April 16, 2014

Boneyard Beach

So as I mentioned on Monday, I set off on a special adventure last week. The goal, do something for me. And also flex my creative muscles. 

The location was a place known as "Boneyard Beach." It is part of a Florida state park in the far Northeast corner of the state. The name comes from the hundreds of dead trees that have fallen on the beach as it has eroded over the years.

The sun, sand and water have left the trees looking very much like skeletons. It is a photographer's dream, a very popular and beloved spot.

I had to schedule my time around SB's being at school. The lighting was not ideal; it was the middle of the day. But the tide was low and the weather was gorgeous.

I didn't even care if I got any decent shots. I was just going to play around and enjoy myself. And I did. But, I think I also got some pretty good photos.  In addition to the traditional shots of this beach, I tried to look beyond the obvious and focus on things many people might not notice.

I had a blast, and can't wait to get out with the camera again soon!

April 14, 2014


The past 15 months have been the most intensely emotional, painful and taxing of my life. I have only shared snippets here; there is much to the story I have not told. I will write about it someday. In fact, I plan to write a memoir about my experience.

It has been brutal. I've been dealing with one emergency after another for more than a year. Attending to the needs of my dad, my mom, my daughter, my husband and, when I could manage it, our home.

Everyone kept telling me, "Make sure you take care of yourself." And I know that is important. But when you are operating in non-stop crisis mode, that is nothing more than a pipe dream. You have to simply deal with things. Self-care is so far down on the list, you can't even give it a moment's thought.

You also, to a certain extent, have to shut down your emotions in order to be able to focus and function. Strong emotions do not help you in a crisis. You need to be rational, logical, able to take action and make difficult decisions. Your feelings often have to be put aside so you can get things done.

Now that dad is gone I am out of crisis mode, and to be honest, I just feel numb. Shell shocked. I have a lot of healing to do. I decided to begin that process by giving myself permission to do something for ME.

Last week, I took a day to focus purely on myself. After dropping SB off at school, I packed up some things and headed to a beautiful state park on the shore. The beach has always been a place of healing for me. It restores my soul.

The feel of the sand between my toes, the soft ocean breeze on my skin. The smell in the air. The sound of the waves and the birds. When I am at the beach, I am home. All my stress is washed away, and I become whole again.

It was a beautiful day, and I had checked the tide charts. I could get there for low tide and spend a few hours before having to head back to get SB. But I wasn't going there to necessarily to relax; I had a purpose.

Ever since I won a National Geographic photo contest, I have been inspired to work on my photography skills. My picture was selected because it captured a special moment, conveyed strong emotion. Not because it was technically strong. I took it in a rush with my phone.

Because my husband loves photography, we have professional grade camera equipment. I have decided to use that to experiment in a new creative playground. The National Geographic Your Shot site has regular "assignments." Members are challenged to take photos of specific places, or in a specific way.

One recent assignment was, "Home."The editor encouraged participants to think beyond the usual. To show through photographs what home means to them. You are allowed to submit up to three photos. One of the pictures I submitted for that assignment was the one I used in this post.

I love the way it pushes me to think outside the box. And develop a different part of my creative side. Seeing the photos others take for these assignments also stirs my creative juices. It can only help with my writing, and it gives me great pleasure.

I set out for the beach to take photos for the current assignment, "Nature in Black and White." I knew the particular park I was heading to would be the perfect place. Here is one of the photos I took that day and have submitted:

It is titled, "Bird in a tree." Can you find the bird?

I had a wonderful time walking the beach and taking photographs. It was exactly what I needed. I took a break for a picnic lunch, and returned home refreshed and feeling happier than I have in a long time.

Come back Wednesday to see more of the shots I captured!

April 10, 2014

A close encounter

Remember the owls I wrote about the other day? Well, last night at dusk as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I heard them. So I went out on the deck. Was absolutely amazed to watch them both fly toward me, over to some trees directly behind our house.

I quietly opened the door and asked hubby for his camera. We don't have the equipment for true wildlife photography, but he put his longest lens on and handed it out to me. The light was fading fast; I was happy I managed to get these shots:

The one in the top photo was wary. It landed on a tree farther away, and flew back to our neighbors' yard as I tried to get in closer. The one on the bottom sized me up and stayed put. Did not seem the least bit bothered by my presence as I slowly worked to get all the way to the edge of the woods for a better angle. 

These two have been spending all of their time either behind our neighbors' house or behind ours. That seems to be as far as they are ranging right now. And we are greatly enjoying our close encounters with these gorgeous creatures.

From now on, I will be keeping my ears open, my eyes peeled and the camera ready.

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