BE STILL...and SEE Photography

Reflecting on who I am...what is important to me...and the gifts I offer the world, I have reorganized this PhotoSchmoozer blog into separate pages for your viewing. I am about so much...people - relationships - drums and rhythms and especially photography...and I realize that although separate, they are all so INTEGRATED into the Whole of who I am!! It's a very peaceful thought and I am thankful for the intuitive gift to see the connections and the relationships. Enjoy the journey through the blog...and WELCOME.
Contemplative photography is about being totally present and seeing exactly what is before you, without filters or judgment. It is about seeing with your heart.Doesn't everyone see what is before them? Not really. You may see a candle on a table. Do you also see the shadows it creates? Or the reflections that the light casts on it? Or it's underlying shape and form?

DRUMS, Rhythms and Relationships

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Law of Attraction...Doves come home

Yes, my friends, these are simply birds on the feeder...NOT!  It's a long story and I will make it short.  Today I was talking to my friend, maryi, about the Law of Attraction, the Secret and manifesting what you want.  I like the premise and, in my own simple way, live that idea.  I have asked for the Doves to come home to our feeder. They have been missing for awhile.  Today - and coincidentally just after maryi and I had our conversation, I came home and Bill had this picture for me.  My wish came true and doubly so!!  There were two pairs that came to visit!   When I think of what is important in life, I think of a quote I got years ago from a craft show about being 'rich'.  To paraphrase, it said that rich is not what you have or own, but who  you have beside you.  Today is a special celebration - 40 year anniversary of our very first date.  Now isn't that RICH!!  We went to the Philadelphia Zoo on a really cold day at the end of January and then came back to my apartment - the guy had brought a picnic basket.  We had a picnic on a blanket on the floor!  We are still living the 'simple' life and strivingall the time to realize the beauty in the simplicity. 
One day at a time - the gift of the precious present!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Girl Scout Cookie Stories for Lucy

Boxes of the two most popular Girl Scout cooki...Image via WikipediaWhen I went out and about today to see what I could find for my Tree, Branches, Snow study, I first stopped in at the Heritage Store in Mullica Hill, NJ for a cup of coffee   Since it is Girl Scout cookie time, there is always at least one adorable young girl there with her mom or other troop leader.  Today was no exception.  I walked in to be greeted by one shy 9 year old selling cookies.  Bill and I have decided not to buy any cookies but always make a donation.  Today was no exception, though the thin mints were calling my name.  As I was about to leave, I decided to ask if I could share an 'old timer's story.  I asked Lucy (we had traded names) how much the cookies were ($3.50) and then how much she thought they cost when I was her age.  She looked at me and carefully thought this out.  She responded, "A couple of cents?"  I praised her for good thinking and told her, "No, it was 40 cents".  Her mom asked how many years ago.  She is 9 - it was 56 years ago when I was 9!!  They asked if the boxes were the same size - about the same.  Then I shared how my Dad used to take them to his Rotary club and sell them for us.  We usually sold a few hundred boxes that way.  Lucy's eyes just totally went WIDE!!  Her mom thanked me for sharing my stories for them.  I share this because it is who I am...and how I want my world to be.  People who respect the story of the wise elder and then say thank you for sharing!  It's such a small effort and such a wonderful way to be.  I hope I see them again!!  I could go off with great warmth in my heart.
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Snow Study...Trees and Branches

I have been sitting at my desk and looking at the snow.  Do I see the beauty?  Yes...and no.  I had a discussion with a friend and she said that she always sees the Beauty in the snow!  I can agree a point and then I see the piles of snow and the solid packed ice that is our driveway and I am fearful of falling! 
I thought about how I could do a study in snow for PhotoSchmoozer and what I thought was beautiful.  Early yesterday morning, on my way to Delaware for an all day meeting, I began to see the uniqueness of the trees and the branches.  I saw how the snow has stayed on the tree limbs and then I saw the unusual shapes of the trees.    The fact that there was a giant orange ball of a sunrise helped a lot!  Today I have decided to go out for an exploratory adventure and see how many different kinds of trees and branches are there to enjoy.  Soon, I will share that.  Until then, here is the first of the study from Betty Park in Pitman.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Follow Your Heart and GO FOR IT!!

