It’s mid January in Western New York, but there has been barely any snow to speak of. I’m adding this to the list of things that just feel “off” about the last 10 months. On Sunday my pastor at church called 2021 “2020 with a fake ID”, I don’t think I’ve heard of a better comparison. The clock struck midnight on January 1st and corona virus continued to plague the earth. It’s still a weird feeling, living through monumental historic events like a pandemic and the storming of the Capital building. This prompts the question; could this really be the same life I was living not so long ago?
It’s clearly not… and although there is a hint of sadness in that realization I am also so thankful for the changes that have occurred in my life during this heavy season.
I’ve sheltered my boyfriend from my blog long enough, here’s a formal introduction complete with adorable winter photos by Lindsey Fetterhoff Photography. Matt is wonderful and truly the highlight of 2020. He loves board games and over committing his schedule almost as much as I do. We talk constantly and keep an ever expanding list of date ideas. Cooking dinner is actually an enjoyable activity with him around. He’s also made football more interesting ***GO BILLS*** and has shown me that crossword puzzles are really fun.
By societal standards Matt is a unicorn. I heard guys like him existed, but in a sea of wild ponies -not even stallions- it seemed far fetched. I never thought I would find a faith filled man, who surprises me with flowers and reads biblical devotionals with me everyday – even on the phone if we’re not together. He makes me a better person.
Like any relationship though, it takes work. I clung tightly to my identity as a fiercely independent woman, so naturally there are times I feel a little lost without the security of that label. One of the incredible things about Matt is that he never wants me to apologize for being a strong self-sufficient person though, he loves me because of it. And inevitably we approach some situations differently, so as the analytical intellectually driven person that I am, in uncharted territory, I do the only thing that I know how.. when the going gets tough, the going does research. I take Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and other personality tests. I read books on our Love Languages (I’m “Acts of Service” and he is “Quality Time”) and dig into scripture for guidance from my Father who clearly has a better idea on how to navigate all things than I do.
On Saturday Matt and I celebrated 6 months of happiness together. So while the world is at a standstill and panic and fear saturate the headlines everywhere, my mind keeps spinning in another world; one immersed in love and goodness. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, the government moratoriums and foreclosure regulations have kept my job pretty slow right now, but my personal life is so fulfilled. Thank you for letting me share this with you.
It’s been one year since my grandpa passed away. This day is an emotional milestone for my family and anyone that knew Emil Deutschman. He left behind a heart sized hole, that we ceaselessly try to fill with stories and memories from before October 30, 2019, clinging to the past so that we can carry him with us into the future.
My grandma and I visited the cemetery that houses the dust of his physical body today, but I don’t picture grandpa there. I remember him most vividly when I drive over train tracks or see railroad crossing signs (he loved trains) and whenever I use hand sanitizer (his hands were always sticky)… a more frequent occurrence amidst a pandemic. I think about grandpa whenever someone opens gift wrap too slowly and meticulously. I fondly recall playing rummy with him whenever I am part of card games. I feel a connection with him whenever I get annoyed with my parents’ dog Bear for being overwhelmingly unnecessarily hyper. I share his competitive spirit and short temper.
I mistakenly drank a pumpkin soy latte at 10 am this morning -an error in judgment that I make approximately every 6 months, to remind myself that I cannot handle caffeine. My anxiety and emotions were already heightened by today’s date, but my trembling now had a built in physical excuse. I felt a version of jittery peace, standing with grandma in a sea of graves, praying out loud to God and thanking Him for the memories and goodness that have been provided in 2020 -despite popular belief. Thanking Him for watching over us and taking care of grandpa. Firmly believing in Him and His plan, and that is so much growth compared to where I was mentally last year.
As we meandered through the rows of tombstones it began to snow for the first time this year, a symbolic event not lost on me. While we were on the hunt for my great grandmother’s grave I told my grandma “nothing reminds me of my mortality quite like a cemetery”. She showed me her nameplate on the crematorium just missing an end date, another reality I am far from ready to accept.
I don’t cry often, my instinctive reaction to unfortunate circumstances is anger -as if life is an unjust circumstance that if I could furiously speak to a manager about, I could resolve. No amount of well spoken rhetoric has the therapeutic effect of actual emotional release though. It felt good to shed a few tears today; overwhelmed with nostalgia yet fulfilled by the knowledge that grandpa lived a great life that I was honored to be a part of for 25 years.
When anniversaries come around we have an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the moments in time that have changed us. I used to believe that we had a choice, a decision to allow these blips in our lives to break us or build us, but perhaps that viewpoint is a little cold and too black and white. Some of the best memories I have are an imperfect combination of breakdowns and buildups, the year after grandpa’s death included.
As life transitions back to normal I am still trying to keep a slow pace. It’s against my norm to check in with myself before overcommitting to plans and stuffing my calendar, but due to the ever present virus and the much needed downtime (that I tried to make the best of) I don’t want to go back to doing too much too quickly.
Meeting up with friends in parks and exploring local wonders is something I am clinging to, regardless of the phase. After a long weekend getaway in Alexandria Bay I came back to WNY with warmer weather and a welcomed photo shoot with Lindsey, a great friend and the genius behind Lindsey Fetterhoff Photography
I felt a little more like a curvy JCrew model in Italy and a lot less like a Lockport resident that’s been in quarantine for 3 months when we took these pictures. Lindsey and I have worked and traveled together before, but seeing her in action behind the camera was absolutely wonderful. She has a talent for making people comfortable, assisting with posing and cracking jokes behind the scenes. I love the shots where I am genuinely laughing and enjoying life, you don’t capture those moments in selfies.
My brother’s girlfriend Courtney gave me this awesome “Sunshine White Wine” hat for Christmas. I typically display it like a piece of artwork, hanging on the wall next to my bed, but it made a great photo prop as well.
With everything going on health-wise in the world Lindsey respected my distance, but didn’t compromise a great shot. She talked to me about session lengths with clients that same week ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours! Her ability to adapt and personalize the photography experience truly differentiates her services.
I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Lindsey again for an OOTD shoot, Christmas card or a LinkedIn headshot. My photo reveal was very well received on social media, it really reaffirmed my decision to work with her. Can you think of a better compliment than someone saying “These pictures captured your wonderful personality and soul!!”? My iPhone 6 Valencia filter instagram photos never had the same impact. Think about scheduling your own session with Lindsey before her dates fill up!