No Regrets

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It’s too painful to imagine, so usually, we don’t.  And yet, by the time it happens, we wish we had spent a little more time thinking about it because if so, perhaps we would have done things a little differently.

We would have slowed down.  We would have cherished the moments and days.  We wouldn’t have sweated the small stuff so much.

So why do we wait?

I had a surprising situation happen to me at a party last night.  Someone I never would have expected, told me they read my blog and love it.  It meant the world to me.  I don’t write for the money (I don’t make any) or for the praise.  I write to understand and I share so that someone else out there may feel that they aren’t alone.

But it dawned on me- what if this person had never told me they read my work?  What if I suddenly passed away, like a friend of mine did recently?  Would they have regretted not telling me that my words touched them?  Why do we live with these regrets?

Perhaps it is because we are, indeed, too busy.  There’s simply no way to do it all.  And it would be depressing to think about death all of the time.  But there are small things we can do.

One of which, is to frequently and emphatically tell people what they mean to us.  A phone call, a text, a written letter.  Just one person a week.

It felt amazing to be given a compliment and has inspired me to pay it forward.  To begin 2018 with praise and without regret.  That’s one resolution, I intend on keeping.  Cheers to that.  Cheers to you.  Keep reading.  I’ll keep writing. Happy, Happy New Year 🙂

 

Camille Vaughan Photography

A Man Misunderstood: Part I

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Suspicious. Doubtful. Annoyed at your devotion while I smile and nod my head.

Happy for you. Equally wishing I could “buy in” and yet unable to foresee a scenario in which that would ever be possible.

Curious. Incredulous. Impatient. Restless.

Tuning out the moment I hear or read the words “God”, “Faith”, “Jesus” and “Christianity”. I don’t want to be your prized missionary “save”.

And yet still, I wrestle. Blaming it on brainwashing from church as a child every Sunday but deep down, I can’t escape the curiosity.  How can so many bright and intelligent people believe in this?

They told me to read The Book but every time I try, it doesn’t make any sense.

They try to encourage me, but there’s an ocean between us and our conversations only leave me feeling more isolated and lost.

Still, I search.  I read books about Buddhism and find common ground.  I continue to watch sermons from the church I started attending a couple of years ago. The pastor, a successful lawyer, author and professor, is a master at tackling current issues using biblical scripture to make sense of it all.

I assumed some are just born to believe and others don’t take much convincing.  The task is daunting, confusing and overwhelming and yet as much as I want to stop, I keep pursuing- fueled equally by my own questions and the pressure to teach my children principles to live by.

Piece by piece, I find myself peeling back the layers.

For the past month, I’ve been reading The God Girl Journey by Hayley DiMarco.  It’s a 30-Day guide intended for teenagers, but as my faith is certainly no more advanced, it’s just right for me.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

After a 3 day introduction, the book is divided into the attributes listed in the verse above and it has changed my life. 

I’ve never wanted to call myself a Christian for a number of reasons:  I do not want to align myself with a faith whose leaders have been convicted of child molestation time and time again.  I do not want to be associated with a religion that believes their way is the only way and all others are damned to hell or not welcome in heaven.  I have issues with the damnation of homosexuals or the idea of confessing my sins.  I have issues with well-meaning missionaries converting people from other cultures under the pretense of helping.  I have issues with hypocrisy which I feel Christianity and many of its followers are grossly guilty of.  I have a hard time believing in biblical stories and I don’t want to “cherry-pick” my religion.  If I’m going to label myself something, I want to be all-in.

For these reasons, and many others I’ve skirted Christianity.  Peeking inside its chambers, but never fully entering.  Cautiously observing.

As a child, I attended an Episcopalian church, summer camps and even found myself at a Young Life retreat one year.  I clearly remember sitting on a rock, pleading with a leader to tell me how I was supposed to believe.  His answer was, “You just have to have faith.”  In what?  Blind faith? Believe first and the rest will come?  I’m not hardwired that way.

And yet I am insanely envious of those who do have faith.  I think to myself, “I wish I could be that naive”. Harsh, but true. They seem so peaceful.  In the face of some of the worst tragedies, time and time again I’ve heard or read Christians who are able to find goodness amongst evil- like when the congregation and family members of those killed at the church in Charleston publicly forgave Dyllan Roof for his senseless massacre. How? Why?

Reading The God Girl Journey has helped me to understand just how and why that could ever be possible. Reading this book has given me a much clearer understand of who Jesus was- a man that I’ve researched enough to know that few doubt his existence. Reading this book has helped me to understand why the Christians I know and respect seem so confident and peaceful and why they share their faith.

I’m still at the beginning of my journey (hence, Part I), but now I know that once you start to believe, you feel selfish keeping it to yourself.  It’s not that you are trying to convert others to check off your “good Christian to-do-to-get-into-heaven list”- it’s that you feel true JOY and you want others to feel it, too.

I have lots of questions but for the first time, I am beginning to understand why so many people love Jesus.  Strip away the rules and denominations surrounding him.  As I learn more about what he stood and died for, I see so many similarities in all that I love about Buddha- principles that I try to live my life and teach my children by: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

And as much as I want to know it all before I begin, just like parenting, I realize now that sometimes you just have to start somewhere- anywhere. I’m tired of curiously observing from the outside.  I have nothing to lose by diving in and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to gain.

Jesus: A man I’ve grossly misunderstood.  A man, a faith, I want to understand. A man whose birth I’m actually celebrating this Christmas.

 

Dee Akright Photography 

 

 

Romance Redefined

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Dee Akright Photography 2009

Long gone are the box of chocolates and roses.  That was a decade ago.  In its place are emptied dishwashers and trashcans.  This is now.  Romance Redefined.

I quit teaching fourth graders as soon as I had my first born, but I continued teaching, women, shortly thereafter when I became a Pure Romance Consultant.  It was a job I wasn’t looking for but that I was surprisingly successful at for the next four years.  The parties were loads of fun, but the most rewarding part of my job was getting to chat with women one-on-one about their very personal, intimate lives- things they hadn’t shared with anyone else.  These women had questions and looked to me for answers.

Many had questions about the products I was promoting but more had questions about how to keep the romance alive in their marriage.  My answer changed depending on who I was talking to.  I asked questions about the status of their relationship and the preferences of each individual.  More often than not, my recommendation was not to purchase half of the items on their wishlist, rather it was to communicate with their other half.  It was the encouragement I gave the woman to tell her partner what she wanted and to be open to reciprocation.

Often, women teased that my husband must “love” my job, assuming we had a passionate intimate life.  I didn’t want to burst their bubble, but I tried to explain that although they were certainly perks to my profession, there are also “seasons” in life.  Marriage is intended for a lifetime and with that comes the changing seasons.  So when a sleep-deprived, first-time mother looked to me with hopeful eyes of how to get the romance back, I placed my hand on hers and gave her the permission she needed to know that it didn’t have to happen immediately.  I explained, romance evolves.

So often, we cling to our previous lives.  We move cities, change jobs, or have children and suddenly, we want back what we used to have.  For romance, that may mean less post-it notes on the steering wheel, candle-lit baths, and late-night dates.  Instead, the peace of your partner’s hand resting on yours after a long day, knowing that is the same hand you to hope to be lucky enough to continue to hold for the rest of your life.  It’s when your wife or your husband rubs your shoulders unexpectedly because they know you could use a little TLC after a long day.

And although the time between passionate moments lengthens over the years, the fire still burns; a reminder of how it all began.  It’s not how it was.  It never will be because now is not then.  As we grow and change, so does the romance. It’s still there, it’s just redefined.

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Camille Vaughan Photography 2016