I’m an artist, not a writer but I have decided to tell my story as my way of growing. Growth is important in every aspect of life. Growth is raw, open and honest. Over the course of four days, I’ve learned more about myself than I have ever known in the 34 years of my life. Learning oneself and ADMITTING it is one of the hardest and rawest forms of self awareness. This sounds pretty narcissistic but it’s necessary.
I recently went to Salt Lake City, Utah for the first annual Clickaway Conference. I started the conference feeling judged by someone I didn’t know. I can say that when someone is judging others negatively, they are actually judging themselves. This event was put on by Clickinmoms and made up of moms across the world. Being a mom, I know that I have to teach my children to be blind to color, size, looks and abnormality. I feel that also is true in life for everyone, you should close your eyes and see soul not looks. With that being said, the start to my adventure was in tears alone in my room…
I decided not to sit there and feel sorry for myself, get out of the room and enjoy the beauty of the beautiful weather and find someone to have dinner with. I had met Sue that afternoon and was invited to dinner but couldn’t find the restaurant to meet her and when I finally did, I couldn’t find her and thought maybe it was too late. I started to walk back to the hotel and had to take a moment to stop and cry in an alley, the closest one I can find to hide and cry. As I looked down, there was a feather.
There is a meaning so dear and true to my heart and I have to describe the feather. My grandfather died years back, he was our families glue. One of the most amazing men I’ve ever known (other than my husband, dad, uncle mingo and cousin Colby amongst others). He was funny and so very loving. He would give you the shirt off his back, tell you the straight hard truth and then love you harder. When he passed, he showed us that he never left by leaving feathers everywhere, I mean everywhere. Our family feels these feathers are always there in our darkest moments. I have full faith and feel validated in my feelings that my grandfather is always here when I’m having a dark moment and in my dark moment, he was there.
As I was walking back to my hotel starving, I was waiting for the crosswalk little man to show his face so I can cross the four lane street in front of the convention center... when a beautiful young lady approached other clickinmoms in front of me. She asked if they knew if anyone was in need of a roommate because her roommate text messaged her when she landed telling her she cancelled their hotel reservation and would be staying with someone else. This beautiful young lady was in the same boat as I was and I felt a connection because I felt that same hurt. Her roommate ditched her because she was young and without kids. Another beautiful person in front of me offered her room and spare bed. How awesome is that! We talked and I asked if she had dinner (she hadn’t). I helped her get her bags and walk her back to her new room while stopping at a restaurant to have dinner together. What I learned about her is she is beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside. She had a BEAUTIFUL soul and was an amazing person. She was a world traveler going to Prague amongst other places. God put her in my path right when I needed her! I’m thankful for that.
The next day, Sue and I woke up before the sun rose and went to the Mormon Temple at Temple Square to photograph and watch the sun rise. It was MAGNIFICENT! We photographed so many beautiful things in that square every morning. As my time continued on in Salt Lake City, those mornings were always more beautiful than the one before.
That first day I went to class for Business and Marketing, listening to a local photographer that is freakin amazing, Jennifer Dell among 5 others. They talked about taking value in your work and yourself. I was nervous because I haven’t felt very many open warm arms in the local photography industry. Mainly because photographers feel that it’s a competition at times in this saturated market. I left the class before it ended because I really didn’t know how Jennifer Dell would feel with a local listening to her Marketing discussion for Houston. I learned SO MUCH from her…
The first day I also met Nicole Everson, she is outgoing and a beautiful soul. She taught a class in family portraiture and we had the opportunity to practice on this cute family. Seriously, they were all models!
The afternoon was a small change in me that I had been needing and yearning to see… I had the opportunity to see Sue Bryce! SUE FREAKIN BRYCE! If you don’t know who she is, look her up… She is AMAZING, not only as a photographer but a speaker. She is a motivational speaker for women and she touched my soul. It was terrible, I have always watched her from afar and have always wanted to meet her. I listened to her story and her word and thought she was telling my story. She talked about moms needing to get in front of the camera and how our children only see beauty not our imperfections. I don’t take pictures of myself, hardly ever! ALL I SEE IS MY IMPERFECTIONS, but WHY? I walked up to Sue Bryce after the conference and she was a busy bee. The more I stood there waiting on her to finish up with some other ladies there, the more nervous and self conscious I got. Was she going to think I’m annoying? Would she see right through me and see all of my imperfections? She was my idol, I wanted her to think highly of me but my insecurities got the best of me. I couldn’t talk, just hugged her and wanted a picture with her. Did that, said thank you and left! I FREAKIN LEFT because of MY insecurities! WTHell is wrong with me? I thought about that this entire time and never got to see her again…
That afternoon I had the opportunity to see Nicole Everson again. She was teaching Newborn posing and I learned a lot. What impressed me the most about Nicole is that she sat with Sue and I the next day at Meg Bitton’s talk. She is just like me, learning as much as she can…
That night during the cocktail reception, I walked up to Jennifer Dell (Houston photographer) and said hello. I told her how amazing I thought she was and was honest about my feelings about not being able to talk with local photographers normally. She was SO down to earth with a beautiful soul. I was growing.
