Monday, December 30, 2013

The Struggle Inside

In all of my life I’ve been searching for the good and only the good.  I hide from the negative, I hide from the bad.  I always ignore the fact that with our yin there must always be a yang, that when light comes it will eventually be replaced by darkness.

It’s something I always purposefully forget, it is something we all have inside both light and dark.  No one is free of either and if they pretend to be pure good or pure evil they are nothing more than a coward.   I always like to portray that pure good and act without judgment.  That judgment free zone of mine is filled with nothing but judgment, it is filled with darkness.  The want to always be in the light, to sidestep the inner struggle.  I sidestep the struggle in pursuit of nirvana on earth.  I’ve come to the realization I will never find what I seek.  I attempt to live a self-righteous virtuous life, this style of life has me putting my preconceptions, my beliefs to a test.  I have put my beliefs on a pedestal that create an ego I need not carry and show a false strength.

In reality I am weak and feel shame and disappointment in myself.  I overcompensate by showing a strong and in control face.  It allows me to hide and mask how tortured my soul actually feels.  I carry an invisible burden which I am unable to release.

In my journey I am searching for a friend who will listen, accept my vulnerability and help me figure it out.  A person to help me understand I have nothing to feel shame for, that I live a great life where disappointment should release from my mind.  I have never had that solitary best friend who is always there for me.  All of my friends I have are simple acquaintances.  We may get close at some point but as with everything they are just a means to an end for me and eventually just pass into the night.

It is what I consider everyone just an acquaintance, I have yet to find that friend who will stick by my side even when I yearned for that friend.  I don’t always make the best effort, in fact the person needs to be really special for me to make any effort at all.  In my life it has been just a select few who I have tried with.  I am searching for someone to push me, to speak with my soul to help me take the next step on my journey.  I’ve given up on finding a mentor and guide to teach me, rather I am searching for a friend, a supporter who can help me make sense of it all.  I seek someone who can help balance out my yin with my yang and push me to the life I want.

I always stay alone trying to make it on my own afraid to share myself with those I love the most.  Balance, trust, love, compassion, empathy and determination are all traits I need to develop to move forward and change.  I will work on my mindfulness and ultimate goal of filling the world with lovingkindness.  As this comes everything else I seek will follow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Reflections: Memories that last a lifetime

This year the main gift for others is photos.  For as long as I can remember family in most cases has said to me we never see these photos you take.  That is mainly because they aren’t linked into my online photo galleries.  This year was the year of photos, frames, and albums oh my.  I had to make sure I didn’t hoard these memories and moments for myself.

Everytime I click my shutter on my camera its not to capture you at your worst but to capture that moment forever.  It’s really interesting how so many people protest having their photo taken but will then take a horrible selfie in atrocious light.  My goal is to capture love whether it be in a laugh, a smile, a tear or a pose.  Love is our most powerful of emotion and can be released in so many ways.  I want to share my love with all of my family and friends and have memories we can all look back on no matter how near or how far we are from one another.

One of my favorite sayings was “I don’t take a good picture, that is why I am behind the camera”.  Recently I stopped saying that for one reason.  No matter how I may look or what is happening I have come to the realization that I want to be able to look back on my life and see all of the moments with those I love.  As a result I now happily look at cameras.  I am more relaxed and even have figured out how to smile for pictures.  I no longer have an excuse to hide from the camera, I have no excuse not to make that memory and neither should you.

It’s is crazy how a photo can evoke so much emotion.  Today I witnessed it and am so glad I bring my camera and take photos even amongst the protest.  I don’t always get what I want, but there will always be memories with loved ones to treasure.  I put together an album with photos that included my late Uncle Tim for the family.  It was something I had to do but was hard for me to do to look back on those times.  It was even tougher to watch those around me melt into a mess.  It’s something special to cherish and hold tight.  I can’t imagine missing those moments and not having those beautiful memories. 

