X’s & O’s

no matter how much I say I love you ~ I always LOVE you more than that . . . 

Love comes in many forms, but the love for your child cannot be compared to any other.  It’s a love you cannot truly understand until you have a child.  I know that love because I felt it when my daughter was born twenty seven years ago and I felt it again when I recently became a  Grandma.  Somehow this was different, not that I loved her any less, but with this baby, I had all of the joy, without the responsibility of having to raise him. 

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in the quiet of the morning . . .

Life is only a reflection of what we allow ourselves to see

In the quiet of the morning I stepped outside into the brisk October air, McKenzie and I were out for our morning walk.  The day was still dark, the sun rises later this time of year. Breathing in the crisp air, taking in the quiet of the moment, I looked up and noticed how bright the moon was.  Was she looking down on all of us, or is she somewhere else living the life she should have had?

It was early Saturday morning, October 30, 2004 when she passed on. Today my mom is gone fourteen years, seems like only yesterday, but in reality it has been fourteen years.  She lived a life, I’m sure, she never envisioned when she was a child. She came to find peace that final year, retiring, moving into a new apartment she would decorate and furnish, it was all hers.  She purchased a new car and was so excited about both her new apartment and car, she would only drive it once.  She spoke with joy of the ducks that frequented the parking lot of her new home.  Just minutes from me and my family, but worlds away from where she had been for most of her life.

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 Mom (Catherine) is on the right

Being raised Catholic, we were taught to believe once you die, your soul goes to Heaven. I’m not quite sure what I believe. Heaven is most likely a beautiful place, but in my heart, I believe we are born again into another being.  Our soul becomes someone else, we live another life completely. What we do in this life, affords us better or worse in the next life.  My mom is living a wonderful life, one of tranquility, happiness and wealth.  Not wealth in the sense of possessions, but wealth as in an abundance of happiness.  She deserves happiness and peace.

As a child, I only remember her speaking of being carefree and happy once in her life. That is not to say, that she didn’t find happiness in her children, she absolutely did, my sister, brother and I were her whole world.  What I am referring to is a happiness within.  Only once, I believe, she actually found that happiness and it was while on a trip she had taken to California. This was before she got married and had children, she was young, carefree and happy.  I don’t remember her smiling often, but she looked radiant in the photos taken in California.  There were even photographs of her on a motorcycle, and at the beach, certainly not the mom I knew! (LOL)  She was young and oh so beautiful, auburn hair, a beautiful milky complexion and dressed so stylishly.


Mom sitting with dark shirt/Mom in the white dress – California

This past June, my husband and I took a trip to California and I now understand why she fell in love with all of it.  An ocean bluer than blue, winding roads, beauty as far as your eye can see, and a carefree lifestyle not found in New Jersey.  Part of her will forever remain in California, where she belongs, where she knew pure and simple happiness.

I know my mom would have loved watching her grandchildren graduate from high school and college.  She would have been beaming from ear to ear with joy as her oldest grandchild was married and became a mother herself.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t here to witness any of those events.  I do know that wherever she is, she has found the happiness she so rightfully deserved.

As always, thank you for following along and sharing in my life.

Until next time. . . .

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Inspiration of the Heart

Sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and just go where your heart takes you 

The problem is I don’t know exactly where my heart should take me . . .

I seem to have lost my way lately, what do I want to photograph?  Do I even want to photograph anymore? I remember this happening several years ago, I was photographing portraits, thinking that I would make a second career from photography. The only problem was, I didn’t.  I found myself lost, frustrated and disenchanted with photography completely.  So I stopped, just stopped.  I didn’t pick up my camera for months.   Continue reading “Inspiration of the Heart”

Summer’s Last Hurrah . . .

“…and all at once, summer collapsed into fall.”  – Oscar Wilde

As seasons go, summer is my favorite season!  There is a relaxed and slower feel to everything.  Barbecues, amazing flowers, color everywhere, and of course the beach.  This year our summer began with a trip to the west coast.  We visited Washington State, Oregon and California.

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Congratulations Kayleigh and Dylan!

Our trip began with a family wedding in Snohomish, Washington. From there we drove down the Pacific coast through Oregon, with our final destination in San Francisco.  A trip of a lifetime, in my opinion.  If you ever have the opportunity to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, I highly recommend it!

