Hummingbirds and Hawks

Version 2

I took this picture of a hawk on my roof just moments before it joined two other hawks as they battled crows in the air across the street from my house. Their cries were so high pitched and loud that they wouldn’t be ignored this day. My family and I studied these predators and were amazed by their power and ferocity. My wife noticed, amidst all this action, a hummingbird nesting in the very same tree where the hawks stayed.

Being the researcher that she is, my wife web searched this living arrangement and discovered that a certain type of hummingbird strategically nests next to hawks knowing that the hawks will eat the animals who pose a threat to the hummingbirds. I’m thinking of something very philosophical about this coexistence, but the simple truth of it all is that this hummingbird is one smart creature.

A Flower In A Cup


She entered her apartment full of doubts. Doubts about herself. Doubts about everything. Her mind replayed the rejection and unkind words from those who roamed in her hostile world. Disappointment wore heavy on her like a straight jacket. Yet this downward spiral would end before it would rule the rest of the day. Her eyes gazed on the single object on the table. A long unloading exhale and a hopeful smile expressed her renewed hope even if it would be for just a few moments. He left her a flower in a cup.

Notes: A simple gesture can help someone survive the day. I found this old shot in my DropBox. I must’ve shot it with a red gel preset on Hipstamatic app with my iPhone. Edited with Snapseed and Color Splash apps. 

Read the pictorial version on Steller and I posted this story on Scriggler too. 

When people do what they love to do

I sneaked in a little shot with my wife’s iPhone, but click on this link by Strictly Weddings to see this styled shoot in its full glory by a professional photographer. I love it when I get to see people doing and thriving in what they are passionate about, and this time I got a chance to see my wife, Shelley from Here Come The Blooms in action.

Shelley got the opportunity to do the flower design from Pam of Love.Anne.Joy | Design + Events , and Pam did an incredible and elegant job putting this together. Jeremy Chou Photography​ captured this gorgeous styled shoot with images that are timeless and beautiful.

I caught the last hours of this shoot. I saw people flow in their talents together, and I witnessed all of the pieces come together like an intricate puzzle. It’s truly a labor of love, which took a lot of labor, time, patience, coordination, and attention to all the details that turned this moment into a lovely-something that is now showcased by Strictly Weddings​.

I didn’t get to meet everyone besides Vivian Tran Makeup​ (Beautiful work Vivian!) but to all the talented vendors and agents who made this possible, I was floored and inspired by watching people do what they love to do.

So the question is, “What is it that you love to do?” What is your labor of love?

It’s about the journey

  

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
~Ernest Hemingway

I was just reminded that the stuff that happens while on the journey is what counts the most. I can be so consumed with the destination that I forget that it’s what happens in the process that makes me who I am. Then there are times, that I didn’t make it to the destination or I made it but not without some damage because I wasn’t willing to make the journey the way it should have been traveled.

It’s about the journey.

Notes: I shot this in Egypt with an iPhone 6+. It might be a little pixelated but I shot this couple from way far away. Edited with VSCO A9.

Laughter is Good Medicine


I snapped this street performer as he chased people down to startle them with his toy puppy, stopped to show off his juggling skills, and hammed it up for anyone with an iPhone. Shoppers, co-workers on lunch break, and tourists were laughing and smiling and happy to stop and watch the street performer do his thing.

A proverb in the the Old Testament says that a joyful heart is good medicine. According to WebMD.com the benefits of laughter include increasing blood flow, boosting antibodies, and even helping with sleep.

My approach is that life is too short to be too serious for too long. You need to be able to laugh at yourself and comfortable in your own skin to make others laugh with you or even at you.  Do whatever you need to do get some laughs in. Hang out with friends who like to laugh and watch some episodes of Little Rascals. Do whatever it takes. Get some good medicine of your soul.

The Need for Endurance

Endurance is becoming extinct in this must-have-it-now culture. Simply put, endurance is the ability to do something over a long period of time. It automatically includes challenges, difficulty, and pain. So many in this generation (and I am not excluding the older folk of this generation) want to avoid pain and difficulty as much as possible. Whatever you do in life, finish strong.

I found this picture of my son running at a track meet at the age of 5. I put him in track because his hyper-energy needed an outlet, and a co-worker convinced me to join his track club. This particular track team in Long Beach was huge and very competitive. There were many athletes who were competitive in their age division within their region and even at the state level. The 5-year olds just graduated from the “lollipop” races that got the parents to smile and cheer.

There are 2 things that are clear in my memories of that track season. First, my son’s uniform draped over him like a robe. Secondly, my son hated the starting gun. At the beginning of each 200 meter race, he would plug his ears with his fingers and most of the time would miss the actual sound of the gun. The coach would run up to my son and yell, “Run Christian!” In every one of those races for almost the entirety of the track season, he would end up 8th out of 8 places. Sometimes he would cross the finish line walking. One time, he ended the race walking and crying while I held his hand as we crossed the finish line together.

At one of the last events of the season, I remember hearing the parents of the his teammates encouraging him to run his very best and that all that mattered was that he finish his race. I wish I could tell you that I gave him a spirited speech, but I think the other parents were the true source of his inspiration.

