january 9, 2017

posted in: photography | 2

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

connections (snapseed)

 

These tire tracks are a lot like a person’s life. You cross paths with a variety of people over the years. Some leave faint impressions, others deep, some messy, some nearly disappear as if they were never there. All of us make these connections every day. Together, we create a beautiful cross stitch pattern that sustains us throughout our lives. It’s very rare that I make the acquaintance of someone with whom I’m sorry I did so. In fact, off hand, I can’t think of anyone. Mind you, I’ve met a few I didn’t like, but they had plenty to teach me just the same. Rarer still, crossing paths with someone that imprints your heart from the very moment you meet them. One of those people was my friend Opal. You met Opal in the outhouse the first year, and she popped up again last year just before she turned 107. She has lived an exquisite life, the stuff of dreams, really; traveled everywhere, done everything. She was a maverick; a shero to many a crossing tread. So, it is not with sadness, but incredible gratitude that I bid Opal so long for now. Yesterday, she went on to her next great adventure. Now, we both have birthdays on January 8. Yet another thing we have in common. Thank you, Opal, for teaching me how cool behaves. May I live to be half as awesome as you.

 

how will you look at 103?

june 29, 2016

posted in: photography | 3

“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing… has to go… Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.” ~ Brené Brown

 

Opal
Opal

You first met my friend Opal in May of 2012. I learned a lot about Opal that year. She was only 102 then. She’d been everywhere, done everything, and she was still fully engaged intellectually. She was fascinated by Instagram and digital photography. In April of this year I saw Opal again. At 106 she finally required a little help getting around, but her light was as bright as ever. Great-granddaughter Liz Murphy gave me the news this week that Opal is in renal failure. And though her days are definitely numbered by it, she’s still going to Bingo everyday and staying cheery. That’s our Opal. I was digging through the archives to find some pictures for the family when I came across this shot that I didn’t process from 2012. I’m still amazed by Opal, inspired by her. While looking for her pictures I came across photos of Ryan Bick that I’d overlooked last year when, at his passing, the family asked if I had any pictures of Ryan they hadn’t seen. I pulled this one from the small pile, and cleaned it up. It’s one of the few pictures of Ryan I’ve seen where he isn’t smiling his huge Ryan smile, but he’s softer here; more natural. While Opal’s life has been extraordinarily long, Ryan’s was cut tragically short. And yet their impact on the world and those who love them are in no way greater or lesser than the other. We’re here for only a short time whether that’s 29 years or 106. In the grand scheme of the universe our time is short. One thing that Ryan and Opal have in common is their love for life and making the most of their time. Let them inspire you the way they have inspired me. Don’t wait until middle age to do what you’ve always wanted, love whom you want to love, go where you’ve wanted to go. Do it now.

 

Ryan
Ryan

april 10, 2016

posted in: photography | 1

“Words are mere bubbles of water, but deeds are drops of gold.” ~ Chinese proverb

 

Opal @ 106
Opal @ 106

 

You’ve heard me talk before about my friend Opal. You first met her in May 2012 when she was just 102. Now, at 106 and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, she and two other Centenarian Kentuckians were honored at a dinner given by Sanders-Brown Center for Aging the night before she attended her great-granddaughter Taylor’s baby shower. This may have been the first time Opal met Grier Whitehouse, I’m not sure, but the massive amount of history that has taken place between her birth and his was not lost on any of us. Opal was born before women had the vote, before the Titanic ever set sail, before WWI. Compare that with Grier who was born nearly 50 years after man’s first landing on the moon and the World Wide Web had transformed nearly every aspect of the modern world. The contrast is profound. What a joyous moment to witness. Opal always honors me with a smile, and for that I am truly grateful.

 

listen here young man
listen here young man

july 27, 2013

posted in: photography | 0

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
~ Paulo Coelho

best friend
best friend

It’s positive reinforcement week for me and the outhouse. I went to a bridal shower for Stacy Yelton’s youngest niece, Taylor (whom I also claim as niece) and Ashleigh, and there I ran into Stacy Spell Jansen (note these two spell their names the same way). She was at once complimentary of the outhouse, which of course pleased me beyond words. I mentioned that two people likened the outhouse to a diary. She very quickly retorted, “Oh no! It’s much more a devotional.” The clouds parted, and the angels sang because I knew she was right (plus I was relieved it wasn’t a diary to everyone). I have proven to myself time and again that, no matter how crappy the day is, there is always one good thing for which to be grateful. Thank you, Stacy Jansen, for a truly enriching conversation.

who got the boobs?
little sister got ’em

Thank you rental sisters Kelly Barnes, Stacy Yelton, and Pam Bick, for always including me in your lives and the lives of your children, and for always, always, always making me laugh. Stacy got everyone’s share (draw your own conclusion about that <snort>).

Opal's legacy
Opal’s legacy

And finally, thank you Opal Evans. You inspire me every single time I am in your presence. You are a woman of great compassion, charm, and limitless appreciation. It would be so easy for you at 103 years old to be blasé or cynical because you’ve done and seen it all, yet you possess the fascination and zest of a young woman. Your great-grandchildren are shining examples of your indomitable spirit. Just look how beautiful they are. Well done, Opal. [L-R: Kathleen Murphy, Taylor Barnes, Elizabeth Murphy, Connor Barnes]

may 12, 2012

posted in: photography | 1

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~ Frederick Keonig

how will you look at 103?

This is Opal, matriarch of The Barnes family. She will soon be 104 years old. She has hiked the Great Wall of China, slept on more continents than most people know of, sailed, flown, you name it, she’s probably done it. She still has a sharp mind, quick wit, kind smile and, for me especially, she had her eyes wide open, which I’m told is extremely rare (in pictures). Thank you, Opal, for sharing your kindness with me, and your smile with the world.