(mostly) daily photoblog

Posts tagged “inspiration

You’re awesome!

Good morning.  I hope you have a great day.

Oh…and have a I told you that you’re AWESOME?  If not, you’re AWESOME!

“A little knowledge that acts…

… is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” – Khalil Gibran

The photo is of a commemorative plaque and sculpture on the Simon Fraser University campus, dedicated to Khalil Gibran.  Incredibly wise words (located approximately halfway up the plaque above).

Holding hands…aww…

I feel like it’s an affirmation of all that is good in the world when people find each other.  I’ve recently been trying to focus on all that is positive and, when I can’t, at least look for positive solutions to things I want to complain about.  I think I often focus on what is negative because it’s easier.  Complaining is easy.  Bitching about all that is bad in the world is easy.

Coming up with solutions is not easy.

Which is why seeing people holding hands makes me smile.  When I hold my wife’s hand, I think of nothing else but what is good.  I don’t criticize the world.  I don’t complain about other people.  I say silly things.  I laugh.  I smile.  I feel affirmed and postive and…

I’ve got it!  We should just all hold hands.  World peace might be achievable, people!  Hold hands with someone near you right now and tell me you don’t feel better about the world.  I dare you!

2011 in review – huh.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

This is pretty cool.  I just found this in my “site stats” page and I’m impressed.  I switched from another blogging service to WordPress about two years ago and I’m so happy I did.

WordPress!  You’re awesome.

There’s a possibility here…

This is the lead singer of the band Hedley.  They performed at We Day in Vancouver.  I met this guy a few years ago, long before he was as famous as he is now.  He was riding high on the opening enthusiasm of being in a band and had all the attitude to go with it.  He can sing.  He can perform.  He’s got the energy of a cocaine-addicted squirrel.

Here’s where the possibility kicks in.  A few years ago, he and his band connect with Craig and Marc Kielburger and their foundation Free The Children.  He goes to Kenya and becomes a spokesperson and performer for them and their “We Day”.

It reminds me that there’s always a possibility for change.  From ego-centric to selfless.  From “into me” to inspirational.

There’s a possibility in everyone.  We should tap into that.

We Day: Awesome!

We Day was so awesome that it almost deserves two or three exclamation marks.  It won’t get the extra punctuation, as I am an English teacher and extraneous punctuation is unnecessary and a horrible sin against all things great about writing.

If you’re not familiar with We Day, you should look it up.  There we 18000 students, aged 12 to 18, packed into Rogers Arena to hear amazing speakers like Michel Chikwanine and Mikhail Gorbachev and other speakers whose names did not start with “M”.  Also, you should “like” it on Facebook.  For every “like”, corporate sponsors add a dollar to the cause.  One million “likes” equals one million dollars.  Kind of cool.

More tomorrow.

We’re all weirdos.

I enjoy some of the commentary that occurs on concrete walls, written by what I can only guess are people who’ve decided that the conventional methods of communication are not suitable.

I don’t know what that thing is, with its little flag stating, “All the weirdos”, but he’s got it right.  I wish it said, “We’re all weirdos”, though.

I’m of the mind that we’re all strange and that’s what makes us human.  It’s the things we do and think and love and feel passionate about that make us who we are.  It’s only when we’re dumb enough to think that we need to fit in and conform and compromise our passions that we become less than who we are.

What are you weird about?



The path to photographic adventure

I’ve had people ask me where I shoot some of my graffiti photos.  I shot the six photos above on the way in (the first three) and on the way out (the last three) as I headed back to the car.

Often, when I describe it, people ask me, “You really go down there?” and, “Isn’t it a little sketchy?” and, “How did you find it?”

Let me answer these questions.

1.  Yes.  I really do go down there.  I’ve never felt completely unsafe, but I do leave my wallet in the car and carry my Blackberry with me.

2.  Yes.  It is a little sketchy.  I once came upon a homeless “campsite”.  I felt like I had just walked into someone’s bedroom.  It was weird.  I was trespassing on BC Rail land, but I felt like I had violated some person’s home.  Weird.

3.  I found it by living near it.  The house in which I used to live was a couple of kilometers away, so I used to drive past this stretch of railway underpass.  One day I noticed a large, colorful piece of street art.  I found a nearby place to park and took a walk through the area.  What I discovered was a street art paradise.  So cool.  I had driven past it hundreds of times, but had never really looked closely.  Now I go down there once a month.  It’s like documenting a living, ever-changing art exhibit.

