On this day, 10 years ago, something terrible happened…
(Previously written and can be read here…)
On this day, 10 years ago, something terrible happened…
(Previously written and can be read here…)
This week was not ideal.
Long story short, the company I love and work for lost the pitch to keep the business in my area.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt; that I didn’t take it really personally; that my eyes don’t hurt from crying/trying not to cry; that I don’t feel a little betrayed; that I’m not angry, disappointed, and a little scared.
Leading up to this pitch and Co-op vote, I found and lived my every day repeating this prayer:
God, I know I am impatient, so prone to worrying, to giving up, to losing hope. Help me to rest in Your promises today. In this season of waiting, renew my joy in this moment so that I do not miss Your presence in this place. Thank You for being with me and for never giving up on me. Thank You for always working for my good and for Your glory even when I can’t see. In Jesus’ name, Amen
It’s a good one. A really good one for me, as I have a bad habit of throwing myself into a worry or stress and neglecting to recognize the light and blessings all around it.
…“In this season, renew my joy in this moment that I do not miss Your presence in this place”…
From here, I vow to focus on three things:
I’ve been debating whether or not to write this story. The subject matter… it’s just… well…
I’ve always playfully ascribed to the “girls don’t poop” motto… but we’re all adults here… we know that everyone poops, right?
We can call this story make-believe if you prefer to think otherwise, but I’ve held on to it long enough and I’m missing my cousins; one of whom is the star of this story, so it’s time for it to be told.
Meet Matt; “MattMatt” as I can’t help but call him despite him now being a 24 year old Citadel grad and a 1st Lieutenant with the US Army.
Matt and I have never lived in the same state but somehow he’s still one of my closest and very best friends. What a very blessed and lucky girl I am to have him.
Especially in the situation I’m about to describe for you…
A couple of years ago, Matt came up from good ol’ Louisiana to stay a few days with me. My apartment is tiny, so I built him a little bed in my living room and we spent the days laughing, (drinking), and hopping around town.
On one of the last mornings of Matt’s stay, we were drinking coffee watching CMT videos (I like to serenade him with songs he hates) and Matt got up and headed for the one bathroom I pay rent for, returning for a moment to ask if he could “finish off the toilet paper.”
“Yeah, I’m fine, we’ll run out for some in a little.”
About 5 minutes after his return, it hit me that I desperately needed the toilet paper I had so selflessly forfeited to him only minutes before – and I needed it immediately.
Fortunately, I live just two blocks away from the grocery store – two very walkable blocks – but being that the situation was quite dire, we jumped in the car (rather I kind of shimmied into the car), and drove the bumpy painful two roads over.
Originally the plan was to buy TP and head back home (I really hate public bathrooms), but time was slipping away and so I bee-lined for the Farm Fresh bathroom with Matt chuckling at my heels.
As the story of my life goes, I chose the stall without – shocker – toilet paper, and while I wouldn’t normally have a problem asking the person beside me to pass some under the stall, the woman beside me was having a …hard time… and I didn’t feel it appropriate to bother her.
Choking on my laughter so she didn’t think it was directed at her, I texted MattMatt, “would you believe that there’s no toilet paper in my stall and the woman beside me is clearly in distress!?” and I heard him burst out laughing in the hallway.
At this point y’all, I am really struggling not to laugh out loud, tears streaming down my face, shamefully hiding in my toilet paper-less stall – now feeling like a jail cell as I’m officially stranded – wondering how long I’ll have to wait before I can request a pass-off from the poor woman beside me.
Then, the bathroom heavens opened up and I heard the hinge of the main door followed by a painfully high-pitch voice, “Leaaaaaneeeee, where are youuuuuu?!”
MattMatt, my hero.
I couldn’t even see straight from laughing as hard as a laugh will silently laugh, frantically waving my hands underneath the stall door for the secret-man-in-the-women’s-room toilet paper handoff.
I imagine I hugged / high-fived / fist-bumped Matt in the hallway following that glorious save but I don’t remember. I do remember buying a mega-pack of toilet paper and going out for Mimosas.
If that doesn’t deserve greatest-cousin-in-the-world status, y’all… I don’t know what does.
I am so overwhelmingly thankful for family I also call friends…. and their willingness to venture into restricted territory in the name of cousinly love.
As a reminder though, girls don’t poop.
Listen. I hear you. You’re a few pounds heavier than you like (or a 100 lbs heavier than you like). I completely understand how you feel. I get that same blah feeling about myself when I think about booking new head shots or long overdue pictures of me and Justin. Precious, I even picked a career that has me permanently behind the camera rather than in front of it. Seeing myself in pictures actually produces the faintest sick feeling in my stomach. Isn’t it amazing we can see the beauty in our best friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts without the slightest thought to their flaws… but can obsess for hours on our own imperfections? We fixate on our flaws to the point we shirk at any documentation that our round faces and curvy bodies ever walked the earth. No pictures to show how we LOVE, how we laugh, how we are treasured by our families. How is it possible that a double chin can overpower the beauty of a mother cuddling her child? How does arm fat distract from the perfect shot of a spontaneous hug? I swear y’all… how is it that we can put more value on a TUMMY ROLL than the captivating way you throw yourself into a roar of laughter during a shoot?
