She is Loved: Anna R

Anna Re-1002

Meet Anna: Photographer from Wisconsin; has 4 siblings (2 brothers, 2 sisters), and 2 dogs & 2 cats 🙂

If it were possible for someone to be YOU for a day, what would you want them to experience & understand in order to really ‘get’ who you are? 

If I weren’t being completely honest, I would tell all of you that being me for a day involved crazy adventures, loud music, driving endlessly to unknown places, being with my girlfriends, and just taking pleasure in each other’s company, or maybe I’d tell you about my passion for going to nature parks with my sister, going hiking on beautiful days. But I want to show you my heart, and being me? It’s not that exciting or wonderful or picture perfect at all. A day in my life? It’s not nearly that lovely. If YOU were to be me for a day, this is what you would experience on a normal day.

I wake up, exhausted as usual, no matter how much sleep I get.  It never seems to cure my endless exhaustion. The mirror is not a friend.  Every time I see my reflection, it looks back at me with dark circles, purple veins, and apparent scars from a surgery I’d rather cover up. My mind is in a constant state of spinning thoughts trying to untangle itself, but there is no escape that I have found. ‘Distract yourself,’ I tell myself while trying to down cereal in the morning, because food is sometimes really hard to eat because of the migraines that cause nausea. I never know when it’ll end, the screams, the panging feeling beating against my head. At points, I give up hope that after 11 days with this constant migraine, it will never end.

Truthfully, a lot of days I sit at my laptop editing photos. I have a passion that makes living with these things all worth it, just waking up, I mean. My days really aren’t all crazy adventurous like I make a lot of them seem. I find this love for simply being alone, and just being able to finally breathe.

My family cares.  They love me with all they have in them, but imagine being this fiery 17 year old, who has a strong, passionate personality whom no one could get her down, and then she got sick. And that got her down. And now she feels weak. That strong girl doesn’t feel so strong anymore. It’s the most humiliating feeling in the world, to have your dignity ripped away from you. So I know my family cares, but constantly having them want to know if you’re okay? If you’re fine? How your doing? What they can do? It just makes you feel you weak when all you want to be again is strong, and you can’t.

On those rough days, what’s it like being with my girl friends? I want so bad be apart of their laughter, and embrace their moments of joy and absolute nonsense, but it’s hard keeping up the high energy. Never sleeping gives me so much time to think, and its taught me so many things about my sickness, and about embracing it, and being okay with it. And thanking God everyday for giving me the opportunity to wake up and find joy in other ways. I had to reclaim my dignity, my strength, and find it in him, and stop searching for it in myself.

So if anyone could be me for one day? I would hope they could experience what it’s like living in fear, and trying to live as if that fear doesn’t even exist.


What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered? 

Most people want to be remembered for their amazing accomplishments, or for how much they can do in a lifetime, just so when they die, they will have an astonishing legacy to leave behind. But I want my legacy to be so much more than that. My legacy will never be outstanding accomplishments with gold medals and awards, with people saying how lovely I was or maybe loved by everyone, but I hope to be remembered for being great, for the ways I touched people’s hearts, or for the few that did love me, that they genuinely knew my soul through and through. I hope to be remembered not for the things I did, but for the way I loved.


What is the best advice you were ever given?

I’ve been given a lot of advice in my life, It’s probably not a surprise for the people that know me, because I tend to just live in the moment and that can be a good thing and sometimes not such a good thing. It leads to me not really thinking through things and making some not so great choices. But living in the moment for me also meant I never really took the time to be vulnerable with people. I just didn’t want to open up.  I thought if I could just dance along life and tiptoe past all the hard stuff, I wouldn’t have to deal with my baggage or the feeling of love. That feeling of love, even the word always scared me. Saying it out loud use to make me cringe a little, what was it even suppose to mean? I use to hate it. That word was so huge, and weighing down… yet meaningless to me at the same time. I was sacred to ever feel what that word meant. Until someone finally stopped me in my tracks of dancing along life and gave me this advice. It’s crazy how one sentence can totally change your outlook on everything. She told me,The greatest lesson you will ever learn is to just love, and be loved in return.” 

You know that moment when you get that tight feeling in your throat, and you feel like the air was taken from your lungs? Yeah, that was me in that moment. I was so scared of loving someone, or maybe being loved in return, that I refused to show any genuine emotion at all. When in reality I believe now that God’s greatest gift to us, is being able to feel that passionate, undying love. It ties us together as humans, and to HIm. I got told what love was in words I could understand at the time, and that ended up being the best advice I was ever given.


{words from Erin}

As you read above, Anna’s life isn’t easy. So for her session, our goal was to spend a couple hours living as though sickness doesn’t exist. We played and laughed and imagined a world without limitations…

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3 thoughts on “She is Loved: Anna R

  1. Erin, this is so beautiful. I love this so so freakin much. Anna babe, you are so strong and God uses you to show people more love than I’ve seen in a lot of people. <3 <3 I love you both!

  2. Erin, you are such an amazing photographer. Anna is a beautiful soul and you captured it in her pictures. I think all of us could benefit from her words. Our lives truly should be about “loving and being loved.”

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