No Time to Lose

They say, “You do so much.”

I say, “There’s no time to lose.”

Just today, my father reminded me that since I was a very little girl, I’ve always been cognizant of death.

I questioned, I wondered, and I experienced it’s effects when my friend Ruth passed away at 11 years-old from leukemia.

I’ll never forget the size of that tiny coffin or the banner the budding artist made of felt for her funeral.  The one she was unable to fully finish.

I’ll never forget the look on her mother’s face then and 20 years later when I saw her again.  The guilt I felt for still living.

And I haven’t forgotten that life is not to be taken for granted, but to be lived.

There’s no time to waste!  There’s no time to lose!

We know not of tomorrow so we celebrate today for the gift it is.

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Camille Vaughan Photography 

The Reason

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POW!

It’s fascinating how authors of graphic novels have nailed that onomatopoeia.  Because, that’s exactly how it felt when he punched my face, breaking my jaw.

Thrown back into the closet from the force of the punch, I stood up and looked at him quizzically, as if to ask, “Really?”.

But truly, I had always known it would come to this and had been almost waiting for the inevitable.

The reason to leave.

He left for class, I headed, mouth bloodied and all, straight for the rental office, requesting a new apartment placement.

I packed my belongings in under an hour and called the police when he found my new residence and started to rip them from my car.

I lived my entire senior year of college in fear of seeing him, as I had the previous two years of dating him.

And wondered, as I received weekly ultrasound treatments for my jaw, how I had allowed it to go on as long as it did.

Same old story.

Different girl.

It begins with the shaming.  The belittling. The Emotional Abuse.

And evolves to the physical.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Until and unless we Recognize it.  Name it. And Stop it.

Hold my hand.

Recognize it.

Name it.

Stop it.

You are reason enough.

Camille Vaughan Photography

 

 

 

 

The Paver

Over the years, quite a few friends, especially those moving, have asked me how I’ve managed to make new friends.

The answers always results in a chuckle and long-winded story of me racing on my bike, knocking on doors, or running down full-term pregnant women to find a connection.

Any connection.

I’ve since realized my spider-webbed childhood is to thank.

4 half-sisters, 1 half-brother, 1 step-sister and 1 step-brother will do that to you.

Fit in.

Make peace.

Be the connection.

Pave the way.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Confession

9 Months.  That is how long I had hidden it from him.

But out like a thief, it came.

My confession.

It’s been 20 years since Columbine but not a day has passed, since before I even had children, that I worried about sending my child to school.

On Friday, the used-to-be-unthinkable happened right down the road from us.

Down the road as in, on our way to school.

As in, my 5 year-old asking why the police-car lights are still flashing 3 days in a row.

12 innocents murdered for no reason other than they. were. there.

My instinct is to protect her innocence. My gut tells me to instruct her where to hide.

Why, in the literal F* H*, is this even a consideration?

He told me that everyone at work knew someone who had died.

I confessed I’ve never said goodbye to Aurora before school without considering it to be the last time.

Why?

Why?

Why?

Why?

 

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Camille Vaughan Photography

When You Can, Do

With a 1, 3, 5 and 7 year-old daughter, it’s a common theme in our house: frustration.

We want to be able to do it all, and yet we are confronted with relentless obstacles.

Siblings, spouses, co-workers.

Physical limitations beyond our control.

Emotional capacities we are incapable of attaining.

Situations we couldn’t have fathomed.

The question is not, which wall we will hit, rather, what will we do with it?

This is the lesson I work to teach myself and my daughters.

When you can, do.

We’ve all heard it: You Cannot Do It All.

And yet, like it or not, that’s the relative goal.

It looks different for each, but it all means the same.

Too much, too soon.

We want it now.  We wanted it yesterday.

We want what is unattainable, and want it anyway.

We want love.  We want things.  We want time.

Our desire is the same but our nature demands:

When you can, do.

Do as much as you can, when you can.

And in the meantime, grant yourself and others, grace.

When you can, do.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

 

Learning to Live with Gratitude

I had a “Come to Jesus” moment with my eldest daughter today.

I had just picked her up from a surprise playdate at her best friend’s house and was immediately met with discontent and complaint after complaint.  In less than five minutes, she had racked up six grievances.

I hit my limit.

This “ungrateful heart” is nothing new with our privileged child.  The majority of the time, she is sweet, imaginative and fun. She plays outside more than in, reads more books than she watches a screen, and is a stranger to none.  She has always been the teacher’s favorite- kind and a rule-follower.

But when she gets home, she lets herself go.

Upon entering the house, I listed the six things she had managed to complain about in the 90 second ride from our neighbor’s house in one column, and sat down to have her list what she could have and excuse me, should have said instead.

I drew a picture of a half-full glass of lemonade and discussed its meaning in detail.

It’s difficult for a child that has so much to understand what it means to be disappointed. But it does not excuse her from living with an ungrateful heart.

I vow to do more community service with her.  If she is always fed, at least she can help serve meals to those who are not.  If she is always under a warm roof, at least she can hand a blanket to someone who isn’t.

In the meantime, as long as she is under this roof, she will recognize her actions and strive to do better.  To say thank you often– to the cashier, the mailman, the janitor, the nurse, the teacher, her friends and her family.  To be aware that although yes, the glass is half-empty, to focus on the half that is full.  To live with a grateful heart.

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Step

It was late.

It was far away.

It was foreign- something we “used to do”.

It had been a longggggg 10 days prior, complete with travel and a funeral.

There were a multitude of reasons why we could raincheck this date . . . but we didn’t.

We ate at a sushi spot one minute from home and when we still had 45 minutes until the main act came on stage, we decided to “pre-game” with my 87 year-old father who lived close-by.

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It. was. the best.

It’s been 7 years since my husband and I have had a conversation with my dad without children nearby.  And it’s been nearly that long since we’ve gone to a live show together.

There we stood with a crowd of others that, I pointed out, had at least one thing in common with us- an adoration for this band.

Lord Huron began with a song I frequently listen to as I write “Love Like Ghosts” and immediately I was catapulted into my writing space.

 

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My face lit like the sun itself so I stretched out my arms and danced.

I had taken a step- into the unfamiliar, into the faraway- but I was home.

We sang, we danced, we remembered what it felt like to step into our space and realized, it was worth the distance.