Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Green Monster Fight

“Looks like fun. Must be nice,” they said in such a tone that didn’t make me feel so nice.

I didn’t quite know exactly what to say. They know how hard I’ve worked, I thought they’d be happy for me in crossing off a long-time dream. What do you do when someone asks about something you’ve been working towards and before you can answer, you can tell they don’t really want to hear about it? They asked, but they don’t really want to know. The jealousy is palpable.

I’d like to say that this has been a one-time occurrence and a one-time wound, but I cannot.

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed in making progress on my 30×30 list. In choosing to go after goals and enjoy the life and the journey along the way, there will be some that will not smile or cheer you on. No matter how happy some may want to be for you, how much some may love and support you, how big the sacrifices you’ve made, or how hard you’ve worked…on occasion the little green monster will make an appearance and can turn things weird. Sometimes it can come from some very unexpected sources.

It’s true, misery does love company. If someone is not enjoying the same success or enjoyable moments in their own lives that you are being blessed with, sometimes deep down there’s a part of them that, uh, rathers you didn’t. That’s human nature. (Think about it–jealousy and envy go back to the beginning of time. It lead to the first murder between two brothers over sibling rivalry and a fruit basket when Cain killed Abel…and has been going strong ever since.)

Actually, it may not necessarily be that they don’t want good things for you…it may just be that there’s a wee bit of jealousy that it’s not happening for them too. It’s not so much that you “do”, it’s that they “don’t.”

Be prepared that not everyone is going to have the best attitude or be as supportive as you would like them to be once you seriously start seeing success or make any kind of progress on your list or in your life. You’re going to have to make the choice to keep moving forward, or not. It may even be the people you love most or that are closest to you. A husband may not support his wife in her weight loss efforts, gossip may surround the purchase of a new car or dream home, family members may criticize you as you go back to school, some may not support your efforts to get back out there and scope out the dating scene, or a friend may not attend your baby shower. Ouch.

No one sees the years of loneliness or the bad breakups  and heartbreak before the happy wedding day. They’re not witness to the years of sleepless nights, mountains of homework, lack of a social life, or the student loans taken on in order to finish a degree. They can’t always see all the hours at the gym, the 6:30am workouts every Saturday for over four months, and the self-discipline needed while training for a 26.2 mile marathon. There’s no parade while you’re eating in, canceling cable, and shopping garage sales in order to get out of debt. No one sees the endless prayers and countless tears shed in secret. It’s easy to want what someone else has but not be willing to do the work or make the sacrifices that they did to get it.

It's easy to want what someone else has but not be willing to do the work or make the sacrifices that they did to get it.

They may attend the celebration party or see the smiling pictures, but they weren’t around for the difficult decisions, the sacrifices, the hard work, the tears and the effort that came before it. They weren’t there for the fight. They can’t see the surrounding circumstances that lead up to the reason and the need to celebrate in the first place. All they can see is the fun part or the season of celebration…and hate it.

Or maybe they were around for the fight, yet the monster surfaces.

This can be confusing. And hurtful. At no point in my life, or especially on this entire 30×30 journey, have I ever intended for someone to feel bad about themselves or inferior in any way. And if I have caused someone to feel that way, I am very sorry. My intentions in sharing my story are just the opposite. My goal and the desire of my heart is to encourage, inspire, elevate, and motivate into passionate action. In fact, when asked to write this book and publish the 30×30 story,  I had extreme reservations about being labeled as vain, to be seen as bragging, or having anyone think that I was selfish or “better than” anyone. It took me years before I could ever even let someone else read it.

It was an incredibly personal decision to make the choice to publish my story and put myself out there. Honestly, I didn’t want to do it. I avoided the call as long as I could, but in the end had to succumb to the nagging pull on my heart. Nothing in me desires to go through the self-promotion, scrutiny, judgment, and “look at me” or “lookie at what I did” marketing mentality that seems to be required in doing this. How unattractive and ugly. The attention that can go with that type of success makes me squirm. *nose crinkle*

Sometimes I don’t even want to talk about my list at all, that I was blessed to have crossed off 29 of my 30 items, or let anyone know when I cross something off of the Next List. I don’t ever want someone to feel bad because of something I’m doing or have done. Ever. That’s the thing about progress and success–it’s admired, encouraged, and applauded…yet hated and despised at the same time. Success, no matter how small, is tricky.

