just my thoughts

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Photography is an extension of every thought that I have. – Trent Parke

I love social media.  Where else can you have conversations with people who fire your own imagination to new heights through an ongoing exchange of fresh ideas and innovations?  For years I have watched people online who brought their own thoughts to life through their art, and by sharing their work inspired me to areas of thought I would never have experienced without the exposure to social media.  This has been what has driven and influenced my own work.  I am passionate about art in all its forms.  The one thing that makes being human unique is the ability to experience and enjoy creativity in forms too numerous to mention.

As a child I got that exposure through books, then movies and television.  With the advent of the computer age, there has been a veritable explosion of sharing, at a speed that is mind boggling.  I can’t say mind overload is unique to social media and computers, because even as a young child I would read so much so fast that my eyes would go blurry.  The main difference between past and present is that I am now more keenly aware that there is no way to experience it all.  For someone who loves to see and do new things, this has created anxiety and sadness at times, the fear that I will miss something, the knowing that I do miss so many things.

But juxtaposed against the anxiety and sadness at what I can’t see or do, is the joy I find in everything that I get to experience and learn.  The joy greatly outweighs the negative emotions, and keeps me pushing myself to use my imagination.  The joy that has led me to try to capture my life and thoughts, to share with others, but most especially for my family to have.  I find a lot of comfort in the thought that someday my grandchildren, and their children, will be able to see what I saw, and know me through what I have done.  That is my hope.

It is why I write my thoughts, and put what I see and think on canvas and in photos. It is an extension of me.

Just my thoughts….

…imagine life is good, and it will be… ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter

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my saturday friday reflection: 5 things i am grateful for

This week, as I read the post written by Janine on her blog reflections from a redhead, I found myself nodding in agreement (again) with the wisdom she shares, and has learned at such a young age.  I looked at the prompts and the following prompt jumped out at me:
life is the dancer, you are the dance. eckhart tolle

Write about 5 things you are grateful for this week.

It immediately hit my mind.  The reason I have been smiling all week, and feeling so relaxed and unstressed, is gratitude.  Lately I had been thinking a lot, about my life for the past several months, about how I approached problems, about how I had lost my ability to pick through the detritus surrounding a situation and discover the truth in it.  I was bogged down, losing interest in many of my favorite things in life, crying a lot, and my hair was falling out again.  At one point I began to wonder if I was depressed.

Then I rediscovered a favorite book of mine.  I’ve read it at least 4 times since 2006 or 2007, so I added it over to my audio books list and began to listen to it (I have it in print, digital and audio form).  And what I heard amazed me.  The answer to my question was right in front of my face.  EGO.  I had become entrenched in my own ego, and was thinking and feeling from that standpoint.  I was responding to situations and people from the ego inside, and viewing things in a distorted way.  

As soon as I began to see that, stop over thinking and just be present in the moment, I found a change taking place. I began to relax.  I could feel my shoulders, which are almost always tight and hurting, begin to let go of the tension knotted in them. My hair stopped falling out. My face looked less tired. Most of all, the anger I had begun to feel, and the building resentment inside me, just went away. Just went away. By letting go of the need to feed my ego, and fully experiencing each moment as it happened, I began to experience a shift, and began to find happiness again.

When a friend told me at lunch this week that I looked happy, the realization hit that what we carry inside us shows through us to others. Things I thought I had hidden well, I discovered weren’t so hidden after all. And so, the first thing I am grateful for this week was rediscovering the book that changed my life so dramatically several years ago:
My first gratitude: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. The title says it all.  

As I reflect on my life, and this past week, my thoughts go to my family.  The love I feel for them. The gratitude I have for each and every one of them.  And I am not talking just about my kids, grandkids, sisters, mother, husband, etc.  I include in laws, cousins, aunts, uncles and ALL my family. We are all connected by blood, or love, or both. But most of all, we are all connected by our human nature. It is the common tie that we share with all of humanity. I am grateful that for many of us, we have rediscovered connections that had gone dormant due to distance and years, and can maintain contact more frequently now, through social media. Being able to keep in touch has brought me joy, laughter, and reignited good memories.
My second gratitude: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media. It is the tie that helps bind my extended family together.

