What made you smile today? Was it a call from a friend, something you read, a job well done, a beautiful sunrise?
For me it was a rainy day, roses starting to bloom (ahh that sweet rose fragrance), the sound of my children's voices, a chilly morning cuddled up with my man before he had to get up for work, puppies at my feet when I write, and something as simple as a dandelion image I captured a few days ago.
It's funny how something so many hate as a weed can have such a beautiful structure and delicate nature. I guess I've always rooted for the underdog...or common weed, throughout my life.
Tonight, before you go to bed, think about those things that brought a smile to your face today...it's just what the doctor ordered...I promise! :)
Earlier this month, before the weather became warm enough to open our windows, but not so cold that you turned into an ice cube, I had Mr. Tide remove some of the screens from a few of our windows. I chose which windows to remove the screens from based on whether or not birds were likely to come to those parts of our house. I knew that without the screens I could open these windows and hopefully capture a few of our many flying friends a little closer.
Normally I try and venture outside looking as much like a non threatening bush or fence post as possible, but that rarely works, so shooting through open windows seemed like the best choice.
Just outside our bedroom window we have a shepherd's hook that we hung a bird feeder on this winter. Much to our dismay, the heavy winds quickly knocked the feeder off and we realized it wasn't the best spot for feeding the birds. Not long after we took the feeder down we realized the iron pole/hook provided an ideal spot for the many bluebirds that visit us, so we left it right where it was and looked forward to seeing our bluebirds each day. They happily perch on the curves of the hooks and fly down to grab the bugs and grubs from the lawn and surrounding fields.
I took full advantage of this up close opportunity by using my telephoto lens and propping myself precariously on our bed, or on tip toes as I positioned near the window so as not to scare them off. They are still a good 20 feet or more outside the window, and because of the way our windows are hung, I needed to shoot with the top part of the window down in order to not be looking up at them.
The collage at the top of this post is a straight out of the camera compilation of the same happy male bluebird that happened to visit us one afternoon. He was so busy munching on bugs that he seemed a little oblivious to the woman teetering through the open window several yards away.
I was so excited when I came to my computer and began processing the photos. I had finally captured how blue these gorgeous birds really are, and I had finally captured an elusive wingspread shot!
These little guys are amazingly quick, and I was sure I hadn't gotten any decent take off or in flight shots, so I was pleasantly surprised that I had in fact snagged a few winners. Of course I'm never content to just have the simple bird shots, so I began playing around with them and created the 2 images above.
Since then, we have put the screens up so that we could enjoy the cool breezes of our hit or miss springtime weather. And although I haven't taken any more shots of the bluebirds visiting our shepherd's hook...I'm pretty sure they keep coming back in hopes that I will capture their beauty once again through my lens.
I wonder, do you think my house will be full of gnats, spiders, and buzzing bees if we go without screens all summer?! For the sake of nature photography...it might just be worth it! :)
"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be
able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in
a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for
granted." -- Bill Bryson
While I was on hiatus, I began the process of pushing myself...unlike some people (dogs) in these photos who will remain nameless! ;-)
I decided that instead of taking pictures that I thought might be marketable, I would focus on images that made me happy inside.
I realized that while I was in France last December, I rarely took pictures of people, yet it was often the people that I found to be the most interesting. What held me back from taking images of people, besides the obvious concerns about privacy, etc., was the fact that I didn't think pictures with people in them would sell!
I had become so fixated on what would sell, that I lost site of what "I" really wanted to capture. It's a tough thing to push past what will make you successful, and instead embrace personal success. How many times have we heard people say, "I want to be successful at 'x, y, z,' but they never embrace that success isn't measured from the outside, but from the inside, and it's a life long process.
Now, in case you are thinking that I'm one tie-dyed shirt away from selling magic crystals on the internet, hear me out.
I think that so many of us measure ourselves against the end result of something or someone. We want to jump out of the gate painting like Michelangelo, singing like Sarah Brightman, and designing like Coco Chanel. The truth is that all of those people developed their skills over time, and sure they had the talent from the get go, but it was their talent AND perseverance that ultimately led them to success. I'm guessing the first step they had to take was to believe in themselves, and then to embrace the patience it takes to actually succeed.
So instead of focusing on the end result, the finish line, the "you've made it" award that so many of us yearn to have right after we begin something, whether it be a blog or a photography career, I am learning to enjoy the process.
Some days it's a b*$@&...trust me, patience is not my strong suit. And some days when things work out I'm on top of the world, while other days I ask why I continue to even take pictures...but I know why, because I'm learning, growing, but most of all I'm edging ever closer to who I want to be.
