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Archive for November, 2014

Small Miracles and Big Thanksgivings

So I’ve just received my grade for my final exam in Research Methods for Experimental Psychology: 100 out of 100. Whew! We were given 10 scenarios in which we were to choose an appropriate research method  (out of 12 or so) for the situation and explain why we chose that particular research method. I discovered along the way in this course that I’m pretty good with dependent and independent variables and such so this was an extension of that sort of. The next two weeks will be basic revisions with the ability to improve my grade, which is a 94%. Even if I were to do nothing I’d still receive an A but it still improves my overall GPA so I may go for it. It’s so easy to slack off at the end of it all. That’s where a lot of people go wrong though. They think because they see the finish line that they can collapse, but really, it’s the time to push harder than ever and finish up strong. So, that’s what I will do. Push hard in these last two weeks (beginning next week) and finish up strong. I can collapse later.

Josh and I will be going out of town for Thanksgiving. Actually, we’re having two Thanksgivings. We’re going over to my Mom’s for coffee and to cook her Thanksgiving dinner that she’s having for her friends from church. Her friends are widows and my Mom’s just the sweetest woman in the world. She was thoughtful enough to ask them over because they have no families. My mother’s so giving. I like to think I got that from her. 🙂 So, Josh and I will be cooking their dinner and then jetting out of town to- first to Columbus and then to Shelbyville where we’ll spend the weekend with his family. I love his aunts and cousins: those gals know how to stick together! They’re strong country (ish) women and I took to them right away and vice versa. We all share a very strong common bond, which is loving Josh. We all take care of him together. They’re just wonderful.

I’m absolutely quivering with excitement that I’m so close to being finished with school for the next two years or so. I have so many songs in me that are screaming to get out and so much art work that I want to produce! People hope to win the lottery so they can take it easy in life and travel, have fun, and do the things they want to do, not what they have to do. And so for me, it’s like I’ve already won the lottery. I’ll be able to travel and take pics, and take it easy for a change. Going to the “office” will be in my sunny kitchen with my fax machine and phone- building up my business. And, “work” will be going out and taking pics. Heaven!

I’m saving up to go to Puerto Rico. Most people want to go to the beaches, etc. but I want to go to the slums and shoot them. (With my camera, of course.) And the rain forest too. If I save up $150 per month, I’ll be able to go in May, and stay in a little chalet in the El Yunque rain forest. I’ve been wanting to do that for 4 years now but have been too busy with school. Now I’ll have my chance though. Time to get ready for my big day! I hope each person out there- whether you have family or not- has a wonderful day. And may you find something to give thanks for today! If you can’t think of anything else, be thankful that you have two legs to walk with and two eyes to see with. That your heart is still pumping and that you can still smile. If you’re reading this, then, consider this my Thanksgiving gift to you. I’m uploading a large file here [below] so that you can easily download it and submit it to Walgreen’s (online) or print it out of you like, I sell this at Redbubble for $60+ but you can print it out at Walgreen’s for all of $3.  [Reselling the print is strictly forbidden and I remain the sole owner of the copyright.] It’s a high rez. file and so, happy Thanksgiving! [click on the print twice to download the large file]

Free Thanksgiving Print

HappyThansgivingWordpress

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The Chill Zone

In the past two days, I’ve finished a 10 page/slide Powerpoint presentation (75 pts. out of 80- I’ll take it!), a Powerpoint conference poster, a final exam in Research Methods in Experimental Psychology, two chapter tests in Cross Cultural Communications and 10 forum postings. I’ve just finished up and I’m officially on vacation for a week! Josh is feeling much better today. I’ve been taking good care of him so he can return to work tomorrow. He’s sitting in his chair here in our room pivoting between playing the guitar (and singing the Blues) and his game, Gary’s Mod. I’ve just installed a new Nancy Drew adventure game and am getting ready to make a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I can’t believe I have seven, long, glorious days in which I can do anything I want. I’m ecstatic. Brianna’s been thinking of moving out soon. Twenty years we’ve been together! She’s my little sidekick and I’m already missing her terribly. I woke myself up last night- twice- crying. I’d had a dream of her (which I can’t remember now) and when I woke up, I had a tear rolling down my cheek and I was weeping like a child. It was the strangest thing. When I went back to sleep, it happened again. All of my kids are special and they all have their own strengths. Heidi’s strength has always been her love. She’s nurturing and warm and selfless. Brian is so funny! He’s always cracking me up. He comes across as not caring so much sometimes but really, his strength is his compassion. He’s a giver too. Brianna has a quiet strength.  She’s not a touchy, feely, huggy person and she’s not overtly “warm” but she’s reliable, considerate, and real. I don’t think she’s even capable of being fake. She’s just got good sense too. They’re all incredibly smart! I’m so proud of my kids. :0) Brianna is my baby though. She’s always been here at home and so her moving out is bittersweet. It was so hard to let Heidi go initially, because I’d waited so long for her to come home. I cried for days when she moved away a handful of years ago. And when Brian moved out, it took months to adjust to his absence as well. It felt so empty here! It’s gong to be tough getting used to Brianna not being here but her guy treats her really well and is so good to her. That’s all I can ask for as a Mom- that my kids are happy in life.

