photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Archive for April, 2013

Rainbows

ImageRim Rock Trail/Pounds Hollow/Southern Illinois/50 MM 1.8/natural lighting/manual

Something really funny happened in Illinois while on vacation. It’s been happening more and more lately and I can’t explain it. I was walking up a set of stairs that ascended into (what looked like total Utopia) a plateau; it looked like Eden it was so beautiful. I took a step, inhaled deeply, looked up, smiled and as I took my next step (snapping pics along the way) a rainbow formed right in front of me. There was no rainbow there previously or afterwards. It lasted less than two seconds and in the blink of an eye it was gone. I’ve been a photographer for close to a decade. I’ve taken hundreds of thousands of pictures and most of them have been in all manual. I know lighting and exposure better than my own skin and can explain away lens flares and apparition-like smudges with a sound, technological explanation. The rainbows? They’re very real. This has happened to me at least five times over the past  few months and it’s always been when I’m out somewhere communing with God. It’s like He’s giving me a hug and it’s the most amazing thing ever because it’s so candid and unexpected. I know what my eyes see in every scene and I can manipulate my scenes to look any way I want via the aperture and shutter speed, ISO, etc. But I can’t insert rainbows into the frame with the flip of the wrist or camera-trickery. It’s a very special thing lately!

I took a quick selfie earlier because the light in the kitchen was so bright and I knew it would make a good high keyed shot where my facial features would fade out into the light and appear minimal. (I don’t consider this “good photography” by any means but experimental.) I didn’t alter the hues of my eyes at all- just kicked up the sat. a bit; the colours are real though. I’ve never noticed that I have rainbow coloured eyes- every colour of the spectrum can be seen in them. This too is a new thing as my eyes have always been “just green”. But lately, there’s a deep, red fire burning right in the center of them…

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Trees. Water. Sun. Cabin. Exhale.

ImageMy daughter-Brianna/Deam Lake/50 MM/natural lighting/manual exposure/manual focus

I’ve managed to book my favourite cabin in the world: “Coyote Hollow”. It’s a charming place tucked away in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest- located conveniently just around the corner from the Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. It comes with an oversized screened in porch, firepit, rocking chairs, ready-to-go grill, large private yard and surrounding woods- a fully equipped kitchenette; it’s your standard luxury cabin in the woods. (DVD player and popcorn already there and waiting.)

I’m so overdue for a “mid-week getaway”. I’m looking forward to it even more because Josh will be going with me. [Insert big grin here] Although we’re no longer “together”, we still enjoy each other’s company. Besides, he’s the best model a girl could ask for. He just looks good on film. 🙂

I was prepared to go alone (and was actually looking forward to it) but dang it- I need somebody to build the fire while I pour the wine!

We’re bringing fishing poles too and I’m completely expecting utter mayhem. What the hell could go wrong out in the middle of nowhere with fishing poles?! You’d be surprised. My life is nothing short of a circus, and I’m hoping that it’s the most hum drum, uneventful time of my life. I need utter stagnation for a while.

I’ll be gone until Saturday and I have a feeling that I’ll be coming back with a few stories to tell…

(but let’s hope not.)

Hasta la vista.


Bovine and Wife Swap

ImageZimmerman Rd./Charlestown, Indiana/50 MM/natural lighting/manual exposure/manual focus/Canon- country cruise with Brianna/4.18.13

I spoke with my adviser today; I’ve discovered that I’m only three classes away from my Behavioral Sciences degree. I’m simultaneously certifying in Substance Abuse so that’s four classes total for both. I could either take them over the summer and graduate this fall (which is right up there with a death wish) or stick my toes in the sand throughout July and early August, complete my studies in the fall, and then graduate in December or early January. There’s no question that I’m going to do the latter.

Afterwards, I’ll be transferring immediately over to Columbia University (Distance Ed.) in Missouri and working toward my bachelor’s in Sociology. My three prime areas of interest are Sociology, Psychology, and Criminal Justice. I’ve decided on Sociology because I’m semi-obsessed with social stratum (doesn’t that sound fancy?), various ethnic groups, social habits and other lifestyles indigenous to natives (but not quite Anthropology), longitudinal studies and change;  but I also crave the research side of it all (quantitative and qualitative analyses and so on), surveying, and field studies.

I like preparing reports and writing too. In short, Sociology is where my heart is and I want to get my hands very dirty in that area. I think my camera will come in handy there, being a photographer and all.

