Photography

New Year, New Goals – Who’s With Me?

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated this blog, I’ve created a photography blog and a weight loss surgery blog over the past few years, but this one has always been my favorite. Because of this, I have decided to focus my energies on just this blog and incorporate my photography, weight loss musings and just everyday rants on one platform, this makes it easier for me and it makes it easier for those who choose to follow my blog – at least that’s what I am hoping, but I am always open to suggestions and feedback, so feel free to let me know what you think. Ok, on to the blog post at hand.

So, as I sit here typing this, 2018 is a mere two hours and twenty minutes away. As with every New Year’s Eve, I start contemplating what went right in the past year and what I hope to change and achieve in the next – this has been my internal conversation much of the day. Let me share some of my thoughts.

Summing up 2017

2017 was a pretty normal year, unlike 2014, 2015 and 2016 – there wasn’t much upheaval. Our living arrangements stayed stable, we have been in this house for two and a half years now and expect to stay here for at least one and a half more. M and I were fortunate enough to keep our jobs and feel as confident as one can with regard to our employment status for the upcoming year. The girls are doing well in their lives, branching out with new friendships in interests  – that’s all I can ask for at this time.

Not everything stayed the same though, in January, I started Grad school, pursuing my M.A. in English through UNF. This has been a rich and rewarding experience, and I am very fortunate to have a family that is supportive of my educational goals. Also, in June, I had weight loss surgery, specifically the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). In the past 365 days, I have lost 86 pounds and am hoping to lose at least another 20-30 in the next six months. 2017 has been the year to work on myself, and I believe I’ve done a pretty good job.

Looking forward to 2018

Even though I did a great job working on myself in 2017, I am nowhere near done. I am pushing myself to take more than two classes this year, mostly because I owe my employer two years of employment after my final class and I honestly don’t want to be beholden to them for the next seven years. So in January I will be taking two classes, and sitting in on a third, which means I will be on campus Monday through Thursday evenings after work, it’s going to be tough, but so worth it.

I have to continue working on my weight loss by eating healthy and working out, so in addition to working out with my trainer once a week, I need to add more cardio and strength training to my routine. I had been doing a good job walking during my morning break at work, so getting back to that is imperative, and then hitting the gym at least two days a week, but preferably three.

I am going to focus more attention on my writing in 2018. I’ve missed writing creatively and I’ve connected with some great writers, online as well as in person, who inspire me to write more and focus on learning the craft. It is my hope to join a well-known writers workshop in May to get some much-needed instruction and feedback to strengthen my skills. I also plan to work more diligently on my blog, specifically how to make it into something that could open doors to opportunities for travel writing, which is a dream of mine.

I have fallen in love with reading again this year, I attribute that to going back to school and spending my first semester reading James Joyce including Ulysses. Plus it helps that we don’t have cable anymore so I don’t find myself getting sucked into catching up on DVR’d shows I couldn’t watch during my school semester, though I really miss Project Runway, but I love that I’ve been reading more for enjoyment and hope that I can increase the number of books I read in 2018 by at least two.

I am hoping to find a little more time to focus on my photography in 2018. I know I won’t be able to get out every week to take photographs then come home, upload edit and write about my photos, but I barely picked up my camera this year, and I do not want that to happen in 2018. I feel as if I lost a lot of technical knowledge this year and that makes me very sad.

How am I going to do all of this?

As I mentioned to a friend earlier this week, I am great at making goals, but I am terrible at creating the steps to reach those goals. I know that I will have to be very strict with my time and schedule in order to accomplish all that I want to in the next 365 days, so I have taken a few small steps to focus on my time management. I have invested in a very nice Franklin Covey planner that breaks days into half-hour increments as well as space to list priorities for the day and notes. Additionally, I bought a dry erase board to keep near my desk to write down upcoming assignments and upcoming appointments.

 

I have to create new habits in 2018 to keep myself organized and as much as I don’t like living by the clock, that’s the only way that I will be successful this upcoming year.

The biggest time-suck-trap that I fall into is social media. To be successful, I have to limit my time on Facebook and YouTube. I find that I can waste an entire day taking Facebook quizzes or watching my favorite YouTubers talk about reading or writing. Instead, I need to use that time to visit with my parents, read, write and complete class assignments.

I hope that you will join me on this journey, I am excited about your feedback and hopefully some encouragement as well. What are your goals for 2018 and how are you going to accomplish them?

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Categories: 2018, Books, Goals, Gratitude, Jacksonville, Life, Musings, New Start, Photography, Reading, selflove, Travel, weightloss, Writings | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curiosity

Apparently he was as curious of me as I was of him.

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Nikon D7200
ISO 100
250mm
f/8
1/200 second

Categories: Animals, Life, Photography, Project 365 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Retired Horses

I love horses. All my life I have wanted a horse, however, due to the costs associated with owning a horse, it’s just never been feasible.

Yesterday, my daughter and I drove 80 miles west to visit, pet and feed a farm full of retired horses. The Retirement Home for Horses, Inc.  at Mill Creek Farm is a beautiful 300+ acre sanctuary for neglected, abused and abandoned horses from around the state of Florida.  The organization is a non-profit run on donations, they don’t charge a monetary admission into the farm, the cost to enter is simply “two carrots”.

On our way out, we stopped at the store and purchased one 5-lb bag of carrots and one 3-lb bag of apples. Having never been to the farm before, we had no idea what to expect. Next time, I think two bags of carrots is called for, as the horses know you are going to feed them, and some will walk the fence line with you, hoping you will give them more than just one (and we find it really difficult to say no. LOL).

