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legacy

Real Life Legacy

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Real Life Legacy

I never feel like a good mom.

And I mean…never

My heart avidly waits for the day that I sit down after bedtime routine and have that momentary thought: “I’m a good mom.”

The irony is: The day my little was born I felt like super woman. I looked at my beautiful princess and knew instantly that she was the greatest accomplishment of my life. And when I looked into her huge, deep eyes for the first time, I really believed that I could conquer anything. 

My baby girl latched right away and ate like a champ. She stayed awake for almost 3 hours after she was born; which we were told is very unusual. She would follow sounds and shadows and the sound of my voice with little turns of her head; something else the nurses said was unusual for the first day. She was my miracle and I was excited to be her momma. Even the waking every two hours that first night to feed her was exciting!

Then on day two she almost died.

My husband and I dropped her off at the nursery on our way to the “discharge meeting” that you have to attend before being allowed to go home: The first time I’d been away from her since she was born. I was persuaded to leave her by the amazing nurse who had been there the whole time with us, because it was only supposed to take about 30 minutes. As soon as I walked away from her my chest started getting tight, and I started to count down the time…

Thirty minutes and I get my Bella back.

About thirty-five minutes later, my husband went to get our beauty from the nursery while I continued on to our room (bathroom!). When he walked in moments later without her, my heart skipped several beats in the time it took him to explain that they were doing all of the necessary tests before marking her for discharge the next morning. So, I went about the business of situating myself, and that’s when we heard an alarm that we hadn’t heard before.

I vividly remember walking out of the bathroom and commenting on the alarm to my husband. Both of us questioning what that particular alarm sound could have been for; since it was so markedly different from the beeps and alarms we had been hearing for two days. What happened next I remember in slow motion and cemented the sound of that alarm in my brain forever.

Lori, the nurse that had been with us the entire time, walked into our room…the emotional look on her face not registering in my brain…the fact that she didn’t have my Bella with her also not registering…until she mentioned the alarm. I will never forget the conversation as long as live…

“I’m sure you guys heard the alarm a few minutes ago…?”

“We did! We were just talking about what that alarm is for, because we haven’t heard that one before.” 

“Well, that alarm was for your Isabella…”

My heart stopped. My brain wasn’t processing what she was saying in real time. It was like an out of body experience where I couldn’t bring myself to actually hear what she was saying to us. It felt like she was talking so slowly, yet I remember wanting her to stop talking, because all my brain would process was that it had to be a mistake: She had to be mistaking another baby for my Bella.

“…We laid her on her back to take her vitals and she spit up. Before we were able to clear it all, she spit up again and aspirated it. She stopped breathing and then flat-lined for a several seconds. All four pediatricians on call responded to the alarm. They cleared her airway, pumped her stomach of any excess fluid and now they're monitoring her heart. She is stable, but they want to keep her on a monitor for a while just to make sure…”

I couldn’t breathe. I felt the urge to sit and to run at the same time. I wanted to scream at her for not protecting my baby, while simultaneously screaming at myself for failing at motherhood on the second day. How could this have happened?? My husband and I had fought so hard, been through so much, and believed she was our miracle baby arriving just when God had appointed her to. Yet, my baby, my beautiful Bella, had stopped breathing…stopped living…

…I promise, I will bring her down to you as soon as they clear her to leave the nursery. I am so sorry! I can’t believe this happened. You’re such a sweet little family. I’m so relieved she's ok.” 

Then my husbands steady voice… “Can we see her now, please? We’d like to see her now.

I don’t know what, but something broke in me that day. And then again on day five when my precious girl started vomiting and then refused to eat; which landed us overnight at the hospital. That trip resulted in shattering every picture I had painted in my head during all of the sleepless nights I spent hugging the belly that I had started to lose hope I’d ever have.

I had to give up being a breastfeeding momma: I dried up after only 3 months of pumping. I had to stop laying her flat in the bassinet beside my bed: She had to be in her crib on an elevated mattress so that her stomach could drain easily and she wouldn’t throw up. Then there was all of the little things: She hated hair bands and barrettes and tights and shoes and dresses and hats and napping and tummy time and bed time… It seemed that everything made her scream at the top of her little lungs for hours on end. The only time she seemed happy was when she was eating (food that my body didn’t provide her) and when just about anyone else was holding her. So, as much as I hate saying it, by the end of the first month I was convinced that I was failing and I wanted desperately to give her back.

And now? Now I’m the woman that sits on the edge of her bed at 2am almost every night, having already put her toddler back in bed for the 12th time, wishing for the moment that I can say, “I’m a good mom.” My girl eats everything I make for her, she wants only me to hold her, she loves hair bands and barrettes and tights and shoes and dresses and hats (as long as wearing them is her idea)…and screaming at me, hitting me, bull rushing my legs, spitting her drinks on me, throwing her food at me, slamming doors, stomping her foot… Need I go on?

I don’t feel like super woman. I don’t believe I can conquer anything. Yet, somehow, I still believe that my Bella is my greatest accomplishment.

I’m learning (slowly) that we have made the definition of a “good mom” just as subjective as we’ve made the definition of “beauty”. We’ve taken something that (I believe) is anointed and appointed by God and we’ve allowed societal opinion to try and dictate how our motherhood is defined. No matter what decision we make for our babies, there are a hundred articles and mommy blogs to tell us that we’re wrong. Just like there are a hundred youtube videos and beauty blogs to tell us that we’re not measuring up and never really making it to beautiful. 

Then of course there is social media that constantly makes us feel inadequate, because we are constantly looking at peoples best moments, staged moments, and comparing them to all of the moments that we can never seem to manage with our own kid(s). It’s in the comparison that our hearts are broken over and over again. Insecurity rules the day, vulnerability is hidden beneath the mask that we so carefully design and the truth of our reality has become our constant #momfail. 

