sometimes not getting it right is okay…


i’m not sure where it started or why i’m really like this, but i don’t like “sad” & i don’t feel like i do it very well. it’s like i dread “the sad feeling” as much i dread the whatever that’s causing the sad. cancer. sick doggy. moving baby girls to college. a friend that’s battling terminal illness. whatever. all of it.

it’s like i’ve always viewed that emotion like an unwanted house-guest ( i only use that cliche because it’s all i could come up with . honestly…there’s really no such thing right? but you get where i’m going with this) who comes for a short visit but stays. like forever. and ever.

for some reason i’m so afraid that if i let myself just be sad, or grieve, it’ll never go away and that i’ll be sad forever. which clearly isn’t truth but still.

i can actually remember the first time i felt this way about sadness. i was a little girl. we lived in nashville so i was probably 6 or 7 at the time.   i can picture the family room, or den actually- dark brown paneling & all. i even remember which side of the room i was sitting. so anyways, i was watching gomer pile ( early 70’s thank you very much) and sergeant was being mean to gomer. i felt so sorry for gomer & must have started to cry. i’m not even sure which parent walked by, but i vividly remember not wanting them to see me be sad. how dumb is that? i wasn’t raised to stuff my emotions. i wasn’t raised in a home where we only were happy and that was the only allowed emotion. i honestly have no idea why i’m like this. but i’ve been this way ever since. i don’t like sad & i don’t like people see me be sad. what a weirdo.

even when i lost gregg it’s like i was so afraid to just “feel the sad”….i watched a strong healthy guy die of cancer and barely hold his baby girl and i couldn’t even allow that sadness in, which of all times was the most obvious & most necessary.  one day i was standing by the sink talking to my mom, gregg was near the end & it was just so awfully heart wrenching. i was crying. just a little but i was crying. and savannah walked up to me & asked if i was okay. dusting off the tears i knelt down with a big smile & told her i was totally fine. just fine. fine. she then asked why the tears were in my eyes. i remember my mom saying that i should let her see me be sad & that was okay…and healthy. gosh. i just couldn’t. i was so afraid that she’d think everything wasn’t okay. well of course it wasn’t okay but i think i figured well at least mama will be okay. life was sad enough during that time but i wanted my girls to at least see mommy happy.

i probably messed that one up. honestly to this day i still wonder if i taught them to stuff it all in instead of just wanting three little girls to know we could still laugh & giggle and that mama was gonna be okay. i’m thinking i failed “emotional health 101”. i’m not sure i did it right or even now, if i’m doing it right. but trying to give myself the grace that we’re all just trying to do the best we can…and sometimes “not getting it right” is okay…

now many years later with losing brinkley…dan’s cancer diagnosis last fall….even moving emi to college last week, i felt myself do it all over again. only allowing my heart to feel so much at at a time. one of these days i’ll get it right. i’m sure thankful for sweet friends that have been so sweet & thoughtful these last few weeks…friends that can acknowledge the sad but then tell me some inappropriate joke or something silly just to get me to laugh. allowing a little of the sad but helping me not let it stay too long.

my girls have had great summers & made some awesome memories. i feel like i have lots to share. and noonday has launched a beautiful new line…you must go check it out…and i have loads of photo sessions & some sweet stories of encouragement to connect to those as well. i’ve seen the hand of God all over us, carrying us & blessing us this summer. i’ll admit blogging has sorta taken a back seat and can be hard to make the sacrifice of time to write & share but i’m thankful for this little spot & for YOU! you sweet readers have been loyal & such a blessing through it all.

savannah’s drafted a couple posts about her travels abroad this summer & she’s got some great tips for you. that’s coming soon.

emi’s bid day at UGA was night before last & that’s so fun..can’t wait to share that.

madison is working her tail off & her fall semester begins next week. she had a great week down on the gulf serving as a mommy’s helper & i’d love to share some of those images.

caroline’s playing high school volleyball & was just chosen as captain.

i still hear my sweet brinkley as i go through the house & he’s in my heart all the time. i’m praying there’s a sweet golden out there who needs a home and will be with us sooner than later. obviously i still have much i’d love to share about that boy. i honestly feel like pets as wonderful as brinkley are truly a taste of the unconditional love we have from jesus. i’m so thankful that i’ve had that in many dogs in my lifetime & especially with my brinkley.


