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…

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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.

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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.

 

Love Is Like A Game

Love is like a game
Only the best can win
I am who I am
For I have no name
Let the game begin…

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What you see is what you get
If you don’t like what I have to offer
Then don’t make me suffer
For I need to be
Don’t try to control me

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Love me for who I am
And not for what you think I can
For this is me
Just let me be

My soul is like a free spirit bird
Wanting to be heard
For I need to sing
So I can be spread my wings
And become an amazing being

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You can put me in a cage
And clip my wings
Give me all the pretty things
Whisper sweet nothings
But it would not mean a thing
For my soul can’t sing
I would only be empty…

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The Dam Eagle Road Trip

Finally… after over two months of being a couch potato to heal my broken ankle; I escaped on a road trip yesterday. The weather was the typical Pacific Northwest winter — rainy and gray, not exactly the best weather for landscape photography. But I didn’t care… I was in desperate need to get away before the insanity of boredom takes over permanently. I knew I was getting to the point of no return when I actually watched the season premier of The Bachelor. If I was looking to regain my self-respect and intelligence, I definitely lost more than a few IQ points for watching the entire episode. So… to redeem myself, I decided I need to put some creativity back in my brain. At first, I thought about escaping to the Oregon coast but given the fact my leg is still in the healing process, I decided to stay close to home — and shoot the bald eagle migration that happens around this time of the year, along State Route 20.

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Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single eagle in sight when I got to the area where they usually hang out. But… no matter, nothing could dampen my excitement and the exhilarating feeling to finally get out of the house and be in nature with my Nikon. I decided to do the dam road trip instead. There are several dams along Route 20. The route is also one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever traveled. Because of the rainy, gray, sunless weather, it was a challenge with lighting and exposure; everything was mostly flat and lifeless in color. I knew most of the images would be converted to monochrome. With that in mind, I try to shoot with the exposure that would allow me to manipulate in Adobe Lightroom for the mood I wanted to create.


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The Diablo Dam is the second of the three dams along the upper Skagit River. The Diablo Lake is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture its beauty and grandeur. It’s one of those places that you really need to see it in person, especially on a sunny day, to experience its breathtaking vista.
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As I continued on to the third dam, Ross Dam; I came upon this sign. At the same time, I was starting to feel pain in my leg. So I took it as a sign to turn around and go back home… and lucky me — the perfect ending to a perfect day — I got to see a few eagles along the way. Since I still use crutches to get around, I wasn’t able to get close to the eagles without scaring them away. It was really difficult trying to hike close to the eagles with my crutches. After a few frustrating attempts of tripping and falling to the ground, I was able to shoot one from the comfort of my car. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Happy shooting. 🙂

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WP Weekly Challenge: Shadowed

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

A Bump In The Road

Emily's Photography Blog

Looks like I hit another bump
In this long and winding road
The view is still ugly
And not very friendly

I am so tired
I’ve lost all desire
Wishing for my destination
So I can see salvation

Guess this is a sign
I need to pull aside
And take a good look
At the mistakes I took

I have fought for my share
It’s only fair I ignore the stare
And follow my heart
To continue where I start

Not sure how to proceed
Though I do believe
With certainty
My heart will lead the way
To better days

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Happy Thanksgiving… it’s okay if you can’t feel thankful at the moment…

Once again, another Thanksgiving is here. For those of us who celebrate this occasion, we are reminded to be thankful, to be grateful —  while given the excuse to overindulged on a traditional feast with family and friends. But what if you are all alone and without the family and friends, and your cupboard is as empty as Mother Hubbard’s? You are told you should still be grateful because things could be worse… so on this Thankful Day, as I struggle to find things to be grateful; this photo I took last month reminds me that while I know I have a lot to be thankful for but it’s okay if I can’t feel thankful at the moment… I know the dark days will work its way through and I won’t always be singing the blues — because there’s always a chance for beautiful rainbow on rainy days.

Some Where Over the Rainbow

Almost Paradise

After more than five hours of flight, free from any major turbulence and bad passenger behaviors; my destination came into view — the beautiful island of Oahu. My paradise island for the next 7 fun-filled days with my camera and scuba gear.




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It has been over 10 years since I last visited the island and my baby sister, who lives there with her family. As I looked out window, memories of my last visit came flooding back… it’s amazing how my life has changed so much in those 10 years. Little did I know, this trip would bring me another big change — a challenge that will once again test my courage and strength.

Talk about life throwing a curve ball… the term “Life Sucks” doesn’t even come close to describe what happened to me on my FIRST DAY of exploring the island. While hiking along a jetty by an inlet, I was so engrossed by the colorful sea-life swimming along that I forgot to pay attention to the next rock I stepped on. It happened so fast, all I heard was the loud crack of my camera hitting the rock and the feel of excruciating pain in my left foot. After sitting for a few moments in a daze, my first instinct was to check the camera, fearing for the worse but with great relief no damage other than a few scratches. However, one look at my leg and the pain engulfing my whole body; I knew my paradise trip was over. To make the long story short, I fractured my ankle in two places. I have never had a broken bone of any kind in my entire life, until this incident. Like the old saying, there’s a first time for everything. Though this is one of those first times, I would rather not have.

