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, June 28, 2013

Intensity...or Flowing with Life?!?

It was a HOT day as my "Little Friend" and our friend "Little Light" explored the U of PA campus yesterday before an appointment.  Hot days make for slow walking and quiet times.  This creates lots of BE STILL opportunities IF one slows down enough to pay attention to everything around us!  The fascinating thing is that we each have our own BE STILL...or and what we see comes from our own hearts and perceptions of who we are...and where we are.  Case in point.

I had never seen calla lillies as totally awesome as these - selectively planted for our viewing - the first thing I saw was NOT the plant and all of its leaves but Little Light tickled my heart and sent me right for her dance and the patterns of one leaf!  When I showed the picteure to "Little Friend", she just hadn't seen the flowers.  She's not sure what else she was looking at, but there we are in our unique differences!!  Fascinating to pay attention to that as well.  Bill and I often rediscover the same thing when we are out and about.  We are in the same space physcially but NOT in the same head/heart space.  Just is....

Then our wanderings took us to a little plaza with a half dozen or so food trucks.  My eyes were immediately connected to these fruits and the soft, gentle colors.  Felt like it would be really refreshing to bite into one of the mangos.  "Little Friend" was immediately attracted to a young couple and their DOG.  Oops I don't have a photo op of that!  She talked about the dog and the heat and did they have any water - yes, the dog was panting and his tongue was hanging out - did I say it was HOT?!?!?  My point - you guessed it already - we SEE different things based on our perceptions and our  interests.  "Little Friend" has 4 dogs and does dog rescue!!
     Here are a few things we saw exactly alike...and one of them gave us pause - have you heard of someone losing their head - well, this person lost all of her hair!!  As we stood looking at the bicycle rack, the shadows disappeared...and then reappeared.  "Little Light" was playing with us!!

One last thing we both feel LOV in our hearts  Robert Indiana has been to the Penn campus and there, sitting on the grass and framed by trees was one of his LOVE statues.  Wonder how many of them are in Philadelphia, let alone around the country.  After all, isn't this the city of  brotherly love??  So much to little time.  "Little Friend" as alike and different as two people can be, realized that we are good traveling companions who just want to set out to see EVERYTHING we possibly can!!  Watch out we come!!  BE STILL and we can always see what we are meant to see from our own hearts and eyes!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Intentions...and Reality!!

My intention is to write on the Photoschmoozer blog daily - but we know what often happens to intentions...reality sets in - or a different kind of seeing.  When I drive to the pool for warm water exercise ( a perfect event in itself) I pass a big pond and there is a fake swan and a fountain oh and a rowboat on the shore.  The other day, I noticed the pond was full of lily pads.  I never quite noticed them before so I made plans to stop by.  I finally did and just got lost in the stillness of the environment (even though I was right next to the busy road!)  Often makes me wonder why people don't just stop and see - they are too busy getting somewhere?!? for something 'important'.   Hey I am retired - whatever that means - and as I say, this state of being is somewhat like a permanent vacation.  The lily pads and the yellow buds make me relate that to life.  They hang out, look pretty, and float along with the currents.  Not too shabby huh??  Now if we could only be more like the lily pads, the water and the blossoms.  BUT for so many of us (me often included) we want to KNOW what is going on. We want to know what we are MEANT to do - and we forget that a big piece of us is MEANT TO BE!!   It's a BE STILL thing, friends - we have to be quiet and go within to find out what is to be...all of the answers are within us - it's just tough to believe in and trust that!!
   Recently, related to life and relationships, I have tried to look at the days and people differently.  For me it is all about EXPECTATIONS - and the possibilities.  I just said to someone that if I could pick a middle name, it would be Possibility!!  I dream about the what ifs and that brings me joy.  The challenge with that is that when my expectations are not fulfilled and reality sets in, I become disappointed and even though Don Miguel Ruiz tells us in The Four Agreements not to take it personally, well...another of life's learning lessons.  What is wrong with me - what did I do wrong - that responsibility comes from the oldest child and needing to make things 'right'!   So many challenges and lessons to be learned and don't you know, we get those lessons OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAINI til maybe, just maybe one day, the aha will really come and wisdom will be achieved.  To be wished! 
Then the other day, I got drawn into this beauty in our garden!  We visited and I was still with her...and she shared her splendor.  Friends, IF I had worried about the technicalities of the camera and photography, I would not have been still enough to see the magnificence of this gift.  HEY - a thought just crossed my mind...all related to the BE STILL and SEE stuff.  Isn't life the same way.  I just shared with a friend that we can't seek the answers/solutions from anywhere but the stillness within us.  So photography...learning...they are all intertined...there are only synchronicities, lessons and possibilities!  We have to be still and NOT seek  out answers in a determined, planned way.  Just brings so much more peace when we can BE!  So today, I am taking a friend to the doctor's in Philadephia and we are meeting early and heading to the city just to BE and SEE!  Hmmm wonder what is across the bridge for us?!?!?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wholehearted Living: Life is the Learning Laboratory

