Nourish

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Songwriters often say they write their greatest music after a heartbreak.  Athletes play their best game after a significant loss.  In the midst of tragedy, artists and writers create their masterpieces.  It’s almost as if we need conflict to have depth and gain insight.

I wrote a lot last year.  I was surviving.  Consumed by my parental responsibilities, struggling to find my identity.

I was so focused on how much I felt my kids were draining me, that I neglected to recognize how much they have nourished my soul.

It’s hard to have perspective when you are physically exhausted, overwhelmed, and consumed.

But my heart has never known a love like this.  Without them, I never would have known its depths.  And I never would have understood God’s love for me as well as I do now.

My children have taught me patience, the joy in the simple things, and selflessness.  They challenge me to be the best version of myself, because they are watching every. single. thing. I. do. and. say.

They give me something to look forward to every morning and in all the years to come, watching them grow in character and personality.

I wrote a lot last year, when I was barely treading water.  But now, I’m simply enjoying making memories with them.  Hopefully that is something worth reading.

Pruning

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Pruning- “Trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.”*

Pruning is a task that is not fun to do and yet is so fun to watch the effect of having done so. A flowering bush once weighed down with too many blossoms, some way past their prime, returns to its glory with new buds, intoxicating the surrounding air with its fresh fragrance.

We know this to be true of plants, so why is it so hard for us to prune the rest of our life?

Old relationships that we’ve dragged along, just because we’ve always done so.

Extra-curriculars that helped us at one time but now seem to be an extra burden.

We add and add to our plate without ever taking-away and we find ourselves drowning.

Perhaps it is because we are afraid.  What if we need that dead blossom one day?  What will our life look like without it?

We will never know until we let go.

We must take the chance of channeling our energy into that which is thriving- new buds, new life that bring with it the sweetest of fragrances and the relief that we are truly focusing on that which is growing, not that which is past its time.

Grab your shears.  Take a look at your life as a whole.  Where do you want to focus your energy and growth?  What do you need to let go of?

Make the cut and feel the sweet relief of pruning.

 

*Oxford University Press. The Oxford American College Dictionary. Published G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002.

 

The Hand of Time

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Jump. That is what we wish to do. Fast-forward. To the next job. The next partner. The next phase. The time-after.

In doing so, we miss the opportunity gifted to us. To learn.

Endurance. Love. Character. Depth. Grace.

Things we cannot rush.

Like Wine. Sewing. Teaching. Writing. Cooking!

I will never forget witnessing an experienced cook throw things together for dinner. I thought, “I’ll never be able to do that. No one ever taught me.”

Then I got married, then I had kids. Where did the time go? How am I supposed to learn now?

But I am. Slowly, but surely. I wanted to walk before I could crawl. I wanted to know how, before it was possible.

And isn’t this true about life? We focus on the end game and lose sight of the learning curve.

Few of us are prodigies. Most started with simple songs, simple sketches before we created our masterpiece.

The time is now to feel the moment we are in. To appreciate it for what it is.

The uncomfortable present. The gift.

No. 1 Fan

Hey you- yea, you.  I’m your #1 fan.

He asks me who I’m “rooting for”.

It’s whoever is losing.

Dig deep.

Find you.

You and your potential- you’re in there somewhere.

I see you.

I’m your fan.

Now it’s your turn to see you.  To root for you.  To be your #1 fan.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

When Multitasking Hurts

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Emma Jane at 18 Months Old

Emma nearly died twice today before 11 a.m..  Both incidents were fully preventable.  Both incidents were caused because I was distracted.

The first was at 9 a.m.  I was getting the five and three year-old ready for swim lessons and needed to grab their goggles from inside the Protect-a-Child pool fence.  Emma followed me into the backyard and fussed at the fence, wanting to get into the pool.  I quickly told her we didn’t have time and heard the gate swing shut behind me as I walked back into the sun-room, fully expecting her to follow.

Some of the items I gathered from outside were still a little wet, so instead of bringing them inside, I dropped them on the sun-porch floor and thought to look for a bag.  I heard Emma continuing to fuss in the background, which is when I turned around to see her opening the pool gate.

It had closed, but had not latched.

Had I not seen her, she would have been in that pool, drowning in the next 5 seconds.

It scared me to death.

The next incident was right around 11 a.m.  We had returned from swim lessons and a grocery trip and I started carrying the bags inside the house.  Emma loves to play in the garage with all of her yard toys and was happily distracted with her tricycle and cars.  The big girls were setting up a large blanket for our picnic.

I took one more peek at Emma in the garage before organizing lunch for the four of us, leaving the kitchen door to the garage largely cracked so I could still see her.

That’s when I heard the scream.

I ran outside, to find Emma in the middle of the street, a car stopped just in front of her.  Her older sisters helplessly standing in the grass, witnessing Emma running in the road to get the ball that had rolled down the driveway.

We live on a half-acre lot but 30 seconds was all it took for Emma to make it from the garage to the middle of the road.

I had turned my back to dish out broccoli and chicken nuggets into the plates and my baby almost died.  Again.

I feel foolish.  I feel unqualified to be a mother.  I feel angry with myself.  I feel sad for my older daughters who experienced that terror and whose screams were the only reason I knew what had happened.  I feel gratitude for the mercy God bestowed TWICE on my child today.  I feel the need to share this story, to remind others how quickly distraction can kill.

