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Friday, February 28, 2014

project: USED

The last day of December, the counselor and I were taking down the Christmas tree.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we had the doors open.  The kids were helping, running in and out, stopping to help package ornaments and commenting on the lovely days of Christmas. 

Quite literally, it was a perfect day.

I think I had cooked something with butter and sugar; maybe a peach cobbler or peanut butter oatmeal cookies.  I love when the counselor’s home; we eat, love, embrace, share.
The kids had all run out to the trampoline and the counselor and I took a moment to steal a kiss.  His eyes sparkled.  Do you know how many times I’ve been lost in those eyes?  Like the stars, too many to count.  We started tearing down the artificial tree; talking, teasing, just feeling happy and I watched as he dragged the tree out the back door to the garage.  Something came over me and I felt so happy.  Right there at that moment, I contemplated the sheer beauty of my life.  I wondered how did I get here?  Was this a dream? Then, something happened that I can’t quite explain but I’ll try to do my best.

In my mind, the 41 year-old me and the 25 year-old I once was started a conversation.  I don’t know how it’s possible, but I literally felt the girl I once was walk into the room.

25 year-old self: “Wow!  Laura, you’re living an amazing life!  You did good.”
41 year-old self:  “I can’t believe it.  If only I’d known back then everything was going to turn out, think of how differently I might have lived.”
25 year-old self: “You did the best you could.”

41 year-old self:   “I would have been better, especially to myself.  I would’ve believed in myself.”

This is where the situation turned ugly as the emotions of that 25 year-old girl entered into my conscious.  The sheer happiness I had felt only a moment earlier was gone.  Now, I was feeling extreme loneliness, anxiety and insecurity. 

25 years of age was a difficult time of my life, a time I’m not very fond of revisiting.  My life was great on the outside.  I was a returned missionary and full-time college student.  I loved my nanny job and was competing in marathons any chance I had.   But inside, I was running from an ugly past. 

At 25, I was on my own and needed to rely on myself more then ever, but things were catching up with me and it was a juggling act about to crumble. 

How had I forgotten those years and that time?  I live such a sheltered like now, had that girl really been me?  It couldn’t have been as bad as I was feeling it at that moment, but then I remembered.  I remembered through emotion the horror of trying to find a safe place in this world.  At 25, I was alone. I had kept too many secrets thinking the things that had happened to me weren’t a big deal.  Bad things happen to everyone.  I was strong enough to handle it, but I was drowning.  So much of my life was good, I tried to focus on my blessings, but the memories of abuse haunted me.  And, because I was so vulnerable I was unable to fight off new predators. 

I turned to see if the counselor was walking back from the garage.  I needed him.  I was desperate to run away from the feelings running through my blood.  Why was this happening?

This experience probably lasted less than a minute when a word came into my mind like a flashing neon sigh:

I was USED and with the emotions of my past running through me, that's what I felt like.  USED.  Why would anyone what me?  What was I doing here?  I didn't deserve this beautiful life and the reality of it stung.  
That's when a spirit of calm came over my body, like water drowning out a fire.  It’s a feeling I immediately recognized because it’s rescued me so many times before.  It was the spirit of God, calming my heart and bringing me out of the experience.  The emotions lifted and I felt safe again.  I looked around and could hear the children on the trampoline.  The 25 year-old visitor was gone.  She was gone.  

In my mind, I immediately asked why?  Why did I need to remember the awful place I was before I met the counselor? I had turned 25 a few months before he came into my life.  He was my hero, he was why I had survived and again, the word USED – like typeset on a computer screen came into my mine.

Used:  secondhand; that which has endured use

In a flash, I realized what was happening.  I knew what I had to do.  I needed to remember.  Ideas came into my mind and I could barely keep up with the inspiration.  Please watch the below video.  It’s time I reach out to those who are struggling.  It’s what I’ve wanted to do all along, it’s just now I’ve found the strength because I remembered.  Thank you, God, for letting me remember the feelings, even for a fleeting moment.

I know the video doesn't fit in this blog layout, so link up to youtube by clicking: project: USED

Here are the details for the next project: USED.  
When:  Saturday, March 1st 
Time:  3:00 to 6:00
Where:   Alex Baird Photography - Epiphany Studio
Address:  1761 w. University Dr., suite 145 Tempe, AZ
Contact: or
Like us on facebook by clicking:  project: USED

  1. If you are under 18 years old, please have a parent sign the waiver (click here to print it off) and bring it to the session.
  2. If you own a used dress, you are welcome to bring it; however, there will be plenty of used/vintage dresses to choose from at the event. I try to purchase dresses in a variety of sizes.   
  3. You can go barefoot or wear funky shoes.  It’s your call.
  4. Our goal is to help you feel as beautiful as possible.  Come as beautiful as you’d like with make-up and hair done.
  5. There is a large shared women's dressing room and one bathroom on sight.
  6. You may be nervous, but this event is fun.  We all come together to help others.

I am working with some amazing people on this project. Please come.  We will have another project: USED in April 2014.  I've been collecting used dresses to share.  If you participate, a used dress is my gift to you.


  1. I will be there in spirit. Wish I could go. Love you, Laura

  2. Wow, what an amazing and inspired project you have created! This will surely go viral. The whole world needs this message! Thank you!!

  3. What a fantastic idea! I don't know if its me but your video is only spinning out and not uploading both on your site (project used site) and youtube. Oddly I can see the smaller version you have here. Maybe its me but just in case just wanted to give you a heads up.