A friend and I were discussing the fact that some people seem to flounder in life, and others find purpose and achieve goals in life. It is my belief that human beings are happier when they are productive. We do better when we set goals for ourselves, and keep a positive attitude about reaching them. I believe that people with no purpose in life languish, and miss a lot of joy. I’ve seen it too often. People who wake up every day with nothing to do but eat, sleep, and pass the hours sitting and doing nothing end up with a bleakness of spirit and body that often manifests in physical or mental illness, or both. 
My third gratitude: my job. I am not my job, and my job is not who I am, but it gives me purpose in life, and lets me help others.

I’ve been reflecting on friendships.  Friends are different from family. You are not bound by blood, you are bound by love, and a commonality of interests or personality that lets you connect.  If you are lucky to have wonderful friends, as I am, you learn from each other. You experience new feelings, ideas, and the friendship helps you grow in new directions. Not all friendships I have had have been positive experiences, but I have learned from them, and it has ultimately helped me understand myself, through their eyes.
My fourth gratitude: friends.  Positive or negative, they teach me more about myself.

My final gratitude may sound a bit strange, but as I tried to put my thoughts into words, I realized I could refine and narrow that thought down to two things. My hands and my eyes. Because of my hands and eyes, and their connection with my brain, I can put what I think or see onto paper with a pen, pencil or brush. I can look through a camera lens and see a story, and share that story. I have seen several stories in the news this week about people with amputations, and how they have overcome the challenge and met goals they set for themselves (refer here back to gratitude #3). It has made me keenly aware of my own blessings and good health, and also more grateful than ever that I am blessed with hands and eyes that can share what I see and think through my art, photography and writing. And so my last gratitude this week:
My fifth gratitude: my hands and eyes, that give me the ability to share my thoughts and feelings through my art.

Stop and reflect on your week. What are you most grateful for?
I want to thank Janine Ripper at reflections from a redhead and Mackenzie Granville at reflections from me for sponsoring this weekly blog prompt. I encourage you to visit their blogs, and read, comment, or join in the weekly reflections.

…laughter and life are good. ~cathy 
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter


giving thanks

Nothing deep on my mind today, no wisdom to share or funny story to make you laugh.

Just me, being thankful.  For my family, for my job and home, for the joy and beauty I see all around me  and the ability to be able to capture a small part of it through my camera lens and on a canvas.

Thankful for being able to occupy my small space on the blue marble.  What a marvelous ride it has been.

I am thankful for what is right in the world.  We see the negative and ugliness of humanity and what we are capable of every day.  But we are also capable of astounding goodness, and I see evidence of that every day all around me, and I am thankful to be witness to it.

For social media (YES!) I am thankful.  The people I have come in contact with, and learned from, and laughed with, and marvelled at, have been an epiphany for me.  I am glad every day that I stumbled across Twitter, Blogger and Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, Tumblr, BlogHer and Stumble Upon.  What amazing things I have seen and learned, and shared.  I am a better person for it.

For you who take the time to stop by and read my thoughts; and those of you who take the time to make a comment that brightens my day.  For all of you, I am thankful.

life is truly good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter


my secret addiction

My secret addiction isn’t really a secret, if you read my comments on blogs, or my Facebook posts, Twitter posts, Instagram posts, Path posts, G+ posts, etc.  The list goes on ad nauseum because my addiction is tied to my fingers, which are tied to my brain.  

I am addicted to smileys.  I use them at the end of most comments I make, and when I send messages, or chat online, there is usually a smiley just waiting to pop from my brain down through my fingers and hit the keyboard.

It isn’t that I am attached to smileys.  I used them in moderation for many years.  But since I began blogging, and reading other blogs, I see that many times it is hard for a person to convey how they are reacting to what they read.  Being a sensitive type, I figured that adding a smiley to my comments and posts would soften what I was saying.  If I was trying to amuse, then it would let the reader know that I was attempting humor.  If it was a comment that was meant to give guidance or advice, then a smiley would soften the blow.

As time went on, the smileys started multiplying.  Soon I was adding them to every reply, every comment.  That was when I realized I had an addiction.

What I also had was lack of confidence in the words I wrote.  I have often heard people say that people who curse a lot do it because they have a small vocabulary (ok, I do favor a %*$# here and there, and my vocabulary is extensive, so I don’t necessarily agree with that).  I also used to tell Wretch, when she was a teenager and ended every sentence with “you know” that, no I didn’t know, and those two words were fillers.  

Smileys are fillers.  At least when you end most sentences with them they are.  So should I try to wean myself off of them, and replace them with what?  Other emoticons?  (Smileys even have a class of their own, called emoticons, a distinction not given to just any type of texting.)

