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Mental Health Awareness: The real story of our struggles

October 20, 2020

I figured making a blog post would be the best way to reach out to everyone to kind of give an update as to where Dave and I have been. It’s been an extremely stressful past few years for us and as most of you know I’m a pretty private person and don’t share our personal life online too much. There are many people that deserve to hear what has been going on and why our communication has been abysmal.  I feel as though the past decade has gone so fast — just trying to write this and tell the story was tough piecing everything together. The only good place I can think to start is from the beginning, otherwise I’ll still be beating around the full tale I need to get out there in order to keep moving in the right direction. 

Sometimes in life, things pile up. I’m not talking about bills or house work. Sometimes, it has more to do with our ability to keep up physically and mentally while trying not to exacerbate already growing insecurities around self worth.  What most people don’t know is that from the time I graduated from college in 2008 forward, I was battling a lot of mental health issues that got progressively worse for quite a few years. As I was growing up, I always had suicidal tendencies and went through several therapists to help with my depression.

Those tendencies became exceedingly worse when I was raped after high school.  I didn’t talk about it. Why would I? I felt like it was my fault or maybe that no-one would believe me or worse, they would accuse me of attention seeking. That somehow no meant yes. It was taboo at that time to talk about “it” so I just kept my mouth shut out of fear of how it would harm my business image and from whatever trend of victim shaming was popular at the time. 

I started using modeling to help me build my confidence again. In 2010 I had a couple modeling photo shoots that triggered me with photographers that pushed me out of my comfort zone and I shut down. It destroyed my confidence so much that I couldn’t get in front of the camera unless it was with someone I truly trusted. I shook like a leaf anytime I had to be in front of the camera and every day my existence felt like a weight that slowly strangled me. 

I didn’t know at the time how broken I was – I can’t even explain the gut wrenching feeling I felt because nothing had really “happened” to me during those shoots.They were just photoshoots, right? I didn’t get physically hurt, I wasn’t raped again.  It was a type of degrading mental abuse that triggered my sense of worthlessness. From the moment I woke up everyday, a feeling of dread took over. I didn’t want to exist. Why was I feeling the way I was? When I tried to talk about it, people didn’t understand what the issue was. Everyone had such huge high expectations on me and how far I would go in my career. I was stuck in the “What’s next” mentality. I wanted to please everyone so I could keep moving forward. I continued to put myself in so many uncomfortable situations and said “yes” to every job I was asked to do.

I found out years later that the one photographer that triggered me so badly had been so degrading to another model, she walked out in the middle of her shoot with him. I wish I had the strength to have been that model. Instead of listening to my gut, I allowed people in the industry to convince me I couldn’t make a living as a 5’3 artist. I had all these grand ideas that people I trusted constantly put down as “Not possible”. I regret the choices I made in those years and I had such bad anxiety because it was the easy way out. With the internet and influencer community anything could have been possible and I allowed myself to fail due to other’s opinions. The one thing I had prided myself on that I would never do. 

I eventually quit modeling because I had lost confidence in myself. My family also didn’t really approve. My mom’s stress was so high over it that she ended up in the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack. She felt the art nudes I was doing would ruin my life and she deeply cared about my future. My family offered to pay me to quit modeling and support my photography career because they didn’t approve of it.

 I became so depressed I started to lose weight. At one point I weighed as little as 94 pounds and people were questioning whether I was healthy or if I was anorexic. Which in a way, I guess you could say I probably was since the only things I could eat was my “safe” foods which included grilled cheese and corn chips. (There is a lot more involved in my food phobia, but that is for another time.) My doctor put me on meds to control my panic attacks but I felt dead inside. My family was against depression medicine and therapy at the time and convinced me it would “Break my brain” so I only took the pills that were a bandage and didn’t mend the issue. 

Mental health is no joke and Dave and I had unknowingly been dealing with serious issues for many years. Many times I thought I would be doing the world and my family a favor by just running my car into a tree.  People talk about OCD in jokes “Oh yeah, I’m OCD”, but people don’t know the stress of being a true germaphobic. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Normal people would experience something, shrug it off and move on with their lives. However when something triggered me (which grew to be more and more things as I was left untreated), I would obsess over it. I couldn’t move on from it,  I had a never ending Panic attack, my heart would race constantly and I felt like I was going to throw up every time I had to eat something.  My mind was always running in circles. It wasn’t just germs after a while. Events, conversations and things happening around me would circle and my mind would make up worse and worse scenarios every time the story repeated. I had no confidence in myself around people anymore. This feeling would cause me to do compulsions that would temporarily make me feel better whether that was seeking reassurance (often from wrong, biased opinions), avoiding things that caused me anxiety such as social events, and tiresome cleaning rituals such as convulsively washing my hands or showering until I was red and bloody so I didn’t feel “contaminated”.

