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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Remembering Phyllis...Her Cactus and her Memory live on!!

Years ago, I was a Hospice volunteer - and I mean many years ago because I remember being at training.  We had to draw a time line and place ourselves on it - thinking about ourselves.  I drew it and placed myself right in the middle - so that means way back then, I was 50 and I believed I was halfway through my life!!  Certainly optimistic - and why not??
So what does the cactus have to do with it??  I was assigned to be a volunteer for a small frail woman named Phyllis in Franklinville.  We visited every week for awhile - we shared stories and had some really special times!!  After a few months, Phyllis' niece decided she would like her to move to Florida so they could be close to one another.   Phyllis had no children, her husband had passed, and her niece was her closest relative.  She was unsure about the move, but needed to be near family.  On our last visit before she left,  we were walking around her yard and the cactus was in bloom.  The yellow flowers were totally awesome - strong yet delicate and well protected by all of the pricklies on the leaves!!  I asked if I could dig a piece to bring home to remember her by.  Of course she said yes and we worked - very carefully - to dig it up!  I placed it in our garden by the stump of a giant mulberry tree we had to have cut down.  The first winter after I planted it, I was concerned when it looked like it was withering and gone!  I let it be and in the Spring - ell it was amazing.  The cactus leaves started to fill out, stand up straight and after awhile, there were new leaves and buds for flowers.  Needless to say, the cactus...and Phyllis' memory live on into perpetuity in our garden!!  The leaves are from this year - new growth.  The flowers - last year's as we eagerly anticipate the ones that are coming this season!! 
It's a lovely memory - a gift from Phyllis and the garden every Spring!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trying Tooooooo Hard...NOT a Still Way to BE

This morning I tried toooooooooo hard and it felt awful!!  I write so much about BEING STILL - just going out with the camera...or not...and today I sat at my computer and looked out in the garden.  I KNEW I had to go and take pictures of flowers!  OMG - how against my rules!!  I had a label attached to what I was doing.  I had my brain limiting possibilities to those things we call flowers.  I was intent on taking the 'perfect' picture of the blue iris.  Geez, she didn't want to share herself with me.  To my eye, that iris looked light purple.  In the camera it was a strange blue.  Couldn't get it right...couldn't get Little Light to shine as I WISHED - and couldn't get the shot!!  Clear message yet I didn't get it...yet.  I sat and began thinking about what I needed to change in the camera to get it right!?!  There are those words...again.  Was it the ISO - did I need to do something with the fstop...and I just felt myself getting more and more agitated!  Did I need to go and buy a SLR 'big guys' camera?  WHAT?? WHAT??
    Finally I went out front and sat on the wall - settling down and just looking.  Oh take a breath and have gratitude for the quiet morning - the sun - the breezes - well maybe the wind at times - and BE STILL Martie!!  Thanks for that message.  I looked to my left and there lay the little iris.  It was there watching me and waiting for me to notice it rather than it's big blue momma~~Lovely.  An aside - these iris were given to us when we were first married.  They have been transported to each house we have lived in and are just so lovely and delicate.  There used to be white ones as well, but the purple are stronger!  Just are.

