Some of you may know that my husband and I recently traveled to Oregon for spring break. Actually, a LOT of you may know because we could not stop sharing photos on social media. You know why? Because we were having the time of our lives. Seriously. Most fun trip ever. Some city, some beach, some rain-forrest, some sea lions. Sigh…..Oregon was a bubble of delight. And we didn’t even get to see all of it! You know what we should all be doing? We should be documenting in detail our best trips and then swapping itineraries with each other! I’ve got ours so if anyone else wants to trade, I’m game!
All that to say – why stop the over-sharing now? Here are a few of my favorite photos from the second-half of our trip.
©Kara Johnson Photography 2015
(Sigh). You’re the cutest. I am biased of course, being your aunt and all, but I have it on good authority from all of the people that I insist look at photos and videos of you regularly, that you are WAAAAY up there on the cute scale. Maybe they’re just being nice, but how could anyone not get sucked in by those eyes and that grin and those luscious baby-fat rolls?
I like thinking about how much fun we’ll have when you’re a little older and we can do things together like go to the zoo and the park and make big huge messes with paint and mud-pies! I know that after that, there will come a time when no matter how hard I try, I won’t be someone you want to hang out with anymore because you’ll realize that I’m…old. To you anyway. Because you’ll be a teenager. During this period of our lives, when I am the least-cool (second only to your parents) and you cannot possibly voluntarily be seen with me in public; I’ll try to remember my own teenage years. Instead of foolishly attempting to pick out cool music, clothes or educational games for you – I will give you cash and gift cards at birthdays and holidays. This I do solemnly swear. But for now, I’m going to give you the most ridiculous outfits I can and take as many pictures as I can and eat up all of your cuteness and continue to force coworkers, strangers and friends to agree that you are an above-average baby. This I do solemnly swear.
I love you dearest DJ!
– Aunt Kara
A couple of years ago at this time of year, I was not feeling thankful. I was feeling the deep, intense grief of someone who has lost someone or something. I was feeling alone. I was feeling like no one anywhere could possibly understand my pain and suffering. I was feeling like I would never, ever be able to climb out of the hole of depression that I had fallen into.
I’d like to mention also, that during this time I was surrounded by friends and family who were wonderful. They tried to say all of the right things, they even excused me from having to bring a dish to Thanksgiving. But sometimes – most times – every time, actually – the griever must just let the grief run it’s course. The thing that is the hardest, is that we don’t know how long that course will be. Sometimes it is a sprint, sometimes it is a never-ending marathon. We long for control over our emotions, we want to dominate the pain that is ruining everything; but the more we push against it, the longer our journey to healing will be. It is the worst.
My journey has been a long one and I have wounds that haven’t quite healed. What I appreciate most are the friends and family who are ever-patient with me. Ones who refrain from saying “Why can’t you just get over this already? Isn’t it time to move on now?” even when they don’t fully understand why I can’t do that. I am grateful for friends and family who have matched my rage and sorrow with empathy and love.
I realize that this year some of my dearest friends had hard Thanksgivings and are likely dreading Christmas in a way that I’m familiar with. I’m also willing to bet that I have friends and acquaintances who are having a hard time that I know nothing about. If you are one of those persons, I want you to know that you’re not alone. There are a whole bunch of friends and strangers alike that love you – that are praying for you – that have felt a pain as deep and treacherous as yours and who have survived. You will too. And in years to come, it will hurt a little less. But for now, I’m so, so sorry for your suffering.
Every Thanksgiving social media is bursting with images of what and who people are thankful for. I have hesitated to share some of those images myself for fear that I’m not being totally honest that this time of year is a little hard for me. So here is the full picture – I’m sad, I’m thankful, I’m hopeful and I’m thinking about all of you with love and thanks and hope as well.
Sincerely – Kara
When I was at your apartment the other day, looking at all of your impossibly cute things, I noticed a photo on your refrigerator. It was a photograph of you, from many years ago – you were young and smiling and your eyes were shut. Everyone else was cropped out of the picture. “What is this?” I inquired. “Motivation.” you replied, explaining that you were several pounds lighter in the photograph and you kept it on your refrigerator as a deterrent from misguided snacking.
I thought about this for a long time – I thought about this for hours after I left your house. Dearest friend – you are so beautiful. And do you know from whence your beauty shines forth? Your eyes! You have such a joyful spirit and it comes through in your laughing, expressive eyes every day. Now, I get it; you want to shed a few pounds. Fine – I don’t like that, but fine. But let me be clear that not for one moment – not for one moment EVER has your beauty derived from your waistline. Your beauty comes straight out from inside of you – it pours out of you with every laugh, with every furrowed brow; and every time the light catches your eyes the world gets a glimpse of the light inside of you. And it is beautiful.
So, if you must keep a photograph on the refrigerator for motivation – and I strongly discourage you thinking that you are anything less than perfect the way you are – then I implore you to please, please choose one where your eyes are open! Be reminded that your beauty shines OUT from those gorgeous eyes. Be reminded that you are made up of many things that make you more than just attractive – but that make you a complete and amazing individual.
When I visit my grandmother, I love looking at old photographs of her. I see her – her beautiful smiling eyes the same in youth as they are today. She starts the criticism “Oh gosh! I can’t believe I wore that!” but before she knows it, she too is rapt -unable to tear away from the memories held in those photos. It happens all too soon that life moves on – we change, our families change. Photographs are one of the ways we remember the past – one of the ways that we remember each other. They’re important, because you are important. So I guess what I’m saying to everyone is take pictures! Be in pictures! Smile! Open your eyes! Save your pictures, print your pictures, share your pictures (hire me to take your pictures!), and be remembered for the beautiful, perfect soul that you already are.