APRIL IN COLORADO: BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON & DOUBLED CRESTED CORMORANT with FLOWERS, BEES & OTHER BIRDS
March 2013 with Cooper
Nature is my elixir. No matter what challenges I'm scaling, no matter the heart ache I'm going through and no matter the frustration I feel with humanity's great failings, when I step into nature, it's like going home; feeling safe and yet exhilarated and awed all at once.
I imagine some people might think as a nature photographer, it's ho hum when I see a black crowned night heron (pictured below) or a double-crested cormorant (also pictured below), but they'd be wrong. There's not a time I don't feel a rush when spotting these magnificent birds in the wild.
Yesterday, I was able to get very close to this night heron -- close enough to see his amber colored eyes. I sat with him for about 15 minutes. I could have stayed longer, as he was settling in quite comfortably with me being so near, but I was ready to camera hunt some more and see what other jewels I could spot. Sometimes though taking more time and creating longer bonds with my wildlife friends is well rewarded. When a trust has been established, I think something more comes through the camera than just a portrait of a bird.
BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON
Resembling a combination of a goose and a loon, the Double-crested Cormorant pictured below is a sight to behold. Their emerald colored eyes, massive size, and pre-historic essence keeps me spell bound in their presence.
Spring has been slow to come to Colorado this year. After a March snowstorm, I was feeling cabin fever so much I just had to head out with my camera to find some signs that the seasons were changing. The snow had almost melted and the sun was out but the air was chilly. I headed to the Botanical Gardens in Denver.
I used to have to work at making time to be creative. It was something to fit into my life. It wasn't until after my 18-year marriage blew up -- what felt like at the time an out-of-the-blue annihilation -- that I discovered how to live a creative life, not just have creative moments. I picked up the shattered pieces of my life (nearly 15 years ago) and left behind the things that no longer fit, perhaps never fit, and built a whole new life. It was in every sense of the word a rebirth.
I was rediscovering myself and getting in touch with dreams that had never died. I came full circle back to the me I used to know when I was a teenager, full of bold dreams about living a passion filled life. Ironically, the dotcom company I'd been writing for called CareerBay had just crashed and burned, but rather than being derailed by losing my first write-for-pay job, I was instead infused with confidence to go after what I wanted, and what I wanted was to "be a writer", something I'd long before put on a back burner while becoming a wife and twice a mother. To fan the flames of that long held desire, I attended a 3-day writer's workshop in San Diego, California, and in domino fashion, it set off a wonderful momentum.
Within days of the workshop I began writing a fiction novel. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I just took bits and pieces of inspiration from what I'd learned, and added things I'd gleaned on my own, and then, as is very typical of me, I just dove in and tried learning to swim as it were. I ended up writing 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day for about 3 months solid.
I lived and breathed my characters. They became my friends and I loved spending time getting to know them. The writing took on a life of its own. I had little in the way of the story planned in advance. I was reading my book right alongside writing it. You hear about runners finding their zone. As a writer, I found mine. It was surreal and intoxicating. It was my first experience with having no Mondays in my life. Each day was welcome and wonderful.
My story was called BEYOND REDEMPTION. It was a combination murder mystery/love story. My lead character was a 45-year old defense attorney named Colter. He had been an artist in college and via a strange turn of events he ended up going to law school. His boss at the law firm was his mentor, friend and father-figure, who also had a very dark side. The long lost love of his life appears briefly only to die in a suspicious car accident leaving him with a 16 year old daughter he never knew he had. It's a tale about self discovery, healing, an unimaginable betrayal that spanned decades.
The most important thing I learned during that period was how to successfully slay my inner critic. It was a battle at times, and screaming matches at other times, all inside my head. I imagine all artists have a critic inside who taunts and tries tearing them down. It's this inner voice that is ever ready to pounce and cast doubt on every sentence, every brush stroke or every musical note, and who makes fun of any effort to turn dreams into reality. It makes artists question their worth and even question why they attempt their projects. It's the voice of doom and gloom and the voice that can be cynical and down right sinister. I've actually been amazed to read interviews by famous people who have successful careers, but each new movie has them fearing rejection and failure all over again.
My critic was loud, intimidating and mean in the beginning. And as a beginner, I was flustered, but fortunately persevered. I had to clobber my critic all the time. I don't recall all the ways I took control, or exactly what I said, but I remember feeling like a mother tiger protecting her young. I would not let the critic stop me. Instead I got him to shut the 'f' up. Ever since that time, my critic has laid low. And unless it's constructive criticism, I make sure to keep it that way. The love of any creative endeavor I do is so strong, it doesn't matter what others think, so my critic has little power. Hmmm ... maybe that's the biggest key to slaying the critic; simply loving the creative process in a way that no amount of doubt can chink away at it.
The other thing that has changed is how much just being creative is woven throughout my daily life. It's now just a natural part of my flow. I don't need to wait for inspiration to strike. Being creative is simply how I live. What I do more than write these days, is photography. I've also combined photography with writing, and am currently working on a children's book series that will continue to combine the two. Photography will be my main tool of illustration.
In case you're wondering about my book, I never got it published. I tried. I gathered a dozen or two rejection slips. But I don't look at the failure to get it published as a failed project. It was by far one of the best experiences in my life, and to this day, is among my top 5 favorite experiences in my life. I may revisit my story one day and rework it to give it another whirl at publication. Or maybe I'll just try writing an all new story. I look so forward to the day I make that time commitment. (Photography is such a passion, that I haven't been able to share it with writing much.) The best thing about those three months of writing my book was how memorable and successful the process was. It was the epitome of how it truly is all about the journey and not the destination. And, wow, what an incredible journey it was. I look forward to the next one!
I'm an artist, writer, photographer, private investigator and an activist in small ways.
"Turning indifference into making a difference."
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I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand & later found out it is under investigation for tiger trafficking and animal abuse. Read full story. In 2015 it was raided. More than 100 tigers and protected bird species in Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province were impounded by authorities following complaints that the temple was alleged to engage in illegal wildlife trading.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
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Read about life in the woods with Chippy & the crew...