Posts from the ‘photography’ category

Sometimes I wonder: What would my life look like had I not followed the “right thing” and instead, looked within and chosen things for myself? What if I would have paid close attention to the red flags along the way during my courtship and marriage rather than view and disregard them–as if only gazing quickly at them from a window in a speeding car. What if I would have pursued photography and art in high school as I had dreamed of? Then continued that passion in college? What if I would have realized, at 22, the possessiveness and control was real in my soon-to-be-husband and had stood strong after I tried to break up with him and moved on, alone?

What if I would have shut out my mother’s critiques of the things I expressed I liked or her judgements of my artistic father? I wouldn’t have been so scared to choose for myself. I wouldn’t have thought art was a waste of time and pursuing photography would have been something I did, like my father.

All of these “what ifs” are here because I was afraid of disappointing. My father didn’t graduate from college, and photography was his major, so of course I saw photography as a dead-end career. He and his mother painted and my mother critiqued both of them, and I certainly didn’t want to be critiqued. So, I did the “right thing” from childhood on. Got good grades. Skipped a grade. Graduated. Got a job and put myself through night school trying to earn a business management degree. All because it was the “right thing to do.” Never was I authentically happy. I was good at it, but not happy.

The problem with doing the “right thing” for so long is that as you grow older, and stronger, you reach a point where you don’t even know what it is you would choose. You’re so used to doing the things your husband likes and eating at the places he chooses and decorating the house the way he prefers that once you’re on your own you get lost in the forest of no identity.

After my divorce, I became close friends with a sweet, divorced art teacher at the school I worked for. We bonded quickly over divorce talks, photography, and had great outings together and with our girls. We were both evolving together and breathing in our newly court-ordered freedom.

I’ll never forget the day she first walked into my large, stuffy home where I had lived the last 8 years of my marriage and declared, “This place looks nothing like you–it’s so not what I imagined your house to look like!” I chuckled and said, “That’s because it’s him.”

I know that being married to a narcissist has a way of washing away your identity. Your life becomes all about them. That’s why I cut myself slack as I try to determine who I really am. I’ve come a long way. But there are dips and bumps in the road of self-discovery. I struggle with this a lot. It’s a lesson I guess I keep re-learning, because I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.

Now, I know, had I not lived the life I had, I wouldn’t have my four amazing children. I’m so thankful for them. Being a mother is my greatest fulfillment in life and my path has taught me many, many things.

But sometimes, I can’t help but dream about the Lori that could have been.

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Exhausted.

At 6 months pregnant, I had been working full-time as an assistant to a Marketing VP at a big technology company. You would think that anyone who is in the upper echelon of a tech company would be computer-savy and have mad-skills when it comes to computers. Not that man.

My days were filled with printing and answering his emails (yes, I said printing). He didn’t understand how to use email (it was 1997–email was main-stream by now), so he liked ALL of his emails printed and on his desk first-thing at 8:00 am. Once I brought the stack of in-box items, he would sit at his round meeting table (his desk was covered in “things to read”) and hand-write his responses to co-workers, collegues and the like.

While he read off of dead trees, I kept busy doing budgeting, meeting with other admins on processes, and training the new hires. I was well-respected and I enjoyed my job, but I was looking forward to the arrival of my first son who was due in 3 months.

I was 26. My husband was 27. We had been married for close to four years, and had planned this (and every other) pregnancy. It was a conscious decision to wait to have children, because I was insistent that I would not work full-time and have a daycare raise my child.

I had worked 2 jobs since our engagement and would typically be heading to the mall for work, but this night I was headed home. I was glad to be on my way to comfy sweats and a quiet evening.

My second job was working for a local photographer I had met when I was looking for someone to photograph our wedding. He couldn’t function on a computer, and I wanted to work off my wedding package so my parents wouldn’t have to pay for photos. It was a match made in heaven. I didn’t love working 2 jobs after the wedding day, but it was extra income, and my husband often worked late, so I figured I’d be earning more money for our home and our family.

My husband came home and was extra happy and talkative that day. He was in rare form, and seemed happy as a clam. I wasn’t sure what was putting him in such a great mood–he’d typically eat dinner and zone out in front of the television after work, but I was glad he wasn’t grumpy from work. He was practically giddy tonight. His words spilled out about his day and he somehow managed to mention that he and a few women from his office had gone to a strip club for lunch.

I’m sorry, what? A strip club.

I stood there in my hot-pink shirt, the hem just long enough to cover my expanding belly, and tears swelled in my eyes.

“You went where?” I asked him. His smile turned sour and he spouted off a few, “Oh, what’s the big deal? It was just me and Yvonne and 2 other girls…it’s not like we were watching the strippers! They thought it’d be fun!”

