We can't always control the timing of our plans, but we can have fun along the way.
Friends don't care if the project is finished; they just want to be a part of the magic of life.
Look at things from a new perspective. Laugh. Be grateful you're where you are at this moment.
Don't worry about trying to hurry the future along. Look for the joy in life now.
by Skip Cohen
Part of the fun of writing Sunday Morning Reflections is simply heading into any topic that moves me at the moment. Well, I just spent almost an hour staring at my computer and thinking. Along the way, there was plenty of procrastination as the pups wandered into my office to play. I got down on the floor to participate in the pure joy of a let's-abuse-Dad moment.
That's when it hit me, how downright awful the last year has been, but how proud I am that we made it through it all. And while it's still not over, we got our first vaccine shot, got out yesterday to the mall, and did a few errands. It was a day of just routine chores, but it was part of Melody Beattie's "magic of life."
Two days ago, we met a neighbor for the first time. We've been waving and nodding to each other for years but never actually talked directly. We were out for a walk, and so was he and his wife. It was great to finally meet him, and as we walked away, I looked at Sheila and said, "Oh my God, we shook hands."
Just go with me on this. Think about the last year and the level of isolation we've all been through. Even though we immediately grabbed the hand-sanitizer when we got home, we'd shaken somebody's hand! It was terrific and seems so damn stupid to write about.
Here's my point - all we've got is RIGHT NOW. It's this very moment in time we need to appreciate. We can't do anything about the mistakes we made yesterday, and spending time wishing we could turn back the clock only wastes the energy we could use to live today to its fullest. I still love looking in my rearview mirror, but only to give me the energy to create more memories.
Two of our honorary "kids" sent us the picture of Sheila and me above. It was an all-u-can-eat snow crab night at a restaurant in Sarasota. The four of us were out together. It was two years ago, and it helps set the tone for today - Smiling more and bitching less.
There's so much we all took for granted before the pandemic. Now is the time to appreciate the pure joy of the littlest things - from a handshake to just a run to the market. Like everyone else, I know I've wasted time wishing things were different. I miss friends, family, and freedom - but as it all slowly starts to come back, I'm not going to waste a minute not smiling.
Wishing everybody a Sunday filled with time to feel great and appreciate the moment - right now!
You can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream.
I'd rather live it, 'cause dreamers always chase but never get it."
"No Regrets," Aesop Rock
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world. Wherever you are don't waste time on yesterday and tomorrow isn't here yet. Just savor today!
by Skip Cohen
It's a very short post this morning, but as always, a long way from my "day-job" and nothing about marketing and business. When I'm stuck for something to write about for Sunday Morning Reflections, I grab a book off the shelf. This morning I randomly grabbed a quote book, "Nothing is Worth More Than This Day." I thumbed through the book, and the quote below called my name!
Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate,
lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can't put your feet on,
never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline,
don't overlook life's small joys while searching for the big ones.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.
We've been hunkered down just short of a year. While we do miss friends and all those random freedoms we took for granted, the pandemic has taught us to appreciate what we have instead of being depressed over what's missing. I'm not suggesting it's been easy, but between Skype, Zoom, and the phone, we've been able to keep in touch with family and friends.
Here's my point - slowly but surely, we're getting through the vaccine challenges, and finally, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, we've all learned something, and, ironically, it's all about focus! Focusing on "life's small joys while searching for the big ones."
Hey, it's a little hokey and definitely sappy this morning, but it's my blog. LOL
Wishing you a day filled with appreciation for the smallest things in your life that make you smile. For me, it'll be the fun of making French toast in a few minutes and breakfast with Sheila. In a post the other day, I shared some information about smiling - "According to scientists, smiling causes an influx of positive emotions that help in relieving stress and lowering your blood pressure. Each time you smile, you benefit your health and happiness."
So, make it a day jam-packed with things that make you smile. Let's all be Alfred E. Neuman for a day!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you're new to the SCU blog, I always stay away from business and marketing with Sunday Morning Reflections. This morning, I'm definitely running amuck because I'm tired of people who have lost their sense of humor and sarcasm.
Back at the start of the pandemic, one of my most favorite artists and good friend, Gilmar Smith, created the self-portrait above with Platypod. At the time, people were hoarding toilet paper. I even found a classic and relevant one-liner on the Internet:
"If you bought 144 rolls of toilet paper in preparation for a 14-day quarantine,
you probably should have been seeing a doctor long before coronavirus."
My good buddy Nick Vedros, is one of the funniest people in the industry. He's always capable of finding inappropriate humor any place it's needed. He sent me the piece on the right.
Then there are one-liners all over the Internet, and here are a few of my favorites:
"I’m not talking to myself, I’m having a parent-teacher conference."
"A mask isn't a political statement, it's an I.Q. test!"
"I finished Netflix today!"
"Back in my day, you would cough to cover up a fart. Now, with COVID-19, you fart to cover up a cough."
"Pollen still coming out during a global pandemic? Bitch, read the room."
I'm not making light of the challenges of the pandemic. But as Congress wastes millions of dollars on impeachment proceedings (all televised too), I can't help but wonder what would happen if all that money was put into better distribution of the vaccine. Or, how about lunches for kids who aren't in school, support for the homeless, or a program where the elite in government took the same average pay cut as their constituents?
And long before the Internet there was plenty of sarcasm about Congress...
"It could probably be shown in facts and figures,
there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress."
