This morning, I'm heading to An Artful Journey! This is the third Artful Journey and my third trip, and I am just as excited as the very first time! I took the photo above last retreat on the property at the Presentation Center, where the retreat is held. It's located in the Santa Cruz mountains and absolutely heavenly!
This year, my sweet friend and former student Courtney Ellis will be traveling with me, so that will make the trip extra special. We are taking a three-day class with the lovely Orly Avineri, who's work you see here. Here's more about Orly's class, and while you're at it, take a visit to her blog. It's full of art journaling inspiration. Back Tuesday! Click this link to see posts from previous journeys!
Less than 36 hours before Courtney and I take off for An Artful Journey! I'm in last minute prep state! Of course, I haven't packed yet....I'm well known to be a last minute packer....but I at least have all my supplies out ready to pack. All that will come tomorrow night. The photos above and below are the prayer flags I created and mailed off to Cindy to be hung with all the rest at the Presentation Center. I neglected to read the directions (imagine that!) so my "one" flag was twice as big as it was supposed to be so luckily I was able to just cut it in half!
Below are Courtney's flags. Didn't she do an awesome job!? She's going to rock this retreat! I'm so excited for her to experience it!
I was dead-heading my geraniums today when I realized they'd look so pretty all clumped together. When I went inside to grab my camera, flowers in hand, Olivia squealed with delight, so we headed back outside to have a flower dance party.
It was pretty windy so we started to try to shake petals into the wind, but that wasn't working so well. Then we decided to just pull petals off with our hands and toss them into the wind as we danced like crazy girls. What a party that became. Since our porch is quite elevated, our little party was very visible to all the cars driving by on Heckscher Drive (essentially A-1-A). Be we didn't care! It made for a lovely afternoon break.
I'm trying to get better at living more in the moment like this, taking advantage of opportunities like these to make memories with my girls. So often we (um, I) get so caught up in the weekend chores of laundry, cleaning house, and spending far too much time on line, that we often don't take the time to just step outside and throw flower petals into the wind, dancing in their colors. For those of you in the cold north, we do still have plenty of flowers in Florida, so come down for a visit! We'll be happy take a break to do the flower dance with you!
"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." Mother Teresa
That quote was a lesson learned for me this week. We have an awesome event coming up in Jacksonville in April, and I've been incredibly wishy washy about whether or not I wanted to participate. You see, I wanted to participate, but I had all these "but..." thoughts stuck in my head. "But I really don't have time..." "But I'm shooting a wedding that weekend..." "But we have two events at school that week..." But I realized today that the scariest "but" of all was "But what if I'm successful...?"
Yep, I think that's what I'm afraid of. See, I'm kinda stuck in a bit of a catch-22. I do feel that I could be very successful if I truly put all my plans into action, but I can't put all my plans into action while working a full-time-plus career at the College, a career that provides excellent health insurance, a great retirement pension program, and an opportunity for my children to attend their first two years of college scott free. There, my friends, is the rub.
But today I decided to throw caution to the wind and take the leap. The leap is One Spark, the first of its kind crowdfunding festival for creatives that's going to be held right here in my hometown, and today I added my drop of water to the ocean. Who knows? Maybe I'll be successful beyond my wildest dreams. If that is the path that is meant for me, then everything will fall into place as it's meant to be. It's actually kind of funny that I was scared of that last but. In most things I'm really not much of a long term planner, but the one area I am is in my retirement and my children's college education! So we'll see where this leads me and take it one step at a time. The next step is finding the right venue, so wish me luck and check out my project profile here!
Meet Breezy! And let me say he was a breeze to photograph (sorry, couldn't resist that one!). Several of my Facebook friends who see all my shelter photos ask me how I do it...I know they are more asking about how I do it without falling in love with each and every one, and that is definitely the hardest part. I struggle with it often! Oh how I wish I could bring them all home!
So I thought I'd share with you the more technical side of things, like how I actually take the photographs. Dogs like Breezy here are truly easy to photograph. He was truly a poser! Some are definitely not this easy. The process starts with me walking through the runs and making a mental note of who I've already photographed. And, of course, visiting with them all! Once I've done that, I take my gear out to one of the outdoor enclosures and grab a leash. I've gotten pretty good at getting them out of their kennels, but that wasn't always the case! I've lost more than one to a free run around the building! Using a loop leash, I open the loop fairly wide, say hello, open the kennel door about eight inches, and, if all goes to plan, place the loop over the dog's head and out we go. Now, yes, some are more difficult than others, but it's not the size that makes the difference...it's the energy level!
Once I get a dog outside, I let him run around a bit and do his business. Then I go to work playing ball for a bit if I see the dog likes to fetch. That's when I can start shooting. I keep a couple squeaky balls in my bag that I use to get the dog to look at me, like Breezy here. I'll take at least 10 to 20 shots of each dog. Some dogs, typically those who have suffered some abuse, are scared of the squeak. For those dogs, I keep my pockets full of doggie biscuits. I give them a little extra love to make them more comfortable, and then pull a biscuit out of my pocket. I break it in half and give the dog half. Then once he's enjoyed that, I use the other half to get him to look at me for the picture. This process can take several go 'rounds! Once I get some good shots, I give him the other half of the biscuit.
Once I feel like I have enough workable shots, I let the dog enjoy the outside a bit more while I clean up his droppings. Yep, after I photograph him, I have to scoop his poop! Just part of the process! Of course I wait until I'm done photographing him before I scoop. Then, I'll dump the poop pouch in the garbage can, get the dog back on his leash, take him back into his kennel and head over to the hand sanitizer to clean my hands before I start the whole process back up with the next dog. On a good day, I'm able to photograph 15-20 dogs in one two-three hour shoot. Other days, not so much. And then there are those days when unfortunately we haven't had a lot of adoptions since my last visit, so I don't have a lot of new faces to photograph. On those days, I photograph the new faces, and then walk the old faces for as much time as I have. Then it's home to edit my shots, select the best one of each dog, and send them over to the shelter staff to post on the website.
So, live in the Jacksonville area and think you'd like to help out photographing the dogs? I'd be happy to train you! We need more photographers!
I got this lovely necklace for Christmas from Olivia. She picked out the super cool charm and all the beads herself, and she came up with the design herself. The challenging thing was that I had to help her put the clasp on pretty much with my eyes closed because she didn't want me to see it!
This girl's got her jewelry design skills rockin'. I don't wear my own pieces as much as I should, but even when I do, I don't get as many compliments as I do when I wear this one Livvie made me. Who knows!! Maybe she'll have her own store soon!