Dear Mom,

1994-02Hey Mom,

Gosh there’s so much I want to tell you today, but I just have no idea where to start. There’s so much to be said since this day last year when I lost you. Can you even believe that it’s been a year? Yep, that’s insane! In the last year I’ve stepped on the ground of seven different countries, moved into a house, became a senior in college, and most importantly I’ve missed you everyday.

Mom, it’s weird. I’ll have something happen, or just be driving and get the urge to call you, so I pick up my phone and I begin to dial and then I’m left there right in my tracks. I realize that I can’t call you, text you, Facebook you, ANYTHING! What eff Mom? It’s not fair. I don’t get to have those conversations that ever girl needs to have with her mom. Regardless of the state of our relationship I always knew I could call you. Even if the end I didn’t like what you said or disagreed I still walked away excited that I got to talk to you that day. But I don’t get to have that anymore. Yea, I’ve had friends step up and play that mom role when I need it, but no one will ever replace you. Not even Nonna, and that’s saying a lot.

This time  a year ago I was eagerly awaiting your phone call since we hadn’t spoken in a few days, but instead of a call from you it was Ant Teresa… Telling me news I never thought I would hear, at least not for another 50 years! But nope, it came now. I was forced to my knees in the hallway of my room in Moffett. I couldn’t breathe and I was in utter disbelief. I called in friends to be near during that time, but all I wanted was for it to all be some sick joke. But nope, it was the absolute, ugly truth.

I remember my drive home mile, for mile. Tons of Mariah Carey, BoyzIIMen, and Luther Vandross. Lots of tears. Lots of thoughts. My thoughts ranged all over the place. Anger at my self for not calling you more, or being with you more. More anger for all the bitterness and anger I held towards you for so many years. And then ultimately, knowing that I didn’t have you anymore. I didn’t have that place to run to when I just needed to get away. I looked at everything I would never again and the things I would never be able to experience.

It’s not fair! Mom, Benita, Deven, Kay and I have always had to go without. I know that sounds harsh, but beleive me it’s not meant to be that way. We’ve always been without nice things, and crazy vacations (seeing as we only ever had one of them, haha. Remember your sunburn!). There have even been moment where deep down I’ve believed that you chose to leave us. I’m still working through not believing that lie, it’s easier to believe that somedays. However, through all that one thing we were never truly without was love. I didn’t believe it then but I know it now that you really did bend over backwards for us. There were nights I truly thought social services was gonna take us away, or we were gonna starve, but I knew that if it ever got too hard or bad you would have robbed a grocery store for us (Which you kind of did, you didn’t rob it, but you did steal that Easy Mac that one time for me and you)! I didn’t believe it then, not even for a second, but now I see how selfless you were. I see your heart behind the decisions you made, and your rationale in things. If we’re being honest I always felt like your misfit child, I felt like I was the one you hated. I see the lie in that now and I can call it out immediately! I know you loved me mom, and I know wherever you are now, you still love me. I don’t doubt it at all.

Do you wanna know the hardest thing… I’m terrified of marriage mom. I know it’s cliché, but I really am. I’m terrified to meet an incredible man who loves me and treats me right because I know that you wouldn’t have ever had the chance to meet him. He would never truly understand where I get my crazy from, why I drink coffee like I do, why I have  a weird obsession with 80’s music, and R&B. Mom he’ll never really understand. And here’s the real kicker… You’ll never see me in my dress. I won’t get to see your eyes light up, your excitement for me, or anything. You’ll be just a memory, a someone who should’ve been there sitting in the front row rejoicing with me, but now if that day ever comes, that can’t happen. Mom, you’re supposed to be here. You’re supposed to celebrate with me, love me, and just be here. But you can’t be, and that sucks.