And to help me grasp the concept of patience and mind over matter on days when I'm feeling a little sorry for myself, I watch a few good videos...like the one below. Perspective is a wonderful thing my friends. Now go grab that brass ring you're after...just don't be discouraged when the first 1000 are made of iron. :)
As I type this post there is a part of my brain that is screaming to shut off the computer and walk to another part of my house. For those of you who have kindly stuck around to ask yourselves, "what the heck?, how is that an opening line for someone who hasn't blogged in months and months?!"...I will explain.
When I decided to quit blogging, and I do mean "quit" blogging back in January it was for a myriad of reasons...really too many to list, but I will mention a few.
I was feeling lost, at a loss for words, at a loss for ideas, at a loss for who I was and where I was going. I felt like I was walking down a path that wasn't the path I should be walking, but I continued to trod along anyway...have you ever done that? It's not a good feeling to keep walking even though your tiny voice is yelling at you to turn around and run in the other direction, yet I managed to ignore that voice for a long time...that is until January when I decided to stop on the path and consult my internal GPS for a little help.
At first I thought I was just tired, tired of creating images that I wasn't really loving, posting about things I was semi interested in, and busy promoting artwork I felt somewhat unsure about. But it turned out that I wasn't really tired at all...I was scared, plain and simple.
Fear is such a strong emotion, and one that I know well, but only in some parts of my brain, if that makes sense? See, I can walk up to perfect strangers and tell them something wonderful about themselves, see potential in others and help them find their destiny, but when it comes to recognizing my own value, my true talents, I've been scared to dare to think I might be worth more than a discounted sticker price.
For years I have hung myself on a clearance rack of sorts, convincing myself that those other pieces of merchandise deserved to be sold at full price, but not me...no sir, I should be happy if I get the cost of wholesale back I would say to myself.
I know this analogy may seem off the wall to some, but for me it hit home as I did some soul searching over these last few months. As I sat and scoured Pinterest, other blogs, or just listened to music, I suddenly stopped listening to others (including the voices in my own head) and began listening to myself...my un-scared self.
I've given myself this talk before, but to be honest it had always fallen on deaf ears...or it was drowned out by the other little voice in my head that said, "yeah right, who do you think you are to even consider doing what you want and valuing it?!"
But maybe because I turned 49 in December, or maybe because I stopped comparing with others, or maybe because I just was tired of listening to that same crappy voice that seemed to always rear it's ugly little head when I was making headway...the new voice that emerged began to drown out that old voice.
And let me tell you, I was all ears for this new voice. This new voice didn't care if anyone commented on an image, if people even saw that picture, or if it was what I had hoped it would be when I created it.
At first it felt weird, kind of egocentric to tread this new path, one where I wasn't walking to or from something but one where I was putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the feel of the soil beneath me.
Now, don't get me wrong, this new path has tree roots and briars, and muddy patches that require hopping over, but I don't focus on those bits anymore...well not as much anyway. Instead, I now feel as though I'm walking with purpose, with my head looking skyward and not afraid to fall as I gaze upward.
The realist in me knows that looking skyward will inevitably cause me to stumble, maybe even fall flat on my face at times, but I'm ok with that. I would much rather fall and have seen the beauty around me, than to have spent my days staring at the ground anticipating the bumps, or looking over my shoulder fearing what will come up behind me.
So why not just keep all of this to myself? There is a part of me which is asking that same question...and I'm not sure I have the answer yet. What I do know is that I have felt a pull back to this blog in the last few weeks, and that, along with some beautiful and truly touching emails and comments from some dear friends, has me wanting to see where this will lead.
I have come to know that I am a creative person, and I am happiest when I am creating, but I am also someone who likes to share, and to share in the creativity of others, which this blog allows me to do.
I'm not the same person I was back in January, and I'm glad for that in so many ways, so I've made a few changes as I venture forth.
1. As much as I love comments, they will be turned off. I no longer want people to feel obligated to do anything but visit here and take from it what they will.
2. I have no idea how much or how often I will blog, or about what I will chose to feature, but it will be what I want to feature, plain and simple.
3. I will only create images that bring joy to myself, always hoping that others will find joy in them as well.
4. I will find gratitude and peace in every single day and hope that my images will do the same for someone else.
5. I will be supportive of ME and find value in what I create while still being supportive of others.
6. I will save the best little pieces of me and spread them like heirloom seeds across the landscape, and I will marvel as they sprout, grow, and flower into the beautiful creations they were meant to be.
To Loi...thank you, your words have meant more than you could ever know! And to those of you who are still around, thank you, and I hope that you will begin to walk your own path, one that helps you to be the best "you" that you can be! It just takes one step....
I am a mom to 2 wonderful children, wife to an amazing husband, loved by 2 fluffy puppies, a freelance writer, fine art photographer, and a lover of all things beautiful which I hope to share with you here on my blog.