North Carolina Bound

I have not taken a vacation, a real vacation in more than a dozen years.  I carry a pretty heavy schedule majority of the time due to working a full time job and photographing events and concerts thought out the year.  But this year I decided I needed a break, a long two week break in the mountains of North Carolina.  My best friend of almost fifty years lives in a little town called Concord.  So on October 15 I boarded flight 818 and headed north. IMG_1422

It was a very short flight; less than an hour and a half and was uneventful.  We landed on and I made my way across the tarmac to my waiting friend.  I should mention that she too is a Debbie.  When I got off the plane the temperature was cooler, but still warm, however I was in for a surprise.

On Tuesday we took off on a road trip up through the Pisgah National Forest and up through the mountains searching for some color and some waterfalls.  The color was missing from this scenario as North Carolina had longer than normal summer temperatures which was keeping the leaves from changing.  Not to mention two hurricane’s had passed through the area.

Our first stop was a little diner where I enjoyed a nice plate of NC style BBQ, one word; Yum!  Our adventure continued as we drove through the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest and the weather took a turn and it started to rain.  This did not stop our trekking the beaten path to find a waterfall; not only did I find one, but a covered bridge too!  Giant score for me photographically speaking.  The rain was coming down pretty steady but my excitement built as I heard the sound of rushing water and once we arrived the sound became deafening, but in such a wonderful restorative way.IMG_1373North Carolina-3

This next week we stayed close to home and I was able to photograph some local birds and experience a change in temperature.  Then on Saturday our other best friend flew in so we made another road trip into Charlotte to pick her up. Did I mention she too is a Debbie? (North Carolina will never be the same).

 

That weekend we invited a few friends who live in the area over for a gathering, it was great to see them and to meet their families.  So much love in one place……incredible.

On Monday October 22 we three Debbie’s took off on a road trip once again.  We drove up through the Blue Ridge Parkway and I was able to find more color, the temperature had dropped from the upper 70’s to the mid 30’s and settled around 45 degrees.  For this Florida girl it was cold, but the crisp air, sharing time with my best friends and just enjoying the ride and the color seeping through the trees was something I can’t explain in words, only heart can.  We drove up to about 5000 feet, found a lovely little restaunt to have lunch  and then off to find Linville Falls.  We didn’t hike to the top, but I was happy with what we found.  Continuing our drive we found icicles popping out of the side of a mountain.  So we pulled in to a parking area and I hiked back to the area where water was seeping out of the rocks.  My lungs were screaming with the thinner and colder 37 degree air, but it was so beautiful.

I needed this time away, I needed to do some life reflection and to be with my girls who know me so well.  I have not laughed or loved like this in a very long time.  They are amazing; we are amazing to have had this friendship of 50 years that is so deep and unshakeable. The T-shirts Debbie brought us says it all the back has the three D’s and it says “True Friendship Grows Forever”.

I love these girls so much and I was sad to depart.  I will be back…..again.

IMG_1417

Treasures of Time

This past weekend I briefly took a step back in time.  I attended a reunion of friends from my youth.  As a young girl I attended a Baptist Church and became very active within the youth group.  We had a Pastor who loved the youth as well as his entire congregation and we had a youth leadership team who led us, and encouraged us to grow and to seek Jesus, we had a bond that was unshakable.  Yes, we would argue and fuss at each other, but we truly loved each other and knew how to say those two little words “I’m sorry”    Still today some of my greatest loves have come from this group; my life long best friends, respect for leadership who treated us like their own kids, and a love of the Lord that has grown stronger through time.

I was asked to document the weekend through photographs, which I did with portraits and candid moments, a book will be created from this collection and I look forward to working on that project.

The weekend began on Friday night with an informal gathering, skits, fun, and fellowship, reminiscent from days past. And of course it would not be a Baptist get-together without food, LOTS of food, an entire row of tables full of homemade fare.

untitled-0159

We told stories and shared memories and hugged each other, laughed and ate (did I mention we had lots of food?). One of the event organizers created a beautiful slideshow of those who were once a part of us, but have now graduated to heaven.  I never made it past the second slide before the tears started, even writing about it gets me choked up.

