Category Archives: Photography

Smooth Sailing

I’m finding that trains are the best place to write. They are fairly quiet, comfortable, and are a nice little break in the midst of amazing experiences. I’m taking a bit of a risk titling this blog “Smooth Sailing” because Treena and I are only part way through our journey to Northern Ireland, but the last two days in Edinburgh have been an oasis of calm in a beautiful country. Even as I’m typing, I keep looking out the train window and whispering wow. It’s hard to describe, but the landscape is a lush green with strips of vibrant yellow tucked in between the hills and outlined by mountain crags. As the Scots would say it’s “brilliant.”

 

Train to Edinburgh

 

Pulling into the Edinburgh Waverley train station at 10:20pm and seeing familiar faces waiting for us on the platform was a beautiful sight. Heather and Adrian have the incredible gift of hospitality and my friend and I instantly felt at home. Heather had even put our names up on the door of the rooms we were staying in cutely spelled out with Scrabble tiles.

 

We enjoyed some tea and toast before heading to bed. After sleeping in a bit the next morning, we hopped on a bus back into the city’s center. During the day we saw the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, toured the Edinburgh Castle, had lunch at the Elephant House, and walked down the lovely Victoria Street. Later that evening Heather drove us to Forth Bridge, so we were able to enjoy that view as well.

 

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Sir Walter Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott Monument

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Since starting this blog post we have taken two trains and two buses and now we are on a ferry crossing the Irish Sea. It’s still breathtakingly beautiful. The bus ride along the cost of Scotland was extra stunning. It’s going to be hard to go back to any kind of normal life after this trip. It is just so calming and inspiring being in the middle of all of this beauty.  I feel close to God seeing such diversity in landscape and culture, and it makes my heart happy. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to take this mini trip on my way out to work in Kenya because it reminds me just how big God is and how creative and amazing His creation is as well. I’m just seeing a slice, but it is mind-blowingly beautiful slice. The trip has also reminded me how incredible the body of Christ is as people have hosted us in their homes and have been willing to partner with me on this journey. God is good. He has provided each step of the way, and I’m thankful that this portion of the trip has been smooth sailing.

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An Overdose of Adventure

I was going to title this post “Let the Adventures Begin,” but since this journey began on May 23rd my friend Treena and I have had a little more adventure then even I like. Delayed flights (which resulted in missed flights) hours of  standing in line with very heavy bags, lost luggage, and so many carefully made travel plans ending up in the air.

But, as I’m typing this we are less than an hour from landing in London and since boarding our British Airways flight things have been lovely. We did make some new friends while standing in line for several hours: an au pair from Switzerland, a student from Arkansas, a lady from Spain, and a student who ironically is a freshman at the college where I graduated from. Such a small, small world. Around 10 pm, we all finally got our flights rearranged and then headed to another part of the airport to make sure that our bags would met us at the proper destination. Once that was out of the way we figured we should all grab something to eat together since most of us hadn’t eaten anything since 10 am. Our little band of travelers made our way through the JFK airport in search of the food court which we reached right as many of the venders were closing up for the night or running low on options. But after such a long day anything sounded good.

We thought about just spending the night in the airport since our flight was scheduled to leave early the next morning, but Treena’s husband called around and found us a hotel. By the time we reached the airport it was after midnight, and we needed to head back to the airport around 4 am. Needless to say it was a very short night.

So what started this mess? Things went fairly smoothly in St Louis apart from American Airlines charging me for a second bag after saying on the phone that it would be free. Our flight leaving St Louis was delayed, but not by much, and we had a long enough layover in Chicago to make up for it. Problems started popping up after we reached our gate for our flight to New York. The flight ahead of us was significantly delayed due to the plane’s PA system malfunctioning. Eventually they cancelled the flight in front of us but in the meantime our plane was left sitting at a different gate. When we did finally board, we spent a half hour on the runway before receiving news that the weather in New York city was too bad for us to receive permission to land. When our plane did finally hit the skies we had spent as much time on the runway as we did in the air. Our two hour layover was completely eaten up and our plane for London left before we were able to land.

Missing our flight to London produced a domino effect. We were bumped to a morning flight that arrived well after our flight for Munich was scheduled to leave. From Munich we had planned to travel back to London by train with a stop off in Paris. Sadly, that entire portion of the trip was now impossible. Our relatives at home spent hours looking into options to still make at least some of the Munich/Paris trip work but at such a late date flights and trains were either sold out or ridiculously expensive.

Treena and I have since learned that being “stuck” in London is not such a bad thing. Since starting to write this blog we have spent the last three days in London taking the Tube and seeing some of the city’s most beautiful sights. I must admit I did have a bit of a melt down on Saturday morning after realizing that so many of our plans had fallen through, learning that ticket refunds were out of the question for the majority of our tickets and only partial refunds for the rest, and just feeling plain tired, hungry, and exhausted due to jetlag.

Going outside made all of the difference. That and getting something to eat. People often talk about London being cold and rainy, but we were fortunate to have nice sunny days (a bit cool at times) but overall beautiful. Some of the highlights have been riding the Tube (mind the gap) Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, The Tower Bridge (formerly London Bridge) and the general friendliness of everyone that we have met along the way. We’ve also enjoyed our tea and a lovely English breakfast.IMG_6924 IMG_7209 IMG_7203 IMG_7177 IMG_7166 IMG_7161 IMG_7156 IMG_7145 IMG_7134 IMG_7122 IMG_7114 IMG_7113 IMG_7078 IMG_7074 IMG_7035 IMG_7022 IMG_7002 IMG_6999 IMG_6949

Right now my friend and I are leaving London behind as we are on a train heading to Edinburgh. People say it’s magical and from just the few pictures I’ve seen I believe it. So more to come (hopefully) unless we have more unplanned adventures.

