Every year we say we are going to go.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a long weekend lounging on a dock and sipping wine on off the back of a boat.  But somehow…something always comes up.  A wedding…time off….lack of planning on our part.  It’s never the same…but it’s always something.  But this year…we decided we were making it happen.  We were going to Michigan for the Fourth of July.  My sister-in-law’s family has a lake house way up north in Michigan and it’s the perfect place to escape to and unwind for a few days.  There’s been a lot going on around the Truelock’s lately so we are both super excited to just shut it off and relax for a nice, long weekend.  Bring on the Chardonnay!  :)

 

That being said…it’s going to be a little quiet around here for the next few days.  But don’t you worry…you can follow along on all our shenanigans on Instagram (@lwakephoto).  I hope you have an amazing holiday weekend and we will be back to regular scheduled programming on Tuesday!  Happy Fourth of July!

 

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It’s always interesting to me how people come into your life.  There was a time where I literally told my mom if I was in the hospital that maybe one person would visit me…because I had very few friends.  And years later I honestly can’t believe how many incredible people I have in my life.  Gen being one of them.  I met Gen three years ago at the What If Conference in Portland…but it wasn’t until a few months ago when her and her husband came to Chicago for their anniversary and asked me to photograph them that I really got to see the magic inside this girl.  She is one of the most pure and genuine people I have ever met.  Within seconds of being around her you feel like you want to just sit and talk to her for hours.  Days even.  She has this ease about her and you honestly feel like you could tell her anything.  Spending time with her and her husband…ten years strong…was proof that true love is very much alive and well.  Gen is kind, incredibly talented, beautiful and as you are about to see…one hell of a writer.  But on top of all that…she is one truly remarkable woman.

 

________________________________

GEN SMYTH

 

It was a Wednesday afternoon when I walked into Starbucks that day nearly six years ago.  I stood at the bar, waiting for my drink, when the barista politely asked me what I was up to that day.  As it turns out, I was en route to the airport at that moment…about to catch a flight to Italy with my husband.  After a brief minute of chatting, the barista handed me my coffee and wished me a nice trip.  But then again”, she said “why wouldn’t you…your life is golden!

 

I’ll admit…the gold star was nice.  But at the same time, the words knocked the wind out of me.  She wasn’t being rude.  She wasn’t being sarcastic.  In fact, she was being totally genuine.  And that’s the part that really took my breath away.

Because here’s the thing…

 

This lovely girl saw me for all of five minutes a day.  Usually all dressed up on the way to my full-time job at one of the country’s most prestigious art galleries.  Or with my camera in hand to photograph two people in love.  Or, yes, on my way to Italy for ten days to celebrate my anniversary.  This is what she saw.  Therefore, this is what she knew. 

 

And truth be told, there is darkness in this kind of knowledge.  Especially now, when so many of our connections happen only five minutes at a time…fully filtered and perfectly hashtagged.  In our defense though, it’s not entirely our fault.  That battle we’re fighting…those rough days were having…they don’t tend to translate quite as well when you have twenty people in line behind you for coffee or a hundred and forty characters to spell out your day. 

 

Honestly, what was I going to tell my barista?

 

“Yes, we’re flying to Europe.  I just miscarried our baby…we had a terrifying health scare…I’m suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder…and we’re feeling pretty far from God right now.  So, yeah, going to Italy seemed as good a place as any to just run away from our life and justifiably eat gelato twelve times a day.”

 

No.  I wasn’t going to tell her this.  Because shocking total strangers into oblivion is a bit harsh and cruel.  Especially when she’s the girl in charge of making your coffee every day. 

 

But I did spend the entirety of that flight wondering; about our sense of authenticity…our collective vulnerability…our polished identity.  And it made me feel like a total fraud.  Because I’m not any of those things that this girl sees on the other side of her coffee bar.

 

If I showed up one morning, wearing my most ragged and scarred self…it would be a very different girl staring back at her [and she would likely feel inclined to serve me alcohol instead of coffee!]…

Because I was bullied a lot as a teenager.    

I’m afraid of thunderstorms.

I spend an absurd amount of time worrying about what other people think of me.

My biggest challenge in life is letting go of people.  Even if they hurt me.

I hide behind my humor for fear that people won’t accept me without it.

I feel like I have failed as a daughter.

I try to avoid big groups so that I won’t feel like the invisible one among it.

When I was in grade ten, a boy made a comment about my smile…and I’ve been self-conscious about it ever since.

I feel like I’m an easy person to walk away from in life…and it haunts me on a daily basis.

I almost always operate under the assumption that I care more about everyone else than they do about me.

I unfollow people on Instagram if their life seems too perfect because it makes me feel inadequate.

