Saturday, December 31, 2011

Charging into the New Year


It's been a while since I've posted on the blog. But, I couldn't allow the year to end without another post.

When I started this photo-a-day blog, I believed it was a commitment I could meet. I thought I could easily take at least 20 minutes every day to post a photograph and share a few thoughts with all of you. In the beginning, finding those blogging minutes was simple. Lately, finding this time has been challenging. As a result, I haven't updated the blog since the end of November. Yikes.

Time is such a precious commodity. This year, I've become even more aware of that fact. Tomorrow is the first day of a new year and while we may make new year resolutions that we fail to keep after a few weeks, here's my 2012 commitment to you (and to me) -- a new post every day next year. No exceptions. No excuses. And not one day missed, because I will be making the time to creatively express my thoughts and perspectives with all of you. If it is the only resolution that I keep next year, it will be worth it.

For my last image of the year, I've selected this close-up of one of the Civil War memorials at Gettysburg National Park. The figure is pointing in the direction of Pickett's famous charge during the battle of Gettysburg, but I like to think that he is pointing at me. He's a friendly reminder to keep my renewed commitment to pursuing photography and updating Via My Viewfinder and charge into 2012.

So, Happy New Year to you and yours, and I look forward to seeing you every day in the new year. Charge!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Half-and-Half


We are in-between seasons right now in the DC area. Just two weeks ago, our trees were full of red, yellow and orange leaves of autumn. Recent rain storms speed up the fall process and now we have half-and-half trees like this one.

Poor confused trees holding on to some of its leaves while losing others in the seasonal process. Like the human residents in neighborhood, these trees are caught between the last brilliance of autumn and the cold starkness of winter. Whether we like it or not, I'm pretty sure that winter will win out in the end.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tree as Art


I'm getting too accustomed to using my iPhone as a camera now. It is delightful to know that as long as I have my cell phone, I can capture fantastic photographs.

During my walk in Penn Quarter over the weekend, I came across this fabulous tree outside of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. While it is a living tree, it is remarkable how sculpted it looks. I wonder if the museum landscapers intentionally selected this tree because it could so easily pass as a living piece of artwork.

Modern Head


Have you ever walked by something a million times and never noticed its significance?

Recently, I was walking around one of my favorite areas in the District, Penn Quarter and passed by this modern art sculpture outside the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I've seen it many times, but never stopped to read about its remarkable story. This weekend, I paused and read its adjacent plaque.  
Modern Head, by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, was originally installed in Battery Park in New York City in 1996. It was one of the few structures that survived the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings in 2001. The 31-foot sculpture only suffered a few surface scratches and served as an FBI message board during its investigation the days following the September 11 attacks.

What a remarkable story. I'm glad I took an extra minute to learn about it. I'll never look at this sculpture the same way again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Sound of Silence


Everyone has a favorite Simon & Garfunkel song. My mom's favorite is "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It doesn't matter who is singing it; she loves all versions.

I feel that way about Simon & Garfunkel's song, "The Sound of Silence." Whenever I visit quiet spots like this pond at the Smithsonian National Zoo, "The Sound of Silence" plays in my head. If silence was an actual sound, I imagine it would be similar to the melody of this song.

Besides its soothing, yet haunting melody, Paul Simon's lyrics have always spoken to my soul. Its words begs the question about our responsibility in silence. Are we the perpetrator of silence or its victim? Who is to say? As they say in the film, Shakespeare in Love: "I don't know. It's a mystery."
"The Sound of Silence"
by Simon & Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Waiting in Anticipation


This is what it looks like outside my window today. Autumn leaves still linger in the trees in spite of recent rain storms and cold spells. But any moment now, Thanksgiving will finally arrive and then my favorite time of year begins -- Christmas.

Each year, Christmas promises to bring joy and laughter, hope and possibilities, color and light, and the best part, Christmas music. My love for Christmas music knows no bounds. When played, it raises my spirits and always gets in the mood for holiday cheer.

After a rough start this morning, I broke one of my cardinal rules and listened to a Christmas music station on Pandora online. While I know I should have waited for the day after Thanksgiving to start streaming holiday music, I just needed a few holiday tunes to perk up my day and breathe a little optimism back into my soul.

So, please forgive me gods of autumn for being disrespectful to you by ignoring my pledge to not listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. It was a moment of weakness. I'll return to listening to my jazzy, alternative, top 40 pop songs Pandora music station tomorrow. But I will be counting down the days to November 25.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reconnecting with Langston


Over the weekend, I went to the famous DC area restaurant, Busboys & Poets, for brunch. It's been awhile since I last visited and I had forgotten the restaurant's connection with American poet Langston Hughes. Busboys & Poets' name was inspired by Hughes.

Before he took up residence in Harlem and became one of the leading voices of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes lived in Washington, DC. He worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s before he became a well-known poet.

The mission of Busboys & Poets is to create an environment for dialogue and thought that can create social change in our community, and then the world. Patrons include artists, poets, activists, writers and thinkers who dream big and make big things happen.

In honor of Hughes, their menu includes some of his poems and famous statements. This poem stayed with me and I thought I would pass Hughes' wise words along.
"Democracy"
by Langston Hughes

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Childhood Safety


Yesterday, I stayed home from work due to laryngitis. Out of boredom, I watched too many hours of daytime television. In hindsight, I should have just turned off the television and opened a book or drafted blog posts. Beyond just coverage of the Penn State tragedy, it seemed that every show from soap operas, daytime talk shows, and movies on cable featured some kind of storyline about child abuse and its lingering impact into adulthood.

Beyond it being a depressing way to spend a sick day, it made me pause and think about the blessing of growing up in a home and world full of love and safety. Not every child is that lucky. My childhood was filled with loving, kind parents at home; professional, helpful teachers at school; and generous, respectful Catholic priests at church;. Not every child is so lucky.

