Competition and Why I Don't Compare

Everyone has competition. And if you think you don’t, well, you’re probably not paying attention. There is always someone in your field that is after the same money, supplies, audience, etc. There is always someone out there interested in obtaining what you have or are about to have. And it can be anything- business, personal, hobbies. But it doesn’t mean that we should stop trying or even start comparing. And I’m going to tell you why.

I live in a small, big city. I live in a little town that has about 10,000 people. Why does this matter? Because I’m a photographer. In a small town. Where everyone else is a photographer, too. So, just to shed some off-camera light on the subject, here is a little info about the demographics of my hometown.

Currently, we’re sitting at just over 10K residents. 53% of these residents are female. Out of this 50%, 22% of working women are in the sales and related occupations category. Looking down the list of photographers in our little-big town, we have a minimum of 25 licensed and insured. legit photographers. That’s right. I have a minimum of 24 other camera-wielding individuals as competition. And that’s just the ones who paid their annual Photography License fee! Let’s not even try to get into the ones who are just starting out or have been doing it for some time but not legally set.

This may not sound like a lot. “It’s only 24 people!” you say. Yeah, it is. But, when you have a MINIMUM of 24 other photographers who are fighting tooth and nail to convince your ideal clients to go with them… life can seem a little defeating at times. But I’m not complaining! Want to know why?

I absolutely love being who I am. I love my ability to calm the nerves of the women that walk into my studio. I love seeing them laugh when I make silly comments during their sessions. I love, Love, LOVE watching these women unfurl in front of me like a flower bud opening up to the afternoon sun. It is absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And I have to admit, I’m a little selfish because I do this for me. Yes, it’s for the women who come to see me, but it’s also for me. You see, I don’t take on just any woman. And this is the most important thing you’re going to learn about why I don’t compare myself to the other photographers in my town.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know myself for 36 years now. I know the type of woman I am and I know the type of photographer I am not. I know my ideal client and I know there are women that just will not click with me. I will never take on a client if I know that I cannot serve her in the absolute best way possible.

Photographers are many. But I am One. And I attract a certain type of woman just like the other photographers in my town and surrounding areas attract another type of woman. I’m guessing you’re wondering right now what type of woman I love to have in my studio. The type of woman I love to work with is a little broken. She has had some confidence issues in the past and she recognizes it. But she’s also strong because she knows she’s a badass babe regardless of whatever her mind tells her. She’s a little sassy and she loves to laugh. She’s the woman that all her friends tell her, “I don’t know how you do it” and yet, she’s wondering what they’re even talking about because “it” comes so naturally to her that she’s never even thought it was anything but normal. She smiles and she takes the world on in whatever shoes makes her feel comfortable. Maybe today they’re a pair of red stilettos, but tomorrow she rocks a pair of vintage Chuck Taylors. She’s not afraid of life. She walks in the shadows and looks forward to the sunshine. And on some days, she basks in that warm sunspot and daydreams about the comfort of the dark. But most of all, she’s ready to look in the mirror and tell herself, “You are one amazing woman and I love you.”

I don’t compare myself to other photographers because there is only one Me. Just like there is only one You. And I can’t be Me if I’m constantly worried about Them. So to better serve You, I have to be Me. Because I wouldn’t tell you to be anyone else.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be proud of being you and focus on the amazing individual you are. And as always,

#LoveYourself

10 Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

Looking at my Instagram feed (or anyone’s for that matter), you may get the impression that I have it all together. I have this smooth life with a fun little hobby that makes me money and everything is just smooth sailing. Well, if you believe everything you see on Instagram, then you’re totally right.

But if you’re no stranger to my blog (or my life), you’re laughing right now and thinking, “Yeah, okay! I know better!”

In today’s “Perfect Feed” world, it’s become instinct for us to hide all the things we don’t want people to know about. And this is nothing new! Before social media, we still hid all our shit. When we have company coming over, we all have that one room that everything in the house gets thrown into and the door stays shut. (Maybe yours is a closet… mine is a room. My bedroom…) In the good ol’ black and white television days, it was not uncommon for many wives and mothers to be on anti-depressants or opioids of some sort. Don’t you find it kind of creepy that women were always smiling when you know those pointy bras and waist cinchers were NOT comfortable?! I mean, come on, I used to live in corsets because I thought they were hot (and I may have been a little goth girl at one point, don’t judge) but those women lived in them because they were expected to.

My point is this: we are not supposed to be flawed. We’re not supposed to have imperfect lives. But most of all… we’re not supposed to let people know that we don’t have our shit together! Because then, what will people think?!

So. This post is to share something extremely important with you. This post is to let you know that you don’t have to clean that one area of your home before you take a quick selfie because I know that just outside of camera view is a pile of crap that you said, “Oh shit… that can’t be in the photo.” This blog is to tell you… there are things I’m afraid to tell you.

So today, I’m going to share those things and hope that someone out there, somewhere, will read this and know that they aren’t alone in being human.

10 Things I’m Afraid to Tell You:

1.     I suffer from severe anxiety.

Anxiety is one of those things that if you’ve never had it, you don’t really know how to empathize. And if you have had the “pleasure” of experiencing it, you know what I’m about to tell you is entirely too true. Anxiety is this horrible thing. It’s something that can come on at any given minute and make your day go from wonderful to scary. I’ve had anxiety since I was a child. It’s just something that’s part of me. There are days where I literally cannot move off the couch. There are days where I force myself to speak. There have been times where I have run out of my house just to be somewhere else because all the walls closed in and my blanket was just not enough. It’s not something I talk about and it’s definitely not something I want people to know. But it’s there, and sometimes I just have to push through it.

