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Defining Moments...

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

As this is my first post, I would like to introduce myself and lay the groundwork for why making (positive) memories and taking pictures is so fundamentally important to me. It would probably help if you think of this as as short story. We will touch on the defining moments that led me to where I am today which will set the tone for future blog posts.

So without further ado, let's dive in! My story really began when I was nine, and my mom transitioned from a stay-at home mom back into the workforce. This left my older brother and I home alone quite often. Which would not have been a problem except my brother resented me, fearing I was getting more attention (something he later confessed to). His fear manifested itself by engaging in mental abuse, making threats. He would learn my biggest fear and exploit it. Which at that time, was being alone. This meant his threat of the year was to duck tape me to a tree if I upset him in any way. Which to a nine year old, was impactful as he repeatedly reminded me I'd be alone for hours as I waited for our parents to return home and find me. In-between making such threats, he would also say whatever he needed to say to bring me to tears, which was another of his hobbies.

When that threat eventually started losing its bite, he moved on to threatening the lives of my pets. Which cut to the bone because at that point, my pets were all I had. So I tried to fall into line as best I could. Now, if anyone is wondering, I did try to tell my parents how scared I was and even when I remained silent, all my dad had to do was look at my face, red from crying. The challenge was if my dad got involved and reprimanded my brother, he resented me more. If my mom got involved, her contribution was coaching me to not react and hope he lost interest. In addition, she would remind me that life would be better when I was in middle school. It became my mantra, I just had to wait... life would be better when...

Being unable to count on my parents and afraid of my brother, I threw myself into work as soon as I was able. Starting at eleven, I would rake leaves, pull weeds, and shovel snow for various people in my neighborhood. As soon as I turned thirteen, I started babysitting. When I turned fifteen, I was able to work at a local restaurant. My coworkers became almost my primary family which made it all the easier to work almost every day after school. It also made it easier to choose overtime over friendship (since friend left anyway), and strived to survive until the next phase of my life.

As of 2018, I was still waiting for the next phase of my life to be "better". Thankfully, I had a benign wake-up call, which believe it or not, started to teach me that happiness was a choice. It was the day my then boyfriend forgot I was parked behind him and backed into my newish Chevy with his Wrangler. Do you want to know my reaction when I was woken from a nap to see? Honest to God, I burst out laughing! That year had already seen so much drama and unexpected challenges that it was all I could do besides take the below picture, as a memory. I mean, what was done was done and getting mad would not change anything.

Towards the end of 2019, I had received enough additional signs that told me it was time to stop waiting and choose happiness, today. However, while I was making travel plans (the first in over five years) and signing up for events, my momentum was short lived. Though I do not wish to bring divisive topics into this so suffice it to say, the last three years (2020-2022) have been an uphill battle. As things calm down, I am revving to hit the ground running again and meet new people!

To conclude this story, I could not be more ready to not only start a new chapter, but have it be in an entirely different book. Going forward, I choose to make many new memories, take thousands of pictures, and meet lots of fantastic people along the way! After all, I have more than eighteen years to make up for. Granted, if it were not for the photos I have, I would seriously question if anything happened outside of the workplace.

In conclusion, maybe this story means little to you, but you know someone who is struggling to stay engaged. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I truly do hope that sharing a piece of my past and the steps I take to break from it could help even just one other person.

Thank you for your time.


Shaina (aka Shay)

PS: For anyone wondering about my brother, he did lose interest in torturing me around the time I turned sixteen. At that time, he started slowly turning his own life around and is actually a dad now!

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