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.

 

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 

 

 

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! 

The Includer

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An outsider.  A wannabe.  A poser.  Me, ages 8-15.  A tattletale.  A teacher’s pet.  A follower.

They called me “mosquito bites” for my budding breasts and wrote L.D. on my shoes before I even knew what “learning disabled” meant.

I befriended some of the bullies in later years and they asked why I always brought up the past- I didn’t have an answer then but now I know.  While my past does not define me today, it shaped the person I have become: an includer.

It’s understandable why someone might rather forget the painful things that happened to them in the past; however, it is by working through these memories, we are better able to understand the lessons they have taught us.  If we focus solely on our anger, regret, or sadness, we miss the phoenix that rose from the ashes- we fail to recognize ourselves as survivors with the ability to overcome and become better because of it.

But not all of us do- it is only by conscious choice.  By remembering.  By observing our behaviors since.  How did those things affect the way we speak and act now, even subconsciously?

I didn’t have an answer for the person who teased me, then, but I have an answer now.

I bring up those painful memories because I realize that the loneliness I felt when I was in middle school is something I never want anyone else to ever feel.  I relive the tears spilled in an effort to empathize with the blackest sheep in the room.  I find some way to welcome them- some common ground.  I want them to know they are not ignored, they are noticed and they matter.  They are important to someone.

Five years out of teaching, I can now say I think that is why my students loved me.   Because I loved them.  I met them where they were and I celebrated them for who they were and wanted to become, regardless of how vastly it differed from me.

And I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it hadn’t been for my miserable formative years.

I am no longer an outsider.

I am an includer.

Abandoned

YR8A6936-Edit-cvaughan.jpgConfused.  Devastated.  Lost.  Like a family dog, unexpectedly dropped off on the side of the road, I have felt abandoned.  Have you?

Miscommunications, misunderstandings or obstacles too difficult to overcome for the other party to continue a relationship- all circumstances that lead to a burned bridge.

It’s tragic.  It leaves you grasping for answers.

In an effort to empathize with the other person, I work hard to understand it from their point-of-view.  Why did they feel the need to cut ties?  What responsibility do I have in their decision?

Sometimes I am able to find fault in myself and other times I am left utterly perplexed and sad.

Which begs the question- what comes next?  What do we do with our abandonment?

We can wallow, we can point fingers, we can get angry, we can get back.  Or . . . we can lick our wounds and move on.

Our hearts are broken- the wound so fresh, so deep it seems unimaginable that it could ever heal.

But we patch it by surrounding ourselves with those who do love us.  Those who do support us.  We ask God for forgiveness and we wish those who abandoned us all the best.  We seek grace.

We take time.  We guard our hearts a little more.  For a time, we feel fragile but eventually, we fortify it with love- from others and for others.

I am hurting.  Deeply.

I will take time to mourn this loss.

And then I will look to you, my friends, my family, my supporters, to help me heal with your love, laughter and your openness to let me do the same for you.

To anyone that is hurting too:

I am holding your hand.  You are loved. You are supported.  You matter.

 

Camille Vaughan Photography

 

Comfort in the Calm

Like every good book, every great show, and every epic movie, we seek the DRAMA and resolution.  Nobody wants to read or watch a flat plot-line, which begs the question . . . can you find comfort in the calm?

Lately, on a weekly basis, I say to my husband (around dinner time), “There are just so many of them!”  I’m referring to my helpless children.  They can’t dress themselves, squeeze ketchup, or pour their own drink without help.  In my mind, I can’t wait for them to be able to do for themselves.  But as that time draws closer for my oldest, I recognize the empty feeling I will have, as a result.  Am I ready for that?

We are natural problem solvers- some of us better than others.  Some of us thrive on the drama – others run away as fast as we can.  But all of us have an innate desire to feel wanted, accepted, needed.  Partners, children, pets- they all fill that void.

When things are busy and tough, we feel exhausted and yet . . .useful.

When things are gravy we initially feel rested and peaceful and then . . . unsettled?

Why is that?  Isn’t this what we’ve been working towards?

An Age.

A status.

A promotion.

A retirement.

Why can we not find peace within the calm?

Every good story has a climax and a resolution.

Each of us has a different story, some more dramatic than others.

And if you look hard enough, we’ve all had our share of drama.  So the real quest becomes, finding the peace, the joy and the comfort in the calm after the storm.

I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for five-years and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m  scared shitless once the youngest goes to school, goes to college, gets married, has her own babies.

But the reality is, deep down, we are always hoping for a happy ending- EVEN IF, it doesn’t turn out as expected.  At the very least, we want a lesson, and at most, our dreams come true.

So when we have it in our grasp- our great relationship, our healthy family, our fabulous co-workers or dream job- we owe it to ourselves to appreciate the moment.  The Calm.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Reading the Signposts

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Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I hiked ten miles down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to visit Havasu Falls.  This is an incredibly vast and remote stretch of desert; a place people have died after taking the wrong turn.  Needless to say, we made sure to keep our eyes open for the trail markers to lead us down the right path.

