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

Sunday, October 27, 2013


 I often start out my wanderings and gazings looking at the big picture - every day I am back to visit my tree and see the gifts she has to share - spectacular and then I am drawn to what Julie DuBose called Leafness.  I find it much more playful to look at individual leaves and see what they choose to share with us.
     Take this one for example.  Bill had two surgeries last week, so we are laying low with maybe a little mini-adventure daily.  While I was waiting for him to come out for our drive, this little guy floated down onto the windshield.  Yep - the camera was sitting right next to me and I just quietly lifted and saw and pushed the button.  It rather looked like it was suspended and floating in air.  If I hadn't been sitting in the van with the windshield between me and the outside, well, I could have imagined that.  I chuckled because this brought to mind Leo Buscaglia - anyone out there remember him - back in the 80s he wrote about "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf".  So of course, this is Freddie and then I am sharing a few of his relatives.  See I said I couldn't stay with the big picture for too long.  I have discovered my photography style and it is often the up close and personal and it suits me well.

 At the right time of day, there is still plenty of moisture on the leaves - or after a rain.  Friend Denise shared some of her most recent pictures today and there was frost!  Friends, soon we will no longer be in Fall - daylight savings time no more and brrrrrrr temps.  Talked to family in Chicago and they say they have had some nights below freezing and temps during the day in the 30s.  Guess Baby Boy Grandson will have to be bundled up for his adventures out with mom and dad.
After the rain, comes the drops and they look like little giant bumps when they are so close up.  I just ask you to stop and look at these leaves all over the ground CLOSELY.  Just stare and you will be surprised to see all of the little details they are willing to share.
   Now, as I write this, it is time to sit and watch the sun quickly going down in the western sky - look at the gift of it the other day.  Just had to sit and gaze and be filled with wonder and gratitude!! Just that.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Staying with the Familiar - Seeing the New

It was a great day...out and about to see the beauty of colors...and now time to sit quietly in my office ready to see what I had seen.  Could the camera see what my eye saw?  Maybe so...sometimes what I see stays in my heart and the camera never is the partner - and that is ok.  Really ok.
   All of a sudden I looked up and smiled - it was getting dark outside yet little Light was still here with me and the shadows of the curtains were totally fascinating.  I never had to go far and still I was still and saw...just is so simple.
Then my eyes moved down about a foot and I really sat there looking at the suncatcher we bought when we were shopping for our son's wedding present.  I saw it with a different perspective and noticed the colors as the light caught them.  Suncatcher indeed!!
Then I glanced up and out the window - it was time for sunset - yes sunset at 6PM and I was sitting in one of the most special places to get a front row seat - my desk chair.  Remember what the sky looks like with the bright and glaring sun...enough light to brighten our world!  But what brings me awed vision is what happens to the sky once the sun goes below the horizon and then gives us an awesome light show.  Tonight I saw pinks and reds and oranges like I haven't seen in quite awhile.  Oh what a gift to end a pretty perfect day.  My point...there is EXTRAORDINARY in the ORDINARY - there is spectacular vision right in front of our eyes all the time IF we simply take the time to BE STILL and SEE.  please remember this...just do.
And I promise that you will never - yes never - be disappointed!  Trust me and believe what is right in front of you. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

On the Road Again...

It's been a looooooooong week and photography and truly being still with Nature - though always important - was replaced by the inner workings of surgical centers, waiting rooms, and hospital care.  Yesterday, Bill came home and our lives could return to 'normalcy' IT there is truly such a concept in reality?!?  I woke up with him beside me in our bed, looked out the window at the brilliant sunshine and colors and just knew that I had to go out and BE STILL.    I just decided to get in the car and explore.  I found this one tree and just sat with it for a long time.  It had everything I could possibly want:
   Concepts of Color, Trees, Leaves, Branches, Light,'s all good and it is all right in front of us when we stop and just see.  We don't have to label it, we just have to see it.  
   First I saw the whole tree and then I began to really get closer and look at all of it in sections.  The top was vivid red - and there were so many other colors showing themselves. 
 What truly fascinated me was the strength of the tree supported by all of its branches.  It took me back to this past week - the tree as metaphor - I needed strength and courage - maybe some bright colors too - to support Bill in the surgery and healing process.  I have a strong central trunk but this tree made me truly reflect on all of the branches in our lives that help support us.  Our son and daughter in law were present with phone calls and pictures of our baby for healing - can you believe he is already 100 days old.  My siblings and so many friends were all right there too.  Just made me think that although our trunk is strong - all of the other branches are what surround us and support us.  So it's the tree in nature...and so much more.  I have always been fascinated by trees - now with the color - yet also in all of the seasons with their bare nakedness - exposed to the elements yet standing strong and then after rest, growing again.  It's all a part of the life cycle.  Bill is sleeping a lot now and I realize that it too is his rest and an important part of his healing process.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Protection from ???

