Black and white photos 2017

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/2017-favorites/

I’m an amateur photographer at most. The busyness of my life and my scattered interests has not made it easy for me to focus in detail on the more technical aspects of photography; but in some ways I’ve delved a little deeper into the world of pictures this year. A while back, I experimented with transforming some of my color photos into black and white. This simple act produced more than one aha moment as in many cases, I could actually see more depth in my photos in black and white than I could in color. At the very least, it altered the dimension in such a way that it gave me a different perspective on the experience I had when I took the photo. Some of my favorite transformations are below.

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Amble

It feels like I’ve been fighting the rain for about a week now. I was drenched the entire second day of my trip to NYC last week, but my fiend and I still managed to see the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square and more. We did find an indoor, partly underground mall beside the Hudson at one point and there we were able to get some respite from the rain. As I sat by a window overlooking the Hudson, I enjoyed the scene of New York in the rain.

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Ambling New York rain

a respite is found over-

looking the Hudson.

This afternoon, I am back home sitting in a parking lot at the beach waiting for a shower to pass so I can slip onto the beach to enjoy that scene for a while. We’ll see if I get another respite.

Change

via Daily Prompt: Savor

Life is full of changes. My job was recently complicated when one of my leads resigned to take another position. A new team was put in place and I found myself in the position of being one of the most seasoned members on that project. Now, I’m perfectly capable of leading. I’m even kind of good at it, but I still don’t always look for excuses to lead. I love mentoring, but being the leader is a different ball of wax. Being the leader requires more commitment, more stress and frankly, less freedom; and if I’m going to be perfectly honest about myself, freedom is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s a struggle. As per my normal reaction, I’m trying to find a happy balance with the situation.

In addition, my baby sister has decided to move to California which is literally on the other side of the country. I’ve been scrambling to get some time with her before she goes; and I’m already thinking ahead to my first visit, which has been difficult to pull together due to conflicting timelines.

Last night, our large family came together and we took her to dinner. There were seven small children total in our group so I imagine the restaurant is still nursing the wounds of that trauma 🙂 (Needless to say, we tipped our waitress very well). Afterwards, my sister and I stood outside of the restaurant and talked to one of my brothers and his family for about 45 minutes then she and I went for a drink with a couple of her friends.

As we stood outside of the restaurant, I looked up to see the sky in all its glory as the sun set behind the clouds. A sense of awe and freedom and gratitude washed over me as I stood under the sky and talked to my siblings in the parking lot. Afterwards, my sister and I went out and extended our visit.

Sometimes, life takes twists and turns and we don’t know where it’s taking us. I was talking to a friend a while back. She was looking to make some changes in her life and was overwhelmed by how she should do it.

“I have a tendency to get bogged down with the big picture,” I said.

“Me, too!” she answered.

But I think the key is to just take the next step. We can be aware of the big picture, but most of the time, we won’t be able to just jump to the end. We just have to take the next step and savor the good times along the way. Make the most of a visit when the opportunity presents itself and always glance up to see the sunset.

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Breathwork and Baby Pines

This past year, a friend recruited me to be a part of an online meditation group led by a friend of hers who teaches yoga in Costa Rica. I’m not an expert yogi, but I do attend yoga classes from time to time and I always experience a sense of calm when I do yoga. Something about the stillness and the stretching wrings out my tension and gives me a sense of peace.

Recently Ashley, the instructor from Costa Rica, was in the US. She has ties to my hometown and stopped in to teach a few classes on breathwork at a local studio. I had never taken a class focused solely on breathwork, but I like to try new things so I attended one of the sessions. Before the class, Ashley asked me if I had an intention, something on which I wanted to focus during the class. I shrugged.

“There are a few uncertain changes going on at work,” I said.

“Well, that is something you can think about,” she answered.

When the class started, I didn’t focus on anything, at first, except for breathing. The idea of breathwork, as I understand it, is to breathe fully in a circular motion, from the diaphragm, through your chest and out of your mouth then back. We breathed in the air through our mouths and we exhaled out of our mouths. Ashley asked us to breath throughout our entire body. I imagined the air moving from my feet through my legs into my belly and my chest, then up into my head and out of my mouth. At times, I was distracted by the sounds of other people breathing around me, but I focused on the breath. I started to imagine the breath as a circle, traveling the length of my body then looping to go back around. Somewhere along the way, I started to think about other things, but not about work, and my thoughts took me to the heart of something. I started thinking about how most people play it safe with other people. We share enough of ourselves to be seen as friendly, but little enough to protect ourselves from being hurt. I know I do. This prompted me to start thinking about forgiveness and letting things go.

After the class, Ashley paired us with a partner and we talked about our experience. I was paired with a woman on a mat behind me. We sat cross-legged on our mats and looked at one another. She was older than me and a little weathered. Her silver hair was cut in a very hip style and she had two of the most alert, smiling, clear blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I told her about my thoughts.

“Wow,” she said, “that’s very similar to what I was working on.” And she shared some things about herself with me.

Before we left, Ashley suggested that it might be a good day to spend some time in nature since we were already in reflective moods. That worked well for me as I was already going for a walk.

