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    The One About The Watch


    The last couple of years have been really emotional for me. At times, charged and full of joy and happiness. Then quickly replaced by emptiness and the feeling of being so alone. Unloved. Disregarded. I swung like a pendulum for a little over a year while I finally came to some profound realizations about myself, and with that comes this story. The one about the watch. (Yes, it’s kind of a love story, so if you’re into that kind of thing, hold on. We’ll get there.)

    The middle of last summer, I was headed to Greenville, South Carolina. With a man. A man I loved so intensely, there was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. With him. That fire burned pretty hot. I thought the feeling was mutual, and at the time – it was as much as it could have been, I suppose.

    During our layover in Atlanta, we came upon a Brighton store. Now, I’m a big fan of Brighton, but I don’t have ANYthing that carries a Brighton label. I just sigh and think, some day. Some day I’ll have something from this store. We stop in (after I explain my infatuation with all things Brighton) and I found a watch that I wanted to get. I deliberated for several minutes about buying it for myself – so frivolous! A hundred bucks! Ouch! I thought – he knows I like it, maybe he’ll buy it for me. I shouldn’t buy it for myself. I should stop doing the things for myself and LET someone do the things for me.

    See, I have never had a relationship where the man actually picked up on the cues and did the things. Okay – sometimes. But for the most part, if I wanted a thing, or wanted to do a thing, I just did it. I got tired of waiting for the thing. Waiting for someone to LISTEN and WANT to do the thing.

    So, I thought, I would give him the chance to do just that.

    We left. Without the watch.

    “Why didn’t you get it?” He asked later. “Well, I was hoping you’d get it for me. It would have meant so much more.” He thought about it, he said, but just didn’t. (That should have been my first clue, right? But no. I digress.)

    On the way home from our trip, we stopped in again. I decided I would just go ahead and buy it for myself. But it was gone. Sold. No more in stock. (insert big sad puppy dog eyes here.)

    A month or so later, we went back. Stopped in again to see if they had it back in stock. No luck. Not on the way down, not on the way back.

    That watch was gone. I missed my opportunity.

    Over the last year, I’ve looked for it online, and through whatever circumstances, I either found it and couldn’t afford it at the time, or couldn’t find it at all. There was always something – was this the one? I can’t quite remember… maybe not. Hm. I don’t feel the same about it anymore. I’m not so ga-ga over that one – was that it? Ohhhh this other one is cute but, hm, I don’t think that’s it.

    (This may be a post that only girls will really understand.)

    Fast forward to now.

    6 months have gone by since I’ve even talked to that guy. Business is good, life is great – and I’m headed out of town to shoot a destination engagement session in Oklahoma City.

    There was a bunch of serendipity going on that caused my outbound flight to be redirected to Detroit instead of Atlanta, and that’s another story for another day – but the events of the weekend, the strength I found, the independent girl in me surfaced and I departed for home feeling STRONG. Fulfilled. Happy. After a year or more of wavering – I felt solid. Solid in who I am. Solid about what I do. Solid about not putting up with ANY less than what I feel I want – need – deserve.

    And I had a long layover in Atlanta.

    You know where I’m going when I land, right?

    I landed in Concourse A. I couldn’t even remember if I was in the right Concourse. I thought it may have been in C, but whatever. I had plenty of time to figure it out. I start walking. 70lbs worth of camera gear and carry-on bag – I was a girl on a mission. Brighton is in Concourse A, in case you were wondering. I walked straight into that store and smiled at the girls working.

    “Can I see your watches, please?”

    One of the girls takes me over to the rack where they hang. I look at them. It’s not there. The one I wanted must not be part of the collection anymore. Bummed, I pull three other watches off and drape them over my arm. The gal asks “which one do you like?” I waver. I ask her to choose for me. She likes a different one than the one I was most drawn to of the three.

    I choose one of the three that I like best, but really, THE ONE. It’s not there. Kinda made my heart sad. Still, I thought, I can do this now. I couldn’t do it before – so I’m doing this! I’m in!! ALL IN! And I pay for the watch, she puts it on my wrist, and I leave.

    I round the corner, go down the escalator, get to the bottom and I’ve got a little grin. I did it! I got the watch! I look down at it, and my brow furrows.

    The second hand isn’t moving.

    Crap. I have to do this now. I have to go back upstairs. I have to figure out HOW to get back upstairs, first. I have no idea. I wander down the hall and see some flight attendants boarding an elevator. I jump on with them and go back up.

    I enter the store again, the gal who helped me isn’t there – so I tell the other gal I just bought this watch – and the battery is dead. “Do you have another with a working battery?”

