365 Project- Day #10 Game

With “June-uary’s?” temps going from 30 to 60 degrees in less than a day, Mother Nature is playing a wonderful game of Peek-a-boo with me-right in my own backyard!

Day #10- Game.

( I thought everyone would be expecting a baseball photo, or a basketball photo, or cheer or even gymnastics, so I decided I’d throw you all off! This one is for my MOM, the quintessential goddess of the garden, dirt and all things spring. <3)
Game- Peek-a-boo

The Sort of Hope Who Has A Daughter That Can Fly

Natalia’s first gymnastic competition was on Saturday. She competed last year as a Level 7 USA Gymnast and this year is now an Advanced Prep Optional ( it’s a level for girls who don’t quite have all the skills for Level 8 or those who for whatever reason just aren’t ready to compete the next compulsory level  quite yet. )

We could not have been more pleased with her performance! Gymnastics is such a fascinating sport to me. These girls train so intensely. I can’t wait for competition season so that I can be surprised by all of the new tricks that  Natalia and her teammates have mastered during the off season. This year was no exception. Natalia has added a layout full twist to her floor routine. Floor is my favorite thing to watch the girls compete and I honestly think it’s the thing that our gym tends to excel at the most consistently.

Yesterday was no exception. Natalia ended up doing very well for her first meet- she placed First All Around (36.00). Captured a 1st on beam (9.3) and floor (9.25), and a first on bars (8.95) and a third on vault (8.5).

There was a bit of a some excitement and a resurgence of interest in gymnastics last year following the Olympics. I could not have been happier for the girls at the gym. I feel like what these gymnasts go through is sometimes underrated and under-appreciated and surely under-valued because it is not a school sport. I get upset because I personally think that they don’t get the recognition that I feel they deserve. If people knew how much work these girls put into learning just one simple ‘trick’, maybe they’d value the sport a bit more. These girls are true athletes. Hours and hours spent in a gym to master their craft. They have to be braver and stronger and even more courageous than most other athletes. Fear is a word that they check at the door.

Competition days are difficult for me. (though surely nothing like they are for the gymnasts!) They often involve long rides in the car, sitting for hours on cold hard bleachers and then long rides home again. We never eat right. Traveling with me is like traveling with a toddler. I ‘ve got my “goody bag”- water, snacks, socks, meds, music -for distraction if the pain gets bad, pillows, blankets, gloves… If you’ve learned anything by now, you know that things like travel and long days I don’t get along real well, but the only times I have missed her meets were because of treatments. If it were up to me, I’d watch her and her team compete every weekend! I’ll just deal with a longer recovery time afterward. She won’t be competing forever and while she is , I’m going to do my darndest to make sure when she looks up, she sees her mom in the crowd.

I’m not sure why, but yesterday I really struggled to photograph this event. Out of practice maybe? You cannot use flash in a gym, the lighting is typically even worse than in a school gym. Gymnasts move fast. Very fast. This was the first meet with all new routines so I wasn’t sure how to follow them. AND to complicate the process, for every event but the beam, I was shooting through the safety bars of the balcony. I did manage to get a few decent shots of each event.

Special thanks to my two photographer friends for responding to my panicked texts about how to try to take the shots from that meet. (and understanding that sometimes my panic is born of my disease and my over active nervous system making me forget every thing I already know!) You guys are life savers to me. Truly.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t have amazingly talented people who fly through the air with the greatest of ease, allow me to share mine! The girls of FGI. It’s a pretty short season – States is March 16- and our gym only competes about 5 meets- so enjoy these girls with me. They really are something special.

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The Sort of Hope Who Played on the Tracks

teryn7

I finally got to do something nice for a young lady who is part of a family who has been so very nice to me over the years. Taught myself 2 new editing techniques, too!  ( … if only I could get paid to do nothing but take pictures and edit *sighs dreamily*) Cold weather is challenging for healthy people. Cold weather can be all but deadly for some people with RSD/CRPS. (our nervous systems don’t adjust well to temperature changes, so once we start to shiver, or get cold, it is sometimes near to impossible to get our body’s core temperature back again. ) But Teryn was tough, so I had to be too. She’s a seasoned competitive athlete-a real gamer. I figured if she could stand up on the top of a train in what she was wearing, I could be brave and all bundled up down below. ( and believe me, I *was* as bundled as movement would allow for.)

Beautiful girl and a fun day.

Some days it really is good to be me.

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#YOU_TODAY~ 365 Challenge

#YOU_TODAY

 

That’s me today.

I’m shocked! ~my son is turning 17 in just a few short days.