I’m so glad Josh and I are still together. After all these years! He’s truly my hero. No other man has weathered so many storms with me. He’s my rock. And, I can honestly say that we’re still best friends.

SnowTree (Thanks for that, Gav. :0) Helios 44-2 film lens/natural lighting

SmowtreeMJ


(Almost) Home Free

PurpleSkyHelios film lens 44-2/back porch

Josh is really sick. I’m feeding him garlic capsules, multivitamins, a nip of a Phenergan, acidophilus, milk thistle and lemon & ginger tea with fresh squeezed lemon. He woke up this morning feeling like crap, burning up with a fever. This is his second bout of sickness in less than a month. Luckily, I haven’t been sick in years; I attribute that to the many herbal supplements I take regularly.

I’m ecstatic because I have all next week off for fall break. Doesn’t make much sense that we get an entire week off for “fall break” with only three weeks left to go. And while I’m at it, it really sucks that most professors decide to make students do twice the work the week before fall break! Yes, double the workload in every class. This is really quite unfair to the student because it renders fall break utterly meaningless as a result. Still, I’m pretty happy that I’m only two assignments away from having an entire week off from school. I can finally clean my house! I pretty much bombed my 15 page research project (final paper) in Research Methods for Experimental Psychology, but by no small miracle, I’m at 92% still (after bombing the paper) which is still an A. (How I pulled that off, I haven’t a clue.) So, if I do well on my PowerPoint presentation, conference poster, research exam and then my final- I can come out of this thing with an A still. I don’t even care about making the Dean’s List any more. I would love to, sure, but things are in their proper places now and my priorities have shifted dramatically. My identity as a student is being squeezed out by the artist in me who is not taking all of this lying down for another minute! I feel alive again. And I’m happy again. 🙂 I’m going to get to do what I want. Take pictures.

I’ve just finished up a 10 part PowerPoint assignment and so I’ve only got my multimedia conference poster to finish along with a research exam and then I’m home free! After fall break, I’ll have my finals and a few odd assignments and I’ll be finished. I really can’t wait to start building an entirely new body of work (photography/art) after the semester’s out! it’s all I think about anymore and it’s most definitely where my heart is. Off to make more tea and get to cracking on my PP conference poster. Ta-ra!

Helios 44-2 film lens/ISO 100/f/2.0

EverWinterMJ


This One’s for You, Kid

So I usually dedicate a pic here and there to people who inspire me in my life. Lately, I’ve been biased and have been dedicating them to my buddy, Y, because she’s just so darn special. But I want to show my appreciate to another gal who is one of the funniest, sweetest, and smartest people I’ve ever known. I came across her blog some time back and swore i was reading an SNL skit. She goes by the name Lucky Wreck, but I call her Amy sometimes. ;0)

Anyway Amy, this one’s for you, kid! When I’m inspired by someone, my work takes on various forms that aren’t always indicative of my style. (Usually, I’m dark and gothicy- ish, so this is really different for me, but it does remind me of you.) If you’d like a full rez. copy for printing, hook me up with your email address and I’ll send it to you. This one’s on the house. 😉

(Can you tell I’m excited that school’s almost out? I can’t stop taking pics!)
I hope you like it. I took it this morning just after dawn when the snow was still falling. x

ShadesofBlueMJ


First Snow

Josh is sleeping beside me. Brianna would kill him if she knew he was using her Care Bear shirt to cover his eyes. It’s 5:00 a.m. and I’m not up early- I’m up late. The snow is gently falling and I have an over-sized mug of hot chocolate next to me. Heaven!  I can finally relax after a hectic evening with “the paper”. Instead of my experimental psychology research report being 10 pages long, it was 15. Just as I was tying up some loose ends around 9 (again, it was due by midnight), a transformer blew and half the city lost its electricity.

