Saturday, June 30, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Mission Statement

The next step with Kim and Xanthe in Behind the Scenes is to create a Mission Statement. Easier said than done!

The way I see it, the recipe is:
  • One part knowing ourselves
  • One part knowing WHAT we do
  • One part knowing WHY we do it
  • One part brainstorming
Hmmm ... are there any more parts I need to think about? Well, I see this as an evolution and I may not get it quite right the first time out of the shoot. So without going into all the deep inner work, here's my brainstorming session with myself. I'll just skip the deep inner work for now, okay? ;->
  • tapping into joy and happiness through nature and everyday things
  • tickle their fancy
  • help the lost, lonely, and dissatisfied see differently through nature and everyday things
  • helping the uninspired see things differently
  • helping people see things differently
  • Inspiring people to see things differently
As you can see, I already put my mission statement on my blog. We'll see how I feel about it in a week or two. I might change it.

In the meantime, I want to share this fabulous TED Talk video Kim and Xanthe shared with us. Having been an entrepreneur once (and maybe dreaming of doing it again), I especially love the message: "The goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe." Simon Sinek is truly inspiring!

It doesn't seem to show up on my iPad.
I'm posting this video here as much for you, my readers, as for me so I know where to find it in the future.

Behind the Scenes: Unique Style Study

In Kim Klassen's and Xanthe Berkeley's Behind the Scenes, we are encouraged to take a look at blogs we love and consider incorporating aspects that speak to us in our own blogs. This incorporation may take some time as I've already discovered a few things I love. In the meantime, I want to share some of my favorite blogs.

Header background: Kim's texture Phoebe

In reviewing the many blogs I follow, I chose a few to assess the qualities that draw me to return to them regularly. Sadly, I am unable to do this for all the lovely blogs I visit.

It is helpful to do this exercise to see what we find important and can then transfer what we learn to our own blogs. Click the images to go to the individual sites reviewed here.

In contemplating my own blog, I'm not sure why folks return. I can only speak to what I like about it. I find the background image calming and it reminds me of a trip I took to Tennessee to visit a friend. This was also the first time I created my own texture out of two images to lay over the image of the rocks giving it more depth.

I like to cover a variety of topics and insights gained from my experiences and hope there is something of value that translates to others in the sharing. I tend to be philosophical if I let myself get out of simple documentation. Through photographs and stories we touch people's hearts and allow them to accept who the are.

I love to connect to nature and my inner self through photography, then play in post-processing with Photoshop and InDesign to create my own little pieces of art.

To address Kim's question as to whether a blog can be successful not because you get a ton of followers or make a boat load of money, but because we pour out hearts and souls into it: I say absolutely it is successful simply because of the effort put forth. In addition, one never knows what is down the road.

In 2006, I had written an e-zine for over two years and what I realized was I had a book's worth of content. So what did I do? I published a book: Write from the Inside: Dig for Treasures, Discover Yourself, Leave a Legacy. I continued to write stories for two more years. Those remain unpublished other than in the e-zine I sent out to people on my list.

There is so much to learn in this life and I am truly grateful for all my fellow blogger buddies. I look forward to seeing what Behind the Scenes has to teach me as the next few weeks unfold.

Thanks for visiting, my friends.
Hope you'll be back soon.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Why I Blog and My Timeline

I'm getting started a little late in Kim Klassen and Xanthe Berkeley's Behind the Scenes, so I'll combine the first two assignments, but first I have to start with some of my favorite cups for Kim's Beyond Layers Cuppa Cuppa Love.

Thanks to Kim for texture: felicity
Have any of you noticed how the size of our cups have gotten bigger over the years. A mere six ounce cup of coffee just doesn't do anymore. A single serving seems to have grown to 12 or 16 ounces. Now if you put sugar and milk/cream in that, does it make you wonder what that does to our waistlines? A side note: my oldest son, Phillip, made the blue cup (a set of four) and a teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer to match. Sweet! One of my "motherly" treasures.