But they should be.

Regardless of laws and reason, we have a moral obligation to protect children by ensuring and providing the safest environment we can for them. A safe place where they can learn how to love themselves and others. A safe place where they can mature into optimistic, hopeful adults. A safe place where they can seek help and support without facing recriminations and fear. Whether they are our children or someone else's, all children deserve childhoods with food, shelter and safety. It's up to us -- the grownups -- to be their champions and protectors against a world that at times is hurtful, painful and dangerous.

What an upside down world we live in. I wish those who are so passionate about protecting life that doesn't exist yet would extend that same passion, focus and commitment to improving and protecting the little lives who already walk among us. God knows there are children in foster care or juvenile justice systems, or still living in dangerous situations who could use that kind of advocacy and caring. Who speaks up for them? Who demands that the world pay attention to their plight and create a new and better world for them?

I do. Every day at work, I tell reporters and organizations that our children deserve more attention than what we give them. I love and treat with dignity and respect the children in my life and adopt them in my heart as my family. I refuse to be a Joe Paterno and do the bare minimum to protect children I know are being victimized. I refuse to be an accomplice to their traumatic childhood. Instead, I will be the safety net. I'll be the person that speaks up even though the price for speaking up may be costly. We all can. If I don't, if you don't, we deserve the horrible future ahead full of regret and guilt because we witnessed a crime we could have stopped or prevented if we had just said something.

The world's children deserve more than we've offered them. While children are resilient, there are some tests to the human spirit that are avoidable and unnecessary. Some kids survive these perilous childhoods. But there are others that flounder and don't make it. Or even worse, as adults, they become the night terror for another innocent child and the cycle of trauma begins again.

So, let's turn off the daytime television shows that tell us what we already know to be true -- children deserve to be surrounded by love and safety. Let's pay more attention to the world around us. Let's break the cycle. Let's offer them light and hope to break up the darkness encroaching their world. I'm in. How about you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Complain at the Ballot Box


Today is Election Day in the United States. This election is important; American voters should know that voting today is a warm up for next year's presidential election. If you are not sure where to go or unclear what's on your ballot, visit www.vote411.com and enter your residential address to find out more voting information.

I'm not sure why Election Day is not a national holiday. Voting projections are suggesting that even though the stakes are high for this election, voter turnout will be very low. Voting participation could improve if voters didn't have to schedule voting around work. If the federal government can designate a holiday to celebrate explorer Christopher Columbus and his exploits discovering America, why can't we acknowledge with the passing of a federal holiday the importance and solemnity of the annual occasion when we implement our democratic right?

Voting is the foundation of democracy. It's citizens' best opportunity to direct and instruct their government on what is important to them and how they want their democracy implemented. Go to the voting polls and instruct them well. While we may not agree on the direction, I have more respect for those who vote than those who choose to sit on the sidelines, ignore this civic responsibility and just complain. Complain at the ballot box please; it's the only place policymakers still listen to your concerns.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Autumn by the Riverside


Today, I received the latest issue of O Magazine in the mail. The issue highlights Oprah and the other magazine contributors' favorite things. Among pages of gifts large and small are other types of recommendations too.

One of the O contributors and a woman I admire, Maria Shriver, shared one of her favorite things -- her favorite words of wisdom. It's a simple prayer, and one that I might say in a whisper when visiting such a serene place as this spot along the Potomac River. It might be one you will want to remember as well.
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kodak Moment


This image makes me laugh. Without intending to, it resembles the types of photographs used in those 1970s Kodak camera and film print ads. The brightness of the rising sun cast an eerie glow over the river and its inhabitants, making the image look more dated and antiquated.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Autumn Road


Here's a an autumn moment of zen. Looking at roads like this one, lined with trees full of brilliantly-colored leaves, makes me want to get in a car and just drive for hours.

If I could describe serenity, it would be sitting on a deserted beach watching the ocean waves or driving along a tree lined road like this one during autumn. Both scenarios are so peaceful and calming. Not going to lie, I could use one of those trips right now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All of the Colors of Sunrise


From the piers of the Washington Sailing Marina, the sunrise is pretty impressive. At one point, before the sun appeared above the horizon, it seemed as if every color in the color spectrum appeared across the sky. Between the sky and the water, there was a splattering of blues, purples, pinks, yellows and oranges.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Jesus Duck?


Once the horrible weather that battered the Northeast this weekend cleared, I took a long drive along George Washington Memorial Parkway at sunrise to photograph what remained of autumn's leaves. Along the way towards Mount Vernon at the end of the parkway, I discovered Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve.

As a quietly photographed the swimming ducks and geese in the Potomac River which borders the preserve, I noticed this duck standing in the water. It must have been standing on some submerged land, but to the naked eye, the duck appeared to be standing on water.

When I showed this photograph to a friend, she exclaimed, "It looks like Jesus duck!" Although I'm not convinced that I witnessed a miraculous occurrence on Sunday morning, this duck does deserve some credit. Seeming to walk on water is quite an interesting feat, don't you think?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dual Nature


This moment was a little creepy. While I love the Muppets and puppets in general, I prefer not to see their handlers at the same time.

If the performer is really good at becoming visible. yet invisible as the puppet's handler, as in the Broadway musical, Avenue Q, then I'm fine. But, when the handler's presence or actions draw my attention away from the puppet and focuses on them instead, I find it unsettling.

As you can tell from this photograph, the puppet handler's appearance and similarity to his puppet is very strange. In person and in this photograph, my eye is drawn to him and not his friendlier looking puppet. During the parade of costumes before the High Heel Race, I wish that the puppet spoke more than the handler. I'm confident that Jim Henson would have agreed with me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playing Dress Up


Boy, do people love to dress up. To be honest, I'm not a fan myself. While I love to get into fancier clothes or wear flashier jewelry for a night on the town, I don't enjoy donning costumes and playing characters. After years of dance recitals, you would imagine that I would be used to that routine, but I think the experience actually created this aversion to playing dress up.

