Postings & Pictures

Thoughts and captured moments - this is where my inner writer lets loose!

Daily Dose

When I launched this new website, and hence this new blog, I knew I needed to change. I knew I needed to make things a bit different.

But I find myself missing my Monday morning coffee time, and so here I am, with a daily dose of whatever runs through my mind. It is not meant to be a daily writing, but a dose of my thoughts, my dreams, & my life as it is happening from day to day.

I continue to work on my business, to find new ways to grow it, to share my love of photography with others as I see it through my lens and in my mind. I've done a lot of reading, searching Pinterest and Flickr, taking some online classes and listening to Podcasts. 

I've come to the conclusion that I am a work in progress, my photography is a work in progress, as is my business. I know that it will never be completed while I am blessed to walk this planet. I know that I must continue to seek, to learn, to want, to write, to record and to listen. 

Listen first of all to the voice within me. To know that God is in control and He is the head of this life journey. I must get into His word more and seek more of Him to be able to move forward with this gift He has created within me.

Listen to my surroundings and take it all in. To really be in the moment and not be afraid to capture what I hear through the lens of my camera and then to share with you how you see it.

This past Sunday our church was finally able to welcome home our new pastor. After months of delays and whatever else could be thrown in the mix, Pastor Dave stepped up into the pulpit and led us through Psalm 13.

I have been focused all week on verses 3-4. 

"Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye, so no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face."

I have been so guilty of taking my eyes off of Jesus and letting the enemy, so to speak, get inside my head & tell me that maybe I'm just not quite good enough, or maybe I might charge just a little too much, or maybe this or that or the other thing.

I needed to hear the words of Psalm 13, to be reminded that I can't do life without God. I can't focus, I can't hear, I can't do anything without letting Him be the lead and stay in the lead.

I continue to seek out inspiration. As I started reading a new book today by George Lange called, "The Unforgettable Photograph", these words spoke so much truth to me.

"The unforgettable photograph is one that makes that intimate connection understood - felt - by the viewer. It will always jump out at you from the hundreds you take."

I realized that I am looking in all the wrong places for affirmation of my work, that I am trying to hard to find "my style" and that I need look no further and I have my own style already. I know that I will always need to keep learning, to keep working to better my style, which is just that, my style!  It may seem to mimic others, but it is from my heart and my head that it comes forth.

When I am shooting, and I truly put everything out of my mind other than what is right in front of me, I find that intimate connection with the subject and the connection of what is in my heart & mind when I download those pictures into my computer.

I set out to capture memories because I know the value of what is held in those pictures years later when that person is no longer here. I know the emotions evoked in my own mind when I look at pictures from years past of my husband and I in our first years together, of seeing my 2 sons as little boys and now watching my own grandson grow right in front of me. 

My intent with my business is to capture your memories as well so that in future years, you will look at them and remember that exact moment in your life as well.

 

 As I look at this image, I can clearly hear him begin his favorite words, "uh oh". Seeing the shape up his mouth lets me know that is what he is about to say.

As I look at this image, I can clearly hear him begin his favorite words, "uh oh". Seeing the shape up his mouth lets me know that is what he is about to say.

 And then comes the loud, "Eh!" as he looks right at me and then waits for me to repeat it. This always brings about a giggle and we start the game all over again.

And then comes the loud, "Eh!" as he looks right at me and then waits for me to repeat it. This always brings about a giggle and we start the game all over again.

I am moving forward, I am continuing to seek, to listen, to capture and to know that I will always be a work in progress, but also know that I am on a journey that I meant to travel.

Won't you follow along?

Daily Dose

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We have been in the season of Lent for almost 2 weeks now. 

As a Christian, this is a season that draws me closer to God. While many use this as a time to give up something for the 40 days, I choose to add to my life for these 40 days. 

And every year I add the same thing, because it seems that as the year progresses, I get busier, I get more relaxed, I forget, whatever it may be, I step away from what became so dear to me during that 40 days of Lent.

I add more quiet time, to reflect, to read, to study & focus on the Bible and then I work at applying it to my every day life. With all the best intentions of it being a daily focus each & every day for the rest of the year.

But I fall short, I always fall short of carrying it on. Maybe this year will be different? I can only pray and push myself each and every day to make it so.

