It Was The Best of Times… It Was The Worst of Times… It’s Life.

As 2017 comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect back to the last few years of my life and how far I have come from the worst of times to the best of times. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time, have witnessed my struggles and celebrations. Thank you for your support and kindness.

The Best of Times…

Four years ago, just when I thought life would give me a break, I fractured my left ankle during the first day of my 7 day Hawaiian vacation. It wasn’t exactly the break I was looking for. At the time, all I could see were regrets and pain. If only, I wasn’t so eager to chase after that turtle! If only I wasn’t so clumsy… if only I didn’t take that step… If only… Oh the regrets that occupied my mind…

_DSC2943

That step took me down a hole so deep that I thought I would never be able to climb out. But somehow, I did. As terrible as that step was for me, I realized; I would not be where I am today had I not taken that slippery step. The broken and painful step took me on the path of living a purposeful life — where I can use my life experience to help other people who are still stuck in their own deep holes to see a way out. The job affords me the opportunity to live the independent life I had lost so many year ago.

For my 52nd birthday last month, I went back to Hawaii to celebrate my independence.

IMG_3426_resizedI finally fulfilled my dream to swim with the turtle after three years of waiting.

DSC_8226I rediscovered love with me, myself and I.  And found myself at the end of the rainbow.

IMG_1508Life Lessons learned: Things happen for a reason, good or bad. No regrets. Learn from it and move on. Have faith. The right opportunity will show up when you are ready to receive it. You never know where that next step will take you.

The Worst of Times…

After I got back from Hawaii, a very difficult decision was waiting for me to make. My beloved Max was having hard time walking. I took him to the vet and was given the bad news that cancerous tumors have invaded his entire body. I could prolong his life for a few months with surgery and chemo. Given the fact, Max was 12 years old; I decided to help him live the rest of his life as comfortably as possible. And hoping, maybe… by some miracle that he would get better on his own. Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks; I knew I was only being selfish keeping him. I did the inevitable and took him to the vet for his final check-up.

Now that he’s gone, I realized I took him for granted. Maximus Minumus, a true friend and companion who never complained, never hurt me or anyone, was always ready to play and most of all give unconditional love.

_DSC6175

DSC_8238This photo was taken two hours before I took him to the vet. Even to the end, he was ready to play; even if all he could do was to sit there and enjoy the the moment.

Life lessons I learned from Max:  Live life in the moment. Accept the good and the bad. Enjoy what you have. Give love and kindness even if the person doesn’t deserve it. Smile even when you hurt. Don’t complain. It’s Life.

May All Beings Be Happy and Peaceful… Happy New Year.

 

Wishing…

Wishing you a million…

DSC_8247

May you have a million moments of joy,
A million moments of love,
A million moments of pure happiness,
A million moments of good health and wealth.
In short…
May All Beings Be Happy and Peaceful!!

beach_bunnies

 

 

 

Desert Snow Storm

The temperature last Thursday was sunny and around 74 degrees. I awoke on Sunday morning to find over a foot of snow have fallen and it is still snowing outside as I sit here typing…   looks like the weatherman was spot on about the snow prediction. There’s at least two feet of snow accumulated. Normally, I would be very excited about the snow but… I am right in the middle of a very exciting and important project with tight deadlines. It is a project of my dream come true… and that also explains my lack of activity visiting and commenting on your blogs. I haven’t been able to do much photography and finally the snow forced me to take out my camera so that I can capture the snowy moment forever.

Ah… I’m sure I got you wondering what my dream project is. 😉 I will reveal it in the next post. Hopefully everything will go according to plan and will workout without delay. You will probably be as surprised as I am on how I found the opportunity to make my dream come true.

