Reflections

This has been a weekend of reflection, re-evaluating that which is important during a period of madness. Work has been very busy, a little more than usual. I did not know if I could make it to go away. Although I had scheduled holiday, I could not actually take the time off. However, I really did want to go down to Tennessee where the memorial service of my uncle would be held. Of course my uncle would not know any better if I would turn up or not. After all we believe the dead are sleeping, until the resurrection. But I really wanted to be there for my cousin, whom I just recently reconnected with. Being in the US is a great opportunity to tighten family connections.

But now work commitments were threatening this time I had sat aside. Even though I had wanted to spend as much time as possible, I actually only saw them for the first time during visitation. And as my uncle was well loved, there was high demand on my family’s time. Particularly since they had all lived in Tennessee also and were there to visit.

It became quickly known to me that my desire to spend time was to be put on hold. Mixed with a bout of shyness to intrude and work calling, I only stayed for the service.

Coming back to my hotel room, and having my cousins words ringing through my head ‘don’t disappear’ I realised I really did have to think about what’s important. Sure, I need the job and right now work requires my focus. But being so close to relocating back to the UK, my opportunity to connect with family far away is also very important to me. I had challenged my cousin to a ‘rematch’ of walking/running up a hill in one of the state parks, and the time window was closing!

I ensured to have understanding of my boss that it was ok to skive off on Sunday…. and down the country lanes I went. Shame it was dreary out, no walking to be done. But I was very fortunate to have my cousin and his wife for myself for a couple hours! Catching up on years gone by and reminiscing of shared past time. Meeting up with their kids and grand kids, whom I actually had not met (except their eldest son, who was at Newbold College in England for a year during our time there).

The time to leave cane around way to early. Funny how you can feel so connected to someone in such a shirt time!

With promises to stay in touch I drove back to Atlanta to fly home to Minnesota, glad I did do what’s important to me. Family, no matter how far away, is very important. Time spend is not wasted.

Looking forward to the next opportunities to spend time!

My Top 10 Photos and the Stories Behind Them

In preparation for the release of the gallery part of the blog I decided to show my top 10 pictures and the stories behind them. Photography has been a huge part of my life and is one of the main ways in which I can be creative. I have been asked ‘why photography’ a lot and for me it allows me to show the world from my perspective. Something which you could walk past every day, is beautiful to the next person. So I try in my daily life to imagine what would make a good picture.

I have done some interesting things in my life and so I thought about sharing my top 10 pictures and also why I took them. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some incredible places in the world and have seen and experienced so many different cultures and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else.

  1. My First Long Exposure Shot – MadagascarIMG_8087

Back in 2012 I went for 10 weeks to Madagascar where I had an unforgettable time! It was genuinely one of the best trips of my life. Everything was super photogenic out there and one evening whilst sat watching the sunset, I just looked down and saw this log being washed ashore and saw the beautiful patterns and decided to try my first attempt at long exposure photography. This was the result. Yes the focus isn’t perfect, nor the composition, but it was my first attempt at something I had been too scared to try. The reason I chose to include this in my top 10 is not only because it was my first attempt, but I love the movement of the water and I love that it tells a story.

2. Ethiopian Man – Ethiopia

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I took this picture whilst I was there for my first time in Ethiopia. During that trip we were taken to a religious festival in the middle of nowhere. Everyone was so happy and the people of Ethiopia are all just so beautiful! Whilst having lunch I looked up from my food and noticed this old man standing in a doorway just watching the celebrations and I just thought that that would make such a beautiful picture and I just couldn’t stop myself from grabbing my camera and taking the shot. This was the outcome…It still remains as one of my favourite pictures from my trip.

3.  Why Did the Bear Cross the Road – Yellowstone National Park, USA12698140_10153445388827613_5201671014563450931_o

A couple years ago, my parents and I decided to do a proper American road trip. Starting from Minnesota and passing through 5 states before coming back to Minnesota. One of the major stops on the road trip would be Yellowstone National Park. On our first morning in Yellowstone, we had breakfast in a diner where we spoke to a couple who had been going there for years and hadn’t seen anything other than bison and elks. Well the morning before we had already seen a baby bear, so we were having a good start. Later that day, whilst driving around we spotted a bear walking in the bushes and quickly decided to drive slowly whilst the other cars were parked. And that gamble paid off…the baby bear decided to walk next to the car and then cross the road right in front of us. What an awesome way to experience the wonderful wildlife of Yellowstone!

