GRATEFUL TUESDAYS // RICHMOND, VIRGINIA WEDDING + YOGA PHOTOGRAPHER, KRYSTA NORMAN

GRATITUDES + BREAKTHROUGHS 05.19.20

Gratitudes

I’m embarrassed to say it’s been months without a regularly scheduled blog post. The last one being from October and the past 6 months have been filled with some major life changes and celebrations. I’ll give you a brief list below:

  • Grandpa Ron passed away at the end of October and I was back and forth staying with Grandma Jean, while we all grieved and transitioned to a new life without him.
  • The holidays arrived and felt a little less bright without him, but we were able to celebrate as a family coordinating pjs and all.
  • Kellyn + Ken announced they were pregnant and having a baby in May. Right now, she is actually due! They decided to not find out the gender of the baby, but if you know the Normans at all, you’ll know we make girls!
  • In January, I had to take Mosby into the vet for a bump on his leg. With the testing it turned out to be cancer, so we scheduled an appointment to have it removed. He was such a good boy and came home completely disoriented and snuggly. He now has a wicked scar and there has been no additional growths since his surgery!
  • I went to Cuba in March and it was an incredible trip. I was truly taken back by its’ beauty, history and how KIND the people were. I’ll be sharing a full blog post on that soon.
  • When I landed back stateside COVID-19 was just hitting the U.S. with a swiftness and things went into lockdown that weekend. It also was the same weekend I went house shopping and fell in love with my home!
  • I put an offer in during the initial panic of the pandemic, hoping it would all die down or settle down with a plan. Ha! So, I continued and went through with closing. I am now a home owner!
  • I officially opened my travel print shop and I’m happy to report it’s been successful!
  • I celebrated my 35th birthday COVID-style with my parents at home. Mom surprised me with crab legs + cupcakes!
  • Katlyn + Russell also announced their second pregnancy and revealed they will be having… you guessed it a GIRL.
  • COVID-19 has disrupted my business in a huge way. It’s been emotionally + financially draining (Hi, I bought a house during a pandemic). I have thankfully only had one solid cancellation and multiple couples rescheduling and reworking their wedding plans. The majority of my couples have been incredible, kind, thoughtful problem-solvers who have partnered with me to make these changes easier. This whole thing is hard on everyone, and I mean everyone. I’ve also been on the receiving end of aggressive and threatening emails, that are truly exhausting. Believe me when I say, I didn’t enter a service-based industry if I didn’t care about the connections I make with people that I deeply want to serve.

As promised on Instagram, I wanted to share a couple of stories about process of homebuying during a pandemic and some hilarious lessons learned so far.

Typically, closings are 30 days from when the initial offer is accepted. Ha, not with COVID-19, everything took longer because of the precautions and mandates put in place. Meaning it was difficult to schedule home inspectors, plumbers, appraisers and the underwriter because staffing was down and people were trying to be cautious.

If you haven’t heard getting pre-approved and then approved for a loan as a small business owner is a practice of patience. I had to supply almost 5 years of income, a hand written letter to the lender about why moving wouldn’t effect my income, signed letters from my CPA, proof that I had paid my federal taxes and loads of bank statements.

I had prescheduled my move with U-Haul and their recommended moving company, but the closing date needed to be pushed back because… you guessed it – COVID-19. Thankfully, both U-Haul and the moving company were easy to reschedule without any additional fees.

The settlement company prepared me by requesting I come alone with a mask and my own pen. I would be directed to sit outside at a desk that looked oddly similar to a high school detention set-up to sign the papers, while I talked to the closing attorney on the phone. It felt so anticlimactic.

I envisioned walking into the title + settlement office with excitement and anticipation. I would sit at a large oak table, sip on a complimentary coffee and make small talk with my realtor and the closing attorney. You know, “How does it feel signing your name 1,000 times?” “Ready to sign your life away?” I would be able to ask a few questions, sign all of the papers and get the key on a branded realtor keychain, followed by a handshake or even a hug!

It definitely wasn’t that. I was thankfully able to sit at a plastic fold out table equipped with two metal fold out chairs inside what looked to be a converted waiting room. On the table were two pens and a bottle of antibacterial gel. I did get to have a face-to-face with the attorney, but everything felt flat. I rubbed my hands with Purell, I signed and he handed me the keys in an envelope and I left. Zero frills, zero contact and zero excitement.

To wrap it all up, buying a house during a pandemic is weird. I can’t wait to share how getting settled into your house during a pandemic is even stranger like having the Verizon Fios guy set up your internet with teamwork through your guest bedroom window. That’ll come next week, as this is getting to be way too long.

Breakthroughs

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.
A goal broken into steps becomes a plan.
A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.

This couldn’t be more true. I told myself in 2017 that I would own a home when I turned 35. In order to do that I needed to make some hard decisions, like moving into my parents basement with Ava + Mosby. I hired a business coach who has helped increase my revenues and reach my ideal clients. I started following Dave Ramsey to overhaul my finances and set myself up for stability. That meant I needed to pay off my consumer debts: credit cards, car + student loans. (I currently am wrapping up my student loan which will be paid off by the end of this year – pending COVID).

I knew this goal would take time, it’s not something you can do within a few months. And I wish I could say I was laser focused the whole time, but it’s hard when you’re watching your friends and family move on to celebrate HUGE life goals like marriage, babies, home purchases, vacations and animal adoptions. There were many times I felt alone. It’s incredibly isolating when you aren’t following the structured societal path of college, stable job, marriage, home purchase and kids. I was in my 30s living in my parents basement rebuilding my life from the decisions that I had made in my 20s that didn’t pan out. I felt embarrassed that I had to press that reset button, add that on to the complexities of being an Ennegram 3 and it was a mental + emotional battle some days.

All of this to say, that it worked (the sacrifice + rebuild)and the dream is finally here! I currently own a home. A place that is truly mine from the yard, to the floors, walls and all of the things inside of it.

The most common question I was asked after I signed was, “Did you feel like you signed your life away?” And honestly, I didn’t feel scared at all. I felt safe.

For the first time, I have a home. I have a house and a yard that offers security of always having a private space (obviously I need to keep paying the mortgage). But there is no fear of a landlord rent increase, a rental sale or the uncertainty of moving in with someone and having to find a new place after a break-up, pet deposits/damage, etc. I have a safe haven for me to continue exploring myself, taking care of the dogs and growing my business. Where I can paint the walls without asking permission, open the windows and leave the air conditioner on, leave a coffee cup or two in the sink, forget about my laundry in the dryer and shamelessly eat as many gummy bears for breakfast as I want.

I appreciate you reading all of this, I originally planned on sharing funny stories of settling in, but this came out of me instead. I’ll work on home photos and stories for next week!

As always thanks for reading, xoxo.

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