Okay… back to my snow storm rambling… it had snowed a couple of times since I’ve moved here but it was only a couple of inches. At first I was really surprised to see snow but then again, the town is located over 5,000 feet above sea level. I am learning the temperature here can go from one extreme to another in a very short time. From the looks of the amount out there, it’s likely the snow will probably stay around — at least until Thursday when the temperature suppose be around the 70’s again… in the mean time, the furry kids and I are trying to make the best of the snowy event. As usual, they enjoy running around like wild, crazy, pups and of course; I enjoy (sort of) hiking through knee-deep snow, at 7:00 a.m., on the back trails of my home with the camera on a tripod — looking for that spectacular shot. While I didn’t find that spectacular shot, here are snap shots of the desert snow storm. My first time seeing a cactus covered with snow.

This is a tree located in front of my house. Not sure what kind of evergreen this is but its bright color bark and interesting branches caught my attention.

As I continued the hike up the now — very familiar trail in the back of my house, I felt as if I’ve been transported to a winter wonderland.

And of course… the furry kids. Max is starting to show his age with little white hairs showing up around his face. Someday he will sport the familiar white face mask that all golden retrievers get…

Evie  loves to plow through the snow…

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments and I apologize for my lack of response. The last month has been a life changing experience for me. I am beyond amazed by the events that’s changing my life for the better… better than I have ever anticipated. While I will still fit blogging into my life, right now with my limited time — I will not be able to post regularly. Thanks, everyone! 😀

Home Sweet Home

After more than three days and 1400 miles later, the furry kids and I finally arrived to our new home. This is the view of our new back yard  playground. I took this shot from the side deck of the house.

It was an incredible journey for my mind, body and soul. During my journey of escape to freedom, I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s amazing what your mind will think about when you have nothing to entertain you but a long and winding — mostly uninhabited road through some of the most amazing landscapes in North America. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. Not that I didn’t want to… there were so many breath-taking sights. But with a heavy eight-foot trailer towed behind my SUV, made it difficult to just stop and park anywhere. The most difficult part about the trip was traveling with the furry kids. While they were the most well-behaved traveling companions, finding a place to stay with them was not easy.

On our first night, I couldn’t find a motel that would take the furry kids. Since it was freezing cold out, I couldn’t leave them out in the truck on their own; we ended up sleeping in a motel parking lot. Yes, at least they were kind enough to let us use the parking lot. Needless to say, it wasn’t very comfortable sleeping with the steering wheel and it was so cold. I didn’t get very much sleep that night. Our luck was much better the second night. We stopped at a very small town. And there were two restaurants to choose from. One was part of a casino. I was surprised to see a large casino out in the middle of nowhere. So, my instinct told me to choose the small family restaurant instead. And it was the right choice. After subsisting on Subway sandwiches, beef jerky, and water for two days, I was ready for some really good home cooked meal. As I waited for my food, I started to chat with the owners. They were a very nice couple who had been through some hardship themselves. After learning about my plight, the owners were very generous and didn’t charge me for dinner and they also offered free breakfast the next morning. They also directed me to a motel where the nice owner decided to let slide the “NO DOG” rule for us. I was very touched by their kindness and generosity. I felt as if these people were like my guardian angels. They gave me more than just food and shelter; they gave me HOPE and COURAGE to continue on my journey.

On the third night, I thought about staying in Las Vegas. It has been over twenty years since the last time I’ve been to Las Vegas and if I had thought it was an ugly city before, it’s even more ugly now than I had thought. Looking around the environment, I can see why it’s nick named — Sin City. I decided to skip the city and thought maybe a motel outside the city limit would be better. However, the motel I came to would not take Max because he was 10 pounds over the weight limit. It was really late and I was very tired. I pleaded with the clerk to let us stay but he wouldn’t. The clerk refused to budge from the rule that they will only accept dogs less than 45 pounds. Guess I wasn’t surprise by the clerk’s lack of compassion. After all, it was Las Vegas. So, I drove on for another few hours while trying to stay awake… finally just when I thought about sleeping in the SUV again, we found a place that took the pups and without extra pet fee. 🙂

The next day, we arrived to our new home around noon. I met my new roommate Shannon and instantly; I knew we would get along just fine. Her home is on the end of a street, surrounded by the beautiful wilderness. The back yard is part of the national forest with hiking trails that go for miles.

