Thursday, May 3, 2012

Postponed Nuptials...

So here we are.  Right from the start let me tell you that this blog doesn't come with any pictures or names (other than me and my Mom!).... I promised to share a particular time in my life, and you have returned to read more  {and hopefully get to know me just a little better.} I'm sure at this point my Mom would be cringing, wishing I would just keep my mouth shut (or stop moving my fingers across the keyboard, as it would be in this instance!) But I'm all about sharing... not for any kind of shock factor.  Rather, to let someone else know in their own times of sadness, disappointment, betrayal, or whatever tough time they may be experiencing that they are not alone.  Someone else has gone through something similar - maybe even worse, or possibly a little better.  Ok... enough stalling.  On with the story...

I was always in love with being in love when I was a teenager.  Always daydreaming of how romantic my soulmate would be... and looking at each cute boy as if maybe he was the one coming for me.  And honestly, I had some very sweet boyfriends... most of whom I look back upon very fondly and would be proud to consider them my friends even today.  But there was one whom I was more than crazy about from the time I was about 10-yrs-old.  We basically grew up together.  So it really shouldn't have been a surprise when we started dating when we were 17.  We were together through our Senior year of high school, and honestly probably missed out on much of the "Senior" experience because we were too serious too fast.  But you can't tell kids anything! Much to our parents horror, he proposed 3 weeks after we graduated high school.  And of course, I said Yes.  Growing up I was always the girlie-girl, and weddings were no different.  I had been buying Brides Magazine for years - longer than Glamour or any of the other magazines teenage girls have to have!  And right away I started planning our perfect wedding.  Of course, if you know me it will not surprise you that my bridesmaids dresses were purple - and there was purple in absolutely everything to do with my wedding.  We scheduled the wedding for about 11 months after we were engaged, so there was a lot of time to plan and prepare.  My life was going to finally be complete.   I'm quite the stubborn personality - I think that's not too surprising to anyone - so there was no talking me into waiting a little longer, being a bit older, or anything...this was what we wanted right then, and in our minds we were grown-ups all the way!  But life has a funny way of showing us sometimes just how different things are than what we might want them to be.  

About 3-4 weeks before our wedding was to happen... after all of the decisions have been made, deposits have all been paid, invitations mailed, dresses have not only been ordered - but have arrived and had all but final fittings... my fiance told me that he wanted to postpone for a year or two.  He definitely didn't want to break up...just wait a little while longer for the wedding.  He pointed out that just maybe we were a little too young to get married and take on so much responsibility. Nothing had to change at all between us... just the wedding date.  Devastation does not even begin to describe what I felt. {It was a little while after all of these events that I found out there was a bit more to the story... that his parents had orchestrated the entire postponement, and had made the offer too enticing for him to pass up... but that's for another blog!}

It was at that time in my life that I saw a side of my Mother that I had never seen before.  I saw the side of her that would one day become my friend.  As a mother of grown children myself now, I know how I would have felt in that same situation.  I'd have done some kind of dance of victory - knowing that my child was too young to understand exactly what they were getting into at such a young age {while at the same time ready to whoop whoever had just broken their heart!}  How unprepared they really were - and just wanting them to have a more realistic view of the decisions they were making at that time.  (And please don't think I am against young marriage - but I also do know that I really did not have a realistic grasp on the decisions I was making!) But my Mom let me lay in my bed and cry my heart out for a couple of days... she let me have my time to mourn the situation.  (During that time she handled all of the cancellations, and she lost quite a bit of money in deposits.  But she never said a word about any of it.) Then after a couple of days she came into my room - she opened the curtains and let the sunshine flood in - and she said "Ok, DonnaKay, you've had enough time to cry about this... Get up!  It's time to find a way to move on."  So we packed up some clothes and went to the beach for a few days!  It was the only time in my life that my Mom and I packed up and went on a trip - just the two of us.  It was early May, and it was very breezy and cool - but we left my hurt behind, and made the best of a few days away.  