Yesterday, sitting with a friend and talking, laughing and just generally enjoying life, I also entered into the role of "Dear Abby" or maybe I should say "Dear Martie".  It would be violating confidentiality if I shared the content of the conversation, but I can say that the advice I gave her was GO FOR IT!!!   Here is the Willow Tree angel representing the bluebird of happiness - what she wanted/needed; the Willow Tree angel representing Serenity - what I was feeling, and a heart filled paper weight from my collection - my advice to her - Follow your heart!  This morning, I got an email sharing the fact that she listened!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, her email had at least that many exclamation points if not more.  See, my advice to her, as would be my advice to you is the following:  Today is the only day/moment in time we have so pay attention to it and let the precious present guide your life!!   This morning I was talking with another friend and I was feeling rather feisty.  My advice to her: "When are you going to be strong and take care of YOU and what you want/need rather than making it ok for everyone else?"  That's advice we all can share in and I believe she will hear me and move forward with it.    The other night I was listening to the Yearnings show on NJ Network and the rabbi talked about Retirement as being Resurectioni - it can be the messiness between knowing and not knowing and that is the divine space where we guide ourselves on the path NOT to be human beings, but HUMAN BECOMERS.  The more peaceful I feel, the more still I become, and the more these messages come along that I can share with you!!  Hold my hand and let's keep skipping along with life as it is!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meditation Brings a Sense of Order!

 Every day we wake up and consider the possibilities.  The other day, I decided that it is time to have some sense of order within the total freedom and flexibility of the "Retired' way of being. to make this work beyond the computer, shower and breakfast?!?  Monday morning, NJ Spirituality, aka Judy Dingler, has a Meditation group at Integrative Wellness in Mullica Hill, It was the day to explore what it was all about.  To my wonderful surprise, my buddy maryi was there too.  We didn't know that one another was to be there.  In fact, the group had about 10 people there, some new and some who knew one another.  Judy had us relax and go off into meditation practice.  When I opened my eyes, my feeling was of total peace and that was totally perfect.  I reached across to maryi and just took her hand to welcome her into my life once again.  This will be a routine and next week will be the beginning of Yoga at Yoga Inspired, a new studio in Pitman,  That will be Tuesday morning.  We also talked about a study group with Young Living Essential Oils and related health and healing topics.  Then there might be some 'work' projects and other friends and.. just by being still and NOT planning, life goes on in beautiful ways.  After Meditation, maryi and I went to Crescent Moon, a coffee house in Mullica Hill.  After she left, a woman said, "I know you".  WE had met more than a year ago in Venice Restaurant in Pitman and now once again renewed acquaintainces!!  Need I say more?  Just be out there and pay attention and everything you need, you attract
Maryi and Judy Dingler/NJ Spirituality

Beads, Baubles and Buttons: Candy for the Eye!!

It's not everyday that PhotoSchmoozer can go off 'down the shore' with a good friend to discover and be gifted with Candy for the Eye!  Yesterday was one of those special days and it was totally spectacular.  I got a postcard for an Innovative Bead Show in West Atlantic City.  Since it was mid-winter, blustery cold and time for something to bring light and warmth to our hearts, off we went!!  We weren't the least bit disappointed.  Driving East on the Black Horse Pike, we wondered what we might find.  Since we are interested in making drums and quilts, there had to something for everyone!!  We were not surprised as we walked into the room to the glitter and gleam of zillions of colors.  The fact that the displays were arranged as they were and the fact that the lights at the exhibit sites shown directly on the beads - well, no surprise there either!!   It was a feast for our eyes!!   Karen and I started off together, but slowly drifted apart into worlds of our own exploration.  I spent a long time with Priscilla who imports her wooden and paper beads and buttons from the Phillipines.  Karen, on the other hand, spent a lot of time with the cutest little 'doomies' as she calls them  - animals, flowers, and other shapes all of cloissoine from China.  When we came together it was to show each other our discoveries and find more together - strings of beads for $1 or $2 - what deals!!  
A gold bracelet (well gold colored beads NOT a gold bracelet) that we each chose independently - it could easily be cut apart to make designs.  Finally, I went out to sit a spell while Karen finished and talked to a guy who was patiently waiting for his wife.  We were talking about where to eat on the way home.  It was an involved conversation with others around us as well.  No decisions were made, but to end this story on a synchronistic note, we got out of the car at Red Lobster and there they were!!   Our minds just drifted off in the same direction and ended up there!!  Funny...just funny...and no need to go into raptures about those biscuits.  For those who have eaten there, you know what I mean!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

LIFE: A Work in Progress!!!

