"May your day feel as good as taking a perfect selfie on the fist try!"
I guess I'm finally back to a level of normalcy for a Sunday morning. It's early; Sheila's still asleep, and I'm typing away and certainly off the usual topics of business and marketing in photography. However, I started the day with the perfect "gift" from good friend Suzette Allen - six selfies from their visit here last week. Well, if you know Suzette and Jonny, you'll know that between the two of them they've made selfies into a pure art form.
As I was writing the most recent Fast Food Friday, which I didn't get published until Saturday morning, I wanted to include a photo of the four of us. Suzette and Jonny spent a couple of days with us at the end of last week, and I knew they'd taken a lot of selfies. I fired off a quick IM, and when I didn't hear back, I grabbed one from a past visit with them for the post. She finally caught up to her FB mail, and this morning I woke up to six selfies from a few days ago.
Photography is about capturing memories, and that puts selfies at the very top of the list of classic techniques. Even more important, they need to be in your skill set. Suzette and Jonny are masters of the craft and while here last week they captured one classic moment after another.
And that brings me right to my point this morning:
I remember my Dad's first 35mm camera, an Agfa rangefinder my Uncle got him while in Europe. It wasn't an SLR, but it had all the manual controls, and he bought a light meter to get the right settings for great exposures. Over the next ten years there were thousands of slides shot and often painfully watched as Dad presented every image on a pop-up screen after taking hours to put them into slide holders in each cartridge. Years later I remember Hasselblad's Ernst Wildi telling me the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer..."Amateurs show you ALL of the images!"
Dad's favorite feature was a mechanical self-timer built into the controls. Dad never bought a tripod because it would have been one more thing to carry - instead, tables, chairs, car roofs - any flat surface became home to his camera for 10 seconds allowing him to be with his family in shot after shot over the years. It was a technical marvel to suddenly have Dad in some of our memory-making moments.
Well, technology has come a long way from mechanical timers, and the quality of cell phone images gives us all a chance to capture more of the story of those special moments in our lives with minimal production. But most of us don't grab them often enough, and with Sheila and me they're rare. Stay with me, because there's a lesson here! LOL
Take the time to develop your selfie-skills. Capture those moments destined to become great memories so you can appreciate and savor them later on. Suzette and Jonny's visit is a perfect example. While I've got all kinds of images of birds, boats, sunsets and a couple of them during their visit, I don't have one shot of the four of us. Not one memory-making image of four good friends hanging out, laughing and appreciating a level of quality time we all talk about, but rarely get.
Suzette and Jonny's selfies are a wonderful reminder of friendship and the passion we share for far more than just the craft! Unlike the millions of selfies that more often are short for "self-centered," these tell stories about great friendships!
I wish all of you an outstanding Sunday, and time with friends and family who need to be in your selfies. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and now and then grab a storytelling selfie. Remember today's selfies are going to be tomorrow's memories.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world from Florida!
What a strange few weeks it's been - until you go through it, nobody can describe the process or the pain of losing a pet. And it doesn't matter how your brain reminds you that pets don't live forever, or how lucky you were to have had such a fantastic friend in the first place - it's all about the hole in your heart, which is anything but logical.
Well, here I am on a Sunday morning and focused on some different feelings that came out of nowhere yesterday. Directly they have very little to do with photography, but everything to do with memories and the appreciation of looking back.
As a kid, my Dad and I collected antique musical instruments. My mom would drag us into antique shops looking for odd size plates, and we needed something more relevant to us. He played trumpet all through high school, college and even in a band in the Army Air Corps in WWII. I played trumpet and French horn in high school, so music became a sidebar hobby for us. Over the years we built quite a collection.
However, my most favorite piece is my Dad's cornet. It's been sitting on a shelf on a bookcase for the last two years and slowly turning black as the tarnish took over everything but my memories. I decided it was time to pull out the silver polish and clean it up. I with I had done a before shot because it was completely black.
When I was done, I grabbed a small roll of black velvet and captured a few shots, playing with a LUMIX FZ1000, available light and post-processing in Luminar. As I fooled around with the images, there were so many great memories that came back.
Too many of us spend so much time focused on the day in day out challenges of business and life that we forget to take those important walks down Memory Lane. We're so preoccupied with defining success that we don't appreciate those moments when a look in the rearview mirror is just what we need.
Cleaning Dad's cornet was like rubbing a magic lantern. It took me back to seeing him smile every time he could still triple-tongue a note and play Flight of the Bumble Bee (you've got to be a trumpet player to appreciate that) and he did it right up into his 90's. I thought about all the great times we had together carrying some of our instruments out of antique shops in pieces. I laughed over the tuba we bought for $5.00 and took it home in three shopping bags. One smile after another came over me and then the biggest smile of all...thinking about Molly the Wonder Dog and my Dad hanging out together right now.
Wishing all of you a terrific day and time to savor those memories and appreciate whatever it takes to get them to bubble to the surface. So, whether it's looking at old photographs or just something in your home that reminds you of special moments from days gone by - don't rush the process. It's like drinking a glass of great wine - take it slow and appreciate it.
And as always, grab those eleven-second hugs with those people most special in your life, because the time you have with them today will be those memories you savor tomorrow.
Happy Sunday everybody!
This is a little different for a Sunday Morning Reflections. In fact, it would probably work for Marketing Monday, because there's a great lesson here. We've all heard and used the expression, "You can never go back." Yet, I just enjoyed a couple of experiences that entirely challenge that statement and prove it wrong.
Leaving Las Vegas, I had business in LA and thought it would be fun to go back to my old stomping ground in Santa Monica. I haven't been back since leaving Rangefinder/WPPI ten years ago. We got in Friday afternoon and headed to a couple of old favorites, wandering up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. On the way back, while it was a little early to have dinner for most people, our stomachs were still on east coast time.
I was ecstatic to see an old favorite still there and open, the Reel Inn. It's nothing fancy - just a good solid seafood restaurant with a fun atmosphere and great food. Putting in our order, I told the kid behind the counter how I hadn't been there in over ten years, and I was so glad they were still in business. His answer was perfect, "Oh yeah, we're still rockin' it!"
Yes, I'm about to turn this into a life lesson, or at the very least a business lesson: Most of you are in business for yourselves, and there's a lesson from the Reel Inn. While their menu has changed and grown, it's their quality that's kept them in business. It's their reputation for excellent service, fresh food, reasonable prices and the fun of a completely relaxed atmosphere that's kept them in business for so many years.
Then I had one more real-time flashback yesterday driving down Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica. We drove by Bay Cities Deli, and I had to stop. It's one of the most incredible delis I've ever been in, but their claim to fame ten years ago was their selection of subs. I had to have a "Godmother." Sheila thought I was nuts - after all, we were headed to dinner in less than an hour, and I'm running in for a small sub as my appetizer!
