Monday
Sep272010

My Own Secretariat Story (And a Chance to Win a $100 Visa Gift Card)

The sun still shone as my mom gently nudged me awake. I was groggy from the disruption to what should have been a full night's sleep. "Put your shoes on and come outside," she said.

I slipped my little feet into my heavily scuffed and slightly-too-small black patent leather shoes. My ankle-length nightgown was worn and fraying where lace should have been, a sure sign that it was a hand-me-down from an older cousin. I couldn't have been more than maybe 7 or 8-years old at the time, so there was no need to put on more clothing before venturing into the tiny weed-filled yard.

As I slowly trudged through the weeds to the back of the trailer house where my mother stood waiting, a feeling of dread spread through my every pore. The flashing lights and the man in the Important Uniform hinted at what I was about to happen.

To continue reading and for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card, go here.



Sunday
Sep262010

For Now On, I Will Choose to See Beautiful

"Can I see?" Alexis asked. She's currently in a phase where common sense has caught up with vanity. She wants to see as many photos of herself as possible, and now she understands that the photo have to be taken in order for her to see them.

I turned the camera around so that she could catch a glimpse of herself. She looked at her image and instantly broke out into a big grin. "I look beautiful!" she said.

She did look beautiful in the photo, even with the dry-crusted kid dirt all over her face, wild hair, and goofy crooked smile.

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As she walked into the room, her body language spoke volumes. Not only did the gorgeous woman with the perfectly coiffed rich brown hair not want to have her photo taken, she was downright miserable just thinking about it. I'm not a fan of being on the other side of the camera either, so I tried to make it as quick and painless as possible.

Five snaps of the camera later, I felt certain my goal had been achieved. I had a head shot suitable for a website that showed just enough of the woman's personality to not be stiff. As a bonus, the lighting in the room was perfect for highlighting her stunning brown eyes. I turned the camera to give the woman a preview of the photo.

"Ugh," she said as her face turned downward. "I look horrible."

She didn't. At all. But, I understand not liking photos, so I asked what I could change. The lighting? The angle? Did she want to try smiling a bit wider?

"Can you make it look like I'm 20 pounds thinner?" she responded in a tone that dripped of self-doubt.

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For the second time in as many weeks, someone had asked to pay me to take some photos for them. Which, um, OKAY! BRING IT ON! It was a rambunctious 2-year old on the other side of the camera this time. She hammed it up, gleefully grinning at me before running away. She had turned the photo session into a wicked fun game of Hide-n-Seek. As her mom scooped her up to bring her back towards me for the fiftieth time, I managed to catch a few candid shots of the two of them looking at each, huge grins across their faces.

Later, looking at the images on my laptop, I smiled as I looked at love captured digitally.

When I sent the image files to the woman a few days later, I noted that the photo of her with her daughter was one of my favorites. She replied back, "UGH! I look awful in that photo. It looks like I haven't slept in days."

Even looking at the photograph now, I don't see it. I see an amazing woman with joy-filled eyes and a toddler looking lovingly at the person who is her entire world.

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"I got a great photo of you," I said. "Did you see it?"

"What have you been taking?" she asked. "I look awful."

"What the hell are you talking about? You look hawt," I replied.

"You are a terrible liar," she responded.

When I look at the photo, I see a stunning redhead. Her eyes sparkle with energy and you can just tell that she lights up a room when she walks in. The photo captures that good sort of crazy, the good sort of crazy that can make any situation more fun, any moment funnier, and every day a little bit brighter. The photo is one of my favorites I have ever taken because it so perfectly captures her, and she is beautiful.

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I don't like to have my photograph taken. I am highly skilled at ruining a photo with a goofy face, a side effect of talking with pretty much every inch of my body. I can't lie because my facial expressions pretty much always tell the whole story. In fact, I don't even need to open my mouth for people to know what I'm thinking.

Right now what I'm thinking is that I wish we didn't do this to ourselves.

I mean, I think we all start out like Alexis--loving to look at photos of ourselves and genuinely seeing beauty in those images. When does that change? When do we become so insecure with our own appearances that we can't even see the beauty that is obvious to others?

And how do I keep it from happening to Alexis?

She is beautiful. Crusty face, wild hair, goofy smile, and all.

Saturday
Sep252010

Move Over, Miley

(If you're using a Reader, click over to view the obnoxious video.)