1. A leap of faith….
I was two years out of college, 50k deep in student loan debt, 32,000 hours into my broadcasting career with no benefits, no vacation days and very little happiness in my job when I’d finally built up the courage to abandon the news industry and pursue something different.
I didn’t know what I’d do next, but I knew that I couldn’t waste anymore time being unhappy.
I was surrounded by a lot of negativity that came from my work environment and it had a huge effect on my mindset and my health. I was broke, sleep deprived, sick to my stomach and found myself taking my stress out on my loved ones.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad!!! I gained a ton of useful experience in my job as an anchor, reporter and producer at WDTV, I made a handful of really great friends and was adopted by an incredible family I’d found on care.com when I was looking for a babysitting gig to make extra money after work…
…but I was exhausted!
It took me nearly two years to find the confidence to make a change, but the moment I handed in my notice, a weight lifted from my shoulders and space opened up in my life for an unknown blessing to fill it. I was FREE!!
What happened next would be greater than my wildest dreams.…
When I felt stuck working in my nightmare of a job in West Virginia, I began journaling, vision boarding, researching and studying the Law of Attraction. I spent all of my alone time meditating on the idea that a career was waiting for me in Pittsburgh and that I could lead a fulfilling life from there.
My only goal was to be home.
I moved back in with my mom in April of 2016 and started serving and bartending at the same bar where I’d worked in college, The Bulldog Pub. I also found an awesome nannying gig and was loving the extra cash. I’d applied for a couple of “real” jobs with no luck and admittedly felt a bit discouraged, but held on to faith that God was holding out for something better.
Finally, I had a savings account and was making a dent in my growing student loan debt. I could see my boyfriend, my friends and my family anytime instead of just on the weekends when I could make it back to the city.
Life was peaceful and I was SO SO happy!
With my new found freedom, I was able to spend time doing things I loved….
An opportunity popped up to produce a documentary for the Clean Pittsburgh commission. My mom was on the board and told me they were looking for an intern to produce a video for their annual meet and greet.
I thought to myself, I’ve got a camera, I’ve got a microphone and a tripod, why not me?! This wasn’t a paid gig, but I was taking in so much cash from bartending and babysitting and I was living at home with my mom again, so what the heck?!
This sounded like an awesome opportunity, so I took it!
That summer, I must have spent 100+ hours shooting more than 20 interviews and collecting footage for this video. I was in my glory piecing this thing together!!!
When it was complete, and they shared my film in front of the crowd during the event, I felt fulfilled!! Unlike the horror stories of deadly car accidents and devastating fires I’d been forced to share for so long in the news industry, I was able to produce this positively uplifting film that inspired others to clean up our city!
Mayor Peduto stood up and announced they’d be sharing my film on the city cable channel. I was proud and in that moment and I felt as if my future was in my hands. I had this ability to evoke emotion and inspire others through the art of filmmaking and there was nothing stopping me from making a career out of it.
Suddenly, people began asking if they could hire me to take photos of them!!!
I realized then that I had a service to offer the world and saw an opportunity to create the life I wanted instead of seeking to find it elsewhere.
Before I knew it, I had my own business!! I was taking engagement photos and producing wedding films. I made business cards and amped up my website. I developed a pricing guide and got a friend with a law degree to write up a standard contract I could use. I began collecting deposits for upcoming shoots and would put those payments towards purchasing professional equipment. I said I was a wedding videographer, and people believed me!
In the fall of 2016, I set a goal for myself to have 14 weddings under my belt by the end of the next year. Achieving that goal lit a fire inside of me! It fueled my belief in the notion that I had the power to do anything and be anyone!
I just had to intend it!!!
2. Investing in myself….
Spring was in the air and I’d been feeling restless… but not restless in the sense that I was bored or cooped up. It was more of an inspired feeling lacking direction.
The world had shut down due to a global pandemic in March of 2020, just before the start of another busy wedding season and I was cooped up at home with couples calling left and right to cancel their events.
My carefreeness and lack of accountability were certainly catching up with me through a portion of the winter. I’d fallen behind on work with the weight of our approaching wedding on my shoulders and I was having regular dreams about being hit by waves or buried by sand.
I noticed a post about a group coaching course for female entrepreneurs. It captivated me in a way that I couldn’t ignore. I was feeling lost in the midst of the uncertainty I was facing as a small business owner and I knew I could use some clarity and accountability in my business strategy.
The post was from Danielle Slagel, who I’d met a year earlier when her fiancé booked me to photograph his proposal!! I had no idea she was running a program that empowers women to start and scale their businesses, but when I stumbled across her page, I had this gut feeling that she could help me.
Danielle’s 5 week course had already begun, but she assured me that it wasn’t too late to sign up.
