The beauty of Spring

I love spring. The harsh winter is over and flowers start blooming as the temperatures start to rise and the days get longer. Spring is a time to open your windows and let the fresh air in, clean up the yard and prepare for BBQs, hikes and sitting on the deck watching the sunset.

Here in California the first signs of spring we get are the mustard blooming on the sides of the roads and the cherry and almond trees blooming with white and pink flowers. The trees only bloom for a week or two then the blossoms fall away. My friend and I have been trying to get some photos of these trees in bloom in an orchard for a few years now. Unlike a lot of the instagramers that are wandering onto private property, we stay off the private lands, park legally and take photos from the public streets. This is easy to do and we just can’t see why so many people feel the need to be IN the fields. If you are skilled there are tricks you can do with the camera to make it look like you are in the fields when you are not. you just need a little prep work or work after on the computer. It really isn’t that hard. We have yet to make it to the orchards. As soon as we see the trees are in bloom we plan a day to go on the weekend and the blooms are gone and the trees look sad. 

This year the trees bloomed and the day after the bloom started I went on small hikes before work for a few days to take photos of the flowers saving the weekend to go out with her and photograph the orchards in bloom! So we get up early.  We have researched three areas to go take photos. All the trees looked so sad having lost half their blooms by the weekend.  two days later there was a big windstorm now all the trees are bare again. I am so glad I went on those hikes. Now I just have to wait a few more weeks to go see all the wildflowers on the hills.

The joys of marriage

You may have wondered why I didn’t post last week on the 14th. Well, life has been busy! It had nothing to do with the long weekend or Valentine’s day at all. Let me explain what all this has to do with marriage…

My brother finally did it!  He proposed to his long time girlfriend despite the fact that all of us were starting to wonder if he would ever get up the courage to actually do it on Saturday, February 8th. Lets just say the proposal did not go as planned and the backup plan was also a flop. But it eventually happened and we could not be happier for my brother and future sister in law. That started all the excitement and talk of weddings, venues, food, dresses, flowers and honeymoons.

Two days later tragedy struck in my family and my sister’s house caught on fire while she and her husband were at work and her son was at school. Structurally, the damage was not too bad. Their garage around the hot water heater, their linen closet and their master bathroom and bedroom were the only fire damaged areas. The smoke damage is extensive with it permeating everything and soot has fallen on everything. They are renting so the coordination between the homeowners insurance and their renters insurance companies has been awful.  Inspections and estimates and the lawyers have eaten up almost a week before we could get in there and start cleaning up.

Repairs are expected to take 6-12 months and their home is currently without power or water. They will be temporarily homeless while the repairs are being made and everything needs to be taken out of the house because it needs to be completely gutted and rebuilt.  This is a slow process.  Everything needs to be photographed where it is.  Then it is removed and another photograph is taken to document the damage. Then we attempt to clean the item and see if it can be salvaged. If we can salvage it, it goes into storage. If we can’t another photo of the damage is taken and it is entered as a loss. this is the case for every single item.  Everything.  Dishes, towels (all a loss because they were in the linen closet that was on fire), every nick knack, shoe, piece of furniture… it all needs to be documented and the process is painfully slow. This is how I have spent all my spare daylight hours. My evenings I am washing the bags of fabric items to see if I can salvage them or not and sorting accordingly to go back to my sister.

People don’t seem to understand what a process this is. Everyone says “well you have insurance so they should cover it”. Insurance only goes so far.  Insurance does not cover the two weeks both of them have been off work trying to catalog and deal with all of this. Insurance doesn’t cover the hundreds of hours we have spent sorting nor do they sort for you.  Insurance covers the “loss of use” for a short period of time, but not the whole time you are displaced. They were in talks to purchase the house from the owners before all of this happened.  All of that is on hold until the home is habitable again. People also say “as long as everyone is OK the rest is just stuff” Well, yes. But unless your home burns to the ground you still need to deal with that stuff. Demolition can’t start until all the stuff is gone. Documenting and dealing with all the stuff is a VERY slow process.  We are hoping to be done by the end of the month. We know the fire could have been MUCH more devastating, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

In an effort to not let the tragedy rain on my future sister in law’s excitement I went to lunch with her over the weekend.  No talk of the fire. Just weddings, colors, dresses, flowers, food, honeymoons and all the other details of a hopeful new life together. This was a very welcome change to the clean up effort at my sister’s house.