We scampered out into the truck and hightailed it over to Mickey Dees to scarf up some of their Wifi. After settling down with a couple of hot chocolates, we were unable to connect. An employer clued us in that they hadn’t had internet in a week. Oh boy…

So then, we decided to finish what we could there and pray like mad that by the time we got home, our services would be restored and I could possibly make my deadline. I inducted Josh into my writing club and we got to work. Almost 3 hours later, we finished up the last of it and raced home. I missed my deadline by 6 minutes. My professor had already disabled the link (they don’t play around at IU East!) and so I was able to attach it in a message so that I could at least show her that I had indeed finished on time.

I’m feeling deliriously giddy knowing that the worst is over! I know my overall efforts weren’t my best, but considering I was prepared to drop out entirely (before Josh saved me from the fire), only a few weeks ago, I’m content. I had a strong A/97% going in, so even if I wrote the worst paper in the history of the class, I would still come out with a low B, or, worst case scenario, a high C. But I don’t think that’ll happen.

I’m a winter person and can’t wait to get out and about with my camera and play in the snow. I hopped out a few minutes ago to grab a few of my first snow shots for the season. I had to slow shutter it due to the lack of lighting, but that makes for better contrast in the long run, so I didn’t mind terribly. I love that it was pitch dark outside, but because it was a long exposure, I was able to make it appear to be daytime in the first two pics.

Snow on Tiki Torch-Back deck/natural film grain- Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI- 4:00 a.m.
Snow3MJ
Snow2MJ
Snow1MJ


National Geographic for Free

I was raised on Nat. Geo.’s as a child. I bounced back and forth between my mom and dad’s house since I was 11 years old. My mom’s house was a bit on the sterile side- no TV- but she always had stacks of Nat. Geo’s. I used to love combing through them and studying the pics: the lighting, composition, angles, perspectives, subject matter and so on. I have no doubt that years of doing that has carved a sharper eye into me and probably is the sole reason I’m a photographer today.

When browsing their website just now (because I have a 10 page experimental psychology report to revise- due by midnight- and what better time to explore the National Geographic website, right?) I came upon their archive section. I discovered that they’re offering FREE digital National Geographics through years 2005-2014. All of the pics, features and other articles are all included. It’s the complete magazine, just virtually presented. Who could pass up free National Geographics? I used to have a subscription but that stopped several years ago, so I’m elated that I’ll be able to catch up on the most recent ones.

If you want to check them out, you can here: Nat. Geo. Archives

I’m currently reading about Sugar from the December 2014 issue. It’s incredible to know that the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. That’s insane!

I have 3 weeks of school left and I know that when I’m finished and take my two year hiatus, I’ll be starving for education. I’m like a human sponge and I research everything. (Heroin junkies, prisons, the Illuminati and old film studios are of particular interest to me.) After I’m out of school, Nat. Geo. will be a good source to please my eye aesthetically, while simultaneously replenishing my thirsty mind.

Currently in my schooling, I’m at 2 A’s and 2 B’s. I’ve been slagging lately. If I really fought for it, I could end up with 3 A’s and 1 B and make the Dean’s list at my 3rd college. (That is sooooo tempting. Alas, I’m a beat puppy at this point and too tired to fight for it.)

So, I’ll end up with 2 A’s and 2 B’s. All I can think about is photography and it’s semi-obsessive. I’m probably going to open up an Etsy shop and sell my prints so that they’re affordable. The going rate for an 8×10 (from most photographers and artists) is $30. Most of my (large) prints are sold for $160+ at Redbubble, but I want to give the average consumer a chance to purchase my work without breaking the bank! So, I’ll start working on that once I finish up with school. I won’t be offering any previous work for sale, because every few years my style changes, and so I want to create an entirely new body of work. It’s part of a healing process as well. As an artist, it’s healthy to wipe the slate clean and start anew.

So I’m off to read National Geographic get started on my psychology report.

Great day all!

My daughter Heidi’s cat, Numa/Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI/natural lighting

NumaMJ


No Greater Love

-John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I used to think that Scripture was about Jesus dying on the Cross (only). Now I have a deeper understanding of it. I think now, in order to truly love one another, we have to die to ourselves- even if just a little bit. it takes strength and courage to be selfless. In the world we live in today, self promotion is a way of life: Facebook, Twitter, blogs.