Then I turned my head to the other side and here is the gift I saw.  Talk about contemplative photography - talk about simplicity - talk about just seeing what is!! 
When the distress comes, I have to STOP and WAIT and SEE.  It's about the process and NOT the product of taking the perfect picture.  Life is everchanging - and lessons come to us all the time IF we are STILL enough and aware enough to pay attention.  Finally I was!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Today was BE STILL and SEE day group gathering at one of our local libraries.  It was - as always (well for the two meetings we have had) an adventure on Life's Journey.  We were 11 spirits - as different as night and day yet connected by a love of photography - beauty - joy and excitement for life and all it offers and the anticipation of what is to come together!   Although I talk about "NO technical talk", it can easily go in that direction because everyone is eager to 'take better pictures'.  That's admirable.  It's also a challenge to let go of that - and also the need to take pictures to sell them and make some money - and realize that taking the pictures is the PROCESS and as valuable if not more so than the final PRODUCT!!
    Contemplative Photography can be a concept that is challenging to wrap yourself up in - it's about NOT having a project or an end result, but just going out - being still - and observing the world around you.  It's a 'letting go' in a big way...don't label anything - just see!!  Don't go out to 'take pictures of flowers' - just go on a walk or go to your garden.
  Several of us talked about the camera's being a meditative tool.  It's that way for me has a powerful settling effect to just walk with it and notice.
   One of the group, in order to understand  Contemplative Photography and wrap her head around it, made everyone in the group a copy of a Field Guide to Contemplative Photography.  What an amazing gesture on Emma's part - both to understand more what we are talking about and then to share with everyone the publication she found!  Gratitude for that!!
  The picture with this blog - Denise taken by Charlie - they joined us for the first time - she with her childlike curiosity (a kindred spirit for me!!) and he with his quiet sharing.  Like Bill and I, they are contrasts that fit well together.  On this day, they were off on an adventure to the ocean - the shore - the beach - whatever you might want to call it!!  Can you believe she shot more than 1000 pictures that day!?  I can because like Denise, I recognize that EVERYTHING is a moment in time to be seen - OH WOW!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In the Still of the Night!!

Full moon's a coming and Grandmother Moon is being quite energetic and playful already!  Every night, I go to bed, my head rests on the pillow and I fall asleep.  NOT last night!!   I laid in bed for awhile - my mind thinking about all kinds of wonderful things -  everything but sleep!!  Finally, I knew I had to get up and come downstairs because what was the use of trying to BE STILL when it just wasn't happening.  I walked into the kitchen and Little Light was waiting to play.  Does she ever sleep? Is she playing me joyfully all the time?  Here is what I saw and geez - the camera was close by - BE STILL and SEE...have you guessed yet how much I love light and shadows??  The sight was welcoming and after a short time standing still and watching, I decided that the seat was welcoming.
Earlier in the evening, I had been working on a baby alphabet sampler - and I just sat down and stitched some more.  I knew that I could always settle with the handwork.  Interesting to me - known to be impatient at times (really!!) - settling down with hand work/counted cross stitch/embroidery!!  Truth be told, I have been doing this for a zillion years and keep coming back to it. 
There on the table sat all of the mish mash of the threads BUT even they were settling to me.  I was just STILL - turned on the camera and looked at the threads through the view screen.  How settling it was for me!  I zoomed right in and took all kinds of sights - this one was the most fun - almost like a tunnel of threads!!  The question I often ask...Why this?  Why now?  Once more I have been shown the way.  My camera is my friend and photography brings me peace!  Today I was with my new friend, Sharon, and we were talking about Chi and energy balls and how to find peace.  Suddenly she said to me, "That's what your camera and photography does for you isn't it?
"  I just met Sharon last week, yet there is a strong knowing and intuitive companionship between us.  She leaves on Saturday for her nomadic free spirited way in the Southwest and CA - says that is where I belong...who knows when I will see her again...but we are connected and for this understanding, friendship and time together, I am grateful!  Well can you believe that Photoschmoozer did NOT have her camera - so you can just use your imagination and envirion Sharon. sleep...perchance to dream.  Tomorrow stress test...and life goes on!!  Thanks for being a part of it!!~

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Shines...or Tarnished ...To Be Polished

