9.30.2013

Monday's Musings - I'm Bored

My kids have learned not to say, "Mom, I'm bored." 

They got one of two responses from me. 

1) "I can give you some cleaning jobs."

2) "Being bored is a blessing of childhood. Enjoy it while you can. When you grow up, there will be times you wish you could be bored."

They obviously didn't jump at the cleaning jobs. 

They don't want to hear being bored is a blessing.

I've told them that I did some of my best thinking when I was bored, lying in the back of our station wagon, late at night, staring off at the Milky Way as my parents drove us across the country. (No, we didn't know how important seat belts were back then.)

They don't want to hear that lecture again. 


But what I also know, as a parent, is that being bored can lead to creativity. And fun they wouldn't have thought of otherwise. 


I miss that in my life at times. 

Being bored. 
Wide-eye wonder. 
Staring at the clouds.
Jumping off fences. 
Just because. 




See my son being a kid? 

He was walking on this fence while I snapped shots of some morning glories. 

If we had had electronics in the car, he probably would have been playing with that instead. 

But he had fun just being a kid. Even if it seemed boring at the time.



But now that he's had fun walking the fence, he doesn't mind if I stop here for photos. He even hams it up for me taking his picture.

So what is it about being bored that can be a blessing? 

For me, at least, I can think more clearly. There aren't so many distractions. I can ponder great things - like life, or God. 

As an adult though, I have so many responsibilities that it's hard to ever have down time where guilt isn't a problem. You know, the..."You really should be getting something done" kind of guilt. Because of that, I rarely ever feel bored. 

Although one time, several years ago, I shared with my Sunday school class that I would give so much just to be bored for 10 minutes. God smiled when he heard me say that. 

I arrived home before all of my family, only to figure out that I was locked out of my house. Completely. 

Since I was in heels and a skirt, I couldn't even putter around the yard. As I lay on my back deck looking up at the sky, I realized God gave me my wish. I was bored! And, it ended up being 20 minutes long!

With everything going on in life right now, I need to be bored for a bit. 

But since I'm not locked out of my house today, I've decided to create a 20 minute window where I just go lie on my deck and talk to God. And listen. 

To try to see the bigger picture of why everything is happening the way it is. 

To ask God what he's trying to teach me. 

How he's using what I'm going through. 

I'm going to create a little boredom in my life. 

To be a wide-eyed kid again.

To stare at the sky. 

Praying that you find a few moments today to just talk with God. 
To listen. 
To look up into the sky. 
Maybe even, to be bored for a bit. 


Mary



9.27.2013

Photo Tip Friday - How Does Lighting Affect a Picture?

Welcome back! 

Today, I want to show you how much lighting affects a picture. 

Recently, I was in a hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Right across from our room was a grand old theater called the Indiana Repertory Theater. Since I was there a few days, I noticed how beautiful the front was and how much the time of day affected how the theater looked. 

So I want to show you how lighting changes the mood in a photograph and how to use it to better advantage. 

Let's get started.
Taken at 4:23 pm

As you can see, I took this shot at 4:23 pm. (Aren't digital cameras amazing at tracking information for us?) 

Notice the very angular shadow across the theater? That's a shadow from another downtown building. 

But look how flat the shadow makes the facade. 





Taken at 5:22 pm
Now, look at the sunlight across the theater just an hour later.

Notice how architecturally interesting the building is?

And the shadow of the other building is completely gone. 

Remember that the sun's movement is very dynamic. Use it to your advantage to create better shots.


Taken at 5:22 pm





This is the same shot as above, except it's portrait or vertical. I wanted to focus in on the detail a little bit more than I could on the landscape or horizontal shot above. 

Remember last week's lesson on horizontal versus vertical shots? If not, you can go to Part 1 here, or Part 2 here.




Taken at 7:00 pm



I took this photo an hour and a half later. 

What differences can you see? 

Which of these two shots do you like better and why? 







Taken at 8:08 pm
The city of Indianapolis knows what it's doing. This building is beautiful and so they have obviously thought about lighting and showing off the architecture, especially after sun down. 

Do you see the wonderful uplighting they employ? 

The building comes alive at night. It has a very different feel to it than it does during the day. 