I’ve been hit pretty hard lately and have had to scrape myself up off of the floor. I can’t write about it here as I want to protect the nature of the matter and the persons involved, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with to date. My soul really felt as if it could have just perished. But yesterday, and the day before, I awoke with a whirlwind surrounding me. I could feel the Lord circling me with His strength. His breath was rushing through me- the Holy Ghost- which I’m a big believer in was rushing through me like cold water- there’s really nothing like it. It’s like having goosebumps on the inside. Two mornings ago it was so strong it actually pulled me out of sleep and yesterday it was the same thing.  This morning I  woke up and it’s been the same thing- so very strongly. When it’s this strong, I know that I’m feeling the prayers of others who are praying for me.

I have a sneaking suspicion I know who that person is. 🙂

When we pray for other people, we nail ourselves to the Cross, as it were. As we take on their burdens, we also take on death and die to “self”, becoming crucified with Christ. I know now that this is what that Scripture means. When we pray for others, we’re laying down our lives for them- standing in the gap.

So Y, this is a special thank you to you, because I know your prayers have broken through! I’m strengthened and feel so much stronger. My spirit is revived and I can literally feel your prayers and I’m rejoicing. Thank you my friend. ♥

I’m dedicating this pic to you! Rain on glass. (Yes, I was actually driving in the rain when I captured this shot. I know, “bad me!” But it was worth the efforts!) it was nothing special at first, but then I defocused the lens and it turned into this beautiful, impressionistic work of art of the traffic in front of me. Hope you likey! 🙂

Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI/SOOTC- straight out of the camera
rainMJ


Black Days are Here Again

BlackDaysMJ

I’m pretty broken-hearted right now. Bad things just keep happening. People are dying and there’s just nothing I can do but cry. I’ve got 4 weeks of the semester left to go and then I can take a few years down. I’m really having to dig deep and tap into my fierce cross country training I had as a child. I was noodle-skinny and didn’t have a ride home. (Home was a 2 mile walk.) I stayed after school 3 to 4 days per week and on many days we had meets and races against the local schools. I was lightning fast as a kid! But any good racer knows it’s not about the speed but the diligence and steady pacing throughout. It was so hard to deliberately allow people to pass me up at the beginning of the race because I’m so competitive. There’s nothing I hate more than losing. But 2 & 3/4 of a mile in, I passed many of those girls up who were bent over holding their sides- walking it out. I was delirious with pain and utterly exhausted, but honed in and focused on my breathing and speed. There was nothing else to do but push on. I finished almost every 3 mile race and ended up with two medals and a whole slew of ribbons over those three years.

One day, my cross country teacher (Mr. Lang) found out my dirty secret. I had been running the two miles home after running 3 mile races. I was embarrassed because nobody could pick me up after school. One day, he offered me a ride and when he found out I’d been running home too, he became my official ride. I became his star runner and he really shaped me into a strong child athlete. I was only 9. So now, even after all these years, when I’m hit with a hard time, I reach back and grab those early life lessons; that training carved into me some serious strength of character.

So now I have to focus on school. I was so close to dropping out the other day, but Josh- he knows just what to say to get to me! He knows me better than anyone. He reminded me that I had an obligation. “It’s about the principle, Birgy.” And that’s all it took. He knows that “principle” means more to me than anything else in a matter. I’ll haggle for 5 hours over two pennies if somebody’s trying to get one over on me, but give away everything I have to people who need it. It’s the principle of it.

So now, heart falling out of my chest, I push on and remind myself that the end of the race is the most important part of all. It’s at the end that people start dropping off like flies. Not much different than a spiritual race. People I’ve known for 30 years now are turning into heartless, loveless beasts. Cruel animals.

I was told recently about this poor old Christian woman in the hospital. One of her sons went and told her that the reason she didn’t have cards and flowers is because she was too “spiritual” and talked about God too much and that nobody wanted to go and see her. What’s this world coming to when you can do that to your own mother when she’s down- and then call yourself a Christian too? God help us.

Black days…


Early Morning Rain

It’s 7:39 a.m. and I’ve been up all night again. I usually am these days. I noticed that I prefer working through the night- in dark, quiet solitude, rather than during the day. I’m making tea and getting ready to start on my literature review: I’ve completed my Methods and Results Drafts. The literature review is usually the part of the scientific paper that introduces the hypothesis; which is why it’s also called the Introduction (section). All in all, it’ll be 10 pages or so, and so I’ve been working for weeks on drafts. I’ve never been more tempted to quit! There’s roughly 5 weeks to go still before the semester ends. I messed up by going out and getting a batch of fresh shots. I forgot how fun it was!

