For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Embracing Me

A few weeks ago, I spent a wonderful day with my friend Mel.  We had lots of fun taking pictures of each other in Hartford.  When we got back to the house, I uploaded over 250 pictures to the computer and we looked at them.

Mel is a beautiful, young girl with barely a flaw on her skin.  She looked fabulous in every shot.

When we got to the pictures she took of me,  all I could see were the wrinkles, and I said so.

Mel looked at me and basically told me the pictures look like me.
She wasn't being mean in any way.
She loved the pictures she took of me.
They were "me".

 Don't we all tend to have a much younger mental picture of ourselves?

I don't feel inside very much different than I felt back in college.  

 I feel young.  I don't feel like I am 52 at all. 

My hair may be different now, but IN MY MIND I don't look any different than I did over 30 years ago.

 Mel's comment really made me think.

I DO have wrinkles.  Plenty of them. 

I have crows feet around my eyes when I smile.  Maybe even when I'm not smiling!
The wrinkles under my eyes are all connected now, vertically and horizontally.
I have permanent dark circles around my eyes.  And a blue vein on the side of my head.

My neck isn't as tight as it used to be.  Jowls are beginning to form.

And my neck has creases and lines in it too.

These are the things that I see when I look at myself in pictures.
What Mel made me understand that day was so very important, though.

These are not things like zits that go away and do not define you.

I will never again be without wrinkles, or circles, or saggy skin.

This is who I am now.  They are permanent fixtures on my body.

I may always feel young on the inside, but this body of mine will never get younger.

So from this day forward, I will try not to focus on the things I cannot change.

I will try to look at the bigger picture.


I will grow old with grace.  I will embrace me, as I am ... as I will be.

I spent some time with a 98 year old woman last week.  Violet Cheesman.  She was the essence of how I would want to be if I am lucky enough to reach that age.  She was so young on the inside that you barely noticed her wrinkled up face or weary eyes.  She was interested in everyone and everything.  She didn't sit back and expect others to do things for her.  If she could do it herself, she did it.  That's how I want to be.

That is my plan.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taking the Blame

About 10 years ago when I got my first puppy,  I met a remarkable woman.

Her name is Joyce.

She lives around the corner from me, not too far away.  And she LOVES animals.

Whenever she saw me walking Jack, she would come out to see him, bringing along a dog biscuit from her garage.  She didn't own a dog herself, but she kept them stocked for the dogs in the neighborhood.

Our friendship began over our love of animals, but as time went on, I think she came out because she just wanted to chat with me.  

 Joyce's love of animals isn't limited to dogs.  She took in a stray cat and mothered it like it was her own child.  She feeds the birds in her backyard.  She knows every wild animal that wanders in the woods behind her house.  Joyce would warn me when coyotes were around.  She knows when a litter of foxes has been born.  She loves every living creature.  She loves LIFE.

Over the past few years, Joyce hasn't been outside as much.  When she did come out, she could only go as far as her front porch - as far as her oxygen tube could reach.  She has COPD.

Yesterday,  when I was walking the dogs, I saw her husband out walking.  I asked him how Joyce was doing and he told me she had been in the hospital for two weeks because she couldn't breathe.  But he told me with a smile that she was coming home that night.

When I got home, I found a get-well card to give to her.  I also printed out a few pictures to help brighten her day.  Then I brought the card over to her husband.

I just got a call from Joyce early this morning.  She thanked me for the card, but she LOVED the pictures of the kitten sleeping with the dogs.  She has them up on her refrigerator.

Then we talked for about 45 minutes.  Joyce told me her lungs are shriveling up from the COPD and she can't expel the carbon dioxide much anymore.  Joyce is 70 years young.  She asked the doctor how much time she has left, and he didn't give her an answer.  She knows it's not very long.

But this vibrant woman who loves life so very much is not depressed.  There is no "woe is me" attitude.  She fully takes the blame for her condition.  Joyce was a smoker for  many years, and she knows that she did this to herself. 

