Spending The Holidays Without Someone You Love

I am reposting this just in time for Christmas! 

The holidays are a time to spend with those you love. With Christmas fast approaching the holidays can be bittersweet for me.

I am incredibly blessed. I have two parents that consists of a father and a step mom. And a set of in laws. A beautiful sister. Plus sister in laws and brother in laws and step sisters and step brothers. Plus a husband and my own kids. And tons of aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s a full family. But a gorgeous one.

Well, I’m not gonna lie, with this size comes some level of crazy. I joke many times and say “We put the Fun in dysfunctional!” But I know I’m blessed to have so many souls who surround me. Especially during the holidays.

Five years ago I lost my mom. My real mom. The mom who gave birth to me.

But I didn’t lose her in death. I lost her emotionally.

Five years ago I had to let my mom go. I had to release her from my life. I had to halt a relationship with her.

The truth is this relationship was never healthy. My mom was an abusive parent. Throughout my childhood she physically assaulted us and emotionally manipulated us and everyone around her.

I know she is unhealthy and needs help. And for many years of my adult life, regardless of my personal health, I set out to save her. To get her to a state of ok. To help her heal.

But as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water…”

After many years of personal investment into her well being I had to make a decision.

This decision came down to two parts:

1) Either accept her life that she was creating and stand beside her as she self destructed and blamed everyone except herself.


2) Release her from my world.

I chose to release her.

In truth, the level of her emotional unsettle was affecting me more than anyone knows. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I sent money. I bought food. I created doctors and council appointments. I delivered her to said appointments.

Hell, I even let her move in with us after she struggled to get on her feet after a suicide attempt.

But despite all my doing, I was losing. Losing myself. Losing my marriage and losing my kids.

I was so damn set on giving her everything that she wanted that I was losing everything I wanted.

Meanwhile, she was fighting it every step of the way. Wanting more money. More time. More resources. Without ever taking personal accountability for self betterment.

One day, after several weeks of dating someone, she suddenly advised me that I didn’t need to bother helping her anymore because she had him now.

That was the day I got crystal clear on how this worked for her and that NONE of that worked for me. And never would.

I tried boundaries for awhile, but could never maintain them when it came to her. I wanted to. But somehow, whenever, she came around I was the 6 year old child wanting for her mama.

So I decide to release her. I have spent years and years working through the trauma and the pain she has caused, both from a child and then as an adult. And for the most part, I have healed.

Although sometimes the reality of my decision resurfaces.

During Christmas I know there is someone missing from my table. There is one person who regardless how she treated me, shares my DNA and is missing.

I would never change my decision. Not only did I make the decision to protect myself. I also made it to protect my marriage and my children.

No one will ever hurt neither of those things — regardless of their connection to my DNA!

And so each holiday season, I silently grieve. For the parent I have lost. For the parent I have had to release. For the parent who was never a parent at all. For the person who she will never be.

Today, I share love with all my friends who have had to make a similar decision of self preservation. I applaud you and hold you high as you stand in your decision.

I sit with you in your silent grief.

During the holiday season, there are many posts for those who have lost family members in death, but today I recognize all of you who have lost someone emotionally.

The grief is similar, but it also comes laced with a form of guilt that can be a burden.

Just please know, today and through out the holidays, you are not alone. And you are not being judged. Regardless of how or why you have made the decision you have made, know that I appreciate your struggle and am so damn proud of you.

No one can understand the choice we have made, until they need to make it. And my goal is never to validate my decisions to anyone, but instead to help others not feel alone.

So, to YOU, who have lost your parent emotionally, know you are not alone. Together, let’s share our grief.

And let’s share our love.

Thank you for sharing in my journey!


The Camera Doesn’t Lie

Photo Courtesy of Linell Grudnitzki, Inphoto

Recently I decided to get some photos done of JUST ME! 

I have always been dedicated when it came to getting a family photo session done. I always threw out my best “business grin” and felt mediocre safety within the ability to hide my flaws behind a well placed child. 

For the duration of my spiritual healing journey I have been working on loving me. But THIS year was the year that I started putting some major power behind it. 

This year following my scheduled family photo session our photographer, Linell Grudnitzki did not hide her disappointment well when I requested “just ONE personal head shot for myself” done within our family session. 

Linell doesn’t have a problem doing a headshot during family photos I would assume. 

