Category Archives: Joy!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Superior Silhouettes ~ Courtesy of Lake Superior

On the way to a Sunset,
approaching the steps,
anticipating beauty,
appreciating now.

Silhouette Sisters

Silhouette Sisters ~ Courtesy Denise and Sue

Chance meetings on beaches
silhouette sisters
sharing sunsets shadows
laughter with strangers.

We become sisters and brothers sharing sunsets and laughter in silhouettes.

Namaste ~ Starbear

Advertisements

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big ~ Happy ~ Color Post ~ Waiting for Yellow

Big Happy Color Post

Big Happy Color Post ~ Waiting for Yellow to Fly

Big. Happy. Color. Perfect challenge topics for this artist, photographer, writer. This post marks my studio on the beach. It is a very BIG beach on Lake Superior. I call it my Happy Post. Last year I wrote about it in a post called Celebrating Life Sharing Joy.
In my recent absence from blogging, I have been on a fabulous journey of exploration. On this journey I discovered some of my addictions.
I am addicted to COLOR.
I am addicted to JOY.
I am also addicted to Happy People, Stones, the Beach, Teaching, Art,and being Healthy.
In early October, as the colors of summer quickly turned to the fleeting palette of fall, I was out shooting as often as the weather permitted. It has been a very cold and wet fall, snow already, mixed with other harbingers of winter.
I now have thousands of images to sort through from a few good color shooting days… indoor work for snowy days.
For the past four months, almost the whole summer,
I have been quiet. I have been in a wee bit of a No Comfort Zone. I was physically limited by 2 injuries. One to my foot, the other to my hand. At one point I could not type, hold my camera or even a cup of coffee. Nor could I hike the dunes or trek to the beach so often. Miracles happen. The last two months have been miraculous. I learned how much I value my ability to hike the dunes to get to my beach studio. (Thank you feet!) I learned how important my hands are to me. (Thank you hands!) I learned that even when I am apparently unable to “do” much, that I am able to be very happy.
The Big Color Happy Post was restored with new ribbons, full colors.
Recently, I rejoiced in the opportunity to spend several afternoons in sunshine, shooting the flying colors in the beach breezes.
While the Big Happy Post on the Beach marks my return to my studio, this blog post marks my return from silence. I may not write as often, and although this one is long, I may have to become economical with words here, with three books in progress. I am also making some new big art pieces… and have been gathering stone for winter works.

I laughed the whole time I was shooting these. I laughed with the sky; it was such a deep rich clear blue. I laughed as the ribbons danced in the the wind and cloud vapor repeated their rhythm in the background. I laughed with the bubbly cotton ball clouds billowing up on the horizon. I laughed with the sound of the waves and the smell of fresh air.
I laughed as I waited for the yellow to fly and I rejoiced in my colorful life.
I laughed out loud as I lay on my belly on the warm sand to shoot color against the sky while my spirit soared and I connected once again to the universe and myself. I laughed with the joyful knowledge that my hands still work most of the time and my feet carry me off on wonderful adventures.
Life is good, full of color and joy. I am comfortable with that.
I have missed you all and it is good to be back.

Big Happy Color Post

… and then the Yellow lifted up and soared.

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Today

Today ~ June 10, 2012

June 10, 2012 5:55AM Lake Superior
…at last, sunrise on the beach

June 10, 2012
…Sunrise and the grass held crystal dewdrops… all is well once more.

It has been far too long since I have “allowed” myself this luxury… It feels as though I have been missing in action in my own life. Getting up early to get to work, not going to the beach. Coming home from work too tired, not going to the beach. Chasing fires…
Except when I am visually exploring, curious, sharing I feel as if I am living in scarcity, not doing what I love, in order to do what everyone seems to say I need to do in order to pay the bills… go to town, to an indoor job, security. I am so happy and grateful for two days off, just seeing the wonder I live in, shooting, seeing, shooting more… butterflies, snakes, blooming things, sky, sun, dew… and I feel feel so rich, so satisfied.

I watched a movie late last night, it was called “Happy thank you more please”. At first it seemed silly, too young… and then there was the scene in which the title became clear.
It’s a fun movie and with a perfect message for today.

