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

Never Forgotten

What about the ones who never were?

Who would they have been?

What if it feels like they were already here?

When we first learned of their existence.

Sure they never were born of this Earth, 

But for a time, they were alive.  

And for many, it will always be this way. 

Mourning the loss of what-if.  

Who would they have become?

Years pass, 

And yet, they are still there.  

Always with us. 

Never forgotten. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

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.

Verite Sans Peur

I entered an all-girls’ boarding school my sophomore year of high school. 

My initial requirements to agree to attend were that it be co-ed without uniforms and yet I fell in love at-first-sight with an all-girls boarding school that required uniforms. 

It changed my life. 

Aside from my second grade year, I had attended private school throughout elementary and middle-school.  

And then I entered my freshman year in public school.  

Easy to predict, girl from small school gets swallowed by the wrong crowd- my grades, self-worth and confidence bottomed out.  I went from an honors student to failing ninth grade English- the subject that would later become my college major and career. 

I followed the popular crowd and resorted to stealing as a method of proving my bravery, a habit that eventually caught up with me at a local 7-11 convenience store. I used my privilege to avoid harsh punishments until I found haven at St. Timothy’s School. 

The first day, I entered the “school store”, where you purchased your school supplies on the honor system- simply writing in a notebook on the cashier’s counter what you had taken.  

As a thief, the system was abhorrent to me- how could they be so naive?  But as I observed all that I could take without payment, I also envisioned a life I could lead with honesty.  

I walked out of the store and started up the stairs, accidentally holding the pen I had used to write down my supplies.  I stopped and wondered:  it was an innocent enough mistake.  Anyone could take a pen by accident.  But then I realized why I was truly there- to change my life.  

So I turned around and handed the pen to the “store lady” named “Dee” who looked me directly in the eyes and responded without hesitation, as if it had always been intended to be said to me, “Thank you, that is so honest of you.” 

I was never the same. 

That compliment of honorability would become the path I chose from thereon.  

Verite Sans Peur. 

Our school’s motto.  

Truth Without Fear. 

A motto I continue to live by in all aspects of my life, even when it is inconvenient.  

So simple, and yet, so powerful.  

If only we could all live our truths without fear. 

Verite Sans Peur. 

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

Do. The. Things.

OMG y’all.

Is it just me or are you also wondering what in the world has happened in the last 2 months?

Like, wait. . . what??

Life, as we knew it stopped. Dead.  In its tracks.

Forced to adapt and left to wonder, what have we left undone?

I spend half of my parenting life wondering if I am doing too much to entertain my children and the other half anxious for them to age enough to take them to the big places  I really want us all to go- National parks, once-in-a-lifetime shows, international landmarks, etc.

I revel in the tender moments of playing matchbox cars on the IKEA shag bath mat that has become my 4 year-old’s holy grail.  Seriously, there is no other place she’d rather wrap herself up in and/or park her 50 hot wheels inside the folds.  Weird and yet still, oddly endearing.

10 minutes later, I’m dreaming of our entire crew camping, mountainside. Ready to hike, ready to roast, ready to inhale that incomparable fresh air.

As I reflect on life before Covid-19, I realize, I don’t have much to regret.  The family adventures I dragged my homebound husband on that our kids still talk about.  The garden at home he’s helped them to cultivate.  They are all part of our story up until this point.

I suppose Covid-19 is our wakeup call.

How do we really want to spend our unspecified time?

When are we going to stop waiting to do-the-things?

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But What Do We Do With It?

Today, millions are mourning the death of the passengers aboard the helicopter carrying basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13 year-old daughter.

The response seems right in line with any shocking news: Life. Is. Short. Live each day to its fullest.  Tell those you love that you love them.  Apologize before it’s too late. Don’t take today for granted.

But what does that truly look like for people around the world?

The thoughts are moving but the reality of taking my dream vacation today is unreachable.

So, now what?

I crawled into my attic to retrieve the mementos I’ve saved in my lifetime, curious as to what I considered important.

And, you know what I found?

Pages.

Pages and pages of what I’ve written since I could write.

And photographs.

Thousands of prints.

My treasures.

Meaningless to few others than myself, but invaluable to me.

It begs the questions:

What do you treasure?

What are you going to do with it?

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