I got to a point where every surface was “infected” and the way people treat everything during the Covid19 pandemic had been my daily life for the past decade, stressing if the next thing I put in my mouth was going to kill me. I was petrified of other people’s cooking, cleaning chemicals, sharing drinks, social events, driving, touching doorknobs, rabies, etc. Even if Dave took all the precautions washing his hands cooking raw meats, I still couldn’t bring myself to eat them because I was so afraid of getting sick before I had to shoot a wedding. I knew my mental state was wrong, but I would still make myself physically ill from the anxiety. What was worse was the embarrassment for how I would react when I was in the middle of a panic attack. I was embarrassed to be around family and friends because of my behavior or because I’d worry about what they would think of me. Sometimes, people would get upset because they didn’t understand or force me to make a scene in front of people and then I’d have to explain myself. It never really makes sense to anyone and the more you try to explain, the more crazy they think you are. These feelings are not logical — and I know it. But the pain and panic that goes with them is.

When my grandmother gave us our home after Dave Proposed towards the end of 2011, it was a blessing and a curse. It was a gift to use towards our goals and the two of us used it as our little OCD safe bubble for me while I tried to understand what was going on in my head. During that time it was what I needed to function, but at the same time it was the noose that ended our creative life as we had to figure out how to afford it before we could even build our passion projects into sellable products. I read book after book on how the brain works and these feelings I was having. I made a lot of devoted leaps to be strong and confident and I tried desperately to claw my way back out. And it worked…for a while. Around that time I had made one of the few personal posts about my struggles: https://serena-star.com/censorship/ 

…. The years flew by in a blur and I was pretty happy. I lived for the growth of my company and being able to keep the house I was given. In 2011 I taught at the Professional Photographer’s convention in Texas. In 2012, I received my Master Photographer award from PPA. 2013 I was judging Print competitions and teaching workshops. I was managing my symptoms well enough, but I was still trying to keep up with the “What’s Next” mentality. I had to keep accomplishing bigger and more things because I felt it was the only thing people respected me for.

Dave was trying to keep me floating while dealing with his own demons. I was 26 when I lost my parent’s insurance. I was fighting pre-cancerous cells and getting checks and biopsies every 6 months and my endometriosis was so bad I had to be on birth control which at the time was $100/mo since the generics made me physically ill. Dave and I decided to Elope so I would get health benefits from his job. We signed the paperwork in March on our anniversary and planned on having the actual wedding in June. As Dave slowly started to burn out, he went through a mental break down of his own, we almost called the wedding off numerous times and probably would have had we not already been legally married. I knew I loved him and this was just another bump in the road for us. I knew if we had been together for 9 years we would figure it out. At that time, I had no idea how severe his PTSD was and how badly my triggers were also triggering his own childhood Trauma’s.  

My fear of eating would make him feel unappreciated when nothing he could do would help me. It would lead to fights which would ultimately end up with dinner thrown somewhere across the kitchen or a kitchen table broken which fed my fear and anxiety. I would be so embarrassed of my own behavior but become simultaneously angry at him for getting angry at me. He would be embarrassed about his own behavior but he would blame me for it. Our two mental illnesses were lashing out at each other. 

Dave’s depression was growing worse and I felt resentful towards him for sleeping the days away on the couch when he wasn’t working and stress spending so much money whenever he was awake. I had an idea of the demons he battled. He wanted me to talk a little about it because it makes the story make more sense and it’s part of his own healing journey, but I won’t go too much into the details. I knew in 2015 he was sexually abused as a child by a few people including his grandfather, but I didn’t really know the extent. It happened so many times he was emotionally numb and distant when we met. We really started dating when he was 17, right after he had broken ties with his grandfather. He moved over 30 times before I had even met him and had lived in many abusive homes, but his story is a whole other tale to tell (One that should come from him and it’s one that you probably wouldn’t believe was real). It wasn’t till years later when he started having seizures tied to his traumas that I realized how much they took a toll on him as well. I personally couldn’t handle all the stress of everything going on at the time, plus handle all of the pressure I put on myself in the business side and ultimately dropped out of a lot of photography organizations and shut myself in. I completely alienated myself away from everyone, coming out only to work weddings. My constant triggers and rituals put a huge strain on Dave and I’s relationship because I couldn’t stop the fear that my mind would create.