And here I go with that same lesson again...The place was jammed. I pulled a number, 87, and they were only on 65. The selection of everything from sandwiches to salads to prepackaged goods, wine, pasta, breads, etc. hasn't changed. As I was waiting in line one of their staff pulled anybody out who wanted a cold sandwich. They were handling the overflow out of their catering kitchen on the other side of the store. Service was the issue, and in minutes I had my sandwich and was headed out the door. It was worth every bite!
I'm focused on a couple of simple points this morning. First, don't let anything stand in the way of the reputation you're trying to build on quality, service, and consistency. They're the foundation of your success and will never be replaced by anything more important, not even price! Second, when you maintain a standard of excellence, people will come back, and just like the pure joy I've had in the last couple of days, you really can go back!
It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
If you think about that you'll do things differently.
As always, I'm wishing you all a terrific day ahead. Take the time to think about your reputation and all the work you're doing to build your business. Along the way, don't forget to go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people who matter most in your life. They're a huge part of the process.
"It's just a bad day. Not a bad life!"
It's an almost normal Sunday morning. I'm up earlier than I'd like to be - just can't seem to sleep past 6:30 am anymore! Sheila's still asleep, and I'm typing away on this morning's post. The difference is missing Molly the Wonder Dog, but I've written about her enough over the last week. I know if I write about the experience again, I'm going to send many of you away from today's post screaming! LOL
Here's what's keeping me going...the timing of WPPI. I'm not sure I've ever looked forward to a convention more than this upcoming trip. It's got very little to do with the convention itself but catching up to old friends, making new ones and my network, which in all honesty helped me through the pain of the last week.
I've written a lot about all the practical reasons you should attend every possible convention/conference you can, but the core reason is one word, "friendships." I've already made a list of people I want to catch up to, and even though I'll wind up missing half of them, it'll be the hunt that makes a convention like WPPI so much fun.
It's also about new friends or friends I've only met in cyberspace that I'll get to meet face to face for the first time. And that's the perfect cue for - WARNING - some shameless self-promotion. I'm going to be doing two programs in the Panasonic Booth (#934). First one is noon on Wednesday and the second at 3:00 pm on Thursday. They're short 20-minute programs, each one hitting on "low-hanging fruit," easy things you can do to help your business and blogging.
I can honestly say this past week was one of the worst and longest of my life, but it would have been even worse without so many of you, great friendships, our mutual passion for the craft and the anticipation of catching up to a whole bunch of great people this coming week. And, all along the way old photographs have helped bring so many incredible memories into the spotlight.
It's so easy to lose sight of how good life is when you feel like there's an ugly black cloud hanging over your head, and that's just how I felt at times. When I was a kid, my Dad and I would fight over the Sunday comics every week. He loved Joe Btfsplk, a character in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip. Btfsplk always had a cloud over his head running around in a perpetual state of negativity.
That brings me right to the bottom line this morning...you've chosen a career path supported by a fantastic industry, loaded with people who share not only your passion for the craft but life, family, friendships and especially watching each other's backs! I know it sounds pretty sappy, but we're all here for each other, and once again, all of you came through for me. And, with WPPI right around the corner - the anticipation of seeing everybody has me on a terrific high! In fact, for the first time, I started packing four days before leaving!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday with a focus on everything you have in your life rather than what's missing. Go for those therapeutic eleven-second hugs with the people most special in your lives and while it's okay to look in your rearview mirror now and then to appreciate the memories, when you put them in front of you, talk about and share them, they become even more vibrant and unique!
"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory."
Happy Sunday everybody...unless you're on the other side of the world, then it's Monday, but the sentiment is still the same!
It's anything but a typical Sunday morning. Yes, as usual it's early, Sheila is still asleep, and the house is eerily quiet and still dark. I'm alone with my thoughts, but having let go of Molly the Wonder Dog on Friday, her presence at my feet is what's missing, but that's only in my head. In my heart, she's right here where she always is.
Over the years I've talked about Sunday Morning Reflections as something I write that's often more therapeutic than informative. This morning is definitely on the therapy side of the balance. My life has morphed into that of a writer, and I dove out of bed with a need not to attract sympathy but to express my appreciation to so many of you.
The short version of losing Molly is she had Cancer, and while it was in several areas, the most massive tumor was in her liver. I made a decision early on that I would never put her through the pain of prolonging her life just for me and chose to let God direct the rest of her journey. Surprising her vet, she stayed wholly active and was still chasing tennis balls right up to 24 hours before we let her go.
The last few days Molly wasn't doing well. She wasn't eating, sleeping poorly, had erratic breathing, gagging and coughing a lot and slowing down. So, into visit the vet, Dr. Clarkson we went. She gave me three choices and told me she wasn't letting me leave without me choosing one of them. (A side note: Having a great doctor through a process like this doesn't stop the pain, but it does make it easier to handle. I'm so grateful to her and the techs at the clinic.)
As I talked about what was the right thing to do with the vet, the tears flowed non-stop. It was embarrassing as I reached for the Kleenex box a few dozen times. But in the end, while it was about to be horrible for me, I knew what had to be done for Molly. The night before when she was doing poorly, I wound up sleeping on the floor next to her. In the process of saying my goodbyes I promised her I'd never let her suffer - never let her quality of life diminish beyond normal aging.
And finally, I'm at my point this morning...this is about quality of life, but not just for Molly, but the help so many of you have provided to my life. I shared letting Molly go on Facebook, and in just hours there were a couple of hundred comments and 400 likes and crying emoticons. At a time when my quality of life emotionally was at a low, so many of you shared your condolences, love, prayers, and wisdom.
John Braswell wrote, "It is such a shame that our dogs don't live longer than they do...thoughts your way," and then he shared something with me that so hit home. It didn't stop my tears, but it did put my mind and heart in a better place.
But the story doesn't end here: What's bizarre is that at 2:45 am, I heard Molly bark and it woke me up. It had become her new routine in the fight with Cancer, letting me know she needed to go out. It was so real that I actually got up and walked to my home office where her bed used to be. I felt her presence, know that she came to me in a dream and went back to bed with a bitter sweet smile.
"I came to you late last night..." the words from what John had sent me, couldn't have been more real.
Then, the next day, Jeanne Harris sent me something to read that along with another hundred comments had a huge impact on me. It's an article called "On Losing a Dog" and so worth reading but it ends with:
"As I’ve said before, a dog can’t change the world but they can change your world. And if each of us can pass along even a fraction of the unmitigated, world changing love we receive from our dogs? Maybe we can see about that whole changing the world thing. Today we cry and howl. Tomorrow we wake up and change the world the same way Dutch did – one small act of selfless love at a time."
So, to all of you who have sent prayers and memories of my 13 1/2 years with Molly, thank you. I know it's sappy, but for so many years I've talked about this industry being a family. We share a passion for the craft, but more importantly, a passion for helping each other.
Wishing you an incredible Sunday and even more important than all the times I've written about it in the past - go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important in your life, and don't forget your pet! That unconditional love is unmatched to anything you will ever experience.
Happy Sunday everybody!
"Without change there'd be no butterflies!"