I guess that's always where I seem to cross the line. Why is it when an old fart like me makes a valid point, he becomes a curmudgeon?
Wishing everybody a day of smiles mixed with some well-placed sarcasm. I know there are days when there's not a whole lot to laugh about, but it's our sense of humor that will get us through this mess!
"30 days hath September, April, June, and November, all the rest have 31,
except for March which was infinite."
The bad news is time flies, the good news is you're the pilot
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I always run amuck from my usual topics. This morning I'm wrestling with trying to understand where the years have gone. Tomorrow is fifty-one years since I came into the industry, and except for my body creaking for ten minutes before Sheila and I walk every morning, I don't feel older. And according to her, the only maturity I've shown is in my hair turning gray.
Somebody recently told me it was easy for me to write about business and marketing because "I'd made it already!" Well, while I've always had fun in most of the jobs I've had, but it sure didn't start as a career I'd grow to love.
I've been working on a fun book about my journey, which still hasn't slowed down. Here's where it started.
It's 1970, and I'm trying to find a job. Time Magazine has a picture of a college grad in cap and gown pumping gas! There are no jobs, and I've just completed 2 ½ years of being every parent's worst nightmare as a college student. I spent more time perfecting my pinball game than opening a book. I'd be on suspension, afraid of getting booted. I'd buckle down, get the grades, then start the cycle all over again. I wasn't stupid, just lazy, unmotivated, and unable to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up – No, I just didn't want to grow up!
Finally, they suspended me, and I needed to figure out what to do. I decided it was time to leave the nest. Say good-bye to Ohio and hello to New England. Found a job at Polaroid at $2.89/hour washing bottles in their research lab. It was the most I'd ever made, and it paid the rent on my basement apartment in Boston's Back Bay, which I shared with a few other tenants, 100,000 cockroaches!
I remember a quote from an article in the Boston Globe that year: "The cockroaches were in Boston before man, and they'll be here long after man is extinct!" Cuffed pants were the style, and before I left my apartment, I'd shake the cuffs to make sure I wasn't bringing my "roommates" with me to work! And these were the big ones, the kind you could jump on and skateboard down Newbury Street.
I owe so much to Polaroid and everything I learned over 17 1/2 years of working there. From going back to school nights on their tuition reimbursement program, to jobs in R&D, HR, Customer Service, International, and marketing, there wasn't a day that went by I didn't learn something about myself and business.
Here's my point this morning - take the time to appreciate your roots. Regardless of the path, you took to get to today - you've got time now to appreciate it. There are no guarantees on tomorrow, and you can't change what happened yesterday.
But there is something extraordinary as you look back on your roots in this industry. Do an inventory of everything you've learned over the years. For me, it's volumes and all thanks to an incredible collection of people I've met and worked with since I started.
Polaroid as a Fortune 500 company may no longer exist today, but the memories and the friendships are still around. I still can't answer the question of where all the time and years went, but then again, who cares? Time really does fly when you're having a good time.
And if there's one lesson I've learned - if you're unhappy with something, then change it! It's not easy, but you've only got one life, and it's not a rehearsal.
Wishing everybody a day with no regrets and time to appreciate where you started right through to this very moment. And with Super Bowl today - I'm all ready - Go Bucs!
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
PS The shot of my first apartment in Boston was one of my first LUMIX images - captured with a GH3 and LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8 with a slight adjustment in clarity using Luminar.)
"Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Dark Of Night
Shall Stay These Couriers From The Swift Completion Of Their Appointed Rounds."
by Skip Cohen
It's going to be tough for today's Sunday Morning Reflections to not sound like a rant. But I'll do my best to at least be relevant. The topic is the USPS, and I wonder if the quote above, known as the Postman's Oath, is still valid.
Yesterday I went to the mailbox, and there was a holiday card from our good buddies Mark and Tony in Cleveland, mailed on December 23. The good news is in two parts - first, I got it. Second, it was the stimulus for a call to them to wish them a happy new year and find out what they've been up to. However, 5 1/2 weeks travel time for a card from Cleveland to Florida?
I bought Sheila something for the holidays and ordered it online around December 1. From December 15 to January 12, the tracking information showed the expected 12/15 delivery date and simply said, arriving late. The company I ordered from was doing their best and about to issue a refund when it finally arrived.
One of the hats I wear is CMO for Platypod. I'm very proud of our fulfillment department because they haven't missed a day since the pandemic started. Also, orders in by early afternoon almost always ship the same day - but then the mystery begins. And 2-3 weeks after that correspondence from our customers starts, as people inquire about their orders.
So, here's my point, and it's one we all need to remember. I know the pandemic has turned shipping upside down. Tracking information is rarely right because it's not being updated regularly. And if you're outside the US, carriers are limited by the availability of flights. For example, in the early days of the pandemic, I was told there had been a 75% reduction in flights to Australia.
One side of me understands the challenges the USPS, FedEx, and other carriers have had to deal with. Let's face it - this wasn't a year that thousands of people were going to be waiting outside Walmart for the Midnight Madness sale on Black Friday! But the other side of me can't help but feel these carriers completely underestimated the pandemic's impact on consumer buying patterns this past season.
As I asked the postmaster at my local post office in mid-January, what was going on, he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "I've got packages I'm still waiting for!" And if you Google USPS delays, you can take your pick from dozens of articles and videos talking about the backlog, which, based on my card from Cleveland yesterday, they're still dealing with.
