There’s always one weekend.  You never know when it’s going to be.  Sometimes it’s early in the year…sometimes it’s late.  It can be totally random or something you’ve been looking forward to for months.  But it’s always there.  The first weekend that really feels like summer.  Where the sunscreen comes out and you’re always just a little bit sweaty.  Where the cold all the sudden becomes a distant memory and you remember just how magical a little sunshine can be.  The first taste of sun-kissed skin and a promise of all the summer weekends that are yet to come.

 

Last weekend was just that.  Gary and I went down to Indy to see Neil Diamond with my parents.  It’s safe to say I was easily the youngest person there but it was fun nonetheless.  We sang our hearts out to Sweet Caroline and watched my dad relive his musical past.  Then Saturday we woke up bright and early and headed to Kentucky for Thunder over Louisville.  Our best friends, Sara and Brandon, live there and they had been talking about how fun this was so, of course, we had to check it out.  The Truelock’s never turn down a party.  And a party it was.  We sat on tailgates and drank beer and watched some seriously epic fireworks and made memories that we will most definitely never forget.  And as we drove home…not only was I so happy that we got to spend a weekend with some of my favorite people in the world…I could feel summer creeping it’s way in.  And if it’s anything like last weekend…it’s going to be an epic one.

 

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One of my goals this year was to put authenticity at the forefront of everything I do.  Whether it be blogging or Instagram or a conversation with a friend…I truly believe that being your true, unique self not only helps you live a more fulfilled life…but helps every person around you feel like it’s ok to do the same.  I’ve talked so many times about real life vs. this curated life that tends to show up on social media…and how important I think it is to drop that veil.  Over the last few months I’ve been doing a #wcw series that has literally blown me away.  The courage and inspiration these women have put out there is incredible…and further proof that world needs a little more real.

 

So today is the next step in this so called journey I’m on.  I think there is something truly beautiful in the messiness of family life.  The spills and chaos and every days that in the scheme of things…make up a life.  If my selfies with Katharine tell you anything…it’s that I love a good cheese at the camera photo.  But there is real beauty in the behind the scenes.  In the moments you look back on and remember your kids exactly as they were.  In the giggles and the tantrums and the sticky fingers…because that’s where real family happens.  So starting today I am going to be offering ‘in real life‘ sessions.  Just me…spending a few hours with your family exactly as they are.  And photos that you can look back on and savor those precious moments that might otherwise pass you by.

 

DETAILS – ‘in real life’ sessions

Two hours at your home (we can discuss other locations if they feel more authentic to your family)

Online proofing gallery

All high resolution images and printing rights

Keepsake memory book

$600

 

 

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  • cara - April 16, 2015 - 9:52 am

    feeling nastalgic! Loves these lauren!ReplyCancel

  • Janet Wakefield - April 18, 2015 - 12:39 pm

    These are the best – I wish we had done that when you were littleReplyCancel

 

Nicole truly is my woman crush.  I met her for the first time when she came to our Turning Tides retreat.  I knew a little bit about her story from Christy, who photographed her wedding…and I just knew I liked her already.  Throughout that week we spent early mornings over coffee talking about life.  At the time…her husband, Ronnie, was deployed to Iraq and I remember just being in awe of her.  She would talk about what they’ve been through and what it was like to go for so long without him and my heart literally ached for her.  This girl…who is like a ray of sunshine to be around…so positive and full of life…was dealing with something so huge and life altering yet bringing such a brave face to military wives everywhere.  There was a time when she was talking to some of the girls and I remember thinking…I would rather get cancer 10 times then live a year without Gary.  And in that moment, Nicole became my hero.  :)

 

She is one of the sweetest, most genuine…truly authentic people I know.  For the last few years I have been obsessed with following along with her life because even on the saddest days…it’s full of so much joy.  Nicole is an incredible wife…one who has dealt with more in their short marriage than most wives deal with in a lifetime.  She is brave and supportive and picks the people up around her.  She is an incredible photographer, an amazing friend…and one kick-ass woman.

 

___________________________

NICOLE LENDER

 

I’d say there are approximately twelve Reese’s wrappers in the backseat of my car at any given time.

 

I have a mole on my cheek that my close friends and family say is something that is beautiful about me.  I’ve went to the dermatologist countless times to get it removed, but I always end up backing out.

 

I’ve been skunked.  Literally.  A skunk sprayed me point blank.  Instead of going on a date, I had to give myself a tomato bath.

 

I say fuck.  A lot.  It disappoints my parents.

 

I have a really rad scar on my hand that looks like a Harry Potter lightning bolt.  I pulled the cord of my mom’s hot curling iron when I was a year old and it fell on my hand.  I was made fun of for it all throughout middle school but I thank my mom for an awesome scar because it makes me unique.  (Don’t try this at home, kids.)

