A different kind of "trash the dress" session.
I asked Hillary to share her story with you and why she wanted to do this session. It's worth the read!
"We all share something that is inevitable, and that is loss. In the midst of the loneliest days, there are moments of hope that still surround us. As the days progress, hope becomes clearer. I was newly married and moved to Charlotte from Tulsa before finding that I had a rare illness, that would make it unlikely that I could have children and made walking difficult because my feet gave out on me. My dreams for my future career seemed over, and I would have to settle for a desk job. To make things more difficult, I had to start flying out to Dallas on a regular basis to get special treatment. I kept thinking, "This cannot be this life I dreamed of. I know things will get better." Soon after, my husband left our marriage and he was not going to come back. I was devastated. This could not be happening! I finished up my treatments and moved back to Tulsa to be closer to my family. I did not know where to begin to take back my life, but I knew I had to.
They say that loving yourself should come first, and that was the key to my healing. I did care about myself, but I did not truly feel lovable in my own eyes. I began to show gentleness and grace not only to others, but also to myself, and somewhere in that process the love came in naturally. I traveled to beautiful places, and even if they were not among the cities as deemed by the "Top Ten places to Visit," I thought they were, because I made it there. And I could walk! I was healing physically more and more, day by day. I walked on the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain and made a decision to enroll back in school to finish my degree to my dream career. I began to volunteer in the church nursery and helped orphans, and soon after I found out that infertility was no longer an issue. And with those blessings came the strength needed because I had learned to love myself. When you love yourself, you will deny yourself things that are void of healthy and peace. You will possess strength to say "no" to people and situations it are listen to your body to provide the health and the peace of mind it needs because that is what your heart and mind values. After learning this, it became more natural to extend love to others.
After this growth experience, I was a able to move on, but not to forget the journey. I decided to create trash the dress pictures, but from a different perspective. I went to the waterfalls with Kailey Watson, a Tulsa Photographer who traveled with me in the car as I shared my story with her. This time, putting on my wedding dress felt different, because this special day was not for the occasion of two, but to celebrate the journey of one. I stood before the serentiy of the waterfalls where everything was surreal. My veil blended with flow of the waterfall until it moved in sync with the push of the water, becoming part of the motion, gracefully, beautifully, and I felt beautiful in that moment. I moved deeper into the water, being pulled by the current but knowing that I was strong enough to withstand the force that seemed intent to pull me off balance. I felt powerful and I laughed. I never knew that laughter could be so empowering.
I had bought myself a beautiful ring to remind myself that, "I got this. It is all okay because I am worthy and lovable." To love yourself is to set yourself free, and that is one of the most loving things you can do for the ones you care for."