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

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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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