Continue reading

Just the Way You Are

 

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I have had something weighing heavy on my heart but it didn’t all come together for me until I crawled into bed tonight and had to crawl back out to write this article.  This post is likely going to cause some friends to unfriend or unfollow me but in the end, it’s not my intention to criticize, rather to scream from the rooftops.

WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH.

I was in direct sales for four years.  It allowed me to build my own schedule and work from home while raising my daughters.  It gave me financial freedom.  I quit once it became too much to be both a full-time mom and part-time consultant.  I’ve had to give up many creature comforts as a result, but I am fortunate enough to have a husband that earns enough and a family that supports us enough that we can survive on one-income.  That is not the case for many others, which is why direct-sales truly offers the best of both worlds.

Having said that, my newsfeed is FILLED with my friends in direct-sales.  I am so happy that it has given them an unexpected career path, providing support, goals, and money along the way.  I know how truly joyful it feels to succeed in that business.

But when I am constantly confronted with photos of how I can trim fat off of my body or improve the wrinkles on my face, I am left wondering “Am I good enough?”

I recognize we all likely have room for improvement.  I have a growth-focused mindset, love learning and am always open to learning a new perspective.  I respect the desire to feel good about yourself and I am happy for those that found success after they received that push they needed in the right direction.

The fact of the matter is, I feel pressure to continually look younger and fitter.  I enjoy fitness for the natural high it gives me, the personal satisfaction of having done it and the health benefits.  Sure I like looking cute in a dress, but with three daughters at home, I certainly don’t obsess about it.  I had major body issues as a teenager and fought hard to recognize that my personal worth was much more than the size of my waist.  And I don’t want my girls to see their mommy worrying about such things.  I DO want them to see me exercise, but I don’t want it to become something they constantly worry about whether they are “keeping up” as they age.  I want it to be a healthy part of life- not about achieving a certain “look”.

The same goes for my face.  Y’all.  I’m aging.  Some of us do it more gracefully than others.  And yes, it can be hard to look in the mirror and see some extra lines that didn’t used to be there.  And yes, I realize there are SUPER effective regimens out there that will decrease the appearance of these lines but dammit- I DON’T WANT TO.  I don’t want to wash my face twice a day (I never have as gross as that may be for some to read) but what’s more, I don’t want to focus on turning back the hand of time.

Each year that I age means another year I’ve been fortunate to live on this Earth.  I’m not trying to sound poetic, I’m just being real.

Lately, I’ve started an open dialogue with my oldest.  I realized, too late, how much I am the cause of her obsession with princesses because I gave her the tools- the movies, the dolls, the performances.  Now, I am doing damage control, talking to her about true beauty- that it comes from the inside.  That you can’t put a pretty dress on the witch in Snow White and make her beautiful.  That kindness is what makes somebody beautiful.  But it’s a hard sell when all she has ever known as role models have been ageless beauties.

I want her to see a mom who ages gracefully.  I don’t mind using some wrinkle creams here and there or some makeup when I want to look especially nice.  But my husband fell in love with a girl on the beach, with no makeup.  When I asked him to buy me a perfume for Christmas he told me it would be a bottle of sunscreen because that’s what he loves.  He loves the memory of us on that beach.  He loves me unfiltered.  And I do, too.

My friends who are ruling their businesses. . . I am so happy for you to find that purpose and success.  I know for some customers, it has been absolutely life-changing and I celebrate that with you.

It’s just hard when I have SO MANY friends who are involved.  Rather than seeing one post a day or every few days, I am literally bombarded with over 20 posts a day of before and after photos- of pounds lost, of lashes lengthened and faces “improved”.

So for those of you who feel the same as I do, I want to hold your hand and remind you that you are good enough, just the way you are.  If you feel inspired and want to improve the clarity of your face and the tone of your body, I have many wonderful friends that can get you on the right track.  And if you are comfortable with where you are, I say cheers to you.  So am I.

 

See this article on Scary Mommy!

http://www.scarymommy.com/body-image-feel-good-enough/

 

Denial

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Is it your weight?  Is it the job you spent a fortune getting a degree(s) in but that causes you a lifetime of stress and sleepless nights?  Is it an addiction of alcohol, nicotine, drugs, shopping, or starbucks?  Infidelity?  Credit card debt?  Hoarding?  A lie?  The wrong relationship- not necessarily a bad one but one that you know deep-down is not the right one for you for whatever reason?  Is it a conversation you’ve been avoiding with a relative, spouse or friend?  Is it regret?

Denial.  You don’t want to read further because you don’t feel ready to face the truth and reading about denial might help you recognize that which you are avoiding.  It makes your heart race.  It makes you sweat.  It might make you cry.  It’s too overwhelming.  It’s too big to tackle.  You aren’t ready and you aren’t sure when or if you ever will be.

Here’s the thing, though; admitting it is actually one of the hardest steps so once you’ve conquered that, you’re already on your way. Continue reading