Through my experience, I’ve come to realize that it’s crucial to act quickly on inspiration. We have to trust those gut feelings before the right opportunities pass us by.
Right away, I felt so good about my decision to reach out and to invest in myself. I began the course and instantly felt energized, supported and hopeful for the future!!!
It was so wonderful connecting with like minded professionals who were also seeking direction, growth and accountability.
I had a chance to sit back and take a closer look at the way I’ve been managing my time and since then, I’ve discovered so many strategies to make more of the space in my life.
I used to journal and meditate daily and I’d totally fallen out of the habit of using those practices to check in with with myself.
Am I following my heart? Am I pursuing my passions? Am I living intentionally? Do I feel fulfilled?
I realized that in the pursuit of building a successful and profitable business, I’d lost sight of my core values and the reasons that I started my own business in the first place.
For the freedom!
I’d booked myself up so fully, that I was no longer making time to check in with my goals and my dreams.
Quarantine turned out to be a blessing in my life in so many ways. I feel like the universe knew that I needed a chance to slow down, catch up and get ahead, so it pulled some magical strings to allow me to catch my breath and regain my center.
I’ve learned it’s okay to say no.
I’ve learned that in order to make room in my life for the good stuff, I’ve got to clear out the things that are no longer serving me and I’ve got to dedicate time to the passions and endeavors that bring me the most joy and fulfillment.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help and to delegate and outsource the tasks that are eating into my valuable time. I have invested more money into my business than ever before since then, and it’s paying off tremendously!!
My eyes opened up to so many new opportunities and I felt more excited than ever for the future!
3. Finding my voice….
It was a warm Saturday morning this Spring, I woke up around 3:30am and couldn’t fall back asleep. There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning, so I got up and went to my office.
I turned on an episode of Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast and began editing some photos I had to finish up for a client.
I woke up in a sentimental mood, reflecting back on my time in college. I started thinking about the people who I worked with at that time and decided to reach out to them and let them know just how thankful I was for the encouragement and support they gave me while I was determining who and what I wanted to be.
It felt so good to take a minute to let them know I was thinking about them.
The following day, I started reflecting more on those times and how much I loved producing the content that we were putting out!! I pulled up some of our old youtube videos and watched a mini documentary series that we’d created my junior year. One of the episodes featured us, the interns.
In the video I told the story about how I got involved with the athletic department to gain experience in on-air broadcasting, but through the work I began doing there, I fell in love with the art of video production and photography.
As I watched back, something I said all those years ago hit me like a ton of bricks and I began to cry. I said…
“I love the way that I feel when I have a finished product and it can bring some sort of emotion to somebody and I like being able to show somebody more than what they might get at first glance just watching the game on the field or on the court.”
In that moment, I realized that the heart of my passion for photography and videography has always been the desire to evoke emotion in others and to share stories that will inspire them and make them feel good.
When I’d started my business course about 5 weeks earlier, I looked at photography and videography as my superpowers. The talents that made me unique. The things I was called to do….
After listening back to my 20 year old self talk about the discovery of my love for digital media, it suddenly hit me…. my camera is simply a tool and photos and videos are the medium I use to fulfill my passion for inspiring people and making people happy.
For a long time, I’ve felt called to lead a conversation with purpose driven creatives using their God given gifts and talents to create fulfilling and abundant lives for themselves. A couple of years ago, I’d even started working on a documentary series of my own.
Unfortunately, I’d put off my creative endeavors and ideas because I was bogged down by all the work I was doing for other people.
So after watching this video and thinking long and hard about my passions and my callings…
I thought to myself, why don’t I start a podcast? I’ve got this background in journalism, a platform for sharing and countless individuals around me who have valuable information to offer up for anyone who’s willing to listen.
I knew I had to act fast if I wanted to make this happen because inspiration is fleeting. I had no idea what I was doing, but I took the first step and recorded an episode.
I resisted the show on Spotify and i-Tunes, began booking interviews and started spreading the news.
I said I’d be sharing a new episode every Monday and for three weeks straight, I did. It felt so good to commit to something and to accomplish what I said I was going to do.
After my first few episodes, I’d realized the potential this show had to be educational and maybe even life changing for someone listening. What I thought would be a fun, creative hobby had suddenly turned into this monster of a passion project and I truly wanted it to be great!!
I realized that in order to make this thing as good as it could be, I had to cut back on the number of shows I could realistically produce while keeping the other aspects of my business running smoothly.
Now, I’m sharing one new episode per month and I’m so excited for the opportunity to use my platform to learn, to grow and to share motivational and uplifting content!
Acting on this crazy idea and starting this show has helped me so much to see that I have the potential to serve others by sharing my learning experiences and the stories of other creative individuals who’ve found success in the pursuit of their passions.
I’ve finally found my voice and a way to use it to make a difference in the world…
…and it feels really good!!!