Throughout this time, I talked Sue’s (my new friend’s) poor little ear off. Sue is a person who is a great, I mean GREAT listener as well as a woman who has an amazing story. She changed my life more than any talk or educational/motivational speaker of the entire event. The one thing she asked me that finally clicked was WHY am I so insecure and self conscious about myself and my work? The first thing that popped into my head was my childhood… weird as it sounds I’ve never known how invisible I’ve felt growing up. I’ve kept that feeling deep down inside and never told anyone about it. She brought that out in me. Someone put in my path by God. Sue was there every step of this event and I am so very grateful for her.
This part of my story I’ve already talked and cried with my sister about. It’s the most honest I have ever been with myself and my family. I told her that growing up and even as an adult, I felt invisible. Our family would always dote on my beautiful sister, telling her how beautiful she was, how great of a dancer she was and her personality was amazing. My aunt would call her “my little Barbie doll” and she was always the one that was complimented. She didn’t care what people thought of her, she didn’t listen to anyone. She was my protector in more ways than one. She had nothing to do with these feelings of invisibility. She was beautiful and always tried her best to protect me and I love her for that. When girls would be mean to me, she was the first to go and throw them in a ditch. She didn’t know how deeply these feelings of invisibility were corrupting my soul. It made me a promiscuous person. I overcompensated my insecurities by dating anyone that would accept me. My thoughts were, “wow, he’s actually looking at me and WANTS to date me”. Anyone who gave me attention, I would succumb to. I was broken and didn’t even know it. My sister actually didn’t talk to me for two years because she didn’t understand why I would do what I did to myself. She didn’t know that I was scared to bring anyone I dated around her because I was scared they would like her more than me. I still don’t think I’ve mentioned that. The two years we didn’t speak were the hardest two years of my life. I was alone and invisible.
Those two years when my sister went missing from my life is when I met my knight in shining armor. Brent is my soul mate. He sees me for me and doesn’t see anything other than his beautiful wife, even now. How did I get so lucky to get such a hot man in my life to love me more than anything. He accepts my insecurities and even though I’ve given him a hard time, he’s stuck with me through thick and thin. I love him more than I love myself and he loves me the same.
I’m a person who cares deeply and will do anything for you. I went to nursing school wanting to help others, didn’t make it through that because of my passion for photography overpowering my passion for medicine but I have learned how to care for others. The thing I needed and did learn during this adventure was how to love myself. I am visible and needed to value myself. I do now value myself and am CONFIDENT in who I am. My photography is great, not perfect, but great. I will always take the time to learn and grow. This new found confidence has brought me to my knees. I’ve thanked God for freeing me of my insecurities. I am now free…
At the end of the trip, I went to Nordstrom’s and sat in Sixth and Pine to have lunch alone. I have never ever been confident enough to eat alone. I sat there with thank you cards in hand for my new friend Sue and her friend who let me borrow her, Susan. I was able to freely write them a note without thinking about what they thought of me. It was freeing.
I am an artist, creator and open hearted person who believes whole heartedly that people are put on this earth for a purpose. Everything happens for a reason and life is short so live it!
I told Brent this yesterday: Reach for the stars, they really aren’t that far. I’m sure I heard that somewhere but I will live by that… It’s a promise to me!
Sidenote: this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written and only felt the need to share as a way for me to show the world (well maybe the 5 of you who read this) that I am FREE and only can share because I am free. Everyone has a story... what's yours?\
The first picture: The young lady on the left is Ericka, then there is the amazing Sue and then Susan and finally me at the reception.
Beautiful images from our Temple Square mornings...
My promise to my children is to get in front of the camera so my kids remember me for me. Who I am in the moment not who I want to be in 45 days when I loose enough weight to feel comfortable. This is me and my Tia Dolly and My baby girl. Silly Girl!