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McDonalds & Smiles | Nashville Photographer

When I tell most people that I have worked at McDonalds, they tend to not believe me.  But it's true.  I worked at Mcdonalds in Clearwater, Fl in the summer between my sophmore & junior year of college while on a summer project with Campus Crusade.  I was able to work with several friends but also made a lot of new friends as well.  One was nicknamed "Shorty" and we started out as the "hospitality" staff, aka janitors.  The manager took one look at me and my little silver Mazda Mx-6 in the parking lot and put me in charge of cleaning the restrooms.  To this day, every time I walk into a McDonalds bathroom it takes me back to that summer.  The all smell exactly the same.  Unfortunately Shorty did not stay the entire summer due to a police car pulling up and taking him away in the middle of our work day.  I stood there crying knowing that I would probably never see him again.  I then convinced my manager, Lori, that I was ready to work the drive through.  Now Lori was not the typical McDonalds manager- she ran this place like a tight ship.  It was one of the busiest McDonalds in the south and she had us on timers.  So when a car would pull up in the window she would yell, HBO, HBO!!!  I was like "we don't have TV here, Lori!"  Then she explained that it meant, "Hand Bag Out the Window!"  So literally my hand would have the bag out the window as the car pulled through.  It was quite fun.  She saw my potential so eventually moved me to the first window where I was able to take orders and receive money.  I made up a little song for our customers that I am glad I can't sing to you but just imagine: "welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order pleeeeeease?"  Most customers loved it but a few just rolled their eyes at me.  Oh well.  The one thing I was terrible at was dropping change as they handed it to me.  Thankfully there was a really tall guy that worked with me and he would grab me by my feet and drop me out the window so I could get the dropped change as the blood rushed to my head.  

So, yes, that is a lot of stories.  But I have a point.  The other day I was driving through McDonalds with my 3 year old.  YES I go to McDonalds, Go ahead, call DCS.  But I still love their fries.  And if you don't then who are you?  Anyways, every single time I drive through McDonalds, I look right into the workers eyes and smile with a big thank you.  Why?  Because there is a small part of me that knows how they feel behind that window.  It's hard being stuck behind a window while watching everyone else enjoy their so called freedom in their car.  I would look at those people and just want to jump in.  And some people were just down right mean.  So even though I can't identify fully with the person behind the window, I have stood where they stand.  I know what it feels like to have someone smile at me and say thank you.  It changes things.  Those little things make a difference in your day when you are doing something so mundane and at times, really smelly.  

I guess what I am trying to say is that we really can't fully identify with anyone but there are ways we can feel a bit of their story.  I am thankful that I had the chance to work at McDonalds coming from my life of privilege.  Honestly I think it changes me more now than it did then.  Though I will say putting on that turquoise hat and pleated black pants was definitely a bit humbling at the time.  And my kids are really going to hate me when I make them go work somewhere that is out of their comfort zone.  But I still have the nametag so I have proof that if I can do it, so can they.  And just maybe it will make them smile at someone and really mean it too.  

Fall | Nashville Photography

I've been thinking a lot about seasons lately.  Honestly, I have always hated it when someone told that it was "just a season."  Especially when it came to my babies not sleeping.  It just seemed to diminish my painful sick exhaustion to mere seasonal allergies.  But the word "seasons" has been coming to me in a new way lately.  Fall has always been such a beautiful, yet also strangely aching time for me.  There is so much beauty in the smell and feel of the air yet there is so much loss experienced as the colorful leaves slowly fall to the ground leaving bareness all around.  

And my life seems to be in the midst of Fall itself.  Letting go of what I have held on to for so long through the Spring and Summer of my life.  Yet in the midst of the letting go, I am also learning to hope.  Knowing that Winter is coming and that the bareness will soon turn to beauty once again.  And isn't there some sort of odd beauty in the bareness as well?  You can see a bit more, right?  I am always amazed at being able to see things that I didn't see when the leaves hung on the trees: a neighbors house, the trail wrapping around the river, the sunset, the moon appearing a bit earlier through the bare branches.  And in this falling away of what I have known and held on to for so long, I am slowly learning to see a bit more.  More of myself.  More of my family.  More of God.  And the seeing isn't always pleasant or easy but it only gives way to growth.  And growth always leads to beauty.  Always.  

So, here I am on this path towards Winter and longing for Spring.  Yet I will stay in the falling away with my hands open knowing that this is where I am suppose to be and that soon my hands will be filled once again.  But I must keep them open and ready to hold whatever comes.  For it is in the openness that I can blossom.  

May wherever you are give you peace today.... 

The photo below is from one of my favorite places on earth, Onsite in Cumberland Furnace, TN.  If you are at a place that you feel like you need to hit a reset button on life, I would strongly suggest you looking into going here for a week.  It changed me and continues to change me today.  I am also happy to talk with anyone about my experience there as well.  Feel free to reach out.