I sit at my desk, writing on the computer and looking out at the SNOW hanging out in our backyard.  Then I see that the temperature is going to be hovering around 20 something and I like the fact that we can call ourselves 'retired' - though what does that mean?!?  Retirement can be defined in a zillion ways:
  Doing what you want when you want to do it
  Waking up to all of the possibilities
  Being Free to Be
  Having peace of mind
  Determining who you might choose to be with...or not

I sit here and look at a poster on my wall - a true reminder of what this state of life needs to be all about...
         "It's not about congtrolling.
             It's about being present.
          Being open,
                    Being aware
            And allowing it to come!
What a grand philosophy that defines what PhotoSchmoozer (aka Martie) wants to be all about - call it synchronity, being still, peace...doesn't matter - just pay attention to every moment.
     Lately I have been heading to the 'art studio' (aka basement workshop) to create drums - after we have been in the outdoor creative shop to make the bodies!!  What does this have to do with opportunities?!?  EVERYTHING.  I am having FUN creating the drums - soon am going to do a photo op with all 16 of them we have done so far.  I am showing you a photo of works in progress(Thanks Bill for taking this)
And I am asked - "What are you going to do with the drums".  My response  "Quien sabe?? "(Sorry I don't have an upside down question mark for the beginning of the question so it would be authentically Spanish!)  There could be Health RHYTHMS workshops; other drum circles around and about; selling drums at art fairs and...remember the theme is ALLOWING IT TO COME.
Now friend Annee has invited me to the Sussex,DE Parents as Teachers Fatherhood Day at the end of February.  We are going to make "Baby drums" to take along to this event - they will be shorter so that dads and/or moms and /or older siblings and babies can sit on the floor together and just have fun!!  See there are always ideas and possibilites!!
On the other side - so you don't think my vision is through rose colored lenses (though I prefer that) are the few down aspects of '"retirement" - what to do when you have to be self motivated all the time?  Loneliness?  Friends and/or relatives who sometimes forget to call...and a general malaise brought on now by the winter temperatures and so much snow hanging around!  Last night, we realized that in TWO MONTHS, SPRING will officially be here...and then the world will wake up and perspectives will totally change.  So...the lenses ARE mostly rose colored and every day, well, most every day, the sun is shining!!  If it's not outside, it is in our hearts!!  Yeah for LIFE!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Martie & Bill's Epic Adventure - 10 Year Anniversary

It was 10 years ago on a frigid blustery day that Bill and I packed up, shedding all "Pitman responsibility" and took off for parts known and unknown for our Epic Adventure.  We had two destinations firmly planted - one to Pensacola to visit our cousins Ellen and Larry; the other to be in San Antonio at the beginning of February because Jon (who had just moved to Australia) was going to be there for a week of training.  Other than that, well, the road was wide open.  I had been ready to go for awhile - took Bill awhile to get on the same page but finally, he was there.  He had found a poem written by an 82 year old man dying of cancer.  In it, he talked about what he would do IF he had his life to live over!!  He didn't, but we did.  We bought an 18 foot Hi-Lo travel trailer, some new sleeping bags and other 'comforts of home' and hitched it all to our old '87 foot Ford van.  It got us where we needed to go - well, there were some initial challenges getting over the mountains as we headed to Asheville, NC, but it made it.  After some repair work, we were on our way.  Maybe this was the birth of PhotoSchmoozer but before the digital camera.  WE took film pictures, had them developed and then went to Kinko's to upload them to our website.  We did this for about 7 weeks and then, well, it was toooooo much work, so the journey continued without the website!
Would we do it over again?  It's 10 years later and we are a tad bit wiser, so if/when we go, it will be with a car and motels.  The spirit of the freedom of the road suited us for more than 90 days.  We got to our destinations and then on to the CA coast.  Camping at the CA state seashore parks was a favorite - falling asleep at night with the Pacific Ocean lulling us to sleep.  There are so many adventures...might share a few as the days go on because we have found the CD and the website photos.
We stopped off in VA to say so long to the family...lunch was fun - maneuvering the trailer / van in a crowded parking lot was one of our first tastes of the challenges of spaces.  Obviously we did it all - this time - well, there is a trip around the world with Jared Diamond that sounds rather special.  The only challenge with that - we would have to win the lottery at least because how else would we pay for the $75,000 price tag?  Hey hope and dreams keep one alive.  Until then, we have wonderful memories and now create new adventures daily.  For the moment, we are calling ourselves retired - quite the different adventure