I could try different faces.  After all, even I don’t smile all the time.
Frown 😦
Very Happy  :-))
Angry :-|| (although I seldom am)
Crying :’-(  
Tears of Happiness :’)
Horror, disgust, great dismay D-‘: (lean right to look at this one)
Shock :-O

Or maybe I should just let my words stand as they are, alone and unsupported by an emoticon that will forever be grinning at the reader.

It’s going to be an uphill battle.  For the artist in me that wants to draw words, emoticons come the closest to achieving that.  For the writer in me, I know it is a weakness.  So maybe I will start by tapering off.

One 😀 at a time.  😀

…life is good. ~cath 😀
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter


my social disease

First posted on 2/10/2011, this social disease has grown to monstrous levels I fear.  I have added Pinterest to share and reshare all those to-die-for ideas out there, Instagram to share all those to-die-for photos I take, Hipstamatic (more photo sharing), Stumble Upon so I can discover more things to share, and Google+ to share the stuff I share on other social media.  There is Twitterfeed to share the blogs I love, and I have just begun to delve into Empire Avenue.  I am not sure what the heck that one is about.  But I have accumulated hundreds of thousands of “eaves” because people I don’t know buy shares of whatever it is I am selling.  This is beginning to look like a twisted convoluted jungle.  Is there an end in sight?  I am not sure.  Some days I feel overwhelmed and wonder what I would be doing if I wasn’t using all this social media.  Then I see something new, and it sparks the creativity in me, and off I go in another direction.  So the adventure continues… 😀

I am amazed at social networking.  At how everything links together, how we can communicate every thought (Twitter), connect with friends and family, their friends and family, and the friends and family of the friends and family of ours and theirs (Facebook).  I can chat online in Facebook, and on MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger with different people.  At the same time.  I am a multitasker you say?  Well yes.  But I was a multitasker before all this, the person in my family who could read a book, watch television, and talk on the phone at the same time.

Confused?  Well so am I, with how these programs all overlap and tie in to each other.  I have 2 laptop computers (a mini for travelling and its predecessor that was just a bit too heavy to lug thousands of miles while I was working in other places), a desktop computer, and an iPhone.  Between these I have downloaded and used:

1. Twitter- computer
2. Hootsuite- computer (for Twitter)
3. Hootsuite- iPhone
4. Tweetdeck- computer
5. Tweetdeck- iPhone
6. Twittelator- iPhone
7. Facebook- iPhone
8. Facebook- computer
9. IM Pro- iPhone (ties Twitter, Facebook, and MSN Messenger together in one app)
10. MSN Messenger- chat
11. Yahoo Messenger- chat
12. Paltalk- yakkity yakkity yak…

Then there is Blogger for the two blogs I write, Flickr for the photos I take, Google Reader for reading all the blogs I follow, Networked Blogs for linking most of those blogs together.  And the list goes on.

If I had to draw it, it would look something like this:

Pretty shocking isn’t it?  And I am sure I have forgotten a couple {dozen} programs I use occasionally.  I find that what started out as one small program has blossomed and runs the risk of becoming a runaway train with no brakes.

So I try to limit myself somewhat.  OK, I’m lying.  I limit my time with Steve…I mean I give him some time every day.  That is why it takes me a bit of time to catch up on my day off, to overdose on the computer, which is usually on Fridays.  And of course that means that after a hard day on the computer, being social with everyone who I can get to interact with me, I need my Friday night #wineparty on Twitter. 

I may sound whiny, but I am not whining.  I find some fascinating people on here (with the occasional horse’s ass appearing and getting squashed with a click of my mouse).  But for the most part, my online experiences have been so positive that I get the warm fuzzies thinking about it.  And look forward to tomorrow.

Friday.  My day to be social.  To let my disease run amok.  Will this social disease ever run its course?  Well it hasn’t in the hmmm, almost 10 years since I discovered my first interactive chat and file sharing program (Direct Connect, or DC++ as we called it).  And I still keep in touch with some of those friends I made years ago.  Wonderful people.

So I would say I am happily terminal.  But I am also colonized with the germs of this social disease.  So watch out, if you come in contact with me.  You may become contaminated with the same disease.  But no worries, you’ll have lots of company.  On Twitter, Facebook, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Blogger, Flickr, and blah blah blah….

See you in cyberspace.  Live long and prosper.