The Gift

I’m still here!   Spring has certainly sprung. I know I’m not the only one that has fallen behind on their blog posts…I’ve ready plenty of blog posts saying as much.  Oh, I’ve been plenty busy taking photos; I’ve loaded and unloaded my card(s) at least three times!  But 52×52 and Texture Tuesday posts are going to have to wait just a little bit longer because I want to share my latest photographic journey with you.  No, I didn’t travel to some far off land.  This is of a much more personal journey.

DSC_9909As a photographer, I have always shied away from photographing people.  It’s always been a bit uncomfortable for me.  I think capturing the human spirit is one of the most difficult challenges for any photographer; one that I never really felt I was up to the challenge of.  It’s an art all its own to engage people, converse with them, and reveal the real them . . . and to be ready to click the shutter.

This past weekend, I sent a fellow photographer a text that said … “I need to bow out on Saturday (shooting an event).  I don’t have any one good excuse…”  I sent that on Thursday.  Oddly enough, this was the third year for shooting this particular event.  Many of the people I have met before, many wonderful warm & friendly women (and men), all usually more than willing to show off for the camera.  But in  a moment of insecurity, I was going to pass this year.  No sooner did I send that text than did my friend and fellow event photographer, Ann, call me.  She completely understood my insecurity, but she wasn’t going to let me off quite so easy.  She told me I had a gift.  Me, a gift?  I never saw it that way…still not sure I do.  But our conversation was enough to restore just enough confidence.  Oh, and she told me I could just photograph the chocolate and the venue … if that’s what I wanted.

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An absolutely beautiful spring evening, the venue was the historic mansion set on the BCCC campus in Newtown, PA.  The trees were all show in their spring blossoms.  The backdrop of the woods was just starting to show some green.  The guests were arriving, women adorned in beautiful Derby hats that looked like a lot like the spring flowers in full bloom in the gardens.  I remember thinking to myself, I am so glad Ann called me.  Any inhibitions I had had completely evaporated.  Maybe it was all those hats… If people were willing to get into the spirit for a good cause, than so was I!

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As I did the previous two years of shooting this event, I met many wonderful people.  This year in particular, I met a wonderful group of women, the Thursday Night Ladies, as they like to call themselves, a women’s writing group.  They whooped it up for my camera and they welcomed me to their table to catch a bite to eat.   They each also so bravely stood in front of 200 guests & volunteers and gave an excerpt from their writings and reminded us all why we were really there that evening.  You see, this event was the annual Chocolate Lover’s fundraiser held by a Woman’s Place, an organization that comes to the aid and provides support in an unwavering quest against domestic violence {Admittedly, a point I now realize I overlooked momentarily the Thursday before}.    My contribution, a simple one, to volunteer my time and to photograph the event free of charge (unless you count payment in chocolate), which was nothing in comparison to this group of women who shared their feelings… their experiences.

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So why am I telling you all this.  Because if it weren’t for one woman telling me I had a gift, I would have not been in the one place, where I now know I was supposed to be more than to just photograph an event but to preserve the joyous moments, shared laughter, hugs and tears, and the contagious beaming smile of another woman, Toshi, and to capture . . . her spirit.

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I didn’t know it then, but these would be Toshi’s last moments.  Shortly after I left, Toshi fell critically ill and was rushed to the hospital.  She was not expected to regain consciousness.  This morning I learned that Toshi was gone.

Ann called me this morning.  Even in her sadness and time of grief, she wanted to thank me . . . for being there… for her… and her friend, Toshi.   She told me I was meant to be there and that I had given her and the Thursday Night Ladies a wonderful gift to remember their friend by.  Friendship is such a powerful gift. {Thank You, Ann}

…til next time
Maria

“Time to Change”

Anybody remember the Brady Bunch?  Better still, anybody remember the episode where Peter’s voice was changing? If you’re in need of a flashback or just have no clue what I am talking about you can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV4hdjXJ2cw.

So what does this have to do with . . . anything?  For starters, I made the title of their song from that episode the title of this post.   I also, as I think I have mentioned before, have made a few changes myself.  For instance, my daughter now drops me off at work instead of me dropping her off at the train, my commute to work is now about a mile rather than a couple of feet, and my dogs (and I) get a pre-dawn power walk instead of a midday stroll.   Turns out I was more than ready for a change!

Okay, so in keeping with my 70’s theme, I have been tinkering with Instagram and some photos I took on this morning’s power walk.  Even though all the images here were not processed with Instagram’s 1977 filter, I think most of the Instragram filters have such a groovy retro vibe.

  Passing by a peaceful playground

 The end of the cherry trees blossoms (glued to the sidewalk after yesterday’s rain 🙂 )

 The sun making it’s grand entrance on the day.

If any of you use Instragram, you can find me at @mariadreyer.  And please let me know where I can find you too!  Oh and if anybody has any suggestions on how to get these Instagram photos from an iPad/iPhone to a PC without emailing them to yourself, please do share . . .

Milk Duds

Sheldon:  Milk Duds, with their self-deprecating name and remarkably mild flavor,
are the most apologetic of the boxed candies.

Here’s a perfect example of my #2 truth . . .  I am a bit of a control freak.  Yes, I like things just so, especially my life.  So when the “day” job recently began to unravel and I had no idea what direction to go. Well, let’s just say that certain “coping” behaviors began to surface.  My nails haven got a little shorter; okay, so what, if I bought a box of Milk Duds, and I even played a little hooky.  Big change can have that effect.  I would say going to work in an office after 15+ years of working from the comforts of my home is a big change.  Wouldn’t you?  The bigger question for me though has been why am I letting this affect me so much.  I am no stranger to change.  I have made quite a few over the past couple of years; some good, some not working out quite the way I expected.  I will be doing the same type of work ~ so I don’t think that’s it.  Is it that I won’t be able to work in my PJ’s anymore?

So when I read this quote this morning, provided by the lovely and always timely Kim Klassen (and my inspiration Guru) over at Shutter Sisters, the light bulb got a little brighter.

We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life, or you can focus on what’s right.

~Marianne Williamson

So all day, I have been refocusing; focusing on all that is right with my decision, focusing on all the positive changes that will no doubt occur, focusing on this being the start of a new chapter in my life.

The Milk Duds are all gone, the nails will grow back, and next week . . . after one more day of hooky (heading to the zoo) 😉 . . . I’ll start that new chapter.


All the pieces coming together