On my birthday in September 2015 after our wedding, I had a complete mental breakdown that would almost destroy me.  (To our loved ones that were at our wedding, that’s the reason the thank you’s never went out and I have felt awful every day since then for not mailing them).  I lost control of my hands (this happens when I get severe panic attacks) and was ripping hair out of my head in a panic attack over ice cream cake. Let me explain this one as its a perfect example of how damaging OCD and mental illness can be. It was my birthday and my mom had us over her house for dinner. I had managed to do well up until this point, Even though I was having massive anxiety. I got through dinner. Once we got to desert, my mom pulled out an ice-cream cake that was sitting on the freezer shelf next to raw meat. I politely tried to tell her I didn’t want any, but she insisted. After several minutes of my family telling me I was overreacting, I finally got so stressed out I walked outside and asked Dave to take me home. My mom promised not to bother me about eating the ice-cream cake so I went back inside. But OCD is hard to understand and as I had mentioned before, most people don’t  understand the level of anxiety someone that has it goes through. She started to question me about the cake again and I lost it. I couldn’t talk, my heart was racing and my hands started to curl inwards on me. I was hyperventilating I was so upset. I was mad even more that I was upset and acting out the way I was, but I couldn’t control my emotions at that point. My mind was in survival mode. I hid in the bathroom trying to calm down and my fists were clamped so hard around my hair that I started pulling it out . My family came in and tried to talk to me, which only made it worse (and man that was a sad day because I really love my hair). Dave took me and left, not being able to speak to my family or say goodbye out of embarrassment and ended up seeing a therapist for the next two years.

I was making good headway (Or so I thought) with my Therapist. I read through all the books he gave me about CBT and Forgiveness and did all the work in the books. I trusted him and I didn’t have that for a long time. He allowed me two hours once a week to just get everything off my chest and work my way through all the bumps in my mind. He was there for me at some of my lowest points and even sat on the phone all night one day when I was in crisis. Dave wasn’t home because he was out doing musical stuff with a beautiful female singer he was working with. I had sucked down a bottle of whiskey and was thinking of swallowing the whole container of pills I had for my back pain (more about that in a moment) because I truly felt I was a burden to my family and Dave would be better off with someone like her instead of dealing with my emotional state. He was spending so much time with her even though our marriage was in shambles and I had no confidence that he still loved me the way he did before. My mind just kept telling me he was going to leave me and that I didn’t deserve him. I became jealous of one of my best friends for no reason and read into every gift that she gave and ultimately destroyed a good thing because he started to feel uncomfortable having his own friendship with her. I had such tremendous guilt over that was exasperated by his anger at me. My lack of confidence almost did end our marriage. 

As for the therapist, it was the worst betrayal of my trust. I should have seen the red flags when Dave started seeing him as well for his issues. It has to be a conflict of interest or something to see a married couple separately. The “therapist” opened up a can of emotional worms for Dave and then two years later, our “therapist” was arrested for Fraud and child endangerment (He wasn’t actually a licensed therapist) which sent me (and Dave) spiraling down another dark path.  In the spring of 2017, right when our business was at its highest, Dave finally broke down from his severe CPTSD and it almost destroyed him. He quit his job in sales because he couldn’t function anymore on a daily basis. He started working Full Time for the photography business at that time. We also started offering videography services to makeup for the lost income from Dave leaving his job.

During this whole time I was dealing with acute pain so bad there were days I couldn’t walk and Dave would have to lift me up because I couldn’t stand on my own. I’ve always had issues with my back, but since I was still in my twenties, many people didn’t believe me when I would tell them how much pain I was in. Beginning of 2016, I had the first day where I literally couldn’t get out of bed. Dave was working and my mom and brother had to come over to carry me to the car because I couldn’t walk. Every step they took I screamed because I was in so much pain. We thought I had hurt my spine or something. When they got me into the doctors office, he gave me a steroid injection into my back which got me into a wheel chair without being in excruciating pain and wheeled me over to get an MRI. We ended up finding out I had a herniated L4-5 and would likely require surgery since it pulled down into my leg and my feet were numb. Most of 2016 and part of 2017 I could barely walk. I wore baggy clothes and had a back brace on most of the time. Often I would have a really bad day right before a wedding and I would have to go to the emergency room to get pain pills to get me through the day. We tried to keep it as discreet as possible since I was afraid it would affect my growing business. I was thankful to have Obamacare at this point since it covered me even with my pre-existing conditions, but it didn’t pay for most of my visits so we ended up with another $150-$200 a week medical bills after I had already been paying the $125 out of pocket a week on therapy. I would end up having a series of three epidural injections in my back (which put me out for a week at a time I was in so much pain after) and a year of Physical Therapy. 