    She goes over to the rack. No. There isn’t another one there.

    She opens the stock drawer where all the watches are kept. Rifling through all the different styles, she can’t find it. There isn’t another one.

    She holds up a different style to me and says “do you want to choose a different one?”

    I look at the watch she’s holding and tears well up in my eyes.

    WHAT?! THAT. That is the watch. THAT IS THE WATCH I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR. There it is!! But why wasn’t it on the rack?! I asked her – she didn’t know – but there it is. Tucked away in a drawer, waiting for me to come back and get rid of the WRONG watch so I could have the RIGHT one.

    I settled. I settled for the wrong watch and was okay with that. I should never have been okay with that. I should have waited. But I just so desperately wanted a Brighton watch – the style became less important to me and it became more about the name. It didn’t work. The wrong watch didn’t. work. I had to find my way BACK upstairs to try to fix it and wound up with EXACTLY the one I knew I wanted all along.

    As I stood and traded out the wrong watch for the right one, I knew what I needed to learn. I think everyone in that airport saw me grinning ear to ear after that lesson. The smile that swept over my face as I left Brighton was something else. That was the most empowering feeling – and the back story made it even more so.

    Now, I can look down at my wrist and always be reminded of that lesson. The wrong one isn’t going to work. But the right one – even though you feel ready to give up the search and settle – the right one is just tucked away in a drawer waiting for you to return the wrong one.

    You want to see that watch now, don’t you?


    Long time no see


    It’s time to start writing again. Much to say.

    It’s been so long, though – that I thought I’d test a few things. Are you still reading? Drop in and leave a comment. I’ll be revamping the comments for social networking (and generally speaking, the site is under construction though you may not know it visually for a little while yet). I’m also testing to find out where exactly I’ve got my posts set up to share so I can tweak those settings as well.

    So. Hey there. How ya been?

    More soon.

    The Feast of the Moon


    I was recently introduced to a sweet story, The Feast of the Moon by its author, Brian Wapole. I wanted to share it here for my animal loving readers and fans, you will enjoy it and I encourage you to pick up a copy on Amazon.

    Hamlet and Emmie: the story of a novel

    Emmie loves her pets. She loves her Jack Russell terriers, Opal and Maddie. She loves her goldfish, Snap, who has been alive for over two years. And her newt, whose name is Sebastian, but she calls Newtty. But most of all Emmie loves Hamlet, her hamster. Emmie is fourteen years old and has loved several hamsters since she was seven: Carnie, Ophelia, Ichilles and now Hamlet.

    Hamlet is not repelling the intractable force of time with the same elan he once possessed in the May morning of his youth. In fact, he is dying. He is having a hard time passing pellets and urinating. His fur is growing patchy. The world he watches wax and wane from behind the glass of his aquarium is dimming – his eyesight deteriorating. He is eating less each day. His gagging fits – like a cat trying to cough-up a hairball – are becoming more frequent. All the dashboard instruments point to a bumpy landing…but a landing nonetheless.

    And Emmie’s mom is not pleased.

    It is she who is making Hamlet’s final landing as comfortable as possible. It is she who is changing his bedding. Keeping fresh food in his bowl – sifting through the mix and picking out the dwindling selection of morsels that Hamlet will tolerate. Holding the water tube to his mouth, because he can’t find it on his own. Grooming his fur.

    Emmie used to perform these tasks to some level of consistency, but Emmie is fourteen. Any further description would be like, so, superfluous.

    So caring for Hamlet falls to Emmie’s mom. She has done this before. Three times before. Carnie, the first hamster, was the tragic one.

    Carnie received a car for his first birthday. A little plastic car that rolled on the carpet. Emmie shrieked with joy. She was never happier playing with the pet. And then Emmie yelled in alarm. Carnie was sluggish. Awake…but not moving.

    Something was really wrong.

    Her mother came and sat next to Emmie while she held Carnie in her lap and petted him. Something happened to Hamlet when he was in the car. His little body was contorted somehow…somehow, something went wrong…internal bleeding…maybe a spinal injury. It happened too fast for little Emmie to process. An utter shock. Emmie could not figure out what had happened. She did not push the car fast. But something happened in that car.

    Carnie died in Emmie’s lap about a half-hour later. Comforting an eight-year-old while she pets her dying hamster, dripping tears…it is easier to catch a breeze in your hands and return it to its home.

    Ichilles lived three years and Emmie made sure that he was loved. She would rub her nose across his body, sniffing deeply while the hamster waited, amused, by the affair. Like he was the human and she was the hamster.

