Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Memorable Events

Ann-Christine’s challenge this week tells of memorable events from her travels through the Sahara desert in Morocco, illustrated with stunning photos. I encourage you to visit HER POST and see for yourself. My most memorable travels in the last decade have been domestic roads trips to National Parks. On one trip, I visited 11 federally protected sites – parks, monuments, and forests. They are chronicled in the page listed below my banner heading called “An American Adventure”. Here are a few of my favorite shots from that journey.

“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” – Confucius

“Once a year, go somewhere you have never
been before.” – Dalai Lama

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Interesting Objects

“Remember, the object only reflects a feeling that came from a human. It holds a story from where it came from,
but it’s not alive.” ― Kim Neville

Patti invites us this week to share photos of “Interesting Objects”. I went on a photo hike this morning in the fog up a hill covered with mossy trees with that subject in my mind. I found many interesting things, but I came to make the distinction that what I was photographing was not Objects but Beings. Each mushroom and lichen and spiderweb and bark pattern was exquisite and interesting…and alive. So, I went into my photo archives to find Human-created objects that I’ve discovered on my walks.

I photographed these pendants I found in a Bayside boutique because I love the way the wrapped wire looks like trees. I wanted to show the design to my middle daughter, who makes jewelry.

Owning a beach house gives you the opportunity to show your affection for the sea. I liked this whimsical decoration above one garage in Santa Cruz, CA.

My daughter’s partner is a Bigfoot fan. I had to capture a shot of this chainsaw statue outside of my hotel in Mt. Shasta, CA for him.

This little rock was resting on a bench at the top of St. Joseph’s Hill in Los Gatos, CA. My siblings and I climbed the hill together to mark the anniversary of our mother’s death. She donated to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District that protects this land. I loved finding this human’s message on that meaningful day.

The things that humans create are not Beings, but they certainly can be created from a place of awe and affection for the Beings that share our planet. I suppose it’s really that interconnection and respect that I find draws me to objects and makes them interesting to me.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Double Dipping and Community Building

Each Saturday the Lens-Artists team presents an opportunity for our followers and/or visitors to add their images and accompanying thoughts on a subject for all to see. This week we’re suggesting that in addition to our challenge, you explore and link to some of the other creative opportunities our friends and fellow challengers make available in the WP blogosphere (or any other sites where you post images).” – Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles

I think the greatest lesson that I’ve learned during this pandemic is that Community is essential to individual mental health and resilience and may be the key to understanding how to live in harmony with Life on a larger scale. So what better way to practice Community Building in my photo hobby than to check out and participate on other photo challenges and get to know new bloggers around the globe?

It’s an historic photo, I guess, because this kind of snowfall is not typical for mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon. It’s a fitting reminder of how unusual 2021 was…and how unpredictable 2022 will be. Let’s keep our eyes open and our community growing!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Favorite Images of 2021

Happy New Year! I am so glad to be looking at 2021 in my rear-view mirror, and I know I’m not the only one. For so many reasons, it was a tough slog. But, as my first complete year living in the majestic state of Oregon, it was also a year to discover beauty outdoors that I’d never seen before. I have compiled 12 of my favorite photos into a calendar of the past. I hope you enjoy it!

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Tina for being our challenge leader this week. Do visit HER POST to see her favorite shots of the year and to read instructions on joining the challenge. I am in awe of the core team of Lens Artists – Tina, Amy, Ann-Christine, and Patti – and delighted to hear that the team will be expanded this year to include three new host bloggers: Sofia, Anne, and John.
I wish all of you the joy of finding beauty in your lives every day as you look upon this marvelous world and the hope of being a blessing every day for someone in return. Make it a great year!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Serene

“Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.” ― Pema Chödrön

“Being able to lighten up is the key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet.” ― Pema Chödrön

“Clarity and decisiveness come from the willingness to slow down, to listen and look at what’s happening.” ― Pema Chödrön

“…The truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ― Pema Chödrön

“Precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go … are not something that we have to gain, but something that we could bring out, cultivate, rediscover in ourselves.” ― Pema Chödrön

“We sow the seeds of our future hell or happiness by the way we open or close our minds right now.” ― Pema Chödrön

I have been on a journey of mindfulness for more than a decade now as a way to metabolize the trauma of my husband’s death. One of the first books that I turned to was When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times by Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. The path to a peaceful life in my skin, in my mind, in my situation began with opening my eyes and seeing things exactly as they are…without telling a story or making a judgment about them. Photography is a beautiful art for exploring ways of seeing. While looking for a subject, framing a shot, and editing a shot, you can realize how perception and reality converge and depart. This exploration is about curiosity and courage, the same qualities that help you on your journey toward mindfulness and serenity.
I’ve chosen quotes from Pema Chödrön and photographs I took a few days ago -while walking down my driveway to get the mail – to illustrate SERENE for this week’s challenge. I was compelled to take along my camera because the sun was penetrating the fog in a way that made me think how unique and particular and impermanent that moment of elemental juxtaposition was. The environment around me changes visibly quite quickly here in the temporal rainforest of Oregon. Rain, vegetation, animals – everything is living and dynamic. As am I. Breathing deeply as I walked, step by step, through this reality, I became mindful of the serenity of simply being with things as they are. This is what I want to share, with a smile.
Thank you, Patti, for choosing a very worthy theme for this week! Click HERE to view her post and her invitation to participate.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Choice