Once again at the start of the race, my son plugged his ears. The gun went off. Christian stood there. The other 7 runners took off. The coach ran up my son and yelled, “Run Christian!” My son took off as if someone laced his Gatorade with turbo boost. Even though the pack had at least a 10 meter head start, Christian gained on them immediately.

With 100 meters to go the pack had thinned out. The elite 5-year old runners were well ahead of the pack to finish with medals, but in the back of the pack, my son had the 7th place runner within reach and caught him at the halfway point. The entire group of parents on our track club stood up cheering at the top of their lungs, “Run Christian!” The entire group of parents from the boy battling my son for 7th place cheered for their boy as loud as they could.

With 50 meters to go, the rest of the crowd did what they normally did for only the premier races with the top athletes. The crowd stood up to their feet and cheered wildly for the 2 little boys battling for the last place.

I saw my son barely one length ahead of the other boy as they neared the finish line as I screamed as loud as I could, “Run Christian!” I remembered jumping up and down on the bleachers looking up at the parents with tears running down their faces as I had tears run down mine. I realized that in this particular race, it wasn’t going to matter who finished 7th and 8th place. Their spirit and determination to win inspired a stadium of witnesses. They were both winners.

It’s time we need to finish strong in the face of difficulty and even pain. You may not finish in 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd, but finish and finish strong. I’m in the stands cheering you on, “Run!”

 

Blooming late is better than never

This is me a few weeks ago surfing at my local beach break. I started surfing 5 years ago after I was told I was doing a great job of working myself towards an early grave. I’m a workaholic, and “working hard” has been my mindset since my youth. I remember convincing myself not to take art classes in high school and college because I didn’t think it was “real” work nor a good way to make a living.

Yet, although buried under busy-ness for decades, there is a creative side of me that is determined to bloom and keep blooming. Blooming at middle age is still blooming, and blooming late is better than never. This creative side surfs because he likes to look at the expanse of the ocean and dream. This creative side takes pictures because he likes to capture images of this world and attach words to tell stories. This creative side writes little poems and make believe tales because he believes his expression needs to be shared. This creative side is me.

So I’m not 24 anymore and still fresh out of college, but I feel like one. Who figures that stuff out at that age anyways? I didn’t. Some may think, “Well, it’s just timing,” and I say, “Maybe so, but I’ve been thinking of writing since I was a sophomore in college and today 50 is just around the corner.”

You may have told yourself before, “Don’t take your dreams with you to the grave,” and I agree! Do something about it! Go on and put together that art studio in the garage that you have put off for years. Take that dance class. Sign up for that 5K. Register for that photography class.

If you are decades younger than me, then don’t waste your head start. Being an early bloomer or late bloomer isn’t the focus. Just be a bloomer. Blooming late is better than never.

(Photo by Dave Peeters. Thanks Dave)

 

Lessons from my iPhone camera

Yes, I became one of the millions who all of a sudden became a photo snapping fool after discovering that I could actually use the camera on my iPhone that was within an arm’s reach 24 hours of the day. After some basic tips from a couple of pro photographer friends, how-to’s online, youtube videos, and learning from fine artists on Instagram and Flickr- I think I am actually gaining some skills on the art of capturing life. But that’s not what this post is about.

For the past 6 years of taking at least 1 photograph everyday, I realize that no matter how much technology is crammed in this pocketable and delightful device, the camera is very limited when compared to dedicated cameras. The lesson that I am repeatedly learning is that it is about what I do with what I have.

  • Photography Lesson #1: Composition is crucial. I learned that the decisions about what’s stays in the frame and what doesn’t and where the things are inside the rectangle makes a difference. Life Lesson #1: Be intentional and even more thoughtful of my priorities, relationships, and endeavors. I know it is easier said than done, but I need to live every day with vision.
  • Photography Lesson #2: Lighting is everything. Great lighting usually results in great results. Poor lighting brings a lot of challenges. Life Lesson #2: Lighting is the same with the decisions I make. Ok, most choices made in my waking moments are not a matter of life and death, but informed, thoughtful decisions usually have positive results. Doing some homework, getting insight from the sages in my life, and praying are the best ways to bring light into my situations.
  • Photography Lesson #3: Edit with a cause. Most photographs aren’t complete without an editing process. Enhancing or desaturating color, adjusting lighting, and even cropping something out are done to develop a pleasing image. Life Lesson #3: Most accomplishments are not going to be right the first time. There’s always a process. Adjustments have to be made. Things may need to be cropped out. My edits determine my results.

I will eventually get a dedicated camera with a lot more features and capabilities, but what matters right now is what I have in my hands and what I do with that. The best compliment that I have received was from an event photographer who asked me, “Did you really do that with your phone?”

Don’t wait for whatever upgrade or next big thing you are waiting for. Do the best with what you currently have. Be intentional. Do things on purpose. Do things with purpose. You may not get it right the first time, so edit until you get the right results.

Yes, I took the picture of my cat with an iPhone.