family, friends & clients (some of you are all three, actually):
it has been some time since we last connected. what follows is personal. it comes from my soul to yours in the most meaningful, heartfelt and yes, spiritual way. deeply rooted within all that is good. to put is simply:
i was tired……beyond tired.
the weight of everyday life pushed down upon my shoulders so much, i ended up knocked out cold and flat on my back.
it wasn’t until i opened my eyes that i realized, “oh damn, i am in the middle of a war!”
no doubt you may ask, “what are you talking about, summer? what war?! what knocked you out?”
i can stand strong right now from a position of strength to share with you quite simply: everything. and by everything i mean everything that i had ever thought, felt and every action i have ever made finally got to me.
thats because i thought i could do everything alone. i had always handled everything alone. i was strong. capable. independent. i had thought i possessed all these characteristics of a woman who could never fail. the characteristics of a woman that could quite literally take on the weight of the world with no issues and without hesitation. take notice of how i said “i thought i could” at the onset of this paragraph.
in retrospect, this is how i was raised. it was instilled, literally branded within me. we all have our childhood stories, and as most of you know some of mine, especially if you have been following me for a while.
quite briefly: i was the embodiment of the classic middle child with a twist of physical abuse, abandonment issues, neglect… the whole nine yards really. raised in a house of just utter physical, mental, emotional turmoil.
ya see, when you are the child in this atmosphere- you simply try to be perfect, to aim to please. to always just be the best at everything. this i did for three for three reasons: 1- i didn’t want to cause more turmoil than there already was in the household- i didn’t want to be the reason there was more fighting in my home, 2- i personally wouldn’t bear the brunt of the belt if i did no wrong and 3- if in everything i pursue, i could be just simply amazing then maybe, just maybe, ill get attention. love. a hug. a talk before bed saying “i am so proud of how you did in your game today” or “i know how hard this AP english class must be”. but my efforts went unnoticed. maybe not so unnoticed as much as they went unnurtured. yet that attitude was embedded into my very being from there on out bc the seeds of who i was to become were already being sewn. and so the battle with my mind kinda began.
as my childhood turned to pre-teens to teen to adult to mothering to business pursuits and everything in between and since, i found an outlet to be the best at everything I could do. the child that was a great violinist turned into becoming a great two sport athlete that managed to get multiple double scholarship offers to nearly every school she wanted. once in college, both soccer and softball teams i played on always made it to NCAA playoffs. i managed to break a ton records at the plate that had been held for five and ten years. after college, taking a simple job as a waitress i had to be perfect at that and tips showed as i was able to afford and maintain an apartment in long island. from there, i applied and excelled on the NYPD tests and always needed to come in first for the physical tests bc i just craved that attention and praise and astonishmen. i became a mom a few years later and thought i was the best at this too. i played with my kids, i read to them, i taught them. i took them on solo vacations because i could do it all. i started a photography business that became world renown. within all of this came the end of a marriage, the beginning of a new relationship, a new marriage and two more children. and i was able to maintain it all and do it all so perfectly…..until i didn’t.
nothing was perfect. bc that same attitude and characteristics i had been so proud to be was really my demise. inside i was empty bc of my empty childhood, and all i was trying to do was fill it with attention. validation from strangers. from higher ups at the academy, from people tipping me as a waitress, from other mothers who would watch me with me kids and say “wow you’re such a good mom”. i yearned for everyone to always love me. to envy who i was. to never wanted do wrong by anyone. it weighed on me when someone didn’t like me as i would think “how could they not like me what did i ever do to them” and then try to fix that. being strong, being independent, being the woman i had grown to be for 39 years, as i look back on that i realize that i had been doing it all wrong. keeping my insides from being shown to the outside world.
so its no wonder i go so tired and got knocked down. at the tail end of these last 39 years, i found myself controlled by a legal prescription resulting from backpain a few years prior. it became a crutch to what i thought was needed to get rid of more than back pain. the crutch to maintain perfectionism. the crutch to keep up with the battle that raged in my mind.
it ultimately brought me to my lowest point; physically, mentally, emotionally. and what comforts me NOW but scares the crap out of me too is knowing and seeing that I’m not the only one who has experiences this battle of the mind. many people I have met came to me recently and asked me how i came out from the dark of this storm. especially fellow moms. i mean, we are women- we can do it all, right? come on mom’s, we can do it all, they call it multi-tasking. the social norms that make mom’s and women think we have to do it all and can do it all…. we can raise the kids and do the house and do the homework, cook, clean, run businesses and take care of our husbands….but can we though?
i mean, i can’t. and i couldn’t.
it was in the midst of this chaos and turmoil when God showed up; the answer to my perfect storm. i had gotten laid out on my back. and on my back there was only one place to look. up.
