Seeing and feeling color


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I’ve always been drawn to colors. They seem to add a filter on top of life, making everything seem more fun, interesting and creative.

Just think about it. What would a sunset be without the blend of colors painting the sky? How appealing would a birthday cake be in the steel tones of black and white? Where would the appeal in fashion be if we only had shades of grey?

It would all be drab and lifeless…like living in District 11 of the Hunger Games. Oh, no thank you. No disrespect to District 11, as they were quite wonderful, but I just prefer my life in color. Maybe not the over-the-top color of the Hunger Games’ Capitol, but somewhere in the middle.

To me, color is just not a visually appealing thing. There is so much more. Color defines things. It gives them meaning and feeling and power. Without the color in the sunset, I think I would not appreciate the majesty. I would miss the slow ending of the day as it melts into the night. The glory of another opportunity to live would just be lost in a colorless sunrise. Just watch Pocahontas. She totally embraces the color of life.

Like Pocahontas, color stops me. It makes me pay attention to it. Therefore, it centers me into my present moment. It forces me to appreciate that moment and embrace it. And for all that it’s worth, those moments are the ones that truly matter. We cannot change our past and we can only imagine our future. But in those present moments, we have power. We can control our thoughts, our actions, our plans. In the present, we can learn to deal with our past, make plans for our future, and just embrace the the now. The present has power. So, I recommend we all stop and notice the color in it…and feel it. And it you don’t like picture your seeing…Well, in the present moments of life, you have the power to break out your color pencils and start drawing a new scene. Color yourself into a better picture in the future.

 

 

 

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

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Putting down the camera


There is something magical about photography to me. I find it is a way to freeze time almost. Photographs show a glimpse of a present moment, bringing it into the future.

Photography has also been a factor in my appreciation of life. As a walk around, I notice more. I see tiny details. I appreciate textures. I study natural light. It is though there is a constant lens on my eyes that filters out all the world’s bad so that I can only see the good.

Yet, this constant lens can also be a way to detach from the moment.

Recently, I went on vacation with my love. We went off to an island to relax. I was surrounded by topical wonders: beaches, waterfalls, flowers and so much more. On our first day, we were walking around checking out the resort, and I noticed my mental lens was in overdrive. I was thinking, oh, that would make a nice picture... Then it dawned on me, by looking at everything as a future picture, I was not completely in the moment. I was thinking about photographs and not the man standing beside me.

In that moment, I had to remove the lens from my eyes. I had to stop capturing the moment for later so that I could embrace it then. I still noticed the wonder around me, but this time, I tried to focus on what is was and not the photo it could be.

I also made a conscious decision to not carry a camera around constantly. I took photos of course, but I limited it to a couple of hours during the week.

It was hard, I admit. Here I was in a tropical resort and no camera in hand. Isn’t that a photographer’s worst nightmare? I survived though. As a matter of fact, I had fun.

Without a big camera to worry about or lug around, my boyfriend and I were able to just be. We held hands on the beach. We hiked up a waterfall. We danced on a catamaran. It was exciting, and yet relaxing…and truly beautiful.

This beauty may not have all been captured in photos, but it was captured in my heart nonetheless. Ironically, as I looked for a quote on details to accompany my macro submission to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge, I came across a quote by Susan Sontag that said what I felt that week.

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I would have to agree with her. Many times, my travel somewhere is defined by the photographs I harvest. In fact, when I left for the vacation, I was thinking about what iPhone photos I could take for Sally D’s Challenge. I planned on making a post there at the resort.

That plan changed though as life took over and fun was embraced…and I don’t regret it one bit (and I knew Sally would understand).

So in lieu of a macro shots from my vacation, I am sharing some iPhone close ups that I had intended on posting earlier.

And since Sally D has introduced me to Pixlr, I played around with one of them to make it more “arty.”

As I started this post I was going to write a poem or talk about details that connected to my iPhone shots above. However, when I found the Susan Sontag quote above, my thoughts all turned. And when I looked up a bit more Sontag, I found another quote that really resounded with me.

Photographs have increased our access to knowledge and experiences of history and faraway places, but the images may replace direct experience and limit reality.

I find that statement very profound because when I look at my shots above, I can only recall the pictures. I don’t recall where I was or what I was doing, which I generally do. I don’t remember anything about the moment I took those pictures at all. I just have the photos. Though I like them, I now wonder, what did I miss?

Perhaps putting down the camera last week was the best decision for my vacation.

I am not saying that I am hanging up my camera for good. Oh no, I wouldn’t be me without one. But maybe just maybe, I can try to look at the world and enjoy it and those around me without a constant lens on my eyes. I figure, if I put down the the camera from time to time, I can not only see the details and textures in life, but I can feel them as well.

So in honor of embracing all that life can offer, here is one of the few iPhone shots we took while on the island. Now go put away your phone or computer and go hug those you love:)

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

Freedom of wine


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“My objection to war was not that I had to kill somebody

or be killed senselessly, that hardly mattered.

