Sunday, September 21, 2014

My story of Domestic Violence and how I chose to Lead Kindly

Today I am celebrating the launch of Project Lead Kindly (, a nonprofit organization founded by Pamela (from Macdonald’s Playland - and her husband. Project Lead Kindly assists mothers and children affected by homelessness and domestic violence by providing charitable service and grants to assist them in getting closer to safer, stable housing as well as educational or professional dreams. They are also on a mission to spread the message that ALL can do good and spread kindness, no matter their circumstances. 

I have heard time and time again that my emotionally raw posts are the best ones, well my friends get ready for the best post yet. It is hard and scary and true, but I was approached by my dear sweet friend Pamela to help her spread awareness for a non profit organization she and her family have founded in California. She has kept it a secret for months and asked the blogging community for help to spread their name and message. With a cause near and dear to my heart I couldn't say no.

My family has been directly impacted by domestic violence.  There are some details that are not approp-riate for this space, and that is why they haven't been shared here before. They are personal -and while I am very proud of the person I have become in spite of a terrible situation, I think it is best to leave out most of it. I can count on one hand the people that know my entire story and I do think it should stay that way, but I will tell you that the summer that I turned 14 was the most terrifying few months of my life. 
My  biological father is not a kind person. That is the understatement of the century. He struggled with drugs and prescription pain medicine for years. His already unapproachable demeanure made my childhood already one that I can only describe as walking on eggshells. I was constantly on edge worried of what kind of mood he would be in when he walked down the hallway next; would he just walk by me or would the sight of my open door be enough to cause a tornado to come through my room. I would hold my breath as I turned the corner to go home from school as I looked for his truck in the driveway. I would cower away in my room to hide from any hurtful remarks he had about anything from my latest school grades to my less than perfect appearance. 
It was hard. Every day. Especially for a scared and impressionable young girl to live in a world like that. A world where I was already trying to figure out life and fit in at school, but then to come home and be teased and mocked at home.  It was something that I pushed back deep into the hidden dark shadows of my memory so that I didn't have to believe it was true.

Then came That summer. The summer that changed everything. 

There are pieces that are still incredibly fuzzy. I don't remember it all even to this day despite being well old enough too, I think that my mom is in part to thank for that. She sheltered me as much as she could from things. I remember lots of fighting and moving out of the house that I had called home since 3rd grade. I remember packing up without my dad and moving a mile down the road. I remember being happy with my mom and my brother. I remember school still being rough, but it was ok because my house was a happy one. Then I remember him coming around more. I remember him staying the night and the nights getting much darker. I remember being woken up by the sound of yelling coming from my moms bedroom. I remember staying awake with the phone in my hand ready to dial 9-1-1 if I needed to. I remember things that no child should ever have to see in their life. But now as an adult I can think back and recognize that it is also something that no woman should ever have to go through ever. Not only did she have to fear for herself, she had to fear for her children. What a torturous place to be. My mom made him leave just as quickly as she had let him back in. 
But that did nothing to stop him from coming back. The following weeks were ones that involved scary talks with my mom, new locks and orders of protection. 
I remember one night very vividly. It was the night my mom got a call to go stay with my Uncle. He had a bad feeling. My mom reluctantly packed up me and my brother and headed out to his house. 
What happened next can only be described as a miracle. 
My mom got a call from our next door neighbor asking if she had left the garage door open when she left for the night. My mom did not. She asked if the door was supposed to be ajar. It was not. 
My neighbor immediately called the police that walked in on my dad in the middle of the house that he had been kicked out of weeks before. He had very bad intentions for that evening and it still brings me to tears to this day just thinking of what could have happened if it weren't for a feeling and a phone call from my uncle. My father was arrested that night and after his plea agreement was reached he was later convicted of felony harassment and spent the next 8 months in prison. He is now out of prison and has been clean for almost 10 years, but I have not spoken a word to him in more than 8.  

I don't tell this story to get sympathy. I don't tell this story to make you sad or to show you how scary domestic violence can be. I tell this story to prove that despite the scary things that were put in my way, put in my moms way, we are strong, successful, and capable women that just so happened to have been affected by domestic violence. 
I firmly believe that my struggle shaped me into the person that I am today. Do I want to do it again, no. But I am thankful for the things that I proved I could become as a result of it. I am not a victim, I am a survivor. My mom is a survivor. My family survived. There are far to many that don't and that is why I think Pamelas mission is so important. If more women can choose joy and kindness and persevere through the hard times, the possibilities of their kindness are unimaginable. I have made my own life into one that serves others because I know how much a kind gesture can mean to someone.

