Reflecting with Love

What do you see when you look at your reflection? Do you see all the things others think of you? Do you see things you THINK others think of you? Do you see the things YOU think about yourself? Are you objective as to what you physically see, as well as what is under the surface? Are you in tune with both the good and bad things about yourself? Do you know how to define “good and bad” about you, and is that even a healthy way to look at it?

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When we see ourselves through others’ eyes, we are getting a very skewed and jaded, if not wholly inaccurate picture. This can cause us to judge ourselves harshly, unfairly, and most assuredly without love. Sure, at times, others’ views of us can help us grow because we aren’t seeing ourselves truthfully(YOU are Beautiful!), but I am not talking about that kind of perspective, through another’s eyes, I am talking about finding your worth, your magic, your beauty in yourself through loving yourself, the whole package.

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When we look in the mirror, are we seeing the amazing things that make us, US? No one has eyes the same color as you. No one has hair or a head like yours. No one has a nose, mouth, cheek, chin, forehead, eyebrows just like you. And your body? That is only yours too! Does your body reflect the activity that you do? The hard work and effort you put in? Maybe your body reflects those donuts you ate? Or maybe your body looks like a donut? Whatever the case, do you love you just as you are or are you hiding parts of yourself from you?

That question can be asked of us both physically and about our psyche, our personality makeup. Perhaps you think you are too much of a pushover? Is this a problem for you? Do you berate yourself for allowing others to walk on you, because you are too nice? Or is it really that you care too much of what others think, and therefore accept being someone’s doormat for the reasons you deem acceptable from yourself? Why are you doing that to the person you love…YOU? What awesomeness are you hiding from yourself by not being bold and brazen and saying no? What made you think that you had to accept any sort of ugliness from this world, let alone yourself? What are you hiding from really and how can you view that differently when you look at yourself with a little bit of love and compassion?

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By hiding, we are missing something truly magical and amazing, ourselves! We are missing parts of us that are strong, graceful, unique and lovely, and if we keep hiding those things, how are we ever going to know that we have wings to soar and glide with? How will we know that we are seriously freaking majestic creatures, that we have a lot to offer this world, and most importantly ourselves??? Well, maybe we should take another look at our reflection and see our complete selves, the whole package, ALL of US? Maybe, just maybe, we should look with love only for ourselves and cut that nonsensical chatter that doesn’t belong.

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We can’t deny our unique majesty, yes we need to see the things we know we could work on, embrace those things with an unbridled self-love, an acceptance in our heart, but we can work on those light AND dark parts for growth, happiness and self acceptance. We can choose to let those aforementioned questions and thoughts go, wholly embrace the beauty, magic and amazing creature that we are, see ourselves as we truly are, as we were meant to be, us, free.

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Once we start viewing ourselves with love and compassion, and no longer see our good and bad parts but just us, that is when we no longer hide, we no longer make apologies or let others’ thoughts affect us.  That is when we see our own reflection!

Find Beauty Where You Least Expect It

I have been looking all around and haven’t seen a thing that has given me cause to write about it. Truthfully, this has been a reflection of me, and not the world around me. So, I stepped back and started taking better care of myself. One of my favorite things to do in this instance is to a walk in Yoctangee Park, and so I did one day with my youngest daughter, camera in tow.

This guy right here, along with his ladies, stayed pretty close to us, and kept crossing our path. He had a lot to say when he was near us, some quackery sure, but it resonated with me on a deeper level. He was challenging what I thought of as beauty. He knew that he, along with his ladies, although grotesque by some standards, were nothing of the sort. They are magnificent, extraordinary birds whose beauty cannot be judged from afar, nor overlooked because there is so much more to them than meets the eye.

This handsome duck taught me a valuable lesson that day. When I forget or get so caught up that I fail to notice the beauty around me, all I need to do is take a walk through my neighborhood park, and remember that all things were created with beauty in mind, I just have to see it. Are you seeing the beauty around you?dino duck 1 web

The Ever Changing Bicycle

There is a certain magic in unexpected things. You are driving along, normal “block everything around you out” sort of drive, and you see the most amazing thing ever. It brings a huge smile to your face, you start to ponder all sorts of questions about the hows, whens, whys and whos. And then you move on with life and the magic kind of fades. Fate has a funny way of keeping the magic alive, even if it takes multiple times!

