Archive for Pictures

Growth and Change

// May 30th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, beach, Canon, diet, Exercise, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time, Pictures

JAZZ & ART @LACMA 046This long holiday weekend  has been awesome. It started with jazz at LACMA and today it ended with an awesome day of picture taking with my friend Franklin, who was just one of my friends who helped me kick my weekend off. All I can say is that I’ve had an amazing, fun filled weekend.

Franklin and I have been spending lots of time together and I must say that it has been simply awesome getting to know him better and spend so time with him. I already blogged about how I met Franklin and already talked about some of the things he deals with in his daily life. It has been so cool to watch him open up and grow, so cool to watch him move from someone who barley spoke a word to someone who talks and smiles, so cool to watch him go from someone who stayed in his dark apartment, to someone who now calls me about going on picture safaris.

It is simply so amazing to watch how the gift of friendship can help to change things for someone. How simply showing up and refusing to allow someone to waste away can mean the world to the life path that someone is on. This is why the word “friendship” means so much to me and why I never just throw the word “friend’ around.

My friends are all straight and all couples,  newly weds with a baby, while another has been married a few years with aJAZZ & ART @LACMA 089baby on the way, another couple planning a wedding and the last couple has been together for a very long time. They are all great people and to be very honest they are great friends, not just supportive of me, but of my community work as well.  At times I feel like a third wheel, even though I know when they ask to hang out they truly want to see me and have some hang time with me.

Until Franklin I had no single friend and with him I get a friend who is not only single, but we also share the common interest of photography, jazz, classical music and so much more. Like me, Franklin is HIV positive, so there is just one more thing we have in common and one more thing we can help to support each other through.

For the past two months, maybe three I’ve been thinking of how I am going to grow and change, not just my organization, but in my personal life too. Just last month I had a great HIV check up and in order for that to continue I need to make certain I am doing everything I can to keep my body healthy and stay off HIV medications.

Purpose 118To address this I have been back on my bike and taking longer walks with Dodger, I am also doing all that I can to address more healthy eating habits, however doing this is a huge challenge on government assistance, but I am doing all that I can. The main thing is that i am making certain in get rest and plenty of exercise.

In addition I am also removing people, places and things from my life that only serve as distractions and yes, even problems or drama. This is going to be key in my overall health and well being. It’s funny to me how once you make your mind to be a better person all the way around, people, places and things start to work against you. All of the sudden people you never hear from are now calling, people, places and things start to do more to show up and be distractions and this is where I need to make certain I am clear in where I am going and what I want to accomplish.

The cool thing is this, with getting rest and more exercise I have seen major changes in my mood, my energy and my Sickle Cell is not given me that much of a problem. My days seem to be more full of energy and my stress level is very low. I seem to be smiling more, if that is possible for someone who smiles all the time.

Now let’s talk about my outreaches because they too are changing and I am adding an addition to my HIV outreach.

Do Something Saturday~that empowers people

This is my oldest and most visible outreach and for the past four years I have run this outreach out of my own pocket orMalibu Logoon State Beach 122 efforts combined with the backing and support of my friends and supporters. It’s been awesome and the people I have been able to reach has been great, but it is time to step it up and take this outreach to the next level.

I dont mind sharing my ideas or even talking with friends about what I want to do or how I can help them. But I must say that my feeling get hurt when I my ideas at work in organizations that do not even respect people like me. My feelings get hurt when I see people collect awards for an idea that was mine, but simply because they have the backing of some non-profit or people with deep pockets.

These past three months I’ve had to really swallow my pride and set my feelings aside and know that my ideas are at work making things better for people battling HIV and AIDS as well as people who are homeless or transitioning from homelessness into having their own place.

I’ve always said I do not so this for someone to call my name or to get some award, however it does not feel good to see other people take credit for my idea or something I’ve worked damn hard at. I simply does not feel good.

