Category : Nature

As I sit here alone on this mid-January morning, listening to the mighty wind rip through the Midwest and seeing that it’s -4 degrees outside, I’m not very present. I’m already dreaming of this coming summer, planning a trip to Barcelona and Paris. I’m also reminiscing about warmer days with dear friends, surrounded by sisterhood and inspiration. The bitter wind that blows across this prairie feels so harsh, even as I make the short walk from work to my car, bundled up in goose-down with hat and mittens. I wonder how the Pioneers made it. My escape is looking back and planning ahead. To get out of this moment. Clearly, I’m not practicing off the mat very well. So be it. For today, anyway.

Deb_Secure_rsCome escape with me over to Mortal Muses where I’m sharing some more reminiscing photos today.


Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 2

Our splinter group of Shutter Sisters is continuing our new tradition of sharing 10 photos on the 10th of each month. We started with sharing 10 photos from our time together in Tofino, then followed that up with 10 festive photos enjoying the holiday season. This month, with the new year upon us, we decided to focus on “restart” as a theme.

As I’ve said before here, I do love a fresh start, a clean slate, a new page on the calendar. So, how have I been I been restarting this year? First, the holiday decorations were carefully put away…

600-Color_Vintage-Ornaments_rsThen new words, new sources of daily inspiration have been sought. Although secure is my word for 2014, “ease” was in the running for quite some time. Ease is another one of my core desired feelings and I am inviting it mightily into my year and my daily life. Interestingly, I am seeing how secure embodies and allows for ease. 

Ease_rsMy ritual of morning pages and journaling continues to sustain me and provides a secure foundation from which to enter the world each day…

Trust-Process_rsAs does recommitting to my self-care and getting back on the mat. I took a candlelight yoga class for the first time this week and it was divine…

Candlelight-Yoga_rsAnd last, it wouldn’t be winter in the Midwest without a little snow, restarting my appreciation of the seasons and their secure rhythms…

Snowing_rsThat’s what my “restart” to 2014 looks like so far. You might be saying, “What?! Wait! There’s only 5 photos here! Where are the other 5?” My answer — they haven’t unfolded yet. And ordinarily, I would have frantically taken 5 more photos to make sure I had 10 to share — after all, this IS a 10 on 10 post! But, I’m restarting. I’m allowing ease into my life. I’m feeling secure in my work and who I am. And so, I’m staying loose, and letting 5 be okay this time around.

To keep the blog-hop going, click on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 on 10 to restart this new year!


Friday, January 10th, 2014 15

As I’m letting the fullness of my one little word settle into my heart and soul, I find myself attuning my awareness for secure reminders. Getting back on the mat, rededicating myself to the practice of yoga, standing in warrior asanas allows me to embody secure. Morning pages, a journaling ritual, having always helped ground me, provide a secure base for me to enter into each day. These are the obvious ones, my go-to reminders. But I’m trying to broaden my attention, widen my perspective, and find the essence of secure in places I haven’t looked before.

I see the geese, their trust in the pattern of the seasons, the signs in the wind, take refuge on a frozen pond, secure that the ice won’t crack through. I notice the words of sage poets, wise women and men, describing their knowledge of life line by line, and I take solace in their telling me I don’t have to “do” anything as I am secure, right now.

PX70_Geese_rsWild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

How are you settling into your one word for 2014?


Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 11

Today, I’m remembering. Six years ago on this very day, I was having surgery. As I lie in the hospital two days after our first Christmas in a new home, in a new part of the country, cancer was being removed from my body. This was my wake-up call. On this day, and the days and months that followed, the true realization of “life is short” hit me. I could no longer avoid the question: “what are you waiting for?” That is when the path for my journey of becoming a photographer really opened up.

Stairs-into-Woods_rsI’m over at Mortal Muses today remembering this dawning and sponsoring a giveaway. I hope you click HERE to check it out.

Much love and health to you all. xoxo


Friday, December 27th, 2013 6

With 2014 quickly upon us, I’m dreaming. I’m reflecting back on 2013 and looking toward the year ahead. I’m mulling over my one little word to guide me during these next 365 days. And as I do, I’m holding Mary Oliver’s wisdom close, hoping to be like the crows with each new ethereal dawn in the coming year.

Spectra_Softtone_Double-Reflection

Landscape by Mary Oliver

Isn’t it plain the sheets of moss, except that
they have no tongues, could lecture
all day if they wanted about

spiritual patience? Isn’t it clear
the black oaks along the path are standing
as though they were the most fragile of flowers?

Every morning I walk like this around
the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart
ever close, I am as good as dead.

