Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Love, Laughter and Inspiration

Today I would like to share with you our latest additions to our gift shop.

The "I love ??? Collection" is the newest in our Love and Romance section.
 Our newest addition to our Random Humor section is our  "Tuit Collection".

The following inspirational and motivational designs are now available in poster prints and on various products in our gift shop. 

Click to see what this design is available on.

Click to see what this design is available on.

Click to see what this design is available on.

From all of us to all of you
May your days be filled with
Love,  Laughter & Inspiration

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tearful Farewells and Emotional Homecomings

Oldest Son just after graduation from boot camp
Since my oldest son joined the Navy in 2002 and my Son-In-Law joined in 2006 there have been many tearful farewells and emotional homecomings. I am sure any parent who has a child move far from home experiences joy and sadness saying goodbye or welcoming their child home after a long spell of not seeing them.

Son-in-law leaving for boot camp
While most of our farewells and homecomings have been emotional only a few exceptions have they come close to the level of emotion experienced when sending a loved one off or welcoming them home from a military deployment.

With the kids and their families on the East coast and us back home in the Midwest it was not possible to be there when the boys left on their different deployments or when they returned from deployment, so while I did experience the worry of them being deployed and the relief of knowing they were finally home safely, I did not experience the full impact of such events. Our farewells and homecomings were generally during the summer time when they were home and on leave, or when they were able to get long enough leave to bring their families home for a visit, so the emotions were the typical family reunion emotions.

Just after Thanksgiving, our friend Brown was transferred to a ship that was already underway and we saw him off as he was flown to join the ship on deployment. Just before Brown left he asked if I would come to the pier when his ship pulled in from deployment to photograph his return. I was honored both to be there for him and to take photos of his return. The experience showed me just how much I missed not being on the pier during such important times. 

Saturday morning dawned crisp and cold with Norfolk having received an unusual snowstorm on Friday. We arrived at the pier about an hour before the ship was due to arrive. Many people were already there. Most were inside a heated tent, erected on the pier for the occasion, while others were taking advantage of the snow cover as these children building a snowman are doing. 

Service members worked diligently to clear the pier of snow.

Finally the ship was in sight, with tug boats maneuvering it to the dock as loved ones watched with tears of joy and whispered prayers of thanks.

Once the ship was along side the pier and tied off people were allowed to go out onto the pier to watch for the loved ones. I thought it was pretty awesome that they allowed the families of service members who had a child born during the deployment go first and after a few minutes opened the pier to everyone else.

As you can see there was a good size crowd waiting for the returning sailors to come ashore. The atmosphere was nearly electric with emotion. Excitement and anticipation buzzed all around us. With the temperature barely reaching 30 degrees and the cold wind blowing off the bay it was a long cold wait. 

Weekly Top Shot
Since we were waiting for a friend and not an actual family member we stood toward the back. After almost an hour the crowed had thinned to only maybe 40 people standing on the pier,  and we were beginning to wonder if maybe we had missed Brown.  Then all of a sudden we saw him coming across the  brow, I snapped a few quick shots and then went for a hug. I was so glad to see him safe and sound back in the states. I couldn't help but think how proud his mother, who passed away last fall, would have been to see him come off that ship, and how much I had missed not being there to welcome my boys home. 

Ever since Val suggested we offer to photograph Service member Farewells and Homecomings free of charge I have been all for the idea. Now that I have experienced one I am more determined than ever to let people know that we will photograph these events locally free of charge.

So if you know a service member in the Norfolk area that is having such an event and needs someone to photograph it let them know about us.

After an exciting and cold day yesterday I spent today relaxing indoors. Now head over to one or both of these great meme's to see what is going on elsewhere:

Unknown Mami

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How Many Sailors Does it Take to Change a Tire?

Today is a nice chilly 30 degrees with a windchill making it feel like 23 degrees. Not the ideal weather for working on cars, not that I enjoy working on cars in warmer weather. Growing up with three older brothers who all liked to work on cars I know my way around both routine maintenance and even some of the more detailed aspects of auto mechanics. But knowing how to do it and actually enjoying doing it are two very different things. But today we had taken a friend to the base to pick up her husbands car and the tire was flat. So for a few minutes I thought I might just have to get my hands dirty. The friend had no clue how to change it and my daughters' back has been hurting her all morning. So, I took the jack and felt around with my leather gloved hand for a notch in the frame that matched the groove in the scissor jack. I really dislike newer cars the entire thing felt like plastic. Just then I noticed something and rose and moved to the back end of the car. Holding the jack in my left hand at my side I kneeled down examining the bumper.