That's the thing about progress and success--it's admired, encouraged, and applauded...yet hated and despised at the same time. Success, no matter how small, is tricky.

Is that a reason to not move forward, to not change, to not go after the dreams placed in your heart or take steps of faith in pursuit of progress? I hope not. But it is a reason to pause for a moment and be sensitive to situations that others may be going through. Everyone’s story and journey is different. Just like they don’t know the difficulties that you’ve walked through, you also don’t know the internal and external struggles they may be dealing with. We’re all dealing with something.

Don’t worry, in time it will be their season to shine and you may be the one having to fight off the mean green envy beast.

 

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Booties, Boudoirs, and Bachelorettes…Oh My!

In a brilliant act of stupidity, what did I do the other night? In a moment of sheer boredom I watched the season opener of The Bachelorette. Forgive me, but this TV show brings back good memories of a certain friend in California who’d bring over bad wine on a Monday night and giggle on my couch while we sat and laughed at our trashy choice in TV shows. After all, if you can’t be judgy with a girlfriend, who can you be judgy with? I digress.

Stupidist show on the planet. Whose bright idea was it to create a modern-day harem and sell it as an idea that a loving, lasting relationship can come out of it…with millions watching? And after umpteen seasons, who really watches it anyways? Apparently the other night, I did.

Dating or looking for “love” from a group of eligibles separated out and kept in waiting just for you, not a new concept. Harems. This concept has been around almost as long as…well, you get the picture, a long time. Check out the book of Esther in the Bible. Although not her choice–as a maiden in the king’s harem she saved a nation, but not by being catty and making out on the beach on national television. Interestingly, her story has redeeming qualities and some very valuable life lessons. (For a good study on Esther, check out Beth Moore’s take on it. Love it!) Not so the ABC version. Sadly, like the train wreck it is, I watched it anyways.

Here’s the pathetic part.  For those that don’t know my background, my singlehood and recent “unattached” status can make some uncomfortable. I’ve had people on multiple occasions tell me I should actually be on the Bachelorette. No joke. Bless their hearts, but really? Ummmm…what part of me shouts out, “I want to be in a harem?” Really. The type of man who is attracted to that type of girl or  would want that type of scenario…not exactly the type of guy I’m looking for! Besides, as a girl who loves to keep her private life private, what part of me shouts, “I want to make my dating life public and make out on national TV?” No parts. Zero. Negative.

Admittedly, like every other girl on this planet, there is a part of me that wants to be affirmed and be seen as beautiful and attractive. We women are wired that way. Our girl hearts want to be seen as desirable, attractive, and worth fighting for.

Admittedly, like every other girl on this planet, there is a part of me that wants to be affirmed and be seen as beautiful and attractive. We women are wired that way. Our girl hearts want to be seen as desirable, attractive, and worth fighting for. I think maybe that’s why I chose to go through with the opportunity to do a photo shoot a few weeks ago. As an event photographer, I’m used to being on the other side of the camera, where I’m more comfortable. This was a big deal for me.

There is a part of me that goes through all the “what-if” scenarios and wants to know–needs proof that if for some reason later on down the road if God asks me to remain single, if for some reason the white dress experience isn’t a part of the program and I’m asked to go through life without a “plus-one”…I need to know that it’s part of His plan and it’s not because I wasn’t cute enough. Sexy enough. Or not attractive enough. Sometimes a girl just needs to know–or needs to be reminded–she’s got it. *wink*

Before judging these statements, there is a constant battle out there assaulting our hearts with every magazine, advertisement, and product placement telling us that very thing. You’re not attractive enough, buy this to become so. Do this to become so. Keep your man happy by doing this or buying that or looking like her. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry.

If we somehow manage to not give in to these lies that bombard us around every corner, we’re seen as vain, haughty, delusional, over confident and conceited. If we do give in to these lies of not being enough, we become insecure, petty, needy, not confident and self-conscious. Either end of the spectrum is out of balance and unattractive. Every woman has beauty, is valuable, and has something to offer. Balance, ladies. Balance. (For more on this subject, check out the book “Captivating” by Stasi Eldredge. It’s a fascinating take on this subject.)

Every woman has beauty, is valuable, and has something to offer.