GUIDELINE: I will let you know about sunlight between the hours of 10 am to 3 pm. It's called devil lighting. Notice I didn't even take any shots during that time? I wished I had for the sake of this post, but the building just didn't catch my eye during that time frame. 

You can take pictures during the 10 am to 3 pm time frame, but just be aware that the lighting then is very harsh. You can learn to use it to create good shots, but the more magical shots happen as the sun is rising and setting. The colors intensify and the shadows are more manageable. 

I'll post more on this in the future. 



So, what observations can you make about the use of lighting and shadows in these shots?

How will that help you? 

Hope these tips help! 

Keep on clicking! 

Mary


9.24.2013

Wordless Wednesday - Snail

Welcome back for Wordless Wednesday! 



Thanks for dropping by! 

Join Linky below and come back on Friday for photography tips!



9.23.2013

Monday’s Musings – The Emotional Roller Coaster

As I’m learning to live my new normal without my mom and father-in-law, I’ve realized I don’t need to do this alone.

One step my husband and I've taken is to join a Grief Share class at our church. We're with others who are in differing stages of grief. Most of them have been on this road longer than we have. There’s a lot we can learn from them about dealing with this emotional roller coaster we've found ourselves on.

We watch a video each week. Boy, does that help. Again, the people who are speaking have all suffered losses. They talk to us where we are and give us hope that things will get easier with time.

The classes have really helped me understand my situation better and I hope it will help you, too.

Remember that while my grief is very obvious, you may be grieving losses without realizing it. Grieving the loss of a friend who moved, a lost job, a lost opportunity. Maybe health issues or a lost dream. Ailing parents. It can come in many forms.

But one of the interesting things from this past week was when they talked about the roller coaster of emotions and the emotional ball of feelings that we go through. 

First off, you know how fun/scary a roller coaster ride can be? It truly is a great analogy to grieving. You can experience excitement and fear simultaneously. Or be nauseous. You can lose your keys. You want to scream and laugh at the same time.

This is just like grief.

We can have very conflicting emotions at the same time. Sadness and relief. Acceptance and denial. The list is long.

This is where the emotional ball of yarn comes from. Our emotions get so tangled up with each other - like a ball of yarn. We rarely feel just one emotion at a time. And we often feel conflicting emotions.

And that’s tiring.

Very tiring.

I was relieved to learn this.

Why? Because I can go from happy to sad so quickly. My emotions make me feel like I’m on a roller coaster. I can be fine one minute, then triggered to sadness by a fleeting memory a moment later.

But I’ve just learned that’s okay.

And it gives me a new perspective.

This emotional ball of feelings is normal. And, now that I’m aware of it, it seems less intimidating.

I can’t stop the emotions. But understanding can help me not stress over them as much.

And it gives me hope. Hope that it won’t always be this hard.

That we will make it through this tough season of life.

Hope that joy will come in the morning.
           
And for that, I’m grateful.

Praying for blessings for you today.

Mary


Psalms 30:5   "...Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."


9.20.2013

Photo Tips Friday - Landscape vs. Portrait Pt. 2

Welcome back for more on using landscape (horizontal) shots versus portrait (vertical) shots. 

In part 1, I said I would give you some pointers to use in deciding how you should orient your pictures.

Let's get to some pictures and see what we can learn. 



This photograph was taken in portrait style. Notice that I framed the photo with the left side of the track. You get the feel of the length of the tracks. 

The rails draw your eye to the vanishing point around the bend.

And, you feel like you're on the tracks. That's because I stood on the rail to line it up the way I wanted.






So here's the guideline: When you have strong lines that are vertical, try vertical first. Use those long lines to your advantage.

Vice versa is true as well. When you see strong horizontal lines, start there. 


But since I like to try different angles, I took a horizontal picture as well. 

In order to get a shot I wanted, I moved to the inside rail to take the shot. It seemed to work better for the horizontal perspective. 

What do you think?


Here's a nature picture. 

I couldn't get right up to the falls, so my first shot was from the rail of the footbridge I was on. 

I used a longer time exposure to get the milky effect and took a vertical or portrait shot to get the feel of the water flowing toward me. 

The greenery on the edges provides softness to the picture.





