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Victory: Photography Project — 56

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Last weekend, Doug worked really hard and got all of our new deck furniture together.  I helped, but Doug did all of the heavy lifting!  We love that we have an outdoor space that we can use during the warmer months, which is so serene and peaceful, especially in the evenings — we love watching the sun set, and our deck fortunately faces west!  Victory gives her deck two paws up!  Last year, she really was not interested in this space.  This year, once she is outside, we can’t get her to come back in the house!  Victory started using her outdoor bed from Orvis (similar to this) that her brother Biscuit picked out (he literally sat in this bed at the Orvis store) when we visited Vermont and he, unfortunately, never got to use it.  This outdoor bed fits Victory perfectly.  Victory even felt comfortable enough that she fell asleep in her bed while we were sitting out on the deck one evening earlier this week!  Also, our internet works outside, which is great!  Below Victory is sunning in her outdoor bed!

Next, after my photo shoots this weekend, we plan to mulch; do some planting; and make flower boxes and planters!  We are so happy it feels finally feels like spring is here!

Happy Friday!

 

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The Unmistakable Creative Podcast

I really enjoy podcasts, and I recently learned about The Unmistakable Creative Podcast.  There are hundreds of episodes interviewing all types of creatives hosted by Srini Rao.  I have already listened to a few of these podcasts, which are very inspiring and informative!  Here are a few of my favorites so far: Austin Kleon; Seth Godin; and Lisa Congdon.  If you are interested, you can view the myriad of podcasts here!

Happy Wednesday!

 

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Victory: 18 Months In

During Victory’s first year with us, I documented her monthly milestones along with a weekly photography project, which I continue to document.  It is difficult to believe that she has been with us for eighteen months as of yesterday, April 12, 2015!  The time goes by so quickly.  Victory is my teacher, and life with Victory is so much sweeter!  Our fur girl has made great strides since we adopted her on October 12, 2013.  Her fur coat has grown and it continues to come in; she is more confident and animated; she loves her chew toys and puzzles; and she loves ‘night-night’!  Below are some thoughts about our fur girl, Victory!

-We receive endless love from Victory.  She loves us and we love her!  Doug especially has a real soft spot for his fur girl, Victory!

-She loves her routine and it keeps us on a schedule with some structure with regards to Victory!

-Victory loves to come into the kitchen when Doug cooks and bakes!  She loves getting a few nibbles of our food.  It turns out, she loves Doug’s buttermilk pancakes among other things — she is not too discriminating when it comes to food!  On the weekends, she loves getting some vanilla yogurt while we eat our breakfast Doug prepared!

-We are convinced that bedtime, ‘night-night,’ is her favorite time of day, when her ‘pack’ is all together!  Victory now plays for a good half an hour once we all get into bed as she runs up and down the bed and interacts with us with her paws and mouth — she even makes some noises now when she plays, but still no barking!  She has even trained us to get her water in the bed before going to sleep and during the night.  Thankfully, Victory mostly wakes Doug up (and not me) by bouncing on his legs at the end of the bed and Doug gets up and gets her water most nights!  I know, it is crazy how this fur girl has trained us!  We tried putting water on the bathroom floor right off our bedroom, and it never worked — she apparently does not like to leave the bed once she is in for the night!  So, she lives like a princess and is quite content with this arrangement!

-Before bed every night, without fail, Victory gives me a partial face wash and Doug an entire face wash.  Doug usually falls asleep before me as I usually read before bed, and Victory sometimes keeps going with her washing of Doug’s face even after Doug has fallen asleep!  Sometimes, I have to tell her to stop!

-I (we) love going to bed with Victory above my head.  She takes turns sleeping on our pillows during the night.  She likes to lay against the head-board.  Most mornings, when I get up, Victory is above my head or by my side and she gives me kisses when I get up most mornings.  She is not a morning pup, and some mornings she looks a little drowsy!  Fortunately, she lets us sleep in on the weekends without a problem.  It is quite nice on the weekends when we stay up later not having to worry that she will wake us up at the crack of dawn!  In fact, we are the ones always to get her out of bed!

-We love traveling with Victory!  It would not be the same without her.  Hopefully, soon, legislation will be passed so that dogs are permitted on trains, which would provide us with more modes of transpiration and options!

-We love taking Victory on outings with us.  She loves the car and she loves coming home — her favorite part of her outing!  The garage has a special meaning for her — she loves the garage and she can spot our neighborhood a mile away and she gets so excited!