My classes for my final semester are these:

Intro to Criminology (my free elective)
Intro to Social Psychology (my remaining science core )
Lifetime Fitness and Wellness (in which I’ll need to hire a personal trainer as it’s proctored)
Therapeutic Interventions II (Substance Abuse internship)

That’s a hefty little sandwich, but I’m looking forward to it. I have no idea how that’s going to work out with the head pain, but I’ll power through it, no doubt. Speaking of which, I’m off to cook supper (bovine, in fact) and catch an episode of Wife Swap.

 


My New Man

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Aka: Einstein

I adore Einstein. And so, I redecorated my living room wall. It’s my “happy place”. I drink tea there, watch “Chopped” there, (study there) and really, just stare off at the pretty colours and lament that Einstein is dead.

He was a good one.

I’ve decided that after I graduate (later this year, or perhaps as early as 2014) I’m interested in transferring over to a B.A. in Sociology. I entertained the notion of a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and I think I’d make an excellent parole officer, but my heart is in sociology. Plus, I’d like to travel extensively. We’ll see how that works out.

I’ve decided to learn Swahili. Why? Because I’ve been overwhelmed lately. When I’m overwhelmed, I don’t like to taper down. Rather, I jack it up. I study something new or hone my skills in a new craft, talent, or ambition (such as gourmet cooking, a musical instrument, or new medium in art) and I can’t think of anything that I want to do more right now than learn Swahili.

Ok. I can think of about nine other things. But Swahili is pretty high on the list. Besides, I have dreams of going to Africa one day and volunteering some time in an orphanage or two. I can choose to be lazy and let somebody interpret our communications, or actually learn Swahili. I choose the latter.

There are a few “eligible bachelors” who are doing very well for themselves who have let me know that they’re interested in me. But I would have to completely put my dreams and ambitions on the back burner, yet again, to foster my energies on somebody else and darn it- I’m just not going to do that.

Sorry, gentlemen. I am OFF the market.

I’m going to learn Swahili and travel and make a CD of my songs and do all sorts of things that I’ve never done before. Now I’m off to study for an exam in metamorphic rocks and make Swedish meatballs just for me.

Air kisses dahling


Deeply

Love breaks through…
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I can hardly believe the dramatic changes that have happened to me since I last posted. Doggy Daddy Josh made good on his repayment, and I’ve been able to pay (almost) everything off so that we’re at least back up to “barely struggling”. The stress is rolling away.

My oldest daughter returned to Bloomington- her visit was literally life-changing for me. She taught me how to meditate! I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to put such an easy practice into practice, but we had some down time at the Ohio River among the driftwood and sandy beach area. I took my school books with me (and actually read that day) but I decided to try the meditation then. I sat down in a sandy area- munchies, purse, and all of my necessities surrounding me- and sat straight up in Indian style, closed my eyes, purposefully oxidizing and forcing the air in and out through methodical, slow breathing, and pushed everything out of my mind. It’s not the same thing as burying it. I know that we (as people) have the power and ability to accept messages, both positive and negative (also known as encoding); therefore I know that we have the same ability to release them. So that is what I did.

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J and I have made peace with each other completely and really fought for our friendship. Over the years, our relationships with each other have swelled and shrunk and swelled (and shrunk) again from new acquaintances, to very good friends, to fiancés, back to very good friends, distant friends, best friends, “life partners” sharing an existence and cohabitating, distant friends again, best friends again- we have learned to transmutate in and out of each other and morph into and apart from each other quickly, like water. Through it all, we’ve remained friends. I will never have eyes for anybody else, and if it were to happen, a house would have to fall on me.

That said, I’m very much enjoying my newly liberated status, and my space! I’m fiercely private (and have never even been on Skype, although several of my friends are putting serious heat on me in that area from across the pond) but I don’t get much down time these days, and when I do- I write and sing songs.

God has poured no less than 12 new songs into me over the past two months. It’s always been that way with me: the darker my days, the better and more frequent my songs. And, it’s not uncommon for us artists to bleed out our pain and sorrows. It makes for bubblier personalities! But it’s my way.

I want so much to just work on a CD; all original material- my songs in Drop D (acoustic/electric guitar and the piano) but I absolutely must power through and finish up my degree in Behavioral Sciences first. I remember what Sharon Osbourne said on TV once. She was advising a group of women to harness their attention, energy, and focus on one thing, and to devote their drive toward that one thing. Otherwise, she would be all over the place and perhaps spread herself out too thin. I think on that always.

