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


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 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


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


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


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


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.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Some Beach

Somehow September has arrived and summer is officially over. How sad. Thank goodness I was able to get some beach time earlier this year during my March trip to Kauai. So now, I don't feel as badly about not getting any beach time this summer.

Wouldn't it be nice, if regardless of the time of year or weather, beach time was always possible? Island and beach dwellers are lucky in that respect; they can access the beach at any time.

One day, I hope I will be able to live near the ocean. To be able to walk along the ocean shore, sit on the sand admiring the surf and wake to the sound of the seashore would be an extraordinary way to live. While I don't like quoting country singer Kenny Chesney (long story), his "no shoes, no shirt, no problems" life philosophy is a good mantra. But, perhaps I would reword it to say "no shoes, no sleeves, no problems" for my life mantra, just to avoid any indecency problems at the beach.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Monkey on His Back

As Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc on the East Coast, she also disrupted my travel itinerary. A canceled flight provided an extra day in California, but resulted in a ticket on a packed, anxious return flight to DC on Monday night.

When we finally arrived at the airport in Washington, DC, my fellow passengers were already standing in the aisle, ready to disembark before we had even reached the gate. Standing in front of me, anxious to leave, was this guy with a monkey on his back. Now, it was actually a backpack shaped like a monkey, but looked as if it was a real monkey on his back.

Thank goodness for my inconspicuous iPhone camera, which allowed me to take his photo without this guy's knowledge. To onlookers, it appeared as if I was simply checking my messages on my phone. It did make me wonder though how many people are taking photos with camera phones without our notice.