Anyway, on to the assignments for Behind the Scenes before I get off track completely. My headers are made with Kim's texture Phoebe (one of my all-time favorites). And one more aside, I just love how Kim and Xanthe interact in their Skype call videos. They just make me laugh as I watch them banter back and forth.

Assignment: Grab a notebook, a favorite pen ... and 'write' your Why story?

Hmmm ... why I blog? This seems to be ever-morphing. Originally, laf Custom Designs was intended to be a place to showcase design projects and photomagic from a business standpoint. I began displaying not only the pictures I posted on Flickr after I took Kim's Photoshop Essentials course, but telling the stories behind the photographs. Before long, my ever-present need to document life events and experiences crept in and now my blog has morphed into impressions and inspiration.

Now the question comes up ... who is my audience? Don't know if I can really answer that except in lots of ways my blog is for me. Isn't that pathetic? I wanted to have a place to put my work and my stories so it was easily accessible. I find revisiting the things I've recorded comforting somehow. I also love to design blogs ... I have several for different phases of my life and projects over time. In addition, I know that we are all in this life together and in many ways my stories are universal, but only I can give my spin and interpretation on those experiences. I guess I hope that somewhere in all of that lies something that will resonate with others and help give folks a different perspective--maybe a different way of thinking or doing.

So that brings me to the bigger part. The part where I need/like to connect with other creatives who are talented, share insights and geeky new how-to's,  and seem to be aligned philosophically with me. For me, connecting through my blog is not just about getting nice comments, it's about making new friendships. In my experience, the way to do that is to reach out ... someone comments, I comment back. It goes like that ... then I send a personal note and start a conversation ... a private conversation. Everything doesn't need to be out there in the open. I've made some great friends through my blog and on Flickr (where this all started).  Now I have more friends 'round the globe. Thanks to all of you who have been open to this idea and taken the ride with me. ;->

Assignment: In order to move forward let's look back first. Look at your journey that brought you to this moment ...

Well, let's see. How far back shall I go? Obviously, no one wants to hear/read my life story all in one post or at all, but here is my effort to share my most recent journey.

My current photography and blogging beginnings were born out of the need for survival. Well, not literally. But the environment I was working in was very stressful for me, so I looked inside and out to discover new joy and beauty in the world. The Stroll was a weekly newsletter I created from October 2010 through December 2011. It also gave me an excuse to learn InDesign at a deeper level than I was using at work although I must give credit there. Taking walks with Kobi, snapping pictures, and writing my observations saved me.

From there I discovered Kim Klassen--the greatest teacher I've ever had probably since grade school -- maybe the best of all time! I fell in love with photo-manipulation using her textures and have been following her in Beyond Layers and now Behind the Scenes. I'm so grateful for this creative outlet and have hopes that it may take me toward a new vocation.

I find it quite amusing that I used boxes for my timeline as I really detest being put in a box! I guess my analytical side has its place. ;-> And I suppose it's my way of creating order.

The font used in my graphics is Havlova-Austral.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Colorado Burning ... not pretty

Another fire broke out on Flagstaff Mountain, west of Boulder. Reverse 911 calls for pre-evacution out to ~2400 Boulder residents and businesses. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is in danger as it is in the mountains nearby. Three hundred acres burned at this point. Wind inconsistent.

This image (above) was taken from my house (same vantage point as the sun rays in my last post) as I returned from an interview in Longmont at 5:00pm. This fire is 15 miles from me. I don't anticipate it will get this far east, but if it reaches Boulder, it will affect businesses that support our livelihoods.

And this at 7:00pm ...

Got out late for the sunset ... 8:30pm. These are north of the fire zone in previous pictures.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Walks with My Mom by Kobi

I love to go for walks with my mom. She often takes me by the nearby Coal Creek where she lets the leash loose and I get to explore. I like it when I don't have to be tethered so tightly.  She just walks along and lets me discover new smells, then run to catch up with her.