I’m not the paparazzi, I will never take photos out of malice.  I often feel like I’m prying into a private sphere, in fact a lot of times people need to force me start because I don’t want to seem like a nuisance.  It is all done out of love.  Love, love, love all you need is love (and photos and bicycles and crossfit and music).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reflections: Self Worth

In my life I have often found myself questioning my worth and asking the question does anyone care about me? The answer is yes my family cares and that’s what I always thought.  I think about death whats beyond and have pictured my funeral without a single person there.  I never felt like I had any friends who cared, who wanted to get to know me or even notice if I disappeared. 

One of my favorite books is “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom.  I’ve often felt like the main character that my life was worthless.  I have not had to take his journey to find the value in my life.  It has been hard but I’ve started to build a life to be proud of.  If your reading this and know me at all, you only see the strong, confident side of me.  If you were to ask me what I think about myself I’ll give you an analysis that is harsh and focuses on my faults rather than any strength.  I even have trouble taking a compliment and will demean myself at those moments.

I’ve come to the realization that my life is not worthless.  Life’s actions no matter how small create a domino effect upon our friends and strangers.  That’s something I have been reminded of in the past day.  As a photographer I capture memories that people will have forever.  In some aspect whether I am remembered or not I will be in strangers lives forever. 

I never thought that my life would matter but two people made my heart warm and soul feel alive.  My goal is to help people to grow and develop into amazing people.  I have a friend whom I expect the world of and want to see her grow into a successful woman.  Last night she wrote me expressing her gratitude for the help and support I have given her in her life.  I guess I’m a teacher and a guide in some way.  It’s not something I strived for but just happened.

In photography I’m building confidence and trust in my craft.  The support I get from my clients and my friends is simply amazing.  I’ve found a craft that others respect and trust me with.  Finding my worth and value through others has been a long trip.  I now realize that I need to live the best life I can; be healthy, be strong, be a friend, be a teacher, be kind and set an example for others because I don’t know who is watching and how my actions will make an impact in this world.

We should all take a moment to live with the whole world in mind.  Act more lovingly, more selflessly, more kind without judgement.  That can create the change we want to see.  Give more hugs, smile more and celebrate your value and uniqueness in this great big world.  Remember to love everybody.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Thankful Blog

The Thankful Blog:

I am thankful for family, friends, and passions.

I wouldn't be who I am today without my family.  Always supportive and loving even in my moments of doubt and not loving myself.  I am so thankful they believe in me, love me, push me out of my comfort zone and will always be there whenever I call upon them. 
So Thankful I have a Mom
Dad and Missy

I am thankful this year I started to understand what it meant to be a friend and have developed friendships.  I always thought of myself as loner and only depended on myself.  I never let anyone in at all.  I am thankful for Veronikah for always being there for me even though it feels like we are strangers sometimes. I have a friend Chelsea to thank for allowing me to open up and share.  Now I am able to share more and am able to put trust in others. 

Me and Veronikah
Me and Chelsea

My new family Love my hodders

Over the past 2 months I have forged a fast friendship with many at HOD as I get healthy and build myself up.  I have been able to get comfortable with is a big accomplishment for me.  I am thankful for the growth they have helped with.  Thanks Julia, Joe, Zach, Sam and Stephanie my 10am hodders who I am thankful for and look forward to seeing everyday.

I am thankful I follow my passions, and share them to an annoying point.  I know music, photography and cycling are boring to a lot but its what I love.  I am thankful they have bettered my life made me happier and have contributed to personal growth.

Rocking the cameras with Katie
Me and Savannah
I am thankful for all of those who have believed in me and hired me to share there moments and make memories of them that will last forever.  I am thankful you have allowed me to grow my photography and for Katie Bearce for making me smile and understand to have fun in life and not take it too seriously, I hope that I am a good teacher and sharing photography is awesome.

I am thankful for musicians and friends like Savannah King, Jaida Dreyer and Sunny Sweeney who believe in my talent and are always kind to me continue chasing their dreams and sharing their passions with me.