    But his life ran low and he needed special care. So did Ophelia when her time came. Emmie’s mom was there to see that they each got that special care. And it was Emmie’s mom who felt the pain of losing a friend, because each time one of Emmie’s hamsters died it reminded her of the hamster she owned as a child. And how it didn’t last. Her being a child or the hamster’s life: take your pick.

    Yet, now that Emmie was old enough to assume hospice duties for Hamlet, she had a day-calendar that rivaled a US president’s…or maybe Oprah.

    And when she did have time for Hamlet, Emmie cried and pleaded with her mom to take him to the Vet. As if the Vet had a cure for old age.

    “I want you to take Hamlet,” Emmie’s mom said to me.

    “Take him where?”

    Emmie’s mom’s eyes began to water and she waved away the question.

    “I got it.”

    As I walked out of the kitchen with Hamlet’s traveling cage (a shoebox), Hamlet’s blanket (a strip from Emmie’s old sweatshirt), and Hamlet’s water bottle, Emmie’s mom said, “don’t tell me, when.”

    I took Hamlet home. I was not going to put him to sleep. Yet. Unbeknownst to Emmie’s mom, Emmie had approached me the day before and knowing her mom would ask me to take Hamlet, got me to swear that I would not have him put down. I told her that he would die peacefully in his sleep.

    What I didn’t tell her was that the sleep would occur while he drifted on a cloud to the continent of Euthanasia the following day. Hamlet’s organs were shutting down – it was the humane thing to do. I would take him to my house that evening since the Vet was closed.

    I set the shoebox, thick with woodchips and plush remnants from Emmie’s shirt, next to me while I wrote. About two paragraphs in to the evening I pointed a space heater at the box, buffering it with a pillow. I was concerned that he would be too warm – then not warm enough. I changed out the pillows, searching for the right insulation. It was January and I knew he liked to be warm. Emmie always kept him snuggled in a little blanket. Then I turned to write.

    For about five minutes.

    I heard scratching form the box. Maybe he needs water. But he wouldn’t drink – not even when I held the water tube to his mouth.

    I stopped trying to write. When I agreed to take Hamlet I thought, “He’ll be with me for a day; he’ll slowly slip away; I’ll take him to the Vet’s; I’ll keep him warm in the meantime.” Easy.

    But within an hour of him being with me, he dominated my concerns. How to get him to drink? It was one thing if he wasn’t eating – but dying by dehydration…I didn’t want to witness that. I tried to get him to accept the water bottle. No way.

    “Fine,” I thought. “What else can do I?”

    I picked up my Bic Ultra black pen with the “Round Stic Grip” and focused on the novel I was writing. Nothing. I was a tundra of creativity. I let my eyes lose focus, staring at the page. I looked at the pen.


    I took the pen cap to the sink and rinsed it off. I brought it back to Hamlet’s box and jiggled a drop of water onto the pen cap’s slightly concave arm. It extended about ¾” below the cap and just wide enough to hold a drop of water on its tip. I balanced the water drop on the end of the arm and tipped it into Hamlet’s mouth. It rolled into his mouth. He swallowed.

    I spent the next few minutes coaxing drops of water into Hamlet, succeeding about one out of every six attempts – maybe eight drops before he tired of the activity. Every two hours we played the pen cap game. Before I went to bed I adjusted his blankets and set the space heater on low.

    The following morning I heard scratching. Today, I was to take him to the Vet’s. I looked at the golden lump rise and fall with each breath. I decided to keep him with me. As long as he was drinking and eating a little (he had eaten one nugget of something the previous day) I was not going to put him to sleep.

    In between seeing students (I am a tutor) and other responsibilities, I monitored Hamlet’s condition. When I tried writing, I could not focus on my novel. I was thinking of Hamlet. So I started writing about him. Within a few minutes the ramblings morphed into a story, by that night I had a novel framed-out and ready for construction. The Feast of the Moon is that novel: Emmie’s life with Hamlet, Carnie, Ophelia, and Ichilles. But the voice you hear in the story is Hamlet’s. It is his story. Hamlet died peacefully in his sleep that night.

    Author bio: Brian started telling stories to himself when he was five years old and is pleased to be sharing the experience with a wider audience. His first novel, The Feast of the Moon, is now available in paperback and as an e-book. Visit: to read a sample, order a copy and to read original short stories for kids.