I feel like a terrible mother pretty much all the time.

I hate emptying the dishwasher.

Every day, I’m afraid that my husband is going to wake up and finally realize how much crazy he married.

I thank God for every day that he doesn’t!

I don’t like to try new foods…so I travel with my own jar of peanut butter.

I want to write a book so badly that it hurts.  But I’m afraid of people telling me that my life was never worth telling.

I once spent the night crying in bed and apologizing to my husband for being married to someone with such an unattractive body.  It wasn’t my best night…to say the least.

On that note; I’m not crazy about my body.

I struggle, every single day, with feeling like I’m enough.  Skinny enough.  Funny enough.  Good enough.

And I cry.  A lot.

 

I highly doubt I would get a gold star for any of this. But, as I write this, I’m sitting in that very same Starbucks.  In fact, I’m also heading off to the airport again in a few hours to drop off my husband for his flight to Europe.  I’m staying home this time because now – six years later – we have two kids.  I’ve since left the job at that beautiful art gallery to risk life as a full-time photographer [read: to spend every single day worrying that no one will ever hire me ever again!  True story!].  I’ve traded in my nice work outfits for sun-kissed skin and a never-ending battle to balance it all.  I juggle married life, parenthood, friendships, creativity, self-employed and honestly, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.  Ever.

 

But I do know one thing now; that even with all of my frailty…all of my fears…and all my faults…none of those things make my life any less golden.

Scars tell stories.  Scars mean survival.  Scars means you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.

And we’ve all got them…even the sweet girl serving my coffee.  She’s fighting her own battle…defending her own front line…struggling in her own way.

And maybe it’s not about collecting gold stars for the perceived reality we give the world on Facebook…but it’s about the purple hearts we get for living bravely among the real one.

Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability.

So, buy your coffee…wear your scars proudly…and carry on, dear soldier…

You’re not in this battle alone.

#wcw, inspiring women, women who inspire, beautiful women, girlboss, successful women

  • Linda - July 2, 2015 - 12:38 pm

    Love this girl. Love her words. She reassures me that we’re all scarred and that’s ok. It also reminds me to show more kindness to others because everyone is fighting their own battle.ReplyCancel

 

I was pushing her higher…per request…but honestly if she went any higher she was going to flip over.  I had switched arms about ten times because this kid did not want to stop swinging.  I was watching all the parents play with their kids and kept wondering if they were watching me too.  I surely stood out like a sore thumb as most definitely not a parent (side note: don’t wear your ‘Good Morning Vodka’ tank top to the park with your three year old niece).  I was standing behind the swing sure not to miss a push…because she notices…and pulled out my phone.  I wasn’t checking it for anything specific…just to see if I had a text message or any new Facebook notifications.  I didn’t.  Then all the sudden I looked up when I heard a little voice.  Katharine was looking back at me over her shoulder…with the cutest face that I think exists in the world…and said…La la, put your phone away.  And just like that…it was away for the rest of the day.

 

Three years old…sometimes going on 23…and she gets more about life than I think most of us do.  The world is so simple to a kid and whenever I’m around her I start to see it that way too.  As “grown-ups” life has this way of becoming so complicated.  Our thoughts twist into tightly wound balls of stress and worry and we forget what it’s really about in the first place.  The simplicity of what it means to simply be.  But Katharine…she gets it.  And I think taking a few lessons from a three year old could do us all a little good.

 

Put your phone away.  A banana and some toons are a great way to start any morning.  Sometimes you just need a time-out.  Take it…and move on.  Use your words.  Crying is great…but say what you mean or get over it.  No matter how long you’ve been potty trained a port-o-potty covered in daddy long-legs just isn’t happening.  If you do a good job…you deserve some gummies (and by gummies I mean wine).  When swinging…always aim for higher.  Get a little messy…that’s why they invented baths.  And when it rains…don’t be afraid to jump in some puddles.

 

lessons from a three year old, katharine, katharine and lala, puddles, chicago wedding photographer, indianapolis wedding photographer_0001

 

 

 

 

If you don’t follow along on Instagram (@lwakephoto) you might not know that I’ve been working from Indy this week.  I had several things going on down here that I managed to fit into one week and so I’ve set up shop at my parent’s house.  I have to say…it’s been pretty awesome to get to pop over and see my little ladies any time I want and spend the evenings out on my parent’s porch.  I lived in this house for 18 years and never realized how amazing that little thing is.  Man I need an outdoor space.  Anyways…while it sucks not having Gary here it has been a great couple days in the work department.