And for the first time in my life, I was able to wake up every morning and look outside my bedroom window to witness beautiful sunrise.

For the last few days, the furry kids and I have been getting up every morning to hike up to the top of the hill to see the gorgeous sunrise. As I sit on top of the boulder looking at the brightly lit sky, casting a warm glow to the valley below — I knew I found the place that I can finally have the quality of life I’ve been looking for. While I know there will be challenges ahead, but for the first time in years; I truly feel happy and free. And it looks like the furry kids feel the same way…

Thank you everyone for all your support. And for those of you who’ve donated money or bought prints, I can’t tell you how much your contribution means to me. All I can say is — THANK YOU!! I will never forget the favor and will find ways to pay it forward when I am back on my feet.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀

Snow Wimps In Action

I woke up this morning expecting the rain to come and wash away all the snow but since I live in the convergence zone, we got more snow instead — while the rest of the greater Seattle area got freezing rain on top of the snow from yesterday’s storm. Needless to say, the city pretty much came to a standstill from layers of ice. While I do agree, Seattleites are terrible drivers in snow but was it really necessary for the L.A. Times newspaper to insult us? Yesterday, the L.A. Times did a report about our snowstorm and called us snow wimps. The reporter was very condescending about our reactions to small amount of snow. I mean really… of all places, L.A.? They don’t even know how to drive in the rain and I doubt they would know how to drive in the snow at all — yet the reporter has the audacity to lecture us about our snow driving ability? I don’t like it when people make judgments without knowing how it really is. Does the reporter even know what the Seattle streets look like? I find the reporting really rude and not to mention bad journalism.  I know when I first moved down from Alaska, I had no problem driving in the snow but over the years, my ability becomes more cautious because of lack of practice. It’s hard to practice when it snows maybe a few times a year if even that. And that’s part of life… when you don’t continue to practice, you are not going to be good at it and eventually you might even forget how to do it. So… Take that L.A. Times… we are snow wimps and proud of it!

And speaking of practice. It has been a while since I shot my furry kids in action and with all the thick, fluffy snow; I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice my action shots. By afternoon, the snow fall had lighten up enough that I thought it would be okay to take my camera out in it. And of course, the furry kids love any opportunity to play in the snow.

One great thing about shooting Max in snow is his golden red fur. It creates nice contrast and makes it easier for me to get the correct exposure. Unlike Ms. Evie whose creamy white fur blends in too much with the snow. I tend to shoot her a little underexposed so that I can capture the details of her better.

Max is quite an athlete. He can catch Frisbees, knows how to play basketball, and he loves soccer. Nothing like a fun game of soccer in the snow. This was his first time playing soccer in the snow and as you can see, he was pretty good at it. 🙂

Will Work For Chicken Jerky

There was a rain break this afternoon and I thought I would take the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood with my camera —  and see what I can discover. As I was putting on my shoes, the furry kids started to jump around me with excitement. When I told them “NO, you stay”, they looked so disappointed; I felt guilty. Then as I walked out the driveway and past the big piles of leaves, a bright idea came to mind. I thought it would be fun to shoot the furry kids playing in the leaves. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. They weren’t exactly thrill about the modeling session and protested but… in the end, they were willing to work for chicken jerky. 🙂

One of the biggest challenges about photographing Max and Evie together is probably their contrasting fur colors. Because of Evie’s white fur and dark features, the camera has a difficult time detecting the correct exposure. If I set the exposure for Evie, Max usually end up being too dark and vice versa — if I set it for Max then Evie’s fur ends up being over exposed and lack contrast. In this case, I set the exposure for Evie and that way in Lightroom3, I have more room to play with the lighting to bring out the correct exposure in Max and the surrounding elements.

It’s About The Destination and Not The Journey

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…” I have thought about this well known quote many times in my life. And while this statement may sound like a noble wisdom to follow — from experience, there are times in life; I wouldn’t mind skipping the journey and just get right to the destination. 😀

For Evie and Max, it’s always about the destination and not the journey.

