“The Winter of our Discontent”

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“People who are most afraid of their dreams convince themselves they don’t dream at all.”
John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

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It’s been almost two years since my last post.  Here’s my excuse.  Life got in the way.  Life was busy with photography.  Life was busy with a teenager.  Life became surreal due to the political ugliness and the division in our country.   My dreams, as I’m sure many of yours, became hard to identify, and sadly became less significant.

The intent of this blog was to follow my daughter on her journey to becoming a young adult, while also sharing my journey in photography.  Here’s the update CliffsNotes style: I successfully added “art commissions and installations” to my resume while my daughter moved on to high school and continues to passionately pursue her equestrian goals and dreams.

During the first six months of 2017, I spent a few months in San Francisco rising before dawn to capture the iconic landmarks and the eclectic vibes of our amazing city by the Bay.   After a major installation at a VC firm in SOMA in June, it was time for me to take a breather.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  How could she have possibly turned 15.5?!!!   It was learner’s permit time!

As the mother of a teenager with places to go, people to see, and horses to ride (with no access to public transportation … remember, we live on a mountain), I became her private Lyft service and Driver’s Ed teacher.  My availability for commissions pretty much became non-existent, however I did sneak in a few mini sessions last Fall.  With still a few months to go before her Chapter 16 begins, I continue as driver, but rest assured there is no complaining on my end.  I already feel the lump developing in my throat.

2018 has brought an unexplainable, quiet sense of hope and optimism.  I’m not exactly sure why or where it’s coming from; perhaps from spending time with my daughter and her pals who exude intelligence, kindness, empathy and the kind of optimism and hope that comes with youth.   Whatever the reason, I embrace it.  With 2020 only two years away,  I have a renewed energy to take this blog on the final leg of the journey.

As for the tree, I have begun a new photo series.  I have driven by this tree every day for the past 15 years.  I wanted to make a picture on a perfect winter day.  I convinced myself for last 15 years that day has never been quite right.   Today was different, so I stopped.  This image encapsulates the feelings and emotions that filled my 2017, while reminding me that beauty exists and my dreams are still very much intact.

Cheers! xx J>

 

 

 

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Thermal

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“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” ~ Elbert Hubbard


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Lessons in riding, photography and life.  The child had a wonderful experience during her three weeks in the desert.  She did her job in moving the pony named Mickey along to his next adventure, she entered the jumper ring for the first time with great success on a horse named Heid-n-Seek; and, she got back together with her best friend, Charly, who, together went on to great things in the hunter ring.  I am not sure what she would say was the highlight of her time in the desert.  Possibly winning on Charly, maybe successfully completing her first jumper course, or, perhaps simply being in the same warm up ring with US Olympian, Rich Fellers and Flexible.

The photographer “borrowed” a lens for the second half of the adventure…  borrowedlens.com is my new favorite hangout.  I’m one of the lucky photographers that lives within 5 miles of this little golden nugget, allowing me on a moments notice to go in and grab whatever new and exciting piece of equipment I need or just want to have for a play date.

The shooting was phenomenal.  The desert landscape was extraordinary with the first weekend blasting us with winter like conditions.  This winter storm resulted in snowfall on the nearby San Jacinto Mountains which created breathtaking views from the jumper rings.  Down jackets and snow gear were required.  Two days later, the temps rose and out came the shorts and t-shirts.  The shooting was more interesting during the cold snap, as the hot desert sun (after about 9:30 a.m.) makes for not-so-pretty pictures.  Much of my success was either before 10:00 a.m. or as the sun was setting.  Afternoon breaks allowed for being a spectator watching the elite line up of international riders who were flocking to Thermal for the AIG Thermal $1 Million Grand Prix.  Another story for another day.

I share with you some of my favorite shots from this last adventure.  The journey will take us in the coming months to elementary school graduation, a couple of garden shoots, a celebratory trip to Spain and horse shows around CA…all of this leading up to the child starting a new chapter as she enters middle school.   Wish me luck, Charly (if have a child who is 10, you get it).  ~ Peace!  J>

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ImageGoodbye Thermal ~

Olympic Dreams

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“We all have dreams.  But in order to make dreams come into reality it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” ~ Jesse Owens 1936 Olympics ~ Photo courtesy of Cheval Photos

I have been saving this post for a few weeks because I thought today would be the perfect day to share this little story.  As you all know, my daughter, Ally, is a little equestrian with very big dreams.  Her dream, she will tell you, is to go to the Olympics one day.  While she is only 10, that dream, should it ever come to fruition could be as soon as 8 years aways.  2020 is the first year she would be eligible (you must be at least 18) for the equestrian Olympic team.  While Ally’s journey to 2020 may or may not take her to the Olympics, I can tell you this, without a doubt, many hours of training and many horse shows will fill the days of her future.  She is beyond horse crazy.  She has a passion that is her driving force.

