learning to sail my ship

My notes here are more like ramblings than coherent essays.

And this hodgepodge of stories and thoughts matches my current state.

I visited Mom on Memory Lane on Tuesday and sat in the parking lot crying for a good while after the visit. I wonder how many other visitors experience this same sadness as they watch people they love slip away.  I knew this was coming – the days when my mother might not brighten to see me, when she might not know clearly who I am. But I wasn’t prepared for how much I might miss her.


Home improvements continue. I love this picture hanging system and this picture ledge. I’ll show-and-tell as soon as we have them installed with artwork arranged.

There is film in the Graflex 22, twin lens reflex camera, and I’m ready to practice with black-and-white film.

I send a poem to my son, I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party. It’s about a young gay man reaching out to his parents. I laugh because Jacob writes back to say he subscribes to poem-a-day, too. I like that we are alike in this way.

I receive the sweetest note from a friend who lets me know my recent article was included in Monthly Best Reads from Click Magazine. She roots for me with her whole heart.

Hello Donna my friend,
  I had a delightful surprise this morning when I opened my email from Click magazine. I tapped to the article on observation and when I was done reading it to my surprise it was one that you wrote. How proud I was that I know you. You have come so far in your photography and are getting the recognition you deserve for your excellent work. As always I am enthralled at your images and your article brought to mind our photo walk and how you encouraged me to stop and observe my surroundings. Bravo to you!
Hugs, Peggy

I find this quote that reassures me.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.
— Louise May Alcott

spring renewal


We are continuing with spring renewal. We’ve spread a truck load of mulch in the yard. The new fridge was delivered yesterday (the old one was twenty-four years old!). The interior walls have a fresh coat of white paint. We’re waiting on new carpet and flooring.

Our youngest son will graduate college on May 12 – on Mother’s Day – and this seems wholly appropriate to me.

I’ve been having fun. At a photography meet-up (one that meets during the daytime which is perfect for a lark like me) I met a new friend who loaned me a twin-lens reflex camera and offered to help me learn about medium format photography.  I went to a letter-writing event hosted by my friend, Susan Carter Morgan. I sat alongside pal, Pete Morelewicz, and wrote thank-you and thinking-of-you cards to a few favorite friends.

My birthday is this week and I am turning fifty-eight. I love this age! I feel full of life and promise and potential. I’m exercising with a well-trained Pilates instructor and it’s making a world of difference in my posture and relieving chronic back pain.

I’ve let myself off the hook for daily picture-taking and writing in this space in order to be fully present with the people I love and the happenings in my life.

I can’t believe I’m saying this since I’m usually wracked by the compulsive need to keep up, accomplish and complete things.

As so often happens, God delivers the message I need by way of the people in my life.

From my friend and life coach, Helen McLaughlin,

Making the call not to follow through on something we've always done can often become a day-long deliberation...at the end of which we still don't do the thing, but we also never let ourselves off the hook for it.
(You might recognize this pattern when you try to just chill out and enjoy a lazy day—only to hem and haw the entire afternoon over whether or not you should really give yourself the whole day or squeeze in some chores or exercise here and there. By evening, you're exhausted because you never really relaxed. And nothing got done. Lose-lose.)
It seems we're holding onto a false, but rather convincing belief that everything in our lives is hanging by a thread...and we have to keep up the breakneck pace; we have to superstitiously rinse and repeat every single week, or else the thing we're building will fall apart just like that.

anywhere i roam

thoughts on connection


In Study Hacks Blog, Cal Newport makes an interesting distinction between the social internet and social media.

The former describes the internet’s ability to enable connection, learning, and expression. The latter describes the attempt of a small number of large companies to monetize these capabilities inside walled-garden, monopoly platforms.

I am happy to say that even though I do not participate in social media, the social internet serves me well. It feels as though the whole world is open to me – to take online classes, to share my photographs and stories, to make connections and friendships. I view every post as an invitation for connection. Without social media, my community may be smaller but the relationships I build through this space are meaningful.

I can’t remember just where I read it, but I recently came across a study that reported the greatest determinant of happiness comes from the quality of our relationships. Maintaining close relationships may well be the most important work we do in our lives. It’s fairly easy to stay connected to those who have similar interests and beliefs, but I find that navigating our differences is where the real growth occurs.

And sometimes those opportunities for growth walk right up and ask me in.

From my friend and fellow photographer, Cathy Sly -

I enjoy blogging. I enjoy the process of writing and taking photos. And I love what you say about photographs that have real value, even if it is only for my eyes. And like you, but opposite!  As much as I love street photography and documentary photos, I am just not drawn to make those kinds of photos. Part of that is my rural setting I think. We don't even have a town really. But my camera is my lifeline and I love doing what I do with it.
I wonder if we might take our very opposite views on the world and work it into something we could do together at some point. Something to ponder.

My response –

What if we bring images together based on something we feel or want to express, some story we want to tell. And those images could reflect our unique voices which are quite similar in tone and style though different in subject. And perhaps the subjects are not so different at all - maybe we are expressing a similar concept or feeling, but simply in two different ways.

And so it is that I begin this new project, based on our common need for belongingness and connection.

Whatever it is that first draws you in, there will come a moment when you see that its close connections in turn have their own connections. This is the exhilarating moment when we realize that everything is connected.
— Tristan Gooley, How to Read Nature, Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You’ve Never Noticed

Cathy and I will pair our images, connected by a single word, theme or concept, a few times a month. We’ll share readers and friend and thoughts and ideas, and see where this all goes. We’ll try things to see if they work.

For the other half of this story on connection, visit my photographer-storyteller-friend, Cathy Sly.

She’s five miles from home . . . and I’m anywhere i roam.

the time i was a nosy guest

I am not fully aware of the etiquette for visiting a friend’s home for the first time, but I am fairly certain it does not include taking pictures in every room.

But in this case, my friend invited me in and let me have free reign with my camera. This is one of those times when privacy is required so I won’t mention the person’s name or where they live.

The hallmarks of a welcoming home were present and accounted for.

✔ Hospitality.

✔ Natural light.

✔ Color.

✔ Art. Everywhere.

✔ Personal style.

✔ Function.

✔ Mix-and-match.

✔ Quirk.

✔ Books.

✔ Fruits or vegetables on the counter or table.

✔ Pet.


There are no rules for what makes a home truly beautiful.

And there are no rules for welcoming a guest other than to make the person feel at home.