Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the ride

A good friend reminded me lately that when life is busy, even if it's busy with things that you love to do, you need to take time to just be. Time to slow down and to refresh your spirit. She reminded me that I need to take time to be with Sophie. So I did.

My best girl and I did an impromptu run up north for the weekend last Friday afternoon. I turned my back on chores that needed doing, on photos that needed editing, on work that needed finishing...on everything I should be doing and took off with my dog. On our three hour drive we had the windows wide open and country tunes blaring. We took the winding, dusty, back roads and I did not check once to see what time it was or to calculate how much further we had to go. We just enjoyed the ride.

At the cottage we swam in the cool lake water and explored the surrounding forest together. We felt the sun dip behind the horizon in the evening while nodding off together in lazy swing. I turned my Blackberry off; I did not write, I took only a few photos and I made some headway on a novel I've been meaning to read while Sophie lay at my feet enjoying a good, old fashioned beef bone.

And on our ride home on Sunday, I looked over at this happy, tired little dog riding in the passenger seat and was so glad we took off up north together for a few days. I've been thinking about Sophie a lot lately after a photo session a few weeks back with Oban. He was only a year older than Sophie and his athleticism...the ease in which he moved...made me realize how much of an effect Sophie's hip dysplasia really has on her abilities. And for a while I was feeling bad for her...like she was missing out on not being able to jump and fly like this other Border Collie. But after this weekend, I can see again that she is a happy, energetic dog that lives her life to the fullest...she isn't missing out on a thing.

I was reminded this weekend that it's not always about what you can and can't do, or what you should and shouldn't do....sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride. And, for me, the only way to really do that is with the company of a great dog.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ya ya's

So here is the thing about Ya Ya's -- girlfriends who know you inside and out, who have known you for years -- over the course of two days together you get to be thirteen again.....and twenty-two again...and thirty again. And the journey is just as wonderful, full of as much laughter and as much love, as the first time around together.

There is nothing quite like girlfriends in this world...and I think mine are some of the best ones out there. The seven of us do not get the chance to all get together as much as we would like due to busy lives and the distance between us. But for two amazing days we get to just drink up being in each others presence with no distractions.

A few people asked if Sophie came with me to the cottage for the girl's weekend and the answer is she did not. My weekend with my friends is about being able to focus just on one another for a couple of days. So no husbands, no kids, no dogs....nothing that requires us to pay attention to anyone or anything except each other and ourselves....which as working women, mothers, wives, and dog owners we don't get the chance to do very often. And we miss our husbands and our kids and our dogs....but we return after those two days feeling like we can breathe a little easier again and feeling connected to one another again.

Each one of the Ya Ya's brings something unique and wonderful to my life. Kristin is the kindest, most sincere person I have ever met....and she really listens when I talk to her. Holly is full of soul and thoughtful words of wisdom...words that I am often left thinking about for days. Being with Lynn is like throwing open the porch door and letting the glittery sunshine spill into the house....she is warm and genuine and always brightens my heart.

Nancy has the best advice and she will always stand by you, no matter what....her strength is absolutely breathtaking. Sheri is the friend I have known the longest and she can make me laugh like no one else...those rumbling-up-from-the-belly laughs that you can only have with someone with whom you have a shared a lifetime with and who knows every story, every nuance, every moment.

And Danielle....a joyful heart and my best friend. Her incredible sense of self always leaves a mark of inspiration when I spend time with her. On any given day we are a thousand miles apart....but on any given day there is no space between us. She has been....and will always be...my touchstone in this world.

And those are the Ya Ya's. Our weekend has come and gone...but once again there were moments, conversations, and threads woven that will stay with me forever. I did miss my best girl though...my Sophie. (I will be posting about her later this week.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

authenticity - mine and theirs

If someone were to ask me what is the biggest lesson I have learned in the last ten months, I would have to say the importance of authenticity...in myself and in others. I used to be a person who would see a fresh-faced young woman, toting her yoga bag from a Sunday morning class, heading into Starbucks for a hot green tea and immediately say: Yes..I want to do yoga on Sunday mornings and drink green tea and be centered!