Ally’s idol is Reed Kessler, who you see in the beautiful photo, above.  Reed Kessler is the youngest person in history to make an Olympic equestrian show jumping team, being selected on June 17 (while still 17) at Spruce Meadows in Calgary.  Reed celebrated her 18th birthday July 9, less than three weeks before the cutoff date to qualify for the Olympics in London.

The photo posted above was taken by my friend and fellow equestrian photographer, Selena Frederick, owner of http://www.ChevalPhotos.com.  Selena photographs many of the top riders in the world and travels to most of the high profile events in North America.  I feel very blessed to know her and call her my friend.  She inspires me artistically and has shown me that even in this small world of equestrians and professionals, there is room for everyone.

Selena was at Spruce Meadows when Reed was named to the Olympic Team.  I called Selena and I asked her if she could possibly ask Reed for an autograph for Ally. A napkin with her name would do.  I hate to ask for these kind of favors and understood completely if she didn’t feel comfortable asking.  Selena said she would see what she could do.  The next day I heard from Selena and she told me she had something to Ally.  Later that week that “something” arrived ~

As you can imagine the small child is beside herself.  A frame has been purchased and a space on the wall selected for the note and one of Selena’s beautiful photos of Reed.  You can check out the rest of Selena’s photos of Reed on her blog http://chevalphotos.com/3129/every-little-girls-dream.

Thank you, Selena for your kindness, your art and your inspiration!  Reed, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful note to Ally.  Good luck to you and Cylana this week!  We will be cheering you on every step of the way!   You are a hero and inspiration not only to my little one; but, to many little ones with big dreams.  ♥♥

Resilience

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“Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.” ~ Author Unknown

I received a letter today from my oldest sister.  In this letter she reflects on how fortunate I was to inherit the gift of practicality and resilience from our late mother.  Our mother saw, in the first 25 years of her life, so much more than many of us have or will ever see in a lifetime.  She survived WWII leaving her homeland of Romania at the age of 18, never to return.  Bombings in Poland (where she fled a theater moments before a bomb wiped the building off the radar), raids in Austria, then moving throughout Europe until the war ended and she arrived safely in Trieste, Italy, with her younger sister in tow.  She fell in love with an American G.I.  They married and had a child (my oldest sister) in Italy.  The army sent my father home due to illness leaving my mother and sister alone in Trieste.  They joined him months later arriving by boat on Ellis Island in 1956.  I don’t know, but, it seems one might have no other choice than to become practical and resilient in times like those.

Being the youngest and most obnoxious child of the brood, I’m flattered and honored that I remind my sister so much of my mother.  I’m not sure if it was nature or nurture, but, somehow I do believe I took on my mother’s sense of practicality; but, more importantly her tolerance for life and people.  Resilient, I’m not so sure.

Fast forward to mid December….the last two weeks of 2011 brought brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer affecting members of our family and close friends.   I’m still standing and, believe or not, smiling some times.  Am I super(wo)man?  No, not really.  I’m muddling through and being the person my mother taught me to be.  Optimistic, hopeful and helpful whenever possible.  Perhaps it is because I learned very early in life to embrace the good, turn away from the bad and try not to let the ugly get in the way.  Still, I find myself, sometimes, struggling with my own resilience to the hurt and pain caused by the insensitivity and mean spirited-ness of some people.  Insensitive, intolerant and, well, just plain mean people still exist.   Nine and a half years ago I got the gift of my mother’s spirit back.   This little being came to us with the most amazing spirit of kindness, understanding of tolerance with a keen sense of resilience.  Where this perspective and resilience comes from I do not know.  What I do know is that I am blessed to have her near me, to remind me of what is most important and often offer perspective that goes way beyond her nine little years.

Do not think that we are only here to teach our children.  We are also here to listen and learn from them.  I wish you all peace, love, happiness, tolerance; but, most of all, resilience in this new year.  Be safe. Be well!

Forever Young

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Quote of the Day:  May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true, may you always know the truth, and see the lights surrounding you, may you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong; and, may you stay forever young.”  ~ Bob Dylan

This has been a very emotional week.  My best friends from childhood will be gathering in my hometown, celebrating 30 years from our graduation from high school.  First of all, 30 years from ANYTHING is emotional; but, high school is another story.  I have always believed in the saying “make new friends, but, keep the old ~ one is silver and the other is gold” and I now instill this same philosophy in my child.

