Archive for March, 2014

Financial Peace University: How FPU Revolutionized My Relationship with Money

March 31

Sometime before the end of 2013, my parents approached me about this class on finances. My dad was really pushing for me to take it with them and sounded quite optimistic about the whole thing. After some initial conversation, my dad says, “Ya, it’s this guy Dave Ramsey.” I smiled. I first discovered Dave Ramsey through a friend and fellow photographer, Nancy Ray, who with her husband experienced great success thanks to help from Dave Ramsey and following his seven baby steps outlined in his Financial Peace University (FPU) classes. Through Nancy and several other individuals I came to know about Dave Ramsey. ¬†Little did I know this guy has been around for twenty plus years and has seriously made a name for himself as he has helped thousands and thousands of people climb out of debt and win with money over the years.

My dad was pretty blown away that I had even heard of Dave Ramsey. I’m jumping ahead here but I think between my dad, my mom and myself, after completing FPU we all feel a little bit like we’re late to the party. That being said, I’m just glad I found this class at the age of 27 when I can really buckle down and set myself up for financial success. Better late than never as they say, right? Growing up, my mom ¬†really handled the finances in our home while my dad was working his tail end off at work. My dad is now semi retired and did you know semi retirement for a physician is 40 hours a week? 40 HOURS A WEEK? That sheds light on my dad’s work hours while I was growing up. To this day he is the hardest worker that I know. My mom, I should add, did a remarkable job handling our finances growing up ¬†and in a lot of ways did many of the things Dave Ramsey teaches you to do in FPU. In my Dad’s semi retirement, I think he began to realize how little he knew about how finances were being run in their household and really wanted to change that. My dad wanted to step in, see behind the scenes and start to have a say in their finances.

I agreed to take the class with my parents and was really blown away by my experience. FPU was a nine week course that we took at St. Matthew’s Church at 56th and Binford here in Indianapolis. Our class was very small, about eight or nine people each week including myself and my parents, and we met every Wednesday evening. My positive relationship with money going into this class was, well, lacking. I didn’t hate money but I also didn’t see how I could really use it as a positive force in my life. I’ve always seen money as a necessary evil and my mom growing up was intent (and extremely successful I should add) on scaring us away from acquiring debt. We were taught that it has its place but by all means to avoid debt if possible. As an entrepreneur, when I started my business at 20, I bought into this notion that I had to acquire debt to build a successful business. I now know this to be untrue but I’m grateful I had the fear of God instilled in me to acquire debt from the get go. I never accrued much and to this day have a nominal amount of debt but what I’ve found over the years is that I haven’t cared to do anything about it. It’s just been there every month, another payment I’ve had to make thinking, “This is normal.” FPU teaches that debt doesn’t need to be nor should it be the status quo.

I was immediately struck by the awesome classmates we had, all of whom came from diverse backgrounds. We live in an age were people are so hush hush about their finances and money. No one wants to talk about their challenges or even successes with money. Man, the energy there was in that room each Wednesday between just eight or nine people who wanted to start making better decisions with their money? ¬†That’s powerful stuff right there. Fires me up just thinking it. I was so inspired to know I wasn’t alone in this walk. Between all of the social media platforms and the digital world we live in, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone and that others have it way better than you do.

The biggest challenge I face as a business owner as far as money is concerned is that I don’t have a fixed income. Dave preaches on the importance of following a written budget each month and coming from someone who doesn’t always know how much money I will bring in from month to month, this concept was very scary for me. Some months are way better than others so what should I do in the slower months? One thing I learned in this course is the utmost important of diligence in taking control of your money and finances. Working on getting your finances in order is just that – WORK. You’ve got to make sacrifices and a lot of changes, it doesn’t happen overnight and more than anything it takes time. It’s takes “death by 1,000 cuts.”¬† Work at it every day and over time your hard work will produce a harvest. My walk with this will likely look different than most but for me right now it’s all about what changes can I start making to save money? ¬†For example, I want to cut off my basic cable ($25 a month) and buy an antenna to pick up the ONLY channel I really watch anyway on TV anymore, NBC. This would save me $200+ over the course of the year. This alone has me excited about other areas I can save. Can you imagine how much money we could all save if we just cared enough to save it? Wow.

My biggest takeaway from FPU? I want to give my money to God.

I’ve never thought of my relationship with money as a spiritual walk until I took this class. Now that I’ve dipped my toes in the water? Well, ¬†I just want to dive all in. Here’s why.

FPU teaches you that money is amoral – it is unconcerned with what is right or wrong. Money is an object in my life that I’ve always believed I had to endure. Endure implies a sense of drudgery, right? I’ve had to drudge through the numbers week after week, month after month.

