REAL is the new "perfect"

She didn't need PERFECTION. She just needed SOMETHING.

Sharing a piece of my heart as a lifestyle family photographer in Bend, Oregon // The Suitcase Studio

She came to us with a black trash bag of belongings. Mostly empty.

Just a few shirts, socks, underwear and pants. I don't even think she had a jacket. 

And unfortunately, this is all too common when someone enters the group home system. 

So when the rest of the girls in the house decided to throw a "fashion show" in the living room a few nights later, it was no surprise that the newcomer ran to her room, curled up in a tight little ball, and cried. 

Ashamed that she had nothing to wear. 

And since group homes have a STRICT policy about NOT sharing clothing or personal items (due to fights breaking out), the other girls couldn't even lend her anything.  

My heart was breaking for this little girl, and I just wanted to make things better. So I sat beside her while I waited for her sobs to subside and her breathing to slow, tears streaming silently down my own face. 

And I told her that, together, we'd MAKE something new to wear.

The thing was... besides knowing how to do one basic stitch by hand, I had NO idea how to actually sew. 

But it didn't matter.

Because she didn't need PERFECT. She just needed someone to do SOMETHING.

So I unlocked the cabinet where the sewing supplies were kept, and pulled out the meager scraps of fabric. My mind was racing a million miles a minute... I mean... these were SCRAPS of fabric. Random chunks of random patterns, some pieces long and skinny, others a shape without definition. But I smiled, assured her that we'd come up with something amazing, and hoped she couldn't see through my false bravado. 

I laid a few of the scraps together, showing her how they could make a one-of-a-kind wrap skirt that she could wear over her jeans (ooooooohhhh), and how these other pieces worked together nicely to create an accent scarf (aaaaaaahhhhh). And just like that, we had an ensemble figured out, and got to work.

She knotted the scarf together while I hand-stitched the skirt. Not gonna lie... it was nowhere NEAR pretty. Or anything that actually resembled a skirt. But she didn't care. 

Because one by one, the other girls came in to see what we were doing, and they wanted to create something, too. So we all sat around the long folding table together, tying knots and making up stitches. Talking, laughing, and pretending we knew what we were doing. 

And in the end, not just the newcomer, but ALL girls wore new creations for their fashion show... mismatched scarves, skirts, headwraps, and all kinds of multicolored creations. They strutted their stuff down the improvised "runway" we'd made (pushing the couch and armchair out of the way). And they cheered EVERYONE on, including the newcomer.

And with just a few scraps of discarded fabric, the new girl was transformed. Now, I'm NO fairy godmother, and she wasn't wearing some magical ballgown. 

But her newfound SMILE said it all. 

For once, she felt like she belonged. And sometimes, that's EVERYTHING.

So the next time I was there, she asked if she could get into the sewing closet again... because she had something she wanted to make for ME. So I unlocked the closet and handed her the materials. I wasn't allowed to peek at her progress, but I kept her company while she worked.

And about 30 minutes later, she shyly reached over and gently placed something in my hand.

I don't remember exactly what she said in that moment, but I knew that my life would be forever changed. 

Because she'd given me her heart. 

She'd sewn together this imperfect little puffy heart. For me. And it's been one of my prized possessions ever since. 

Because it's a REMINDER... of how UN-important it is to be PERFECT.

It's a reminder of how unnecessary it is to do or say the PERFECT thing. How people don't NEED "perfect," or know what PERFECT might even look like.  

It's a reminder of how important it is to do SOMETHING, no matter what that SOMETHING might be. 

And it's a reminder of just how MUCH IMPACT one tiny moment can actually have on the rest of your life. 

So when you're worried that you don't do enough... that maybe you're not making a difference, or having any impact, or that your life isn't as BIG as you wanted it to be... consider THIS your reminder: 

Something you say or do today will have a lasting impact on someone else. 

So smile kindly, be patient whenever you can be, offer assistance to others whenever possible, and remember... you might not ever KNOW the impact you have on another person's life. But big or small, know that you ARE making a difference. 


That "little girl" would be about 24 years old now. I often find myself thinking about her, wondering where she's at, and hoping she's okay. And wishing that she knew how much HER little gesture meant to me.  


So now I wanna know... what little things have others done that you will never forget? Ever have a moment where someone touched your heart or changed your life? Even if in a way that THEY will never even realize? I'd love to hear about it.