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Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.

Yousuf Karsh

I realize how very true this has been in my life…how the very things I would rather run from are the very things that render a more richer, deeper, truer “photograph” of me, should I choose to yield to the refining power of them.

I do not often like who I am when I am experiencing darkness. It is painfully humbling. But I have come to love myself more and more every time I exit the darkroom.

*********

p.s. I stumbled upon this excerpt from a book the other day. It asks the question of whether or not you are emotionally healthy? I found it thought provoking, challenging, and also encouraging in the sense that I found myself answering “yes” to many of the things written about—things that I could not answer “yes” to just a few years ago. It was affirming to me that the darkroom serves a greater purpose in our lives than we sometimes wish to accept. 

p.s.s. I am heading off for a couple of summer trips these next two weeks and will not be able to post here. However, you can follow along on my adventures on my Instagram feed if you so desire. I will be heading up north to visit the ancient redwood trees and then off to my favorite lake. I am looking forward to being in nature and with good friends.

p.s.s.s. Lastly, I am currently booking fall photo sessions and have only a few dates available. If you have been thinking of booking a session with me, now is the time to save your date! Late summer and fall is a wonderful time to take advantage of clear coastal days and golden evening light. If you are interested in learning more you can check my “session info” page or contact me via the contact form in the menu above. Also, take the time to view some of my galleries as they are great examples of what a photo session with me might look like. If you book with a $50 retainer fee by July 20th I will include a beautiful photo book with your final package. I would love to meet you with my camera!

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  • michelle - Yay! Summer adventures~ We are leaving on Friday to my very favorite beach in the world and cannot wait! I’ll IG some pics so you can see my little piece of heaven on Earth. That excerpt was good. I see some things, like you, that I can answer yes too that I might not have a few years ago. I do love the maturing process when I can look backwards at it and see growth. :)ReplyCancel

    • admin - Oh! Is it Manzanita?? Can’t wait to see those photos and I’m glad you get to be there. That makes me happy. :)ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Can’t wait to follow along on your vacation adventures on IG! :-)
    Love that quote you begin with. :-)ReplyCancel

    • admin - Such a good quote, right? Have been loving your bw’s of your little peanut. :)ReplyCancel

Along the coast of California during the month of June a foggy gloom arrives and settles in for a month-long sleepy summer nap. He tucks himself in between the horizon and the shoreline, obscuring the sun and the blue sky, sending beach goers back to their cars for extra blankets and sweatshirts. Those beach goers who live inland….where the sun and heat camp all summer….who are fooled into expecting that a glorious day at the beach awaits them upon arrival. For this reason I am a religious weather.com checker. When I spot a clear glowing sunshine icon on my weather app for any coastal town I am quick to pack up the car and head to the promised blue-skied destination.

But often the weather app is wrong. Somewhere a weather person has, to my utter frustration, inaccurately predicted and reported a false blue sky and crystal clear horizon. I have actually stood on the sand of a freezing foggy beach while looking at my weather app telling me that where I am standing is actually a clear sunny 70 degree day. I wonder how such blatant misreporting by the experts (or their expensive technologies that they rely upon) could happen when an entire set of weather obsessed people rely on them to operate in within their expertise. I wonder where they draw their information from because clearly I could more accurately report the weather than they! Would it be so hard to pay me, the actual beach goer, to do a better job?

I get that predicting the weather is not an exact science. I have had enough experiences in my life to know this and yet for some reason I am irritated every time at the forecast inaccuracies. Or maybe I am just irritated at my own gullible tendencies to trust humanity’s ability to predict a future that is always uncertain?

I am not a pessimistic person. But I do border along the lines of being realistic and hope-filled. Every foggy day I unexpectedly encounter continually reminds me that all that I actually know for certain is the moment I live in. I can make my plans, check the weather report, pack the car, head to my destination but once I “arrive” I may find that all I have is actually all that I had before that: just a bit of shoreline in front of me.

What a paradoxical place to be, you know?  To surrender to a future that is never guaranteed, to accept the bit of sand in front of me, and yet continue to live my life with a hopeful, prayerful expectancy–one that involves making plans, following dreams, checking weather forecasts. I am pretty sure that somewhere in between is where my faith resides and grows. The kind of faith that trusts a God who gives me peace when all I have is the shoreline in front of me and hope that the horizon still exists even when the gloomy fog of life obscures it.

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  • Mom - I know you are disappointed by the fog, I would be too. However, it is the natural air conditioner that God provides us in the valley, that keeps the heat reasonable & not in the 100′s. I’m thankful for it:)ReplyCancel

  • stacey - These photos are so beautiful. I think I like them even more than all your sunny ones.
    And I needed to hear this today, so thank you. xoReplyCancel

  • Andrea - June Gloom. I’m already looking forward to it when we relocate down south. This Northwesterner will enjoy it. ;-)
    I love your words in the last paragraph.
    And what beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

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Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California

My husband and I took a day trip out to the coast on Monday. It was the only thing I wanted from him for my birthday. Our kids were away at camps and so he took the day off and we explored a few coastal spots that I had been wanting to go see. It felt nice to flee the noise of life and just go explore with the one I love.