So, I am expressing my gratitude to you and the universe in this way:
Happy!
Thank You!
More Please!
More Happy, more gratitude given and received, more please ~ Thank you. πŸ™‚

Namaste ~ StarBear
Copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

Weekly Photo Challenge – No Comfort Zone – Duck Lake Fire


This is not yet another beautiful sunrise or sunset. It is a photo of a forest fire, in my “backyard” that burned almost 22,000 acres in just a few days. It traveled 12 miles in one night, May 24-25 – the night I took these.

The fire blew up in 40mph winds, woods dry tinder, 2am May 25th..

CR414 about 5 miles from the blowout…

When we stopped on the road for me to take this photograph, it was silent. Then a whippoorwill began to sing right beside me… I live in a world of miracles.

At the road block ~ only about a mile away according to the maps… The wind gusted and the fire flared, listening to fire crew on State Troopers walkie talkies…

Duck Lake Fire, 2:00 AM, May 25, 2012, at the roadblock.

Gust – flare- gust and flare lighting up the night sky – Duck Lake Fire

I have no idea what this weeks photo challenge is… Really!
Since the last post “Hands and Happiness”, life blew up – in the form of this forest fire, now known as the “Duck Lake Fire.” Talk about a “No Comfort Zone Challenge”…. and yet it was not a no comfort zone at all… a strange and wonderful calm through it all…
The fire came within 6 miles of my home in the woods, 250+ firefighters have been here working on it and it is now 55% contained. There are so many stories that have come out of this fire… kindness, new friends, reconnecting with friends, watching a community offer love, support, comfort to those who lost everything. The numbers are staggering… I am lucky – I am not one of the numbers. I am lucky… I have been an observer, witness, participant in so many acts of love, kindness, strength and appreciation this week. Yes, happiness, even…living on the edge. Once again learning the importance of knowing priorities… Loving, accepting what is, being grateful for each day, laughing and crying at the same time, comforting others, providing information, knowing that no matter what, I am always safe and choose happy. I am always in the right place at the right time… this time west of the fire.
There are a gazillion links online now… too many to sort through, but here is one that has a good story and comprehensive collection of links and images: ‘Firefighter ranks Duck Lake Fire as one of worst’~ “That Country was so Beautiful”
Another, for facts and Department of Natural Resources videos and images go to http://www.michigan.gov/dnr. Maps became essential this week, as well as weather, wind speeds, direction… and new DSL.
If you Google “Duck Lake Fire Updates” there are hundreds of photos, videos, stories. The fire has received national coverage, a state of emergency was declared Friday, May 25th, the media started noticing over the weekend. For those of us who live here, we noticed immediately. Evacuations began Thursday evening… and the community of Newberry, Luce County, went to work, taking care of one another.
I live in a wonderful place and for that I am happy, every day.

Namaste ~ StarBear
copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Hands + Happiness

Happy Hand


Marge, over at Inside Out Cafe has offered several invitations and challenges this year, and her posts about happiness have been intriguing.
Moi, however, has been so busy being happy offline, I have been quickly scanning e-mail, blogs, and such.
The first thing that came to mind when I read her happy posts was this quote, which I keep on my computer:
“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” ~ The Buddah

Life is filled with happiness. I am filled with happiness – so much that I feel quite happily explosive – in a good way. As I travel new paths, I have been noticing the love and the gifts, not in each week, or day or holidays… which have been warm and wonderful, but in each moment. Each moment of being in a state of happiness, creates more and then more.
Appreciating what is in each moment is bringing more… surprises, gifts, opportunities, love, joy to my humble door.
Are there setbacks or barriers? Yes, and not really. Switching to DSL from satellite, sped up my life… and for a minute, slowed it down… LOL! New e-mail address as required made for a lot of change! No problem. I wanted faster manifestations for my work!
Someone I love shows up on my doorstep, 3 times in a week, while I am super happily busy working, coaxing me to the beach for a sunset. The first night we were late, the second night was cloudy, and the third – a charm! We laughed, we played like little kids ~ with light and reflections and color and love and respect and appreciation for each other’s values and differences – which on many subjects often seem to be in opposition.
150 photos of this sunset… and 50 exquisite, useable, memorable. This one is a bit sentimental, and yet a simple reminder:
We hold our happiness in our own hands, appreciating the loving gifts of beauty we are handed each day. Sharing them, in the moment, is dessert. It is available to everyone, every day. Open hands open hearts, giving and receiving. What has that to do with photography? Everything and nothing?