And that brings me right to the bottom line. It's not the fault of your mail carrier, Fedex or UPS driver or the companies you've ordered from - Don't shoot the messenger!
Wishing everybody a Sunday loaded with plenty of on-time deliveries of memory-making moments. While the pandemic has created an excess of time, don't waste it on things that don't really matter. Let those people most important in your life know they're on your mind with a phone call, text, IM or email - just don't send a card.
Happy Sunday - or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
by Skip Cohen
While I'm always off-track from photography on Sunday mornings, today's post is more photo-centric. I want to give you something to think about in terms of your own family.
If there's one thing the pandemic has given us, beyond the challenges and frustrations of the virus, it's TIME! I've had an album of pictures of my folks on a shelf for years, and yesterday took the time to look through it.
I've pulled a few of my favorites, but let's get right to the point this morning. Photographs are about capturing memories, intangible moments that turn into something you can touch. Great pictures allow you to feel and transport yourself to times when life was different.
The album is essentially a day in my Mom and Dad's life, captured by Bambi Cantrell. She spent the better part of a day with them. Now, seven years after my Mom's been gone and five since Dad passed away, the book has become an incredible treasure.
When was the last time you captured images of your own family? While we always think about the kids growing up and changing, your parents aren't getting any younger. When they're gone, what photographs will you have to tell their story?
I know I've shared this quote a dozen times in previous posts, but there isn't one better:
This is what I like about photographs.
They’re proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.
Here's my point - Stop procrastinating and take the time to capture those moments that years from now will have such incredible meaning. You're photographers, and the line about "shoemaker's children always need shoes" couldn't be more appropriate when it comes to photographers capturing their own memories.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and the time to create a few memories to capture.
Those we love don't go away. They walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near...
still loved, still missed and very dear.
Happy Sunday everybody, or Monday for friends on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
I got up this morning, knowing exactly what I wanted to write about for Sunday Reflections. The challenge is how to sound like an encouraging post and not a rant. So, it's a read-at-your-own-risk kind of blog this morning.
I'm frustrated with so many people who haven't hit the reset button yet. While just the flip of a calendar page doesn't suddenly change anything, each of us has the power to change the recipe for 2021. I won't deny for a second that I'm tired of being hunkered down and even more tired of using those words. But as frustrated as I am, I realized over the holidays, I have so many choices.
You wanna fly, you got to give the shit up that weighs you down.
I know it isn't easy. I'm just as frustrated as anyone else over the challenges in our lives these days. And just when things seem to be headed in the right direction, somebody out there seems to screw it up.
It's hard not to sound like a rant, but it's a new year. The vaccine is slowly taking hold, and the need for people to capture memories hasn't disappeared. They're all still out there, scarred a little from the last year, but there's a clean slate for a start, with a greater sense of family. And while there is no button to push, each of us has a restart button buried in our hearts under all of last year's pain.
On the business side, I kicked off the year with four "Building Blocks for a New Year" posts last week to help you focus on those areas everyone complains most about. Then I did something completely different, and Throwback Thursday was a video...it'll never win an Oscar, but it was fun to do and just might morph into something new in the year ahead. None of this is earth-shaking, but we're all in this together...and while this is a lousy time historically to be quoting Hilary Clinton, "It takes a village!"
And here's my point - as powerless as we've been over the events in the world, including the pandemic in our neighborhoods, all of us still control our own destiny. We don't have to do it alone, and we don't have to knock it out of the park each time we're at bat - just don't give up our time at-bat. It's called batting practice for a reason.
I'm not here to change the world, and neither are you - but we are to help each other and do our own little clean up in our own environments, starting with what's in our heads.
The sun gives us warmth, life and new days.
It makes us think of new beginnings, of happy horizons,
and bright shit that sends butterflies fluttering and precious little bunnies frolicking.
It gives some us great f**king tans and other red-hot kisses of scorched flesh.
(Hey, it can't all be good, can it?)
Think about the ways you can wake up, feel the sun shining
and shine your own rays all over the place to bring yourself and others a shit-ton of happiness.
Wishing everybody a day with, as hokey as it sounds, a little sunshine. Relax and appreciate the power you have to start tomorrow and make life a bit better. Don't worry about biz today, because it'll all be there in the morning. Most important of all, let those people most special in your life know you love them! Oh yeah...and that love starts with you guys - I'm here to help you rebuild your business if you need me.
by Skip Cohen
***WARNING*** It's the first Sunday morning of the new year, and as a creature of habit - I ALWAYS go off the topics of business and marketing in imaging.
As the year came to a sort of eerie close, I found myself looking back over 2020 - especially the last nine months. Sheila and I, being in one of the higher risk groups for Covid, have stayed isolated from contact with friends. We didn't cut ourselves off from the social side via phone, Skype, Zoom, email, and even talking with neighbors from a distance - but we love to entertain and haven't had anybody over; nor have we gone to anybody's home, or for that matter out to dinner.
While the holidays were a little strange, being just Sheila and me, they were extraordinary. Being together 24/7, we've talked more than ever. We've shared ideas, stories of the past, and our hopes for the future. The holidays became a celebration of our ability to adapt. At the same time, I've noticed something about me - my friends have become more important than ever before. I often end a phone call with "Love ya Buddy," words that previously would have only been reserved for family.
