When Brett and I first got married, I was in property management. We were young (22) and I wasn't overly career bound but we knew we didn't want to have kids for at least five years. Looking back, I'm not entirely sure why this was such a priority to us. I think that we both wanted to get established in jobs, especially Brett as the provider. We also knew that we had married young and after a very short dating/engagement period (10 months total) and wanted a chance to really enjoy each other and our relationship. Only a couple of our friends had kids but most of our friends still weren't even married so there wasn't that peer pressure to have kids either.
A couple months after we got married, we decided to look for a better deal on an apartment. We lived in Beaverton and I got an employee discount since I worked at the office. However, our rent was still about $800 for a two bedroom and we kinda wanted to see if we could find something a little cheaper. We found this amazing apartment in the Tanasbourne area that was way nicer then the one we were living in and get this, it was only $513/month for two bedrooms. Uh....YES PLEASE!!! We moved out at the end of August into our new apartment and were thrilled. But get this.....the very next weekend I got fired from my job at our old apartment. It's a long ugly story but basically the property management company I worked for was run by a family and I had quit working for the daughter of the president because of moral issues and in retaliation, the mom fired me from working at her property. Anyways, if I hadn't moved into that amazing apartment a week earlier, I would have had 24 hours to vacate my apartment due to being fired. No joke. 24 hours. Can you even imagine!?!? The Lord totally knew I was going to get fired and arranged for me to move the week prior. Seriously, how blessed were we?!?
After getting fired, which was devastating by the way even though I knew it wasn't truly my fault (but isn't that what everyone says when they get fired, ha ha), I decided to pursue a career in real estate. I enrolled in online classes full time and was priveledged to get to focus on that full time from September to January. I loved studying at home and making my husband dinner every night. It was like playing house still since we were newlyweds and it was a really special season. We were SO broke living on just Brett's income and I remember my mom coming over and taking me to Winco and filling our fridge and cupboards with food. I got a part time holiday job at Pier One Imports which was a half a mile away and since we only had one car, my parents would come and give me a ride when it was raining outside which was most of the time. They really blessed us during that season of our lives and taught me a lot about how to bless others. The gift of groceries is almost uncomparable when you're broke.
Anyways, I digress.
I got my real estate license in February of 2004 right after my 23rd birthday. Now that I look back, that was a pretty risky move for someone my age. A huge part of real estate is obtaining business from your "sphere" of influence. Well, most of my sphere were still in college or trying to find jobs. None of them were really looking for houses. :) I have story after story of amazing transactions that I was apart of in real estate though where the Lord 100% provided for me. I'm so grateful.
I did real estate full time for 4 years. Looking back, I cringe when I think of all the time I wasted. Good Lord, I could have worked out two hours a day and not have had childcare to think of. Hindsight is truly 20/20. I did well in real estate, particularly at the height of the market in 2005. I had a GREAT year and made quite a bit more money then my husband which I was pretty proud of. I was pretty jazzed, never anticipating the market crash which would occur the following year. I think that as I made more money, I started to get more materialistic. I shuddered at the thought of driving an older car. We bought a brand new fully loaded Honda Accord, thinking it was a practical choice versus a BMW or Mercedes. Still though, it was a $25k car. We had money to furnish our brand new house that we had just built. We frequently paid when the bill came at resteraunts and we were in a large group. We weren't flashy with money, just happy to spend it. We had a large savings account and I remember thinking that we will NEVER run out of money again!!!
Meanwhile, amidst my real estate success, Brett was having a tough time in the job market. He had worked for Nordstrom for 8+ years and then took a job with Washington Mutual to be a personal banker. He worked for them for a year and then got laid off in 2006, right when the real estate market started to decline. We weren't in the smartest place in our lives, however, and decided that since I was doing so well in real estate that Brett should get his real estate license and join me. It was actually a dream of ours to do real estate together someday. Brett spent 5 months or so getting his license and we lived off savings. We didn't live frugally off savings either, we continued our silly lifestyle of eating out all.the.time. In 2005, I kid you not, we ate out for nearly every single meal. I'm not proud but it's true. I was a workaholic though, I worked from 8am until 10pm on a LOT of days. I didn't aspire at ALL to be domestic, I was too busy making money. I wasn't the closest to the Lord back in these times either. I have always loved the Lord but we definitely weren't consulting him with our plans and goals...He was more on a need to know basis. Not good.
Anyways, Brett getting his real estate license was a total fail. He was able to help me a couple times by showing property when I was double booked but overall, it was not a wise choice in our lives. During this season of our life, we weren't even that happy. Ironically when we had the most money, we were the most unfulfilled. We had TONS of time on our hands and didn't do anything with it that was of any value. It literally makes me sick to think of all the wasted time. We had a membership to a a super snooty gym which is more like a country club that was $100/month and we probably went like 3 or 4 times the entire time we had the membership (which was for over a year). Lord forgive us for being so foolish!!!!
