Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Mindfulness, Wellness

The downfalls of multi-tasking – or, as my Daddy would say, “Half-assing”

This morning I PR’ed (Personal Record) on the Erg, or as I like to call it the “Magical Sliding Instrument of Pain”.  I rowed 5881 meters in 30 minutes and my split broke the dreaded 2:30 by just seconds.  Now, for all you flat-abbed, bicep-bulging, custom-calved whippersnappers out there chuckling at my sub-sub-sub-lightning speed, keep… Continue reading The downfalls of multi-tasking – or, as my Daddy would say, “Half-assing”

Change, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Mindfulness, Relationships

Make a Habit of It

It’s 4:15 AM and my REM-induced travels are abruptly ended by my clock radio blaring Miranda Lambert. In silence, I get up, get dressed, and brush my teeth. In the workout room, I turn on the fan and put my bike shoes on.  I spend 30 minutes on the bike, change shoes and put in… Continue reading Make a Habit of It

Dawn pacific northwest forest in winter
Change, Children, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Parenting

Endings and Beginnings

I do not like endings.  I do not like finales.  It is probably why I don’t watch the Oscars or stay awake until the last votes are counted on election night.  I much prefer those hours and days before the endings, days that are thick with anticipation and ripening possibilities. Even as a kid, I… Continue reading Endings and Beginnings

Children, Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Parenting

Father (-in-Law) Christmas

I get a little nostalgic at Christmastime.  I suppose I am not alone in that. Christmas is such a magical season. It brings back bright and twinkling memories of people and places long gone.  I miss my Father-in-law most at Christmastime.  My father-in-law loved having Christmas morning with his granddaughter.  We would travel to his… Continue reading Father (-in-Law) Christmas

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

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.  My bangs glanced off the cheap metal door as I followed his deliberate movements back and forth across the patio.  My mother hooked me around the waist, dragging me back as she slammed the glass slider closed, “Come away… Continue reading The House That Built Me

Change, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons

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… Continue reading I’ll see it when I believe it.

Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Mindfulness

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, 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… Continue reading Empathy Gap – Don’t Fall In

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

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… Continue reading Heading for the Door

Gratitude, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, 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… Continue reading Of Grapes and Friendship

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,… Continue reading Adventure Days!

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

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,… Continue reading A Girl’s Best Friend

Icicle River Leavenworth Washington
Change, Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, 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… Continue reading Making Memories Under the Big Sky

Children, Gratitude, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, 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… Continue reading Have You Thanked a Teacher Lately?

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

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. You see my parents were diametrically… Continue reading Two Sides of the Same Girl

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

Stronger Than I Thought

It was a spring, Saturday morning in Georgia.  My father must have been away on business because, had he been home, I would never have realized my own true power.  It was just my stepmom and me.  Our blended family was new and more like a salad than soup. Still getting to know each other… Continue reading Stronger Than I Thought

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

Finding the Purpose of (My) Life

I’m starting with the really big questions this week, which always seems to coincide with the end of a vacation in which I get a little breathing room to think big thoughts.  This particular vacation was riddled with laughter and that, too, breaks up the log jams that clog my thinking.  I read a beautiful… Continue reading Finding the Purpose of (My) Life

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

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

Next week, my husband and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage. As our anniversary rolls around, I find myself thinking back to the year of our wedding.  He proposed to me the weekend I graduated from college.  We were supposed to be apart for the next school year as I moved to Seattle… Continue reading Wedded Bliss (and the not so blissful parts that make it truly a blessing….)

Pelican
Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons

Everybody Needs A Walk -up Song

One of the great things about having a teenager is that I feel like I am cool-adjacent which is almost as good as being cool at my age. (I’m suspicious of 50-year-olds who are too cool.)   I have learned all kinds of things that I would be hopelessly ignorant of without her - like the… Continue reading Everybody Needs A Walk -up Song

Father and daughter on the beach
Grief, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Relationships

Nothing Left Unsaid

I thought this post would be easier to write.  I realize that no matter how carefully chosen, my words will likely be inadequate. It is ironic since I have entitled this “Nothing Left Unsaid”, and yet, surely, there will be something left unsaid. I went to a celebration of life this week for a truly… Continue reading Nothing Left Unsaid

birds
Coaching, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Relationships, Sports

What the Best Coaches Know

Despite sitting at one of those back-bending cafeteria tables, I found myself completed enthralled listening to a coach talk about his athletes this week.  He spoke with such heart about the journey the team took together to win the state championship. He talked about each athlete’s strengths and contributions to the team.  He talked about… Continue reading What the Best Coaches Know

Boxer Pup
Dogs, Family, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Relationships

