Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to Shine (and make the world a better place to live)

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew gave us the word "SHINE" for our blogging assignment.  As usual, I am late due to stewing over what this word meant to me.  Interestingly, since I don't believe in concidence, I have had several epiphanies these past two weeks that have led me back to this word. 

Originally, I thought about a time in my past where there was this extremely intelligent but unpleasant woman that I worked with.  I focused way too much time complaining about her various traits and habits that annoyed me until one day I realized that her path in life was the same as mine - to love and be loved in return.  To be understood and to understand in return.  Realizing this allowed me to let go of the dissonance I felt towards her.  Oddly enough, the man I was seeing at the time noticed this shift in my demeanor that day.  While I can't say that this lesson stayed with me for very long, I still remember that day and had planned to share that story here but didn't get to it right away...

Then yesterday occurred.  I was driving to Issaquah to run errands and was listening to a story on NPR about an Iraqi woman who went by the name of Sarah. She worked for the U.S. to gather intelligence on the Iraqi militia and had a real gift for people wanting to open up to her and talk.  As she told her story, the listener followed her growth from the role of an Iraqi housewife to an empowered woman working against the repression of Sadam Hussein's regime.  She was well known by the opposition and had been given the name "The Lion".   The pride in her voice was inspiring to hear at that point of the story.  The story took a turn soon enough as she told about a local woman whose home was at a very strategic point in the city.  She began to be in daily contact with this woman, they became friends and she met and came to care about the woman's familiy.  One day, the husband called to tell her that his wife had been taken away by the militia.  Sarah begged for assistance from the U.S. military and tried to negotiate with the Iraqi militia for her release, but a couple of weeks later she heard from the husband once more.  His wife had been killed.  I started to cry at this point as it seemed so crazy and futile.  The story went on from there and became even more sad.  I didn't hear the end of it as I arrived at the store and left the car.  However, in the short time between starting to cry and pulling off of the freeway, I made a resolution.  This world needs to change and today it will start with me.  Going back to that day long ago, it is time to once more realize that we are all here to love and be be understood and understand in return.  It is time to throw aside thoughts about others that are non-productive.  Really, in the scheme of things, does it matter if someone wears too much perfume or hairspray?  If they are rude and insinuating?  Unless someone's actions might cause you personal harm, let it go.  In your heart and mind, send them the thought that there are kinder, gentler ways to achieve one's needs. 

Another item I came across yesterday that reinforced my thoughts were the words written on the bottom of a Nature's Path cereal box.  "Always leave the Earth better than you found it" ~ Rupert Stevens.  He was talking about organic farming, but I really think it applies to everything that we do in life.   A few minutes later, the sun blasted a hole through the overcast and rain that permeated our pre-spring Saturday.  It felt warm on our faces and hit the thermometer outside the kitchen window driving it up to almost 60 degrees.  A coincidence?  I think not.

So leave a legacy of kindness, tolerance, love and understanding.  Be a shining example of humanity in your life. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So may I introduce to you?

Hello.  I am Ellen's A630 Powershot. 

Although I live in Bellevue, Washington,  I have been all over the world.  I have taken a bicycle trip along the Elbe River from the Czech Republic towards Berlin. I have sailed on the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece and even been to Japan.  Last summer, Ellen and I took a photography class together and most recently, we attended a photography and blogging workshop in Tucson with Kate and Andrew.
Over the years, I have recorded many family events and taken some awful pictures.  (Don't tell Ellen it wasn't my fault.)  So now that you know who I am, I'd like to introduce to you my new big brother.

Yep, he's the latest Canon G12.  He is absolutely the coolest thing that has happened to Ellen's photography since I was given to her for Christmas many years back.  He makes all of her pictures look good (and she needs all the help she can get.)  He has many of the features I have, but they're new and improved.  He's even got this cool fisheye lens effect that he may show you someday in another post. 

Ellen has been carrying him with her everywhere this week.  Here's his first shot.  Ellen must have looked pretty silly squatting at the curb out front of the Safeway store to take this picture.  Did I mention that it was beginning to drizzle? 

Ellen is finding it easier to focus macro shots and thinks that he does a great job taking pictures without flash in various light levels.  Here's a very simple one taken from the chair in which you can usually find Ellen working on her laptop.

This photo was also taken from Ellen's "throne".  Do you see the little Flapper Girl faces?

And finally, here's a picture of my new owner Bob.  He's eating a cookie and working on the other family laptop. 

So, from now on, Ellen and the G12 will be working on this blog together.  I know that they are going to get some really good photos together and I want to go on record as saying that I am not jealous in the least.  Bob and I will be great together too...and Bob won't drop me a lot like Ellen did.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Boundless - another in a series of word assignments from Andrew

I've been thinking on this one all week and I keep coming back to one point of time in my life where I felt absolutely limitless for a brief moment.

I don't remember what year it was or even which state I lived in at the time.  I simply remember having a wonderful flying dream.  I don't remember the details other than it was a lucid dream - one where I knew that I was having a flying dream.  I remember feeling absolutely and incredibly bouyant and filled to the brim with light, joy and serenity.  I remember telling myself that I wanted to remember the dream and feelings once I awoke. 

The next morning, I woke up and the memory of the dream quickly rose back up in me and I carried those lovely feelings with me into my day.  I can't say how long they stayed with me, but thinking back on them now calls up a stirring of that goodness. 

I shared this with Bob while we cleaned up dishes after dinner and he told me that as a kid, he had flying dreams all of the time.  He said that all he needed to do was jump in the air and he'd be off.  He never flew too high, but he stayed up there for quite awhile.  I know that many people have never had one of these dreams and  I know that I haven't had one for quite a long time.  Bob says that he can't recall having a flying dream since he became an adult, but then he doesn't often remember his dreams if he does have one.

I know dreaming has something to do with the length and the quality of the sleep also.  I have only recently begun to sleep soundly through the night after a long spell of many sleepless nights in a row and I notice that the dreams are starting to come back.  Maybe I'll have another wonderful flying dream soon.  This time I'm going to write it down or better yet, try to recreate it in photos.  Then I'll be able to take it out and enjoy any time I wish to do so.