For the rest of the vacation, I spent the next 6 days in excruciating pain, feeling like… honestly, I can’t really find the words to describe all the emotions going through my mind… all I know is that I will not be able to use my leg for the next couple of months and the challenges ahead.

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However… not all was completely loss. On my return flight, I was able to witness and photograph one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. For the moment, the beauty brought me peace and tranquility that made me forgot about my painful broken leg and the screaming babies… ALOHA!!




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Happy Like a Fish In Water

After swallowing what felt like gallons of sea water, battling the currents and poor visibility, tumbling around in all different directions, and crashing to the bottom on several occasions (thank-goodness there were no sea urchins below); it’s official… I’m a certified PADI scuba diver!!

Pirate John was there to capture my moments of glory… happy like a fish in water.

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Wow! What an amazing, awesome experience. Even though the eerie green water was freezing cold and murky, visibility less than 4 feet, and my only life source is a 50 lb steel tank strapped to my back; the feeling of being able to swim with the fishes evoked the absolute magical and thrilling emotions deep within me.

There were challenging moments during the certification that made me lose my sense of bravery… but I was determined to make it through the training. Being a certified diver is the only way take my photography to the underwater world. I am looking forward to the new challenges and exciting discoveries waiting for me below. Here is my first of many photos to come as I embark on this new journey. Happy Diving! 😀

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Nautical Discovery

A few weeks ago, I took the furry kids for our usual walk around the boat filled marina near where I live. I have walked around the marina many times — admiring many of the beautiful boats tied to the docks, and daydreaming about sailing. My mind filled with the romantic notion of sailing to different places and someday… perhaps I might even sail around the world. Sounds rather crazy when I don’t know how to sail nor do I know anything about sailing and I have never owned a boat. Okay, I did have a kayak years ago but I don’t think that count as a real boat.

For some reason on that day, I decided to walk down an unfamiliar path. I thought it would be nice to give the furry kids different places to sniff and to get me out of the comfort zone. As the furry kids and I walked by a nice sail boat, the owner with a friendly smile said hello to me. Since he seemed friendly, I stopped to say hello. We chatted about sailing, boats and other topics. Well, the path took me to an opportunity I didn’t expect to find. Sometimes you just never know who you might meet… that will change your life for the better. Pirate John took me sailing… 😀

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What an amazing day it was yesterday for my debut as a sailor. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the wind — just right for testing out my sea legs and I’m very happy I passed with flying colors. I didn’t get sea sick nor did I fall overboard. The biggest challenge for me was to hold my camera steady while trying to stand firm on deck. Thankfully, Pirate John was a good sailor and he was able to navigate well on the sea. Once I began to get my footing on the motion and bouncing waves, I was able to shoot with abandon to get interesting POV of the 40 foot sail boat. It was a wonderful day… after six hours of sun and relaxation; I felt my creativity rejuvenated to a level it hasn’t been in a long time. While the bright afternoon sunlight and moving motion made the shooting challenging, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in years. I discovered my love for sailing isn’t just a romantic notion and that someday, I want to realize my dream of sailing around the world… ALOHA!

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New Year, New Opportunities

One of the most profound things I’ve learned last year… when a door closes, another opens.  However, you might not always like the person behind the door with the offering and the price one must pay. My dream job last year was an amazing opportunity for me. Not only did the project gave me the validation I was looking for but it also gave me the financial earning I desperately needed. I was happy and grateful that I opened the right door… or so I thought. Unfortunately two months after I started my job, my boss told me he and I should date. I was speechless and dumbfounded as I desperately try to tell him off without bruising his ego. All I wanted was to keep my job. Trust me, if I didn’t need my job, I would have told him the truth, that I have no desire to date him now or ever. I was able to come up with some excuses to hold him off.

After realizing my days were numbered; I saved every penny I made and completed my real estate license to prepare for the inevitable of unemployment.  To make the long story short…  when my boss asked for a date a couple of weeks later, once again, I told him that dating him would be unprofessional and reminded him of my NO dating co-worker or boss rules. Well, after that he began to treat me poorly and made my job beyond difficult. In the end, job be damned… I had enough. I told him the truth and quit.

So, now that door is closed. And because of that door — even if the opportunity wasn’t what I had hoped — I was able to make the best of it so I can open another door to a path that I hope will be the right one.

Into The LightI realized that no matter how many doors I have to walk through, there will always be the one that shines brightly if I don’t give up.
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Facing The UnknownWhile it’s scary walking into the unknown… it’s even scarier to give up my humanity and self-respect.
Safe HarborThere are times I long for the security of a safe harbor…
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Happy New Year, Everyone! I wish you another year full of prosperity and doors of opportunity without having to sell your soul.  🙂