With the bills piling up, my accountant advised we edit all of our own weddings instead of hiring help, slowing my workflow process down significantly. I even started training Dave to edit but I ultimately ended up making more work to correct because, while he picked it up pretty quick, he wasn’t really able to get it to look like my style of editing and I had to go back and do a lot of it over again. I was fatigued from weddings. The passion I had for them was slowly turning into a slow depression as our business grew and we were taking on 30… then 40 photo/video weddings a year. I could barely remember some of our couples from their consultation by the time we got to the wedding. I hated it. I desperately wanted to cap how many we were shooting but we were drowning in medical bills so badly we couldn’t even make repairs on our own home as things started breaking and leaking that shouldn’t.  After a derecho went through we had to have over 30 trees taken down in our yard. We went a year without a dishwasher, we still have a heavy change jar holding our vintage yellow 70s fridge door closed so our food stays cool, our guest bathroom leaks into the kitchen when it is in use, we have squirrel damage because we had squirrels when we moved in (the house was sitting for a while before we moved in) and the company we hired to remove them managed to get them out but they went out of business so they never finished the job. (We still have one way traps over the holes). When we had our air conditioner serviced, they didn’t clean out the condensate pump and it overflowed water into our heater. That water sat there all summer so it’s now full of black mold. We spent an entire year heating the house with little electric heaters and window air conditioning units because we couldn’t afford to get it fixed. Our roof has been leaking for, I don’t know, I’m kind of embarrassed to think about it… and the stories kind of go on and on. (All the fun of Home ownership, right?).

It was more important to make sure my clients and fur babies were happy then to take care of my own health and home. I worked tirelessly, sleeping only a few hours a night editing around the clock. The sitting in a computer chair only drove my back pain worse. I was always ill from exhaustion. I got sick faster, I always had headaches and nausea that I just worked through. Every time I would go to the doctor he would tell me I needed to go home and sleep more and take better care of myself. But how could I? I had to keep everything moving. I worked, Dave helped keep up everything else I couldn’t do.(as much as he could with what he was dealing with too) 

Towards the end of 2018 I got a negative review bomb on google. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when someone uses multiple accounts or friends to repeatedly post negative reviews on your page to harm your business. I got 5 one star reviews in one day on Google that dropped our 10 year long 5-star rating to 3.2 stars overnight. It devastated me. I put my heart and soul into making sure every single couple happy and I do the best job I can humanly do. Those reviews were like a stab telling me that I shouldn’t be and don’t deserve to be in business. That I’m an imposter and maybe I shouldn’t be running a company. I’m already so stressed about “getting sick” or not doing the best job before a wedding I barely eat for 3 days before. In the 10 years I’d been shooting weddings I’d never had a bad review let alone five. And what was worse was the reviews weren’t even from the couple! The couple was extremely happy with the job we did, it came from several guests from the wedding. Either way, it broke my heart and spirit and affected my confidence for quite a long time.  

The expectations that people hold on us “Serena and Dave the Power couple” really took its toll on us as we tried to be something we weren’t. I developed a bad case of imposture syndrome and ended up back in therapy (with a therapist I found through my insurance). Our relationship had grown toxic and we were constantly blaming and gas lighting each other back and forth.  We raised prices, tried to book less work to keep our income the same but ultimately found we were putting ourselves out of our South Jersey market and were driving 2-3 hours away several times a week just to work.

In September 2018, at the peak of my burnout, I decided without really thinking of the consequences to take a step to go back to school to get my Cosmetology degree. It was something I always wanted to do right after I graduated photography school (I even had the paperwork filled out to attend Rizzieri Aveda and just never took the plunge in 2008). I always loved doing makeup in my studio and my makeup artist (amazing as she is) was becoming harder and harder to collaborate dates to book. And then she had a life changing event where she was hospitalized for a while and couldn’t take work. During that time, my passion for doing makeup started again. After telling Dave I was thinking about doing it, he was all for it and a month later sold his truck to help with bills and just like that, I was enrolled and starting Cosmetology courses at Rizzieri Aveda School in Voorhees. This meant driving an hour up and back everyday and spending 7-9 hours a day in class. I think my accountant thought I was crazy when I told him I was taking the plunge, but I had so many ideas! I could offer hair and makeup in my studio and schedule as much as I wanted. I wanted to be able to do more creative work and take special fx courses so I could start doing fantasy work again. I could learn to properly cut wigs (and make them) to do cosplay type stuff.  It turned on a passion I hadn’t felt in a long time. For the first time in years I felt excited. It was a beacon of light for me.