    The Downfall of a 22 Year Marriage


    It’s true, I have completely lost my grip on the marriage I once thought would last forever. I have to share this story – not just because I need to in order to heal and learn and grow – but because I think others need to see how actions and behaviors can truly damage people so deeply that they just can’t ever recover. Or they choose not to.

    I met him when I was 18. I remember thinking he was a dork, so – no first impression rose there. But he stole my heart with his determination and resolve to put me at a place with my weight where I could be a Marine, if I wanted to. Weeks of bike rides, phone calls and laughter sealed the deal for me.

    Little did I know what would become of it.

    He was my first real boyfriend, but it never did sink in that he was playing around, away from his wife at the time – he didn’t wear a ring. I had no idea. I knew he was interested in another girl, so the competition was on.

    Within the first months of our relationship, I was in the two major battles of my lifetime. One for my weight – the other for his love.

    Looking back now, I can see the writing on the wall. And me, with a great big can of spray paint, trying to cover it all up.

    It wasn’t long before I did give him that rose, with a note that said “I have a feeling that one day I’ll be marrying you.” If you ever want to do something to scare off a guy, girls – that’d do it. I wore my heart on my sleeve and let him take it and break it a hundred times over. It’s okay, I thought – tough, enduring love will always win in the end.

    Except it doesn’t.

    This is a military life. A military story – with a military ending. This is what can happen inside a military marriage, after the military is done with you. This is a tale of post traumatic stress disorder gone horribly wrong, a story about how pushing a military man to his limits doesn’t make him want to succeed, it makes him feel like he failed.

    Keep reading »

    My Girls Christmas Portrait


    Wildermuth girls Christmas portrait 2010
    I squeezed in just enough time (and space) in my studio to snap a shot of the girls for their annual portrait! This is the version I used to create our annual ornaments this year, though I did them a little differently – printing them on metallic paper backed with matboard instead of my usual dough ornament. I designed this years ornament completely in Photoshop. (Talk about timesaver!)

    Hand made Christmas Ornament 2010
    Here’s how they turned out. Nice! I love the metallic paper and how the lights reflect off of it on the tree. Thanks to Miller’s Lab for the awesome prints!!

    I also wanted to mention Catie’s jacket – we were going with a layered look for her so she could wear the scarf that her friend brought back from a missions trip in Tanzania last summer, and Lee Jeans was awesome enough to provide us with their Women’s Vintage Light Denim Jacket for her to wear. It’s an awesome jacket and she just loves it! I think it really gives their portrait the rugged/vintage look that I was going for this year and I’m just tickled to be able to share their products with you. (Side note, I also picked up 2 pair of their slender secret flap pocket jeans in charcoal and Spy and LOVE LOVE LOVE. You’ve gotta try these jeans!)

    Now I think I’ve got you completely caught up on my Christmas happenings, and it’s just about time to ring in the New Year! 2011?! Already?!

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too!!

    Merry Christmas!


    Wildermuth Christmas Card 2010

    This Christmas season has left me with little time to put my annual greetings in the mail. I need to remember next year not to complain when the Christmas displays go up in the stores in October – because I am finding out as years go by that starting Christmas in October is not such a bad idea! Though I’m out of time for printing and addressing cards this year, I went ahead and designed our card this year and thought I’d share it with you here. If you would like a 5×7 of this to print out and display, please just drop me an e-mail and I would be delighted to send you the file for printing.

    I’ve also created a couple of desktop wallpapers you can download:

    The cross this year is an ornament made by our youngest, Jayden. We attended church with friends of ours while we were out of town and in His perfect timing, they made ornaments. Since we collect crosses and hadn’t found one yet this year, it was meant to be. The angel is a noodle ornament made by my mom and sister. She fit right into the verse. :)

    Merry Christmas, friends. I hope you all have a blessed day celebrating Christ’s birth. Much love from my family to yours!!! xox

    Just Like Life


    Stream at sunset photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    I wake up each morning and I talk to God. It’s true. In my head, God and I have a little conversation every day, and it typically goes something like this:

    Me: [yawn, stretch] Hey, God. Whew. Made it. Thank you for another day. So, what’chya got in store for me today?

    God: [startles me with the jarring buzz of the alarm clock]

    Me: okay, okay. I’m already up. Did you have to give me a heart attack right off the bat?

    God: [cue lower back pain.]

    Me: Got it. Stretching. Thanks for reminding me. So [touching toes] I was wondering, God, just what is it, exactly, you want me to do today? You know how unproductive I am when I’m going in a million directions and am unsure of what you want me to accomplish for your Glory. What can I do to make it happen today?