This is not the world I want to leave for my daughter.

I may not know how to change the whole world, but I can change her world. I can leave a legacy of being real about my insecurities and show her my vulnerabilities, so that she feels the freedom to be unmasked as she grows into the woman that God has created her to be. I can leave her these small pictures of the truth of my reality so that, hopefully, she will someday look into the eyes of her own baby/toddler/child/teenager and have the moment where she will look at herself and say…

I am a good mom.

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MakeUp Misfit

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MakeUp Misfit

In the world of makeup artists I am an oddity.

Every makeup artist I’ve ever met has a kit full of an incredible amount of product from innumerable brands of all different quality levels, categories and price points. You know the kind I’m talking about: The ones that have so many pallets that the bottom of their case is a veritable graveyard of forgotten colors. Add to that all of the tools (blending sponges, brushes, air brushing kit, eyebrow stencils, etc.) that they own, yet only use a fraction of, and it’s no wonder that the average woman watching them is intimidated.

Heck, I get intimidated!

I wasn’t the girl growing up that loved all things makeup. The only makeup I was permitted to wear growing up was the stage makeup required for the various types of musical productions I was cast in. So, by the time I reached high school, I wasn’t really interested in everyday makeup. In fact, I didn’t start wearing makeup until halfway through my junior year when I mistakenly found myself in a beauty pageant; mistakenly because I did it with a friend as moral support, assuming she’d be chosen, then I ended up getting the call. I didn’t even realize it was a pageant until too late! I thought it was just an interview for a scholarship program.

Needless to say, it should come as no surprise that I would approach being a makeup artist in a different manner than most. 

When I started out in business nine years ago, becoming a makeup artist was not the plan. I got my Skin Analyst Certification through a renowned prestige skin care and cosmetics company with dreams of building an in-home skin analysis and treatment business in mind. Then, as a result of goals I hit making product sales, I won a trip to my company’s beauty institute and had the privilege of sitting through a makeup artistry training with a professional makeup artist that worked the runways at New York Fashion Week.

My dream changed after that.

I had just gotten back to the U.S. from a trip to Austria and Germany before going to the beauty institute in Michigan. The day I got back in the country, my purse was stolen; cash, cards and cell phone gone. I went from the best month of my life, into a season of literally having nothing but late-paid bills and dwindling credit score for months. Yet, in the midst of that I made the choice to go to Michigan, I made the choice to step out in faith, and I started to develop My Image as a freelance makeup artistry business.

Every time I thought about what I wanted My Image to be, I never saw a big business. My dream of big business was replaced with this deep, heartfelt desire to touch the lives of individual women. I wanted women of every income bracket, of every walk of life, to know that they are beautiful and that they have been created for greatness.I wanted every woman and young girl that sits in my chair to know that they are valuable, that they are strong, that they are fierce and that their life means something; that someone notices them.

So I became a makeup misfit.

I am brand loyal. Unheard of in this field! There is only one product brand of skin care and makeup in my kit. Why? Because every woman, no matter their story, deserves the best. So, I made the decision to only use the number one (occasionally number two!) prestige, naturally based, pharmaceutical grade brand in the world. If it’s good enough for the New York Fashion Week runways and for the Miss America Pageant, then it’s good enough for any woman that sits in my chair!

Then there’s the issue of pricing… I am intentional about keeping my service prices at or below average, and constantly running discounts. The longer I do this, the more I realize that there should never be a bride or homecoming hopeful that doesn’t get pampered because they can’t afford it. That fact has been particularly bothersome to me in this past season: That brides, especially, miss out on something so deserved simply because it isn’t in their budget. God has been working on my heart in this area this past year, so expect to see some drastic changes to the pricing info in coming weeks!

Location? Oh, I don’t have one. That is, I don’t have just one. I work out of my home (which quite a few of my brides have been brave enough to come to in spite of my very strong willed, social toddler!), but I mostly work on-location. So, I’ve gotten very used to hotel rooms and lobbies and random hallways and backstage areas… Oh, and there were those couple times I drove to the middle of nowhere to random cabins; once to one that didn’t have electricity for the first hour that we were there. It’s always an adventure!

I’ve had numerous beauty professionals (and others) tell me that it’ll never work. I’ve been told that there’s simply no way to have a real beauty business using only one product line and not having or renting salon space. I’ve endured many skeptical conversations and negative nay-sayers. I’ve noticed the “professionals” that give me sideways glances when they see what’s in my kit.

Two years ago, I almost let those voices win…

If not for my sister-in-law (same one the spoke into my marriage!), I might have quit! She somehow knows just how to say things to change my perspective. Might be all the education and training she's hustled through? But she made this statement to me: “If it’s not fun for you anymore, then by all means get out. But if you still find joy in it, if you still love doing it, if you still believe there’s purpose in it- then who is anyone else to define what your business should look like?”

So I choose to be a makeup misfit.

I will continue to be brand loyal, I will work hard to be affordable, I will continue to operate as a predominantly mobile business and I will continue to elevate the health (mental, emotional, physical) of every client I have the privilege to serve above all else. I am equal parts wife, mom and makeup artist; therefore, I will continue to develop a business that is more service oriented than profit driven- making skin care and makeup artistry services accessible to every wife and mom that deserves to be pampered and encouraged. 

Bottom line for me: I have a calling that is greater than making youtube videos and reviewing other people’s businesses and product. 

My business exists to impact every woman that trusts me enough to sit in my chair.

That is my dream. To make an impact. To leave a positive mark in the lives of as many women as I can. And to teach my daughter the importance of doing the same.

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