Raising A Traveling Tribe: Finding Hope In Beauty

by Tina on August 15, 2014

in photography, Travel, USA

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I was talking to a friend recently who was lamenting the fact that her life was not more like mine.  She went on and on about how glamorous and beautiful and perfect my life was and I have to admit that I didn’t quite know how to take what she was saying.  Should I laugh it off?  Tell her that her life is all those things, too, even though she had just spent half an hour telling me how awful her life was?  Instead, I asked her one simple question.  Why did she think that my life was any different than hers?  Her answer was equally simple: The Blog.  I was kind of shocked.  Here was someone who knew me, though less in person over the last few years due to distance, but someone that I thought would know me well enough to realize that my life was not always perfect.

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For me, I know that my world changed about six years ago when I reached rock bottom.  At the time we were living in Morocco and I felt as though all hope and beauty had slipped away from my life.  We had been sick for months on end, had a trash dump right next to our house that wreaked during the summer and kept an endless supply of trash flying into our yard, the streets were filled with dirt and the chaos that was all around us was driving me insane.  Then one night, after my husband and I had spent days on end being angry- at the world, at each other, at life- we realized that we had lost sight of all that we had.  The ingratitude that had infiltrated our lives was disgusting and we agreed to eradicate it from our lives immediately by focusing on gratitude.

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But that was not the only reaction we had to our bad attitudes and this other reaction somehow feels so much deeper and more personal… Probably because it is more embarrassing.  We had stopped seeing beauty in Morocco.  It was one of the most devastating things that has ever happened to us because without beauty there is no hope and without hope there really isn’t much left to life.  I remember the moment when my husband, Jack, and I decided to start seeing beauty in Morocco, even among the dirt and trash, heat and grime, the illness and hopelessness.

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It changed us.  It changed our work, it changed our view of the world, and it definitely changed our view of ourselves and our role in this world.  We decided, that as a couple, our goal in life was to share beauty because for some crazy reason we had been given a camera, which we didn’t even know how to use, and had stumbled upon this sudden mission in life to use it to capture the beauty that this world has to offer.

Even while we were in Charleston I learned this lesson all over again when I spent hours in urgent care, first for a round of antibiotics, and then again when I had a scary allergic reaction to the medicine and broke out in a blazing red rash that made the medical staff audibly gasp, random bruising all over my body, swollen lips and a numb face.  Scary, guys!  It was bad enough feeling awful, but spending hours in urgent care made me want to do nothing else but lay in our hotel room and feel sorry for myself.

Why isn’t my life more perfect I wondered?  Why does this stuff always happen to us?  How am I suppose to walk the streets of Charleston when I feel so awful?  Then I laughed out loud, at myself, at the situation, and the irony of life.  Guys, sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we think it will, so we can either wallow in it or get up and find beauty in the midst of it all.

So, that is just what we did.  I gulped down my new meds, grabbed the camera, and found peace with myself, with life, and with the world… with what little time that we had left in Charleston.  My mom, who was wobbling around on a knee that needs to be replaced, roamed the streets of Historic Charleston with me and together we found these incredible moments of beauty…

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I hope, with all my heart, to lavish each and every one of you with more beauty in these coming days, not because my life is so perfect or grand, but because, much like many of you, my life is perfectly imperfect.  And because you know what?  I don’t feel like I have arrived.  Most of the time I have no idea where I am going.  And I know I don’t have my act together because I don’t even know what that would look like.  Sometimes I’m broken, some days I’m sad, sometimes I’m even angry, but I am continually finding hope in beauty and I hope that you will, too.

 

Photography: Tina Fussell

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Leah S. August 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Beautiful words and beautiful photos. I think that is the problem with blogging sometimes, people only get to see the ‘beauty’ in our lives and forget that there are hard times as well. Thanks for sharing from the heart.

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Tina August 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Yes, and I don’t think most of us want to fill our lives with more sadness, which is why I try so hard to create a place where we can all run to and find a dose of goodness. 🙂

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ania @ the new diplomat's wife August 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

it’s always the funny thing with blogs…or news…or TV…or anything really that comes in an edited and curated format. …very true. Sorry to hear about the health stuff in Charleston though – hopefully you’re feeling better!!

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Tina August 15, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Thank you. I’m still recovering, but grateful that I didn’t take anymore of the original medicine since the Dr told me it probably would have sent me into anaphylactic shock. I was so thankful to be in the US for this experience because I’m not sure I would have battled the system to be heard in Denmark!