  Site a spell and listen to my tale.  For those of you know me, you know that I don't believe in strengths and weaknesses.  I have created my own way of looking at who people are.  I believe that we all shine- we all have strengths - yet sometimes these have become tarnished and need to be polished to shine!  We aren't all gifted at everything we do, but with encouragement, time and patience, and BELIEF IN SELF, we can shine a lot more!!  There is DARE to AFFIRM: Catch them doing something right.  It is all about the Dance of Relationships.
   When I was in a small group the other day, I was at the other end of this way of being and it did NOT feel good.  , For some moments, I felt less than OK.  The group was discussing  soliciting people's stories to create a book about how we all have impacted the lives of children.  There was my first clue of what was to come - "IMPACT is NOT a verb.  You can't impact someone's life!"  What a cutting remark - hurtful too that she was so strong and knew that only she wa right!!  That's my belief and my way of looking at the use of the word.   IMPACT is what we do in one another's lives!!  Please don't blatantly ignore who I am and what I say because you don't think it is the truth.  Oooooooh   - I would have to call it devaluing my words and disrespecting me as a valuable person!!
   Then the opinion about the stories - " Well we will get a hundred and scrap maybe half of them.  Not everyone is a writer!"  Ooooooooh - IF someone takes their valuable time and writes a story - we can look for the message in what they shared and edit their work to MAKE IT SHINE!!
   Then there are the words - "write from your heart".  Again, "Not everyone writes from the heart!"  Oooooooooooh.  I do believe that EVERYONE writes from the heart - just that some of us have more warm and open hearts...others have hearts that are closed or sheltered!"  Our heart beat gives us life and makes us who we are.
     My other philosophy is DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WANT OTHERS TO DO UNTO OTHERS.  Thanks to Jere Pawl for what she calls the Platinum rule.  IF the group wants stories that share about making a difference, and can't even be gentle and kind and accepting with one another, finish the sentence.
   So will I continue with this group/project?  You can reach inside my mind and heart and know what I am thinking and considering.  Time will tell and the decision for me will be clear.
   For me...I am aging gracefully and intend to live my life surrounded by people who care - who are open and accepting - and who are kind and believe in the worth and value of all humanity!!    Thanks for listening!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

From the Heart!!

Everyone has stories to share.  Many people don't believe that they are storytellers or have anything interesting to say.  Sometimes, it is important to guide a person to Listen to her intuition and use her voice.  This is a lesson to be learned and one Ihave been striving to put into practice - with kindness and compassion.  Sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't.  I had a conversation with some other women yesterday about just this.  Our group was divided between the 'from the heart' soft individuals and those who believed practicality rules!!  It was a challenging discussion to say the least - and I recognized that conflict and I aren't the best of friends.  I often get emotional or silent.  It's challenging to use one's voice AND BE HEARD in a kind and accepting way.  Funny some of my comments werer ignored. When I said something about that - the comment was ' Of we heard it but didn't want to be negative, so we didn't say anything".  One of my greatest wishes in life is for people to be kind and RESPECTFUL.  We were talking about making a difference in children's lives...and they made a difference in my life yesterday!!   Like Oprah says - This I know for sure... IF an activity doesn't bring JOY to my heart, then why do I need to be engaged in it??
    To end the evening - dinner with a dear friend - and a total contrast from the previous hours.  We sat at a Lebanese cafe in West Philadelphia and ate and talked and totally relaxed.  The time was a different kind of getting to know one another - a time we have never had in the six years we have known one another.  For this time well spent, filled with love, listening and acceptance, I am totally grateful.  This will happen followed my operative word FUN!!  Thank you my friend Lillian for your love and caring!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Stop...See...Care and Let it Go!!

On an adventure to Iowa to visit friend, Beth, we took a journey further west to meet her grandson...there was only one at that point... and we detoured to visit one of the Bridges of Madison County.  Wouldn't it be fun to stand there and relive the story??
    The setting was indeed totally peaceful - lush greenery, the sounds of the running water and the amazing structure - strong and sturdy.
   As we were walking back to the car, we looked down and saw this moth struggling in the grass.  I picked it up and after I got in the car, I sat it on my leg to rest in the sun.  Was it living?  After a bit of sharing our quiet energy, I detected movement!!  We looked at one another and decided to give her another chance at life and freedom! We stopped the car, and Beth took her and gently placed her on the grass in a sunny spot.  We cared.  We had compassion for her and we hoped that we gave her that breath of life to go on!  We let her go!!
    As I write this, I am sitting here , early morning at my desk in front of the open window, feeling the cool breezes coming in to envelope me in their gentle caresses!  I am watching Little Light dancing in the magnificence of the garden, casting her shadows and making everything look special.
  Friend BOB is always talking about LETTING GO...and we let the moth go, Mother Nature guides us to let our thoughts go -and light...well you know how she can take our cares away and just dance with us!!  Another day filled with gratitude!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Little Light Loves a Gathering!!

