Welcome to the blog of LJReed Photography!! I am sure you're wondering how I could possibly incorporate more pictures on my site but there is an entire other side that I want you to see!!
My passions include writing, giving back and photography and I have compiled them all together in a variety of ways! It's like my way of giving you and image and being able to feel the warmth in it! I want you to feel like you were at the event or session when you are done. I hope that it sparks something inside of you whether it be a memory that makes you smile, the push to call an old-friend, or to just remember to live in every moment and ALWAYS. TAKE. THE. PICTURE.
I am so fortunate to know so many wonderful people that love the world and devote their entire lives to making everyone else's better. I am in awe of their gifts, their love, their drive. Three traits that I strive to perfect nearly half as well as they did. I thank them for putting trust in me to capture their events that mean so much to them. I thank them for allowing me to learn from them. And most of all, I thank them for being on this journey with me, my photography wouldn't mean anything if I couldn't use it in every way possible.
One endeavor that I am really looking forward to is combining my photography within the Addiction and Recovery field. I feel as if those in recovery are skipped over because of the stigma that (somehow) still lingers with Substance Use Disorder. The gears are turning and I will find a way to make an impact, someway, somehow.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa
"You are my sun, my moon and all of my stars." - E.E. Cummings
Just a mother’s take on a normal Tuesday that turned into a horrific day in American History.
Yesterday, was like any other Tuesday that I was off from work. I snoozed my alarm for about 45 minutes and then finally ventured my way up the 6 stairs to Cameryn and Landon’s bedrooms to wake them from their safe, warm beds. I always crawl under their covers and wake them up with a kiss, confirm that they want their usual chocolate chip muffin for breakfast and head back down to await their arrival.
They both came down in a good mode; a rarity for both simultaneously. We were talking, no one was rushing, it was a nice morning. What this sassy 14 year old girl and ornery 11 year old boy didn’t know was that their mom was in all of her feels about them that day. More so than normal. I asked them a question that I do pretty often and surprisingly, the answer was, ‘yes’. I asked them for a picture of them together.
Seems like a pretty simple request, right?
Even as a photographer.
They both happily stood in front of the fireplace, posed and smiled.
I was shocked!
I got the approval from the teen that it was ‘okay’ and we headed down to the car to depart for their day at school. I drop them off at school every day and make them kiss me before they leave. Yes, I MAKE them. They find it annoying but last night they realized why and they were thankful that I do. Anything can happen during the day and we can’t ever leave one another on a bad note. A wise lesson learned from my parents. Thank you.
I’ll touch back on this later.
I was out, running my usual ‘day off of work’ errands and just couldn’t stop thinking about those two humans that give ME life. A purpose. I missed them. Yes, I am with them every single day but it was a different kind of missing. I missed them being little, needing me all of the time, sitting on the floor for hours playing, the random kisses and hugs. But those feelings and thoughts also bring pride. I am so proud of the beautiful, kind and talented young adults that they are becoming, my heart was just exploding inside of my body. I had to get it off of my chest.
Around 11:30am I decided to post the photo of them from the morning onto my Facebook page. I lightened up the photo, added some shadows and posted it with the caption,
“I am in all of my feels today about these two. ‘You are my sun, my moon and all of my stars.’” An EE Cummings quote that I have plastered all over the house and tattooed on my body for them.
I then sent them both a text that went as follows:
Mom: I’m so sad you both are getting so big. I love you guys so much.
Cam: Love you too. Is everything okay?
Mom: Yes, Just sad you’re getting so big. Don’t worry, I will probably be in a bad mood by the time you get home so just enjoy it now! Lol”
Cam: LOL Just making sure.
Landon was nowhere to be found on this message for he isn’t allowed his phone in school but I will never leave him off a message. Why? Because in my sick brain, it could be the last message that he ever reads from me, God forbid something happen to any one of us.
I just had this odd feeling of needing to protect them all day.
Is it because they are getting more and more independent? Is it because we are closing out another grade, another school, I mean Cam is moving onto high school?
This is part of it.
As another year comes to a close, it’s another year closer to the kids flying the coup. Another year closer to not having any lunches to pack, practices to drive to, fights to break-up over who took the dogs out. (Who did let the dogs out?) There are days that this monotony of life that we are so blessed to live feels so overwhelming but when you have a day in American history like we did on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022, in Ulveda, Texas, I will take all of my ‘problems’ and enjoy them to the fullest.
There is a problem here. Lots of problems.
When I had arrived home, I was leaning over the counter reading some emails and saw a headline on the TV, ‘Mass shooting in Texas’. No details, just that headline. I read it, put my head back down and continued reading my emails.
I AM IMMUNE TO THAT HEADLINE.
When I saw the details unfolding as the night went on I couldn’t help but keep thinking to myself, ‘why in the world didn’t I run over to the tv? Why did I see the headline and keep going about my day?’
Because sadly, it has become the norm.
As the information was flooding though my TV and social media and the count of children that were lost in a senseless act of violence kept rising, I kept getting sicker and sicker. I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, I was silent, I was still.
Dozens of families had their lives destroyed yesterday, almost 1,600 miles away from me and I could feel their heartache, their devastation.
A city of 15,000 people will never live the same again.
A country feeling the loss of those they’ve never met.
A country divided that can’t get it together to protect our babies.