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ania @ the new diplomat's wife August 19, 2014 at 11:05 am

yikes! rooting for you though and thinking of you guys – hopefully the road to fully mended is a short one 😉

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dani August 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm

love. social media has allowed us to edit our reality…which is good for material that we present to read and enjoy, and bad if you don’t realize that the ‘delete’ and ‘edit’ features have been used in the presentation….of course we are only going to post the best angle, the most flattering shot! but as readers, we need to keep that in mind and enjoy it as simply respite from our own chaos 🙂

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Tina August 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm

So true! I find myself thinking the same thing about others and having to remind myself that none of our lives our perfect!

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Katie August 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm

This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing on a day when I need this reminder!

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Tina August 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I was shaking in my boots as I hit publish. Sometimes being so honest can be a little overwhelming. Thank you so much for letting me know that it was helpful to you! xx

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Amanda August 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I kind of get what your friend was saying. I quit allowing myself to follow certain lifestyle blogs because they made me feel less than adequate. To be honest, my husband works hard all day long and travels with his job too and I stay at home full time with five children and feel super “successful” and “stylish” if I get a shower which includes my legs getting shaved and an actual outfit on. Then there is your blog, it really sways back and forth on that wire for me, but you seem to mix enough real talk like this with all the modern decor, stylish clothing, fantasy-like travel experiences and trendiness to keep me coming back to check it out every now and then 😉

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:32 am

I am so glad you have decided to stick around! We have our fair share of days when we blaze out the door like a bunch of nutters! Perhaps it is time to show a bit more of the craziness that happens to behind the scenes, too! I just never wanted to be a burden to others because I felt like this was a place for us all to escape, but you’ve given me lots to think about. Thanks so much for letting me know!

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Effie August 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

So beautifully put, Tina. I’m by nature a very negative person. Being aware of the beauty around me even in the simplest, smallest, silliest things has helped me through so many dark moments, so I couldn’t agree with you more. No one has a perfect life but by focusing on the ugly and the bad takes us nowhere better. I try to live by this every day although not always with success. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:32 am

We can encourage each other, because I have a very negative side, too! We’ll be beauty hunters together! xo

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Melody August 15, 2014 at 6:23 pm

As a reader I have to say I appreciate and enjoy the posts most from blogs and writers when they write honestly about their lives, instead of presenting the edited version. I absolutely appreciate the intent to focus on positivity and beauty in blogs, but I always relish and get the most from the posts when writers share with us their true feelings and reality- because that is more interesting and complex to me. That may make me in the minority as a reader, but just wanted to share that with you. Your posts about your challenges, struggles in life are your best, most interesting posts- to me. Thank you for reminding us to find the beauty in our lives, as we are all dealing with that struggle on an every day basis.

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:34 am

Thank you so much for letting me know! I love your word, “complex” because that is what we all are. Sometimes I waiver between presenting myself professionally as a photographer but also allowing my personal life in, too. I think there has to be a blend somewhere in there and I hope to get better at it!

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Gia August 15, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Thank you so much for this post today. It brought tears to my eyes. I feel the same way about photography and your words articulated so clearly why I pick up a camera and find images to capture wherever I go. Thank you for the reminder of moving towards gratitude. I feel like I forget that sometimes, especially on those rough days.

It is posts like this – finding and reflecting on beauty and gratitude during the rough moments – that bring me back again and again to your blog. Thank you for the daily dose of beauty.

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:35 am

Gia, you are such a gem! I’m glad that I don’t have to figure all of this out on my own! xo

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JODI August 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Beautifully written and this brought tears to my eyes. Hope you are doing well now. Hugs from SE Georgia. I think about you all a lot.

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:36 am

I think about you, too, especially with all the medical stuff! I miss you and do hope that we can see each other soon! {Big hugs!}

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Sophie August 16, 2014 at 12:44 am

Agreed with Melody. I also follow Grance Dore and the only few times I have commented on her blog were when she was very honest and sharing deeper thoughts. I also love beauty, photography and design, but I agree that too much perfection makes us feel all lame as we are just humans – not lifestyle bloggers! 🙂

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:41 am

I just cannot tell you girls how much I appreciate you writing in and letting me know. Sometimes it can be tough to know what others want. I tend to be a very deep and introspective person and I always feel that I let the world around me down by not being more colorful and glamorous. Knowing that you all have a place in your hearts for this piece of my soul is literally like a soothing balm to so many of my worries. We all ache to be the best version of ourselves, but being human, with all it’s complexities, is what makes us truly amazing beings!