2.     I don’t like social events.

It’s not that I don’t like being social. Let me clarify. I love having friends and being with friends. I love being out and about. I love the energy and the atmosphere of a good spot with lots of laughter. What I don’t like is being in a room full of people I don’t know and having to force conversation. It makes me super nervous. I never know what to talk about and I always feel like an idiot. At our 10-year high school reunion, one classmate told me that she always liked me. I was surprised, to say the least! And I told her, “I didn’t think you liked me! I always thought you and the crew hated me. That’s why I never really talked to you guys.” And do you know what she told me? She told me that everyone thought I was a bitch. Everyone thought I was being bitchy because I never talked to people and I always looked like I was judging everyone. Well, that was far from the truth! If I knew then, right? If you see me out and I’m not being social, it’s not because I don’t like you or because I’m judging you. It’s because I’m scared. It’s because I’m scared to death to make a fool of myself or I’m scared that you won’t like me!

3.     I get nervous before EVERY shoot.

Maybe this has something to do with my anxiety. But, I want you to know that if you’re nervous about your shoot, I’m twice as nervous! Not because I don’t know what I’m doing, but because I’m so passionate about what I do that I just want everything to go PERFECTLY. I want you to feel amazing and I want to be sure that I can help you with that. I have a very specific routine I run through before every single shoot and it really helps. But, by the time the shoot starts, all my nervousness melts away and seeing the back of my camera with this stunning image of you just gives me the rush I need!

4.     I’m afraid of failure.

When I was in elementary school, I was a straight A student. It was something that came very naturally for me. It made my grandmother proud and she always bragged about how smart I was. So, it became something I was almost obsessed about. I had to have the best grades. I had to accomplish everything I tried. When I told my grandmother what I wanted to be when I grew up, my grandfather told me I wasn’t smart enough to become an archeologist. I got my first B. It crushed me. I was already struggling with other things at that time, and this was the one thing that sent me over the edge. I thought my world ended. I thought it was over because of that one stupid letter on my test. That fear has never left. I have struggled with this more as an adult, maybe because there’s more at stake. I have kids now and the fear of failure has become more important. I tell my children, “Sometimes we lose and it’s okay. But you know what makes that a good thing? Now we know what doesn’t work so we can try something different next time!” I try really hard to follow my own advice.

5.     I was scared to be a mom.

I lost my mom when I was 10. She was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest supporter, my most secret diary, my hero, my idol. She was my best friend. She was my Mother. For the longest time after my mother’s death, I believed I was responsible. I believed that it was my fault. So… I was afraid that I’d do the same to any kids I had. That I would let them down or cause them pain or whatever it was. I was scared to be a mom. I also came from a pretty abusive household and I was so scared that I would somehow bring a child into what I thought was just a normal way of living. I am still fearful every day that I will somehow cause some unseen damage to my children.

Boy… this is getting real. Okay, you’re halfway through. (I was talking to myself.)

6.     Money has always had a hold over me.

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This is a tough one. I’m not saying I’m obsessed with money. I’m not even saying I LIKE money. This one is more about the lack of and what that does to me. I hate being in control of finances. I hate knowing about the money situation. I have given every bit of that over to my husband. It stems from not having the proper amount of money as a child and the bullying that went along with that. I remember one year, I had a teacher that took on being more than just a teacher. She picked me up from home and took me to special events. She was involved in my life more than teachers are supposed to be. She started taking me and my siblings to these Christmas events at her church. I didn’t know that the events were like “Christmas for those in need” charity events. I thought we were just being loved, you know? So, I got these cool saddle shoes that I immediately fell in love with. (Check out the pic if you don’t know what saddle shoes are.) I wore those shoes to school and the first day, I was met in the hallway of my elementary school by one of the “popular” girls, holding her little purse, and she told me how ugly my shoes were. She told me that I was obviously white trash because “who else wears ugly shoes like those?” It was then that I knew money made a difference in people lives- some for the better, others for the worse. Not coming from a family where money was abundant was both a blessing and a curse. I grew up not knowing what it was to have everything I wanted, but I also grew up knowing how to appreciate the things that most take for granted.

7.     I’m actually a very boring individual.

I’ve had my share of interesting moments. I’ve partied with Gene Simmons from KISS. I’m worked with some of the best hairdressers in the world. I’ve done hair and makeup for runway. I’ve been both in front of and behind the camera. I’ve met some amazing people and been part of some amazing moments in others’ lives too. I also love nothing more than sitting at home, on my couch, with a hot cup of coffee and never changing out of my pj’s. I love my life now even with all the stressors. I have piles of laundry that I roll my eyes at. I have a dinner menu in place (well, for the most part. My husband may tell you that’s a lie, lol). I wear my hair in a ponytail most days. I watch Disney or Pixar movies over and over and over with my kids. I’m not very adventurous with my food. My IG feed may show me out and about, but I still go to the same places and order the same thing with the same people- most of the time. If I didn’t have to take my son to school now… I would probably go days without ever leaving my house! I’m really not that exciting. So please, if you see me or want to talk over social media, reach out! I’m probably just watching The Emoji Movie for the 5 millionth time and drinking a cup of lukewarm coffee.

