Monday, September 18, 2017

SOTC 255/365

I just can't get enough of nature thriving in unexpected places!

Little Bits of Nature Everywhere (SOTC 255/365)

SOTC 254/365

This view never gets old.

Coming out of Grotto Canyon (SOTC 254/365)

SOTC 253/365

Downtown Calgary really is a photographic playground.

Pedway for one (SOTC 253/365)

SOTC 252/365

"It's like a giant version of whac-a-mole."

Like a Giant Version of Whac-a-Mole (SOTC 252/365)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Well, Poop (SOTC 251/365)

Sometimes you get more than you bargained for in your images.

Well That Was Unexpected (SOTC 251/365)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

SOTC 250/365

It could be a flower; it could be a weed. But it grows up from dust and rock, and anything with that type of resilience gets my attention.

Shot of Colour (SOTC 250/365)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SOTC 249/365

I've tried very hard to not have too many sunsets as SOTC selections, as they are somewhat of a low-hanging fruit in my photography. That being said, sometimes you just gotta.

Southern Comfort (SOTC 249/365)

SOTC 248/365

The hazy forest-fire smoke mutes the blue and orange of evening to cast its own unique filter. #WhoNeedsInstagram

Evening Mountain Range (SOTC 248/365)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Kindess

Sometime in the spring, I heard about the Big Apple Experiment from a colleague. Essentially, you take two apple slices, love one, trash talk the other, and see what happens. My job involves supporting educators to teach social and emotional skills to young children, and it was an experiment she had done with her preschool class to talk about kindness towards others.

When she emailed me and shared the experiences of the children and educators in her room, as well as the effect on the apples, I was moved. Are our words really that powerful? I started thinking it could be a meaningful exercise to try with my own coworkers. So I put a couple of apple slices in jars, and asked everyone to be kind to one, and be mean to the other. I did not tell them why.

Here is the apple we were kind and caring towards. I often heard it being cooed to, complimented, and occasionally someone sang to it. Four weeks later, it looked like you could dip it in caramel and still eat it.


Here is the apple we were mean to. It was talked to in tones of contempt, occasionally the table it sat on was smacked as frustrations were spoken to it, and one of my colleagues admitted to giving it the finger. ...I couldn't even touch it when I pulled it out of the jar. It was mouldy and squishy and just... not in good shape.


The two slices came from the same apple. They were cut with the same knife and placed at the same time into identical mason jars.* And because they were placed at opposite ends of our office building, I even switched their locations part way through so that each experienced the same traffic patterns of people overall. And what blows my mind is that both jars were sealed. The apples were not touched or tampered with. The only difference between these two apple slices was the attitude with which they were treated.

There is clearly an entirely different energy in hurtful words and actions than in loving ones. One rots; one protects. When we are unkind, not only do we wound another emotionally, or even fracture a relationship--we also leave behind a lasting negative energy. If this is what meanness does to an apple at its core, what does it do to a person in theirs?

...As someone who spends her day talking about social and emotional well-being, let me be clear that I'm not saying we shouldn't express our hurt or anger. We need to be authentic with all our feelings. ...But we do need to be mindful about where and how and to whom we're directing our energy.

We have a choice in every interaction--with the cashier at the grocery store; the customer service agent on the phone; our child or spouse at the end of a long day, in hard conversations with friends; at a tense team meeting--to choose: malice, sarcasm, belittling, anger, a raised voice? Or kindness, compassion, patience, empathy, and truth spoken in love.

We are not always going to be perfect, but the good news is that we have endless opportunities to practice.

I know what kind of energy I want to leave in a room, or in someone's heart.

I choose kindness.








* Yes, I washed the apple, the knife, the jars, and my hands before doing this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Where 100,000 Will Take You

I enjoy driving. I am my father's daughter in this regard, traversing whatever kilometres I must to get where I want to go. When I'm not commuting to and from work, I'd say the majority of my driving is to either visit the people I care most about, or to explore somewhere with my camera.

So is it any wonder that after four years of moving to and from these places with my current car (a Dodge Dart named Tom), he would hit his 100,000km mark on a road in rural Saskatchewan... a trip he has made many times to keep me connected to some of my favourite people.

Within Edmonton, I must admit that Tom and I have... struggled... to get along with the city streets.* But--we have always enjoyed the open road together. It is interesting where different seasons of our lives take us. My Honda went everywhere. Mountains, ocean, foothills, prairie--she even crossed into the United States more than once. To be fair, I owned Aubergine twice as long as I've currently owned Tom. That being said, thus far, Tom has only had a taste of the mountains and foothills, he's never been to the ocean, nor has he crossed any international borders.

But the prairie.

Well.

Tom is a prairie expert.

The view at 100,000km.

