Gazing Upward

I saw this sunset a week ago, just before my Thursday evening class started. It was beautiful just the way it was, but I wanted to do something with it. I feel like I need a ‘creative reprieve’ more and more these days. Not that anything is going bad, or I am stressed out or anything; I just think that sitting down to get creative helps put a halt to my overthinking. It’s like wordless prayer. It forces me to be still.

So… I hit another ‘month’ anniversary; 2 years and 8 months sober as of yesterday. It’s not like I count the days or anything, but when I see the calendar hit the 7th each month I make a mental note—thinking about where I was then compared to where I am now. What a difference 977 days make!

Anyway, that’s about all for now. Have a beautiful day everyone! Remember to stop and smell the roses… enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend… or gaze up at a beautiful sunset.

Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing. Dr. Seuss

Life is good and God is great!!

A Song in my Soul

What I have in my heart and soul — must find a way out. That’s the reason for music. Ludwig van Beethoven

Today has been such a good day! It felt like there was a little celebration going on inside of my soul, and I wanted to burst out in song! Believe it or not, I actually wrote that before I found the Beethoven quote. How perfect is that?!

I mentioned before that I was done apologizing or explaining what went wrong with my images, but I have to be honest and say that this design wasn’t exactly what I envisioned. I love the rust tones though, so I decided that it was time to call it finished. It’s funny, sometimes when people ask me what my favorite color is, I wonder if they think it’s strange when I tell them rust, or brown. I just love those earthy shades!

I used some clouds and an old moon shot to start it out because today I was able to withdraw from my Biology class (which was killing me!), and I found the perfect replacement course that starts in two weeks; Astronomy.

Instead of peering through a microscope at bacteria, I’ll be gazing up at the moon and stars! My soul has been singing all day!

Life is beautiful… and God is so, so good!

The earth has music for those who will listen. Reginald Vincent Holmes

Happy Anniversary!

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. Oscar Wilde

Would you believe that today marks exactly two years for me here on the blog? Another week and I’ll also reach two years and seven months sober. Praise God for that! Time flies when you’re busy making plans, that’s for sure.

Speaking of making plans, I had an epiphany recently. One of the students in my English class mentioned something about changing how society views a certain subject. I can’t remember what it was she was referring to, but that’s not really the point anyway—it’s what happened after. Grinning, our professor reminded the class that they were young, and that they had their whole lives ahead of them to change the world.

At first, I felt a little sad. There I sat, surrounded by teens and young adults—the oldest probably 26 years old—and I was… well… somewhere in my fifties. Somehow his words just struck me. It’s not often that I get discouraged, but the realization that I’m getting a really late start on a few things kicks in every now and then, and this was definitely one of those times.

A few days later, as the professor’s words drifted in and out of my head, I felt a little envious of those fortunate souls who “have their whole lives ahead of them.” That’s when I had the epiphany—or maybe it was that small, still voice that speaks to my heart—and I realized that no matter which way you look at it…

…I have my whole life ahead of me too!

We all do!
—Stay encouraged—

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Urban Oasis

Big Leaf Designs

This summer I went on an interesting hike with my son and daughter-in-law. My plan was to stroll through Ferndell Nature Trail which is basically flat, covered by shade trees, and brimming with plants from all over the world. I guess you could call it an urban oasis.

I shot this Elephant Ear there, and finally got around to working on it. I didn’t get as many photographs as I would have liked because my cohorts had other plans (unbeknownst to me), and my leisurely stroll turned into a 2 mile round trip hike up the hill to the Griffith Park Observatory and back.

Anyway, tomorrow I have a Biology exam. I’m learning about cells and photosynthesis (yawn), so plant leaves kind of fit into the mix today. After a full day of studying, I really needed a breather—so… I decided to add a little magic to the image and make the giant leaves look a little less real. What can I say, it’s Hollywood!

Peace and Love!

I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic. Andy Warhol

The Next Chapter

Just hours after I said that I don’t have much to share these days, all kinds of thoughts started churning around. I haven’t even slept well the past two nights because my mind’s been racing! It reminded me of all the times I proclaimed that I was going to do a new image series, and then the whole idea would just fizzle out. I can never seem to stick with a plan! This time it worked for my benefit though… sort of reverse psychology, I guess.

I was going through my files yesterday, doing a little housecleaning, and I came across one of my old posts; back when I first started the blog. It was such a great reminder to me, and the timing was perfect!