Through all this I am still working full time, still have my photography side business getting busier and busier and I am still spending time with my husband and children. My husband has been wonderful through all of this and is keeping the house going and the kids entertained while I dart in and out helping out for a few hours here and there. Almost 9 years later and we still love each other.

My book is done and off to the editor!

I’m both excited and terrified. I actually finished writing it!

Since I got this far, I need to follow through and publish it. That is where the terror comes in.

I usually don’t care much about what people think but once it’s out there people might actually read it. Once they read it they will either like it or hate it. Liking it and telling all their friends who also read it and like it is exciting! But, people reading it and hating it is terrifying. Reading it and wanting to talk to me about it is already making me uncomfortable.

I know I should be proud of all I have accomplished and I am. Where I’m fine to stand out in the crowd and be the life of the party, lead a team or teach a class when it comes to my creative endeavors I am actually quite reserved.

I’m just uncomfortable listening to people talk about things I create. I always have been. I never speak up about what photos are mine in the galleries when I’m there unless someone asks me. If I’m there to look at the show myself, I don’t even mention that I have pieces in it while I’m there. I prefer to fade into the background like my work was created by secret magic fairies in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep and I have no idea how I got there.

I feel that is why I am so bad at self promotion. I barely post anything on my Facebook photography page. It just updates on where my work can be seen. My Instagram is hit and miss. I usually post old, unedited images on there. I should be posting my new work. I’m also bad with tags. Why isn’t there some kind of AI that can look at my photo and tag it for me? It is an area I need to improve and one I’ll be working on in 2020.

The image on this post is a sunrise. I figured it was appropriate since it shows the start of the day and I’m about to start something new myself and add “Author” to my resume.

#selfpromotionishard #bookisdone

Upgrade!

I have never had a professional level camera, ever. But I look at them and dream of the beauty and all that would be possible if I had gear that could actually handle all that my mind can think up. I have given tips and advice to people that have cameras I could only dream of being able to afford while I’m out shooting with my entry level crop sensor DSLR. I sigh. Their camera without the lens cost more than my camera with all the lenses and has so many more features.

It looks like 2020 will be the year. I have been saving up and putting aside all my sales and winnings from my photography and I’m roughly halfway to my new system. I’m going full frame and mirrorless. I know this probably doesn’t excite any of you, but I am very excited!

Research is going on now. I’m comparing all the options and narrowed it down to 3 very comparable cameras. I have my top choice and 2 alternates. Now I keep saving up and wait until Mike’s Camera does the demo day at the Sacramento Zoo in a few months. At the demo day you can check out items for an hour at a time and go around the zoo and try them out. I’m now sorting out lenses to see what would be best for me to start with since they can easily cost more than the camera. Of course I’m all my research I have realized that I can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on new gear but, that is never going to happen unless I become a famous photographer for National Geographic. Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath waiting for that.

My goal… to have it in my hands before I go to Vegas to teach at the educational conference in November. If I can pull that off then watch out world! I’m going to have some awesome photos when I return because I’ll be out exploring when I’m not teaching!

Oh, and that long standing bucket list item of doing the sunset helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon then fly back over the Vegas strip at night is totally going to happen! I’m going to need strategic planning of my classes and a rental car.

The featured photo this time was taken in September on my UK trip. I may not have a new camera yet, but I can still look at all the places I have been and daydream while I wait.

Punk Rock!

20200110-DSC_0172Over the three day weekend I had a date day with my husband. Dates change a bit after you are married with kids. We went to see an “adult movie” (aka a movie that is not animated). The force was strong with us so we went to see Star Wars…at the 11 AM showing. Followed by a late lunch/early dinner and a few errands on the way home.

While we were on our way to the office supply store to pick up some address labels Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols came on the radio. We crank it up and sing along as we pull into the parking lot and score an awesome spot right in front. As we get out of the car a few people are staring at us as we walk in to get our address labels. I look at the two of us and could not feel less punk rock.

