I was feeling down a few weeks ago. Maybe it was the weather change. Maybe it was the letdown over not landing a certain client. Maybe it was the fact that someone in our church had died, and even though I didn't know him that well, it still hurt. Maybe it was my normal cycle of emotions. Who knows.

Fact was, I was down. Listless. In the dumps. Listening to Amy Winehouse. Singing the blues.

Every morning that week, I would drag myself out of bed, make breakfast, and pour myself a cup of coffee to get me started. I have a certain mug that I reach for in times such as these. It's a minimal, white mug that has the words "she can and she will" printed on it in a pretty font. I bought it when I was on a trip with a friend and was getting serious about becoming a lifestyle photographer in Lebanon, PA. Something about its small dose of confidence appealed to me, and it has been my companion throughout many a hustle and hard time.

White mug with the words "She can and she will" printed on it

She can and she will.

I believe those words. I believe them for myself, and I believe them for each of my four strong-spirited daughters. There may be hurdles in the way, but it's nothing to a person with enough grit and determination to accomplish a difficult task. She can and she will (with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears).

I believed these words. Yes. Now, however, they felt like a reminder of everything I was not. It felt more like a question than a statement. She can and she will? Perhaps. Maybe. Maybe not. Or if not a question, more of a whispered prayer. She can and she will... (I hope).

Each day, I would drop my kids off at school, clear off my kitchen table, and set out to accomplish my tasks. Another morning, another dogged attempt to keep going. Another cup of she can and she will. Another numb day. Monday laundry/household chores. Tuesday emails. Wednesday editing. Thursday exporting/social media. Then came Friday.

Friday is the day that my oldest daughter has off from school and my husband is home from work. We gathered that day around the same kitchen table with our respective projects. My daughter's friend was over and they were working on something together. My husband at the far end, working on a paper for his class. And here I was, in my usual spot, computer open, to-do list out, with the same cup of coffee and the same type of work. But this time it was different. 

My spirit felt lighter. Knit together. Like everything was at it should be. If felt like ray of light in a dark room. And I realized looking over the top of my favorite coffee mug, at the bent heads of my people engaged in their respective work, that the term "she" is misleading. "She can" in this case was not singular but plural, because it represents the many hes and shes it took to enable the "she" to "can" and "will."

It took my own parents, teachers, siblings, mentors, and peers investing in me, instilling confidence in me, engaging my intellect, my grit, my rough-around-the-edges personality, to get me to "she can," and it takes my husband, my daughters, my friends, and those to whom I look as photographers with the wisdom I need to propel me toward "she will." Do you see? "She" involves a whole tribe of people. 

I had been attempting to pull myself out of my own funk by myself. Lord knows I wasn't raised like that, but isn't that human nature? As my four-year-old twins say, "I can do it my very self!" But the truth is, I can't. She can't. She can and she will... together. That's the truth.

I reached for my camera. Because that is what I do when something important needs to be remembered. I look through my viewfinder and command time to stop for a split-second so I can look back and remember the way something felt in that moment.

So I can remember that the first part of the sentence is: When surrounded by a thousand helping hands that will hold her together when it feels like she's falling apart, she can and she will.

She can and she will mug surrounded by husband, daughter, and friend at a table with a computer