Under the ever-wide sky, we have explored the green and yellow patchwork of summer fields, as well as the white blankets of winter. We have stopped to take in unexpected delights, and we never hesitate to pull over for a good sunset. In the dark of winter, thousands of songs, a hundred podcasts, and several audio books have helped to pass the time.

All so that I can access the pieces of my heart that I have scattered abroad.

Tom's knees are starting to creak, his face is pock-marked by gravel and dust, and his interior is in desperate need of a bath. ...I've put him through a lot in four years.

At 25,000km per year, I am hoping he and I can enjoy at least another four together, and I am curious to see which directions our ambitions take us.

There is so much yet to explore.


* But if you need to find a pothole, a nail, or a piece of wayward rebar, I'm your gal.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

SOTC 246/365

Many Monks (SOT 246/365)

SOTC 245/365

I have no shame in bribing birds with food to get them closer to my camera.

Noticed (SOTC 245/365)

Monday, July 10, 2017

SOTC 244/365

Magpies are jerks. They are noisy pilferers and bullies. Several of them roost in my neighbourhood. If I am working in the garden and suddenly hear a bunch of magpies squawking, I know that somewhere on the street, a dog or cat (likely my own) is being taunted.

Late last night, I heard quite a ruckus of noise, louder than usual; what are they taunting now?

I was shocked and angered to see 8-10 magpies squawking and pecking at a baby bird in the street. My heart took over--natural selection be damned; baby birds don't deserve to be bullied!

My presence scattered the magpies, and I managed to scoop up the bird--a baby blue jay. I wasn't sure if he was injured, and I wasn't sure how long the magpies would linger, so I opted to house him for the night.

This morning I spotted the adult jays in my front yard, and another fledgling on the neighbour's lawn. Assuming this must be his family, I was happy to release him*... but not without attempting a few pictures first, of course.

The adult jays sure vocalized their opinion about me being so close to their young, but baby blue jay clearly had a sense that I had treated him well, because he stuck around on the grass just long enough to let me photograph and pet both him and his sibling one last time.

Baby Blue Jay (SOTC 244/365)

Stay clear of the magpies, my feathered friends.




* I had considered taking him to Edmonton's wildlife rehabilitation centre if his parents didn't come back for him.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Out to the Very Edge

I come down the shadowed trail
and into the clearing.
The sky and my lungs open in tandem.

The view is breathtaking even from the trail--
still, it beckons me forward.

You want the best I have to offer?
Come out to the very edge.

Precarious and BraveIt is a thin space between the edge
and the place where gravity reminds you
how unforgiving it is.

The edge deserves my respect;
requires confidence with care.

Calculated steps.

My heart beats a touch faster.
I move from standing to crouching,
tightening my centre of gravity,
hands and feet now moving
together
over the rough stone

Equal parts terrifying and exhilarating

Towards the precipice
where
I gingerly sit myself down,
bring my legs out in front of me--

And I am above the traffic,
above the river;
above even most birds
busy breakfasting in the trees.

Come out to the very edge;
see the best I have to offer;

The wind swirls around me
but
my heartbeat settles

I remember that
I accepted the invitation into this moment
and this space

And it is from here that
I can take in the clarity of the landscape before me
and the bright light
of a new day.


From Where I Sit

Monday, July 3, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

SOTC 241/365

I find small birds insanely hard to photograph. Fortunately for me, this one has perched himself on a back yard wire a couple times now. He will chirp 'sass' at my cats down below for a good half hour at a time. I think he thinks he's a magpie... Buddy, you're too cute for that.

Bird on a Wire II (SOTC 241/365)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daring Greatly

Anyone who's known me for longer than five minutes knows that I love the work of Brene Brown. I have read all her books, watched every YouTube video she's ever been in, and listened to every podcast she's been a part of. I follow her everywhere on social media. Everything she says about vulnerability, authenticity and resilience just resonates so much; over the last 2-3 years, I have been increasingly putting her work into practice in my daily life.

Recently, I discovered her online courses around Daring Greatly and Rising Strong--extended learning from two of her books. So naturally, I signed myself up. If you appreciate Brene's work and want to explore more of what it means to live it out in your own life, I highly recommend both courses.

At the end of the Daring Greatly course, one of the exercises was to write a Daring Greatly Manifesto. She has one in her book, but encourages each person to write their own, based on their own personal values. For me, I think it was the first time I was able to succinctly yet specifically capture what I stand for, what I value, and how I want to live and love in this world.

Here's to Daring Greatly.


I value love, loyalty, and belonging.
I believe in extending grace.
In living with integrity.
And that time is one of the most valuable gifts I can give.

I commit to showing kindness, even when it’s hard,
acting with authenticity, even when it’s scary, and
connecting with others, even when I would rather go it alone.

I will dare greatly by speaking my boundaries.
By standing my sacred ground when I would rather run away.
By trusting my feelings with those who’ve earned the right to hold them.

