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Kimbee’s Monarch Butterfly

Welcome Home Kimbee
The butterfly is pretty important to my family – it’s the symbol of my younger sister, Kellie, who passed away in 2004.
During our puppy search there were moments where butterflies and signs of Kellie would pop up, but those pups, we’d find out, weren’t our pup…and I’d wonder if she’d show up again the next time around.
Two weeks ago, when I first found Kimber, there were no signs of Kellie – no butterflies – no moments I couldn’t ignore. It was just a post on Facebook towards the end of my work day – that left my heart racing.  She was perfect!  The clock watching began as the seconds fell away until I could wrap up one more meeting, and go downstairs to show her little face to Sean.
On our way out to meet Kimber, I had all the nerves. What if she’s not the one? What if she doesn’t like us? I tried to keep my mind busy as we coasted along hidden Floridian roads…fidgeting between my phone and the country scenery.  I looked up just in time to see that we were passing Monarch Drive.
I wrote it off. Sometimes signs are just…literally signs.
Not even one block over, we passed a business that created yard decor…all a flutter with butterflies spinning rapidly through the breeze in the sunlight.
I shook it off.  Lots of yard decor uses these vibrant winged caterpillars.  Butterflies and gardens just GO together.
We passed some violet flowers and I commented on how I loved their vibrant color. We made a right turn, down a dirt road, and I said it reminded me of my aunts farm in Maryland. These are the parts of Florida most people forget exist.
I don’t remember the car stopping or Sean turning off the ignition. I saw her. I loved her. I tried to keep my cool.  Likely, I failed miserably after squealing, “Look how TINY she is!” before hopping out of the car.  Whether or not the car was still in motion didn’t matter. 😂
While I was trying to talk to Kimber’s previous owner, trying to remember all our biggest questions, making sure I covered all our bases…her daughters were running around.  The youngest, tugged my shirt, and said something I couldn’t comprehend.
I just don’t speak ‘little kid’ all that well yet…
I smiled but tried to focus on the ‘adult’ conversation happening too.  For a minute, my anxiety peaked as two conversations were happening at the same time and I wanted to show both they were important. I could hear Sean asking some of our main questions, as the youngest tugged again, before pointing down at the ground and annunciating the best she could, “cab•e•til•aaarsss” …she then ran to get a stick, before lifting up a chubby little caterpillar from the ground to show me.
I smiled. I had to. “Ohh…CATERpillars.” I looked down, now realizing what she had been trying to tell me, “Yes, they’re everywhere…aren’t they?”  She continued picking the wingless buterflies up and showing me different ones.
Caterpillars… 🐛
Kimber on the Way Home
We drove home with Kimber asleep in the backseat, calling and texting our families to let them know we were now three.
Going into Sunday, we didn’t plan on much. We had borrowed a purple leash from Sean’s parents, and stopped at Walmart on the way out to meet her for a few necessities.
“Do you think it’s bad luck to buy puppy stuff before the puppy?” Sean wondered while we wandered the aisles. I laughed a little, “No, I think we’re good. We won’t go crazy…but we should get a few things.”  I think we were both not wanting to get our hopes to a height where we couldn’t reach them.
Puppy Accident Cleaner ✔️ Puppy Shampoo ✔️
A purple tug-of-war toy ✔️ Treats ✔️
After we got home, we knew a few more items were in order.  Namely, food as apparently this is something Kimber really enjoys.  We sat around playing with her for a bit and she gave us a tour of her new home.
“Is Kimbee like…Kimby with a ‘y’ or Kimbee with an ‘ee’ you think?” Sean asked.
“Hm, I hadn’t thought about it actually…” I looked down at her sleeping, and kept petting her fuzzy little body. Originally, my mind registered her nickname with a ‘y’…but the ‘ee’ feels more like her – different, I thought. “Kimbee – double ‘ee’ – like a bumblebee. That can be her little logo…” the answer came as if it was written by way of a bumblebee’s flight path.
He smiled, “I like it – you’re allllways thinkin’!”
What I hadn’t really thought of, until much later in the week, is that I’ve always sort of loved bumblebees — that’s a weird thing to love, but…they were kind of just always “my bug” …my sisters and I all have bumblebee tattoos on our feet, even — something Kellie had kicked off.
Shortly thereafter, Sean went to go collect a few more Kimbee necessities. She and I were just chilling on the floor in a sunspot – as GSPs do – when she shot up and looked out the window.  Startled, I looked to see what she was peeking at too…and an orange butterfly floated by.  Kimbee tilted her head, and then went back to resting on the floor, seemingly satisifed with the butterfly’s appearance.
I smiled. I had to, before I kissed her little snout.  I think Aunt Kellie wanted to be the first family member to stop by.
In just the past two days, Kimbee and I have had three more random orange butterfly encounters.  All are moments that stop me, even if for a second — and give me just enough time to catch a glimpse of the little monarchs that are surrounding us…
We’re on a walk, and Kimbee points — an orange Monarch I never would’ve noticed otherwise floats up from the grass.
We’re headed back from the park, I look back to see what’s caught her attention before telling her to “leave it” — and just as I turn to get us back on track, an orange winged caterpillar flies so closely I nearly feel it’s path on my face.
We’re sitting in the living room.  I’m working on projects for the house.  Kimbee just stares out the backdoor – no doubt a big screen ‘TV’ of nature for her hunter’s soul – I look to see what could possibly have her attention for so long…and the orange Monarch levitates by once again.
Half a second any other way, and I would’ve missed them.
Moments I would’ve missed without Kimbee.
Safe to say that Kellie has shown up…and even Kimbee now watches for butterflies. ❤️
Kimber Window Watching

