It was a crowded lecture style classroom, the kind with the graduated steps going up with lines of desks on each step. There were a sea of faces in that room, law school newbies eager to learn and make a good impression. Meghan has a knack for doing that, making an impression that is. With her bright eyes and sweet smile, it's not unusual for all eyes to be on her. But that day, in that classroom - there was one moment when Meghan probably wished all eyes were looking anywhere but her way.
It was the moment when, right in the middle of the classroom, Meghan fell over backwards. From one of those large steps right onto onto the other. Flat on the floor, feet up in the air. And she was wearing a dress that day. It could have been a moment solely remembered for the potential embarrassment. It could be a story that ends right there, with Meghan picking herself up, wiping herself off and hiding her face in her hands. But it's not a story remembered solely for that moment. And it definitely doesn't end there. In fact, that moment was just the beginning of another great story. The story that would truly shape Meghan's life. Because the moment after she fell down? Well that's when she happened to meet the handsome stranger sitting behind her that day. The handsome stranger that helped her up. With a gentle hand and a shy smile, he got her back onto her feet and introduced himself. His name was Ben and while he may not have fully known it in that moment, he had just had the girl of his dreams literally fall into his lap.
They became friends, helping each other study and navigate the unique and challenging terrain of law school. Law school has a funny way of bringing people together. In a different way than college, you connect with one another because you share a common goal, you're in the trenches together striving toward the ultimate prize - that degree. And each test, each year that passes is made that much sweeter because you got through it together. Because you helped each other. And what better way to start a relationship? With the foundation of friendship and helping each other strive toward a common goal, Meghan and Ben built something solid. A relationship different than any other one that they had ever been in before. Because it was different than every other one before in one significant, spectacular way - this was the relationship that wouldn't end.
In one another they found the person that understood them, that supported them, that made them stronger, better, happier than ever before. Ben had found the woman who would stand by his side and encourage him in whatever dream he decided to chase after. And Meghan? She had found the man that every little girl that loves fairy tales only dreams about. The man that would catch her when she falls and sweep her off her feet every single day.
I found a picture of myself the other day. It was from years ago. Tucked away, forgotten. Intentionally so. It was a photo that, at the time, made me cringe. Yikes, I look so fat, I thought back then. Looking at it with fresh eyes, years later, I realized that I was being way too hard on myself. As I sit here today with baby weight still to lose, I would gladly look that "fat." As I looked at the picture, I laughed at my own foolishness.
Then I thought about it some more. It really wasn't funny. I had hid this picture away and for what? For the 10, 15 extra pounds I thought I should have lost? It was a time in my life, a moment worth remembering and I tucked the image away because of my own vanity? How many times have I done this before? How many pictures have been shoved aside, memories forgotten, only for me to discover years later that I didn't look nearly as bad as I thought. The picture wasn't completely about how I looked, it was about how I felt. It was about what I was feeling at the time, a feeling that came flooding back as soon as I stopped starring at my thighs and paid attention to the rest of the image. Because the photo was so much more than merely a snapshot of my flaws. From then on, I vowed to look at a picture of myself and not allow my eyes to go right to the places I'm insecure about. Instead I will remember the moment. Think about what I was feeling when the picture was taken. Focus on the way I'm smiling. On what the other people in the picture look like. Cause as much as I might think otherwise, it's not all about me. Or the extra pounds on my tummy.
I'm sure I'm not the only one that does this. And the fact that this realization took me nearly three decades to really figure out makes me want to hop in a time machine and shake some sense into 16-year-old me. To tell her to embrace her flaws. Tell her to accept that she will probably never have a completely flat stomach. And that's okay. To say that the pictures of you that might not love of yourself now, might be the ones you cherish later. I was lucky that the picture I found was an actual print so that I was able to stumble upon it again. It's worse with today's digital cameras. How often do you delete a picture in an instant after only looking at your "flaws"? How many moments do you think you have quite literally thrown away because of that? Is it worth it? I say no.
So to all my fellow flaw focusers out there, I implore you: Stop. Be kind to yourself. When you look a picture of yourself, try to see what other people see. See what makes you beautiful. See the moment. Feel the emotion. Forget about whatever it is you're feeling insecure about at the time. Cause the people next to you in the picture? They love you. Just as you are. And that's all that matters.