Do you know how much scripture there is that speaks of being a good steward of your money? A LOT, apparently. I’m religious and my relationship with God means a lot to me but I don’t read the bible and I maybe know one verse by heart. What I’m driving at here is I never knew God wanted me to have this relationship with money to begin with. Almost every week, in each lesson, DR would share a verse from the bible that dealt with his particular topic at hand and my eyes were really opened to how God will bless my life when I handle my (His) money well.

And so, I want to view money not as my own with a tightly clenched fist when it’s in my possession, but instead as way to help bless and sustain others when my palm is open.

Just to be AWARE of money in the light that I am after taking this class is huge. I’m thinking more about where I’m spending money and creative ways to pay off my debt. I’ve got plans to pay it off by the end of the year. Stay tuned for that. The difference between pre FPU Caitlin and now is that now¬†I’m hungry to get it paid off and “clean up my side of the street” as Jillian Michaels would say. I’m excited to set myself up for success both now and in the future.

If you haven’t already, check out Dave Ramey‘s radio show. It’s on Monday-Friday 12-3 on 950 AM. He does “Debt Free Screams” every day with people who have paid of enormous amounts of debt in usually a small amount of time relatively speaking. Talk about inspiring! That will shed perspective on your life.


4 GIFs to Brighten Up Your Monday (Ladies)

March 24


WHOOPS. Those are all Ryan Gosling!

Jacob Palmer, you’re so dreamy.


FEATURED: Black Tie Bride

March 20

Happy Spring, friends! Excited to see Peter and Teresa’s beautiful April wedding featured on The Black Tie Bride today. Great way to kick off spring with a gorgeous couple and all of those pink peonies! Aren’t peonies the best this time of year? Check out the feature here!! x0 -C


Caitlin + Tom

March 19

To say I had fun going back through these images would be an understatement. Caitlin and Tom had a two day wedding celebration and while I photographed Friday and Saturday, what you will see here are images from Saturday alone. Caitlin and Tom were officially married on a Friday but had their party with friends and family on Saturday… and what a party it was! Oh man. Their reception was hands down one of my favorites to date. I think when you have a live ¬†band it really elevates the energy in the room and holy cow were these guests enjoying themselves. I’ve said to many people, and if you’ve been a guest at a wedding I’ve photographed you may have even caught me dancing or singing along to the music on the sidelines, but it takes so dang much not to get up and dance with all of those guests! I love love love to dance at weddings and this wedding in particular was one where I had to continually check myself at the door. NO are not a guest. NO CAITLIN.. you are here to take photos. I do apologize in advance to all of the guests at my brother’s wedding in June if I go a little bananas.

Speaking of dance, I know sweet Caitlin through Irish dancing. We danced for the same school, in different cities, for many years. Caitlin is a real gem Рkind and compassionate and within seconds of meeting Tom, I saw instantly they made sense together. Tom is..well, a real gentleman and I so love working with a groom like himself. Read on to see why especially I adore him  and his family.

C+T – What an awesome gift to be your wedding photographer. I’m totally sentimental as I go back through your special weekend and blown away, yet again, at how my life’s tapestry thus far continues to bless me. There’s a good chance I never would have known you if it weren’t for dance. For that, I’m really thankful. Thank you for your kindness. And for introducing me to Jeni’s ice cream.



That there on the right is Caitlin’s mom, Theresa. She’s super fun!

Hello muscular arms! (And now I’m leaving for the gym.)

Caitlin’s dad’s name is Fred. I interacted with Fred several times leading up to Caitlin’s wedding, every time he was so KIND. I swear, kindness has been on my mind so much lately. It’s so important. Anyway, Caitlin and her dad danced to a Beatles song together at her reception. Fred’s tie was symbolic of their song. Love special touches like this.

We stopped into Jeni’s ice cream for a sweet treat : )

Caitlin has shared that this is one of her favorite images from their wedding and I can’t disagree. These people were awesome and actually, what I love most about this group – Tom had his brother and sister stand by him and Caitlin had her two brothers and best friend stand next to her. Heavy on family with a sweet as can be matron of honor. Win!

Caitlin told me early on they had this suit designed and tailored for the wedding. Tom looked pretty handsome, don’t you think?

Caitlin, you beautiful thing!

Quick change into Caitlin’s great grandmother’s wedding dress for the ceremony on Saturday.

Is anyone surprised that I’m probably tearing up at this point during the night? NOPE!

I say with certainty that these are my favorite mother/son dance photos I’ve ever captured. Tom’s father passed away years ago and yet, I could feel him SO MUCH in these photos.

YEASH! Can’t handle it. Ps I’m a real sucker for a guy who adores his mom the way Tom adores his. Fellas, be good to your mamas!

Caitlin and Tom had irish dancers at their wedding and also an incredibly talented artist who live painted his vision of C+T’s wedding.

But seriously, these people know how to have a good time.