Joyce is looking forward to a visit from her grandkids in a few weeks.  They stay with her for a week every summer.  It will probably be the last time they do this.  She plans to spoil them while they are here.
And she can't wait to take care of their dog while they are on vacation later this summer, even though she knows being around animals makes it more difficult to breath.

Before she hung up the phone,  she asked me to tell everyone I know that it is not worth it to smoke.

So I am.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fluff and Stuff

Halle has blown her coat for the first time!

If you have never had the opportunity to brush a dog who is blowing coat,  you probably have no idea what I am talking about.

I am talking about a fur explosion.

Have you ever opened a milkweed pod?  That would be pretty similar!

This is what I got after just one swipe of the comb!

 When I was done (two hours later),  there were 3 large piles of fluff - very soft down-like fluff.

Maddie found it very intriguing!

And Halle looks like she lost 10 pounds!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Melody-ous Monday!

I had soooooo much fun on Monday!

I had the privilege of spending the day with Melody.

Mel and I spent most of the day together taking pictures of each other in Hartford.

It was soooo much fun because we didn't plan anything.  We just strolled around the city and took pictures of each other.  I wanted Mel to take pictures of me so I could see how it feels like on the "other" side of the camera.  And I knew Mel likes to be "behind" the camera as well as in front of it!

These first pictures were taken under the Charter Oak bridge.

We felt like we were in another world!  The stone arches rose out of the river to support the bridge, looking like white marble and glowing softly from the reflected light off the water.  The light was PERFECT!

Then we took a few pictures on the steps in front of the river.

Heading onto the streets of Hartford,
Mel was up for anything
 and didn't mind acting silly
 in front of many passersby.
 It was great!

We pretended to be looking for a hat at a street vendor JUST to take a few pictures!

After lunch, we headed to Bushnell Park and passed by an old graveyard with beautiful iron gates.

The scenery at Bushnell Park seemed blah and uninspiring until Mel fed some goldfish crackers to a few squirrels.

It wasn't long before every pigeon in the park joined us for a snack!

I had a lot of fun!
Mel did too.
It was one of those perfect unplanned days!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Graduation Cards and Oprah

In this season of endings and new beginnings,  many of us are stocking up on cards for our family members and friends who are graduating from high school or college.  I usually am attracted to the cards that attempt to give the graduate a message to inspire them to do great things.

This year, as I was in the card aisle at Whole Foods,
it dawned on me that these cards were inspiring
for me personally.

Why should we give them only to graduates? 

Everyone can use a little pep talk.

No matter what age we are, we are all still "becoming" something new.

I think all graduates this year should watch
the final show of Oprah.

I think EVERYONE should watch the final show of Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey celebrated her last show after 25 years.  In that time she didn’t miss a single day’s work, an achievement even the most diligent of workers amongst us may find challenging to claim.

For me the thing that is most apparent about Oprah is that she lives her passion and purpose everyday through her work.  This, undeniably, is the primary reason why she has found the strength and motivation to get up day after day, go into work and shine her light.  Her work is her passion and when we feel passionate about something it doesn’t feel like work at all.  In fact, Oprah’s number one parting message to her audience was the absolute importance of discovering our purpose and following it.  This, she believes, is fundamental to “living your best life”.

For Oprah her purpose and her job are one and the same, however she emphasized that it doesn’t have to be that way.  She advised that it’s the job of each and every one of us to uncover our purpose and follow it.  For some our true purpose may be a part-time pursuit.  For others it may be full time.  For some it may be income-generating.  For others it may not be.  For some it may be to be the best mother we can be.  For others it may be through the paid work we do; through charity work; through scientific discoveries; through entrepreneurial pursuits; through creating works of art; through providing beauty or inspiration….  We are the only person in the world who truly knows our purpose.  No one else can tell us what it is.

