Man…. 2019 was a year that was totally unexpected.
Twelve months flew by and I think I only realised I was holding my breath once we got through Christmas. What started out as just as the same ol same ol, moving around from shed to shed, chasing Jason’s shearing work, ended up changing, not just my entire career trajectory, but also our family dynamic.
I honestly can’t remember where we were for the first four months of the year. It was somewhere in rural SA amongst the red dirt and flies. We were still calling our first caravan home and I was waist deep into the tail end of my first year of motherhood.
I was a bit bored, having no phone or internet service, no friends or family around me and spending most days cooped up in our caravan with a little baby, away from the heat. Any attempt at working on my business was in vain most days, with the demands of parenthood and lack of modern technology.
As the first few months wore on, the single income of a shearer started to stretch thin. So thin that I could see it starting to break. Winter was just around the corner and so was the lull in shearing work in Australia. Hello financial stress. I was frustrated, scared and losing sleep, running through the ‘what ifs’…..
The news of a six week break in Jason’s work added panic into the mix. It was already tough, so this was going to be impossible. I became desperate. I begged the small amount of contacts I had in the wool industry for help. Few responded (who I will be forever grateful to and will never forget their generosity and support) and most didn’t. An industry that I had backed for over a decade wanted nothing to do with me.
I turned to my mentor and the advice I got from her changed my life. ‘Quit. Go and get a paying job, you can always come back to this. The wool industry isn’t going anywhere.’
So, I did just that. I went and got myself paid.
We had nothing to lose. There was $1039 in our bank (I will never forget that number). The credit card was maxed out, we had two loans and bills kept coming in. It couldn’t really get any worse… I saw this as the perfect opportunity to go and make money doing something that I loved. If it only covered Jason’s wage each week, well we weren’t any worse off were we? That was my goal, to survive this financial shit storm that 2019 had started out as. Make minimum wage, doing something that I loved.
What I really wanted to do was teach others how to take better photos. I had run workshops here and there for the last year and walked away from them feeling fulfilled and that my work had purpose. The fact that every workshop I previously held had sold out, was also an added bonus and confidence booster.
I organised my first one at ‘Upsanddowns’, Jamestown. It sold out.
Victoria followed. Sold out, sold out, sold out.
New South Wales. Sold out.
Outback Queensland. You already know….. and we kept moving, kept on selling out.
It took off. I had smashed my goal of covering Jason’s wage and took my business from running at a $6k loss for the previous 12 months, to bringing in 6 figures. I had more than doubled my goal and was able to provide for my family with one single income. I retired Jas from his shearing (temporarily he tells me) and he transitioned seamlessly into his role as a stay at home dad.
2019 was hectic and full of growth. As a family unit, I would say that $1039 was our rock bottom. $1039 was my comfort zone and to take the reins and possibly fall below that was terrifying.
To trust the advice of ‘quit’ and put it into action, felt like failure. When in fact, it was just the beginning of our growth.
I know what happened throughout 2019, but I can’t recall most days, or where we had travelled from month to month. I held my breath the entire time, kept my head down and ran full speed at our new life.
In 2019 I was a quitter. It was the best decision I ever made.
(As a little sidenote – my infinite thanks goes to Al Mabin for her advice, support and get shit done attitude. Also to Essential Shearing out of Deniliquin for welcoming us into their shearing family and for their continuous support and generosity x)