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pretending to be Normal...NOT FUN!!

Has anyone heard of Suzy Totonto?  If not, you need to go to her website ( and check her out.  Years ago, when I was in Hays, Kansas, I bought one of her small posters and have it framed here on my desk "She Who Believes in Herself".  You can read the words on the blog. [I also bought the most brilliant dancer fabric in the same town!!)  Then Susan Joy, the potter and my friend of 60 years, sent me one "They Who Are Best Friends".  That is on the wall in my office.  After awhile, they become part of the scenery and blended in well.  Fast forward to early Summer 2010.  I was invited to Ocean City, MD for the closing event for Sussex Parents as Teachers (DE).  I was there for fun.  To thank me, my good friend Annee bought me a mug (she had discovered it at Cracker Barrel can you believe) to say thanks for coming.  Believe it or was a Suzy Toronto "Sacred Sisterhood of Wonderful Wacky Women" mug!!  My work with Zero to Three was coming to an end and I was seeking my identity.  Oh my...HERE IT IS!  The long curly hair, the long skirts and the barefoot women dancing freely!  Then to the 65th Birthday party with that theme - and of course my drums!  Suzy came through again with a jigsaw puzzle and a mouse pad "Pretending to be a NORMAL PERSON day-after-day is exhausting" No that is NOT in the least bit strange because I had been having conversations with my friend Karen about her realizations that she is NOT normal.  Then I began to think of my own spirit and energy and the friends whose sparks are much like mine - and WOW - the realization that NONE of us is NORMAL?!?  In fact, what is normal??  Yesterday I reacquainted with my friend Evy (known her since 1982) and her friend Maggie - now my friend too - and she lives in Pitman.  As soon as I approached them at the table at Terra Nova, I realized that they too were in this select group of 'non-normal' individuals and YEAH for that?!?!/
I looked through my photos and decided to start thinking about normal...or not...and the people in my life- how would I classify them?  I have only just begun.  Stay tuned.  TELL ME, DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF NORMAL?  See I struggled most of my life to be like 'them' and was always unhappy because I just couldn't be happy there. I was too loud, too exuberant and not professional.  It was never my problem?!?!?   Now I know why and I can say, with a sigh of relief...PHEW!!!  It is so freeing - a release of trying too hard...and a great place to be!!  No more pretending to be a Normal person!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Don't Worry For the Rest of Your Life!!

I have to laugh out loud and let all of the warm fuzzy memory feelings  come right to the surface!  Anyone love the Lion King and especially Pumbaa??  I do and I remember where I got this fellow.  It's a story that came back to me today.  I sent out New Year's greetings to my friends.  Evelyn Effinger, from NY state is one of them.  We met eons ago and today she reminded me that I am better than she at keeping in touch and growing relationships.  I reminded her that since she responded to me, well, then wasn't she pretty ok about it too?  Evelyn and I met oh so many years ago when we were both doing some consulting work for Early Head Start when the technical assistance system was at NYU.  I had been to California to do Program for Infant Toddler Care training and within days, I came back and we did the training in NYC for a group of 50!!  We had our days filled and our nights to play.  Evelyn and I decided to go and see what kinds of half price tickets we could find at the Times Square trailer.  We saw the Lion King and were waiting in line when a scalper approached us.  He offered us the tickets at $?? Geez I can't remember everything?!  We looked at one another and asked how much we were willing to afford losing it the tickets weren't real?  We went for it and although the seats were in the LAST ROW of the upper balcony, the tickets were legitimate and the show was great!! 
As a gift to myself that night, I bought me a Pumbaa stuffed animal who sits in my office all the time to remind me of his message about Don't Worry for the Rest of Your Life.  Evelyn bought a watch - she collects them.  So today, I brought Pumbaa to my desk, got the email from Evelyn and here is the song for your enjoyment!!  What a solid message to start the New Year with!!  Enjoy!!
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Polar Bear Plunge...Can You Imagine?!?!?

