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It is easy to become consumed in our passions. For me, eating and sleeping is often cast aside as I find myself reviewing the photos taken from my last expedition. Even the process of considering my next journey, or weighing the myriad of options can leave me in an abyss where time simply disappears. So it was last night, and the night before. The vision of the sun rising before you have fallen asleep is not the kind of sunrise I look forward to viewing. Come to think of it, the last few weeks have been filled with sleep deprivation and today the effects are at their pinnacle.

My day started with a startling realization that the sea lions were expecting me to meet them at the harbor at ten. I rolled back over in bed and thought to myself, I just don’t think I have it in me to be on the water today, I really need some sleep. Then their faces began project on my subconscious. Guilt began to drip, making it impossible to sleep. Finally I resolved and thought to myself , ” I really need to fulfill my commitment.”  It was then that it all began to crumble.

“Hey wait a minute”… “I’m home in Utah, there are no Sea Lions waiting for me at a harbor in Utah. Then I began to laugh at the fact that I hadn’t caught on sooner. It was all a dream.

Perhaps it was editing this photo from last weeks trip that made me align my day with such a colorful commitment. Or maybe knowing  there’s an army of amazing volunteers working almost around the clock at the worlds largest marine mammal hospital; The Marine Mammal Center.  Peak season is here.  Between pupping seasons, weather issues, ocean trash entanglements, and disease from toxicity they have a huge infux of patients last I heard 210.  I just finished my training to be a part of that team.  The first thing I did when I got out of bed was book my flights for my next few months trips so I can indeed fulfill my commitment to my sea lions, and all of their friends that need special care.  I am starting out as an educational docent and shadowing the animal care.

I decided today that this picture will be perfect  for my bedroom wall. It will serve as a gentle reminder to be in tune with my loving creator as I seek to live a life of passion but with balance; filled with loving kindness,compassion, and sympathetic joy.

Om Sea Lion2

I Was Blind But Now I See

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Reading the unrestrained thoughts of others has always fascinated me. The art of blogging has given an entirely new dimension to human expression. Each of us have moments of clarity where our life experiences or observations teach us something or impact us in a way that we can’t help but want to share it with others.

Last year I had a personal shift that’s compelled me to live a life of passion. Losing my vision for several months due to bilateral retinal detachment was devastating. What was even more alarming was to discover I was stuck in a perception of perpetual blindness even after my vision was stabilized. That became my personal wake up call. I discovered in a personal training program; ” The Power of Choice”, that one of the dominant beliefs in my life was that I was broken. Yet as I looked deeper, I was amazed to discovered my capacity.

This was December 2013. Since that time I set a 90 day goal and lead a photo expedition to Monterey bay. I actually started my personal blog as the beginning to that process as a way of recording my reflections as I progressed. My 90 day goal was completed on March 8th, 2014. when I and 29 others boarded a 60 foot yacht and took our first whale watch trip in the ocean as a celebration of the restoration of my vision. One interesting thing to note, when I wrote my initial goal I stated;

“ I want the connections I make on the whale watch trip to lead me to greater opportunities than I can even comprehend at this time”.

As a direct result of my initial goal, I have taken 4 additional trips on the whale watch boat. On one of them I met a research director for Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies. I was invited to work with them and last Tuesday I drove the research boat for the first time as we photo identified Whales, Risso’s and Bottle nose dolphins. I have completed the training to be an educational docent at the worlds largest marine mammal hospital after finding a stranded sea-lion on the beach and have since discovered 3 additional stranded or entangled animals.. This is just in the last 30 days. To say this is well beyond any expectation I could have had is an understatement. At times I want to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that I live in Utah and this year I will be celebrating my 50th birthday.

Pollyanna has always been my go to movie; especially the part where she explains to the preacher about the joy texts in the Bible. There are so many people feeling overwhelmed by the challenges in their lives, or in the world, but if we choose to really look and see, this world is a remarkable place and there are wonderful opportunities for each of us to do something that not only fills our cup, but also overflows and fills the cups of others. As I share my photographs and simple moments of clarity, I hope to illuminate the joy I find in this journey. I am creative by design, living the life I was born to love.

