Year in Review

The day was kind of blah for taking any new photos, so I decided to comb back through this year’s thousands of images and pick one of my favorites. I actually had several that I liked a lot, but this one just makes me happy every time I look at it, so it wins. :)

I wish that I had a way with words, because I’ve been sitting here a long time, fingers poised over keyboard, waiting for inspiration to write something worthy of the time it takes to read it. But then I figure that you’re probably just browsing Facebook anyway, so you’ve got time to waste. Knowing that takes some of the pressure off. :)

It’s been a good year overall. I had a few days of anxiety when I was waiting to hear the report from some skin biopsies. That time of “not knowing” certainly brings gratefulness for health into sharp focus, especially after the report is a good one. Seeing my parents become more feeble with every passing visit is very difficult and worrisome, but they’re still here and still kicking.

Of course, relationships are always a refining process. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or my partner, the relationships which matter most to me are often the sources of my greatest joy and my greatest frustration. Being self-aware and willing to look inward at the things I bring to (and take out of) a relationship have always been things I’ve been comfortable with, but this year has been even more eye-opening and humbling in that respect. I’m so fortunate to have so many talented, intelligent, supportive, hard-working, and loving people in my life. Having them be patient with me as I strive to become the better person I want to be is truly a blessing.

I had some real sadness early on in the year when I had to put down my sweet beagle, Maggie. She was such a bundle of joy and unconditional love. Of course, in July, fate dropped Eddie into my lap, and so my life with dogs (which I thought was over) continues. And of course, my two orange tabbies continue to be a source of happiness and amusement.

Got to do a little traveling… to Minnesota and to Cumberland Island… and that was nice, to get away and to see some different things. I hope to do more traveling in the coming years.

I reached the five-year mark with my employer in October. I’m so lucky to have a good job where I enjoy what I do, the people with whom I work, and the fact that I don’t have a bad commute. In Atlanta, having an easy commute is worth a LOT of money, time, and hassle!!

I started out the year planning to post a photo a day along with my thoughts about it. Of course, I didn’t succeed in doing it every day, but I did post 226 new photos, each with its own blog post. So that’s 61% of the year or a little more than four posts per week. I’m going to continue my posts next year. I feel that not only did looking for something to take a photo of every day help me improve my photography skills, it also helped be more mindful of my surroundings.

There were times when I saw something special that I wanted to take a photo of, and I would stop and do it. But often, the photo didn’t turn out like I expected, or I didn’t catch “the moment” or I didn’t have the right lens, or whatever. At first, I would get frustrated about it, but then I came to realize how fortunate I was to even BE in that moment, experiencing whatever it was I was attempting to capture. It has helped me put the focus more on enjoyment and less on results. Oddly enough, I’ve found the results often happen anyway.

So, for those who follow my blog, you saw about 61% of my life in 2012. The other 39% was remarkably similar to it… filled with the beautiful and the mundane, the awe-inspiring and the ordinary… probably, a lot like your own life. ;)

Thank you for taking time to look at my photos and/or read my posts. I enjoyed sharing them with you. To all of you, I wish health, happiness, and love in 2013! Let’s make it a good year!!

Be the change you wish to see in the world. –Gandhi

Surely, It’s a Temple

I’ve taken photos of the Hindu Temple (BAPS Mandir) in Lilburn before, but I snapped this one today and wanted to share it.

Even if you don’t adhere to the Hindu faith, it would be hard to not stand amazed at the beauty, intricacies, and artfulness of this building. Today was my first time to go inside of it, and oh my, it’s even more amazing inside. Unfortunately for me, they do not allow photography past a certain point on the outside, and absolutely none on the inside. Inside, you have to take off your shoes, and they have signs asking for silence. It’s just so amazing to walk inside such a work of art and feel the peacefulness of the surroundings.

Take a look at the details. They’re pretty amazing.

Hors d’Oeuvres Spears Bouquet

These are several little decorative hors d’ouevres “spears” Sandee has created in her latest burst of creative energy. I can see all kinds of possibilities for the wire and the polymer clay… jewelry, sculptures, frames, decorative bottles, etc.

It will be like craft time in Vacation Bible School all over again! Wheeeeee! :)

Fire in the Sky

Another building shot… two nights in a row! However, this one is not about the architecture, but about the sunset. I don’t know how many of you saw it tonight, but it was a hugely brilliant and fiery one! I took a couple of shots of it through my windshield while stopped at traffic lights, but, of course, got all the extraneous cars, wires, poles, and other city crap in the images.