8.     I struggle with body image.

It’s no big surprise if you’ve already read some of my blog posts or you’re involved in my Facebook group - Lovely Boudies. I suffer with Anorexia. It’s become easier to talk about since I made it public a couple years back. I like to say that I’m currently in recovery. I’m not anorexic anymore. I actually eat really good. Sometimes too good, to be honest. There are still days where I struggle though. And every day is a war with the mirror. I’ll catch a glimpse of myself and somehow the image in the mirror doesn’t match what others’ see. I’m getting better, I think. I now know where that healthy point is for me and I try to maintain that. I want nothing more than to set an example for my kids. I have struggled and fought to get to the point where I can enjoy a piece of chocolate cake. I want to show my kids what a healthy relationship with food looks like. And I can’t do that if I continue to let this disease win. If you struggle with an eating disorder and you need someone to reach out to, I’m here. Always. Find me and message me. I can’t promise to cure you, but I can promise to be an ear and listen. I can promise to tell you how amazing you are even though there may be another voice in your head that tells you differently. If you have no one else in your world that you can be open to about it… you can be open with me.

These next two are tough.

9.     I’m not a very good wife.

Marriage is HARD, you guys! I’ll be honest, ladies. I suck as a wife. I don’t keep the house clean like a Stepford Wife. I barely cook edible food. I’ll get lucky with a good meal once in a while, but there are more overcooked or undercooked or just plain “blech” meals than good ones! I’m needy and moody and I don’t communicate well. I cry way too much and I get angry for no reason. And I drive.My husband.Insane. My restless legs at night are enough to make him sleep in another room. I want too much chocolate and not enough sex. That’s right, I said it. I’m a terrible wife. But I’m working on that. I don’t just accept it and say, “You know what, that’s the way it is.” No. I’m trying to be a better wife. The cooking is improving. I know what I like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean my husband is going to drool when he hears we’re having Tuna Noodle Casserole for dinner. He’s never slept anywhere other than our bed even on the worst of nights when I end up doing the angry bed-bounce because I can’t get comfortable. (You know what that is, don’t lie.) He’s an amazing husband and I hope one day I can be half the spouse he is. And sometimes, I’d like to think that makes me a somewhat good wife.

10. Whew. Last one. I’m a worse friend.

I really am. Don’t get me wrong, I will do almost anything for my friends. You call me, and if I can answer, I will talk to you all day long. At least until my signal cuts out because Verizon really DOESN’T reach everywhere. #getittogetherverizon I am the friend that will go months without calling you or texting you. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s just that my mind is so scattered that sometimes I get overwhelmed with my own life that I simply… forget. And by the time I remember, it’s when my insomnia is raging like a hormonal bitch and it’s 2am and I know if I text you then, you’re gonna be like, “Seriously? 2am? This couldn’t wait till morning.” and then I’d be like, “No because I’ll forget because I’m only going to get 3-4 hours sleep and have to figure out how to adult in the morning.” I know we all have lives to live and we all have stuff that needs attention. And I can tell you that I will fight tooth and nail for you if you are my friend. I’m just a quiet individual!

Okay… so there’s that. Typing it out wasn’t so hard. Hitting that publish button though… that’s the hard part. My point of this post is not to show you how to focus on all the bad things, but it’s to “out” some of those things that make us feel not worthy. It’s to show you that other people go through the same things that you may go through. So, if you’re like me and you suffer from being human, let me know in the comments what you can relate to. I’d love to hear about it.

 

Deflect the Deflection

Today, we're going to tackle something important. Too often, we as women deflect. You all know what I'm talking about.

Compliment: "You look so good today!"

You deflect: "Oh please, I really need to lose weight."

Compliment: "Oh my god, I love your outfit!"

Deflection: "Oh, yeah, I've had this thing for forever..."

Compliment: "I seriously don't know how you do it. I am in awe of your strength."

Deflection: "You don't see me when I'm screaming and yelling!"

No. No more of that. Today, we will give each other compliments and we will ALL work on fighting that need to deflect. If you're in the grocery store today and someone compliments you, I want to say, "Thank you for that. I really needed that today!" Because you know what? That makes the other person feel good too.

Because when someone gives you a compliment, they are essentially giving you their energy, their love. When you deflect that compliment, you're deflecting their energy; deflecting their love. Think about how you feel when you compliment someone and they push it away. You feel rejected. You feel like you have to try harder. And eventually, you just stop complimenting, right?

So, stop that. Stop deflecting. Stop rejecting other people's love and acknowledgment and recognition of something they think is amazing- YOU!

Here's what I propose and I challenge. Today, I want you to not only accept compliments, but I want you to give them. When you give them, and someone deflects, I want you to tell them, "No. You deserve that. I see it in you and you're amazing." And when someone gives YOU a compliment, I want you to say Thank You. And I want you to believe it. Believe it with all you heart. Tell yourself, "I deserve that! You damn right I'm fabulous!"

We are doing no one any good by deflecting. What we are really telling others and ourselves is that we are not worthy of love. And what happens when you tell yourself something over and over and over again? You start to believe it.

Don't give in to that shit. Do NOT for one second, ever, believe you are unworthy of love. You are so worthy. Now, your call to action-

Has someone complimented you today? Tell me about it. Leave me a comment on what the compliment was and how it made you feel! Did you deflect or did you accept? If you deflected, what would have been different if you had accepted that compliment?

By the way... you're fucking awesome.

*Photo courtesy of Google Images

*Photo courtesy of Google Images

Imagined Alter Ego

For the most part, this blog usually contains posts about me. My life, my thoughts, opinions, all those little philosophical moments that happen due to everyday life situations. But, today, I'm going to do something a little different. Today, I'm going to put someone else in the spotlight!