Although I don't dress up for costume parties or Halloween often, I do love when others do, especially if their costumes and adopted personas are creative and inventive. Each Tuesday before Halloween, I look forward to the annual High Heel Race in Dupont Circle. Every year, the runners never fail to impress me with their costume tributes to American pop culture.

High Heel Race competitors' costumes usually reflect the dreams and desires of our pop culture-obsessed society. For all the typical Lady Gagas, Amy Winehouses and Pan Am flight attendants in this year's race -- which celebrated its 25th anniversary last week -- there were more imaginative entries, such as these mermaids "swimming" with fisherman.

Practicing my night photography at the race, I was so disappointed that many of my photos didn't come out until I saw this one. I love how the blurriness of light perfectly depicts the dreaminess of these racers. Even if the image was in sharper focus, I don't think I would have liked it more than this final composition.

Today's photography lesson -- Don't delete photos on your camera. Wait until you upload and see them on a larger screen before deleting. Sometimes, the small LCD monitor on our digital cameras fail to reveal the possibilities of a so-so photograph. I'm glad I waited and didn't rashly delete this one from my camera during the race.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Air Force Memorial in the Distance


What I love most about the United States Air Force Memorial, seen in the distance from the terrace of the Kennedy Center in today's photograph, is its depiction of motion. It is quite unusual for a stationary structure to appear as if it is moving. The memorial's three spires seem to reach into the air while still weighted to the ground.

It is such a great allegory for the Air Force. Instead of just celebrating its past, the memorial design illustrates its intention to move boldly into the future, staying ground and yet still reaching for the sky. It is well-placed in the Washington, DC area skyline.

American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 140 patents Charles F. Kettering once said,
The opportunities of man are limited only by his imagination. But so few have imagination that there are ten thousand fiddlers to one composer.
Hopefully, this memorial will be a reminder to those who work in the nation's capital that we are only limited by our imagination to create change. If we stay focused, the sky is the limit for taking action to improve the lives of millions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Water Fountain Cherub


In light of yesterday's events in Libya, here are two thoughts for the day by two of the world's greatest thinkers:
  • "Compassion is the wish to offer unbiased service to all beings, whether they are friendly or hostile to you." -- Dalai Lama
  • "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
So often in struggle for justice, we comprise our humanity. No matter how deserving, the just should not rejoice in the death of another. While we may celebrate the change, freedoms or opportunities created by another person's passing, we should not be joyful. To embrace such joy under those circumstances compromises what makes us compassionate and just, leading us to be more like our enemies than we would care to admit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cheshire Cat Grin


This statue made me laugh. My reaction might be due to the Cheshire cat-like grin the lion is sporting, or maybe its goatee. Whatever the reason for my amusement, wouldn't it be nice to great each morning with this grin? I'm going to work on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frog Prince


So, the homeowners of our rental house in Temecula loved statuary. As you walked the grounds, random statues littered the garden areas. A theme wasn't apparent; statues ranged from cherubs to child gardeners to this frog prince seated on a glass ball.

While they didn't create a connected look for the landscaping around the house, the intriguing collection of statues did create many photo opportunities as I explored the yard.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Capturing the Blue Sky


While at a wedding in Temecula, California over the weekend, I stayed at this gorgeous house near the area's famous wineries. In between the wedding festivities, I snuck out at sunrise with my camera and explored the grounds.

It was a bright, sunny morning, which made it challenging to capture the blue sky and the photo subject without shadows. So here's my trick to balance the colorful sky with a well-lit photo subject -- focus your camera on the blue sky before taking the photograph of the photo subject.

On most digital cameras with auto focus turned on, you can push down the shutter button halfway to set the focus. Using this feature, you would focus the camera on the blue sky and then once you have focused on the blue sky, without lifting the button, you would shift the lens to your photo subject and take the picture. This trick usually works in most occasions, but you may need to play around with the focus to get it right.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Family Links


Alex Haley, the author of Roots, said once about family:
In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up about genetics being our connection to our past and future. While our DNA may offer sign posts or warning signs to our life, I believe that its our environment that can create the most lasting impact. Our family is a large part of that environment.

Today, I will watch two of my dearest friends marry each other. I love people watching at weddings, because by observing those attending the wedding, you can get an inside look into how the couple became who they are. This extended family present -- which includes relatives as well as friends -- represent the people who have had the greatest influence on the couple to be married. As such, invited guests should be honored to be included in this special circle in the couple's lives.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Origins of Smart Grandchildren


When reading through quotations about family, I came across this anonymous proverb that made me laugh out loud:
One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.
I have a feeling when I get to this stage in my life, my parents might be contemplating this dilemma as well.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Family Matters


I'm thinking a lot about family today, both the one we're born a part of and the one we form ourselves. In honor of family, the next few posts will feature thoughts by great thinkers about what it means to be a family.

Today's quotation was said by my favorite author, Dr. Seuss:
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
That's one of the best parts about being a part of a family whether by biology or design. Our family wishes us to be happy and we are happiest when we are ourselves. Anyone who asks us to change or doesn't support our authentic self was never really family to begin with. Dr. Seuss' litmus test for family is a good one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Water Balance


While growing up, I thought I would live in California all my life. At the time, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Then in my mid-twenties, I became bolder and itchy for change. I decided to uproot myself from comfy, familiar Southern California and journey to the East Coast and begin the next phase of my life in Washington, DC.