4.  Sisterly Love – UK17861959_10154584511697613_2200926202777938493_n

These 2 beauties are the gorgeous daughters of some family friends. They were the perfect models and behaved so well! Bare in mind that I did have a broken finger on my left hand and could barely carry my camera. So just before this moment, I had my back turned to the children whilst talking to the parents. I turned round to see the big sister tenderly touching her little sister and I caught this moment. I love taking pictures of children and babies as they are just so unpredictable. Blink and the moment is gone! Seeing the joy on the parents face when you show the final product, makes all the stress of shooting on the day, worthwhile!

5. Taking a Deep Breath – MadagascarCamera 14MP-9PC

Whilst on the trip in Madagascar, we visited one of the islands nearby to where our camp was and visited the reef there. Whilst snorkelling I suddenly spotted a turtle swimming really close to me and decided to swim alongside it for as long as it would let me (whilst keeping a respectable distance!). This moment was just so special for me as it was the first time I had seen a turtle in the wild, it also allowed me to swim with it for about 20 minutes! It was just amazing!

6. Conquering your fears – Costa Rica

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Those of you who know me, know that I am PETRIFIED of heights! Yet this opportunity in Costa Rica, was one that I could not let slip! I took this picture with my GoPro to give the widest angle of where we were. Yes I was scared, but after one bridge that fear was gone! The nature was just so beautiful that I was distracted! When you are surrounded by the beautiful scenery, you can’t help but take pictures everywhere!

7. Tree With a View – Minnesota, USADSC_0041

Whilst Canoeing down a river in Minnesota, we noticed this beautiful bird sitting in the tree. Now it isn’t crazy to see Bald Eagles in Minnesota, but there were hundreds of people below it and hadn’t spotted it. I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota over the last couple years and yet every single time I see them they blow my mind! I was so lucky to see such a beautiful bird so close by with such blue sky as the perfect background! I think I ended up taking about 50 pictures of this single Bald Eagle. It was clearly waiting to spot a fish!

8. Miniature World – Wisconsin, USA14525015_10154011743427613_4904568668393714772_o

A couple years ago, I treated myself to a macro lens, and this opened up a whole new world of photography for me! Whilst taking pictures in a garden in Wisconsin I suddenly spotted this tiny spider and I thought could I take a picture of it with my new lens? It was incredibly jumpy and I knew it had moved just as I took a picture. To my surprise when I looked back at it, it was staring right into the camera! It stays one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken with my macro lens as this spider was smaller than your little finger nail!

9. Curiosity Never Hurt Anyone – Madagascar544481_10150927775222613_1435884139_n

Whilst going on a walk in the forest in Madagascar, we came across this tiny chameleon! At the time it was the smallest known chameleon! This picture was taken whilst it was in my friends hand! And again just as I took the picture, it decided to move its head towards my camera to get a good look! I just loved the curious nature of this chameleon and that it really wasn’t scared!

10. Flashy Chameleon – Madagascar 529121_10150924222632613_1178186907_n

So as my last picture I couldn’t not chose this one! It has always been one of my proudest shots! The story behind this picture is that whilst we were at the camp, this panther chameleon strolled into the camp. My friend picked him up and I suddenly noticed how striking the colours were on the perfect background!! The dark background brought out his colours perfectly! A while back I actually entered this into the National Geographic photo of the year and it got into the top 10. It is one of my biggest achievements in my photography career!

So what about you? What is your favourite shot and why?

~ I love photography because I can show people the world through my lens ~

Snow 2

For the last couple days it has been snowing on and off. This morning I woke up to a lovely white world. Not that it was not white before… we have had snow since the end of December. But the snow had turned to ice, not powdery, and more various shades of grey than pure white.

Am not too much a fan of winter. I really do prefer sunshine… I love the sea… but I have to admit… a beautiful serene white world with beautiful blue skies is very pretty indeed.

I looked up a few quotes, wondering what other people make of snow. These are 2 of the most beautiful ones I read:

There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special’

‘Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together’

The Bible is also talking about snow.. it’s not so easy to imagine snow in Israel, although it can be cold in the mountains there (never been, on the bucket list.. but have been told) Yet is the perfect analogy. ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18)’

We can be white as snow… through the grace of God. His blood will cover our sins… He will wipe them out. We do have to accept it, but it’s a free gift.

Much like snow… a reminder of His grace…

Maybe I do love snow more than I think!

What about you?

Weekend

Why is it that the week can last so long, but yet the weekend just flies by? Tomorrow it’s Monday again… another week starting… my year in America is also just flying by. I am looking forward to my brother visiting next week… and then it’s on the countdown stretch to May.

What is it about time?

My uncle passed away a week ago… the time able to spend with him on this Earth is now in the past. It’s sad that so much time has been wasted without a lot of contact, although I treasure the time spend. It’s not wasted. I have been privileged to reconnect with my uncles family, son and grandkids… more time well spent.