I could not be more proud of Pamela and her family and more honored that she has so graciously allowed me to share my story and support her in this great adventure she has taken on, I try to lead kindly every day in life and I hope that you choose to as well.
Through the mission of Lead Kindly, I encourage all of you that are active in social media to take a moment from your busy day and remind your following to Lead Kindly as well. 
Pamela first asked us all to make a picture that essentially showed that there is no excuse to not be kind. 
"Spread kindness even when : " that was the prompt. There are a thousand words that I could put there. There is always an excuse to proceed with your day without kindness, but no matter how busy or sick or tired or stressed or unhappy or whatever you are, I urge you to remember that even the smallest kind word or gesture can make mountains of difference to a person. You will never know how deep your words can touch someone on their hardest day.  
So Go! Spread the word about this lovely project! 

Facebook ::
Instagram :: @projectleadkindly or hashtag your photo with #projectleadkindly
Their shop!!!! The funds from everything sold will benefit their mission!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

50 in 555 :: Watch 10 TED Talks

Watch 10 TED Talks

What is a TED talk? TED stands for It is a short presentation given that is anywhere from 5-30 minutes long and all have a profound meaning and topic given. They can be inspirational, informational,

straight from their website : TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

their slogan is "Ideas Worth Spreading". I love listening to insightful people on interesting topics, These are some of my favorites. I said I wanted to do 10 in 555 days.. I did 10 in 5 days. I really encourage you to find a few that look interesting to you!

1-  Love, no matter what.  Andrew Solomon

2-  The 3 A's of Awesome. Niel Pasricha

3-  I Got 99 Problems, Palsy is just one.  Maysoon Zayid

4- Sucking Time or Saving Lives Kristin Howerton (Rage Against The Minivan)

5- The Power of Vulnerability.  Brene Brown

6- Thoughts from inside the Mental Hospital Glennon Melton (Momastary)

7- Love letters  Hannah Brencher

8- Depression, the secret we share. Andrew Solomon

9-  How I hacked online dating. Amy Webb

10- Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model. Cameron Russell

Friday, September 12, 2014

50 in 555 :: Do one RAOK per month-September

Do one Random Act Of Kindness per month

I have this friend who is an INCREDIBLE baker. She makes the most beautiful custom cookies in all the land and I have worked with her on some special custom cookies for a wish before. Girlfriend has got talent! Who is this wonderful human I am speaking of? Well, Melissa of The Baked Equation of course!

She lives about 30 minutes away from me, but I had a session right by her house so I sent her a message to see what the lemon cupcake situation was at the bakery that day. Unfortunately she didn’t have any available, but told me that there would be plenty in the next week. I all but demanded 4 cupcakes and asked her what the damage was... can you believe that she was going to have extra from an event she was doing so all of those scrumptious cupcakes were going to be all MINNNE (I am not that lucky, I will have to share with my peeps.) but seriously, how kind of her to give them to me. So my creative mind started spinning and knowing good and well that I couldn’t show up to her home ready for cupcakes without a small treat for her. It just was not going to happen. I decided that I could use this opportunity to do Septembers Random Act Of Kindness! Who better than the holder of the cupcakes to receive it?! So as I was browsing Charming Charlies I saw these beautiful scarves folded so perfectly and just begging to be picked up, I snagged a gorgeous deep green on perfect for fall! I decided that she would be getting a ready for fall basket for this RAOK!  Eeek! I loooooove fall! So the brainstorming began, I got a Starbucks gift card for her to get a pumpkin spice latte, I added in a little bitty pumpkin and a spiced candle as well so her home would smell like fall along with fresh baked cookies all the time, doesn’t that sound heavenly!? All of those little treats put in a sweet basket just screams fall!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

50 in 555 :: Use an essesntial oil

Use an Essential Oil
I made this list before I started exercising more and then when I started going to Zumba a few times a week my foot started having this crazy, weird pain on the top of it. I went to the doctor and he suggested changing the way I tie my shoes and offered custom orthotics, but at $500.00 for the pair, I gladly passed on that one. I did change the way I tie the shoes though (see photos below) and that has helped quite a bit, but an unlikely helper that i read about a bit was peppermint oil. Now, I am not going to give you another post about how wonderful essential oils are because honestly I am still a bit skeptical about a $50 bottle of oil stuff to fix ailments, but I will tell you that the peppermint has helped the pain in my foot. The internet says something about it being a natural pain reliever anyway and I have also found that when I put some behind my ears and on my temples when I have a headache it does help that a bit too, who knows maybe there is something to it after all.
I also bought some Dr. Schollz inserts (for $6 might I add) and have started wrapping my foot too before I go to work out and I have had very minimal pain since then. I am not ready to take the full dive into the oil fad, but I am pretty happy that I found one to help me.
So, who knows maybe I will dive into the oil life one day, this is not that day lol but one day perhaps :)

The foot Doctor said that I should try skipping a spot on the shoe where the pain was. This is how I relaced the shoes to avoid the bone bump on my foot.