"Pure fun happens when we are fully engaged with ourselves and our world in each moment. It is the spontaneous delight that bubbles out of us when we let go long enough to bring it through; it is the experience of natural, organic pleasure that springs up from our bellies, through our souls, up through our faces, and down to our toes. We’ve naturally known how to have pure fun since we were babies and the flicker of lights caused us to jump to attention from the sheer enjoyment of being able to see. Approach your life today with the knowledge that pure fun isn’t something that is given or done to you; rather, it is something that you allow yourself to experience. "  (This message comes from my OM horoscope yesterday)

Pure Fun...what does it mean to me?  Living Life to Its Fullest in the simplest of ways.  Why the dragon fly?  Because one day I was out and about at the Grounds for Sculpture on a very hot day and sat to gaze at the giant water lillies and then saw this bug.  S/he came gliding in on the gentle breezes and just stayed to visit.  JOY!!  I had my trusty friend the camera,  and we recorded the moment.   The process came with a gleeful heart - the product was a bonus!!
     I find that when I go out and about with my camera with nothing but pure intentions, then my heart is light and joyful.  When I struggle to get the 'perfect picture' - as I did last night listening to The Real Imposters - a wonderful new band, I delete many more pictures than I choose to save.  WHY??  To me, last night was a struggle filled with technical moments.  I saw the blue lights shining down on the band members but what my eye could see and my heart could revel in, my camera could not capture.  Struggle...the operative word - what setting?  What f stop - could I alter the ISO or th shutter speed?  YEEKS!  I shut off the camera and listened to the music - what a delight!!!
    Bill and I talk every day about Life's Learning Laboratory and Lessons Learned for us.  We do this in a positive way finding the lessons and the messages that show up - the synchronicities I say - to guide us on our journey to a healthy, joyful and peaceful life. 
    Yesterday I was in a store and my friend picked up a key chain saying something like you can change your life and be all you can be.  My final thought...why aren't there many that say YOU AND YOUR LIFE ARE PERFECT EXACTLY AS IT IS.  Living wholeheartedly is about acceptance of life and yourself AS YOU ARE IN THE MOMENT!!  YES!!!
Where will the journey lead? 
Simple follow the path and be open to discover!!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Transitions on Life's Journey

Strong roots - calming waters - and a place to BE STILL all come together to make life's transitions flow as they are meant to.  Sounds rather pensive huh?  I suppose I am in that space now, thinking about life and all that is happening within me and around me.  As the years have progressed, my formative years have brought about lots of personal searching and reflection.  I have been a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother ,a friend, an early childhood educator, a team member, a group member and now a 'retired' woman, discovering more about personal identity that is not measured in roles but in relationships.  Let's not forget that the new role of grandmother is soon to come!! 
     All through the years, the relationships have been with others, often at the risk of not paying attention to self.  Now that has changed - self knowledge and self acceptance is a grand piece of who I am...who I choose to be and it is good!!
   Yesterday, I decided to be still in a different way and in the middle of the afternoon, I laid down on the couch to rest and read a novel.  I looked over at the other couch and there was my husband taking an afternoon nap.  I had to chuckle to myself as this thought came into my head.....RETIRED LIFE IS LIKE A LONG AND WONDERFUL VACATION!   I never had that thought come so clearly into my head before.  It gave me pause and made me realize the truth to what I was hearing!!  The thought still brings me lightness and joy - though I do have to admit that all of this self motivation can be challenging at times!!