So what's my point this Sunday morning? The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, but here and there, it's made things better. I've grown to realize how vital so many different people are in my life. Keeping in touch has become an art form. While I hate how they do so many things, Facebook has become an essential part of staying in contact with both old and new friends.
And Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and the phone are necessities to staying in touch. While I miss contact and those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I used to write about - they're still there - just out in cyberspace. On a podcast a short time back, I was asked, "What do you miss the most?" My answer, "Bumping into people...literally."
Those days will come back if we just have faith and use common sense in fighting Covid. And when they do come back - the lessons we've learned in 2020 will become invaluable building blocks for life with, as hokey as it sounds, more substance.
Wishing everybody an amazing close to the New Year's weekend. Stay focused on the importance of keeping in touch with friends and family. While we've all spent a lot of quality time looking in the rearview mirror and learning to cherish the good old days, it's time to look forward, take what we've learned in 2020 and start building a new future.
Yeah, it sounds pretty lofty - but it really is about faith and a quote I've shared before:
Faith is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and as I sit down to share my thoughts, I've already done the morning run to the market. I go at 7:00 am because it's the safest time to dodge the idiots who still won't put on a mask. Plus, the Publix market staff near our home is terrific, and I can run through the family shopping list in half the time.
This morning though, I had a specific item on my list I really wanted - firewood! Unlike the days up north when I'd order a cord or more of seasoned firewood in the summer for the following winter, this is Florida. You pay $5-6 for a bag of wood, and on a cold night, a bag is good for an evening of enhanced ambiance.
But with Christmas and temperatures down into the 30s at night, the bags of firewood at all the usual locations were sold out - gone. As the kid at the market exclaimed, "We had one guy buy 16 bags just before Christmas!" Shame on me for the lack of foresight!
As I bought a box-o-logs, Pine Mountain's "as good as" I felt like the old SNL routine with Dan Akroyd as the less than ethical toy manufacturer with "Bag-o-Glass" for kids. It's not a real fire, but these even crackle, so it's almost as good. Well, that took me to today's post - thinking about what an insane year it's been and especially this holiday season.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, but not our ability to still appreciate what we all have, a certain strange sense of peace, and the ability to simply laugh it off. I'm not suggesting it's been a completely joyous holiday season or negating the horrible pain so many families have been through. Still, there's a certain amount of resilience built into our DNA. We change paths, modify our expectations, and most often move on.
Nothing replaces family and friends, but Zoom, Facetime, and Skype have all filled in the gap, as we substitute hugs with screen shares. There were fewer places set around the table at the holiday dinner, but that didn't slow us down from appreciating merely being human. And as stupid and basic as that sounds, we know we can survive just about anything because we've got each other.
Two of my favorite Zig Ziglar lines are: "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude," and "If you can dream it, you can achieve it." Sappy, trite these days, maybe even hokey, but they're so true.
We've had plenty of down days being physically isolated for nine months, but as my good buddy, Bob Coates, keeps arguing, "It shouldn't be called social distancing, but physical distancing. Nothing is limiting our ability to still be social!"
So, don't give up on your dreams - we just got side-tracked. Don't look at what was missing this holiday season; look at what was there. And at the risk of sounding like the old-fart, I am - the trick is to look with your heart and not your eyes.
Right now, I've got a house full of music and a fire in the fireplace - throw in a spiced pumpkin candle burning on a cold day, and all those feelings of holiday time when I was a kid come flowing back. It takes work, a little practice, and a decent bloody mary, but it works!
Happy Holidays everybody - thanks for hanging out with me this morning.
Sometimes we focus so much on what we don't have that we fail to see,
appreciate and use what we do have.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and I'm always off the topic of business and marketing, but this morning it was especially tough. In an effort to think through something to write about, I took a break, which lasted almost an hour. I grabbed my LUMIX G9 and went outside to photograph the Florida Powder Puff bush that's in bloom on the side of the house.
Well, two things happened. First, I was struck by the contrast around each flower. New buds yet to bloom waited their turn in line behind those in full bloom and those already long gone. Each cluster represented three generations. And as each flower died, the color changed to a muddy purple, then brown, and then waited to fall to the ground.
Second was my focus and composition. I love playing with depth of field, and while this isn't meant to be an infomercial for the G9, it's a kick to shoot with. When you're the client, the specs are whatever your heart desires. Plus, once I uploaded the images, the next challenge was composition and what I wanted to crop and share.
Stay with me because I have a point beyond being hokey and a little trite...
We've been hunkered down for over nine months in a state of sensory deprivation when it comes to contact with family and friends. By the time we finally get our turn in line for the vaccine and are comfortable getting back out, it's going to be a year. Our lives have changed, and our depth of field has become so narrow consisting of Sheila, me, and two pups. Yet, just outside our point of focus, friends, family, restaurants and life as we knew it are all there waiting. And everybody is in the same boat.
And there's my point - we all have the power to select our point of focus. As simplistic as it sounds, the whole exercise this morning got me thinking about the future and the pure joy of getting back to a level of normalcy. I've spent too much time thinking about the freedom we've lost and forgetting to appreciate and be grateful for everything we still have.
I've mentioned many times in the past how Sunday Morning Reflections is often written for my own benefit - well, welcome to my self-induced therapy session this morning. Everything we do and have needs to be kept in perspective, and to Jeff Dixon's quote above, it's sometimes hard to stay focused on what we all still have.