I know that this what not in your plans, so a little piece of me has relief for that, but the pain is still the same. I miss you mom. I miss bed time stories, watching weird movies, eating white cheese, deer meat burgers, and Christmas morning McDonald’s runs! I miss it all mom. I love you more today than I have in a while. To me this is in fact just another day, but it’s a day that reminds me of the worst phone call I ever received! I love you mom, I miss you everyday. I wish you were here to see me grow up and be the woman you always wanted me to be. Know that I’m looking out for Kay and Deven. They’re doing really well and we all miss you always. I love you so much.

Fun fact as I write this in my journal, BoyzIIMen, “Song for Momma” started playing, thanks mom!

Today is going to be hard, no joke. But it will get better. It will never be ok, just, it’ll get better.

I will see every sunrise and think of you. I will look at the bay bridge and remember our one and only family vacation. I will sip coffee with salt, milk, and sugar. I will laugh when someone talks about soap operas. And everytime “You are My Sunshine” happens I’ll smile, and release my one tear and walk on. You taught me to be brave, and brave is what I’ll always be!

I love you mom, I’m hopeful for a day we could be reunited, but if we never are, I’ll remember the woman who you truly were, selfless, loving, and brave!

You are my sunshine!

Thursday Thoughts: Senior Year Bucketlist

When I was a senior in high school I decided to get super adventurous and create a list of 100 things that I had to do before I graduated. You heard me right, 100 things! This list included things like wear heels for a whole day, pay for a strangers meal at a restaurant, hike a mountain, visit an Amish town in Pennsylvania, and so many more. This list took me on some beautiful rides that I’m so glad I took, and believe it or not I completed them all! So now I’ll be starting my senior year of college in four days I decided I wanted to try this again but go even bigger and better! So for that today on the blog I bring you my Senior Year Bucket List: College Edition!

This list is going to include 25 things that I want to complete before I graduate college in May of 2015 and they’re not gonna be little things that I could do anytime, but rather I want them to be real and true experiences. I want this list to be something that once complete it leaves me in awestruck tears. I want to do things that challenge me and that require strategic planning and hard work. So yes some things on here will be easy in a sense but I want them to be things that when I look back on my senior year, my last year at Radford, I can smile and know that those things helped to make this year infinitely meaningful. So with all that being said I’ve consulted many people about this list, asking questions about what I should do, and if I do say so myself, this list is gonna be awesome! So you can expect to see these 25 things posted on the blog as I complete them. And now without further delay here is my Senior Year Bucket List: College Edition

-Hike McAfee’s Knob

-Go to the Home Place Restaurant

-Road Trip with Carlie to the Mile 1 marker of Highway 81

-Spring Break Road Trip with Carlie and Jenna

-Write a song and record it

-Record a demo tape

-Volunteer at the Roanoke Rescue Mission

-Go to the Roanoke Star

-Have a legit picnic! (Basket, Blanket and ALL)

-Go to God’s Foot Print

-Go to Chateau Morrisette

-Stargazing in the middle of nowhere

-Find a reason to wear my  Little Black Dress

-Read a book a month

-Shoot a Wedding

-Do four legit photo shoots (Engagement, Urban style, Country Style, Styled)

-Go to a festival in Southwest Virginia

-Bake Cake Pops. (This might seem easy, but I’ve literally wanted to do this for years)

-Refurbish a piece of furniture

-Go on the Appalachian Trail

-Stay up all night and watch the sunrise

-Get another tattoo, and finish the one on my back

-Make a T-shirt quilt

-Learn a crap ton of Russian (this might seem weird and vague but it has a purpose, haha)

-Go to a High School Football Game (because the little high schooler in me is still alive and well)

Well there you have it friends! These 25 things must be completed by the time I walk across that stage in May of 2015. It’s gonna be crazy, and at times I know it’s not gonna seem doable but I will complete this. I hope you enjoy the crazy adventure along the way. I’m so thankful for things like this blog to be able to document my crazy life! It’s gonna be great, so please enjoy the ride!

Thursday Thoughts: I’m about to be a Senior in College!