    I move around and do morning things, mind spinning – what time is it? Where’s my coffee mug? Oh yeah, I have to get the vitamins out for the girls and take my prescriptions. Hm. Mindless activities fill the next several minutes as I wonder what He might have planned for me today. I wake up my computer and check mail.

    Me: No? Okay, well, I didn’t hear back about that project (a drawing) or that project (code) OR that project (design) so… really? Today’s the day, God? I have been hoping for a day that I could get things done on my own site, to finally get my own portfolio done and… what? What did you say?

    God: [delivers e-mail: client regarding project #1]

    Me: Oh. Okay. Well, I’ll work on that, then.

    God: [delivers e-mail: client regarding project #3]

    Me: Well, shoot. Now what? Do you want me to just put this other stuff off that’s been tugging at me for months?

    God: [reminder: that coupon for the free turkey expires tomorrow.]

    Me: Okay, okay, I’ll take a shower, and go get the free turkey, then I think I really need to just get that project done I’ve been procrastinating.

    God: [don’t forget about your kids. Insert parental issue here.]

    So, I woke up prepared to do whatever God had in store for me today, and He had life in store. And here it is, taking me one direction, then swiftly in another – over bumps, around bends, flowing down this twisty windy lifelike stream.

    I wonder if God just uses Mondays to get us ready for the rest of the week?

    On Being a Kid in a Pile of Leaves


    Fall 2010 playing in the leaves photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    ‘Tis the season – hubby is outside cleaning up the leaves and getting ready to burn them and my youngest (now 9) demands he wait so that she can have a romp before they’re gone. Oh – but they’ll be back, for certain – our own tree hasn’t even fallen yet so there will be plenty more where these came from, but she is out there enjoying herself at the moment. We older girls (the smart ones) have opted to stay inside and keep warm while dicing up onions and browning some ground turkey to make a crock pot of chili!

    Huh. She just came in and showed me that she “found a little bit of the inside of a stick”. With the small joys and wonders of childhood come the big joys and wonders of parenthood!

    I have to admit, as is the annual event here in my house, I become a bit more morose through the winter months. I am already beginning to feel trapped. I’m not a fan of cold weather, not a fan of frozen nosies or toesies, not a fan of driving on snow or ice, not a fan of sliding through stop signs or shivering inside a frozen car until the engine warms up – so I’ll stay inside and bake and cook until spring comes. I will probably also need to reacquaint myself with Captain NordicTrack, too!

    Fall 2010 playing in the leaves photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    For now, for today, I’ll enjoy the smell of chili drifting through the house (that’s whispering .. corn bread … you need corrrrnnnn breadddd….) — for now, I’ll record the smiles and smells and tuck them away in my mind for those days when the winter blues really get me down. For now, for today – I’ll live vicariously through the joy I see on my little girls face as she plays in a pile of leaves.

    BFF Senior Postcard Design


    Quad City senior photography graduation postcard design by Leanne Wildermuth

    Hey there! I’ve been busy as ever over here. Between Senior portrait sessions, retouching, prints, Grad party postcard design (isn’t it cool?!) and a graphite portrait here and there – every day has been jam packed with fun stuff! And also, random stuff – like doctor and dental appointments, carpet cleaners, soccer practices, window installations – and workouts!

    Did you know that working out was a part time gig? It takes almost my entire morning to get fit, showered and ready to work for the day. It’s a commitment in a big way – and no wonder why so many people can’t and don’t fit it into their schedules. I decided in January to make my health and fitness a priority again – and even dragged my tired old treadmill out of the house last month in place of a new, fancy treadmill that has a fantastic shock absorption deck. (It’s a NordicTrack) I am glad I’ve made the commitment, I feel so much better and I am not fatigued when I do a “one day” chore like painting a room including the ceiling – or doing a full day of yardwork!

    In other news – I don’t think I ever updated here about my e-mail glitch. I was getting a ton of spam so went in and created a filter. For spam. Except it wasn’t for spam, it was for everything BUT spam! I’m such a dummy. It took me a week or so to figure that out. (But boy, did I get a lot done that week. lol) So if you e-mailed me and I never replied, please don’t think me rude. Think it fell off the face of my server, because I selected “does not” instead of “does”.

    Once my schedule opens up a little bit – I’ll be sharing and showing a few more projects in the works but for now, I need to get started on today’s to-do’s.

    I hope you are all doing well and enjoying this AMAZING weather – Spring has sprung and I’ve got the fever! I’d love for you to become a Fan on Facebook – if you haven’t already – and/or send me a friend request to stay up to date with the minute by minute details of my crazy days!

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