Wishing everybody a day of focus and time to appreciate everyone in your life rather than the frustration of what we've dealt with since March. It's all going to come back, and in the end, each of us will be stronger and more appreciative of so many little things we took for granted.
Happy Sunday...or Monday to my friends on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you already know anything goes on Sundays. I'm entirely off-track today and miles away from anything to do with business and marketing.
Yesterday Sheila and I experienced an event that was a first for us - a Zoom funeral. Kevin A. Gilligan is one of my dearest friends, even though we've only caught up to each other "live" once in all the years we've known each other. Kevin's brother John, who we never met, lost his fight to Cancer in November, and we were determined to be at the funeral. Had it not been for the pandemic, we would have been on a plane.
Well, at 11:00 AM PST yesterday, we joined 170+ people online in Zoom for one of the most touching events I've ever experienced. As friends and family spoke about John Francis Gilligan, we got to know not only him but his family, friends, and even my buddy Kevin.
Searching the Internet, I wanted to find some other opinions to explain better what I'm feeling. I found these comments in an article by Jeremy Smith on Slate:
I went to my first Zoom funeral a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea what to expect. That phrase—"Zoom funeral"—sounds so tacky and degrading. Who would come? How would it work? What would people wear? Would we be gathering respectfully to mourn a loved one, or slouch on our respective couches, alone together, arguing with other family members at home about how to position the phone, tablet, or laptop screen, with the cat mewling to be fed?
"A Zoom funeral feels … like a travesty," Violet Kim wrote for Future Tense in May. Until I went to one, I would have agreed. By the end of the ceremony, I had the opposite conclusion: A Zoom funeral, in many ways, might be better than an in-person one. Certainly, it was no less "real."
The article closed with:
The Zoom funeral left me feeling much more connected to everyone involved—and to everyone else who has lost a loved one during this pandemic. And it made me appreciate the ways technology like Zoom can make clearer our shared experiences—how it can literally show us all the other lives—and deaths—happening one "square" over.
I never met John F. Gilligan, but I now know more about him. I know about his remarkable career as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, his family, friends, and his unshakable belief in justice, commitment, love for his family and friends. I even feel like I know his laugh, which as each speaker referenced, I could hear it in my head.
There's a great quote from "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson that I've quoted many times, "I am a part of all that I have met." Knowing more about John, I now know my good pal Kevin and his family just a little bit better because John was a part of each of them.
The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it hasn't slowed down our ability to relate to each other, to grieve and love together. And yesterday, to recognize the accomplishment of a man, father, husband, brother, and friend who will be sorely missed.
Wishing everybody a day when nothing gets in your way of letting those most special people in your life know how much you care. The pandemic only puts limits on physical closeness - not heart to heart.
Happy Sunday, Everybody!
by Skip Cohen
Sunday mornings are always special - the house is quiet, and I enjoy writing about something other than the business and the marketing of photography. When I'm stuck for a topic, I start searching for quotes relevant to life these days, or better yet, like this morning, Melody Beattie came through.
Sheila got me started on Melody years ago, and I've found the majority of her daily meditations seem always to fit something I'm feeling. Well, this is a Melody Beattie morning. For tomorrow she wrote:
"There are times when we simply do not know what to do, or where to go, next. Sometimes these periods are brief, sometimes lingering...Accept uncertainty...We can cope by using our faith, other people, and our resources."
Sound familiar, especially these days? With the pandemic, we're all having days when we don't know what to do, where to go, and feel lost.
Melody wrote this book thirty years ago, with no thoughts about the challenges we're all dealing with now. But what she went on to write is so relevant:
It is okay to temporarily be without direction. Say "I don't know," and be comfortable with that. We do not have to try to force wisdom, knowledge, or clarity when there is none. While waiting for direction, we do not have to put our life on hold. Let go of anxiety and enjoy life. Relax. Do something fun. Enjoy the love and beauty in your life...Indecision, inactivity, and lack of direction will not last forever.
And there you have it - nothing earth-shaking in the idea, but comforting to remember we're all feeling many of the same things these days. Like you, we're frustrated with the never-ending saga of the pandemic, tired of hunkering down, even tired of using the word "hunkering." I'm choosing to follow Melody's advice and recognize it's okay not to have a direction and kick back and enjoy Sheila, friends, family, and the pups.
Wishing you a day of peace, love, and the ability to appreciate everything you've got in your life regardless of how restricted things feel. Enjoy something you've never had enough of, TIME. Use the time to look forward to life getting back to some level of normalcy, or look in the rear view mirror and go back to times that made you smile and laugh.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
“Life is primarily for laughing, loving, and living. It ain’t just for whining, worrying, and working!”
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, but different than the ones I used to write about. These days it's my run to the market at 7:00 am. With Sheila's asthma, I've got less respiratory issues than she does, so I hit the market before the nut jobs who don't wear masks show up.
Checking out, I had a guy and his girlfriend in front of me without masks, and I always ask, "Just curious, what is it about wearing a mask that bothers you so much?" Well, I got a dirty look, and no response as the two of them left the store.
Driving home, I found myself just getting angry over meeting somebody who still doesn't get it. And it's not just about my health, but the team at my local Publix, who I'm forever grateful they're there and helping me keep our fridge stocked!