My happiness is in my hands and when we offer each other our happiness, our joy, it is a gift passed on, shared, generous, expecting nothing in return.
The giving is the gift, receiving is the opening… or is it the other way around?

I need not seek happiness. It lives in me and I get to share it!

Namaste ~ StarBear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Sun + Earth Day Miracles

Earth Day Sun Crystals

Earth Day 2012 dawned bright, sunny cold – 24 F and frosty. As I got in the car, dressed in winter garb, the sun hit the windshield and I couldn’t resist marvelling at the beauty of the sun co-creating with water crystals. Once the sun hit the window fully, they vanished almost instantly, and not before I was able to catch them with 6 quick shots… Pine trees and ice crystals, lit by the sun at dawn took my breath away.
My plan was to go into the woods and to the beach, to celebrate Earth Day, to capture the beauty of the little piece of earth I dwell in – my “material” world. That goal became immaterial… and was still realized.

Later in the day, as I was returning from the beach, (where of course agates appeared at my feet, as they seem to miraculously and often) a doe and yearling approached me… from the shadows of the trees. I spoke with them awhile, coaxing them closer… The older doe stayed in the shadows, cautious, yet the yearling came out into the sun, curious, interested, long enough for one full body shot… deer on the move. I crossed paths with seven deer this day, they have returned to the north woods after wintering south. The yearlings will soon be run off by the does, when they are ready to birth new fawns.

Yearling in the Sun

Yearling in the Sun

Yes, I talk to the animals in the woods. Yes, miracles happen frequently. Deer – I saw many deer on Earth Day. They are a symbol of gentleness and fit my current life theme… being gentle, with myself, others and planet earth.
Kindness, gentleness go a long way. Part of that kindness to myself has been to live life offline less and in the material world more. Less pushing to blog, more being quiet, learning, teaching, loving. Spending time with people, new friends and old.

For me right now, less of some things is more and all is well. It is pleasing me greatly to only open e-mail every few days… to be creating, building, choosing gently, and mostly, allowing… allowing miracles, allowing clarity and joy.
Namaste ~ Star Bear

Win My Heart! and the Winners are…

The original 22 hearts...

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest, read through my blog and waited patiently for the results and answers!

First to answer Question # 1 correctly was Paula with her answer of 9, which meant surfing my entire blog and counting the # of posts with heart images! Paula – Congratulations for your Perseverance!
Q 1 was “How many of my posts include heart images? Not hearts, posts.”

AND
Congratulations to Wendy Fedan for being the first to correctly answer Q 2: “How large did the the first Big Stone Heart measure?” Over 6 feet x 6 feet.

AND
Congratulations to Crowing Crone Joss for her very close guess of 658 stones in answer to Q 3, “Guess the total number of stones in the 22 hearts in the photo.”
The total # of stones in the 22 hearts is 720.

Please provide your mailing address by writing it in a comment, so I can get your prize mailed out to you! (Comments here are moderated and only I will see it, it will NOT be posted).

To everyone else who entered an answer or made a comment, Thank You!

In Sunday’s post I said “see you tomorrow” – and this is a day late. It seems I am very human and my body is reminding me of it. While out and about enjoying the sunshine, I took a very bad fall and landed on my backside ~ hard and creating a brief NoCZ. Taking care of myself included not sitting at the computer for the remainder of the day. So once again, I am sorry for the delay… and I am fine this morning… (Apple cider vinegar and Vitamin C didn’t help with this! LOL!)

Just for fun ~ the small green heart, which I call “Evergreen,” consists of a total 20 stones and contains 2 other heart stones, visible in this close up.

Evergreen


This image also gives you a pretty good idea of the actual sizes of the hearts. The small ones, like this, are 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ I will be writing about each heart over the coming weeks, as the heart series continues to unfold… slowly.