“i got you”
God saved me from not only the things that took hold upon me, but He saved me from myself, my mind. everything i had thought i had been doing so amazing was just wrong bc i had been walking through my life trying to outdo and overmanage wrongs people had done unto me. thinking i could do it all and manage it all alone without faith in anyone or anything except, well, myself.
i had lived in fear my WHOLE life. fear of abandonment, judgment, fear of never being loved, of people not liking me. i was afraid of posting a photo for fear that it wouldn’t get enough comments. i was afraid to relinquish control bc i had been under the impression that i was the only one who could do it all and my way was always the right way. i was afraid of NOT BEING THE BEST AT EVERYTHING, even though i would always look in the mirror and think that i am absolutely terrible and there are so many other people that are better than me at so many things. bc that’s what all this was, right? never getting the love and attention and validation from the people that i yearned for it the most really meant that deep down, maybe I’m worthless. if i can’t get unconditional love from the people who are supposed to stick by my side and love and support me whether i was amazing at something or not, then why would anyone else? so on the flip side of being the best was really this child inside of me who just shoved all that pain and loneliness and emptiness down. i shoved it down with the music, the sports, the parenting, the business….and all else.
my entire way of thinking and perception has changed. i walk with a humble confidence and a surrender that i cannot do this alone. that i could never do this alone. i had to get out of my own way, out of my own mind, and start to walk in faith.
i let go of anger and resentment about my childhood experiences. i’m thankful for it now. i am grateful and thankful for everything that has ever happened bc i know that everything that happened to me is a part of MY testimony. and my testimony can be of some help to someone else. bc i know that nobody can help somebody else like someone who has gone through it.
and boy have i gone through it. i’ve come out the other side looking back and just eternally grateful to be right here, right now. not only am i alive, but i am strong as ever with my source being for HIS highest good.
God calls everyone to a purpose. for some it’s to be a doctor, a lawyer… for some that have musical talents, they are artists or electricians.
for me? i survived all of this and now i know why i am here. i have a voice that needs to be heard. He wants me to help people. to show them that life can turn on a moment and can get bad, but there IS hope and there IS a way out. i am walking proof, walking testimony- that through all the bad shit there can be a greater good. SO, what does that mean for my business and you all?
well, my business restructure is plain and simple.
social enterprise. i’m in the middle of a ton of changes around here and in the middle of the rebranding and the name of the enterprise and its mission statement and everything is just under wraps but everything is in the process. this being said there will be a few fundamental changes coming.
1- this gift of photography is something God gave me. it is in my heart to use this gift i have and to photograph more families and give this gift to more people, not less as my pricing structure priced me out of range for families. so considerations will be made and it will be a “pay what you can” set up with portions of that going to the charity.
2- i will also offer my services to those families affected by controlled substances and their donations will go to the charity as well. I believe the world we are living in now with the epidemics here and the epidemics there, we can all be a source of help to those in need through our time, talent or treasure.
the donations will go into the enterprise and be used for various causes. i.e.: scholarships for teenagers affected by the loss of a sibling to addiction, donations to be made to rehabilitation centers to scholarship someone into recovery who lacks insurance. and as much as i wish i could do everything for everyone, i will need the help from fellow photographers worldwide to be able to offer this to families local to them as well, so if you are interested, please reach out.
3- this has nothing to do with my photography, but i owe a lot to the woman who, while in my darkest season, could still see that pilot light inside of me and helped it illuminate. I’m talking, she took my dwindled 20 watt desk lamp light and now this light inside of me can power yankee stadium every night of the world series with every game going into extra innings 😀 sonia, my christian sister from another mister, my pastor and my preacher, my spiritual counselor… she has helped hundreds of people and touched hundreds of lives. if what you read here rings a bell, i am sending you all to her. she is the voice of truth. straight from the heart, no empty calorie sugarcoating. when you’re in the midst of getting in your own way, she’s real and she’s raw and she what so many of us need when it comes to battling our minds.
wow, anyway… if you read this whole thing? thank you.
thank you for always being here, to listen, to read, to look at my photos. thank you for never judging (but hey, maybe secretly judging and that’s ok too, I’m okay with it). you all don’t have to love me. but i needed to speak my truth and be real.
my life has been turned around. the last ten years of my business were a blessing and i don’t know what the future holds. but if God has his hand in it all, he will continue to allow me to do this exactly as it is supposed to be.