My lungs burned as I kicked one leg in front of the other during my run this evening. You see, I’ve been trying to beat my mile time for a long while. I’ve tried running in the morning, at the gym, even in a thunderstorm with lightning. Can’t seem to get these short legs to go any faster. But I won’t stop trying.
Today I’m going to tell you a story. The story of a little girl who dared to dream big. But first:
This is not a “how to” guide. I have not done everything correctly nor do I have all the answers. What I have done is dared to dream. Everyone’s journey looks different, but we have the commonality of knowing how it feels to struggle. Writing is therapeutic for me. Unless I feel as if there is a volcano waiting to erupt within me, I don’t write. There has to be a reason behind each post, and like today, most of the time they are a pep talk to myself.
photo by my amazing friend Meredith of Meredith Sledge Photography
In April of 1992, the newborn cries of a chubby dark haired baby girl could be heard through the doors of a Florida hospital. By the time she was two, she had a fiery temper. It was her way or the highway and that was not flying well with her parents. They soon realized something had to be done about this strong will of their daughter’s. After some discipline, things started to turn around for the better. At least for a little.
That little girl was me.
Fast forward to December 2013 in a coffee shop on the island of Guam.
The screech of chairs against the floor filled the room as we pulled our little group around a table. Soon we were deep into conversation setting goals for the following year. “Can I ask you a question?” I asked one of the girls, “but you have to promise to be honest.” Her eyes widened with anticipation as to what I could be asking “Sure. I promise.” Tossing my pen between hands I said, “What are some things I need to change in order to succeed?” A cold sweat was probably starting to break out right about now as I felt the walls that hid vulnerability begin to fall. “I think,” she started out, after much thought, “I think you need to be more transparent. Everyone sees your adventurous life, but you never talk about the struggles. I think you need to be more vulnerable. Open up about how you got to where you are and what you’re going through at the moment.”
Right about now I was thinking, “Really? Why couldn’t you have said something like, ‘you need to smile more.’ Or, ‘you need to set your alarm earlier and get your life organized.’ Be more vulnerable? Open up about my failures? Heck no!”
A year later, I’m finally ready to give this vulnerability thing a go. If this inspires one person to passionately pursue their dreams, it will be worth every letter typed out.
I am the fifth of eight kids, still have lots of hair and chubby cheeks, and, well, I’m afraid that fiery temper has never left my side. With the encouragement of my parents, I have been an entrepreneur with many failures and successes since the age of 8. There have been many mountain peaks and lonely valleys. I am writing this post today not because I’ve finally reached success – is that even possible? No, I am writing this because I am currently walking through a valley, and, as mentioned earlier, this is a pep talk to myself to not give up. It’s a reminder that anything worth having is worth fighting for.
photo by my amazing friend Meredith of Meredith Sledge Photography
Photography is not the first business I started. It’s the seventh. To clarify, not all of these “businesses” were intended to carry into adulthood, but nonetheless, they paved the way and taught me valuable lessons about entrepreneurship.
#1 Paige’s Pages - It was a night like every other, Dad was reading a book out loud, and I had my notebook and pens out. Afterwards, Mom mentioned if I drew a design for note cards, she would take me to the local printing company, and I could sell notepads at the annual craft fair. This seemed like an exciting project so I started drawing, crumbling up paper, and drawing some more. My parents loaned me the money to print copies with the understanding that after they sold, I would pay back what was borrowed. They sold for a couple dollars each, and I was beyond excited to have some green paper in my wallet. I did this two years in a row and haven’t made note cards since.
#2 Holiday Brownies - The sun beat down on me as I pulled the little red wagon from door to door. The day went something like this: *knock on door, “Hi, my name is Paige Overturf, and I’m selling holiday brownies. Here is a flyer with what I offer. You can order and I will have them made in time for your holiday party. Would you like to try a sample?” I’m laughing as I type this, imagining what the brownies must have looked like from sitting under the sun all day. Business was good and it carried on after the holidays for school parties and other events. When we moved a couple years later, baking no longer interested me. And so another business came and went.
#3 Homemade Bread & Rolls - [the same time as Holiday Brownies] It was a weekly chore at our house to make fresh bread and rolls. The Oregon trail always seemed like the most exciting adventure, and this was about as close as I got to pioneer life. First, I took the wheat berries to the carport where they were ground into fresh flour with the grinder. If I wasn’t distracted by climbing a tree or running around the yard with the other kids, I would finish within 15 minutes and take it to the kitchen to start the process of making dough. So on and so on. This led to making rolls once a week for an older couple. Well, a typhoon hit the island a few months later and we lost phone for a few months. If I remember correctly, that’s how the business ended.
#4 Babysitting + Nannying – babysitting had been an on-and-off job but when I turned 16, I babysat a couple times a week for a neighbor. This turned into 2 nannying jobs, one of which I had to be at the house by 6am. At the same time, I was staying up until 1 am trying to learn everything I could about photography, stalk blogs and photographers whose lives I wanted [more on this later], and journal. Well, it finally caught up with me when I got a call at 6:30am. “Paige, will you be here soon?” She worked at the hospital, and being late was not an option. I jumped out of bed, hopped in the car, and arrived in my PJs.
#5 Sweet Treats - Or, should I write, “Sweat Treats” as I did on the first flyers we printed out. That didn’t go down well, as we were out all the money because of my typo. Sweet Treats was started with my older sister. We mailed fancy fliers throughout the neighborhood advertising cookies, brownies, and cinnamon rolls. Business was ok, thankfully it picked up around the holidays. But I was realizing baking wasn’t my thing. Not only did I have the hardest time remembering the timer – but I found baking boring. Plus, I didn’t have the patience to cook on low. WHY IS THERE A HIGH SETTING IF I COULD NEVER USE IT. I was itching to be creating and diving into photography more.
#6 Beaded Treasures - A hobby-turned-business because of the suggestion of a younger brother. They say it takes 1000 “no’s” before one “yes.” I quickly learned this as I took jewelry shop to shop in our little downtown area, asking if they would like to sell it in their shop. Finally, I got a yes! This was great, but everything I earned was going right back into supplies, leading to little or no profit. I was on the hunt again to get it in another store, this time landing in Sweet & Sassy Princess.
When a few craft fairs and local festivals came up, I spent most of my hard earned money on a booth, jewelry stands, and beading supplies. The next few weeks were spent making jewelry – morning til night. At the end of the craft fair, I had made a grand total of $22. My bank account had become a display of beaded jewelry in our dining room. The next craft fair, same thing. Soon after, I got a call from one of the stores saying several pieces of my jewelry had been stolen. Needless to say, I have a big box full of beads in my storage closet.
#7 Paige Elizabeth Photography - On July 29, 2010, I photographed my first wedding. “Yes!” I thought, “I’m finally a wedding photographer!!” Little did I know, being a wedding photographer is not just about showing up at a wedding to take photos. Hard to experience, yet I learned a valuable lesson – one I still put into practice at every wedding I photograph. In October 2010, years of dreaming, scheming, and practicing finally turned into reality when we moved to Guam and I was officially in business with the license to prove it. I thought I was living the dream when not only one person emailed me, but two! Business was good as families prepared to send out Christmas pictures and word of mouth spread. And then, the unexpected happened.
On Saturday, March 5, 2011 I received a certified piece of mail that changed everything…
PART TWO > To be continued on Monday, October 27, 2014