At one point during the day we sat in our car that was parked right along the rocky shoreline and ate the sandwiches I had packed. As the sun attempted to break through the fog, we watched the various birds travel in lines along the water’s surface and marveled at how quiet the sea was that day.

At some point during our lunch a car of young college aged girls pulled up next to us. We could hear the music seeping through the car windows and then their voices spill out as they opened the car doors. One of them spoke to a loved one on her phone, letting that person know she had made a stop at “some cool nature spot” on their way down south and they were going to get out and look around and “take some pictures”. I found this funny as the “cool nature spot” was not some pull off along the Pacific Coast Highway, but was a large coastal State Park that cost ten dollars to enter and required a little winding drive down to meet the hiking trails and the ocean.  But whatever, I thought it was nice that they were stopping along their journey to soak up the beauty in front of them.

As they walked out onto the rocky terrain in front of our car I noted that they were wearing not the typical hiking and exploring attire that most people were wearing when they visited this place, but instead were dressed in summer white shorts, dressy tops, flowing cardigan sweaters, and flimsy beaded strappy sandals. The three of them made their way about thirty feet out in front of our cars and then they all turned their backs on the ocean, pulled out their phones, and proceeded to stretch out their arms in front of them and spend (and I am not exaggerating) at least ten minutes snapping selfies…..each of them lost in her own selfie world, clicking a photo then bringing it to her face to see the results, then stretching her arm back out to try again. After they had completed their selfies, they took photos of each other. Then they took photos together. Then they took group selfies. My husband and I watched this all with disbelief. Well, I say we watched in disbelief but it was sort of like imagining what it would be like to see some wild animal on an African safari, or even seeing other peoples photos of wild safari animals, but then actually getting a chance to go on an Africa safari and seeing the animals for oneself and being shocked and amazed at how real they were and that you were actually seeing them for yourself. My husband and I were completely dumbfounded. Was this really happening? I cannot believe that this is actually happening!

And then they were done with “taking some photos in a cool nature spot” and walked back to the car.

And then for an additional fifteen minutes more they were buried in their phones, while the music within their car once again reverberated off the windows, inconsiderately shattering the quiet around us.

And there my husband and I sat in one of the most beautiful, majestic, soulful spots on earth completely speechless.

I will not even attempt to articulate here all that went through my mind while I watched all of this unfold. I am such a geek when it comes to observing human behavior but I fear I will sound hyper critical, judgmental, condescending if I share all of my observations here. I also fear my thoughts will reveal my age. And I confess that my own humility falters the minute I begin to think about this moment all over again. Because the truth is that for part of this story my husband and I were eating our sandwiches, enjoying the view, and scrolling through our own phone screens instead of fully absorbing the beauty around us. (Though we had no selfies to behold.)

Even though I know I have talked about it before, I will say this…

Friends, Ego is a BEAST. Sometimes he is blatantly demanding and in other ways he insidiously and subtly, and almost humorously, surfaces his head–all while protecting and defending himself in the form of some warped logic or funny little fib that makes blind fools of us all. (“We’re just here to visit this cool nature spot and take some photos.”) And now that I have had more time to think about what my husband and I witnessed, I realize that my ego is always interrupting the quiet like an uninvited intruder, asking me to give up my peaceful moment for a stretch of the arm and a snap of myself. Sometimes I long to run to some place of beauty and stand on the edge of creation where I can behold something other than myself, be reminded of how small I am, and yet how loved I am without having to obsessively work for it. But, alas, sometimes I am not fast enough to outrun myself.

Anyway, I think you probably can relate to at least some part of my story. And with that I will let you take away from it what you will. But if you take away nothing, for heaven’s sake I hope you realize how foolish it is to waste ten dollars on a selfie when it can be obtained for free.

 

 

 

 

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  • skeller - honest to goodness. missed each other by “that much” (said in my head with my best Maxwell Smart impersonation). We drove this section of the coast Sunday. And a South-er section Monday. And I must confess: I did stop at a [free] vista/overlook and take a selfie. Or two. ;-) But neither was good enough for IG. Maybe if I’d taken 10-minutes’ worth …ReplyCancel

  • stacey - Pretty much ditto to what M said. :) xoReplyCancel

  • Janie Lameyer Sacks - As always, a great post! And I have to say that I think Point Lobos is on the very top of the list of one of God’s greatest and most beautiful creations! in fact, I think I am going there tomorrow :)ReplyCancel

  • jenny sims - This is absolutely hilarious– I loved your description of watching them speechless. 10 minutes of selfies!!!! WOW. Especially funny to imagine them doing it all at the same time, while still together.
    I think of social media as more of a stay-at-home-mom crutch. When I’m alone, I use it to connect with others. When I am actually with my friends the very last thing I can imagine caring about is social media!!

