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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer 2017: Lessons in Savoring the Moment

Today I took my daughter to register for the 7th grade. 

She's officially a Middle School student. 

We have jumped from this:

To this:

And, shortly after, we jumped to this: 
Because it is time to start a savings account for a sweet ride!

REWIND back to yesterday. I took my daughter, mom, and aunt on an adventure! 
We explored Meramec Caverns and Onodaga Cave. We squeezed another drop out of summer. 
What can really beat enjoying a hard-earned ice cream treat on a warm August day with the people who matter most to you? Not much actually. 
Summers fly by faster and faster each year I am alive. I remember them passing by slowly in my youth. 

I have memories of calling the school pretending to be my mom in order to find out who my teacher would be. (Sorry, mom!) Then, calling my friends to see if they would do the same. Would we all be in the same class? THAT was the big mystery to solve as we were twiddling our thumbs and counting down the days until we could see each other again.

I was always looking ahead, not enjoying the here and the now. Perhaps that is how it goes. Maybe that is what propels us towards adulthood? 

I just know that NOW I do my best to live in the moment and not wish it away. 

Because, before you know it, a beautiful moment is gone. Such as this one from camping and hiking with my daughter in 2013:
Now that I am on the flip side of it, days speed by. I can't have enough time off to enjoy moments with my daughter and other loved ones. 

This summer we had adventures in Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Illinois, Wisconsin and (right here) in Missouri. Not one second seemed to creep along slowly. They passed like a scene from the "Fast and Furious" movie franchise. 

However, there were some moments that did seem so beautiful that they slowed down just enough for me to savor them. Strangely enough, it reminds me of this scene from a Star Trek film I enjoy:
Time is indeed something we cannot control, but we can control our reactions to it. As for myself, all I can do is savor the moments where time briefly pauses for me to delight in what is in front of me. 

Watching my daughter walk in golden light near our KOA Campground in Spearfish, South Dakota

Marveling at the fact my daughter had no problem rushing ahead of me towards this view in the Badlands:
Sitting at a picnic table at our KOA in Onawa, Iowa...watching the wind and light upon my daughter's face, and thinking about just how beautiful she is:
Afterall, as the song goes, we "can't fence time." However, I do believe we can be more aware and recognize a moment that must be savored. 

Until next time,

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Have This Hope...For Healing!

Life's been intense. 

From one extreme to another seems to be the theme, but I've kept up so far on my 2017 goal of getting off my keister to hike, walk, and now camp more. For that, I am quite content. Haven't lost a pound, but I've gained more confidence and some amazing experiences. 
So much beauty out the couch and out the front door!

On a totally different note, I've been contemplating the struggles I've watched people I care for endure... 

I wish the answer was a simple as "get off your arse and go walk in nature." 

Granted, a good walk in the woods can lead to healing on many levels, but some wounds run so deep that it's hard to heal that quickly or simply. 
See the heart? I found this at Hickory Canyons Natural Area (MO).
In the end, all I can do is pray, listen, offer time, and hope like crazy the physical ailments, the emotional drains, and broken hearts can be healed. Simply put, it hurts me to see people hurt. 

Yet, I do not want my empathy to be taken as pity. I know the people I see subjected to the trials of life are strong and would hate to be the subject of "poor him/her" thoughts. (As would I, too!) 

While the "right" words escape me, my parting uplifting thoughts include;

* Keep Swimming (Dory).
* Be Still and Know...

* "No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself."

* Kindness Matters.

* Fresh Air Clears the Mind.
* "One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

* When in doubt, listen to "Three Little Birds."

* Give it to God. 
* Just breathe... and know you have a friend out there who is thinking of you!
May your worries and troubles be healed, 
June 1, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Long Time, No Blog...and That's OK!

Well, my mantra for 2017 is this:
I have been doing so many things that my future self will thank me for that I haven't been as focused on this blog. Tonight, I shall update those of you who take the time to read these posts. The past few months have been exciting!

#1. I have been honing my skills as a writer. Sure, this may seem like a contradiction because of my lack of blog posts lately, but I promise you I have been writing. 

Articles I have penned have been published in the River Hills Traveler,, and most recently by MSTA in School and Community magazine. 

I love writing about a variety of topics ranging from a state park I enjoy to the need for media literacy. It's been such a blessing to be published and read by so many people lately. I am still not sure why people think what I have to say is of value, but they do and I am humbled by it! 
#2. Another moment where I just "did something" that I know my future self will thank me for revolves around Spring Break 2017! 

For the first time since I started teaching, the school I teach in scheduled a full Spring Break. I took advantage of it by suggesting to my mom that we take Karlene on her first flight. 
After looking at our flyer miles, we decided to fly to Arizona and spend a week seeing as much as possible. 
When my friend Terri asked me how it went, one word came to mind: harmonious. We all got along well. There were very few issues we encountered while traveling in Arizona. Things were smooth, peaceful, and fun. 

#3. Last, but not least, I have been physically getting off my a$$ a lot more already in 2017 than I did last year. 

There have been many walks and hikes at places like Shaw Nature Reserve, Robertsville State Park, and LaBarque Creek! They have all been beautiful and some have been challenging. Overall, I am happy to be out walking more in the outdoors.

On that note, Happy 100th Birthday to the Missouri State Parks system! Oh, how I love you so! I spent the day trying out the new Lost Hill Trail at Robertsville State Park in honor of the occassion. 