So no more will I allow organizations who wont even allow me to volunteer for them, take my ideas and use them for their good only to line their pockets and flip me or even people like me the middle finger.

I will say this as I have said all along, you cant help people if you do not speak with them and seeing what I have seen and reading what I have read from 4 very different mega funded organizations really makes me angry, but not in a bad way, i that makes sense. It makes me angry enough to do more, push harder and raise my voice that much more, so that people who are seen but not heard have their concerns addressed.

Malibu Logoon State Beach 193I am adding a support group for people battling HIV or AIDS to my Skid Row outreach. I am just so sick and tired and hearing the same old tired line from the “community” and even people at “ASO’s” when it comes to addressing the needs of people who are greatly affected by HIV and AIDS.

No longer will I wait for people to return emails after I’v sent several and even had face to face conversations with such people. I will no longer accept “they are out of my SPA area” I will no longer wait while HIV and AIDS continues the path it has always been on unchanged since the start of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

After reading this you will understand why I need to remove some people, places and things in my life that only take up space and offer up nothing. I can not allow my health to fail me because I am not doing all I can to remain in good health.

Tomorrow is day 1 in the journey of positive growth and change for both me and my organization.

Today I ended my awesome weekend at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. I am uploading the 344 pictures I took and the video of the day is already live on my youtube channel. I will share the other surprise later this week in either a blog or vlog.

I hope you all have had a great holiday weekend.

Escape with Me

// March 1st, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, beach, Canon, Exercise, health, Health and Fitness, Me Time, photos, Pictures, video, work

Explore 060Today was a day for me to unwind and remove all stress. It was something that I have not done in a very long time and believe me when I say it was long overdue.

It’s amazing how much time we spend doing things that have nothing to do with our overall well being. Shocking how much stress we allow to build up in our lives and many time we don’t realize it until something like a stroke or heart attack happens, even worse death.

About a month ago someone said to me “your Sickle Cell has given you so much problems since you started working this job.” Last month I went to the funeral of a cousin who lost his battle with Sickle Cell and after talking with his wife, she too feels that if he only spent more time removing stressful people and things from his life, he would still be here. The last time I spoke with her, she asked me to take better care of my overall health and well being.

It goes without saying that my last job was very stressful and more the 95% of the stress was caused by a director who knew went out of her way to cause chaos and confusion among the staff. Constant changes to schedules, job requirements, emails, voicemails, pictures and even threats that she would fire us were just some of the ways she caused so much stress.

Today after my first round of housing inspections and my trip to the doctors, I did something for me. Something I have not done in a very long time, but as I said before, it was long overdue.

I came home grabbed my cameras and headed to the beach to escape for a day. I know to many this was not much of an escape, but for me it was all I needed. Since I grew up in Santa Monica and I love being near the water, this is where I headed and I am so glad that I did.

it was a cook day today so I needed to make sure I was dressed right. I didn’t want my day of relaxation to turn into a night of fighting off a cold. I dressed in layers and topped it all off with my USC hoodie.

I spent the day with no real plans other then just taking it slow and not spending a bunch of time online or in contact. What I mean by this is, I had my cell phone with me, but if was off for more the 90% of my day. I did not return calls unless they were something that could not wait until the next day or at least until I was heading home later in the evening.

Being near the water was so calming and cool. it was like all day therapy for me. I walked from the top of the Santa Monica Pier all the way down to Venice Beach, just south of the new skater park. Taking pictures every step of the way.

I finished my day with dinner at the Santa Monica Place Mall and a sunset at the Santa Monica Beach. I had spent my most of my day relaxing and clearing my space. I did such a good job at it, that the crowded bus ride home filled with people who were loud and some of them rude, didn’t even bother me.

I was welcomed home by my dog Dodger and I spent the night on the sofa talking of the phone with my friend Christina. I picked up a scented candle on my way home and that has been burning for sometime now. It smells awesome.