Time went on and money started to dwindle. In December of 2006 Brett started to feel pain in his knee and thought it might be a bone infection similar to one he had had before. This would require major surgery and neither of us had health insurance since we were still technically self employed. We were panicking. The same night that we were majorly stressing out over Brett's knee, our Honda was stolen from the front of our house. I was really upset about it and felt really unsafe at our home. The car wasn't found in time so insurance paid it off which was a huge blessing. We had leased the car and we were going to have to either pay a LOT of money in mileage overage fees or purchase the car from Honda, which we couldn't have done because we had no documented income being self employed and had screwed up our credit. The car getting stolen turned into a blessing in disguise.
Shortly after our car was stolen, Brett took a side job for a guy at our church doing "security" at a construction site. It was from 8pm-8am and he sat in his car all night and kept on the lookout for any vandals or thieves. I hated it when he was gone. He did it about 5 nights a week and I was worried sick the entire time he was gone. I went with him several times and slept in the back of our SUV. I was struggling with a lot of anxiety because of our car being stolen and feeling like there was a target on our house. I was also pretty sure that a drug dealer lived across the street from us and I thought they were going to notice that Brett left every night and come kill me. We had a dog at the time and I wrestled with keeping her with me to protect me or with sending her with Brett to protect him. Thankfully, this only lasted a couple months and then Brett went back to work at Nordstrom. I was so grateful to get to go to bed with him every night again. Brett worked for Nordstrom for all of 2007 and in the fall I decided to look for a part time job. I was feeling kind of guilty for not bringing in as much money in real estate due to the market crash and couldn't justify just sitting around all day. I didn't want to get any old job though, it had to be worth my time.
I saw a job post for The Standard in September and was very interested because of the high pay scale. I called and they offered me an interview but it was on Brett's birthday. I almost declined but decided to go for it. They offered me a temp to hire position and I started the first of October. I had wanted a morning shift but all they had was an afternoon shift and again, I almost declined the job but decided to run with it. I was a temp until mid- December when I got hired on permanently. Meanwhile, Brett decided to look for a job with more of a career path. I encouraged him to look into property management. I always thought he would be perfect for it...real estate mixed with people and customer service. Right up Brett's alley. Brett interviewed for a job in December and it was super entry level but that's kinda what you have to do to get your foot in the door with a company. His starting pay was a HUGE paycut but no worries because now I had this great part time job. Brett's first day of work was January 2nd. He wouldn't be eligible for any benefits until he had worked with company for 90 days.
On Januray 1st, I became eligible for health insurance through The Standard. On January 2nd, I found out I was pregnant with Emersyn. Incredible. If I hadn't gotten my job with The Standard, I wouldn't have had health insurance for the first part of my pregnancy which would have been SO stressful and uncertain. When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately thought that Brett was going to have to find another job. There was no way we could deal with this pay cut with me having a baby and wanting to be able to stay home with her eventually, etc. Brett actually tried to find another job for several months but it was clear that the Lord wanted him to stay put.
Fast forward almost exactly three years. Brett has now been with his company for almost three years. He was promoted to an assistant manager right after Emersyn was born and then was promoted to a manager a couple months ago. He is making enough for me to stay home with our daughter and it's now so clear why the Lord worked things out the way He did. Back when my real estate career was thriving, I had no desire to stay home with my children. I dreamed of a nanny that could raise my kids, cook my dinner and maybe even do my hair each morning, ha! I was going to make it big in real estate. But through all the successes and failures of real estate and life in general, I was able to really define what was important to me. I worked with a high level Realtor for about a year and she made well over $400k a year. She told me that at the end of every day, she sat in her driveway and talked on her phone for hours wrapping up a days work. She knew that when she pressed the garage door opener that her daughter would run out to see her and she couldn't open the garage door until she was off the phone. I didn't want to be held captive to a career like that.
I LOVE real estate and still have practiced it while I've been at The Standard. Selling homes is a hobby and a passion for me. Statistically only like 1 in 100 Realtors actually makes it past their first year. But I am thankful that at this point in my life, I can work with friends, family, and referrals. I have had clients before that were so high maintenance that I know me having a daughter would have been a problem. They wanted me to be at their beckon call whenever and now that's not an option as I have a family now. Don't get me wrong, I believe in being professional and am good at my job. Right Caitlin? ;) But I still am happy now to be able to be more selective about who I work with. I can't wait for my next real estate deal. :)
Phillipians 4:12 says "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Man, when I read this verse I considered having it tattooed on my forehead. Well not really. But you know what I mean. I truly truly have learned the secret of being content. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. And at the end of the day, all I want is to be able to pay my bills, raiser my daughter, and be a support to my husband. I don't need a fancy car or a big house. I don't need a lot of things I thought I did way back when we first got married. And for all these situations that we have gone through, I am eternally grateful. I wouldn't trade my life experiences for anything. I hope to be able to share them and maybe prevent others from wasting as much time in life as I did, but each experience has made me the wife, mother and woman that I am today.
I am so looking forward to my next "job" as a full time mama. I know that as a working mama, I've had many struggles but I've also had a lot of advantages. I'll save those thoughts for another post though.
Thanks for reading my