Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Effects

Between the effects of the heat and the aftermath of chemo, my Saturday was pretty much spent down for the count. Can I say I hate days like that? I do. I know I need to listen to my body on days like yesterday and just rest, but there is this fear that the day will lead to another like it, and then another one and, well...the thought just doesn't appeal to me.

It's not just the need for rest, but it's that I can't bring myself to do anything. Read, write, scrapbook, watch a movie. I spend most of it in a hazy, zombie state, waiting for a splash of icy-cold reality to hit me in the face and get me moving again.

I did manage to get out for about an hour so I could eat something of sustenance in hopes that it just might provide the zap of energy that I needed. The meal was delicious and it felt good to join the land of the living, but alas as soon as I got back home, I caved in, once again, to another wave of exhaustion.

On the way to dinner, I did see the loveliest vintage slug bug that I stopped to photograph.

Turns out the day was not a total loss.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

She's Beautiful

When she told me that she doesn't like to get her picture taken, I told her that I understood. Really, I do. Most people our generation, before and after don't like it after the age of 10 or 11 when you become self-conscious about who you are, how you look and how others perceive you.

I loved that she was going to allow me to take them anyway. I tried to assure her that she needn't worry. First, she is truly beautiful. Sharp angular facial structures, sea blue eyes, and an inner beauty that reflects in her face. Doesn't matter that she thinks that she has wrinkles. Yes, she does and they make her look even more beautiful.

And just to prove to her how beautiful she is, I turned my cellphone camera on the both of us. We both smiled with our girls looking on as I took the picture.

I am blessed by the beauty of our  friendship.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Print Those Pictures!

A few years ago I had a good system nailed down. A system that worked for me. It had all the qualities of KISS (keep it simple stupid). Every month, I would download the photos I edited to Costco, order prints and then put them in a photo album. Can't get much simpler than that.

Sometime in the last year and a half, I got off track and I'm kicking myself. KICKING myself.

In March I finally did something I've been wanting to do since I started taking pictures with my Hipstamatic App in September of 2011. I ordered 4 x 4 prints from their Print Lab. I am SO happy that I did. I love, love, love the results.

My plan was to order a set of them each month so as not to break the bank. I didn't follow my plan in April or May. I might not have done so in June either except that I read a really good article about prints. I wish I could remember where I read it because I want to give the author credit.

The author was recalling a time when he and his family gathered at the house of a relative that had passed away to go through the things that were left behind. This relative had boxes of family photos and they had a wonderful time going through the pictures together laughing and reminiscing over the memories the photos touched. It made him realize the importance of printing pictures. "No one is going take the time to go through a box of CDs the way they do a box of photos".

So sad because it's so true. I look at the photos I've printed, at the photos I've included in scrapbooks and there is much more of a connection then the ones on the computer screen. It's silly I know, but I want my grandchildren and hopefully, my great grandchildren to see the world I see.

I think about the talent of Vivian Meier and know with great certainty that had her pictures lived only on her computer, she might not have made the impact that she made today. I'm not saying I'm the next Vivian Meier, but I'm saying this thing I do will, without a doubt, be lost when the next big technology wave breaks through unless I take the time to print my pictures.

Printing my photos also helps cultivate creative emergence. Some of them I simply put in a plain old fashion photo album. Others, I add to a scrap book. And still others, I put into a photo journal. Touching the photos, holding them, combining them with my handwriting, placing them on paper, stirs something inside me that a digital copy just doesn't do. The digital copy is too momentary. too fleeting. It's a flash in the pants.