August 19, 2015 - 10:09 am

Terri - Thank you for sharing, the bitter and the sweet. What amazing girls you have! Beautiful! Your reflections reminded me of when my mom died (she was 52, I was 30 and my daughter, 5). As one of three sisters, there was a difference of opinion as to if the little ones should go to the funeral. I remember a wise friend telling me that our little ones needed to see family go through the hurts *together* so they could see the support and how much love we shared. This opened my eyes to so many things. I am sorry for the loss of your beloved golden.

August 19, 2015 - 10:27 am

sheri - Great post and an awesome pic of you and Dan – hot momma :)

August 19, 2015 - 1:18 pm

Alisa - It’s OK to be sad-God gave us that emotion so we lie closer to him!!! Beautiful post-

August 19, 2015 - 2:38 pm

Jan Fusco - I don’t know why I fall apart over the loss of pets. The tears are just flowing down my face. I’ve never had any children. I married late in life and I have a sweet 25 year old step son that I love. But I have had pets and lost pets. And it always tears me to pieces. As you said, that unconditional love they give is such a sweet reminder of Jesus’love for us. Thinking of you in the loss of Brinkley and the adjustments of your girls going here and there and leaving home and growing before your eyes. Don’t hide your sadness…if we don’t feel sadness, how would we know how happy “happy” feels.

August 19, 2015 - 2:48 pm

Cécile Sauvage - As usual, I like your “simple thoughts” …and your pictures !
Bises de Provence à vous six (spécialement à Savannah !).

August 19, 2015 - 3:36 pm

Linsey @ Bravehearted Beauty - I get not wanting to feel too much sadness. I was the same way. I was afraid it would consume me, and then sadness would be all I’d feel, all the time. And friend, in some ways, it feels like that’s exactly what happened when I let myself REALLY feel. I couldn’t stop the sadness. I couldn’t keep it out or make it go away or make it pipe down. And Lord knows I wish I could! But then there’s this gift. I’ve become more present to ALL feelings. Not just my own, but to other people. I can enter into other people’s stories in ways I never could before. I’ve become a safe place for people to fall apart. People who say they NEVER cry fall to pieces in front of me, and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Just to sit and be a safe place for someone’s tears. Because tears are SO sacred. Why else would God bottle them up? He’s got a wall full of beautiful tear jars in heaven with my name on them! Have you seen “Inside Out”? It’s absolutely brilliant. I think you’ll relate to Joy so much. I was joy once, then became all sad. But now, I’m learning that a whole heart is BOTH. At the end of the movie, joy and sadness hold hands. Such a beautiful picture. Clearly I could write a lot about this! 😉 LOVE YOU. And love your honesty and your awareness. Good stuff! xoxo

August 19, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Lisa Mothersead - You sounded like a sweet little girl. And Savannah, too, worried about her mom. Ahhh! From what I understand from psychologists (family) around me, as long as you’re not internalizing it all, it’s ok. I yell, laugh, cry easily and basically annoy everyone around me half the time. haha. But, i don’t which is “better”. And congrats to your new Alpha Chi. My youngest was an Alpha Chi, too. :)

August 19, 2015 - 7:35 pm

Lori H - Paige,
I understand all that you are saying. While I wasn’t specifically taught to stuff down my feelings, I do sometimes feel that if I let in the sad, I am “wallowing” in it, which was a no no in my house growing up. My daughter’s best friend died from cancer when they were 15 and I had to make sure that I wasn’t passing on that “emotional constipation” if you will pardon the phrase. I am not sure if I succeeded, but isn’t that how we all feel at one point or another? We all are in need of a tremendous amount of grace, and thank GOD He can provide it. Whew. My heart aches for you in the loss of Brinkley. At the same time you were losing him, my sister lost her golden, Chloe, who was her only “child”. I pray that you soon have only peace and good memories when you think of Brinkley, and a wiggly golden body to love on soon.

