On challenges…

and friendships.

dsc_3519-editYou’re going to find out who your friends are. Anything that happens in your life is one of those challenges. It may not be at the level of celebrity, but everybody’s going to travel that road.

Stanley A. McChrystal

There’s nothing quite like a divorce to give you clarity on the people in your life. I suppose the very nature of it forces choices upon people and that’s been the interesting part for me. And yes, I think it’s important to talk about this stuff, really important.

We’ve had some fascinating conversations lately delving into stories of friends old and new, and finding that while some have a “best by” date, others are the true definition of a friend. The experiences of the past two years have taught me things that I will use going forward and hopefully as a result, I will be a better and more supportive friend to those still in my life.  Interested in becoming a better friend?? Read on for three key points that could make a difference…

Top five most stressful life events include death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and job loss. Any one these things can be extremely stressful, combine them and that’s really cause for alarm.

The narrative of the event can change and become something that no longer even     remotely resembles the truth.

We’ve both experienced this one where the reality gets white-washed with a fresh coat of paint and becomes the new, less incriminating version of what happened. Got a question about something? If you value the friendship at all ask, don’t assume that what you’ve heard is the truth.

Don’t know what to say?

How about a message or voicemail saying “Hi, I thought about you today, how are you?” We don’t always want to talk about “it” either, sometimes it’s nice to get out of our own heads and hear about what’s going on in your life. Moving forward from a traumatic event is an important part of healing.

Be aware that just because a person looks okay it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are okay.

Uprooting your entire life is tough stuff and the emotions go deep, some of us just hide it better. I’m grateful for my support team of friends who not only believed in me but looked after both my physical and mental health needs.

The image above was taken on New Year’s Day, one of the days that I make a tradition of photographing, often by myself in years past. For me it had all the right elements…bitter cold, blowing snow, and beautiful wintry colors. The symbolism of the empty road obscured in the foreground and vanishing into the distance was not lost on me.

Where some might see a bleak landscape I saw a clean slate, a road less travelled, and I took it, and as luck would have it I was with a friend.

He wasn’t a good dog…

he was a great dog!

Daunt-EditThere is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.

Simon Sinek

I’ve been listening to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” and it is one powerful message so it comes as no surprise that this quote should pop into my head as I’m writing this.

This was a beautiful story and being the dog lover that I am, I never tire of hearing “Daunt” stories.

He had an exceedingly hard start to his life having been in the possession of a hoarder for the first four years of his life. A hoarder who was forced to surrender countless dogs kept in appalling conditions. Hoarding is a medical condition that manifests itself in many ways but the common thread is acquiring and refusing to part with “things”.

Having been involved in the clean-up of a home belonging to a hoarder, this story breaks my heart because we’re not just talking about stacks of paper and junk, we’re talking about living, breathing, animals kept in neglectful, abusive situations.

Unlike some stories though, this one did have a fairytale ending when one man took the time to visit the shelter on several occasions and gain the trust of this particularly challenging dog. One who did not like men, but bonded hard and fast with this man, surprising even the animal behaviorist on site to assist in the transitions.

Fast forward a decade or so and we find that sometimes our animal relationships are more enduring and balanced than those we share with other humans and sacrifices are made that are incredibly difficult.

They did not get to spend the last year and a half together, the decision being made that Daunt was better off finishing his life in the home that he’d known best. A home where he would still be cared for. A safe decision for a dog who’d endured so much trauma in the early years.

This photo was shared with me on their last visit together, knowing at the time that it would likely be the last visit.

I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t share my passion for dogs and even writing this brings tears to my eyes as I think of the strength it took for him to say good-bye to his dog for the last time.

Rest in peace, Daunt, rest in peace.

This holiday season…

enjoy every moment.

DSC_3355-EditThe past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.

Stephen Hawking

This image brings to a close over 12,000 hits, four years of weekly blog posts, and a whole lot of changes.