Did I mention there was ice cream?

Or that the groom jumped on stage?

ANDDD so did his mom and Caitlin’s mom! A wedding where the MOB and MOG jump on stage is well…awesome.

Quiet moment to themselves.

What If?

March 18

What if…

instead of staring at social media for twenty mindless minutes, you went outside for a sunny walk around the block?

What if…

you replaced half of the NO’s you’ve told yourself today with twice as many YES’s instead?

What if…

you spent five minutes clearing the clutter around you?

What if…

instead of being your biggest critic, you are sincerely your biggest cheerleader for the next hour?

What if…

instead of incessantly worrying about something, you remembered that 90% of the things you worry about never come to fruition?

What if…

you baked a cake for somebody? For no reason other than it makes you happy and would put a smile on someone’s face.

What if…

you complimented 10 people today?

What if…

you made sincere eye contact with half of the people you came in contact with today?

What if…

you called somebody to tell him how awesome he is?

What if…

you were enough? (Because you are.)

What if…

you took 3 deep breaths in a row?

What if…

you stopped for thirty seconds to pray for someone going through a tough time?

What if…

instead of beating yourself up, you just stopped and thanked God for every great thing in your life?

What if…

you knew you couldn’t fail, really truly…what action steps would you take today?

What if…

you replaced anxiety in your life with a deep faith that the universe will always, in time, give you what you need.


St. Patrick’s Day: My Years as an Irish Dancer

March 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Historically speaking, this is one of my favorite holidays. Some of you may know, and I’ve blogged about it in the past, that I irish danced for many years of my life. Truly some of the best years of my life.

I began dancing when I was five. Just a baby – a little baby Caity. My older sister danced too. Some of my nearest and dearest friendships started in those days. Below were two of my favorite partners in crime at dance class – Carrie (left) and Lauren (middle).


Growing up, if SPD fell on a week day, I was lucky enough to skip school to travel around the city and perform with our dance school, Richens Timm Academy. As a grade schooler, how AWESOME is that?! ¬†I swear, some of my favorite memories growing up were from SPD’s across the board. There were a few times sprinkled in my later years of dancing that we performed at half times shows at Pacers games. Being an enormous Pacers fan for as long as I can remember, this was always a thrill. Our favorite spot to dance on SPD was always the Rathskeller, an Irish bar nestled in the heart of downtown Indy. To this day the Rathskeller is my favorite place to be on St. Patrick’s Day. Oh yeah, another thing! Thanks to SPD, I stepped foot in so many bars as a minor. Always for good reason though.

Rachel, Cydney, Lauren and I at Rathskeller after performing one year on St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t miss the wig too much. I won’t lie. Can you tell by this picture? : ) But dang! People were SO DANG FASCINATED that we wore those with our costumes.


My full name is Caitlin O’Connor Sullivan. So, I’m super Irish. I hated that middle name growing up but have grown to really love and cherish it over the years. O’Connor was my grandmother’s (mom’s side) maiden name.

I pulled this picture from Facebook. I have no recollection as to where we were performing, but holy cow, we’ve grown up so much. Someday I’ll scan more photos from my mom’s stash of dancing photos from over the years and share them here along with more of my dance story. Man, there are some really great blackmail photos in there.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the life lessons dance taught me. Dance taught me what it means to be a team player. To be a gracious in the face of defeat and to truly be happy for other’s successes. Dance taught me hard work pays off and like anything else in life, the more you practice, the better you will be. I wouldn’t trade these years of my life for anything.

As for me, I’ll be celebrating this fine day with dear dance friends at the Rathskeller. Indy friends! Dancers go on at 4:15. It’s always a fun time! Stop by!



Kind Words: Katie + Clark

March 7

“A few years before getting engaged, I stumbled upon Caitlin Sullivan Photography after seeing her work through a good friend’s wedding photographer. ¬†I started to follow Caitlin’s blog, and was instantly drawn to her sunny outlook on life. ¬†It was obvious that she had amazing talent for capturing the big (and small) moments for couples and families. ¬†When Clark proposed, I knew that there was only one photographer for us! ¬†Caitlin Sullivan Photography was our first and only choice to capture our wedding. ¬†From the moment I met Caitlin, she calmed my fears and expressed excitement about the year ahead. ¬†Not only did she make the planning process simple, but Caitlin also helped Clark and I feel comfortable during our engagement and wedding sessions. ¬†Our photos turned out stunning, and we will cherish them forever! ¬†I can’t wait to work with Caitlin again in the future; working with her is truly like spending time with a great friend.”
To see more of Katie and Clark’s gorgeous wedding, be sure to click here. Happy weekend, friends! Much love.
Justin and Jimmy Go To Camp

March 6

I can’t even tell you how spot on this humor is for me. I die laughing EVERY TIME.