Close your eyes friends and imagine have put on your bathing suit, possibly some winter head gear, taken some towels and sweats and headed down to the beach in Brigantine, NJ   Hey we learned more about Brigantine yesterday as we showed up at the 10th street south beach and realized the plunge was NOT there?!? What were we to do but take a ride further along the island and see if our hunch of south and then north was right?  You bet!    Lucky for us we have hunches and even luckier for us that there was a guy walking along who could affirm our hunch and offer us a geography lesson of Brigantine!!  How did your imagination work?  Was it cold?  Was the water as warm as your bathtub? (when the hot water heater did not work?)  Did you bring enough towels or were you simply among the people from the other planet who chose to wear their heavy winter coats, boots and gloves?  Either way - wasn't it fun?  Will we go back again?!?  Just talked to my sister Debbie and she said they had ONE THOUSAND PLOAR BEAR PLUNGERS in Atlantic City.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

2011 Smile Makers...Polar Bear Plungers!!

Keeping with the theme of Smile Makers, yesterday at the Polar Bear plunge in Brigantine, NJ, I used my gift of the smile, held up the camera (also a friend maker) and this celebrant (not a plunger) stopped in her tracks and gave me one of her biggest bestest smiles!  It's easy - just have to remember to do it and then write about it.  It was quite a day - warmish by January 1 standards - close to mid 40s - and there were sooooooooo many people out to take a dip in the ocean.  Did we see it?  Thanks to the snow still on the ground and the challenge to find a parking place, we got to the beach after they had all come out but we did get to see some shivering folks - some wearing celebratory regalia - coming out and parading around.  One guy - like an original viking with his horns and blonde hair - well not totally original with his striped bathing suit and tattoos - loved the attention he was getting and would stop on a moment's notice for a photo op.  He kept saying he had to get his clothes on BUT I think parts of him were warmed by all of the attention!!  We saw little kids, in betweens and teens, older folks and one senior dressed in her pink bathrobe and walking with her cane - all hardy souls out for some fun!  (Thanks Auggie Doggie for sending information about this!! )

SMILES are Friend Makers!!

Meet my friend MaryAnne.  We have met through music  and our welcoming ways - that is always the happiest way to make connections!! There's another reason I use this picture today though.  Bill and I have taken on the cleaning and purging and reorganizing of our lives - internal and external.  One challenge that I accepted is to take ALL the photos in various albums and organize them in boxes to know what we really have and to clear out those that don't need to stay around.  So, Martie, get to the point!!  I went up to the third floor today to get some more pictures to sort and found a smallish black notebook filled with stories and photos from the very early 2000's.  As I read through the book, I realized my intent in beginning the PhotoSchmoozer blog and what my purpose was - going out in the world and making connections and sharing people's stories.  Have I kept my intention?  Not always and now it is time to get back on focus.  I found a verse that I wrote 6/26/01 called Smiles are Contagious.  That's when I went seeking and found this picture.  Through all of these years of self reflection, I have come to appreciate my strengths.  My energy and my smile as well as my ability to 'chat people up' are gifts.  I use them often but I forget the gift of writing the stories I hear as another piece of the puzzle(Thanks Bill for that reminder today!!) My 2011 intention if to reclaim that focus...but for is the verse I wrote.  Says it all for Photo Schmoozer, and MaryAnne and I say it all about smiles!!
A smile feels good
A smile lights up my face
I smile and make eye contact
I'm rewarded by the light from another's eyes
And I receive the gift of their smile
a fleeting glance
A moment of recognition
A glowing light
And life moves on...
Connections made.