Tag Archives: NoCZ2012

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

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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

Happy Easter – New Old Eggs…

Lake Superior's Easter Eggs on Ice


In 2011, Easter and Earth Day dates fell close together. This year is different, and the snow is gone early. This is another one of my favorite photos – from the beach and the gifts it brings. If you are new to my blog, you may have missed this gem… 🙂
Happy Easter, Passover, Spring or ??? to all the Good Eggs who read this.

This is a re-post from 24 April 2011
Earth Day was Friday, so was Good Friday. I spent the afternoon hours from 12-3:00 at the Church of the Beach, following my Christian upbringing. As I walked the beach and picked up trash, Jesus’ words from the cross ran through my mind… “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do…”
Everyone makes a difference – the balloons of someone’s celebration, ribbons still attached, litter the beach, along with indestructible Frito Lay Tortilla chip bags, assorted beer and pop cans, disposable diapers, toilet paper and even the cardboard tp rolls. This is a spring fling thing – as snow melts, mysteries are revealed. It is a mystery that people these days are still not responsible for their own junk. Earth is not a garbage can, it is a home we all share.

So I celebrated Earth Day by embracing the Earth and Thanking Mother Earth for the beauty I live in and cleaning up a little bit. Every day is Earth Day – for me anyway.
Luce County, where I live has no recycling available except for paper, which is collected by the girl scouts. To recycle, we have to drive our plastic, metal, cardboard, 100 miles to Sault Saint Marie, in Chippewa County. Not very Earth friendly, or pocket friendly these days. It’s kinda like living in a third world nation here, with snow.
Some of us have been trying to get recycling here for 5 years… everybody says they want it, nobody wants to pay the millage.

At the Library, where I am now working, one co-worker takes all the recycling home, then eventually gets it to the Soo. I have been saving my recycling all winter. Did you know that you could crunch up 6 one-gallon plastic milk jugs, roll them up and fit them into one plastic coffee can? Glass jars take up a lot of space, so I break them, carefully. Then put them into a plastic coffee can, put some rocks in with them, and shake the daylights out of them ~ My free version of that new exercise device. I can get a lot of glass into a coffee can that way. The newer round bottom cans are a pain. Can’t cut the bottoms off anymore. When will packagers wake up? There is room for improvement – attention to Earth friendly packaging has not been noticed by Campbell’s Soup and other big businesses yet…

Most commercial eggs come in styrofoam containers – non-recyclable. Brown eggs come in cardboard – YAY!

So, Happy Earth Day! Rest assured, this is not a complaint about where I live. Merely an observation and a call to action…
Lake Superior’s ancient Easter Bunny always gives new eggs, well chilled, stored on and under ice and snow. These eggs are billions of years old and solid evidence life goes on, recycling. My beach studio is intact and spring cleaning is underway. …and on the third day, a resurrection, peace and joy. Today I get to go for a sunrise service at the Church of Peace at the Beach and the Lake will sing it’s songs of Joy with a Hallelujah Chorus over rolling waves… It’s my version of a Holy Roller Easter… LOL!
May your Easter, Earth Day celebration be wonderful, however you clelebrate. Just hang on to your balloons and your beer cans, please. 🙂
Namaste – Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Launch

Horse Launch

Continuing with my favorite photos, searching for weekly photo challenge images “Launch”, and to fulfill part of the Kreative Blogger Award guidelines of sharing 10 things about myself, this post has turned into a 3-fer! Whew! Multi-tasking?

Thank you, Jackie

Thank you, Jackie, for the Kreative Blogger Award.

About this photo: One of my favorite photos, Horse Launch, was taken at a Three Day Event in Michigan – Horses and riders launching themselves over big jumps, walls, into water. Horses and riders working in partnership, trusting and communicating. (This is not a photo of me – one of the “rules” I learned from great horsepeople is to only ride as fast as you could think and respond. My thinking and response time was faster with my camera than on this type of course or horse.)

10 things you may not know about me:
I love horses, have always loved horses, and somehow have been involved with horses for much of my life. At one time I was owned by a horse farm, lived, breathed, smelled, groomed, rode, jumped, nursed, mended, cared for horses. I also shoveled a lot of manure, taught riding lessons, judged small horse shows, trained a few horses and was always taking lessons, attending clinics, learning. I learned so much being with horses and horse people. I was owned by many horses. I had great partnerships with some of them, and those horses… well, we took each other on many adventures, launches, falls, leaps. I was probably a horse or horse keeper in a past life. I still own a Norwegian Fjord Horse, born at my farm. She has a job some ways away from where I live – as a therapeutic riding horse. We are both living our dreams!
Is that one thing or 10?
Living with horses was a dream, a goal, from the time I was little. It was a challenge, a joy, and I am no longer owned by a horse farm or horses.
New challenges arrive every day, and they are just as exciting and fulfilling as living with horses. They are different and so am I. Every day is a launch or a re-launch forward into life. When learning to jump with horses over big jumps, the trainer told us to “throw your heart out in front of you, over the fence and follow it”. I never forgot that lesson, and still didn’t always do it. (…and that was usually when I landed in mud or flat on my face! LOL!)

Yet, it seems good advice for life, too, don’t you think?