 

Yesterday I got the chance to be a part of Golf for the Cure.  I photographed this event full of some truly amazing ladies and got the chance to speak and tell my story.  I always think I talk too fast and say um or like too much.  I definitely talk with my hands like no one’s business but in that group it didn’t matter.  Every woman there was so welcoming and kind and all the survivor’s that came before me were so inspiring.  I also got the chance to talk about Healing Heels and on a purely selfish level…it was so awesome to hear positive things from total strangers.  As much as Sid and I believe in this idea and our family and friends have been so supportive…there’s always that little voice in your head that wonders if the rest of the world will think you’re an idiot.  And yesterday was a little sliver of hope that maybe we’re on to something.

 

I have another full day of Indy work today and then it’s on to a fun weekend.  It’s safe to say I may have a little too much fun when I’m here.  But above all else this has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I want to give a huge thanks to all the ladies at Golf for a Cure for thinking of me!

 

golf for a cure, vera bradley foundation, survivors, breast cancer research, healing heels, chemo gifts, chemo shoes

Survivors unite!

 

I considered starting this by listing all the things Amanda and I have in common…but I don’t think there’s enough room on the internet.  When I met Amanda it was at a Starbucks back in the early days of my business.  I was just excited someone was willing to meet with me let alone that someone being Amanda.  I remember sitting there in awe that I couldn’t believe this girl…this bride who was literally like something out of my wedding dreams…wanted me to shoot her wedding.  From that second on Amanda became not only one of my favorite brides…but someone I am so lucky to call a friend.  This girl is just so many things.  She is witty and most of the time just downright hilarious.  She is smart and creative…and very fashionable I must add.  This girl can accessorize with the best of them!  She cares about people with everything she has and has this ability to make you feel like a million bucks without even trying.  When you are around her you want to keep being around her and when you’re not…you wish you were.  She is such a beautiful person…an amazing wife…and one incredible woman.  Which is why today she is most definitely my #wcw.

 

_________________________

AMANDA NELSON

 

I’m passionate about serving, especially people with disabilities. 

I believe that I was made to work for Special Olympics Illinois, yet I’m terrified of having a child of our own with special needs.

I am a total hypochondriac; I waste so much of my time being worried. 

My dog has his own hash tag.  I know he appreciates the attention.

I love to host… but I drive myself insane thinking about what others will say about our house, my food, our life. 

I’m crafty.  I like that I can be confident about that talent.

My Grandma once told me, copying is the greatest form of flattery.  She’s a smart cookie.

I over plan and over book because I never want to feel left out.

I have a hard time “living in the moment.”  Instead I think about how sad it will be when it’s over.

I’m proud of what my husband and I have overcome and how strong we are now compared our dating days.

I’ve had three close friends beat Cancer.  It’s safe to say they are the strongest most inspiring people I have ever met. (xo, ME, LT, MD)

I will always believe in second chances.

I’m insanely insecure with my “toothie”…a tooth that never grew in and left me hating my smile.

I love Grandpas.  My grandpa, your grandpa, the older gentleman walking down the street that I assume is a grandpa.

I always like to see the best in everyone and it sometimes bites me in the ass.

I am incredibly sentimental, I’ve cried three times while writing this. 

I often forget to say please and thank you, especially to my husband.  I’m working on it.

Nagging is my worst trait.  I hate that I cannot find a better way to communicate when I’m angry/upset.

People tell me I have a magnetic personality, it’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.

My sister-in-laws don’t like me.  And it bothers me, a lot.

This spring I created a business plan in hopes to have a booth at our Famers Market, I’m telling all of you so that I stay accountable.  Pretty Poppies… coming soon!

I’m still driving my Sweet Sixteen car, her name is Tricia.  She is old, rusted and embarrassing but I cannot seem to tell her goodbye.

I shave my legs once a month, maybe?  I’m lazy and I have realllllly light hair.

My life goal is to picnic across the country with my husband.

 

Someone once told me that our old farm home “had potential.”  I remember how furious and offended I was.  Our first home together has been filled with nonstop labor, change, character, tears, broken pipes, learning, laughing, fights, and horrible paint colors.  We’ve hosted the most important people in our lives for dinners, sleepovers, s’mores and walks into town.  Now, two years later, I look back at our “potential” and smile…that person nailed it.

 

If life has half as much potential and memories as this 150 year old farm house, I’ll take it.  I’m 30 years old and building a life that is unlike anyone else’s.  I don’t have a baby on the way or travel to exotic places or eat at fancy restaurants!  I do, however, have a husband who values me, who tells dumb jokes just to see “toothie” and who promises me that he’ll love me and our life forever.  That paired with our banana loving puppy and the potential to start each day fresh is enough for me.

#wcw, inspiring women, amazing women, chicago wedding photographer, indianapolis wedding photographer_0003