disrespect to those who experienced loss this year. My heart is with you. My last living grandparent died from Covid, we had to cancel our Thanksgiving at mom’s, etc. 2020 definitely had hard times. However, I am choosing to take those hard times and find happiness in them. I want to celebrate those friends who loved on me and my family. Also, I chose to give my photo income to charity in a year when most shoots postponed or had to cancel. And of course, I am choosing to facetime with my mom more since we can’t see one another. I’m choosing to look for the good.

As this post winds down, I can’t share my 2021 goals with you just yet, because we have a few things in the works that I’m not ready to share. Don’t feel bad… a couple of things I haven’t even told my mom yet, and I tell her everything. However, I promise to keep you up to date on everything as it happens. I’m thankful for you (especially if you read ALL this!). I’ve been blessed to have so many clients, friends, and family support me and love on me this year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

While 2020 was of one my favorite years ever, I can confidently say that I hope 2021 is even better. I wish beautiful things for you and your family, your relationships, and your work. Things are looking up!

Talk to you soon,
Dale

Filed in: Personal

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  1. Kelli says:

    I love you! I’m excited for 2021 to unfold and the second you can safely fly to California, we’re gonna party on the beach.!

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