Thursday, December 30, 2010

{ unspoken not unwritten } ~ austin area photographer

Warning, this is a heavy post. There are some deep and personal things I have been sorting out lately and I feel that my best writing comes when I share the hardest and scariest things. In an effort to challenge myself as a writer, I am sharing the inside, the raw, the tumultuous emotions I have been wading through. On the bright side of this, a light at the end of a weighty that maybe you will celebrate with me in having admitted and dealt with some things I've long been confused and afraid of.

I have always been a little nervous that I wasn't a good enough mother. Fact. I knew I was doing my best, but I felt like it was never going to be close to what my girls need and deserve. I frequently worried about this and still do at times. I would try to remind myself that it's all about love and that I have overflowing for my girls, but still this fear didn't ease.

A book I have been reading has helped me recount many things in my past and realize the conditioning and message I have had in my life about that I chose to believe. Somewhere along the line I believed a lie, I accepted the lie that I was not good enough. From that point on even when people weren't saying that, I perceived that. I know it happened long, long ago, and some people may read this and be offended, however I am placing no blame. Life happens and people make mistakes, it's all about how we recover from those.

I didn't recover for a long time, in fact I went through very painful phases where I allowed that fear to literally run my life. For a short period of time I stopped eating almost entirely, I refused any and all help. One day I noticed that even my eyes seemed lifeless and I sought help. From there the fear took over other areas of my life. My whole marriage was spent trying to be the wife I was "supposed" to be and I never felt good enough. I felt like my old church wanted me to be different than who I really was, wear different clothes and use different words. Insert confession: sometimes I swear, not that much, but me anyway, or don't. All the things I tried to change for others only made me hollow and loath myself more. That is where life began to blur and needed clarity.

{ tawny }

Somewhere inside I found that I was stronger than I had known, that I knew things about myself that I had pushed down, and that being honest and real is the only way to live free and at peace. Lies I had believed gripped my life and held me back from truly loving everything, because all my time was spent worrying. At 16 in a small town I was once the pregnant outcast, I guess that prepared me for what I would go through these last couple years as an adult losing the love and comfort of close friends and family because of divorce. Being the one to stand alone to do what I know I must do is part of why I am here and why I am okay to be an individual. On the path of conforming to everyone else's ideas of who I should be, I was headed in a very scary direction, one that can cause serious illnesses and even fatality to a soul. Though I still have times when I worry if I can ever be worthy of my role as "mama," I know that something from my heart is in each of my girls and with love, guidance, and support, they will grow their own way with grace and strength.

Story: For Christmas I received an envelope in my stocking, it was from Avery and Masyn and they had filled it with sheets of paper. Each paper was a hand written certificate, one for being "World's Funniest Mama," another read "World's Nicest Mama," and more. The last few pages were poignant and broke my heart beautifully... written out in pencil they read "YOU ARE AN AWESOME PERSON. WE WOULD DIE IF EVER YOU YOURSELF THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY. SO STOP WORRYING, YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB. LOVE AVERY AND MASYN.
Humbled. Grateful. Accepting. Motivated. Captivated. Inspired. Challenged. Loved. Proud. All things I feel when I read those pages and see my sweet girls. I will daily, try to build them up and encourage them on their own journey. A favorite quote of mine will end this post, thank you if you have read this far. ;)
"The greatest gift you can give your children is roots of responsibility, with wings of independence." - Denis Waitley


Saturday, December 25, 2010

{ our wonderland } ~ austin area child photographer

Our Christmas...

This year I didn't have to work retail hours, something to celebrate! Also it afforded me a full day and evening with my girls to enjoy our Christmas traditions.

We started with a game of charades, hot chocolate, and then a movie/rest. I cooked eggs and bacon for the big girls, but Evelyn wanted oatmeal (she's so like her mama). She was anxious for them to finish so we could get in our jammies and drive around looking at lights while we played Christmas music and sing along and get excited over the really good decorations.

Once home, we dove into gift opening and they were all super happy this year. Honorable mention goes to Masyn, who asked for a laptop and printer, and received a printer, with which she was THRILLED. It was amazing.