In my time lately, I have been reading from Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. I follow a daily devotional & that is where the author has taken us recently. It has brought new found joy to my heart & mind. It has brought some amazing thoughts to the forefront, and one of those is to "let your words be few", Ecclesiates 5:2.

So, here I am blogging. Spilling out words, right & left, just to get it out of my mind & into the universe. Ha! 

As I reflect on these words each & every day, I understand more & more the meaning behind them. To choose my words carefully, that I don't have to get the last word in, and that listening can be more powerful than the words I speak. As Jeff Munroe stated in one of my daily devotionals last week, "there is more wisdom in silence than noise." He went on to say that we need to carefully weigh what we might say to break the silence.

Truth.

In a world that seems to be one that everyone is talking over each other, just listen to the news, we need to take the words of Ecclesiastes 5 more to heart and become more content with the silence and truly think of our words carefully before we speak out or over someone else. 

How often do you find yourself in a conversation and you can't wait to spill out your thoughts on the subject, and you then interrupt and/or take over the conversation because you just can't hold yourself back? Think of how differently, and possibly how much better the conversation might be if you were to remain silent, think of your words and allow the other person to actually finish their thoughts.

I am working hard at this, to become more of a listener and not a speaker, to take less control of the situation with my words, and speak volumes with my silence.

My hope in doing so is that it will make me more aware of my surroundings and more aware of the true feelings that others are trying to express. That I will learn to rely more on God to help me form my thoughts & words, which will in turn help me become a better person.

 

Local Fare

Let's talk food.......and coffee.....and local fare. 

Mmmmmm-kay?

Something that my guy & I love is to explore our city and surroundings. This year is going to be no different. We live in a small village of less than 900 people, but we can head east or west and be in the middle of a city. 

Heading east brings us into Battle Creek, which is struggling to bring it's downtown back to life, but we keep hoping that they will get the formula right and that it becomes a booming place to hang out once again. 

I do a lot of photography sessions in downtown Battle Creek, as they went through a few years ago and revitalized the walk along the main river running through town. The gardens and walkways are immaculate and have such charm and character to them, no matter what time of year I choose to do a shoot there.

 Skidmore Family Session - Battle Creek river walk

Skidmore Family Session - Battle Creek river walk

But the livelihood of the city, the core, the business, is a struggle. They have just not found the right combination of whatever it takes to attract businesses and people back downtown.

Now on the other hand, if you head west, you end up in Kalamazoo. 

Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo, and the song wasn't making up the name!

 Monthly Friday night Art Hop is a strong pull to downtown, especially  in the summer!

Monthly Friday night Art Hop is a strong pull to downtown, especially  in the summer!

This is the city that Steve & I grew up in and call our home base. The downtown was struggling for years, when the big indoor mall move was so popular in the 70s. It lost business after business, but our Downtown Association, found the ticket, the formula to bring it back to life and it is thriving. 

It seems there is always someplace new to explore and things to do.  This past Friday was Art Hop, but with the frigid temps and below zero windchills, we opted to stay inside close to a warm fire.

But Saturday dawned, and we were ready to get out and do something. We decided to take advantage of a gift card we got for Christmas and try out a local restaurant in the Washington Square area. I believe it opened last summer, early fall. 

 POTB - Pho On The Block

POTB - Pho On The Block

If you like soup, you like Vietnamese cuisine, you like to try something new, this is an amazing place. With common tables, where people just sit and share a table with someone they didn't know when they came in, but know a little better when they leave. 

They have options of Pho (sounds like FUH), which is a soup with rice noodles, your choice of meat, red onion shaving, broth, and a tray with sides you can add - bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, fresh herbs and a lemon wedge. 

Welcome to Pho On The Block.

 Shrimp Pho and Honeydew Bubble Tea

Shrimp Pho and Honeydew Bubble Tea

I'm not a fan of "heat/spice", so the jalapeño stayed put, but I added a squirt of Hoisin sauce for a little kick. This is so refreshing and hits the spot on a cold, winters day.

Steve had a Lemongrass Grilled Chicken Rice Bowl and was equally satisfied with his choice. We shared an order of Pot Stickers as well, and quenched our thirsts with a pint of Bubble Tea, mine being Honeydew and Steve's being Matcha. The "bubble" is the black pearl tapioca at the bottom of your tea jar. A sweet little surprise!

Needless to say, we did not leave hungry and we can't wait to go back and try out more of the menu selections!

