We are all hovering at certain stages in our lives. Depending on who you ask, some may say they are happy and content, while others would beg to differ. Everyone has his or her own reasons for being put in one category or the other. Teetering in a place one may traditionally called mid-life, I have come to understand one thing. I have decided to choose happy, because at every moment, life is as good as it gets. I could dwell on the times I have been short-changed, since we all have our bucket filled with varying amounts of misfortune. But what's the point of the sorrow that comes with harping on what's missing? To take it further, what's the point of thinking that tomorrow will bring so much more than we were given today. We're given life, we don't know its timeline, so embrace it now.
Tonight, I went to a party for a little boy named Ralphie. I barely knew him except for the fact that he loved dinosaurs and frogs. Ralphie's parents and sister sadly had to say goodbye to their ray of sunshine just before his 6th birthday. Today would have been his seventh birthday. From his pictures, I could tell his smile was warm and mischievous at the same time. I watched his parents thoughtfully throughout the evening. While their loss was profound, how they have embraced it for the truth it is, was even more profound. They have somehow taken their reality; their today, and found a way to accept it for the beautiful thing it is. They would sing, smile and cry. They would release butterflies and reach up to the sky to celebrate their precious boy. Their fragile wings were just another reminder of our fragile lives. As it happened, I would look around to see mothers' embrace their children. All along, Ralphie was teaching us the truth, that life is a place to find joy and contentment regardless of what it gives or takes. We smiled as the butterflies fluttered about and a rainbow reached across the sky, because Ralphie was helping us to realize, life is as good as it gets.
Every champion seems to have a secret weapon that gets them to the finish line before anyone else. The weapon I am thinking of can raise you above the rest of the field because it shows one's impermeability to pain and suffering that the race can bring. I am working on a hunch here and I have but little scientific fact to really back me up, but I think I may be on to something. In triathlon, I can think of two female champions that share this special tool in each of their arsenals. Natasha Badmann used it consistantly throughout all of her 6 Ironman World championship victories and so does Chrissy Wellington, Ironman's more recent queen of the Kona. What's best about this weapon is that it doesn't cost a thing. You don't need any special training to use it. In fact if more people used it, racing an Ironman (or any sporting event for that matter), would feel like a trip through Willy Wonka's indulgent chocolate factory. Really, it's the best thing going. Can you guess what this indispensable tool is?
A smile is an incredible tool! It accomplishes far more than most realize. A smile says that your external performance is based on your internal well being. It says that you have come to the starting line appreciating the opportunity you are about to embark on. It shows that you wont let the stress of the race get the better of you. It shows that pain is merely fleeting and the smile can bring you to pain's other side; accomplishment. A good smile will also help you get through the rough spots, keeping you positive as the road gets bumpy. I'll even venture to say that this sentiment goes far beyond the sporting world. People who smile more seem to stay within reach of success. People who see you smile, see you in a more positive light. It's a win-win scenario.
So there you have. I have given away the secret to success. I hope you all heed the advice because it always makes for a better photo opportunity. The next time I happen to be pointing a camera at you (and even when I'm not) smile, it may help you reach your life goals.
A bit more on smiling HERE! The internet tells all!
Kate, Natasha Badmann and Peter. She is a 6 time world champion and always has a smile!
Badmann racing the World Championships with a smile.
Smiles all around from four of the fastest triathletes in our little pond. The 10's, 20's 30's and 40's are well represented here.
Farmer Bob's field in late fall.
All good photographers fret over their photos. They try to get the lighting right, the perfect pose and a tack sharp image. While I love the challenge, sometimes I would like to care just a little bit less. The big camera comes out for the money shots…graduation, a first of something, a special award etc. There's much to be said for the high quality, high meaning photo that makes your experience and commitment indispensable. But sometimes in a quest for lower blood pressure, it's nice to realize now and again that quality and the need for a deeper meaning is optional. Enter the iPhone. It's part of what makes photography fun and spontaneous. Instigram alone has proven that there is also a special place in my heart for the half-baked photo. It's here you can find perfection in imperfection or meaning in just about every possible moment in life. It's is here you can show care but in a way that understated and optional. Many of these shots represent the subconscious photographer in me, like a sleep-walker, taking pictures when they are hardly necessary or planned. They're random but in the same breath, all have their own special place.
