Tuesday, September 18, 2012


We've all been in that moment when we have to decide. Do we take a step into the unknown or do we stay in our comfort zones? I'm guessing most of our hours are spent just living the lives we've created--work, family, dinner, pay the bills, do "something" on that e-course we paid for, etc.

But if I follow my heart's desires with intention, I find it is easier to step outside that comfortable zone I've created. I can use my camera as a tool to look at something from a different perspective.  I can release my ideas and my art out into the world via blogging and just see what happens. My leaps of faith usually don't need to be big jumps. They don't necessarily require a huge time commitment.  Still, at times I hesitate--fearing---I'm not sure what I fear. Sometimes it's hard to take that step and really fly.

It's so encouraging to know I have wind beneath my wings--an incredibly supportive husband, a family that loves me, friends, and a community of friends and supporters I'm meeting via blogging.  The sharing is what makes it easier for me to take a leap again and again.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Is it just  in my circle of life or does every child feel the need to capture a firefly or a caterpillar and put them on display in a jar? When I was nine, an older neighborhood friend showed me her charming butterfly box. The old cardboard box had been transformed with paint, even little windows and curtains to house a butterfly. 

There are always air holes and grass thrown into the container, but we all know that the bugs are either released or they die. I like to encourage curiosity, a oneness with the creatures of our earth so I'm torn about the thought of a friendly bug spending its few hours on earth in a jar.  (What child ever wanted to catch a not-so-friendly mosquito?)    At the same time, I am drawn to the wonder of young eyes investigating how a fuzzy caterpillar feels and crawls. "What do they eat, Omi?"  Let's find out together, then, why don't we watch it crawl out of the jar.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Thursday I had the honor and privilege of helping with a horse ride for two children who had many learning and balance issues.  The movement of a horse is healing to the body because it is natural. In past years, our family spent serious time at horse barns and those hours hold many special memories.

So here's my take on 5 horse barn facts...

1. Horses may come in all colors and sizes, but every one of them is incredibly beautiful and graceful. Don't you wish that people felt the same way about themselves?

2. Everything has a place.  Besides, I love the different textures in this photo so I wanted to use it.

Walking into the  barn yesterday I was once again reminded that you will always find dust and dirt in any barn, but an efficient one has an order to it.  There is a place for buckets, feed, medicine, helmets, saddles, etc.

For safety and security, each individual horse should have it's own halter and lead rope hanging outside the horse's stall (as in this photo) so it can be grabbed and used at a moment's notice.

3. Horses show their character. They are always open and honest. It's a lesson we all could learn.

This was painted on one of the stalls. There were other quotes as well as Bible verses on the stalls. It definitely is a barn where love is shared with no apologies.

4. When you are at a barn in the company of a horse, there always is time to stop and smell the roses--in this case, the hostas.

5. Horses (and ponies) have their own opinions.  Sometimes you need to be reminded to "put down the camera."

More facts--horse barns smell good. There is the manure thing, but a responsible care taker cleans the barn every single day. The good smells come from hay and certain types of feed. There is a comfort in being in the barn in the morning as the horses are fed. They "grumble" anxiously for their food. The feed buckets are pushed against the stall walls with a certain rhythm as the horses eat. The sound of them munching is meditative.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ORGANIZE THIS - class material

It's not unusual for photographers to be attracted to old barns and buildings. There's something about the textures and the history that we want to capture before it's all gone.

I feel that way about life sometimes. I want it to stop and just give me the time to catch up. And so it was with my organization idea this week.  For a few years I've collected speakers notes, e-course material and tips founds on the Internet.  As you can see here, I just tossed them into a folder.

The idea was to have them in one place. The trouble was--they were a pile of notes with no organization. So yesterday I gathered my stuff.

 1.  Supplies: binder, tabs, 3-hole-punch, trash can (because you probably will throw out 1/3 of the notes you have.)

2. Divide and conquer the papers according to topics. Be brutal--if you can't understand the notes, throw them away. 
Some of my tabs are:
- Portraits
- PhotoShop brushes
- Textures
- Specific classes
- Specific software such as Lightroom

3. Create sub-tabs if necessary with small Post-It Notes. Under PhotoShop you may have "actions, eyes, backgrounds, etc."

YOU ARE DONE and you have a great place to add information in the future.

 I've done the same thing with my loose recipes for years and it's a great time-saver! When I find something on the Internet or in a magazine, it goes into a notebook. My daughter uses her laptop as a recipe book. It works for her but I would have food all over it if I ever tried that method!

NOTE: It's always an easy way to toss recipes you realize you never will make or that your family didn't like.

If you enjoy doing portraits and would like PhotoShop tips on how to improve them, buy Suzette Allen's Quick Answer Box. It is FULL of great tips and beautifully organized so you won't have any trouble finding the tip you need.  I'm not getting anything from this suggestion other than the satisfaction of sharing a great idea.  Go to www.shopsuzette.com for more info and pricing.

So that's it. Start and stay small. If you make the job too big, you may never get started. Organizing my notebook took about 30 minutes and I feel great that I can find my notes!

Please share how you keep your notes organized.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Summer for me is all about the red, white and blue--about being grateful for the diversity of the country where I was born and the many freedoms I have as an American. 

I crave summer on Memorial Day when I look forward to long days and the lushness of the garden and flowers responding to heat. On July 4th I need a picnic with family. Preferring a lazy day with good food on the grill, not too much fuss and fireworks of course, it's all about relaxation. Finally there is Labor Day. The days are noticeably shorter (boo-hoo) and hopefully cooler. The garden is starting to die and that is OK. I've loved and eaten fresh tomatoes almost daily and for right now, I'm willing to let them go.