BTW, more graffiti tomorrow.

Also, I know you call two photos together a diptych, and three are a triptych, but six?  Is it a sestych?  sextych?  I don’t know, but I hope you like it.

Whose steps will you follow?

As my son walked across the sand in front of me, I wondered, “Who will he follow?”  Will he follow his friends and not make his own decisions?  Will he follow his parents into education?  Will he put others before himself?  Will he lead and not follow?

I think these are pretty universal conundrums faced by parents everywhere.  I did not anticipate, before becoming a parent, that I would be that worried about how my children would turn out.  But now that my daughter is ten going on fifteen and my son is seven and a perfect combination of anxiety and over-confidence, I think about these things.  I think it was easier for me when I was their age because I was in the middle of it.  My parents, however, must have thought the same things I am thinking about my own kids.

I guess I’ll continue to influence them as much as I can and hope for the best.



A spot on the beach…I think it’s a girl

Photo Friday’s challenge this week was “Spot“.  When I was in Oregon last week I spotted this woman on the beach far below the viewpoint that Oregon nicely provides to travelers.  This beach is situated between Cannon Beach and Arcadia Beach.  Both are beautiful beaches and in order to get to the area that you see above you have to walk from either of those two beaches.  There is no direct route to this beach.

It looks like the perfect place to take a walk, doesn’t it?


My Beast

I was inspired recently, after reading Chloe Sutcliffe’s blog, to take some photos of my old SLR camera.  I shot with this Pentax K1000 for a couple of years before I bought a DSLR.  I love this camera, but have largely neglected it since getting a Pentax K20D.

So, here’s a few endearing facts about this camera.  I bought it from the school at which I used to work as they were phasing out their traditional photography program in favor of a digital program.  Bad for tradition, good for me.  The camera, as I’ve been researching, comes out nearly as old as me, which makes me ever so in love with it.  It thrills me to know that it’s over thirty years old.

The best part is that it is entirely manual; this thrills me because if the photo that is taken is good, it is because of me.  It the photo is bad, it is because of me.  It made me a better photographer.  In fact, if I take good photos at all, now, it is because this camera made me learn how to take, compose, conceive of better photos to take.

Contemplative? Pensive? Thoughtful? Exasperated?

I really don’t know what she’s thinking.

We, my daughter and I, went for a walk tonight.  While walking, we heard bagpipes so we followed the sound.  The further we walked, the louder the pipes got.  We found the pipers were practicing on Canadian military grounds and we’re not allowed to trespass on their land, so we had to walk considerably farther to get near them.  Part of the old Army base (the base has been greatly reduced in the last ten years) has been turned into a presentation center for a local housing development, so my daughter and I sat and listened as the bagpipes (complete with kilts) played near us.  I managed to capture a few shots of her, but I liked this one best.

I really don’t know what she’s thinking; maybe this is a “choose your own emotion” photo.

My World: Photo Friday Challenge

These two are my world.  It’s hard to believe that they’ve been part of my life for ten years and seven years.  When I thought they were so small and wished they would grow faster, I had no idea that I would find myself hoping against hope that they would slow down and grow more slowly.

I also had no idea that I could love anything as much as I love them.  I feared, once, that having two children was going to diminish my love for each – like love was something I had to split in two.  Somehow, I have found stores of love I could not have fathomed, nor understood.

I couldn’t imagine my life without them and they are my world.

Canucks Win! Canucks Win! Canucks Win! (On to the third round)

For the first time in my adult life since 1994 I’ve watched every one of the Canucks games in a second round series.  I have been impressed with the Canucks’ ability to blow my blood pressure completely out of normal range, even when I’m medicated.  Even when they’re winning, I’m freaked out that they might lose.  I like the insurance that a two goal lead provides, and whenever they have one, a goal is scored against them and I’m back to feeling my heart pound against my sternum, threatening to break free and run for good.

There have been two superheroes in this series and one of them has been making me smile throughout the regular season and against the Blackhawks.  Batman Ryan Kesler and Superman Mason Raymond.

