Tag Archives: Smuggler’s Notch

100 Days of Happy

28 Aug
Drink the Wild Air

Drink the Wild Air :: Vermont

Lately, I’ve seen an awful lot of gratitude and happiness #100happydays hashtags on the social medias.  I have to say, the 100 days of happy challenge is refreshing, for more than one reason.

First of all, being battered by constant negativity is bad for your mental and emotional health.  If your Facebook feed is filled with haters, it’s going to affect you.  That was a lesson I learned early in life.  When I surrounded myself with sarcasm and glass half full kind of people, it was harder to see the reasons to laugh.  When I moved towards people bubbling with optimism, suddenly anything seemed possible.  Not to say I don’t appreciate some solid sarcasm and dry humor…I do.  But I much prefer to hold onto happiness where I can.

This past week a good friend of mine lost her horse and all of us barn girls felt the pain of it.  It was an animal we had all worked with, loved and enjoyed watching them bloom together.  They had been in each other’s lives almost as long as we had all been friends.

With any loss, though, comes the negative side of life.  Pain.  Bitterness.  Blame.

None of us wanted that for our friend.  The grieving process is hard.  If we were in a logical frame of mind during our hard times, we would never chose to make it worse on ourselves…but so often, we do just that.  If you aren’t in the habit of happiness, it’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity.

We all encouraged our friend as best we could, and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. Point out the positives.  Smile.  Laugh.  Remember the good memories.  Be grateful for the time you had and the experiences that shape us.

Maybe the 100 happy days challenge isn’t your thing…you’re not a hashtagger by nature.  But the lesson is applicable to all of our lives.  Our perception of a situation almost always affects our reaction.  If you view something as overwhelming, its easy to feel helpless.  However, if you make an effort to make the best of something, it’s much easier to find your happy place.

You can face things out of your control without acting out of control.  In fact, one of the few things in life you can control is your reaction to life.  So ask yourself, would you prefer to wallow?  Or would you prefer to shine?

Train yourself to appreciate, to be grateful, to smile and to laugh.  It won’t always be easy.  Generally speaking, life is hard.  But you will get so much more out of it if you let go of the small stuff and embrace the blessings that comes your way, however big or small those blessings happen to be.

As my buddy Nick used to say, “Live Life :: Love Life”. 🙂

So…this is really kinda sorta a photography blog.  Why did I choose that particular photo for this soap box speech?  Because it makes me happy. haha  I printed up for the winner of our quotes project, Marie and loved the way it turned out.  I felt pride that the effort I put into the image came through in the print.  I loved the feeling it gave me when I looked at it.  It was, in a nutshell, a smile-maker.  And I wanted to make you guys smile. 🙂

Enjoy your holiday weekend, friends!  Next week we a revealing a super cool collaborative project, so stay tuned!

The Natural Metaphor

25 Jun
Our Rain Song

Our Rain Song

This is the springtime of my loving – the second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing – so little warmth I’ve felt before.

I recently read an interesting article about appreciating your life’s journey.  Attaining a goal is great… the accolades, the rewards, the what-have-yous…are all a nice way to recognize your efforts, but ultimately, it’s the experiences that led us to that goal that we remember.  It is the struggles and the obstacles that shape us.  The meaning of life is found on the path, not at the destination.

As I edited and titled…or rather, tried to title this and ultimately asked Sean for help (an homage to Zepplin, for those of you wondering)…this image, I thought about the day that it was captured.

This beautiful pond is 2.2 miles up a mountain trail in Vermont.  The hike is moderately difficult, with enough sweating and straining to make me tired at the end of it.  As if the terrain wasn’t enough of a challenge, we also faced some bad weather…about 0.1 miles from the pond, the sky opened up on us.  It was a strange mixture of rain and hail, and it sent most of my hiking group scrambling for cover.

As we stood there in the rain/hail, I pulled out my camera and tried to make the most of the moment photographically.  There were some great foreground elements, and a beautiful scene before me…but the light was flat, the clouds all boiled into one undefined mass and my lens was covered in magical, un-wipe-off-able water drops. haha  Even as the rain/hail passed, I couldn’t seem to get a good shot.  The compositions seemed off, the light still wasn’t dynamic and my group wanted to finish the last little bit of the hike to the summit…  In short, a lot of struggle for not much payoff.