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I met this kind lady named Linda Cushman in the school parking lot one day. We both had our windows down, waiting on our daughters to be dismissed from the middle school. Linda looked over at me and struck up a conversation, it was pleasant, funny, warm and educational, it stuck with me for several months leaving a good mark. After my Bell’s Palsy episode, I decided to embark on a new journey with yoga, (you’ll get to hear all about that someday), and who should be attending the class too? LINDA! We struck up a conversation about the usual stuff: work, family, homes, and when Linda was describing where she lived, I asked if she lived near that bike that always changes. She smiled a luminous smile and in her quiet way said, “That is my bike, that is where I live”. It really was like meeting a creative, celebrity genius all rolled in to one.

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I asked Linda if I could shoot her bike, because, well, because it is AMAZING. What that actually means is that Linda and her husband Derek Cushman(along with their daughter, Ella) are AMAZING. What started off as a one time thing for Christmas in 2017, morphed in to an inaugural year of ever-changing bicycle! People were so excited and impressed with the 2017 Christmas bike, that Linda and her family decided to keep going, rolling along with the seasons and holidays.

bike 6 web wmRemember when I told you that there were so many things I pondered about this magical bike? I asked Linda the back story, what inspired her, what she hoped to accomplish with the bike, if she has any big plans in the future with the bike, if she would leave it if she sold her house, would she take it with her, does she dream and design far in advance or how does the design come to her, what was her favorite bike, how often does she change it…HOW DOES IT ALL WORK BASICALLY?!? Thankfully Linda indulged all that I had pondered and then some, these are her responses:

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-There is only 1 bike

-My inspiration was a flower shop in Burbank, California. The lady that owned the shop had a bike in her display window that she would change up with the seasons.

-I found the bike at a garage sale, I don’t usually go to garage sales, but the bike caught my eye as I drove by, and for some reason, I stopped and bought it.(FOR $10!!)

-We like to bring a smile to people’s faces, and to give young and old something fun to look forward to!

-The bike changes every 4-6 weeks, and has been different every time. We don’t spend a lot of time planning the bike, it just kind of happens! The bike receives fresh paint and different decor items each change.

-The bike has become our thing as a family, so more than likely the bike will go wherever we go(if they move-my pondering). The bike has taken on a life of its own! People slow down to take pictures of the bike as they are driving by, stop in the driveway to get out to take the bike’s photo, and also pose with the bike, either themselves or their kids.

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When asked what theme was her favorite, Linda said:

-I would have to say the 4th of July 2018 was my favorite. It was so much to do, I just imagined it being in a parade. So many people were upset when we took it down, as it was only up 2 weeks, I wish I had taken a picture of it.

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No worries Linda, I’ve got you covered! I missed Linda’s Fall bike(someone fire my scheduling department), but you can rest assured that I will be capturing and featuring all the rest right here on TPL as they cycle through. If you would like to see Linda, and her family’s magical bicycle,(and you live in Chillicothe, Ohio), just drive to the corner of Allen and Worthington, you will be in for a treat!! Thank you Cushman Family for your time, and warm hospitality!

 

There is magic in us all, make sure you see it in others!

 

 

Blooming with Bell’s Palsy

We tend to only know about things when they affect us, or someone close to us.  I can honestly, but sadly say before I had Bell’s Palsy, I had misconceptions of exactly what it was. I have always considered myself knowledgeable in all things dealing with the body, and for some reason, Bell’s Palsy is one in which I had misunderstood-A LOT. So, what exactly is Bell’s Palsy, how does one get it, is it permanent, how does it change you?

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What is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy(also known as Facial Palsy) occurs when the 7th cranial nerve is inflamed, swollen, or compressed and is typically characterized by drooping or paralysis of the face on the affected side. Symptoms of BP go beyond just drooping and paralysis though, it is often accompanied by lack of taste or a weird tinny taste on the tongue, over production or under production of tears on the affected side, severe neck pain/head pain, extreme fatigue, light sensitivity, numbness in body and extremity of affected side, blurred vision in affected side, super sensitivity to sound, drooling, facial tics and so much more.