When my friend Gil first encouraged me to write, and to share my story with others, it was the first time in SO long that I felt my life had purpose. I not only had my sobriety, I had this HOPE that I could share with others. I think my exact words were that “I was going to write the story of how my life was transformed.”

I’m going to cut to the chase now: I’m ready for the next chapter!

I’ve had this idea—kind of a vision about my future—for over a year now. If you hadn’t noticed, my image here represents a page of my book. I know, I know, it’s not exactly spectacular and it kind of looks like a paper bag, but HEY, it’s slowly being turned to reveal the first page of the new chapter; Chapter Two.

But, there’s nothing there!

That’s exactly where my vision came from. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to get over in sobriety was to stay that way. 60 days, 90 days, the countdown went on. And on. Coming from a place where I’d done so much damage to my life that I was left standing in a pile of rubble, and then reaching all of those milestones and realizing that life was good, God was great, and that I was sober; I found myself at another hurdle. A more complicated hurdle. What next??

That’s how going back to school came about, and with every passing day my vision is morphing and growing, and becoming more and more possible. So… what next? I’d like to set up a program to work with others who are in recovery. People who have reached or are nearing that hurdle; that what next phase of their recovery. Getting sober is hard, but “living sober” is a journey. And for people like me who hit rock bottom, it means there’s a life to rebuild. A second chance. A new beginning!

I’m still making notes, doing my research, getting questions answered, and so on, but I thought that now was a good time to share the idea. I was hesitant because… well, sometimes I have a hard time sticking to a plan! But, a year’s gone by and the dream hasn’t gone away. It’s been blossoming, really. I pray about it a lot, and lately everything keeps pointing to the fact that this may actually come to fruition.

I’ll start small—baby steps—with just one person, but I gotta be honest here…

I’m dreaming BIG.

Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.

A Handful of Dew

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were not there, I think the ocean would be less by that missing drop. Mother Teresa

Greetings Everyone! It’s been a couple of months since I opened up any of my Adobe programs, so I thought I would give it a shot today and see if the right side of my brain still works. I took this photo of an orange and dew drop when I was in my photography class, so today I added the hand and used scale and some paint effects to make it look larger than life. I thought it was fun.

My second year of school starts in two weeks, and once that’s finished I’ll be just one class shy of earning my Associates Degree in Psychology, so this time next year I should be finishing up and planning for my graduation and University transfer.

I’ve been contemplating what I want to do with my blog these days. I seem to be at a place where the only thing I have to talk about are my day to day activities; not exactly exciting material, but today just happens to be my two year and five months “sober anniversary,” so that’s something I thought was worth mentioning. Time just keeps flying by!

Once I figure out a more concrete direction for the blog, I hope to be posting more. For now, I’ll just keep checking in to say hello now and then, and share any photos or art that I drum up on my days off.

Peace and Love!

It’s a Beautiful Day

It’s been about 2 months since I’ve been online here in the blog world and I wanted to check in and say HELLO you beautiful people! 

I miss you all, and hope to browse around this weekend and see what all of you have been up to. School is AWESOME! Keeps me super busy but I just love every minute of it. I’m learning so much!!

Anyway, most of this piece is constructed out of appropriated images (from an image share site), but it was one of my latest Photoshop projects in my visual communication class… and I wanted to post something other than words this evening.

I’ve got 3 classes right now and in about a week I start my fourth: a digital photography class. So… as you might guess I will be posting more images once that gets going!

That’s about all. Miss you and love you all!! Hope you are all doing wonderful…

Life is good and God is great! OH, and I hit one year and seven months sober TODAY! Boy time is flying!!

Noisy Neighbors

Well, I am killing two birds with one stone today…

no pun intended! 😉

This colorful creature has woken me up at the crack of dawn two days in a row now.

He (or she) sits up in the next door neighbors walnut tree and yells out what I can only imagine is some sort of song of joy. Perhaps trying to notify his friends about the delicious tasting treats he has found.

Anyway, he was also out there last night- before the sun went down- which is when I managed to get a few shots of him. He’s farther than my zoom really allows, so I jazzed him up with a painterly look, plus got in some more practice on Photoshop, and tutorials.

This is my last week before I start school full time, so I am taking advantage of every second. Come next Monday I will be spending most of my days commuting and sitting in classrooms… and I have to say that I am SO looking forward to it!! Not to mention the fact that I’ll be soaking in the cool air from the A/C there, since we have none at the house!

That’s about all for now. Have a beautiful blessed week!! Peace and Love everyone!!