Have I formally introduced  you to Little Light?  She has become my friend - someone recently asked me if she is my imaginary friend!!!?!?!?!  What do you think?  Remember Robert Louis Stevenson in Children's Garden of Verses, who had his shadow that went in and out with him?  Well, Little Light is always with me and is the most unconditional and accepting playmate!!  She's around and creates awesome opportunities for Being Still and the other night at our gathering.  Donna had arranged the wine glasses carefully on the marble topped counter - graduated rows!  We were sitting and talking and I HAD to get out my camera because this just, well , made me JOYFUL because of her playfulness!  It's a theme that I am choosing to bring more into my life - spirit and joy and play!  As I have been saying lately - WOO HOO!!
Since it was our first time visiting Donna's Farmland Preserve/vineyard and awesome peaceful 128 acres, we got a tour - just a bit outside and more inside.  The house has been designed for letting Little Light in - it is built in the center of the property and oriented east west - so now the Fiddler on the Roof song is going through my head...Sunrise...sunset...each one following another, filled with happiness and tears.  I digress...and that's fun and playful too!!  We got the house tour - and as I went up !  When I got up to the top of the stairs, this is where she had settled for the moment.
Isn't Little Light the most awesome friend to there (even without her friend the Sun at times) and full of spirit!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


We all have a wish to belong.  We all have a need to 'fit in' and feel at home within ourselves and as part of a larger community.  For much of my life, I have felt on the periphery - but not now.  Meet my group of caring compassionate women. We are all members of The Transition Network, Philadelphia chapter.   We all came together at the begnning of 2013 to engage in a program/curriculum called Bounceability: Resilience and Aging.  From the first night we were open, caring, trusting and good listeners.  We all had need to talk at times and the others listened and cared.  Last night we finished the pilot program and made the decision that what we have together is too strong to just say, "So long!"  We are planning on creating our own Bounceability 2.0 - WOO HOO.   Who are we?  All women over 50 in some sort of transition in our lives - each of us with our own issues - aging parents, health, death and dying, retirement, job shifts, family issues.  We were a group focused on specific topics for each session - those most importantly related to resilience.  Openmindedness, Curiosity, Creativity, Spirituality, Self Regulation...strengths determined by the VIA questionnaire. 
   The issue for me is the sense of belonging - being heard - and respected and a part of the whole.  It doesn't matter what job we have/had, what our education is, where we live.  What is important is our journey to self and the realization that, as one member said, inside we are all from the same source of light/energy!   
           It's all about being present, trusting the process and being open to the flow of life! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Perfect...or Not...It's Done!!

Here's a lesson learned - another one - and they are - with gratitude - coming at me with warp speed.  I am not aging, but acquiring WISDOM!!
We have a habit in our house of washing the clothes and then hanging them out to dry - usually on the basement clothesline but sometimes outside. 
I have often been fussy that they are not 'scrunched' on the line.  The other day, I stopped and thought about that.  Aren't I lucky that I have a guy who shares the task with me without being asked or badgered?  YOU BET -
So what's the lesson - I can hang clothes precisely (or so I think), Bill can scrunch them somewhat and guess what??  They still dry at the same rate and they are still ready to wear!!  Amazing - and I am totally filled with yet more Joy and Gratitude that I can now let that be!!!  Hey, it's a challenge for me - and for lots of you my friend, but LETTING GO and letting it happen is so much easier on the stress time!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It Don't Bother Me None!!

Every child needs a person in her life who offers her unconditional love - and for me, that was Gram!!  She was there for me - and when my Dad 'misbehaved', I just had to tell his mother and she would take care of it.
I have been experiencing a lot of LESSONS LEARNED lately as I am being STILL enough to pay attention to what is happening.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I had to go to the cardiologist for a consult (high blood pressure issues).  I wanted Bill to come with me - he hears things differently and is my partner in our life.  Well, a crown came off of his tooth and he scheduled a dentist's appointment to take care of it (or so I thought he had scheduled it!)  So I said, "Sure I am ok to go by myself!"  - martyr that I am...not believing that in a hearbeat.  It wasn't 'til I was on the way, that I called and left him a message that I wished he were going with me.  Long story short - he changed his appointment and came with me to meet yet another Healing Angel on my team!!  Turns out this lesson was about several things:
1. Using enough words to be clear with one another - he hadn't scheduled the appt. when he asked me if it was ok, but that is what I heard.
2. Asking for what you want/need rather than saying "IT dont bother me none" like Gram always did so that she/I could make sure everyone else was OK and didn't get upset with me.  Really now!! 
                    Maybe this time I have learned??   Maybe...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Be ALL That You Can Be!!

