Well that was fun! #2015BestNine Whoo hoo! Everyone else is doing it. That usually isn’t enough to get me on the bandwagon, but this one appealed to my ego. I want to know which 9 of my 515 posts were most hearted by everyone. I do put a good deal of effort into this social media platform, above all others. I’ve earned this.
Not too shabby for my meager following! A fun way to start my New Year’s Eve morning. I think I expressed the right amount of gratefulness and excitement for the future in my photo caption. I inspired you, right? Maybe? Maybe no? I was feeling pretty good about my #2015BestNine post.
But then my heart grew heavy. There’s way more to this story that I’m painting for everyone here on Instagram. Like, WAY more. And my Best Nine actually sum up the best AND worst of this year pretty succinctly. But you may not get that from looking at those images. Do you see it? The joy. The accomplishment. The adventure. And the pain. Oh, the pain. Do you see that in my eyes? Do you see the fear of not being good enough? Not being brave enough. Not feeling at home in my own skin? Do you see how badly I sometimes just want to head for the hills and forget about everything I said I was going to do this year? Did you catch all that?
If you don’t mind, can I take you behind the scenes for a moment? Behind the carefully crafted façade that is real, but not too deep for public consumption? Do you care to know the true story behind these photos? You might be a bit surprised to see what you find. I think I’ll start in order of when they were posted.
1. 37 is the New 37
Those of you who know me well, know that I actually like getting older. I always have. I’m the one who definitely wanted to be an adult as soon as possible. I could not wait. I’m always a “glass half-full” kind of girl, so aging and the future doesn’t really scare me. With each year comes change, and new beginnings. I’m always working to better myself and learn new things. I’ve learned to chase my dreams and tackle them. Something happened when I turned 35 a couple of years ago. I stopped caring what people thought of me. And I’m not just saying that. I LITERALLY stopped caring about how people might view me. Do you know how many years I WASTED worrying about this? And the new dawn of social media did nothing to help those anxieties for a lot of years. But something finally clicked. I stopped projecting what I thought you all were thinking. Do you know why? Because they are all vain imaginations. I’m sure I was projecting the most ridiculous lies of all time on all of you! So and so might think this about me if I post what I really look like. Let me just nip and tuck this photo a bit, because no one will know that I actually don’t look like this in real life, right? Oh my goodness, if I post this right now people will think that I’m super dumb! As in Dumb and Dumber level dumb. Seriously. I finally realized that these were all dialogs that I was having with myself and they had no base in reality, yet. Hello paradigm shift! Now maybe what I projected would come true, but in most cases…probably not. Anyways, this birthday was just another day of me getting closer to this new ideal place of not giving a *#&! about how people may or may not impose their negativity on me. Word. Join me? Down with vain imaginations, I say!
2. and 3. Bucket List – Cosmetology Degree
This was a major bucket list item that I didn’t even know could happen. I looked into going to beauty school after high school graduation, but I was in a major rush to be an adult and have adult responsibilities. So I moved out and worked 3 jobs to be able to live in an apartment with an awesome roommate. She’s still my best friend/sister to this day, so not a bad life move there. Just a diversion that took me an 18 year detour route to get back to realizing this dream. I am a licensed cosmetologist, and I can do hair for a living! And my living room is now a salon/living room. Why aren’t you my client yet? No wait. If you were ALL my clients, I wouldn’t sleep. Or eat, shower, have a life…you know the little things. Some of you can be my clients, how’s that? What most people don’t know is that this was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I quit my job and went “full-time” with photography while going back to school for 15 months. My husband worked 2 jobs the entire time so that we could scrape by each month. Sometimes miraculously. This was the most emotional, tiring, faith building time in our marriage and in my life. I had worked some form of a traditional job from the time I was 16. I battled all kind of insecurities, anxieties and even depression during school. And just a heads up, stylists are often the people in your life that need the most love. They are judged on everything they do. By everyone. And if they do something wrong, even more people will know about it and word will spread. And on top of all that, they all feel the responsibility to make YOU feel more beautiful than you’ve ever felt in your life. Every time. And if they don’t get any feedback, or very little…rest assured the stylist will obsess for days and weeks on end about whether or not they did a good job on your hair. Insecurities abound and have to be battled non stop. Maybe not for all stylists, but I know that I’m not alone in all of this. Hug a hair stylist today. Better yet, get them a Starbucks gift card and they will think you are an angel sent from above.