May all of your hearts be filled with love and joy!
Namaste ~ StarBear
Copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

Valentine’s Day Win My Heart Contest! The Sunshine Heart……

“Yes,”she said. Then “Good Grief…OMG!”
Today, as I was looking over the entries to the “Win My Heart Contest”, I re-read the original contest post and found the ONE BIG MISTAKE! Yikes! I’m not perfect! I am human! (Hurray!)
The mistake is here. Click on the word here (underlined) or just read this paragraph from that page:
What’s the prize?
A set of 4 Heart blank note cards – a $15.00 value – using images from the series of heart stones. Entries must be posted in comments by Thursday, February 16th, 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Winners will be announced and correct answers provided on Monday, February 19th. Good Luck and have fun!

OOOOOPS! Today is Sunday, February 19th. It was supposed to say “The winners will be announced on Monday, February 20th!”
What to do? Stick with the plan… The winners will be announced here on Monday, February 20th. Hmmmm…. over 400 people read my blog since Tuesday… and no one mentioned the mistake or questioned the dates… I guess I am not the only proofreader who is human and misses things.

Isn’t it nice to be human? My sincere apologies to anyone who came here today looking for the contest results. I know you are sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out the answers to the questions and who the lucky prizewinners are. One more day, thank you for entering and your patience.
My plans for the day include enjoying the Sunshine. For now, here is the yellow sunshine heart from the series… it’s an imperfect quickie, showing what can be done with a happy heart, a light-hearted approach, with a little help from my winged friends… Some days my heart just glows and grows wings.

A Sunshine Heart Glows Light GrowsWings

Imperfect yes, and sometimes we just keep flying… playing in the light. (Photo note: This photo is not re-touched or altered in any way. Thus – a bit askew…)
See you tomorrow! May your day be filled with Light and your heart take wing, too!
Namaste ~ StarBear
copyright 2012 Betsy Lewis

“Win My Heart” Contest Ends Today!

You have until 6:00 PM EST to enter the “Win My Heart” Contest.
This is fun! I regret not having done something like this sooner… and all is well.

The First of the Series...

The first heart in this series began as an experiment for photographs. After building the First Big Stone Heart on the beach in 2009 (and having it disappear in a storm, as expected, and after the physical death of my beloved big sister not long after) I wanted to find a way to express my love of the beach, of being at the beach, my gratitude for the Healing Waters of Lake Superior and the wonderful people I have shared it with in my life, and not least of all those who share my life! During the relatively short-lived existance of the that heart, which was about two months, a number of friends photographed it, with people they loved standing, sitting, dancing, lying on it… we had a lot of fun with it. I kept thinking about it… how could I make it available to more people – this fun, this love, this joy. Finally, in the summer of 2011, I made the first non-vanishing stone heart. Little did I know…

It took some time to figure out how to make it – and still allow it to look like stones hanging together the way beach stones cluster naturally, piling up on the beach. I watched stones, water and waves working together. I finally realized that as I watched nature at work, I was also learning from her/him, Spirit~ Art imitating nature in ways I never learned in an art class. I have used the lessons learned from watching the waves stack and organize stones… which I cannot yet fully explain in words. It is random and not random. It has to do with size shape, edges, textures, weight, water motion, weather and energy. Some days similar stones form groupings, in breathtakingly beautiful arrangements, some simple, some complex, sometimes mixing colors, sometimes keeping them monochromatic. I watched I listened I worked in the beach studio… I arrived at a possibility.

Stone Washed Heart!

Taking that first non-perishable heart back to the beach, I have taken many photographs of it, letting waves, sand and other stones wash over it. This one heart is NFS. It is in the photo from yesterday, one of the 22. (Contest Hint – you can count the stones in today’s photos.)

It was a simple experiment, which eventually pushed me into making many more, now somewhat refined, simplifying the process (with some missing from photo – already sold and gracing other lives). People saw that first one and started asking for their own! While at first it seemed an artificially contrived device, just for photos, the hearts express own my love for Nature and Joy in Life and are taking on a life of their own. Each stone represents a piece of my heart and the people I love and have loved, different, individual, similar… making a whole and happy heart… seems quite natural, now.

