Monday, March 02, 2015

Purple and proud

The color of nature
London, ON
October 2014
Photo by Dahlia Levy
It's been a long, tough winter here in the Great White North, and as much as Canadians seem to revel in beating back the worst of it, I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to more moderate weather.

One of the things I miss most when the snow falls is the abundance of color that surrounds us for the rest of the year. I'm aware that the typically winter shades of white, grey and brown-ish are all colors, as well, but they're nowhere near as kind to the soul as scenes like this.

I'm looking forward to more purples like this. And I'm looking forward to more walks with my kids so they can capture more moments like this one through the lens.

Your turn: Your favorite color is...? Why?

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Do these look like baby seals?

‎I'm not entirely sure what baby seals look like, but I'm somehow reminded of tiny little animal beings when I look at this shot.

I think I may need to find another hobby, because this one is getting too weird.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On folks who laugh

"I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh."
Maya Angelou
I realize I've missed this week's Thematic. Life's been busy. My bad. I'll get back on track later this week.

In the meantime, here's an inspirational thought to tide y'all over. She was a pretty awesome force, wasn't she?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two years on

Two years ago today, my wife lost her mom. It still feels surreal to see these black words on a white background, to refer to her in the past-tense, to imagine a trip back home and not have her there. But whatever loss ultimately feels like, we don't seem to have much choice in the matter. The universe is going to do what it's been doing pretty much forever, and we're just along for the ride.

I know there are days when she wishes she could simply pick up a phone and call her - if you haven't read Mitch Albom's The First Phone Call From Heaven, I highly recommend you do so - and the finality of it means that's just not going to happen. So we hold onto saved phone messages, letters, notes, emails and the like. And as comforting as they can be to keep close, to linger over, they're just not the same. Like virtual stand-ins for the real thing, they remind us of what we no longer have. That we can't simply go back in time and have that one call, one conversation, one hug.

I lost count of how many times people have told us that life goes on. Forgive my informality, but duh! Of course it does. We go back to work, go back to school, make breakfast, lunch and supper, go out with friends and return to some semblance of a day-to-day routine. We learn to live with the newfound sense of emptiness and figure out ways to make it through days like today when it's all around us and there's no way to avoid it. But there's no real recovery in the true sense of the word. Loss changes all of us, and that, too, is an inextricable part of the universe's plan.

Yet two years on, I hope you'll forgive my innate bias in sharing this: My wife has figured out how to move into that uncertain, frightening and admittedly colder next chapter. She's focused on us, making our home even more of a home. She's been there for me, not only saving my life outright, but helping me get back in the game and raise my play - as a husband, dad and journalist - to another level. She's been there for her dad - batch cooking for him from hundreds of kilometres away, calling him anytime to ward off the silence, making the trip back home to spend some quiet time together. Anyone else might have allowed unfathomable loss to break them. Instead, my wife got stronger in the process, and used her strength to make us all stronger, as well.

None of this gets us back to where we were. Much as I wish I could come up with the right words to put us back in the middle of a Friday night meal where we're all gathered around the same table, the simple fact is we can't reverse any of this.

But as I look around the smaller table on a Friday night, where the sights and smells inside still banish the coldness and harshness lurking just outside the window just as they did when my wife was a child, when we were dating, long before February 22, 2013, I'm reminded that we didn't lose everything on that terrible day two years ago. My mother-in-law not only taught my wife well. But my wife took those lessons and made them her own. She's taken the best of her mom and made them an integral part of our family's life - and we are closer and better because of her.

Legacies, apparently, outlive those who initiate them. And it's up to us to carry them forward. Thankfully, my wife has done just that.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

On doing, not saying

‎"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The police cars in our town have the following graphic on their fenders: "Deeds not words." And every time I see one drive past, it makes me stop and think. Alongside Emerson's timeless quote, we're reminded of how important it is to set the tone with what we do.

As a writer, I can spin words six ways from Sunday, but my real impact on those around me starts and ends with what I do. Words can only go so far, apparently.