As I was considering what to write today, I looked through the album of my photographic self - the history of who I am and where I have been.  This picture again made me chuckle.  I like that word - chuckle - it's a gentle laughter and a lightness of spirit!  Here I was 7 1/2 years ago, taking a creative photography class with friend Bob and he challengd us to do a self portrait.  I looked at my earring collection and figured they expressed so much of me - so I sat on my bed, put on the earrings and took pictures!!  Funny thing - I just took pictures of some of my earrings I have 'outgrown' and plan to sell on Ebay - many of these are in this collage and on the way out.  I have changed - in so many ways, I have become simpler and more peaceful and that is totally wonderful.  Being on "vacation" causes a girl to stop and think about what matters in life - and I am back to the relationships again.  Stuff can come and go, but people and connections are truly what make us who we are and create our history. 
   So is this blog entry about photography?  Everything for me is about photography and seeing - I have been on a journey of self discovery  and as I look back at all kinds of pictures I have taken, I have seen a difference in content, composition and style.  My pictures are often more reflective and STILL - well there you go!!  Photography for me has been and continues to be and my camera is my friend.
   Every day I have gratitude for the gifts in my life and all of the warmth, beauty and love that surrounds me.   Wonder what today will bring??

Friday, June 21, 2013

Who is Your Picture For???

This rose presented herself one morning - just standing alone and peaceful on the vine.
When I am out and about with my camera - engaging in photography you might say - WHY do I go out and whom are the viewers of my photos - where do they fit into the picture of my photography??  That's an interesting question and has recently presented dialogue from several different perspectives!!  When I think about BE STILL and SEE Photography - contemplative photography - I think about seeing the gifts in my world.  Although I do often post pictures on Facebook and on this blog, my real reason for taking the pictures is for my peace, stillness and enjoyment.  It is rather mindful for ME!  If others enjoy them, lovely but not primary.  Another photo buddy recently posted on Facebook about using Light to take pictures.  My comment - it was rather technical - and I will admit often an issue for me.  I think that the technical takes away from 'seeing from the heart'.    That brought another photo buddy to say how she loves the technical - actually there were two of them!!  I came back and said that if we get into the technical, then we are not into the BE STILL mode. 
   Then she said, "Learning the technical stuff creates BETTER picures!"  My rebuttal - who/what defines better or well done?  Her response - "the viewer will have a deeper experience looking at a 'well done' image.  Again - how would you define well done?  And my other question - who is the picture well done for???  Then I would have to ask - would every viewer define a more technically precise picture as more 'well done'?  OK - I could beat this horse for a long time but what I have to learn from it all is that each of us has his/her own perspective and philosophy.  We have to learn to listen and respect one another - and neither person is right!!  Lesson learned with wisdom and maturity.  I ended the dialogue because in my mind's eye - there couldn't be a concensus.  Maybe an understanding...maybe...
    In our BE STILL discussions, I strive to share that what matters in being mindful or contemplative - to me at least -and it is the ability to NOT have a preconceived notion of what I am going to shoot or HOW I am going to set the camera up to take the 'perfect picture'.
      Another friend calls this picture a 'belly up' photo.  He gets down on the ground and views from below.  My Canon camera with the flip screen allows my non-working knees to see the same thing in a different way.  There are so many angles to enjoy and a picture like this allows me to see what I might not have been able to do otherwise!! 
Still thinking about the 'how to use light' article.  My last comment about that - IF we are still and see, then my best friend Little Light just comes out to play and we use her natural light to expand our perception of the beauties of nature - and again the flip screen is a valuable ally!! 
It's gratifying to be able to share my thoughts and would love to have a dialogue with some of you about what you might think is 'the perfect' picture.  Talk to me and Thanks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rainy Day FUN...and Memories

