September 13, 2017

Mom So Hard

It's a thing those gangsta moms say- we 'mom so hard' b/c you know...we do.

But we also 'wife so hard'...and 'cleaning lady so hard' and 'chef so hard'....I, personally, juggle about 8,023,759 things around on my plate. You guys, I do a lot of shit. (And sometimes, it actually involves literally shoveling shit.)

Here's the thing- I love to be busy. I love helping people- and hate asking for help myself. I rarely say "I'm sorry, I can't do that"...I'll just toss it into the mix of my schedule and hope for the best.

Cut to midnight one evening...I'm sobbing in my bed because I'm so overwhelmed and exhausted that I can't breathe. My husband is looking at me like I have lost my damn mind and my dog has belly-crawled his way into the hallway and covered his ears.

"I'm just f*cking everything up. I can't seem to do anything right!"

My husband stares at me blankly. We both know my statement isn't true...but in the moment, I felt like I sucked as a mom, wife, friend, daughter, etc.

"Well stop doing so much!" he says. (An utterly ridiculous statement that will never happen- not for lack of him trying.)

When I get overwhelmed I can't focus on anything positive...which is not at all who I typically am. I am the person who 95% of the time sees the glass half full...and if it's half empty- it's only because whatever was in it was so delicious that I had to drink it down in one gulp. (I even annoys me sometimes.)

But on this particular evening, in my sobbing state of complete irrationality- the only thing I could focus on was that I wasn't even doing a good job at being positive. I couldn't even find my glass to see if it was half empty or full.

I was no busier than I was the previous week. Nothing monumental had changed in my life...was it hormones? The moon? Football season? I wasn't even sure exactly what I needed to pull me out of the quicksand of negativity I was stuck in...but I knew I needed my husband to lasso me out.

My mind swirled after my tears had long dried on my pillow and I wondered...why do I need someone else to pull me out of this? No one got me here but myself...and the reality of the metaphorical place I was in was no-more real than a monster in a fairy tale.

I searched for the positive...and there it was in the clearing like a rainbow after the storm.

My husband.
Our family.
Our home.

Yes, life is busy...but life is wonderful.

I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

The following morning, I climbed out of bed ready to take on the world. I was ready to mom/wife/photog/legal-assistant/chef/taxi/cleaning-lady SO freaking hard...and there wasn't a grain of quicksand in sight.

September 7, 2017

What Dreams Are Made Of...

A few months ago, I had one of the most realistic nightmares of my life. It was so real that I thought parts of the dream had actually happened the following morning.

In the dream I had just woken up. My room was dark and in the darkness, I felt someone looking at me. I looked over and saw a young man sitting next to my bed with a hooded sweatshirt on. I couldn't see his face or recognize any of his characteristics as someone I knew.

Terrified, I grabbed for my husband and yelled "Who is that!? Who is that!?"

"Who is who? What are you talking about, babe?!" he replied.

Confused, I told him I must've been dreaming.

The following day, I asked him if he remembered me waking him up.

"No, I don't think you woke me up," he said.

I didn't think much of it. While I typically remember my dreams and whether or not I wake up in the middle of the night and eat a half gallon of ice cream (hypothetically), the hubs? I could have a 15 minute conversation with him mid-sleep and he won't remember a word of it.

A few weeks later, I had a similar dream- but this time a middle aged man stood next to my bed as I opened my eyes.

I gasped for air and reached for Kirk.

Again, the next day I asked if I woke him up and he said I didn't.

Two nights ago, I dreamed I opened my eyes and the light in my bedroom was on. I turned to Kirk and saw an older man sitting on the bed. This man bared no resemblance to anyone in my daily life.

"Who are you?! What do you want!?" I yelled in my dream.

He starred at me. He didn't look angry or threatening. But nonetheless, a stranger was in my room.

I woke up talking in my sleep...with my husband asking me what I was saying. Then I jumped.

I woke up...for real. My heart was racing as I sat up in my bed and looked around the room. The lights were off and my husband was snoring next to me.

Had I actually dreamed I'd woken up in each of these dreams? What is causing this recurring nightmare? Is it because I had caffeine before bed?! Does it have to do with my dad? Is it a spirit? (Does that make me sound like a hippy!?)

So seriously...what are dreams made of?

August 7, 2017

No Kidding...Well, Maybe a Little.

