Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pursuit versus Creation

Happy Wednesday! Today's image was taken from below a Cherry Blossom tree branch at sunrise. This is what the blossoms look like as the rising sun adds a pink hue to the white flowers.

To complement this upside-down perspective of a Cherry Blossom, here's a different way of seeing happiness as posed by organization expert Rivka Caroline on Twitter this morning:
So our challenge today is to stop the pursuit and start creating more happiness in our lives. Now, go forth and create!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Opportunity in Every Difficulty

In times of turmoil like this week with Boston and now West, Texas, I've always turned to the crafty wisdom of the great Sir Winston Churchill for inspiration. For most situations, there's always a Churchill quotation that will provide guidance and support.

The Churchill quote that accompanies today's image is one of my favorites. It's Churchill's take on glass half-full or half-empty debate.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
When challenges and crises arise in our lives and communities, we must band together and collectively look for the opportunities in the difficulties. We need to find more silver linings.

If we all just hold our heads and bemoan life's difficulties and unfairness, we are embracing pessimism and dooming ourselves to keep swimming in circles like these ducks in the Tidal Basin.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A New Marathon

So many people have shared such profound thoughts and reflections following the Boston Marathon tragedy.

I'm not sure what I would like to contribute to this conversation yet, so here's what musician (and awesome human being) Will Dailey shared on his Facebook page on Tuesday. It's poetic and beautiful like his music.
A new marathon began when the sun came up in Boston Tuesday morning.

Marathon: An event or activity that requires prolonged effort.

And so we begin. Running now with our own two weary legs but all of us are side by side. As a city, as a country and as a global community. A people. Fueled by our individual will and the collective sideline encouragement composed of those who love us: our family, friends, community and world.

Violence is the scream of ideas without merit. It fails the moment it is conceived. We in Boston, in the United States, experienced Monday what is too common in other countries. But, as it is in other places, there is more good than bad in the world. The bad can be loud as hell but the good is plentiful with the endurance of a million marathon runners.

One year from now we will be having another race. There will be a classic Red Sox game. We will remember the lost who will become stones in the architecture of our hearts. We will tend the raw wounds. We will honor heroes. We will run and we will finish and we will fall into each other’s arms.

We are in a new marthon [sic]. With a city and people that have the legs for infinite miles.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Good Outnumber You and We Always Will

Today's thought comes courtesy of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt. On his Facebook page, he posted the message below in response to tragic events at the Boston Marathon yesterday. He says everything I would have said today, and more.

I've reread his remarks many times this morning. We all should.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Jackie Robinson Day

Today is Jackie Robinson Day. If you haven't seen the film "42" yet, take yourself and your family and friends to see it this evening in his honor.

In honor of this special day, today's thought comes from the legendary baseball player himself:
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
While baseball may be just a sport, Robinson's courage and perseverance to become the first black player in Major League Baseball not only opened the doors for people of color in the world of professional sports, but in other public roles and occupations as well.

Robinson and other civil rights trailblazers not only desegregated baseball, they also helped to "desegregate" the minds of many Americans. He taught America how to see people of color differently than they had before -- by their ability and contribution to society and not merely by the color of their skin

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ready to Pop

Californian and conservationist John Muir once said:
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
While I think most of us have accepted the interconnectedness of our lives to each other, we still disregard nature's own interconnectedness.

All life -- even plant and wildlife -- makes up a fragile web of connections. This truth is so obvious when observing the Cherry Blossom trees in bloom.

Cherry Blossom flowers are so fragile flower when blooming. A gust of wind, raindrops or even disrespectful tourists can end a cherry blossoms' life.

Spring is our annual reminder of nature's connection to people and our entire environment. I just hope we pay better attention this time and become better stewards of this precious planet. If we don't maintain our relationships with nature, who knows how those tugs will unravel our world.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Early Light

As I discussed in an earlier blog post, I'm participating in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in June to raise funding and awareness of suicide prevention.

While finding content to include on my fundraising page, I came across a Rascal Flatts song I was unfamiliar with, but very relevant to this cause. I've always loved Rascal Flatts, and I was surprised that I didn't recall ever hearing this one before.

"Why" is written from the perspective of someone who is trying to understand why a loved one completed suicide. It's lyrics are powerful, and will be an essential song on my walk playlist in June.
Performed by Rascal Flatts
You must have been in a
Place so dark
You couldn't feel the light
Reachin' for you through
That stormy cloud
Now here we are
Gathered in our little hometown
This can't be the way
You meant to draw a crowd

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've
Said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were
A troubled soul, God only knows
What went wrong and why
You would leave the stage
In the middle of a song

Now in my mind I'll keep you frozen
As a seventeen-year-old
Rounding third to score the
Winning run
You always played with passion
No matter what the game
When you took the stage
You'd shine just like the sun

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've
Said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were
A troubled soul, God only knows
What went wrong and why
You would leave the stage
In the middle of a song

Now the oak trees are swaying
In the early autumn breeze
A golden sun is shining on my face
Through tangled thoughts
I hear a mockingbird sing
This old world really ain't that
Bad of a place

Oh why, there's no comprehending
And who am I to try to
Judge or explain
Oh, but I do have one
Burning question
Who told you life wasn't
Worth the fight
They were wrong, they lied
Now you're gone and we cry
'Cause it's not like you to
Walk away
In the middle of a song

Your beautiful song
Your absolutely beautiful song
Here's hoping that our efforts for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will help keep more "beautiful songs" in our world.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Offset by Blue

Thought of the day courtesy of the late, great Zig Ziglar
The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shifty Focus

If you're one of my Facebook friends,you've probably seen this photo already. Shortly after returning from the Tidal Basin on Saturday morning, I made it my new Facebook cover photo. I couldn't resist.

This image is the perfect combination of color, texture and composition. In low light pre-sunrise conditions, it's challenging to make sure your images are in focus. When your composition seems to be in focus through your camera viewfinder or LCD screen, it may actually be out-of-focus once you bring the photo up on your computer or tablet.

That's the joy of taking digital photos -- you can take as many as you want. Multiple attempts can increase your likelihood that at least one of the photos is as sharp and clear as you intended.

After taking at least six photographs of this same composition, this photograph was the only one in focus. It's always a delight when you discover that you got the shot you wanted.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Anticipating today was peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin, I got up before the sun, jumped in a Zipcar and drove over to the National Mall. When I arrived, I learned the frustrating truth -- the blossoms were not in full bloom. Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men ... you know the story.

So, the sleep-deprived version of myself might have reacted to this news with bitterness and perhaps a few choice words, but the photographer in me responded instead. I was inspired.

Instead of taking big landscape photographs of trees in full bloom, I zoomed in on a smaller subject -- the blossom itself. It's amazing when you get close to your subject how different they can appear.

Today's photograph showcases the full spectrum of a blossom's bloom from bud to flower. This close, the blooms seem to be exploding like fireworks from the tree branches. In a day or two, these "explosions" will result in Cherry Blossom tree branches overwhelmed with flowers.

Sometimes the best photographs occur when the plan needed to change. These game-change situations force you to get creative and develop a new and unexpected plan. Just like with life, we need to be flexible with photography. You never know when (or how) your best photograph excursion may happen.