Wednesday, November 23, 2011

24 Days of Thankfulness

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

It's been so inspirational to see each day a new thing listed on so many of my facebook friends pages...each day a mention of something they are thankful for.  My approach will be a little different, as I will just put it all together in a blog... 24 days of thankfulness.
  • Life.  Very simply, I am thankful for my life.  
  • My Savior.  I cannot imagine what my life would be like without Jesus Christ as my Savior.  I do imagine it would be with a lot less Joy.
  • My firstborn.  Life changed beyond measure when he entered my life over 24 years ago... and through the tough days and the joys, I would never want to imagine my life without him in it. {I have to add kind of an addendum to this because it seems most appropriate.  I am very thankful for my son's fiancee.  She's so sweet and kind... and she loves my son with all her heart.  I look forward to having her as my daughter and embracing all that she brings to my family!}
  • My middle child.  I started planning for the thought of him while still in the hospital with my first child.  I even had his name picked out before leaving to take baby #1 home!  And he has been the most loving and sweet child any mother could ask for... I love him dearly.
  • My baby girl.  Talk about perfect.  All I ever wanted was to be a mother... but to get the most beautiful little girl - JUST NO WORDS!  She's my heartbeat, my sunshine, my smile.  
  • My home.  I take it all for granted, but when people come to my home they always feel warm and welcome - and I'm thankful that I can share that with anyone in my life.
  • Miles.  He's a pain most days, his breath is unbelievably bad - but he's the sweetest and cutest labradoodle in the world.  Don't know what I'll do when he's no longer a part of my world!
  • My Mom.  Through thick or thin - my Mom has been by my side.  We are alike in many ways - but different in even more ways.  But I like to think that my strengths are things she helped strengthen in me.  Simply - I love her with all my heart.
  • Forgiveness.  I cannot imagine what life would be like if I could not be forgiven for the many wrongs I've done... but also if I couldn't forgive others for things they've done wrong against me.
  • Dreams.  So many of my dreams have come true - and even more of them have not.  But I can still have my dreams - and the hope that one day I'll see more of them materialized.  
  • Hope.  What in the world would life be about if there wasn't hope for a better day.  Even on the most perfect day I can have hope for another one.  
  • Health.  I have so many quirky health issues, but otherwise I am healthy!  And for that, I am so thankful!
  • Friendship.  I'm kind of a loner.  I do spend more time on my own than with others.  But I love my friends, and I'm always there for them if they need me.  The hardest thing I've ever had to do was make a decision to walk away from a friendship - and that's only happened a handful of times in my life.  But even then I know I'm doing it because it's the right thing for the other person as well as for myself. 
  • Boundaries.  Took me about 40 years to learn how to set them and respect them for what they are.  I am now all about boundaries: personal, business, etc.
  • The Sea.  I spend as much time as possible near the sea.  I feel closer to God when I am there... hearing the waves, watching them come closer in to the shore but stop at just the right place.  So peaceful seeing with my eyes a small glimpse of just how much power God has by watching the sea.  
  • Music.  It soothes me, invigorates me, motivates me... it makes me laugh, sing, cry, think.  
  • Talent.  God does give us each talent... and many times we want to pick what we want our talent to be.  But that's not how it works.  I am thankful for the talents God has given me... and I work to do the best that I can with them.  
  • Counseling.  I can't count how many times through my life I've needed someone to be there for me... to help me deal with a situation or a hurt in my life.  And whether it's been a friend - or even a certified counselor - I am thankful that people are there to help.  I've learned to never be afraid to ask for help when I need it.
  • Our country.  There are many things I DON'T like about the way things have changed in our country.  And there are directions we are headed that frighten me.  But overall, I do believe this is the greatest country.  We have freedoms that some places may never know... and I am so thankful for that.  
  • The special people in my life.  I cannot sing their praises enough.  My Grandmother would have to be my #1.  She held the key to my heart when I was growing up - and I think I'm most like her as a grown up.  I miss her presence in my life so much since she's been gone, but I do find peace knowing that I'll see her again one day.  But there are other special people in my life, and they each hold such a dear place.  I simply cannot imagine who or where I would be without them!!  
  • The internet.  It's amazing all of the changes in the world since the time when I was a child.  There were so many awesome things then that I do miss now, and with the age of the internet there have been a lot of really bad things.  The availability of so many dangerous things that can ruin lives, tear apart marriages, aid in addictions, etc.  But there are also many great things that come from it all.  The ability to stay in touch with people who are many, many miles away.... the ability to learn about things we might never know about otherwise.  Just to name a couple.  When my son was in Bahrain a few years ago with the US Navy, I was able to immediately have contact with him - almost daily - because of the internet.  And now, with him many states away, I can stay in touch, see pictures, read comments and posts from him.  How incredible?!  But it's like anything.  We have to NOT abuse it for the bad things it can also provide.  
  • Choices.  I have watched over this past year as several people I love dearly have made some very poor choices... and some others have made some awesome choices.  We all have choices to make each day, and I'm thankful that we have the free will to choose.  But also that we have consequences from the bad choices.  Hopefully next year will bring more GOOD choices than bad ones!
  • You.  It means the world to me that you want to read what I have to say.  You give me reason to write again... and desire to share more of myself.  Whether you are a friend of many years, a stranger outside of reading my blogs, a client (or potential client)... it doesn't matter.  I appreciate you so much - and hope you will continue on this journey with me for a long time to come!   .......and please feel free to comment once in a while! :)
  • My husband.  I mention him last because I am guarded about bringing him into my blogs.  But I am very thankful for him. 
That's 24... and today is the 23rd of November, so I've included an extra one for tomorrow.  