August 20, 2015 - 12:18 am

cathy g - Beautiful post……. I can stay in “sad”mode for way too long…….thanks again for keeping it real :)

August 20, 2015 - 8:22 am

Donna - I’m so sorry about your dog . we get so attached to them. They become members of our family. My daughter lost her Golden last summer suddenly to a heart attack while at my house . She still cries when she talks about her. We had a lab for 13 years that we still miss. The memories are so endearing but I know can be painful. Pets bring such joy to our lives. I know God will bring you another furbaby to enjoy. Have a wonderful day.

August 20, 2015 - 2:49 pm

martha - Paige, it’s good to just have the feelings and feel them some….lots of life changes, loss, and celebrations, and even fear. Tackle them tenderly…they won’t swallow you up.
And I’m sad for Brinkley for you too..we lost Duchess 2 years ago almost and I miss her every day still…she was a 12 yr old golden. Am praying for my next furry friend, really wasn’t ready til a few months ago but I am now. Another golden I think it has to be. Hang in there, thanks for the transparency you gave here, and step into’ll be chock full of all kindsa goodness, and LEARNING, and growth too, I’m sure. For all of us!

August 20, 2015 - 7:10 pm

Kellie - I have always been that way about the sad too. Well, until I lost my dad is 2014. For about 6 months I patted myself on the back because I was doing so well and taking such good care of my mom. Then after she moved in with my sister and we were all living side by side and settled I crashed. Now I can’t get OUT of the sad…I try…I just get dragged back in so easily. I think that by trying so hard to push myself forward and not get into the grief I actually set myself up for a great big fall. It’s hard to know what is best and we generally do the best we can so don’t beat yourself up mama…you have some precious girls!

Losing a pet is so terribly sad. We lost our lab at 14 and I would still see him out of the corner of my eye…even years later. He was with during our newlywed stage, 3 houses, through us becoming parents…so many things they are with us as our lives change. And their love remains constant. I hope you find yourself a new guy or gal to love on soon.

August 21, 2015 - 2:16 am

Destiny - This is good; real good…

August 23, 2015 - 10:46 am

tara - the struggle is real…letting yourself feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. praying for you, as you navigate all the change.

i always struggled with being sad, too…finding the good and the positive in situations helped me survive a lot when I was little. also, if i’m being honest, the things I was secretly sad about, the world around me couldn’t handle…so I just tucked it all way down deep. Until I couldn’t anymore. God has a way of graciously getting us to a place when the things we’ve always done to “survive” don’t work anymore.

if he is allowing this season to be a season where you can’t tuck it in and hide it down deep, he’ll give you everything you need to feel what it is you’re feeling. and you’ll be better and stronger for it…and all the people that matter the most in your life will be more than okay with handling your feelings.

August 23, 2015 - 2:03 pm

Lisa Mothersead - Ditto.

August 25, 2015 - 10:05 am

Denise - Paige, I really needed to read this today…You are an awesome, awesome friend and you do always find the positive in any situation. It is ok to feel sad…Just know that you are loved and prayed for.

remembering brinkley


i’ve honestly not been able to write this post…and having said that, this won’t even be the full story as something about blogging about it makes it seem even more real.

about a month ago i noticed brinkley was breathing a little rapidly. i primarily noticed this in the evenings when we’d be settling in for the night. he’s slept on a pillow beside my side of the bed for years & i noticed he had quit doing that ( will explain why he quit in the next post). both of which i thought was weird. but nothing else was different. just occasionally i’d notice the rapid breathing.

i packed up later that week & took the bookends down to the gulf coast to photograph a few family sessions. we rolled in around 2am saturday morning…i climbed into bed exhausted & in my driving clothes. i never do that! woke up the next morning & asked dan how the last few days had gone. well, he told me, i didn’t want to tell you because i knew you’d pack up & drive home early…but brinkley hasn’t wanted to eat his last four meals. i dialed the vet immediately & knew something was wrong.

still in the same clothes from the day before we drove him nervously to the vet.

what happened next completely broke my heart….