The Superman for the Canucks in this round was Mason Raymond.  I’m not saying he’s invincible, but he flies in from nowhere and then disappears – faster than a speeding bullet.  Watching him come across the red line nonchalantly and then turn on afterburners from who knows where only to steal the puck and put it on net, leaping small defensemen ina single bound (and then, not so Supermanly, careen into the boards, a Predator defender, or a linesman) is fun and makes me think that he’s been getting tips from Clark Kent.  I guess if I was hard-pressed he’s more like the Flash than Supes, but I don’t have a Flash action figure, so what was I supposed to do.

The Batman to his Supes is Ryan Kesler.  This guy does the dirty work that no one else wants to and takes the physicality of a game like hockey to an artistic level.  He grinds away at the patience of defenders and goalies and fans by refusing to give up the front of his opponents’ nets.  He takes a puck to the face and only misses a shift.  He’s the (un)caped Canuck Crusader.  He’s the Dark Knight of Robson Street.  He’s…well, he’s impressive all the time for doing what most everyone else cannot.

So you know how I feel.  How about you?  Oh, and Nashville fans – you have one heck of a team and it was fun to watch this series.  Congratulations.

The sister – she’s a bit stout and old, but she’s strong

Hi.  Sorry for all the scrolling.  I didn’t know how else to show you how impressive this Douglas Fir is unless I showed it to you the way I saw it today.

We (the Family B) went hiking on the “Seven Sisters Trail” today and I’d never been there before.  I know that we’ve got some old growth trees around here, but these seven (three standing, four fallen) are incredible.  So massive; so majestic; so big.  It was very cool to see these trees that have been around, well, I don’t know, but every article I’ve read about them says they’re survivors of the original forest surrounding Cultus Lake.  That makes them really old.

Is it weird to be obsessed with your own skin?

Ever since getting this tattoo it has been a source of constant reminding and explaining and inspiring.

Reminding because there are days in my life when I think it would be peachy to live for myself only.

Explaining because there are a remarkable number of people in this world who have such miniscule vocabularies that I have to explain what “vain” means.  Also, there are a remarkable number of people who think that because the word “vain” is near a VEIN that I might have misspelled it.  Ha!  Ridiculous.  Why would I want to remind myself not live in a vein?

Inspiring because when I look down at my left forearm I’m inspired to be more than my base instincts, be more than average, be more than myself.

I think I need a few more tattoos.  I might be superhuman with just two or three more.

A Canadian Hero

At Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, BC, there’s a bronze statue memorial for Terry Fox.  He’s a Canadian hero.  He decided that, while he had cancer and had already had a leg removed, he would run across Canada to show both that people with cancer could accomplish great things and raise awareness to the cause of research for a cure for cancer.  Along the way he quietly ran into the hearts of millions of Canadians.  He’s definitely one of my heroes.

Keep running, Terry.

Which words motivate you?

These words are on a chalkboard in the entrance to my house.  I don’t look at them often enough.  I’m an English teacher and words have been my mistress for a long time.  I love the feel of certain words when spoken; I love the sound of a word when it meets my ear.  I love when I learn a word in another language and have to move my tongue in an awkward way to make it sound right.  What I love most, however, is when words can evoke a pure, inspirational emotion in the heart of the listener.

“I am proud of you.”

“I love you.”

“You make me happy.”

“You’re amazing.”

I bought a bunch of Magnetic Poetry kits – one for my fridge (I’ve made my kids write a poem each to be excused from the table); one for the entrance of the house; one for the vintage fridge door I have in my classroom.

What’s funny is that I wrote these phrases, in the photo above, but they still inspire me and start my day in a more positive way.

What inspires you?

BTW, Happy Birthday Mom!

The ripple effects from kindness.

“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.  Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  (Scott Adams)

I love this quotation.  I’ve tried to accept the fact that it’s by the guy who writes Dilbert (which I secretly love – not so secret anymore, I guess).  What I’ve found is that my favorite acts of kindness are the ones that ensure anonymity.  I like to pay for the guy behind me in a drive-thru.  It can be a bit of a gamble – you never know what that guy has ordered or how much it might be.  What’s awesome is knowing that someone is confused and happy.  I’m not sure why I feel so excited when I do stuff like that, but I get this grin that won’t go away.

Change the direction of someone’s day.  Make them smile and take no credit.  It’s going to create ripples you couldn’t imagine.