I packed in my camera and followed the group, trying not to let myself worry too much about the photos I hadn’t taken.  After all, it wasn’t about the images.  It was about spending the day with Sean and my friends, about conquering the trail, getting in shape, enjoying my time in nature and relaxing.

By the time we finished enjoying the view at the top, I felt better.  I had let go the photo-anxiety of a missed shot and let myself live in the moment.

As we made our way back down the mountain, I realized I had dropped my hiking stick (a must with my knees) when I originally stopped at the shore, so I took the short side trail back to the pond to recover it.  As I came around the curve of the trail, I felt it.  That serendipitous moment.  The sky, the light, the reflection on the pool of water in front of the pond…  Everything was perfect.  I knew this photo would be something special.

We struggle, we cope, we mature emotionally, we learn to appreciate the journey… and in that moment… everything comes together for us.  Quite the metaphor for life.

Well done, Mama Nature…well done.

Finding Our Way

1 Jul
Smugglers Notch Trail

Smugglers Notch Trail

I wondered, just now, how people come up with titles for their images and posts and such.  I mean, occasionally, I dream up a title to something that just feels right.  Same way with the rare poem that comes to mind, or the every-now-and-again piece of writing I turn out.  Those words are easy.  They just flow from my brain to my pen (or in this case, keyboard) without effort, already formed into a cohesive and succinct thought.  In those cases, I dare say, they were just born eloquent.  No struggling, no writer’s block, no searching for hidden meanings or words that do an image justice…  Just an outpouring of creativity.

Those are wonderful moments in any creative’s life.  You have an itch.  A desire.  A need to produce…something.  And it happens, until you’ve satisfied your craving (may I use the word obssession?  Because it seems accurate.) and can move on to the next thing in your day.

But then there is the rest of the time.  You feel an urge to create, but it is more of a vague, somewhat frustrating itch that you can neither reach nor scratch.  You know you WANT to draw from the well of your imagination, but for whatever reason, it eludes you.

I had one of those moments the other day, when I was posting this photo on 500px.  I believe the title I came up with (after 3 tries) was “Mountain Path”.  That’s like naming your black and white cat Oreo (no offense to all of the Oreo’s out there!  And as a side note, while I’ve dropped my filters and let my fingers run wild on the keyboard…what about naming a black and white cat “Monochrome”?  Huh, photo-fans?  Super-genius, right?)

Where was I?  Oh…yeah…Mountain Path.  Definitely does not do the photo any justice, however true the words may be.  My inner poet was sleeping that day, to be sure.  Something inside of me wanted to give it a name that was inspiring, and transferred the sense of peace I felt in the woods that day to the viewer.

“The Path to Enlightenment”? Nah.  It was the path to a very cold, beautiful pond at the top of a New England mountain…but enlightenment would be over-stating.

“A Walk in the Woods”? True…but not very inspiring.  A title is like Twitter…only so many characters available to convey our feelings.

“Dang, 4 Miles of Hiking Is Tiring”? As honest as it gets…but an obvious latch ditch effort. haha

So, I thought a bit more about the day, the hike, my life and what the memories meant to me.  2013 has been, simply put, the year of change for me.  I’m not the sort to generally spill a whole lot of personal details about my life, but suffice it to say, there has been a lot of self-reflection, a lot of accepting things I cannot change and resolving to improve the things I can.  One of those changes involved transitioning out of a 13 year relationship where we were both unhappy towards the end.

Since growing enough courage to make an amicable break, and finding a place of peace about the decision, I have been blessed with a fresh start.  I’ve promised myself that in this new relationship, I will try not to make the same mistakes, and to hold tight to the lessons I’ve learned.  I’m more honest, a better communicator, and more inclined to put my energy into something positive, less inclined to bury my head in the sand.

(A good course of action not just for our interactions with others, but for life in general, no?)

This day…this photo…was a great hike I took with the new guy, a day full of smiles and laughs.  It was easy, and full of promise.  To me, this photo was representative of my journey, of me finding my own way through life.  Sure, its full of twists and turns, its full of steps that made my ruined knee ache (ohh…I mean some pain) but it’s life and as long as I stay on the (blue marker) trail, I know I’ll make it.  My journey, my path, my life with all of its mistakes and lessons.  My photo.

Hey…guess I found that creative well after all.  This image is called “Finding Our Way”.

A quick technical note:  This is a pano stitch taken with my nifty-50 lens for a project being hosted by my friend Will.  This scene was suggested as a photo by the new guy, Sean.  Gotta give credit where credit is due. 🙂