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To Butterflies, 2013, and New Beginnings

I could write a fluffy post about how wonderful life was in 2012, but if I’m honest I would have to say that it has been one of the hardest years of my life. I had a stressful, time consuming job (note to self, if your life goal is to travel and help people around the world do not agree to run a small town newspaper) see Pageants, Parades, and Tractor Pulls. I lost a very dear friend to a brain aneurism see When Words Aren’t Enough and For Alice followed by my grandpa getting very sick (he’s doing much better now). I lived in an unfinished apartment with limited electricity and no running water see Bucket Head, Camping Without the Stars, and Weaving Through the Chaos (this situation has since improved). I had to live on a very tight income, was haunted by the general feeling of being stuck, and –to top it all off—four days before Christmas my grandparents got into a car accident see When Your Forgettery Works Better Than Your Memory and Walk With Me (Grandpa is now settled in an assisted living facility and Grandma is still in ICU).

At times, I felt like I was living the life other people felt I should live and not living the life I really wanted to live. I’ve cried a lot, dealt with depression, and at times felt like life was a waste, but as the year has finally come to an end I am thankful that many circumstances have changed and am ready for a fresh new start.

But, in spite of all the crazy, I was thinking the other day that I’ve actually gotten to do some pretty cool things this year including:

Shooting a wedding with the help of my amazing friend Treena

I Do

Running three 5Ks with my good friend Chelsie

Running Buddies

Seeing Lindsey Stirling in concert (amazing)

Love this girl

Taking a birthday trip with two incredible friends to San Francisco

Best 25th Birthday Ever

Flying to Atlanta to visit another incredible friend

Hanging with Lindsey

Attempting windowsill gardening with varying degrees of success

Trial and Error Gardening

Getting to write for the amazing magazine Rejoice Always

Rejoice Always

Spending time with my little buddy Hailey

Hailey

And I got my passport renewed, so who knows what is next.

I’m looking forward to 2013 even though I have no idea what it is going to bring. I decided to close the newspaper at the end of the year and plan on moving to St Louis. My goal is to work, save up money and move to Kenya sometime in May to hopefully work in an orphanage or with street kids. There are a lot of unknowns and what ifs, but I feel at peace and am hopeful about the future. The last artist I interviewed for the paper carved beautiful gourds and gave me one of her pieces as a good bye present a butterfly she said the symbol of new beginnings.

New Beginnings

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Let Me Be

Everyone is an expert, or at least it seems that way sometimes. It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re doing taking a picture, raising a child, running a business someone (often a complete stranger) will have an opinion on how you should go about your task. Of course they mean well, but in my head I’m thinking, “I didn’t ask for your help. You don’t understand what’s involved here. Please just let me be.”

Please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m often very grateful for advice especially from someone in the field who knows what they are talking about or from someone who knows me and understands the situation, but those people who just like to point out mistakes and put in well over their allotted two cents really get on what’s left of my nerves.

I’m sure you’ve meet some doozies. Most of us have like the elderly lady I made the mistake of sitting in front of last weekend while covering a local graduation. Every time I took a picture she looked over my shoulder and told me I needed to get closer. I thanked her for her advice and tried to explain to her that I was happy with the picture and planned on cropping it later on the computer, but that didn’t stop her. She continued to tell me who she thought I should take pictures of and when. The frustrating part was that her prattle made me lose my concentration and almost miss an important shot. Note to self- if there is a beautiful open seat in the front row next to a slightly exocentric looking lady there is probably a good reason no one else chose to sit there. Find a different spot.

Friends of mine who have kids tell me they run into these “experts” all the time. Even through a stranger, or sometimes a well meaning friend, barely knows the situation they think they have the right to give all kinds of advice on pregnancy or how to properly raise a child. My advice, spend at least a month with someone before you start telling giving them advice and even then- do it sparingly.

What happened to the freedom for a little trial and error? Maybe I should have gotten closer to take that picture, I don’t know. Let me figure that out on my own. It will mean more in the long run. It is important to keep in mind that people have varying styles and approaches to life, and that’s a good thing. Just because I’m not doing something the way you would do it doesn’t make my way wrong.

I love photography because you can play with angles and distance to come up with your own style. The same thing is true with writing and even parenting, I think. If you don’t like my style that’s fine write your own book, take your own pictures, but please leave mine alone. I want the freedom to experiment.

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Finding Something Fresh in the Familiar

I love to travel to see new things and to experience something inspiring and fresh, but sometimes in my rush for the next adventure I neglect the beauty around me. So here’s to discovering treasure in your own back yard. Stop this week and really take in the local sites  you walk by everyday.

In the ally behind my apartment.

 

This is why I take the back roads.

 

Parker adopted my parents awhile back. We named her after the one of the characters in Leverage because she’s a loner, slightly crazy, but you can’t help falling in love with those eyes.

 

The Bellrose Waterfowl Reserve at Sunset. It is only open to visitors a couple times during the year, but it is definitely one of the area’s hidden treasures.

 

My favorite tree at the local park just down the road.

 

 

 

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