Yesterday we had some really torrential rains - feels rather like we are living in the tropics with a daily thunderstorm.  The upside is that the garden is lush and for this we are grateful.  Hopefully there will be no drought this year.  Just talked with friend, Beth , in Iowa and she said they have rain daily for months - almost to the point that farmers can't plant because the ground is so wet.  Somewhat of a blessing because they have been in a drought for a few years now.
   For Photoschmoozer and 'Little Martie'- the rain is a gift for SEEING - a new view of the world through the lens of the car windshield.  I was driving home and splashed through a huge puddle - that gave me pause and brought back a memory when son, Jon, was young.  He loved for us to out driving and splash through the puddles.  So for Jon, I did just that!!  It was great fun though a bit challenging.  I had to create the splash and hold the camera up to capture what I could.  SUCCESS!  
   Then I just sat for a minute and saw what the world looked like through the heavy rains on the windshield.  I felt like I was in the midst of an Impressionist art gallery - distorted but still capturing the colors.  I had to move slowly because I was choosing to drive along the road (no cars in sight) without the windshield wipers to get the full effect.  The rain and the driving created some amazing BE STILL moments for me.  I was so into the PROCESS of what I was doing and that was the joy of it.  It made my little girl's heart jump with joy!!  And I had just finished an acupuncture treatment, so the chi energy was really flowing!!  Here are a few more of my favorite 'paintings' from yesterday's rainy day adventure.  Have you ever done this?  It's no fun to stay in - except maybe when there is thunder and lightening.  Then it all brought me back to growing up 'down the shore' in Wildwood Crest.  When it rained, we put on rubber boots and slickers and went out and played in the puddles.  Oh the joys of childhood...and memories!!

YOUR CAMERA, MY FRIEND.  NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.  Oh and one other thing - Make sure you have extra charged batteries!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What I See and What I Share with GLEE!!

 We are all unique individuals and when we go out and about in the world, what we see is totally our own visions.  I have been challenged to think about my philosophy of photography and how I see and share the world.  What better place to do it...for now...than in this blog!!  First of all, I will have to say that my camera is a best friend in my life - a traveling companion - a lifeline - a tool to cause me to settle and see my world in my unique way!!  Simple...and not.
   The other thing I know is that I just SEE rather than saying to myself - "Oh there is a duck.  Take a picture."  When we label something, we shut out all kinds of possibilities about what we are seeing and what is in the world around it.  My photography comes more from an open heart and a child like vision and curiosity.  In future columns, I will share the infant's way of seeing and being and relate it to me.  Sounds like fun to me!!  Maybe it will resonate with you?!?
I was wandering the grounds at the Highlands the other day and my curious little girl was drawn to this open door.  There was  padlock hanging on it, so I knew there must be lots of treasures within!  Funny thing here - I took the picture of the open door and thought about pursuing it...but never did.  Instead my eye was drawn to this...
I saw color...I saw design...and I just took this picture - rather a favorite of the day.  Why did I do it?  How can I describe what I saw and what attracted me?  For now, I just have to say that I got a gleeful feeling in my heart as I looked at it!  I know - can't help you take a picture by talking about a gleeful heart but often, that is what motivates me.  I clear my head and open my heart and see anything that fascinates me and brings me joy!
   Funny story - Bill and I were talking about this later.  He too saw the open door and glanced at the window.  But in our differences - he is practical - I am whimsical, we saw and explored totally different pieces of the same world.  He saw the window but then had to open the door and see what was inside.  Once there, his practical self began to see all of the repair work that had to be done!!  Never crossed my mind!!  My guess is that is what has created our teamness for more than 40 years and why we complement one another.
      I would love to have conversations with readers about HOW you see the world and take your photographs.  What brings you joy and aliveness??  Write to me and let's 'talk'   Enjoy your day and open your heart and see the gifts all around you It's the precious present!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More SELF Discoveries