Once upon a time I had multi-color hair and enough piercings to set off the airport metal detector (yes, I actually set it off once flying home from Southern CA). I dated guys with real Mohawks in various colors, long hair, piercings and tattoos that were in bands. To those who knew me back then it’s no surprise that I married a musician. But he is a clean cut singer-songwriter with no piercings or tattoos. I’m the one with the tattoos and while I took out most of my piercings I kept a few.

Looking at the two of us I could not feel less punk rock rebellion as I’m wearing my denim jeans with no stains or holes, my deep red t-shirt top with button detailing and my comfy tennis shoes with my hair pulled back in a pony tail. I look at my hubby who is dressed similarly. We just got out of my plug in hybrid car. We live in a house in a nice neighborhood. What happened to our rebellious pasts back when we were, well I was cool?

We talked a lot on the way home with our address labels. We decided we are going to be crazy and rebel! We are NOT going to follow the GPS and will take the road less traveled (only to see it was a dead end and we had to go back over to where the GPS wanted us to go anyway). Maybe we should get his and hers Dr. Martins (I loved mine and wore them ever day when I backpacked through Europe). Maybe we should make it to a punk show this year. Maybe he should find some other special needs Dads that play instruments and they should a punk band…

In the end we went home. I made my labels and cursed at the printer that kept saying it wasn’t online while I could see it was clearly connected to the wifi. Then dropped off some more artwork at the gallery and found out another piece of mine sold. He stayed home and put on a movie for the kids.

So I may not be punk rock anymore. I may not be young. But I was cool once. I lived my life to the fullest and did lots of crazy and amazing things! While I am no longer the person I use to be, the person I am now isn’t so bad. I’m married to a great guy. I have two kids. I have a job that pays well. I have a creative outlet. My photography business is growing. I finished writing my first book…

Then again… Maybe I am still punk rock. After all, I’m not just existing and following typical societal rules. Sure I have the house, car, dog and 2 kids and a sensible wardrobe… but I married a significantly younger man. I’m a cougar. So what? I’m setting goals and achieving them. I’m going after my dreams. I’m breaking the rules and rediscovering myself in my 40’s. Im not just existing, I’m living! I’m creating art. I wrote a book. Who cares if I do it all in jeans and a t-shirt while wearing comfortable shoes and driving an ecologically conscious car? Damn it, I’m punk rock! (As long as I can be in bed by 10 PM)

Rock on people. Rock on.

(the photo was taken over the weekend at sunrise. I have been fascinated with the mist lately and braving the freezing temperatures to get some great photos as it rolls in at sunrise)

Holy QR code Batman!

Sometimes awesome upgrades cause me more work, although they are pretty awesome.

One of my new goals is to go to opening night at the gallery every time I have a piece in that show that is close enough for me to go to. Saturday was one of those nights for the Shades Of Red show at one of the local galleries and they have updated their art labeling system with QR code’s so people can just scan them and poof they get right to the artist’s website. Pretty cool stuff right? Yeah, I thought so too.

So, what’s the problem? Well, my website has taken a bit of a back burner while I have been working on my book. Now I need to do some major updates. As they were talking about the updates to the modern gallery I’m standing there wondering how I am going to update my website to feature the photos currently on display. I’m so focused on thinking about my website that I let out a very unprofessional “huh” when they call my name and ask me to talk a bit about one of my photos that is in the front room of the gallery and is creating creating quite a buzz just before passing me the microphone. Thankfully I regained my composure quickly and managed to NOT sound like a complete idiot.

Lessons learned…

1. Always pay attention to what is going on.

2. Keep your website updated (last update was in September just before I went to the UK).

3. Be prepared to talk about each piece when I’m the featured artist in April. Some have nice stories. Some not so much. Some are boring like I just cleaned my lens and went to take some photos in my yard to make sure I got all the spots off. Beautiful photos, boring story. No deep meanings here. But I can tell you how I was feeling and what I was thinking when I took every photo.

For your viewing pleasure here is the photo creating the buzz. It’s really gorgeous in person.

This photo is on the promotional flyer for the Shades of Red show (it’s mine too)

I also have a third piece in this show it’s an actual sunset when the Napa Valley was on fire. We were a few miles outside of the evacuation zone so we were ok, but the air was chunky.

