Life Speaks

Studio City, CA.

A job as a scriptwriter with Dreamworks Entertainment. 

That is where I was headed the Summer of 2005. 

I had the roommate, the apartment and the moving van ready to go. 

And then I pulled the plug two weeks before I was due to leave. 

Was it the boy from Jersey that I was in love with?

Was it cold feet?

Or was it intuition?

They say hindsight is 20/20. 

But here’s what I know. 

I ended up moving in with a family of four children. 

I enjoyed helping the first grader learn how to read and after moving back to my hometown, decided to shadow a teacher to see if it would be a good fit for me. 

I ended up getting a Masters in Elementary Education Pk-6 and later, using it to homeschool my own children. 

And lookie-here.  

I’m still writing. 

Maybe not moving to Cali was a mistake. 

Maybe I’d be rich and famous! 

But I’d like to think that I’ve always had a keen sense of self. 

The ability to get quiet and listen. 

And what I heard back then was, “Don’t go.”

As a result, I met my husband.  I had these four beautiful daughters.  I became a teacher and remained a writer. 

Perhaps the best stories in life aren’t fiction, but our very own.  

Life speaks. 

Me as “Sissy” in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean , 2000

Identity

Have you ever had an epiphany?

Perhaps you have but didn’t even realize that’s what it was.  

It goes something like this: 

You’ve been haunted by a sinking feeling, somewhere in the background.  It’s a whisper; not enough to take action, but there it is. 

Later, the whispers increase in volume and intensity- in other words, more evidence pointing to your initial feeling. 

And finally, the epiphany- the moment you connect the dots and recognize the intended message. 

Some epiphanies are wonderful- “So, this is love!”, “I’m ready/not ready to have a baby and I’m ok with that!”, etc. 

And some are downright terrifying- “I want a divorce.”, “I need to change my career entirely.”, etc. 

Recently, I had an epiphany and it all had to do with self-esteem or rather, my lack-thereof.  

Experiencing an epiphany feels much like floating above your entire life and witnessing it from space.  

Suddenly, everything is so clear.  

Why hadn’t I realized it all along?

I measure my self-worth largely by the way I perceive others feel about me. 

There it is.  

My Epiphany. 

The one I didn’t want to have but needed to have in order to take back control of my life. 

To stop valuing myself based on my perceived self-worth to others and instead (gasp!) . . . 

Be ME!  Free and wholly me!  Unapologetically!  Unabashedly!  Take me or leave me but still, here I will be.  

Epiphany: Scary

My Identity: Free.  

Camille Vaughan Photography

Catch and Release

Crumbling teeth.

That which has been haunting my dreams, lately.

A feeling so visceral, I wake up in disbelief that my tongue meets more than gum.

Later to learn these dreams are associated with the loss of control.

Ha!  Tell me about it.

I endured a childhood in the backseat and, as a result, made a career of being the only driver.

Until I wasn’t.

Until it wasn’t my car and I watched at the mercy of others.

Desperate to regain control, I reach.

Options. Opportunities.  Possibilities.

Catch and, in time, release.

Catch, Lauren.

Then, Release.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

I am Worthy

In my lifetime, I have been abandoned four times.

The first, by my stepfather after he and my mother divorced.

The second, in my early twenties by a best friend.

The third in my thirties by another close friend.

And recently by another lifelong friend.

Each time I racked my brain for answers.  What had I done?  How was I responsible?

If you know me at all, you know that I love learning.  I am an open book and daily, I shine the light on myself and all of my imperfections.

As a sought-after keynote speaker, my mother frequently listened to motivational leaders on our family road trips, long before TVs or phones in a car.  So, I listened to them too.

And what was drilled into me then has never left me:  Only I am responsible for my actions.  In each and every decision, I have a choice on how I will respond.  If I am wrong, when I make a mistake, it is up to me to figure out what happened and how I can learn from it so that I can grow into the best version of myself.  Growth cannot happen without mistakes and mistakes aren’t mistakes unless I didn’t learn from them.  They are lessons!

I remember so clearly the pain I felt the first three times.  I felt misunderstood and desperately wanted to defend myself.

After this last time, I asked my husband and other friends, “Please, tell me.  What is wrong with me?  If this has happened this many times in twenty years, surely this is on me.  What do I need to do to fix myself?  To be a better daughter, friend or version of myself?”

And then, without them saying, I knew.

I knew exactly what was wrong with me.

I realized how wrong I had been to take responsibility for something and someone I was not. responsible. for.

That these people are human, too.  That they make mistakes and it is their responsibility to learn from their own, not mine to try and fix the damage of the abandonment by proving myself worthy.

My mistake is my lack of self-confidence in knowing that I am already worthy.  I am loved by God, my husband, my children and the rest of my family and friends.

And for those who choose to inexplicably check out of our relationship, well, they can keep on walking.

Because I am worthy.

And it’s their. damn. loss.

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Dee Akright Photography

 

 

Character Flaw

Oh, my!

The labels.

The reasons.

The excuses why we aren’t already who we aren’t meant to be.

What does it take?

Truly.

What is it going to take?

To be true.  To be real about who. we. are?

When will our “character flaw” stop becoming our excuse?

When will our excuse stop being our character flaw?

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Camille Vaughan Photography