Thank you to Sarah Harman of Sarah Harman Photography for the photographs featured in the post. She donated her fee to my fundraising cause.
Today is January 1st, and for the first time in as long as I can remember I have spent my day looking back instead of forward. Not at the entirety of 2015, just the last month. I’ve been processing what December was to me and decided that it was best described in words and pictures.
It all started two days before December began. My friend, Eli’s godmother, posted about how she was going to be participating in Dressember. Having never heard of it before, I followed the link and read the information. Then I clicked on a video of the founder describing the event, it’s origins and it’s goals. By the time I got to the part where she describes child victims of molestation that were given hero pins after they had testified against their abusers, I was in.
Succinctly put, Dressember raises funds to help stop human trafficking. The numbers are astounding. There are so many people in slavery in our world. So many people treated as objects. The funds raised by Dressember goes to rescue missions and helping with second chances and a new life.
So I started to wear dresses and participate in everyday advocacy for the month of December. I put up a fundraising page, and as I looked at the spot where you put your goal I froze. How much did I want to raise? How much time and effort was I willing to commit? And I thought about why I was doing this. I am a mother. I inherently want a better world for my children. I put down $400 dollars. $100 to honor each boy.
I shared pictures. Pictures of me in dresses holding chickens. At the checkout at Home Depot. My favorite shoes and tights together. As the days rolled on, I dug deeper and deeper into my closet. Pulling out dresses I hadn’t worn in a decade. Each with a distinct memory. The dress I wore when Eli was christened. The dress from my 30th birthday bash. The dress I bought for the holidays my sophomore year of college that still works 19 years and four kids later. Somehow I had 31 dresses on the rack.
The donations trickled in in the beginning. My birthday was the seventh, and my coworkers celebrated by donating to my cause. I talked to everyone about it. By the last week of the month when everyone had come to expect a daily dress picture, and realized that the time was coming to a close, the donations rolled in. From mom friends and high school friends. Blogging friends and family members. Even strangers I didn’t know. Two days before the end of the month I hit my goal. Today, I am at 160% of my goal and still climbing.
As the month started to come to a close, I realized I wanted to commemorate the journey. I messaged a photographer friend, Sarah Harman, on the 30th with a last minute idea. She made time yesterday morning to come over and photograph me in my backyard.
You see, I had this idea. I wanted to hang the dresses in the woods and take a picture to help me remember the joy, the power, the difference this month of everyday advocacy has had on me. That the idea that wearing a dress every day for a month could change the world in a small way. So I spent forty-five minutes hammering nails into trees and hanging the dresses up in the brisk winter morning.
That’s where the journey became beautiful for me. Amidst the hanging of dresses, Gabriel, my second son, came out in his pajamas to ask me what I was doing. And it provided the opportunity to speak to my son about things we had never talked about. To explain in a kind way that the world can be a very dark place. And to show him that we can all shine a light in those dark places.
You see, yesterday I told my son I was molested by a family member. Touched inappropriately in the living room while the rest of the family was in the next room. At an age younger than he is now. I got to share with him that being touched sexually is a confusing, shame filled experience that you have to overcome. That you have to rise above. That you need to find the power within to make yourself bigger than what has happened to you. That I did that and was given a second chance at life.
And to me, that is what Dressember was about. Giving others the chance to rise above. To have a beautiful life filled with the unconditional love and laughter of four amazing sons. To love yourself again, despite what has happened to you. To make the world brighter and a little bit more beautiful.
So thank you, all of you. Those who liked my pictures on Instagram, or Twitter or Facebook. Those that asked me about it and it’s funny name. Those that are reading this story through to the end. There is still time to donate through January 31st. Click here and help make a difference.