Through A Crack

Art is anything you can get away with. – Marshall McLuhan

I wasn’t planning to post anything tonight. I was about to turn off my computer when I saw this photograph from my previous adventure at the old zoo. I altered (slightly) the look of the cave exterior, and that really IS my friend inside. She was posing for me.

I never really liked how the photo came out, but I have to say that this new effect adds interest!

Peace and Love!!

Southern Shores

I thought I would re-do an image I posted many moons ago. This is also from the 2011 road trip, and was taken in Surfside Beach, Texas. We saw many awesome sunsets in this place!

The last time I showed this I used the deep, vibrant colors that I so frequently use, so I wanted to try the hazy look again. This looks much more natural than the prior image.

I like that you can see hints of the dark orange reflection on the water, through the misty looking air.

That’s about all for now. Still working on my new series ideas… it’s much harder than I thought!! 😉

Enjoy your day everyone!!

Some days you just gotta put on your cowboy boots and do the two step anyways. 

Late Afternoon Stroll

I haven’t given up on my new series, but I really wanted to do something today to chill out. I finished the second of my three weekly graphic design quizzes, and those tests really stress me out!

This is Bricktown, Oklahoma City again. A little darker and more dramatic than the last photograph I shared of this town. The heat here in the valley today makes me feel like I’m melting, so it’s been nice to imagine myself here, sitting on that bench in the picture.

It looks so shady and cool!!

Hope you are having (or had) a beautiful, blessed Sunday!

Life is good, and God is GREAT!

In a Haze

Sois belle à ta façon

“Be beautiful in your own way.”

I thought this french quote was a beautiful pick for today’s image. I believe I’ve shared the photograph before, but I did something different with it today. I’m usually determined to darken contrasts or shadows, and to increase saturation and vibrancy in my photographs of nature.

I learned how to increase haze in Photoshop this afternoon and I am really liking it on this lake!

It is beautiful in it’s own way. I like that.

I finished my homework this afternoon and tonight is my recovery class, so it’s business as usual today. BUT, I’m looking forward to a fun fourth of July celebration tomorrow, with some of my friends from church and recovery.

Looking Up

There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man. -Aristotle

It feels like forever since I’ve posted, or read other blogs. I’m still learning how to monitor my time with everything.

I was looking for a quote about webs, but I saw this one by Aristotle today and thought it was perfect. I actually found it when I was doing one of those right brain/left brain tests. FYI: It appears that my right brain is dominate, but I think I already knew that! And with all of the studying I’ve been doing, I’m wondering if a corner of my mind might look like that web. Information overload! 😉

Anyway, I took this photograph today. It’s our Japanese Maple. I’m actually not a big fan of spider webs, but I got caught up in the way the sunlight was hitting it. So… I thought I would share.

Happy Hump day to you all. I hope you are having a happy and blessed week!

Backstage Pass

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star, And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are. The Kinks, Celluloid Heroes

I’m sharing the end of yesterday’s day trip first, since it’s something I’m pretty darn proud of. I actually made it to the TOP of the mountain, so not only did I view the Hollywood sign (in person) for the very first time, but I hiked up to see if from the backside.

This is quite an accomplishment for me because… well… I am NOT a hiker! Ha! And I was the very last one in the group to make it up, but I kept going even though my legs kept saying “NO!”

Today I am definitely feeling the pain, but it was well worth it. My dear friend who lives near Portland is responsible for getting me off of my duff, and out into the places where those fit people” go.

And it was exhilarating! I do believe I will be doing more things like this. I’ve been a bit of a hermit since I broke both of my ankles two years ago (not to mention the excessive drinking I was doing, as well), so it’s about time that I use my legs more and get healthy again. It felt SO great to get out!

Anyway… just wanted to share this image from behind the sign. The gentleman sitting up top was our guide (a man from Australia, no less), and you can see Lake Hollywood in the image, as well.

Needless to say I’ve now checked off hiked to the Hollywood sign on my list of 55 things to do, that I’ve never done before.

Blessings!!

The greatest oak
was once a little nut
that held its ground.

The Light Ahead

Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you. Eckhart Tolle

Warning: Reconstruction Ahead

Sometimes I wonder if [some of] my posts need a warning label or disclaimer, just to alleviate my own anxieties. Sharing pieces of my journey, while I am in the midst of the journey, sometimes leaves me feeling vulnerable and uneasy- because I know from experience that it’s a work in progress (and subject to change).

The word Journey suggests travel or passage from one place to another. With that in mind, the truest and most accurate disclaimer I could ever add would be…

I have NOT reached my destination.

But I think everyone already knows that. None of us has.