Back in April, Little Miss joined me on a photoshoot in a neighboring county. I knew she would enjoy watching the shoot- since it was a 4H livestock shoot...however, I had no idea that she would have the opportunity to bottle feed a baby goat! {Yes, I was jealous.}

The 2 hour drive home was spent with her trying to convince me that we needed goats, plural, because they are herd animals, she said. {like she needed to convince me, it was her BooPa who we needed to work on}
I mentioned it to him several times to no avail. I received mostly grumbles of 'don't need more pets' as a response. I was not deterred. These wouldn't be just pets...they would be farm animals- milk producers- and snuggle givers...I mean, milk producers. 

A few months later, some friends of ours mentioned they were getting dwarf goats. I buckled down and got serious with my persuasion....


Those little dots went on for quite long that I was a bit concerned that I had sent my husband into cardiac arrest just by asking a simple question.

The response wasn't exactly a yes...but it also wasn't an outright no. I quickly decided I was doing this OJ style- that shadow of a doubt (or ignorance) that got him acquitted? Well it was getting me baby goats.

I continued to correspond with the breeder I found on craigslist- asking every question imaginable about goat care. As he was texting me about their parents personalities and bloodlines, etc. he casually mentioned their names...

"The father of both these goats...his name is Donald. The little white one's mama is named probably think it's strange but we name them after our relatives," he explained.

I almost dropped the phone. 

"No. It isn't strange. I lost two very special people to me last daddy's name was Donald, Don...and my aunt was Selma Lenora..."

It was all the sign in the world that I needed...and I wasn't even looking for it.

One week later, while stuffing hay into a dog kennel to bring home our new babies, it occurred to me that I could be meeting some kind of craigslist killer who had lured me to his goat farm with fake photos of cute babies only to chop me up and serve me with fava beans.

"Oh well...that's the chance I'm willing to take," I thought as I shoved the kennel into the backseat of my car.

{Yes, I picked them up in my car. I may have risked my life to pick up the goats but I was doing it in my fuel efficient Camry vs. the dodge dually!}

Before I knew it, we were almost home and these two had snoozed the whole way.

We got them home and acclimated to their new living situation. Since they are still tiny, we are keeping them in one of the horse's stalls. (Which created quite the scene...Tristan is certain they are going to turn attack him and serve him with fava beans.)

Meet Mochaccino bon Feefee {Mocha} and Leche Lenora {Leche}...

 {Who is that teenage-looking kid in the adorable goat tank? #mybabyisgrowinupmakeitstop}

They aren't exactly used to human-snuggles...but they seem to be quite content in their new bedroom! Welcome to the fam, gals!

PS- Thanks, Boo!! You have some happy girls!! <3

May 17, 2017

A(ddi)CTION: The Story of a Recovering Addict

No two addiction tales are the same. While many have similar paths, the addict determines how the tale ends.

This is the story of recovering addict, Taryn Daniels...

I spoke with Taryn after she shared my post on Emerson Gardner on Facebook. She wrote a bit about her own struggle with addiction- which prompted me to ask permission to ask some more in depth questions about her journey. She, too, was very open with what she went through.
"Of course it all started with snorting pills. My {now} ex-boyfriend introduced me to heroin. He actually held me down and shot me up for the first time. I was terrified and didn't want to but once I felt that rush I was in love. I was 16."
It only took that one time to hook another American sweetheart.

Taryn started smoking and drinking when she was 14 but snorted pills for the first time mostly because her friends were doing it and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. She liked how it made her feel...until she realized she was addicted.

Heroin quickly went from 'a way to get high' to 'a way to avoid withdrawals'. She describes being "dope sick" as the worst flu imaginable, times a thousand. This isn't a party drug- not that any truly are once you become addicted- this is a lifestyle drug.
"Doing heroin was like my dance with the devil. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And that is exactly what it does."
Taryn drove to Virginia one to two times daily to get heroin. Every penny she made she spent on drugs. She admits she doesn't know how she kept a job during that time, but somehow she did. 