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Joy reswine August 16, 2014 at 3:25 am

Gratitude….a miraculous fix it for a lot of things…changes our perspective…

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Tina August 16, 2014 at 5:41 am

Sigh… So, so true!

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Kelsey Page-Campbell August 16, 2014 at 7:46 am

Thank you for this. Truly.

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 5:56 am

Aww. Thank you!

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Ariana {And Here We Are...} August 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

So beautifully said, Tina. I struggle sometimes with what I share and show on my blog– I never want people to think my life is perfect. But I also want to contribute beauty to their daily lives, and will of course share the good stuff that I think they will enjoy. It’s such a fine line between being a source of inspiration/ joy and being too “aspirational.”

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 5:56 am

You are so right! I hope to continue striving for that right balance.

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TinaKL August 17, 2014 at 3:37 am

What an insightful post; how often we forget to look into our own lives to appreciate and enjoy what we have now, instead of in the past or future, or in comparison to others. It’s a good reminder! Hope you recover quickly!

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 5:57 am

Thank you. I’m doing much, much better now!

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Claudia August 17, 2014 at 9:27 am

Tina, thank you so much for sharing this. It is so true seeing the beauty that surrounds us can be so healing especially at times when life gets tough. That”s why we give flowers to the sick and grieving. I like the idea to share beautiful and inspirational things on blogs, because we all need to be inspired to live better lives. But we also have to be balanced, sometimes we can put to much pressure on ourselves to live the perfect life which is just not possible we all struggle with the odds of life. The only thing we can change is our attitude. I offen tend to see the negative things and what you said about gratidude is so true. Your pictures are so beautiful they lift the heart. Hope you feel better soon.
Claudia

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 5:59 am

Claudia, you are so sweet and everything you said is so true. It means the world to me to know that my photos lift the heart. Thank you so, so much!

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Jocelyn Casey August 17, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Beautifully expressed and so humbly delivered….you are such a gif to the world for your open sharing. Thank you! Jocelyn xx

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 6:01 am

I was thinking of you so much during those few days and thinking of your epi pens. It gave me so much courage and made me laugh a little at myself too! We need to chat soon! xo

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Kelleyn August 18, 2014 at 6:20 am

I have had a similar situation where someone was afraid to meet me because she was afraid I would judge her! While I try to keep my blog real, she felt my life was so perfect, but what she didn’t see was the nights when I was to tired to make dinner and went to Chick-Fil-A or they had mac and cheese from the box. The piles of laundry that now come with having 5 children, and children who are struggling to make the transition from child to teenager. The other night I went to see the movie The Giver based off the book. Going into the movie I was depressed that my aging father is losing his memory and asking myself why me when my plate is so full. The book reminded me that without sorrow we would never know how sweet the joy is! Sorry you got sick on your trip. Hope you have fun in Nashville.

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 6:04 am

Oh, Kelleyn, I know just what you mean about those days when fatigue sets in and everything is so overwhelming. I don’t know how you do it with 5! But I know you are an amazing mom and I’m so glad that we all go through those same moments!

I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. I know that must be so devastating for you and your family. You are definitely in my thoughts and prayers! {big hugs}

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Betty August 18, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Oh my goodness, I am actually writing this with tears in my eyes! Beautifully written and a reminder to find beauty in life’s everyday happenings! Thank you!!

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Tina August 19, 2014 at 6:04 am

Betty, your tenderness has absolutely touched me to the core. Thank you so much!

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Cristina August 22, 2014 at 11:54 am

This is beautiful Tina. Thank you so much for sharing so deeply. I live in one of those dirty, dusty countries but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Those outside spaces are minor in comparison to the the beauty that you can find in the wonder of nature and landscape and in people’s hearts. Hope you feel better soon!

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Fiona August 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm

This is so beautifully written. I also always try to see the beauty around me, but sometimes it’s really hard. In our current home, we are surrounded by dust and flies, poverty and suffering. Thanks for the reminder to choose gratitude, and to pick up my camera and see what beauty I can capture. I love your honesty in this post. Unfortunately, that’s the challenge with blogging – showing the beauty and inspirational, without seeming overly perfect. I’m really sorry about your health scare!

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Anissa Haney October 31, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Tina this is your best post I have read…it is so inspiring and truly gives us a glimpse into your heart and soul. You have been blessed with the gift of words! I could relate with what you were sharing! Vulnerability is beauty…there is beauty in the broken. Thats when real diamonds are formed. I see that diamond in you. Keep making a difference in this world! Love ya girl.

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