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How do you get Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy is not contagious, but it comes about with several key factors. Most people with a Bell’s diagnosis will tell you that it feels like a perfect storm of issues, with the  most defining factor being 7th nerve involvement, since this is the one that affects the face the most, and is typically how most people get diagnosed. There is good evidence to support that a previous or current virus also has involvement, this can be as simple as a cold sore to something more complex like that case of Chicken Pox you had as a child, your immunity cannot currently handle the inactive virus, and it is then onset in your system. There are a vast number of people who will say they either had an ear infection or tooth/mouth infection on the affected side before the onset of  BP as well, and high blood pressure is also associated. Now, the biggest and most frequent common denominator of BP diagnosis seems to be stress. And not run of the mill stress, but consistent, extreme stress. This is what most believe suppresses the immunity, elevates that blood pressure and causes the dormant virus to pop back up in your system. There are other factors that happen in reoccurring cases(environment being one), but that seems to vary widely, and is worth joining a support group to talk to those that have reoccurring cases for their input.

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Is Bell’s Palsy Permanent?

Typically Bell’s Palsy is not permanent. The symptom’s for most disappear in 2-3 weeks with full recovery within 6 months. There are those, however, that this is becomes a permanent thing. And yes, it can affect both sides of your face simultaneously(sykinesis), or affect one side initially and then affect the other side at some point in time. Bell’s Palsy is not a highly researched medical condition, but doctor’s have a better understanding and a better protocol for treatment now than previously.

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How do you treat Bell’s Palsy?

With the majority of Bell’s patients, they will be given a round of prescriptive steroids and anti-viral meds. This typically does the trick, but most people will incorporate physical modalities to assist the medicine in the healing process. Acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy, cranio sacral therapy, and chiropractics are just a few ways patients will seek to deal with their symptoms in hopes of speeding along and dealing with their condition. Rest is the most crucial Rx, as your body will need it to recuperate, regroup and rebound to a better state, to make it more able to deal with all of what is going on. Hot compresses will be beneficial, as well as a good pain reliever, the level of pain reliever depends on the person, OTC works for most people. OH, and hopefully you will be able to find a way to eliminate that stress, since that is typically what will make the pain worse.

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How does Bell’s Palsy change you?

This question will be best answered case by case.

Personally, my mind was not giving up, but my body did, and by doing so, it helped to alleviate the horrible level of stress that I was living with. I did not realize I was AS stressed out as I was. I am not talking normal everyday stress, I am talking crazy bad stress that I had been dealing with for years, which made my ability to deal with every day stress basically non-existent. I was stressed to the point that I felt hopeless, despite my positive, can do attitude. I think the thing that aggravates me most is the advice I get from well-meaning people…everyone has an answer for you, and if I am being completely honest, I passed those suggestive coping mechanisms a long time ago. I had done those things years ago and they worked at the time for a short time, but when you reach the point I was at, there is only one thing that was going to work for me, and it did-Bell’s Palsy.  While BP is not something I wish on anyone, I believe it saved me from the stressful existence I was living. It made those around me realize what they were putting me through, it made me actually start to take better care of myself and to give myself more consideration, instead of thinking my life was to just serve others, I needed to serve me too. The fight I had been fighting for myself was finally over, and there is so much more to that statement than most people will ever know.

Physically, the lack of stress is helping with other issues I have had for years, but the Bell’s Palsy symptoms are still here intermittently. How long they will be silently in tow, I don’t know, but I will continue to endeavor to keep my stress at bay to help keep the symptoms at a minimum. Mentally, I have learned that we all need to be a little selfish in our own lives. We cannot possibly serve others’ needs mercilessly and deplete ourselves without requiring a fill up too. Having Bell’s has brought me closer to the ones I love, and helped me to see the relationships that I no longer need to maintain. It has changed me, my perspective, and is helping me find a new sense of self. This is one more cycle in the game of life, and I am greeting it happily, embracing it fully.

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A Cultivated Life

Remember when I said this blog was about awesome people doing awesome things, places that bring me and others joy, etc? Nowhere in there did I say perfect, or hint at that word. That is often what we see with good editing and the highlight reel, but that isn’t really truthful nor reality, is it? Do I want to show you good things? Yes! Do I want my content to inspire you? Yes! Let me set this straight for you with a little help from a friend.