I’m baffled, I’m electrified. I’m energized. I’m in a whirlwind. I’m in a state of denial and disbelief.

I’m in a frenzy to get rid of Christmas and get ready to make a birthday celebration!

In less than 2 years he’ll be gone. College bound ( I hope!)

I’m a birthday fairy. I believe that just about everything in life should be celebrated. ( I know I blogged about this before…)

I decorate the house for birthdays. I allow the birthday child to pick their favorite foods for at least a week. I spoil them as rotten as I can and as much as they will allow.

So today that’s me.^ In disbelief. Spinning. Shocked..

If I could give some advice to all my friends who are still lucky enough to have those tiny voices and tiny hands at home it would be to slow it down. To not wish it away. Though I know there are days that you feel drag on forever, realize that they, too will be gone before you know it.

Wondering about his future. Incredibly grateful for our past together.

And so very happy that he came into my life. (*not pictured)

The Sort of Hope Who Has A Snow Angel

“When it snows, you have two choices, shovel or make snow angels” ~ unknown.

look which we picked!

 

The Jolly Sort of Hope pt 1.

Ever since I started dating my husband, the last Sunday before Christmas was always one of my favorite days. His mom and step father host a party that is filled with family and food and children. Santa even comes to personally give all the little children their “early drop-offs.” Everyone gets a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wish for and/or have their photo taken. For as long as I have been married ( 16years) there has never ever been a shortage of small children in this family. They are the joy of Christmas for me. How wonderful it must feel to be able to host such an event! Sadly this year, for the first time in my life with my husband, I couldn’t even make it to the end of the night. Thank you RSD.

Normally we arrive way before everyone else and stay way past everyone else. It’s time we don’t often get to spend with some of the people at the party. Plus I always felt like I needed to help my MIL as much as I or my family could that day. It’s a huge undertaking for one person. But I’m sure worth every moment once you see the smiles on the children’s faces as they see Santa come down the stairs. Last year I positioned myself perfectly to take pictures of just that. The little children as Santa arrived. Sheer Christmas magic!!

This year I photographed the event with my broken 18-105mm lens. The focus doesn’t always focus and the zoom doesn’t always zoom.  Challenging at best. Like many of my mentors, I don’t shoot with flash. Indoor lighting and I are not the best of friends. That being said, I’m not too terribly disappointed with the results. It can sometimes be like a mini press conference when the children hop on Santa’s lap. But I did get most of the kids as they sat on the guy in the red suit’s lap. Some didn’t stay long enough for my fickle lens. Some did. Some families looked at other people who said “say Cheese” and  sadly you can’t go back and get a do-over.

So as my BFF has been heard to say to her 2 boys ” you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” ~ In any event, I hope no one get’s upset. My in law’s Christmas party never fails to help make me jolly. Holidays are about families and love.

Merry (after) Christmas!

The Sort of Hope Who Helped Make Spirits Bright

Hello Blog world friends

I haven’t been able to blog much since the happenings in Newton CT last week. Haven’t been myself. Haven’t felt joy, or love, or even much  ‘hope’. Until just these past few days.

However, I’m beginning to feel  a tad bit better. I’ve witnessed at least 4 things that I’ve found noteworthy that have helped to change my opinion of our world. Things that I felt were worth sharing.

  • Unbeknownst to me, I had a high school classmate who teaches in that very school district. Her name is Bonny. After the tragedy, Bonny began something called “The Snowflake Project”. She posted on FB that she wanted all of her friends help in making snowflakes to hang in the hallways of the new school (which was an old, no longer used school) where all the children would now be attending.  Thanks to the power of social media, Bonny’s project took on a life of it’s own. Everyone shared her status, myself included. My friends who don’t even know Bonny went on to share and act on Bonny’s project! It went completely viral. We were even making snowflakes here in the elementary school in little Oley, PA.

That made me feel a little bit better. Gave me a little hope back.

  • I have a younger cousin who lives in all the way in CA. She had twins a couple of years ag0- one of each flavor.( I was so jealous! )She is also a lawyer who is married to a banker. Very successful. So proud of her.  She is my Godmother’s daughter. My Godmother was a wonderful woman who was taken from this Earth far before her time. She sent me an incredibly generous gift. A new lens. It’s a size that I had but it functions better than mine *and* it does Macro. It’s smarter than me right now, but have no fear, I’ll get there. When I sat down to edit some photos I took yesterday, I had to do little to no post processing. It was amazing- what a hand saver!! But what meant more to me than her benevolence, was the letter that she also sent to me. Her words. I actually contemplated sharing them, but just couldn’t. They are too personal for me. Too special. But I hope she knows how very much they will always mean to me.