I will love myself with quiet spaces
and gentle paces.
I will remember that I am worthy of the love, loyalty, and belonging
that I so freely give to others.

And I will keep my eyes on my Creator;
because I see my reflection there.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

You Cannot Predict the Landing

You Cannot Predict the Landing

Leap.

Whether creek or canyon, the invitation is there.

Dare greatly and leap.

You might stick the landing; we like a solid landing, don't we? But--you might slip and skin your knees. Or roll an ankle. Or tumble completely and end up with road rash.

Leap anyway.

And when you crash and burn, know that it's okay to just sit there on the ground for a bit. To take a few moments and catch the breath that's been knocked out of your lungs. Assess the pain. Ask for ice. Recognize that something happened in the air that changed the course of the landing; you could learn from that.

...But wouldn't you know it, you still made it across. The landing doesn't negate the leap. Are you able to feel the sting of the abrasion and still know the joy of the jump? ...Sometimes that's the hardest part.

Stand back up. Brush the debris from your arms and legs. Gently put some weight back on the ankle. Walk slowly over the soft trail--admire the scenery for a bit while the road rash heals.

Up ahead at some point, there will be an invitation to leap again. Go ahead; acknowledge your scars. They're part of what's gotten you to this point. But then, put a hand to your chest and feel the strong beat of your heart. That's really what's gotten you to this point. And it's the only thing that counts moving forward.

Take your running start to its rhythm.

And leap.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Deep Breath and Stretch of Morning

This never. gets. old.

I have a picture of the tulips breaking through the earth for every year I've lived in this house. They rise up along the whole length of the driveway, and the delight never ceases when I spot them that first time each March.

And when I rake the leaves clear, it's like throwing back blankets and taking that big deep breath and stretch of morning.

They're a reminder of life.

Of hope.

Of resilience.

A reminder that we can endure the cold and the dark seasons. That we are not meant to bloom all year 'round. That sometimes we must rest--lie still and wait, conserve our energy, focus inward.

But trusting implicitly that Light returns; always returns. And when it does, then we explode forth our bright colours; unafraid and dazzling.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Self-Taught (SOTC 228/365)

I am part of a photography meet-up group called the Edmonton Shutterbugs. Over the last five years, I have participated in countless photo walks, as well as some unique lesson-style opportunities to practice new photography techniques in the company of other like-minded individuals.

For 2017, the group decided to host a 52-week photography challenge. Each week, the organizer posts a single word around which we are to create our image. I've had the right mix of inspiration and free time for about half the weekly challenges so far, including this week's.

This week's challenge word is "learning." I visualized my image so quickly that I'm not sure it's fair to call this particular submission a 'challenge,' lol.

Most of my photography skills are self-taught. I've owned a camera for the last thirty years or so, but it has only been in the last ten that I've taken my natural affinity for the art and built upon it with some intentionality--book by book; an article here, a YouTube tutorial there; and by looking at a lot of photographs taken by other people. If I am not out actually taking photos, I'm generally learning about the art in some capacity.

So some days, learning looks like this.

Other days, it looks like this:


Self-Taught (SOTC 228/365)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Curl In

Lights out
I roll onto my side
and
I hear her
softly pad her way
up the bed

already
I am lifting the blanket
and she slinks
under

Our nightly routine

She turns a half circle
settles against me
curling her shape
into my shape

I gently let the blanket
drop
enclosing her
in the warmth
and the hush
of night

When I wake up briefly
in the wee hours of the morning
I will notice that
she's settled elsewhere
on the bed

But as I shrug off
another long day,
seeking to greet sleep,
her gentle weight
and mild purr
help to anchor
and settle my soul

and I'd like to think
my heartbeat
does the same for her.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Arousal

Shrug off the heavy jacket,
open the window,
let the cat out

Stand in the sun,
listen to the world thaw around you,
and lose yourself a moment
in spring's foreplay

SOTC 227/365

Where Trees are the Skyline Too (SOTC 227/365)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Across the Lake

So many times I have stood at the water's edge and taken in the small cluster of trees on the little island in the middle of the lake. I have always wanted to get there; to see what's on that little patch of earth.

But my stamina for swimming is not strong.

And for whatever reason, I have never been able to access a boat.

Today the lake is frozen, completely covered with mother nature's icing. I finally step beyond the shore and go.

Across the Frozen Lake

The open air is cold, the wind is harsh.
Tears form at the corners of my eyes; my cheeks sting.
The low sun is already waning; what is it even warming, anyway?
I keep my head focused forward,
the crunch, crunch, crunch of each step
in rhythm with the heartbeat I can start to hear between my ears.

What am I even doing?

A canoe in July would be easier; warmer. Yet it is today I am compelled to go.

Because sometimes we are called to something in an unexpected season.
And we must trust that the conditions are right.

My tracks are not the first out here; they will not be the last.

Sometimes this is what it looks like to walk on water.