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

Lucky

Here’s a funny thing about being a piano player. 

Whenever you rest your hands, they are perpetually “in position”. 

I started to play when I was three, got my first piano at nine years old and still play to this day, as do my four daughters. 

I’ll never forget the moment I asked my piano teacher, Ms. Brooks, “How did you get those veins?”. 

She laughed but the truth was, I wanted those veins.  I wanted those wrinkles.  

They represented age and experience, two things I, the youngest of eight children, yearned for. 

This weekend I will turn 38 years young. 

I look down at my hands and notice the telltale signs of aging and honest-to-God, I feel so lucky.

I’ve lived this many years and if I’m lucky enough, I’ll live just as many more!

To me, wrinkles are beautiful and should be worn as a badge of honor. 

Not everyone is so lucky. 

And at 38, more than anything else, that is what I feel: lucky. 

How did she get those wrinkles?

By living that long. 

If only we could all be so lucky.

Today

Want to hear the best thing ever?

There’s no right way. 

That’s it!

That’s all!

We are all going to die. 

Some of us sooner than others, 

So you know what?

Let’s LIVE IT. 

Let’s stop waiting for then. 

The right time. 

Because for some of us, 

It’s never going to come. 

Instead, here we are, so why wait?

There’s no time to lose. 

There’s no time to wait. 

Carpe Diem! 

There’s no right way. 

But there is today. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

After

What happens after?

Do you remember when you tasted something for the first time?

The equal mixture of excitement and apprehension?

That’s how I am feeling these days. 

Just when I thought things with our youngest couldn’t get any harder, they hit (what I hope is) rock bottom back in December 2020.  My husband and I were surviving on fumes- every night wondering if we should take our daughter to the hospital to find some magical cure for her nightmare flaring skin.  I was in the bathtub with her nightly at 2 am to help calm the itch and waking up at 7 a.m. to homeschool her three big sisters, thanks to the pandemic.  We knew we could not survive much longer. 

So we prayed.  We asked everyone we knew to pray and add her to their prayer list and we searched.  I spent hours and days and weeks and months researching and meeting with specialists of every kind from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Michigan and California to find any possible relief as we all, particularly she, continued to endure a living hell.  

We changed her diet, we had her relentlessly tested for multiple issues and within the last month, she has improved.  

But what happens after?

What happens once you emerge from trauma?

I’ve been waking up with Elizabeth every night for three years and even my pregnancy with her was ridden with weekly appointments due to concerns with her growth. 

How do I adapt to “normal”? 

I’ve been changing diapers for over 9 years nonstop and now she is potty training.  

What happens when I’m not?

Who am I now?

What taste is this?

Camille Vaughan Photography

Happiness

I bought this for myself a few years ago, when I was particularly down in the dumps about circumstances that were entirely out of my control.

Upon discovering it, I realized that no matter what what was going on, happiness was a choice. 

Sure I could take time to lament and mourn my very real losses; but even those that were suffering and gone before me would never have wanted me to continue living in that state of loss. 

It was my job to live the life they could not.  

I realized that it was my job to CHOOSE happiness.  

In the face of adversity, to overcome and make the best of what may be.

In the prospect of opportunity, to claim. 

To own this life they could not.  

It is ours to behold. 

If only we could just be happy today.  

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

Snail Mail

In the age of virtual learning and online shopping it seems, already, so archaic.  

Is that what also makes it so special?

Or is it just me?

The Written Word. 

The feel of paper. 

The emotion in handwriting. 

I received a letter today, just for letter’s sake. 

No holiday or event to celebrate. 

Just a letter for letter’s sake.  

And upon reading it, I felt like I had taken the freshest breath of air in a long time.

Normalcy.

Writing, just to write!

Touching base, just to check in. 

We’re busy people and letters are effort. 

But boy are they appreciated for that very reason. 

Snail Mail. 

Gone, but not forgotten. 

Momma

She said, 

“Lauren, you have to protect yourself from you.”

And Lawd, I didn’t want to know what she meant, but of course I knew. 

She’s my mother, after all. 

Why is she almost, always right?

But she was and she is.

I just didn’t want to know it. 

But now I do. 

What powerful words. 

“Protect yourself from you.”

Amen Momma.