So, as I wrap this up, I do hope in some ways you are inspired to take a little bit of my 2017 mantra and apply it in your own life. Perhaps you can find those things that you can do NOW that will make your future self very happy!

Until next time,
M of MK Designs

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Out and About and Livin' the Insta-Dream

As you can see, I jumped on the Instagram train with my photography. It's been interesting. I've gotten fun feedback (and some spammers) and inspiration. 
FUN FACT: KOA (the amazing Kamping experience) liked one of my photos on Instagram so much they used it (with my permission) on their feed! 
Instagram has "opened my eyes" to what is trending in photography...and in life! Apparently living with less, flannel and coffee-filled mornings, hiking, van life, and car camping are all in style. Who knew? 
I think some of what I see is a very glossy view of it, but I have found a few free-spirited true souls to follow and I enjoy how they are living life. It's certainly expanded my view. 

As far as the whole "getting off my a$$ in 2017" and getting outside more, it's a work in progress. Things like weather, work, and a nasty stomach bug that had me down for ages REALLY cut into the exploring on two feet goal. 
Today was a gem at least... weather, work, and health were on my side. It was a fun Saturday of hauling off aluminum, running other errands, doing school work, and picking up a TON of sticks and limbs! When it's so nice outside in February you can have a fire pit with marshmallows to celebrate a job well done, that's a special day indeed.
Once the chores were done, it was a great opportunity to use that "walking pass" I purchased for Shaw Nature Reserve. We got in a little over an hour and luckily made it back to the car right before they closed the gates for the evening. 

Here's where today's walk took us:
We tried to explore areas we hadn't walked on our two previous hikes. Since we were pressed for time, I feel like we didn't stop to look around enough. Despite being rushed, I did click a few pictures (of course). 

I hope you had a great day, too. And, as always, thank you for stopping by. Your support of what I do is greatly appreciated!

~ M of MK Designs Photography

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lately... Ice, Kindness, Encouragement, Instagram, and more!

If you are new the party, welcome. :-)

Lately, it's been a bit difficult to get off my a$$ and walk/photograph more. Mother nature isn't very cooperative. On the days I am at the "day job" - she likes to toss me 60+ degree weather. The days I do not work are comprised of ice that could break my back. 
Yes, 1-13-17 is quite a time. Ice storm, Friday the 13th, and a full moon. I can't say I blame Soulard Art Gallery (and banks, schools, businesses, etc.) for closing. Tonight's opening of the "Driven to Abstraction II" show I am in has been postponed until next Friday. 
So today, I forced myself to get off my a$$ by working towards bettering my "photographic world." 

I got a wild hair in 2017 and decided it was time to try Instagram again for MK Designs. So, today I read tutorials to add an instagram widget to my website mkdesignsphoto and to this blog you are reading. Wasn't easy, but I figured it out. 
Then, I designed a simple ad for my MK Designs facebook page that will also go in a local high school newspaper. I was gifted free advertising by a fellow photographer who had already purchased for the whole year, but is deciding to scale back a bit. I am blessed that through our friendship she thought of me when she made this decision. 
I don't understand the need to be in "competition" with fellow artists and photographers to the point of petty backstabbing or undercutting each other. Friendly competition is a good thing, but taking it too far burns bridges. I am thankful that the bridge between she and I is a strong one. 

On that note, I am excited that not only I made the "Driven to Abstraction II" show in Soulard, but another local photographer did, too. She even gave me a shout out on social media for it! 
I am a firm believer in kindness and encouragement. When I saw some of the work she posted, I felt it was perfect for a show. I didn't hesitate to let her know. THIS is how we should all treat each other, don't you think?

I have to admit that there's other things I could do today (1-13-17) to get off my a$$, but after adding more content to my website, starting this blog post, and many other things... my couch and a book are screaming my name. 

More to come later... 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017: The Year I Get Off My A$$ & Do More!

2017 is here and unlike previous years, I feel like my goal for the year is fairly simple. Since 2016 was a bit of a wreck for me (I had some health problems), I didn't get off my ass nearly enough. 

Pardon the bluntness here, but it's true. 

I didn't get off my ass to walk, hike, camp, take photos, be social, and so much more. So, the not-so-politically correct goal for 2017 is to get off my ass
What better way to be held accountable for this goal than the blog you are now reading? Blogging about my yearly goals has worked up to this point, so why not now?! 

Here's what I have done so far to remedy the situation: 

On 12-13-16 I drove to Shaw Nature Reserve with my daughter. I purchased a family walking pass that is good for a year. 

Then, we ended 2016 by walking at Shaw for a couple of hours. 

On 1-1-17, we did it again, but hit different trails and took my mom along for the adventure. 

Granted, I can not go to Shaw every day, but I can go when weather and time allow. 

I am not limiting myself to Shaw, either. I know there are MANY other areas to explore on my feet and with my camera in 2017. However, now that I have spent money for the pass to Shaw, you can bet I am going to do all I can to make sure I come out ahead on that investment! 

There was a quote in the bathroom at Shaw Nature Reserve that really hit home with me. I feel it totally stresses the importance of the goal I have set for 2017. 

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”  -Kierkegaard

I hope you enjoy these images from 12-31-16 and 1-1-17 at Shaw Nature Reserve! 

Until next time,
~ M of MK Designs