-We love taking Victory around the neighborhood in her Hound About!  She loves it and she loves poking her head through the top.  We are currently working on Victory walking more continuously via her training.  At home, while we are out for walks, she likes to stop frequently because she hears noises, sees construction trucks, and sees people, etc., which frightens her.  Victory is so keenly aware of everything all the time.  So, if we want to walk at a decent pace, we have to put her in the Hound About!  When she wants to, she is very agile and swift on her feet!

-Victory loves the recently finished deck — it turned out really nice!  In fact, last night, when we were sitting outside, Victory fell asleep in her outdoor Orvis bed — this is a first!  Last year, she really did not want anything to do with being outside on the deck and she was also not interested in the outdoor bed!

-I love having Victory, my furry companion, at my feet while I am working at my desk/computer.  It makes getting work done easier!  I love how Victory is always with us.

There are many reasons why we love Victory!  Below, to date, is one of my favorite images of Victory!  She looks so confident and regal.

 

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In the images below, it is evident how much Victory has physically changed and blossomed over the past eighteen months.  (The the top left image was taken by Victory’s foster mom, taken just prior to adopting Victory in the fall of 2013.)  Victory is a happy puppy!  We love her and I hope that her story will encourage others to consider dog rescue!

 

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Happy Monday!

Victory: Photography Project — 55

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

We recently went to Princeton for a couple of days, as this is a place Doug has been wanting to visit.  We had a nice time together, and the weather was gorgeous!  We walked around downtown Princeton; walked around Princeton’s beautiful campus; visited Albert Einstein’s house; and we went to the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS).  Victory told us that she is going to apply for a fellowship at the IAS solving puzzles — her favorite pastime!  We also visited the Princeton Cemetery and saw the graves of Grover Cleveland and Aaron Burr, amongst others.  On the way home, we stopped and had dinner in Delaware at one of our favorite restaurants!  Some images from our trip are shown below!

Victory’s puzzles, a belated Easter gift, are on their way — we ordered her this one and this one!  She is going to be thrilled when they arrive!

This weekend is full of photo shoots for my photography project; and we are going to get our deck furniture set out and ready to use!

Happy Friday!

 

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Helpful Books for Forging a Creative Path

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I have shared some ‘Good Reads’ on the blog in the past.  However, I thought it would be helpful and useful to share the books, along with a brief synopsis and thoughts for each book, that have been especially helpful to me in pursuing a creative path.

 

Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

I first read Art & Fear during college and I have read it many times since.  This is one of my favorite books.  It explores the way art gets made, why it often does not get made, and the difficulties that arise along the way.  Most of all, this book helps to reshape your perspective and overcome your fear and attain your goals.

 

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I also first read Ways of Seeing during college and I have read several times since.  Ways of Seeing is a collection of seven essays.  Three are pictorial; four are textual.  All essays are about art; how art is seen; how it is valued; how it is used; and what we can learn from looking at art.  I found this book very informative.

 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I have read The War of Art several times and this book is a practical guide for thriving in the creative world.  This is another one of my favorite books.  The wisdom in The War of Art can be used to help you accomplish any goal you set for yourself.  The key is beating resistance, a force that keeps one from living up to his/her potential.

 

This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves

I read This Time I Dance several years ago for the first time.  Tam Kieves is a former attorney who chose to leave practicing law and follow her true calling, writing.  Her story, which she shares in this book, about her career transition, is very inspiring and insightful.

 

The Power of Patience by M.J. Ryan

The Power of Patience offers many different ways of looking at patience and practicing patience each day.  I really enjoyed this book.  I found this book easy to read and filled with helpful information and various perspectives concerning patience.  Being creative, I have learned, requires a significant amount of patience and fortitude.

The portion of this book that resonated with me discussed patience in relation to receptivity.  Here is a quote from this book.  “However, the receptive energy of patience is real work!  It takes an effort to not simply run off and do something for the sake of doing it, to live in the unknown for as long as it takes without becoming angry, bitter, or depressed.  It may look like nothing on the surface.  But underneath, within ourselves, we’re lifting some heavy timber.”

 

Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Johnathan Fields

I enjoyed reading Uncertainty.  In a nutshell, this book is about managing the creative process, particularly with regard to entrepreneurial pursuits.  In this book, Jonathan Fields draws on his own experience of success, transformation, effort, and uncertainty and provides guidance on how to face our fears and use them to propel us forward, rather than hold us paralyzed.  Not only is this book motivational, inspiring you to take courageous decisions, it also provides practical advice on how to deal with the fear and take steps to avoid disaster.