If you met my friend Ginny, based on first appearances, you'd probably have her pegged as a conservative, white-picket fence living, Starbucks drinking,  "no tv for my child", lean meat only type of gal. And, well, you're not wrong. She is definitely conservative in her looks. Silky blonde hair, stunning blue eyes, a killer smile with perfectly straight, bright white teeth, and always dressed at least one notch above "casual". Her casual is my dressy, let's just put it that way. But, don't let her insanely put-together look give you the wrong impression. This woman is fierce, strong, smart, kind, hilarious, and she loves a good social gathering.

Ginny has recently went through a little life change- for the better. Because of this little alteration to her life, she has begun to realize there are facets of her that have never been exposed. There are these little bits and pieces of her that she's always wanted to show, but never had the courage. Or maybe just never the chance!

So, when our other best friend announced a birthday weekend get-away to Asheville, Ginny saw a perfect opportunity to... change up her look a little.

"So many times in life we want to escape and do and be something different than who we are. But we are the choices that we have made and we let the self imposed and societal limitations define us. However today I am my imagined alter ego.🤘" -Ginny

So she threw on some pink hair color, a few too-real looking tatts, hopped into an alley and let one of the many facets of her gorgeous diamond shine bright. 

I introduce to you... Ginny's Imagined Alter Ego!

 

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Seasons Change

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My life is not the prettiest or the most organized, or hell, even the cleanest. Let's be honest. I'm a train-wreck for the most part- my mind has too many projects that I need to start- or finish!, my washer has a load of laundry inside it that has been washed at LEAST 4 times now, I have a dinner menu in place that never goes according to plan, and my kids are little versions of me and I get frustrated because I see that and I don't want them growing up to be the replicates of Mommy. My husband works 2 hours away, 5 days a week (sometimes 7), and all he wants is to come home to a hot, delicious meal and a clean house. Well, at least I can provide him with a hot meal. Sometimes. *shrug*

Most days, the only thing helping to keep from exploding inside was being able to call my best friend. Well, if this is your first time reading a blog of mine, I'll give you a little summary. My best friend of 14 years and I decided to call it quits last year. It was for a number of reasons, but the main one was because we were stupid. That's right, I said it. We were stupid. I had a lot of things about my own personality that I wasn't willing to face, and she had some things in her life that caused her to disconnect from me. So, it was both our faults I've come to realize. Sprinkle in a little "encouragement" from outside sources, and there you have it- the wet fingertipped snuffing of what was meant to be a lifelong, grow old together, sitting on our front porch drinking Bloody Mary's while talking about how the world has gone to shit since we were 25 living it up at the beach.

It took a while for me to finally face my shadows.

I was afraid. I was afraid of losing the one person I felt knew me better than I know myself. My husband knows me, yes. But even he will admit that I confuse the holy hell out of him most days.

Me: "This is what's great. But you should know this."

Him: "No! I shouldn't! Because this is ridiculous! You should know it's disgusting and shouldn't even be a thing and not to do it!"

(That's our argument about Bloody Mary's, just in case you're wondering. My stance is they are the elixir from the gods. His stance is... No.)

My husband and I know each other on a different level. He and I have childhood memories and I firmly believe we have past life experiences together as well. My soul recognized him the first moment I laid eyes on him. But, that's a different blog entry. This blog is about seasons changing.

Have you ever gone from one season to the next and hated it? Let's take Spring and Fall for example. You're in Spring, and you're thinking, "Why can't the year just stay this way forever? It's perfect sweater weather. I can cozy up with a good blanket on the rainy days and sip my coffee from my favorite mug and just enjoy the fresh air with ALL THE WINDOWS OPEN!" So, you open the windows and then everything is covered in pollen and you're thinking, "W.T.Actual.F. ABORT! ABORT SPRING!!" But, you have to suffer through it because you know it only means that Summer is fast approaching. You envision yourself sitting at the pool, basking in the sunlight, everything is golden. Then, Summer rolls along and you're wondering why in the name of all things good did you ever think Summer is a good idea because "melting" is not the picture you had in mind. You're wondering why the pool is swarming with bugs and why you can never make it to the pool to begin with because by the time you get out of work, it's too late to even enjoy it!

Finally... Fall. Autumn. The changing of the leaves. Everything is beautiful. Everything is perfect. The choir of the heavens is signing it's operatic song. Everything is... dying! Everything is falling into your yard, making it a soggy mess. But... the weather is great for BBQ's and having friends over, and it's perfect for those days when you want to wake up and drink your coffee while you watch the sun rise over the horizon. 

In our life, we go through seasons. Not just the outside weather and changing seasons of our planet, but LIFE seasons. We go through phases. We go through changes. We have pollen-filled, sinus-irritating moments, and then we gradually realize that it's passing and soon, we'll be able to enjoy the next phase of our lives.

I just went through a season. I went through a shit-storm of a season that was not fun, it was not pretty, and it was absolutely not ideal. But it was necessary. It was necessary for us both.

I'm telling you this because there may be someone out there going through a season of their lives that seems that no matter what you do, it's just not giving you the life you thought was planned for you. We all have these painted pictures in our minds of what we think our lives will look like in 10, 20, or even 50 years. Don't let one season alter that picture.

I held my love for my best friend. And now we're back. We have a lot of healing to do, sure. We're still going through some stuff on an individual level, but the point is, I never let the end of our friendship destroy my love for her. I made the effort to reach out to her and I am so glad I did.

Seasons change. And change is sometimes the best way to bring about what we need in our lives. My picture once only included me and my best friend. Then, it included me and my family and my best friend. Then, it only included me, with my husband and our kids. Now, it's a mural of everyone and everything that is important to me, best friend included.