Anyway… I really liked the quote I found because I need to hold tight, and be at ease with the fact that sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimesI just don’t know. It’s ALL just a part of the journey. Write or Wrong.

Blessings, peace and love!!!

*The image is from Phoenix. It’s an ominous cloud, with the light breaking through…layered with a piece of sheet metal.

Thursday Tidbit

Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.

I’m still in the midst of some kind of photo block. Personally, I think it’s just a little burn-out. The story of my life is overdoing things… so it makes sense that maybe it’s just time for a little timeout. I started reading, which is a VERY good thing.

Anyway, this bird was in the backyard this morning, so I just gave him (or her) some color, and a mock reflection- just for the sake of having something to do, and to get in some practice.

Blessings!! Have a beautiful day. ♥♥♥

My Own Drum


“They can’t hear my drums, but they can see me dance!” -Anonymous

So… the drums were never in my head this morning- it actually happened by accident. I’m still experimenting with glass over images (and probably will for a long time), but I wasn’t feeling it this morning. The glass seemed to hide the image too much. Continue reading

Glass Half Full

Yes, my glass is always half full (non-alcoholic beverages, of course). And, as my sponsor says… it is also refillable. 🙂

I’m experimenting with glass over images and this is my first test run. The trees were shot at the old zoo today, and in reading a tutorial last night I was led to Image*After, which is where I found the glass. Continue reading

Hiding Behind Wings

I absolutely LOVE this birds wing. I remember taking the photo, but it must have blended in with the many other photos I took that day and I never really sat down to view it.

Anyway, the sky was dull, so I’ve used paint colors and the smudge tool (which would explain all of the sky smudges!). A painter I am NOT, but I found that it’s a GREAT tool for relaxation! So… you might see more smudgy images popping up.

I’d say the wings are quite heavenly… so this is my divine image for today.

Blessings-

It’s a Magical Day

Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny. C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

magical

Magical is my mood for tomorrow. I’ve already decided that.

I caught a few minutes of a show my mom was watching… and a teacher was telling his student that her imagination was magical. I think I must have seen the best part of the program. I realized that I’ve been leaning too far toward the serious side—so I’m going to let my imagination run wild.

I also realized something. Since I came to believe, my imagination has grown tremendously. Sometimes I see my circumstances in the shape of a cartoon. I’m serious! Little animated analogies run through my head, and I’m hoping to use that as a tool in my writing soon.

The original image was taken at a park, in Brentwood Tennessee.
Blessings! 

Street Life

A Grandson’s Kisses are Like Tattoos on Your Heart.

This was a fun shot today. My grandson and I noticed the cute little flower dangling near the ground on our way to the donut shop. He’s a pretty cooperative subject if his face doesn’t have to be in the photo.

This was the first time I tried a color splash, so I was excited about that as well!

Undecided

It seems that I’m doing this Mood project backwards.  I wanted to do something with the tree, couldn’t decide between the versions, and then decided to find several moods; one for each. I think the idea was to take a photograph that fit my mood. Now I’m adjusting my mood to fit the image!

That being said, I think the mood for the day is: Undecided 

Time for coffee!

My Latest Obsession

I’ve taken tons of photos lately. Spider webs, a fountain, weeds, flowers, even an orange we discovered in the orange tree that never seems to bear fruit. Oh, and a bee! I captured a bee! (More to follow)

obsess-1

But I’m smitten with this darn tree, so I thought I would share it; my latest obsession. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I still say it looks like it belongs in front of a haunted house or something. 

tree-birds

In other news… I’ve been elected as co-secretary for my Thursday night meeting; I’m officially being of service for the next six months. That’s exciting! And the topic for our meeting was JOY. I had to chuckle about that after my recent JOY ornament fiasco.

Inside Our Ginkgo

inside-gingko

Our Ginkgo is too tall to get the whole tree into a good photograph, so I decided to get inside of it and look up. I kind of like how it came out!

Below is a black and white, from another angle. I’ve always loved black and whites, but there’s so much color around lately, it’s hard not to show it. I really DO like this one! Except it’s really hard to see the details or outline of the leaves.

I realized today that I lost my glasses awhile back and am so used to not wearing them that this is probably the reason I have a hard time seeing through the lens! Go figure.

ginkgo-bw

New Beginnings

Well, here I am… a bit weepy again. It’s a good cry though.

It’s been two months since I started this blog, and in four days I’ll be taking a nine month chip. During these past two months—not only have I been sharing my story, my thoughts, my dreams, and my many pictures—but I’ve been semi-quietly trying to figure out just where it is I’m headed next. Attempting to lay out plans and chart my own course, as they say.