What is she seeing?  What does each of see on our Journey?  Vision and perception are in the eyes of the beholder.  As I think about how to guide someone to take pictures and 'see' as I do, I feel challenged.  No one can take pictures as I do nor can I really take pictures like any of my photography friends - in real life or on their blogs or in their books.  I - as you - are unique individuals and what we see and do suits us only! 
   As I sat at the Harvest Moon Festival, I got the thought and vision to see how people protect themselves  - from the sun? from being seen?  from discovering or expressing who they really are?  This woman was totally fascinated by what???  Did she even know or was she lost in contemplation!?  We will never know.  I thought about what everyone was wearing - including the dude sitting next to me in the red cap.  The sun was hot and they were cool.  What better way to show variations than put them all together in one place to compare and contrast.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Whither are we Journeying?!

Can you smell it?  Can you feel it?  Fall is in the area - a new season for us to continue our journey through life - with the camera and with quiet reflections.  I have always considered my time with the camera a photographic journey and a journey to self.  We notice the outer landscape and take the time to reflect on the inner landscape.  We always have choices but do we face them and act on them or do we consider ourselves victims to life's offerings?  I say NO WAY!  You know the old expression about when life gives you lemons - make lemonade!!    You can stay clean and pristine or get down and dirty and see what life has to offer.  Perceptions of reality!!
   Just yesterday I was called by the zinnias in the front garden.  Never did I realize that they turned as they withered yet stayed on the plant.  They have lost so much of the color yet retained a different kind of beauty.

They are a metaphor for Fall and the changes we experience - we never lose our beauty yet we ask to be seen in a different way!!  As I was standing there and looking, I heard a message to turn around and LOOK!  "Don't just look at the flowers Martie because there is so much more!! " The big old pine trees were asking to be seen - oh my goodness.  Look at this gift!!

Tall and straight and full of such unusual beauty.  Have you ever stopped to really look at the knots in the trees where the branches have been cut off?  Some of them look like blood and they are bleeding sap.  These trees had a zillion of these because our neighbors had cut off the lower branches.  Made me sad that the trees had been injured but ok that they were healing.  It's like how our body heals itself - sometimes while we are taking medicine and think it is the reason!  The photographic message - make sure to stop and be still and listen - then look and then turn around and look some more - up, down and all around.  There is beauty in the beholding.

Monday, October 7, 2013

FREE SPIRITS Dancing Through Life!!

It takes a LOT of energy for 'big' people to be Free Spirits - we go to lots of workshops, listen to zillions of CDs, meditate and buy books that give us all of the tips and secrets to be the FREE SPIRIT we are meant to be.  Well - I have been thinking a lot about this and I do believe we are missing the bestest teachers of free spirit that we have right before us all of the time...CHILDREN...they just have it and if we are not careful by giving them too many of society's rules and have tos - they will keep it.
Back to Greenville, DE and the Harvest Moon Festival yesterday.  I sat in my comfy chair, listening to totally danceable listening music and watching what was going on all about me.  This 11 ish young girl not only had the socks and colorful laces BUT her hair was red!  She didn't walk anyplace she went - she skipped and danced!!  Lesson 1!
One of my favorites was this total delight.  I was looking soomewhere else and all of a sudden, I looked over to my right and saw this persona - another 11ish one - spinning and twirling to the music and to the music in her head as well!!  She was graceful - she was dancing - and she was totally being HERSELF.  Notice the hot pink shoes. What 'big' person would wear those because they would be 'uptight' about the shoes not matching the dress!  Yeeks!!  I finally had to go over and meet this lovely.  I shared that I loved, truly loved her free spirit.  I asked the name that went with it and she prompty answered PRINCESS MADDY!!  She was into her role.  I acknoweldged and greeted her and then asked what name might be on her birth certificate and she promptly told me she was Madeleine ???  (I didn't catch her last name and that is not important to this story!)  She had a cool mom and a younger brother too - would it be fun to adopt and be Nana to them!!
Wait - there are more of these nymphs / free spirits about.  This one - 5 ish was twirling in her pink tutu dress and having a grand time.  What thrilled me the most was seeing her mom put her things down and join her daughter for together FUN time!  No telling her to be still or sit down (I did see one mom who kept pinching her free spirit's arm and pulling her back to the hay to sit down - oh restraint on my part to not go and punch her out - and her little one was a 3ish spirit and totally having FUN!!)  Yes, I had to go over to this mom too and thank her for being so awesome a mom!!!
Catch the look on this face - yet one more of my role models and she kept parading back and forth and back and forth along the hay bales - doing really well at keeping her balance too!!