So watch Oprah if you have a chance...

and take some time today and ponder what YOUR purpose is.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Somewhere, Right Now, At this Moment...

A great thing happened on Saturday!

It may not seem so exciting to some,
but for me it brought back a lot of memories.

It brought back memories of a day in 1977
when I spent $300 for my first nice camera.
I couldn't put it down.
A whole new world had opened up for me.

On Saturday,  my friend Andrew
made the best purchase of his life.
He bought a sweet Canon 5D!
He plans to minor in Photography in college,
so he will no doubt put it to good use.

I recognized the look on his face - probably much the same as mine that day back in 1977.

I couldn't begin to count the number of pictures I have taken since then.

I found this article on a photography blog that pretty much explains why photography is so GREAT!

Somewhere, right now, at this moment....

A photographer is preparing to make a photograph that may change someone’s life, forever.

A mother glances at a photograph of her now grown son, when he was only 14. It makes her smile, and remember that time when…

A photographer is awaking, ready to embark on the biggest job of his career. Anxiety and excitement fill his thoughts… and he carefully prepares.

A photograph is being shown to someone who never thought they could look that way. They can’t wait to share it. The photographer smiles.

Somewhere, right now, at this moment…

Someone is writing their two week notice. They have been planning for this for years, and it is time. 
Trepidation, excitement and fear and wonder all make for a bit of nervousness. But they know they have to do this.

A photographer put the finishing touches on the new portfolio. It will be called in day after tomorrow… but he doesn’t know that now.

A photographer is going through an edit of the best work she has ever done. It all came together on this shoot, and she is absolutely thrilled to be able to show the client.

A photograph is being made of someone who is dying. The image will be a last remembrance of their life for the ones who will miss them. The photographer fights back tears, but works with a smile to make the shot.

A photographer just took a photograph that will change the way thousands, maybe millions of people think about something important. 

Somewhere, right now, at this moment…

An editor is preparing to assign a photographer to a project that will result in an image that will shock and surprise everyone.

A photographer sits at a computer carefully retouching a photograph for a new client. It has taken a couple of hours, but it is close to perfection… just one more layer and…

A bride has made the decision, and a photographer is about to receive a call.

A photographer has reached out for a mentor, and a photographer has responded with guidance and help. It will forever change both of their lives.

A photographer suddenly understands something about her own work. She saw it while shooting today, and it just felt right. A style is evolving.

Somewhere, right now, at this moment…

A young person is picking up a camera for the first time. We don’t know their name… but we will someday. 

A hobby is becoming a passion for a photographer. The passion will become their vocation and avocation soon.

A camera is being focused on a subject, and decisions are being quickly made, and the inevitable shutter click will record something we haven’t seen before.

Somewhere, right now, at this moment, something that will happen only once in a lifetime is happening… and a photographer is there to record that instant, that tiny fraction of a moment that a photograph records. It is time frozen, a moment recorded forever, to be held in the time it was made, while the rest of the world grows old.
It is a photograph. 

Somewhere, right now, at this moment…

A photographer is making something magical, unique, important, remembered, and special.
That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Speak to the Earth and it Shall Teach Thee!

To create a garden 
is to search for a better world.
In our effort to improve on nature,
we are guided
by a vision of paradise. 
Whether the result is a 
horticultural masterpiece
only a modest vegetable patch,
it is based on the expectation 
of a glorious future.  
This hope for the future
is at the heart of all gardening.
-   Marina Schinz

I love gardening. 
It makes me happy.

Gardening teaches us so much about life.

It teaches us that beauty comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

It teaches us about new beginnings and the renewal of life.

It teaches us that we can all live together in harmony.


It teaches us that we all have different needs in order to flourish.

It teaches us to take care of one another.


And it teaches us to keep our chins up and our eyes bright ...

... and keep growing!

Why stay on the earth except to grow.  
                                     ~Robert Browning