I took over 450 pictures today. They are currently uploading to my Flickr page. I had a great day and I am so glad I took most of it for me.

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011

// February 1st, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Chef, Cooking, Pictures

Tuesday, Feb. 2011 003Well it’s day two of being back at work after being off for a week and Monday was a day to remember. I was all set to have a nice quiet day back at work and for most of the morning it was pretty quiet. it was so good to be back, the girls were very happy to see me and after talking with a few of them, I started to remember why I enjoy working for them. They are simply an awesome group of women to work for.

The morning came to a crashing end when the director walked into the kitchen with this smug look on her face. She asked questions about the death of my cousin pretending to care and when I would not engage her she changed the subject to try to engage me to talk about the other chef, but once again I would not be drawn in, so she proceeded to try to get me to talk about things that could have been wrong in the kitchen when I arrived. Again she was let down when the only things I had to say was how the food items she left sitting on the back stairs were not only a safety issues, but also was a direct food handling and storage issue which breaks the heath department code for handling and storage of food. She then left the kitchen.

An hour so went by before she tried to engage me again, this time she was trying to show me that I had no submitted enoughTuesday, Feb. 2011 001 menus for the previous month, but since I had already emailed her with regards to this and had in fact showed her where she had once again made a mistake in printing the menus. Again when she saw I was not going to be drawn in by her, she tried to act like other things were wrong and this is when I told her that what she was doing could be considered work place harassment and I asked her to stop or I would report her to the labor board. I went on to ask her for another performance review since the one she gave me was based on her personal opinion instead of my job performance. While walking away she says “well that is not going to happen.”

The other chef had once again had her hours changed once again and did not come in until after 12:30. Once she arrived she went right into meeting with the director that lasted until after 1:00pm. When she finally came to the kitchen she told me she had given her notice and that the following week would be her last week. “WOW” is all I could think to myself.

It was Monday, so we had formal dinner and our work cut out for us, but for some reason the other chef was pleasant and even asked for my help, instead of just having me make salads for the tables. “Would you like to make the Mac and Cheese for tonights dinner? Yours is better then mine, plus the girls love your Mac and Cheese.” I looked at her and said “sure, what else do you need?”

Tuesday, Feb. 2011 004For the rest of the shift things went well and the night went by fast. We no longer saw the director and during dinner she did not bother us and ask silly questions. She did not ask me to come over to her table to get her more butter, nor did she ask why there were no signs on the veggie option. For the first time since I’ve been working there she stayed out of the way and let us do our job. It was really nice.

Tuesday my day started again pretty nice, but once again the director pops in and tries to engage me in things that have nothing to do with my job, so once again I refused to entertain her and once again she got upset and tried to point things out that I was doing wrong and left the kitchen not to be seen for the rest of my shift.

Right as I was about to head home the other chef tells me that the director told her that I complained about the kitchen not being cleaned when I arrived on Monday and I told her that the director told her a lie. I told he the only things I said were wrong were the things the director left undone. We both laughed and once again the wedge that she had hoped to drive between me and my co-worker did not work.

The highlight of my day was the time I spent in the dining room talking and laughing with the members, Just being able to speak with them, listen to what is going on in their world and also have a chance to get ideas about menus and what they wouldTuesday, Feb. 2011 008 like to see from the kitchen. The other great point of my day was the chance to laugh and work with the dishwasher and maid. They make working there so much fun.

THE CARD

On Monday around 10:00am I noticed an envelope on a clip board with my name on it. I walked over to it and when I opened it I discovered another reason why I love working for this organization and why I will not allow the unprofessionalism  of the director make me question just how much the members of this house love that I am there, besides this I would also not allow her to come between myself and my co-workers. Inside the card were such kind words from each member telling me how much they were missing me while I was away and how much the atmosphere had changed since I was gone. She said they were praying for me and hoped that I would come back very soon.