So, trying to figure out what to write about, I realized I needed to loosen up, and that got me thinking about that old line we used to hear about it takes more muscles to frown than smile, which I've learned isn't totally accurate. Searching Google, I found:
On average, a smile uses 12 and a frown 11. However, since humans tend to smile a lot, these muscles are stronger. A frown may be slightly more effort to produce. just because we aren't as used to using these muscles.
But then I found the answer I really needed, and it's so true:
...smiles work in both directions: Just as happiness can make you smile, studies have shown that thanks to a quirk of the autonomic nervous system, smiling can make you happy. Unfortunately, the same holds true for expressions of sadness and distress. Both phenomena relate to mirror neurons — brain cells that spark up both when we observe an action, such as a smile, and when we take part in it.
So, no matter what your frustrations with the world around you, we just need to smile more. For the rest of today, I'm determined to have this dumb, "What me worry?" look on my face. It's an Alfred E. Neuman kind of day, and nothing is going to dampen my spirits. Try it right now - just crank up the volume on the happiest dumbest smile you can push out!
See what I mean?
Wishing everybody a day of smiles, but not just on your face - let's get them going in your heart.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everybody!
*I've followed Ed Foreman for years, meeting him back in my Polaroid days. He's been an inspiration to me since the 70s. Although, over the years I modified his quote a little - Life is for laughing, loving and living NOT bitching, moaning and complaining. LOL
by Skip Cohen
Sunday Morning Reflections has become a significant part of my routine. What I write about is often as much for my benefit as I hope it helps you.
This past week I've been struggling with the pandemic. While I've got this reputation of being the industry cheerleader, and many good things are going on, there are times when it's hard to focus. Like so many of you, I miss time with friends, and I miss the freedom to go out anywhere I want. Zoom, Facetime, Skype - they're all great for keeping in contact, but they don't keep us in touch.
As I sat down to write this morning, I struggled with needing to simply hug a friend. One of those big bear hugs, or bro-hugs, or the hugs I used to write about - long hugs lasting at least eleven seconds and proven to be therapeutic!
Stuck for a topic without sounding like a pandemic victim and whiner, I turned to Melody Beattie. Today, November 22, she wrote a piece called The Magic of Gratitude and Acceptance. Here's an excerpt:
Gratitude and acceptance are two magic tricks available to us in recovery. No matter who we are, where we are, or what we have gratitude and acceptance work. We may eventually become so happy that we realize our present circumstances are good. Or we master our present circumstances and then move forward into the next of set of circumstances.
If we become stuck, miserable, feeling trapped and hopeless, try gratitude and acceptance.
Once again, Beattie came through - and remember, she wrote this in 1990, but the message is timeless. And while you might think it's a little too simple and even trite - we all need a reminder of where to set focus when a camera isn't in our hands!
So, I had a choice - I could remain stuck, miserable, and trapped or look around me and take a big breath of appreciation. It's going to be a strange Thanksgiving this year, but even the pandemic can't take away the gratitude I feel for the life I have, Sheila, my family, friends, two very special puppies, and all of you. That means I have no choice but the winning combination of acceptance and gratitude.
And regardless of how spiritual you may or may not be, Melody's close was so relevant:
Today, God, help me let go of my resistance. Help me know the pain of a circumstance will stop hurting so much if I accept it. I will practice the basics of gratitude and acceptance in my life and for all my present circumstances.
We're all struggling with variations of the same circumstances - leaving us two great options, accepting the challenges in our lives and gratitude for everyone and everything that will get us through this.
Wishing everybody a great day ahead and a pre-Thanksgiving week that helps you stay focused on everything you have in your life instead of what's just beyond your reach.
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and as usual, I'm jumping the track from marketing and business topics but headed right down Memory Lane.
I've written before about a Facebook group, "If You Grew Up in Painesville, Ohio You Remember..." We all have time on our hands, and I'm not sure how I found the group, but I know in part, it was thanks to PT (pandemic time). Yesterday I posted a picture of our family doctor when I was a kid - within minutes, there were dozens of responses from other patients, and the memories just started to flow.
Then somebody posted a picture of a snow-covered turn on one of Painesville's roads, and it took me back to my kid days. That led me right to where I am this morning. Life seems like it was so much simpler then - get ready, I'm about to sound like an old fart!
Feel free to add to my list. But here's the point - Taking a walk down Memory Lane is great therapy for what we're all dealing with now. And even if you're just going back to January or February, these memories are all based on a foundation of freedom, at times when we did whatever we wanted.
I get that the world has changed, but I also enjoy the fact that I've got great memories, and the 12,000+ members of my hometown Facebook group have helped bring so many of them back!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and time with family or friends, whether it's on Skype, Zoom, the phone, or physically distant in person. I've got a favorite quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson I've used a lot over the years,
"I am a part of all that I have met."
Well, it's everyone you've met and everything you've done in the past that's made you, who you are today.
We'll weather the storm of Corona, just like any other crisis in our lifetime and when it's over we just might appreciate everything in our life, including our freedom, just a little more.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I'm off-track from photography, but only on the business side. The truth is, we'd all be lost without photographs to look back on those cherished memories. And through the pandemic, behind Sheila, the pups and good friends are our photographs. They've helped me stay focused on not only great memories but reminders that this will be over someday, and we'll get back to a better normal.