Ashley

This is my dear friend Ashley. We went to school together and like most folks, we lost touch over the years, but reconnected recently through social media.  Ashley has always looked a certain way to me, has always presented herself a certain way to me and has always come across a certain way to me. KIND. She doesn’t see herself so much this way, but I do, it’s my opinion and belief. She admits, it flatters and humbles her, but she is also quick to set me straight on my perception vs. her reality. I think our conversation is worth sharing as it is a reminder to me and maybe you too.

 

What is perfect to us? Is it the same, or does it vary person to person? Obviously the answer is that it varies, however perfect may have a common theme from time to time. Ashley and I both crave simplistic, more so, uncomplicated and maybe nostalgic living. She loves taking care of her loved ones, so do I. She loves her family above most anything, me too. She loves running and gardening, so do, wait, what?! Ah, here is where I can learn from her, where I need to hear her and her thoughts, to connect to something that is similar, yet different from me.

Herbs in Ashley's Garden

See, Ashley explained to me that even though I was viewing her life from a perfect perception, much like her garden, her life has weeds too. What does that even mean? It means that from the outside, she has a perfect life, and while she admits that it is perfect for her, it has its struggles and she has to work through those things the same way as weeding her garden. The weeds don’t just disappear so that when I show up with my camera everything is perfect. The garden is her happy place, she has worked at it, cultivated it, weeded it, planted it strategically and maintained it through intention, sweat and even some tears.  Life is the same. She has faced some very tough issues like conceiving her children, postpartum depression and worrying if she is raising her kids right…all while questioning not only if she is doing it right,  but doing enough.
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We put our fears and struggles to the side at times instead of facing them straight on, yet  even when we feel that we are facing them and dealing with them, it can be more than we bargained for. Much like when we set out with a solid plan to grow some veggies, it may be more work than we even conceived of having, but we are committed to what we set out to do, committed to our plan, committed to seeing it through, good, bad, and indifferent. We are committed to harvesting what we planted…reaping what we sowed in conception.

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Life will definitely grow from what we have planted, the seed acting as our starting point. It will grow from our vision and the terms we have set forth. We will see outcomes that we had in mind when we began on this path. There will be such sweet rewards along the way, however, there will be weeds and hurdles to overcome, unexpected things that arise.

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So how do we deal with that? Do we focus on the things we didn’t anticipate, the things that set us back? Do we find the beauty in the moment, in the obstacles that make us work and strive all the more…

 

Do we weed our garden a million times over to get the results that we want, that we desire, that we crave…that we cultivated?? Do we take the bumps and rocky times so that we may see the life we wanted to materialize in the long run? Maybe that is it, maybe Ashely’s right and we just need to run, to pound it out through the pavement and our feet? To change focus for a bit to regain focus for a while.

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I think that she has it pretty well figured out. We need to make a plan, have a vision for ourselves. We need to work at it, to cultivate what it is we are seeking, the desired outcome we are hoping to obtain. AND we need to deal with the weeds as they pop up, to face those unexpected obstacles but to view them as the bounty of our labor, the fruit that sweetens our lives in terribly, wonderful ways. In the end, it is what we make of it, what we set in motion for ourselves is ultimately what we will see come to pass. So whether you are reaping the benefits of what you have simplistically planted, the results of what you have difficultly sown, or you are dealing with a random happenstance, see the good, see the beauty in it and make it your own. Cherish it all. Life is what we make it after all, and that is certainly not perfect. It’s LIFE.

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For the Love of Horses

I grew up with a horse, she was my best friend and confidant. Whenever I was feeling down, she would pick me up. When I was happy about something, she was happy with me. She had the biggest, most soulful brown eyes, a soft muzzle to lovingly touch you with and she always tolerated hugs.  She was unconditional love. Her name was Doll and she was my Dad’s 4-H horse from when he was a youngster.  I was fortunate that she was a mainstay on the farm, and that I had her in my young life too. Doll lived to be 34(this is ancient in horse years), Dad always said it was her easy lifestyle that kept her so young, I would agree.  Unfortunately, not all horses have the luxurious life like Doll did, but there are people out there that are trying to make horse’s lives better, one horse at a time.