 Photo courtesy of the nice gentleman we shared out table with!

Photo courtesy of the nice gentleman we shared out table with!

Over the past few weeks during my winter break from school, I have been doing a lot of reading and working on my goals and plans for my business this year. One of the big items on my list is to work on my social media presence, namely Instagram.

I've spent a lot of time exploring and jotting down what I like, presentation, content, and learning about algorithms and hashtags. While browsing, I've come across some new coffee shops in Kalamazoo as well.

So after church on Sunday, we headed to one of them that is north of downtown. It's in an old factory building and appropriately named "Factory Coffee". They have utilized their space from top to bottom and have some awesome plans on expansion and growth.

 

 Factory Coffee - Latte and Pour Over

Factory Coffee - Latte and Pour Over

 Factory Coffee interior

Factory Coffee interior

They bring their coffee in from San Francisco, a fair trade operation that the owner knows from when he lived out there. 

Gus, our barista, was so friendly and was more than happy to give us a tour of the whole building when we finished our coffees.

 

 Gus, the friendly barista!

Gus, the friendly barista!

 This is a "pour over", where the boiling water is poured directly over the coffee grounds and brewed directly into your cup.

This is a "pour over", where the boiling water is poured directly over the coffee grounds and brewed directly into your cup.

The tour took us into the owner's shop, where he rebuilds Mopeds, his original business. We then were led to the basement, where they have their own pottery shop. They make their coffee mugs, growlers and other beautiful pieces. The final stop of the tour was on the 2nd floor where they hold #coffeeyoga classes and have plans for many more activities in this great space!

They have an outdoor pizza oven that they will fire up for special events as well and we can't wait to go back and try it out.

We highly recommend stopping by this place and warming up with your favorite cup of coffee!

What an adventurous weekend we had exploring the Local Fare. 

Here's to many new adventures in the year to come!

 

Forward.........

I used to be so adamant and focused and determined to "find that one little word" to carry me through a new year. Not so much anymore. 

Now, I let it find me. If there is to be "a word", let it speak to my mind, to my heart, to my very core. This year is not an exception. I have thought about it, let it go and finally thought, no big deal - I really don't need a word to define my year or for that matter, me. 

I resolved yesterday that this would be a year without that word, until I went to church. The pastor finished his sermon with the thought of moving forward. And there it was....the word.

Forward.

I spent a lot of time last week on the couch. Not by choice, but due to my illness and drug reaction. So, I spent a lot of time reading and taking notes. 

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I'm moving forward in my thoughts, my processes, my business and my life. I can only learn from the past, I can't change it. 

I'm taking careful notes, I'm writing down my thoughts, I'm reviewing what didn't work and what did. I'm learning from the past and moving forward in my future.

I'm learning more and more that I need to be more deliberate in all that I do, especially where my photography and business is concerned.  I really am trying to make this work, and make it a more full time part of my life.

So changes will come this year, as they always do. But with more thought, more determination and more acceptance of it all. I look back at a blog post from a year ago, and my heart was very heavy at this time last year. It was a rough ending to the year, so the beginning of 2017 started out rising from all that had gone on in the final months of 2016.

This year as well, will start out with rising up and moving forward. Each day will begin by moving forward and learning from the past and letting the past go. 

I have ideas for my photography that will have me reaching out more to you, I will need models, I will need to step out of my comfort zone and approach neighbors and businesses for the use of their properties for photo sessions, I will reach out more to attract people to my business and the work I create. I will accept my work, and not fall into the trap of comparison, and know that my work is good. It may not be suited to everyone's taste, but it is good, and it is right for someone.

God has granted me with a creative mind, a mind to express and use and share through my photography and writing. I will move forward this year and embrace this more and accept this. I will work harder to not doubt myself, but to know that I am ever changing, and so is my work, as long as I put forth the time and effort to continue to nourish all that God has given me and created me to be.

I have a verse on my business cards, and it is written on the very 1st page of my new planner for 2018.  May I remember this, hold it close to my heart, always have it on the tip of my tongue and may I live it out loud throughout this coming year.

"Celebrate God all day, every day!"  Philippians 4:4

So moving forward, you will see more blog posts, about my business, about my clients, about my life and of course, about our Little G-man.

Thank you for continuing this journey with me or starting this journey with me. 

I know that I am blessed.

Happy New Year.