X-rays showed brinkley’s lungs were full of tumors. we found out a few days later that it was metastatic tumors, advanced stage. we were given a few weeks to a couple months with him.

my mind knows these sweet animals don’t have the same life expectancy as adults. my mind knows that our sweet fella was 10 years old. but my heart wanted him to live with me, sleeping beside me, hanging out with me-in every single room-all day long…forever.

i’ll share a little more about those next few weeks in another blog post as this is all my heart can handle today…between that & moving in our emi my heart has been hurting and trying to get used to the “new” normal around here

we said goodbye to what i’m certain was the best dog in all the evers a week ago friday…

needless to say, i’ll be remembering brinkley forever…while technically he was a rescue dog, i am certain that for the last 8 years his sweet, loyal self rescued me…

( i shared much about him throughout those last couple weeks of his life on my instagram account… #brinkley & #rememberingbrinkley )



August 17, 2015 - 8:53 am

Crystal - been there…my heart breaks for you…i am so sorry.

August 17, 2015 - 8:55 am

Lisa Mothersead - You’re all in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck to your daughter. I’ve been through it twice with my two. It’ll be fine.

August 17, 2015 - 8:56 am

Rebecca B. - My heart goes out to you and your family. God bless.

August 17, 2015 - 9:42 am

Kat Hamilton - Paige, my heart hurts for you. I know how much you miss your sweet boy. He was the best! Love you! xo

August 17, 2015 - 10:23 am

Sandie Bailey - Paige all your words touch so many people. I have a rescue also and it touches my heart. Such a sweet sentiment for Brinkley. Sad for your loss

August 17, 2015 - 10:47 am

JuliaW - So very, very sorry for the loss of your sweet baby. May you find peace and many blessings of remembrance as you go forward.

August 17, 2015 - 11:11 am

Stacey - Paige, I’m so sorry for you and your family to lose Brinkley. It’s so hard. We went through a very similar scenario with our Katie who was a Lab. You’ll never stop missing that sweet part of your family.I’ll be thinking of you.

August 17, 2015 - 11:45 am

Kimberly Dial - Oh Paige, I’m so sorry. I know exactly how you feel. We lost our sweet Golden years ago at the age of 12. Even now, more than 10 years later, I still cry at the thought of our sweet Brandy girl. Thinking of & praying for you.

August 17, 2015 - 11:56 am

jodi - paige….my heart just breaks for you. we have been there several times, but we had one sweet girl that stole my heart; she lived to be 16.
My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. People don’t understand that our pets are our life and our family, we mourn and miss them when they are gone.
I have been thinking of you often and may God give you peace, sweet friend.

Take care…jodi

August 17, 2015 - 2:08 pm

chrissi - paige, thanks for sharing brinkley on your blog. if sweetness and loyalty can be captured in a photo, you did that. times like a million. happy dogs come from loving and caring people. you each did that daddy taught me that all dogs do really go to heaven and i believe it♥
so cheers to brinkley and to the ones he loved. he did so well.

August 17, 2015 - 3:35 pm

Maria - You’ve got me crying. Oh, I’m so sorry.

And I know moving Emily out wasn’t easy either. And sending Caroline to high school. And Savannah to a “real job.” And Dan’s cancer. And…I am sure there is more you haven’t shared.

You have had quite a year of change.

Good grief, I wish I could give you a huge hug, bring you a bouquet of summer flowers, and make you a huge margarita.

I am praying for you.

August 17, 2015 - 4:36 pm

Tricia Carter - Been through it and I honestly feel your heart break as if it was mine all over again – been exactly 8 years and 1 day ago since I lost my beloved best friend.