So anyways, in a moment of needing to validate my own personal cuteness, I had a little fun in a boudoir photo shoot. Never imagined I’d do something like that, but in a weird turn of events, I did it. And it was quite fun. *wicked smile*

Little background: As a wedding photographer, I often get approached to shoot boudoir sessions for brides who want to do a little extra something special for their man. Love the concept, just not my type of photography and not necessarily the type of business I want to promote or make money from. I decided a long time ago when a shoot accidentally took a turn in that direction that I wasn’t going to delve into that side of the business and that’s not how I was going to pay the bills. Not my thing.  However, I did need to have someone trustworthy and professional to refer them to for those ladies who want to spice up and enjoy that part of their marriage. Soooooooo, I chose to check out and test out a photographer who specializes in that type of photography when I booked my bio portraits for the book. Two birds with one stone, perfect. I had to get professional bio shots for my upcoming book…and I also got to step into and have a little bit of fun feeling cute.

These pictures are just for me. Even if not a single soul ever sees the prints but me, I will know. I was beautiful. I got it. *winking* Don’t worry–I know I am worth more than a pretty picture, but I also need to know and remind myself when those attacks on my heart come that God made me beautiful and I am worth it, even if for the moment He doesn’t give me  a solid long-term relationship or a man in my immediate future. Shallow, I know. But I need that right now.

That, and how much fun will it be to gift that man that gets to open the real package a little preview of what’s to come? For now, these pictures are just for me. Later on, for his eyes only. *evil grin*

Fake Smiling. Know When It’s Needed…And When It’s Not.

Fake Smiling. Know When It’s Needed…And When It’s Not.

There are times that come when it is time to celebrate. C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E! Admittedly, we’re not always ready or in the mood to party. Sometimes those celebrations have the most inconvenient timing and come when we do NOT want to and have no intention of celebrating…at all. This  can come in the form of a best friend’s wedding, a friend’s graduation, the birth of a baby, or even a loved one’s birthday. I knew a friend who miscarried her baby the morning of her son’s birthday party and still put on a smile and helped blow out the candles that evening with no one ever knowing. Those momentous occasions don’t really care if we feel like celebrating or not, they still come. They still deserve to be celebrated.

It can be a struggle to celebrate and be happy for someone else when we are in the midst of our own pain and in the middle of our own struggles. Part of us wants to stay in and attend our own pity parties, not go to their real ones. But the other part of us in our heart of hearts is truly excited for them, but that doesn’t change our own situation or make it any easier to attend their party or celebrate with them.

We may drag our feet when it comes to attending and celebrating, but be damned if we ever show it, lest we take away from their special moment. But I am so glad for those situations that come along that force us to smile. Sometimes when we’re forced to fake a smile, we actually end up smiling for real.

Although I am not an actress in any sense of the word, I can still put on a good show. Doesn’t take much more than a flash of pearly whites and a flirty giggle to convince most people that things are dandy. My insides may be screaming but for the most part you’ll probably never be the wiser. There is an art in knowing when we need to step up our performance for the benefit or protection of someone else and in knowing when to let down our guard and show our raw and real emotions. There is a balance in taking one for the team and pushing through, and in being vulnerable enough to not always have to put on a show.

There is an art in knowing when we need to step up our performance for the benefit or protection of someone else and in knowing when to let down our guard and show our raw and real emotions.

I recently had a moment where in the midst of celebrating my best friend’s wedding to the amazing man in her life I had to sneak away and step out of the reception for a few moments to collect myself. As much as it’s a privilege and honor to stand next to her and be a part of this wonderful moment, weddings still sting for me.

I know myself well enough that I am the type of person that needs to fall apart in private and then be able to put myself back together in solitude. I thought I had done a good job in using the “I need to go to the bathroom” ruse, but unfortunately a friend totally busted me when she came into the house to use the lou herself. Good friends are hard to find. I may have fooled a dance floor full of people but I had to laugh when she called me out and said, “Your lying lips are telling me you’re fine but your eyes give you away and tell me you’re not.” 

Wordlessly she let me have my moment, handed me a tissue, sweetly cleaned me up and led me through the hallway and back outside to the dance floor just in time for the happy couple’s first dance. I am so glad she did and I am so thankful for her understanding, her strength, and her discretion. I finished the evening bouncing and vogue-ing with the best of ’em. Besides, I didn’t wear smokin’ hot pink shoes for nothing! Did I have fun? Yes. Was it tough? Absolutely. But it was completely worth it. I wouldn’t have missed this celebration for the world.

