Fear: friend or foe?

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All my life I’ve comfortably considered fear to be a trusty companion; noble protector and in many ways a true friend. After all, fear is what kept me from taking too many risks, chances, and leaps into the unknown. Fear had a way of playing out the what if scenarios in my mind in with such cinematic clarity that my common sense had no choice but to accept them as reality. That was until recently when I realized I’ve been dooped.  Last night  I was thinking about how much time I’ve given into fear driven reality and I realized that fear is nothing more than Futile Emotion Ambushing Reality. Isn’t it interesting how we can find ourselves fearing something with such aversion and we put so much energy into that aversion, that we find ourselves not even living or experience our lives to the fullest. Then when we  actually find ourselves facing something really challenging, it’s not fear that surfaces,

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it’s faith, courage, compassion, and wisdom. All of the sudden we find ourselves doing the Rocky Balboa bounce, saying;

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Recently I attended a dear friends 5 year anniversary of being cancer free post treatment. This was a wonderful celebration, not only of her remission and healing but of her life. Later that evening she shared with me some challenges she’s facing with an aging parent. She began to say,

“I’m going out to see him for the first time since he’s fallen and I  just don’t think I’ll be able to handle this, He’s now  requiring care with his hygiene there’s just no way i’ll be able to do this. I’ve never been so scared of anything in my life.”

I looked at her in the eyes with a half a smile (because I knew how strong and incredible she was!)  and said;

” 6 years ago, before you knew you had breast cancer, would you have thought you could handle that? When you were first diagnosed, did you think you would be able to handle radiation and chemo? ”

She chuckled and replied;

“Heavens no!”

I told her that I knew her and that I knew how much she loved her father and that once she gets to be with him, she will find there isn’t anything she wouldn’t want to do to take care of him. She also needs to remember she is never alone in this process and that she is entitled to ask for help from family members, friends, fellow parishioners,  or from medical professionals. She will find a way to provide for the needs of her father. She is stronger than she thinks she is and I know it, and I know that she knows it! She is an amazing scrap booker, and I can imagine that she will find a way to document her time with her father that will be a treasure and a legacy for all posterity as well.

Ever since then I have found myself thinking about how much of my time and energy was wasted watching the “what if” scenarios of fear. I recognize now that fear was not my friend. A true friend doesn’t hold you back, but encourages you to grow and would show you the possibilities of what could be, of what you could offer, and what impact and difference you can make for the good in the world. Now I choose Joy instead of fear;  Just Open Yourself to the possibilities. So anytime I start to feel fear, I now recognize that as static to my true self, and I try to dismiss it as quickly as possible. Fear literally strips me of my power to move forward and to have influence and to fulfill my purpose. I will dismiss fear; for it is not my friend, and instead live my life with JOY!

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A True Legacy

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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

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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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