How a Camera Led Me to My Girl: A Journey of Self-Discovery & Rebirth By Guest Blogger (& My M & M Sister) Michele Leach

michele leachThere are certain friends, who when they ask for a favor, or pretty much anything, you always say yes…. Well, my dear friend “Get Your Girl Back”‘s Traci Bild has asked me to write a blog about getting my girl back and how my passion for photography has lead me towards a new path in this life.

About 5 years ago, I got a frantic call from my dear friend Traci asking if I would host a fundraiser at my home for Women for Women International, which is a charity that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives(www.womenforwomeninternational.org).

Almost automatically, I agreed, not knowing what I was agreeing to but somehow I felt compelled to join in her quest to help suffering women from other countries build better lives for themselves.  In a matter of weeks, I hosted a fundraiser for 40 people at my home, which raised around $500.   I was so happy with the turn out and the fact that people were willing to listen and help those in need, most likely women who live across the world that they will never meet.

Now, five years later, my friend has asked me to help in her quest to help ALL women get their “Girl” back. The Girl that was once there and is now tucked away, safely in her heart so that she can be a caregiver, mother, wife, entrepreneur, homemaker, do-it-all kind of woman who has very small amounts of time to nurture her own wonderful being inside. What’s the phrase- “put on your own oxygen mask first so that you can help others?” Most women I know are suffocating within their daily lives, and they have no time to grab their mask. Burdened with the details of every day life, their primary focus is taking care of others and the continuous to-do lists that never seem to end.

So here’s a tiny piece of my “Get My Girl” going (she’s not back yet) story…

Sometimes life events can cause you to question, evaluate and redirect your energy to where it’s needed most…. YOU. A couple of years ago, my family moved to a beautiful community. It was something my husband and I had talked about for many years:  Moving back to the place we lived when were first married.  We knew what a great community and school system this community had to offer, we just had to find the right home and make it happen.  So one snowy December day, we went to an auction to sell a 100+ year old home that needed a tremendous amount of tender loving care.  From the moment the auctioneer said, “SOLD,” our lives went into a tailspin that no one could have predicted. 

From that moment on, I felt like I was being crushed by a force out of my control.  We had to sell our current home while remodeling a 100+ year old home, top to bottom, every room plus begin the process of changing schools, meeting neighbors and new friends.  We were transitioning from a suburban existence to an urban environment.  It’s a big change to go from new housing divisions and long drives to the grocery store to a completely walkable bubble-like community. 

Along with the external changes, there were a lot of “behind the scenes” events happening.  As a wife and mother, the center of my family’s world, my faith was tested and I needed to find a way to cope to get through the changes and challenges I was facing every day.  My reliance on those I thought would or could help me diminished.  Incredibly, God delivered real-life angels to me as I struggled to get through each day.  Thankfully, through these beautiful angels, my eyes began to open and I started to find new ways to cope, find peace and comfort to help me survive one of the hardest years of my life. 

 I had always enjoyed photography but had wrapped it up in a box to use at a later date, when I thought I would have more time and focus.  For years I had been a full-time, stay-at-home mother with a small import business that I ran out of my home.  However, I realized that my long-forgotten hobby soon became my saving grace as I trudged through the endlessly long days of construction workers, realtors, a million details and decisions, adjusting to our new home and new friendly faces.  

Along with all of the home duties, my business was in a huge growth phase.  Keeping my business growing and functioning was a challenge.  Picking up my camera took me to a place of peace…to the glory of nature that I had forgotten was right outside my door.  Slowly I began to spend more time outside with my camera, not really trying to capture anything in particular, just what I found interesting that day.  And then an amazing thing happened.  By spending more time outside, alone, I began to SEE like never before… the beauty of God in every detail was so clear.  Not only was my passion for photography growing, but my spirituality had been sparked.  I began to fall in love- the sky, the sun, the moon and stars had new meaning.  The trees, the river, the rain and snow were more magical and colors were more vivid.  I had a new appreciation for the morning sunrise.  Wow, another day, just for ME!  It became my therapy during a time when I was drowning in a sea of sorrow…. mourning the life I thought I had, missing the friends I loved so much who kept me grounded, creating a new life in completely different surroundings while keeping my focus on my greatest treasures, my children, who were also experiencing their own version of change as they began meeting friends and transitioning to a new life.  They needed their mother healthy, happy and whole.  

Because I re-discovered something I loved, I was now full of life and my oxygen mask was ON!   I now take mini-field trips every few days, sometimes just for an hour, with my camera.  I have participated in photography classes, even traveling to the Eastern Sierra’s for an intense 4-day workshop to learn my craft.   Additionally, I have been asked to exhibit my photography at various places in Central Ohio.  It’s pretty amazing where the path will take you if you are open to it.  I never imagined that tiny, complex machine could produce so much opportunity for me. 

Now, as I am focusing more on my inner girl and what she likes to do, she has a lot to say. And I am listening.  It’s like hearing the voice of your best friend…. It’s warm, loving, comforting and knowing… Your girl can bring clarity to you.  Just listen. Want to get your girl back? Visit https://gygb.com/gygb-chapter-one/ and download the first chapter of Traci’s forthcoming book, Get Your Girl Back and take the first step toward changing your life. 

By Michele Leach

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