Hindsight is 20/20.  I should have double checked the pool gate like I have 1,000 other times, but today, I was in a hurry and I didn’t.

I never should have left Emma alone in the garage, even if I could see her from the kitchen, because she is 18 MONTHS OLD.  But the thought of trying to prepare lunch for the four of us while she screamed and cried at the kitchen door versus her happily playing with her toys, propelled me to make that poor decision.

I tell my girls all of the time that it just takes once to break a bone, to fall, to drown, etc.  I don’t want them living in perpetual fear but I do want them to understand that just because we got lucky once, doesn’t mean we will again.

We live in a world that enables multi-tasking.  Bluetooth capabilities to talk while driving in our car and Apple watches on our wrist to alert us of a text as we jog.  It seems there are never enough hours in a day to finish everything we want accomplished, which is why we feel proud when we are able to “kill two birds with one stone”.  But at what cost?

Today, it almost cost me the life of my youngest child.

Yesterday, distraction surely caused someone else to lose theirs.

Just a week ago, I watched a chilling video that forced me to become a less-distracted driver.  I started putting my phone out-of-sight in the car, as a result of this video but gradually, my phone has made its way back onto the middle console.

It seems ridiculous that I could be so careless, when this entire video is about how “better-than-most” is not sufficient.  The pool fence is a step-up from no fence at all, but it’s worthless if it isn’t closed.  The cracked garage door is only helpful if I keep my eye on that crack the entire time, which is impossible.

None of us is perfect, but this video and what happened to my family this morning, has been a much-needed reminder of the importance of constant-vigilance when driving and caring for children.

I’m not waiting for God to grant me any more second-chances.  I’m so grateful I didn’t have to learn these lessons the most horrible, worst-way imaginable.  I’m taking His grace and slowing down.  I hope you will, too.

The Video that Changed My Life

Faith

Written one year ago today, this is one of my very favorites. Only the beginning of the article is about childbirth- the rest is about letting go . . .

New Leaf Parenting

It took three attempts for me to succeed in having an unmedicated childbirth.  I attended nearly 70 hours of childbirth classes before my first baby, read countless books, and spent many-a-night role-playing labor with my husband before falling asleep to my hypnobirthing CDs.  The message was clear:  LET GO.  Succumb to the pain instead of fighting it.  Relax even when your body instinctually clenches.  Unless you have been in labor, you have absolutely no idea how impossible that seems when you are experiencing gut-wrenching pain.  By the third labor, I knew what to do and my unmedicated birth was everything I had hoped it would be: raw emotion that cannot be imitated.

Unmedicated childbirth isn’t just about “proving you can do it.”  Sure, you feel proud, just as a marathon runner does after her grueling race, but at its core, unmedicated childbirth inherently embraces FAITH.  Faith in our bodies to do what…

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Harmony

Is it just me or is your mind running?

Can’t sleep, can’t stop thinking about that thing that keeps you tossing and turning.

What to do?  What to say?  How to react?

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m always seeking peace and harmony.

And what I’ve learned is that you *cannot* control the other person or party.

You have power in your words and actions.

So I send love, peace and harmony.

And expect nothing in return.

Because it’s not about that.  It’s about what I have to give.

And at the end of the day, I choose what I receive.

Love, Peace, and Harmony.

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Camille Vaughan Photography 

 

 

Secret Garden

Waiting until the last sliver of light hits the horizon against the ocean. Sleeping in on Saturdays. Literally dancing in the moonlight on the dock of a bay.

Why on Earth would we give these things up to have children?

They don’t sleep, they cry, we lose ourselves.

We have them because they are our Secret Garden.

Sure, no one tells you how difficult nursing is when you are so focused on the birth. You tune out the laments of “teething”, “twos” and “teens”.

You focus on that tiny baby in your arms. Who grows and challenges you and rules your schedule.

Sometimes you daydream of life before children.

But then you remember your heart.

You’ve never known a love like this before.  It’s unlike any other.

And then you see your mother for the first time.

It’s like an awakening.

A Secret Garden.

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My husband, Emmett.

Hibernation

It happens, often following a tumultuous period. The retreat. The silence and solace in solitude. Time to hide and heal. Time to regroup and regain strength. Time to hibernate.

Time passes and slowly, we peek our heads out from our shells. Testing the waters, finding our groove.

Timid at first but eventually, we find the energy to overcome and return.

To the sunlight. The fresh air. The breeze. The journey.

Take your time, unapologetically, and in time, you will resurface.  Born again.

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Camille Vaughan Photography 

The Comfort of Wrinkles

I wish my mind could draw a picture for you, of the hand that is so familiar to me.  It’s feminine, thin, elderly, bony.

I asked her if my hands would look like that if I kept playing the piano and she laughed.  But here’s the secret:  I wanted them.

Those hands represented practice.  They represented wisdom.  They sounded like soulful music and felt like velvet.

Mary Brooke taught me piano for 5 years but her wisdom endures.

Age is beauty.  It is fortune.  It is wealth.

Mature hands represent years lived.  Years practiced.

Wrinkles are beautiful.  Wrinkles are comfortable.

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My inspiration, my dad!