Counting Our Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we gather with our families, friends, loved ones, and take part in a Thanksgiving feast. We eat turkey and potatoes and vegetables and stuffing. We eat pies and cookies and pastries. We watch football and then pass out into a deep sleep.

But today is much more then all this.

Today is about counting our blessings. It’s about being thankful for our families, friends, loved ones and everything we have in this life.

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A Fall Walk

For the longest time the leaves stayed green, the temperatures were above average and people wondered if it was actually fall. Then, it seemed as if overnight, the leaves began to burst into magnificent colors of gold, orange and red.
It was at that point I knew the leaves were at peak, so I took my camera and went to photograph the fall foliage.

There’s many parks in the area I live, but the one I chose is special. It’s a place I’ve enjoyed my entire life, although I don’t exactly remember the first time I fell in love with it. Maybe it was the architecture, or the statues, or the carousel. Maybe it was its history, or its beauty or its serenity. Maybe it’s the memories that live inside the park. Or maybe it’s a combination of all the above. Whatever it is, I love this park. And it never ceases to amaze me no matter how many times I’ve been there there’s always something new to see, a new adventure to go on.

Carousel IIII entered by the carousel, a magical beauty constructed in the early 1900s. It has twenty-eight individually hand carved horses which were made by Lithuanian born Marcus Charles Illions. Walking around the cobblestone path that lines the way, I looked through the windows and saw all the horses. They appear to be running with their legs raised high or kicked out, ready to take another step. I think they’re majestic works of art with details so ornate I can’t help but marvel at them. Of all the carousels Illions constructed during his lifetime this is the only two-row carousel left still in working order.

A few steps away from the carousel is a stream of water that runs into a larger pond A Fall Viewwhere ducks like to gather. There’s benches around the edge as well as trees and shrubs. By this time of year most of the trees had shed their leaves. They now covered the ground with the colors of a rustic blanket shielding the green grass. The dried leaves crunched under my feet as I walked around the pond and when the breeze blew it carried with it the scent of fall.

The pond is surrounded by history. On one side stands the Canfield Casino and on the other, almost up on a hill, is The Spirit of Life. I never knew what the Canfield Casino was or understood its history until a couple of years ago. It was once a place to gamble, but today it stands as a historic landmark and a popular place for weddings. Even before I knew exactly what the building was, I was always fascinated by its architecture.

Final.jpgThe Spirit of Life and Spencer Task Memorial was constructed in the early 1900s. This bronze statue overlooks her reflecting pool as she has done since the day she was built. Sometimes, in the summer, mother ducks and babies can be found swimming in the pool. Over the years I’ve photographed her on a number of occasions with many different cameras. On this trip to the park, I found yet another way I wanted to photograph her. In my mind the flowers, small trees and reflecting pool framed her well.

I left the lower area of the park, walked up a hill and entered the woods. As soon as the path curved I saw a tree with all its leaves, bright with shades of red and orange. Limbs and branches reached toward the sky, arched over the path, and created a canopy of color. The path itself was scattered with fallen leaves and acorns. Squirrels and chipmunks rustled through the leaves looking for food to store before the approaching winter. My feet, once again, made the leaves crunch with each step. I paused once or twice to kick at a pile of leaves, making them fly up in the air and twist in the wind and they floated effortlessly to the ground. It made me feel like a kid again. I’m not sure what it is about fall, or any season, but certain things, no matter how old you become, make you feel like a kid.

Continuing along the path, I walked through the woods and above the lower level of the park. A fountain with a small stream connected to it ran below. There’s multiple fountains and sculptures set around the park. Soon the path began to descend and curve back around. As the wind blew it pushed the fallen leaves across the ground, bringing with it the crispness of fall. Before long, I was back at the carousel where I’d started, looking at the horses once more.

Throughout the park paths weave their way past trees and shrubs and benches. They take you by ponds and through the woods. Not only do they lead you through nature, but also history. There’s many historic things I didn’t mention about this place, but there’s simply so much to it. As I said in the beginning, I’m always finding something new. To this day I’m constantly learning about the park with which I fell in love.

To see more photos please visit my website by clicking here.

Always Try

My great-grandmother, like so many others, came to this country with nothing. She came alone and didn’t speak a word of English. I’m told she was a smart and determined woman who could do great things when she set her mind to it. Even though I didn’t know her, I believe the story is true since she worked hard and taught herself English. Again, like so many others, she had to sacrifice so much with the hopes of coming to this country in search of a better life. In the end, I think she did well.

The point of this story is as follows — you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

At times I think we sell ourselves short. Maybe we don’t have the confidence. Maybe we think we don’t have the support system. Maybe we think we’re not good enough. Maybe the road between where we are and where we want to be looks long and treacherous. Or maybe there’s a number of other reasons we don’t try.