More hope restored. People who do things for no reason.

  • Then for the second year in a row now, I was lucky enough to be involved in something called “The Cups of Compassion” in downtown Reading, PA.An event that feeds the needy, the homeless in our area.

Got involved with it last year through Nick’s baseball organization. Due to a rainy fall season, and one fall snow-out, we had a bunch of left over food that we decided needed to be donated somewhere. Long story short- we found the somewhere.

I submit to you the letter that the President of Berkshire Baseball wrote which summed up yesterday so beautifully I couldn’t even begin to write another myself:

So today was my Christmas Day, my wife sometimes tells me that I am a scrooge, but that really isn’t a true statement. I really do love Christmas, I just hate the commercialization of Christmas that we experience in 2012 and really for most of my lifetime. Christmas isn’t about trees and lights and presents and gift cards and crazy crowds at the mall fighting over the latest video game or camping out to buy a $180 pair of sneakers.Christmas is about peace, love and joy. Christmas is about true giving. Not the giving of material things, but the giving of real things. Giving a hug. Giving a smile. Giving your time. Giving a meal. Giving to those in need. Giving because you as the “giver” receives as much joy from seeing the true joy that your gift brought to someone else. Whether that someone is a friend or stranger, you can touch someone’s life without running up your credit card debt.Today I was honored to be part of a community that has been labeled as the “poorest in the U.S.” and if a stranger stopped at 5th & Penn today, they would have sworn that we were the richest city in the union. There was no wrapping paper, no gift receipts, no disappointment in what we received. There was no pushing in line, there was no complaining.What there was, was love, joy, peace and giving. There were hugs, there were smiles, there was spirit. There was patience and understanding. There were burgers and dogs and soups and fresh fruit and cookies and coffee and hot cocoa and blankets and hats and even ice cream. There was black and there was white and there was music and it all blended together to make a perfect harmony and a beautiful sound.For about four hours today in this great city, we were all one. The size of our bank account didn’t matter, what we drove didn’t matter, the size of our house didn’t matter, the color of our skin didn’t matter.The only thing that mattered was that we were all there, together. Helping each other with what we had to share. Some gave time, some gave food, some gave money, some gave talents and all gave smiles.For two years in a row now, the true spirit of Christmas came to this city. For two years in a row, I have been able to celebrate my style of Christmas.I am humbled and grateful to be a small part of a great event with such wonderful and caring people.I showed up this morning to give what I could and again walked away this afternoon feeling as though I had received.Thank you to everyone who helped again to make “Cups of Compassion” reflect the true spirit of this city and this season. ~ Dan Clouser, President Berkshire Baseball

I am so lucky to be a part of an organization like Berkshire Baseball that fosters an environment of  compassion and community spirit. More hope restored. People who do things just because.

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And finally,

  • Today at work, an elderly lady was telling me when she checked out that she couldn’t keep her next few appts to get her hair shampooed and set because she was behind in her doctor bills. She went on to explain that her insurance didn’t cover regular doctor visits and it cost her $200 every time she got checked. She wanted to make her appointments just for a set ( which is cheaper). We talked for a while longer. I listened and I als0 told her I understood completely because of my condition and the treatments I am currently undergoing. When she left, I shared her story with my boss. Without hesitation my boss said we were going to make her regular appointments happen for her even though she can’t afford them. In fact, she said, we were going to take it one step further and send her a Christmas Card informing her that she had won our drawing for 6 months of free shampoos and sets!

We are just a small salon. Things like that can’t be easy for my boss to decide to do. But she does. All the time. Without hesitation. And she never turns anyone away it seems. I am so lucky to be a part of that environment. More hope restored. People who do things just because. Difference makers.

~”why can’t every day be like Christmas?”

my apologies.. I’m getting past my limit physically right now and sometimes my mind struggles with coherent thoughts when my physical self reaches it’s max. It’s a constant battle between what I want to do and what I can do. 😦

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=438336

The Extended Sort of Hope

I can’t believe it’s actually come to this.

I’ve got to spell things out for people.

Senseless tragedy in the world and people in this small little town have nothing better to do than speculate as to how much I’ve paid for my recent treat to myself.(answer a whole lot less than you can possibly imagine~!) I drive a 20 year old car and people are bent out of shape because I went and did something to make myself feel better. I have some nerve!

