Family, Gratitude, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Photography

The House That Built Me

I was staring out the dusty screen door of our canary-yellow, cookie-cutter rambler when I first realized he had superpowers. ....Watching him, I learned there must be something deeply satisfying about rowing a boat you made with your own hands.  In so doing, you earned the pleasure of it all. And somehow, building that boat built him.   

Change, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

I’ll see it when I believe it.

Beliefs are an amazing thing.  Though intangible, they have a weight and power all their own.  They can propel us to great heights or they can keep us chained to the ground.  What is a belief after all- it is just a thought you have over and over until you take it to be the incontrovertible truth.  Maybe it starts with evidence. I believe in gravity, for example. That belief is reinforced as I stick to the ground with every step.  Maybe it starts with intuition or faith... 

Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Photography

Growing Pains (There’s a reason why they’re not called Growing Joys.)

I was listening to a series of lectures by Pema Chödrön the other day. She is a Buddhist nun and teacher who I find very insightful and inspirational.  In her lecture, she said something to the effect that we should never underestimate the human drive to avoid discomfort.  I was taken aback by the sheer… Continue reading Growing Pains (There’s a reason why they’re not called Growing Joys.)

Change, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Photography, Relationships, Teaching

Empathy Gap – Don’t Fall In

As soon as I shut the door, I knew. I heard the click of the lock and my stomach sank to my feet. I collapsed forward. My forehead hit the top of the window giving me an unobstructed view of my purse and both sets of my car keys sitting prominently on the passenger seat mocking me. Don’t ask why I had both sets of car keys, I have no idea. With a symphony of colorful words going through my mind, I raced around the Jeep trying each door even though I knew they too would be locked. I called my husband. I’m not sure what kind of magic I thought he could do from 15 miles away. His first question, “Where’s your spare?” had me banging my head on the glass.

Children, Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Motherhood, Parenting, Photography

Heading for the Door

She was three and a half when I spied her heading for the front door out of the corner of my eye.  She shuffled down the hall in a pair of my black heels intently watching her feet.  On one side, her tiny fingers were outstretched to the wall for balance. On the other, she had slung her diaper bag over her shoulder. It skipped and bounced across the carpet with each awkward step.  I was curious, so I let her go. 

Gratitude, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Photography, Relationships, Winemaking

Of Grapes and Friendship

Last weekend, my best friend and I recruited a few enthusiastic volunteers (our husbands and one of our dear friends) and we pressed 400 pounds of grape must.  I have been making wine from kits for about 20 years with pretty solid success.  In addition to getting about 30 bottles of delicious vino for my troubles, I have always marveled in the process.\...

Change, Children, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Motherhood, Parenting, Photography

Adventure Days!

For the last couple of weekends, I have been shooting my daughter’s senior portraits.  It was so special to me that I was able to do this for her- that she wanted me to do this for her. Though I have shot a number of senior portraits and I always feel honored to do it, this one had a weight to it. I was at once thrilled and saddened at the mere thought of it...

Girl and boxer pups sleeping on a sofa
Change, Children, Dogs, Family, Grief, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Parenting, Photography

A Girl’s Best Friend

I remember when we picked him up. After months of looking, we found him at a breeder in Omak.  My husband has a knack for tracking down the best pups.  Dog-less for a year or more, we finally decided it was time for our daughter to have her own dog.  After much negotiations on breed, color and sex, we settled on a brindle Boxer of either gender....

Icicle River Leavenworth Washington
Change, Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography, Relationships

Making Memories Under the Big Sky

The summer before 5th grade, my father took me on a week-long backpacking trip in Glacier National Park. We planned the trip over the spring on our every-other-weekend visits.  My dad pinned a map to the wall in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment. Back then, the map shifted from grey to a deep green as you looked east across the page. In my child’s mind, I imagined an endless park stretching across the state.   In thick black ink, he traced the route across Washington and Idaho. The line snaked through Kalispell and north to Hungry Horse.  Montana sounded so exotic....

Children, Gratitude, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Photography, Teaching

Have You Thanked a Teacher Lately?

I have a confession to make.  I have a box in my garage that I take out every time I am wondering about whether I am making a difference in this world.  It’s not full of trophies.  There are no framed awards in the box.  Nothing is engraved or embossed.  It is a box of notes and gifts I received as a teacher.  Some are on beautifully printed cards. Most are on college ruled paper.  Some of the things in the box only I would understand- like ....

Toddler with two dogs
Children, Dogs, Family, Inspiration, Motherhood, Parenting, Photography

Just the Facts, Mom.

One of the challenges of parenting is knowing how much information to give your child. I remember my daughter once asked me where rain comes from.  In retrospect, the correct answer at the time was “It falls from clouds in the sky.”  But I was a science teacher, so I was a full paragraph into the technical aspects of the water cycle before my husband intervened wisely with “It comes from clouds in the sky.”  Her eyes had glazed over ....

Change, Children, Family, Inspiration, Motherhood, Parenting, Photography

I Got This, Mama!