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The Power Of Choice

In December a friend invited me to participate in a personal training workshop “The Power of Choice”. She gave me a golden ticket providing me an opportunity to attend for free. To say I was a skeptic at the beginning is more than an understatement. I however trusted my friend, knew she had enjoyed her experience and felt it would be at least an interesting experiment. My inner critic voice became even louder as the day approached. Even if there was no exchange of money, my time was of value to me. My friend suggested I talk with the founder to discuss my questions and concerns, so I did. Looking back on that conversation, I still am amazed that he even allowed me through the doors. My resistance didn’t take long to surface. Life has taught me there are no free lunches. What was it they wanted from me? Jaime explained the workshop clearly. In the  Power of Choice they teach powerful tools that help shift perspective and can have a profound impact on peoples lives. As he was explaining all of this, I found myself asking, but what’s the catch, what’s next…. What do you want me and everyone else to do next? He went on to explain the next level of training available was an option. He explained clearly though;
“People pay hundreds of dollars just to have the Power of Choice experience, you get to come and experience it for free”  
That lead me to my next question;
“So what do you charge for this next level of training?” I asked abruptly.
He gave me his answer then explaining they have many options structured for people to make it affordable and had ways to work with them, to which I blurted;
“You may as well just give this golden ticket to someone else, because what you are charging for your next level of training goes against every thing I believe. If you have something so wonderful, so life changing, then why aren’t you making it affordable enough for the masses!”
Jaime took a deep breath, I know now he chose to have a state change:) calmly he replied;
“I promise you this, I will expect nothing more from you than for you to come and learn what we have to offer through the power of choice. I believe that every session is comprised of a perfect balance of personalities and I really want you to come and be a part of this group.”
How could I say no to that? I just told the man I didn’t value what I now know is his life’s work, and he says;
“Please come I value your opinion and not only want, but feel your personality is an essential part of this experience.”

I did attend that three-day workshop and by the second day, I knew in my heart I would do anything to have the next level of training. I have had so many shifts to my perspective, my whole world has been turned on a dime. Nothing had changed, yet everything had changed all at the same time. As I walked into that first workshop I believed I was broken. I had suffered from bilateral detachment of the retinas in the past year and had several surgeries to correct the situation, but it left me with impaired vision in my left eye and changed vision in my right eye. Over the course of the year I had periods of blindness, and somehow had found myself still stuck in mental blindness. I was choosing to focus on the limitation rather than my capacity to see. I hadn’t even found a path to gratitude for my sight being saved. I was still stuck in a pity party of how hard it was to have it be different. Looking back now it is so easy to see how limiting that was but at the time it was simply my reality. After just a few hours of shifting my perspective through this powerful personal training experience, I found myself pulling my camera out of its case and began to dream again of living a life of passion. I began to doodle. Even though the fun house mirror lines had a hard time connecting when I drew a heart or a flower, it eventually came. When I hear the line ” I was blind and now I see” from Amazing Grace, I understand the meaning from my core. I realized I believed I was broken. It was a part I had become quite comfortable playing and in many ways it served me well. I could no longer live that belief though, because I knew it was not true. My focus was no longer on my limitations it was now on my capacity.

There was a heavy winter storm Saturday night, the end of Power of Choice. I remember as I got out of the car, reaching for the snow shovel and I began to shovel the driveway, one of my kids tried to stop me saying;
” Mom don’t do that, you’re going to hurt yourself”.
I said, “No I’m good, I’m not going hurt myself, I’m going to strengthen myself.

I have spent the last 90 days strengthening myself. I have pushed myself in ways I would have never dreamed including climbing and jumping off of a telephone pole as part of a ropes course experience. I have at times fallen short, but have dusted myself off and continued knowing full well that I can and I’m worth every bit of effort I put into it. Other times I have felt the pure joy of being in complete balance with who I want to be! Who I am meant to be! Really who I have been all along. In someways this process has been one of rediscovering the truths I already knew.

This blog was the first of three steps to my 90 day goal. An Antelope Island Photo Expedition was the second. The third part of my power 90 personal training process was leading a photo expedition to Monterey Bay to celebrate the restoration of my vision. That final piece of this process was completed last weekend. I have chosen a few photo’s of that adventure to feature here. Taking pictures was an important part of this experience, but not the most important piece. Sharing the experience with others is what truly gave any of this meaning for me.