No one ever said life was going to be easy. And no one ever said life would simply hand us things. I believe anything worth having is worth fighting for, working for, putting in the time and effort necessary. If there’s something we want, then, we should at least try.

My great-grand-mother’s story, along with so many others, reminds me of this every day — try. Sometimes what seems impossible is actually very possible.

And we never truly know what we’re capable of until we try.

Things Life Has Taught Me (So Far…)

Life is an ongoing lesson. We learn and grown from our experiences, both good and bad. Sometimes life knocks us down, but then it’s nice enough to help up back up. We become stronger and gain knowledge from our daily travels and interactions with others. In the end, life is the greatest teacher we’ll ever have. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I’m constantly learning every day, but here are a few key things I’ve learned so far.

The world isn’t all bad. It might be hard to believe with all the negative things we see and hear, especially in the news. It might be hard to believe there’s any good left, but there are still people who do good. There are still positive stories to be told. And in the face of any tragedy there are always people who will come together and help.

Work hard and play hard. It’s important to work hard (after all that’s how we pay the bills), but it’s equally as important to play hard. If we simply work and do nothing else, then, we’re going to miss out on a lot. In this case, it’s good to find a balance.

Enjoy every moment. We only have one life and that life only happens once. Each moment only happens once. These moments should be cherished and savored and enjoyed to the fullest.

Don’t take things and people for granted. It’s easy to think the things and people in our lives will last forever. The truth is, nothing in life is guaranteed. All the things we have today could be gone tomorrow. All the people currently in our lives could also be gone tomorrow.

Love. Love is important. Our families love us unconditionally and we love them. We share a special bond with our friends and love them as they love us. We also love that special some one in our life. Love is one of the most wonderful feelings in this life. It’s not something that should be feared, but embraced. Love fearlessly and fiercely.

Live. Life is short. We only have so many tomorrows. So make mistakes, learn, take risks, love, regret nothing and simply live.

The Nature of It

tears cascade
like a waterfall
down rosy cheeks
into saltwater pools
that moisten the ground
where hopes, dreams, flowers grow
for love and lost
has never been so
beautiful

A Summer of Photos

Over the summer I traveled, photographed a ton of concerts and documented the places I visited. Some places I had never been before while others I knew well. Some bands I had never heard of before or seen live while others were close to my heart.

It’s almost hard to believe that summer is over. Especially since the calendar says fall, but the temperatures are screaming summer (or at least spring). Now that we’re officially a week into fall (and heading for October, pumpkins, apple pie, bonfires, hot cocoa, warm sweaters, ect.) I’ve decided to post some of my favorite photos from the summer. (And this was not the easiest of tasks. Not every band I photographed or every place I went is represented in the photos below, so feel free to check out my website. The link is posted at the bottom.)

I hope you all had a great summer!

Enjoy the photos!

MuteMath

MuteMath at House of Blues Boston

Birdbath in the Garden

Emily Dickinson’s House – Amherst, MA

A Painter's Tools

Thomas Cole’s House/Studio – Catskills, NY

Mountain View

Catskills, NY

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at House of Blues Boston

Driftwood

Hampton Beach, NH

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

Fuel

Fuel at Upstate Concert Hall

Door

George Eastman’s House – Rochester, NY

Stolen Rhodes

Stolen Rhodes at Sticky Lips Juke Joint

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive at Upstate Concert Hall

Heavenly

Ocean City, NJ

To see more photos please check out my site by clicking here.

 

Love Yourself

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” – Oscar Wilde

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” – Lucille Ball

Self-love is one of the most important things in this world.

When we truly love ourselves, only then can we truly love someone else.

When we truly love ourselves that feelings creates an air of confidence that glows like a beacon and can be seen by others. It’s not something that becomes egotistical. It’s not something that becomes superior. It’s something, a feeling, that simply says we’re confident in who we are and love ourselves.

But not everyone feels this way. Some people loathe themselves. Some people can’t see how wonderful they are, let alone find one good quality about themselves, and believe they’re basically worthless. This mindset seems to effect every aspect of their life – health, perception, relationships, job, ect. Of course we all have bad days and might be hard or down on ourselves from time to time, but that’s completely different than hating yourself every single day.

The love we have for ourselves can go a long way. It makes us feel good – warm on the inside. We feel strong and believe we’re capable of doing anything, conquering any obstacle. It can be a positive attribute in our job, relationships, health and life in general. Plus, that confidence can be attractive.

There will always be traits we don’t like about ourselves, but we’re all capable of self-love and having confidence. It might take some time to cultivate that love and grow that confidence, but it’ll be worth it in the end. After all, there’s plenty of people in this world who love and believe in us. So isn’t it about time we love and believe in ourselves too?