In a couple of weeks, my daughter will begin her senior year. Stamped in my mind and on my heart is a picture of her decked out in pink from head to toe; smiling from ear to ear; proudly carrying her backpack filled to the brim with fresh school supplies on her first day of kindergarten.  She was raised in school. She was only a few weeks old when she attended her first wrestling match. She toddled on the track in the spring and by fall she was learning to walk at the football games. She gazed pie-eyed at the glittery cheerleaders and clapped gleefully at band concerts. Sometimes on the weekend, she would ride her trike up and down the hall outside my office.So, when it came time for kindergarten...

Ivy covered steps of a Charleston home
Change, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Elusive Zen of Gardening

I’ve had so many friends over the years who describe gardening as a zen-like experience.  I, myself, have had zen-like experiences but never while gardening. I don’t doubt my plant-loving friends. I find that zen feeling while cycling or painting or staring through my lens or doing yoga.  I want to love gardening. I want… Continue reading Elusive Zen of Gardening

Change, Family, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Perceptions, Relationships

Two Sides of the Same Girl

When I was a little kid, I felt strangely like two different people.  In retrospect, I imagine that other children of divorce felt the same way. But it was the 70’s and divorce was rare in our Catholic community, so I didn’t have anyone to compare my experience with....Those two parts of me converged one day on the snowy hills of Snoqualmie Pass with an object lesson I will never forget. 

Colonial Cemetery Savannah GA
Change, Family, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Photography

Stronger Than I Thought

On that day, I learned that the limits of my personal strength were so much greater than I had ever imagined.  I learned that sometimes people need an object lesson in their ignorance, but there is no reason to rub it in their face.  Actions speak louder than words and experience is the best teacher.   I learned that I might not be able to change other people’s long held beliefs, but I don’t have to be a victim to them either. I learned that people may try to set limits for me, but I don’t have to accept those limits.  I learned I was stronger that I thought.

small brown mammal in a pasture
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Mindfulness, Photography

Finding the Purpose of (My) Life

It got me thinking about the purpose of my own life. That is one of the biggest of all questions.  Why do I exist? For that matter, why do Woodchucks exist? Or Banana Slugs?  I believe there is a purpose for everything (– to paraphrase Ecclesiastes 3:1 and The Mamas and The Papas).   I believe I have led a purpose-driven life....

Family, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Marriage, Photography, Relationships

Wedded Bliss (and the not so blissful parts that make it truly a blessing….)

Marriage isn’t always easy. In my experience, it’s not endless days of wine and roses.  It is knowing someone knows you better than anyone else and loves you for everything you are – everything.  It is knowing that person has your back – always. It is knowing that love shared, in the end, will always dwarf the stress, fear, grief, and pain inevitable in this life. 

Women rowing
Art, Blogging, Inspiration, Photography, Sports

The Gamble

I am not a gambler.  In fact, the betting window would be closed and the race long over before I even identified all of the variables or made my first graph.  The horses would have died of old age before I analyzed all of the data. ...The truth is, the world is not always predictable or quantifiable. Yes friends, I said it. You can’t measure or calculate everything.  And it turns out that some of the most rewarding things in life come after a massive leap of faith into the unknown.

Change, Dogs, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Change is hard but not changing is harder…

Sometimes things just happen, good and bad, that you just can’t predict. Despite my propensity for planning and my natural tendency toward being a hunter, I have learned that sometimes you have to roll with the punches and trust there is a lesson you need to learn. I didn’t always feel this way. No, this is a lesson I learned the hard way (my preferred method even as a young adult)....

Dogs, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Parenting

If you believe you are a Labrador Retriever….

What if we all believed that we could get better at something, master it even, just by learning from our mistakes and trying again?  What if we didn’t have a story about the past that limited our experience in the present?  What if we saw our failures as learning and not as personal deficits?  What if we believed we could change the outcome merely through increasing our effort and applying our talents?  What if we acknowledged and acted upon the possibility that we might have talents we have not yet discovered? 

baby
Family, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Parenting, Photography, Relationships

Never Pass Up A Birthday Party

Don’t get me wrong, education is absolutely important.  Everyone needs a good education.  Having a job or career that fits your life is important. But a life is so much more than that. And what is important in life is so much more than that.  Knowing you are part of a family ....

Family, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Photography

You’re Never Too Old for a Little Joy

I found myself sifting through old Easter pictures this week.  It’s not surprising really. I often find myself looking back when holidays roll around. This is one of my favorite Easter pictures.  I keep a copy on my desk.  My daughter was three in this picture and the youngest of a herd of kids at… Continue reading You’re Never Too Old for a Little Joy

Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Parenting, Photography, Relationships

My Heart

My daughter is a junior this year. She is our only child. The good Lord blessed us with only one child but, in so doing, He blessed us every single day after.  In just over a year, she will leave us to go off to college and start this new adventure. The part of her life where she becomes an adult independent of us.  Every day I fight the primal urge to cover her in bubble wrap leaving holes only so that she can breathe...

oars on the water
Inspiration, Photography, Relationships

Picture Meaningful

I like really old stuff. I have so much antique glassware my husband recently told me he thought we might have to fortify the foundation of our house. Hyperbole not withstanding, I have a lot. I like drinking out of glasses my grandparents drank out of. I like eating off of plates that were used to celebrate holidays and births generations ago. Though inanimate, I feel like my 100 year old cordials hold in their shiny molecules the sum of their history of wakes and weddings, birthdays and baptisms, conflicts and congratulations. This is my lofty goal for my photographs...