Merry & Happy

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Did you all have a Merry Christmas? This was our 1st year with our new grandson, and what a joy he brought to our weekend.

We started on Friday, both Steve & I had the day off. The day was warmer than a typical December day, so we took the morning slow and easy, sipping coffee by the fireside. A very relaxing start to my 2 weeks off from school.

By noon, my DIL came over to bake some Christmas goodies.  We didn't go overboard this year, just enough treats to get us through the family gatherings for the weekend.

It was a too warm for December kind of day, so Steve headed off for a bike ride to get in his final miles for 2017, as the weather was predicting frigid temps coming in on Saturday or Sunday. He put in over 3500 miles this year! I so need his drive & determination to stay in shape.

Saturday I spent the morning baking cookies for Santa so Lukie had some special cookies for him. I have it on good authority that Santa only likes my chocolate chip cookies, so I had to make them, of course! Steve took off early as well to do his Christmas shopping - hey, he was a day earlier than every other year! He came home about mid morning and helped me make up the ham & cheese sliders for our family gathering that night. We get together with my sisters and their families every year and it brings such joy to my heart. We emerged on Chad & Melissa's this year for our dinner and festivities, with way more food than should be legal. We had drawn names, so after eating, we exchanged gifts and then played a game. Steve had wrapped up several prizes in a ball of cellophane wrap, some of which I didn't know as he decided it was going to be a "white elephant" kind of ball. It made it more fun for me as well, not knowing what he had hidden within the layers. All I knew was there was candy and the final prize was a ten dollar bill! Our nephew was the lucky recipient of that!

Lucas brought a new twist on the party, crawling all over and trying to join in and capture whatever fell out of the wrapping. Next year, there will be another little one moving around as well, as our youngest nephew and his wife are expecting this May!

Being that Christmas Eve fell on Sunday this year, our normal Christmas Eve service was going to be combined with our morning service, making it extra special. I had gone to rehearsal on Thursday night and was truly looking forward to the music we were singing this year. I even had a small solo in one of the numbers - something that is WAY out of my comfort zone. 

On Saturday night, after we got home from our family gathering, I really started feeling bad. I went to bed fairly early, but had a very rough night sleeping. When I woke up Sunday morning, I knew I was running a low grade fever and the abdominal cramping was worse. I took a shower in hopes that if I got up and moving, it would subside. When it didn't seem like it was going to, I told Steve that he would probably be taking me to urgent care after church and filled him in on how I was feeling. I finished getting ready for church, but as we pulled out of the driveway, he could see in my eyes the pain I was in and suggested I go back in & change clothes so that we could go straight to urgent care.  

So I did and off we went. Just as I had expected, I was having a flair up of my diverticulosis and the doctor agreed whole heartedly. He ran blood tests and a urine test to confirm, but didn't feel the need to run any extensive tests as he stated, "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably is a duck", feeling very confident in what I was feeling and what he was finding with his examination. I am in the middle of my 10 day round of antibiotics and it is kicking my tail. I have very little energy, am nauseous from the meds and am now developing a rather uncomfortable side effect from one of the drugs - so guess who's calling the doctor in the morning? 

Christmas Eve we had dinner with the kids and little Lukie, but we were home early as I still was not feeling up to par. We spent the evening watching "A Christmas Story", a yearly tradition that everyone else moans about, but I must do! 

We awoke on Christmas morning to a blanket of white, newly fallen snow. It was magical! It had started snowing on Christmas Eve while I was in urgent care and it did not stop until late Christmas night. We probably got around 6 or so inches? I may be way off, but it was absolutely beautiful and made the day so bright!

The kids came home around 11ish, we enjoyed a quick brunch fixed by Steve and then opened presents together. It was a quiet morning, even more so because our other kids were spending the holiday in Minnesota with her family.  Poor little Lucas was tired and "Christmased" out by 1pm, so they headed home for him to get a good nap in before they had Christmas with his mama's family. 

Oh how I remember the days of dragging the kids from family to family and they would be beyond exhausted by the evening's end. It was so hard to enjoy their new toys and such when they were so overwhelmed. Steve & I agree that it's a holiday to celebrate for the kids and we will work our schedule around their needs, not ours.

 Poppa Santa bought a shiny, new saucer for the little man!

Poppa Santa bought a shiny, new saucer for the little man!