Every morning, so far, I’m alive. And now
the crows break off from the rest of the darkness
and burst up into the sky—as though

all night they had thought of what they would like
their lives to be, and imagined
their strong, thick wings.


Monday, December 23rd, 2013 0

Last month on the 10th, I shared 10 photos on sisterhood taken during my retreat with a group of fabulous photographer friends. That post marked my first of our group’s launch into 10 on 10. On the 10th of each month, the group of us are doing a blog-hop, sharing 10 photos on a theme or taken on one day or event. This month’s 10 on 10 has us working on the theme of “festive.” With Tony and I headed to the tree farm, selecting our holiday tree, and trimming it this past weekend, I thought of no better opportunity than to shoot our weekend shenanigans for my 10 on 10.

It was freezing, quite literally, this past weekend with temperatures hovering around 1 degree Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius). While I had hoped to take some Polaroid photos during our adventure to the tree farm, I knew there was no way that was going to happen as instant film does NOT like the cold. So I picked up my long-neglected digital camera, and off we went. (As always, you can click on each photo to see them larger!)

Yonkey Pine_rsYonkey Pine Tree Farm is a sweet, family-run operation in a small Nebraska town a bit south of us. On the years when we aren’t traveling back “home” to the East Coast, Yonkey Pine is where we get our tree, selecting it from the rows and rows of scotches and firs, having it cut fresh right before our eyes.

Tree-Sign_rs

Tree Farm_rsTo our dismay, the farm had been pretty well picked over. With Thanksgiving falling much later in the calendar this year, and with beautifully mild temperatures two weekends ago, it seemed like all of Lincoln (if not all of Nebraska!) had already beaten us to tree hunting. In looking over the few trees that remained amidst all of the stumps, we chose a lovely fir. And, a fresh wreath for our front door.

Wreath_rsTony and I got the wreath hung and the tree in its stand just in time to head to my holiday party with students and faculty. The trimming would have to wait until the next day.

Fire_rsWe awoke to snow coming down, made coffee, and got a fire going. After some reading of the Sunday New York Times, we got down to business.

Vintage Ornaments_rsParker, being of no help, settled in next to (aka, practically IN) the fire, his favorite winter spot in the house.

Parker-Fire_rsTony strung the lights, and then we sorted through our collection of ornaments. Coming across Ripken’s dog bone ornament from his first Christmas with us brought a pang to my heart. We still miss him every day.

Ripken Ornament_rsAfter the tree was trimmed, it was time to get working on writing the holiday cards.

Holiday-Cards_rsAhhh, a festive weekend indeed.

Tree-Blur_rsTo keep the festivities going, blog-hop on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her festive 10 on 10!


Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 14

Friends, I’ve had a roller coaster of life over the past few days. I have dwelled at the bottom, in the throes of despair, anguish, and worry. I have towed the mid-level line with frequent reminders to stay calm, to not freak out, to wait until the picture had fully developed as it were. And, I have risen from the depths to experience relief, to exhale, to return to a sense of ease. And in the midst of these turbulent emotions, I was reminded of gratitude. Yes, I admit to feeling the most gratitude when I emerged at the end of the ride on said roller coaster. But moreover, I was awakened to the truer sense of gratitude — to the idea of being alive to all that we have, both the good and the bad, each and every day.

Spectra_Softtone_Self-Tofino_rs“GRATITUDE is not a passive response to something given to us, gratitude is being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life. Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is privilege, that we are part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.”
–by David Whyte, published on his Facebook page, November 28, 2013

I can’t say it better than that. xoxo


Thursday, December 5th, 2013 8

Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

PX70_Opa_WindowBerries1_rsThank you, friends. Thank you for coming to my corner of the world. Thank you for sharing in my creative journey. Thank you for reading my words. Thank you for being interested in my photography. Thank you for cheering me on. Thank you for your kindness and generosity of spirit. Thank you for really seeing me. Thank you. I am so grateful for you, this community, here at Life Refocused. xoxo


Thursday, November 28th, 2013 0

I’ve written before about my longing for connection, for kindred spirits, for sisterhood. I’ve shared with you my loneliness of living in an unfamiliar place, of having a small circle of local friends. These longings and loneliness have propelled me to go outside of my comfort zone and outside of my own town. These feelings have given me the push I needed to create communities of connection, to seek out kindreds and sisters. This began by attending retreats and gatherings, and doing so helped me begin to meet “my people.” From there, smaller groups of sisterhood were born.