Sometimes we have to take one for the team and go to the party, fake smile and all. The celebrations and our loved ones deserve it…they deserve both our support and our smiles. Who knows? If we let ourselves, we might even enjoy it and smile for real.

Real or Fake? Can you tell?

 

 

Progress…and what to do when there seems to be a lack of it.

Let’s talk about progress…and what to do when there seems to be a lack of it.

Maybe it’s a job hunt that has gone nowhere. Maybe your kids are getting worse instead of better even after investing in expensive resources to help them. Maybe it’s an addiction that just seems to keep rearing it’s ugly head. Maybe it’s a project at work that you just can’t seem to make any headway on. Or maybe it’s a relationship with a family member or a marriage that just seems to be getting colder and more distant despite your efforts to turn it around.

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a lack of progress in a situation that has been given so much time and effort and energy already. We are a people and live in a culture that likes to see results. Better yet, instant results. In school we’re taught that if we do the work and put in the effort we’ll get the good grade and move up. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works in real life. It’s easy to look at a situation that’s not changing fast enough and want to give up on even trying anymore. Seeing a lack of progress often feels like failure…but it’s not.

It’s always the in-between phase that is the most difficult and quite frankly, sucks the most. That part where you’re already invested, you’ve already tried, you’ve already sacrificed…and nothing. The funny thing is, there’s always magic going on in the background that we can’t see. Secret progress that we’re not privy to. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.

Sometimes deep down we know that change is happening, but if we can’t actually see it first hand, it feels like absolutely nothing is happening. That’s a little how I felt during the editing stages of this upcoming book. I sent the manuscript off to the editor knowing full well that it would be over a month or two before getting it back. But the fact that I couldn’t touch it, couldn’t look at it,  couldn’t work on it, and I couldn’t see who was or view the process or progress while they were working on it–felt like nothing was happening. But there was. There’s been progress on this project even when I couldn’t see it.

I believe God loves working behind the scenes. When our prayers go up and we invite Him in to work on our situation and give control over to Him, it often times feels like there’s way too much time and far too little progress than we’d like. The thoughts start coming–did He hear me? Am I doing something wrong? Why is nothing changing? Why am I even trying? Does He even exist?

And then there’s a suddenly. If we don’t give up, in a moment and in a way that we never could make happen ourselves, He moves. And if we’re lucky, maybe one day we can look back and see some of the behind-the-scenes divine manipulation only He could pull off. Our job is to never give up. Never quit. Even if it seems like absolutely nothing is happening, or especially if things seem to be getting worse rather than better. He is never late. How awful would it be to give up a day or even hours before our breakthrough happens? I cringe to think of how many times this happens.

So keep at it. Keep fighting. Keep on keeping on. Stand your ground and hang on to the tiniest glimmers of hope and smallest signs of progress. Sometimes an inch is far more meaningful in a journey than a giant leap. There will be progress and there will be results as long as you don’t give up.

Don’t give up. Never give up. Your suddenly is on the way.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

  • Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” – Marilyn Vos Savant
  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • Giving up is conceding that things will not get better. And that is just not true.” – Aimee Mullins
  • If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglas
  • We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road. In that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Becoming Living Proof

Becoming Living Proof –

It’s here. The moment you’ve been procrastinating, dreading, and avoiding is here.

You knew it was coming. You could see it in the distance. You did everything you possibly could to avoid it. But the disbelief that God would actually ask you to walk through it didn’t stop it from happening.

We all have experiences in life that we never thought would happen. Things we never thought we would be experiencing. Specifically alone. Maybe there was someone in the picture that was supposed to be there with you. Your stability, your anchor, your hope, your rock and maybe even your trusted partner in crime. That is who the moment or experience was supposed to be with. For whatever undefined reason, they’re not. Never in a million years did you ever picture walking through it without them, let alone by yourself. Alone.

But the person that should be sitting next to you isn’t. Or the person you want sitting next to you, isn’t. What do you do when you are asked to do something or go through something on your own that you never thought you would have to face or be doing alone? There is nothing more crushingly lonely than that. You would give anything, do anything, say anything to not…well, to not.