But still, I have a scream in me- my new songs are coming out of my ears! I’ve recorded small bursts of HD video when a new song hits me and file it away. I have about 15, although I’ve written around 50 over the past 7 years or so. I’ll pull them up after the semester’s over and select only one to lay down on a 4 track and then polish it up. (And so on and so forth.)

Josh asked me if I’d like to work on a CD together: I’m down with that. 🙂
I love that man and I can’t deny it. Still, I’m learning to approach my environment and stressful situations from a scientific perspective, rather than an emotional one. This is something I’m learning to do through my studies. It’s alright to shut everything down emotionally- temporarily– and navigate through those ferocious waters, as long as they’re dissected and processed afterwards when it’s “safe” to do so. Even if it’s days later, that’s ok, as long as it gets done.

My daughter, Heidi, shared something with me several years ago that was again life-changing for me. She told me that we don’t always have the necessary tools to go back through our pasts and dig up “old bones” as it were. We might dig up years worth of buried things and not be able to reassemble them, she said. I never forgot that. She has helped me so very much, and I do have to give Brian and Brianna much credit too. Brian Bob has come to me over the years with wisdom beyond his own years, and poured his healing balm over my heart. Brianna has shot me between the eyes with a poker face with hard truths that I’ve needed to hear- that girl can really let you have it! But still respectfully. Heidi is the “light bringer” of sorts. I’m so grateful and humbled by her endless search for truth and love and for sharing with me what she gathers along the way.

Heidi, exhibiting an impressive form.
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I’m convinced that I have the best kids in the world. But doesn’t every mom think that?

More good news!
I found out that all of my classes are actually open enrollment and I “accidentally” started school one month earlier than my classmates. Hence, my posting now to my blog. :0)

After paying $1,800 worth of very pregnant bills, I’ll have only $500 or so left. I have waited 27 years to buy a professional microphone so that I can record high quality songs. The same can be said for an electric stage piano, and Washburn acoustic electric guitar- I’m waiting no longer. I’ve placed an order for all of them and I am crazy with excitement! The microphone I bought (and has already shipped) is a Yeti (Blue Microphones) USB mic- silver edition. [You can click on the link to view it.] It’s a gorgeous mic! I also put an order in for this: Nady pop filter. Things are slowly coming together in the music department.

Josh is an amazing musician: his talent shines in rhythm (D&B) but especially rhythm guitar. He has a soulful, bluesy wail that hits you right in the heart when he sings. I’ll be working with him in vocal training- I’ve been a singer since I was 6 perhaps? “Perfect pitch” they call it, but these days I am so very rusty. Singing comes naturally for Heidi and me- we don’t have to try hard- it just flows out of us, but she truly takes it to a whole ‘nother level. The girl is phenomenal.

I’ll be broke again before I know it, but heck- the bills are paid (mostly) and my car has gas in it. I can’t complain.

There’s a dove serenading me outside of my window. It sings for me every morning. I think maybe I’m just eavesdropping. I received this email this morning; it put a big smile on my face:

Dear Birgitta,
I love your Hallelujah song on Divine Office…What beautiful melody, voice, lyrics!  
Please send me the mp3 so I may share with my women’s bible study.

Thank you and God bless,
[Name omitted for confidentiality]

Oh- oh…and more good news!
I donated a copy of my children’s book Peanut Butter Soup to my local library. My friend who works there is putting it into circulation. But also, upon donating it, she invited me to join her book club in which she features local authors. I was delighted and happy to accept.

I cherish my dark hours because they bring me closer to God. But I absolutely love bathing in the Light. Today I am deeply grateful and deeply happy.


Adieu (Part II)

ImageOhio River/50 MM/natural lighting/manual exposure/manual focus/shot in monochrome/4.5.13

I was entranced by the lighting surrounding this trash bag. It made me think: some people would see a trash bag that was snagged on a tree and perhaps keep walking. When I saw it, my eye immediately (and involuntarily) converted it to monochrome/black and white. This happens a lot. I think it’s because I grew up watching the Twilight Zone in B&W -which I love- and Alfred Hitchcock, but also, a good many shows were still in black and white in the 70’s. I found myself studying shadows and highlights, lighting, tonal ranges, the way shadows moved- cinematic perspectives and such. When I look out at the world, shadows, lines, and geometric patterns are the first things I see, and then I see people. I don’t think that’s an entirely bad thing. Art never leaves me, and it never sleeps.