And I’m certain these migrating birds are eager to get to their destination…

Detoured Road Trips

Hi everyone, thank you for all your supportive comments and emails. I haven’t posted lately because… I seem to be having a creative road block. And it’s taking me a little longer than usual to get back. Hopefully, my road trip this weekend will help me find my way and I’ll something interesting worth posting. Have a great weekend!

Be a Better Photographer: Shoot Your Dog

I love taking photos of my furry kids. Their wonderful personality and silly antics provides me with humorous entertainment but also a challenging opportunity to be a better photographer. Shooting the furry kids has helped me learn how to use the settings on my camera better than any other subjects. Most of the times, it’s a hit or miss kind of situations to get a good shot. Although with patience and treats, there are moments I have captured that are just precious.

Evie and Max playing in the summer snow.

Can you touch your nose with your tongue?

Fun In The Sun

Finally… over the weekend; after months of cold and rainy days — the weather temperature reached past 70 degrees for the first time this year. To celebrate the welcoming occasion, we decided to take a road trip to Long Beach, Washington. Long Beach is famous for its annual international kite flying festival and being the world’s longest beach.  It took over three hours to get there but the anticipation of walking bare feet on the warm sandy beach distracted me from the time. However, when we got there, it was windy and cold — the town didn’t look very inviting to me. Actually, I thought it looked rather depressing on a bright sunny day. So, after driving around the town a couple of times, I felt it probably would be better to head down to Cannon Beach in Oregon instead. Even though it was an additional 40 minutes drive, my instinct was right. It was a great decision. The beach and the weather was fantastic. I had a great time shooting the beautiful scenery and the furry kids had a blast of fun in the sun.

As always, I love watching the furry kids play. Their comical antics and the joy they express are priceless moments forever etched into my heart.

Of all the beaches I’ve been to along both Washington and Oregon coast, Cannon Beach is one of my most favorite. I love its smooth sandy beach and despite the rows of multi-million dollar houses packed along the coast, it still has the natural wilderness quality.

Cannon Beach is recognized by its well-known landmark, Haystack Rock. It’s often accessible at low tide, especially in the summertime — and with an elevation of 235 feet, the rock is quite an impressive sight.  During low tides, there are many interesting tide pools to explore — which I love to do. The experience tends to bring out the kid in me and I find myself poking at the anemones, searching for sea urchins, hermit crabs and other critters with wonder and excitement.

Near Haystack Rock are two tall rocks rising straight out of the water — known as the Needles. Even though they are not as tall as the Haystack Rock, nevertheless, I find them  just as impressive. As I try to picture in my mind what the area must have looked like millions of years ago when volcanic eruptions formed these rocks.

It was a beautiful day to say the least… and nothing like an amazing sunset to end the day as we headed home across the Astoria-Megler Bridge  — the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.

 

Weekend Discovery

After months of rainy, cold weather, the sun-drenched weekend was a welcome relief. On Saturday, we decided to head East on U.S. Route 2 or otherwise known as Stevens Pass for another much-needed road trip. Route 2 is an east–west U.S. Highway spanning 2,579 miles (4,150 km) across the northern continental United States.

With the cost of gas hovering close to $4.00 a gallon, we didn’t want to go too far and thought it would be fun to drive the scenic route 2 to the town, Leavenworth. It’s located about 115 miles from Seattle. Leavenworth is a small Bavarian style village nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by tall mountain peaks. The last time I visited the place was about 15 years ago. Although the scenery was still amazing, the town felt more like a tourist trap. Especially, when a grilled bratwurst on a hot dog bun cost $11.

After we had our expensive hot dog, we drove around and saw a house for sale with the view below. What an amazing place to live… it almost made me want to move there. But, then again, I’m an ocean girl at heart. I like living close to the ocean.

On Sunday, we decided to stay closer to home and headed to Discovery Park in Seattle. What a gorgeous day!

Flowers blooming…

Kites flying… boats gliding…

We sat and soak up the sun, as we watch the furry kids run around, play ball, having a great time… just living in the moment.

Another beautiful day… ahh… life is good. 😀