As I prepare for my day tomorrow I will once again not engage the director in anything that does not pertain to work and I will not allow her to convince me that the work I do is not the very best each and everyday.

Tuesday, Feb. 2011 009Sometimes people who are unhappy want the people around them to be unhappy, sometimes the people who go out of their way to try to make others feel less than is simply because they are the ones who are less than, they are the ones who cause the most problems and they are the ones who always end of alone, because they are the ones who are unhappy. So let them be unhappy…..don’t engage them.

Sunday with Friends

// January 30th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, Chef, Cooking, friends, Me Time, Pictures

Cooking with Kengi 024It’s been a while since I’ve had my two friends Donald and Walter over for dinner, in fact it was long overdue, so after chilling with Donald on Friday, I knew it would be awesome to hang out with him and Walter, so right away I made the calls and after hearing “yes” from both of them I made the plans to have an awesome Sunday afternoon with great food and plenty of smiles and laughs.

Whenever all three of us hang out it is nothing but a great time. I could not have asked for a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon. Donald and Walter are both members of my book club and even though we have not had a meeting in a while, at the end of the night we are so looking forward to bringing that time together back to life. We decided that we will read a few chapters when we get together for our brunches. This way we can all keep up, share and talk about the books we are reading.

Saturday was a cleaning day for me so there wasn’t too much for me to do in the way of getting things ready for my guests. ICooking with Kengi 006just had to wash dishes from the night before….yes sometimes I leave dishes in the sink. This was a huge no, no as a kid and I use to be the kind of person that was very anal about this, but now if I am not feeling up to washing dinner dishes, then they will wait until the next day. The word never comes to an end because i have not washed them and since I don’t have any bugs I don’t worry about leaving a plate or a cup.

It was cold today and the rain returned. It was so cold that I could not sleep as late as I had planned, but unlike most Sunday mornings where I get up make a pot of coffee and watch the morning news shows on ABC, today I simply opened the blinds just a bit and sat on the sofa with Dodger. Soon after I was laughing on the phone with my friend Leah for well over an hour. I love when I have time to spend talking with her. She always has this way of making me laugh even when I dont feel like it.

The bonus surprise was the fact that i was able to hang out with my friends and do an outreach. The shoes Leah donated I was able to give to Walter. He was so happy to get them and I even had the chance to let him speak to Leah. That was really cool.

Cooking with Kengi 012Ok, so as I was saying, it rained today and for some reason I really enjoyed it more then I normally do. Walking to Trader Joe’s was nice and unlike before when I had to bundle up because the rain was coming down pretty hard, this time I simply slipped on a t-shirt, thermo, heavy scarf and a knitted cap and I was off.

I really like Trader Joe’s, but I have learned that I really most inspect things I get there. Many times I come home with fruits or veggies that are packed in these handy plastic containers only to discover that most of them are not usable. Today I was in a hurry and failed to do this and I ended up cutting away most of the tomatoes I purchased. Even one of the avocados was bad, so that too got tossed. However the staff is always friendly and the prices are still cheaper then Whole Food and the quality is still far better then Fresh and Easy.

We had lettuce wraps, chicken tacos, Spanish rice, refried beans, homemade salsa and guacamole with blue corn tortilla chips.Cooking with Kengi 018 I added some fresh grilled shrimp to the ground soy I used for the wraps. I also picked up some juices that I would offer with the water and squirt I already had.

The guys arrived on time and after some conversation we started with the sides and then moved on to the main meal. It was a hit!!!! I was surprised that Donald liked the wraps. I didn’t tell him it wasn’t meat until after he had eaten at least two, but even if I told him before I am still sure he would have eaten and enjoyed them.

As always our time together went by so fast. Before I knew it the time had come for us to say our goodbyes. Dodger and I walked our friends to the corner where we hugged and said good night. i so wish these two lived closer to me so we could see each other more often.