August 17, 2015 - 4:37 pm

KittyLuvr - Confession, I am not a dog lover….but I grew to love Brinkley over the years I have followed your blog and yes I cried when I read he was so sick…and even more last Friday. Thank you for showing how wonderful a dog can be….my prayers are with your family during this time of transition. We dropped my youngest at college this week for her senior year and the house is eerily quiet…so my mama heart is trying to hold it to together while I pray for our sweet Peru loving daughters….

August 17, 2015 - 7:35 pm

Becky - It’s difficult to lose a pet that’s been part of the family for so long. My heart goes out to you.

August 17, 2015 - 8:03 pm

Jill - I still can’t believe he is gone. {{hugs to you}} -xo~Jill

August 17, 2015 - 8:40 pm

Susan - I am so, so sorry about Brinkley. A good friend of mine just put her lab down last week as well. I did it 2 1/2 years ago with our sweet girl Roxy. I know the hole in your heart, I know that empty spot next to you in every room. It’s a terrible feeling. I know you know loss all to well. It’s such a helpless place to be. I wish you peace and comfort in this time of losing your family member, because thats what pets are. Never feel ashamed to grieve that loss like you would a human.

Lots of cyper hugs to you and your family.

August 17, 2015 - 9:45 pm

Maureen Hayes - My heart breaks for you and for your family on the loss of Brinkley. Our pets are truly family and I know how much you are hurting right now. Please know you are in my prayers.

August 17, 2015 - 11:39 pm

teresa - Paige and family, I am so very sorry. Brinkley was a blessing to you and you to him. We’ve only ever adopted and at one point had three rescued Goldens for years… I still get a lump in my throat when I think of them as they’ve all three since gone to Rainbow Bridge. I loved them so very much. Brinkley was a beautiful soul. My heart goes out to you. I’ve been there and it hurts….it hurts badly.

August 18, 2015 - 3:26 am

Melanie - Paige and family, it breaks my heart to hear of your pain. Our furry kids are too precious to lose, but I know that one day we will be with them again.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

August 18, 2015 - 10:34 am

Jan Fusco - From the moment I read the title of this post, the tears started flowing. I am such an animal lover, especially dogs. I always enjoyed Brinkley in your photo shots. I know you will miss him terribly. Such unconditional love our pets give us. I’m feeling your loss.

August 18, 2015 - 9:35 pm

Curious Thinker - Hello, been following your blog for a while now, just wanted to say I’m sorry about your loss. I also lost one of my two cats this past May due to health problems and although, now I have adopted a new one, I still miss my other cat. I pray in time you will heal. God Bless.

August 19, 2015 - 6:06 pm

Katie - awww Paige, reading this makes my heart ache for you~ hugs

August 19, 2015 - 7:16 pm

Sharon Wideman - I am so sorry for your family’s loss. Many prayers.

August 19, 2015 - 7:54 pm

Andrea - I’m so sorry. When you described Brinkley’s breathing I just knew what you were going to say. My Lily died 4 years ago from cancer that was in her lungs, liver and everywhere. Lil was a one year old beagle mix that we got from the local shelter. Lil was with us for 11 year and it for just last week we got another

August 19, 2015 - 8:18 pm

Katherine @ Grass Stains - Paige, of course my heart breaks for you and your entire family. Losing a pet is one of the toughest things … of course they’re not human, but they are the next closest thing we have, are they not? I remember how terrified you were back when he got away from you, I don’t know, three or four years ago? On that busy street when he was attacked by a dog? And I could just feel how upset you were and how much you loved him then. He couldn’t have been loved any more than he was, by any family better than yours. And he knew it. :-) God bless the Knudsens.

August 20, 2015 - 7:09 am

Shannan - Just last week I lost my beloved cat Lucky, he was 8 and a half and the most beautiful boy. I still hear him wanting to come inside and sometimes I think I can still feel him sitting on my lap. Sincere condolences on the loss of Brinkley.