A couple months into being back into school, the stress and tension had grown to a pivotal point. My husband and I’s relationship had hit bottom and we were literally discussing the logistics of getting divorced calmly at the dinner table. We had invested the entire equity of our home to pay for our health, marriage, school, repairs, and business that we couldn’t afford to stay in the house. We were so worn out and fighting between my severe OCD and his acute CPTSD.  During one of our fights, my mom rushed out to try and help us cover a window that Dave broke when she tripped and broke her arm in her garage. From there we did our best to help her out with chores around her house and such as well as dealing with our own life.  To save our marriage, Dave enrolled into a year program for group and individual therapy at the DBT center in South Jersey so he could control his depression, CPTSD and anger, but it was a long journey forward. He ended up staying in DBT after the first year and really managed to get out of that dark place he was in for so many years. Our marriage got better over time and we really had time to get to know one another again. 

While I was in school I found out my family was looking to move down south to retire. A lot of our clients know this, but we rent our studio from my parents. They live in kind of an unfinished Duplex and we use a remodeled wing of their home for our studio to keep our bills down. I had been shooting there since I was in high school and had built the place to fit exactly what I wanted. Plus it’s back in the woods giving us the ability to do outdoor boudoir and shoot outside without ever having to travel to a park. It’s easy to find and has been a perfect location for us for over a decade. 

Them wanting to move pushed my stress levels as I was planning on offering more studio work so I could pull back from doing so many weddings. We were already booked until 2022 and if we moved how would we start over? I had spent the last decade building my business in New Jersey. Who was going to watch my dogs when I worked 14+ hour days if they left? I’d have to look for some way of boarding them for weekends (which they don’t handle well and can act either aggressive or fearful/cry with other people). The only option I could see was finishing my cosmetology degree. I had taken a leave of absence at School over the summer-fall so I could try and get through my editing during the busy season but my allotted time was running out at the end of fall and I had to go back to class before I was able to finish all my work.  

When the pandemic hit, it was almost a blessing because I was so behind I was late on a couple weddings. When the school closed, I was relieved to be able to get caught up and have a couple of weeks break (something I haven’t had for years). It also gave us a lot of time to really think about where we were going in life and whether or not we were happy. Did we have an incredible and successful business? Yes. Everyone we love looked up to the fact we had “made it” per say, but inside as artists we were dying, exhausted, depressed and our creativity was being stifled.  Our relationship was stronger than it had been for a long time and we were happy for the break to do more creative projects.  But then the hard truth set in — while I was ok with the first couple weddings being rescheduled so I would be back on track, I slowly realized we may not be working events for the rest of 2020. I had been counting on our booking numbers for 2020 to put us back in the black since I had taken less weddings in 2019 for school (We remortgaged our home to pay for living expenses). Our projected income for 2020 could easily start paying down our Credit cards and get repairs done around the house — but that didn’t happen.

For our business friends that had gone the route of turning their businesses into S-Corps, they were able to stop payroll and they signed up for the forgivable PPE loan so they could afford to pay themselves and any employees if they had them. We had opted to stay a single person LLC in 2018 after our accountant recommended we switch to S-Corp since I was going back to school and we had planned on limiting our weddings and the benefits wouldn’t have been worth it. I regretted that decision this year as we received no financial help whatsoever. At first they said the PPE couldn’t be used for our small business with no actual “employees” and by the time they changed it so we could use it, it was too late. I was thankful when I started getting some unemployment, but as a couple album orders came in and we had a few small ceremonies to photograph, I lost that. Dave never received any unemployment benefits and it took until Sept 2020 to finally get our Stimulus Check. In order to pay our bills, I used up the money I had saved to pay our 2019 income taxes (around 10k we still had to put in). I cancelled all marketing, Dave closed his music licensing store, Avid Wolf (which was heartbreaking for him) and all of our extras (Netflix, Hulu, etc).

The good part of all this was that my parents weren’t immediately moving and I was hoping to start doing more studio work once things opened back up. Dave’s mom was planning on moving back to Jersey from Wisconsin after living out of state almost a decade. She was looking for affordable housing and my family had a small house for rent, but it needed a lot of work. (A lot more than we anticipated). What should have been a month fix up turned into several and when she moved, we didn’t have a place for her to stay. Our dogs didn’t really get along so we decided to have her stay in the studio. This past month, Dave picked up part time work to help pay bills and we have officially stopped offering videography. 