All of the cities I was considering for this move -- DC, Seattle, Boston, New York, and Chicago -- were within driving distance to large bodies of water. It was one of my prerequisites. While I was open to living in a new place where I might not know anyone, I was unwilling to give up proximity to water. Whether it was an ocean, great lake or mighty river, I needed to be able to near enough to see it with little effort. Watching the waves in Kauai earlier this year was one of my favorite activities during the trip.


DC definitely meets that requirement. I enjoy seeing the Potomac River on my way to work each day. Being near water is calming and therapeutic. I may have been spoiled by my California beaches, but the idea of living someplace where I can't marvel at the power of an ocean's waves or the strength of a quick river current is unfathomable to me. I don't know how people who live in the middle of the country or in deserts stand living without them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Closer Look at Apple Tribute


Here's another look at the memorial to Steve Jobs at my local Apple Store.

I wonder if Apple came up with the format of this tribute or was it organically developed by customers. Either way, it is beautiful. Even with Sunday's bright sunlight washing out some of this image, the color of the Post-It notes are so bright that most of its color was not altered.

It would be nice to think that creativity led grieving fans to this memorial concept, instead of Apple marketing or PR executives.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Tribute


In my last post, I shared a tribute to Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple who passed away last week due to cancer.

When walking by my local Apple Store this weekend, I came across this interesting memorial to Jobs on the store's windows. Hundreds of Post-It note messages of love and appreciation lined the windows. Grieving fans also left real apples etched with messages to Jobs near the entrance of the store as well.

It was quite a sight, seeing not only this colorful display but onlookers with their iPhones taking photos of the makeshift memorial. Perhaps that is the greatest tribute to Jobs -- his devotees using the technology he shepherded to capture this memorial honoring his contributions to the world.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Learning from a Crazy One



I'm a PC person. It's in my genes (thanks Dad). However, I love great innovation more. Steve Jobs -- the former CEO of Apple who passed away yesterday -- was the king of great innovation. He defied convention and created new technologies and devices that have revolutionized my life and quite frankly, the world. Not a bad dent to leave in the universe in only 56 years, right?


I use Steve's innovations at work, at home and at play. I even use his camera technology in the iPhone to take photos I've featured on this blog.


In 1997, Apple launched the "Think Different" advertising campaign, one of my favorite ad campaigns during my lifetime. It beautifully summarized what set Apple apart from its competitors, but also defined their leader as well.


Steve Jobs thought differently and looked at the world differently. Instead of stifling or conforming his vision, he took risks and followed his gut to creative genius. As he shared with the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University in his commencement address, change only happens when we dare to be bold and follow our intuition. Thank goodness for the world, Steve Jobs listened to his.

"Think Different" by Apple Inc.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Painted Sky


It's been stormy here in Washington, DC. Since Hurricane Irene in August, it seems like we have had more rainy days than sunny ones. Even though it was a lousy way to end the summer season, the powers that be tried to make up for it.

Once afternoon thunderstorms passed through the area, DC dwellers would be treated to these spectacular sunset skies. Light from the setting sun would reflect and cascade colors upon the lingering storm clouds left in the sky. During this evening spectacle, commuters on sidewalks stop, look up and marvel at the sight.

While hustling to meet friends for dinner after work recently, I paused to take this photograph of the Smithsonian Institute American Portrait Gallery building in Penn Quarter with the brilliant sunset sky as its backdrop. What a beautiful city to live in!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wild Abandon


Did you know that the word "abandon" is both a verb and a noun? Frequently in conversation, people use abandon as a verb, meaning to give up a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking completely.

I like to use the more strength-based noun definition of abandon -- the complete lack of inhibition or restraint.

As a documented control freak, letting go is not an easy thing for me to do. I'm a planner, especially well-known for contingency planning and for looking 5-10 steps ahead all the time. While this kind of thinking can be very comforting to me, it can also add stress to my life. In the long term, I don't think that it is very healthy for me or any of us for life to be so pre-planned and orchestrated.

Instead, we should act with abandon occasionally, leaving life up to fate and unforeseen circumstances. We shouldn't try so hard to see around blind corners and just be more trusting of what we can't see.

I'd like to be more like this Richard MacDonald sculpture, arms and legs thrown in the air and body in a posture of wild abandon. Abandon doesn't need to be a permanent condition or always wild. It can be a more tolerable and occasional reprieve from the inevitable stresses of a too structured life.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Juggler


The first day of October. Only three months left in the year 2011. Unbelievable! People aren't kidding when they say how time flies as you get older.

I have no idea what the name of this sculpture is, so I named it "The Juggler." Its form is so balanced. It is how I hope to balance my life's balls of personal and professional lives. I need to work on the gracefulness depicted here in this balancing act.

Journalist Barbara Walters once said: "Most of us have trouble juggling. The woman who says she doesn't is someone whom I admire but have never met." I admit juggling is a struggle. Over time, I hope I become better at juggling relationships, work and my pursuit of happiness. Not perfect, just better.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Stay Awake


Growing up, my sister, brother and I were notorious for becoming obsessed with a particular movie. I've now learned that this is not uncommon. Most kids love watching their favorite movie over and over again.

For us, Disney's "Mary Poppins" was the favorite. We watched it so many times that we broke the VHS tape. Conveniently, our parents found a way to avoid replacing it, however the impact of the movie on my childhood memory was set.

Composers and brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman composed such beautiful melodies for Disney films, especially those featured in "Mary Poppins." I thought of the song "Stay Awake" from the film when I saw this sculpture. It is a lullaby using reserve psychology and a soothing melody to coax unwilling children to sleep. It is one of my go-to lullabies to sing whenever I babysit little ones.