I will forever be grateful to my dear friend Chaussie for giving me a golden ticket. To Jaime for talking me through my resistance, and for living his life of passion and sharing it with others through his amazing program. To each of the amazing friends I have met and learned from and with; it is amazing to see how far we’ve come, but the best is yet to be for each of us! I am so grateful for this entire experience and all of the friends and family that were a part of it!

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Favorite Place to Ponder

SONY DSCMoss Landing Harbor has always been a special place for me. Every time I get to go, I am amazed at the beauty, the vast  array of life abounding in the current ever changing with the tide. I knew this trip was bringing me at pupping season for the harbor seals.  It wasn’t difficult to find the little darlings basking on the beach. The dock across the harbor provided the perfect vantage point for me to observe them as the evening light began to dance it’s dance.

Living A Viva Bokeh

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Being a self taught photographer was never a badge of honor I wanted to wear. It really was the fruits of my priorities. Up until now taking formal training in photography was simply never the most important thing for me to do. With my upcoming photo expedition to Monterey Bay, I found myself considering my personal preparation. I am leading the expedition, with that comes an expectation of capability or expertise. It wasn’t enough for me to be pleased with the pictures I took, I needed to understand the hows and the whys and what the buttons I pushed, twisted, and adjusted actually meant and the affect they had on each other.

Saturday was probably not the most convenient day in the world for me to choose to take a class. It was after all my husband’s birthday. The remarkable thing to me was that he, as usual, was totally supportive and encouraged me to take this next step. He has always been that kind of guy! ( How lucky am I?):) It made me realize though that rarely do any of us find it easy to make what we really want convenient. We can always find a list of other people’s needs to keep us from taking that step toward living our dream or life of passion. Yet when we go to the calendar, there is already an obligation penciled in and we push that need in us aside until something greater compels us to make it a priority.

For me that something greater has been setting a personal ninety day goal through a training program called “Outlook Development”. (Itsmyoutlook.com) Making a commitment to myself and a team of individuals that are on their own quest provides a level of accountability that truly motivates. We are learning tools to empower ourselves and each other to live our passion, overcome limitations and ultimately live our authentic purpose. This experience keeps bringing me back to one remarkable truth. We each have been created, designed if you will with everything we need to fulfill our creative purpose. It’s a matter of clearing the static, or even cleaning our personal lens, to see the capacity and gifts that have been there all along. For me this week, I was able to see more clearly and appreciate the unconditional love and support that been a constant for me. Not only did he give up the time I spent taking the class, he then accompanied me to a local park where I could practice further what I’d learned. So this year I’ve decided to add to his birthday present. I am going to frame a favorite picture from this weekends photo shoot for him to hang in his office. Each time he looks at it, I want him to know that this weekend wasn’t just about learning the powerful fundamentals of the rule of thirds or controlling bokeh, but me remembering that he is one of those gifts that’s been with me all along.

The Shameless Selfie

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The photo challenge for this week is “the shameless selfie”. Obviously this is not my selfie, but a representation of an incredible opportunity missed! Wednesday I had the honor of experiencing a ropes course with the amazing people pictured here. I am the one taking the photo perched on top of a telephone pole. I must confess, I am no spring chicken. My 50th birthday will be celebrated this year and I am excited about this next chapter in my life! As I was preparing to make my ascent I went to put my camera away thinking I need to just be completely present for this experience. Perhaps there was a piece of me that didn’t want to create an expectation of myself or with anyone else that I would make it to the top of that perch to take this picture. A good friend and fellow photographer questioned my decision and reminded me;

“That would be one awesome shot!”