Now of course my daughter Val is looking at me strange and thinking what on earth is mom doing, you don't jack the car up by it's bumper. I start to tell her about how in my day ratchet jacks hooked into a groove at the rear of the frame, just as a young man called out from across the lane of the parking lot asking if I need help.  I turned and smiled and said we have a flat and I can't seem to find the right place to put the jack….hehe… of course him and his buddies all tell us not to worry they will fix it for us, and jog over to our rescue.

YEP,  I still know how to play Damsel in Distress and am not ashamed to admit I totally enjoy letting a man fix my car, even when I know how.  My daughter hadn't noticed the group of sailors walking along the opposite side of the lane, thankfully I had. And this is what happened next….

In this first picture you will notice there are three man kneeling, two standing and a woman in uniform standing at the back of the car. I do believe she was not very happy. She had been walking with the five men and did not seem to like that their attention was now completely on changing our tire. She wandered around to the other side of the car until they had finished changing the tire and could be on their way.
Four of the sailors jumped right in each taking over a step in the process of changing the tire.
While the sailor with the blue jacket and red hat took over command of the operation, never once taking his hands from his pockets.  He issued orders such as 'be sure to loosen those lug nuts before you raise the tire.' 'Okay, (name)... jack it up more' '(name) get that spare ready' and so on until the job was complete. After completing the job the sailor in command wish us a good day and turning to our friend said 'your safe to go just keep it under 45.'

So now for the answer to how many sailors it takes to change a flat tire; it is obviously five, one to give orders and four to preform the job. Photos courtesy of my daughters' cell phone, I didn't think it was a good idea to pull out my big camera.

Have you ever played helpless female so that a man will do something for you? I will be the first to admit that I don't like it when a man assumes a woman can't possibly know how to do something that is typically thought of as a mans' job, but at the same time I think there are times that for the sake of male ego (and our own femininity) it is important that we woman let them think we are helpless.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Beautiful Sunday

Yesterday was such a beautiful day here in Norfolk  that when I mentioned I was going out to take some photos my grand kids got all excited asking if we were going to go park hunting. Although I had planned to go down to the ocean front I couldn't bring myself to squash their joy. Especially since their enthusiasm had convinced their mom to join us. So off we headed to Northside Park.
After playing on the slides and jungle gyms we headed over to the wooden ship where the kids did a bit of climbing and even though Sissy is very afraid of heights we convinced her to not only climb but to jump off the highest wooden post.

Looking back on the plans I had for the day it would be easy to grumble about not getting a chance to take some beautiful sea scape photographs. However, the sea will still be there tomorrow or ten years from now, but children grow so fast that moments like these will soon be lost. 
That was my Sunday, How was yours? 

Linking up with:

Unknown Mami

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Goodbye Eeyore! Hello 2013

Photo taken at a small park just outside a Norfolk Public Library
Sitting in my daughters house in Norfolk, Virginia I am faced with so many decisions. If you have been following my blog you will know that 2012 was a life changing year that has thrown my focus way off. In 2009 we started Artistix Network LLC on a very thin shoestring budget, relying on talent, handwork and dedication to get our company going. Knowing that we did not have much capitol with which to run elaborate marketing campaigns instead of giving ourselves three years in which to make the business profitable we agreed to give it five years. At the start of 2012 Artistix Network LLC was breaking even and showed promising signs of reaching our goals. Then  in February, came the death of my husband and the loss of not only the love of my life but the loss of my primary income. Since then as you can imagine there have been many changes that have challenged both my confidence and my company. 

While I am typically an optimistic person I found myself buried deep in pessimism. With the start of the new year and the realization that little to no progress was made toward our business goals during 2012 I was seriously doubting my determination to press on with our plans. I found myself trying to decide if it was time to as Kenny Rogers said in 'The Gambler', hold'em, fold'em, walk away or run.

Then yesterday I received an email from entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown about her upcoming livecast, that has me thinking it is not time to give up just yet. I would like to share her words and email with you.

* * * * * * *

"I have a friend who *watches way too much TV news*. He hems and haws about the upcoming fiscal cliff, how taxes are going up-up-up, and how the country's going to hell in a hand-basket.

He has this attitude that oozes, "Why try doing anything to create change? We're all screwed. If you make more money, it's just going to disappear or be taken away. Etc." My other friends and I call him "Eeyore", after the gloomy donkey of the Winnie the Pooh books.

While I understand how he feels (and I have these moments too, especially with this year's tax increases), it's important to take a deep breath and put yourself back in the perspective of truth.

*The truth that YOU create your own outcomes*. And while you can't always change the circumstances around you or in our country, and of course you should be aware of what's going on in the world, you should instead put your FOCUS on creating your own results.