So here we are wrapping up another year. Has this been a year of growth, a year of joy, a year of change, a year of meaning to you?

I'll be back in the next couple of days with my reflection of this past year and my thoughts and goals for the coming.

In the mean time, love your family, hold them close and know that this whole season is truly a gift from above!!

 

Source: topsites://

I'm in love.....

There's a boy I know. He's quite a bit younger than me, but man oh man, he really makes my heart beat.

He's got the cutest smile and when he laughs, everyone has to laugh right along with him. It's so contagious. 

He has the most insane legs and is so strong, he loves to eat, as do I, and he loves to explore, as do I.

He's a natural in front of the camera, one of my favorite models of all time.

This boy, is just that, a boy. A baby boy to be exact and he's my grandson. He lights up our world, my husband and I. We thank God every single day for bringing him into all of our lives.

He had a rough start, he was 6 weeks early. He spent 3 weeks in the N-ICU, but came home healthy and strong. He's a fighter and he learns something new every day. Not to mention what he teaches the rest of us.

Moving into the Christmas season, I am reminded to slow down and see the world as he is seeing it for the very first time. His first Christmas, his amazement at the lights and bright colors. The morning he went to church with us and just took everything in with his big baby blues. 

When I get caught up in the hustle and the bustle and the baking and the shopping and the wrapping and the decorating, may I remember to slow it down and take it all in as if experiencing the season for the very first time.

 May we all recapture the innocence of youth throughout this Christmas season and remember to take time to treasure our family and friends.  Merry Christmas everyone!

May we all recapture the innocence of youth throughout this Christmas season and remember to take time to treasure our family and friends.

Merry Christmas everyone!

M

Welcome

I am so glad you stopped by today!

Welcome to my new website and blog space - an all in one adventure!

I want to spend this time chatting with you and getting to know you. Actually, I'm going to share about me, and I hope that it will lead you to wanting to share back. 

I am married to my best friend. Sounds cliche, doesn't it? But truly, anyone who had stuck it out with me for 37 years of marriage and 2 more years of dating prior to that, has got to be someone who gets me and someone who I get. 

We have 2 grown sons who are both married, giving us 2 beautiful daughters that fit into our family like they were special made for us! Our oldest son and daughter (in-law) have brought into the mix of our dynamics the most adorable grandson. No kidding - he is beyond cute!

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You have to agree - you smiled when you saw this picture, didn't you?

He has brought so much to our family and to look at him here you would never believe he was 6 weeks premature.

We are also fortunate that this little peanut and his mommi & daddi live only 5 minutes from us.

Our younger son & daughter (in-law) live in the great PNW - Seattle to be exact. It is so far away, but it is a beautiful part of our country and my hubby and I so enjoy our time spent there with them.

We also have a white chocolate lab named Libbi - the Wonder Dog. She has more lives than any cat I've ever had, truly.

While I continue to build my photography business, I am also working at our local high school as a paraprofessional.  I've been there almost 19 years and I love what I do and the kids I work with. They change every year, but while here, I have made some lasting relationships with students that carry on into their adult lives. 

All my life I have been infatuated with photography, whether it be looking at pictures or taking them with my little 110 instamatic, I have loved the ability to capture life & its memories. I feel it is so important to record those life moments for yourself and for generations to come. One of my greatest treasures are the photos I've inherited through the years that include my family.

With my blog you can expect posts that are personal and posts that highlight my clients. I am a wedding and portrait photographer - especially loving high school senior sessions.

My style if to capture your life as it happens. To portray it as you live it. Whether it's walking through the woods hand in hand with your family, your fiance or a senior session where we cover the urban areas of downtown or the shoreline of Lake Michigan or the many, many forests in our local area, I work hard to help you feel comfortable and forget the lens. I want you to enjoy yourself, relax and just have fun with the whole process.

Your wedding day is a once in a lifetime event, and I will work with you side by side to make sure all those important to you details are carried out and captured. I understand these are memories than can only be captured once and I come to you with over 10 years of wedding planning experience where I was on the other side of the lens, making sure your day went off without a hitch, following the photographer around and pointing out a great place for that certain shot, and paying attention to the details of your ceremony, bridal party and guests. 

I'm excited about this new journey in my photography career and I am so happy you are here, right now, to follow along. I hope that you will feel comfortable and welcome here in this little space and will someday reach out and let me capture your special lifetime moments!