Yesterday, Bill and I went off on one of our mini-adventures - criteria...out to explore the new and different in the world; spending time together; having FUN and being open to the synchronicities that come to us!  Another day...another success.  This visit was to the Highlands mansion and gardens in Ft. Washington, PA.  We have a list of gardens in the area - tri-state - and only begun to chip away at discovering them.  There is time. 
    We had tried two other times to visit this one and the rains came down.  When it was overcast and a bit drizzly early in the morning, our decision was to go anyhow and we did!!  The gift of the day - perfect weather, amazing clouds, a fascinating house complete with a mini-tour from a woman who worked there, and formal gardens surrounded by stone walls - several acres of flowers and trees.
   What did I discover?  First of all, I realized that when I am out amongst the flowers in nature, my heart fills with love and I connect with the diva energy of each flower.  It's my BE STILL peace of, my camera and flower energy!!  Yesterday I discovered an iris - the likes of which I had never seen.  I tiptoes through the plants to get up close and personal - awesome.  You can see that from all of the different shots in the collage.  Total gratitude.
    Then Ms. Echnicachea was revisited - same healing plant in a different location and of a different magnitude.  "She" was large!!  Got very up close and personal with her as well.  I am really attracted to this flower.  Her 'heart', the orange center is spectacular!

On and on through the gardens - so much to share!!  Just one more - a vivid yellow flower - let's just call her sunshine because that is so what she reminded me of!!  Good morning Sunshine!!

Bill discovered the greenhouses and was curious about some of the ways the gardners we starting plants.  When we asked the woman in the house about it, she shared that they had entered into an agreement with a CSA to farm a piece of their property and they were using the greenhouses.  Yet another discovery for the day.  We went to the CSA area - met the women who were running it and he got answers to his questions.  We also saw how they ran their CSA - each week - and they are open for 24 weeks - people come and get six types of produce, predetermined by the organizers.  We also came home with a fantastic book written by a CSA group from Wisconsin - Vegetables from Asparagus to Zucchini.  This treasure trove has information about each vegetable and many favorite member recipes.  It will be close by as we explore our garden's gifts and those of our own Muth Farm CSA this summer.  YES, we brought the book home!!  Check it out!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Synchronicities...and Happiness

This morning, I received this link from Friend Bob  - and it is sooooooooo ME!!  This particular piece is all about what I call Synchronicities - The author calls it 'seeing the unseen'.  It matters not IF you BE STILL and pay attention to everything that is happening because it all has meaning.  One little event triggers the next - and so it goes throughout the day!!  The joys of the simple things!  Perfect way to enjoy life in all of its glories!!                                                              

Yesterday I talked about the gifts I received from just being out in the rain and SEEING.  My synchronicities are often with people...and with the little sightings of the beauty of the gifts that Mother Nature offers us.  A few days ago, I had seen some painted daisies (my word for them) on a hill and went back to see them in all of their magnificence.  That I did...and more

They were just saying...STOP and SEE ME!!

Ahhhhhhhh but they were not alone!  I took time to look around and everywhere, the rain had left water droplets on everything that was growing.  This tree just said to me - Look over here and see what I have to offer you!!  And I just got pulled in that direction!!
Then - I had issued a challenge to the BE STILL group to photograph lillies of all different colors.  Maybe it is my quest - others go off in their own directions and don't take the callenge (Bob does!!)  Back in the car and off to search Pitman for the unusual big lillies - not the orange day lillies that are so all over the place!!  I found some big beauties and also discovered other treasures that brought me joy!!  Mayor Mike (Pitman's former mayor) and his wife always have such an amazing garden and I knew there were gifts there.  What I found -
Without a doubt, they have always been favorites of mine BUT today I found the plants growing in pots and they were splendid!  I often buy them at florists or in the bins at the grocery store, but today they were just growing and I was excited.  Not sure anyone else could hare my joy - but sometimes the dancing feelings are within and that is cool for me.  Here they are!!

One more treat hidden among the plants - we can call them Echinacaea - we can call them coneflowers - we can know that they are totally cool - and the herb from this plant is healing too!!  Share my joy at seeing this beauty!!
I could go on and on but there will be more days...more gifts...more stories.  See - Bill and I have a list of zillions of gardens in the tri-state area - most within an hour from home!!  Today we go to Ft. Washington to see what is there.  Yesterday a firend said, "What kind of pictures can you take on a day like this?!"   I think you see the answer to that question in what I have shared - so even though it is overcast, we are heading out today - and the gifts are waiting!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Outstanding in Her Field!!