Setting goals and finding your passion.

With all the talk of the new year and new decade there has been a lot of talk about New Years resolutions, life goals and finding your passion. I’m pretty passionate about my love of travel and photography. If I didn’t need my day job, I’d quit and spend my days taking photos, reading books and traveling the world as much as possible!

While I think I’m pretty solid with my goals, I have friends who are not so clear. The big thing seems to be that they are stuck on the big hamster wheel of life and don’t know how to get off and do something different than they have always done. So they ask how do I make the change?

Change is not easy. I look at my life a decade ago and look at it now and it could almost be two completely different people I have changed so much. Getting to this point was not easy. I set small, obtainable goals and worked on them a little bit at a time setting new goals once I met my old ones. I knew where I wanted my life to be, so I made a plan to get there. I broke it down into smaller pieces and tackled them one piece at a time. It didn’t seem like much when I was working on them. But a decade later all those little things added up to big changes.

I find most people dream of how they want their life to be. Some dream of material things they want. Others dream of personal goals to better themselves physically or mentally. Others dream of seeing far off lands. (I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area to me the Golden Gate Bridge is just a way to get home while avoiding the ball parks when games are about to get out. But for others it’s a dream to see it in person.) Some may know their dreams, others may be so stuck in a rut that they have no idea where to even start. Some people may be so unhappy with…well everything that they want to change it all! But no matter what their dreams are (if they even know them). The big breakdown seems to be the unwillingness to change from their old ways to make space for their new goals and eventually their new life. Everyone had heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. But you can teach them new tricks. It’s just harder than when they are a puppy. People are the same way because they are set in their ways and old habits are hard to break.

My suggestion is to break it up into smaller pieces and celebrate the small successes. Let’s say you have 100 lbs to loose. That sounds like an impossible undertaking. But if you break it up into ten 10 lb chunks it doesn’t sound so intimidating. 10 lbs… I can do that! Then when you loose the first 10 set your goal to loose 10 more for a total of 20 and so on. Let’s say you want to save more money. Using the same idea let’s say you are going to make coffee at home in the morning before work and put the $5 a day you were going to spend on coffee into a jar to save. That gives you $25 a week, $100 a month and $1200 by the end of the year. A decade from now that $5 a day will then turn into $12,000! Small changes can add up over time and become a big deal.

So I ask you… what changes do you want to make in your life? Where do you see yourself in 2030? How can you get from where you are in 2020 to where you want to be in 3030?

New Beginnings

Welcome 2020! A new year, a new decade. We welcomed in 2020 with a 1920’s themed party at our home. It was a blast!

When I look back at where I was at the start of 2010 things were not that great. Here I am a decade later with almost a completely different life! So what do I have in mind for 2020? Continuing on a lot of the things I started in 2019. I’m still working on my photography and book. I’m still working on getting in shape and loosing weight. I’m finding my own inner peace and sticking with the new yoga class that I started a month ago (my ex-husband said yoga is what keeps me from snapping and killing people. He is still alive today thanks to a regular yoga practice or else I probably would have been a widow than divorced). So enough of continuing goals and chilling out… let’s hear what’s being pondered and planned for 2020!

I’m planning on teaching at an educational conference again (Hello Las Vegas!) it’s boring ultrasound stuff. But hey, free CEs are free CEs… Oh, and it’s in Vegas! (I’ll be planning on visiting a few friends while I’m there not hitting the casinos.)

My travel dreams are never out of my mind and I always have a few options brewing. In 2020 I’m trying to work out a couple trips away with the hubby. If all goes as I hope then he will be dusting off his passport in the spring for our anniversary and we will be heading to an island paradise for his birthday in the winter. The spring trip may be pushing it a bit, but I’m already starting my planning to see if I can possibly pull it off while simultaneously looking into the winter trip. (Travel for 2 takes a few more hoops to jump through than travel for 1, especially when those two people have 2 special needs kids under 10 years old that are NOT going with them.) I’m putting in for the time off on the annual vacation calendar at work so the time will be blocked. Then I’ll just have to see if I can work out all the details to make it happen or not.

That’s it so far. But then again… The year is still new.

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!