Me and Jaida
Me and Sunny

I am thankful that there are so many wonderful people in this world and in my life. I love you all

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Project: Those I've Loved Along the Way; Eric Church

Those I’ve Loved Along the Way

I have days where it feels like no one loves me.  I have days where I feel all alone.  I have days where I wonder if this journey called life is worth it.

Then I have moments of clarity which wash away all of that negative thought.  A memory from yesterday, a memory from 10 years ago, a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger is able to create the love I wish to feel.  All of those memories, all of those people are those I’ve loved along the way. 

Each week 1 or 2 times per week I will highlight and share with you those who have crossed my path, made me smile and impacted me in ways  which I will never forget.  My goal is to do a photo shoot with the person that I plan to share with you or share a past photo if geography prevents us from a live shoot.
The first person I am going to highlight if you haven’t  guessed it yet is Eric Church (EC).  His song “Those I’ve Loved Along the Way” has inspired me to reflect and share with you the great people who have come and gone in my life.  He is one person I’ve loved along the way and the first person in this project.

Eric Church's first time on the big stage at CMAFest.  I was lucky enough to watch him grow from the beginning to where he is today.
I first discovered EC back in 2006 and started seeing him live whenever I could.  I’ve met him a few times, shot a few of his shows and met some amazing people because of him.  Can I say EC is an awesome guy, can I talk about his character or anything outside of music.  The answer simply is no, I don’t know him personally and never expect to.

It’s always been about his music and the community called the Church Choir.  EC has allowed me to meet wonderful people who I feel comfortable enough to call my friends.  In California, Florida, Canada, Michigan, South Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee and many more states are friends I’ve made because of his music.  I always have a couch to sleep on or a friend to meet at a show. Music is amazing and the lyrics he strings together allow me to connect with the songs and keep coming back for more, wanting to see him live and become a bandaid.  He has always made his music his way, and views music as an art rather than a marketing tool.  That’s why I love EC and where my inspiration comes for this new project, I want to let all of my friends know how special they are and no matter how far they are loved.

In 2007 showing off one of my photos of Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and himself.  Amazing what music can do for a soul.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Writers Block

Today while at the box talking with Zach and Julia about Eminem and music it triggered my thoughts.  Eminem to me has always been able to express his hatred and anger for his mom.  That pain he raps about is my pain as well how my mom wrecked me.  I got thinking of a paper I wrote in high school about the night she ran out my life when I was just a little kid. 

I started searching perusing files and in the midst of this I discovered many years and hundreds of pages of my past writings.  Some poems, some unfinished books, some made no sense and some were journals.  I wrote my through my emotions love, hate, pain, anger, happiness and so many more.  In 2009 I seemed to stop lose emotion, lose my way have nothing to put pen to paper for but journaling.   I always wrote for myself.   My favorite part of writing is sending snail mail, cards and little pieces of life to friends around the country.  So with this blog I’m trying to rekindle a bit of my soul which has been hiding out.  Writing expressing a little bit of my life to you so you can know me better.  In my writing I expect to launch occasional debate, have friendly conversations and release stress.   As long as you will have me I’ll keep sharing.  Here is a piece of writing I did a few years ago when I was depressed.  I read it only to realize how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown and the place I occasionally go back to. 

Lifeless living 9/6/2002

Turmoil, trouble, terror
All negative things in life is all I see
Nothing can cure me bring me life
I walk around lost
No permanent home, no permanent family
No one who cares if I were here or not
Optimist is what I try to be
When nothing goes your way it seems so rough and so hard
How when I have this view can I be so down and depressed
I’m living lifeless
No heart or soul behind me in what I do
Alone transparent in being
Lifeless, lifeless, lifeless

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reflections: Progression

Today is a bittersweet day, as I sit here I think about how I broke through some physical barriers this morning, then I come to the realization that in a few hours I’ll be a at a remembrance for my 21 year old cousin Thom who passed away last week.