As I walked back home, looking up at the pink clouds in the sky I started to smile because I had just spent the better part of my day with two guys I really enjoy, two men I truly respect and admire a great deal and two men I am so honored, blessed and thrilled to call my friends.

Cooking with Kengi 035The sun has set, most of the kitchen is clean and I have had my hot bath. I am sitting on the sofa uploading my photos from tonight, Dodger is sitting on the arm of his chair snoring, the blinds are closed, my apartment is cozy and I am about to lit my candles and burn some sage.

Since I have to be up rather early, I will be in bed by 8:30pm tonight. Monday is my long day and after having a week off I am sure the director will be in the kitchen bright and early to ask questions and do her best to get under my skin. Already she has emailed a menu that is not mine, so I will have to deal with that once I am in the kitchen, however I will be ready for her and all the games she likes to play.

In the middle of my day I was able to upload my “What is GOOD in Our World” video, that was really cool because last Sunday I was not able to do one.

I hope you all have had an awesome Sunday and I pray that you all have a peaceful and productive week.

Deep Clean Saturday

// January 29th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Animals, Me Time, photos, Pictures, work

It’s Saturday morning around 5:36am and I am up getting my apartment ready for a deep cleaning. I’ve had Dodger for a year now and he has had some accidents in the apartment, that I really need to address. No longer will carpet fresh and scrubbing the areas work, so today I am having the carpet cleaned.

Since the carpets are getting cleaned I am also going to spend some time deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom as well. My place is small, but when it comes time to clean it seems as though it is massive and can take all day. I know some people are able to clean their places in a matter of minutes, but they always have this funny smell. I am always happy to hear from friends that my place always smell and looks clean.

I also need to invest in a vacuum cleaner, the two that I had were given to me and while they served there purpose for a month or two, they quickly gave up when it came to cleaning up after Dodger. Even though Dodger is not a long haired dog, he still leaves a mess behind, I think because his is small and his hair is fine, this makes cleaning up after him that much harder. You don’t see it, but after a short while when I begin to sneeze and get a runny nose, I know it is time to do some deep cleaning.

There are also some things in my closets that I want to get rid of and I also need to start organizing my Do Something Saturday donation bins. Already, with the help of people who have donated I’ve been able to put together 40 of the 75 Do Something Kits for next months 4 year anniversary.

The one thing I would really like to buy in the next month or so is a new bed. I currently sleep in a futon fame and the padding has become very worn. If i don’t flip it ever other day my back and legs start to really bother me. Plus I know in order for me to get a good nights rest I should be sleeping on a proper bed. However this is at least two months away.

All of the furniture in my apartment has been given to me and I am very thankful for it, but it has served its purpose and is time to buy things of my own. I am hoping to buy things with each pay check as well as set money aside just in case things come up. The items that I have now are old and tend to collect dirt and dust, so replacing them will be a good thing. Already someone has offered their old sofa and love seat, but I have declined because I want new things that I have picked out myself. Not things that people have decided to get rid of.

The last thing I need to do today is give Dodger a bath. It’s been at least two weeks since he has had a good bath and I am so tired of seeing him drag his ass over my carpet. It was finny the first few times I saw him do this, but now I just think it is gross and is a clear sign that he is in need of a nice long bath.

I think later I will go out and explore with my camera to find a cool place where I can get some awesome pictures, but right now I am home and concentrating my time and energy on my space and making sure it is clean.

Have A Happy Day!!!!

// January 28th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Canon, HIV and AIDS, Me Time, photos, Pictures

Have a Happy Day 029Today more then ever I wanted to get out of my apartment and have a great day. It was sunny and pretty warm out and I refused to sit inside and let this day slip away from me. I was up pretty early to watch Good Morning America and then spent some time talking with a friend in Atlanta and then cousins out in Texas.

By mid morning I had called my friend Donald and made plans to spend the better part of my day with him. Since I had not seen him in a while I thought this would be one sure fire way to get me to laugh and have a great time with an awesome friend. I am so glad I called him, because from start to finish I was laughing and having such a good time.