If you're new to the SCU blog, I ALWAYS go off track and step out of the photography arena with a post on Sunday. I started writing Sunday Morning Reflections because it was a great way for me to reflect on my life while still being relevant to so many of yours. Well, here I am this morning, taking a drive down Memory Lane, rather than a stroll. Driving is faster, and I can use my rear view mirror now and then. There's nothing wrong in looking back at where you've been as long as you stay focused on what's ahead of you.
Every year at this time I look back a little and then get totally pumped over what's ahead. It was ten years ago I was preparing for my last WPPI convention. It was the biggest conference WPPI had ever held. John Popper and Blues Traveler were the band for the Nikon sponsored party; Rangefinder Magazine was over 350 pages; the WPPI ShowGuide was over 100 pages, and everything was pointing to the largest attended convention in professional photography.
On April 1, 2009, after a series of absurd confrontations with the owner of the company, I decided it was time to head out on my own. It was 2009, the economy was in the toilet, and so many people, including the guy looking back at me in the mirror, thought I was nuts.
"Embrace the uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won't have titles until much later."
And that's all the looking in the rearview mirror this morning's post needs. Whether it really does or our hearts make it happen, everything always works out for the better.
The biggest lesson I've learned is that every change in our lives, whether overwhelming or minor, all have their own personality, and a path loaded with the potential for growth. While some of them are messy, they each add to the richness of our lives. Learning to appreciate the possibility that exploring the unknown brings doesn't happen by itself. For me, it's thanks to Sheila, a circle of incredible friends and an industry I've grown to love dearly.
And *poof* here comes the point this morning. It's Valentine's Day this week, and we're all out looking for that one card that says it all. Ever notice how you can always find the card that says exactly what you're feeling? That's because we're all connected by so many of the same feelings, including those of the writers at Hallmark! We're all chasing similar versions of the same dreams - of love, companionship, success, and happiness.
"Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end."
While change can scare the hell out of us, it's what we need to keep growing. It's the obstacles we fear that contribute the most to the value of our lives. Photography is a career where all of us know technology is continually changing and we never stop learning, experimenting and pushing the edge of the creative envelope. Life is no different - it changes without notice and tests everything we've learned to date - we adjust, grow and move on to the next challenge.
Learn to accept your fear of the unknown. Every change in your life, whether outside your control or self-inflicted, is an opportunity to soak up another lesson. And, just like those things you've learned with a camera in your hands, you're capturing your life with your brain, and your heart and shooting "neuro chromes" - no camera, just memories to appreciate.
Wishing all of you a day filled with love, peace and an appreciation for everything and everyone who's helped make you who you are. There is no escape from the growing pains you had when you were a kid, they just changed and now involve your heart and soul. Cherish them, because each time they help make you better, stronger and help you on the journey ahead and wherever it's taking you. And as always, go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most special in your life!
"The first step to getting somewhere is to decide that you're not going to stay where you are!"
It's a typical Sunday morning, but maybe just a little different. I've got a greater appreciation for Molly the Wonder Dog asleep near my feet. And, I woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to write about, which is a spin-off from a conversation I had with an old buddy, Ken Sklute, two weeks ago, just before we recorded his episode of "Why?"
"Why?" is most often one image and the backstory to go with it, and Ken sent me four. I looked at the images, all of them beautiful, and rolled my eyes, saying to Sheila who was in my office, "Doesn't anybody listen?" Then I called him, figuring we could decide which image had the best story and we'd go from there.
Within minutes, I felt stupid for ever questioning why he sent me several different photographs. He chose four because of the point he wanted to make - he wanted to talk about the importance of pre-visualization BEFORE you click the shutter. "Instead of people going out with a camera in their hands to see what they can find, what if they thought about what they wanted to photograph beforehand? What if they pre-visualized how they wanted an image to look before picking up their camera?"
It was a perfect topic/backstory for his episode, and his insight into life as an artist. Pre-visualization isn't a new concept. "Previs" is used extensively in filmmaking, and Ansel Adams talked about it as "the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure." But as Ken talked, I found myself thinking of it as a stronger commitment to things beyond photography.
Stay with me, because it's dangerous when I start sounding like an episode of "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" from early SNL shows! Here's my point:
Over the last few years, more of my life is pre-visualized. I wake up visualizing it's going to be a great day. Sheila and I walk almost every morning, and I find myself excited about what we're going to see on our walk, even though it's the same four streets in the neighborhood each time. I come back to my office with a certain optimism when I turn on the computer and look at what I need to write; calls I need to make or things I need to read. I'm already visualizing new ideas, things to write about, and projects to develop.
I've mentioned reading Melodie Beattie every morning for a dose of inspiration. We have to feed our brains and heart just like our stomachs! Well, this morning is a perfect example, because she wrote a short piece called "Break Through Your Resistance," and it's worth paraphrasing here to share:
"We sometimes resist new lessons...what we resist the most is likely to be what we most need to learn...
Lessons require us to let go of old feelings, old beliefs. If they didn't, they wouldn't be lessons.
We'd already know them...We need to embrace the surprise element of life.
Embrace the mystery of life as it unfolds, as the lessons appear, as we grow and change...
Remember the point of greatest resistance is often the point of greatest learning."
Now put together Ken's thoughts on pre-visualization with Melody Beattie's thoughts on breaking through your resistance. I'm not suggesting it's easy, and I'm still work in progress, but after being accused of repeatedly being too much of an industry cheerleader, it's an explanation of why I love this industry and my life. It's why my life is fun and rich with smiles, a lot of laughs and even the tears and sadness here and there help define the intensity of the journey.
And here's the bottom line - because on Sunday mornings there's always some reason I'm sharing what's bouncing around in my head. All of us need to not only pre-visualize what we're doing with a camera in our hands but with our lives in our hands. We have more control than we think we do and it starts with our attitude.
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
Wishing everybody a terrific day and hoping you'll take the time right now to pre-visualize the day's potential and the great images you're going to capture, with or without a camera! As always, scoop up those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with everyone most special in your life and make it the day you visualize from this point forward.
Happy Sunday everybody...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
PS I mentioned Ken sent me four images as examples of his thoughts on pre-visualization. I only used three in the episode of "Why?" But, considering today's topic I chose to use the fourth one to share in today's post. As always with everything he does, it's spectacular.
If I was going to put a more specific title on this post, it would be The Art of Saying Good-bye, but I want to minimize the drama. Even though It's a tough topic, I am NOT writing this for sympathy, just sharing the mix of emotions I'm dealing with, which is what Sunday Morning Reflections are always about.
Everyone thinks they have the best dog and none of them are wrong.
Molly, the Wonder Dog, has been with me for 13 1/2 years and has pretty much never left my side. Over the years we even made a few road trips together. In 2009, on the drive from California to Ohio over three long days of driving, she listened without comment as I talked about my future with Sheila. LOL
Recently she seemed off a beat - waking us up in the middle of the night to go out, and now and then having difficulty with her back legs when getting up. So, off to the vet, we went.
