The Story Behind the Slowdown

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February 9, 2024
Maddie Lemay
September 23, 2022
Blog Posts

It was the kind of early spring day that makes every person in Minnesota roll their windows down. I decided to throw on an old T-shirt and cut the grass (yes, I’m one of those weirdos who enjoys mowing the lawn).

A few minutes later, I caught Matt in my peripheral vision, walking outside. I turned off the mower and pulled out an airpod.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“It’s my dad,” he yelled, breathless.

I left the lawnmower there, right in the middle of the yard, marking a distinct border between the long, uncut grass and my perfectly straight lines. I didn’t realize until several hours later that I’d also left our dog in the backyard.

Like most tragedies, unexpectedly losing my father-in-law, Bruce, made me realize how fickle life truly is, and how it can change in an instant, right while we’re in the middle of mowing the grass on a beautiful spring day. It woke me up, like a bucket of ice water.

Before Bruce passed, I spent too much time typing at my computer until well after the sunset. I missed summer walks around the lake, home cooked dinners with my husband, and spontaneous runs for ice cream. I wasn’t exercising or eating well; my limbs were scrawny and weak, hands shaky from coffee without breakfast. I thought the number of hours I worked was equivalent to how successful I’d become, so I offered everything else up as collateral.

But since Bruce’s death I began living with a new mantra: more yeses for the people I love; less yeses to work that doesn’t fuel me.

I slowly started to realize that my “why” for owning a business was not about raking in the cash. It was about building something that could work in harmony with my life, like an orchestra.

And now, instead of jumping to “yes-I’d-love-to-commit-to-that” answers, my default answer is “let me think about this” – not just in business but everywhere else.

I’ve said no to DIY projects in our home, like painting the nursery (the baby will be fine with greige walls). We’re eating out less and walking outside more. I make my bed every morning. I’m reading books that are nerdy but interesting to me.

I started making sourdough – not because it’s trendy, but because it helps me feel more grounded here at home. I have timers set every hour or so: stretch and fold, wait 45 minutes, repeat. I’ve only made two successful loaves so far, but I’ll keep trying; it’s the process that’s fun for me.

And as I think about how to grow Lemay Story Studio ahead of becoming a mother and taking some time off for maternity leave, I no longer think strictly about dollar signs.

I think about how I can increase my effectiveness so I can feel really, really good about the quality of work I’m handing to my clients.

I think about how I can be more efficient with my process so I don’t waste people’s time in meetings.

I think about how I can help to grow someone else’s business and give them more time in the day to spend with the people they love.

I’m not where I wanted to be three years ago, and I’m so glad for it.

I haven’t created an empire; I’ve made some homemade sourdough and I’ve written some really good content in between rises.

I haven’t built a full-blown agency; I’ve built lasting relationships with people in my network, mostly women, who support my business and make it better.

I haven’t become rich, but life – and business – is richer.

Right now, I have the capacity to take on another client, but I’m being picky about it. I want to spend my working hours with clients interested in building processes that stick, getting super creative and working really hard, and then getting out of the office to take a walk.

This isn’t about “working less.” It’s about working better, and giving ourselves the breathing room to create the kind of high-quality content everyone else is trading in for the cheap stuff.

It’s about helping you stand out in a way that feels authentic to your business.

So if any of this is resonating with you, I’d love to chat.

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