Here's the corresponding horizontal shot. 

Personally, I like the vertical picture more in this case. 

And I want you to know that every shot I try doesn't work out just the way I want it. 


That's why I keep preaching to try new things, even if it's just trying both portrait and landscape shots of the same subject. 

 




Here's a lovely model. 

See her great smile? I also loved that her shirt and the bricks are such a good match. The focus is definitely on my subject. 







I took this picture and used landscape because I thought it would go nicely with the bricks. 

Honestly, it wasn't quite what I wanted.

There's too much brick and not enough of my daughter.





To correct for too much brick, I cropped the photo, keeping the same dimensions. I like this much better.







So, your assignment for the weekend is to take some pictures in both the portrait and landscape.

Compare them to each other. See which you like best. Then let me know what you did!

Hope this tip helps. 

Keep on clicking! 

Mary


9.18.2013

Wordless Wednesday—30,000 Feet

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

I was doing a little traveling recently. 

I got to see a sunrise from 30,000 feet. It was pretty. 

But even neater was the reflection of the sun on the ocean and rivers we flew over. 

And then the clouds. 

Enjoy!







Come back on Friday for photography tips! 

Thanks for dropping by.



9.12.2013

Friday's Photo Tip - Do a Photo Shoot

You'll have to pardon my abbreviated post today. 

Between actually totally losing my internet at home for several days and traveling to a writer's conference and my computer having hiccups, I can't do the photo tips on Portrait versus Landscape as much justice as I want. So part 2 will be next Friday. 

But in the meantime, I have an assignment for you

Since you most likely are using a digital camera, you can take pictures and look at them immediately. Right?

Well, grab you camera and go play for 5 minutes




Pick a subject like: tv remote, a pretty plant, your kids, the office windows, food, your keyboard...basically, anything that strikes your fancy. 





Then just start taking pictures. 

Take a Portrait and Landscape shot of the item. 
Take 4 different angles: above the item, even with the item, below the item, beside the item.
Shine a light on it. 
Create a shadow over it. 






Think creatively! 

Experiment! 

Hit me with your best shot! 

Leave me a link and let me see what you did. 

Until then, keep on clicking!

Mary






9.09.2013

Monday's Musings - Waves of Grief

This past week our family got to go on vacation.

Boy, did we need it. 

After two funerals, a wonderful wedding and two surgeries in 4 months, our family needed some time to unplug from the daily grind and be restored. 

We headed to the beach. 

It was awesome. 


We built a sandcastle. 

Just enjoyed relaxing. 


I haven't actually been swimming in the ocean in years. But I did last week. It was calm and wonderful for a couple of days. 

I even stayed out so long I got sunburned. Haven't done that in years either! 

Some nice skim board action going on...
We took some toys. A skim board and some boogie boards. 

Our youngest used the skim board when the waves were flatter. 

My husband and our boys used the boogie boards when the surf was rougher. 

The ocean wasn't calm every day. 

Having fun with the boogie boards! 
It was constantly changing. 

One of those days, my youngest got body slammed on the boogie board from some pretty rough waves. The wave crested, then dropped him a few of feet and he went under. He wasn't expecting it and didn't have a good breath of air to hold. 

He said he was afraid he was going to drown. It really scared him. 

My husband decided it was too rough at that point and they headed back to the beach house. 

Then I realized I was watching my life being played out. 

My life is constantly changing. 

Some days are nice and calm. Others, not so much. 

Yesterday, for some unknown reason, I got body slammed by life. 

The grief I'm going through came up behind me, crested and body slammed me. I felt like I was going to drown. 

But have you ever noticed when you're in the water that if you know a big wave is coming, you can dive into it to get through it?

That's counter intuitive. Yet, it works. Watch surfers if you don't believe me. 

And that's as counter intuitive as some advise that I've gotten recently about grieving. This comes from someone who has had some pretty intense grief. 

She said, "Lean into the grief when it comes."

But watching the waves made it make sense. It's still scary. I'd rather get out of the ocean than be pushed around by the waves. But that's not an option with life. 

We can create pockets of quiet, pockets of calm. But we can't stop the pain or pressures of life. 

We may think leaning into grief means we'll be totally overwhelmed and never find our way back out. 