After a barrage of tests, he didn't like her liver numbers. He put her on a nutritional supplement used to improve liver function. Within a couple of days she was acting better.
He also referred us to a pet oncologist. The doc did an ultrasound, as we held Molly on her back, pretty much panic-stricken, while her stomach and lower abdomen were scanned. And there it was - a big ugly tumor on her liver. The prognosis, without doing a biopsy, was whether malignant or benign it will eventually end her life. I cried the whole drive home, acting like I was saying good-bye that night.
All of this happened December 18, and since then, Molly's had plenty of energy. She's back to sleeping through the night. Her back leg problem comes and goes. Every day at 4:00 we're out chasing tennis balls, and she's the same goofball she's always been. She rarely leaves my side during the day...her appetite is terrific...and we reenact a series of obnoxious "Timmy and Lassie" scenes every day.
So, here's the bottom line...I wish I didn't know what was going on and hadn't done the ultra-sound. I know she's in no pain and if I didn't know about the tumor, she's never seemed healthier, just older and now and then a little slower.
The vet had suggested we do a biopsy and I turned it down. Molly's almost 14, and I will not prolong her life with any level of pain. Like so many of you, when that day comes I'll let her go, and I'll be miserable, but I am so grateful to have her in my life. I wish I could have squashed my need to dig deeper into her ailments and just let things take their course.
I look back on friends who have had to let go of their pets, and so often the heart-breaking posts they've shared on Facebook. I've empathized with their loss, hugged Molly and have been grateful it's not something I had to deal with at the time...well, it's different when the problem is on your doorstep.
And there you have it - the art of saying good-bye to your pup in a situation like this, is just not to say good-bye. I'm packing in daily memories, plenty of ball-chasing and every minute appreciating how lucky I am to have Molly the Wonder Dog in my life. Now and then I slip with a tear, but overall, I'm keeping my big boy pants on!
Photography through all of this is playing an enormous role. Every print and digital file I have has become more valuable to me.
Molly's one of the most photographed pups in the industry having been captured on film and digital over the years by Bambi Cantrell, Judy Host, Carey Schumacher, Nicole Begley and her entire pet photography class here in Sarasota (which is where I met Janet DelTuva), Helen Yancy, Suzette Allen, and most recently Robert Vanelli. Those photographs have become a collection of memories that will always be priceless to me. They're a constant reminder of the power of imaging and the importance of what we do for a living!
So, I wish all of you an outrageously great Sunday. Cherish the time with family, friends and the pets in your life. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, including ones with your pup. And while a lot of people think we're nuts talking to our dogs as if they understand, don't believe for a second they don't! Most important of all, don't waste a minute not making memories - life is too short.
Happy Sunday and thanks for listening!
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
"Don't anticipate life; meet it. When you try to anticipate, you're being an idiot,
because nobody's got the brain to outwit nature.
I'm talking here about patience, about believing in yourself.
I'm talking here about having courage to wait.
You will get what you deserve.
Typical of most Sunday Morning Reflections, I start out thinking about things I've read over the past week and conversations I've had with various photographers. Often the idea behind a Reflections post begins with something that's come up during the past few days.
Maybe it's because it's the start of a new year or the slow season, but I've picked up on so many artists who are waiting for success. They act like any day now the Success Fairy is going to sprinkle magic dust on them and their images and reputation will skyrocket to the top!
So, they sit and wait. They don't do much promoting of their work; they're not practicing very much to raise their skill level and the longer it takes for "success," the more they blame everybody but the face in the mirror.
This is a tough industry to be in. It's incredibly competitive, and trends and styles seem to be constantly changing, and keeping up with technology isn't easy either. But, if you've got the passion, then most of you find ways to pull the reigns in on your frustration. You've already realized how much you love the craft, and know there's nothing else you'd rather be doing.
So, however, you define success, and we all have different goals, there are two common denominators to achievement - believing in yourself and patience. I guess that's what drew me to today's opening quote.
Always believe in yourself. No matter who's around you being negative or thrusting negative energy at you,
totally block it off. Because whatever you believe, you become.
Patience is not simply the ability to wait.
It's how we behave while we're waiting.
There's my point this morning. If there is a Success Fairy, she's only touching those hearts who believe in themselves and more often or not we think of her as "luck." But luck comes in all shapes and sizes and starts with being thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. The glass really is half full for all of us, as long as we stay focused on the prize, which is all about being happy.
Before technology brought auto-focus to us, we all focused our cameras manually. Looking through the lens we had to decide what we wanted sharpest in every image. And we played with depth of field to capture what was most important. Well, your career path and your life are no different...and there is no auto-focus.
Have fun being patient. Appreciate your growing skill set and everything you need to do to keep raising the bar on the quality of your work, business and relationships. And, all along the way, never give up on believing in yourself.
Two of the significant lessons in my life I've seen proven over and again are: Everything happens for a reason, and everything always works out for the better. That doesn't mean you can just kick back and wait - you've got to stay focused on your happiness and take those opportunities to grow whenever you can. Just don't give up on your dreams!
Never give up on something you really want.
It's difficult to wait, but more difficult to regret.
And as always, I wish everybody a terrific day ahead. For those of you caught in the storm zones which seem to be nationwide...stay warm and dry, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and most important of all, remind whoever you're hugging how much they mean in your life. Don't forget they believe in you just as much as you believe in yourself.
I woke up this morning and went through the usual Sunday morning routine of thinking about something to write about. Several times in the last few days I've looked around my office and our home, doing these little inventories of life like we all do, and said to Sheila, "How did we get here?" Then wandering through Facebook a lot of friends seem to be playing the "Ten Year Game," putting up their first headshot for Facebook with today's.
Well, it suddenly hit me, in one of those OMG-cartoon-character-moments with the imaginary lightbulb going off above my head it's ten years ago this April I resigned from Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI to head out on my own. Why I left is no longer relevant. I look back on that time in my life as one of those "Ah-Ha" moments when I made the right decision. I'm grateful to so many people who helped me realize the dream of my own business; stuck by me through some scary times and all along the way became a part of the fabric of my life - which seems to be a never-ending tapestry that's always changing.
Rather than take a nostalgic look back, I'm more excited about looking forward. After all, through several thousand posts over the last ten years, I've shared just about everything that's happened in my life. It's more fun to look ahead and here are handful of examples:
In looking ahead, there's one last major point that's changing, which started a year or two ago. As I look back, it has a lot to do with aging and time. I'm at a point in my life where I realize every day how fast the hands on the clock are spinning. It has a lot to do with looking at your life and seeing less time ahead than the decades behind.
I want to waste less time in the new year. I'm tired of not getting quality time with good friends. I'm tired of people I care about being out of touch. A couple of weeks ago I got a call from Claude Jodoin, which he referred to as his "annual catch up to Skip" call. It was great, as we covered what's going on in both of our lives, talked a little about the past, our old buddy Dean Collins always comes up, and just reminded each other we're both still passionate about the craft and our friendship.