A Warm Welcome and A Wiggling Butt

If you visit our house, you will get a warm welcome from the four-legged creatures and, of course, the two-legged ones.  Buttercup, our two-year-old Boxer (or The Toddler as we affectionately call her), monitors the door vigilantly.  One must be prepared, after all, as friends can appear without notice.  As soon as she hears someone… Continue reading A Warm Welcome and A Wiggling Butt

purple flowers
Life Lessons, Perceptions, Relationships

Don’t Mistake a Flower for a Weed

On a hot day in July in 1984 in Fairbanks, Alaska, I met the man, for the second time, who would become my husband.   I had been baling hay on a Thoroughbred farm just northeast of Fairbanks that day. Fairbanks in the summer is beautiful. It is sunny and light all day. The landscape is… Continue reading Don’t Mistake a Flower for a Weed

Intaglio
Art, Change, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Perceptions

Just Beneath the Surface

I have been reminiscing a lot lately.  I am not sure if it is the passing of my father, my daughter's impending senior year or just the end of the school year. Whatever it is, I find myself smiling - a lot.  I have such great memories.  Rebuilding our fire pit reminds me of all… Continue reading Just Beneath the Surface

Change, Dogs, Growth Mindset, Inspiration, Life Lessons

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… Continue reading Change is hard but not changing is harder…

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

If you believe you are a Labrador Retriever….

I was having coffee with some friends recently when, inevitably, the subject of our dogs came up.  Three of us have medium to large dogs and one has a smaller, hypoallergenic one (which is brilliant since I think EVERYONE needs a dog).  I mentioned that I grew up with Basset Hounds, but that these have… Continue reading If you believe you are a Labrador Retriever….

Skagit River with boulders and trees
Family, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships

The Truth About Lying

My dad had a second story apartment in the Casa Del Rey overlooking Broadway.  I would visit him on the weekends and we would walk up the street to the corner QFC to buy food for dinner.  He was on the road every week it seemed, so he didn’t keep much on hand.  It was… Continue reading The Truth About Lying

mountain valley
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning

Evidence of a Well Spent Youth

This morning I awoke before my alarm.  I rolled onto my right shoulder and felt that familiar ache from the base of my clavicle to my shoulder joint.  I knew once I got moving, it would loosen up.   I’m at that age where I swear I can pull a muscle while asleep.  It’s disconcerting.  Of… Continue reading Evidence of a Well Spent Youth

elk
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Parenting, Photography, Relationships

You Can Lead a Horse to Water

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to hear Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers, speak.  If you ever have the chance, don’t miss it. He is an extraordinary individual who really embodies the power and resilience of the human spirit. At the end of his speech, he said something that was both… Continue reading You Can Lead a Horse to Water

Family, Inspiration, Joyfulness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness

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

Greek man working at fishmarket
Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships

Grandpa’s House

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things was spending the night at my grandparents’ house. They lived in a small house on Queen Anne Hill. Though back then, from my tiny eyes, it was an enormous mansion.  It was so different from our cookie-cutter suburban rambler in north Seattle.  When we… Continue reading Grandpa’s House

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… Continue reading My Heart

jail Dublin
Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Rub Some Dirt On It

Let me just say at the outset, I know that this story is going to reveal with lights and sirens the unhealthy relationship I have (or had) with my Jeep, Angus.  Yes, I named it. Don’t judge.  We were together for 10 years.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrecked Angus.  It was the one… Continue reading Rub Some Dirt On It

grave marker from famine in Annagh Ireland
Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Life Long Learning, Photography, Relationships, Teaching

The Truth Will Set You Free

I was two months into my first year in a new school when I found myself hunched over a lunch table in the staff room praying for an earthquake. Not a big earthquake. Loss of life and limb was not necessary. I didn’t even want property damage. I just wanted everyone to get stuck in… Continue reading The Truth Will Set You Free

girls talking on a ferry
Family, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Making Things Right

When I was a new teacher, I applied for a job in a small town in northwest Washington. I remember driving into town wearing my most professional skirt suit, firmly ensconced in my big old pickup truck. It was a beautiful drive from my house 52 miles away on country roads they brazenly labeled highways.… Continue reading Making Things Right

Great Blue Heron on shore
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

A Life That Fits

In the fall of 1988, I started my teacher training at Seattle University.  Armed with a newly printed Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Alaska, I enthusiastically set off to change the world – one sophomore at a time.  Every morning I drove my 1984 Dodge Ram pickup in rush hour traffic… Continue reading A Life That Fits

Eagle Skagit River
Life Lessons

Get Some Perspective

I had a very rocky start to my Tuesday morning. Keep in mind, I am a morning person. I jump out of bed no matter how early it is and greet my dogs (I even named one of my dogs Buttercup just so I could say “What’s up Buttercup?” every morning- that’s how happy I… Continue reading Get Some Perspective

Young Eagle Skagit Washington
Growth Mindset, Life Lessons, Parenting, Photography