People spontaneously breaking into song. It's definitely not something you see every day. Really, it's not something you see any day. Unless you're at a Broadway musical or in a trendy TV show. Breaking into song is usually reserved for just those occasions when someone is so overwhelmed by an emotion that words alone would fail them. Only song will do. Having been to quite a number of weddings over the years, it's one of the few things we hadn't seen happen at a wedding day. That is, until Joyce and Jason got married.
At Joyce and Jason's wedding, people did break out into song. Yes, you read that right - people. As in more than one. It started with Joyce's father who offered up a heartfelt toast to his daughter and new son-in-law. He spoke of how proud he was of his daughter, how fond he is of Jason, how happy he is that they found one another. And then the band started to play softly in the background as Joyce's father mentioned that if Joyce had been a boy, her mother had selected the name Jason. So in a lovely turn of serendipity, on this, her daughter's wedding day, she finally got her son(-in-law) named Jason. It seemed to be a moment worthy of a unique expression of emotion, so Joyce's father sang a song he had written just for the occasion. The band played, the singers did back-up vocals and Joyce and Jason looked on, laughing at lyrics to the song and the surprise.
Once her father sat down, you would have thought the singing would have been officially handed over to the band. But there were some speeches to come. First Joyce's sister stepped up to the mic with tales of growing up with Joyce. Jason's brother's speech started off in much of the same way. And then he, too, started to sing. This song was also written just for the occasion, with the lyrics causing Joyce and Jason to laugh and the entire room to laugh, clap along and cheer for the happy couple and the remarkable entertainment the speeches of the evening were providing.
As the night was winding down and we saw Joyce and Jason dancing with such excitement and unbridled joy on the dance floor, we understood what provoked the spontaneous songs. Eaach of them had been sung by people particularly close to the very happy bride and groom. People who understand them, who know what makes each of them so special, and who know just how important it was for them to find someone who "got" them. Someone who would encourage Joyce to dance without inhibition even during their first dance, someone who would laugh at Jason's jokes. Someone who wouldn't stifle their passion for life but somehow make them even more "them." Because that's exactly what a relationship, when it's really right, can do. It can make you happier, more confident, more sure that who you are is exactly who you are supposed to be. And when you see your family member find that person there's nothing left to do but seize the moment. And break into song.
Joyce & Jason, thank you so much for choosing us to capture your amazing day! We had so much fun with both of you and your families! We hope your move goes smoothly and you have a wonderful time starting your married life together in Texas!
Ah, high school. A time when nobody really knows who they are or what they really want. A time when you avoid what would be good for you like the plague and test the limits every chance you get. In the path to self discovery, high school is right at the very beginning. The baby steps. You are leaps and bounds away from where and who you'll end up to be.
So it's no surprise that in those formidable years, you'd be likely to miss what's right in front of you. Even if the person you're destined to be with passed you by in the hallway every day, you'd have no clue. Even if you hung out with that person from time to time, had them as part of your circle of friends, you might not realize the potential for a true connection. It might take you a while - years even - to figure that out.
Natalie and Ray met during those years. They passed each other between classes. They hung out after school. They knew the same people, lived in the same town. But they didn't date back then. Natalie even laughs at the very thought of that today. I annoyed him! she says. He shrugs. Maybe she did, the shrug seems to say. None of that matters now. None of the missed chances, the proms they went to with other people. That feels like another lifetime now, lived by other people.
Because in the time between high school and when they started dating years later, Natalie and Ray each found themselves. They figured out who they were and what they really wanted. They discovered that sometimes what (and who) would be good for you. And that sometimes that is exactly what you need. That sometimes the person you thought you were (the person you thought other people were) can be dead wrong. And that can be a great thing. Cause when you figure that out, you open yourself to a world of possibilities. A world when you can be who you truly are, and finally find the person who loves you as just that.
Sometimes that path of self discovery comes full circle, bringing you back to the people that were with you when it all began. People you can now see with clear eyes. It was then that Ray realized what had been right in front of him for years. The person he was destined to be with: Natalie.
Now, they will embark on the next path life has laid out for them, hand in hand. Worlds away from where they began, but somehow exactly where they were always supposed to wind up.