Thanks for going through this with me... and I would LOVE to hear back from you!!  That would be my #25 thing to be thankful for!! 

Have a wonderful day - and 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

As a child we all loved bedtime stories... and as a parent or grandparent there is something so special about snuggling up with that special child and reading those stories to them over and over again.  Many of those stories have some very important lessons on life in them... and then there are some that we just love to read because they make us feel warm and cozy.  I miss the old stories that children don't seem to hear enough these days.  Jack and the Bean Stalk, Rumplestiltskin, Cinderella, Snow White and Peter Pan.   But two of my very favorites were always Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood.  Being a blonde-head myself, I always thought I was the lead character in these stories, and that they must somehow be about me.  My Mom even made me a beautiful velvet red hooded cape when I was a child that I would wear ever so proudly.  

As I've grown up, though, some of these stories take on a different meaning.  Often we wish we could fall asleep for many, many years... and how awesome would it be to have a beanstalk to climb to escape the giants we face each day?  I've learned over and over that the slipper doesn't fit my foot when the prince comes along to try it on, and I only had 3 little "dwarfs" of my own to take care of, and they went and grew up on me!  Peter Pan was my middle son's favorite, and I think my poor Mom had to watch the vhs video everytime she was with him!  But oh, how I used to love Tinkerbell - yet as I grew up I also came to see what a sneaky little underhanded chick she really was, so that changed my opinion of her!  I read Little Red Riding Hood and think "What parent would seriously let their child walk to the end of their own driveway alone these days, much less to Grandma's house?" but I do appreciate the early warning that things are not always what they seem, and we need to be paying close attention to the wolves in disguise.  But I think my least favorite story now is Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  It's great as a child to be reminded that we aren't a "fit" for everything... but there is a perfect chair just for us.  But it's not so great to think someone has been eating my porridge... and even less great to wonder "who's been sleeping in my bed."

It's very seldom that I miss my childhood.  But very often I miss those special times with my own children when they were young.  On days like today, when it's cold and rainy outside, I miss snuggling with them in front of the TV watching movies that had meaning, hot chocolate, chicken noodle soup with grilled cheese sandwiches...those special things that made everyone feel safe and warm.  And I do miss the innocence of believing in the fairy tales...  of loving Goldilocks and the Three Bears, because after all, they had to be writing about me!   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's the Dash that Counts

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

Yesterday was a bittersweet day.  It was the day that we came together to bid farewell to my Grandmother for the final time on this earth.  At 93 she had taken all of this life she could take and moved on to eternity early on Saturday morning.  And I have handled it like a champ.  I'm a very realistic person, as I believe most anyone who knows me very well would agree with.  As a child and a teenager (and probably even up through my 20's) I was probably much more of a dreamer, but life has changed some of that in me.  My Grandmother's death has been handled in my usual realistic approach, knowing that she is, afterall, much better off than she would be on this earth suffering.  But today I have felt a deep sadness.  Things with my Grandmother and myself were good... she knew I loved her, and I know she loved me.  So I am not harboring any regrets of last minute words that needed to be spoken.  Her life was long and she brought love and friendship to many other people on this earth, so there is no doubt that her presence will be missed very much.  Yet still, this sadness lingers on.

Yesterday at the funeral one of the pastors who spoke made a comment about the "dash" in between the years on a tombstone marking the time between birth and death.  That has been on my mind very much over the past day.  I look at the dash my Grandmother's life represents... of the many others she affected with her life, the love she gave, the smiles she brought to others, the kindness she bestowed.  But I have also reflected on my own life, and what the dash will say about how I've lived my life in between those two very important dates.  For many years I believe it might have been a lot of boring, almost wasted space... but thankfully I hope that my life now touches many other lives positively by the choices I make, in the things I do, from the kindness I give, through the work I produce.  And if I am successful at this "dash" then I will be a success in the end.  What more could anyone ask for?   

