Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year: No Words Left Behind

Do you ever wonder if your best days are behind you?

I don't.

Never have.

But as I sit here, thinking about the turning of the year, I feel like I should express my gratitude for the year that is passing.

Do you ever wonder if you're having more choice experiences in your life -- or if you're just paying better attention?

2011 was the year I lived.

It was the year that I felt.

It was a year of friends. It was a year of memories -- rekindled and refreshed.

It was a year of awe and wonder, of beauty in new and unexpected places.

 It was the first year that my age has ever profoundly affected me.

It was the year that I saw and heard and sang and laughed and thought and breathed and believed and prayed and watched and smiled and sighed and cheered. It was the year I held closer to what is important and the year that I began to learn to let go of what is not. 

2011 is a year that I am profoundly grateful to have spent on this planet with all of you. 

And finally, a toast to the year before us...

May the New Year find you in a better place than the old. May all that blessed you before, bless you twice again. May the roads you walk be as full of joy and beauty as the destination they lead you to. May your sorrows remind you that life is precious and that experience is a treasure. May your thoughts be noble and your words be kind. May you be a light that brings hope. 

And may your life be as choice as your friendship. 

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A picture a day....ARE YOU NUTS?!

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli
So, it's the new year, and you're full of ambition and excitement. The world is your oyster. There is nothing that you can't do.

"I think," you say to yourself, "that I'm going to take a picture, every day, for the entire year."


I'm kidding. I'm sure you were just born that way.

Ha ha, really, I'm kidding. I applaud you for taking on this challenge. It's going to be a very rewarding experience, but there are some things you need to know...

First, and foremost, you should understand -- this is going to take a YEAR!!!! You know how it seems like the older you get, the faster the years go by? Well, that's absolutely true in every aspect of your life...except this one. Actually, though the year can really drag, the days and hours will fly by -- you will take more than one picture at 11:59 pm. You may even resort to some wishful thinking/time zone manipulation ("it's still Friday in Hawaii"). By February (or maybe the second week of January) you're going to feel overwhelmed, but stay true. You CAN do this.

Second: You will not take 366 (this is Leap Year) award winning pictures. You will not take sixty-six award winning pictures. You will take a LOT of mundane shots. You will take a fair amount of GOOD shots. You will take a respectable number of extraordinary shots. And you will take a handful of take-your-breath-away-blow-the-doors-off-stand-in-wide-eyed-amazement-this-is-why-I-started-taking-pictures-in-the-first-place-my-neighbor-WISHES-she-could-take-pictures-like-this shots. And that's the payoff.

Part of it, anyway.


1. Take your camera with you. EVERYWHERE. Never put your camera away. Leave it by the door, or your car keys. I hang mine on the stair railing, by the front door.

If you ever forget your camera, snap something with your cell phone camera. You can just lump that picture in the "mundane" category.

2. Take pictures. Duh.

But seriously folks, take pictures. There are going to be days -- many days -- when you feel uninspired. Don't wait for your muse -- she has a notoriously bad sense of direction, and is frequently lost. Something magical happens when you place your eye up to the view finder -- the more you try to create, the greater your capacity TO create will grow. I truly believe that. Shoot something. In fact...

3. Shoot 'em all!

Shoot ANYTHING that catches your eye: lines, shapes, smiles, tears, clouds, weeds, messes, cars, hands, fences, shadows, cookies, household appliances...well, you get the idea.  You may find something better later on. Actually, I can't can't count the number of times that I have worked, painstakingly, for a shot -- shooting several dozen pictures to get the right image -- only to stumble, serendipitously, upon something better later on that day. Taking A picture relieves the pressure of that day's obligation, and opens up your senses to find and take THE picture.

4. Most importantly, if you miss a day, DO NOT STOP! One year I shot faithfully, everyday, until mid-April. Then one Friday I forgot.

I just forgot.

I was watching a marathon of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, on the Food Network, fell asleep on the couch, and woke up a failure. I did it again in August.  I blame Guy Fieri.

Don't think of this as a project to take one picture per day for 366 days, think of it as a year long project to document your life in pictures. If you miss a day, pick up and start again. The great pay off, in the end, is not the sense of accomplishment at surviving, but the amazing documentation of your life's journey over the previous year.

5. Share your pictures on a regular basis (I recommend weekly) -- it's easier to stay committed once you know people are planning on dropping by to see your pictures.

6. Know that I am here for you! If you feel like dropping by and berating me for talking you into this project, that's okay  -- as long as you keep taking pictures. And not just me -- others WILL find your pictures, and you will meet new and wonderful people.

And last of all, remember that even though 2012 is leap year, if the Mayans were right, there's a good chance the world will end in December -- so you get off easy!

Good Luck!