Yep, I said it! In just a little over a week I will be starting my last year of college. I’m pretty much in a whirlwind of emotions and don’t really know where to begin. I can think back to my very first day at Radford, EVER! It was the most beautiful Fall day and the campus was glowing with excitement that comes with all things Fall in the New River Valley. The trees were changing colors and the true beauty of this area was coming full in full swing. I remember getting out of the car and stepping onto the campus and immediately looking at my grandmother saying, “Nonna, I’m going here!” She was shocked that I said that.

Growing up I believed one of two things would happen for me, One I would be a Virginia Tech Hokie or I would be an Ohio State Buckeye! Those two schools screamed my name and they were places I longed to be, but man am I thankful that on that visit to VT I decided to just make the extra 15 drive to Radford and tour the campus. This campus has done nothing short of change my life.

People aren’t joking when they say college changes you and helps you to truly find who you are. I look back at who I was before high school and I can honestly say that I’m shocked I had friends, and that I even made it through. I was so lost and confused about what life was all about. I was a typical adolescent who believed I was invincible and could do no wrong. But now I see all these changes that have happened in my life and I see where I’ve experienced grace and redemption in an abundance. And I see most of all how I am truly blessed to have been able to find all of this.

So now here I am 21 years old getting ready to begin my senior year and all I can think of is all the changes that are getting ready to come my way. But I don’t want to think about those changes just yet, I want to focus on the here and now. The here and now is that I’m getting ready to begin a new chapter in my life, one that will be filled with new adventures and beauty that I’m ready to take by storm. This year will have a lot of different emotions and will also bring a lot of changes that I’m overjoyed for. It’s gonna be crazy and exciting and beautiful and I’m honestly at a loss for words! (and we all know thats rare, haha)

So now friends get ready for the greatness that is about to be my senior year of college and I’m so excited to document so much of it here and share in life with all of you. So now get ready cause next week on Thursday Thoughts I’ll be telling you all about some of my goals and aspirations for this next year in my Senior Year Bucketlist! It’s gonna be great so check it out!IMG_8726

Thursday Thoughts: Assisting Kaitlyn Phipps Photography

One thing that I have admitted and been very vocal about recently is my love of photography and how it is something I’d love to grow and turn it into something. Capturing  images of people at their happiest moments is something that brings me such joy. And knowing that there is a potential for me to be able to deliver that to people sends shivers through my veins. Those shivers are good though. Like the shivers you get when you see the person you love and you finally get to embrace them after a long time. It’s life changing all in itself.

So with my first wedding coming up in just a few short months I went to my sweet friend, Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn is an up and coming photographer and man is she talented?! Seriously Kaitlyn has this eye for capturing life as people live it. She just wants people to experience life when she photographs them and when she’s shooting a wedding or engagement shoot or anything with their significant other she just wants them to remember why they fell in love and she just wants them to do it all over again! And that is exactly what I would want in a mentor when it comes to photography.

So there was a wonderful opportunity coming up and it was to assist her in shooting my friend Becca’s wedding and Kaitlyn offered me the chance to do this. I was overjoyed when Kaitlyn asked me and I knew it would be a great learning experience and that it would help me to see the behind the scenes of a wedding from the photography standpoint.

So some things I learned from the whole experience is that to be honest I KNOW NOTHINGS! Ha, and man was that humbling. I totally thought I had it all together, but that was so far from the truth. Kaitlyn taught me so much that day whether she knows it or not. She taught me that as the photographer you have to be ready to roll with the punches, because every wedding day has it’s own set of punches. Kaitlyn taught me that being organized and being ready to snap that camera at any given moment is the second most important part of your job. While the most important part is to remember that your job as a wedding photographer is to help remind the people who your photographing remember why they first fell in love. That is the point of what WE as wedding photographers do! We capture love. And that is the most important lesson I learned from Kaitlyn.