This whole scenario really made us question whether “wedding photography” was going to be our main income for the rest of our lives. This time of uncertainty gave us the ability to see what other options we could possibly have. On one hand, we had built a company that we could pay bills and live comfortably (minus covid), and we didn’t want to throw that away — but did we really want that to be our whole life? In order to make the kind of money we needed to make with weddings we were literally killing ourselves between the desk work, marketing, editing, bridal shows, shooting, etc and we never had a day off.  I know so many business owners that manage work, life, balance much better than us, but as artists we had to learn to be business people — it’s hard work for us and doesn’t come naturally. Anytime we tried to “take off” we felt incredibly guilty and I’d be scared to death of someone tagging me in a photo having a night off because I’d be afraid of the backlash of emails I’d get about having time to spend with friends when photos weren’t done.

I have been spending my life trying to bring other people joyful memories while missing out on years of my own life. I’ve missed every holiday with my family over the past few years so I could try and keep up at editing. My other passions got pushed to the side. When I wasn’t editing, I was in such an exhausted slump I couldn’t bring myself to do anything I would consider “Fun”. People always ask us when we are planning on having children, but when would that be possible among our wedding season without taking part of the year off? How could we afford that? When would we ever be able to be a part of our children’s lives shooting 1-3 weddings a weekend and sitting in front of our computers the rest of the time. I don’t know how other female photographers manage it unless their significant other has another job. I’ve always wanted to a family.

Wedding photography is not what it was when I first started. It was about the moments, the love, the celebration of two people in love and getting married with their loved ones. As social media and Pinterest has grown, weddings have become more and more of a shot list (A shot list we work extremely hard to keep consistent on every wedding). Every year there is something else we need to magically cover in a very short amount of time and it’s not always possible to make everyone happy, especially when there are so many people involved. I won’t even go into all the stories as that could be another book of its own. It hurts my soul from the inside every time I’d finish a wedding and hug the couple, knowing their gallery wouldn’t be done for 8-12 weeks. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I know it is a cliche, but it’s the best way to describe me. I’ll curl up and cry (or throw up) over the smallest thing I do that makes someone else unhappy. It kills me inside. I have no poker face whatsoever ever so when I’m stressed it’s written all over it. It’s another reason I got out of acting and modeling — I couldn’t handle the criticism and I’ve never had a thick skin. I go home and demand hugs all night from my husband and fur-babies. This is the Wizard behind the curtain, powerless, broken, and tired. 

With all that said, my goal is to hopefully in the new year start switching my website back over to the types of photography I am most passionate about — Headshots, Beauty, Fantasy, Boudoir, creative elopements and my other creative work. Dave and I are launching a new company soon to sell handmade stuff (candles, jewelry, etc) and other metaphysical and fantasy things we enjoy. We were planning on launching it over the summer but with everything involved and all the random hiccups recently, it’s taken us much longer to get everything setup and have product ready. Dave has to get his Mom’s house done :p We have no idea if this new venture it will take off but we hope for everyone’s support. We also hope to share our fire journey as we practice and perform. While we are not going to stop offering wedding photography, we are not offering cinema (we are finishing up our remaining ones on the books next year!) and we don’t plan on going back to paying for additional advertising for weddings. Our goal is to cut back and get most of our weddings from referrals and people that truly love and appreciate the art we create. With that said, I will also be taking appointments on Tuesday and Wednesday Mornings at Salon Bella in Vineland, NJ! I was blessed with the opportunity to work with and continue learning from my hair stylist and friend who owns the Salon and is a Master Wella colorist! 

 Dave and I are not looking for sympathy by sharing this, we just wanted to make everyone more aware of what’s been going on since we’ve been pretty radio silent for quite a long time. We also really want to bring more awareness towards mental health as it’s something we both strongly advocate for and feel people should be able to be more outspoken about. Mental health still has a long way to go. We both feel things like DBT should be taught in schools just like prep courses to teach you how to learn. Learning how to handle your own emotions and reactions to things around you is a skill most don’t ever understand.  I hope if you struggle in quiet that hopefully this will also inspire you to reach out for the help you deserve.

Thanks again for reading to the bottom, I appreciate you for taking the time out of your evening as I know how precious time is. <3 

Serena

PS: Here’s a cute cat photo

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