What is your season right now? What is your painted picture? Are you holding firm to that picture or are you watching it blow away in the wind? If it's blowing away, are you just going to stand there watching it, or are you going to run like hell through the storm to catch it and make sure that no matter what, you will see that picture become a reality? What does that picture even look like? Has your picture changed over the years? If you don't have a picture, I want you to take a minute and close your eyes. Now, paint it. And look at it every.single.day. And when your picture has become your reality, close your eyes and paint another one.

Because the greatest things about seasons... they change.

Something Different

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It's been a little bit since I've posted a blog. You know, my original intention was to make a blog post at least once a week. Well, life happens and I'm lucky to make a blog post once a year now, it seems. But I want to change that.

In fact, there are a lot of things I would like to change. And not just the non-stop tantrums and fighting between two toddlers in my house. Some things are trivial - like making a grocery list every week on the same day so we're not scrambling to get dinner ready at 5:30pm when dinner time is supposed to be at 5. But some things are pretty hefty...

Change is not always a bad thing. Sure, routine and a schedule are great, but I'm talking about inner change that reflects itself on the outside. Or even outside change that results in something inside shifting. I used to be one of those people that spent an hour a day meditating, another hour doing yoga, and, somehow, still balancing a 12-hour work day with time for friends (and partying). But, I'm not 25 anymore. Hell, I'm not even 30 anymore! Let's face it... being a mother changed a LOT of things. And that change was much needed.

I watched my kids today while they played. I watched them run around barefoot in the grass. I watched my daughter shove a fistful of sand in her mouth only to spit it out and say, "Yuck! That's not good!" and I laughed. I watched my son for an hour as he played with his Legos and created an imaginary world of his own, even naming one Lego man "Scarlet". I listened as he sang made-up songs in the car ride to get french fries. And you're probably wondering what all this has to do with anything about change.

Here's what changed. Today... I was quiet. Of course, I broke up the battles over who owns the red hero cape even though there are literally 10 other capes to play with and 3 of them are red, and I made it clear for the 15 millionth time today that there will STILL be no spitting, or hitting, or yelling in people's faces. But, for the first time in a very long time, I just sat and listened and watched with little involvement. And I marveled at how different I saw things. I wasn't focused on teaching them anything today. I wasn't focused on making them do things a certain way today. I wasn't focused on anything other than seeing my children as children.

And it was exactly what I needed. As an individual who is no stranger to chakra cleansing and mantras, today was something different in a similar way. Today, I was cleansed by my kids. Today, I was reminded to walk barefoot in the damp grass and connect with Mother Earth again. Today, I was inspired to create and imagine. Today, I listened to the music all around me and I remembered that I don't have to find peace in time spent meditating alone.

Does this mean I'll be changing everything about me and the way I am? Not even close. It just means I'm going to change the way I connect with myself. Instead of focusing on trying to figure out when I'm going to be able to go back to meditating and yoga, I'm going to focus on how I can incorporate those little teachings into small moments. After all, that's what the practice is about, right? Maybe all those years spent with my eyes closed and focusing inward was really prepping me for this a-ha moment where I realize that peace absolutely can come from keeping your eyes open and focusing on everything else around you.

I'd love to hear about the changes you're making in your own life. Comment and tell me about your a-ha moments. Share your stories of personal change. And as always, find ways to tell yourself you matter. If you don't already, that's definitely a change you should make.

 

Perception is a Bitch

This particular post is a healing post. It’s taken a couple months to write it and finally be able to push that “Publish” button. While it may not seem daunting to others, getting personal doesn’t come easy for me. So, here it is. Get ready for this one. Get comfy. Get a snack and maybe a bottle of wine because you and I... we’re gonna be here a while.

It has been quite a year. Looking back on things, I can now say that the old “hindsight is 20/20” adage is true. There are things in your life that you accept because that’s just the way they are. You don’t bother processing how you feel or even how it affects you. You go about your life just living in the lies and deception and thinking, “That’s just the way it is.” 

And maybe it is. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. 

I am still processing the death of my friend. Well, let me clear- the death of our friendship to be more precise. But it was ultimately caused because the friend I believed her to be was a contract with terms and conditions. I’m still upset over losing her. I’m still pissed off and hurt and angry and sad. Yet at the same time, I’m free.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the details are. Especially since I just wrote about how I would take a running jump off the proverbial bridge with her. Well, we did jump together. Except she suddenly watched me fall without even so much as trying to catch me. Instead, she changed her truth. She made ME to be the bad guy. And I’m certain if she reads this, I’ll be her topic of conversation for the next few months to come. Hey, who knows, maybe I’ll even get a few extra followers because she’ll no doubt show everyone she knows what a horrible person I am, writing about this.