That's the power of music and memory. I'm not sure which comes first, whether music creates memories or memories link itself to music. But, what I do know is that both are inexplicably linked in my life. One day, I'll sing "Stay Awake" to my children and hopefully, it will create, or link, itself to their memory as well. It will be a wonderful tradition to pass along to the next generation.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Earth Without Art


My sister posted an interesting quote on her Facebook page today: "The Earth without 'art' is just 'eh'." Well, isn't that the truth?

I derive so much pleasure and joy from the arts and it is an essential part of my life. Last night, I watched a performance of Les Miserables at the Kennedy Center. It's the third time I've seen the show performed live, but I've listened to the music soundtrack countless times. There are so many artistic elements of Les Mis to appreciate -- the music, the lyrics, the vocals, the staging, the costumes. It's a blending of so many artistic mediums into one beautiful masterpiece.

As public schools struggle to keep academic programs going and keep more teachers in classrooms, K-12 arts programs are often first on the chopping block for budget cuts. It breaks my heart to think that future artists, writers, composers, singers, musicians, and designers might miss their opportunity for greatness and pursue a career of expression, because access to free arts classes was unavailable to them.

A world without art sounds intolerable and soulless. Now that I can afford it, I try to financially support local art galleries, programs and performances to help pave a way for future artists, like sculptor Richard MacDonald and the composers of Les Miserables, to delight art aficionados like myself for years to come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bullwhip


I spent a lot of time studying Richard MacDonald's "Bullwhip" sculpture. Even while photographing it, I could not determine if the subject was feeling defeated or powerful.

Because of his stance (feet apart and firmly on the ground) and he is depicted holding a whip would lead onlookers to conclude that he was a powerful figure. However, his head is also lowered, leading me to think he is sad or feeling defeated.

Art that makes me stop and ponder is my favorite kind. Just beautiful or attractive art has its place, but I prefer art that makes me think and question. Although I would not include art that is incomprehensible in this category. I prefer art that makes a statement or shares an emotion without needing a translator or a Ph.D in the visual arts to understand and appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smelling the Roses


Hello again. I know it's been a while. Between travel and work, there just hasn't been time in the past week to get back to daily blogging. Even when a blogging moment arrived, I just stared at my computer screen, not clear about what I wanted to write.

Then this morning, I had a moment of clarity. Instead of waiting for time to be available to update the blog, I needed to just take time. Remember the saying, "you must stop to smell the roses"? Well, that's my new mantra for the blog.

Life is busy whether we're career gals, moms-on-the-go, or God help us, both. Funny enough, I find it easier to blog while on vacation than during a regular work day. Why? Well, when I'm vacationing, my brain is prepared to allow for breaks and respites. We're conditioned to make time for activities that interest us when traveling.


In light of that fact, we won't be able to do the things we enjoy unless we carve out time from our schedules and "buy a ticket" -- as my friend Liz says -- with ourselves to pursue our interests and hobbies. If you purchased a ticket to an event, you would go out of your way to make sure you could attend, right? Now, my blogging will be a ticketed event I can't cancel.

When I was visiting Las Vegas a few weekends ago, I took a few minutes to explore this spectacular sculpture exhibit at the Bellagio. Located in the theater where Cirque du Soleil performs their water-themed show, O, sculptures by artist Richard MacDonald line the entrance. Inspired by Cirque performers and professional ballet dancers, the bronze figures were so enthralling and expressive. My iPhone couldn't keep up with how many photographs I wanted to take.

While I only spent 15-20 minutes appreciating the exhibit, it was one of the highlights of my Vegas trip. I need to start taking those 15-20-minute breaks daily to feed my creativity and my soul. If not, Crystal becomes a very unhappy camper and this blog remains silent for too long.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blue Sky Morning in Paris


Please don't let this post's title fool you; I didn't visit Paris, France this weekend. Unfortunately, I have yet to make it across the Atlantic to finally visit Europe. It's on my bucket list.

Luckily Las Vegas, Nevada developers have tried to bring the best of Europe to the Las Vegas Strip. During my recent visit, we stayed at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino which is right next door to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel which features replicas of the Eifel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. Walking back to the hotel from the Bellagio which is just across the street from the Paris Hotel, I was able to capture this beautiful French-inspired panorama with the bright blue desert sky as its backdrop.

Vegas is such an imaginative city. One day, I'm going to plan a trip there just to photograph it. I'm guessing that I could spend hours just walking in and out of hotels and casinos and capturing photographs of the most incredible sights and subjects. Like visiting Europe, a Vegas photo excursion is also on my bucket list.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Unexpected Sun


One of the biggest lessons I've learned so far about photography is that you (and your camera) must always be open to the unexpected. While you might arrive to a photo excursion with ideas for the types of photographs you would like to capture, chances are you'll walk away with more photos of unexpected moments than your planned ones.

When I was leaving the MLK Memorial, I turned toward the ugly chain link fence surrounding the memorial for one last glimpse of the Tidal Basin. To my surprise, I saw this composition and knew I needed to take out my camera again -- it had been put away by this point -- to capture the rising sun through the silhouetted Cherry Blossom trees and the sun's reflection on the water. By this point in the morning, I was already done, but my location has other ideas.

Like the Boy Scouts, photographers too must always be prepared. Photographic moments can happen anywhere and at any time. They are fleeting, so it's important to be able to get your camera or cell phone camera ready quickly to not miss it. Even when you think your done, another composition may present itself. In my experience, photography regrets due to missed images or photo mistakes are the worse, and should be avoided at all costs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In Line with Imperfect Greatness


Where the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is situated on the National Mall, it is directly in between the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. From the air, these three memorials create a straight line. In today's close-up photograph of the side of the Stone of Hope, you can see the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

The MLK Memorial's positioning between Jefferson and Lincoln was deliberate. Organizers wanted the tribute to King to be connected to the existing memorials to civil rights leaders on the National Mall. As Jefferson was the author of the United States Constitution which was the basis for King's call for equality for all Americans, proximity to his memorial -- the second on the National Mall -- is meaningful. King delivered one of his most important addresses from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. At the time, the Lincoln Memorial was selected for this occasion as symbolic nod to Lincoln, who a hundred years before King's "I Have a Dream" speech had signed the Emancipation Proclamation giving millions of slaves their freedom in 1863. It;s poetic the linking MLK, Lincoln and Jefferson here in the nation's capital through the placement of these national memorials.