The original was almost washed away as I photographed it… more than once, since in Lake Superior’s big waves it is very light! Retrieving that first heart sometimes meant mad dashes into the Big Lake… laughing and keeping the camera held high. Listening to the rhythm of the waves saved my behind (and camera) on more than one shoot… after awhile one can hear a big wave approaching. That, too, is part of the lake learning or life learning and being connected to it all… listening.

Stones, Bubbles, Sand and Waves...

This work that I do, which some may call play, brought this song to mind today.

The recording is 40 years old, my hearts are young and made from ancient stones.
This work/play is part of my purpose in life, bringing joy to myself and others.
It makes me feel like a Natural Woman, deep down, in my heart.
Makes perfect sense to me… πŸ™‚ Listening, watching, learning, loving… does life get any better than this?

Love Bubbles...

May your life and heart bubble with love… every day is Valentine’s Day!
Namaste ~ In Joy! Star Bear

Related Posts:
Contest
Big Stone Heart ~ Love from Lake Superior
A Little Heart Shared Cross Country
One of my Studios
Beach Work
Beach Dancing
Watching Washing Stones

Happy Valentine’s Day! Win My Heart! Really!

Having fun with Love on Valentine's Day!

To enter the contest read on ~ How to have a little fun on Valentine’s Day…

Valentine’s Day – a day on the Calendar created for Universal Agreement that to have a special person in your life, a lover, a special partner is the thing to do or … you get to feel bad, feel alone, be sad, feel left out, unloved? Blah, Blah, blah… I say Celebrate You and your love for yourself, your friends, your family. Celebrate being, Celebrate breathing, Celebrate this beautiful Earth – and being who you are and able to do what you love.

I get to “do” lunch with a friend I always have fun with, surprise a few other friends, wish my Granddaughter a Happy Birthday and sing a song to her on her phone. I get to go to a job I love and particpate in the NoCZ challenge…. and I get to post the progress I have made on my Stone Heart Series… 22 stone hearts. I loved making these. I loved gathering the stones from the beaches nearby on Lake Superior (on warmer days).
Each stone collected for it’s individual beauty, carefully selecting the stones for each heart, making little relief sculptures, and thinking of people I love or who were at the beach with me as I collected stones. I will love selling them, too…. as a way to share the beauty of stones, the energy of stones, the love the planet gives us in the form of beauty in the simplest things… stones.

Want to win a set of my hearts? Three people can win – just answer one of these questions in the comments:
1. How many blog posts on my blog include heart images? (Hint: the first one tells how and why I made the first Big Stone Heart and the second one is here – How and why I made the second small stone heart.) There are more posts – if you like playing detective, this one is for you. How many of my posts include heart images? Not hearts, posts. In the event of a tie, the first correct answer posted in comments wins.
OR
2. How large did the the first Big Stone Heart measure? (Statistical readers and researchers for facts may love this one.)
OR
3. Guess the total number of stones in the 22 hearts in the photo. Do NOT count the natural heart stones scattered between the hearts. Closest guess to the actual # wins – and in the event of a tie, the first entry posted in the comments wins! (Bean counters and mathamaticians may do well here.)

Please enter only once. One prize will be awarded for each of the 3 questions – for a total of three prizes.
What’s the prize? A set of 4 Heart blank note cards – a $15.00 value – using images from the series of heart stones. Entries must be posted in comments by Thursday, February 16th, 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Winners will be announced and correct answers provided on Monday, February 19th. Good Luck and have fun!

Have fun this Valentine’s Day! Invite a friend to enter the “Win My Heart” contest, too.
There’s more than enough love to share!

After the contest, the stone hearts are for sale. The largest hearts are 6″ x 6″, the medium are 5″ x 5″ and the smallest are 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2 “. Before the week is out I will have individual photos and prices up for each. They are each handcrafted with sculpted finished backs, they are nice to hold in your hands. Feeling the stones feels good. They are wonderful to meditate with, look at, hold, get in touch with nature.

Namaste ~ StarBear

P.S. This is way out of my comfort zone!