I have been MIA on this here bloggeroo for about 6 months now, and I feel like even though I've been active on social media, I owe an explanation here as to what I've been up to, where in the world I am, and what's been happening in my life since June.
It was the most perfect day and was totally worth the stress I put myself through, but I'll go more in depth on my wedding day in another post because I just have so much I want to reflect on about that. But, the short story is I got married and it was so fun.
What happened after the wedding day, though, ended up being a grand, unexpected adventure. This is an optimistic way of putting it :)
First, we bought a new car right after the wedding (as in, the Wednesday after our wedding day). It was my dream car, a Subaru Outback. We decided to buy it after I deemed our RV unreliable to make the trip back to California after the wedding. We needed a way to transport the dogs back, and investing in a new car seemed logical.
The weekend after our wedding, I photographed our friend and wedding photographer's wedding, a wedding which my husband was the best man. It was all fun and games until the officiant ran up to me, just an hour before the ceremony was about to start, asking me what the bride and groom drove because "a bus just totaled a car in the parking lot."
My husband ran up moments later, exasperated, "It's our car, Casey. The bus hit our car."
Our brand new, 3-day-old car had an estimated $8000 worth of damages after a school bus had come out of park and rolled down a hill directly into the back of it. Luckily, by some miracle, no one was injured. Except, of course, our new car.
That happened on July 1st. The collision center estimated 4-6 weeks for us to get the car back. I had a wedding in LA on July 15th that I needed to be back for. We had no way of transporting our dogs back without a car (I refuse to risk flying with them, as the stress can cause death in dogs), I really didn't want to risk breaking down in the middle of the country in our RV, and so I had no choice but to fly back alone. My husband, thank goodness, is self-employed and able to work remotely, so he volunteered as tribute to live in Michigan at his mom's with our dogs (thanks, Mom!) while the car got fixed. I flew back to LA the first week of July and shot the weddings I was contracted for, and planned to fly back to Michigan in August when the car was repaired and make the cross-country trip back which we intended to make after the wedding.
So, the first 5 weeks of our marriage were destined to be spent without each other in separate states.
(People weren't joking when they said marriage changes everything! HAH.)
During this time, without my husband or my dogs, I had a lot of time to really reflect on our future, as both small business owners and a family. We had already been discussing moving out of Los Angeles sometime within the next 5 years, but I had an inclination that the accident was the universe's way of telling us, "It's time."
We decided to turn lemons into lemonade, and move to Michigan to be closer to our families and try and grow our businesses there while a bunch of our stuff (from the wedding and road trip) and our dogs were already there. For anyone who knows what it's like living far away from family, you understand how difficult it is as you get older to make time to visit, especially on important days like holidays. Combine that with the growing difficulty and cost of living in a major city, the pros of moving just seemed to outweigh the cons. We never saw ourselves affording property in California, I never really saw an end game in my business, I had qualms about raising my future children in a big city, and I felt like I had accomplished way more in my almost 10 years in LA than I ever would've expected before I went out there.
I could hang my hat on this period of my life and look back on it fondly and proudly.
So, we spent the next 3 months looking for a new place to live, packing up our entire life in LA, flying back and forth for contracted weddings, driving across the country one more time, and rebuilding our network of industry contacts in a totally new place we've never worked before. It was an extremely daunting task.
During this time, I went through every emotion. I was excited and exhilarated for this new challenge, but really sad at the same time that I was leaving a place I considered a home, regular and reliable gigs, clients I adored, and friends I loved on the West Coast.
I felt anxiety every day.
Despite my best efforts to stay organized, some parts of the move were just a big mess. I found myself traveling for work and feeling myself get further and further behind as my attention was split in so many directions. For the first time I felt a little out of place, like I was trying to acclimate to a new country altogether, not a new state. It was an almost out-of-body experience trying to explain what was happening, so I just stopped trying.
But we got through it. I've started booking more work in Michigan for 2018 (I won't have to travel by plane for every wedding, thank goodness!), and I am seeing a positive turn for both my husband and I for quality of life, our businesses, and everything that we've built up to this point together.
After this experience, I am finally starting to feel caught up on both work and happiness. I truly do feel like taking risks like this is necessary for progressing in life, and challenging yourself is the one thing that make life worth living. When it came to my goals, everything started to point away from Los Angeles. I started to realize my priorities were changing, and a fresh start seemed like a really good choice for us.
So, that's what's been up with me. I promise I will be blogging more again because it was one thing that brought me a lot of joy last year. I'm also focusing on a new personal project, which I'm really excited to share when it all comes together.
As this year comes to a close, I'm taking this time to reflect on everything I'm grateful for and how life can change in an instant. I'm dedicated to moving forward with a positive outlook and learning from mistakes, bettering my business, and pursuing what makes me happy.
And I'm never moving across the country again.
(At least not for another 10 years.)
Bring it on, 2018.