4. Grand Canyon or Bust!
This trip was all about relaxation, adventure and good quality friend time! I was invited to stay with friends down in Phoenix and it was HEAVEN. Hot, blissful, dry heat heaven. I literally floated in their pool or relaxed poolside for 4 days straight. Amazing! But then my friend Jackie and I went on an overnight photo excursion to the Grand Canyon. Yes, I said overnight. As in, we arrived after dark to the FLIPPING Grand Canyon. Do you know what it’s like to drive in the pitch black darkness, next to the shear drop off of the FLIPPIN Grand Canyon and not being able to really see? Oh you feel the massive weight of knowing you could take a wrong turn and plummet to your death, but you can’t really see it. You can hear and feel the wind howling up from the depths and around you, but you don’t REALLY know. I can’t describe what that trip meant to me. Challenging all of my anxieties and fears, and sleeping in a car at the most awe-inspiring overlook of my life. We had a curb and a two foot wall separating our car from the massive expanse of the Grand Canyon. (So glad I didn’t read Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon before doing this.) I did not sleep much that night. But what did happen is that I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise of my entire life, with one of my dearest friends by my side. It is single handedly one of the most impactful trips of my 37 years on this Earth so far. If you have not seen the Grand Canyon, GO N-O-W!
5. Sweet, Sweet Baby Feet
Oh boy, is this little guy the sweetest! He’s almost 6 months old already! How time flies! This darling boy is the 2nd child of my dear friends who just relocated across the country. But before they left, we made sure to get a newborn shoot in. I actually had really exciting news to share with them at the time, but I decided to wait until their going away party that following weekend. This was Tuesday, July 28th. Three days later I posted my next selfie.
This is probably my favorite selfie of the year. My stylist buddy hooked me up with a fresh cut and color, and I felt absolutely beautiful. At the same time I took this photo, my body was doing what it was made to do. I was miscarrying my non-viable pregnancy. It was July 31st to be exact. The morning after my first and last ultrasound. The hubby and I had moved passed a place of shock and disbelief to a place of acceptance and excitement, to have our worst fears confirmed during the ultrasound. I should have been 11 weeks along to the day in this picture. But a woman’s body knows. My body knew. Something wasn’t right. This child was not developing the way it should. And nature ran it’s course. Would you believe me if I said that the biggest surprise was what my body did naturally that day? Plenty of my friends have sadly lost precious little babes. So I knew of the emotional toll it might take with me. But I was not expecting the physical process for some reason. It made sense once it hit me. I was going to birth the non-viable tissue of this little one. Our little one. I prayed to be surrounded that day by love and the people I cared about, and I was. Self care first thing in the morning was the perfect start to a long day. I did feel beautiful. And my body felt beautifully in tune with what needed to happen. I felt a sense of awe. Jajuan was able to be with me through the worst of it. And I was surrounded by family while I recovered. Thankfully, no hospital visit was needed. I did not intend to be pregnant this year. In fact, it was the last thing we wanted. We had almost 100% decided against kids earlier this year. We were in a crazy transition period, where I just wanted to push my husband away. He was no longer working two jobs, home a lot more, and I was finding myself suddenly accountable for my time once again. I was no longer calling the shots independently. He wanted to have a say in our life together, and that wasn’t sitting well with me. During a time when I wanted to push away, the most miraculous thing happened. I was pregnant for the first time. We hadn’t stopped using protection. But I was that 1-3%. I just had to laugh. Of course during a rough time of massive transition, I would get pregnant. We didn’t know how we were going to pay the next month’s mortgage payment, but there’s a baby on the way! Whoo hoo! We had to make our relationship work, because we were now bringing a little one into this crazy world. So we worked our differences out. We got on the same page. We came up with a plan. We began to dream up what this next year would look like with this new addition. And then right when we started to embrace our growing excitement, we lost our Little One. But somehow, I just knew deep down inside…this little one helped save us. As we were drifting apart, this little, brief life brought us back together. And for that, I will always be thankful. Fun fact: The #1 question everyone asked me upon hearing my news was, “So does this make you want to try and get pregnant again?” I could start to see that question forming in every person’s mind. I could almost see the thought form before they even spoke it. And I do not blame anyone for asking that. It would probably be the first question I would ask. For some reason, it became tiresome to hear that over and over. I guess I just felt like I wanted to finish processing what had happened before rushing ahead to think about what will happen in the future. And honestly, I just don’t have an answer for that question right now. Miscarriage is a tricky topic, but one that should be more openly talked about. My 2 cents.