If you haven't printed any photos in a while, I would encourage you do to so. Print them, put them in frame, an album or even in a box.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's the simple, ordinary parts of life that bring comfort and peace of mind.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dream a Little Dream

When I was in high school and college, I secretly or maybe not so secretly wanted to be a writer. A poet to be exact. It was one of the times in my life that I actually put pen to paper on a regular basis. It probably makes sense that it was one of the bleakest stages of my life. One of the poems I felt the most proud of, at the time, went like this:

I feel my defeat
like a cold and windless day
Another dream has died
before the finish line

I had a large Hallmark photo album that was dedicated to my senseless prose, my words carefully etched into the album in fancy calligraphy. To accentuate the despair of this poem, I poetically decided to forego the flowing lines of calligraphy and instead use clippings from magazines and newspapers which were always in supply at our house. It was a true peace of art.

The poem and all the care I took in adding it to the album, pretty much summed up my life at the time which was the life of a chicken. I wasted too much of my time on things that didn't build my creativity. I wish I could go back in time and shake that girl, make her see the talent that she might have had had she believed in herself more.

I've always been dabbling. Dabbling in poetry, then in calligraphy so I would create poetry books that spoke to the heart both visually and emotionally. Dabbling in scrapbooking and paper crafting, dabbling in photography, baking. I guess one could call me Debbie the Dabbler.

And through it all, there has been this ache in my heart. An ache for something more. An ache to write that never has gone away. I fill the void with photography, but even that yearns for something more. I want to put both together and be the artist I've always wanted to be.

Last year I felt it beginning to come together. I was understanding manual mode and even more importantly, seeing the beautiful, glorious light. Most evenings, I would go out exploring with my camera shooting, learning, stretching. I was writing on a consistent basis. I felt like I was on the cusp of breaking out.

The beginning of June 2012 was filled with much joy and promise. Brie's graduation, Aurora's birth and then our trip to Italy. On our flight from Chicago to Italy, American Airlines showed the movie, The Vow. While I wouldn't give the movie accolades, there was a scene in which the husband takes his wife who had amnesia to her art studio as he desperately tries to get her to reconnect with the life she can no longer remember.

As she walked around the studio in wonder, I began to cry. How I longed to be her, giving up the corporate life for her dream. Yes, I know it was just a movie, but I know there are others who truly have walked that path. I could be one of them. But I'm not.

And now I wonder, I am at the cusp of my life, not really knowing how much longer I have. How do I follow my dream? I do it by diligently practicing creative emergence. It will come. It has to. I begin by writing down what I want to do:

  1. Photo projects. I want two or three photo projects that I work on which will allow my photography skills to grow. There are three I'm thinking of:
    1. Photograph the ones I love. I want them to see themselves as I see them. 
    2. Street photography. Build film skills and confidence in shooting by honing my street photography. I want others to see what I see in the world, the beauty in unexpected places.
    3. Black & White photography. I took a B&W photography class last year. While the class itself wasn't what I expected, it still served a purpose by getting me to shoot more in B&W. When I look back at the pictures I've taken recently, it the B&W that capture my attention and even more so, my imagination
  2. Write. These blogs are good fire starters, but really they should just be kindling, something that gets me started to something more. I should have had a four alarm blaze going by now, but it will come. It has to. These are the three ideas I have
    1. Photojournal. I have this idea to take the photo project of the ones I love and write to them why I love them, what I want for them or what they mean to me. Then I will turn this into a photo exhibit. And no one reading this better steal my idea from me or I'll put a hex upon you...okay, not really, but may God curse you...okay, not really, but just to be safe, don't do it!
    2. Story in the Picture. This is a blog I started after seeing an idea that someone else had where they collaborated with another photographer who took street shots and the other person would pen a story about what was going on in the picture. It reminded me of when we were in college and a friend and I would make up stories about strangers, such as the time we were waited upon by a pregnant woman who appeared to be at week 50. I wanted to try and copy her idea, but instead I'm telling real stories about what is going on in or around the picture. Not as exciting, but the words flow much easier and I do not want a curse or hex upon me.
    3. I would tell you, but I'm not ready. Not that anyone really reads this blog anyway, but just by the off-chance that someone does, I'm just not ready to put my last idea out there.
  3. Arts & Craft. I still long to put things together, making beautiful things to surround me and, yes, leave behind for those i love.
    1. Photojournal. This is combining my printed Hipstamatic prints with thoughts about the photos, such as why I love the picture, how I felt when I took the picture, why I took the picture, you get the picture. 
    2. Mini-scrapbooks. I think my days of big scrapbook projects are over, but I have at least a dozen blank mini-photo albums that need some attention.