However first there were some things I really needed to make sure were in place, so I could have some peace in my mind that I have done all I am supposed to do. I’ve been worried that I have not heard anything from the housing authority with regard to changing my rent since I am now working. I have placed calls to the office, but they have gone unreturned. So I started making my case manager aware of this and today when I talked with her, I one again expressed my concern that I have not received a return phone call.

She assured me that she would look into it and also would make sure she made notes so if the situation ever came up that IHave a Happy Day 011have not tried to report a change in income, she would have it documented in my file. This was my second call to my case manager and the 3rd time we have spoken about this matter. I certainly don’t want my housing to be in jeopardy because of some oversight that is not from a lack of me trying to do the right thing.

I also needed to speak with my case manager to inform her on my medical appointments as well as all other things I have been doing this month. Since my housing depends on me going to the doctors and doing all I can to educate myself about HIV I have to report what I am doing each month. For the most part this is not a big deal for me because I am always going to HIV updates, doing my volunteer work and even doing my own peer support which all count as me doing all I can to educate myself as well as take full care of myself. Since I am working now, having a face to face meeting with my case manager each month is a bit hard, so she and I have worked out a way for me to do my monthly reports that does not require me to take time off from work.

Have a Happy Day 016While I am was hanging out with my friend I received a phone call from my case manager, she told me she received an email from my analyst at the housing authority letting her know that she had in fact got my calls and would take care of any changes at my next certification. I was so happy to hear this and in turn this news helped me to relax when it comes to my housing.

Donald and I headed over to the Beverly Center and as always Donald looked like a million bucks. I joked with him saying “are you ever casual Donald” He laughed and said “I am casual”

Right away Donald was on top of his game which meant I was laughing and smiling the entire time. There is just no way you can spend time with him and not laugh the entire time. The bus ride over to the mall was like comedy hour. At one point I was in tears from laughing so hard.

I had a $100 gift card from Bloomingdale’s, so I wanted to get some Armani and Channel cologne for myself. I also wanted toHave a Happy Day 032 stop into the APPLE Store and take a look at the laptops and give myself a visual on what I want to get for myself.

After leaving the Bloomingdale’s at the Beverly Center, we headed over to NORMS to get a bite to eat and continue our laugh fest. It’s been sometime since I have eaten at NORMS, but eat time I go I am always happy with the food I am served and the service is always nice as well. It always surprises me how a place like NORMS can have such low prices but serve steaks that are tender and juicy. While other places have high prices and steaks that taste like rubber.

Back home Dodger welcomed me with barks followed by kisses. I uploaded my youtube video and started my night to unwind. I spoke with my friend Walter and then to my friend Seth. It was nice to hear his happy voice on the other end of the phone. He told me he had read my blogs and rather then comment he thought he would call me to let me know he was thinking about me.

Have a Happy Day 038Right now I am watching World News with Diane Sawyer, I have some scented candles burning and later I am sure I will take a hot bath. Saturday is yet another day for me that will start early. I have an appointment to get my carpet cleaned and then plan to take some time out taking pictures. I am hoping to find a place where I can take pictures of simple things.

In all my day was filled with love, light and laughter. My heart is filled with joy and my soul is at peace.

Three Day Weekend

// January 17th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, beach, Cooking, Me Time, photos, Pictures

Tuesday, Jamuary 11, 2011 016WOW, this was long overdue, it’s funny how I just came back from being off from work for a three week vacation and already I needed some time off to relax. As I have said before I love working for the organization, but the director makes working so much harder and stressful then it needs to be.  Plus last week there was simply so much more to do then any other normal week, but I got through it and I had a great restful weekend.

Saturday marked one full year that Dodger has been with me and since he was already 2 years old I used the the better part of the day to celebrate his 3 year birthday. We went out for a walks and he even got table food. He loves to eat table food, but never really gets it, so this was a real treat for him.