Matt and Becca’s wedding was absolutely incredible! From the moment I showed up and Becca gave me the biggest hug, to the sparkler send off! Kaitlyn did an excellent job of being professional throughout the day and at the same time just being plain awesome.

Kaitlyn, thank you for teaching me just a few of the ropes of wedding photography an what it means to capture life and reminding people of why they fell in love. You’re so wonderful and I smile knowing this is not the end of our lessons together! You’re an incredible teacher and your passion for this industry is beautiful. You are an incredible photographer, friend, and sister. I love you friend. You’re the best!

imageGotta have this blurry picture, because as photographers we have blurry lives and we roll with the punches!

Tuesday Confessions: I’m a One Tree Hill Junkie

one_tree_hill_pcYes friends I hate to admit it but since December I had been sporadically been watching this show but in the last week it has been nonstop! And I can’t lie I’m a little sad that I have the blessing of Netflix that I get to go through it all so fast, but at the same time I know that when it’s over it’s over. So here’s to hoping it’s an excellent ending. I’m currently ending season four and beginning season five so I still have plenty of time!

For those of you who don’t watch the show, honestly you need to just sit down an watch it! This show is great and has an amazing storyline. I can’t lie and say I don’t get nostalgic when I watch it, totally takes me back to my small town high school that essentially shut down for a Friday night football game, even if you team sucked! I see a lot of my high school self in the show. One person I unashamedly resonate with is the one ad only BROOKE DAVIS! Brooke and I just have a lot on common. Our insecurities and fears are almost identical, and she’s strong and brave and I love her. It’s funny because before I even started watching the show my sweet best friend Carlie would call me Brooke Davis and now I completely understand why!

So now I bring you my list of things that one Tree Hill has taught me, some of these are so serious and others are so ridiculous but they only lead me to love this show more. So here we go!

-No matter how late, or sketchy of a situation the person you need will always show up. Even if it’s 2am, on a back sketchy alley, when you’re preparing to do a drug deal, and the person hasn’t been seen or heard from in months.

-Everyone is secretly involved in a weird love triangle… EVERYONE, even Marvin McFaden! The true fans will understand that reference.

-Rental companies will totally lease to high school students without question. And even though they don’t have jobs they’re still able to pay rent and everything. It’s all just perfect.

-Clearly in the state of North Carolina people under the legal drinking age are able to buy alcohol everywhere and they just drink it in public. It’s totally fine.

-Some people are just purely evil. I mean down right evil and there’s no changing them. Granted I’m only on season 5 but Dan Scott is THE WORST! And I just don’t know that I can believe that he’ll ever change.

-Some friendships can and do last through a lot of things. One thing that I truly believe this show does well is show forgiveness amongst even the hardest of fights.

-One thing I reaalllllyyyyy love about this show is that it kind of makes fun of itself at times. Makes me laugh so freaking hard!

-Little old white guys are awesome and full of wisdom and even through their tough exterior their total teddy bears!! Gotta love Whitey!

This show is crazy good and right now I love it. It takes me back to a lot of my high school days and gets me all up in the feels. I’ve totally cried tons of tears while watching this show but I’ve also smiled and laughed uncontrollably. And fun fact:While writing this I’ve been watching One Tree Hill!

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My Life Monday

This past week I’ve been house sitting for a super sweet family and I’ve really enjoyed it. Though it was technically work it felt more like a staycation. I was able to host different people over, relax, and most importantly binge watch One Tree Hill! Seriously I’m obsessed with that show thanks to my wonderful best friend Carlie.

Another week has flown by and another week has come. This week I will be making my way to West Chester, Pennsylvania to catch up with some old friends, do an anniversary shoot, and have a much needed road trip with a sweet friend! It’s gonna be great to say the least. This week on the blog I’m gonna get to tell you about a crazy experience I got to have assisting Kaitlyn Phipps as she photographed a sweet friends wedding! It was wonderful and taught me so much about the photography business and what it me means to be a wedding photographer. It’s not just about getting the image, it’s about giving your clients photos that when they see them they remember their perfect day and smile! I just hope that one day I’ll get to do that for people.