I look back on this time in my life and I can't help but smile.  Even though there was the pain of such disappointment, I also have so many good memories, and of course there is the "what if's" that come to my mind.  But I see how this was one of those experiences that molded me in many ways into the strong woman I have become in my life.  And I understand how this boys parents didn't want their young son to jump into marriage at such a tender age. I would have felt the same way when my kids were that age. And there are so many priceless lessons that I've taken from this period in my life.  

Ok... so now you know I was basically a jilted bride!  But I smile at the memories... and I cherish the lessons and growth that they brought to my life.  Most of all I learned that sometimes when bad things happen they can be the best thing for us in the end.      

Ready for MORE???

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Writing to an unknown audience has both positives and negatives.  You're never sure who is learning about secrets and possibly vulnerable times in your life -- but on the other hand, you also never know who might read something that correlates with something in their own life and might possibly help them through a tough time.  I'm a pretty transparent person.  That is hard for some people in my life - they believe that I might should keep things a bit more private.  But I tried that route for a long time, and it simply didn't make things easier to deal with for anyone.  When I decided to start sharing more with others, I found that people would get in touch with me somehow and let me know that something I had shared actually helped them in their own life!  And that made me feel like maybe what I had gone through was somehow not in vain.  It had a purpose, even if it was just to be able to help someone else. 

My life has had enough adventure, heartbreaks, disappointments and even happy times to keep this blog going for a long time.  So get comfortable and let's see what comes up today!! Forewarning, though: I will change names and possibly some some important things (people, dates, places, etc) if necessary - because I certainly don't want to bring any embarrassment or unwanted attention to anyone else.  What I'm writing about is my experience. So I hope you can appreciate and respect that for me and for them {thank you upfront!} 

Growing up I was always a very passionate person.  Even as a child I was quite mature and passionate.  At 2, I knew that I wanted to grow up and be a Mommy.  It was actually the job (after go-go dancer) that I would tell people I wanted when they would ask that dreaded question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  I was also always quite the girly-girl.  Wanting to shave my legs, wear panty hose (what was I thinking?!!!), pain my nails, and thinking my life would be simply perfect once I was able to wear make-up without sneaking!  But what I wasn't prepared for was some of the heartache that also comes with growing up - and actually just life in general.  

As I mentioned earlier, there were many heartaches and disappointments along the way.  Many broken hearts...and I will share a few along this blogging journey.  But probably one that made the most long-lasting impression on me was the postponed wedding.  And that is what I will share in my next blog.  So I hope you will return... and comment, share, something!  Hey, guys, it's like I'm standing here baring my soul to you... I need some feedback!

Please have an awesome day.  Click "Follow" to be alerted of when I publish a new blog, or check back frequently.  But I'll very soon share even more of my life with you.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not In Vain

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It has definitely been a while since I've written on this blog... and I have missed it so much.  It's not that there's been nothing to write about, but more that life has been busy.  Sometimes I'm just not sure how much to share - or how much to keep to myself.  But honestly, I truly believe sharing is my way of dealing with things - but also hopefully a way to offer help and hope to others who may be experiencing some of the same things I go through in my own life.

This is my personal blog page... it's Beyond Photography by DonnaKay, because I AM Photography by DonnaKay.  Yes, it is technically my photography business... but being a photographer is definitely a part of WHO I am as a person, a woman, a mother, a wife... and all of the other descriptions that could be used to define me.

So let's jump ahead to the past couple of days in my life.  I had to drive to the beach to go to court for someone I love dearly.  And I would probably have driven to the moon and back if that was what it took to lend my support.  (thankfully that wasn't required!)  Much to our disappointment the DA got the trial continued... and we will have to do it all again in the not-to-far-off future.  But the trip wasn't in vain.  Nothing ever really has to be in vain, does it?  There are always lessons that can be learned... friendships that can be made... kindnesses that can be bestowed.  And I have learned to not waste any of my moments in life.

