Tag Archives: walking

Weekly Photo Challenge: Natural

One of the things I love most about heading out into the world with my camera is the power it has to help me pay attention to the beauty and the details around me.  It’s been wet around here this week–rainy again. As I pulled into a parking place at the university this week, I noticed the leaf debris on the ground as a result of all that rain and was drawn to the natural beauty of the eucalyptus leaves.  It was a welcome relief after the hassle of trying to find a parking place!


As the storm moved out, the moon became visible winking above the clouds.  I stopped on my way home to find a place high enough to look above the buildings and houses to capture the moon in all its natural brilliance.  I was particularly drawn the blues and greens in this shot looking east.


The moon reminded me that I was also likely to find some low tides–and I was rewarded as I headed to the beach for an afternoon walk.  But, while the weather report promised a warming trend, the beach areas were shrouded in fog.  (We could watch it wafting in around ten in the morning from the classroom!)  But there is something peaceful about walking wrapped in clouds, visibility limited, breathing in the benefits of the damp natural air.  It’s like walking in a black and white film, with everything in shades of gray.


And even as I walked, I could feel the sun penetrating the thick blanket of fog, creating a natural shine reflecting on the water.  The low tide reveals so many interesting rock formations–the beach is new each time I walk!


As I walked again after work yesterday (such a great way to end the work week!), I noticed this sea plant tossed up onto the rocks.  Up close the fog doesn’t wash the colors away–you can see the bright red of the plant against the multi-colored sea rocks…a natural still life!


I’ve been seeing a great white egret over the last couple of weeks.  Yesterday, I spied a distinctive white bird in a different part of my walk.  I stepped carefully across the natural carpet of algae to get close.  I noticed that this white bird was different.  Instead of a yellow beak–this one was black…and its feet were bright yellow!  A little research led me to its name–a snowy egret!  It let me get quite close and snap some shots before it flew off to another part of the beach.


So, head out with your camera and let what’s natural guide your lens.  Of course, you get to decide on the definition and parameters of natural for yourself!

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #natural for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What will you find when you focus your lens on the natural?  I look forward to seeing what you find.




It’s so easy to break a good habit, even after it has been well established. When I started this blog, I wrote daily for months on end.  Of course, I did it because I knew if I stopped (and I was afraid to stop for even one day), I would have a hard time getting back on track.

I guess I was right.

This week, my friend and colleague Kevin posted a prompt on the NWP iAnthology, inviting some short-form writing in the form of Haiku, 3 line poems, for the purpose of healing the spirit.  #haikuforhealing is a hashtag where people are sharing these poems meant to raise spirits.  I noticed Kevin writing them in December, making posters of them with inspirational images as their backdrop.  I enjoyed them…and thought about writing some of my own.

So when the prompt came up on Saturday, I decided to try my hand at it. I started with a photo I had taken and posted on Instagram.  I imported it into Canva and added my words. My first #haikuforhealing was born.


On Sunday my schedule didn’t allow for a long photo-taking walk. Instead, I snapped a shot of the moon through the trees in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.  I messed with it a bit in prisma, amping up the color. Hmmm…a Haiku about the moon?  I could do that.


It rained quite a bit on Monday, but it had stopped by the time I left work. Knowing rain was in the forecast later in the week, I decided to take a walk on the beach on the way home.  The clouds were sitting low, hugging the horizon, as the sun tried its best to peek through.  Inspiration for another #haikuforhealing?  Why not?


Should I go for four days in a row?  One of the things I love about living near the coast is the proximity to the trains. I hear them as I walk on the beach, I hear them as I teach, and they frequently hold me up at intersections as the guards lower, the lights flash, and the train barrels past.Today I was walking toward my car when the rail guards dropped, giving me just enough time to snap a few shots…and think about a Haiku…


I don’t know if I have re-established a habit of daily writing, but I am four days into daily #haikuforhealing writing.  I’m enjoying it.  I like creating the poster with my photograph and words…and sharing it on Twitter (@kd062) makes me feel accountable (at least to myself).

Join in the healing, let Haiku shift your perspective and help you find inspiration, beauty, meaning…  And if you have other ideas to keep the daily writing fresh and doable, I’d love to hear about them!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Down to the Ground

This week’s challenge intersects with #digiwrimo, popping up with leadership from #clmooc-ers, encouraging some collaborative digital play.  Last year we created a collaborative photo album called Our Eyes on the Skywhich turned out to be a world tour through skies.  To switch it up this year, the theme is Down to the Ground and we’re hoping to create another around the world tour!

With the ground theme in mind, I have also had my eyes to the ground. The tide has been low this week–right after school, so I have had walking opportunities before heading home.  With the tide way out, nature’s textures become evident, rippling the sand as the water pools around it.


Walking at low tide means that rocks and shells are revealed…and my favorite, tiny pieces of tumbled glass.  I have found many treasures this week by keeping my eyes to the ground.  Here’s my haul from Wednesday.


Even though dogs are not allowed on the beach, at this time of year it’s not unusual to see a dog or two.  (I guess the rules are less stringent in the off season)  I noticed these paw prints as I walked the other day.


I love the light as the sun is setting, and yesterday was no exception.  I caught this golden glow with a solitary seagull silhouetted as the sun sunk into the sea.  I love the sense of stillness and solitude that comes with walks on the beach–especially in the off season in the early evening. It is really the perfect antidote to everyday stresses.


