This post has been two years coming. I’m not even sure where to start or if I’ll be able to convey what has tugged on my heart and wrestled in the corners of my brain for so long.
I have had an internal struggle over who I am for two years. I have felt both the most significant highs and the lowest lows of my life through it all.
When this journey started in 2009, I was just a girl into blogging because we lived an ocean away from family for school (in Hawaii). I had convinced my hubby to let us sell his laptop so I could buy a camera. I had had this moment in-between helping him study for finals and raising three babies (three and under) – where it hit me that nothing was ever going to be my accomplishment. It was always one of theirs – hubby had gotten into graduate school, or one of the kiddos was walking or sleeping through the night… I was the support. And I wish I were the kind of angelic human who that didn’t bother, but I’m not, so it made me resentful.
I wanted something of my own. And in a split second, I decided it would be a photography business. (Hence the camera.)
Looking back – and admitting this to you… No wonder I went over the deep end. I hustled like nothing you’ve ever seen, forgoing sleep almost entirely, I was nothing close to the carefree, glamorous girl boss I had envisioned. But, I had done “it” – to the outsider, my business was a big financial success.
I paid a high price though. And in 2012, I landed myself in an ambulance after collapsing at the Zoo, leaving my kids alone in front of the Alligator exhibit because my body refused to keep going on my insane “hustle mantra.”
One thing was clear – I had to change everything!
Before the hospital even discharged me, I started looking for where I could make changes. I studied systems, psychology, automation, and outsourcing. I became obsessed with how to create the most significant impact in the fewest amount of hours – from marketing to checking my inbox. How could I get in and out and all the while, produce more results?
And, I got good at it! I was earning an incredible income if I’d been full-time, let alone only working 15 to 20 hours a week. Through this, I discovered my love for helping and encouraging women like me to get out of the ugly and cultivate their own curiously simple success. I began speaking all over the U.S., and I developed a training program for photographers on how to structure an experience-based, high-profit business.
I set bigger goals, and I reached them. Me, little me – the girl who can’t spell, who no one expected much from – had defied it all.
I got everything I said I wanted. The beautiful home, the car, lavish vacations for my family (and I had time for them!) …AND YET.
I know what you might be thinking – heck, I’m thinking it!! How can there be an ‘and yet’ – what is friggin wrong with you?!!??
It’s hard to admit all of this because I feel like it makes me look like an ungrateful git. And I’ll just say it – I was. I mean I wasn’t in some ways – I was so aware of how blessed I was, and I thanked God every single day. But simultaneously I wasn’t content. I knew there was something so off.
I WAS NOT HAPPY.
And I didn’t know how to explain that? Not to myself and I sure as heck wasn’t going to admit what I was feeling to anyone else. But, inside there was this discontent, this aching. Not all the time, nowhere near all the time – but in the quiet moments, it was there.
I needed to reclaim joy.
After many conversations with my hubby (that same incredible guy who let me sell his laptop for a camera)… As we sat and reflected and then asked ourselves – what is it we want most? What are we trying to instill in these three little gifts we’ve been entrusted to raise?
This is what we knew for sure:
- We wanted them to love God and feel that He loves them and knows them!
- We wanted them to be brave – to instill a willingness to lean into the challenge, and to know they can do hard things.
- We wanted them to fiercely believe that they matter, that they are deeply loved, and that family is the sweetest gift of mortality.
So we did what any utterly abnormal and possibly unbalanced parents would do. We sold our home, my dream car, pulled our kiddos from school and stepped on a plane with five passports in hand. You can read my thoughts from just before we left here – but in retrospect, it was one of the best things we’ve done as a family.
We were gone for eight months, and in that time we discovered seven countries. I had planned to share the journey with you. But somehow, it never felt quite right. It was incredibly personal on so many accounts – I was trying to resolve the commotion inside me, find my purpose… my joy! Simultaneously, I wasn’t willing to share a highlight reel that didn’t serve you. So, I shared very little through our months traveling.
And just like that, in the final days before Christmas 2016; we were home. Our time abroad allowed the much-needed clarity I had pleaded for. Everything looked bright and possible. I was ready to bring what I had found in myself back home and truly live my best life.
And then… Those two little words that somehow when put together change everything.