I would attend one class, maybe two...sore and unhappy...and would also discover that I actually found green tea quite bitter and that would be the end of that. It wasn't the authentic me. I bought a designer hand bag once after working with a lovely, posh, stylish friend. It came with it's own "dust bag" to keep it in. I think I have used the dust bag more than I have carried that beautiful, soft-as-butter leather, Kate Spade bag. Again...not the authentic me.

Life is too short to do anything but be yourself. I like coffee in the mornings...with lots of cream and sugar. I never read the paper, but I will read the same book year after year and will get lost in the plot and fall in love with the characters every time. Nothing beats a cold beer after work on a Friday...no matter how many calories are in the glass. I take absolutely no pleasure in gardening...at all. My favorite way to spend a Sunday morning is lying in the dirt and grass, camera in hand, trying to the get best shot of some wonderful dog. If I could spend one third of my day writing, one third behind the lens and one third on the trails with Sophie, it would be heaven on earth.

I have also discovered how much I value authenticity in others. I am heading up north on Thursday for my Girl's Cottage Weekend. There are seven of us going and many of us have known one another since high school. We have been having this girl's weekend for over a decade. Each of these women is so unique and is never anything but their truest self. I always look forward to spending time with them....to their stories, to their grace, to their laughter, to their insights. Their friendships have been some of the strongest threads of authenticity that I have woven into my life...and for that they may never know how grateful I am.

I am sure I shall return with a good story, and a photo or two, for sharing. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week and your weekend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the show

I apologize for my little blogging hiatus. It was an incredibly busy week between work and getting ready for the show. A number of people have inquired as to how the Charlie Project did at the festival...so I thought I would include a short post about the event.

the Charlie Project table from the festival

It was a great two days. I had a number of people sign up for a photo session for their dog who loved the idea of a printed plaque for their home (the offline version of the online essay) and the concept behind the project was very well received by everyone I talked to. It was wonderful to meet so many people who wanted to help raise money for such a worthy cause. I was also approached by the local humane society to do some photography work for them at their upcoming walk-a-thon...which thrilled me to the core as I was hoping to add a shelter/rescue component to the project. But there was even something more....

plaque version of the online essay and notecards

As I was explaining the project to folks that took the time to stop by the booth, many people felt compelled to share with me a story or two about their own dog....especially those who's beloved friend was no longer with them. And their face would light up as they told me about a favorite trick or about an adventure they had shared with their dog....and I could see, once again, the remarkable power of dog love. How it stays with you....how it makes your heart glad.....even once they are gone.

Hearing all the stories was the best part of the day....if the Charlie Project slows the world down long enough, even for just five minutes, to let someone remember how the soul of a dog made them smile....then I have succeeded in my task.

I will be back to visiting all my favorite blogs and participating in Sunday Stills this week...I've missed everyone. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

the courage to share

I am hosting a booth at a local festival this weekend to showcase the Charlie Project. I am hoping to find some more participants for the project, to sell some notecards a friend and I created, with some of the canine photos I have taken, to raise money for the OVC Pet Trust and generally to create some awareness for this wonderful charity. And I am butterflies-in-the-stomach, knees-shaking, nervous.

I have found that sharing one's creative work...whether through blogging, through writing, through photography, through any medium...takes a lot of guts. You are putting yourself out there...and many of us can often feel that our work is too inadequate to be worthy of sharing. I can remember working on my first post for this blog...I actually felt a wave of nausea pass over me as I pushed the Publish button. But I am so glad I did...because what a wonderful world I found...a world of encouragement...and a world of inspiration.

All of my blogging friends are people who are put themselves out there every day...with every post they write, every photo they share. And it is all wonderful, creative, diverse, personal work....it is work that truly shines. Every additional step I have taken in my creative path has come from the encouragement that I have found here through blogging...through all the kindhearted people who take a little time each day to visit Sophie and I and who give me such inspiration through their own blogs.

I realized that it doesn't matter if your photo is perfect or if your writing is publisher-worthy....what is important is that you share it. So thank you, fellow bloggers.....for giving me the courage to share.