A penchant for drama..
Photo and effort for a friend!
A Lost key thankfully found!
Kate's a taxi.
I was taking a close up of the bark and Oscar jumped into the frame.
Paging Drs. Schulten
Our kid making himself useful
A bike ride for any mom in early June is liberating.
The Lion King
On a ride to grandma's house.
On a hike with Miles.
A ball stuck on Mile's tooth.
Kate brings Miles to the Dari Serv
At the Turkey Trot. Pie put on the roof otherwise Miles would have eaten dessert early.
Post call and post race topped with a big breakfast at IHOP, is a recipe for food Coma.
A girls first close look at a Van Gogh
On a winter run from school
When I need to buy milk, I make this photo my Iphone screensaver
I want this bathroom from the Mandarin Hotel in Chicago.
There is nothing more that a girl could ever need.
I Have no idea why I took this picture. I must have been sleep-photographing.
My beautiful ghost.
Surprise, were going on a cruise. The kids had to unscramble the letters.
Kate loves Sephora.... really I try to.
Witness...he does clean.
I think I have only one "selfie" Thank goodness for all of us.
Sunrise over Monterrey, CA
Gunther helps Kate with a project.
Good thing the girls have spiderman there to protect them from themselves.
"It's hot, really hot. It's so hot it feels like my skin could just melt off my face." That's exactly what happened tonight to four kids with zombastic imaginations. After seeing World War Z, I knew we had to have a little bit of fun with this genre. Keeping teens happy is simple, just let them turn their inner zombie loose. A little latex, a palate of eyeshadows, and the creating some messy manes kept the kids occupied for hours. Add some very familiar locations, some cool lighting and editing and you get the most fun time a photographer can have when it's 98 degrees. I spend lot's of time showing peoples' best sides, so showing their less pretty goulish side is a welcome change of character. If the zombie apocalypse happens around here, we'll fit right in.
My young bookworm needed an adventure. Only two weeks into summer, she had tore through no less than 6 books. A restocking was a priority. To do this, my beautiful bibliophile and I ventured towards the shoreline looking for more pages to fill her summer.
The journey would require somewhat of a field trip from Middlefield. Reaching Niantic, one feels like you have reached into the heart of the Cape Cod without the journey or expense to to get there. The area boasts everything a beach-goer would ever need. Rocky Neck State beach is just off of 95's exit 72. There are lots of places to grab some summer food and there's even a place to rent a bicycle to cover the town on two wheels. One of town's most beloved gems comes in The Book barn. Our destination looked like a lush garden filled with books growing out of each nook and cranny. The place seems like a hippy haven for book lovers.
My daughter bolted out of the car in a similar way a kid does when they enter an amusement park. "Mom, It's awesome!" were the first words uttered out of her mouth. She had found her nirvana and I relished in my newfound "best mom ever" status. The place would stir one's imagination. I half expected there to be a path laid in yellow covered books leading us on great literary adventures along the way.
While we made our way to Oz (the young adult barn), we would meet many beloved characters along the way. A menagerie of cats spotted the place, each dwelling among their favorite literary genre. Appropriately, a black cat lay perched atop a wooden pirate ship overlooking the haunted barn. We picked up the cat guide which helped us to understand who liked being pet and who was to be left alone. All I kept thinking was that the smile on my daughter's face was priceless. She had found her two favorite things, books and cats all in one glorious location.
Upon meandering through the pathways of The Book Barn, I came upon a comment in the store's guestbook. "Being here makes me happy, no Nooks, No Kindle, No tweets- Just real books- Ah the smell of books!" There is no doubt ,this is a special place.
The people who worked here clearly loved their vocations. Much like the Tinman and the Scarecrow, they knew their their golden literary paths and they gladly accompanied you on your journey. Covered book carts were found along the paths encouraging you to slowly progress along. Even the reluctant reader could be tempted into the chapters of this visual experience. The atmosphere was inviting to all.
We checked out with an armful of books. Even I chose one that I would read between all of my summer photo editing. The Bookbarn had two other stores just a mile down the road that were filled with truck loads of well organized books. Followed up with a stop at an Italian bakery and a Coolata for Kate, this chapter was complete.
Consider this summer journey, you wont be disappointed by where it brings you. Your story is just a page-turner away.