She just really, really felt in her heart that I NEEDED a personal session of my very own. 

I personally struggled with agreeing to a session for a couple reasons: 

First, there would only be me. No kids to hide behind. No husband to make me laugh. Just me. 

Second, I couldn’t justify spending that money for pictures when I didn’t really have a “need” for photos. 

Everything changed when I received an email containing a sneak peek of our family session. I was in love with exactly how she captured us. 

So I started chatting with her (yet again) about what a personal session would “do” for me. 

And found out I LOVE the way she works. I wanted to share with you all:

The old saying “ the camera doesn’t lie” is very true. I say it almost every day. But when asked how does that saying play into my photography business, and how do I do my “work”, that saying takes on an entirely different meaning. 

No, the camera doesn’t lie. When me and Canons are at a shoot ( yes, I talk about my cameras as if they are people), I take a real good look at what they are showing me. 

If what I see on the that LCD screen is not something amazing, it is up to me to figure out why. And by why, I don’t mean do I adjust the lighting, or bracket an F stop up or down.

 I don’t know too many people that will admit that they love having their picture taken. Even the most stunning super model can feel uncomfortable in front of the lens. 

I take the time and feel what my subject is feeling. Maybe the image on the back is showing a nervous female, or a frightened child, or in a lot of cases, an uncomfortable husband. It is then my job to change that and capture it. 

I have always felt I have been able to connect well with people. It wasn’t until I started photographing them that I could SEE just how well I could connect with them. I am able to allow them to see themselves in a light and place where their loved ones see them from.

 I can’t say that ever have I thought after a shoot “ well, that was a complete waste of my time and I didn’t get one single decent image.” 

Instead at the end of a shoot, I feel I accomplished so much more than creating a few wonderful pictures. I feel I created self esteem, self worth and self love in the person who just spent a few hours with me. 

And best of all, I created the physical memory and image of that moment for them.

          -Linell Grudnitzki, Inphoto

Isn’t she incredible?  When she described to me how she works, what she sees, and why she does what she does, I just knew that my soul need to do this!

And as much as this may sound arrogant — I am in love with a HUGE portion of the photos she took that day. I haven’t loved pictures this much, since the photos we had taken in 2008. So that’s saying ALOT!

Lastly I want to share one more incredible little story. It’s in regards to this picture:

Photo Courtesy of Linell Grudnitzki, Inphoto
 I have a confession to make. I have perfected a fake smile. Years of needing to survive within a storm created my opportunity to perfect the fake smile. 

I have had many photographers, but Linell was the very first one to call me on it. 

This photo was taken when I got tired. I was exhausted from being SO REAL. So I threw out the fake smile. 

She dropped her camera to her chest and says “WHAT. IS. THAT?!” 

I tried again and again. But kept throwing out the fake. Until I finally dropped my head and took a big breathe and realigned with showing up again. For real. 

And I absolutely LOVE that Linell seen right through my fake smile. It validated that she feels her clients and does EXACTLY what she said she does above. 

But it also forced me to stay present. As soon as I got tired, I wanted to hide away and do what’s comfortable. She demanded more of me; but in the most loving and safest way. 

Love it. And Love her!

If you like this, please share!

How My Daughter Is Helping Me Stand In My Power


This is my lil princess.  She is four and was given the honor of “no mommy opinions” on her outfit yesterday.  This was the result that was posted on my facebook page yesterday.

Now don’t get me wrong, when I say there was “no” mommy opinions I should actually state, there was minimal mommy opinions.  In fact, let me even more clear – there was a beginning of a mommy opinion (as my sister will attest to, as she was on the phone with me while the outfit choosing was happening) and I TRIED to encourage her that this outfit does not match.  But Miss E did not want to hear anything regarding my opinions on her fashion choices.

So let’s run through the outfit together – just in case you think your eyes are failing you.

Miss E is sporty a tres chic leopard print faux fur jacket complete with white fur and gold adornment.  She showcases (under the jacket) a beautiful “My little Pony” themed sleeveless sundress (with a white sweater to make up for the lack of sleeves).  Under the sundress, staying within the ‘My Little Pony’ theme are leggings with her favorite horsey friends…keep in mind said leggings are from a completely different outfit all together.  On her feet you will find super fun and brightly striped socks in every girls favorite colors of pink and ORANGE.  Topped with Hello Kitty sparkle shoes.   Of course no outfit would be complete without her Sofia the First Sunglasses and her WINTER mittens  because she had the sniffles. (Her theory, not mine)

WOW!!!  And dang, did we get looks.  Looks from teachers, smirks from parents and one dad, waiting in his truck in the bus bay, actually laughed out loud, appreciatively, and then gave me the thumbs up.
Now let me be perfectly honest.  This is the VERY first time EVER that ANY of my kids have been permitted to leave the house in this state.  Don’t get me wrong, they have had some small outfit casualty from time to time, but NOTHING like this bag-lady chic she is showcasing her.