Two extremes in one day and the melancholy is filling my heart right now.  My breakthrough this morning was wholly physical.  Just over a month ago I joined a “box” which is the term for a crossfit gym here in Lockport.  It is called Crossfit HOD.  My reasons for joining were mainly offseason cycling training and to work on my core and shoulder strength.  I walked in day one knowing I was going to be able to do any exercise put before me, maybe not that first time but eventually I would grow and develop the movements, the strength and mind to push myself where I needed to be.  Today was the breakthrough day where I took the jump.

Before the workout I asked Zach the trainer if he thought I could “RX” it.  RX is a term to complete the full workout without scaling any movements.  Today’s workout was a crossfit benchmark workout called “Helen”.  Complete 3 rounds for time;  run 400 meters, 21 kettlebell swings 53lbs, and 12 pullups.  I could have taken the easy way out and have completed 35lb swings and strap pullups, believe me that was my first thought.  Until today I had never completed a pullup or a 53lb swing in a workout.  Naturally I had worked on them and knew I would not have too much trouble with the swing, just had to do 2 to 3 sets each time.
Where I encountered the issue was whether not I could complete the 36 total required pullups.  I broke them up into sets of 2 and 3.  By my last round it was a few sets of 1.  I never gave in and finished Helen my first benchmark workout in 16:43.  Is it a good time, is it a bad time, did I finish first, did I finish last? I don’t know and don’t really care.  What these workouts are for me is a place to grow and build myself to be successful in life. 

Post RX and ride selfie
Relaxed enough at 30mph to take a picture
I was on cloud nine after the workout and had to bike another 15 miles home to get a total of 30 miles.  The clouds were turning the wind was picking up and I hated life.  I hate wind, wind is my biggest enemy in life.  I started out very apprehensive as I had to cross transit rd.  Riding in heavy traffic scares me but I got to the light and on route 93.  I looked down, I was going a respectable 17mph for the first 4 or so miles.  Then something clicked I don’t know what but I pushed a little harder, then harder next thing I know I was gliding along at 30mph on a straight away  for about a mile which is absolutely unheard of for me and in fact I barely get up to that speed when sprinting.  For a few miles I kept my pace between 24 -28mph.  I hit the downhill shortly after at about 41mph which could have been faster if I wasn’t being safe because of the wind.  Then for the remaining miles I kept the pace between 20 – 23mph.  This is a huge breakthrough because I didn’t feel like I was hitting a wall my mind didn’t tell me to quit, it said focus on each stroke its only 7,6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 more mile to go.  I do sprints and time trials on my own and struggle to keep any pace like this for 10 to 20 miles.  Today I carried it for 15 miles and I wasn’t racing anyone, I was able to think and enjoy the ride and blow my normal pacing out of the water. 

 Physically I am in an amazing place, mentally I am good but need more motivation outside of the gym to make the career change.  I made a few amazing breakthroughs that I can directly attribute to crossfit, but my next breakthrough needs to be so I can have the life I want to live.  The mindset I have been developing is making me a stronger and more motivated individual, despite this I have so much more to learn to develop and grow throughout my journey on this earth.

Ride stats from strava a pretty awesome app

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reflections: Success

The sound of silence allows my soul to breather, my mind to clear and my thoughts to manifest.  In my evening meditation as my mind wandered with thoughts passing through.  One thought stuck in my head the word success. 

What is success?  I’ve always been shortsighted in my definition of success as I think the majority of this world focuses on success as money and power.  It’s taught to us from day one more, more, more money and power.  These are just lies and false perceptions.  Worshipping idols is not what we were put on this world for.  We were put on this earth to act us small cogs in a bigger plan being interconnected with each other.  That is how we will be successful.  Acting not as individuals but as a collective group. 

Live, love, think.  These should be the cornerstones to success.  Acting with good intentions to benefit society as a whole this will lead to success for the individual and everyone that is touched.    In defining success as achievement of money and power for the better part of my life I have looked at myself as a failure.  Tonight I realized success is defined the relationships built, those you’ve touched along the way and the special moments that make memories that last forever.  It’s all about the journey in life.  Using this definition I am successful and more than likely you are too. 