I went to a local park, Hugh McRae Park, and walked for about 45 minutes. Hugh McRae is filled with established pine trees, but as I walked, I noticed that the park has planted new pines, as well. Several baby pines were nestled among the older pines. The scene of pines filled me with pleasure and I stopped for a while to look at them. Now, that I look back on it, I know why they made me happy. Not only were the pines a bright, happy green and quite pretty, but they were new little lives releasing oxygen back into the air. Breathing their own cycle like me. There was a sort of synchronicity to finding them right after my breathwork. Pretty cool.

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Deep Breaths-Revelation

Yesterday, I got into a bit of a snit. I sat around the house too long, paralyzed with competing thoughts over what I should do with my day; then I felt remorse for not accomplishing anything. I also ate too much yesterday. I think I was trying to fix my inner agitation with food, as if it were some kind of hungry beast that could be pacified and would quiet down if I fed it. Finally, and I mean FINALLY- late in the afternoon- I left the house to run some errands.

 

This segued into a walk at the park. I had to push myself to do it. My belly felt full which is not conducive to exercise. I was like a snake who had fed on a rodent and couldn’t move, but I pressed on. As I pounded the trail, the fresh air and the music on my phone started to pound out my agitation and regret. I felt myself loosen up.

 

On the way home, I toyed with the idea of driving down to the beach. I took a route home that would carry me past the beach and as I approached the turn off, I felt my car going in that direction. I arrived just in time to see the sunset. Everything started to melt into the revelation that I always have, time and time again, when I am outside looking at God’s wonder.

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The world is still moving, whether I am or not, and it is still beautiful. We can’t change the past, but as long as we are here, we can keep on going to meet tomorrow. So glad I found a way to remind myself of that.

 

 

Wanderlust

I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.
-David Attenborough

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When I was a kid, there were two ways that I could explore: in my head or by going outside. A little patch of land like this one, nestled between homes in a busy housing development, could have represented a number of things to me. It could have been a forest in medieval Europe or a haunted patch of land in my hometown. It could have been the home of faeries, ghosts or a haven for talking animals whose voices came alive at night after humans went to sleep. In my mind, I could have used this spot to travel anywhere. I just needed it to set the atmosphere.

In reality, this patch of land is located in a lovely middle-class neighborhood, not a new cookie-cutter community, but one of the older ones where people have bigger yards, the trees are established, and each home is unique. This neighborhood is in a prime location that is currently under heavy development. In a way that is understandable, but it is also rather sad. I worry for the character of the neighborhood. I worry about the animals that live in these little patches of land. And I worry about our collective imaginations as we lose so much green space.

I came across this spot this afternoon when I was walking with a friend and her dog. When I saw it, my imagination was immediately piqued. I knew that I had to take a picture and I felt the same twinge of excitement that I did when I encountered such scenes as a kid. That heartens me. It shows me that I haven’t completely lost the curiosity and sense of adventure that I had as a kid, even if it has been tamed by the demands of “adulting”. I hope I never do.

This world is but a canvas for our imagination.

-Henry David Thoreau

Pause

I’ve been a little anxious lately. Nothing serious. It will pass. As you know, life ebbs and flows. At some point, probably soon, this anxious little river I’ve been sailing down will turn a corner and flow into a happy place once again. It is spring, after all.

It’s not one thing in particular that gets me down, rather just the piling up of life. The house isn’t clean enough. The lawn is starting to need maintenance. It’s hard to find the time to write. The list goes on. It becomes overwhelming at times, even paralyzing. Maybe it is because I want a lot from life?

I bet you know the feeling. It’s a challenge to squeeze in the cleaning, hobbies and relationships on the weekends before you have to go back to work on Monday and commit 40 hours of waking time to someone else who, thank goodness, is willing to pay for it. But that is almost everyone’s plight.

Sometimes I forget to pause and regroup mindfully. That is ironic because when I get overwhelmed I always end up pausing one way or the other, anyway, whether it be with purpose or just by sitting on the couch and watching Hulu marathons. The difference is that one pause has purpose and the other is a waste of time (If you take it too far, that is. ..nothing wrong with a Hulu marathon from time to time).

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I’m listening to a book right now called, “Why Time Flies” by Alan Burdick. In the book, the author examines time: its origin, our relationship to it, our comprehension of it and scientific methods of measuring time.  I think sometimes that my comprehension of time, simple and limited as it is, produces anxiety. It puts me in a position to worry about time. I try to bargain with it and stretch it out, all the while wasting it. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who does this. That is a paradox, isn’t it? It’s as if we need time to create structure, but then some of us turn around and rebel against it as if it is an authority figure. It’s a love/hate relationship. I love the days when I’m able to accomplish a lot with my time, but I hate feeling bound to accomplish too much with my time. I hate it when lazy days drag on too long and I have nothing to show for them, but on the other hand, the most joyful moments in my life have occurred when I was oblivious to time and completely in a moment. In a moment when I paused and found purpose.

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I  googled the term “pause with purpose”. Not surprisingly, I’m not the only person who has thought of this phrase.  My google feed was filled with businesses, yogis and life coaches who were all trying to push their plans to pause with purpose. Everyone is looking for the sweet spot.
I think I feel myself starting to turn that corner now. Maybe all I needed was to pause and write it out 🙂