The last one to share this post is "Little Barbara" - she was a total delight - talking early and always exuberant about life around her - asking questions and wanting to know!  Sad was she heard, "Why do you ask so many questions?  Why do you have to know so much?"  For years, she let the FREE SPIRIT she was go within so she could live in the world where she had been born.  But thank goodness it has NOT been lost forever.  As she/me has gotten older - there have been a lot of changes - Martie, photography, family, nature, life experiences, cross country adventures and more to come.  The challenge - totally releasing the free spirit that is without concern about what 'they' think.  It's a forever learning experience but as I sit and watch these children at festivals and just out and about, I realize that what makes me special is my CHILDLIKE WONDER - I haven't lost it, just reacquainting with it!!  As I say - WOO HOO!!  Life is to be lived and it is a dance!!!

The Perfect Loom for this Weaving

Little Light brought me to this loom and this weaving!  I was captivated by the glimmering of the shiny threads in the green wool The Weaver was using for her piece - yesterday at the Havest Moon Festival in Greenville, DE.  She had a variegated wool she had traded with the woman working the wheel and the colors were so alive - yet so soft and vibrant.I just stood and watched her patiently putting the skein through - warp - weave?  I think the long ones are the warp and what she put through is the weave.  Used to think that weaving and having a loom was high on my craft list but then as the years passed and I discovered other fun ways of working with my hand, this , along with knitting, crocheting and now origami and even macrame went by the wayside.  I am fascinated by how many ways we can be creative.
   Loved talking to the Weaver - oops - forgot to get her name/card but could see the gleam in her eye when she talked about how much she totally loved what she was doing.  She said that IF I ever changed my mind, this little loom would be perfect for me - I could learn in one three hour class.  Not even tempted BUT totally filled with gratitude for the colors and the textures and the work she produced - and filled with gratitude that I could see many different views of her work with my camera - fun for me!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Friendships and Celebrations

Let's talk first today about synchronicities...and then friendships...and then grapes.  Huh you say...what's the connection!  Patience friend and I will explain it all.  About a year ago, I joined the Transition Network - defined as a group of women over 50 who are moving through life's transitions.  What drew me to the program was a course to be offered called Bounceability: Resilience and Aging.  I had done some training about Building Your Bounce for child care teachers, so I thought I would explore IF there was any difference related to aging.  We used a strengths profile to see what we were all about.  Then we convened.  There were 8 of us with a facilitator.  The first meeting, another fellow traveler and I started talking and well. we have continued the conversation beyond the group.  Lovely.  Donna and I actually meet for 'coffee breaks' at Crescent Moon coffee house in Mullica Hill, NJ.  I have asked her to be my gentle 'nudge' to keep me focused on some projects I need to move forward on. I digressing.  NOPE.  Seems awhile ago, Donna and her husband Leigh bought 129 acres of Preserved Farmland in Monroeville, NJ.  They grow 12 acres in grapes - many varieties.  Photoschmoozer asked to come to the vineyard early in the morning to see what I could BE STILL and SEE.  I went to their house early one morning (after driving right past and ending up miles down the road).  As Leigh and I were drinking coffee, he said they would be picking on Thursday.  "Want to come and pick grapes?"  I said I would ask Bill if he wanted to do this.  After all, it was our anniversary and what better way to spend part of the day but picking grapes!!  Well we did and next morning, Donna shared that we had all picked 1783 pounds.  The grapes - this time cabernet savignon - are sold to Monroeville Winery and they make the wine.  So no, folks, we picked - we did NOT stomp!!  It was so much fun, we are considering heading back in a week or two when the next batch is ready.  See...don't I talk about synchronicities - talk to Donna - meet Leigh - have an anniversary (42 years) and pick grapes.  What's next?  Quien sabe??  Life is a journey and isn't it a grand one at that?!?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gardening Gifts of Love!!