This trip I was able to meet some new people... and hopefully they are people who will remain a part of my life.  Parents who are struggling with the pain they've experienced through all of the events leading up to the weekend.  No one will probably ever know the extent of what they have been through, and of how much their hearts have hurt from it all.  But if there are things I've learned myself as a parent, they definitely include: 1) NO family is perfect; 2) our kids may disappoint us, but they are still always our kids, and we NEVER stop loving them; and 3) never, ever give up hope that consequences will help bring someone back to what is right.

Hold on through the tough times... those are the times you are growing the most, developing character that will make you WHO you are.  Don't let them tear you down or destroy you -- you can get through them.  And you don't have to ever be alone.

Here's a picture taken outside of the courthouse... I, of course, was behind the camera (my happy place!!!) - but these people touched my life over the past couple of days.  And that is a good thing.

Have a GREAT day!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spillin' it in the middle of the night...

It has definitely been a long time since I've written on this blog.  I switched my blogs over to my Website with the intention of driving up visibility of that page... but simply, I haven't had time to write on any of them in a while regardless.

As I write this, it is the middle of the night - and I woke wide awake from a deep sleep all of a sudden.  My mind full of thoughts - and unable to go back to sleep.  So what better way to deal with a full mind of thoughts than to write them down... share them with someone else (whoever that may be!)... and hopefully sleep will return at that point.  We shall see...

The past several weeks have been overwhelming in so many ways.  Actually, I guess I could say the past years have been overwhelming in even more ways.... but it would take a novel rather than a blog-page to include all of that!  For now I will stay with just the events of my last few weeks.  

Have you ever had a friend who hurt you?  They said something or did something and honestly, it just broke your heart... cut to the core of your feelings?  I had that happen...well, I've had it happen many times in my life, but the time I write of now was last year.  But I had finally gotten to a place of accepting what was, moving on from the extreme hurt of it, and knowing that I didn't want to go back.  So how do you handle it when they come back?  Not to say "hey, I was wrong to say what I did... or to do what I did..." but rather to ask a huge favor of you?  My humanness wanted to say "um, NO" but the part of me that believes with all of my heart in forgiveness (even if it's not asked for) and second chances... that believes I have a choice in my actions and reactions... well, that part said "yes... I'll do what I can to help you."  Needless to say, the favor was exhausting... but the feelings and the hurt that it all brought back to the surface have been even more exhausting.  The disappointment that this person doesn't even seem to realize what they did to me... that I matter that little... has been actually rather heartbreaking again on a certain level.  And now I am in a place that is past the favor - and once again trying to figure out how to move on from here.  My hopes are not raised - reality is still there - and lessons learned bring me much thankfulness.  

Along with that in my last few weeks has also been a session with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep that brought so much sadness to my heart.  I imagine that this was a different case than I'll probably deal with very often.  The expectant mother had called back before Christmas... her baby was found to have a genetic condition that would not allow him to live.  He would most likely die at some point during the pregnancy... and she would find out at either a check-up or when labor started that he was gone.  She had found out about NILMDTS and wanted to arrange for me to be there through her labor... the hope was that he would be born alive - even if for only a moment and long enough to hear a cry.  A couple of weeks ago, actually on a day when I was leaving to go out of town for an extended weekend, I got the call at 5:30 am that her water had broken... she was on her way to the hospital.  Could I get there?  I borrowed a little more time, knowing she had to get checked in, be seen by the doctor, get settled into her room... but as much as I wanted just a little more sleep, I was up and in the shower soon and then on my way to the hospital.  It was a long day... the morning brought pain right away, as the baby went from a very weak heartbeat to no heartbeat while we all waited with the mom hopeful he would at least take one cry.  And his birth brought such a sadness... seeing his beautiful face, the reality that he existed and all the love that Mother felt was real for her child... and at that same moment having to tell him goodbye, even though he had already left a short time before.  There are no words to adequately describe the sadness, the disappointment, and the thankfulness I felt in my own heart that I had never had to experience the pain I was watching her go through.  As that was the last day I had before a lot of busy days set in, it has been up to now that I've worked when I could on the images from that day... editing them to bring them to a place where they will hopefully bring bittersweet joy, healing, validation of his existence to a family who lost their child before even having a chance to know him.  The images have certainly brought me many tears, prayers, wishes and hope already, and I am humbled to have been a part of their life through this experience.  

