I am so happy that 2016 is behind me, but most importantly I made it through a lot of “firsts,” including the holidays.  I knew Christmastime was going to be tough because there were so many new traditions my late husband and I made for our children throughout the past several years.  I managed to hold onto some of those traditions with the grace and strength that got me through 2016.  I wanted to do something fun and different for Christmas this year.  Before his passing we traditionally both had our kids on Christmas Eve and then they would go with their mom and dad on Christmas morning around 10am after we all opened gifts.  My husband and I used to host Christmas Eve dinner but this year I felt such a void that one of my best friends was gracious enough to host it instead.  I had this crazy idea to fly to Las Vegas on Christmas day with my mother (my father had passed away when I was 23 and she never remarried).  So, there we were, two widows hopping on a plane to Las Vegas.  I was excited to try something different over the holidays to get my mind off such a heartbreaking year.

A few months ago, I stumbled across some young, budding photographer’s photos on Instagram.  She was based out of Las Vegas and since I travel there frequently for work, I gave her a call to photograph me.  I loved her style and couldn’t wait for my first session.  Little did I know that she and I had a lot in common.  She recently lost her father and we started chatting about loss and love and how it strengthens us in ways we never imagined.  When I knew I was coming out to Vegas for Christmas, I emailed her and asked her if she’d be willing to meet me out at Seven Magic Mountains to photograph me for this New Year’s blog post.  She immediately agreed and we set a time of 6:45am to meet since the light would be perfect at that time.

I was excited to be photographed here because the art installation represents all things special to me:  Life, color and brightness against a stark, unforgiving backdrop. Little did I realize that I would get so much more out of these photographs than I ever imagined.  When Abby sent them to me, I shed a few tears because I have no doubt in my mind our kindred spirits were meant to do this based on the moments she captured.  I can define every thought I had as I look at these pictures.  As I looked beyond the horizon, I thought about how every sunrise was a symbol of a new chance to be your best self, to write a new chapter that defines who YOU are and not who everybody else wants you to be.  Every dawn is different and it’s up to us how we look at it.  These are the most special photographs someone has ever taken of me and I look forward to sharing my journey in photos with her as my guide.

If you are ever in the Las Vegas area I highly recommend you book a session with Abby Ward.  She is a wonderful human being and I am blessed that our paths have crossed.  Below are some of the amazing photos that capture the spirit of that day (outfit details provided in links below):


Blouse: Nordstrom

Blue Velvet Pants:  Elie Tahari

Shoes:  Nina

Necklace:  StitchFix

Photo Credits:  Abby Ward Photography