It took felony drug charges and over a year in a Teen Challenge rehabilitation facility to shake Taryn to the core.
"I got to come home on a 7 month pass and I still wanted to get high. When I went back is when it clicked- I've got to change or I'm gonna die, I can't continue to live like this."
She credits God, the power of prayer, a supportive community and Teen Challenge for being able to get clean and stay clean. {I also give a HUGE credit her wanting to get clean and stay clean.}

She says the time she spent at Teen Challenge helped her clear her mind and focus on herself. The constant drug use left her brain in a fog- only wanting to focus on chasing that first high. {Which as most addicts say, is only attainable that first time.}

Most of Taryn's friends that she used with are either still using or dead- only a few tried to come back into her life when she returned from Teen Challenge. However, when they realized she was serious about staying sober- they didn't continue. The urge to use again used to be something she dealt with daily, but thankfully today...that is a thing of the past.
"I don't have urges to get high anymore. At this point, I never wanna do it or be that person again. My heart breaks for my friends and everyone in active addiction because I know it is possible to live a healthy, happy, drug free life. I am living proof. I am 100% drug free! No suboxone or anything. But I also know I can't put myself around it."
Taryn is currently a stay-at-home mom to a lovely 8 month old little boy. Up until his birth, she worked three jobs in order to purchase a car and get back on her feet. (Heroin literally took everything she had away from her.)  She goes to church regularly and says her relationship with her family is better than ever.

I'm thankful to be able to share her story. While pushed her to rock bottom, she didn't let hold her there. She fought back!! It IS possible. Sobriety IS attainable!

*Sidenote: I am very pleased to congratulate Emerson on 60+ days clean. She checked into a detox facility shortly after I wrote her story. From there, she went into a treatment home. Emerson said reading her story helped her to realize how badly she needed help.

Please continue to discuss addiction with your families to raise awareness in the awful truths of addiction. #talkittodeath

**I plan to continue sharing stories of addiction here. Following my initial post, I received fantastic feedback & some inquiries of other folks who have stories (some similar, some not) of addiction they would like me to help them share. If you have dealt with addiction & would like to share your story, email me at Your stories DO help others!**

March 9, 2017

Life's Blessings

Life changes without our is our attitude that determines the ride.
This was one of my daddy's favorite sayings. Maybe not always- I certainly got my stubbornness from him- my ability to hold a grudge- my ability to be a hard-headed jackass...all proudly from my daddy. But in recent years, he had my mom put this quote on their refrigerator to remind him that life can change and the only part that is truly up to us is how we handle it.

A few years ago, I was looking for a new job. Photography used to be my love- but I was totally resenting it more and more with each click of my shutter. I wanted something completely different.

" your restaurant hiring? Maybe I could just wait tables at lunch...even though I've never done that before," I said to my best gay friend #ofalltime.

"I do NOT see you slinging food, need to work at a law firm or something. Heels and pencils skirts- not aprons," he said with all the attitude you would expect. #obxdiva

At the time, I didn't even know any attorneys...except for one whose family I'd photographed a couple years earlier. I was trying to handle my own divorce- with only google as my counsel. Apparently, my diva thought this imaginary law-job was just going to fall from the sky.
Always trust your gay...they have crystal balls. #punintended 
In the blink of an eye, I was shopping for said pencil skirts and heels for my new position at a law firm. (I'm still not sure if it was my photography skills or my hip hop knowledge that landed me the position!)

"Like you needed any reason to perfect your arguing..." my sweet mama told me, while shopping.
"My point exactly, dear."

So life changed...and it was an exciting and welcomed change. I learned how to walk in heels again- I learned that getting myself out of a speeding ticket has nothing to do with crying- and I learned how to get divorced, with the help of my bossman. (The speeding & divorce part...not walking in heels.)

"I'm so proud of you, have a career now. Well...another career," Daddy said one day, when he dropped off pimento and cheese to me at work.

After he passed away, I would stand in the spot that he said those words to me, close my eyes and see him standing there. I would hear him say those words, clear as a bell. Something about seeing him walk into the door at my office, made it tough to make the move to a new office.

Last month, my boss opened his own firm in Kitty Hawk. The first morning I drove to our new place of business, I took the beach road. Daddy always told me it was just as fast- and I, for once, wasn't in a huge hurry. I got to the Kitty Hawk line and could see the ocean- it was calm and breathtaking. I turned the radio up and heard Chris Stapleton's voice bellowing out a song that always seems to play when I am already thinking about my daddy. {Daddy Don't Pray Anymore}

As I rounded the curve by the Kitty Hawk Pier, I got chills as a memory struck me. My Daddy spent summers in Kitty Hawk when he was little. His grandparents had a house in Southern Shores- one of the only houses there back then. I wiped away the tears I had tried desperately to fight back as I thought of a young Don Spencer, running in the on the shoreline...telling stories with his grandparents.

Our attitude definitely determines our ride. My new office is filled with memories of my daddy that I bring with me each day. And my rides to work? Well, they're filled with ocean views and chats with my favorite angel. #blessingsindisguise