I had that moment. Actually, I’ve had a multitude of moments like that. These are the moments that I’ve had to take to my Maker with every hurt and confusion written on my heart and pour it out to Him. (Oh, Him and I–we’ve had words.) I do not know why He asks some to walk through this type of pain and these types of moments and not others. It’s maddening and almost unbearable to be surrounded by those who seem to have exactly what you want–what you’ve waited, hoped, and have been believing God for.

I have friends who don’t know what to do with me or to make of me when I have these moments. It’s not their fault. They’ve never had to walk through it. I pray to God they never do. But to those that have, and those that do, and those that will…there is a strength that is built no other way but by going through.

Who knows? Maybe for no other reason than that is why the seemingly unbearable must be bared. I firmly believe that we each have a personal individualized plan for our lives that doesn’t look like anyone else’s, and only God knows the type of strength that is needed to be built to carry out that plan. So in those moments of envy and jealousy that unintentionally spring up when we see others being spared or not being asked to walk through the same thing we are, we have no idea what they are going through or what they are dealing with in their own journeys. We’re all on a journey.

The “why me?” or “why this?” questions that can’t be helped may not ever be answered. Maybe they will, but chances are it won’t be until much, much farther down the road. When those dreaded moments catch us, confront us, and cannot be avoided no matter how hard we try–that is when it is time to take a breath, ask for that specific grace to keep going, and then to keep going. There’s no shame in falling apart. Sometimes it’s needed. When we do there is a Master Builder who can put us back together even stronger, tougher, better than we were before. We are stronger than we will ever know.

And when we meet or come across or see someone else who is going through their own uncomfortable and indescribable tough moments, we will know how to respond. We will know how to understand. We will know how to stand with or sit next to them without squirming. Because we’ve been there. And we made it. We can be living proof. It’s not easy to be somebody else’s living proof that they will make it, that they can make it…but it’s worth it.

Be living proof.

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Hooker Make-Up & Pasta Rejection

When’s the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?

No really, when was the last time? Was it something significant, like starting a business, moving to a new city, starting a new relationship, or maybe ending one? Or maybe something a bit smaller and not so scary, like trying a new type of food, taking a different route home from work, saying hello to that cute girl in class, or even a new haircut?

 

Where The Magic Happens (Hint: Outside The Comfort Zone)
Where The Magic Happens (Hint: It’s Always Outside The Comfort Zone)

There’s just something about stepping out and trying something different that gives a little spark to the soul. It’s always outside the comfort zone where the magic happens.

I had to laugh at myself as I walked into a Noodles & Company this afternoon with my heart set on the penne rosa and allowed myself to be talked into trying one of their new entrees by the clerk behind the counter. It wasn’t just about the pasta. I laughed because I had literally walked in to the restaurant after figuratively stepping out of my own comfort zone earlier in the afternoon to get professional portraits taken for the bio of the “Life Before the Lottery” book being published later this summer.

As a wedding photographer, I am so used to being on the other side of the camera that I couldn’t help but squirm as I was on the wrong side of the lens. I did not enjoy the thought of being the center of attention and having a zoom lens in my face. Apparently I can dish it but I can’t take it. I thought about going about the cheap route and tossing a friend or family member my camera to take the required snapshot. That would have been comfortable…and cheaper. But then I decided to suck it up, buckle down, and actually book professional portraits. I obviously haven’t gotten them back yet, but I’m sure they’ll be worth the squirm.

So there I was, in full professional make-up that looked like hooker-wear and bigger-than-life fluffy hair ordering penne rosa at 3:30 in the afternoon. Fabulous. As I took the first bite of the new entree I immediately regretted caving. Dang it! The clerk was nice enough to see me struggling with my new choice and brought out my original go-to. No harm, no foul. Don’t worry, I didn’t go hungry.

As I sat there starving and sitting alone full make-up and all at the corner table, I decided to pat myself on the back. It’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone on multiple levels. So go ahead, make a left instead of the usual right. Get that new haircut. Apply for that promotion. Call the girl. You never know what may happen. No matter what, chances are it won’t happen in the comfort zone.

It may not have worked out with the new pasta–and who knows, it may not work out with the pictures either–but life is way too short to not take risks. Even if it’s only pasta.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I: