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My Story of HOW I FOLLOWED MY DREAMS

Let me start off by saying growing up I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. This happens often with artists because we often have many things we love doing! I wanted to be a dancer, if possible for Mariah Carey, a writer, maybe someone who drew pretty things for holiday cards, a basketball player, a pianist, the list goes on.

People often commented that I was great with children and that I should go into teaching.

 I remember being 18 and driving to my barista job, that I LOVED.  I was thinking, why is there so much pressure to know what you want to do? What if I figure it out,  but not until I’m older? Which is exactly what happen.

Fast forward 6 years later and 100’s of lattes later.

I had been teaching for 2 years. It was late, around 11pm and I couldn’t sleep. My husband was fast asleep next to me and my brain was going 100 mph. I wasn’t happy with where my career was going. I had gotten home that night around 7pm. We had Open House that night. Of course all of us teacher’s swore we wouldn’t talk late to parents so we could be home at a decent hour to be with our own families but we never follow through. We are all talk, of course we will stay late. We care about our students as if they’re our own children.

 

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We all should have been done by 6pm,  but parents have questions so we stay. We smile, we glance at the clock when they’re not looking at us, and keep a smile. Anwsering every question. We know they work too and face to face conversations are always more effective. So we stay.  The next parent comes, same questions, same answers, same smiles. Glance at the clock. They thank us repeatedly for our time, I smile and say you’re welcome. Okay maybe Open House wasn’t so bad.

My daughter’s bed time is in an hour and I haven’t seen her all day.  Another question, another smile, glance at the clock. I want to go home.

 

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Mykenzie at 3 Years old! Our neighbor Andrea and my college roommate used to watch her for me and gifted me with these adorable pictures!

I ran to my car, literally full out sprint. It’s 7:15pm and I live 3.5 miles away. I do the math and figure I can get home by 7:25 if the red light at Market Street isn’t heavy with traffic. It’s pouring outside and the rain feels great on my head, except my feet are soaked. I blast the heat on my feet and take off. I zoom past Taco Bell resisting the urge to feed my stress with a delicious Crunch Wrap Supreme. I hesitate and almost turn around for that Crunch Wrap but than I remember my daughter.

DANG IT! Fender bender at Market Street, this light is cursed!! I should have stopped at Taco Bell.

1916208_542236851270_8211212_nHolding Mykenzie when she was just a few months old and I was 18.

 

I’m home by 7:45pm  and my daughter is in her pajamas, playing with her toys.  She runs up and hugs me, my husband hands me a glass of wine and says dinner is in the fridge. I tell him about Open House, my daughter tells me about her day before she brushes her teeth and I tuck her in.

My husband and I snuggle up on the couch and watch whatever is on channel 4, 5, or 7.  We can’t afford cable so we watch whatever is on and mostly talk about our day.  A rerun of Big Bang Theory plays in the background, my husband says we have already seen this one so we decide to move to our nightly routine.

Our routine is one of my favorite times of the day.

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I had been working on my Master’s Program after teaching all day. Yes, that’s a cat taking advantage of my tired state.

We grunt and helped each other up and head to the kitchen. It’s time to prep for tomorrow. Taylor Swift’s album, Fearless has become our cleaning album. When you have a young child, you learn quickly that your Eminem, Rage Against the Machine, and other music you love just can’t be blasted in house anymore. Anytime I hear White Horse, I have an urge to do the dishes!

I turn the iHome on, scroll to T-swift and we move around our 7 x 7 feet kitchen space getting coffee ready,  lunches,  dishes,  wiping counters,  joking around,  kissing,  prepping smoothies,  putting leftovers away, deciding on which mugs to use and setting out travel mugs,  feed the cat,  kiss again, hold the cat for a second,  fill water bottles,  whip off the stove,  sweep,  kiss,  mop,  set lunch boxes out, prep breakfast,  hold the cat again,  dream of having a bigger kitchen,  kiss,  take garbage out, and turn off iHome. We got through 5 Taylor Swift songs and lights out. Head to bed.

We read for a little while, joked around and lights out. Chris normally works night shift so he is asleep fast within minutes.

Mom brain happens.