Stocking were last, lots of yummy candy and some fun goods. Highlight from that was Evelyn in her giant sunglasses! I love this top picture of her in her glamorous frames. I will leave you with the pictures from our night of love, fun, and utter silliness. As I sit here I am all smiles, these truly are the best days I've lived, full heart.

{ miss IT }

{ how she rolls }

{ darlings in pair }

{ just love }

{ excitement }

{ grateful }

{ maturing }

{ my love for her is as intense as she is }

{ pure love }


Thursday, December 23, 2010

{ sometime by serendipity } ~ austin area photographer

Today was a great day. Several things made it great. I started the morning with all 3 of my girls in my room, 2 in bed with me soon joined by the 3rd. I went to the gym and felt productive there. We had a few hours of time together before I had to work which was a treat (usually there is school pressing). I even had a nugget of time to read. There are lots of things that happened today that made it feel so tangibly good. My life is filled with all the right people at all the right times, even though I have days where I feel like such an island...days like today remind me that I'm not here alone.

I recently visited my hair stylist for a little change in my color...hence the picture below (it's the "after" shot). As she was working on my hair we made this amazing connection in our lives and learned that we have much more in common than we ever knew. It really was exciting to learn about this and to share some of our stories together. She recommended a book to me and I am engrossed in it every chance I get, but it's one of those books I am thinking about all the time. A book that somehow means more than just something on a page. There are a few books I have had this same reaction to and I have re-read them a few times because of all that comes out new each time. I have a feeling I will be reading this book again down the road. As I have turned the pages and taken in the words, it's been prompting memories and opening things I had long dismissed. Also it has made me very aware of my present, which I am a big fan of awareness and always trying to become more open and more aware.

{ transitions }

This discovery of our likeness came to me just when I needed it most. Truly I am amazed at the beauty and timing of such blessings in life. A couple of weeks ago I felt a little lethargic and lonely, I was having what a friend called my "winter of discontent." He was so right, but it was short lived because today I smiled at the sky and laughed out loud because I was so happy about walking on a sidewalk covered in orange leaves and the sound they made swooshing under and around my boots. My heart swelled earlier today when Evelyn laid upside down on the rocking chair and found it fun just to rock with her head hanging down pretending the ceiling could move. Yep, I get down and I get moody, I pout and I even feel sorry for myself, but life comes around and smacks me with something to smile about and I forgive myself for my pity party and move on. Why, oh why has it taken me so many years to appreciate everything and why do I ever let stupid things get me down?! I wish I could bottle today and wear it as a necklace always.... I feel a new tattoo coming on.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

{ holiday memorandum } ~ austin area photographer

A few local radio shows have been reading their Christmas Letters on air lately and I felt compelled to write my own after listening to others recount their year of 2010. It was a big year of change and personal growth for me and I'd like to document it somehow, as I intend to do with more things in life and eventually compile a few books (so I am always saying....).

Friends, family, complete strangers, all of you readers mean a great deal to me and I share this letter with you because I hope that through my year you will find something to connect to, be encouraged by, feel moved, perhaps even inspired...a girl can hope.

2010 was a year that began with a heartbreak, my own. Though few knew, I rang in the new year with a giant crush that kind of crushed me. It was like the drama of high school that I never had. One I am grateful to say I moved beyond and learned a valuable lesson(s) from. Beginning the year in that manner inspired me to go on a cleanse and really meditate to achieve direction and purpose myself toward my goals. I am so thankful for the kick off of 2010, because it launched me into a year of exploration.

{ so long 2010 }

The first few months of this year were some of the best times in my life. In February I learned my heart could love and trust again, and my feet were swept right out from under me. At the same time I was falling in love, I was also making a connection with someone who would become one of the most important people in my life, the best friend I never thought I would find in Austin. Sunny, I love you and without you by my side this year would have been absolute misery. You really are a sunshine in my world! Your friendship carried me through the hurt and confusion of my relationship ending after such a brief but amazing time, thank you for the comic relief and voice of reason you were when I was all a muddle of emotion. Miss me while you are in Tahoe.