I wish I was as curiously involved in one tiny little modicum of other peoples’ lives as much as people seem to be ingrained in the daily happenings of mine. Over what I am wearing, what I am doing, what I’ve purchased recently. ( which is not much, actually).

It’s so odd to me that people think that once they’ve held a fundraiser to assist with your medical bills that it somehow now gives them carte blanche to judge everything and anything that you do for the rest of your life. I swear I don’t understand people. As if I make no other income, only what I gathered at the fundraiser. As if I should never do anything else again.

Hope

I’ve gotten static about the photos I’ve posted. About how much I payed Soul Imagery to take my photos… and not that it’s anyone’s business but I will answer this…I met Kevin in a photography group. I model for him. Kevin is my friend that does photography. I’m very proud of his work and I simply love to play dress up. We work very well together. He has taught me an awful lot.

Soul Imagery Website

Playing dress up affords me a few hours of escaping my reality.Reality with a chronic disease can sometimes really suck. It’s a reality that consists of a disease that is rated higher on the pain scale than any other disease known to man. A reality that consists of intense muscle spasms that render some of my body parts useless from time to time. A reality that makes eating difficult and digestion sometimes near to impossible. A reality that makes it too painful to sleep on my ears or to stay in one position for any length of time. The realities of my disease are too numerous to list and too upsetting for most people to read or comprehend let alone for me to even mention, so I usually don’t. And unless you are my husband, or my family or a very close friend, you won’t hear me complain, either.  But because I go out of my way to look good when I leave this house, people fail to see me as sick. Let alone grasp my reality. Hope

Because I go out of my way to appear as “normal” as possible, people just don’t understand. I honestly think that some people would prefer to see me looking like death, hunched over in wheelchair, swollen, discolored and writhing in pain. To them, then I would actually *be* sick.  They only see the “best” of me because that is all I allow people to see. I don’t allow people to see me at my worst.

I allow people to see me taking photographs at my childrens’ sporting events. I don’t allow people to see me the 2 or 3 days afterward that it takes for me to be able to use my hands again properly. I allow them to see me in photos but I don’t allow them to see what I look like on days I am really sick.

This week I decided I needed a change. I haven’t been feeling my best. So, because I have access to a full compliment of womanly wishes (with wonderful employee rates) where I work part time, ( it’s a hair salon),  I decided I’d see if I could stand extensions. We were afraid they’d hurt or I wouldn’t be able to stand them for long, but it’s been almost a week and so far so good. Except they itch. A lot. So they may end up being short lived. Which is a shame, because I really like them, and I’d love to play dress up while I still have them.

natural light + new hair

I don’t think I will ever stop people from being in my business and I’m not sure why they feel that it’s ok to be so nosy and so judgmental.  Some of my close friends think I should feel flattered that people find me that interesting. I’m not flattered. I feel sad for those nosy judgmental people.  Sad because I can’t imagine what they must be lacking to be so concerned with what others are doing.  Sad because if they are so interested in me, they must lead very boring lives. People like that usually only want to feel superior to you for one reason or another, be it jealousy or be it a quality that you possess that  they can’t seem to cultivate. They will sit on their self made throne and judge you,  but in reality you know that they are only judging you for some inadequacy they have found within themselves.

I simply have no room in my reality for people like that any more.

The Sort of Hope Who $u<k$ at Basketball

Basketball moves fast. Very fast. Much faster then my broken lens and I were prepared to handle.

Natalia just started her High School cheering season for basketball and I thought I’d give basketball photography a go.

HAHAHAHA. Ya, no.

Indoor lighting + bad lens + fast moving sport = disaster.

However, never being one to back down from a challenge, I am going to learn how to do this by the end of the season. Not master it, mind you ( though that would be amazing, wouldn’t it? ) I am going to learn it. Goal = set.

I came home that night and spent the evening reading everything I could find on what I was doing wrong , and some of what I had done right. Bearing in mind that much of my challenge is a faulty lens.

Many thanks to my secret helper who sent me all the reading I did that night. I won’t disappoint you. I’ll get this.

Normally, I ‘d be much too vain to post photos that I’d consider anything less than good. This time, though, I thought it would be in my best interest to post my baseline. Then I can look back in a month or two and see how far I’d come. I will admit that the majority of what I shot that night was unusable. I was able to salvage a few good shots. Some of which I shared here.

I know my lens won’t fix itself so it’s up to me to do the best I can with the handicap of the broken lens.

I figure, in a way, my camera and I are a bit alike. We both have handicaps that I have to learn how to work around. And so far, though at times they both frustrate the dickens out of me, neither one has really managed to get the best of me. Yet.

Game on.

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