Promise Not To Judge Me?

I’m excited to share with you a piece of my heart today; something that is very near and dear to me. But first, I need to ask that you don’t judge me! I’m a photographer. But what guess? That hasn’t always been the case. I had my days of point and shoot cameras and only using the automatic functions.. I know I know, embarrassing. Along with sharing my story, I’m sharing some pretty poor quality pictures. Although they make me cringe, they mean the world to me because of WHO is in them and that’s why I’m sharing them with you today, so please don’t judge! 😉 My story starts with awesome news…Alex and I have officially purchased our flights to visit SCANDINAVIA this summer!! We’ll be gone for two amazing weeks visiting Denmark, Sweden and Norway! Aside from being an awesome trip and traveling with my partner in crime, what makes this trip so special you may ask? Well, I’ll try to keep this brief…

In 2008 I had the experience of a lifetime and traveled to Sweden to play in the Dana Cup (actually held in Denmark and is the 3rd largest youth soccer tournament in the world). After the tournament we home stayed in Malmo, Sweden with players from a Swedish soccer club. Now I thought I was going to Scandinavia to experience international soccer and have a blast with my friends…what I didn’t know was that I was about make incredible and lifelong friendships with my home stay family and many other girls from the Swedish team.

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In the following years trips were made back and forth to visit one another… strengthening our bond even though there was an ocean between us. My host family back in 2008, The Petterssons have become like a second family to not only me, but also to my family. They came to The States to surprise me for my college graduation and wrote a letter to be read at my wedding- to say that these people are special to me is quite the understatement.

You can imagine how excited I am to bring Alex with me to see this country and spend time with my Swedish family and meet my friends! We will also be there on the anniversary of a very tragic event that occurred the last time I was in Sweden. In 2011, I was in a fatal car accident with four other girls and one of my very dear friends, Catherine, passed away. Catherine had been back to the United States a few times since we met her in 2008 to visit her host family that I am also very close with and we all spent a lot of time together…time that I am now so thankful for. After the accident, I repressed a lot of what happened. I was back in The States a week later, jumping into my Senior year of college and soccer practice. I wasn’t able to be at the funeral, visit the accident site or say goodbye. This summer will be five years since we last heard Catherine laugh and while excited isn’t the right word to use…I’m looking forward to spending it visiting her grave for the first time and personally bringing her flowers. After she passed, I tried to imagine that it wasn’t real, that it was normal not to see her because she lived all the way in Sweden and that the next time I went, she would be there. While I am very much looking forward to this trip, I also know it will be a hard reality to face.

If you examined my heart, you would see the word Sweden etched into it. The experiences I’ve had there and the people I’ve met have made an impression on me and my family. Alex was a bit skeptical at first when I demanded our trip be to Scandinavia. We have been talking about a big vacation for years and his ideas were more tropical or at least a more “desired destination” like Italy or France. I explained to him that to me, traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights or checking a sought after destination off your list (although don’t get me wrong, I do love crossing a country off my list)- it’s about people and relationships. I have been to many of Europe’s top destinations. I’ve seen the leaning tower of Pisa and wandered the Louvre, but my favorite trip(s) is still Sweden because of the relationships I made.

Well, the countdown is ON! THREE months until our trip! Three months until I see my other family! I’ll be counting down the days! I can’t wait to share pictures and stories from our trip! I’m especially looking forward to documenting this trip now that I’m a “real photographer” and having awesome photos to share with you all. I’ll be Instagraming the whole thing so make sure you FOLLOW ALONG!

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Until next time :)

Joey

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