    Anyway, you’re right about Ego. You’re right about it being a Beast; it surfaces in so many different ways, on different issues, justifying all sorts of unhelpful mindsets and destructive behavior. It is easy to recognize in others where it surfaces via behavior that we are not prone to. A good reminder to stay aware of where it is surfacing in our own selves, in ways to which we’re more blind…

    Great post, as always.
    You’re one who should always greet birthdays, as you truly do acquire wisdom all the time!ReplyCancel

    • admin - I love what you had to say about Ego. Yes, so easy to recognize it in others! And so sweet of you to say that last line about my birthdays. :)ReplyCancel

  • michelle - Lots of comments running through my head, but like you, I will keep them there because 1) they are sure to be misunderstood and 2) I’m guilty of ego getting the better of me, too.

    love when I come to your blog because of a pretty picture then your words force me to look deep inside myself and come to terms with what I find there.

    xoReplyCancel

    • admin - Thank you for continuing to come here friend. :)ReplyCancel

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Summer has come in the longer days, the fading green grasses and the fruiting cherry trees around town. After dinner one night I hopped into the car with my camera to give myself some space to creatively explore. (Trying to do more of that lately.) I love that after dinner there is still time and space to go outside–like when I was a kid and I would run back outside to lace up my roller skates, or hop on my banana-seat bicycle and roam the neighborhood till dark.

Now I love to venture out and find the reaching rays of sunshine illuminating the backs of low hanging leaves and the heads of weed grass in the open fields. I love the slightly saturated colors that emerge from the absence of the harsh mid day sun. And I love that everything just seems to come to a peaceful rest.

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When we first moved to this town this little place was full of activity and the dry grass you see here was actually a lush green lawn. It was a family owned piece of property that hosted summer day camps, and barn dances and pumpkin patches in the fall, and Christmas tree lots in the winter. The small train track that encircled the place is now weeded over and the only life to be seen or heard of is in the screeching caw-caws of the crows overhead…the crows that protested my visit the entire time I was there.

I was a bit sentimental as I crouched among the weeds. If you would have told me eight years ago as I watched my three-year old daughter run and play here during her preschool summer day camp that one day I would be standing here in a deserted place of a “once was”,  I wouldn’t have wanted to believe you. Why is it so hard to accept that the sun will eventually set on the places of your life? Is it because it reminds you of how fleeting time can be? Or imagining the possibility somehow invalidates your current joy and creates an unnecessary and vulnerable grief that is due before its time?

I must say though that sometimes it is good to see how much beauty there is left over in those long-ago places when you have the opportunity to visit them and see that over time the setting sun still sheds it golden hour over the landscape you walked away from long ago. Memories become saturated. Instead of grief over once was, time comes to a peaceful rest. You lose the wishfulness that sometimes eats at your heart and you realize that this tiny moment is enough.

And then, after a while, the caw-caw of the crows overhead seem to grow louder. They pull you back into the present.

They remind you that it is time to pick up and go home.

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  • Andrea Roth Meisgeier - Beautiful, as always! ReplyCancel

A couple of weekends ago we took a drive up north along the PCH and checked out a few spots along the coast line….

See that beach waaaaaaaay down there? That’s where we wound up parking and exploring. I am just so in love with the California coast line. And spot the PCH in the photo below.

See the faded bluff waaaaaay down at the end of the shoreline? That’s where we were standing in the first photo.

I have been taking photos of my daughter dancing on the beach and running down the tide line since the day she could walk. Whenever we get to the beach she heads down to the shore line and I can hear her singing and dancing as she dodges the waves. I hope she never out grows this.

I could not get enough of that golden state sun on the tips of those waves.

Finally, he gets up from his perch.

Getting ready for the sun to make its final descent.

My son left his mark. (He’s finishing up Spanish 2 this year in school. Glad he could show he has learned something.)

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Waiting for dad to go get the car.

I feel so blessed to live near such a beautiful place along the California coast line. Every time we go exploring here I think about how easy it is to enjoy life with simple things: packing a lunch, throwing towels and sweatshirts in the car, and heading out to discover new places. I really would choose this over expensive hotel stays and tropical island cruises. And I am glad my family is willing to go with me when I wake up on a weekend morning and say, “Let’s go somewhere!” I pray my kids take these adventures to heart and remember back on them with a smile. And I pray that as long as they are alive they will always be willing to get out and explore.

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  • Heather M. - T, these photos bring tears to my eyes. You have such an amazing family. I love that I’ve met them and I know the ease you all have in being together. It’s such a gift. It also brings back memories of our trip and stirs up feelings in me that I had when I was there. So grateful for you and your beautiful heart, friend.ReplyCancel

  • stacey - You are so blessed.
    These are so beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Jill Toler - This is a really cool post. I just love the coast as well. We just came back from 5 days in Big Sur and are planning a road trip up the coast to Oregon in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait. Just love the California coast line as well.
    ReplyCancel

  • michelle - I can’t think of a better way to spend time together as a family. :) Such wonderful time spent. Love the photos.ReplyCancel

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