Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This is all the evidence I need that there is a God. That He created the earth. That He cares. That He is all powerful.

I am reminded each and every day of his glory.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Weekend

The weather report called for rain, but I anticipated sunshine.

It was a sure bet, when I knew that my little family from the desert were coming to visit.

It was the best visit yet. I was able to pick up Aurora something I haven't been able to do for months.

I finally got to sit with both the children on my grandma chair, though I didn't get one single picture of that event.

Went to the mall for a little change of scenery with Ashley and children.

Played sneaky grandma by having Max put together a puzzle near the sliding glass door so I could get some good light.

Oh, how I wish they lived so much closer.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Place I Call My Own

We all have that place. The place we go that soothes our soul, that stirs our heart, that calls to us when we need lifting or just want to celebrate life.

For me that place is the beach. Not the beach at summer time, but the beach at winter, spring and fall. When the crowds are light and there is unimpeded access from the sand to the shore. Doesn't matter if it's sunny and clear or cloudy and grey. In some ways, I like it better when there is some cloud cover. For me it adds character and interest. It becomes soulful.

It's the roar of the ocean, the salt in the air, the smell of bonfires and the possibility of a sunset. If I could be there at the golden hour, I would, watching the sun fall slowly into the horizon.

The last two weekends have been like heaven to me as I've finally been able to make it to the shore. I haven't been able to make it through to sunset, but still it's been wonderful.

It makes me want more. Looking forward to February when my cousin and I are planning to spend the weekend at the beach, writing and relaxing. But now I'm thinking that maybe I want to rent a beach house for a week and open it up to whoever wants to come visit.

Now that would be heaven on earth.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Me I See

I try not to dwell on the negative. Note: the words "try" and "negative". The truth is, I'm human. I'm not perfect and there are times when I just don't want to do this. But, it is what it is, and if that's what I focus on then I'm doomed.

So I choose to pick myself up by thinking about the positive, being thankful for the little things. Yes, I limp, but I can walk. No I can't carry my grandchildren, but I'm able to kiss and hold them. Yes, there are times when moving around hurts, but when I'm sitting I'm usually comfortable. Which often allows me to feel like things are normal. As I type this, I feel normal which means, I'm often taken aback by the person I see in mirrors, shadows or anything that reflects my image.

Hunched over, I've aged tremendously over the last three, four months and while there are times I feel every bit of that age, there are many times when I don't. Which is crazy when I think that I challenged myself of all years to do a self portrait each week. I see so many beautiful self-portraits of ordinary people and when I try to take them, I look angry, unhappy or mad which is not how I feel at all.

Towards, the end of last year, my bestie sent me a picture she took of me when we were at Siena last year. I was blown away for the me I see in her picture is the me I see when I think of myself. It's hard to imagine that this was taken just 7-months ago.

I am shy, but behind my camera, I become a bit more bold, minimal make-up, curly crazy hair. Not a spring chick, but youthful. This is the me I see. This is the me I want to be again. I may have to wait for a long, long time, but as long as I'm alive, this is the me I will believe I am.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taking the Shot

Been finally getting around to downloading (or is it uploading? I always get so confused) my photos from my DSLR and editing them. It's rather like finding hidden treasures.

This one was taken on January 2 in Old Pasadena as I waited for Vic and Sharonda who were checking out the floats from the Rose Parade. As I walked up and down Colorado Blvd, I came upon a little hamburger joint. The insecure, unsure me would have paused and moment and walked on by.

But I had made a decision already that this year would be different so the resolute, determined me stood at the door, lifted my camera and took the picture, without caring so much what others thought.

I'm glad I did. It's a reminder to me that I need to do this more often. It's the 16th of January and I'm still embracing the New Year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Evening Sky

The evening sky...It never fails to take my breath away, to draw me closer to the Lord. I wonder about all those years that went by that I missed the beauty of the moment. Even when I know that tomorrow will bring another sunset, I still can't help but want to capture the one that is before me. Even when I know that no camera will bring it the true justice that my eyes see, I still continue to try.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reliving the Moment

It was the day that I had longed for throughout the end of 2012. Just one day where I felt some semblance of normal. I had hoped and prayed, but I was beginning to believe that day would never come.