Now, without divulging too many exact details of the past few weeks, I am still awake at 3:45 am... sleep eludes me for some reason, and I wonder if I am to lay quietly in the dark and listen to the hum of the humidifier, or get up and read quietly... but what I do know is that although there is hurt and pain all around me, there is also a quiet peace in my heart.  A peace that I believe comes from God... to let me know that my persistence in trying is worth it... that He sees it.  And knowing that even now... awake at this too-early hour... I am not aloneHe is always with me

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seems like forever.... or yesterday....

This blog was originally written and published a year ago.  Today marks the 11th anniversary... and as I was going to write a blog entry, I realized that the words were all the same.  Let me share this again...

Today is in many ways just another day.  It's a very special day, as one of my very best friends celebrates her birthday on this day.  But then there is a sadness that looms over me on this day as well.  Ten years ago I lost my Grandmother on this day... and I will never forget it.  January 16th is a very bittersweet day... as I have to celebrate Allison's birthday, because I love her and she has always been such a special friend to me.  It doesn't make much sense why it couldn't have been another day that had to take my Grandmother away from my life.  But then, there really wasn't a good day anyway.  Ironically, the two women who stake a claim in making this an important day on my calendar are both women who mean the world to me in some way or another.  Allison and I were best friends growing up -- and I still love her to death.  Life has taken us in directions that keep us from being able to see each other often - but I know if I ever need her, she's always there (and she knows that about me as well.)  My Grandmother... well, she might just be best described as my soulmate.  She was the closest person to me... I find a lot of things I do (bad and good!) remind me of my Grandmother.  She never met a stranger, she laughed all the time, she would get so angry she would cry, she had a very hard time giving up on someone, she loved with all of her heart - and she loved unconditionally, she always lost track of time.... she believed in forgiveness, and she got more joy from helping someone else than ever doing something for herself.  She didn't like to be in the spotlight, but would rather be invisible.  To me, she was very close to perfection... and I embrace the similarities in us.

Ten years is a long time, and so much has happened in that time.  For years after she was gone, I would wake up needing to speak to her.  That was common, because that was always the way it was.  If something was on my mind, or something bad was going on in life, I would wake wanting to talk to her.  So after she was gone, having that feeling would often start my day in tears... having to realize again that I couldn't speak to her.  I wonder constantly what she would think about some things... about how my kids have grown up, and what they are each doing with their lives.  I can imagine her laughing about something that happens, or see her crying because of a disappointment or a hurt.  I imagine her passion or anger over an injustice, and sometimes it makes me laugh or cry!  So often I want to ask her opinion about something... but honestly, I already know what she would have to say most of the time.  I just would love to hear her voice.  A couple of months ago I woke up sobbing... I had dreamt that she had come to talk to me, and it was so real... and it broke my heart when she had to go, and I had to wake up. 

I'm thankful for the 36 years that I had with her in my life... and there is no way to even imagine the different person I would be had she not been there all of those years.  She helped make me who I am.  She made me a stronger woman.  She molded me into a woman of integrity and strong faith.  She reinforced my beliefs, and she helped me believe in myself.  She taught me to love completely - and how to have righteous anger about something.  And she taught me how to forgive - and how to ask for forgiveness.  My life would not have been the same these past 10 years if she hadn't been in it the 36 years before.  And as much as I miss her now (the sobs choke in my throat as I write this, and my heart skips from the sadness of missing her) I would rather have the memory of those 36 years with her along with the pain of missing her... than to have never had her at all. 

