Looking Forward

I know I am not alone in my eagerness to bid farewell to 2020. I go into the new year a bit reluctantly, however. I was really looking forward to 2020. It seemed so symmetrical, such a nice number. It was an election year, which brought hope for a better future. Then the shit hit the fan. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say.

But 2020 hasn’t been without its merits. I’ve thrown myself into my art. I’ve spent a lot of time at the co-op gallery that I belong to. I’ve watched our small town rally around local businesses. I have invested myself in its social media presence and tried to learn all I could about driving business our way. While I haven’t been out taking pictures far and wide, I’ve made forays to day trip locations and have focused on improving my craft. I’ve also taken on Illustrator and tried my hand at digital design. That all came from my stress-relieving mandala drawing obsession. One thing leads to another. You know how it goes.

My newest venture is creating a website for my photography to highlight the images I have both at the gallery and on print on demand sites like Fine Art America. I’ve actually purchased greeting cards and notebooks with my images on them from a couple of the sites and thought they turned out really nice. My hope is that the pandemic has created a new breed of consumer who is more willing to support independent artists and local businesses. At the gallery when people purchase greeting cards it helps the artists pay for their space. Not everyone is looking to fill a spot on the wall, but anyone can share art in the mail for a small investment. Win-win. If you have the time and inclination, check out my FAA (Pixels) site. You can buy my photography on all sorts of items. Even if you don’t buy, it helps me if you look. (One of my favorites photos is the ocean wave. If I didn’t already have way too many mugs, I’d have one of those.)

I wish you all continued health into the new year and a budding, welcome happiness with the freedom to roam and interact that comes with the vaccine. Until then, may we all continue to practice patience. This too shall pass.

Just Do It

Determination set in steel.
Decision making – this is real.
The first step is to take the leap.
Your destiny is yours to keep.
In a world of opportunity
Sometimes the road is hard to see.
Second thoughts may hold you back;
Go ahead and choose a path;
You alone can make the choice.
Stake your claim.
Find your voice.
Enter the ring, though you may fail.
Have hope the wind will catch your sail.
Live your passion.
Find your bliss.
Shoot for the moon,
Though you may miss.
The stars are there to break your fall,
So go ahead, give it your all.

Reach for the Stars

wp-1471102556464.jpgWhen my son was four years old, I sent him to Grandma’s house and painted his room – a black ceiling fading down the wall into blue, then regular white. I added in planets, scaled as much as possible, with his light as the much-too-small sun. Glow-in-the-dark stars popped up all over the night sky. Above his door I painted, “Reach for the stars!”

Well, I can’t claim responsibility for my son’s successes. He’s put in plenty of hard work and has been influenced by many great people. Still, I’d like to believe that that one saying, hand-painted somewhere he couldn’t miss, served as a daily reminder to reach for success.

He’s had his ups and downs. In fifth grade, somehow he managed to convince me that a major project was due the day after the last day of class. His teacher was probably surprised when he waltzed in in the middle of grading with his project in hand. We doubled down on the work ethic, relieving him of some of the distractions for a while. It worked. He became a stellar student through middle school and high school.

When he got out on his own, Mom wasn’t there to nag him any more, and he faltered, but just a bit. Chalk it up to a lack of direction and focus. At one point, I pulled him aside and said, “Look, what are you going for here? What is it you want to do with your life?”

He related a story of going stargazing with a friend who had a Dobsonian telescope and seeing the rings of Saturn. His eyes shone as he spoke. “Mommy,” he said, “I want to have an observatory.”

Well, that’s not what I expected to hear, but we went online and looked at the possibilities of buying an observatory. It turns out, most “observatories” are small silos in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know if I said this at the time, but I could not imagine my social, talkative son spending his life in the middle of nowhere. I looked at him as we perused. He seemed perplexed. This may not have been what he was expecting either.

“Hey, you should check this place out,” I said, opening a page for Lowellย Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The previous summer on a road trip to San Antonio to drop my daughter off for college the rest of the family had stopped here. We had been impressed with this small observatory in dark sky territory. (He hadn’t been able to come along.) As we looked through the website, we clicked on the jobs page. There was an opening for an educator. We looked at each other.

He applied.

What began as an educator position (read tour guide) has morphed into a research assistant position and the pursuit of a physics/astronomy degree. He is currently looking into doctoral programs around the country andย around the world. He has seen the construction of the Discovery telescope and met Neil Armstrong, and is currently helping to map the universe. (At least I think that’s what he’s doing. He’s talking a bit above my head these days.)

I think back to that inquisitive little boy who just wanted to know more about the world around him,ย and I just have to smile. He’s reaching for his stars.