And then, when I least expected it, God answered my prayers. The day started with rain and such gray cloudy skies that I half expected that we would call off our plans to get together with the girls. Much to my delight, no one was backing out. By the time everyone arrived at the house, the clouds had dissipated and the sun was in its glory.

The girls had planned for us to go to McClain's, but Denise had a better idea...a trip to The Langham, a beautiful hotel nestled in the hills of San Marino. First we had a leisurely lunch...

Followed by a walk along the grounds of the hotel. The girls were laughing and happy, as were us moms, thankful to be spending time together.

It wasn't until sometime during the walk that I realized, I was not limping along wondering when I would have a chance to sit down again.

I cry even as I write this so thankful for that day. I wish I could say that the next day I walked unimpeded, but I can say this, every day I am getting stronger. Every day walking is a little easier.

I have hope. And for that I am thankful.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Conversations with Max

Got a call from this little cutie pie yesterday.

The moment he started babbling away, I started to chuckle.

I know he had some very important things to say because he talked almost non-stop. Unfortunately, much of which I couldn't understand.

Not that it mattered because just to hear the sound of his sweet little voice was like music to my ears.

I love being a grandma.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mi Familia

If there is one thing I wish, it's that our family wasn't separated by so many miles. Except for the years when we were out of state, my childhood was filled with family gatherings almost every weekend. It was rare that a week would go by when we didn't see at least one aunt or uncle.

Which is why it was especially wonderful to spend the first day of 2013 with both my brothers and their families.

I love being a sister. And a sister-in-law.

I love being an aunt. And the fact that we have babies in the house again.

I love the light at my brother's house.

Did I mention that I love having babies around again?

I love wrap around porches.

I love mi familia!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Self Portrait Project Week Two

Last year, I got sucked into several photo challenges. Problem was I had difficulty keeping track and keeping up. At first it was a fun way to drive others to my blog, but ultimately instead of spurring my creativity, it hampered it. 

This year, I plan to have my own 365 project and my own 52 week self portrait project. I had intended in participating in the Now You as a way to network with other photographers, but I procrastinated too long and missed the cut off date. While there is a part of me that's disappointed, there is another part of me that feels free from the need to perform. 

Last night as I relaxed in bed, I took a few self portraits, one of which I feel satisfied enough to be brave enough to post the result. When I look at it, I feel my skin looks thin and stretched out, but it is what it is. It's strange how the camera picks up a reflection of someone I don't know, don't feel. 

Yet there is no denying that over the past four months, I feel I've aged 40 years. Though I don't want to admit it, this is probably the person others see when they look at me. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Film is Not Dead

Growing up, I never had a decent camera. At an early age, I coveted them. In fifth grade, our church was giving a Brownie camera to the church member who brought the most visitors. I tried as hard as I could to get friends to come so I could win that camera. It never happened.

Finally, in high school, I got a 110 camera which was all the rage, but the quality of prints was subpar. Looking at the size of the negatives, there is no surprise. Try as I might, the photos produced just never came out anything like I had envisioned.

In my early 20's, autofocus, auto-everything 35mm cameras were reasonably priced and gave reasonable results. Drop a canister of film into the camera and snap away. Unless you were a complete idiot, you could be guaranteed at least 18 decent exposures out of a roll of 24. Still there was something missing every time I developed a roll of film.

It wasn't until I got my DSLR that I realized what it was. Learning about apertures, shutter speeds, ISOs, exposures and lights has just made me love photography even more. I forgot all about film until recently. I feel nostalgic for the graininess and the imperfections. I want to see what I can get from film now that I can apply composition and light to the click of the button.

I started with the Instamatic Fujifilm camera the kids got me for my birthday.