Namaste ~ StarBear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Launch ~ NoCZ 2012 ~ Baby Steps

Baby Steps

Launch. Sometimes a launch is tiny. A Baby Step. Baby Steps… putting one foot in front of another, moving forward. Is a launch always upward or can it be simply movement? Sometimes it’s a leap of faith and one foot just shoves off and we leap. How fun to be leaping with others again this year!

About this photo: On a sunrise beach walk, I found two sets of footprints heading toward the water, unclear in dry sand. One set of large footprints, one set of tiny, side by side. I imagined a small child, walking hand in hand with a parent or grand parent, then frolicking on the beach in the early morning light. There was a single tiny footprint, clear, near the edge of the water, untouched as yet by the washing waves. The child allowed to explore, then called back, perhaps, away from the water, kept safe.
The image and words were a gift to my friend Usha, in California, as we launched our dreams together and laid out our plans for the year 2012 – back in 2010. We spoke on the phone and in class, and she had the most beautiful, kind, joyous voice and laugh. We are both creating our dreams, grounded, one step at a time.

The Gift: If you are doing the NoCZ Challenge or not ~ Print it out if you wish. Carry it with you, put it on the fridge. Remember to be patient with and kind to yourself and others as we take Baby Steps or leap into new territory…. and remember to laugh at the water’s edge! Jumping in – the water feels great!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Winter ~ More Snow Color + NoCZ 2012

On the Road to Dreams...

On the Road to MyDreams in Frosted Snow Color

Closer to the Dream!

Further Along the Road to My Dreams in Frosted Snow Color

This may not seem like part of the No Comfort Zone 2012 Challenge, yet it is, for me.
I have avoided posting my best work online, for many reasons… and as part of my No Comfort Zone Challenge, I decided to share some of my best and favorite images. After all, if no one sees them, how can they purchase them? LOL!

As I began to think about posting these winter photographs, I realized that I have been afraid to post some of my favorite photos. Some of them are really wonderful. Some are incredibly beautiful! (Some, like “Snow Color” sell like hotcakes, when they are seen. LOL!)

I have been afraid that someone would take them and use them without acknowledgement, credit, paying for them… (F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real)
The Evidence? I have had numerous photos mysteriously appear on other websites without credit or payment, then a friendly neighbor even downloaded a set of 4, framed them, hung them in her home, then invited me to dinner. When I saw the poorly printed lo res prints hanging in her living room, I went ballistic. I felt so betrayed! Then I gave her a signed print for Christmas that year, because I didn’t want badly printed crappy work out in the world… and because she had been a good friend.

I had this THOUGHT: I can’t trust people, especially intelligent friends who disrespect copyrights. If a knowledgeable friend would do this, what about strangers, net surfers, those I don’t even know. So I have been afraid to trust people when it comes to my work. Not trusting one person can mean trusting no one. It can mean I don’t trust myself, either. Turning it around. I am afraid to trust others, including myself. Turning it around, others are afraid to trust me. Turning it around again, I am afraid to trust me. Turning it around again, if I can’t trust the people closest to me, who can I trust? Turning it around again, I am afraid to trust the person closest to me – me. It is kind of like being a little bit pregnant. You either are or are not. I either trust or I don’t. Yes or No.

False Evidence Appearing Real? Yet… many others love my work and want to see it hanging in their homes or offices or give it as gift. They are willing to buy it, wait for the prints or jpegs to arrive, send money, give credits, and when their art arrives with checks they include wonderful love notes like “Your images feed my soul.” “You see things differently than any one else.” “Please, keep sharing beauty with the world.” “Your photographs are so beautiful.” “You have such a gift for seeing.” “I love your images…” “Thank you for bringing such beauty to light.” “My friend will love this gift..” “You don’t charge enough…” “Your work, art work is a service to people…” “No one else photographs, captures that place the way you do…”

Just this week, another blogger Orel, who also has beautiful nature and snow photographs from Scotland, said: “Starbear, I think you just posted the most beautiful picture I’ve seen on wordpress so far. I mean it. This line is pure and perfect. Too bad I can’t enlarge it. I wish you a happy new year!” (Sensuous Snow Curve)

Sometimes I am afraid to let the good stuff in, and dwell on the stuff that is uncomfortable. Sometimes, I’m also afraid to let my good stuff out. This is the good stuff… and I am open to receiving the good stuff.
(Oh how we judge… good, bad, better, worse…)
That’s why posting these is an act of courage, for me. I trust. I trust myself to share my work. I trust others not to take it, and if they do? I can protect it by posting small images, add watermarks, add copyrights. Sometimes I do give it away, just because I want to, with love. Some people will take it without asking, some will buy it, others will say nice things about it, others will criticize it. Those who take it will not get the best. Those who ask, will. We can always work something out. I don’t like being mean. Trust me.

What I want is for people to love my work and respect my gift. What I want for me is to love my work and respect the gifts I have been given and share them and I also want more financial freedom to be able to give of myself freely, with love, and making loving choices. I have forgiven my friend; I have renamed her “Opportunity to Love.” We are no longer close. Lesson learned in the classroom of Life. If I can’t trust myself, who will trust me?

I will continue to post my favorites, some of my best. Stay tuned!
If you would love to purchase a print for yourself or as a gift, check out the SHOP. Almost all of the images on my blog are available as signed prints. Instructions for purchasing are in the Shop link above and at the top of the page.
Bottom Line: I trust me. If you read this far, I trust that maybe you found another beautiful gift here, too.

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Winter ~ Snow Color

Snow Color

Namaste ~ StarBear