And there you have it - It's time to make my point. While I love looking in that rearview mirror and the comparisons everybody is doing on Facebook with their headshots - it's more fun to think about what your next ten years are going to be like, starting with 2019. What do you want to do this year to make it different than last year? How are you going to find more time for friends, stay focused on growing your business and bring more quality into your life? What's truly important to you this morning?
Wishing everybody a day ahead filled with optimism and time to appreciate where you're going in the new year more than where you've been. Hug those special people in your life for the full therapeutic eleven-seconds and remember they're a key to your goals for the future. Take the time to appreciate how shallow life would be without them, and then focus on how important they are going forward.
We can't stop time or even slow it down, but we all can create more impact and a life that adds more smiles and laughs than frowns and tears. There's a great line Dr. Phil is credited for, "Would you rather be happy or right?" In this new year, it's more important for me to go bounding out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face than a frown and thinking about the stress of the day ahead. While stress is inevitable as a business owner, you can still work in a stress-free zone as long as you stay focused on things that make you happy.
Anybody want to join me?
Ten years from now you'll laugh about whatever's stressing you out today. So why not laugh now?
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm.
Take action towards your dreams.
Walk your talk.
Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings.
Make today worth remembering.
Dr. Steve Maraboli
Sitting here I've got my usual challenge of what to share this morning. I was thinking about what a strange first week of the new year this has been. We only had a three day week regarding business, and I finally gave up trying to catch up to anybody I wanted to talk to.
My Fast Food Friday post hit on the challenges this week, and I suggested everyone use the time to "kick back and chill." In a comment in one of the forums a photographer wrote: There is no downtime. Always working on improving process and planning marketing for the coming season for seniors and Sports. It’s the curse of entrepreneurs.
I understand what he meant, and the fact that your business needs to always be on your mind, but I still disagree. Breaking away from that "curse" is the reason I write Sunday Morning Reflections every week. It's that "curse" that's driven so many of us into a crash and burn scenario. While to some it might sound counter-productive, you've got to step away from the business and recharge your battery to develop your creativity to the max.
Here's a perfect example: This week I took my own advice and truly stepped away from most aspects of the business. I took the time to do a lot of soul-searching. I'm still surprised at my age; I don't know what I want to be when I grow up! But that doesn't mean I don't have a long list of dreams, aspirations and even a bucket list of things I want to do and places I want to go, both personally and as a couple with Sheila.
But here's my problem, and I'm anticipating I'm not alone. There's so much I want to do that it becomes overwhelming, and I have a hard time focusing. This is truly ironic since I teach workshops where I've started presentations by saying, "You know how to focus your camera, but how about your career?"
The time I took this week was instrumental in helping me map out the new year. "Map" is the key word here - none of us would leave on a cross-country trip without a roadmap, yet we do it all the time in our business. We tackle each challenge as they come up rarely taking the time to focus on what we truly want to do next.
The best part of the process was sitting down with Sheila yesterday and taking the time to talk about the new year. From trips we want to do to some personal projects, we covered so many different aspects of my business, our life and how we want 2019 to look at the end of the year.
And here's my point this morning - As you get older, you realize from your own experiences and those of friends, that you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. While we all recognize the importance of living for today, we still hold back and too often procrastinate on those things most important. We waste time. We waste energy on things that don't matter. We forget to look out for ourselves and get caught up chasing minutia.
For me, the new year really starts tomorrow. I'm excited about so many different things on the drawing board for 2019, but I'm not going to waste one minute of today thinking about it. My suggestion to all of you is the same - use this last Sunday of New Years week to enjoy the downtime. Cherish having the time to be with family, friends or merely alone to dream. Rest up, recharge your battery, do something you love doing with those people most special in your life.
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people you love and forget about tomorrow for one more day. Then, tomorrow morning, jump in with the energy and the planning you need to follow the path that seems to fit the best. And remember, the best thing about being a small business owner is that you always can change paths as long as you stay focused on what's in your heart!
Sidebar: It only seems fair that I'd finish the year with Sunday Morning Reflections hitting the wrong button last night and posting a half-finished blog post. But since I always like to make a point on Sunday mornings, here's a good one - never work on writing something when you're tired - or at the very least take the time to review what you're doing before shutting down the computer.
We're on a mini-vacation with our son and daughter-in-law. Between Sheila and all of you I'm trained not to miss Sunday mornings and brought my laptop...so, after a great dinner last night, I decided to start laying out my post for this morning early. I knew the fun I wanted to write about and drafted something before bed, never realizing I'd posted it rather than just saved it! My apologies to those of you who might have had a "what-the-hell?" moment.
Moving right along, here's the memory-maker I wanted to write about...
I always close my Reflections posts wishing you a day of memory-making moments. But, great memories don't always have to be big productions. Sometimes they come out of simple, silly things that just happen in our lives.
The other night our son Brian was telling me about Arby's secret menu. I had heard about it once before, but I thought it was merely an urban myth and something foodies like me dream about. Well, lunchtime rolled around on Friday and even though we had a monster dinner with ribs already cooking "low and slow," off to Arby's he and I went.
We walked into Arby's in search of Meat Mountain. It's a ten dollar extravaganza in an artery clogging, never suggested by your cardiologist sandwich!
The biggest sandwich Arby’s has ever sold. Stacked ridiculously high with almost all the meats. Two chicken tenders, slices of roast turkey, pit-smoked ham, corned beef, 13-hour smoked brisket, USDA-choice Angus steak, roast beef, and pepper bacon. There’s also cheddar and swiss cheese somewhere in there. (From Arby's website)
Note: Last Sunday, after publishing this post, my buddy Christopher Becker commented on Facebook - "Meat doesn’t clog your arteries. Take the bread off that sucker and it’s a perfectly healthy meal." So whether it's healthy or not, it's fun to order and "fun" is one of those too often lost experiences in our everyday lives! If you love fast food here's a sandwich to put on your bucket list.
But half the fun of anticipating the culinary delight is the expression on whoever's working the counter when you order it. "Bridget" had never heard of it, but Brian was a pro, as she looked through the menu thinking we were describing other big sandwiches rather than a legitmate item. It was one of those proud Dad moments when he said with authority, "Keep scrolling down - It's on the third page."
And that brings me full circle to a reminder about memory-makers.
While some events in our lives are genuinely life-changing, some of our favorites involve stepping away from life's routines. Before deciding to check out the secret menu we discussed all the practical reasons we shouldn't do it. From the timing that close to dinner to healthy eating - we chose to bypass all logic and like Nike's slogan, "Just do it." Going to Arby's for lunch wasn't earth-shaking - but laughing over a sandwich, and now being a member of a very exclusive club, complete with our own fist-bump handshake is!
Gas to drive to Arby's: Three dollars
Time to get there: Fifteen minutes
Meat Mountain Sandwich:Ten dollars
Spending an OMG moment with your son...Priceless
Wishing all of you a day of memory-makers and those special moments in life when laughter with somebody important in your life becomes a priority. Remember that memories come in small packages too, and don't miss those moments being practical. Now and then throw logic to the wind. Remember my mantra which I've shared numerous times before:
I do it because I can.