Rusting Crane on the Snohomish River
Art, Inspiration, Life Long Learning, Photography

Confessions of a Closet Artist

Confession time. I was a science major. There, I said. It’s out.  What a relief!  Does that mean I am not also an artist?  Well frankly, I sure thought so.  In fact, I could make you a chart quantifying my non-artistic characteristics. (My friends are shaking their collective heads right now both in exasperation and agreement- I really will make you a chart. It will be a work of art.) I thought people were basically artists or scientists.  And every other “ist” was just a branch of those two categories.  Clearly, I spent too much time on Linnaeus. In my overly dichotomous mind, I am a scientist. I definitely see the world through that lens. Even when I am literally looking through my lens, ...

Great Blue Heron in black and white walking in water
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Seeing in Silence

I am a morning person.  I love the stillness of the morning.  I love the way the groggy silence envelops me. Everything slows down.  Without the noise that fills every other space in the rest of my day, I can see so much more clearly. I can hear my own voice so much more loudly.  My favorite mornings are the cold fall mornings when the earth is on the verge of waking up.  The air is crisp and cold. A veil of fog hangs from branches pelting my cheeks. My breath billows and clings...

Stroke Seat and Coxswain brothers rowing
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Learn… to Let Go

When my daughter started rowing four years ago, I had a lot to learn. And of course, the ink wasn’t even dry on the check for rowing camp before I was grabbing my camera and heading for the shore. Needless to say that even shooting wildlife, I was used to a much slower subjects. Everything is a sloth next to a junior rower. Though I felt really comfortable working with my gear, there was just so much I didn't know about shooting a race on water and it seemed like I was in the middle of figuring one thing out when the boats zoomed by - picture the aquatic version of a roadrunner cartoon...

Snohomish Valley at dawn in the fog
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

The truth is I probably get a good shot about 1 in 5 times. (And that might be generous.) I recently got a new computer and transferred over 23000 Images. That means I’ve shot over 100,000. This doesn’t include the years BD (Before Digital). I fail far more often than I am successful. And failing is a skill we need to learn to do better. We live in this instant, reward-based culture. We give up too easily. Some things take a lifetime to perfect. The fact is life isn’t instant or reward-based. We learn from failure. We learn the skill better ultimately. I’m a better photographer for having to figure out what I didn’t do correctly. I’m a better person for my failures. I learned perseverance. I learned compassion. I learned how to solve problems. (According to my dad, I got character.) Don’t get me wrong, I love a trophy and an A+ but I only value the ones I got the hard way. The ones born of struggle hang on the walls of my heart and mind. ...

Nesting Great Blue Heron Everett Waterfront
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Open to the Unexpected 

One Sunday morning - ok practically the middle of the night- I convinced my husband to accompany me on a quest to shoot the sunrise over the Port of Everett. I knew the exact spot. I had glimpsed in passing these abandoned pilings of piers unused for decades. They had an almost romantic quality. I could see grizzled men tying up tenders and wrangling flotillas of logs. In my mind, the sun would rise slowly over my back revealing the shore bathed in golden sunlight. The tide of course would be halfway out exposing fragile creatures scurrying for cover. The glossy texture of the lazy tide would contrast perfectly with the grit of rock and barnacles. Predatory shorebirds would swoop and soar in the tableau....

Sunrise from the John Wayne Marine Sequim Washington
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

The Digital Experiment

If you’re old as I am, you probably remember buying film. Film was a relationship. Film was like giving up the lease on your apartment and moving in with your boyfriend. You committed. You committed to black-and-white or color. You committed to speed. You committed to brand. You loaded it into your camera and unless you were really good at reeling it back in and forwarding it to just the right spot (and I’m not -hence the scary ghost pictures of my dog at the beach- but more about that later), you shot the roll – the whole roll. And then you waited for days for the film to be developed.  If you were lucky, you had more good shots than bad ones.

Girls cuddling
Inspiration, Photography, Relationships

Ordinary Magic

We are bombarded with images.  Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook deliver cute, scary, heartwarming, devastating, lush, and stark to our mental doorsteps every day.  Don't get me wrong, I love a photographic documentary of a puppy raised with a lion cub who become lifelong friends as much as the next person.  I just think that we are exposed to ordinary magic every day and we miss it because we are just not present. 

Graveyard Glendalough Ireland
Inspiration, Photography, Relationships

Connecting Through Images

I suppose like all photographers I began very young.  My first memory was of my dad lying on the ground in Volunteer Park in Seattle shooting up and to an awkward angle as brilliantly colored cyclist raced wildly around the corner on the knife-blade edges of racing slicks.  I was fascinated and I was hooked.I carried around a cheap point and click for years wasting who knows how much on cartridge film ...