So, here’s the deal: I don’t like fake people. I don’t like people who try to say one thing and be another. I ESPECIALLY don’t like when people tell me that what I feel and/or believe is “stupid” or fabricated or makes me a despicable human being. The fact that she told me the fear I have for my children and family during a time of intense racial prejudice and injustice is invalid and “you’re stupid if you believe that” should have been flag #1. But I brushed it off and didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to start an argument, and, frankly, I was shocked that she said that to me! So much so that I couldn’t respond back other than just to change the subject. Flag #2 was raised high and waving when she made a visit and focused more on comparing her ex-boyfriends and watching her iPad than with my family- that’s not the problem (I’ll gladly listen and compare and I don’t care if you want to watch a show on your iPad), it’s coming- and then tried to tell me that my husband treated her like dirt because he didn’t try to entertain her after working a 14-hour day and only sleeping 2-4 hours a night. (By the way, he didn’t. He actually spoke to her more than he spoke to me when he was at home!) But the Finish Flag lowered when she decided to put all the blame on me. It came down fast when she didn’t even TRY to fix anything; when all she wanted to do was play the blame game and tell me we needed to apologize to her but didn’t want to take accountability for anything she had said or done. She pointed finger after finger and never once said “I’m sorry I made you feel that way. I’m sorry I allowed you to feel like I abandoned you. I’m sorry I tried to invalidate your thoughts and feelings.” A friend doesn’t do that. And the whole time, I was the one begging with her “what can  I  do to fix this?” Our friendship died the day she told me that what I felt was unjustified and didn’t matter- this was about her. 

That was the beginning of a downward spiral. A 13-year old friendship just tossed into the dirt like a piece of lint you find on your clothing. Now add on the fact that I have a very honest Rheumatologist... and wow!

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis- an autoimmune disease that thinks my body is a foreign intruder and attacks itself. I was diagnosed after having my daughter in 2015, but I’ve been dealing with the pain since I was a teenager. This disease really hates my joints. Some days it hates my whole body. I’m not the type of person to not ask questions when it comes to stuff like this, so I research. A lot. I came across several articles that spoke about the fact that this disease can cause a shorter life span. In layman’s terms, I’ll probably die sooner than I’m supposed to.

I wanted to know if this was true. I don’t like surprises like this. I mean, I feel like I need to plan around this if it’s the case. But I needed facts. I was being switched to a medication called Methotrexate. It’s a low-dose chemotherapy and it sucks. I asked him about the shorter life span in conjunction with the medication. He told me the truth:

”Yes. Many people have shortened life spans. But the medication can put the disease into remission. Which means that you have a higher chance of living a normal life, though it may be shorter. In some cases, it can extend your life beyond what the disease would allow you to live. Good news though is this particular medication has a high success rate of treating the disease and sending it into remission.” So, he did his job of confirming it but giving me hope with the high-success rate addition. That still didn’t help, though.

So, it’s true and I have three possibilities. My life can either end sooner than expected while being miserable; end sooner than expected while being relatively pain-free; or, ideally, it could be a normal life with a normal finish line. 

Sigh. Insert sad emoji face here. Scratch that- insert confused, crying, angry at life, scared, and depressed emoji face here. 

Depression hit hard. And I didn’t even have a friend to talk to. I already felt like a burden to my husband and bringing this on him... I just didn’t know how to handle the sobbing-hysterically conversation of “What if I die before my kids even graduate high school?!” There were a few other things that happened between then and now that sent me further into the darkness that enveloped me... so throw those into the mix and what do you get?

You get hopelessness. You get numbness. You get uncontrollable crying and snapping at small shit and you get fucking fed up with everything and everyone- especially yourself. You get thoughts about how people telling you years ago that you’re not good enough may be true. You get thoughts about how maybe everyone’s life would just be better if you’re not there to bring their life down. You get an imagined validation that all these thoughts are what everyone else is thinking, too. And no one to talk to about it.

The darkness not only envelopes you, but it grabs hold and latches onto your back like a monstrous leech with wings that wrap around you and lock your arms to your side and your head down. It sucks you dry of any emotion and replaces it with despair. And the darkness only grows darker until that tiny speck of hope starts to fade out.

Then... you get Perspective.

Let’s talk about Perspective. Perspective is a Bitch. She is a high and mighty know-it-all, smug, self-serving, crass and crude, dominating and beautifully intimidating queen that shows up in the middle of the night to yank you out of your bed and pull you kicking and screaming by your hair, throwing you in the middle of your life whirling around you and quietly demanding with a tone that you know not to fight- “...look.” And it’s as if your eyes pop open with the force of a champagne cork being thrown out of the bottle. 

You See. You see that through all the darkness and the dank swampy thoughts you’ve been pulling yourself through just to survive, you see that what you thought you had in a friend... 

...was nothing. It was a shit show. It was a one-way road. It was a 13-year relationship of giving and when you THOUGHT you were receiving, it really wasn’t for you- it was for her.

You see that all the thoughts that you’re not good enough may be true- but that it’s finally up to you. You see you are the one that controls how you feel about you and as a result, you are the one that controls how others see you.

And you are the one that controls if a friend like that holds power over how you feel after they have shown you they don’t care enough to fight for your relationship. 

I don’t know about you, but I get mad when someone tells me what I feel and think isn’t worth the time to even consider. But now that I have a family? I fucking REFUSE to allow someone to tell me that my family doesn’t matter- that my  kids  don’t matter. I will not allow you to remain in my life. I’m not upset over losing her. I’m upset over losing the person I believed her to be .

And that goes for the Darkness too. Now that one is a bit tougher to get rid of, but I’m working on it. I’m slowly climbing and dredging out of the muddy pit while the tiny speck gets a little brighter each day. But, now , I can finally look back- and forward! Now, I have Perspective by my side pulling me as I try to climb and kick away the darkness grabbing at my feet.

Perspective is a Bitch, man. But I’ll be damned if I let her go. 

Burn, Baby, Burn!

There's a snowstorm coming! I sure hope everyone got their bread, milk, and eggs! *wink wink*

I want to do something a little different this weekend. Let me tell you a story first.