I can because I want to.
I want to because you said I couldn't!
It's the last Sunday of 2018...go for those eleven-second hugs I always talk about and pack the day full of smiles, so you start out the new year with a stash of chuckles to look back on.
Happy Sunday and Happy New Year!
This is one of those Sundays when it's so hard to write Reflections, but not for lack of material. The challenge is NOT turning this into a rant about Congress, as the government shuts down. When our taxes are due in April, I want to let the IRS know in a most apologetic way, that Sheila and I don't agree on the budget. As a result, our tax payment will be late as we continue to discuss the challenges.
Keeping in mind my level of sarcasm this morning, I need to go someplace different and special. Well, there's only one place to go this time of year, and that means I have to warn you I'm about to get sappy.
Whether you celebrated Hanukah earlier in the month or you're looking forward to Christmas Eve tomorrow, I've always been the leader in holiday spirit. It's my favorite time of year, and my appreciation is nonstop. But it all goes well beyond loving this industry and what photographers give the world every day.
This is also a time when Sheila's going to join me in today's post. We've been a couple for eleven years and married for over eight, and we're grateful for all your support, feedback and inspiration. It's been a fantastic year, and it really couldn't have happened without you.
December is always a time when all of us focus on the importance of family, friends and the love in our hearts, instead of the craziness of the world around us. And, it's not exclusive to just the United States! So, in a crazy world of chaos, our wish to all of you is for peace, hope, good health and a time filled with memory-making moments with those people you love most in your life.
I also want to wrap up today's post by keeping it light. I wrote the poem below in 2012 and have modified it almost each December. I'm putting you in an awkward position, dealing with me thinking of myself as an amateur poet laureate. I bring it out of mothballs every year believing that somebody will recognize my talent and help me launch a reputation right up there with Robert Frost or at the very least a junior Dr. Seuss!
Here it is out of the archives but updated just a little:
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
I’d unplugged my computer and even the mouse.
My blogs for year-end were all ready to go
There was no reason to work, the Internet was slow.
For reasons unknown as if it made sense
my email needed cleaning and I got off the fence.
For over a year I’d saved every note
the ones I received and the ones that I wrote.
So I started deleting each email and letter.
The more I deleted the more I felt better.
Emails from Vanelli, Bourne and Tom Curley,
Coates, Varanakis, Sammon and Hurley.
And then went the drafts I’d written, but never sent
from those days when writing just helped me vent.
When all of a sudden I jumped up like LeBron,
My joke files from Vedros and other friends were gone.
Gone were the best jokes from PG to X rated,
the ones that I loved and the ones that I hated.
My email had been full with great moments and smiles,
but my computer was slowing down with the over-stuffed files.
I wiped off my tears and even my nose
the files, like Saint Nick, up the chimney they rose.
My collection of jokes was gone and deleted.
I felt so alone, so sad and defeated.
When all of a sudden I jumped up with a grin
My backup drive was never plugged in.
I’d only deleted the stuff on one drive!
My tasteless jokes, each one did survive!
And I heard a voice, I thought from the sky
Was it Santa, his reindeer who had just flown by?
I realized the words were from Sheila, my wife,
"Shut off the computer you fool - get a life.
It’s Christmas and you’re screaming gave me a fright!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night"
Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season filled with love, compassion and appreciation. Sheila and I feel so fortunate to know so many of you and have your support.
And as always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with those people most special in your life. With each hug think about how lucky we all our to simply have each other. It's a time to appreciate our own little piece of the world around us.
Every Sunday I go off track from the business of photography. I write whatever's on my mind and I'm always surprised when what seems like a boring topic that could put a rock to sleep seems to hit home with so many of you. Well, today's one of those mornings, because it's been a pretty fantastic run of just feeling great about life and being happy.
Being "happy" and content with your life isn't something that happens on its own. Happiness runs in waves, but as I've gotten older, I'm finally realizing the timing between waves is up to me.
Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like.
So here I sit this morning pounding away on the computer with this stupid smile on my face, just because I'm happy. That doesn't mean everything is perfect in my life, only that I've learned to appreciate all the good stuff and moved the bad stuff outside!
Over the years as Sheila and I battled the naysayers in our lives, we started to think of our home as a castle with a moat around it. And, when the sadness and stress from somebody ugly got inside, we'd accuse each other of leaving the drawbridge down for too long. There's a great comment I read once about dealing with challenges in life - "grow through what you go through." Well, that's exactly what we learned to do.
As I write today's post, I hardly have a perfect life. However, I do have a perfect way of appreciating it. The "Negators" can't make it in if I don't let them. The door is always open when they learn to behave with love instead of anger and fear.
I'm just going to start to wrap this up with a terrific quote that covers it all:
Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
So love the people who treat you right.Forget about those who don't.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.
The year is rapidly coming to a close, and December is always the perfect time of year to be grateful for the smiles in your life. Just like a squirrel putting acorns away for the winter, cherish the people you care about most and build a stash of memories you can draw from when your happiness is challenged by the baggage people and events leave on your doorstep. Appreciate the now - this very moment in time when, with a smile on your face, you feel like you could take on the world.
I get that it sounds sappy and hokey, but it works. Your life is never going to be perfect, but that doesn't mean it's not a great life and filled with incredible opportunities that can make you smile both inside and out.
Make it a great Sunday. Go for those eleven-second hugs I've written about for years and make it a day filled with memories that will become daily vitamins when times are tough. And, from me this beautiful Sunday morning, thank you for your support, your inspiration and your contribution to the smile on my face right now!
Not because everything is perfect.
But, because you choose to focus on the perfect moments.
*Note on the quote: From GoodHousekeeping.com thanks to Google. Author unknown
"Don't let yesterday take up too much of today."
As I sat down to write Reflections this morning, I turned to Google for a little help, typing in "quotes about life." That lead me to Will Rogers' quote above, and that got me thinking about a series of events in my life. I found myself letting thoughts of the past take up too much time in the present. I understood what I was doing, and before the "dark side" consumed me, I chose to write about it this morning.
One of Sheila's favorite expressions is "Don't should on yourself!" All of us do it, with a few people I've met over the years turning it into an art form. Instead of just appreciating the moment, they spend hours analyzing what they should have done instead. It's an analytical defense mechanism as they look at the results from a path they chose, instead of just appreciating what they did, learning from it, and moving on.
Like most people, I have regrets for a few things I've done, but more for things, I didn't do. We all do a little Monday morning quarterbacking from time to time as we look at our decisions. It's okay to look in the rear view mirror as long as you appreciate everything you see is behind you!
"In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take."
For years I lacked the confidence to go out on my own. From Polaroid to Hasselblad, PhotoAlley.com and Rangefinder/WPPI I always worked for other companies. I lived vicariously through so many of you, admiring your drive and entrepreneurial spirit. Had it not been for Sheila, I doubt that I would have ever stepped outside my comfort zone almost ten years ago.