Why does making (and eating) food make me so happy?

Well, my daughter turned 10 today.  She wanted cheesecake for her birthday instead of the traditional birthday cake (much to the chagrin of my brother-in-law, who loves the cakes my wife makes).  Instead of going out and buying one, I suggested we make one.  I suggested that we make mini marbled cheesecakes.  She was very excited about that idea.  My daughter is a person who loves to spend time with others; it’s how she shows love.  If she loves you, she’ll just want to hang around and do stuff with you.  Gifts are good, but not as good as time.  So we made what you see above.

The thing is, as soon as I bit into one of the first we refrigerated, after all the time spent mixing, creaming, spooning, melting and baking, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and subdued joy.  I love the work that goes into food, but I feel in a way that I do not for anything else when I bite into a good, tiny cheesecake.  Or when I bite into a piece of home-made flat bread I’ve just finished cooking on the barbecue.  Or when I bite into a perfectly roasted potato (thanks, Jamie Oliver).  I worry sometimes that I have an addiction to food, but I don’t know if that’s it.  I get no joy out of eating something bought in a store, already cooked or baked or manufactured.

I think it’s the sense that “I made that, and it’s delicious” and I wonder if people in bygone eras felt that sense of satisfaction.  Is it just that so much of our food is already made for us that we feel such great, ego-boosting happiness when we make something ourselves?  Did my grandma, who made everything from scratch except the Jif Peanut Butter and Pringles that adorned her cupboards, ever think “I made that!”  I do, and maybe, now that I’ve thought about it more, it’s a little sadness that goes with my happiness.  Hmm…

Have you ever jumped off a dock into a lake?

Have you ever jumped off a dock into a lake with total abandon?  Actually, have you ever done anything with total abandon?  Ridden your bike so hard that your legs couldn’t keep up?  How about riding the scariest roller coaster that you can find?  What about jumping off a ten meter cliff (that’s 30 feet for my American friends)?  Or doing whatever it is completely freaks you out?  There is that moment that you know that you are no longer in control and whatever it is you’re doing has you, moves you.

There is that moment when you’re in the air and there is no way you can Wile E. Coyote yourself back to the dock.  Your heart is pounding and you’re not sure where you are.  You know there’s no ground under your feet but you haven’t hit the water yet.  You know it’s going to be cold, and it matters not that you’ve been in and out of that water four times already.  It.  Is.  Cold.

SPLASH!  and you’re in.  The splash, that respite from the summer heat, is over before you’ve registered it.  You’re gasping for air as you surface and your brain registered an excited blank.  Just the high-pitched eeeeeeeeeeeeee of adrenaline and cortisol hitting your system.  Then the cheering, from you and any friends who are there with you.

It is way too cold to jump off the dock at Cultus right now.  It’s freakin’ January in Canada.  You’d have to be challenged in a special way to want to do this now.  But that dock had me thinking about abandonment of all sensibilities.  I’m jonesing for Spring, I guess.

On a photo related note, I don’t know what happened this weekend in Cultus Lake, but the water went green.  Usually it is a deep blue, but Saturday the water was green.  This is not PhotoShop trickery.  I did not touch the color saturation levels.  The lake was green.  But enough about the color.

Build bridges…

…not walls.

It’s end of term and I’m ready for a good sleep.  At the same time, I’m tired and ready to move on to a new group of students.  I’ve made some great connections with my students but when you meet with 90 students a day for 80 minutes at a time, cabin fever does eventually settle in.  In some cases, I see some students more than their parents do.  For our own sanity it’s time to separate for a little while.

I prefer reminiscing about the “good old days” more than I like bemoaning the current days.

Life, on the rocks

This weed, growing amongst the rocks on the shore of Cultus Lake, is the perfect example of persistence.  Where there is little to no other life, weeds work hard.  Maybe we should let them grow instead of always hacking them down and digging them out.

Doors are both entrances and exits. Why do they only say EXIT?

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we had more positivity?  Why can’t we place the word ENTRANCE above the door, along with EXIT?  Or maybe OPPORTUNITY.  Or how about a sign that says, “If this is the moment when you need to make that decision that will change your life, do it.”

On second thought, maybe that wouldn’t be the best approach to doorway signage.


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