So what are YOU doing - today and every day - to inspire others?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The tough climb to the top

London, ON
February 2015
For more Thematic wintry white, please click or tap here.
As families often do on weekends, we were running a bunch of errands to pick up the typically forgettable stuff that everyday suburbanites need. We had headed to the local mega-big-box development, a place I've come to despise as an example of all that is wrong with urban planning today. It's a place where pedestrian needs aren't just subservient to those of the almighty car, but they simply have no place on the agenda.

So as I was busy shepherding our kids between the highly-trafficked boulevard-scale roads with little to no real sidewalks - thank you, city planners - our eyes came across a delightfully large pile of snow. It's no secret that it's been a brutally cold and snowy winter, which means huge mountains that kids have pretty much always dreamed about. I remember clambering up them when I was a munchkin, and apparently our son's DNA is rather similar to mine, as all he did was look at me with an impish grin on his face. I knew exactly what he wanted.

So I shrugged, smiled back, and followed him as he giddily charged up the hill. On balance, I'm guessing this little episode will probably get me kicked out of the running for Dad of the Year. But in my defense, the hill was set well back from traffic, so it's not like I was encouraging him to take an unnecessary risk.

We remembered the moment when we got to the top with the kind of picture you don't normally get to take when you're in the middle of a parking lot. We took in the view for a few minutes before carefully climbing back down.

We debated whether we should tell anyone, but ultimately decided it was a story worth sharing. Because my kids didn't arrive in this world in the middle of a tightly wrapped roll of bubble-pack, and I'm guessing they wouldn't want to experience life from inside a stiflingly protective cocoon.

Otherwise, where would they learn how to climb that next mountain?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thematic Photographic 326 - White for winter

The journey begins - or ends
London, ON
January 2015
It isn't news to anyone who lives in North America that it's been a fairly difficult winter so far. One blizzard after another has turned the landscape white, and bone-chilling cold has made life uncomfortable for extended periods of time.

Needless to say, it's prompted more than a small amount of, ah, discussion online as folks try to make it through the season. From where I sit, we may as well batten down the hatches and do our best to keep everything on an even keel. We can't change the weather, so expending energy on complaining about it seems like a bit of a waste.

Hence this week's theme, white for winter. There's lots of white out there, and it poses its own set of unique challenges to the photographer. So for the next week, if it's white - for any reason - then I hope we'll shoot and share it.

Your turn: Take a white-themed picture and share it on your blog or website. Or feel free to find one you've already posted. Leave a comment here letting everyone know where to find it, and visit other participants - because sharing is always more fun. Want to share more than once through the week? We encourage that sort of thing! If you'd like more background on how Thematic works, head here. Otherwise, happy shooting. And thanks...this one should be fun!

On writing for your most important audience

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
Cyril Connolly
Your turn: So who are you going to write for? And what are you going to write?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Canadian flag turns 50

‎Fifty years ago today, Canada's now-iconic red and white maple leaf flag flew for the first time.

I'm sure it's painfully obvious to anyone who knows me, but I love being Canadian, and I feel warm and fuzzy every time I see our flag flapping in the breeze.

No wonder John Hughes picked the flag's 20th anniversary to release The Breakfast Club.

I'm guessing Molly Ringwald was pleased that the two anniversaries aligned so nicely.

What's YOUR favorite flag? And why?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fish are friends, not food

‎I couldn't resist sharing this, largely because it's weird, and it reflects my decidedly weird view of the world.

I'm not sure what the fish counter staff think of me when I show up and snap their wares through the glass, but it's become a bit of a game to grab some pixels before they catch on what I'm up to. Someday, I fully intend to tell them I've been looking for Nemo for years, and I finally found him right here in their display case.

I'll let you know how that works out for me.

Grocery shopping can be boring. This makes it decidedly less so. How do you make otherwise everyday errands a little more joyous?

Friday, February 13, 2015

When the world was green

Seeing the forest for the trees
London, ON
October 2014
Photo by Dahlia Levy
We woke up this morning to temperatures of minus a bazillion degrees and wind chills somewhat colder than that. The car is buried under enough snow that I can't make out its shape, and I'm hoping it'll even start when I head outside in a bit. I just finished a radio interview on winter apps that can make the white stuff a little easier to bear.