Washington - Oregon-529_HR

The remainder of the summer seemed to fly by quicker than I could have imagined.  Most summers we visit the beach quite often, this year however, we became first time grandparents, therefore every weekend was filled with fun visits with our grandson.  He was too young for the beach, or heat in general, so this summer was a bit different from the norm.

Summer will be a faint memory tomorrow, since today is Labor Day and the unofficial end to summer.  Once September arrives most of the tourists trickle to a mere few, giving people who live near the beaches their solitude with the beach and ocean once again.  I wanted to share some photographs from yesterday.

We began our morning in Ocean City, NJ

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We ended our evening in Brigantine, NJ.

09-02-18 Brigantine-18_LR

To quote my husband, “I could sit and listen to the sound of the ocean forever!”

I hope you all had a wonderful summer and now I guess, we must celebrate the arrival of Autumn in a few short weeks.  The stores are already filled with pumpkins, fall decorations and Halloween costumes.  Sad really, but time does march on quicker than we want it to.  Happy Fall Y’all!

Have a fabulous week ahead. Until next time . . .

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Every Life Has a Soundtrack . . .

“When you’re standing in the moment, every life has a soundtrack.” ~ Brett Eldredge

In this hectic world we live in, there never seems to be time to slow down and just enjoy life.  As a child, cell phones, computers and social media did not exist. My sister and I colored, rode bikes, and played in our swimming pool.  My mom discouraged us from being inside, unless the weather was bad.  Instead we were encouraged to be outside and enjoy the fresh air, albeit, sometimes it was a bit hot, our only rule was to return home in time for dinner.  That was how life was thirty plus years ago.

Continue reading “Every Life Has a Soundtrack . . .”

Dear Pen Pal . . .

Good Friends are like Stars.  You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.

I wait with nervous anticipation, our first face to face meeting EVER! After nine years of knowing someone and never having met them in person, today is the day!  Brian and I anxiously wait at Starbucks in Carmel, for Carolyn and Jim.

We arrived a bit earlier than they did, as I sat at the table nervously tapping my foot, Brian asked me ” Are you excited?”  “Yes!” I answered. We have been on the West Coast for a little over a week, and today, at long last, I will finally get to meet Carolyn and she will get to meet me.  What will our first impression of the other be? Will we like each other as much as we do in our phone conversations, our joint blog posts and the numerous texts we send each other throughout the day?  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t speak to her in one way or another. She and I have become so close, it’s as if we have known each other for most of our lives.

If you did not read the prior blog before I left for the West Coast, you can read it here.  Carolyn and I decided after posting our “before the meeting” blog, that once we met, we would post a second blog describing our first actual in person encounter.  So this it!  I linked Carolyn’s blog here, so you can read her impression of our encounter too.

California Sea Otter State Game Refuge

I can tell you that when we first saw each other, it was so exciting and we did not stop hugging each other for a few minutes.  We were like two long lost friends, standing in the middle of Starbucks, in everyone’s way, just hugging, looking at each other, then hugging some more.  Once the initial realization that we finally met each other subsided, we moved over to let people pass by and then grabbed another coffee and set off on our adventure.  Carolyn and Jim are from California and they were going to be our tour guide for the day.  We were going to ride along Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Big Sur.  Carolyn wanted to show me some spots that she had previously photographed.  We also stopped for breakfast and some conversation.  I was a bit nervous about Brian meeting Jim, I knew Carolyn and I would have plenty to talk about, but I wasn’t sure about Brian and Jim, they had never spoken to each other, let alone spend a day together.  My fears soon vanished,  they had so much to talk about and got along so well.  Which was nice, because Carolyn and I would disappear for a while photographing, talking and just being the closest pen pals we could be.

One of the spots Carolyn wanted to show me was the Bixby Bridge, which to my surprise, my husband actually knew about this bridge and he super exited to see it.  I’m not sure if he was more excited than I was?  The morning turned out to be quite overcast and foggy, so the beautiful blue sky we had come to adore surrounded by the Pacific Ocean was not to be had this morning.  Beautiful photographs can also be taken in cloudy and foggy weather, sometimes this type of weather gives a more moody feel to a photograph.  The weather did not deter either me or Carolyn from photographing any of the places she had chosen to show us.

Bixby Bridge – Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

One last photo, I found it so difficult to chose what to post, but honestly, I could be here for days, editing and positing all of the amazing shots I took in Washington, Oregon and California.

Big Sur, California (yes, that is a kayaker in the water!)