My Grandmother with my daughter... June 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Real Heroes

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

When was the last time you stopped and thought about the hero's in your life?  Quickly - what name comes to your mind when you think "hero"?  I think for every little boy it is at some time a superhero: Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man... someone with supernatural powers who can save the world.  But as we grow up we are shocked and saddened to find out that there are no real superhero's.  Or are there?  I've been writing a lot lately about children, parents, hurt, disappointment... and I don't want to upset or depress anyone.  The simple truth: life is tough.  People make bad decisions.  And there are also the times that people take a wrong turn in their life and hurt lots of people.  What about when the hurt pulls away the mask to reveal that who was once a superhero is actually not one after all?  

This evening I was watching a sweet little superhero run around in his cape.  He has such an imagination - but ruining his fun at what should only be a carefree time in his life is the reality of a lot of hurt and disappointment.  More than ever, this little superhero needs a HERO.  So while he was running around as Batman, the caped crusader, he had an awesome co-crusader who is really his Poppy.  Poppy had on the Sponge Bob cape that ALL real hero's wear - and he did the moves and ran up and down the hallway filling the job quite impressively.  And me... well, I was the one blessed enough to see the real hero of the day.  While Batman was convinced that his superhero co-crusader was Robin, I know that this was a superhero who will NEVER disappoint this little boy.  And long before he was a superhero, he was also a hero to me.  I've known him all of my life, and he's always impressed me with his kindness, generosity and loving spirit.  But watching him with his grandchildren has brought my admiration to a new level.  

We think we know who the real hero's are... and often those we think of are truly heroic.  But let's not forget the ones who are heroic to the end.  The ones who are hero's even after it's no longer fun for anyone.  And if you are blessed enough to know one of these hero's I'm talking about, then let them know they touch your heart in a special way - and that you appreciate them just for who they are.  It's a rare thing indeed.

I love you, Poppy and Mimi.  You are two of the most special people in the world, and no one can imagine the hurt you are going through in all of this.  I am one of the blessed ones to see the hero's you are in how you have touched the lives of your dear grandchildren.  "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13... there are many ways to "lay down his life" for someone, and sacrificing your life as you know it to take care of someone else in their time of need definitely makes you the real hero's

To Get to Where I'm Going

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

the calm

"No matter whose fault, God sends us through storms so we can land in a place we never would have otherwise." ~Beth Moore....

Oh, how many times I have cried out "Why am I having to go through this, God?!" and as time passed I was able to see that it was perfect.  Where I ended up in my life was JUST where I needed to be.  Now I do believe we often suffer in our lives because we make some terribly bad decisions... and sometimes those decisions just can't lead to something positive in our lives.  I also believe it's never too late to change the track we're on.  But those "bad decision" times are not what I'm talking about today.  I'm talking about the times in life when we're doing what we're supposed to be doing...we're being the faithful and true spouse, we're being a good parent, we're doing our job well, we're being an upstanding citizen and friend... and then suddenly the carpet is pulled out from under us.  THOSE are the times when we truly don't understand what's going on!  Afterall, we're doing what we're supposed to be things are supposed to run smoothly - RIGHT??  But sometimes that's just not the way it works out... and during those times it may be someone else's bad choices that are affecting our lives, or it may just be a change in course that we just don't understand.  But I'm telling you to hold on tight.  Seek God during those times and stay true to Him. {well, seriously seek God in all times!}  The changes might be scary, they might seem unfair, but when the storm calms down and everything falls into place you might find you are in a better place than before.  

I'm not a very flexible person.  I simply do not embrace change.  I like things just the way I like them.  I'm not exactly a person of habit - I just like my comfort zone.  But there have been more times than I could count that I have found my life in a total whirlwind... and honestly a lot of those times had nothing to do with bad decisions on my part.  As time has gone by (and maybe I've matured a bit) I've learned to just hold on...adapt to the changes.  Trust that God is in control and He is changing the course I'm on... and if HE is changing it, then it's got to be good for me.  

My advice for you is to always live your life truthfully...there really are no true secrets.  And when the storms come along, hold on tight.  Cry when you need to cry, laugh when you can find a way to laugh... but be patient and wait to see what is next in your life.  Don't hold on to the past that is changing because you may cheat yourself out of something totally awesome that you'd never have dared to dream for yourself!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Looking for the Words...

