A Chapter Ending.
Today marks the end of a chapter in my life: I close La Belle Fleur Events. This has been months, years?, in the making, and today marks its end.
Last year, I found myself incredibly distracted by our political climate. For months I tried to convince myself that, like a lot of people, I was having trouble coping with the new administration, and that if I chose not to participate in conversations, social media or the news that it would simply disappear.
Then, in January, after a few glasses of Malbec at RPM, I divulged to Connor that I was really not happy. That I wanted to do something different with my life, but I wasn't sure how. I truly felt stuck knowing that for the past six years I had poured my blood, sweat, tears and money into this business. I asked him, "How can I really walk away?" Connor calmly reminded me that we always knew that this point in my life would come, and that from the beginning of our relationship I said at some point I would leave wedding planning to pursue a career in public administration or politics.
In January, though, I couldn't wrap my head around it quite yet. I had this list of goals that I needed to complete before I could let go: more money, more clients, more followers, more press, and the list goes on and on. As the list grew, though, I found myself spending hours a day planning the next five, seven and ten years when I would finally move on from La Belle Fleur Events.
In late April, an acquaintance reached out to me saying that she really need to discuss a few items with me. At first, she sent me an email. I won't divulge everything here, but she somehow knew all the mixed emotions I felt the year before, and even touched on specific experiences that I knew she wouldn't know. i would later learn this woman has a gift to sense change in people and the Universe. I decided to skype with her a couple of days later. Within ten minutes of our call, I told her that I wasn't happy and I didn't know how to move past it. I told her all the goals I needed to see through before I could walk away. I expressed that I didn't feel done; I wasn't ready to let go just yet. She simply said, "Ashley, sometimes our goals change, and that's okay."
It suddenly hit me: I hadn't been happy for over a year. I knew this wasn't my legacy or the only dream that I wanted to go after. In that moment I realized that more money, more magazine features and more clients wasn't going to change my mind or make me happy.
After about an hour, we ended our call and I told her I would reach back out soon. It was past lunch time and I was starving, so I went to my car only to realize I had locked myself out. So, I hopped in an uber to pick up a spare set of keys from Connor. Five minutes into my ride, my uber driver begins telling me his life story growing up in Chicago. The violence, police brutality, and poverty. I spent an hour in the car with him discussing all these items, and I told him what I currently did for a living, but I'd always thought about making a change. He stopped the car and looked at me and said, "Sometimes Ashley God puts obstacles in your way to redirect your path." I'm not a religious person, but something told me this was a sign.
By the time he dropped me off at home, I had made up my mind. I was going to let go, and pursue another dream. Over tacos that night, I told Connor everything that happened and how I already looked up the requirements to get my MPA at UIC. He was beaming with pride, and I knew I was making the right decision.
At first, there were a few weeks of turmoil. I questioned if I had lost my mind or if I was just giving up. I realized that for many years I had identified myself with an entrepreneur, and now I wasn't sure who or what I was. I came to understand that so often in our lives we put ourselves into boxes because it helps us identify with people: daughter, sister, wife, friend, entrepreneur, democrat... the list goes on and on. While I was changing this aspect of my life, I wasn't changing myself.
So, last night I completed my last wedding as the owner of La Belle Fleur Events. It has been an incredible six years. I was young, green and naive when I started at the age of 23. My business taught me so much about myself. I walk aways knowing that I am far stronger and smarter than I ever thought I was growing up. I have met some of my closest friends and developed very meaningful relationships.
I want to thank every single person that has been with me every step of the way. My mom gave me my first $500 to complete a website, and has been such an integral part of support system. Connor has been there for my highest-highs and my lowest-lows.
And to every client that has worked with La Belle Fleur Events: I sincerely thank you all. You believed in me, trusted me and granted me to witness such a beautiful moment in your life. I am beyond grateful for each and everyone of you. Some of you I am lucky to now call dear friends, and I will forever think of each of you fondly.
While today marks the end of one chapter, I am elated for what's to come.