I was 26.
The year was 1992.
The photographer was my very own brother.
This is the only copy of this photo I have and it was ruined in a flood. The glass has come off in parts but I think it adds to the dimension of the photo.
I have always loved this photo so I decided to recreate it with an updated twist to represent the woman I am now…. 30 years later.
The year is 2022.
I am 56 years old.
The pieces are finally coming together.
Oh the things I would tell that young woman… the lessons she would learn, the mistakes she would make, the wisdom she would gain. I know we would have been good friends had we known each other then. I’m so proud of that girl for all she has become.


Visual representations of times, places, people. Images can be real, imagined or manufactured. Images capture a single moment in time but not the context. While we spend time looking sometimes enviously at others photos of holiday and other family celebrations, we know not the daily struggles behind those smiles. Every picture tells a story. Sometimes the story is one we tell ourselves and sometimes it is a fairy tale others want us to believe.
This years holiday gifts in my family were those of photos. My children were gifted photos of childhoods long gone and gifted me with photos of who they are now. Each photo carried a story that was told as we turned the pages of the books and our lives. Memories were shared and new ones created together.
As I sat alone at the end of the night in the glow of the Christmas tree, I scrolled social media. I looked at the images that family and friends had posted. I saw more than the surface in many of those photos. In some I could see strained smiles and sad eyes. In some I could see body language that most would not recognize unless they had lived similar lives. I looked at the often highly curated settings of many photos and saw what many would miss. Most people would just hit the ‘like’ button and keep scrolling but not me. Perhaps it is because in the past I had been the one posting those “impression management” photos to cover for the inadequacies, deep pain and heartache I felt. Perhaps it is because some of those posting the photos had privately shared their struggles with me or because I just knew the reality of their lives.
We all want others to believe that our lives are perfect and without strife or struggle. We see the ‘picture’ that others present and think “why not me?’ or “what is wrong with me?” We step into that place of lack…that feeling that we are somehow inadequate….that feeling that somehow we are not and do not have enough.
STOP THAT! STOP right now!
Life is real and messy and imperfect…and so are we. Which is why I shared the stories behind the photos my kids had in front of them. I shared joyful, happy memories as well as pain-filled moments as we looked at the photos. I owned moments of grief and anger as well as moments when my heart overflowed with love and pride for each/all of them.
The more that we are authentic and real with one another, the more grace we offer each other, the kinder we are……the more love is created. Accept yourself for who you are and love the person looking back at you in the mirror. Accept one another, and yourself, for who they are and love the person…not the image. Every picture tells a story…own your truth and tell your story.


I love pictures! I have photos all over my home. Framed images of a moment in time that was captured forever. Looking at a photo brings back all the memories. I love pictures…just not pictures of me!
I grew up in the the era of cameras and film on a spool. The time of dark rooms and self developing. The days of photomats and ordering duplicates. Way back when we had to wait to see if there were any “good”(or incriminating!) photos and to see what we actually did at that party! I remember ordering pictures and having to request color or black and white. I remember wasting a whole roll of film on over/under exposure, running out of film, and a dead camera battery. I came of age in the era of digital cameras which moved to cell phone cameras. The cameras on cell phones are so advanced now that It is a rare occasion for me to drag out my trusty Nikon.
I love being behind that camera taking the photos. It is where I feel safe. Looking at life through the lens provides a completely different perspective. Therein lies my dilemma. Being a business owner and coach, people want to see photos of me. That makes me uncomfortable. I have spent years looking at the person in the mirror and being so cruel to that girl.
Growing up I was picked on and teased a lot for the way I looked. I was the “fat girl,” the girl with the big butt, the girl with the “brace face,” the one that never really fit in. As I grew older I projected this persona of confidence, the loud life of the party. Inside, I was slowly dying. I was constantly worried about what people were saying about me behind my back. Back then I knew nothing about anxiety so I starved myself, made a tons of crappy choices, drank, went out with bad boys, and kept everyone at arms length so they could not see my weakness.
That anxiety and cover up spiraled into a marriage to a “badboy.” I thought the feelings of insecurity would go away once I got married. Nope….things only got worse. I became a mom and thought the insecurity would go away. Nope….things only got worse. The person I thought was the love of my life used my weakness to gain an advantage over me. I could not do anything right. I was a “failure as a mom.” I needed to get in shape and was “too fat” for my own good. My hair was too long/too short/no blonde enough. The list was endless and the negative comments were never ending. Slowly it all wore me down. I lost myself. I disappeared behind the camera lens. There are many lost years where there are no photos of me with my family or my kids.
Fast forward to this past week….I stood in the background on a trip to the apple orchard watching my teens take photos of themselves. I stood and watched as they “hyped” each other, fixing clothes and hair for each other and suggesting poses. It was a joy to watch them! Then I mustered up all my courage and asked them to take a photo of me. They all “hyped” me up and helped me pose. I was afraid to look at the photos and waited until I got home. I chose one to post and still looked at what was “imperfect” but not them….they saw what was beautiful. Sure they filter and facetune their photos but for the most part, they post photos of themselves with abandon! Me? I just post the photo they tell me is “the one!”
I shared with them my feelings about photos and how I hate photos of myself. Vulnerability is uncomfortable but I am pushing myself! They suggested another photo shoot at the house. I needed photos for the website so I agreed. I mean if I hated the photos, it cost me nothing but time, not like the old days!. So I let the kids play. They did my makeup, styled my outfit and my “look” then took the photos. They told me how sit, smile and where to look. I was soooo uncomfortable but we had fun and got some great photos (according to the kids!) Honestly, if there is one things kids today know how to do, it is get the right angle and find the light for the camera.
What I didn’t realize until I was on the outside of the frame looking in was that I was looking for a place to belong and someone to love me. I spent years looking for someone to tell me I was beautiful and mean it. For someone to tell me I am perfect just the way I am.
I grew up but never grew into my own skin. It took therapy, being on my own and the love of my kids to help me realize that the person I was looking for was right in front of me all along. She was staring me right in the face. It was ME. I needed to love me. I needed to accept me. I needed to see my own beauty. I needed to love that girl I was looking at in the mirror.
I still look at photos of me and see the imperfections. But I also see the beauty that is far more than skin deep. I finally love the myself and the skin I am in. So take all the photos. Ask others to take pictures of you. Delete the ones you don’t like. Keep more than you delete. And post the ones that make you happy. That photo is only a moment in time but the memories are forever!