What I objected to was to be denied the right to sit in a small room and starve

and drink cheap wine and go crazy in my own way and at my own leisure.”

― Charles BukowskiSouth of No North

Soldiers train to go to war. We mentally prepare ourselves to die. We don’t want to die of course, but we prepare for it. We learn to shoot weapons to defend ourselves. We create wills just in case. We tell our families we love them. And then, we go off to a foreign country and hope things will be alright.

We adjust to the lack of freedom and the demanding work schedules. We cope with the dangers of intermittent rockets or the unknown dangers on a patrol. We learn to deal with the nonstop worry of the sky falling, because sometimes it literally is.

Don’t get me wrong, I never had it that bad. I was what they call a FOBBIT, a Soldier who pretty much stayed on the Forward Operating Base. I was a unique FOBBIT though. I had opportunities to venture off bases from time to time. I went on some patrols with special forces troops, I met village elders, and I experienced a convoy here and there. But, I was never on the front line, in a fire-fight, or face to face with a known enemy. (So I had it relatively easy compared to our hardcore troops. So I am not here to pretend I was more than I was. I am merely sharing my perspective on my experiences to those who may not understand deployments.)

However, as a Soldier who was deployed to three different countries, I saw and experienced some interesting things. And through those years, I realized just how grateful I should be.

I’ve had to sleep in overcrowded tents, a bug infested plywood hut and an cold HUMVEE. I’ve heard the whistle of a rocket overhead and hit the ground not knowing where it would land. I heard gunfire fill the air and not know which way it was going. I’ve walked on a patrol and got a bit uncertain with some locals around us. I’ve seen the dismal conditions people have had to endure. So, there were times of heightened concern, general discomfort, humble gratitude.

Then…there were times where there was nothing. Sometimes days, weeks and months of nothing. Nothing but work and more work. The same old work and the same old clothes and the same old food in the same old places. Being stuck in a small compound is enough to stress you out.

You get stir crazy in a way. You want to drive your own car, wear your own cloths, make your own schedule. But you can’t. You are stuck there. You feel like a prisoner who has to defend freedom, yet ironically, you have very little of your own.

Your life back home continues. Yet, it continues without you. And that is what nags at you. You miss your freedom. You miss your life. The freedom you had taken for granted is now gone. Your freedom is on hold while you try to regain it for someone else.

It is like that saying, you don’t know what you have until its gone. That is true. Because once you are deployed, you realize, you miss the little things. You miss cooking. You long to wear colors. You want to enjoy a glass of wine. But you can’t. You are a Soldier every day, every second and every moment.

This lack of control over the small luxuries hangs over you. Fore example, back home, you may only drink a handful of times a year. Yet, when you are deployed and not “allowed” to drink, you miss it more. You want it more because that freedom was taken from you.

I longed for a drink when I was deployed. It wasn’t that I really drank that much at home, but I enjoyed the option of having one when I desired. I wished I could kick up my heels and enjoy a glass of wine after a hard day. But I couldn’t. So when I read the Charles Bukowski quote above, I laughed. Yes, I definitely missed my right to sit around and drink cheap wine. I missed the option of making myself view the world with a bit of a colorful blur, if even for one night.

So the above photomontage is a blend of some of the items currently on my wine rack. Sometimes, I don’t touch it for months. Other times, I may have a glass or two in one day. The great thing though is, I can now do it at my leisure. And that freedom is something I will always appreciate.

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For Sally D’s Phoneography Challenge ~ Photomontage.

To read more about Charles Bukowski, click here.

Discover what you look for


My boyfriend teases me that when he gives me flowers, he will just wait until they are already dead. He says that since I seem to photograph several of his bouquets, even when they are past their blooms and drying.

I cannot decide if my interest in decaying flowers is more a focus on finding beauty in things that some may overlook or more from my philosophy on life: you will discover what you seek.

I say that with a grain of reality of course. I know people don’t seek to be abused, disabled or oppressed. With those extremes aside, I think people are capable of creating, discovering or changing their lives.

All of us are given a place in the world. Whether those places or circumstances are equal or fair can be debated. However, debating that is really pointless. For none of us can change the past. We don’t get to decide our parents, our race, our sex or anything at birth or in our childhood for that matter.

Once we are old enough to think for ourselves though, we can make changes (on most things anyway). We can decide how to act, what to do, when to change. We alone have the power over our emotions and voices. We can choose who we want to be. Sure, it may not be easy. If we decide to be an athlete, we need to train and eat right. If we decide to become a lawyer, we need to study and study more. If we decide to become a spiritual leader, we need to align our actions with our words. Heck, we can even change our sex these days with surgery, therapy and hormones.

None of that is easy though. Life is hard. Success is even harder. To be successful, we must work not only hard, but smart and efficiently. We need to gather the tools required for success in whatever field we have chosen. We can’t just expect the world to give us what we want, especially when we don’t deserve it or work for it. Yet, I see this all the time. People want fame, money and love yet they don’t want to put the effort required to have those things.