I was raised by my grandparents but they weren't exactly the spoil-me-rotten type. I mean, they couldn't be. They had to, essentially, be my parents, you know? But, they were older and they were definitely from a different era. Certain things didn't sit well with them and my childhood was a little ... sheltered. I remember when I was about 12 or so. I had been a straight A student and very studious. My grandfather overheard me talking with my grandmother about college. Yes, at age 12 I was already thinking about college. He asked what I wanted to study in college. I told him I wanted to be a lawyer.

"A lawyer??" He laughed. "You're not smart enough to be a lawyer." That's when I got my first B. I was crushed.

When I was 14, I was looking at art schools. I wanted to do something creative. Something that didn't require books and studying. Something that allowed me to express what I felt inside. Something that spoke when I couldn't.

He asked me again. "I don't know. An artist of some sort. Maybe painting or even photography."

My response was met with the same mocking laughter, except this time, it was a little more harsh. There was a little hint of heat in his eyes. "You might as well just give up. You're not smart enough to do that. You'll never amount to much of anything, anyway."

At age 17, I graduated early in the top 5% of my state. I applied and got accepted into SCAD. I stared at my acceptance letter with tears in my eyes. Tears of joy mixed with tears of disappointment. His voice ripped into my head and reminded me of everything I couldn't be. I tore up the acceptance letter and buried it in the trash.

I buried a lot of things in that trash then. But I buried all the wrong things. I buried things that mattered to me, things that make me who I am. I buried things that should have made me happy. And I kept all the things that made me unhealthy. I kept all the judgement, all the ridicule, all the scorn, and hate and anger and frustration and embarrassment and self-harm. I kept all the darkest parts right on the surface of me.

And I buried all the light.

Have you ever been made to feel like you were something less? Maybe you were bullied by the Mean Girls in school. Maybe a boy teased you about your acne. Maybe you wore a smokin' hot pair of electric blue vinyl pants and you felt more confident than you ever had and you were told that your thighs just don't fit the pants, even though you were a size 0. Maybe you've never been a size 0 and that's what you carry around.

So, I want to get rid of all that. I'm holding a virtual bonfire during this amazing snowstorm and I'm inviting all of you to sit with me and enjoy the warmth, the welcoming, the love... the Light. Throw all of your darkness into the fire and watch that shit burn.

I'm throwing mine in. Will you join me? Leave a comment to let everyone know what you're burning. Then, end it with the only thing that remains. Fire and Light.

* Bonfire photo not property of TTGP. Photo credit: static.pixels.com

*Bonfire photo not property of TTGP. Photo credit: static.pixels.com

Let's Talk About Resolutions.

2017 is almost here. It's almost time to watch the ball drop. It's almost time to toast your friends, family, loved ones, pets, or whomever you've decided to spend this momentous occasion with. Hell, maybe you'll be sleeping! (I have to admit, I've opted for sleep on numerous occasions myself!) But, the fact is this: It's almost here.

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Party Party Party!

This weekend was amazing. But, let me just say... it almost wasn't!

This weekend we had our very first Boudoir Parties. You could say it was our very own private Grand Opening. We've been planning these two parties for quite some time now. This was no last minute decision! My husband and I were out doing some last minute shopping for the events and I wanted everything to be perfect! I had a vision in my head and I just was not seeing it coming to reality.

We're in the middle of Wal-Mart. If you know me, even in the slightest, you know I absolutely oathe this store. I think it's safe to say most people have mutual feelings about this place. But, we shop there because it's convenient, it's cheap, and let's face it, it's the only place open 24 hours in this small little town! So, here we are, standing in Wal-Mart at 10pm, and it seriously took me an hour of wondering the fabric section to finally decide on white drapes. Like I said, I had a vision and I needed it to be what I saw in my head. After getting the drapes, I was thrilled and ready to bust out of there and get home to my bed to rest up for a spectacular day in the morning!

...that didn't happen. Instead, I had a full-on anxiety attack in the middle of Wally World. My husband made a comment about decorations and I was so overwhelmed at that moment that all I could think in my head is "This isn't going to be what I want! It's going to be horrible!" My husband put his arms around this hyperventilating, sniffling, trembling ball of nerves and quietly said, "Hey... it's going to be great! We'll get what you need, ok?"

As I started to relax and listen to his words, I knew he was right. I started to breath a little deeper. I started to see a little clearer. I started to get excited again.

And let me tell you. I am so glad I did! I know they say positive thinking will gain positive results, but this is truly something I believe in. If I had stuck with the thought that it was going to be ruined, it would have been! But I believed it was going to rock and I can honestly say I am so beyond excited for the next party!

So, if you're reading this, know that all it takes sometimes is just a change in your thoughts. I see it all the time with the women in front of my camera. I see their body language change from timid and unsure to powerful and confident! I see their camera dodging eyes and  slumping shoulders change to piercing sultry eyes and proud stances. Why? Because they allowed their thoughts to change. They stopped thinking "I'm ugly/I'm fat/I'm flawed" and started KNOWING "I'm BEAUTIFUL!/I'm SEXY!/I'm PERFECT!" It. Is. Amazing.

I challenge you to change one negative thought about yourself into a positive one. Do it for one week. Get excited about yourself! For many, it will be a familiar feeling. For some, it will be the first time. But for all, it should be a feeling that never leaves.

* Cookies created by Kaitydid's Creations located in Mount Airy, NC.

*Cookies created by Kaitydid's Creations located in Mount Airy, NC.

* Cakepops created by Roxane Cann of Mount Airy, NC.

*Cakepops created by Roxane Cann of Mount Airy, NC.

Don't Let Your Wax Dry.