I will get there. If I work on it a little (or a lot) every day. It will come. It has to.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Making Do

The afternoon light at my son's house is so lovely, I could just eat it up. Or better said, my camera can just eat it up.

I seriously wanted to turn the blinds open a little wider and put the whole family on the couch so I could snap away.

But the littlest one was sleeping by this time and I didn't want them to kick me out.

So I had to make do.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Pity Party,

It's time to wrap things up and close it down. Next time, I'll find better things to do than hang around at your place.

Dear Angel's,

Let's keep the winning ways going. If you're going to turn your season around, it's now or never.

Dear Matthew,

I can't believe how close to 30 you're getting. You might not feel old, but it makes me feel that way. Promise me that you will continue to be the daddy I know you could be. Promise me that you'll always be the spiritual leader of your family. You're a good man and in many ways I am proud of you, but you have so much more potential. It's time to step it up a notch.

Dear Brie,

While you're out on your adventure....make.good.choices.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cultivating Creative Emergence

It was a wonderful message at church a few Sunday's ago. A different message, but a wonderful one all the same. It was the message I needed to hear delivered at the moment I needed to hear it, delivered by Don Perini who used to be the High School Pastor and who is now a professor at Cornerstone College. His lesson was on Creative Emergence.

I'm not sure what brought on the message from Don, but I'm glad he spoke. I'm glad I was there to hear it. Most of what he shared has been on my mind for years, but it's been speaking deeply to my heart, too, for the last year. It's the need to write, to photograph, not in a haphazard way, but in a way that says who I am and what my purpose is.

Internally I've struggled with the whole creativity thing. A part of me feeling that I can be creative without doing it for a living and another part of me that wants to do nothing all day long but my craft. Realistically, I need my job. Thankfully, I like my job, sometimes even love it. There is something to be said for doing what you love, just for the plain and simple joy of it. In other words, just because art, music, dance, or whatever creative outlet you have isn't your day job, that doesn't mean it still doesn't play an important part of your life.

I've long believed that our creative nature comes from God. We are made in his image. Not that we look like him, but he made us with his characteristics. Since God is the first and greatest creator and all our gifts come from him, then it stands to reason that creativity resides in all of us. Something Don said made total and perfect sense, we create not to earn a living, but to glorify God. David is a wonderful example of this. He was a King, a soldier, a ruler and still, he practiced creative emergence with his Psalms and his heart.

That's what I want. I may never write the best selling novel or sell my photos to the masses, but I don't really need to. I just need to do it for my own joy and for his glory. The point is, I just need to do it. The point is, if you're reading this and it speaks to your heart, too, then you just need to do it, too.

Don't let the in consequential things stop you. If you think you don't have time, consider that you do. What is that speaks to your heart? Now, why aren't you spending a little time each day or each week doing it? What is it that you are spending time on? Is everything else really a priority? If you are like me, you may be watching too much TV, or spending too much time online, whatever it may be, you likely have at least 30-minutes a day to do that thing that speaks to your heart.

What are you waiting for? It's time to get to it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fridays Letters

Dear Zach,

I stumbled upon your story from a blog I read every once in a while. Normally, I'm not a big fan of YouTube or any online videos so my first instinct was to ignore Joy's advice that her readers watch it. The fact that I ignored my instinct even after I saw that the video was over 20 minutes long tells me it must have been a God thing. Later that night, I had to know what was happening in your life now. That's when I learned that you went home this May. I understand why God would want to bring a spirit like you home so early, but I wish he would have left you here longer. We need more souls like you. We really do. I pray for your mama and your family, that they would find peace in the fact that you continue, even now, to touch lives of others.