Another commonality between these three great men besides their contributions to advancing civili rights was that they were not perfect. We hold our leaders to a much higher standard than we often hold ourselves, a standard that is difficult to meet. I don't know why we expect them to be perfect. While we should expect leaders to be honest and strive to live by a higher moral code, we shouldn't be shocked and disillusioned when they make poor choices. Lincoln may have freed the slaves in 1863, but he wasn't against the institution of slavery necessarily. Issuing the Emancipation Proclamation was more of a military tactic than a moral statement. Thomas Jefferson advocated for the equality of all men, but he lived as a slaveowner and even fathered slaves. And while nothing has been proven, rumors of plagiarism and infidelity have circulated for years about King.

No one is perfect. To expect perfection from anyone, especially ourselves, is foolish. But, imperfections do not have to diminish or limit our greatness. Look to this line of leaders celebrated on the National Mall for inspiration. They prove that ordinary, imperfect people can accomplish grand, impacting change in our world, change that can last for generations and beyond.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Audacity


Audacity is such a great word. According to the dictionary, it means "boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was definitely an audacious man.

When he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he shared his audacity -- featured in the inscription in today's image -- with the world. He believed that mankind was capable of providing a just, compassionate and free world for all people. He "assumed the sale" as they say in marketing. He accepted the premise that a equal world was not only possible, but inevitable if more people had the audacity to make it happen.

In this very cynical world, we need a lot more people with audacity. I often wonder if using the word audacity in his bestselling memoir, The Audacity of Hope, helped Barack Obama become the 44th President of the United States. We look for boldness and daring in our leaders. Tying audacity to hope made him an appealing candidate for the presdiency. When we're looking for change, we are look for people who have the strength, courage and audacity to hope for a better tomorrow.

But here's the thing about audacity, it needs to be constant for others to trust in it. Any falter or interruption to audacity 's progress by fear or negativity generates doubt and distrust. If only President Obama had found a way to maintain the audacity he displayed on the campaign trail during his presidency. If he wants to return for a second term of office, Obama and his administration must find a way to reclaim voters' confidence in his ability to resolve the problems facing the country and get them to believe in his audacity to create a more hopeful future for all Americans.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Honoring More Than One


The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is meant to be more than just a tribute to the civil rights leader. It was also designed to honor the civil rights movement in general. The street address of the memorial is 1964 Independence Avenue -- the street number is an homage to the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act of which King advocated for.

Along the upper walkway, they designed 24 niches to represent specific individuals, such as Medgar Evers and the four children murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, who lost their lives during the civil rights movement. Thoughtfully, the memorial architects left these niches open to allow for future civil rights martyrs to be added and recognized at the memorial.

Designers planted more than 100 Cherry Blossom trees around the memorial, joining the hundreds more already growing around the Tidal Basin. Cherry Blossoms were selected since they bloom each year around the anniversary of King's death, April 4. These blooming annuals also serve as a remembrance of the promise of hope overcoming the darkness of oppression and injustice.

It seems that the designs of the newest national monuments and memorials on the National Mall are more inclusive, acknowledging a broader audience than just the singular individual being honored. For example, this memorial celebrates King and the civil rights movement, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial also honors Eleanor Roosevelt's contribution as a first lady and later as a United Nations diplomat and the World War II Memorial attempts to depict the wartime experience and sacrifice of all American WWII veterans. This trend demonstrates the positive shift in our perspective and willingness as Americans to view our history through a wider, more honest lens.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

King's Hands


I loved my Grandma Winnie's hands. They were perfect. Her hands were elegant, yet familiar with labor. As she aged, her hands gained more character. Lines and age spots appeared. Her veins became easier to see as her skin became thinner.

As a result of Grandma's hands, I love photographing them. Like someone's eyes or face, a person's -- or in the case of today's photograph, a sculpture's -- hands can tell a story. Even in this sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr., it appears that the artist Lei Yixin must have felt similarly. Look at the amount of detail he included in King's hands. Although his hands are depicted at rest on his arm, they still illustrate strength and power. Like Grandma Winnie's hands, these sculpted hands tell a story of peace and perseverance.

I regret now not photographing Grandma more often, especially those hands I loved so much. As I've mentioned before, she hated to be photographed. In spite of her complaints, I should have listened to my gut and taken pictures of her anyway. At least now, I have my own hands to remind me of Grandma's. As I get older, I find my hands are looking more and more like hers. I wonder if they will be as memorable to others as Grandma's hands have been in my life.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Resilience


According to the dictionary, resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Until my current work in the field of behavioral health, I wasn't familiar with the term. I knew what the word meant, but did not reference it in conversation or in my writing. Now, I feel like I talk about it all the time -- the importance of being resilient, or admiring the resilience of others. To face obstacles and overcome them is resilience. To experience life-altering events and moments and chose not to live as a victim is resilience. Every day, we are surrounded by resilient people without even recognizing or appreciating their ability to recover and adjust to life's trials.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last speech on April 3,1968 at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee. The next day, he was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel room. No stranger to death threats, King knew that he wasn't destined to live a long life. Some even suggest that as he delivered his final address that he knew it would be his last one.