Now onto the goods!

-Assisting the photographer at a wedding where you’re personal friends with the bride and groom is wonderful. Getting to see all the behind the scenes action was amazing. But by far the best thing is when the groom walks behind you and whispers in your ear that he’s so excited for what’s about to happen. Yeaaa you could say it left me in tears.

-I’m a pro at getting sentimental about things and One Tree Hill has had me all up in the feels about my life as I’ve been watching it this week. It makes me miss high school!

-Speaking of One Tree Hill is it bad that I’ve watched 3 seasons in a week?! Welp, no shame in my game baby cause I totally did that!

-I’ve got this new goal this coming school year to read a book a month and I’m going to be starting this month with the book, “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung and I’m pumped about it.

-Speaking of goals, I’m currently in the process of creating a list of 25 things I have to do before I graduate college. I’ll be posting about that in about a week. It’s gonna be so fun y’all!

– And in most important news today mark 4 days till I’m back in Radford and 20 days until I start my senior year of college! Seriously where has the time gone?! I started this blog when I was a little freshman and now I’m graduating! AHHHH!!!

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So excited for this next week an for the excited things that are coming to the blog.

I’M BACK!!

IMG_8738Oh hey ‘Merica!!!! I’m backkkkkkk! Gosh, my heart is full right now. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop on campus, with my current favorite song blasting in my head phones, just basking in the beauty of my life right now! I am so excited to catch y’all up on all I’ve been doing the past two months, and letting you in on some updates that will be coming to the blog! It’s gonna be so awesome so let’s just dive right into it.

Well I just got back from my most favorite place in the entire world, Central Asia! That land has my heart like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and just knowing that I’ve gotten to go there and teach English and share about my life to the students there overwhelms my heart in the greatest ways possible. I’ll go into greater detail about that later this week, but know that I am forever changed because of that incredible place and it’s even lead to a few enhancements that will be coming to the blog!

Gosh, have I ever mentioned that I reallllyyyy love blogging? Well even though I often times forget to do so for long gaps of time I really do love it. So to avoid the long gaps of no blogging I’m going to get some accountability up in here for y’all! So for that I’ve come up with some new titles, if you will, that make it so I literally HAVE to blog!! YEAAAAA, I’m so excited about this, so here we go!

Every Monday there will be a new “My Life Monday” post. These post will basically be a recap of the previous week that will go through, my general life including photography, my travels, and so much more. I’ve just come to realize that y’all do enjoy hearing about my crazy life and all that comes with it, and I’ve finally come to a place where I think it’s totally cool to share about it! Now here’s my favorite thing I’m doing, I got the idea for this while I was in Central Asia, and it’s literally the bomb.com, do people still say that? TUESDAY CONFESSIONS!! This will be a new segment on the blog and I’m oozing with excitement for this. These confessions will be different every week, it could be Confessions of a World Traveler, Confessions of  Thrifting Addict, and so much more. It’s gonna be great so stay tuned. Wednesdays will be reserved for blogging about any shoots I do (Golden Hour, Chasing the Light), so these won’t necessarily happen every week but they will be used for something. Thursday Thoughts will also be a new segment. This will be a super simple post just sharing about things I love and what my thoughts are on them. One thing I love to do is talk and share my thoughts with others and also hear theres. So this segment will be about that.

So all of these post will begin next week and be forever in effect. I’m so excited to share my life with y’all and let you into the crazy whirlwind of it all! You guys are the best, and I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me through my crazy times of forgetting to blog, and just being lazy. But seriously y’all are the best and I’m excited to share this with y’all. How many times can I use the words “excited” and “y’all” in a single post?

Well before I leave you today I’ll leave you with some awesome photos from my time in Central Asia. Be looking for some post about that this week. It’ll definitely be more than one so get ready 🙂

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