Yvonne and 2 other girls. Yvonne…the Yvonne who is nearly 40 with platinum-bleached, too-blonde hair, ginormous fake boobs she’s not afraid to flaunt, knee-high black boot, too-skimpy mini-skirt wearing can’t hack it in a real position so she flirts endlessly with mortgage customers to make money Yvonne.

I stared blankly at him in utter disgust and confusion. A) I didn’t even know he was the strip club type and B) His wife is 6 months pregnant and he’s standing here acting like what he did this afternoon is completely acceptable and can’t fathom why I’m upset.

“Do you know how disrespectful that is?” I shouted at him.

“Oh please!” He shouted back at me, not one bit of remorse in his tone.

The argument continued, and somehow, through the magic of the narcissist, he kept insisting this argument was now my fault. I was “overreacting” and I should be glad he went with women instead of the men in the office…because for some eff’d up reason, that makes it better.

As I argued with him I found myself lost in the swirls of deceit and smoke screens. I walked outside and sat on the steps in my back yard. It was almost March, and the grass was yellow and dead-looking still. The grass looked the way my insides now felt–dead, uncared for, cold and forgotten.

I had the phone in my hands and I slowly dialed my mother. I began explaining the story to her and tears streamed down my face. I was searching for validation, support and comfort…things I never received at home, especially that day.

That day.

The day I wanted to leave.

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Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the dreams I dared to dream for myself. It had been two years since my separation from my ex husband, and I was beginning to feel comfy in my own skin again. For the first time in my life, I did more than set goals for myself–I dreamed. And I dreamed BIG! Wow, what a feeling it is to think beyond the four walls of your life and what reality dictates for you.

As I glanced back at that post, what I quickly saw is that my dreams were indeed coming true. Sure, some of them morphed a bit, and some of them were were packaged a bit differently, but they were now a reality in my life.

This past year, I was lucky enough to do some freelance work for the magazine I used to work for. As a gift to myself for Christmas this year, I purchased my very first iMac with my paycheck! This beauty was delivered last week, and I feel like I need to pinch myself every time I look at it. I’ve got big plans for this baby: photos, videos, and creativity galore!

Love LoriA iMac

Second on my list of dreams was a Nikon D7000. I’ve noticed throughout this year that I’m busy and life is chaos, so I don’t grab my large DSLR any more. It’s really just my iPhone most of the time. And post-divorce, I’ve done a terrible job of documenting our life (shame, shame on me). I hope none of you have fallen into that rut as I have: our lives need to be recorded, both through the bad and the good times. After realizing this, I’ve made some changes.

I’ve taken advantage of printing photos from my iPhone and having them delivered to my house by the awesome Persnickity Prints (hooray for finally getting them off of my phone). I plan to slip all of my Instagram photos and snapshots into albums for our family to enjoy for years to come. To add to the fun, I picked up this Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 for just over $60. Now we can snap and print instantly and add to our books. The Instax is cheaper and easier to fit into my life, so yipee for dream #2!
Fujifilm_Instax_Mini_25_689645

And now, the dream of a new vehicle. This year I was ready to get rid of my 2004 Toyota minivan. Holy hell was I ready!!! Ideally, I would still love an Audi Q5…ahhh, I can still dream, but a new marriage and the addition of 4 new kids to my family made it quite crazy for me to pick up a 5 seat vehicle. The Kia Sorento Limited AWD was the perfect solution for me. The interior felt just like a Q5 (Kia picked up an Audi designer, so there are lots of features that feel like an Audi), but I’ve got the luxury of 7 seats to fit my new larger family (and the price tag was easier to swallow on this baby, too!)Sorento_2014_SXL_TitSilver_09_C

And finally, Hawaii. Oh, Hawaii. You are a dream that is being rolled over to another day for me. I still have dreams of visiting the islands and lounging for days in the sunshine, and I hope to enjoy a life-long dream of visiting in the near future with my hubby. But this year, we substituted the Pacific for the Atlantic and took off for Jamaica. Just because I didn’t make it to Hawaii doesn’t mean that my dream didn’t come true. Brandon and I spent a week enjoying and relaxing and it was far-beyond heavenly!

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I’ve learned a lot about the power of dreaming over this past year. Especially the power of dreaming after a life-altering event, such as divorce. Life can get difficult. It can get ugly (boy, can it get ugly!). It can be painful. But I’ve learned that it can also bring new dreams, new love, new adventures and most importantly, a new you.

They say that if you write down your goals, you’ll remember them and commit to them easier. I think that applies to dreams, too. Call it a bucket list. Call it a list of goals. Whatever you call it, make your list. DO IT! Clip photos of places you want to go or things you want to do or just write them on a paper and put them up in your home. You’ll be so happy you did. Because dreams do come true!

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LoriWho am I? It’s a question we ask of ourselves many times during our lifetime. Of course, large or traumatic events in our lives tend to push us to question the purpose of our being more deeply. Some people can come up with their answer quickly. Some of us take a good, long look and evaluate everything that we’re made of.

