Grateful

November 7, 2011

Since returning from Camp Shutter Sisters nearly 3 weeks ago, I’ve been feeling very introspective.  It’s hard to put into words just what those four days did for me.  Yes, I love, live and breathe photography, but to be in the company of 70 other women that feel exactly the same way?  It’s pretty darned powerful.  And awesome.  And inspiring.  But more than anything, I am grateful. 

 Honestly, how else would I have even had the opportunity to finally meet Kim Klassen?  We clicked right away and now that she’s back in Canada and I’m back in the U.S., Skype has become our best friend!  Since being back, she’s dreaming big dreams which is exactly how it should be.  Have you seen how she makes her textures for Photoshop?!  Amazing talent, this woman.  

If not for Camp, I would have never met  Xanthe Berkeley who came all the way from across the pond to be with us!  Oh my, how she can make me laugh!  From her Bench Monday antics to her admitted addiction to Instagram which makes me giggle everytime I watch her little video to her and Kim Klassen’s first trip to ‘Tah-get’.  I am enamored….and I’ll never look at ‘Tah-get’ quite the same way again.  ;)

Had it not been for Camp Shutter Sisters, I would have never met Kristin Zechinelli.  The woman who lay down right there on the beach to get this great jump shot. The woman who wandered off to explore the beach alone only to be surrounded by a bunch of the ladies from camp (myself included) who asked to photograph her.  Have you ever had a bunch of cameras in your face at once?  It has to be disconcerting to say the least, but she handled it all with such grace.  But that’s Kristin, Kristin with the HUGE heart and giving nature.   

And there were more great woman as well, like Paige Balcer, Meredith Winn, Alessandra Cave and Tammy Lee Bradley.  All of them beautiful, funny, talented, loving, giving women.  And what do all these woman mentioned here today have in common that I got to meet for the first time, face-to-face?  They are just a few my wonderful Shutter Sisters.  What a gift, and for that, I am grateful.  ;)

 

Trying to Find the Words.

October 24, 2011

I’ve been home from Camp Shutter Sisters for 5 days now and for 5 days I’ve been trying to come up with the words to try to describe to you what camp was about but I’m finding it quite difficult.  I can tell you that at times I felt intimidated and terrified that I was going to be found out or that I’m not as awesome a photographer as the other 70 women were or that I didn’t know as much as they did or that I just wasn’t good enough.  In fact, I can guarantee you many of the attendees probably felt that way.  It was obvious, though, after the first night, that there was no need or no room for those feelings or fears.  Camp, at that point, became so much more than photography.  In fact, for me, photography was secondary to everything else when I was there.  So, I can tell you that camp was magical, emotional, inspiring, powerful, even life changing.  There’s been a shift in my world.  Not quite sure how yet, but it’s different, and I’m glad.

I’m also glad I’m not alone.  Others are trying to describe camp and it’s obvious, I’m not the only one struggling with finding the right words.  Kristin, MeghanXanthe, Wendy, and Amy, to name a few.  Even Tracey Clark who started this whole big dream of  Shutter Sisters  only 3 years ago said, and I quote, “I don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be awesome“, is having trouble finding the words post-camp.

So, until I can find the right words, I made this video in hopes that maybe, just maybe, those that didn’t attend would get a little taste of what it was we experienced, no words needed.  Enjoy.  

Saying Goodbye.

August 27, 2011

When I was told that my best friend would be coming home to hospice care, everything else going on in my life stopped, just like that.  I knew it was coming.  I had for awhile now but I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around it.  But that didn’t matter.  All that mattered was her.  All that mattered was that my friend of 43 years was going to be leaving this world and nothing was going to stop me from being there with her.

My camera is always with me.  Those who know me well, know this.  It’s an extension of me.  It’s also my security blanket, my safety net, my comfort.   While at the hospital visiting her just before she came home,  as my heart was just beginning to start it’s first cracks, I asked her softly, “Do you want me to document this journey for you?”.   She didn’t even hesitate with her answer.  Yes.

We were told at first she had a month.  The day after she came home and the doctor from hospice came to see her we were then told she probably had two weeks and I felt that crack in my heart widen and deepen.  Her core group of girlfriends, her confidants, her ‘besties’ all came to be with her.  We rallied around her hospital bed, talking softly and gently, holding her hand, telling her we love her until we tired her out and she asked to rest.

For the next twenty four hours there was a constant parade of people coming to see her, touch her, tell her how much she meant to them.  Even though she no longer responded to us, I know she heard us, knew we were there.  As much as I wanted to pull my camera out,  I didn’t.  It just didn’t feel right.   It wasn’t until the early morning hours when those most important to her began to gather around her because we knew her time with us would be over soon, very soon, that I allowed myself to capture this moment.  Right then, right there, the love in that room was so palpable that I could feel it enveloping all of us.  It was her love, coming to us, touching us, kissing us goodbye.  It was, quite simply, the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.  Even though the crevasse in my heart has given way to a great big gaping hole, I am so grateful for those final moments with her.  What a gift she has given me.

God speed, my friend.  I love you more than you can possibly know.