This is a collage I made from fresh leaves found in my back yard two days ago.

Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI/natural sunlight

Available for purchase here

LeavesSetMJ.

Time to get cracking!


Miseducation in the Classroom

I’m good and disgusted with the content in one of my textbooks Human Relations: A Game Plan for Improving Personal Adjustment by Loren Ford. The class is Everyday Psychology and the chapter in question is called Human Sexuality. Throughout the chapter, there is plenty of discussion about homosexuality and how it is “not a choice, you’re born that way” (whatever!) and also a generous amount of “transgender education” as well. We were instructed to watch a Gay Rights video and comment in the forums- all very 2014. What burns me up to no end, however, is what I read in my textbook. Ford states, “One indicator that our society has a homophobic segment is the persistent beliefs that homosexuals are deviant” (2010, p. 196).

The problem I have with this statement is that as a Christian, it’s my right to believe that homosexuality is deviant. My right. If I choose to believe what is in the Bible (and I do) rather than man, that is my choice and again,  my right. It doesn’t mean that I’m a “homophobe” and really, I’m good and fed up with people ignorantly labeling Christians as “homophobes” if we think homosexuality is evil or a sin. I will always believe homosexuality is a sin. Always. But the Bible also talks about “love” and that we should love all people. So then, I’m able to love a person- homosexual or not- because I believe we’re all made in God’s similitude or “likeness”, but still able to hate the sinful act that a person does. It is not “sin” to the person, but it is to me. Therefore, I can do as the Bible instructs and “hate the evil and love the good”.

I think it’s dangerous miseducation to add in a college textbook that “if you think homosexuality is deviant, you’re a homophobe”. Really, Mr. Ford? A good many of my friends are homosexuals and I love them dearly- I am most definitely not a homophobe- I just hate the “gay pride” thing and the flamboyancy that goes along with “gay pride”. As a Christian, I believe “pride” in general, is the enemy of humility. So, I ascribe to a belief that embraces humility rather than “being proud”. There is definitely nothing to be proud about by embracing “sin”- but you see, I can say that because these are my beliefs. I can’t speak for anybody else.

Gay people are sometimes quick to slap a “homophobe” label  on anybody who doesn’t adopt their mindsets or lifestyles, but it is the right of a person to be able to choose to be straight- without being harassed. “Hating sin” doesn’t make one a “homophobe”. Homophobia has to do with fear. There’s no fear in me saying that I hate homosexuality and find it an evil in this world. Do not confuse that with hating an actual person! There’s a difference. It is the “act” of homosexuality that I hate- not the person.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander though. Straight people have “rights” too. We have the right to believe that homosexuality is a sin. We have the right to reject it. We have “straight rights”.

God allows each person to choose his or her religion, destiny, and beliefs. If God Himself does that, we should do the same and allow others to choose their religion, destiny, norms, mores and sexuality too- free will.

I would never tell a person that he or she needs to “stop being gay”- that is his or her choice. So then I do not want to be “educated” in my college course that my hatred of what I perceive to be as a sin as “homophobia”. When you label a person, such as that, you’re imposing upon his or her right to choose how or what they want to believe. It’s ethically wrong  and I’m flabberghasted that that kind of partiality and bias is allowed to be printed in our college textbooks. If you “educate” people about “gay rights” in a Human Sexuality course, then by all means, even it up and include a suptopic on “straight rights” as well. If you’re going to talk about “homophobia”- talk about “heterophobia” also! it exists and is a real problem, just as homophobia is. Stop spinning the information and twisting it so that the “gay agenda” is alive and well in the classroom, but the “straight agenda” is not.

If we’re supposed to respect a person’s right to be gay, then we should respect a straight person’s right to “reject homosexuality”.  It’s not a “hate crime”. Everyone’s rights should be considered.

I will always think homosexuality is an evil in this world. But remember, it’s my right to believe what I want to believe. Why do I feel this way? I’ll tell you. Because I was raised in a world where my 4th  grade teacher read the Bible/KJV out loud to us in the classroom. We prayed over our food in a public school in the lunchroom before we ate- a public school! We all prayed for the prisoners in Kuwait that were being held hostage, and our textbooks weren’t crammed with “gays rights” this and that. Homosexuality wasn’t part of our curriculum.

Please textbook authors, stop spinning our college textbooks specifically with a gay rights agenda in mind. Not everybody wants to read that.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” -Ephesians. 6:13