 

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness, and vulnerability.  Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” Brene Brown has stated that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”  Brene Brown maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences.  Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family.  Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand.  Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.  This is vulnerability.  This is daring greatly.”   When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose.

 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamontt

I read this book again last year while on vacation.  This is one of my favorite books chalked full of wisdom.  Below are a few of my favorite quotes from this book.

“You may need someone else to bounce your material off of, probably a friend or a mate, someone who can tell you if the seams show, or if you’ve lurched off track, or even that it is not as bad as you thought … But by all means let someone else take a look at your work.  It’s too hard always to have to be the executioner.”

“And I don’t think you have that kind of time either.  I don’t think you have the time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it, and I don’t think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect.”

“The best thing about being an artist, instead of a madam or someone who writes letters to the editor, is that you get to engage in satisfying work.”

 

Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! by Tama Kieves

I read Inspired and Unstoppable last year, which is a follow-up book to This Time I Dance!  Tama Kieves contemplates in this book that the way to success is an ‘inspired path,’ not a linear one.  In this book, she brings her ideas and actions together to help others choose to follow an ‘inspired path.’  I found the sentiments in this book insightful and helpful.

 

Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Art Inc. offers a concise guide for anyone seeking to start or enhance their career in art, with actionable tasks and helpful tools.  Lisa Congdon’s writing is clear, easy to understand, and inspiring.  I especially enjoyed the interviews with other artists that appeared throughout the book.  I also enjoyed reading the information relating to exhibitions and gallery representation.  Overall, the information contained in this book was very helpful and informative.

How to Tackle a Big Project

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I have been working on my long-term photography project for over two years now, and I am still working on this project and I hope to finish by the end of 2016.  Although no project is alike, below are some thoughts that have helped me keep going on a very long-term project.

1. Stay Organized: Due to the nature of my project, there is a lot of information to keep track of, monitor, and synthesize.  Without my spreadsheets and lists of everything outstanding to complete, I would literally be lost and I would needlessly waste a lot of time looking up information, etc.  Depending upon the week, I update my lists of tasks at least weekly in order to have a visual to easily see what is outstanding — this saves me a great deal of time.

2. Break Your Project into Sections: It has really helped me to break my project into six main parts (coordinating; photographing; collecting data; selecting and editing images; drafting copy; and proofing), which helps me not to feel as overwhelmed, and within those six main parts, I have smaller projects/tasks to complete comprising each main part.

3. Set a Work Schedule: I have found it easier to set a work schedule specifically for this project, which helps keep me moving forward.  I set a work schedule, and I do everything possible to protect  and guard this time.  Everyone works differently, but I have found setting work hours each week is very helpful to ensure progress is made.

4. Set Target Dates: Due to the nature of my project, I have set general deadlines/target dates.  However, things do not always go as planned for a variety of reasons.  My main mantra is to keep working each day in order to continue to make progress.

5. Back Up Material: When you are working on something for a long duration of time, it is always a good idea to back up your work.  I back up my work in two to three places to help ensure my work is not lost after spending hours upon hours creating work.

6. Reviewers: While working on a project for a long period of time, I find that it is helpful to have someone/people you trust to review your work along the way.  I find that it is helpful to receive feedback periodically while working to help improve the body of work and refine the work/idea, etc.

7. Take Breaks: It is helpful to take breaks when needed.  Sometimes there are times where I am too tired or need some time to step away from the work.  These breaks provide space and help provide perspective once returning to the work.

8. Be Persistent: Even though it is a ton of work to undertake a large endeavor, which takes several years to complete, it is important to keep at it and finish.  There are definitely days where I feel burned out and wonder how I will finish, and wonder how it will all come together.  However, no matter what, I always know that I must finish.

9. Be Open: While you are working on a long-term project, the work and direction often changes.  Therefore, it is important to remain open.  Some of the best and unanticipated gifts come from being open.

10. Keep the Faith: Having faith is probably the most important component  — to work on something for an extended period of time takes faith and trust.  You must have faith to carry you through any large undertaking and show up each day and push through and move further than you think that you can go with your work.  At times, this is terrifying, but I have learned to lean into it to get through it and to trust the process.

“Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of an uncertain outcome.  And fear hates an uncertain outcome.  This is nothing to be ashamed of.  It is, however, something to be dealt with.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

Victory: Photography Project — 54

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Over the weekend, we went to Pennsylvania.  We went to Penn State again, Shawnee State Park, including a few other places for my photo shoots for my photography project.  Even though it is technically spring, we had snow on our drive up and the temperatures were so cold that we were all wearing our winter gear!  Sunday was a bit warmer, thankfully.  Victory had a great time and she loved having some vanilla ice cream from the Berkey Creamery !  (We love this ice cream as well!)  She also did very well in the hotel and Victory loved looking at the water at Shawnee State Park!  Some photos from our weekend in Pennsylvania are below.  Our Victory is a beautiful and blossoming little sheltie girl!

In other news, we discovered this week that Victory loves puzzles!  She likes to work on a puzzle while we are at the gym in the evenings!  She has mastered this puzzle in nothing flat, which she inherited from Biscuit, and we are getting her another puzzle by Nina Ottosson for Easter since she likes it so much; and what is great about these puzzles is that they are instantly self rewarding with hidden treats!

We are headed to Princeton with Victory, and it should be fun!

Happy Friday and Happy Easter!

 

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Things I Love: Spring 2015

Well, it is technically spring, but it sure does not totally feel like it yet!  We were wearing our winter coats this past weekend!  At least we can hear the birds chirping in the mornings while getting ready for the day along with more sunlight, longer days.  Hopefully, spring is on its way soon and it will be here to stay!  Below are the items I am loving this spring!

 

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1. Cabat Cheddar Cheese Shake – While we were in Vermont during our vacation this past year, I discovered Cabat Cheddar Cheese Shake!  This stuff is delicious!  It is great on popcorn and pasta, and it is good just to eat on its own!

2. Freeze Dried Ice Cream — I love freeze-dried ice cream!

3. Chobani Flip Greek Yogurt – I like yogurt and I have been eating Chobani Greek Flip Yogurt for lunch.  Key-lime crumble is my favorite!  So, if you like greek yogurt, I highly recommend this yogurt!

4. Clinique Superbalm Lip Treatment — I began using this lip balm during the winter months to provide extra moisture and protection for my lips.  Now, I use this lip balm every day.  It works wonders and really hydrates my lips with a nice shine!

5. Cetaphil Lotion — With the recent dry winter months, this lotion (non-scent and no oily residue) has worked really well in keeping my skin hydrated and soft.  I also use a Cetaphil face cleanser daily and it works great too!

6. LL Bean Adirondack Chair — Doug has always wanted to get Adirondack chairs.  So, we decided to get a set of Adirondack chairs with a matching small table to go along with our other deck furniture.  We went with the LL Bean Adirondack chair because it has an all-weather option, whereas other similar companies did not have this option.  We look forward to using these as soon as it gets a bit warmer!

You can view other things I love here!

Happy Wednesday!

ASPCA: National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

The ASPCA recently contacted me and asked me to share information related to National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, which is on April 8, 2015.

According to the ASPCA,“This brutal form of animal cruelty occurs in every part of the country and in every type of community, and it must be stopped.  We’re working to eradicate dog fighting by assisting in raids and rescues alongside law enforcement agencies and by advocating for stronger laws and sentencing for those who commit this terrible crime.  But we can’t do it alone—we need the support of animal advocates like you.”

Here is how you can help — you can: (1) get the Toolkit; (2) petition the Department of Justice (DOJ); and (3) read and learn more about dog fighting cases and raids.

Let’s stop dog fighting together.

 

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The above image is courtesy of the ASPCA.

Victory: Photography Project — 53

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Victory continues her training.  With time, practice, and continued patience, Victory will continue to make progress.  She has already made significant strides in the nearly eighteen months since we adopted her.

Since the weather has improved, and hopefully the snow is gone for good until later this year, we have been able to take longer walks together with Victory!  She loves walking once she gets going!  Below are a couple of images of Victory walking around the neighborhood on a windy afternoon!  Last night, since it was so nice outside, we all went for a walk together in the neighborhood while Victory rode in her Hound About!  However, we all got soaked at the end of our walk as it began to rain heavily!

This weekend, we are headed to Pennsylvania for more photo shoots for my photography project.  I hope and plan to be done photographing this entire project in early July.  Doug and Victory are coming along with me.  We also plan to take Victory on some fun adventures, and it will be her second time staying in a hotel!  (We rented a house last year in Quebec and she, of course, has stayed with family!)  It should be fun!

Happy Friday!

 

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