It is such an important philosophy for me to hold close, because there have been so many chapters in my  life.  I sometimes wonder if the small child will have such a big book, with so many chapters to lug around.  Perhaps her own novel will be more concise, less dramatic and; therefore, require fewer chapters.  My intuition tells me it will be the latter.  Whatever her story may be, I will tell her this: “friends will come and they will go; however, the impact of the lessons and gifts they bring will stay with you forever.”   As I write my blog, I generally try to parallel my daughter’s life and journey with my own.  Whether that is good or bad, it always brings the same resolution; that no matter how much life changes, it really does remain the same (with much better technology 🙂 ).  Thank you, Steve Jobs ~ may you rest in peace!

Whether it is the result of the many chapters of my life, the moves from coast to coast or the distance I live from my childhood home, I have always had this idea that I would never reconnect with my friends from childhood.  Well, that idea went completely out the window when Zuckerberg came to town with his baby, Facebook.  Initially, I thought Facebook was silly and trite; but, then I succumbed to the idea and, BOOM, Kathy appeared.  We saw each other’s names and “accepted” a friendship (maybe there should be a “re-accept” button).  I said, “come to California” and she said  “okay”.  We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in over 30 years.  I pulled up to the curb at SFO and we were both crying before I even got out of the car.  We talked for 5 days straight, remembering idiosyncrasies that were long forgotten.   Every time I laughed, she cried, because it was a memory so profound within her ~ with that, I cried because I remembered that laugh from my childhood.  A laugh that only she could resonate.

So I dedicate this week’s blog to my 8th grade best friend forever, Kathy, and the Milford High School Class of 1981.  It’s been a joy reconnecting with you all.  May we find some other old friends along the way, may we find joy in our own personal journeys; but, most of all may we stay forever young in our hearts and in our souls.  I love you all and thank you for my childhood.   I wish this wonderful kind of childhood for my daughter and all her friends on their journey to 2020!  Godspeed!

Charming Life

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Quote of the Day:  It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. 
William Shakespeare 

My daughter said to me a few weeks ago, “Mama, I’m so lucky”.  I couldn’t help but smile as she said this, because, at the time I agreed whole heartedly with her.   However, if you look at the definition, it will tell you that luck is a success (or failure) brought about by chance rather than through one’s own actions.  Lucky, yes she is; by chance or accident, I don’t think so.  I am a firm believer in karma.  The energy you put forth is the energy that will always come back and surround you.  Okay, perhaps I’m walking down my path of kooky, hippie ideology; however, it is such a privilege for me to watch and be a part of this small child’s life.  Her energy has such a positive and profound effect on me.  The child has a dream and passion that motivates and drives her.  She has a heart of gold that has not be affected by the negativity that life can sometimes throw your way.  She has a conscience in her soul and a kindness in her heart that I pray will stay with her as she continues on her journey.  Wherever you are and wherever you go you will take this energy, charm and light with you and it will be contagious.

It does not come as much of a surprise that the name of her new best friend and first horse is Charming.   Yes, my small child, you are lucky, however, it is the energy within you that brings such luck your way.  Stay true to yourself and to your dreams, and may you forever have a charming life!

Flower Power✌

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Quote of the Day:  “Open up for the Power of the Flower.” ~ Praga Khan

I have spent the last five days with the “flower children”.  This is how I refer to my friends and artists who thrive, in some capacity, in the world of horticulture.  Some are publishers of fine garden and horticulture magazines, some are garden designers, garden writers and garden photographers.  Their common denominator, they are all true gardeners.

The sun was shining on me a year ago when my favorite flower child, Patty Craft, Managing Editor and Publisher of Horticulture Magazine (also, my sister), invited me to join her at San Francisco Flower and Garden Show media pre-view event.  While I was not asked to “officially” shoot ” for her magazine, they ended up using some of my photos for their article on the show.   It was the blossoming of a new and lovely relationship.

Also on that day, I met my second favorite flower child, Rebecca Sweet.  Rebecca, is a landscape designer, author, freelance writer, garden blogger; and, unbeknownst to her, the complete force behind my leap into the blogging world.  Several months after our meeting, Rebecca invited me to a luncheon at her home with renowned garden photographer, Saxon Holt.  Sitting in Rebecca’s garden with these two revered artists, I gained a wealth of information and inspiration.  It was after that meeting that I turned the corner with Woodside Images .  From these two masters, I learned that I needed to create a unique niche for my style of photography, promote myself shamelessly; and, most importantly, start blogging about it.

Patty and Rebecca at Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto, CA.

I am a Gemini and my personality is true to its sign.  Gemini world is one of duality.  This can also possibly explain and help describe my style of photography; or, if you will, the unique niche I’ve created.  Some days it’s all about horses and other days it’s a walk in the garden.   It’s been whispered, that in order for me to be successful as an artist, it would be wise to choose between the two.  Flowers and horses have been good to me for a very long time.  Both are an inspiration to my art and to my soul.  In staying true to myself as an artist and a Gemini, I choose both!  Enjoy!