Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bright Effects

 In the past year, I have been through a hell I didn't think I'd ever have to go through. I just didn't. But really, who plans their divorce before it happens?

Anyway, I realize how much I've been focusing on the hard lately---mostly because lately it has been hard---but there have been some pretty incredible things that have happened in the past year.

In January, the word I picked for 2014 was brave. I knew I would need to be brave as I pushed forward through a divorce and school and motherhood. I knew I would need to find myself this year and battle my eating disorder more than I've ever had to before. I knew I woud need to face my fears and make grown up decisions by myself.

It has been a year of hard and it has been a year of brave.

A month or so ago, my friend, Jacy, posted something on her blog that caught my eye. It was a special day her and her friend, Shay, had been planning for a while that they were giving away to two lucky women. All I had to do was send in an email stating why I could benefit from this day.

I clicked off of Jacy's blog and was so excited to see who would be announced the winner. I never intended to email her. I just couldn't see myself spending a whole day with two people who intimidate me because of their awesomeness and then have a photoshoot of MYSELF at the end of the day.

Nope. It wasn't happening. Not even a little bit.

I would think about that giveaway a few times a day and would see Jacy and Shay post about it to get entries but I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind. I probably wouldn't be picked anyway so there really was no point in writing an email.

But on the very last day of the giveaway, I saw Jacy post a link to it and I decided I should just send a quick email. What could it hurt, right? I realized the day of Bright Effects was just days after my one year anniversary of being on my own so I chose to write about that.

Here is the email I sent:
"On August 24th, it will be exactly one year since the day my husband left me. This year has been full of pain and heartache and feelings I DID NOT want to feel. There have been beautiful days and some of the ugliest days I've ever experienced. I have struggled to find my own self-worth and figure out who I am as a person, and not as the other half of a marriage. I am struggling to believe I am good enough and that the people around me truly do like me as a person. It's hard when the one person who should've loved you decided you weren't worth their eternity.
But because I am hopeful and trying and brave, I am going to write down what I have learned about myself this year.
My name is Suzanne and I have learned that I can do hard things. I can sleep in a bed by myself, in a house where I am the only adult and still feel safe. I can pay my bills and budget and work as hard as possible to still be able to stay home with my kids most of the time. I can be in school full time and juggle a half day kindergarten schedule, a preschool schedule, and a crazy dance schedule. I can hold church callings and maintain friendships with women who don't exactly understand what I'm going through but love me anyway. I can help other women who are struggling and in need of a friend. I can love people that I don't quite understand.

I can be a brave warrior.

I am a brave warrior.

In the past year, I have learned more about doing hard things than ever before and although I wish my painful journey was over and that the light was shining brightly ahead, I have hope that someday I'll find that light and that I can share that light with those around me who need it as much as I do."
Days later, I received an email telling me I had been picked as one of the lucky recipients.
Panic. Happiness. More panic. A lot of smiling. A little more anxiety. A photoshoot? No way. I couldn't do it. Someone else should do it. Someone skinnier. Someone more beautiful. Someone who has been through harder things and deserves it more.
But Shay talked me through a little bit of my panic and I was set.

As the day approached, I was stressed out about finding a babysitter since my ex-husband AND my parents were out of town that day. I kept thinking maybe that was a sign that I should forego the day and stay with my kids but because I have some pretty amazing friends, a few of them took my kids that day so I could enjoy myself.

It was finally noon and as I pulled up to Jacy's house, the front door opened and Jacy and Shay were both hugging me and voicing their excitement for the day they had planned out.

We started the day with a group therapy session with Angie Whitman. I wasn't sure what to expect because it's taken me TWO YEARS to really open up to my current counselor {true story} but it went really well. Angie is very relatable and friendly and I loved the things we were able to talk about.

After group therapy, we headed over to a pilates studio...what?!! The funny thing is I wasn't as nervous about this part since I go to the gym a lot and feel like I'm in better shape than I have been in years. But oh my goodness gracious, when we walked in the machines were super INTIMIDATING. I have never seen contraptions like those before! But wow. Wow. WOW! Melissa Olsen of Core Body Pilates is seriously incredible. I am still sore.

We finished our afternoon at Kneaders for a delicious lunch before heading back to Jacy's house for the next part of our day.

I hopped in the shower and when I got out, the hair stylist, Thom, and make up artist, Nella Brenner, were ready for me.

Breathe...you can do this, Suzanne.

I was so nervous!

But as you can see from the bottom left picture, I did it. The hair stylists took off an inch or so of damaged hair and then styled it and the make up artist gave me a new look.

I think the funniest part is when she said, "Suzanne, you're probably going to freak out when you look in the mirror because you aren't used to filling in your eyebrows." Umm, yeah, she was dead on. It was something I had to get used to. But she did an AMAZING job and I felt incredible when it was over.

And then it was time for the photoshoot.


I want to sit here and tell you that I was excited for this part or that I was overjoyed when I got the pictures back. I wasn't. I'm pretty hard on myself and I wasn't a fan of the pictures when I first looked at them.

The talent I was a HUGE fan of...Shannon was absolutely incredible and her work is amazing. But me IN the pictures? Not. So. Much.

But I have since embraced my pictures and I posted my favorite one on Facebook.

I know my Heavenly Father loves me. I also don't doubt that my friends and family love me. The tricky part is loving myself. I'm not there today. But I hope I get there soon.

I picked a few pictures to share with you today.


Sylvia was the other winner of this special day and I am so glad I met her. It was nice to be doing this with someone else.
The photographer snapped a few pictures of us together at the end and we had a bit of fun with that.

Sylvia is TALL...and when I leaned in to her, my head was on her boob. So we reenacted that moment but switched it around below...
...because I just can't be serious all of the time! :D
Sylvia is gorgeous inside and out. I loved being with her most of the day and getting to know about her life and all of the bravery she has faced.
We ended the evening with a gift from Jacy and Shay which was a picture frame with an amazing quote in it.

I am blessed.

Today I know I am blessed.

I was so lucky to be picked for such an incredible gift from Jacy and Shay. They are some really incredible women and I am so glad I know them.

With this new beginning and this new year of being on my own, I know I can do hard things. I know I can be brave, even when it feels so dark and lonely around me. I know I can fight for myself and give my kids a good life.

I can do this.

1 comment:

URFAVE5 said...

I am so glad they picked you! You deserve this more than anyone I know! You are beautiful and absolutely amazing!

Love You,
JoLynn Ellsworth