Carry On

I walked in and explained that I’d held on to this gift certificate since Christmas. That I was in the midst of a family trauma and that I was here to relax and let some of that go.

What I didn’t expect was to burst into tears 45 minutes through, as my massage therapist pulled the energy from my muscles and flicked it away. As she summoned my breath and thanked me for feeling safe enough to let it go in that room, with her, a stranger.

But there we were. 2 strangers united at 9 AM. She, not knowing the trauma and still, meeting me there. Helping me to release.

We hugged, afterwards. After all, after weeping, what else is one to do?

And then we carried on. Her next client. My day with my daughters.

We release and we carry on.

Apples

It’s been 15 years. 

And *tonight* he says, 

“I thought I knew, but I’m just now understanding.”

How about them apples?

You marry someone because your heart sees theirs. 

But it has taken until now for him to realize what those vows meant to me. 

The kind of forever I’d never had. 

The moment I’d always been waiting for. 

Permanence.

When you’ve lived with, it’s difficult to imagine life without. 

It’s been 15 years. 

Dee Akright Photography

Growing Pains

“Mommy, it hurts.”  

I wish I could tell her that it stops. 

But it never does. 

Instead, they migrate from the bones to the heart.

From the physical to the emotional. 

These growing pains. 

Just when we think we’re done . . . 

There they are. 

To remind us that we aren’t yet done. 

Growing, that is. 

And when you think of it that way, it makes sense. 

Perhaps instead of dreading 

We should welcome the pains.  

Peel back that layer

And discover what comes next . . .   

Camille Vaughan Photography

Written while listening to Cover Bombs (Odesza Remix) by Nomadic Firs

Show Up

Here’s the thing about mental health: 

No one knows what to do. 

Instead, everyone waits for someone else to solve it. 

Because it’s ugly. 

There is no straightforward “treatment plan”.  

When someone is in crisis, it’s scary. 

What do I say?  What do I not say?

How should I act?  

And so we freeze and wait for someone else to solve it.

But when it’s between life and death, 

What then?

Someone has to step up. 

That’s what. 

When everybody else waits, what are you going to do?

Are you going to wait?

Or are you going to show up?  

Camille Vaughan Photography

Here I am

“I’ll always love you but some days, I don’t like you.”  

I remember my mother saying this to me, as a child.  

It has never resonated with me more.

It sounds harsh, but as a parent myself now, I understand what she meant. 

One of our daughters has been having a really tough time lately and I’m going to be honest; spending time with her feels like work.

She’s struggling and her way of coping is to act out. 

This week my mom said, “They need the most love when they are the most unlovable.”

Ugh.  The ugly truth. 

She knows this from her experience of parenting me.

I was NOT an easy child.  Strong-willed, relentless, exhausting. 

But she kept on loving me.

Despite my outbursts and her exasperation, she held. 

I pushed, she stayed.

And here I am.

Exhausted and exasperated with my daughter. 

But I stay. 

I love. 

I hold. 

Like her behavior or not, here I am.

Camille Vaughan Photography

Choose Well

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, a holiday dedicated to declaring love. 

And what I want my girls to know

Is that love doesn’t come easy. 

Their father and I make it look like it does, 

But that is because we chose well.  

We both had opportunities to choose otherwise; 

But we waited. 

We waited to find one another. 

And they are the product of our love. 

What I want my girls to know 

Is that love SHOULD feel easy

Because when you choose well 

It is.  

Choose well. 

Minutes after he proposed at Tahoe!

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

Lesson Learned

We are all a product of our collective experiences.  

It is easy for me to wish away the sad things that have happened in my life.  

But if it weren’t for those, I wouldn’t be who I am today. 

This, as Oprah says, I know for sure.  

But I’m-a-tell-y’all-what. 

Divorce is a terribly, sad thing.  

Particularly when children are involved.  

I was on my way to visit colleges with my step-dad, whom I had called “Dad” since I was two years-old when he announced, “Your mother and I are getting separated.”

Is it just me, or do you never ever forget that moment?

It’s like the world stops turning. 

Sure, maybe I had known it was coming in some sick and twisted way, but did I ever want it to truly be?  

No.

And yet, there it was.  

Worse, they were in business together and weren’t going to announce it to the very close-knit family company until January so now, I had a secret to keep. 

That Last Christmas, we rented a house in nearby Sandbridge Virginia Beach, Virginia, decorating the tree one last time, only to grab our individual boxes to keep the ornaments we each wanted when the week was over. 

It was the one of the saddest moments of my life. 

Fast forward 20 years later and now, who are we?

If you were my dad from age 2-18, does that mean you are my dad for life?

If we were step-sisters and brothers then, are we still?

Time passes, parents re-marry. 

Who are we now?

Collateral damage.  

Oh, but not me.  

Because I have my own future to tell. 

Divorce, my children will not know. 

Because we chose carefully. 

We waited until we met one another to make that kind of commitment. 

To be together until death do us part. 

To raise our babies with love and joy. 

To choose them. 

To choose us. 

Forever and ever.

Collateral Damage No More. 

Instead, lesson learned. 

This kind of love is forever.

Live & Let Go

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t burn a bridge.’?

Well, I have. And in my history, it has meant a lot.

But at what point does holding onto burning embers do more harm than good?

Imagine it.

Cutting them loose.

Sad, but free.

And yet . . . always wondering . . .

What if they were still there?

Camille Vaughan Photography