When it was time for bed, I was heading upstairs to kiss my kids goodnight and the count of children lost was at 19 and 2 teachers. 21 lives in total. I was fighting back the tears as I ascended up that short staircase. Then, I heard something unusual..something odd. Cameryn was in Landon’s bed and they were talking and laughing, this never happens. I went in and opened my arms and it’s like they knew exactly what I needed. What we needed. I needed to hug them to remind them that they are safe in their home and they reminded me with that hug that I am still needed to do so, no matter the age.
Through the warm tears running down my face, produced inside of my swollen, heavy heart, we talked about what was happening, shared our fears and kept on hugging.
Then, they started to tell me about all of their ‘active shooter drills’.
ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS.
This is a thing.
I remember in second grade having a fire drill and a tornado drill. Not sure in 1992 there was even a tornado recorded in Western Pennsylvania but we did it. Out of the norm, but okay, acceptable.
Now, my children are trained on what to do and where to go in the event that there is an active shooter in their school.
Babies, I am sorry. I am sorry that this is your world. I am so sorry that you’re taught to hide in the corner of the classroom with nothing but you, a few desks, a lock that may work on the door and one adult that followed their dream to enrich you is all of the protection you have in the event that someone wants to kill you for no reason. In the event that someone comes in with an assault weapon and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to destroy as many lives as possible.
I’m sorry. I am so sorry.
I’m sorry that we’re failing you.
I saw on social media a few people say that they couldn’t imagine having a child in that school. Yes, me neither. But the reality is, we have a child in A school that could eventually be THAT school. Sadly, Robb Elementary in Ulveda, Texas became the statistic before ours did or yours will.
In 1999, I was a freshman in high school when the horrific mass shooting at Columbine High School occurred in Colorado. It seemed unreal. It seemed like an isolated incident. Well, there have been 229 U.S. school shootings since the Columbine massacre, not including misfires or instances in which a shooter was stopped before inflicting deaths or injuries. This statistic is dated from August 2021. Almost 600 children have fallen victim to a school shooting in the United States.
Cameryn was just 4 when the shootings occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. This was a shock for me. It was the first massacre that occurred when I had a child of school age. Dropping your 4 year old child off at pre-school just 2 days after 26 people were murdered in a school, 20 of them being children, hits you differently.
When will this madness stop?
School shootings are considered an epidemic in the US.
But what are we doing about this epidemic? I vaguely remember living through a pandemic that we took every single measure possible to slow down and fight. But, there is nothing being done about this epidemic? We will just let innocent children and people die?
Those who commit these school shootings are individuals classified as often being influenced by a variety of factors such as abuse, mental illness, family dysfunction, victims of bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts. Yet, the mental health industry in America is failing us.
Have you ever tried to make a therapy appointment for a child? One with a psychiatrist? I have. It’s a 6-8 week wait until you can get an actual evaluation. 30 days once you’re acclimated to get another therapy appointment at your local primary care doctor.
What about the low-income families that are living in mere poverty that can’t afford health insurance or even know where to turn for guidance? Why are our schools cutting funding and guidance positions when it seems like mental health hasn’t ever been worse?
I don’t care if you’re for Red or Blue, pro-gun or not, we need peace.
Since December 14th, 2012, the day that Newton, Connecticut changed forever, I have been afraid to drop my children off at school. I’ve watched them walk into the back door of their elementary school for years and have had the grave thoughts that I may never see them again. The thought that bus number 43 won’t pull up at 3:00pm and let my perfect babies off at the sidewalk.
Why? I need someone to tell me why.
I could go further into the mental health struggle in America. I could touch base on our gun laws. Is it lack of security in schools? Do we need armed guards to protect them? Should my kids even be allowed out for recess?
I don’t know the answer but I do know that we need to be better.
But for now, I will think about the dozens of parents that had an empty bed last night. The ones that will never sleep again wondering what they could have done differently, how they will blame themselves. The moms who will long for an extra lunch to pack or uniform to wash. The dads that lost their fishing buddies. The birthday presents that were hidden in the closet that won’t ever be opened. The money saved for college that will now aid in burying their babies.
Those babies. The babies that were brave and listened to the teacher to get into the back of the classroom and hide on top of one another hoping they’d be at the bottom of the pile. Those babies that survived, that had to watch their classmates and teacher die in front of their eyes, I hope one day I am as brave as you.
The teachers that tried so hard to protect them. The two that sacrificed their lives to save anyone they could in a classroom that was locked with a mentally unstable 18 year old that held no value to the human life. Those teachers were also someone’s babies that needed to be protected in their adulthood.
You are all brave.
Last night, I was laying with Landon as he slept and I was holding his sweet, soft, innocent little hand. I kept thinking about how much those hands meant. Little hands that smeared chocolate on the refrigerator or colored on the walls. Hands that were going to be something! Now, there are tiny hands everywhere that won’t be held, that won’t walk down an aisle, that won’t get to change the world because of this unnecessary violence and hatred.
I won’t ever stop thinking about those families and babies. I pray that they all had a morning like we did yesterday. No chaos, some laughs and a picture that is worth a thousand words. And if they didn’t have a good morning, it’s not your fault. Nothing is your fault. No one can ever prepare anyone for what happened at Robb Elementary.
Written by a mom who can’t live without her babies, no matter what age they are.
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