My goal for life is to find balance with family, friends, society and nature.  Whether or not I have found it is not what matters.  What matters is that I have built relationships which will last have whether we spent 2 hours together, 2 days or 20 years.  The genuine relationships I have built will pull me through as well pull others through when help is needed.  This is success creating stability building strength in the midst of societies burdens and capitalistic vulturistic culture.

I plan to continue to focus on others remembering the small things and being selfless in the relationships  that have been built.  If I can make a difference in someones life while finding balance in my own then no matter if I were homeless and hungry  or a billionaire shutoff from the world then I would define myself as a success.  Being successful is not a one- time act it is a life of selfless acts  not out of charity or force.  These are acts that come from an inner character a strength and love for others not as a means to an end. 

I will continue to grow and continue to follow my heart and act with love.  That defines success to me.

It's a beautiful life

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Love You Grandpa

I sit looking out into the world celebrating my grandfathers life.  He lived to the age of 92 and just recently passed from this physical earth.  Its amazing to look back at the memories, find the cards and wish we we had more time and more photos.  Alas time is too short for regrets.

We all have lost loved ones along the way whether it be family or friends.  We have lost them but will never forget them.  My Grandpa touched many peoples lives in many different ways.  To me he was just Grandpa without a a doubt my biggest fan and supporter.  He would help me through any situation and believed in giving too many chances.

He was a typical man from the greatest generation, a hard worker and a big dreamer with a giant heart.  He would try to improve your life with a horrible joke or by showing a knicknack he picked up somewhere.  He loved heavy machinery and tinkering with tools.  His life long dream was to construct a pond on his land.  He didn't want a small pond he wanted a giant pond more like a mini lake.

It started out with him realizing his land was valuable so he started selling his dirt as a gravel pit and bit by bit year after year dirt and shale got taken away.  The best part of his gravel pit was the high dirt hills to play king of the mountain in with the few smaller shallow ponds to swim in or catch tadpoles as a child. I think I was the envy of my friends when I was young cause we would go down back as we called it and get lost in adventure.  The gravel pit was finished about 10 years ago and now is a massive pond to fish in swim in and a great place to watch the wildlife.  Walking down the trails, watching the deer, running into a skunk or visiting my grandpas favorite wild raccoon. That place held many memories and adventures.  It also held peoples doubts in what he was doing but he will it to happen.

He never took no for answer, he never did sales but would have been a hell of a salesman because he could talk his into way to getting anything he wanted, well unless it was with a judge.  His reasoning was all always a bit shaky and weird but to him his conviction was stronger than what may have been the facts.

He loved with his whole heart, followed his passions till the day he passed, and was great man who waited for the bus with me in morning and was there when I got off at night.  He loved riding his bike and had a junk pile of bikes in the back.  He liked to collect parts and metal some might say hoard but I loved him for it because I built my 1st bike around the age of 10 and I still ride religiously today.  I remember being scared to death when I would get into something I wasn't supposed to.  You never crossed him because he was relentless.

I remember him bailing me out when I accidently broke off  a car mirror in high school, but of course he told dad after I made him promise to keep a secret.  He was always looking out for me even when I thought he wasn't.  My favorite part of growing up was Friday dinners with him Grandma and Missy.  Like clockwork same place same table and he would order the same thing at the same time every week then we would go back to his house and watch bluejays baseball on rabbit ears from Canada.

He loved God, Country, Family and Music.  I remember watching heehaw and wrestling with him.  Listening to classic country Hank Williams, Whispering Bill Anderson, Buck Owens, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline that was his music.  He never liked the new stuff and never wavered on his opinion.   He was solid as rock and never showed fear.

He new his time in this world was short and when I would see him he would talk as the end was near saying how proud he was of me and to live a great life.  My last words to him were "I Love You Grandpa, I'll see you tomorrow" but I never did get to see him again.

Whether there is another place beyond this world I will not know for many years.  The hearts he filled with happiness and the memories he made I will always hold dear. I Love you Grandpa -did you ever know?
Did I ever tell you so? I hope you understand,you have so much to do with who I am.