On Saturday evening, we met at a local restaurant in a private room.  Again with stories, laughter, hugs and lots of great food!  We gathered with some who could not attend on Friday and caught up with their life.  The evening ended with a group photograph and singing.  I’m sure the restaurant has never experienced anything like us before.

Sunday we gathered for worship as a group, and were surprised to see our very own Pastor Hammond in attendance.  I cannot say enough about this man. He is gracious and loves the Lord.   We could not wait to see him and talk to him, many of us  ran to greet him before he even sat down.  I was one of those, and he greeted me fondly by the nickname he had bestowed upon me years ago………’Trouble’,  yes, I cried just hearing him call me that. There is a story behind the nickname, someday I will share that story.

As I sat in the service, I really can’t recall what the current minister was speaking on.  My thoughts were encountering past memories, treasures of the mind; and for a time, we were teenagers, Pastor Hammond was up in the pulpit Randy Willett was sitting next to him, Tim Davis was at the Piano and Steve Wright was directing us youth in choir, and for a moment, time briefly stood still.  My heart is still full, and my eyes are still leaking with the thoughts of those I love.  We all experienced this weekend, those treasures in time.

Until we meet again……continue to let your light shine.  “You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

untitled-0315

 

The Cat Knows

harpo
Harpo laying his head on my arm while I’m working

Almost eight years ago I adopted a kitten. Okay he adopted me, because we all know you never own a cat, they own you.  However this little guy literally reached his paws out to me as I made my second pass through the pound.  How could I resist? I brought him home that day.  He’s not like any other cat I’ve ever been owned by, he’s different.  Different how you ask? He’s intuitive; he understands me and my moods better than just about any human I’ve ever been around.

 

On days I don’t feel well he sticks close by laying against whatever is ailing me at the time, headache, stomach, etc..  At times he will even lay on the part of my body which is hurting at that moment.  I don’t know how he knows, he just does.

Yesterday I had spent much of the day on Facebook (yeah I know, big mistake), but I had nothing really planned, all my work was caught up and I wanted to see what was going on with all the political rhetoric (again a big mistake).  I totally understand everyone has an opinion, and each side think they’re right and try to force it upon the opposition to prove their point, but there comes a time to just stop.

I woke up just not feeling right, kind of in a bad mood.  No one else lives with me, it’s just the cat and I, so I had to backtrack as to what triggered those feelings.  This morning I came to the conclusion of how much the negative noise of social media had really affected me over this past election and inauguration of our 45th President. When I realized Harpo had not slept on my bed or next to me all night, I knew he was sensing something wasn’t right with me.  He came in around 5:30 this morning, jumped up on the bed at the far right corner and barely acknowledged me.

How did this happen?  None of those posts were actually pointed at me, but something did happened at the end of the evening that set me off prior to going to bed.  Someone began verbally attacking one of my friends for something she said on a post I had made because she  didn’t agree with his philosophy, I immediately fired back and removed his post.  Harpo picked up on this and didn’t even sit with me on the couch as he usually does, he snoozed on the floor….totally out of character for him.  Somehow his instincts told him I was in a bad mood and he steered clear of me all night and all this morning.  He didn’t even beg for his breakfast, he waited patiently for me to feed him.  I left the house feeling bad, knowing I had upset my little black & white buddy.  He understands me.  I know he will be back to loving me tonight, I will make sure of it. But my point in all of this is, if a cat can pick up on the negativity, then how is it affecting each of us?  I know I didn’t sleep well, and I obviously was in a melancholy  mood, so now what?  First I prayed, asked for the spirit of negativity to be lifted.  Then I made a decision regarding reading what is on Facebook.  I will keep scrolling, if it’s political in nature, no matter what side it’s on I will steer clear and even hide the posts if needed.  I will not engage in any of the online badgering/bullying that is happening and I will choose to be joyful throughout my day.  This year I chose the word “Intentional” as my word for the year to work on in my own life.  I am going to be intentional in what I post, to make sure it’s free of negative language and to make sure it’s uplifting to whoever reads it.  I choose JOY! And I will listen more to my cat, because he knows.