My dad is the last one still of his family. Time has passed by, and although I hope much time is still left…it’s flying by. Time spend is to be treasured.

My daughter passed her Masters degree. Time well spend, but that period is now also past.

What will the future hold? I don’t know what time we still have on this Earth. I do know Who holds the future. And even though I have no control over time..I can’t speed it up or slow it down… I am looking forward to that day when time is of no essence anymore… eternity is not measured in time.

Superbowl 2018

Have to admit… I am not a huge sports fan… not any sports… don’t like watching it on tv.. and when my husband watches F1 I get irritated…. my husband and daughter are sports watchers… they are even staying up for the Super Bowl.. even when no one else does…

But being here in Minnesota, seeing all the SuperBowl buzz around me, you can’t help but get caught up in it.. even if it’s just a little bit… will I watch it on tv this eve? Probably not… but I was nosy enough to venture to the Mall of America, which is another entry point with a direct shuttle to the US bank stadium in Minneapolis… I wanted to see this for myself…

It was very quiet in the shops… shopper heaven probably.. but outside the shops was a huge buzz.. almost everyone there was wearing the jersey of the team they support (I said almost… I was probably the odd one out), face tattoos, scarves, hats… jackets, sweaters… these are some serious fans! Even if their own team (read Vikings) is not playing.. still the team jersey is worn with pride… and paraded around…

Makes me wonder… what are we fans of? What makes us go out in the cold (-20) to mingle with other like minded people. What makes us want to be together to watch the game in a group?

Do you have something you are a fan of?

I do too.. I am a Jesus follower.. not really a fan, but I want others to see that that’s what I do.. follow Jesus… I don’t have a jersey, but maybe how I walk through life is enough of a jersey to let others know? I hope so.

What about you?

Christmas Lights

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The first couple lines of a Christmas poem, which was played on the radio by one of the houses we went to have a look at… Christmas lights… a joy to go watch what other people do to decorate their houses… it was even synchronised to music which you could hear if you tuned in through the radio. Most houses were decorated to raise money for a good cause. One house stood out though.. their website said that their aim was to tell people about the good news of Christmas… a Saviour born, to restore the relationship between God and man.

Our favourite area was a neighbourhood in Plymouth, MN. The houses were beautiful even without the lights… but with the lights it was just magical… that’s what I really do love about Christmas… the cosy atmosphere these little twinkling lights bring to an area…

Are you a little twinkling light bringing good cheer to men? Or is this time of the year one of sadness and loneliness? Whatever it is, I hope you will find some comfort in the lights all around you, passing it on to others… knowing that The Light came to save us all.

Merry Christmas to all!

Waiting

Everyone probably knows the feeling…. suspense, nervous, excited, with anticipation…. something has been worth waiting for and is drawing near..

That is what I feel.. I have not been home in the UK since May this year, and in only 6 days I will be going home to visit. Am excited to see those things I hold dear, spend time with my family that I miss. Making new memories along the way.

Am also a little nervous. Will my cats remember me? Will my home still feel like my home? Will I be ok to leave again after the holidays?

Having been travelling between the US and the UK extensively, I have truly had the best of both worlds…when in the UK I miss the US and vice versa. And yet… the UK is my home. Or is it?

What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for the Christmas period to end so all can get back to normal? Are you looking forward to spending Christmas with loved ones? Are you eagerly anticipating the presents you will receive? You are not alone….

Know that your biggest gift is freely given. And all you need to do is to accept it. Christmas is a reminder of Gods love for us, and He is waiting eagerly for you to be with Him.

Maybe that is what waiting is about? Anticipation to be reconnected?

Christmas is coming!

Christmas…… I have these dreams of cozy family time, roaring fires, love for all, peace on Earth, home cooked meals etc. Am sure you get what I mean…

Instead, I find myself still on another business trip at the end of this year, wondering how I will manage all I want to accomplish before I fly home to spend a couple weeks in the UK. I have not bought any Christmas presents, although my emails are bombarded with ads, promises of cheap and cheerful presents. I have not decorated my apartment, other than the below Christmas trees in the window. No roaring fire, I don’t even have a fire place! Today in the news I saw a New York bomb attack, California wild fires.. peace on Earth is still far away.

What is Christmas really about? Why is there so much pressure on this season? Should we not be celebrating the fact that Jesus came to this Earth as a little babe, to reconcile us with our Heavenly Father? Would it not be sufficient to just be grateful for that, and let the rest pass by?

Maybe that’s what I will do this year.. just be… a little Mary, sitting at His feet, rather that Martha..always busy… I still have a couple weeks to ponder that some more…. what about you?