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Bella Run Equine in Athens Ohio is a quiet little slice of Heaven on Earth, and Zack and Rachel Bendler along with Trisken Emmert are truly angels. After a mentor took Rachel to a slaughter sale, she set out to be an advocate and trusted voice in rescuing and rehabbing horses whose fates were grim, and horrific at best. Rachel and Zack, by using their own money, started with 1 horse, then they rescued, rehabbed and adopted out a few more, and then a few more, until they grew into the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that they currently are.

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When I arrived at Bella Run, I was greeted by Zack and a few dogs(of their larger pack) that are rescues too. To say that I felt at ease is an understatement. I could tell right away that Zack, Rachel and Trisken were very kind people who are super passionate about their animals. Zack regaled me with stories about every animal that I came in contact with, and not just a brief history, he and Rachel know the back story and deep history of the majority, if not all of the horses that they rescue. Sadly, they may see horses at the kill auctions a few times, but intervene to rescue these big beauties as much as they possibly can.

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(Rachel, Gandalf and Trisken-don’t overlook the cute puppy!)

Often times, in cases of neglect, authorities will reach out to Bella Run Equine asking for assistance in either rehabbing an animal, or to rescue the animals to be rehabbed and rehomed.  This guy, Gandalf, was tied under a tree his whole life, he came in with his hooves all a mess and a little sad, but Rachel saw the diamond under the rough exterior, and the sweet, gentlemanly disposition he possessed. If you’d like to read about his glow-up, click HERE, it made me happy. Along with neglect and abuse, some horses suffer from people’s circumstances changing.

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Zack’s man Hollywood is impressive. This horse is like the LeBron of horses, he is athletic, motivated and all in all a winner. Zack was utterly shocked when this horse came up at auction. He has an impressive pedigree and a work rate like no other. This horse loves a good challenge and is always eager to prove his worth. Watching Hollywood and Zack be of one mind was what you like to see, what you crave to see as competitors, simply awe-inspiring.

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Not every horse is geared the same way, or for the same thing. At Bella Run, they heed that, and work with the horses to their strong suites, while overcoming past abuse and challenges. As I stood in the field and watched Zack working with Banjo, it was evident there was some fear. Zack knew of the abuse Banjo had endured and he was mindful of that, he spoke softly to Banjo encouraging him with words and confidence, at that moment, I saw and felt a shift.  Banjo saw that the strike to his flesh was not coming, he relaxed and settled in to his routine much to his and Zack’s delight.

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Zack was going about business as usual, not because I was witnessing and documenting with my camera, but because that is just how it is done at Bella Run Equine. They are undoing what others maliciously, or ignorantly have done. They are building trust and solid relationships with these animals so that they may  go out and have fearless, safe, perhaps even luxurious lives.

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(As with anything that is good, teamwork gets it done! Look at these beautiful, healthy horses!)

Remember how I mentioned my love for Doll(still do)? Well, my heart was galloping to a similar beat when I met Mary. She is amazing. She is so clever and smart and graceful and in tune…I heart her. This horse speaks to me. She has soul. She is intricate. Every horse has its standout characteristics, but with Mary, that is all I could see.

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Zack endured me gushing over her, going on and on about how much I love her and about how amazing she is. I asked him point-blank why she hasn’t been snatched up yet, and he told me that sadly, because her tail is sparse in the hair department, people see that as a mark against her. WHAT?!? This animal is MAGNIFICENT. I am a wholly and completely biased, I won’t lie. But when you see something you know is special right in front of you, you overlook a minor detail like hair. I did message ahead to inform my husband I would be bringing a horse and dog home with me, he may have laughed at that.  I might have cried because I couldn’t fit her in my car when it was time for me to come home

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(Hollywood wanted a drink during his cool down with Rachel, she happily obliged!)

While I don’t have the right place for a horse, I can admit something even bigger. I don’t have the skills to have a horse as amazing as Mary. She needs to be with people who will utilize her mind, that have the same goals and desires as her, the same interests and drive. All of these horses deserve that, in their own regards. Now, if a horse needs pastured to live out its life in peace, and I ever get a place to accommodate that while knowing that I can maintain all of the horses needs, I will be first in line at Bella Run Equine asking them to match me with someone amazing like Mary(maybe in her later, retirement years).