It was a beautiful day, not thinking about the loss of sea breeze so far inland, I expected it to be cooler than what it was. Also, I did no research beforehand, so I had no idea how much walking was going to be involved. Next time, I wear shorts to keep cool and better walking shoes to provide support to my feet. That being said, it was nothing but blue skies and sunshine all day long, picture perfect, if you will.

I wish I would have done a better job at keeping track of the horse’s names, so I could document it in my blog posts, guess that’s another good reason to go back.

This guy was one of my favorites, he was very tall, imposing and a little stand-offish – it made my heart all aflutter.

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Nikon D7200
ISO100
38mm
f/6.3
1/80 second

Categories: #nature, Animals, Photography, Project 365 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s afraid of the boogeyman??

“Do Not Use This Path After Dark”

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University of Florida campus – Worldwide Photowalk Day, October 1, 2016.

Nikon D7200
ISO 100
32mm
f/4.5
1/25 second

Categories: Photography, Project 365 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hurricane Matthew

This weekend my town was hit by Hurricane Matthew. My husband and I had been carefully monitoring it’s movement, hoping it would shift to the east and bypass us, but remaining realistic enough to prepare for a hit.

Businesses throughout the city began closing and bracing for the storm on Wednesday. The local colleges shut down around 3pm, the area secondary schools notified student and parents that school would be suspended Thursday and Friday. I was able to work from home on Thursday and Friday, my husband went in Thursday morning, but was home by 11am.

For better or worse, we kept our TV tuned to The Weather Channel and watched as meteorologists reported from the Bahamas up along the Florida coast, providing real-time insight was to what we should expect. As my husband and I watched, our anxiety grew. We hadn’t really discussed evacuating, we weren’t in an evacuation zone, so I wasn’t worried about flooding, and I feel pretty safe in my house, according to an email I received from my landlord meant to reassure me, “it has strong bones”. But, we do have a great number of tall, decaying trees on our property and my biggest fear was them falling on the house, specifically while we are in it.

Luckily before we went to bed on Thursday night, Hurricane Matthew “wobbled” to the east just slightly, assuring that the eye wall wouldn’t scrape up the coast of Florida as originally planned easing my fears a little. I feel that if that hadn’t occurred, or if the conditions would have worsened overnight, my family and I would have packed up and headed to a friends house on the west coast early Friday morning.

We started losing trees Thursday night, even before the bigs winds came. Friday morning, before the heavy rains came, we took our dogs outside and walked our yard and found tons of fallen branches and noticed one of the decayed oaks at the very back of the property had fallen, luckily it fell on our side of the fence, and not our neighbors side. We would have plenty more time to impact the neighborhood with our dead trees later in the day.

It was predicted that Hurricane Matthew would hit our area late Friday afternoon and last into Saturday morning, and that prediction was pretty much spot on. I had anticipated that we would lose power, and we did right around 1pm on Friday. After a few minor bumps in the road, the family took it in stride, as we played card games and ate our hurricane snacks.

I am not sure exactly when the first tree fell, but none of us heard it come down. img_8498

The second tree wasn’t as inconspicuous. Although the whole tree didn’t fall, only a portion of it, it is right by my oldest daughter’s bedroom window, so she heard it come down.
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The next tree to come down was the the second worse thing, right behind a tree falling on our house. The tree was on the front property line right by the road and when it fell, it decided to take our power line damaging the transformer that not only powers our house, but also our next-door neighbor and the two neighbors who live across the street.

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As the sun set, we broke out the two flashlights we had (I later noticed when it came to preparing, we only worried about having enough drinks and snacks, getting more flashlights or battery powered radios) and ate some cereal and the kids and my husband played a couple of rounds of Uno. All-in-all, it was pretty good, other than the  silhouettes of tall trees bending to the howling winds. I found the storm much more frightening once the sun went down and I could no longer see what was happening outside.

Around 5:30 Saturday morning, we all woke to a loud explosion. At first I though that something had fallen on the house, or the transformer across the street had finally exploded. The four of us, flashlights in hand did as much investigating as we could, but found nothing causing immediate danger and each headed back to bed.

When I woke at 7, the rain had stopped and a full yard appraisal could be made. Luckily, no other trees came down over night, so our final count was 4 (although I consider it 3.33).

It took a few hours, but by mid morning, a tree service came by and cut the tree from the power line then by early afternoon the power company came by and repaired the wire to my house, reran the wire to my neighbors house and replaced our transformer.  We were outside clearing up yard debris, but we took a break, and together, with our neighbors, we gathered round to watch the lineman, use his baton to push the button that would restore our power. A collective cheer went up and smiles from not only the families but also the linemen were unanimous. After saying our many thanks, the workers got back in their trucks and headed off to help other families get back to normal. We spent the next half hour picking up the front yard, then came in, took showers and headed out to find somewhere, anywhere that could serve us hot food.

All-in-all, we were very fortunate. We are all safe and there was no structural damage to our home. My friends and my extended family members are safe and from what I have been told so far, any damage that has occurred has been minor.

I see news reports of the devastation that has been left behind and the flooding damage that has occurred due to the storm surge to the area beaches and especially to my favorite little city to the south, St. Augustine, and I am thankful that it wasn’t worse. Reports are flowing in of high numbers of fatalities in Haiti and the Bahamas and it prevents me from complaining about how we had to throw away an entire refrigerator of food or go without running water or electricity for 24 hours. These are minor inconveniences compared to what many others experienced.

This was the worst storm to hit my city in 118 years, and I am hopeful that it will be another 118 years before it sees anything remotely close.

Categories: Life, Photography, Storms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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