I’ve decided that I’m going to use my blog as an incentive for getting schoolwork done. I’m an excellent student, and only a few points away from the Dean’s list. (I’m already a Phi Theta Kappa member for life, having been inducted at Ivy Tech Community College when I was a med. student 20 years ago. Four A’s and one B- that crap wasn’t easy!) But I’ve been so distracted by rogue family members and their perpetual witch-hunt, the dissolution of a seven year “life partner” union (not quite a marriage but close enough), an exhausting car accident, having to drop classes and readjust after the accident, moving, you name it- I’ve been through it in the past few months and it’s taken a toll on me. I haven’t allowed any of those circumstances to devour me or harden me indefinitely. But I have allowed them to distract me and have put off my school work until it’s now hanging in the balance.

My blog is not my top priority and several times per year I’ll do a systematic “soul cleanse”. I go away from all people, social networks (which I don’t do much of anyway- on purpose) and shut everything down and be very still. I take a personal inventory and reprioritize. I question my motives for everything. I believe the answers to these silent questions can only be found in exile- to some degree- even if for a few weeks.

But that’s not the case this time. I’m so far behind in my schoolwork, so I am going to exercise Operant Conditioning and a self-controlled reward system. My blog will be my incentive, and unless I catch up (and fast); I won’t be allowed to post. Anything.

My blog is a form of bleeding out. If a person doesn’t get out all of the garbage in a positive, healthy way, it will absolutely come out in a destructive way. And people get hurt that way. So, posting to my blog is definitely important to me; it keeps my “pen” sharp as well. But always, I blog for myself. I never feel like I’m “addressing an audience” when I write- I’ve been keeping a journal my whole life. I invite others to read it however, because I think we all give and take from one another in life: one man’s trash is another’s treasure, as the saying goes. One person may read something and roll his or her eyes in disgust, and another may wipe a tear away. It’s all subjective.

A temporary “blog-exile” will force me to kick my studies into high gear, because it’ll redirect most of my energy, time, attention, and focus to my schoolwork. I will be away for several weeks no doubt. That said, I’ll continue to support my fellow friends, artists, bloggers, writers, and acquaintances at WordPress, Redbubble, and Soaphoto (the 3 sites that I frequent) in art work, posts, emails, and other works.

Today, I have a 13 page questionnaire to complete (after having read 50 pages in Health Psychology) and then I’ll be summarizing the results, which will be another 8 or 9 page assignment, and I also have 40 pages to read in Earth Science (Metamorphism) a lab exercise to complete and an exam afterwards. After that, I must read two chapters in Public Speaking and complete a 13 question assignment- each question requires a full paragraph discussion.

And then there’s the many (manypre-calculus problems, as in, hundreds of them and let’s not forget all of the formulas, e.g., distance formula, midpoint and slope-intercept forms,etc. That’s a bunch of joy waiting to happen.

Yep- I’ll return when I’ve caught up.

Adieu.
xo


Beauty for Ashes

I am so very grateful today, for amazing friends (and foes alike) who have dropped me to my knees in prayer in gratitude (and agony), breathing encouraging words into me through emails, chats, and such. I can’t express my gratitude properly, but I feel new life and new love springing out of my heart today, and I can’t believe how fast it’s happened.

To everyone who’s walked me through the broken glass in the past few days, and whispered truth and love (and shared your own stories of betrayal, heartache, and ultimately, forgiveness and love- regardless), please accept my collective THANK YOU. I love you guys, and although I’ve been emotionally devastated recently, every email and talk has been another stitch in my bloody heart. I’ve made it through the storm, and I can see the shine on the horizon. :0)

I know it’s not much, but I often say “thank you” and “I love you” with photos and art. I saw this peculiar string tied around a tree in the forest the other day. I don’t know the story behind it, but it made me smile, and strangely, filled me up with joy.

Thanks again, everyone.
I love you guys.
xo

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Hypocrites and Vipers

Well I tell you. I have had it up to HERE with my hypocrite family. Guh. Where to start. I need to “talk”, obviously, and I prefer to blog, not to have “sayers”- I can say on my own. But when my cup of patience gets full, I bite the bullet and drink up. I shut up and drink up. I try to forgive and simply “shut up”, but sometimes it’s not time to shut up. Sometimes it’s time to tell a person that he or she is a frikking hypocrite.

