How is it the end of 2017 already!? I can't believe it's already time to reflect on the past year and do year end posts. Crazy!!

But what an incredible year 2017 has been! Today in the name of reflecting, celebrating and documenting the blessings in my life, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share 5 of my favorite things that happened in my little world in 2017.

#1 -- Business Growth

This year has once again been a year of growth for my three businesses -- Melissa Jill Photography, Align Album Design, and Rendezbooth. This year my team of 6 associate photographers and I shot a total of 43 weddings! I did 16 myself, which is over double what I've done in recent years. And man -- I loved my clients! I feel so blessed to get to work with such incredible people. In addition to weddings, I launched a new website to highlight my Newborn Lifestyle Film Work which is super-fun. My photo booth company, Rendezbooth, had our first full year in business this year and we were able to participate in 19 events over the course of the year and are on a great growth trajectory for 2018! I also had the honor of speaking to photographers at multiple conferences including WPPI and ShowIt United. I feel thankful and overwhelmed all at the same time as I look back on 2017. It was A LOT of work. But man, was it ever rewarding.

#2 -- THREE launches for Align Album Design
In addition to the 16 weddings I photographed this year, a huge focus of my energy went into three really exciting launches for my album design company, Align Album design. In April we launched our own in-house line of physical albums -- Align Legacy Books! We continue to design for all the other album companies out there, but now photographers who want a one-stop solution for their album needs can get their albums designed AND printed through Align.

In August we launched a passion project of mine -- a short film designed to help photographers to communicate the value of albums to their clients in a non-salesy way. An entire film crew invaded my house for a long day of filming in July and my dog Dixie even made a cameo appearance in the film! You can see the finished product here. We've had an amazing response to it so far!

And finally, our third launch was perhaps our biggest. In September we rolled out our Album Start-Up Kit -- the EASIEST and FASTEST way to start selling albums -- to help photographers increase their profit by at least $1,000 per wedding by introducing albums to their studios. We thought of EVERYTHING you need to sell albums and created a kit with 11 plug-and-play tools so photographers can start offering albums after only 4-6 hours of work rather than the over 100 hours it took me when I was trying to figure out how to start selling them.

Phew! SO MUCH WORK. But I'm SO proud of what Align has become. We've been in business for over 5 years now and serve over 800 photographers worldwide helping them to succeed with albums. It's been such rewarding work!

#3 -- My Journey Toward Better Health
At the end of last year I read The Truth About Cancer and it really opened my eyes to the reality of how toxic our world has become, which makes sense of why disease has become such an epidemic and so normalized in our society. I wrote a blog post in January sharing a little bit about how this book impacted me. Since then I have continued on this journey, making changes to what I eat (trying to eat primarily non-GMO and organic food whenever possible), the products I use (focusing on eliminating household chemicals and toxic beauty products from my home), and continuing to research how I can build up my immune system rather than relying on pharmaceutical drugs. Making all of these changes in my life has been SO empowering. I've lost weight, feel better, and I believe I've only been sick once this whole year despite a crazy shooting schedule in both the spring and fall wedding seasons. I'm so thankful for this new knowledge I've been able to apply!

#4 -- House Updates
I've lived in my 1950s brick ranch home in the heart of Phoenix for over seven years now. It's the perfect little home for Dixie and I, but I continue to update it here and there. Nothing major -- but I had a goal to redecorate my home office where I meet with clients and I'm so glad I was able to make that happen this year! Putting love into a home can be a never-ending project -- especially with older homes -- so I have to pace myself and really prioritize what will make the most impact. I haven't yet blogged the finished project -- as per usual everything takes longer than it should and I'm still waiting on two final details -- but I plan to do so very soon!

#5 -- Personal Growth
As an entrepreneur, work can sometimes dominate my life, but God has taken me on a journey this year, growing me personally in so many ways. I'm dating an amazing man who has brought a lot of joy into my life and distracted me from work a bit -- which is good :). In addition, I have continued to spiritually mentor one of the girls God brought into my life last year. Once again I was also blessed to be able to go on a spiritual retreat to the gorgeous mountains of Colorado this summer for the 5th year in a row. I attend an amazing church, and participate in a small group of women who study God's Word. All of these tools have been used by God to shape my heart this year in big ways and I am so, so thankful that I am never left on my own and always lovingly called by my heavenly Father to grow and be stretched in new and life-giving ways.

Thank you all for reading and sharing in my journey! I can't wait to see what 2018 holds in store for all of us!
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