Last Wednesday, we went in the early evening as the sun was lowering in the sky and there were these very cool sun rays peeking through the clouds. This day we met a guy named Brandon and his dog. Hmmm, I can't remember his name, but he was a very pretty shade of red. He was bigger than me and really didn't want to play much. In fact, he went for a swim in the creek. Mom doesn't let me do that because then I need a serious bath when I get home! Maybe one day she'll let me have that kind of fun.

By the way, she told me to tell you that she left her "good" camera at home and all these pics were taken with her Blackberry!

Yesterday, we went to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream. Well, really so mom could get ice cream. I am forever hopeful that I'll get lick or two. It was soooo hot. She said it was 104º. Whew! At least she gave me some water to drink while I waited patiently hoping I'd get rewarded for my good behavior.

Yummmm! I licked the cup clean. Coffee and chocolate! Oh, she knows not to give me chocolate, but a few licks won't hurt me. She's so sweet. I love my mama.

Then we got in the car to go to the Broomfield Community Park. I really like it there. We walk the path around the pond. Watch the duckies. And there were babies today! This one got separated from its mama. My mom wished she'd had her good camera for this one. Oh well. Some days are like that.

Then we went to the secret garden she found last week with a flower-lined path and a cool wooden bench. It's a very neat secluded little place where Mom likes to read and write. Good thing she learned how to do that when she was little.

I just sit and watch the world go by. Mom gave me some more water since it was so hot out. But it wasn't too bad in the shade--as long as we weren't moving.

And sometimes I liked sitting up on the bench next to her. She had an awful lot to write about yesterday. I wonder what she says in that little book of hers. I guess it doesn't matter as long as she remembers to take care of me and hug me and snuggle with me. That's what I really like about Mom. She loves me sooooo much.

Finally, she decided she'd had enough sitting and writing. And boy, was I ready to go. I can only be patient so long, then I want to run and play. As we walked back to the car we saw this neat gnome statue. He looks so happy! Wish mom was that happy all the time, but I guess that's the trouble with humans. She could learn so much from me, you know. I mean, I'm happy just to eat, drink, walk, and sleep. Oh, and don't forget play. Humans seem to need to find some magical meaning to life. Don't you guys get it? It's just about being happy with what you got. Sheesh.

The gnome guy is for sale--any of you guys have $11,500 to spend on this statue? It's called Green Thumb. If you do, you can call the Broomfield Cultural Affairs Office at 303.464.5835. The artist is Sutton Betti.

It's good there was at least a slight breeze. It made it a bit more bearable. And it sure makes our flag look pretty in the sky. Wish those clouds would bring some rain. All those fires here in Colorado are burning my mom's favorite places to take me hiking. There are a total of TEN fires now and they all seem to be growing. Hopefully we'll get some rain soon. You guys all gotta say your prayers and do your rain dances, k? If we all just imagine it, it's gotta fix things, right?
We'll that's it for today. Wishing you all happy days 'cause my mom likes you, so I like you too.

Have a great week and remember to find pleasure in eating, drinking (water's best), walking, and sleeping. And don't forget to play once in a while. That's what it's all about, my friends.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A retreat beside North St. Vrain River

Saturday, June 16, I spent the afternoon and evening participating in a session of Diane Dandeneau's Ignite Your Life Summer Intensive in Lyons, Colorado.

I arrived a little early and sat beside the river taking in the sound of the moving water and revisiting the calming energy it provides. It always feels as though I've forgotten something when I do this. Obviously, I don't take time for myself in this way often enough.

Diane Dandeneau
Diane arrived and greeted me with a smile and warm welcome. She went to get things set up and I remained enjoying myself. Slowly, other participants arrived and I joined the group in introducing myself. Soon after, she had us sit in a circle to get started.