I then noticed how beautiful the sun’s reflection was in this building’s windows, so I whipped into their parking lot, drove to the highest corner and took several shots. Of course, it was handheld, so the noise is pretty bad in the shadows, but the colors came out very nice and true to what I was seeing.

Referring back to an earlier post about doing random acts of kindness, newswoman Ann Curry has starting a #26Acts campaign on Twitter, encouraging people to do at least 26 acts of kindness for folks in honor of the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary. Who knows what kind of awesome fire that spark might start.

Just Google “#26acts” and you’ll get lots of news about it. Or follow this link to read more.

The Royals

England may have Prince William and Kate, but Sandy Springs has the King and Queen buildings.

Sitting just north of I-285 near Perimeter Mall, the King and Queen buildings stand high above the buildings surrounding them in the Concourse at Landmark office park. Built in the late 80s/early 90s, the 34-story buildings are a familiar landmark to anyone traveling on the north side of the city. The white lattice “crowns” are meant to resemble king and queen chess pieces.

The oddly set angles of the upper floors give the illusion that the upward edges of the building are not truly vertical, but they are.

This photo was taken over my shoulder in my car while sitting still on the interstate. Oh well, if you have to be sitting in traffic, it’s nice to have something interesting to look at. :)

As I was about to add the details link, I noticed that there are two window washers on the left side of the king buildings. They will look like little dots to you, even when you look at the details. :)

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief? 
William Blake

These roses were given to me on the fourth anniversary of the day I met Sandee. I was thrilled to receive them and took a photo to mark the occasion, December 14th. Little did I know that date would be the one which would shake a nation to its core with the killing of so many innocents in a Connecticut school.

As I heard the news at work, getting ever worse with each update, I could not stop myself from crying at my desk. The last time I felt that way… my heart pounding in my ears, my throat constricting from holding back tears and sobs, my stomach sinking… was September 11, 2001. The disbelief, the horror unfolding before my eyes as the true nature of the brutality was revealed.

So many of us were seeking whys and hows in the news reports as they poured forth, but no matter what “motive” is finally decided upon, I know it can’t be comprehended by those of us who know mercy and who care about life and who have the power to love. For whatever “reason” is given to explains acts of brutality… nature or nurture, religious extremism, jealousy, greed, mental illness, hatred… it will never make sense to us.

I think we (or at least I do) try to figure these things out so that we feel like we have some sense of control over avoiding it. “If I can avoid the crazy people, I’ll be okay. If I stay out of bad neighborhoods, I’ll be okay.” And so on. I think this kind of act shakes us so much because it hit the heart of where innocence lives, first grade children in a classroom at Christmastime. The only thing I can think of that comes close is the killing of four little girls after Sunday School in a church in Birmingham. Evil men doing evil deeds. Their minds warped by hatred for people whose skin was a different color.

In this case, was it hatred? Was it brain chemistry gone awry? Was it drug interactions? Again, the shooter’s motive doesn’t matter, because we will never be able to understand and say “Oh, yes, NOW, I get it.” Because there is never a reason to shoot children in school. Never. Ever.

Whatever his home life is discovered to be, we will never have the whole story. We all know that families can look one way to the world while having a totally different reality behind closed doors. And add to that the closed doors of the shooter’s mind… it’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma. And I’ll be willing to bet that his actions made perfect sense to him, and that’s all the green flag he needed.

It’s hard to feel powerless to help alleviate the pain of these poor family members. It’s difficult to know that any of us could be alive or dead at the whim of a madman. Even those who say that armed citizens might have taken him down ignore the element of surprise that allows so much carnage in the chaos. It’s frustrating to watch our politicians struggle to make good and fair decisions regarding mental health and gun control. So many strong emotions surface after tragedies like this.

I’ve often said that I can’t do much to change big issues and big problems, but I can do something. My favorite quote is from Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” More than ever, I will seek to perform random acts of kindness and hope that it spreads outward. I urge you to join me, and I urge you to challenge others to join you too. It might not make a huge difference, but it will make at least a difference to those on whom you bless with kindness.

Whirling Dervish

Like I said earlier, I just haven’t seen that much that I want to photograph lately. However, a couple of days ago during lunch, I was sitting in my car and saw this groundskeeper with a gas-powered leaf blower. He was moving huge piles of leaves with just a wave of his machine… unlike my battery-powered leave blower where I have to practically beg a wet leaf to move.

I hate the sound of leaf blowers, much preferring the rustling, rhythmic sound of leaves being raked. But there’s no denying they’re more efficient, so I guess they and their noxious fumes and annoying sounds are here to stay.

Anyway, the rise and fall of the swirling leaves captured my fancy for a few moments, and this was my favorite shot.