One of these groups evolved from attending two photography retreats hosted by Shutter Sisters. While attending the second retreat with about 80 women last October, a small circle of us found ourselves at dinner enjoying margaritas, raucous laughter, and each other. As we ate and drank and carried on together, we birthed the idea of splintering off and creating a smaller creative community for ourselves. Within the evening, the Canadians in the bunch decided we would descend on British Columbia for our inaugural gathering. Over the past year, we stayed connected, made plans, rented a house, and bought plane tickets. And a few weeks ago, our idea manifested itself.

Many dreams and projects were shared during our time with one another. One of those ideas was that the group of us would dive into the 10 on 10 project, sharing 10 images shot on one day or in one experience on the 10th of the month. As our first post for 10 on 10, we decided we would each share photos from our time together in BC. Without further ado, here are my 10 on 10 from British Columbia and this magical retreat that was born of kindred spirits coming together for sisterhood, photography, and self-care. (BTW, you can click on each photo to view them larger!)

Paparazzi_rsIt didn’t take long for this group of photographers to whip out our cameras and start shooting. I think we looked like a group of paparazzi the entire time we were together. After taking the ferry from Vancouver to make our way to Tofino, we stopped at Cathedral Grove, an old growth forest with trees older than 800 years. The massive trees were amazing and the light among these old beauties was nothing short of magical.

Through-Trees_rs

Web-Flare_rsAfter our three hour drive, we arrived in Tofino, our home away from home for the next few days.

Tofino-Sign_rsAnd this was the scene RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR.

Flops-Ocean_rsOn our second day, we ventured to some natural hot springs, a journey requiring another boat ride to get there. Being out on the open ocean, we were surrounded with beauty in every direction. The mountains, the ocean, the fog…breathtaking.

Out Boat Window_rs

Cherish_rsThe small cove that houses the hot springs gave us more opportunities to capture the natural beauty that is British Columbia. I had considered not bringing any cameras with me that day as rain was in the forecast, but fortunately I brought one. I would have been so saddened to have missed this reflection shot.

Tara-Reflection_rsAlthough we had an epic storm come through, and I do mean EPIC, we were blessed with many moments of sun and gorgeous weather. And this crew of women did not disappoint with the COLOR that they packed to wear.

Boots_rsAmidst the shooting, the relaxing in the hot springs, and the indulging in yummy food and deep rest, we deepened our friendships with one another. We shared our work, told each other our secret (and not-so-secret) creative dreams, and opened up about our struggles. Indeed, a new sisterhood was born in British Columbia.

CoralBabes_rsAlthough we’ve been home for only a few short weeks, I’m already missing these sisters. I’m grateful for our ongoing connection and I’m so excited about the new adventures we have in the works. Thank you Cherish, Corinna, Debra, Lindsey, Tamar, and Tara — stay loose. xoxo

All of my photos in this post were shot on 35mm film with my Canon AE-1 using either Fuji 160 or Portra 400 film. The film was processed and scanned by Indie Film Lab. I have Polaroid photos to share with you from the trip and a few more 35mm pics, too. In the meantime, head on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 (or maybe more) on 10 of our BC adventures!


Sunday, November 10th, 2013 14

How do the days keep slipping through my fingers? Where do 24 hours “go” in each revolution of this beautiful earth? As I sit here on this chilly, mid-October day, I’m thinking about summer and the third Tribe retreat. I’m trying to savor the time spent back in July with such kindred spirits on the coast of Oregon, my happy place.

PX680_old_CannonBeach_rs

I’m reminiscing about dinner together on the beach, chats on the turquoise couch, walks into town filled with laughter.

PX70_CP_Manzanita-Boat_rs

I’m reflecting on celebrating dreams fulfilled and mourning one of our sisters not being able to be with us this year. I’m holding on to the ease and security that was born within me that week, those core desired feelings that I struggle some days to maintain.

PX680_old_Melissa_rs

I’m missing my sisters, their friendship, our connection. I’m reminding myself of how they buoy me when life feels stormy and difficult.

PX70_CP_Buoys_rs

I’m remembering to keep my heart open, to choose love.

PX70_CP_Choose-Love_rs

I’m feeling grateful for the space this group has created with one another, and for all that these relationships bring to my life. I’m aware of the evolution of our friendships, as well as the changes that occur within each of us and in our respective lives. I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us all as individuals and as a group.

PX70_CP_Cannon-Beach-Sunsent_rs

I’m already counting the days until we’re all — all — together again.

I’m so delighted to share that our group has a collective written piece and photographs in the Autumn issue of Mingle. I hope you check it out.


Monday, October 14th, 2013 13