In our warped minds pictures become frozen mirrors that we can stare at as we pick apart our features over and over again.
I know girl. I know.
My personal duck-and-cover (or signature “make a funny face”) approach to having pictures of myself changed completely when I had a serious car accident last year (and started over). In the flash of a second (or a flash of the text message the young woman was reading) my entire life changed. I nearly left this earth with no physical evidence of the goofy, wide open and loud love I have for my life, my husband, my family and friends. I haven’t had professional pictures done since our wedding in 2006… always waiting for this elusive moment where I would be thin enough (pretty enough) to have such a permanent record of me. Because, you know, HEAVEN FORBID there be any proof that I look the way I actually look.
So here is the harsh truth y’all. Listen good. Our vanity is no longer enough of a reason to avoid the camera. Life doesn’t wait until you “get thin” enough to capture it. Life is happening… it is happening right now and the only moment we are guaranteed is the one we are living. I shudder at the thought of leaving behind no pictures of my life with ME in it. My mom says of the accident she is “just glad that we’re still a whole family.” My gift to her this Christmas was a family portrait showing just that, nine months post-accident… a whole family.
Do you know what my mom sees when she looks at this picture? Her beautiful family all together.
Do you know what my husband sees? The family he gained the moment he met me (and how much he looks like my dad…)
Do you know what my dad sees? The happy family he has worked for every day of his life.
Do you know what my brother sees? That he got away with wearing shorts…
Shocker: No one is looking at how fat I look.
Can we agree to put the value of family over the value of fat? Can we just accept that the weight you’ve been trying to lose for 5 years might actually just be a part of what you look like… and that if this magical day does come when you’re acceptably thin you’ll STILL regret not having any pictures of you with your kids from ages 5-10? Can we acknowledge that the insecurities we have in our heads will never be a part of how our children, husbands, and friends see us? Can we just please let our loved ones remember the YOU they love?
Your children want pictures with their mom.
Your husband wants pictures with his beautiful wife.
Your mom and dad want pictures of the happy, successful, amazing woman they raised (OK, and more pictures of the grandkids while you’re at it).
And if you’re thinking that high school friend on Facebook will say to herself (“wow she has gained weight”) then… news flash you DID. You gained weight. Shed a tear. Read a book. Drink a sweet tea. Watch Oprah. Whatever it takes. Accept this reality… YOU GAINED WEIGHT. The truth is you’ve gained a lot of other things too (a career, a family, some kids, a house, a love for travel, the ability to coordinate your separates…) and that girl from high school is going to spend a lot more time hating on those things then she ever will on your double chin.
So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed? OK… but you’re the only one who notices. The rest of us are too caught up in loving you.
Teresa is a photographer and blogger. Her work can be found at myfriendteresablog.com.
Recently I held a Bridal Shower for a childhood bestie of mine. At it, her Grandma was wilin’! In the middle of spewing hilarious stories and one-liners, she shared with us how she’s been drinking Apple Cider Vinegar “with Mothers” for her metabolism and energy.
I’ve heard about this before and when my Mom jumped on board, I figured I’d follow suite.
My mom drinks it down in an 8oz. glass of water with a little honey. While I didn’t think that was the worst thing in the world, I prefer to just get it over with.
So, last Monday I started taking 1 tbs vinegar mixed with 1 tbs. warm water and a little honey, twice a day; throwing it back like a shot.
One evening I even managed to convince my poor sweet boyfriend to participate (why does he date me?!)…
Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled and when I threw mine back without trouble, he reminded me that he’s a better person than I am (*my words, not his) and that I’ve had experience taking shots that burn your face. To which I say…
Now for the terrible…
Just a couple days ago, I ran home from work for lunch realizing that I had forgotten to take my Apple Cider Vinegar morning dose. I whipped up my concoction, cheers-ed myself (as I always do because I’m that big of a nerd), and threw it back…
I very (very) quickly realized that it wasn’t tingling down my throat and settling into my stomach like it usually did …it felt like it was stuck somewhere in my face… like it detoured to that in-between place where your throat meets your nose. I struggled to find oxygen and my eyes began to burn with a fire I can’t even explain. After what felt like an eternity of drowning in Vinegar and at a loss of what else to do to survive, I leaned over the sink, begging every crevice in my face to let the devil juice out.
A sneeze saved me (or damned me) and it all came pouring out; out of my nose, out of my tear ducts, out of my pores, and out of my mouth.
Y’all, the pain was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings and eyesight back and when I did, I had to run back to the office and carry on like I hadn’t just experienced something terribly life-changing.
For your pleasure (and because I knew that the people I love would love this story this way), I documented the whole experience and the hours following in real time below via SnapChat.
Just be careful, my friends. I started taking my shots again recently but they’re much smaller and I’m much less confident; no longer ignorantly cheers-ing myself like I’m a boss.
Until next horrific life event.