I recently took my niece out for a day trip. She’s 11. I’m encouraging her to get into photography (and have for years) -she’s good.  The kid’s got talent. :0) I’ve also been cooking with her for a number of years. She baked her first cake with me when she was only 5 or so. She was so proud of herself. I was proud of her too.

I took her (and my son, Brian, Bob,) to a Chinese buffet, then to Squire Boone Caverns on a cave tour, and then I gave her my Canon G3- that wasn’t easy to part with! It’s been my main camera for 5 years and a large part of my body of work was shot with that camera. But I love to give things away that are special to me- those close to me know that about me.

After that, I took her shopping and we cooked a surprise chicken dinner for her Mom and Dad (my brother and sister-in-law). When my sis-in-law came in to pick her up, we were still cooking. I saw things on her face that I immediately recognized as guilt from talking about me. Really? (Boy, can’t wait for this one.)

Let me just say, that I’ve been through the ringer with my family. We’re all “Christians” (and I use that term lightly, because that’s not a label you’re allowed to just “slap on yourself”- if you don’t act like one- don’t try to claim it) and well…for years my siblings have chewed me up and spit me out. It’s just the truth. I’ve barely been in church (not that they’re the scorekeeper by any means) but I’m considered the ‘black sheep” in my family. So be it, I don’t mind a bit.

But I’m also the one that takes care of my mother, and has for years. I’ve had to write letters to my siblings practically begging them to go and see her and care for her too. Yep- it’s true.

I’m well despised among my siblings and it’s been that way for years. I call ’em like I see ’em and if you act like a viper, I’m going to call you a viper. Don’t feed me your hypocritical BS and chew me up and spit me out all while doing a good “church show” for others. Really? Jesus called people like that a hypocrite. And, a viper.

Yeah. That’s true too.

Matthew 12:34

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

You can’t have an evil “overflow” and rail and gnash on your sister (me), and then dart your butt in the church door on Sunday morning (making sure everybody sees you- good and proper) for roll call. You’re a frikking hypocrite. Yeah- there it is- take your medicine.

After doing all of that with my niece, I was accused of talking to her about “family matters” (God forbid- the girl is 11) but you know- my family will take what they can get. Even if it’s contrived. Kangaroo-court BS.

My Dad was a very wise man in the way of God’s Word. He had special gifts in that area even. He told me that my brother would turn against me after he (my Dad) died. He told me that 26 years ago. Well, it certainly has happened. He usually hit the mark on those things. He wasn’t wrong this time.

I could hardly believe I was being accused of such trumped up BS by my siblings- is that all you got people, really? That I “talked to your kid about family matters” ?? Uh… I received an email several hours later telling me that they weren’t going to let me take my niece anymore. My crime? Taking her to Chinese, and a cave tour, and giving her my very special camera, and shopping with her, and cooking with her- and there wasn’t even a “thanks for that”- nah. Just an evil eye on my back. I never cease to marvel at the hatred in my family.

Here we go again. I don’t have to tolerate “evil people” gnawing on me in my life. Christian? Really? Nah… that’s not “Christian”. That’s just hateful. There’s a difference.

What it really boils down to is that I reproved several of my older siblings for not going and seeing our Mother for half a year (and shame on them for being so cold-hearted- that’s our Mother) and they immediately banded against me.

Christian?

Joseph’s brothers were “Christians” too, and they threw him into a deep pit, smeared some goat’s blood on a coat, and told their father that a wild beast ate him, after they sold him into slavery. They were bitterly envious that their father loved him more. My situation is not much different.

Yeah. Hypocrites.

Am I airing dirty laundry? Yeah.

Do I care? Nah.

You kick dirt in my face and you’ll probably end up in my blog. It’s my blog, and I can do that. It’s my therapy. I’ve actually had it up to (here) with people claiming to be Christians, and yet their hearts are stone cold, they have no love- none! But they put on a hell of a show on Sunday morning.

Hypocrites.

I think I’m done now.

I’ll be right as rain tomorrow.

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Show this to your children. Please. So they may Never Grow up to be Bullies. Or Bullied. [Reblogged]

Show this to your children. Please. So they may never grow up to be bullies. Or bullied..

If you have been bullied, or have a child who has been, this is a must-see. I think it expresses how and what the bullied child experiences better than anything else I’ve seen. Take a moment- it’s worth it. Kudos to its creator. xo [click the link above]