Spring brought changes in my job and what I thought was a big workload literally doubled and those few months and my summer were a blur of pure retail monotony. I was very excited about where I thought things were going, but that was a surprise I wasn't ready for and at the end of summer I was faced with searching for a new direction in my career path. The timing seemed to be right and I still believe it was, for all things happen when they are supposed to and reaction is key to a positive outcome. When I realized I was jobless and all the promising leads fell through, I formed a plan, carried it out with determination, and avoided eviction. I became a bartender and that has been my fall.

Through all this I took much criticism and have felt abandoned by some who once promised they would always be there for me, yet I learned my own strength, my drive to be a good mother and provide as much as I can, I learned to never give in and never stop believing in my dreams. Finding encouragement in books, friends, and even trials, I've changed for the better this year. I am more realistic, have thicker skin, I'm not afraid to be me, and not afraid to stand up. My dreams are more alive, I have a greater passion for life, my heart is more open, and I want to explore everything unknown. There are days when I feel like such a goof ball for the things I am curious about, but I see life as this adventure that I get to embark on and I want to squeeze every ounce of good from it. I want to be a lush for the circadian beauties that surround me.

Which brings me to my three biggest blessings in life, my girls.

Though my job as a bartender has it's drawbacks, it also has it's extreme perks. One thing I love is that I now have at least 2 full days a week with my girls and NO take-home-work that I have to get done on my days off. I just get to enjoy my girls. We have been to a few movies, gone hiking, taken pictures, gone out for treats, played dress up, had dance parties, found our favorite YouTube videos and quoted them into the ground...and more. These girls are the most incredible kids I've ever met and that's totally with my Mama-bias aside, they really are amazing. My girls are all caring and affectionate, fun and imaginative, witty and humorous. I consider myself a lucky person just to know them, and I am awed that I am their mother. They are my reason for everything.

Avery is in 6th grade and loving middle school. She is open and honest, we talk about awkward, funny, sensitive, and even gross things, we have trust. She is a creative girl with an interest in the world of drama. Hopefully she will grow out of her desire to live among piles of clothes and general squalor, I think I was once known for such messiness so there is a ray of light.

Masyn is in 1st grade, a gold star student. Continually she amazes me with her deep concentration and ambition to do well. She has been making new friends this year and each one she sees almost as a sister. I can't explain her warm nature because she wants to wear shorts and flip flops all year, but I do know where she gets that desire.

Evelyn is in Pre-School and she is learning letters and can write her full name! Evelyn has mastered the Voice Memo app on my iPhone and left me some brilliant gems that I treasure and listen to at least once week. The making up songs and snuggling are like reliving my own early years, I hope she always has this much affection in her life. I also hope there is someone out there who will understand her need for a comfy bed, lots of perfume, and extreme amounts of snuggling....because I know those people are hard to find.

As the last couple weeks of this year come into being, I'm forming my resolve and setting my gaze toward the year ahead and how I what grab hold of this life and drive it full speed.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

{ must + must not + ect } ~ austin area photographer

I was so lucky to have some visitors from Canada last week enlist me as their "Austin Tour Guide." A role I am highly un-qualified for but took on with zeal. One place they asked to make a stop at was Zilker Park Botanical Garden, so the following images were taken there (by me). They all capture my darkly romantic side, and there are over 100 more in the file on my computer but I am about to zip off to the bar (for work, I do not get a happy hour tonight) so I am just sharing a few. I feel like these fit my mood this week and express some things I have been considering confessing to you all.

I have a list. Shocking, I know. Okay really though, for affinity for lists can be beneficial I promise. This week I have been finding myself adding to my "Must + Must Not" list. It is my requirements and deal breakers (and a few wants and "I hope nots") in regards to future men I allow myself to spend time with.

{ what I see and what I love combined }

Must (be/have):

Honesty, confidence, smell amazing, conversational, present, affectionate, passionate, funny, open, communicative, real, strong, timely aggressive, tattoo(s), mature, silly, stylish, ability to wow me, soothing, witty, allow me to wear heels, honor in his word, miss me when I am away.... and I add more all the time please feel free to make suggestions.

{ my life as a flower }

Must Not (be/have):

Dishonest, secretive, shady, aloof, arrogant, smell bad, ignore me, be my inferior, shy, unwilling to snuggle, lack sense of humor, wear bedazzled anything, belittle my dreams, lazy, lack ambition, neglect me...