Alejandra Wong, January 20th, 1963 – August 21st, 2011

Living in Color

July 13, 2011

I can pretty much bet that everyone one of us knows someone effected by cancer.  Today, join me over at Shutter Sisters in a celebration of life and of living life in color .  Also, be sure to check out the new contest that  The American Cancer Society is promoting.  It may just be right up your alley. ;)

The Gift of Music

June 6, 2011

My 14 yr. old son and I sometimes get along like oil and water.  We butt heads regularly.  Part of it is simply because he’s a teenager.  The other part, from what everyone who knows me quite well likes to tell me on a regular basis, is because we are just alike.  I guess that must be the ‘strong-willed, opinionated and always has to have the last word’ part.

Today was an oil and water day between us.  There was just no getting along and there was a lot of bickering and storming off to other rooms by each of us.  Usually the only way to get past it is for us to just avoid each other for the rest of the day and start fresh the next day.  I really hate days like this.

Tonight, after dinner, a couple of loads of laundry, signing off on homework and packing lunches for school, I finally collapsed on the couch.  I was tired and cranky and wanted to just lose myself in some mindless television show.  I scrolled through my recorded shows on my DVR and saw that I had recorded a show called “Crossroads” shown on CMT.   It’s a show where one country music artist/band and another artist/band of another genre get together and sing eachother’s songs.  The show I recorded was with Train and Martina McBride.  I like Martina McBride, but I really love Train.  When I hit the play button, my 14 yr. old, sitting on the other end of the couch doing the last of his weekend homework, sighed audibly and rolled his eyes.  He hates country music, which isn’t suprising as I don’t think there’s many 14 yr. old boys that do like it.  I just ignored him, turned it up and kept watching.   The song that they began to sing was “Soul Sister”, a Train song.  I love this song, have on my iPod and play it all the time in the car.  In fact, we all like it.  It is such a happy, upbeat song.  As they sang,  out of the corner of my eye, I could see my 14 yr. old watching and moving his fingers to the rythm of the music.   Soon my 10 yr. old came out when he heard it and sat down to watch.  We have a great surround sound system so I turned it up, all of us moving a foot or hand in time with the music.  When it got to the chorus, we all started singing it.  The energy in the room completely had changed.  It was great.  Not bad, my 14 yr. old had said when the song had finished, for a country singer.  And just like that, all the anger from the day was gone.  We talked about Train and music and favorite songs for a little while and then he went back to his homework while I watched the rest of the show.  Seriously, what would we do without the power of music in our lives?  What a gift…be it Train or country music. ;)

What I Know to be True.

May 26, 2011

 

It’s been 3 months since I’ve blogged and I’ve missed my blog terribly. 

Life will always get in the way when we don’t want it to, and that’s okay.

Suicide is and has never been the answer.  Ever.

Friends, real friends, will love you no matter what. 

Bad things happen to good people.  That will never change, but we will survive.

Cancer sucks…really, really sucks.

Even when we’re suffering and hurting and our hearts are breaking wide open in what seems like insurmountable pain,  and trust me, I’m witnessing that right now, it will never let you down.  Love and goodness will always find it’s way back to your heart.  Just hold on, it will get there.  I promise.

People are inherently good.  I believe people want to connect and help and give love when there is a need, even if they do not know you and that is such a beautiful thing.

People, as a whole, need eachother.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, just wants to be seen and heard and know that what they say matters.  Everyone wants to be valued, from the smallest child to the oldest person you know. 

I truly believe you get what you give, be it the energy you put out to the world or to the smile you give to someone passing you by on the street, so always take the responsibility for the energy you bring to a person or space.

Everyone has something to give or to share or to teach.  We all bring our own medicine to this world in one way or another, even you.  

Life, in the good times and the bad, will always speak to you.  You just need to listen….and to love. 

Always. 

 

 

 

Will You Join Us?!

February 22, 2011

I cannot tell you how excited I am!!  Please consider joining us.  Details soon to follow, I promise!

Be Kind This Week.

February 17, 2011

You know me, always touting kindness.  I think it’s as essential as breathing.  This week is National Random Acts of Kindness week so in honor of that, I made the above slideshow to help motivate you to go out and do something kind.  Want even more motivation?  Then just head over to Kind Over Matter and check out their Freebies page where they have tons of fantastic, downloadable items to help you out in doing your RAK (many of which you see in my slideshow).  So go ahead, do something kind today and then come back and share what you did.  I’d love to hear about it!

 

Love and Other Good News!

February 14, 2011

You know what’s awesome about having thousands of archived photos? I can make videos like this.  So on this lovely Valentine’s Day, I hope you find love in everything you see and do. 

And on another exciting note, I can’t help but squee with delight over Camp Shutter Sisters!  Get your camera ready, ladies!  More details to follow very soon!

Anticipation

February 13, 2011

I absolutely love spring.  After the long days of winter, I anxiously await its arrival like a child waits for Christmas morning.  I know it’s close when I hear the symphony of birds outside my window in the morning or see the first buds of a new flower.  Not only am I anticipating the return of spring but also the rest of 2011.  I’m excited in knowing that not only will there be a gathering of some really great, longtime friends for some really great, long weekends away but also an opportunity to be in the company of some very talented women, many that I will get to meet face-to-face for the first time (More exciting news on that to come!).  So, dear Winter, you’ve had your time here, but it’s time to say goodbye.  Please make your departure quick and let Spring and all her glorious beauty move on in because, honestly?  The anticipation is killing me!


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