Of course the interwebs are alive with complaints about the weather, as if whining about it will change anything. For the record, folks, it won't. So may as well add a few layers, suck it up and enjoy a good old Canadian winter. It's who we are, after all.

I thought a flashback to warmer days - with a bit of natural green thrown in for good measure - might help ease the pain for anyone still pining for spring. Our daughter captured this lovely scene on a walkabout in October. I'm guessing we'd have a much more difficult time walking into the valley today, but it's only a matter of time before this part of the planet warms up again.

There are always better days ahead. It's up to us to hold onto them as tightly as we can.

Your turn: What's the weather like near you? How are you dealing with it?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

On embracing the nonsensical

‎"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living."
Dr. Seuss

Going nowhere fast

London, ON
January 2015
For more rubbery Thematic, click here

This is Henrietta, and as you can see here, she was feeling a little sad thanks to a shredded tire. She was also in desperate need of a wash, but that's a story for another day.

My little tire adventure - it ultimately needed to be replaced, because apparently driving on flattened rubber isn't recommended - gave me a lesson in perspective. As annoying as it was to have to call the auto club, then pay for a new tire, then spend a chunk of my weekend getting everything taken care of, I realize it could have been a lot worse.

If a flat tire in my driveway is as bad as it gets, then I really have nothing to complain about. Others have much more substantial issues to worry about. And fixing what ails them is a lot tougher than simply calling the auto club and ordering a new tire.

I'll keep that in mind the next time I feel like whining about the little annoyances of modern life that drop themselves onto our calendars with troubling regularity. It could always be much worse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winding down the day that was

As I wait for midnight to strike, I find myself sitting up in bed with my dog at my feet, and a laptop with a blank screen and a blinking cursor staring back at me.

Typical writer's scene, come to think of it.

It's been an insanely busy couple of days in my world thanks to this morning's interview in Toronto with CTV's Canada AM. It was an epic experience that was at once humbling and inspiring.

I got to tell my story, and I got to do it in a way that, based on the firestorm of discussion in social media that's been playing out ever since, clearly touched a lot of people who've experienced similarly life-altering health challenges.

There is so much more to share from a day that seemed to offer up a firehose of new experiences and moments. And as much as I want to share everything about an eventful day in a life that seems to offer up more than its fair share of eventful days (yes, I know I'm incredibly lucky), I'm forced to decide between writing it up and catching up on the sleep that I really, really need.

If having a stroke taught me anything - and let's be clear, I know it did - it's that I need to do a better job with this balancing thing. I lost a little sleep last night, but the ensuing day, filled with people who I love to work with and experiences that make me glad I'm still here, made it all worth it. But for now, I'll have to tuck in and leave the writing for another time. Time to refill the tank a bit.

Because tomorrow promises to be another busy, vibrant, fulfilling day. And I want to be rested up when I tell the next chapter of my story.

More to come...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Thematic Photographic 325 - Rubbery

Pink or purple?
London, ON
January 2015

After a quick peek through my recent photo archives, I realized I've been shooting pictures of rubbery things with alarming frequency. I didn't set out to do so, but perhaps the realities of a Canadian winter have become an unintentional influence on my photographic preferences.

So for the next week, we're looking at rubber, and I thought we'd start with this delightfully bright display of new boots at the local - you guessed it - grocery store. Pink or purple boots may never find their way onto my hideous feet, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the display for what it is. Or smile as I walk past.

Your turn: Take a pic that suggests or evokes this week's theme, rubbery, and post it to your blog or website. Alternatively, find a pic you've already taken and/or posted. Leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants to spread the photographic joy. And pop back again through the week to add additional pics as they occur to you. Head here for more background on how Thematic works. And please accept my thanks for making this little weekly photo-exploration exercise of ours such a joy.


‎Does this make you feel as squeamish as I suspect it does?