I can’t even begin to tell you just how much of a treat it has been to have this sweet little dog in my life. The love that he gives so freely is just so refreshing. it is so nice to come home to him jumping around and barking at me because I am back home. There aren’t many nights where he is not on the bed with me snoring and trying to pull the covers toward him so he can cover his head. Then there are those rare times when in the middle of the night he will lick my face and run toward the door. This is when I know he has to go very bad, so i try to get up and get on some clothes to rush him out.

Learning 004Dodger has this way of making me smile at him, even when he has knocked something over or has been in the bathroom trash to shred the paper or tear up the roll of toilet paper. The funny thing is that as soon as he knows I’ve seen what he has done, he runs to his cage and hides in the very back. Almost like he knows he is about to get a time out and places himself in one.

I also had plans to meet up with a friend to shoot the sunset at Santa Monica Beach and I am so glad I made the time to do this. It was so awesome to finally be able to take my new camera down to the beach for a sunset and get some pretty awesome shots. It was also very nice to do this with a friend I have not hung out with one on one in while.

All I can say about this new camera is “WOW” The pictures I am able to take are simply awesome and I am so happy I had this purchase. I’ve also been reading a book I received as a birthday gift that has lots of cool tips that I have been putting into action, which have really taken my pictures to a whole level.

I love Santa Monica. It is where I was born and raised and it is where I started my Do Something Saturday outreach. The beach has always been a place of peace for me. I use to go there a lot as a kid and just sit, as an adult I did the very same thing. While homeless the beach was still a place I went to for peace and to just try to put things into perspective. It was, on many nights a place for me to sleep. It’s funny how my life has allowed Santa Monica Beach to hold so many memories for me, so many awesome memories and even some bad ones, but in all Santa Monica and Santa Monica Beach will always hold a very special place in my heart. The cool thing is that I might be able to move back there some day soon. I am so looking forward to this.

After taking pictures and talking with my friend I walked her to her car and started to walk along the board walk towards theSunset @ Santa Monica Beach 076.CR2 pier. I stopped to get some quick pictures of the volleyball quarts along side the pier and after taking just a few shots I heard someone call my name. I turned around to see to two smiling faces of friends I met through my friends Krystal and Patrick.

We sat and talking and laughing for a while, before we had to head our separate ways, but as I walked toward the pier I thought to myself just how richly blessed I am to have the kinds of people in my life as friends. I was thinking this, because just a week before I had to make the choice to remove someone from my life, whom I truly loved and wanted to have in my life, but they were someone that would only cause me hurt, harm and pain, not to mention all the public embarrassment they had already caused me.

As I walked up the pier I thought of the types of people I want in my life, the kinds of people I want to call friends and the type of people who call me friend and again I began to smile because the people who are in my life are very solid people and I know they are truly my friends and the ones I needed to remove were not.

Sunset @ Santa Monica Beach 269Once I got on the bus I put on my NANO and the first song that played was called “Everything Changes” As I listened to the awesome voice delivering such powerful words I began to smile knowing that things in my life are right where they are supposed to be and the people in my life are in my life for the right reasons, not because I am some “project” to help them feel better about who they are.

Ma us to tell me that people in my life are like “seasons” they come and they go, but friends are like trees, they a rooted and with you for the long haul, through the thick and thin, ups and downs, good times and bad. “Find you some trees baby and then you will now what a real friend is.” I smiled again as I got off the bus to walk a block home because I know I have some amazing “trees” in my life.

I spent Sunday alone for the most part. I wanted to simply hang out with Dodger and do nothing. I ignored emails and texts for people at work….I do not get paid to work on the weekends. I went for a few walks with Dodger, talked on the phone with some friends and took it easy all day long. It felt great. I even got the chance to stay up late and watch my favorite show brothers and sisters on ABC.