There’s Something About Sticking with It

I am going to preface this post with “No children were harmed in the making of the story” (well not permanently anyway).  If you were a child of the 1970s or before, you will appreciate this story. If you are a Gen Xer or a Millennial, there is a chance you might be horrified- at… Continue reading There’s Something About Sticking with It

Grandpa having tea party
Family, Grief, Life Lessons, Relationships

Looking at Life Through the Keyhole

Over the course of this week, as we prepare to celebrate my dad’s life, we have all been poring over pictures.  And I remember so much of what I forgot.  And I see things I didn’t know but they are so obvious to me now.  We know our family members because we have these long… Continue reading Looking at Life Through the Keyhole

Dad with daughter 1960s
Family, Grief, Life Lessons, Relationships

It’s the Little Things

I think at the end of a life, it is the little things you remember most. The seemingly inconsequential moments become indelibly written on our minds and hearts.  Oh sure, every relationship has big moments.  There are marriages and births, graduations and new homes.  And every relationship has good times and challenging ones – even… Continue reading It’s the Little Things

Catherine Matthews Images Trademark
Life Lessons, Relationships

Old Year’s Reflection

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions.  I think it might be my very well-hidden but absolutely well-developed rebellious side. Oh, I keep it in check for the most part but a rule with no meaningful basis, even if self-imposed, brings it out in me. (Don’t get me started on the Don’t walk… Continue reading Old Year’s Reflection

Skagit River with boulders and trees
Life Lessons, Photography

Seeing the River for the Rocks

I think people fall into one of two categories naturally. Oh sure, people can change. People can even change back and forth. But we all have a fall back type we are most comfortable with. I think people are either hunters or gatherers. I’m not talking about actually hunting (although I am not opposed if… Continue reading Seeing the River for the Rocks

Girls hugging Grandma at Christmas Party
Family, Life Lessons, Relationships

Growing A Family

Last night I went to my favorite Christmas party.  I have been attending this party for 26 years, though it has been going on for much longer than that.  In those years, I have missed it twice: once when my daughter was only three weeks old and once when that same daughter got sick (on… Continue reading Growing A Family

Eagles landing on a deadhead on the Skagit River Washington
Life Lessons, Photography

Standing in the Middle of a Bridge

Last weekend, I found myself once again standing in the middle of a bridge at dawn.  My youngest sister was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and I took her up to see the Eagles on the Skagit river.  There was a brief misunderstanding wherein she thought we were going to see Joe Walsh at… Continue reading Standing in the Middle of a Bridge

Mom and daughter in corn maze
Life Lessons, Relationships

Gratitude: It’s not just for Thanksgiving

Twenty-nine years ago, I was a student teacher in my home town.  As you can imagine, I was so enthusiastic.  I vibrated with idealism.  I waltzed into my first Biology class ready to dazzle them with my knowledge, certain that I would hold their attention easily for 55 minutes.  It was science after all. Who… Continue reading Gratitude: It’s not just for Thanksgiving

Osprey taking off from nest on Everett Waterfront
Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

Live Your Passion

I think in just about every situation we can learn something.  It has been my experience that it's usually something we need to learn right when it is time to learn it.  It is not always something we want to learn. It has also been my experience unfortunately that the universe is ready when it's… Continue reading Live Your Passion

field covered in frost
Art, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Photography

The Eye of the Beholder

When I was a kid, my dad gave me Masterpiece for my birthday.  It was a board game in the mid 1970's much like Monopoly except that players bought and sold artwork in an auction.  I don't remember playing the game even one time.  But I remember the game.  I remember the cards.  Each had… Continue reading The Eye of the Beholder

Rowers on the Montlake Cut passing a seaplane
Change, Life Lessons, Photography

Lighten Up!

I’ve always wished that I could be one of those women who goes through life with nothing more than their cell phone in their back pocket ensconced in one of those really cute Kate Spade cases with a sleeve for their drivers license and debit card. A quick swipe of mascara and lip gloss, hair… Continue reading Lighten Up!

Field recently plowed in Skagit County Washington
Life Lessons, Photography

A Different Light

Last Sunday morning at 0530, I found myself next to an empty field on the outskirts of Concrete, Washington.  No, I was not deposited there after an alien abduction.  Also I am too old to pull an all-nighter (debauchery-filled or otherwise) so I was not in the clothes I wore the day before, if you… Continue reading A Different Light

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.… Continue reading Seeing in Silence

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… Continue reading Learn… to Let Go

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

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

I’d like to tell you that I’m one of those photographers who gets a brilliant idea for a shoot and then instinctively knows all of the right camera settings, the perfect location, and just the right camera angle to pull it off in one shot. I imagine this hypothetical artist getting up before the crack… Continue reading Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

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… Continue reading Open to the Unexpected 

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… Continue reading The Digital Experiment