It has been a while, but after all the love and support and great advice from everyone, I felt like I should share what has happened since my last update.
I did not end up with the job offer mentioned in my last post (but I knew it was for the best), and shortly after, I purchased an existing business to supplement my then-side-business (I had been photographing weddings for nearly 14 years at that point, and the business we bought is a well-respected mobile wedding hair and makeup company that the previous owner was having health problems and couldn't keep up the volume).
With the help of a family member, I ran it for about six months while still working full time, to give the business time to work up a savings and be able to easily support both of us through seasonality.
In April 2016, I gave a seminar for my job, for a local organization that got huge praise in the community. And immediately after, the boss went back to being a total jerk, going back on his word that time spent on the presentation after hours, he would count toward flex time. When I asked him about it the following week, he acted like we never discussed it (something he was famous for, but since we had been having a "good run of it" lately, I thought surely wouldn't happen to me again). He basically discredited the whole project, and made me feel like all the effort and time away from my family to be there working late on my presentation was for nothing.
I wrote my resignation letter the next day, cleaned my desk out that night just in case it went bad and he asked me to leave immediately, scheduled a call with him the day after that (I was going to meet with him in person but he went unexpectedly out of town), and told him I was leaving.
He asked me to stay on long enough to get someone hired and trained, and I (stupidly) agreed. This dragged on for 6 more weeks, and I finally left in June of last year.
I have been running my photography business full time, I upgraded from a shared office to a dedicated studio space in September 2016, and as the only physical studio photographer in town now, I have been getting lots of headshots and corporate work, in addition to the weddings and portraits I had always done.
In addition, the business I purchased made back our initial investment after only 10 months, and has been profitable from that point out.
The photography studio has 2 part time editors who help with post-production work, and a part time Virtual Assistant who helps me keep everything in order.
The hair and makeup business has grown to 12 stylists and 1 full time manager, and last year we did 166 weddings, or 46 more than the previous owner had been averaging. We used the extra unexpected profit to invest in a shuttle bus that we are converting into a mobile salon, and hope to have that in service in the next month or two.
In January the team also were voted #1 in both the hair and makeup Beauty categories in the Vendor's Choice awards held by a prominent wedding networking association, beating out some other "big names" in the local wedding industry, which was a HUGE deal.
These first few months of this year we are already averaging just over 11% up on revenue from last year, so while it's a lot of work, it's been exciting to see that we are doing a few things right.
The one thing I have NOT done, is regret my decision for one SPLIT second to leave.
To anyone out there on the cusp of doing what they love full time, but fearful of leaving the "safety" (if we can call such an environment such a word) of a steady pay-check, all I can say is if you absolutely love what you do with all your heart and soul, you WILL make it.
I was not dumb about it - I stayed probably about a year longer than I had initially wanted so I could save, save, save, and I actually had planned to stay through the end of last year, but that final straw made me take the leap a little sooner than expected.
I'm definitely hustling, I'm definitely not "set" yet, but I'm doing it, and loving every second.