And that brings me full circle with today's post. At the risk of sounding like a bad rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," we all have regrets. We all have those chances we wish we'd taken and didn't. But here's one of the very best things about life...we've all got today and tomorrow!
Wishing everybody a day with no regrets, time with the people you love and smile-making moments that help you build a never-ending supply of memories to cherish tomorrow. The year is quickly coming to a close and December is always an amazing month to spread a little cheer and pave the way for a new year. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, but at the same time, don't be afraid to tell the people most important to you how much you appreciate the role they play in your life.
Happy Sunday - and if it's Monday where you are, I'm wishing you the best for the new week ahead.
"Be spontaneous. Be crazy. Leave your comfort zone and live with no regrets."
Note: I never share a blog post without an image. I had nothing in my archives that I liked, so I grabbed a LUMIX FZ1000 and headed outside. There's a Powderpuff bush (Calliandra haematocephala) in bloom on the side of our house. I loved the fact that within eight inches on the same branch I had three generations of the flowers. Well, it fit with an underlying theme to this blog post of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
It was shot at f2.8 at 1/60 ISO 1000. It's an overcast flat morning. So, I had some fun with the image boosting the clarity, tone and structure using Luminar 2018. #WhereLumixGoes #LumixFZ1000 #MadewithLuminar
Sheila has a good friend in Naples and headed there to spend time with her this weekend. So, Molly and I headed to Melbourne, Florida to hang out with Vanelli for the day. It's just after 7:00 AM as I write this and I guess I'm about to cross the line into a topic that some of you sadly might find controversial.
Let's start with Vanelli. First, if you don't know Robert Vanelli, he just goes by his last name or "V." He's a three-time Triple Crown Karate Champion, and while it might have been a long time ago, he's still the guy you want on your side in a barroom brawl! But, what many of you don't know about him, is his spiritual soft side; his love for writing poetry and in short being one of the most sensitive and in-tune-with-feelings people I've ever met.
This past weekend, like the last time when he came to this side of the state, we spent a lot of time talking about family and friends we've lost. With each funny story we shared, there always seemed to be a hidden lesson we learned along life's journey. We laughed a lot, but he's one of those people who, if I were telling a story and had a tear in my eye over the memory, I wouldn't feel embarrassed.
Last night over dinner we were exchanging stories, Vanelli about his parents and me about my mine. As he was talking about something his mother said and calling him "Robby," I actually felt like I grew up next door to the Vanellis. I commented, that whether you believe in immortality or not, we've made those special people in our lives, who we've lost, immortal through the love for them that comes out in each story we share.
I needed to get back to this side of the state and left for the three-hour drive just after dinner. As I drove home I had one wonderful conversation after another with my folks - all brought on thanks to the dinner conversation with Vanelli.
Then, this morning, while reading one of Sheila's Marianne Williamson books, she wrote about healing through the memories of loved ones we've lost. She essentially described the wonderful feelings I enjoyed on the ride home last night.
Finally, this morning I caught a post Vanelli shared on Facebook about a good friend's wife who passed away. He talked about how an old photograph got him talking to her about her husband and their friendship. He closed the post with:
If you have lost someone, don't be afraid to have a conversation with them.
For me, it keeps them in my life.
There you have it, my whole point this morning in one stellar sentence from Vanelli. We've all lost loved ones and people who were huge personalities in our lives. They leave big holes in our hearts, but for me, the way to keep them by my side is to have a conversation with them now and then. Put those conversations together with the memories photographs help capture and I've created a world full of immortality and opportunities to never have them very far away.
The hole in your heart never fills back up, but turning back to a time when life was perfect because of the presence of someone you've lost, does create an unlimited inventory of smiles. That's one of the things I love so much about the business of photography and at the risk of driving a few of you mad as I quote Jodi Picoult for the tenth time...
"This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.
Now, put those photographs and memories together with a conversation now and then with somebody you've lost and miss, and for a few minutes, you'll contribute to their immortality!
Wishing everybody an incredible Sunday, and one filled with great memories and time to appreciate your roots. Everything you are today is a combination of your experiences and things you learned thanks to so many different people, many of whom are no longer with you. Make it a day filled with great memories and take the time to create tomorrow's memories today! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most special in your life.
Happy Sunday everybody, and to Vanelli, thanks for a great visit buddy!
I'm not sure how Sunday Morning Reflections got started, but it's been a couple of years at this point. It's ironic that it's become one of my most read posts.
I know I started it because I wanted to write about what I was feeling outside the business of photography. Going off track has become as much for me as it is for you. Often a Reflections post is a blueprint for how I'm about to spend my Sunday.
This morning I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to write about when it occurred to me that it's been a long time since I shared Melody Beattie's wisdom. She's an incredibly talented writer, and just like most of you who need that first cup of coffee in the morning, I need something inspirational to get me going.
A few days ago she shared this short piece of wisdom:
Let Yourself Play by Melody Beattie
How long has it been since you played? How long has it been since you played at your life, had fun with it?
Our imaginations are so delightful when we're young. Watch a child sit in the middle of the floor and build castles with blocks. Watch a child play - any object can be anything, and anything can be fun. Life can pound that out of us if we let it.
Breathe life back into your imagination. Come back to life. Let yourself see dragons in clouds and leprechauns in trees and velvet in a rose. Imagine what it would be like to grab a handful of cloud. Then touch the tree. And put the rose to you cheek.
Let your imagination come alive.
Play the game of "What If?"
What if anything could be anything?
What if life could be fun?
Sheila and I just came back from our morning walk, and along the way, we decided there was absolutely nothing either of us had on the agenda today. We're just going to kick back, enjoy a day that's wholly stress-free and play. We're going to follow Melody Beattie's lead and take the time to smell the roses!
Wishing all of you a day where you can put the business aside. Make whatever's in your heart a priority and take the time to recharge your battery! As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, and if you're tuning into this blog late, I read an article in AARP Magazine several years ago that talked about the value of hugs lasting at least eleven-seconds.
And, if you're returning today in traffic wrapping up Thanksgiving weekend...take your time and deal with the traffic from a point of low stress because there's nothing you can do to make the cars in front of you or TSA move any faster! Safe travels!
Happy Sunday everybody!
It's 6:35 am on a Sunday morning, and the house is dark and quiet. It's even too early for Molly to come over wagging her tail for that first scratch of the day behind the ears. Remember, I always go off-track on Sunday mornings. So, I sat down a minute ago with no idea of what I was going to write about, and then it hit me. I want to write about, what I never write about.
Sheila and I have pretty much stopped watching the news. We record World News Tonight and then fast forward through the commercials and the politics. It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat, Republican or "Waiting," none of us will ever know the truth except the amount of time the politicians waste arguing instead of helping. Yes, I'm a member of the "Waiting" party, like many of you, waiting for Congress to grow up.
Oops, I'm starting to rant, and that honestly isn't my intention...especially when I want to write about Thanksgiving, but trust me, there's a link to what we hear in the news.