*I invite you to shift your mindset*: From one of "just getting by" and fixing what's wrong... to one actionably centered on *what you REALLY want*. To proclaim this is finally the year you seriously create a dramatically better life for yourself.

But you can't just proclaim it. Or meditate on it. Or write affirmations. You've got to get off your ass and *take action*.

For many of us, the fastest path to our dream--both financially and personally--is to *grow our own profitable, purposeful business*. (And by the way, this brings you incredible tax
benefits as well! ;))"

I urge you to turn OFF the news, and tune IN to Ali's *FREE online livecast* happening this coming *Tuesday, January 15, starting at 2pm ET/11am PT*.

It's called "Elevate 2013: Your year to finally create the business and life you love!"

For *over 4 HOURS*, broadcasting LIVE from Ali's beach house living room, Ali and her colleagues will be delivering dozens of *great business ideas, marketing strategies, and success tips*...along with some of the inspiration and motivation you may be needing right now.

They'll discuss *what it really takes to make these changes* in your life, how to address the fears that may surface along the way, and *how to ensure you stay in this new mindset* (because if you don't, you'll fall back into our default negative way of

Ali will also introduce you to *several entrepreneur success stories* from her Elevate program, whose strides are guaranteed to inspire you and give you some actionable steps to take away and implement. (These are stories you won't see in the news!)
Get all the details and reserve your free spot here.

* * * * * * *

If 2012 has taught me anything it is that I do not want to live life as an Eeyore! So I am saying goodbye to Eeyore and accepting the challenge of 2013! I will go to this live broadcast and learn as much as I can and hopefully what I learn will help me to grow both personally and professionally.

P.S. *Remember, Ali's livecast happens LIVE* this coming *Tuesday, January 15*, starting at 2pm ET/11am PT! So mark your calendar and register now so you don't forget. I've already reserved my spot and hope you will do the same if it strikes a chord with you as well. 


Today I am linking up with Unknown Mami for her Virtual Travel meme, click the link below to visit other city's:

Unknown Mami

Friday, January 4, 2013

Memories, Dreams and Reflections 2012

I am happy to be able to take part in Ashley Sisks

1. Me! – A reflection of myself taking this photo. Proudest accomplishment of 2012 . . . surviving!

2. I Love You –Since I couldn't decide on just one photo I did this collage of my grandchildren whom I love with all my heart.

3. Still Laughing… Shortly after going to live with my daughter's family my little dog tried to follow me out of the back yard by going through the fence and got himself stuck. To get him out of his predicament we had to coat him with cooking oil.

4. Winter Wonderland – One of my favorite shots taken near the end of winter before we left South Dakota.

5. Birthday – My youngest grandchild turned six this year. I can't believe how big they are all getting.

6. Friends – My youngest daughter with two of her dearest friends.

7. I Was Inspired… Much of my inspiration this year has come from my grandchildren and the ocean.

8. Spring Fever – I can't think of anything that reflects Spring more than a nest with Robin's eggs.

9. Travel or Vacation – During my vacation to Arizona I was inspired by this adorable couple who visited the Grand Canyon every year for their anniversary.

10. Summer Days – One of my favorite places during the summer has always been the beach.

11. A Day In My Life – Considering I have spent the majority of the year feeling out of focus,  I felt this photo best depicted a day in my life.

12. All Smiles – These two can always get me to smile.

13. Autumn Harvest – No photos this year of fields ready for harvest but I did get this Autumn shot.

14. Family or Home – Where ever my children and grandchildren are will always feel like home.

15. Celebrate! – Fireworks!

16. Let’s Do It Again… – Enjoying visits with my extended family. This one is with my brothers oldest daughter who came for a brief visit.

17. I Miss You – Looking through my photos trying to find a photo taken of my husband before he passed away last February I was disappointed to find that the last picture taken of him was at the end of 2011. Then it dawned on me that he had spent most of January and February in the hospital, so this photo of photos of him will have to do.

18. Beautiful – To me sunset is the most beautiful time of day.

19. Dress Up – One of my favorite photo sessions this year was this Civil War Period dress up session!

20. Macro - Macro of a King Crab found while walking on the beach.

21. Holidays – It looks like Santa forgot his boots.

22. My Favorite – My favorite memories of this year are all those created while spending time with my grandchildren.

23. Don’t Ever Change – This is Bubba, I hope he never loses his exuberance and zest for life.

24. Just Because…So There! – Isn't this a pretty tree?

25. Hopes and Dreams – My hopes and dreams for 2013 can easily be summed up in the words of Emerson.
May your year be filled with all that is good! 

PS. Please click on the button at the top to share your memories, dreams and reflections or visit others who have shared theirs.