Embrace the people who are special to you.  It makes me sad that some people don't have someone like her in their life... someone to help make them a better person.  But it makes me even sadder to see those that DO have someone in their life, but they ignore it or don't take seriously how important that person is.

Ten years has flown by... and I look forward to the day when I will be reunited with my Grandmother.  But for now, I want to live my life fully.  I want to live my faith loudly.  I pray that my life will leave the legacy of love that my Grandmother's life has left. And I thank God today for special people - and special days.

Here are a few pictures of my sweet Grandmother.... Lenora Christopher Swink.  

This picture is my Grandmother with my oldest son, Tommy.   Whatever the kids were doing, she was right in the middle of it with them!!  So if they had bubble guns, she did to.... laser tag, she was right in the middle of it with them.  There are none more special than she will always be!

These 2 pics were on at my mother's house on the porch.... my Grandmother and I shared hating having our pictures made.  She would tolerate it, but I laugh at how she was always awkward on that side of the lens -- that's just how I am too!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2nd Chances...(and 3rd...and 4th...)

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... a little more about my life as a photographer...

How many 2nd chances do you give someone when they hurt or disappoint you in some way?  This is quite a tricky question for most people.  There are lots of people who believe there are NO 2nd chances for some sins... basically it comes down to what the offense was that is in question.  I can certainly understand that... and am in no way standing in judgement of anyone's opinion about the matter.  I'm just here to talk about where I come from on all of this... and some of the reasons why.  

I am not perfect.  Ok - so it's out there now.  Seriously - I've made so many mistakes in my life I couldn't even begin to number them or name them all!  I have disappointed people along the way... I have hurt people at times {sometimes too many times!}  And lots of times I have been forgiven... but there are also times that I have not been forgiven.  Relationships {even friendships} have ended.  And that hurt me.  .... so, what have I learned along the way?

Anyone that knows me will hopefully agree that I am a woman of faith... I am a Christian, and my faith hopefully defines who I am and how I live my life.  That being said, there is a lot in the Bible about forgiveness.  Not only MY forgiveness, but about ME forgiving others.  But I'm moving beyond that {even though I don't think there needs to be any other reason for me to believe in 2nd chances....}

Have you ever ended a relationship because someone hurt you?  And not in a case where they had hurt you over and over again and proved they were beyond change... or in an instance where you had seen this was really not a great person to have in your life... but rather because you were just stubborn or prideful {or whatever word you want to use} and you just were NOT going to give that person a 2nd chance to make a fool of you...?  Well... I have done that too!  And, honestly, I have also lived to regret that decision quite often.  Time passed... life continued... hurt dissolved... and I missed my friend.  I missed what I had so easily given up.  Sometimes {and I mean that in a "not so often" kind of sometimes} you can ask forgiveness yourself in such an instance... have another chance at the relationship.  But most often the real damage is done and the relationship is never the same.  This is a very sad thing to happen.  

But back to my admission that I'm NOT perfect... {yes... makes me very uncomfortable to keep coming back to this... but I DO have a point!}  If I have hurt someone... and have seen that I can actually learn from the hurt and disappointment I have brought to someone else and grow into a better person who would NOT do such a thing again... then why can't I believe that someone else is also capable of such change?  Hmmmm.... good question!!

Certainly... there are instances with some people that it's just best to learn a lesson... call it an end.  There are bad people in this world, and when we are shown someone's true colors {and they turn out to be the bad colors} then be thankful for the lesson... and move on.  BUT... when it is a case of someone truly making a bad decision... someone making a mistake or being stupid or whatever you want to call it... Really think about whether you want to lose them for good in your life.  Or whether maybe a 2nd, 3rd or 4th chance is maybe the better decision to make.  The biggest point I'm trying to make in all of this is that you just STOP and THINK.  Please don't let pride or stubbornness play a part in your decision.  Dignity {in this way} is overrated.  I truly believe we can miss out on our greatest relationships because we will not forgive and give someone another chance.  And when you think "they don't deserve another chance..." just think of how it is when it's YOU wanting just one more chance.