It’s no secret I’m a terrible blogger, but it’s not for a lack of something to say or something to show. It’s perfection, or the lack there of that maintains the silence around here. My thoughts and photos always fall short of perfect. (No kidding, you say!) Instead, this dam of dreams, stories, thoughts, feelings and even photos is locked away waiting for when I finally let it all go. I’ve been thinking for months and probably months more that if I can just let one post through, the dam of words might be set free.

This morning, I photographed a daughter letting go of the ashes of her mother. This daughter so happened to be my second bride ever. As I watched handful after handful of ash and bone fall from her fingers into the Montana wind, I felt a lot of stirrings. And so here I am sharing something with all of you. I actually wrote this almost a year ago on the day of my 30th birthday. Hopefully, the musings of a recent inductee to the 30 something club may encourage you a little. Rereading them today, I found the sentiment to still ring true. And while the piece could use a little editing, I’m going to go with the theme of the piece about loving your mess and leave it as is.


Crisp Montana summer air fills my room. I’m buried under blankets pulled up to my chin. I stare at the digital numbers on the clock. 11:59. The date is August 18, 2014. Just one more minute. The seconds crawl forward. I blink and when my eyes open the clock reads: 12:00. It is officially my 30th birthday.


Mess is best.

This was the policy in my Honors sophomore English class. Our essays both written on test day and at home were required to show all the forethought, all the bad ideas, the spelling errors, fragments, run-on sentences: they showed it all. Our sheets of college ruled paper were filled from top to bottom with cross outs, arrows, circles, nearly illegible, crammed-in after thoughts and, depending on your perspective, they were the ravings of a mad man or the musings of an eccentric genius. But I loved this way of creating. Every thought had value. They were never deleted or erased. It was chaotic. It was definitely messy. It was REAL.


I am 30 today. And I am a bit of a mess. I imagined I would be married by now or close to it. I’m single. I imagined I’d be thinner. I am ten pounds heavier than usual. I thought for sure I would have it all together. Walk into my room, be careful not to trip over the endless fire hazard of clothes and boxes yet to be unpacked from my move a month ago and you’ll see how together I have it. Or ask my friends and family how many times I’ve said no to spending time with them because, “I’m working.” Sometimes this is all I can see. And I feel like I’m failing. Maybe these sound trivial and generic. We all feel this way. Be comforted in that. But I don’t want to be comforted. I want to embrace the mess.

Mess is beautiful. It is trying, challenging, overwhelming, heartbreaking, encouraging, inspiring, raw, REAL. It is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

Too often we want to control and eliminate mess. I see it at weddings time and again. I see it in myself. I had these plans for 30, and from choices of my own as well as the master plan of life, it is different than I hoped. And better.

Your wedding day is supposed to be perfect. You know what advice I give the brides and grooms, and their Moms, over and over again? To let things (little AND big)  go on your wedding day. To soak it up. To just embrace it. Craziness and chaos and all. Sometimes I’m at a wedding and it kills me to see people so caught up in what isn’t right that they miss it all. Or they spend the year leading up to their wedding stressed, focused on details and Pinterest boards, family squabbles, bridesmaid trouble, because this isn’t what they had planned or imagined and I wish I could take that all away and show them just how beautiful it all is anyways.

I should really take my own advice. Maybe I should spend more time soaking up life.

I am so overcome with how amazing life is, I can’t help but sob as I write this because I miss it sometimes. Too often. I start chasing things and forget what really matters.

Embrace your mess. Love it. Love the extra pounds on your waist. Mine are the sign of travels to India and countless cups of tea and biscuits in Kashmiri homes and too many glasses of wine with friends old and new over the past few months. The weight is also the sign of a girl who is still trying to find balance, a girl in progress, who gets stuck in front of her computer and puts off that run or hike. Yes, I want to change that, but I am a mess. We all are. Let’s stop pretending otherwise. Not just on our wedding day or our 30th birthday, but all the time.

We are all writing our stories. We are all works in progress. Instead of using white out, just cross it out, or even better, draw a line and keep adding from there.


30 year old Tori and almost 31 year old Tori