7. All Black Errythang
Now this is just plain fun. I love having nice nails, but now that I’m a hair stylist…my nails get trashed. Lots of water and hair color make for very thin, peeling nails. Ever noticed that a lot of stylist have acrylic nails? Yep. I’m back in the game! Acrylic with gel polish is the ish. And black, because they always look good no matter what! I love my nail technician! She owns Posh Nail Spa in the Federal Way, Redondo area. They do amazing work. And Michelle is an amazing artist. Go check them out if you want to get your nails did.
8. My Happy Place Restored
You might know that earlier this year, the US Open took Chambers Bay away from me. Sad face. But just when I needed it most, it reopened and I was able to drink in the gorgeous views once again. My sister-in-love and I walked the trail this day, just hashing out all that life had been throwing at us. Love our time together with the kiddos. Those were healing days for me. Family is everything.
9. My Hero
This is no fantasy love story folks. This is real, gritty, steadfast, and unconditional love right here. The kind that throws your heart on the ground, stomps on it, and then picks it back up to clean it off and bandage it for proper healing. I went into this marriage with eyes wide open, knowing that reality is quite different from the fairytale romances we all dream about, but boy was I in for a surprise. Reality came knocking alright. In fact, reality straight kicked our asses. Pardon my French, but this is one area where cussing really should be used to describe how hard we had to fight for our marriage and in some cases our lives. But I’ll spare you the f-bombs that frequently pop out of my mouth. When I’m alone of course. Hey folks, this is real life. While my husband has his own story to tell, this year has brought a lot of healing to our lives. He has joined me in advocacy with NAMI.org, and I’ve had the pleasure of having him speak to the Family-to-Family classes that I teach. His story is bringing hope to the hopeless, and I am so thankful for his life. Maybe someday soon, we’ll share that story with you as well. It’s a story of the unimaginable hope and beauty that comes from tragedy. He is a fighter my friends, and everyday he chooses to be the best husband, son, brother, and friend to everyone that he knows. If you have the pleasure of knowing him, then you for sure know this about him. He is truly my hero, and our gentle giant. (He’s is 6’8″, and more importantly, will always be bigger than me.)
If I had sent a Christmas card this year, this would be considered the yearly update letter. So let’s just consider it that, shall we? This year has brought unimaginable happiness, and plenty of sadness. But overall, it has been the most transformative year. As I see all of your #2015BestNine photos, I wonder to myself…what are their stories? What is hiding behind those smiles and those perfectly crafted collages and staged scenes? What were their greatest triumphs? Did they experience heartache? I can’t be the only one that wonders these things. I love realness. True life may not always be beautiful, but it’s all we’ve got at the end of the day. What makes your Best Nine truly extraordinary? What does it conjure up for you?
If you’ve made it to this point, you must really like me. So for that, I am thankful. I am thankful for each and every one of you. Because you are all here for a reason. Not just here, on my blog. But like, here on this earth for a reason. I’m sending you a virtual hug. Let’s all head into 2016 with hope, okay?
P.S. If you read my blog post title, and thought about the Real World when reading, “True Story,” we are in fact kindred spirits.