 When "Little Barbara" was very small, she was bright and curious - speaking early and a lot - asking questions and curious.  She heard, "Why do you have to know everything?  Why do you ask so many questions?  Over the years, that expanded to "Why do you have to talk to everyone?"  After awhile, it made her feel that somehow what she was doing wasn't quite right.  She settled for 'creative' activities like jigsaw puzzles and paint by number.  That lasted for years!!  Creativity ----NOT!
Then she married this guy who challenged her to try things - what can you lose - if it doesn't turn out 'right', you can always throw it away!  The little girl who was often fearful to step outside of the box and try something on her own, began to be a student of creating but very slowly!!  It started with crewel work and counted cross stitch, a bit of writing and gardening. Of course, 'she' is me!!

 About 7 years ago, after I had been taking pictures for awhile and enjoyed playing with the camera...I saw a continuing ed course offered at the local community college - Creative Photography.  Why?  Why not??  Here I quickly joined a group of people who 'wanted to know how to use their cameras'.  Bob, the jovial instructor suggested that they get out their manuals and it would be most helpful!  Barbara - who has since become MARTIE - didn't need that because I had my husband to help with my questions.  WHAT MARTIE REALLY LEARNED...I had more of a gift to SEE and realized that my camera brought me a quiet stillness that was so right...what I also realized is that the Technical part of using the camera and understanding photography didn't matter to me - what was important was BEING STILL and SEEING the beauty in the world.  WOW!!  And when challenged to do a self portrait for the class...I slowly began to set myself free.
There's more to the story - lots more and a lot of Lessons Learned as I have been making transitions into 'retirement' - whatever that is!!  Some say that I need to take courses and workshops and channel my energy.  They might be right, but right now, it's more important to BE STILL and SEE - be aware of what is all around and pay attention of life's synchronicities.  Maybe if I were to try too hard to 'find my purpose', I would miss the gifts that flow into my 
life everyday.   Here's the new ME - my crazy quilt Guardian Angel - she has introduced herself to me as Filaree and is totally light and joyful!!  There are always quiet purposes - and as my friend Allison and I were talking today, everything we do is meaningful.  We just have to BELEIVE it!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Butterflies are FREE...and so are WE!!

Every once in awhile, an angel comes into your life and you count every blessing for who she is and what she brings to your life!!  To me, that is Tee - Teshina Wilson.  We first met her when she was a resident in UMDNJ medical school here in South Jersey.  Never had I experienced a medical professional who was truly a partner in my caring and supported me as the Team Leader.  She totally believes in her patients and it is important to her to give to her community.  So you ask, why the butterflies??  For me, the way to give back and say thanks is to give the gift of my photographs.  I chose the butterfly at the top of this blog...Tee later wrote that she wanted to have butterflies all over the offices of Henrietta Johnson Medical Center in Wilmington, DE.  I am hoping to oblige.  I have the gift of SEEING and giving.  She has the gift of caring and healing.  WE are both filled with love and compassion.  For this we are all grateful!!

MAGIC is Everywhere!!

The words say everything...MAGIC IS EVERYWHERE!!  Ever since I have been using my camera to see clearly what is in my world, I am awed by the joy that comes into my heart.  I discovered ME...what brings peace to my heart...and the gift that I have to SEE what is in my world.  I have challenged friends to share what is magic to them.  For me today it is the undersides and backs of flowers - details and colors that often seen by just looking at it straight on.  Take the blue poppy that we recently saw at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.  I looked from the front...I looked from the side and the I needed - just needed to see what was underneath.  What gifts...what colors...what details.  Do you do this?  Do you look at something and then look in different ways??  Challenge yourself always.  Look at something - then close your eyes, take a deep breath - and open them again to see with a clear mind and a open heart.  Then when you think you are done - well turn around and see what else is there behind you.  It might be the most special gift of the day!!  Enjoy.