I don’t know much about Alzheimers/Dementia – in fact, I know nothing more than how difficult it is to watch and experience alongside someone you love…
I am blessed to have close relationships with both my immediate and extended family. My parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and I have spent a number of memorable and amazing vacations, holidays, events, and visits together throughout my almost-28 years and I can say with complete confidence and conviction that my family, both immediate and extended, takes number one in my life: my number one blessing and my number one favorite thing.
I have two grandparents here still (and wonderful-solid memories of the 18-25 years with the two that are doing their thing in heaven now).
My grandparents, Granne and Pop / Anne and Ray, have been married for 61 years; they have 3 children, 3 married-in-children, 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, and a Katie (a beloved Shih Tzu / dog-child). These facts have been my grandmother’s favorite things to tell people. Whether they be new friends, old friends, pastors, nail technicians, receptionists, waitresses, bartenders, or janitorial staff; if they’ve crossed paths with my grandmother, they know she has been married for 61 years… has 3 children, 3 married-in-children, 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, and a Katie.
Growing up, I have to admit I sometimes shrunk from the long family rundown she’d do for strangers… but now my grandmother is starting to forget… and thinking on it now, on her repeatedly listing us as the first thing she wanted someone (anyone, everyone) to know about her… that love… I can’t help but want that repeat-rundown back…
Granne, I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now. I know you’re forgetting some things and, it seems to me at least, you’re starting to forget them faster these days. I know that the things happening in your life don’t make sense to you; it’s hard to keep track of events, people, and timelines and as a result, some of your behaviors aren’t “you” anymore. I know you fight them. I know you want to be strong; to be yourself and to be who you’ve always been for all of us. I know you’re scared, Granne. Who could blame you?
Here’s the thing though, Granne… you don’t have to be scared (and as I’ll explain, neither do we).
You married an amazing man 61-years ago; our beloved Pop, a man who, no matter how hard it gets, no matter the challenge, no matter the drama or the controversy, chooses you; who never wavers on the words, “she’s my girl” in the face of the fight.
You brought three people up in this crazy world; taught them to work hard, to care for one another, to love other people, to have faith, to be strong, to laugh at themselves, and to give back… and they married three people who do the same.
Your three (turned six) people, brought more people into the world and taught them (us!) to work hard, to care for one another, to love other people, to have faith, to be strong, to laugh at ourselves, and to give back.
You see Granne, you created and trained your own team; a team of people who were taught the qualities that a good life requires; the qualities that are especially required now. These people… your people… love you, will take care of you, look out for you, cheer you on, and fight for what’s best for you.
Here’s the other thing Granne, you also taught us to do all these things for each other. We’ll travel through life loving each other, taking care of each other, looking out for each other, cheering each other on, and fighting for what’s best for one another.
You don’t have to be scared for you and you don’t have to be scared for us – because you gave us the gift of each other – which, I have to say, is my very favorite thing.
As you start to forget, Granne, we don’t want you to worry; we won’t. We’ll hold on to the memories that you may not always be able to recall.
We’ll hold on to Charleston, Folly, Seabrook… your “pink house and purple car,” your shrimp and grits, your giant Christmas tree, your mac-n-cheese recipe…
We’ll hold on to the recitals, concerts, tournaments, games, graduations, and weddings you were at… the dances we’ve danced, the games we’ve played, the fun and laughs we’ve had…
We’ll hold on to your strength, your determination, your southern sass, your protective nature, your family-focus, and your ability to chug a frozen margarita in 3 seconds flat…
We’ll hold on to the memories and stories of the parties you had, the friendships you cultivated, the people you helped, the places you’ve seen, the support you’ve provided, the amazing wife/mother/grandmother you’ve been, and the endless love you continue to give… even as life changes around you.
Granne, it’s going to be different, but it’s going to be okay. We are a forever-team. You are not alone. You don’t have to be scared… we’ve got this… because we’ve always had you.
So much appreciation, respect, and love forever and ever and ever.
Y’all, it has been one of those weeks. One of those “two” weeks really.
I just got home from a meeting which made it my 9th night in a row of “stuff.” I’m not (necessarily) complaining. I signed up for everything I do; I enjoy it all and it all means something to me. But maaaan, am I tired.
I feel like I’m living life like…
So, tonight when I got home I decided I needed to make myself dinner and take a few minutes to myself; soak up some silence, remember what I’m thankful for, remember what I do it all for, eat a home cooked meal…
So, because I’m a freak, I organized all my cabinets and then poured a glass of wine and decided to make a little eggplant parmesan – it’s one of my very favorites and I deserve it. I carefully peeled my little eggplant, sliced it in pretty perfect 1 inch rounds, tossed it in a carefully-measured bread crumb mix, greased my pan, put the slices in the oven, made some noodles, mixed up some spices to “spice up” a jar of tomato sauce, pulled out a nice plate, set everything up pretty as a magazine picture… and then poured cinnamon all over the entire thing because I was too tired to read the label (and had reorganized my cabinets) and thought it was a jar of red pepper flakes.
You know what’s even sadder… I still ate it.
…I think maybe your taste buds die a little the crazier and sleepier you get.
Cheers to everyone out there fighting your way through the week. You are not alone and I appreciate you. Give ’em hell.