So, I did something yesterday that I haven't done in a looooong time. I waxed my legs. Myself.

If you've never used the no-strip method, let me explain it to you. You heat up the wax until its smooth and creamy. You apply that beautiful honey-like substance to your horrible hair-infested area. You have to get it on a little thick too, otherwise it will just break

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You're So Vain. You Should Be!

I bet you think this post is about you. And you're right. It is about you.

It's about you and it's about me and it's about every single person out there that needs a little reminder that at the beginning of each day, they should look in the mirror and love what they see.

Today, I went to pay a bill. It's one of those bills that you have to pay in person to avoid a processing fee that's almost half the amount of the bill itself. Ridiculous, I know. But, I went in anyway. Now, I have to let you know something. I'm the mother of two children- a boy who turns four in December and a girl who turns two in June. I barely get the time to put on pants much less get all pretty-fied to go out. I also have to let you know something else. This routine that I have now is a DRASTIC change from what I had before children. Let me run through my morning routine before kids:

I woke up early. Took a shower. A luxurious one where I shaved and shampooed my hair and thought about all the gloriousness that the day was going to offer. I slathered myself in smell-good lotion (I personally love A Thousand Wishes by Bath & Body Works) and spent the next two hours on my face and hair. I moisturized, primed, prepped, and contoured. I used three foundations plus two concealers. I used a minimum of two mascaras and two blushes, four eyeshadows, and two brow products. I also used a minimum of three lip products. When I was finished... I was flawless.

Fast-forward to today where I run around looking for pants, spray some dry shampoo (this one by Batiste works amazingly) on my three day old hair in a ponytail (I don't have time to shampoo this mane everyday when I've got an almost 4-year old that knows how to climb cabinets and use scissors!), and manage to grab some chapstick as I grab the keys to leave the house while repeating, "Yes, buddy, I've got your juice! Yes, we're going bye-bye. Let's go to the car! C'mon!" There is no time for getting pretty-fied. Oh, deodorant. I unlock the door and run in to apply deodorant. This routine has no room for contouring. Or even ONE foundation! Can a mama get some mascara?! No? Ok...

So, I go in to pay this bill- one child on my hip and the other holding my hand while I repeat, "Ok, buddy, no touching. Stay with Mommy. If you stay with Mommy, I'll get you a cheeseburger!" As I walk up to the counter, I immediately felt like Frump of the Year. Standing in front of me was this absolutely gorgeous, young, blonde that looked like she was the hand-picked princess of Fairies. Her skin glowed with youth and her eyes were bright and clear. Her makeup was soft and dewy in just the right places. Her lips were highlighted in all the right spots and those lashes went on for days. As I left, I thought back to the time where I used to pull that off, too.

But, you know what else I realized? I'm vain. But I don't think being vain is a bad thing, necessarily! Vain is defined as "having or showing an excessively high opinion of one's appearance, abilities, or worth." What's so bad about having an opinion that you are amazing? What is bad about thinking that you're above average and you should treat yourself as such? I don't think a damn thing is bad about that. You don't have to apply 32 different products to your face to be beautiful, and you don't need to look like the girl behind the counter to be above average. You already are both of those things.

If you're a mom with kids who never has a moment of peace to shower, if you're a woman who just feels like she's a little below standard, or if you're just an individual feeling that you need a reminder today, this is for you.

You're so Vain. And you should be.

I Am Flawed and I Am Perfect.

I decided it was time to get rid of the sparklers. No, I'm not talking about the hand-held fireworks that look beautiful in the dark. The sparklers I'm referring to do not benefit me in the dark whatsoever. I'm talking about those wiry, unruly, streaks gracing the top of my head. As I held my head over the tub and rinsed out the color that will camouflage those bits of undeniable age, my three year old son bounces into the bathroom and gasps.

"Mommy! WHAT HAPPENED? Mommy got ouchies in her head!" I laughed because it never occurred to me that the red water pouring from my head looked like blood to my brutally honest son. It also never occurred to me that having a three year old would somehow lift the veil and expose every. single. flaw. on my body. He came closer and started pointing out every blemish, every spot, every wrinkle, and every roll all while my head is upside down under the bath faucet, and proclaiming every new find with an ecstatic "Mommy got ouchie right here!" Yes, son... Mommy got ouchie. Big ouchie... now.

Then, it changed. I wrapped my hair in a towel and as I straightened up, my son wrapped his arms around me, kissed my leg, and out of nowhere says, "I love you Mom! Let's go play."

And it hit me. It doesn't matter how many "sparklers" I have on my head. It doesn't matter if I have a zit or a bruise or a roll. I am perfect to my son. And if I'm perfect to him, why can't I be perfect to me? The fact is, we are human. Our bodies are designed to be flawed. And that's okay. Let me tell you why.

I used to spend the better part of my days stressing about how un-perfect I am. I wasn't thin enough. My skin wasn't smooth enough. My hair wasn't thick/shiny/long/red/straight enough. If it could analyzed, I over-analyzed it. Do you know what that made me? Miserable. It made me [insert expletive here] miserable. Why do we this to ourselves? There is no reason in the world why we can't think of ourselves as beautiful and perfect and flawed. I refuse to spend my time making myself feel bad when there is so much out there that does that for me. Instead, I choose to empower and embrace the parts that make me who I am- flawed perfections and all.

So say it with me. "I am flawed and I am Perfect." And believe it.

Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know how you embrace your Flawed Perfections. 

The boy who tells you like it is. And I love him for it.

The boy who tells you like it is. And I love him for it.