But stuffing or avoiding grief doesn't work. 


So, last night, I cried. A lot. 

I'm still sad today, but that's okay. I'm missing some pretty special people. 

But I know I'm going to get through this. God has promised not to leave me. He never promised to stop the waves. He will be there for me. 

And he gave me an awesome example of this this past week. My son got back in the water. And had a blast on another day. 

More good days are coming for me. I know this now. 

For that, I am grateful. 




9.06.2013

Photo Tip Friday - Landscape vs Portrait Shots, Part 1

Welcome back to my Friday photography tips! 

Today, we're going to look at the same subject taken in both a landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) orientation and you get to pick which one you like better. 

Next week, I'll go over more pictures and give you more tips to help decide which format to use in Part 2.

Ready? Let's go. 





This is a picture I took from our car (I was the passenger) while we were driving over a bridge. The first shot I took was vertical or portrait.  











Then, I managed to avoid all the bridge parts to get a horizontal or landscape picture. 

So, which do you like better and why? 







And here is some really cool, old brick in Charleston, SC. This is the kind of shot that would make a neat background for something on the computer. 

Here it is in portrait.












Here it is in landscape. 

Again, which do you think looks better and why?





I want you to start thinking about this. Next week, in part 2, I'll give you concrete ways to decide which direction to use. 

Leave your answers in the comment section below! 

Hope this tips helps!

Keep on clicking! 

Mary





9.03.2013

Wordless Wednesday - Great Smokey Mountains

Welcome back to Wordless Wednesday! 

Here are some of my shots from the Great Smokey Mountains.


Mountain stream of the Smokey Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains


Great Smokey Mountain Parkway

Come back Friday for Photography Tips! 

Link up with LINKY! 

Thanks for any comments!

I don't have my usual internet access so pardon me if I'm a little quiet this week!



9.02.2013

Monday's Musings - My New Normal


I'm living a "new normal."

It's not one I would have chosen, but here it is. 

I knew it was coming. 

Sort of. At least part of it. 

I'm learning to live without my father-in-law. And without my mom.

He had pulmonary fibrosis and was under hospice care. For almost a year. He shocked everyone by living so long. Especially hospice.... We were blessed to have so much time with him.  

I will always cherish his words of love and encouragement he spoke to me when I spent time caring for him. He was humble, quirky and loving. He was Pap Pap. I miss him.

It goes without saying how much I miss my mom. Her death was unexpected. 

My brain still has trouble processing everything. 

And so I find myself living in this "new normal". 

Again, it's not of my choosing. 

But I had a friend talking with me. She told me to write down things I was thankful for. And to look for how God works in this new normal. 

I have a much closer relationship with my daddy. We talk frequently. He was much quieter on the phone when mom was here. He deferred to her. That's my dad. Sacrificial. So now we have a new relationship. 

My marriage has been strengthened. My husband isn't a crier. But I am. My hubby knows I need to cry even if he doesn't. When I try to hold it in, he holds me and tells me to grieve. To let it out. That's good advise. We can't stuff grief. It only makes it worse. 

I'm learning to trust God to provide. 

My mom and I were in the middle of some conversations. Because my father-in-law was dying and we knew it, I was talking with my mom about how she handled her parent's deaths. I was in the sixth grade when her mom passed away. I was too young to talk with her back then. So I wanted to glean wisdom from my mom. To learn from her life. But then, she was gone. 

I was devastated. My rock was gone. We hadn't finished the conversation. 

Then, in two weeks, my father-in-law was gone. 

But in the midst of my sorrow, God whispered my name. He asked if I trusted Him. 

I realized I needed to trust Him. His timing. His wisdom. His love. 

So, I said out loud, "I trust you that Mom taught me everything she needed to teach me."

Then I asked God to fill in for her. You only get one mom. No one can replace her. But God can take care of me better than my mom did. And I'm learning that. It's also part of my new normal. 

While my new normal is fairly well defined, yours may not be. You may not even realize you have a "new normal". 

But my prayer for you is that you trust God with your situation. Ask him to provide for you where you are lacking. To send you people to love and encourage you. 

Say out loud that you trust him. 

And let me know how God works! 

With love, 
Mary