Although summer isn't officially over until later this month, I usually give it my personal fond farewell on Labor Day.

But the red, white and blue feeling continues. I put the flag out today because it is September 11. Instead of sadness, I am reminded once again of all the good there is in the world.  Today we remember heros in and out of uniform. We remember that in times of trouble and great distress, we respond with kindness, bravery, compassion,  and generousity to strangers.  What a complicated and incredible world we have!

One of my favorite authors, Marianne Williamson, tells me over and over again that in all we do, we can walk toward fear or we can walk toward love.

I'm putting away the red, white and blue that decorated my entry hall for the summer, but the love is there.  And isn't it wonderful that we can share a love of tossing our thoughts and ideas around the Internet?  It really is an incredible world!

Friday, September 7, 2012


This week I used the Charleston, SC area as my jumping off point for 5 Facts. We visited the fair city in August to celebrate our anniversary. I highly recommend it. The food was incredible, the history was interesting and the beauty--inspirational.   As a note, the greener photos were taken at nearby historic plantations.

So here are the facts.

1. Sometimes simplicity really is the best. Love the salmon pink and the creamy white with black accents. Nothing shouts at you, but you want to look.

I decided not to PhotoShop out the few leaves of the famous Palmetto tree which you see all over South Carolina. By the way, the "cornices," if that is what you call them, are reproductions and are placed over every window on this building. The designers created a mold out of the original cornice and cast each one.


 2.  Being old can also mean being strong, beautiful and graceful. 

3.  Swamps are mysterious and still. Another fact--I would not put my bare feet in the bottom of that canoe even if someone emptied it.

4. There are lots of eyes in a swamp. Check out the center of the photo.  


5. Alleys are always worth a look.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Organize This on Wednesday

A few weeks ago I mentioned in a post that I wanted to take a month off and organize my life--like that is even possible in 30 days! But, it got me thinking and I've decided to take another leap of faith and post my organizing escapades with any tips I've learned along the way.

I also realized as I was snapping photos this morning, that I'm allowing you into my private space. It's a little scary--sort of like starting a blog was scary for me.  But I'm doing it anyway and will just see where it leads us.

In this particular case, organization isn't about decorating. I have a private hideaway and wanted to create a space to journal so I used what was available. I love the results because its cozy, fits my needs and..ta da, it is organized! 

Where do you like to read, knit, browse through a magazine? Make a space special--for you.

1. Start small - give yourself 15-30 minutes and go with it.

2. Find a space with the right light and comfy atmosphere that appeals to you.  I'm fortunate to have a studio space over the garage where no one else wants to go but me. However, that type of privacy isn't always possible for young families. Perhaps you can find a corner in the bedroom or the end of the couch.

This is my prayer/meditation/journaling/reading chair. It's a photo prop that I got at a 2nd hand store. Same thing with the end table--a few years ago, I painted it some crazy colors as you can see.  

3. No need to go to the container store to organize. My basket holds favorite books and  journals. In the drawers of the table are pens and post-it notes because I always have abstract thoughts when I'm journaling.

4. I like to have a blanket or cozy shawl handy. It just makes me feel comfortable to know it is there.
This is another photo prop found in a 2nd hand store. Don't you love the texture?

 5. I needed something I love close by to give me some loving energy. This bowl was made by my daughter--probably in 9th grade. She's a mommy herself now.

 6. Finally, I added some rocks and shells for memories. I love the shapes and the textures.

I feel good organizing my little space. Hope you can do the same. Do have a favorite place to read or journal?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Red and Peaceful (and texture)

Red is not a color I typically consider peaceful. But here it is saying "look at me" while my brain is saying, "breathe, enjoy, relax."  Of course this photo isn't just about the bridge. In addition, there is Spanish moss on the trees, the still waters, as well as my memory of the heat of the day in August. I love that the designer of these gardens gave us a splash of "look at me" red in the midst of all that slow-me-down lushness.

What does red say to you?

Texture Tuesday notes -
1. Cropped bit of sky out of photo and did a PhotoShop levels edit to bring out blacks.
2. Added a little "texture" with Topaz Adjust
3. Used Kim's Grunge texture at about 60% opacity.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Living With Pain

Of course there are many types of pain. And writing this I'm reminded of pain of the heart. Of love lost, lives lost, illness, suffering. We live in a broken world, a world we all can pray for everyday.

I've included photographs today of a battlefield in Scotland with a small portion of its modern memorial. It was a very cool, rainy day yet I stayed in the field protecting my camera as I walked among the lost lives and memories of those who believed in their cause.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about pain--perhaps
because last Thursday, I bent down to pick up a remote and my lower back muscles clutched and spasmed so hard and so fast that I wasn't sure if I could even make it to the nearby couch.

The healing has been slow, I think slower than usual. Whenever I get sick or something on my body hurts enough that it changes my life for a few days, I wonder if there is a message in there I am supposed to discern.

Things pain has taught me AGAIN.

1. I can be a slow learner.

2. There are very few things I "have" to do on any typical day.  Normally, I just think I have to do them.

3. I am not indispensable and that's OK.

4.  The people I love, love me even when I'm a bit grumpy about this pain thing.

5. Pain is a humbling experience.  Simple tasks aren't always possible without help.

5. Pain reminds me to be thankful. Too often I convince myself that I'm not smart enough, young enough, fit enough.  Today I know I am enough, that each of us was put here for a purpose. And I believe that purpose is to love. Love you.