The day was dismal - or it could have been but I strive to keep the sunshine in my heart!  As people always say, "Hey I woke up and put my feet on the ground - now isn't that a lot to be grateful for?!?  Today I had to go and select some of friend Pat's quilts - we are hanging an exhibit in her memory at Cold Spring Village quilt show last weekend in June.  She was a gentle spirit - always with the sunshine in her heart and up until her last days, we were talking about going to the new ice cream shop in Pitman when she came home!!  We shared optimism and belief that everything works out as it needs to.  I have such gratitude for having had Pat in my life for as long as I did!!
    When I left her husband, Jim, with bags of quilts and stories and photographs, the sky got darker and darker - I was anticipating the rain and actually excited about the possibililties of photographing the water coming down!!  I pulled over to the side of the road and was STILL - you know - BE STILL and SEE and that I did.  I was safer that way too because I doubted I could have seen through the torrents of rain.
   Arriving back in Pitman, I challenged myself to go and look for more Lillies - I challenged the BE STILL group to create an album of lillies with me on Facebook.  I was lucky!  I discovered a number of different colors and it was dry enough to see them all.  I also saw beautiful gardens and the echinacaea in the midst of it just reminded me to BE OUTSTANDING IN YOUR FIELD...never be concerned to stand alone and stand tall.  Never be afraid to be different - to be yourself.  Now didn't she complement the other flowers?  It's all about unity and diversity everywhere I look.  Later in another garden, there was yet another lone echinacaea and she too was proud of who she is!!WOO HOO!!  Maybe today this flower reminded me of Laughter, Song and Dance - and she is a healng herb too.  Brene Brown talks about Letting Go of  Being cool and always in control.  Ms. E has let it go - she is laughing with her friends and they are engaged in a dance of relationships that only they and their spirit devas of the garden can truly understand.
   We are quiet observers of the energies around us in the gardens and for this we truly just need to be still friends.  Or maybe the message is to Let Go of Anxiety and Be Calm and Still.  You choose - either one can work as long as we embrace who we truly are!
   Before we finish - meet Pat and Jim!!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Authenticity revisited!!

The other day we were early to have dinner in Philadelphia and decided to wander the Front Street neighborhood.  Little did we realize that it was Gay Pride Day.  We missed the parade, but were able to visit and photograph some of the individuals who were at the Riverfront to support the lifestyle and the day.  They often stopped me and asked to pose for a picture!  Proud of who they are!!
The afternoon gave me pause to reflect on Brene Brown's discussion of AUTHENTICITY.
          "Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are!"
She talks about 'nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.
Some of us learn this at an early age - maybe through life's experiences - maybe through outstanding role models - or maybe just through opening ourselves up to just BE!!
For me, the authenticity has come in stages - itty bitty steps to a Wholehearted Life.  Letting my hair grow and letting the curls be has been FUN and meaningful to me.  Wearing flowes in my hair - wonderful!!  It's simply who I have become and who I enjoy being with!!  As I say WOO HOO!!!  Being colorful - a treat and an expression of self - and finding like minded spirits to hang out with.  Like seeks like.  Now don't get me wrong - I know lots of AUTHENTIC people who are not as colorful - more the beiges and browns...yet true to who they are~~  I love them ALL! 
We are all engaged in this RAINBOW COALITION and sharing the courage, compassion and connection of BEING!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

REAL friends are Precious!~!