I start reflecting on Open House, what I promised families, what do I need to bring tomorrow, who do I need to email, who forgot which form…..this goes on for what feels like forever. I glance at the clock. I’ve been laying here for 2 hours thinking about my to do list for tomorrow.

I determine it’s a waste of time,  because I’m now messing with my sleep and I can’t accomplish any of it right now.  I saw my own family for maybe an hour, my daughter for 15 mins! I’m losing sleep over things that won’t get done if I’m half asleep tomorrow!

Now I’M REALLY MAD!! I realize something needs to change and NOW!!!

I calm down, and think to myself the first thought that changed it all.

I don’t want to do this anymore.

That is when everything changes.

 

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I pray.

I can see the street lamp letting in a yellow ambiance through our 1950’s curtains that came with the apartment, and I stare at it. Like it has some power, street lamp, help me.

I think if my life has to be like this for the next 30 years, I will throw up.  I’m ready to let go, whatever I am MEANT to do, I’m giving it to you, God, universe, street lamp, whatever is out there. I’m yours. I’m done being in control, this isn’t what I want. I want more time with my family, I want to watch my daughter grow up, not only spend quality time with my husband when we are doing our nightly routine,  TIME I want more TIME!

 I’m ready, I am letting go. I did the single most hardest thing I think any human being has a hard time with.

Letting go.

I fell asleep and truly let go. If the universe felt I need to work fast food, I would have done it. That’s how much I truly let go! As long as it was Taco Bell.

The change happened instantly.

2 Weeks later.

I had taken some photographs of my daughter at sunset.  I had a history with Photography but didn’t really take it seriously or ever believe I could make a living with it.

First Lesson: When you don’t believe in yourself,  you’re your own worst enemy.

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The lighting was addicting.  It was beautiful and I had wondered if other photographers had caught on to this beautiful light.  Now I know it’s called the “Golden Hour.” Silly me!

A friend saw the images on Facebook, she asked if I could take images of her kids. I laughed, not realizing this would be my start.

I took her images for free, she bought me dinner. I delivered the images that night via Facebook. She shared them, people commented…tons of comments. I sat at my kitchen table with my laptop refreshing the screen to read new comments. It was addicting, it was a high. What the hell, they’re just pictures, why are people loving these?

Literally dozens and dozens of comments. By the end of the night I had 4 shoots lined up for the weekend.

I completed all the shoots, for free. I realize how much time I was using up, my weekends are my time with family but it felt right. I wasn’t sure how to express it but yes I was working full time as a teacher then using my weekends to shoot. How is this helping me spend more time with my family, I’m actually spending less but for some reason it feels RIGHT.

The next weekend I had booked 2 more shoots and decided to charge $20 for my time.

The next weekend I had my first engagement session at Pike Place. They asked me to shoot their wedding. I was excited and nervous so I offered to do it for free.

The engagement sessions got me a couple other weddings. Weird.

My first wedding came. I LOVED IT! LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT!!

Instead of coming home tired, mad, exhausted, I was dancing through the door. Excited to load photos, share stories with my husband.

I started booking up months in advance. I started a business page on Facebook and was THRILLED when I got 31 likes in a day. It felt like a million.

I hosted my first contest and got over 1000 likes. Those led to more bookings. Thanks Facebook.

I posted sneak peeks almost daily, more likes, more comments.

I reached 2000.

I was booking weddings. I had 3 lined up for the Summer.

I had a few companies reach out to me,  to be in wedding shows. However I didn’t have a website so I wasn’t creditable.

Second lesson. Get your stuff together if you’re serious about starting your own business.

Other photographers started reaching out, we started liking each other’s business pages,  giving support. I reached 3000!

I set up a styled shoot, held a giveaway and contacted my favorite venders. Jessica Drossin being my MOST favorite!!

I didn’t think she would email me back but she DID!!!!!!  She may have not known it then but her reply gave me the confidence to keep going.

I bought a new camera. Third Lesson- have GREAT equipment!

I finished my 2nd year of teaching. I went into my 3rd year, it went by fast, I worked 2 full time jobs. My 4th year teaching, same thing but this time my energy was at an all time HIGH! My happiness from photography was transferring into my teaching. I started a dance club, I was smiling all the time, my IA commented that I’m seriously on a high right now, my classroom is literally filled with rainbows. She pointed out a HUGE rainbow I had the kids make, and rainbows that were hanging from the ceiling, and all the fruit and veggies lined on the table for the snacks.  My life was FULL of color.