This entitled expectation reminds me of a Tom Krause quote.

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“Flowers don’t bloom where no seeds have been planted.

If you want kindness, be kind.

If you want acceptance, be accepting.

If you want encouragement, be encouraging.

If you want forgiveness, be forgiving.

If you want love, be loving.

If you want respect, be respectful.

We should not expect from others what we fail to give to them.”

Tom Krause

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Krause’s quote is profound to me. It makes sense. Essentially, it is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done onto you. And regardless of your religion, there seems to be a golden rule in them all.

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So if you can create a better world for yourself through dreams, goal setting and hard work, I figured you can create a worse world just as well. I’ve witnessed people worry, fight, and fret over every detail in their life. They have a negative outlook. They are always the victim. They are always defeated. The world is against them…or so it seems. As I have aged, I have wondered, what makes one person overcome a horrible situation while it defeats another? Or why does one person with all the elements of success at their fingertips still fail?

I am sure there are several factors as no two situations or people are alike. However, I feel like one factor is themselves. They chose to be defeated or motivated by their setbacks. They wallow in pity or pull themselves up. They retreat into a safe circle or they venture out into risk. Essentially, I think their actions, attitudes and behaviors can play a huge role in what happens to them in life. My own included.

For example, I dated a guy for a while who later told me he was walking on eggshells because he was afraid I would break up with him. He feared that he would do something wrong, and I would leave. He didn’t express this fear outright, but the relationship felt strained and difficult. His tension made me tense. His insecurity made me feel guilty…of nothing and everything. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem, but just felt like there was something missing. I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t happy. So we ended it. In hindsight, I feel like his fears put certain actions into place that created a tension that lead exactly to what he feared – our relationship ending.

Another example is a friend of mine who has always had bad luck with men. I sympathized with her for I too had this same luck. We both seemed to always pick the bad guys. Yet, we were the one constant element in all the relationships. So naturally, we must be the problem then, right? Through my own growth and experience, I tried to help her. Maybe we were not necessarily the problem, but we were creating it in some ways. By thinking we were jaded, insignificant or broken, we were unintentionally attracting, or accepting, less than worthy men. And those men we chose, used our insecurities to their advantage. They would control all the situations and conversations. We let them have all the power. And on a rare occasion where we vied for the power or challenged theirs, problems occurred…or in some cases, violence would the result. Again, I am not saying my friend was at fault for her abuse. No, that fault lies with the abuser and the abuser alone. But, I think she plays a role into the situations she finds herself in. She would always say, I can never make a relationship work, I am meant to be alone, I always pick the wrong guys. I wondered, is this like a self-fulfilling prophecy? I also wondered this about my own experiences…

self-fulfilling prophecy – “Any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a person’s behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled.”

With age and experience, came wisdom, painful yet good wisdom. I had to pull myself up from defeat. I had to look for the lessons in the bad. I had to lay out my dreams into goals and those goals into steps. I had to decide, do I want to feel sorry for myself or do I want change? I chose change and it has been empowering. I chose to find me again. It was not easy and is still not easy, but I see more beauty in the world than ever before. The world has not dramatically changed though. It was me who changed. But now, I don’t see ugly dead flowers. Now, I see transformation and beauty. I just needed to change my perspective and look for it.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Editing and Processing.

Photo note: The photo was taken with my Canon Camera actually. However, I did edit the photo on my iPhone in the LiveCollage app. It is the same picture edited in two different collage formats. I was trying to do a montage but could not figure out how to do that in the app.

 

Over in a second


Moments fly by and by.

We often wonder, why do I try?

We cannot complete all that we want.

Our endless lists continue to taunt.

We miss little moments in the time that we waste.

Fussing and fretting, forgetting to taste.

For each little second could offer us glee

If we could only stop, embrace the present, and. just. be.

 

iPhone photos edited in Hipstamatic and Snapseed.

Fighting the clock is something we all do. We wish for more time to complete our to-do lists. We need more time to prepare for a test/meeting/event. We pray for more time with a loved one.

Time is precious and it waits for no one. Regardless of your wealth, character or intentions, the time you get is the time you get. Therefore, you can use it wisely or waste it. In this statement is where problems arise though.

When you use time wisely, does that mean you are always busy? Do you have to be productive in those moments of time for your time to matter? Or can you simply just be in the presence of nature or a loved one, embracing the sounds, smells, and tastes of an experience for the moment count?

I think the answers to those questions depend on the person. Only the individual can decide what is worthy of their time. And those answers can vary depending on the day, the situation and the people around us…

Have you thought about your time and how you use it and what you want to do? Go ahead. Think about. The clock is ticking…

 

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Ironically, I wrote the poem part of this for Linda G. Hill’s Prompt ~ Seconds. I saved it as a draft and then set it aside.

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A couple of weeks later, I took the pictures of the clock for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black & White.

They seemed to match up, so I figured, there was a reason I saved the poem. I just didn’t know in that second that I would be writing about time this week. So here we go, two challenges in one post. Now THAT is using your time wisely:)