Dear Brienne,

I can't tell you how much it meant to me that you brought me lunch yesterday while I was at infusion center. Even though I don't mind going alone for my infusion, it felt good to have you there, to feel loved and to have the nurses see that I have others in my life that love me, too. Thank you, too, for staying while I ate. Your company was much, much better than the food.

Dear "Neighbor",

I'm so happy that you called over to me from your infusion chair, to say hello and share with me that it was your last day of your last cycle. I pray that God has healed you completely and that the cancer will never, ever return, that you never have to have another drop of chemo enter your blood stream again.

Dear Matt and Ashley,

It's so exciting that you have a new car! I continue to be amazed at how God has been so faithful to you, providing for your every need. There are a few things I hope you do...first, lay hands upon your new car and pray for the protection of God's angels to watch over you as you drive it. That you would be safe from harm and not harm others with the vehicle. I will be doing that when I see you next. Also, continue to be faithful to God and he will continue to be faithful to you.

Dear Lord,

I don't why I am so teary-eyed lately and why my sleep pattern has been so wacky. It's almost as though you are trying to tell me something. Please don't let it be signs that I'm running out of time. I'm not ready and I don't think my children are either.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Last Day, Last Cycle

They walked out of the center, smiles bursting from their faces, calling goodbye to everyone they passed. I felt blessed to be a witness to the scene. I was so happy for her, I could cry. I won't lie, I wish it were me. I would have been walking on clouds, too.

I thought back to the first time I saw them. We crossed paths three times that day. First in the waiting room, then in the examination room and finally in the infusion center. They had the appointment before me. As a result, I sat in my room much longer than normal, Dr. Liang coming in a rush apologizing for being so late. A first consult, he explained, the couple had a lot of questions.

I remembered my first consult. Mom, dad, and Barbara came with me.  We asked a lot of questions. After a while, Dr. Yee kept looking anxiously at his watch and tried graciously to wrap it up. That's when we learned that the allotted time for the doctor visit was a mere twenty minutes. Not enough for a first time visit when fear is just as bad as the cancer itself and the only thing you want is answers to your questions, all 10,000 of them.

Later, in the infusion center, the couple was brought to the chair next to me. Even if I hadn't seen them in the examination room ahead of me, I would have suspected from the way they walked to the chair that they were first-timers. It's always the tentative, unsure walk and the look on the faces that gives it away. As she sat in the chair, I was touched by his attentiveness to her. It was obvious he took his job watching over her very seriously.

During the accessing of one's port or other procedures, the nurses draw the curtains closed as part of their process. When the procedure is finished, they always ask if you want curtains open or closed. Most patients opt for open. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing you are not alone, perhaps its the community we feel with each other, whatever the reason, most opt to have the curtain open. They opted to have it closed.

That was six months ago. I would see them every now and then and we would smile in encouragement at one another as most of us always do, their curtains no longer kept drawn throughout the entire infusion. He still as attentive, she, brave and courageous, even though the chemo while doing its job was wiping her out.

Today, I was seating at infusion chair 18. It's in a cozy little nook in the center, just one chair to the left, no one to the right of me. Within moments, Tammy was there getting me prepped for my meds. Shortly thereafter, they were being shown to seat 19. We smiled at each other, saying "hello" as they settled in.

The gentleman, no longer a novice, wandered around as they waited for Tammy to tend to his wife, saying hello to the nurses, asking questions. His energy level was high. As I had not sat close to them since the first time, I wasn't aware that he was so gregarious. She, too, was all smiles. He kept talking excitedly to the nurse, asking questions about other nurses, such as last names, writing them down on a piece of paper as she recited them off.