Yesterday would have been my Dad's 98th birthday. He made it to 93, but I always take a minute on his birthday to share a Ralph story, look up to the heavens and remind Dad how much I miss him. He was always my best buddy, and moving to Sarasota in 2011, so Sheila and I could give him a hand with Mom, who had Alzheimer's, became one of the best things I've ever done.
Sheila and I got quality time with both my folks. Dad and I got father-son time together, and Sheila got to know both of them before my Mother's Alzheimer's took over.
Born on Halloween, the guy rarely had a real birthday until we were all older. What's ironic is that he was in the wholesale candy business. I had access to a warehouse of goodies and never needed to go out trick or treating, but it was the "hunt" with friends that made Halloween a necessity. His birthday dinner was always rushed, so we could get out in the neighborhood chasing down candy!
So, here's one of my favorite stories: As it turned out, it was just a few weeks before Dad passed away. We were in the emergency room of the hospital. Dad had pneumonia again, and they were keeping him overnight. As the nurses were getting him undressed, for a second he was naked on the hospital bed. "Skip, Skip - get your camera. I want you to take a picture of my tush!" My response, "You want what?" "Yeah, let's show people what a perfect asshole looks like!"
Everyone burst out laughing, even Dad, with a fever and the chills. And I couldn't have been more proud as I looked at the nurses and doctor and said, "Yup, that's my Pop!"
I guess it's strange that I felt a little guilty yesterday, forgetting Dad's birthday. We were busy with some minor remodeling in our house, and between the stress of the noise, dust, and the pups having no place to go, I simply missed it. But that doesn't change how much I miss my folks and the incredible time I got with Dad over his last years.
The pandemic has forced us all into a new normal, but don't let that slow you down on appreciating every photograph or video you've got of memorable moments in the past. They're the perfect vitamin to raise your energy level these days. We'll get back to better times, but for now, cherish those walks down Memory Lane.
And to my Dad - Happy Birthday Pop - Sure do miss you!
Wishing everybody a perfect day of peace and time with some level of contact with those friends and family you cherish the most. Most important of all...
Stay safe and healthy!
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday morning, although I'm looking forward to turning the clocks back, so the puppies' first trip out in the morning isn't in the dark! There's a lot I'm looking forward to, like the end of the pandemic and trash mailings from both presidential candidates. What would happen if just once, instead of spending millions on over-sized postcards attacking the other candidate, they put the money into school lunch programs or helping the homeless?
Meanwhile, sorry about going off on a mini-rant - what I want to write about is one of the ways I'm surviving the pandemic. It started a few years back when Throwback Thursday became a weekly event. Turning back the clock once a week was fun to do, especially when it came to sharing old photographs of people we all know from the industry,
Well, in the process of needing to clean my home office this week, so furniture can be moved for a new floor, I've been finding old photographs from my grandmother's album. Then Sheila was cleaning out a closet and found pictures in her stash of memories over the years.
Now take it all one step further: I started sharing these with my hometown Facebook group. It's 12,000+ strong, with people who remember my family, especially my grandparents. My grandfather had a hardware store for fifty-two years in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. He did business on a handshake, which included credit for anybody who needed a little more time and never charged interest.
Here's my point - the pandemic has been awful for all of us. I'm not suggesting it's been easy to keep a good attitude and be optimistic, but like Zig Ziglar's old line - "It's your attitude that determines your altitude, NOT your aptitude." And taking regular walks down Memory Lane isn't just fun; it's interactive. These old photographs have kept me focused on the importance of what most of us do for a living - help people capture memories.
If you're looking for a great way to get away from the stress we're all faced with these days, find that album, drawer, trunk, or shoebox of old photographs! They'll give you a little respite from the challenges, and at the same time, remind you of the incredible career path you chose when you picked up your first camera!
Wishing everybody a day jam-packed with smiles, peace, and great memories. And remember, whatever happens today, will be a trip down Memory Lane years from now!
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's "Sunday Morning Reflections," but while I'm going to be off-track from business and marketing, I want to stay close to the topic of what I love most about the photography industry. I've written many times that the best thing about this industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
Continuing to function through the pandemic would be impossible if it wasn't for my friends. Everybody has lots of friends, but think about those select few who are most important to you - you know, the ones you'd give up a kidney for. Even more important today, the ones that help keep your spirits up when you want to give up! They're your cheerleaders, and conversations sometimes turn into pep-rallies.
Here's a perfect example - my buddy Tony Corbell! We met in 1987 when I joined Hasselblad, and the company was a sponsor of Dean Collins' Tour. Years later, I'd succeed in closing the best sell-job of my career: talking Tony into giving up his view of the Pacific Ocean at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara for a parking lot in New Jersey, to work for Hasselblad.
We've laughed and cried our way through years of adventures working with so many of the artists who set the stage for making the industry what it is today. Dean Collins, Don Blair, and Monty Zucker, for example, are just three of the incredible legacy we both feel responsible for and maintain right up through this very minute. They left behind the standards for quality and excellence we all need to stay focused on, even through the compromises we have to make because of the pandemic.
Well, On November 2, Tony and I join another good friend, John Cornicello, on his podcast, and we're just going to have fun. We're going to share some of our favorite stories about the legends of this industry. "Fun" is one of those lost words today, buried under the stress of business, politics, and the economy. Well, we're going to do our best to bring it back. With John's help, you'll understand even more about why, like so many of you, there is no other industry we could have ever been this happy being in.