Like so many of you, I'm devastated by the tragedy in the world. At first, I used to think it's always been this bad, but because of social media, we just hear about it faster. But, the world is changing more quickly than we want it to and Mother Nature is especially on a rampage.
Think about the disasters in the news just recently. The fires in California are still raging, but we've never seen entire towns wiped out before with hundreds of people still missing. The hurricane leveled Mexico Beach leaving more people homeless. So many of us have watched the news, but the natural disasters always seemed to take place on the other side of the world. Now they're hitting right here and affecting communities we know and have even been to.
Mother Nature may have the reach to impact more people and create these horrible stories but it's what man is doing that gives me the most nightmares. From the temple shooting in Pittsburgh to the Church shooting months earlier to the security guard who was killed while holding down a suspected shooter and the children who were killed getting off the school bus - the world has run amuck!
And here we are, safe and sound with Thanksgiving four days away. I know many of you go around the table and share what you're thankful for in your life. Well, how about if this year we're all thankful for our ability to help change the world? How about if we're all grateful, not for what we have, but for what we can do to help slow down the ugliness?
I won't deny I'm thankful for my health, Sheila and my life but Thanksgiving has to go deeper than that. Let's be thankful for our ability to help people who have nothing left to be thankful for, except their health. Let's be grateful for the fact that we can reach out and help somebody else on the planet. Let's put a little pressure on our fellow man to live life differently and just be a bit more helpful to each other.
It's hypocritical that I write about this stuff when in my own family we no longer talk to each other. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday and a time for memory-making but the pain and everyone's inability to forgive or even take the first step back to being what we once were, is buried under tons of baggage too complicated to dig through. We're all at fault, and I know we're not unique, but it is sad to see the ugliness in my own family is just a microcosm of the world stage.
So, when you go around the table this year at Thanksgiving, first give thanks that you have a table to sit around, both physically and figuratively. Then give thanks for your ability to help change your little corner of the world. Think about it, if everyone would help make their community a better place, all those small communities add up.
Wishing everyone a beautiful Sunday with plenty of time to think about your corner of the world. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with those people you care the most about. Give "love" top billing today and most important of all, be thankful for all those people in your life who together help make a difference.
And for me, a big thanks to all of you. I appreciate your support far more than a blog post can ever show. Your feedback is so important and together we're all helping to make a difference in an industry near and dear to each of us.
It's one of those Sunday Morning Reflections where as much as I want to go off track and write about something different from what so many other people are going to share, I have to stay true to what's in my heart, and it's Veteran's Day.
So, to our son Brian, who's serving now, Uncle Randy who pretty much sleeps in any one of a dozen Marine baseball hats, my Dad who passed away three years ago this past week and served in the WWII and all my friends and associates who served in Viet Nam or have family in the military now, I'm not only writing the longest run-on sentence I've ever published, but sharing a big heartfelt thank you!
And, to be a little different in my approach I wanted to share a couple of the stories my Dad shared regarding his experience working in the "tower" in the Army Air Corps in WWII.
Dad played the trumpet all through high school and college until he dropped out to serve after Pearl Harbor. That's Dad in one of the Army Air Corps bands above, second from the right in front of the drummer.
On a hot, humid day in New Guinea in the 1940's, his CO was looking for musicians. Dad's hand to volunteer couldn't have gone up faster, thinking he was about to score some light duty. All those years playing trumpet were about to pay off! Well, for the next three days he was part of a crew moving pianos for Bob Hope and a USO show!
Dad was part of the "Greatest Generation" and never shared very much about WWII, but a year before he passed away we joined HonorFlight.org and went to Washington. I remember Dad sitting with a group of veterans also on the trip. Dad was based in the Asia Pacific, and they had all been on the European front. Somebody asked Dad if he ever got to meet General MacArthur. I loved his answer, "No, but I brought in his plane a few times!"
So on this Veteran's Day morning, I wish everybody a day of peace - not just inner peace with your life, but the kind our veterans have fought to preserve. Take the time to hug a veteran today, and remind them of the appreciation you have for the sacrifices they made. And, to every parent who joins us with family in the military today - "thank you" is such an understatement.
If you've got a veteran in the family, especially if they're in their 80's or older, check out HonorFlight.org. It's a fantastic group with one goal, to show the appreciation all our veterans deserve and get them to Washington for one more "tour." Just click on the HonorFlight logo below for more information.
"We can't all be heroes, some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by."
It's Sunday morning, and as I struggle to find a relevant topic outside of photography, I'm also fighting off a rant. Maybe that's my topic today - we each need to allow ourselves the luxury of a rant now and then. The online definition of "rant" is speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way. Synonyms include shout, bluster, yell and bellow.
Well, it's October, and we're coming up on Election Day. Our mailbox is starting to load up on political postcards; the ads on television with candidates slamming each other have started, and my favorite, the robodialed pre-recorded bullish** from the candidates has begun. They often start out sounding like a public service message reminding us of our civic duty to vote, but they always finish the same way, with a plug for the Democrats or the Republicans.
When it comes to the broadcast world, Sheila and I have become uninformed citizens, pre-recording our favorite shows so we can fast forward through the commercials along with the news. We've got David Muir and World News Tonight down to eleven minutes. We bypass every story having anything to do with Washington - not because we're not interested, but because we have no idea what to believe anymore.
Millions of dollars every day are spent on the political battles supporting candidates who want to convince us they're here to help make our lives easier. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of kids not getting enough to eat, the homeless crisis is an issue in virtually every community, care for our veterans isn't what it should be, and we don't do enough to support the elderly. And, that's just a start - the list goes on and on.
Think about it for just a second - how many of the challenges that pull at our heartstrings could we change if instead of spending money on phone calls and expensive mailers we put the money into helping people? Just here in Florida alone, how many school lunches could we buy if we fed kids with the money being spent on the obnoxious television battle between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis for governor?
And there it is, the peak of my rant...but picture me screaming a little! How do we stop the madness?
For Sheila and I, we're involved in our favorite local non-profits we believe in. We can't make the world a better place, only our little piece of it. But, if everybody did something in their little corner of the world - all those pieces together would make one incredible patchwork quilt of community support, enhancing the fabric of America.
So, like the monkey in the hear-no-evil trio, I'm shutting down! Right or wrong, I'll do my best to support things I can change and stop wasting time listening to the political banter that hits us in epidemic proportions this time of year. Except, ever notice how these days it goes on ALL year long...but that's another rant!
Wishing all of you a rant-less day and a time of peace with family and friends who you support with your love and compassion. Make it a day to appreciate everything in your life and if you're not involved in a community nonprofit, find a cause you believe in. There's very little more rewarding than working on something you know makes a difference in people's lives.
And, go for those eleven-second hugs I always write about, especially if you're frustrated like we are. You'll find one long hug has an amazing calming quality. It'll help you focus on what's most important in your life, which most often is the "huggee" you're holding on the other side of that long hug!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.