50 in 555 :: Get Family pictures taken

Get Family Pictures Taken

One of the many wonderful things that came from going to the Elevate conference was a conversation that I had with Lydia of Photography Hill. She was toying with the idea of changing the kinds of photos she takes. She wanted to really move towards real life type sessions and asked me what kinds of things I do with my family. We talked about how I love to bake and she had the incredible idea of having her over to bake cookies with the kiddos! It was incredible. She came over in the morning and did a few "formal" shots of my family which turned out anything but formal. She kept it short and sweet and even the man that hates taking photos more than anything else in the world hardly complained at all! It was quick, painless and the final result is BEAUTIFUL. I wasted no time printing them and passing them out to our families. I have now also printed them and have them all over my house and at work. She was also kind enough to let me change my clothes twice and take some headshots that now beautify my business cards! Lydia has the most wonderful heart and my kids loved her. I have nothing but good things to say about her as a person and a photographer. To see more of her work you can check out her website and some of the other sessions she has done for Camille of Friday We're in Love and Jen from Nothing Comes of Nothing.

Her Website ::
Her Facebook ::!/PhotographyHill

Thursday, September 4, 2014

50 in 555 :: Get A Business Vinyl For My Car

Get a Business Vinyl For My Car
I have had my eye on one of these for a long time. I have gone back and forth on actually pulling the trigger though. Finally, I decided that it was time and at $35.00 how could I not?
I worked with Wall Art Showcase on Etsy, and Jennifer was an absolute dream to work with!
She replied to all of my messages quickly and to the point, she made some adjustments to the logo I sent her to make sure it would work on vinyl, and I had the proof of the vinyl the very next day, once I gave the green light she had it done and shipped the next day, with included two day shipping I had my final product in less than a week from my original inquiry! Now THAT is service! She has been so kind and linked back to my business site on facebook when she posted the photo I sent her. I just have nothing but good things to say about this shop. I do also want to say that I have been in no way compensated for this post, I paid full price for my product and was truly THAT happy with how the whole thing went down.
Now please take a moment to admire the beautiful tattoo that my car received over the weekend.
(also, forgive the less than clean car.)
Jennifer is offering all of you 10% off your own vinyl!!!! Use code
 at checkout to snag your own custom vinyl or something beautiful from her shop!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

50 in 555 :: Round 2

It's here! The new list!! You can check out the list from last time and the link to the original post Here.  I know I know, youre excited. I really am. I am looking forward to completing each and every one of them! Since it has taken me two months to post this I am starting the countdown as of today! Woop! Stay tuned while I work through it get to work on them!
Completion date :: March 10, 2016
Let the goal completing comence. May the odds be ever in my favor.

1 - Go to a farmers market

2 - Build something

3 - Organize a bloggers give back event

4 - Do 1 Random Act of Kindness a month and blog about it

5 - Go on 4 dates with Mr. B that we have not done yet

6 - Visit the 4 corners

7 - Get family photos taken for the house

8 - Join the gym.. and go to it

9 - Go apple picking in the fall

10 - Run 3 5k's

11 - Send 4 boxes of happy mail to unsuspecting friends

12 - Get a blowout at a drybar

13 - Go to a concert

14 - Watch 10 new TED talks

15 - Volunteer at a womens shelter

16 - Write a letter to someone that inspires me

17 -  Reread all  Harry Potter Books

18 - Go to the snow

19 -  Shoot 2 more weddings all by myself

20 - Master the art of image sizing. (Enlist help from Jeremy or Lydia)

21 - Make a client pinterest board with outfit and styled shoot suggestions

22 - Reach 1million blog page views

23 - Build A snowman

24 - Shoot at 5 new to me locations 

25 - Have a social media free weekend

26 - Visit a city i've never been to before

27 - Throw a dinner/patio party

28 - Take a day trip with my mom

29 - Print and display photos I've taken

30 -  Participate in a Make A Wish fundraiser

31 - Shoot a "styled" session

32 - Host game night at our house

33 - Try Essential Oils

34 - Go on a date with each of the littles

35 - Order a business vinyl for my car

36 - Establish a better system for camera bag organization (Battery, memory cards, lenses, misc.)

37 - Drive to the beach on a random weekend

38 - Plant an herb garden in the back yard

39 - Leave opperation beautiful notes all over town

40 - Take photographs of 10 new families

41 - Send 5 old clients prints from their session

42 - Go to a professional ballet preformance

43 - Take on 3 new wish kids

44 - Join some kind of sports activity

45 - Try 5 new recipes

46 - Build a headboard for my bedroom

47 - Clean out my closet, purge clothes I don't wear or that don't fit

48 - Sew an outfit for my self

49 - Renovate the backyard with Mr. B

50 - Buy something from the small businesses I believe in