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

There are many times in our lives that we just don't understand everything... we just don't have all of the answers.  That's hard enough for a grown-up to accept, but this evening I spent some time with two sweet children who have recently been abandoned by their mother.  There is no way to tell you how frustrating it is to see their pain and confusion, yet have no answers to give them to make them understand.  I'm a Mom myself to three grown children... my kids are all in their 20's now.  Soon I'll have a daughter-in-law, as my 24-yr-old son is engaged to be married.  I'm no stranger to the chaos of raising kids, nor have I forgotten the days of raising my children when they were younger.  I remember very well the times that I felt I would never get to "come first" again in anything.  My goodness, I can remember wondering if I would ever just get to go to the bathroom or take a shower without someone standing there needing something from me all the time.  But that time does pass, and when you look back you realize just how quickly it was gone.  Yet as tiring and depleting as those times can be, I never could have imagined a day without my children.  It was nice to have a break now and then, but I always felt like something was missing as long as they were not with me.  So how can a mom just up and leave her family?  What words do you use to explain this to a 4 and 8-yr-old?  And what are they learning about trust, commitment, love, security, etc?  

Tonight I heard a little boy of only 4 say "I don't love my mommy any more." And my heart broke for the pain that I could hear in his little voice.  I wanted to explain to both children that all mommy's are not like that... most mommy's would never dream of leaving their children.  Mommy's are supposed to have a heart that loves their kids forever and takes care of their kids no matter what else the world may do to hurt them, and most do... but there's just something wrong with this mommy.  What I do tell these children is that I will not hurt them.  I will be there for them as much as I can - and I will do whatever I can to offer them protection and love.  I remind these children that even though we don't have all of the answers, it is not their fault when grown people do bad things - and they don't have to make those same mistakes in their own lives.  Rather they should love with all of their heart and be strong enough to not walk away when things are not the way they want them in life.  
I do pray for this mom.  In my mind I cannot comprehend what any woman must be thinking to walk away from her children.  Life is complicated, and we don't always understand all the details - but there are no details that would make it okay to do what she's done.  And I pray for these children - that their little hearts and minds will be protected in some way from all that they have been exposed to in the past few months.  That they will grow up and be able to trust, and not be afraid to love.  

I don't usually write two blogs in one day... in fact, lately I haven't had much time to write at all.  But this has really been a tough week, searching for the right words to say to offer support and love that is needed by a family that is hurting so badly. 


Learning to Trust

Also visit my Photography by DonnaKay blog @ 
... a little more about my life as a photographer...

Sitting here in front of my computer I can look over to the side just a tiny bit (maybe an inch or two) and see the sun glistening brightly on the ocean.  Even when I'm concentrating on my work (whether I'm writing this blog, checking on my accounts or working on editing some photos) I can hear the waves crashing.  I can trust that the ocean is out there and it's doing what it's supposed to do.  And I'm always so happy and feel so serene when I'm near the ocean.  Maybe it has something to do with trust?  Does that sound kind of crazy to you?  

Trust is a huge part of our lives.  If you read my blogs then surely you have learned that it's a huge part of me, what I believe in and what I stand for.  I  need to have trust in my life... but it's even more important to me to live a life that is trustworthy.  And many people don't stop and think about how broken trust can totally change so much about your life and relationships.  Just stop and think for a few minutes about who you have in your life, and whether you feel peaceful about those relationships.  Do you trust them?  But more importantly, can they trust you?  Should they?  I have learned over and over in my years that I have no control over anyone else... whether they make good or bad decisions, whether they are honest or dishonest.  But I have a choice everyday about me.  When I speak I can speak truthfully.  If there's something I just don't want to say, then it's truly better for me to say "I really don't want to talk about that" than it is to not be honest about something.  

But even more than what we speak, trust also comes from what we see.  If someone says "I will be there for you always" but then every time you need them they have an excuse or you simply can't even get a response from them, then before long you'll know when you need someone, you can't trust that they will be someone you should turn to.  So we do need to always be careful about our words.  Even if they are spoken in kindness, if they are not true and sincere they can teach someone to distrust.  And it's very hard to turn that around after the lesson has been taught.

Often when it comes to the topic of trust I think about children.  So much about who we are as adults does go back to what we learned as children.  It doesn't mean that we can't overcome bad things we might experience in our childhoods, but a lot of times people are not willing to put in the time or work that is required.  We are creatures of habit and we like to just use the excuse "it's just the way I am."  Simply: it's painful to change!  But in raising our own children, in playing parts in the lives of our grandchildren, or playing some other important role in a child's life we need to always be aware that we are teaching them so many things with every word and action.  And the biggest lesson they are storing away is what is being taught to them about trust.  The hardest decisions are when we have to remove something from their lives because we know it is only teaching them something that will negatively affect them for many years to come.  But that is part of being trustworthy... showing them that they can trust you to take care of them.  

For me it calms me completely to hear (and see) the ocean... when possible I love to sleep at night with the window cracked so I can hear the waves and let them lull me to sleep.  Think about what makes you feel safe and peaceful like that... and what feelings it gives you to make you feel that way.