I had Monday (today) off and again I was so looking forward to this day because it would mark the first time I have everchillin and cookin 020attended the “Kingdom Day Parade” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I will share this and the awesome pictures in another blog as well as on my Flickr page.

I hope you’ve had an awesome, peaceful and blessed weekend. OH YEAH, Sunday night ended with an awesome meal that I cooked for myself.

New Camera-Canon Rebel T2i

// January 15th, 2011 // No Comments » // beach, Canon, Me Time, photos, Pictures

Learning 002I’ve been wanting and needing a new camera for sometime now, but I have not been able to afford the to get one, but now that I have a job that pays well, I’ve been able to do things for myself that I have not been able to do for a long time. Getting a new camera for a birthday and Christmas present to myself is one of them.

I was shooting with a Canon Powershot and was very happy with the pictures the camera took. However I outgrew that camera very quickly and because of the amount of photos I was taking the retractable lens was starting to fail. I knew it was only a matter of time before I turned the camera on and the lens would simply not open.

Back in June of 2010 while hanging out with friends, I saw the new camera my friend Eric purchased and before even seeing the quality of photos it could produce I was “lusting” after that camera. I already knew I wanted to stick with Canon because they had been so good to me when I called for support with my powershot, plus I loved the quality of pictures I was taking. However after I saw the pictures Eric took, I knew this was the camera I want to purchase. He was shooting with a Canon Rebel T2i.

I was sick for most of my 3 week break, but got up to do an outreach for my birthday on the 19th of December and afterwardsLearning 003had dinner with my friends at ZENGO in Santa Monica. Eric and Willow gave me a sweet gift for my birthday. It was a book on Digital Photography. Once I opened the gift I knew I now needed to get my new camera, so on December 29th I made the trip to Sammy’s Camera and got my new baby.

I love this new camera and the quality of pictures I am taking is simply awesome. People have told me that the pictures “pop” and the detail is “great”, however I was still not getting the higher quality that I had hoped for. This is where my buddy Eric comes in handy. I can always text or call him with questions and he always supplies the answers I need. Moreover the book he gave me is simple and easy to understand, so while reading a few chapters today I put many of the suggestions to work.

Tonight I am going out to shoot my first sunset at the beach. I am so looking forward to putting into practice what I have learned from reading the book. The biggest change I will be making tonight is that I will be shooting my pictures using a tri-pod to get more crisp pictures. Like the book said this is a bit more work, but in the pictures I’ve seen already I am willing to put in the extra effort to get more “popping” photos.

Learning 004I will also be investing in a better, more quality tri-pod as well. The book suggest a few types and I have seen others use the suggested tri-pods, so after speaking with Eric I will make my choice. The biggest investment will be a new lens where I can shoot things from a distance. The lens I have is great, but for my community work I would like a lens that will deliver high quality photos that I can shoot from a distance so that I don’t disturb the situation I am shooting.

This new camera will also help me take my pictures to a whole level and has already started me to think about planning another photo exhibit like the one I did back in 2007 with a team of photographers and kids down in the Oakwood area of  Venice.

With all the stress of work, my new camera is going to provide me with some awesome picture safaris to help remove some of the stress and will also get me out of the house more to walk to find some awesome places to snap some really cool pictures. I can already tell that my adventures in photography have just begun.

Well it’s already 12:32pm and I need to get ready to head out to the beach. It will take two buses to get there, or maybe just one if I go on the Sunset bus which will take me down to Pacific Coast Highway. The only down side to that is the fact that there is a private beach and I would have to walk along the highway before I could cut back over to the beach. I don’t think I want to do that, but you never know.

I can’t wait to snap pictures of the Santa Monica Pier and of the sun as it deeps into the Pacific Ocean. Plus tomorrow my plan isLearning 006 to get up and head to the beach to get the sun rise at Venice Beach. Now that should be fun.

Hold on tight to a whole new “My Life Through My Lens” experience

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