If you would like to read more in depth on this issue, please visit Karen Zeigler’s post: Light, Love and Letting Go

2016 A Year In Review

Happy New Year!  It’s always exciting to begin a new year, that change of numbers is simply filled with excitement of what the next twelve months may bring.

I began this blog in late 2013 and wasn’t really sure where it would take me, for this next year I have titled the blog to fit more with who I am and what I am all about; Life, Love & Passion Through the Lens.  I’m so excited for this next year, not only to grow my blog and my photography business, but to amp up my personal growth. Many new things will be happening with the addition of some marketing influences in internet radio and a new marketing video will be produced in the next couple of months.  Exciting times are coming!

I have made mistakes and learned from them.  My proficiency in using the editing software I own is increasing, and I am growing as a photographer. I have increased my wedding photography presence.  I am shooting more concerts and I was able to photograph a local production of an original play.  I even had a photo photo bombed by a Clydesdale!  Enjoy!

2016 has been one of the best years, I’ve ever had, and I know my momentum will only increase and I will continue to learn and grow.

I want to share a few of the highlights from this past year……….enjoy & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Time Off

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I took some much needed time off. After a full summer and a busy start to our concert season along with weddings, portraits and other work, I was ready to unplug and get back to nature.

My go to place as I’ve posted in the past is in the Everglades.  I love to camp and I took four full days to step out of the digital world and relax.  I did do some posting to Facebook, but instead of worrying about my status, I took camera in hand and stepped out into the swamp.

big-cypress-fak-9

Because of the cooler temperatures (great for camping), the alligators were in abundance along the road of Jane’s Scenic Drive in the Fakahatchee Strand, and on the trails my son and I walked, (check out his website: Phloridaphoto.us He even decided to get a bit more up close and personal with a gator lying on the path we were walking.

big-cypress-fak-30

I stopped and photographed him, photographing the alligator.  I just could not bring myself to be that close to something that large with huge teeth.  As my son walked past him, Mr. Gator lifted his head and rumbled that deep throaty sound as a warning to let him know he may be a bit too close.   I had the same experience as I hung out the car door to get a rather large alligator hanging out on the road we were driving.

big-cypress-fak-37

We also went out two nights in a row to capture the Milky Way, however during the hours we were there, the sky have cloud cover in the general vicinity.  We did capture the sky at night and this photograph shows Miami glowing in the distance as the International Space Station does a fly over (I have an app on my phone called Sky Guide that allows me to track this).

Big Cypress-Fak-76.jpg

Overall it was a wonderful relaxing long weekend, with friends, family and my camera.

From Death Comes Life

QuotesThis past couple of weeks I’ve come to the realization once again that loss is a part of life.  As I was doing my thing with taking concert photos a long time friend was coming to terms with the passing of her husband.  I’ve known this couple since the early to mid 70s, they were beautiful together, and a huge part of my teen/early adult life.  Unfortunately his life was taken by the evil affliction of cancer.  I’ve not seen them in years, but I was praying for him daily during his extensive battle, he has now received complete healing of his body; for that we are thankful, but my heart aches for his beautiful wife, children, family and friends who were closest to him; I know he will be missed.  Along with death there is always life, and sometimes something incredibly beautiful, unplanned and definitely unexpected happens.  It’s taken me this entire week to wrap my mind around the circumstances and express in words what I have been experiencing, but because of this friends passing, a lovely friendship which started over forty years ago was rekindled.  I can’t begin to express what I feel about this, except it’s an extraordinary event; what a true  blessing.  Rest in the arms of Jesus Jimmy Steen, and thank you.Quotes-3

 

An Unveiling

Recently I reconnected with an old friend through Facebook.  We had been friends back in our late Junior High early High School days.  He moved away and we kept in touch for a short time after; well before Facebook when letter writing was envogue.  He had moved back to the same area as an adult and joined the local Sheriff’s Department as a K9 handler.  He is currently retired and breeds/trains Malinois & German Shepherds.  He contacted me about photographing his dogs working so I took a trip up mid June to a training facility.  It was a huge field set up with obstacles and many different working dog owners.  I was allowed to be on the field with the dogs working and even though the field was full of water and mud it was a great time.  I met some incredible people and took some awesome photos.  Out of the photos I took THIS is why I was there!