The final stop on our journey this amazing Saturday morning was a waterfall Carolyn said was small but quite beautiful.  So we all got back in our cars and continued our ride on the Pacific Coast Highway meandering down then up the winding road.  One thing I can say, if you have never driven on this picturesque road before, it can be a bit unnerving.  There are points in the road that you almost feel as though you have lost your bearings, you look up and sometimes all you see is sky and water, both blending together, appearing as tough there is no definition between the two.

One of the highlights of the trip, came on our last day, my visit with Carolyn.  Not to say the entire trip wasn’t amazing, because it far exceeded my expectations.  My husband planned for months, researched and chose what locations to visit and what hotels we would stay in.  I have to say, he did a magnificent job!  Thank you Brian, for showing me a part of this country I had never visited before.  With that said, thank you Carolyn, for posting a photo of a “dead” flower all those years ago, that is what started our wonderful friendship, so Thank you!

Thank you for stopping in, I hope you enjoyed my photos this week.  Until next week, have a great week ahead everyone . . .

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In the beginning . . .

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

Many years ago, in another galaxy, just kidding! Really though, many years ago, I embarked on a journey called photography.  I didn’t know then, that it would become a hobby that would encompass my entire being, but it has.

On this journey, I met someone while taking an online class, who has become such a close friend, even though we have NEVER met in person.  I guess you might call her my pen pal, or in today’s world it’s more of a phone/Instagram/blog relationship.

Carolyn and I met while taking an online class at BetterPhoto called Understanding Digital Photography.  It had received my first digital camera for Christmas, and didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I thought this was a logical  place to begin.  During the class Carolyn posted a photo of a dead flower, and for the life of me I could not understand why anyone would photograph a dead flower. From this photograph would bloom an amazing friendship that I’m sure neither of us could have imagined! Today, I completely understand why she photographed this dead flower and I’ve been known to photograph a few myself.

It’s been nine years since Carolyn and I became friends and this month we will finally get to meet each other in person.  My husband I will be traveling out west and one of our stops is California.  Carolyn, and her husband Jim will meet us for a day of photography, lunch and an afternoon of conversation.  I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am to finally meet her!

Maine 2010

We both thought that posting a blog about this encounter and our journey would be interesting.  We agreed to post photos we’ve taken along the way to show our progression from where we began in comparison to where we are today.  Looking back was sort of fun, to see what I loved photographing eight years ago in relation to what I love to photograph today and how far I’ve come in so many aspects of photography. Time has a funny way of changing you, making your grow and looking at things a bit differently. During the past nine years, I’ve lost my job, had cancer, my daughter got married, and I became a grandma in April.  Quite a bit of activity going on and through it all our friendship has become stronger.  We speak a few times a week, consult each other on photographs and life in general.  We bounce ideas off of each other, we are very honest with our critiques of each others work and ideas.   It’s so nice to have someone who can be completely honest with you, knowing that they are doing it out of friendship and love.

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After we have met in person, our intention is to post a blog about our encounter, our photographs and our meeting in general.  I hope you will have a look later in June once we have had a change to edit photographs, write our blogs and relive our “in person” day together.

Until next time, thank you for stopping in . . .

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Pausing Life . . .

“A photograph is the pause button of LIFE.”

On April 29th my first grandchild was born, a baby boy.  He is without a doubt, the most beautiful baby.  He has kept us busy with visits, snuggles and just loving him to pieces.

I took a few weeks away from photography, just to spend time with him, my daughter and son-in-law.  Now that they are getting acclimated to their new life as parents and a family of three, it was time to resume my photography.

I hope you are all doing well, I’m glad to be back.  This week I visited my friend Cheryl, Cheryl has a love for decorating and especially for growing flowers.  Her peonies finally bloomed this week, so I went for a visit this cloudy and rainy Memorial Day.

I photographed her yard in August 2016, the year my daughter was married.  That day the sun was shining and the temperature was in the 90’s, humid and extremely hot, quite a difference from the weather today.  I must say, it was much easier to photograph today vs. the 90 degree day of two years ago.  Of course, August is typically much hotter than May in NJ.

05-28 Peonies and blue chair-48-HDR_HR

05-28 Peonies and blue chair-2_HR

No words are needed . . .

05-28 Peonies and blue chair-12_Hr

Nature gives us such beauty to behold.  The softness of each petal, with the hint of red poking though is breathtaking.  It was nice to get outside and photograph flowers instead of taking photographs inside.  Welcome Spring!

Until next time, stay well . . .

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