And it made me think.  Why have I never afforded my children this freedom.  And so I’m about to be honest……

Because I couldn’t handle what others parents would think of me.  Honestly!! I lived in constant fear and under the misbelief that if my child didn’t look perfect at any given time in public that somehow I was a bad parent,  Or atleast would be viewed as such.

Over the past year, I have worked so hard on saying “Fuck it”  — and I own the book by this very title.  And slowly but surely, I am embracing concepts within the pages.  One is to stop caring what people think.  Really…who gives a shit if people think anything of you – be it good, bad or inbetween.

I have also logged MANY hours with my Life Coach on this very topic.  Who was the one to set me on the “Fuck it” path.

By allowing Miss E to have the freedom to wear what SHE chooses, she is learning to stand in her power.  She was so excited to show off her outfit of favorites to her brothers when we picked them up after school.  She didn’t care, at all, what anyone thought of her outfit.  She stood in her power, so confidently.  She could teach me so much.

We all need to stop caring about what anyone thinks of us.  And not in a “fuck you” space, but in an “I love myself” space.  Do you feel the energetic difference in those two statements?  Once you are in a space where you can truly appreciate YOU, love YOU and are happy with YOU, you are awarded a peace.  A peace of mind and a peaceful heart..

Yesterday I captioned this photo:
On the days kids dress themselves they should come with a sign that states “Don’t judge my mommy – I did this to myself”

To which one mom replied that she in fact made her child a pin to wear on these days that stated exactly that “I dressed myself.”  And let me be clear – I love the freedom this homemade pin afforded the mom – to allow her child to dress however they wanted them and rewarded them with this super fun pin.  So great!

But yesterday I posted this reply:
Truthfully I would make her a pin. But I really need to learn to say Fuck it. I don’t care what people think. If someone honestly thinks this was my outfit of choice for her then I guess it is what it is.

I did try to fight her today about what to wear but honestly at her age THIS is her independence. She doesn’t get to choose what to eat or when to go to bed and most certainly can’t cross the street alone. So for now she’s gonna rock this outfit.

And I will learn to stand in my power and be ok with her choice. I love how my kids constantly teach me!

Buuuut should you find the colourful pin – I would be interested in borrowing it lol

And in that moment I realize, I am actually doing it. I’m actually beginning to break down the walls of “What do they think” and replacing them with “Fuck it”  A year ago, NEVER would I have allowed my child to leave the house in this outfit.  NEVER!!  I would have fought with her and went to the wall to make her “appear appropriately” in public.

Because I would have been embarrassed.  I would have felt the need to justify to anyone we passed, she dressed herself.  And then make fun of her outfit with them.  Yesterday it made my heart ache to think of belittling her choices, just to make myself feel like a good mom infront of strangers.  Let that sink in, I was CHOOSING to belittle my daughter to help strangers find me an acceptable parent.  UGH!!!  Makes my heart hurt!!

But yesterday, my daughter helped me stand in my power, and she helped me do this, by standing in hers. Yesterday, I did NOT throw her under the bus and laugh at her choices.  I smiled.  I took a picture.  I asked her “Are you happy with that outfit”  She proudly stated “Yes, Mama”  As I took her little hand in mine, and we left the house, I looked down at her and smiled back and said “Good, then I’m happy too”

She was so incredibly happy.  She didn’t give a shit that anyone was looking at her or not.  She was happy.  In her mind, she had clothes, she had her mama and she was picking up her brothers, who she missed all day.  And whatever anyone else thought was none of her business.

I love my kids for what they are constantly teaching me.  Whether they are teaching me something new or showing me how far I have come – it doesn’t matter.  They are here on my journey and helping me every step of the way.  Love love love my kids!

AND while they are teaching me – I am allowing their independence.  Sounds like this is filled with winners all around!

Thank you for sharing in my journey