I remember writing my first post and agonizing over the image choice and the words to accompany it. Today I realize that choices are just like pathways that we encounter on a daily basis and the more we get in touch with ourselves the easier it becomes to decide which one to take.

Today’s image was taken Christmas morning, just at the point when the sun was able to burn through the layer of fog shrouding the hoar frost covered landscape. It was reminiscent of one of my best selling images, Chair 6, captured from a chairlift on an equally foggy Christmas morning several years ago.

It’s those unique moments when a landscape becomes more than its physical self and is unlikely to ever look exactly that same way again.

For me that might have been the best gift of the day shared with a man who also shares my love for our natural world.

Photographing atmospherics is a passion of mine. It transforms a landscape and creates an image that speaks to infinite possibilities; a perfect image to accompany the approach of the New Year.

Stephen Hawking also encouraged us to be curious and to make sense of what we see, and to wonder about what makes the universe exist.

I am continually reminded to take each day as it comes, to make it count, and most of all, to never take it for granted.

Thank you to all who have been with me from the beginning and to those who have joined me along the journey.

May your New Year be filled with joy and a spectrum full of possibilities!

Winter Solstice…

a perfect time to reflect on the year.

DSC_2745-Edit-2-3Let the dawns

come late,

let the sunsets

arrive early,

let the evenings

extend themselves

while I lean into

the abyss of my being

Joyce Rupp Winter’s Cloak

I love the starkness of a winter landscape when the trees are laid bare.

I love the extra time in the mornings to look at the night sky.

I love the feeling of solitude that comes with ours being the only tracks on a blanket of fresh snow.

For those celebrating the Winter Solstice, I hope your day is filled with peace, love, and joy.

Retrospective…

on the year.

DSC_1687-EditOn the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

John Keats

I think that it’s a sign of growth when we can look at what we do and how we do it and evaluate if that still works for us. For me December is the perfect time to do that and gear up for the coming year.

For example, I am a believer that how you keep your work space is a clear indicator of your mental health. I used to feel that a work space that was cluttered and filled with ongoing, unfinished work was a sign of great creativity. Looking back at that now I realize that you can’t be working to your full potential in a messy environment and taking it one step further, if you dig deep, I think you’ll find that it is an indicator of poor mental health and unhappiness.

I look at the images that I love to create and by far the cleanest, simplest imagery is what fuels my passion the most so why would I ever think that cluttered would work for me?

I’ve spent this year simplifying my life, my gear, my studio and in the process of doing so find myself finishing off the year feeling inspired and focused.

It’s that time of year…plan some goals, clean up your work space, and start the New Year off with a clear direction and a plan of how to get there from here.

Reading a little poetry won’t hurt either, I highly recommend When I Have Fears by John Keats.

In need of therapy…

take a walk in nature.

DSC_2679-Edit-EditSometimes you stumble across a few chords that put you in a reflective place.

David Bowie

I’m reminded on a continual basis that “time” is not a given and that every moment is precious.

I’m reminded that “home” will never look the same for me as it once did.

I’m reminded that the memories of my “past” will be forever changed.

I’m reminded that all of that is okay.

And all this from a river view of geese in the early morning.

Cheap therapy.

Outside…

of the frame.

DSC_2513Every action of your life touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin

A hike in the mountains with me isn’t for the faint of heart because rarely is reaching the summit important, and the person that can come with me and take pleasure as well in the findings along the way is a true gem.

The woods are full of stories. Stories of rebirth, life and death struggles, hope and renewal. We found these scars encircling this tree scraping higher and higher. All around were other trees burned, some to charcoal, others merely kissed by flames.

Black bear we figured. We like to think he survived the fire of 2017 but can only imagine how many animals did not.

I had a recent review of a group of five photographs done by an industry professional whose words struck a chord with me. He referenced a serenity and poetic quality in my work and spoke of how most offered elements that existed outside of the frame.

I’m still thinking about those words and how to dig deeper, not just when I have my camera in hand but every day for it’s not just in the image where elements exist outside of the frame. 

Something to think about as this year draws to a close…