Almost immediately after arriving home, things fell apart. As personal tragedy hit our family, we did the only thing we knew how – we held tight to each other.
Trials kept mounting, I couldn’t understand why everything was happening to us. I didn’t know how to navigate, let alone solve any of it. I had two thoughts over and over as I searched within myself to keep holding on and picking us all back up.
The first was not at all helpful. I was filled with rage and anger, much of it toward myself because there I had been, having it so good and I wasn’t satisfied. How dare I not have been satisfied.
The second was this overwhelming gratitude for our trip. We had learned and grown so much together. That’s what happens when you spend every minute together for months on end, sometimes in countries where the only people who can communicate with you are the five at your table.
So, what about that truth moment? The one that I found on my travels when I finally knew what I was looking for… It happened at the very end of our trip. We were in Bali; I was taking a bath (there were no showers) surrounded my stunning emerald terraces of rice, farmed by the happiest (and yet poorest) people I’d ever met. I sat, reflecting on all the little pieces of me that I had gathered, all the thoughts, dreams, ideas… And I asked myself one question;
If everything was taken away – if I were only to do one thing, what is the most crucial role that I must not fail at?
It was instant; Motherhood.
This was huge, you see, I love business, in fact, I wrap my confidence and most of my identity into it. Each time I had a client come back and share that they had reached unbelievable results because they followed my strategies – something whispered, this is the most important thing you do. And while there is so much goodness and fulfillment in what I get to do professionally, it isn’t and never will be my most important role.
I had lost sight of that.
The thing is, I thoroughly LOVE solving my client’s problems and opening up the possibility that they actually can produce the results they dream of – it lights me up like a Christmas tree.
And, I think it means that I owe it to you to share the rest of my story.
In the last six months of 2017, I thought I was going to sell my business. It was heart-wrenching! As I mentioned – my identity has been wrapped up in my business for 9 years. I remember one particular afternoon as I prepared final docs, I just fell into a puddle on the floor crying, ‘I’m just going to be Leah again.’ To me, there was nothing special about her, I hadn’t even liked her that much – I was scared to no longer be, ‘Leah Remillét’ (which is my middle name btw). But I was willing! I kept praying for strength and grace because I kept coming back over and over to that moment in Bali… And my word… motherhood.
The day of signing came – I was at my own figurative alter ready to sacrifice my company – my dream profession for my dream role. I had been preparing myself for months, and I had even come to peace with it. And then just like that, it fell through. I went from handing my business over to getting to take back the reigns.
As always, God is in control and His plan is better than mine. He has not forgotten any of us, not ever! I realized I was meant to be back here, running my business, but with my newfound outlook. I wasn’t finished.
Today, as I type this, I am more excited than ever for the future of Leah Remillét International. I have been so insanely blessed to build multiple incredibly successful business ventures, including photography, coaching, online training, and speaking. I have experienced the highs of reaching those incredible growth milestones, being recognized for my work, and getting to speak around the world. I have also felt the lows of being entirely out of balance, losing my purpose, feeling discontent, and having to face what life throws at us through it all.
So… With all of that, who is the real me?
I am Leah. I am a mom and a wife before anything else. I love and live my religion every single day and am beyond grateful to be a convert member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since I was 20.
I am a small business owner who lights up at the opportunity to teach creatives how to produce curiously simplified success. I started this whole journey as a photographer but have since hung up my camera professionally – I was much better at the business side anyway. I teach woman trying to rock a service-based business, how to not only survive, but to thrive.
We live in a cabin in the mountains of Leavenworth, WA. – its name is Pine Haven because it truly is our little haven in the pines (plus, we loved reading the house names during our time in the UK). We have been doing all the work of renovating it as a family ever since we got the keys. I also love to cook and entertain; I love a clean home (but somehow maintain an ever overflowing laundry pile). I am a homeschool mom (in our second year), a creative spirit with not much artistic talent, and a travel junkie.
If you have ever found yourself down any of the roads I’ve described; unbalanced, disconnected, unfulfilled, discouraged – or – you just needed to know that we’re all just a work in progress (even the ones who look like they have it all figured out) – I’m your girl!
You and I, we’ve been knocked down, and it won’t be over until the day we meet our Maker, but what I also know – now better than ever, is that… we must never stop standing back up.
This is me.
And I’m in this with you.