Then I made another commitment by investing in SX-70 Land camera.

And in a wave of nostalgia, I bought some 620 film for my dad's old Argus.

Film is not dead, but it's not cheap either.

Can't wait to see the results.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Little Family

They are worth every second of the drive to the desert.

Every cent of gas.

I am so blessed by my little family in the desert.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Embrace Life

My Uncle Mike passed away on the 24th of December. At 92-years, he lived a long life and was married to my Aunt Dora for 69-years. To the end, they remained faithful and dedicated to one another.

As we drove to the funeral, my Aunt Sally was bemoaning the fact that she was getting dangerously close to 80-years and not liking the surprise she felt every time she looked in the mirror. While I can empathize, I used my One Word on her and suggested that she embrace life, embrace 80-years.

Later at the funeral service, my cousin read a note that was found in her dad's office. In it, he wrote how blessed he was to be alive, to live his life, and in it, you could feel him embrace all the gifts he had been given. He was 85-years old at the time he wrote the note.

The note was so inspiring. How often do we complain, wasting time and energy when we can embrace the positives? At 85-years, my uncle was still living life, not worried about how he looked or if he was still relevant. He was relevant because he had a family that he loved, he was relevant because he chose to continue to go out and do things, he was relevant because he was giving. Those attributes were apparent from all that was shared by his daughters and grandchildren.

He will be missed.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And So It Begins Again

My first day back in the infusion center for a new round of chemo. What I remember about the first time...

  1. Being so frightening and hating every moment of the whole experience
  2. Feeling like I had to be strong so mom would know that I was okay
  3. Realizing that it's the nurses who really know the score and it helps to have them as a friend (after all they're the ones with the needles)
  4. Fearing the uncertainty, would I get sick, when would I lose my hair, was this going to be worth it
I went home and cried, feeling depressed for the whole week. I did not want to go back and it wasn't until I realized that I didn't have to go back if I really didn't want, that I began to feel better. I was in more control than I thought I was. I came to realize that it's one of the things I hate the most about the whole ordeal, feeling the loss of control.

This time around, I didn't have that deer in the headlights look. Even though I didn't know if I was going to have an adverse reaction, the fear was gone. Yes, I may feel fatigue, but if I'm lucky I'll be able to embrace the life I have and live it with hope, love and joy. That's what I plan to do. 

The chemo had a strange sensation as it flowed into my veins. The nurse had warned me that Gemzar could burn and that we may need to slow the drip down and pump more saline into me at the same time. At first everything was okay, but after about 10 minutes, I ended up asking her to slow the drip down. While it was never painful, it was just an unpleasant feeling. 

I'm so thankful that I had the presence of mind to ask my doctor about getting a port. It's getting harder and harder for the nurses to find a good vein and with chemo it's imperative that there is a good stick so the chemical doesn't leak out. 

I find it interesting to watch other patients at the infusion center. Some come alone like me, some have a relative or friend at their side, some are obviously tired and weak, some seem to have more energy, some have that deer in the headlight look (newbies), some obviously know the drill. Most are positive, most have hope and I see a lot of beauty in them. I often silently pray for the ones in my proximity as I know that prayer helps so much. I wish I could take more pictures there, but I don't want to intrude or make others feel uncomfortable.

Afterwards, Brie and I went to Starbucks and came home to start putting Christmas away. There is a part of me sad to see it go and another part happy to leave the clutter. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wind in my Sail

For the second day in a row, I felt energetic enough to go out with my camera in hand and enjoy the fresh air. With my camera, I am excited again.

I forgot how inspired I feel as I look for the things that are both obvious and that others miss.

I felt bold as I took pictures of the outside looking in, not worried what the ones sitting at the tables might think.

I welcomed the sun as my partner in crime. It did not disappoint.

I watched people enjoying life as I enjoyed it too.

And I found that I didn't even have to stray that far from home to experience beauty in unexpected places.

Tomorrow I begin chemo again, but that didn't stop me from enjoying today.