 

I’ve gained fifty pounds since I started college. Every day is Monday for me – I make up every possible excuse to not eat healthier and exercise more.

 

I have a lot of friends on social media scattered all over the world, yet I feel extremely alone in my own city.

 

I drink wine like it’s water.

 

I don’t have a close relationship with my brother and that has bothered me for a long time.  I fear it will always feel this distant.

 

I feel like people look down on me when I tell them I don’t have more education than an associate’s degree.

 

One of my biggest failures in life is having let go of those who loved me deeply.

 

My relationship with my husband prior to getting married was saved when the only method of communication for five months was handwritten letters.

 

While vacationing in California, a bicyclist and I collided head-on while I was driving a rental car. I tried to comprehend what had just happened while shards of glass were scattered everywhere…and for fifteen seconds, I thought I had ended someone’s life.  I still struggle with the thought of this happening to me again whenever I drive anywhere.

 

Losing Milo, our Shiba Inu puppy, to a heart condition was one of the toughest things I have ever experienced.  His loss put me into a deep phase of distrust – something I had already struggled with for a long time.  I still have trouble believing strangers’ intentions.

 

People used to make bets on how long my marriage would last.  It hurt me to the core.

 

I get really offended if people are brutally honest with me.  People say I’m too sensitive but the truth is that I just feel too much.

 

When my husband joined the Army, I had a longing desire to become a mother.  Financially, we were nowhere near where we needed to be to raise a child, but I constantly nagged him about starting a family.  I think being a military wife and being surround by young wives having babies made me feel like I didn’t have a purpose.  Fast-forward several years. I don’t feel like I would ever be a good mom.

 

In 2012, I went to the doctor after years of unexplainable chest pain. I was told it was “probably just a pinched nerve.”  I never got a second opinion and the pain still keeps me up at night.

 

I’ve been cheated on in every relationship I’ve been in.  Another woman became pregnant during one of those times.

 

For so long, I was constantly pretending to be someone I wasn’t for the sake of having friends who really weren’t good friends at all.

 

I fear that I will never be able to reach my dream of living next to the ocean.  Every day spent away from it feels like a day wasted.

 

I’m an over-controlling wife because my husband’s a daredevil and I fear that if I don’t keep him safe something terrible will happen to him.

 

I feel like I’m drowning in a pool of school loan debt that I’ll never get out of.

 

I missed my last day of college because my drink was drugged the night before.  My friends kept me safe, but I didn’t wake up until 3:00 PM the following day. I handed in my finals late and received a lower grade, but I never told my teachers what happened because I was too ashamed about it.

 

I think traveling is one of the best things we can do as humans for our souls, but the economy and our busy work lives keep us from seeing so much of the world.

 

Being a military wife has made me question so much about our nation’s government and I often worry about what’s to come for our country.

 

At 19, my husband-then-boyfriend’s father looked me right in the face and told me I would never be successful as a photographer. Five years have passed and I don’t think I will ever consider him my father-in-law.

 

I don’t live in the present enough and I use my mobile devices as a cop-out from having what would most likely be very meaningful conversations.

 

I was once seconds from suicide.  I constantly struggle with my anxiety and with the stigma that comes with mental disorders.  I’ve learned over time that it’s okay to ask for help.

 

At twenty-three, I’d rather stay in the confines of my own home and enjoy time spent with my family (and by family I mean my husband and my fur-kids).  At the end of the day, the only thing you have is the love you share with your family and your friends.  I’ve learned that my perfectionist characteristics created unrealistic and impossible desires for myself for so many years.  Every day I become more and more comfortable with being my truest, authentic self and it is so much more rewarding to be loved so incredibly for the imperfect qualities that make up who I am.  I had never felt more alone in my life than when I was a military wife – and in ways – I am thankful for that.  I hit rock bottom and stuck there in that rut for roughly three years and because of that, the challenges that I am faced with don’t seem so scary.  They don’t seem so impossible and actually… for the first time in my life a lot of my goals are actually beginning to seem achievable.  Regardless of how people perceive me, whether I fail or I succeed, whether I lose the weight that’s keeping me down (literally and figuratively speaking), I am loved and I love others…so fucking much.  (Sorry, mom and dad. I love you.)  What screws us up most in life is the image in our head of how we think it’s supposed to be.  Nothing has held me back more than my own insecurities and unrealistic perceptions of what life should look like.  At the same time, I have so much and so little life to live, and I will make the absolute most of my journey in this life of mine – attempting to live in the moment and taking each day as it comes – whatever they may bring.

