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The Magnificent Morgan Women

"That's perfect!" Michelle's text read as she responded to my last message.

I can hear her sing-song voice in my head and see her smiling face. I've never had an interaction with Michelle that didn't include her radiant optimism and sun-like smile. This is a woman of joy, gratitude, peace, and hope. When you meet Michelle you'd never guess the heartbreak and difficulties she's faced in a few short years.

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After the tragic and unexpected death of her husband, Michelle was left to raise her two teenage and pre-teen daughters. It's hard to imagine that all-encompassing loss and the unending pressure as the sole-surviving parent.

Breaking down would be expected.

Being bitter would be understandable.

Resentment, blame, jealousy, spite, and never-ending hostility have become the standard for many who have faced such heartbreak.

But somehow Michelle and her girls are different.

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"My mom took me to a group therapy session around the holidays after my husband died," Michelle said as her daughters tried on dresses in the other room. "I sat there and listened to people talk. Then this woman stood up and talked about the passing of her mother. She said Christmas was the worst for her. Her mother loved Christmas and apparently went all out when she was alive. This woman was emotional and crying as she talked about boarding herself up and not really interacting with people until Christmas was over. She didn't eat any holiday food or watch holiday movies. She just stayed by herself and waited for the whole season to pass. Then she said her mother died over 30 years ago."

I slowly blinked as I listened to Michelle.

"30 years?" I asked, my eyes wide.

Michelle nodded. "Yes. I know. 30 years. This woman was grief-stricken and incapable of moving on for 30 years. Her whole life revolved around her grief at the death of her mother. After that, I told myself, 'Not me.' I'm not going to stop living and look back down the road and regret the time I wasted being sad. I just can't do that."

I smiled and took a few seconds to admire the beautiful woman in front of me.

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She was smiling.

Minutes before I'd watched her admire her beautiful daughters, telling them how each dress was stunning on their frame. She complemented me and my space. She talked about how excited she was and how this was their big experience to do together because they were a team.

"And you haven't," I said, smiling back at my new friend. "You haven't gotten lost in the grief. Not even a little. You've kept living."

"I have to." Michelle smiled. "I don't want to live in that place. I came close but that's not where I choose to be. And it is a choice, every day."

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There never were any sad talks about the life they could have had if only things had turned out differently. There never were any quiet, sadness-heavy moments as grief made a visit.

But there was laughter.

There were smiles so bright they made my cheeks hurt as I did my best to respond in kind.

There were compliments from daughters to a loved and cherished mother. There were close moments between a mother as she held in her arms her greatest gifts and most adored treasures.

There were tears, happy ones, from a mother whose love of her daughters defies description.

Hugs, cheers, happy dances, and unfettered happiness filled the studio because the Magnificent Morgan Women made a choice.

They chose to heal.

They chose to live and be together because they are all they have.

Those chose gratitude and thankful hearts because they know what it's like to lose someone they love.

The Morgan Women choose to love each other and that love spills out and colors everything and everyone they encounter.

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Every day we make choices that build the life we live and the world we inhabit.

We can choose bitterness, and maybe we're entitled to it because, gosh, life can be painful and deeply unfair . . . But we can also choose gratitude. We can choose to seek out joy and thankfulness.

We can choose to live a life that replaces the bitter agony of existence with the radiant warmth of healing love.

The Morgan women make their choice every day.

What will you choose?

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Hair by the talented Lindsay Whitney of Vitality.

Makeup and behind-the-scenes by the wonderful Shea Hollister.

All my love,


P.S. Are you interested in an incredible photoshoot experience all your own with Melinda and Shea? Whether it be a family session, mother and daughter pictures, headshots and branding, or contemporary portraits and boudoir we will create something show-stopping that celebrates you!

Private Photography Studio in Athens PA.

If you have tips or concerns about human trafficking happening in your area call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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