There is a street in Pitman - Holly Avenue - and there is a house on Holly Avenue that is a true gift to all who drive by and take the time to notice.  This day, we saw that the flowers that had filled out the garden by the wall were gone!  What was to happen??  Then we saw the flats of pansies and then we saw a person!!

Truth and honest - in all of the years that we had been appreciating this gardening, never had we ever seen a person out front working on it!  Today we did.  "Stop the car and turn around!"  I knew that it was important for me - the Catch Them Doing Something Right Lady - to go back and talk with the gardener and thank her for all she has contributed to the beauty of life for so many of us!!  Now here is the most amazing information connected to this person and this garden.  SHE DOES NOT LIVE IN THIS HOUSE!  All of the gardening she does - changing the plants at least 2 or 3 times a year - is a labor of love for the people who do live there.  She and they are friends - all retired school teachers and she does all of this because she loves doing it.  She also gardens at her house in a nearby town and at a church in Glassboro.  Meet Janet - an exceptional woman with a giant heart and such a wealth of gardening information.    We learned about a new kind of tiny zinnia -

Now meet Fran - an oncology nurse who helps Janet with the gardening when she can.  So there is not one angel working in this yard, but two. 
So get this.  I, Photoschmoozer, was out without my camera that day IF you can believe that??  I had to go home and get it!!  Just had to.  Now here is the strange thing - by the time I went home, got the camera and came back, the zinnias that were planted along the driveway were gone!  Fran said that if she knew I wanted to take pictures of them, she wouldn't have taken them out.  I felt fortunate to find them still in the trash can and even more fortunate that Little Light was there dancing with me to make the zinnias perfect.  More gratitude!!
    Then we got invited to visit the back yard and who knew!!  There was a profusion of flowers - a plethora of colors - a pallette that would delight any artist!!   So..thankful?  you bet?  and the coolest part of it all besides the gardening and the beautiful flowers is for us to discover that Janet is 85 years young - what a role model!!  What a lesson and gift for all of our lives.  You can't just be complacent and drive on by when there is a synchronicity to be explored and stories to be shared.  My life is richer for having met Janet...and Fran.  I am really full of gratitude!!


Alli Anne and Molly Rose - also known as Allison and Martie - have been friends for many years.  Sometimes they were professional colleagues who did training workshops together.  Sometimes they were friends who laughed and sang and were joyful together.  Then came retirement - came about differently for each of them.  They started a few ideas for projects together but a better decision was to just be friends.  That could work.  They were the same in some ways but in so many other ways, just being friends was an easier way to dance together - and that was good.

So on their journey to being friends, they decided to go on an adventure.  They had created key ingredients for relationships and thought, "Why not see how many towns we can find that have the same name as the ingredients?"  Thought it would be easy - NOT.  Eventually AlliAnne searched the computer and the two decided on a Friend Adventure off in search of Gratitude.  It was on the map on the Cheseapeake in Maryland.  Did they find it?  Well, one discovery is that there is no town with that name although it is on the map.  But check this out

They found the Gratitude Marina in a small town right near where Gratitude, MD should have been on the map!  So one discovery was that it existed...sort of.  The real treasures is that they truly understand that Gratitude is NOT a place to be found as much as it is located within them and in relationships with the world.

Walking on a beach they saw an older couple pushing a stroller and walking a dog on a leash.  Look at these faces and see what Gratitude is all about.  This couple has rescued and adopted four daschunds.  Alli Anne and their owner talked about puppy health - see Alli Anne cooks bok choy daily for her dogs and so does this owner.  There was so much of the day that gave them messages of gratitude - weather - good food - great conversations with people who might have been strangers and then a visit to Chesapeake City.
Both remembered the little ice cream place by the canal and thought - in their childlike enthusiasm - "What a great way to end the cream!! "  They gave not a care to the fact that sugar is not a good friend for either of them BUT in the short run they had gratitude that they got favorite ice cream flavors and sat out by the canal watching the boats and ships of all sizes coming by.  A favorite to be sure - the teeny tiny tug guiding the giant car carrying vessel up and under the bridge out to sea!
So lesson learned...many lessons learned.  Best of all is to realize that GRATITUDE is NOT a place but a feeling of appreciation for each and every little things - each precioius present - that life gifts us with.  It's a simple no brainer - sometimes we just forget so it takes an adventure like this sometimes to guide us gently back to reality.