I Used To Do That.


The post on why I’m no longer in the business of photography.

On April 10, 2004 my younger sister Kellie died unexpectedly.  It changed my life, and even though we were a family who grew up with plenty of photographs – it suddenly seemed like there would never be enough of those moments frozen in time.  So on the day I picked up my camera again, I knew I’d never put it down.  I’d put money on the simple fact that I may have never been without a camera since.

My family does not have a family portrait of the five of us. We were supposed to get one taken the November before, but there I sat – holding the hand of my dying sister – knowing we’d never have that photograph because six months prior life was just too busy for us all to freeze time for even thirty seconds.  I knew I could help prevent that from happening in other families, whether it was professionally or simply stepping in and asking a father if he’d like to join his family for a picture while at the theme parks.

Photography is an art which deserves to be prioritized in your life, and quite frankly – if it isn’t?  Then I wan’t little to no part in being the person you choose behind a camera to preserve these moments for your family.

But as these past few years have flown right by, something else started to change in me too.  I won’t say that I woke up one morning with the sudden realization that I no longer wanted any part of being in the business of photography — that the very thought of it left me feeling, genuinely, ill — but that was more or less exactly what happened.

Of course, a lot of other little happenings lead up to that ‘catastrophic’ moment in time.  And while a few tried to convince me otherwise — I knew in my heart that it was over.  It was not a dream I wanted any longer.

It was okay with me, I was at ease with it – many others, I felt, put me in a place of being undefined.  If I wasn’t a photographer –  then who was I?

Why they had to know is beyond me.

I didn’t dare to utter the words to most people in my life for well over a year; afraid that most would try to talk me out of a decision I had already made.  For many, it took them coming directly to me — “Are you still doing photography?”

I think I needed a full year just to figure out a way to answer, but the answer wound up being, “I’m no longer in the business of photography, no.”

The second I left the business, was the second I got myself back.  It was the same second I felt as if I could breathe properly for the first time in years.  It was the same second I knew I could LOVE photography again.

Since that second there have been requests to capture weddings and families.  Something I only ever entertain the idea of for close friends, but – even then – more often than not, I refer them to other friends who are every bit of the photographer I dreamed of being.

It isn’t to say that I’m not a photographer anymore – it took me a while to realize that, in fact, I’ll NEVER stop being a photographer. Ever.

I just found a new way of being the photographer I never knew I always wanted to be.

In December of 2014, I sold all of my Canon equipment.  Every last piece.  The second I shipped the last item off, a literal weight was lifted off of me.  For close to a year I had HATED watching the gear just sit, stored, under my desk.  It wasn’t a camera I ever brought out for traveling, I’d never dare to bring it to the theme parks with us, and I rarely had it out around the house.  It was a ton hanging from my shoulders and neck.  It wore on me in more ways than one.

It made me hate photography even more.

So I sold it. All of it. And I turned around and got myself a couple of new mirrorless lens cameras – a Fuji X100T and XT1.  And, again, I fell in love.

They’re cameras that could (and do!) keep up in the professional world — but, y’know…mostly I just use those guys for fun – theme parks, vacations, around the house & more! 🙂

Life is weird and quirky and interesting.  But I know this is where I was intended to be, and where I was meant to go.

So it took me a while, but there it is.  And now…here we go.

Hopefully you enjoy the adventure from here on out…

Thirty Something.


We’re house hunting. Which is NOT at ALL what they show on HGTV, by the way. #HeadsUp #SpoilerAlert

And we just keep hitting walls on more fronts than I care for.  We’ve waited for this moment for over three years, and…crappy as it may sound, after all our waiting I’m kinda “over” life fighting me on it.

I’ve been patient. Now I kinda want what I want.

Also important to note: I’m tired of people telling me that the “waiting will be worth it” as if this is some new concept I have not entertained the idea of.

The age thing is hitting me harder & harder these days too…now that I’m 32 and supremely “behind” in a lot of life’s moments. I never hit that wall of turning 30 and going “Well, life is over now. Goodbye 20s!”  I hate – truly HATE – when people whine and complain about getting older or having another birthday to celebrate or “OH NO! Thirty! Run!”