There are things and people you believe in, and I believe in Bella Run Equine,(Rachel, Zack and Trisken) with every fiber of my body and being, my whole heart. THESE are amazing people, doing amazing work, with amazing animals and all with amazing intellect, acumen and heart. I saw horses and dogs(they have sheep too!) at every level of rehab, the way everyone is in sync and working as a unit for the betterment of each individual. It is simply inspiring. It is moving. It is love. We should all wish to be a part of something as noble as Bella Run Equine, and in our own way, we can.

To learn more about Bella Run and the outstanding people of BRE, you can follow them on their FB page, Instagram, or by visiting their web page(link at top of page). While you are at it, make a donation to this very worthwhile cause, THEY are worth it!!!

What is The Photographist Life all about?

PHOTOGRAPHIST- one who produces photographs. (wiktionary)

Wouldn’t it have been easier to just say ‘Photographer’? Sure. But I am not living the photographer life…I am living The Photographist Life. I am observing life, capturing life’s stories through images, you know, photographically documenting people being awesome.

*perplexed looks*

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Okay, so maybe there are some of you wondering where I came up with this often considered outdated term. My husband actually referred to me as a photographist(he thought he came up with a whole new word, lol) and it was a life altering, whip my head around moment that felt utterly perfect. Doesn’t PHOTOGRAPHIST feel right rolling around in your mind? Yes? No? I’ll give you a few minutes to feel it out. The more I said the word after his mention, the more my vision became crystal clear of what it meant to me.

In a nutshell, I want to show you amazing people doing amazing things, places and things that bring me and others joy, but most importantly, I want to focus on connecting. In this day and age, we live a very hurried pace, and that leaves us little time to connect with friends, meet new people, learn new things. Life really is about our relationships, and connecting with each other, bringing joy to one another, inspiring those around us.  I just want good things for you and this is my way of providing what I bring in a joyful, inspiring manner to you.

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I am going out on a limb in my attempt to spread joy and happiness, who knows, maybe it’s all BS…but remember, BS makes the flowers grow better. Before we part for the day, tell me, what brings you joy, who inspires you?

 

 

 

Greetings From Behind the Lens

Hello, my name is Erin Robinson, I am the person behind The Photographist Life and E.robinsonphotos. I have been on a path of creative discovery with photography for about 4 years, it won’t be changing anytime soon as photography is a life long journey that will take you down many paths of twists and turns and I am perfectly content with the challenges/rewards/frustrations/breakthroughs it has in store for me. Settle in with a cup of something tasty and we’ll get better acquainted.

Facts about me: I have been married for 19 years, I have two daughters, I have 3 dogs/2 cats/ 4 fish, I grew up on a farm in Southern Ohio(I may speak with a twang when I get really animated), I love to travel and see new places and meet new people, and the beach is my favorite place to be. I am an observer, I love to look for the little details of what I see or feel, I like to see the big picture without losing sight of the minute things, and I love to learn about ANYTHING. I once read a landscaping book for the fun of it.

fam 1 web wmI have a love/hate relationship with coffee. I always loved the smell of it and it reminds me of my grandma’s house. I didn’t start drinking it until my mid 30s (don’t do the math, I am standing firm at 38 for the 3rd year now) because I was sick, realized my eyes functioned better with coffee,  but I hate that I rely on it to be alive and to keep those around me safe and alive in the mornings too.  What are you gonna do though, I don’t look good in orange, and I love buying cute pottery mugs. See, lots of love/hate there.

I find myself entering a stage of life that is unexpected, not repugnant at all, but actually welcomed.  The sort of things I thought I would do with my life beginning in my 20s, convinced myself I would not see come to fruition let alone start in my 30s, I am embarking on in my 40s. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO START. You hear that phrase and think it doesn’t apply to you, it most assuredly applies to us ALL.

 

sunrise 1 web wmI am just going to show you my quirkiness right out of the gate here…

This blog is going to push me out of my comfort zone, which makes me maniacally laugh in nervousness, but also propels me to keep going forward.  Have you ever felt that way? You know you need to jump to fly, so you just have to do it. Yep, that is why it is called a “Leap of Faith”. Tell me about yourself, what is something you never thought you would do? What do you love? I am excited to meet you, learn all about you, and to have you along for the ride that I call The Photographist Life.