“The ability to have a choice in what you do is a privilege.”
Anton Yelchin 

This week the Lens-Artists photo challenge theme is “You Choose”. What a marvelous thing, to be able to make choices, little choices and big choices. Around this season, I am mindful of the choices I have: not just “paper or plastic?” when I choose to shop, but also how and what I choose to celebrate. Expanding that mindfulness, I am grateful that my family and I have been able to exercise our choices in who to love, whether to marry and whether to stay married.

“We are our choices.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

I am also grateful that I’ve had a choice in where to live and where to raise my children. My husband and I made a choice to leave Southern California and raise our four kids in the Midwest.

And then I was able to make the choice to leave the Midwest and follow my grown-up children to Oregon…in my chosen hybrid vehicle.

Choices always have consequences, so they can be very difficult to make. They can often be very tricky to undo. Do you really want that tattoo? (My daughters definitely did want matching SisterCats tattoos.)

Sometimes being able to make a choice to do something can feel very empowering, especially when it feels like your cause is hopeless. Choosing to fund research on a currently incurable disease or plant a tree, for example, is a step in a good direction.

Choosing to help others, or to help animals, live happy, healthy lives is a choice that can bring joy and spread love.

I have much to be grateful for in the freedom to make my own choices. I am grateful that my children have been able to make their own, different choices as well. That is certainly something to celebrate!

Thanks to Tina, our challenge host this week. Visit her blog to see her photo choices and learn how to participate with the Lens-Artists.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Celebrating – Family!

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful
land of life.” – Albert Einstein

“What can you do to promote world peace?
Go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

As we enter a season of celebration, I wish you all the joy of family love, through blood or affiliation, and the time and place to be with each other safely and happily. Thanks to Amy for hosting our challenge this week and posting an international selection of celebrations. Click HERE to see her fun post and instructions for participation.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: One Image, One Story

“For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” – a six-word story attributed to Ernest Hemingway.

Actually, the shoes in the photo above were worn, by my son. Then for years and years they hung from the rear-view mirror of my late husband’s car, until they became quite faded and dry. Now they reside in the Welsh dresser left to me by my grandmother.

“Josh lassos the sun for Daena.” – ala Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” – Hans Christian Andersen

“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” – Native American Proverb

How marvelous to embrace the photographer’s role as storyteller with this week’s Lens-Artists challenge! I’m grateful to Ann-Christine for suggesting it and posting marvelous examples on her site. Click HERE to visit and learn how to participate.

“Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell. Children will listen…” – Stephen Sondheim (died November 26, 2021, aged 91)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Follow Your Bliss

“The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call ‘following your bliss’.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

On Thursday, I headed out with my camera and a friend and spent four hours walking a forest trail through the William Finley Wildlife Refuge. I was surprised that so much time passed! I was also surprised that the rain never got heavy enough to make me think of heading back to the car. In the temporal rain forest of Oregon, there is so much to see, such tiny worlds of biodiversity everywhere that I find contentment in just keeping my eyes open and letting beauty wash in!

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
― Confucious

“We have to look deeply at things in order to see. When a swimmer enjoys the clear water of the river, he or she should also be able to be the river.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”― Albert Einstein

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive…”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

My new Oregon home is the perfect place to immerse myself in the beauty of being alive; of seeing Life all around me; of connecting my body, mind, and soul to the ongoing experience of living – from spore to plant to decomposing matter and back to spore. In the face of global instability on every level from climate change to species extinction to social structures, it is bliss and contentment to turn away from fear and toward Nature, and to feel again the circle of Love that is Life.

Many thanks to our guest host for this week’s Lens-Artist Challenge, Lindy Low LeCoq. I am so glad she got her inspiration from one of my favorite authors and thinkers and invited us into bliss! If you would like to participate, click on her name above and follow her lead.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Shapes and Designs

“Nature’s constantly screaming with all its shapes and scents: love each other! Love each other! Do as the flowers. There’s only love.” –  Octave Mirbeau

“The whole of nature is an endless demonstration of shape and form. It always surprises me when artists try to escape from this.” –  Henry Moore

“Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” –  Kahlil Gibran

There is no way to encompass or exhaust the variety of shapes and designs in Nature in one blog post! (And why would anyone want to try?) I offer just a small sampling from my photo files and encourage you to look with new eyes all around you and capture a few of your own favorites. If you’d like to join in the challenge and share your finds, visit our host’s blog HERE for how to do that. You’ll see on Patti’s site some wonderful examples of design in natural and man-made art.