{ dark romance }

As I said, fire away new additions to my list, make your own list, it's very enlightening and makes sizing up potentials much easier when you know what you need and what you want. Of course some things I might sway on, like tattoos...but some things can fly under the radar and then it's too late to remember "oh yeah, I wasn't going to settle for someone who..... again." This is my list to remind me, I have standards.

{ if I were a rose }


Monday, December 6, 2010

{ to live life ethereal } ~ austin area photographer

Get ready for a lengthy and obscure post. The tide of my mind has churned much in it's swell and this session of writing comes long overdue....

Recently I have found myself many times explaining my beliefs, my "guidelines on life" you could say. My upbringing is easiest to communicate to others, I was raised Christian, with a strong religious base from my parents (they grew up Presbyterian). I am so grateful for my history, for the values I was brought up with, please don't read any bashing in this, I am very much a support of people living and following whatever religion or belief fits their soul. Inside of me, there were loads of unanswered questions and too many contradictions within my life and some around me. I just felt out of place. When my marriage troubles were beginning to overwhelm my life I ran to my church and those there. As things progressed in the wrong direction, I knew that I had to seek truth, truth of what I felt and what I was living with. As I went through this, I learned so much about myself and about those who had been close to me. Moving away was another giant step in getting to know who Amelia really is. Only a few stayed near me, much of what I had been promised from friends or my "church family" fell by the wayside when they didn't see me tri-weekly. Even returning home for a summer earned me only 2 visitors who came to say they were still concerned with my life and continuing our friendship. I learned so much that year.

Since that time, I pursued books and views, some I connected with and some not so much. Parts of books very much meant things to me and came alive in my heart, others I felt contradicted my core belief that there is a a God and He spins the Universe. I am a great believer that all things happen in life in accordance to a pull on our lives, we can move and flow with that pull and let the Universe work for us, or we can fight and try to control something we never really are big enough or wise enough to control...and ultimately we harm our own path. I believe trials come into life to provide a window to our own strength and to build faith inside us. It's all in how I respond to the difficulties that come my way. I have seen many times this prove itself true. The world is full of opportunities to give back and help others faith grow. Some call it karma, I call it putting positivity out there. I do this not so I can have something back, but because I believe what I put out, attracts more positivity and thus will eventually breed a happier and more beautiful world. Yes, when I share this people are eager to try and burst my happiness bubble, and yes, sometimes I get sad and negative, but then I remember that perception is reality to most and I can change my own world by how I see it. I can see everything as a problem and be overcome with worry, or I can see problems as a chance for a solution and blessing to touch my life and be filled with gratitude.

An old manager of mine loaned me a book that changed my life. I did not agree with 100% of the book, but I took 4 great principals into my heart as guidelines to try and live by. I struggle still, they sound simple but very much go against the nature of what I lived by before. In no certain order these beautiful life changing rules are: Be impeccable with my word- speak good not evil about others and myself: Never take things personally- others don't have the power to curse me so let things roll off: Never make assumptions- I cannot read minds and it's always best to be honest and just ask when I have a question, assumptions only hurt people and inhibit their life: Always do my best- and I can always be proud of what I have done. Those 4 things have become a part of who I am, I fail often, but I keep reminding myself that all life is a growing process.

Not to be mentioned last because of importance, because I believe it is super important...I believe in love. In many forms I believe that love is the thing we are all searching for in our lives. Some are searching for the love of a parent that they never felt, some might be hoping to find romantic love, for others the journey may be toward giving the love they feel is being built up to pour out on a child. We all need to give love and receive love. It drives life whether we are aware of it or not. As cliche as this sounds, we first have to know love on our own. Some will say "love yourself" I personally believe loving myself means seeing that I was created and placed here for a great reason and enjoy who I have been made and try to be pure and honest and respect my place here, to be grateful and happy with who I am. I feel that way very much, I love the life I have been given. All of the things in my life are so much more than I could ever hope for. Things that used to make me feel weird or out of place now make me feel immensely blessed.

There you have it, that is what makes me live each day with a big smile or puts the smile back on my face after a rough day...the awareness of all that I have been given and all that I can give back.