Tony and Skip's Awesome Adventures just might top Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - Plus, you can count on plenty of stories about the legends you might have met over the years, or at the very least you should know!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and time to create new adventures with those people most important in your life. It's our friends who keep us going when times get the toughest. Hunkering down is all about your health, not keeping in touch. And as my buddy Bob Coates got us all thinking about early on, "social distancing" is a misnomer - we have to stay social, but physical distancing is the point.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
See you on November 2!
by Skip Cohen...and Brian Palmer
Sunday Morning Reflections have ALWAYS been about something other than business, and this morning is no exception. I was thinking about what to write about when I noticed an IM from Brian Palmer about an old post he recently ran across. It became the perfect topic for today...the importance and roots of our most special friendships.
Here's the short backstory: In 2009, I resigned from Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI. While everyone thought I was nuts, I couldn't have been happier...or nervous. It was a recession, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up! I left California for Akron, Ohio. Sheila and I found a great house to rent together, but I knew nobody in the area.
Catching up to photographers online, I met a local artist, Brain Palmer. I'm the biggest lunch slut in photography, so we met for lunch. That kicked off a fantastic friendship that, ten years later, is still something Sheila and I cherish. Brian attended a couple of Skip's Summer Schools, and we got together socially with his wife Perla and daughter Sara.
At Skip's Summer School in 2010, Brian grabbed the shot above of Sheila and me. He sent me a print which has been in a frame on my desk all these years - it's one of my favorites of the two of us.
Meanwhile, Brian and his family moved to Tokyo, but we've never lost touch, thanks to social media. Today he lives in Melbourne, Australia, and this morning he ran across his post about the image, which he shared in September of 2010. I never saw it, but it's perfect for sharing today.
We're all fighting to keep our sanity through the pandemic and eight months of being hunkered down. But, hunkering down is about your health - it's about hiding from germs, NOT friends. Brian and I caught up a little on an IM this morning. Just a few IMs back and forth, but from the smile on my face and Sheila's when I told her about catching up to Brian, you'd think I'd won the lottery.
I wish all of you a day that keeps you in touch with great friends and memories that remind you that no matter where you are in the world - thanks to technology - you're NEVER really alone. And to Brian's point in his guest post today - you don't always need eye contact to capture a moment that's special to your subject.
Brian, Perla, and Sara - we sure do miss you guys! And you might be in Australia, but the world's getting to be a tiny place, thanks to social media. Thanks for catching up this morning - can't wait for the day we can figure out how to get beyond the pandemic and get together in person.
Happy Sunday, everybody. Make it a day worth remembering.
by Brian Palmer (Posted September, 2010)
As some of you know Perla and I were at Skip's Summer School this past August, which was an amazing experience, hosted by Skip Cohen. In addition to the speakers presentations there was a breakout session where Skip, Tony Corbell, Clay Blackmore, Scott Bourne, and Bambi Cantrell were having a Q&A session with anyone who wanted to participate.
As the session was winding down Skip & his wife, Shelia, turned in and I decided to play the photojournalist and capture a few moments of them leaving. Here is one I captured of them on the escalators.
I still cannot believe they didn't see me sneaking along behind them, as I was shooting with a 24-70mm so I didn't have a lot of reach. Would this had been a better shot with Skip and Shelia facing me? Maybe. But not interrupting that moment, regardless of what it was, will, in the long run, mean more to them than a posed straight on capture. This is in no way saying posed and camera aware captures do not have meaning, because they do, just as much and more just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. This write up is only a comparison between the two. Just food for thought.
**Word of advice - be careful when laying on the ground next at the top of an escalator! The edges are sharp.
Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially just be yourself...
Social media is a community effort, everyone is an asset.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and for those of you who regularly follow me, you already know I step away from business and marketing topics. Sunday Morning Reflections is often about things in our lives outside of imaging.
Most of the pandemic challenges over the last eight months have been negative and difficult to adjust to, but there's one change that's been fun - being more active in social media. I won't deny that nothing replaces LIVE human contact, but at least keeping in touch has been possible, primarily through Facebook. I'm online more than I've ever been, and in the process, I discovered a private group I've grown to really appreciate.
In a previous post, I wrote briefly about a group, "If You Grew Up in Painesville, Ohio You Remember..." It's my home town, and they're 12,200+ strong. I'm not sure how I found them, but it's been a kick to read the posts and share the love and memories we have for growing up in a small town in Ohio.
As I've shared the old photographs and backstories to the images above, there's another side benefit. It's like the six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon game, I've connected with people from my childhood...
Over the last month I've shared old photographs, as well as photographs of contemporary events, like the summer Friday night car shows in the town square I've taken when up north on visits. Each time the response has opened the door to new conversations and things in the community so many of us remember.
The bottom line is the pandemic, combined with social media, has made the world a smaller place. I've been heavily active in social media for the last couple of decades, but almost always related to business or friends in the industry. Stepping back into my hometown and sharing memories is incredibly uplifting, but it's also pointed out the obvious, we really are all connected.
Wishing everybody a day to appreciate how connected we are to each other. Take the time to kick back and just chill. Don't let the negativity in the world through your front door - it'll still be there tomorrow! And if you want to have some fun, take a walk down Memory Lane - we can never go back, but we can look back and cherish our roots!
And to old friends and new ones from my hometown - what a kick it's been connecting. Looking forward to sharing so many more memories - now if somebody can just get the recipe for a pizza from Angelo's!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
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.