That comment somehow thrust me back in my mind to a recent photo shoot for a brief second. I remembered a moment trudging with determination through the snow and ice to capture a shot of a fly fisherman in a river feeding into a half frozen reservoir. There was this stippled light dancing from the setting sun at the northern end.  I just had to get a shot capturing the beautiful coral color reflecting against the hues of blues and green along with polar fly fisherman  I  realized how capable and fearless I am when I have my camera strapped to me. The motivation to get “that shot” pushes me to do things like nothing else in my life. I knew my camera would be an asset as I faced this challenge and with it tucked inside my jacket, I made my climb. The pole looked manageable from the ground. It is said to be 35 feet to the top and 70 feet to the bottom. This perspective is truly only appreciated from the top of the 12″x12″ perch that I found myself on.  There was purpose to this exercise. What was tiny on approach became increasingly comfortable as I had to prepare to declare something to leave behind and then leap courageously into my future. I chose to leave behind any excuse and to leap forward to a destiny that I was truly capable of determining. With a Tarzan call into the wind I took my leap into the cold southern crisp air and moved boldly towards my future.

One thing my friend reminded me to do, was to remember to take a selfie.  I am sorry to say in all my excitement I forgot.  But I have no regrets. Perhaps this can be a photo of a declaration of how I want to live my next 50 years. As I look at this photo I see the love and support of my remarkable friends. I also see that I was acknowledging them! As I live my life of passion and share my passion with others, I know I will have the support of my remarkable friends and family. I want to always acknowledge my appreciation for them and the essential part they play in my journey. I also want to remember to live a life with no more missed opportunities. Now is the time for me to fully live my life of purpose, and share my gifts, talents and joy, and accept with graciousness as others offer their support and gifts to me.DSC04667.ARW-001

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

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Volunteering as one of the water moms at marching band camp was a highlight of my summer.  We kept 70 gallons of filtered water available at all times along with ice.  The kids had frequent water breaks since camp was during the peak of summer heat in the dry high dessert. When our services weren’t needed at the water front, my friend Sue and I would take to the field with our cameras.  Sue was a determined photographer. With amazement I watched from the sidelines as she would get right in the middle of the formations to capture the kids in action. My approach was very different. I would play, experiment, especially with light. I rarely took pictures in the peak of the day, because the results usually weren’t worth my efforts. I was always on the hunt for the artistic shot. Sue would shoot no matter the light. There were times I would put my camera away, only to see her jumping once again right in the middle of the battle. She always had this ability to stay one step in front of them as they marched. Fear kept me comfortably shielded in the shadows of the trees on the sidelines. As the sun began to make its way towards the horizon, I would abandon my post and begin my hunt. I loved to play with light. I’d place myself directly in the path of the sun with the band members moving between me and it’s brilliance. This is when I would have my fun! I loved to shoot into the sun. Playing with flare, silhouettes and all of the strange effects that would appear delighted me. Digital photography allows this incredible freedom to adjust the settings and dial everything in and then enables us to see the results in real-time. When The settings allow me to capture an image that gives me the look and feel of an artistic piece or painting that is when I am most satisfied with my efforts. The first night as we both came in for the night and reviewed our photos Sue approached me and asked,
“What were you doing shooting into the sun? That goes against every rule I was ever taught about photography. I want to see what you were capturing.”

I turned my laptop towards her and began to share some of my photos and found myself chuckling,

“You mean there are rules? I just love to experiment with light and love to dial in the settings to use the flare to my advantage.”

I then explained to her that I had no formal training with photography. I was a graphic designer and artist and had recently become obsessed with photography.

She simply said,

” Oh that explains everything, you are an artist. I was a photo journalism graduate from college.”

Now it all made sense to me. How she could just jump in and had no boundaries. Her training taught her to have none. My training was based on my experience and I was focused on capturing the images that reflected my intentions; art. I observed more carefully her approach to shooting everything and began to expand my attempts even at high noon sun. I recognized there was always a story being told, always an image waiting to be captured and if I chose to wait until the perfect light, there would be many missed opportunities. I found myself crossing the sidelines more often, not yet with the vigor or confidence of Sue, but celebrating the freedom and new-found vantage point I found there.

That evening as the sun began to once again take its graceful place along the western horizon, I dashed across the field to find my place to have my fun with light, only to find that Sue was already there playing. I captured the photo of Sue breaking the rules as she took her pictures into the sun. I knew then we had learned from each other and was truly flattered a graduate photo journalist found something I did as an artist worth imitating.SONY DSC