Keeping My Eye On The Ball

DSC06334Loving baseball came natural to me. I’m sure there are strands in my DNA dedicated just to this sport. My childhood was filled countless hours at the ball field watching my four older brothers play. As a young teenager, I not only played softball, but also babysat for Charlie Hough; a pitcher for the LA Dodgers. Sitting in his living-room with his little girl on my lap while we watched him pitch in the World Series was a moment I’ll never forget. She turned to me and said,

” Daddy’s working”.

I giggled and said “Yep”. knowing she had no idea just how cool that was.

In High school I played fast pitch and was lucky enough to date one of the best baseball players in our town of Benicia. It was a good thing he loved the game, since I caught a ball in the eye a day before prom, and knew that he wouldn’t be bothered by the ball stitch marks and black eye I adorned along with my formal dress.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to watch a game.  I found myself sitting on the sidelines with my camera, aching to capture the essence of what makes this game so wonderful to me. It wasn’t until I got home and started editing my photo’s that I realized I’d forgotten an important part of my story. It was when I saw this picture, I realized that too often in life, even in my attempt at photography, I take my eye off the ball. I failed to capture an image of the very person who by sharing her passion, made it one of mine; my mother.DSC06280As I looked at this picture, I realized there were 4 generations of baseball fans at this game. My mom was seated behind home plate holding her newest ( at the time) great-grandchild; my dad by her side. Her son-in-law was coaching the team with his oldest son as assistant coach and youngest son playing. My sister was keeping score and seated next to her was my youngest daughter and my sisters first grandson who at the age of two, was already joining in when the crowd applauded a good play.DSC06309

I couldn’t help but think back to those summer years of my childhood and began to wonder how many banana cream pies my mom made; since that was the reward for any home run hit by my brothers, or any member of their team. She was the ultimate team mom, dedicated fan, cheerleader and motivational baker!  That tradition continued as she has watched her grandsons play. Now they are bringing their kids to the game.

I wished I would have realized then that the picture of the evening, was the one I never took. She was the reason I loved this game, and the next time I get to watch a game with her, it will be her image and the essence of her love of the game that I hope to capture. Her cheers still echo in my mind just as they did down the hallway when I was a little girl as she would watch the world series. Her words of encouragement and advice she’d yell to us from the stands are one’s we can still apply as we play this game of life.

“Keep your eye on the ball”.

A gentle reminder for me to focus on what really matters.

A True Legacy

Recently I had the honor of photographing my sisters colt “Starsilks Legacy”. As I watched the pictures take shape it was humbling to see how strong his resemblance was to his sire.

Starsilk was the most remarkable stallion. It wasn’t just his incredible beauty, or disposition that impressed me, but the incomparable bond I witnessed between him and his owner; my sister Lindy. In spite of his champion Russian Arabian bloodline, he was given to her as a gift. He wasn’t her first horse, but it’s fair to say he was her favorite. I watched from the sidelines as she carefully tried to find a place for the two of them in the show ring. Ultimately her love for him what to great to risk what she might lose by making it the priority. Perhaps her selfless kindness was her greatest gift to him.
There is an Arabian Proverb that says;
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.”
He was a big part of her heaven on earth and she his. I can still picture him in the back pasture and the way he’d come running when he would see her approach the fence. No one else would warrant such attention. (except her boys on occasion. I surmised they inherited her connection by birthright.)  It was always impressive to watch his big eyes follow her as she lunged him. As the pace began to quicken, you could see the fire awaken in his spirit. His posture took a commanding demeanor, his distinguished conformation and strength became clear as he was worked, but his eyes remained gentle as they rested on my sister, his trainer. He was eager to please as he’d watch for her next subtle cue. When she indicated the session was over, his shoulders would soften as he’d calmly turn and walk to meet her in the center of the ring.

Who knows what compelled my sister to breed Starsilk last summer to her wonderful mare Belle. Perhaps she could see in his eyes that he was growing tired. After all they had spent more years together than a part. She was wondering if he would be too old, but when the time came he quickly put that concern to rest and was a perfect gentleman as he wooed his mare.

It was just weeks later that his health began to turn. When I heard that Starsilk was gone, the ache I felt for my sister was as deep as any I had experienced for anyone losing a family member. Even now tears fall easily from my stubborn eyes as I remember trying to figure out how to help relieve her suffering. I knew that only time could heal this wound. Time and a precious gift that would arrive in spring; “Starsilks Legacy”.

Watching this long legged beauty nuzzle up to my sister was a bitter sweet experience. I was elated for her to have this magnificent colt especially because of who he is; but it was also a brief reminder of what was lost. He turned and leaned into her as she began to scratch his back. I found myself thinking out loud as I said,
“He is just like his daddy”.
His behavior reminded me how much Starsilk loved to lean into Lindy’s shoulder to scratch his forelock.

I thought of Starsilk and his remarkable Legacy as I read; “Ah, steeds, steeds, what steeds! Has the whirlwind a home in your manes? Is there a sensitive ear, alert as a flame, in your every fiber? Hearing the familiar song from above, all in one accord you strain your bronze chests and, hooves barely touching the ground, turn into straight lines cleaving the air, and all inspired by God it rushes on! ~Nikolai V. Gogol 1842, translated from RussianDSC06438





Passion waldo 2

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

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”. ( 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.