Ever have an intuitive sense of something being 'right' and acted on it and it turned out to meet all expectations - maybe even exceed them?  I did!!  I have two dear friends - could also call them role models, maybe wise woman mentors and just genuine compassionate caring individuals.  One of them just moved back into our area(Lillian) - the other one has been in my life for about 35 years(Harlene).  I wanted them to meet!  As I love to say...WOO HOO!!!  It was a done deal...success rules!!
   We are all three of us conscious of our eating - predominantly vegetarian.  We met at the Blue Sage restaurant in Southampton,PA.  Outstanding -great food; great service and great company. It took awhile to make our choices, but once done, we were pleased!
    Our visit gave me pause to reflect on the book I am reading by Brene Brown - The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.    She talks about WHOLEHEARTED living - engaging in our lives from   a place of worthiness.'  It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough!!"  WOW!!
Brene talks about the power of LOVE BELONGING and BEING ENOUGH.  She shares guideposts  - ten of them. I will share them gradually.
   The first  CULTIVATING AUTHENTICITY is first in my heart as well and in my relationship with my friends, Harlene and Lillian.  Why I love them both and knew that they would connect easily with one another is that each of them is an authentic person.  What does that mean?  They are people who consciously practice being authentic.  They show up and are REAL..They are honest and let their true selves be seen.  They no longer embrace the need to think who they are supposed to be and instead just be who they are!   I strive to be an authentic person in my life in my transitions an aging.  Usually it works - for those who are genuine and caring.   Yesterday, someone left me a voice message that was less than authentic - less than caring or compassionate and quite mean spirited.  I had to give pause to who I really am - what I bring to the world - and how I am perceived by like minded people.  Go back to the Four Agreements - this call violated the first about using your words with care.  Then I had to again pay attention to the second about not taking it personally.
   Incidents like this phone call can bring out the ghosts - but as I become older and wiser and spend time with my genuine, authentic friends, reality and being who I am - being enough, it's  lots simpler.
   For this, I thank Lillian and Harlene for being in my life. The shoes   at the beginning of this post?  Well...I wish I could have posted a picture of the three of us but alas, I knew I had to respect my friends and their wishes of not liking their photographs taken.  Being peaceful with that.  So this picture was from three friends at the Gay Pride day yesterday in Philadelphia - I choose to be the one in the middle - Lillian and Harlene.  Makes me wonder which each would choose?!?  No matter - they show our individuality - our unity and our diversity.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Don't Take It Personally

Here's a welcoming rocking chair...pull it up and set a spell and let's chat.  I am wearing my DARE to AFFIRM shirt - all about the Dance of Relationships.  That they are - a dance.  Finding our inner rhythm and then going out into the world with is - a constant challenge.  At times, the two people will hear the same music and get in step.  At other times, there can be a lot of stepping on toes!!
      Last night I stepped while out in a group setting, I sat back and watched some of the personal interchanges - and in my head, took some of them personally.  When I saw a 'friend' talking to one person - and yet another - about setting up 'playdates' , I thought "What about ME?"  She and I used to do that...and then something changed.  WHAT?!?!  WHY?!?!?   I often go into the "what did I do" mode and it is NOT reality based.  On the way home, I chatted with two other friends about this and they clearly said, "Don't take it personally!"  This immediately brought to mind Don Miguel Ruiz and The Four Agreements:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Words
2. Don't Take Anything Personally
3. Don't Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best
    Funny - when I first read the book and shared the information with people, I often couldn't remember what #2 was!!  Imagine that?!?  Here is what Don Miguel says....
   "Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their owndream. When you are immune to the opions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering".
    So when someone says that she can't be my friend because she can't deal with my energy - is that my problem...or hers?
   When someone else says that she has 'evolved' and I have not so she can't be my friend - and she shares that info in a 'nastygram', is that my problem...or hers?
   Lesson learned:  It is only my problem IF I allow it to be - and IF I take it personally.
   It's all about self acceptance - wanting to belong - and needing to be loved and appreciated.  Find the love and acceptance within - and recognize all of the places where it comes from without!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Laugh Out Loud!!

In all of my years of  taking pictures of people and their shoes, I have never had anyone say NO - don't do it - until the other day on the Cape May -Lewes Ferry  - and she wasn't nice about it either!  Wondering why because usually people either laugh at me since I am doing something silly - or love that I flatter them with attention (remember Catch Them Doing Something Right!!).  Some say ok but they really need a pedicure - as if anyone will ever know who they are by their shoes/feet - really now!!  So let's share a few of the most interesting ones I saw the other day on the Ferry ride to Delaware!!

 Here's friend Denise and her long spotted skirt and sandals to coordinate with it.  Notice the color of the toenails - cool.  (I saw her again last night and her toenails were green to match what she was wearing then!!)  Remember I talk a lot about Little Light being my playful companion?  Well - here she was on the Ferry ride with us - patterns all over the place!!

My guess is that these two were runners - check our the muscles in their legs - he guy on the right!!