After watching the video and listening to the words of his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech he delivered that night, I tend to agree. However, what is also clear is that King believed in resilience. He knew that whatever happen to him and/or other civil rights movement leaders, that his followers must be resilient and the movement must recover from his death and keep moving forward. To do this, he shared his premonition with the congregation. He told them how he had seen the future and the world the movement had created flowing with justice, humanity and equality. He assured us that while he may not get there with us, we must be resilient and soldier on, advocating for the voiceless and bringing about a more humane world.

Now that the 9/11 10th anniversary has passed, you might be thinking what's changed ten years later? What do we do now? We must continue to be resilient. Resilience is programmed into our DNA. We just need to activate it by creating a goal and start working towards it. Thankfully, we live in a world where there are people, resources and supports to help us on our road to recovery. I've mentioned Lao-Tzu's quote "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Step after step, let's keep moving on the road of recovery and resilience.

Ending of King's I've Been to the Mountaintop" Speech:

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Also enjoy singer Patty Griffin's song, "Up to the Mountain (MLK Tribute)" which was inspired by the themes of King's last speech:


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Charity


Throughout the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, quotations from King's speeches and writings are displayed. One of my favorite King's quotations used in the memorial was:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
At this moment, ten years ago, the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center. While there was nothing charitable about this act of terrorism, from that moment on, charity throughout New York, the country and world was activated. Of faith, hope and charity, charity is the action step. While you can't create faith and hope, by using your heart and soul as a source, we can create charity.

Charity is a form of light that can drive out the darkness of hatred, violence and intolerance. On that day, and the ten years that followed, people have been giving of themselves -- money, time, expertise, and wisdom -- to bring light to the lives of those directly impacted by this tragedy and help ensure that this moment will not repeat itself. Through compassion, empathy, generosity and sacrifice, global citizens have been counteracting terrorism. While there may have been lapses and steps backwards in this charitable progress since 9/11, we have made great gains in reframing this anniversary into one that now selflessly serves others.

Today is the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance and thousands of people around the nation will be volunteering and helping others in their communities as a tribute to the more than 3,000 people who perished on September 11, 2001. It is a fitting tribute, especially honoring of the more than 300 first responders who lost their lives while serving and protecting others. Their sacrifice motivated the creation of this service day in 2002 and it is a spirit we should carry through our day today and all the days of our lives.

As you listen to remembrances and stories about the victims of 9/11 today, you'll hear more about the good things they did or the reasons why people loved them. That is how it should be. We should all be remembered for the kind, thoughtful, generous acts and words we have shared in our lives. We must live a life worth remembering filled with compassion, love and charity for our fellow man.

It is unfortunate that the terrorists involved in these attacks chose to define their lives by this vicious, inhumane act. We must all chose differently. We must drive out hate and ignorance in the world with our own weapon of mass destruction -- love and knowledge. Through acts of charity, we can demonstrate the power of love and knowledge to overcome such obstacles and create a better world for ourselves and future generations yet to be. I chose to leave a legacy of charity with every word and action I make.

While I may not be wearing my faith, hope and charity charm necklace around my neck all the time, I chose to wear it on my soul each day. I've challenged myself -- and you -- to lean on faith, to multiply hope and live a life of charity. These are the keys to manifesting the world of Dr. King's dreams.

Now, let's go forth and build it together.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hope


My co-workers marvel at my ability to always find the positive side of difficult situations or dilemmas. Regardless of how things ago, I always seem to find the upside. At times, this trait can be annoying to others, but I can't imagine seeing the world any differently. To be a Debbie Downer and only focus on what's missing, what's wrong or the evils of our world is just intolerable.
But, I am only human and I too have my negativity-filled weak moments just like everyone else. In the days following the 9/11 attacks, it was hard to keep depression and sadness away. After many hours of watching news coverage of the attack aftermath and listening to talk of death, grief and war, I struggled to stay positive. It was during those struggles that I knew I needed to change my focus. I needed to start looking for the upside in this tragedy.

So, I started devouring any news stories I could find about heroism, compassion and kindness following the attacks. I read, watched and listened to tales featuring the light of our humanity in the face of such viciousness like how New York firefighters stopped to carry the lifeless body of their beloved chaplain Father Mychael Judge who died while administering last rites to the fallen at the World Trade Center to a nearby church or the co-worker who stayed with an overweight colleague who could no longer go down the stairs in one of the towers because he didn't want him to be alone or the countless of stories of selflessness during and after the attacks.

Looking at the positive outcomes instead of just the negative ones helped me find and hold on to the hope that everything would be ok. It was like a lifesaver for my soul. The idea of living in a world filled with such darkness, hatred and violence was eating away at my spirit and grabbing on to a more hopeful outlook for mankind made moving forward so much easier. I needed to believe that we could be better, we were better, than those who perpetrated the attacks.

I know humankind has the ability to do exactly what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested that we are able to do --  forge "out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." Even in the face of such cruelty, injustice and violence during the civil rights movement, King could still stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and believe that his dream that one day we will all get along peacefully would come to fruition. His optimism and hopefulness for a better future for his children and all mankind inspired so many others to manifest the world of King's dreams. Are we there yet? No. The terrorist attacks in 2001 and other atrocities since demonstrate that there is still much more work to be done.

Just like that Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr. movie title suggests hope can float. Hope can keep us from drowning in a sea of inhumanity and it can anchor us by serving as a life goal to aspire to. Each day, I try to live a life that generates more positive ripples in life's pond than destructive ones. If everyone tried to live their lives with such optimism and hopefulness, what a wonderful world this would be.

While I wish the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania never occurred, I do miss the spirit of teamwork, togetherness and kindness that resulted. I enjoyed its healing presence at the time and long for the day when we can be that way all the time. With hope, my soul feels lighter and rooted. It's a feeling I wish more people would embrace and model for future generations how to live life with a "glass half-full" perspective.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Faith


This weekend, we observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As a DC-dweller, the sadness of that day is often present here throughout the year, but heightened around the anniversary each September. Instead of dwelling on the sadness and fear that accompanies this occasion, I wanted to focus on three uplifting concepts instead that are very meaningful to me -- faith, hope and charity. Throughout the weekend, I will be blogging about each term and how I think it relates to this significant experience in our lives.