I’ve mentioned here before that my childhood consisted of being the girl who always “did the right thing.” Dreaming didn’t happen; in fact, you were discouraged for even daring do such a thing. “That’s a waste of time, and it’s not something you should do…you should work harder, be better.” Those are the lessons that ring in my head. I’ve since found out that part of discovering who you are, whether it be due to a transition in our life or a search for internal happiness, should involve a great deal of dreaming. Dreaming about what you want your life to look like, the desires you have…it’s kind of like going to Nordstrom and trying on every gorgeous pair of shoes in the shoe department! Hello, leopard-print, peep toe platform heels. Rawr!. It’s an experiment! And ya know what?! Dreaming doesn’t cost a dime (and thank heavens, neither does trying on shoes at Nordstrom)!

After I was separated, I turned to memories from decades before to evaluate Who is Lori, and what makes her happy? From the age of 23 – 40, I was an attentive wife, a hardworking employee, and a great mom. But, who was Lori?! After all of those years giving to everyone else, I somehow lost myself. My then-husband didn’t appreciate me having friends or going out, so I willing gave up friendships to be with him and keep him happy. Before having children, I played volleyball and softball multiple times a week. Once the kids came, I felt that in order to be a good mother, I needed to be with them at all times. So my activities stopped. As they got older, I went to every practice, every game, and every activity. Do I regret that? Absolutely not! I had busy parents as a kid and I felt “ditched” a lot, so I didn’t want to do that to my children. I wanted to be there as much as I could. But do I regret losing myself along the way? Absolutely!

In my quest to find myself after the divorce, I took a long look back at my childhood years. Trying to tap-in to the happy, care-free memories of my life pre-marriage. I looked way back. Connecting with my brother and rock, Mike, as he walked me through the bad days/nights was a lifeline I had that kept me on the right track some days. He and I are only 2 years apart, and after having experienced a divorce of his own, he was the guy who I needed in my corner. He asked me to bring my kids camping with his family, which was medicine to our souls. We spent days lounging in the sun on one trip, laughed over memories of us fishing and camping as kids (my father was the king of fireside breakfasts, and my brother was the best fish-gutting partner I’d ever had–well, the only one), and we now have awesome memories from last years’ trip which consisted of getting trapped in monsoonal-type weather where we had to ditch the tents and drive down the mountain to get to drier land. My kids thought it was the best weekend ever!

Love Lori A and MikeLori-Mike

In these moments I realized how much I missed the outdoors. My ex-husband and I never went camping. We never took the kids out for a hike or away to scour the mountainsides even though they are literally out our back door.  These self-feeding moments helped me to realize that I re-energize after I’ve been outside in the sunshine and away from the hustle and bustle. Getaways to St. George and Park City were soon added to my calendar.

Two-on-two volleyball tournaments and softball during the week were activities that soon followed. It felt like it had been ages since I’d played. My body ached and I was old enough to every other woman on the fields mother, but that was part of the fun. And you can bet your sweet booty that when I beat those women, it was like a full-body Botox injection that took 2 years off my age! Old? Who’s old?! (As a quick side note, it was playing softball where I met my wonderful now-husband, Brandon. Girl landed herself a younger man who thinks her softball skilzz rock!)

My confidence in myself began to come back. I felt like I could tackle any problem that came my way. Of course, I was still dealing with a somewhat abusive person who would harass me by text and email (I limited our communication to text or email only early in the divorce process, thankfully!) but now that I knew who I was and how strong I was, all of that was easier to tackle. And ya know what? I even got to where I felt sexy and gorgeous again, because I knew who I was, what I deserved, and what I wanted. Bonus to the 10th-degree right there!

I also added new experiences to my life story. Experiences that I never would have EVER thought of trying when I was younger. A girlfriend and I made plans and jumped a plane the same day and had an amazing girls’ weekend in Las Vegas. I got a pedicure for the first time (how sad is that). I flew to Vegas to meet a man I met online (I wouldn’t recommend this, but he was a nice guy. Just not for me). I learned a lot about who I was and what I wanted.

Divorce is a rebirth of who you are. Sometimes, you could even call it a do-over. When you’re feeling lost and you’re mourning a life that you had grown to love, glance back into your past and examine who you were before the pain. What activities made you happy? Where were you at peace? Look back at the things you wish you’d tried that you never had before. It just may happen that you’ll find yourself that one pair of shoes at Nordstrom that fits you perfectly!

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House Snow Winter

We had our first big snow storm here in Utah on Saturday. Hooray! Snow is happily welcomed during the months of November and December around the Anderson household. But after that, it needs to blow its way up North. I was a happy girl to see the gorgeous sunny morning, so I grabbed my Nikon and got out in the white and took some pics. Hope you all enjoy this eye candy!

Snowy Street

Icicles

Snowy Tree

Shoveling

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