I really AM a strong person. Sometimes I think it’s a good quality, and other times I think it may be a hindrance. Mainly because that outwardly resilient woman tends to boss around the fragile young girl that hides inside (who’s trying very hard to grow up, mind you); telling her to GET ON with things! Stay busy. Make a plan! It’s very nerve racking.

Gil… my dear friend, brother, daddy figure, mentor (and so much more) said something to me when I first started putting my story together in a book-like format, and then again when I decided to morph it into a blog. He said…

Just write.

He is such a wise soul. He told me that if I used my love of writing to share my story, God would orchestrate the rest. God would see to it that the person(s) that needed to read it, or could actually learn from it—WOULD.

And there you have it. Today I got the nudge that I so desperately needed. Two actually.

There ARE people out there that can learn from my stories, my mistakes, and from the things that I’ve learned… and continue to learn. Gil was right, as usual, and I (as usual) was getting discouraged and impatient. I was ready to throw in the towel and go in an entirely different direction.

So to Rob, I say thank you again for that little push this morning, and for encouraging me to stay on course and continue to share the deeper things. And to Rebecca, I say thank you for putting those words out there: Is it His plan, or is it MINE? I put a lot of thought into that, after reading your comment, and almost saw things unfolding before my eyes.

First and foremost, my agenda here ALWAYS, was to help others by sharing my story.

So… write I will.

Blessings.

The Big Picture

So, I was reminded of something while reading a fellow blogger’s post (thank you Rob) this morning. It’s something that actually helped me a great deal not too long ago…

Looking at the BIG picture.

Being new to Christianity, and fairly new in the program—the first things I had to face were my defects. My wrong thinking. My sinfulness.

I had learned, early in life, how to dodge my fears by becoming someone that I was not. You know…a people-pleaser. Give them what they want. Tell them what they want to hear. Be who THEY want you to be. The problem here is that now I’m not even sure who THEY were. My peers when I was young? Well, that’s not what I want to dwell on. I’m getting sidetracked.

The point is that once I looked in the mirror and faced the bad head on, I lost complete sight of all the positives. I almost couldn’t remember the good things I’d done in life. That might be why a lot of my posts are about my memories. I’m finally starting to recall, and embrace, the great experiences that I’ve had. Things I’d almost forgotten!

Some months ago I came across a book on learning to love yourself. What the author taught is that we’re not defined by any one quality, or character defect for that matter. For every negative, there’s an equally important positive. Making a list of ALL of your traits, and looking at THAT, is what allows you to see yourself as a whole.

Maybe I overthink, but after I mentioned procrastination last night I started thinking that I wasn’t being fair. Yes… I sometimes procrastinate, but I also have a lot of ambition. I’m not going to leave things on a negative note. For every downside, there is an upside.

Anyway, after I pushed publish last night I decided to challenge my procrastinating tendency, and I went on to browsing frame ideas online. I have some wonderful, creative visions dancing around in my head. I’m excited!

Tomorrow is HERE, and I’m moving forward. No excuses. I’m holding myself accountable. I guess you could say that I’m not chasing the wind today…

I’m chasing my dreams.

(The featured image was taken in downtown Denver, when I was living in Colorado)

Picking Up Speed

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

My sponsor said that to me after I told her about all of the coincidences that started happening in my life once I came to believe.

I think that prior to that time, my eyes were just closed. I say that because—looking back—I’m finally able to recognize God’s little nudges and prior attempts to get my attention when I was in desperate need of help but didn’t know (or believe) that it was HIM that I should turn to.

One thing I’ve never mentioned is that some years ago, I lost my jeep. It quit running and I was in no condition, mentally OR financially, to have it repaired. I had NO business driving back then anyway, if you know what I mean, so I have to wonder if that was actually one of those anonymous blessings.

Anyway, I received a text from my best friend. We grew up together and she’s like a sister to me. She and her husband were talking about me over dinner when her husband made a wild suggestion. For a minute, I thought I was going to fly right out of the seat of those pants that I fly by!

It came from so far out of left field that I never saw it coming. I think the ball actually hit me on the back of the head, because I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. They knew nothing about my prayers for a car, but they randomly, and quite unexpectedly, offered me their old car.

I get to pick it up in a few days!

I’m not sure about you, but I suspect that there may be a little note waiting for me when I get inside….

You’re on your way child. Enjoy the journey, remain faithful, and don’t look back.

Eternally yours,
Papa