Our little group

After some introduction of the process she was going to take us through, a program she calls 4 Steps to Divine Mastery, she guided a meditation and gave us time to do some journaling. I chose the same rock I found initially to do my writing. I found myself totally immersed, but occasionally my attention was pulled to see some rafters having fun and getting caught in the eddy cause by the water flowing over large rocks. It was fun to be distracted momentarily to watch and capture images. I found I easily returned to my exercise.

Later, as we enjoyed a healthy meal of homemade soup, bread, and salad, Diane pointed out the Golden Eagle babies in their nest high on the rock face. See below in the oval. Sadly, I just don't have the equipment to get better pictures of such wonders.

The eaglets in their nest

As we wrapped up and shared some of our experiences, Diane listens intently. She has a gentle, quiet way of making you feel cared for and acknowledged. As most often happens in these kinds of experiences, different little pockets of people emerged to go deeper and discuss what we experienced. It was really fun to meet new people, share our lives, and discover new tools for learning about ourselves. I look forward to seeing how things evolve as I continue my journey. Looking for breakthroughs, I am.

And finally, as I took some of my last pictures after the sun set behind the craggy rocks, I noticed profiles of two faces. See if you see them too.

It was wonderful to feel alive again and have the opportunity to think and talk philosophically. It's been a while since I've felt the freedom to do so.

Thanks for stopping by, my friends.
Have a great week!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daring to Dream BIG

Today, Nik Wallenda made history as he walked a wire above Niagra Falls. I was there every step of the way as he said, "Keep your eye on the other side. Never give up on your dreams." It's a challenge to each of us. I think it's time for me to step up. How can he look so fearless?

Well, I wasn't really there. I took this picture of my TV screen so that I could feel like I was there and to remind me that I can accomplish anything if I only believe.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saving a life

Earlier today, I went out to give the grass a drink. Hooking Kobi to a long leash, we sat for a bit while sprinkling water. It was nice to be outdoors with the breeze and birds a-twitter.

I spiraled the hose back into place and as I walked into the garage Kobi was sniffing at something, which I promptly commanded leave-it and put him in the house. Investigating Kobi's curiosity, I discovered a baby bird stuck between the concrete slabs.

Using a DQ spoon that I'd left on the workbench in the garage, I lifted the little puff ball up on the the driveway to see if he could move about. He did. Yay!

I continued to scoot him along until he was on the cool wet grass under a bush so he didn't expire due to the heat of the concrete.

Do baby birds' feathers change color depending on their surroundings? I was surprised to see that this baby was more brown while in the crack and more gray/blue when he got under the bush. I love the little downy bits he still has showing.

After taking these pictures, I left him there hoping he'd survive in the shade. Thanks to Kobi, I think we saved a life today.

I suppose this is the least I can do as the news reports a wild fire out of control in the Rocky Mountains--in the past 24 hours the High Park fire has expanded to 14,000 acres. The wind isn't helping and Highway 287 is closed due to lack of visibility. This is all about 45 miles north and west of me in Lafayette.

Thanks for stopping by, my friends.
Have a great week!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Denver Chalk Art Festival

It's all about the pictures today and it's a long post even after culling what I think are the best exhibits of talent at the Denver Chalk Art Festival.

I had such a great time--even made new friends, Wendy and her son, who just moved here recently from El Paso, Texas. We met on the 16th Street Mall tram and stayed together through viewing all the chalkworks and a treat at Starbucks.Thanks Wendy.

Of course, it wouldn't be a complete photo shoot without a couple pups, so you'll stumble across them as you scroll down. Choosing a best is almost impossible. I wonder who the winner will be. Maybe one I didn't even capture. I do love the ones with the artists in action. ;->

So, here's the chalk art roll! Sadly, I don't have the names of the artists else I would give the credit well deserved.

This last image is a sculpture by Bill Starke at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building on Colfax Avenue in downtown Denver.

You can see them all on black by clicking any one image.

Thanks for coming to visit.
Have a great week, my friends.