He ran off in search of someone, when his wife called out to me, "Hi Neighbor". I smiled over at her, "hi neighbor!" And for the first time, we began to talk. That's when I learned, she was on her last day of her last cycle. I remember that December day, three years ago, when I sat there, both smiling and crying that it was finally over. My smile grew. We talked a bit more and then Brie came bringing my lunch and I smiled even more.

Her husband came back and they told me that they were writing Kaiser to let them know how wonderful the nurses, angels they called them, were throughout this whole time. Yes, absolutely, without a doubt, they make a big difference in the place. Professional, but kind, understanding, gentle and caring.

As I was finishing my meal, her infusion was finished. Her time, for now, hopefully forever, at the infusion center had come to an end. They walked out together, stronger, more seemingly in love. It was a beautiful thing to be a witness too. I shall never forget.

As they passed by me, the woman and I smiled at one other. "I wish you luck", she said to me. "I wish you well", I replied back. I hope I never see her in the infusion center again.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Street Saturday

My plan this weekend was to take advantage of the mildly warm June weather and go "street shooting". I wanted to be adventurous. Okay, semi-adventurous because I was going to go somewhere I felt familiar with. I was willing and planning to go by myself, but when my bestie offered to go with me, I took her up on her offer.

The plan was to start at Union Station. From there we would either go to the Arts District or to Farmers Market outside the Grove.

To make it to both places, we had to get to Union Station a little before the perfect golden hour. Still, the light inside the main side of the station, is almost always solid. And there seems to always be something interesting to shoot.

After nearly an hour, roaming the station looking for photo opportunities, we decided to go to the Farmer's Market at the Grove. Getting there was quite the adventure. Stupid new iPhone Map App. I'm going to stop complaining and download the Google Map App. That one never failed me.

We eventually made it to our destination. Liz had never been to the Farmer's Market before so we were like two kids in a candy factory.

There were so many wonderful places to eat. It was hard to settle on one.

Afterwards, it was hard not to treat ourselves to something sweet...we did do a fair amount of walking after all.

So much eye candy. It was hard to be deliberate about the picture taking.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Self,

So you weren't perfect this week. You can do several things about it. Chalk it up to a bad week, it's going to happen every now and then. Beat yourself up over it, after all, you ARE perfect, aren't you? Or seek forgiveness, from God, from yourself, from others and learn to do better next time. Totally up to you.

Dear Liz,

Thank you for bringing your camera and suggesting we head to the beach on Sunday. It made a good weekend even better. Good company, yummy food and great conversation. God has blessed me with a wonderful friend.

Dear Baby Girl,

Happy birthday baby girl. Has it already been a whole year since we raced to the desert to see you for the very first time? What a wonderful blessing you have been to the family. I love your inquisitive beautiful face and your sweet, sweet nature. Everything about you makes me smile. I know that you will be a woman of God. I can see it already. I look forward to what the next year brings.

Dear Old Orange,

I love your old brick buildings, the way I feel I've step back in time the minute I cross the last set of railroad tracks on Chapman, the roundabout that brings all the streets together, and the wonderful mixture of stores and delicious eateries. I just wish you were closer to me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blessed Beyond Measure

Last year on this day, she graduated from high school. To celebrate it with her was an answer to many, many prayers. And thanks to the generosity of my pregnant daugher-in-law, so was having her brother and nephew there. It was the icing on the cake.

It was hard to fathom that one job was done. There would be no more parent teacher conferences, no more back to school nights, no more open houses, no more writing excuses for absences. It made me both happy and sad.

I've been blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Old Towne Orange

Old Towne Orange is a taste of Americana back in a time when things were simpler and a sense of community prevailed. 

It's filled with beautiful brick buildings that still have old advertisements on the outside.

It has fun little eateries that have a personality all of their own.

It has cafes with outdoor seating that serve coffee in real mugs so you can leisurely watch the world go by.

It has a roundabout in the center of town that not only serves to send the flow of traffic from one side of town to another, but as a place to gather and enjoy family and friends.

It's one of my favorite places to go to get away from it all.