He never noticed - this guy was so stretched out and relaxed!  Love the shadows!!   This other one - totally relaxed - and I love the shadows/patterns of the chairs.

Now here is the one - simple picture - purple flip flops - could be owned by anyone - and if  you look closely, she has even put on lavender nail polish to match the color of the shoes!  She could have been a cool person...guess we just didn't connect!!
Here was one of the loveliest conversations of the day - an Indian woman in a beautiful sari with matching flip flops that glittered in the sunshine like diamonds.  I asked to take her picture and she was so flattered - great conversation - so much fun, open and receptive.
           I like to take pictures of people and their shoes because I can get a snippet of who they are...why they choose what they do to wear and other interesting factoids about them.  I do understand that shoes are one of the pieces of ourselves that we show to make us unique.  The woman in the purple also reinforced how different/unique we are in our responsiveness to anything different - or maybe something invading our space?  Funny thing is, that as I walked around the Ferry, I saw her many more times!!  Lessons learned...always...just going out in the world and keeping my eys open - listening with an open heart - is a grand way to share experiences and learn lessons!!  DARE to AFFIRM!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Taking Time to Transition!!

I feel like writing this blog with all of the colors of the rainbow that are in this picture!  This shoe represents so much - what you say?  a simple shoe?   YES...taking the time to be joyful...relaxing in the sun...playing and just having fun!  The maintain this feeling for most of the days - the reality - fleeting - comes and goes - but the gratitude is that it is present.
The words Transition and change are increasingly used in our vocabulary of late - or maybe it is because of my age and life situaton.  No matter - they are to be  faced  and dealt with...and sometimes with an intensity that, well , isn't quite as fun as it could be!  Trying to hard to 'figure out life' rather than  sitting in the sun - floating on the water and just BEING.  For so many years, we are extrinsically motivated - have a job - family obligations - schedules and routines.  Then life says, 'go ahead and retire' and you have all of the time you want!!  As my friend Jill would say - YEEKS!  The transition of this transition is that now you have to be intrinsically motivated.  No longer identified with who you are and what you "DO", now is the time to find that inner identity.  I have just picked up several books by Brene Brown- The Gifts of Imperfection and then Daring Greatly!  Hmmm...maybe these topics about being real and being vulnerable will be a focus for the blog for awhile!!   It's not about what you do - but more importantly that you take action - then you become vulnerable - could even fail in what was attempted - but hey, you have done something and that is what counts!!  So if it is about unpacking boxes after a move...or getting to work on that baby quilt...or just is action.  The lesson to be learned is that everything has meaning and value.  Because something doesn't seem big enough and important enough...well...just look down and take a picture of your shoe and see how totally cool you are!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


That's what these past days have felt like...HEAT ...inactivity...and the feeling that a dear friend expressed moments ago - MALAISE.  What can it mean?  You don't have to be told because the word in itself just says it all...may (well it is June now but close enough) and laise...could it be like feeling lazy??  Did I make it up?  Perhaps yet my friend expressed it well.  One just feels like WHATEVER...or maybe better yet - nothing much at all.  In her case, there are boxes to be unpacked from a recent move but as we quickly concluded, they are there and aren't going anywhere?!?!?  The Italians have a word for it - I think it is 'domani' - which means tomorrow.  Better yet, they also say "dopa domani" which is the day after tomorrow.  Whenever...whatever.
   Never a day can pass without my taking some sort of photograph - though I often forget to post here - and today was no exception.  I ventured out on the back deck - geez louise - at least a hundred in the late afternoon sun and in my usual BE STILL mode, I sat on the steps and looked around.  Looks like the water has been affected with malaise too - not moving - not going anywherer - stagnant!!
I decided to be brave and go off of the steps to check on progress of Phyllis' cactus.  What to my wonderiing eyes should appear - all of these buds on one single leaf - just waiting to pop!!  See the heat doesn't bother the cactus - they thrive so pretty soon the yellow lovelies/flowers will be there for us to share.

Until then...stay cool - be in the moment - live with the feelings...and just accept them - the malaise is not to be reckoned with - just lived.  This weather just causes lots of BE STILL moments - no choice!!