One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a charm with a gold cross, anchor and heart symbolizing faith, hope and charity, respectfully. It was given to me by my godmother, one of my favorite people on the planet. I often wear it when I need some extra strength or courage to face a challenging day. Since it was given to me by one of the most spiritual people I know, I feel as though it holds a peaceful energy that helps center me whenever I wear it.

So, let's start with faith. Faith is the perfect beginning for this weekend's conversation, because it's the foundation of everything I am and live by. When talking about faith and spirituality, people tend to get caught up on semantics. We always feel as if we have to name and label things, which hold little interest to me. From my perspective, faith is the belief in something greater than oneself. It is the acknowledgement that that greatness resides within ourselves and in people around us. It is knowing that we embody part of that higher power and each  hold the ability and responsibility to share it with others through our choices, words, thoughts and actions.

Faith isn't just about religion or spirituality. It is also the difficult acceptance that light and dark co-exist in the world and that while bad things may happen, good things happen at the same time to counteract that action and create balance. While hatred and ignorance may have flown into those buildings ten years ago, we heard and saw stories about how love, compassion, kindness and humanity flowed out of it in the form of strangers helping each other escape or get home, first responders toiling for days  without rest in rescue and recovery missions, and people all around the world holding vigils and rallies to demonstrate their love and support for America in this tragedy.

Faith asks us to make a leap, to believe in something that we often can't see or prove even exists. It is the tenet that asks us to trust that while the day may seem dark, lighter days will follow. It is a philosophy that requires us to believe that when a door closes, another will open. Like Indiana Jones did in the Last Crusade film, sometimes we have to leap out onto a ledge we can't see, trusting that our foot will touch solid ground even when our ego insists we will fall.

I leaned on faith a lot following the 9/11 attacks and lean on it now as each anniversary passes. Faith is what keeps the fear at bay. It is what allows me to brave Metro trains and trips downtown when raised terror alerts inflame nerves calling me to stay home. Faith is our champion against terrorism and the other man-made evils present in our lives. It was the warrior Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon in his battle against injustice and prejudice. As the saying goes, with faith all things are possible. It the cross that  keeps love present in the midst of great sadness and hatred.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Carved in Stone


Two months before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. told a congregation in Memphis, Tennessee about how he would like to be remembered upon his death:
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.
When selecting MLK quotations to inscribe on the granite walls that surround and make up the memorial, organizers decided to include the following paraphrased version of this quote: "I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness." It was inscribed on the Stone of Hope section of the memorial, which features King's statue.

Noted poet and author Maya Angelou, who was a friend of King, and The Washington Post last week criticized the paraphrased inscription and requested that officials correct it. This weekend, the memorial architect responsed that  there are no plans to fix the inscription.

This is another example of people not doing their homework. Would it have been so difficult to use the actual quote? It just goes to show how a simple error can call everything else into question.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MLK Returns


On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the most important civil rights speeches in history on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Now, his likeness returns to the National Mall in the form of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Located opposite the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and next to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial along the Tidal Basin, the site includes three massive granite stones. Two of the stones mark the entrance to the memorial and the third sits closer to the Tidal Basin water with King's image carved into the 30-foot tall stone. Two-stone entrance symbolizes the Mountain of Despair and the stone with King's image represents the Stone of Hope, inspired by the MLK quote, "hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

After photographing the memorial from all angles on Sunday, I really like the depiction of King here. Critics of the memorial did not appreciate that its architect was a Chinese national. They felt his background impacted the accuracy of King's likeness. In person, I did not think this was the case at all.

From my vantage point, King's visage was familiar and beautifully crafted. Besides, didn't King ask us to judge others by the content of their characters and not the color of their skin? To be modern caretakers of his dream, we should extend that principle to the memorial designers as well, regardless of where they call home.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pinkish Sun


This weekend, I visited the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial which is located on the National Mall along the Tidal Basin. In order to avoid the Labor Day weekend crowds, I visited the memorial at dawn. While the early wake-up call on a holiday weekend was painful, one of the payoffs was the ability to take today's image.

In between the photo session around the MLK Memorial, I turned toward the Tidal Basin and saw the pink-hued rising sun above the Bureau of Engraving and Printing building. What was even cooler about this photo moment was when I noticed the sun's pink reflection on the water. In response, I zoomed my camera lens out and widened the composition to include both the sun and its reflection.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Morning Newspaper Break


People sometimes call the National Mall "America's Park," which is a good description. For this couple, however, they consider the National Mall as their backyard with a river view.

Here they are on a Sunday morning  on the Potomac River-side of the National Mall with two camp chairs, thermoses of coffee and their newspapers. They are totally set.

It's not a bad way to spend your Sunday morning, reading the day's news with the national monuments to your back and the Potomac River in front of you. From this vantage point, they have a great view of Arlington House at the Arlington National Cemetery across the river as well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bluegreen Pool


Change is in the air this week, but it is so challenging to make change actually happen. Just ask President Obama, right? It is like swimming in a bottomless pool; you can't sense the depth and the current seems to strong to swim against.

My sister forwarded an email to me a few days ago that discussed how to make life changes. The email's author shared great wisdom about this topic and I wanted to pass it along:
You cannot hope to solve any problem using the same energy that created the problem. Whether it's the endless wars in the world or the unending quarrels and fighting in your own home, the problem is the same: conflicting energy. If you want to change the outcome, change the energy. The extraordinary aspect of this solution is that you do not have to wait for the other party in order to do it.