A lot can change in a year. I started this blog after a conversation with a friend. I also started my photography business after a conversation with that same friend. The idea to write a book came out of another conversation with her. We don’t talk much, but when we do we inspire each other to get out of our comfort zone and do amazing things!

2019 has been a year of change for me. I have been taking an hour a day to work on my goals.

I’m roughly halfway done writing my book. My goal is to have it published by my birthday in October 2020.

My photography business is starting to gain some traction and every month my sales are a little higher than the month before. I can’t quit my day job yet, but it’s a start. I’m still learning how to juggle everything but I’m getting better at it. I have been published in a few photography magazines. I have had photos shown in galleries around the world. I’m winning photography contests (the most recent was 1st place in color photography at the Northern California Regional Art Show and I got an honorable mention in Black & White photography). I have also become a popular local artist. (I had no idea until my sister called me and told me.)

With all that I am still working full time and a Mom to two little boys. I’m surrounded by boys at home between my husband and the kids. But, I have stayed true to my love of flowers.

I have also stayed true to my love of water.

I have explored my dark side.

Tried new things.

I saw some really cool stuff…

and I checked something off my bucket list.

Sometimes little things like a conversation with an old friend can bring us to make changes, follow our hearts and take that step toward making our dreams come true.

This post is my reflection on 2019. It’s a small glimpse into my life over the last year and shows what can be accomplished when you put your mind toward something despite whatever challenges we face. I hope it brings inspiration to all that read it and inspires them to go into 2020 and accomplish something amazing!

Happy New Year!

#workingmomtraveldreams

#jodiwebberphotography

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Except I am so far behind that I wonder if I can get it all done.

I’m an extremely organized person. I hate to admit it, but I am that type A personality person with everything in its place, a schedule, a to do list and everything is coordinated and color coded and alphabetized… Ok, not everything. But I’m not that far off.

This year I’m behind. I’m never behind. But I had a bit more going on than usual and a lot of it was NOT my stuff. Don’t get me wrong, a marriage, kids, full time job, photography side business and writing a book is a lot for someone to juggle alone. But you see, I have these two friends who need my help. Either one would be there for me in an instant day or night if I needed them so I’m there for them as well and they both need me. You may ask why… well they are both hoarders and they are both moving. One moved about 5 months ago the other one is moving in 5 months from now.

Why does this involve me? Well I’m good with them. I’m organized. I know them well and I know how they think and what is important to them. So I help them work through their stuff. It involves a lot of time and I can only spare a couple hours a week to help them so I need to alternate between them.

Well, when the first friend moved she was no where ready so it took a lot longer to move her than expected. It was crunch time at the end so everything got put in unlabeled boxes and bags and moved to the new house to be sorted later. I spent about 4 weeks in the evenings after work almost every night helping her paint, pack, unpack, move stuff, find boxes five months later we have barely made a dent. Seriously, at least 50% needs to go away. Given away, sold, thrown away… I don’t care where it goes as long as it doesn’t stay there. I have a plan. It will get done. I was helping her last weekend and told her I just can’t help her this weekend because I have too much I need to do of my own stuff but I can start helping again after the new year.

Friend #2 is selling her (very full) house and moving into an RV to travel in her retirement. Probably 90% of what she has needs to go. The rest will go into storage. We have been working on it for the last year and have a plan. We took from September through the end of the year off and will purge hard core after the new year.

As for why I’m so far behind… well my shopping is done. But typically the day after thanksgiving I wrap my gifts and decorate the tree so I can just kick back and enjoy the rest of the holiday season. Well friend #1’s Mom passed away suddenly and she needed help to stay busy so I spent the weekend coming and going to help her stay busy. So none of my stuff got done. It has been like that with me spending all my spare time helping her or spending time with her to help her through this rough patch. I told her this weekend I can’t help her because I need to get my own stuff done and it’s now the last weekend before Christmas. I am out of time.

Next year will be different. Next year I’m going back to having everything done by the end of thanksgiving weekend so I can relax and enjoy the season and not be rushing to finish everything in time. Next year I have goals. I have a plan for 2020.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope you all have a relaxing holiday season full of joy. But just know if you are behind and still have a lot to do you are not alone.