Shut.Up. You’re ALIVE. Celebrate THAT.

I was EXCITED for 30, because I knew these would be the years I had been waiting for.

But those creepy, haunting voices in the back of my head are certainly becoming louder the “older” I get.  It doesn’t help when actual real-life-people seem to take enjoyment out of poking you and reminding you that you’re “not getting any younger” either. Again, tell me something I’m unaware of.

It’s not about wanting kids anymore, it’s more about…when we get there will I even be able to HAVE kids?!  I have shaken that fear off more times than I can remember.

And while I’ve accepted my fair share of lectures on the “next steps” in OUR relationship – I’m over those too.  I don’t particularly need your advice.  I don’t think people realize that we’ve all but been living together since we started dating — we’ve just been bouncing between parent’s homes as we paid off debts and saved for THIS moment.  What daft fools we are for attempting to be financially responsible. 😉

I don’t think most people realize that if it weren’t for money and MY request for a home before a ring before we even hit our first year anniversary…we would’ve been all those things long before now too.  Fairly early on, we knew.

Our plan isn’t like the regular ones, and for that – I’m pretty freakin’ grateful.

This growing up thing is not for the faint of heart.

I am beyond lucky that at the end of a seemingly endless emotional breakdown that left my defeated by failures and lost opportunities and getting older and “running out of time” type scenarios…he set me straight.

He reminded me of all I HAVE accomplished, all I’ve been able to experience.  The places I traveled.  The career I was so determined to achieve – an opportunity that most would kill for – one that many said couldn’t be found, I found.  That I work, daily, on something I love and am passionate about with a team I consider family — is beyond what most kids dream of.  And that, yes, maybe I am 32 and still living at home, unmarried, with no kids — but those are things that haven’t happened yet…and things that we’re working on together.

So, we’re house hunting.

Which isn’t what they show you on HGTV.

But, likely. I’ll show you here. 🙂

He’d Never Have to Ask.


A Facebook Comment, Circa Early 2016.

Each region is different – each couple is different. The timing in your life, I think, also plays a role. Honestly, we already feel married – so I don’t flinch when people call him my husband or address me as Mrs. Moody. Almost immediately, we knew that’s where we were headed – but of course we prioritized.

I was the one who said house before ring – something that, for some reason, surprises people. But my stance on that is – while jewelry is nice, we can’t live in that setting.

Our home is, to me, a greater commitment to our relationship and what we personally want vs. jewelry…and even a dress and flowers and cake. THIS is our foundation…where we hang pictures on the walls and laugh with each other while making dinner.

In terms of a wedding – for us, again, we already feel pretty married. So it’s all just “paperwork & a party” at this point, as I like to say.

For us, the details are just that – details. When the day comes, I could be in blue jeans and a tank top standing in the backyard …so long as we’re there together, that’s all that really matters.

He would never have to ask me to marry him, and I’d be just as happy with that and what we have and where we’re going.

Living Out Loud.

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What does Living Out Loud meant to me?

A letter to DJ Waldow.

– Living in the Now. Reveling in life’s moments – both big & small. 
– Choosing Happiness. Choosing Positivity. Knowing each day has a “win.”
– Living through Giving in Charity, Determination, Compassion, Love, Understanding & Acceptance. WHATEVER you can give – counts.
– Living through trust and transparency … Knowing that life isn’t all rainbows and Care Bears – but the sun still comes out tomorrow, and even when life is ugly – life can still be beautiful.
– Living with appreciation and gratitude. Telling people how you feel, when you feel it. Never losing your voice. 
– Living your Fears. Trusting yourself. Go diving with your shark.

 A lot of these qualities and thoughts were in the shadow of who I was, and who I was becoming, before we lost Kellie – most of it is hardcore in direct result from her death. 
After a week or two of delirious fog I woke up one more and knew I had a decision – life or death, happiness or mastering the art of being miserable, positivity and leading by example or using my situation as an excuse to be sad all the time.  
They were the thoughts and qualities that wouldn’t leave me alone late into the night when I missed her, or when I’d hit a wall and look for her — these were the things that made sense.
Needless to say, my sister was a firecracker and I KNEW if I had chosen any of those less than stellar options and lived a life SHE wouldn’t have been proud of?  I’d pay for it – someday.  So, since that morning – for me and many around me – it has been exclusively about Living Out Loud.  It may have started for Kellie, but it definitely turned in to a “for me” thing in time.  Now I let no one or no thing stand in my way — I’ve seen hell.  I’ve been there.  Held hands with it.  
If I live to see 100 life will still be too short to waste any time on mediocrity, sadness, negativity, or crappy people.

This went on to become a podcast for DJ Waldow’s Living Your Passion Podcast – Check it out HERE!