I was fulling living and it was showing in all areas of my life.

I realized that year I could do Photography full time. I had gotten home from having 4 shoots over the weekend and made more in that weekend than I did 2 weeks teaching. The checks were sitting on my key table by the door. I kept staring at them, adding them up. I deducted the taxes I would owe and I still made enough to pay bills.

I looked over at Chris and explained to him what I noticed. He complimented me, “Great job, babe!”

I replied, “I think I can quit teaching.”

He looked at me kind of shocked, did the math in his head and then said, “Yeah I think you can. It’s up to you, just let me know what you want to do.”

Then I told him what I had prayed about a couple years prior. What I really want, is more family time, I want to go to Kenz’s first day of school, all her sports games, practices, ballet, eat breakfast together without being stressed, have her know I’m always available.

“I should do one more year and make it the best ever!” I replied, “Whatever you want to do babe, I trust you.”  He replied.

Okay that was it.

Because of photography we could afford to buy a new car and move.  We bought a house with a yard close to our family.

Most important I spend MOST of my time with my family!!

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Mykenzie with her brother Cash and cousins, Emmie & Bailey playing on our property!2016-03-23_0001
Our chickens Lucky and Dusty eating radishes from our garden!

I was really sad to leave Seattle and my school! It was an amazing school and still is.  I had built strong connections with families and other teachers. However I wanted that connection with my own family.  I still miss the families, teachers and students!

I spent the entire Summer with Kenz and only worked on the weekends. School started and I played a different role this time, Mom, not teacher!!  I went to her first day of school and cried about 10 times! I was so excited to drop her off, linger around, and take a million pictures!

I went home, did some editing, blog posts, booked a few shoots, updated my website, cleaned the house, prepped dinner, and eagerly waited to pick her up!!

When Chris and I jumped in the car to pick her up, we couldn’t stop smiling. This was our life now!

NO STRESS!

I gave her the biggest hug ever, we talked the entire way home, went through her new school packet, played Catan, ate dinner, she helped pack her lunch for the next day, we laid around talking and laughing. It was a freaking dream. I WAS FULLY ENJOYING MY DAUGHTER’S TIME! With no where to be or nothing to worry about,  it was perfect. It took 3 years to get to this place but all the hard work was worth it!

This became our regular, we were all spending so much time together, it felt weird when we weren’t together. I coached Cross Country and Track, I went to all of her school activities, her grades were getting better and better because we had time to work on her homework together and figure out where she needed help. She got first place in Cross Country in her grade level because I had time to work with her, she started Gymnastics because we had time to commit to it. I was seeing more growth in my daughter than I had in years, our time together was invaluable and priceless. I prayed for other families and that they also would get this opportunity.

The next school year I had the option to go back to my classroom but if I chose to take another year off I would lose my classroom but still have the option of teaching in Seattle Schools. I was still unsure of what to do, the growth in my daughter made me want to take another year off,  but could we afford it.

We did the math, our budget was tight, really tight but we could do it. We just needed to make financially smart choices!

Thank you to all of you that support Raney Day and keep coming back. Your loyalty and support is what made my dream come true. My family will forever and always know what being a family is supposed to feel like because of you.

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Thank you!

If you’re ever questioning if you can accomplish your dreams, you can. However, don’t be scared of the hard work, time, and dedication. It will pay off and NO IT WON’T HAPPEN OVER NIGHT. If you have a focus and know what you’re working towards it will happen. I never expected anyone to help me, bail me out in hard times,  or hand me anything. I knew the benefits of starting at the bottom and working my way up on my own. It was a slow process but I was always gaining ground. I’m still gaining ground and working towards new goals. Some of these goals probably won’t happen for 5-10 years but I’m still chipping away at them.

If you ever need support and a little push to follow your dreams, message me! I’ll be your biggest supporter and number 1 fan!

Stay beautiful!

Love,
Jessica

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  • April 26, 2016 - 3:28 pm

    Brandi - I loved reading your story, gave me the confidence to keep pushing through the hard work it takes to succeed and to keep helping my husband going toward his life goals 🙂 Thanks Jessica 🙂ReplyCancel

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