 

#wcw, inspiring woman, women in real life, women who inspire, #wcw series_0001

  • Trish - April 15, 2015 - 10:32 am

    Amazing. I have tears reading this. You are BOTH such brave women. Nicole I admire how you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable and put your fears out in the open. I imagine it’s a great relief to set them free. You inspire me more than you know. Lauren, wonderful post as always. More people need to know what a light she is in the lives of those who know her.ReplyCancel

    • Nicole Lender - April 15, 2015 - 9:37 pm

      Trish! I miss you so so much! Thank you so much for these kind words. I’m so lucky to have been able to meet you for several days at the lake and have enjoyed following you and your family on my news feed since then! <3ReplyCancel

 

When Ruth contacted me about shooting her intimate wedding in Pilsen I just knew it was going to be something special.  Watching her talk about her ideas and the things about her wedding day that were important to her made me fall instantly in love with her.  Ruth is the type of person who puts you instantly at ease and as we finished our Mexican hot chocolates, I knew her day was going to be as one of a kind as she was.

 

When I arrived at the church you could feel the love in the room.  So many people coming together to make this day so perfectly special.  You could see the excited jitters in Ryan because in mere moments he was going to marry his best friend.  You could hear all the guests mingling because there wasn’t a stranger in the room.  And as Ruth made her way down the aisle there was nothing but smiles because every person there knew just how meant to be this moment was.  Ruth and Ryan…and the first day of the rest of their lives.

 

Ruth and Ryan…thank you so much for including me in your special day.  It was truly fabulous.  I loved every minute of it and I am so grateful to have met you both!  And remember, ask for forgiveness…not permission!  I hope you are enjoying Morocco!!!!!!!!!

 

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We started to descend into Denver where we had a two hour layover until our flight to Chicago.  The turbulence had been out of control and the landing was no different.  But none of that mattered because I felt like my head was going to implode.  More specifically…my ear.  It was like my ears wouldn’t pop.  No matter what I did and the closer we got to land the more it hurt.  I mean…like really hurt.  By the time we were actually in the Denver airport I felt like four walls were closing in on my brain and my ear drum was going to either implode or burst into a million pieces.  It was not a pleasant experience.

 

A few days prior to this flight I had lost my voice.  Like completely.  Which has never happened to me.  I was at the What If conference (thankfully it happened the day after my talk…whew) and while I sounded hilarious…it was the strangest thing.  So when I got home and felt like the best option was to cut my entire head off I knew it was time to see the doctor.  Turns out…I came home from Mexico with two ear infections…a sinus infection and laryngitis.  I mean what kind of adult gets ear infections?!?!?!  And man are they painful.  So luckily she hopped me up on all kinds of meds and I am somewhat back to normal now.  And finally in a place to put my thoughts together from this past week in Mexico.

 

This was my 4th What If and from day one in the back of my mind it had always been a goal of mine to speak.  The first couple years I was too scared to even say it out loud.  Then the third year after a few drinks I mustered up the courage to just ask.  And this year I actually did it.  The days leading up to my talk I was a nervous wreck…even though I tried to hide it.  Even during it…I was scared to death.  But when I got to What If…Natalie Norton asked us what we wanted to get out of this year and my answer was…I wanted to change at least one person’s life.  So I kept that in the front of my mind and did the best I possibly could.  And it wasn’t until it was over and people were coming up to me telling me how much it helped them that I let myself accept it was a success!

 

And not only that…for the first time in all the What If’s I’ve been to…I didn’t leave with that angsty, uncomfortable feeling.  I didn’t leave confused and unsure of what’s ahead.  I left with reassurance.  And complete faith that I am right where I need to be.  On the path that I am meant to be on and all the pieces that are still flying around up in the air are will fall where they may.  Because no matter what happens in the future…I am going after something I am truly passionate about.  And in the words of Dave DuChemin….”If you aren’t willing to dance or cry over it…it’s not worth it.”

 

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I love me some Coke Light!!!!!

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One of my favorite parts of What If…beach games!!!! (Thanks, Tami, for snapping these photos!)

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Our team won! Team Awesome forever!!!!

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The selfie stick really just made the whole conference.  ;)

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Selfie stick + dance parties = epicness

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We were all so exhausted but we woke up early one morning to walk on the beach and man was it worth it.  So beautiful.

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Love these girls so much!!  #differencemakers

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Sickness and all…it was an amazing week full of amazing people that will no doubt be lifelong friends!

 

  • Libby - April 15, 2015 - 10:35 am

    This week was one of my very favorite weeks ever. I loved seeing you again, Lauren but also connecting with Tami and Jen more!! <3 Love you guys!! :)ReplyCancel