Today as I walked, I noticed the seagulls gathered, basking in the warmth of the setting sun.  As people walked near, they began to fly–high enough to feel safe, but not high at all.  They simply skimmed the ground, flying less than a foot from the surface of the sand. I always love when I can catch the wings in a perfect flying formation (and the shadow is a bonus!).


And believe it or not, I don’t spend my life at the beach.  I spend most of every day in my classroom surrounded by children.  In preparation for a field trip next week, we headed to our school library to practice taking inspiration from our surroundings…and the words we found on book spines.  I found this student sprawled on the ground, focused on writing, inspired by her surroundings!  I can’t wait to head off to the Children’s Museum to see how play and art will inspire our students’ writing!


My grandsons (can you believe they are 9 months old already?) will arrive at my house right after Christmas…I can’t wait!  In preparation (and because the car can’t hold all the equipment the twins will need), baby things are arriving.  Phil and Jack (our cats) moved right into this huge box that held a couple of pack and plays.


So, this is your week to get down the ground and explore those things that are low and close to the earth (or the floor).  You are welcome to share in the usual ways…and feel free to add your image to our collaborative photo album (you can find the link above).

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #downtotheground for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.


So look down…and all around.  What will you find when your eyes are down to the ground?


I’ve been out walking this week.  Not in exotic locales or even for exercise (although I know I should), but just to walk.  And as I walk on the well worn paths, places where my bare feet already know the way and the waves toss rocks until they are smooth and round, my thoughts wander and the muscles in my shoulders relax.

There is something indefinable that happens when my feet move, my arms swing, the wind brushes my hair away from my face, and the sun warms my shoulders. This movement–not aimed at getting me from one place to another or to raise my heart rate–engages my body and lets my brain disconnect from the worries and demands of everyday life. I start to notice details of the world around me, details that I miss when I’m focused on getting there for a meeting or staying here to complete this paperwork.

Today I noticed all the children on the beach who are attending camps: volleyball camps, surf camps, and the local staple–junior lifeguards. I found myself thinking about the job opportunities for young people that are available because of those camps as I watched young adults (or almost adults) mentoring younger children.  I also wondered about the kids who don’t have access to these camps and who may not see this public beach as their place. What does summer look like for kids whose parents can’t afford camps like these or who don’t have the luxury of dropping their kids off at 9 and picking them up at noon?


And I thought about privilege as I looked up at the sea cliffs above this magnificent beach where I walk.  Perched at the top are multimillion dollar homes with expanses of windows facing the sea. If you look closely, you’ll notice the stairs criss-crossing the cliff face.  Exclusive access to the public beach below.  I am grateful that the beach is public, regardless of who lives on the cliff above.


There were lots of seabirds today.  The seagulls are regulars, they hang out at the beach all the time. (I’ve written about them a lot, see this post.) Feeling a shadow overhead, I looked up to see graceful pelicans flying in formation.  My husband calls them bombardiers, they remind him of our military aircraft in precision flight.  These birds are huge, but in flight they are agile and delicate. At one point I looked up and caught sight of a white and gray bird overhead.  It took me a moment to realize that this bird was not a seagull.  It was an osprey–also known as a sea eagle, with a whole fish in its talons, racing through the sky.  I was riveted watching this elegant bird of prey, feeling fortunate that I had the opportunity to see it in action.  I didn’t snap a photo, but I did enjoy the moment.  And there are my friends–the sandpipers.  I love their curved bills and high pitched whistles. They’re a bit shy and wary, making me appreciate them even more.


I walked for miles.  And like this post, my thoughts meandered, pausing on a bird, on a child squealing with delight, on a surfer shredding through the break of the wave. The cool water contrasted with the warmth of the sun on my cheeks just like my observations of the seabirds contrasted with my awareness of issues of privilege and access present on this beach that I love. And even though I don’t have any ready answers, I left the beach with a clear head and sandy feet, refreshed and renewed ready to tackle whatever life throws my way.

I wonder what tomorrow’s walk will bring?



Weekly Photo Challenge: One

When I’m out taking pictures I tend to depend on two cameras–either my trusty and ever-present iPhone 6s or my mirrorless Sony a6000.  And although I have more than one lens for that Sony, I mostly use my 16-55mm lens.  So on Sunday, I broke out of my usual and put my zoom lens on as we headed out onto the beach for a walk.

I noticed right away that I was looking at things differently.  The change in focal length meant that I had to look into the distance for my subject.  As I walked down the ramp from the parking lot, this kite caught my eye.  I was able to zoom in on the single image…a butterfly on a string!


And sometimes it’s just about timing.  I looked up and this seagull flew right into my line of sight.  Just one bird on the edge of the frame.


Later on my walk, I spied this pink bucket sitting solo.  There was something about this bucket, alone that had me zoom in and focus.


But as I looked at this week’s photos, I realized that I didn’t need my zoom lens to focus on one.  As we stopped by the botanic gardens to enjoy the sunny afternoon, I found myself mesmerized by this swallowtail butterfly.  It’s hard to take pictures of butterflies. In my experience, they seem to want to fly away as I am trying to get them into focus.  But this guy seemed to want to pose.  He let me come closer and closer as I snapped away–so I could see the intricacies of his wings as he sipped nectar.


Geoff and I decided to visit a new outlet mall on Saturday evening–one some distance away from home.  As sunset grew close, we grabbed a coffee and headed to a nearby beach.  He walked the rocks, searching for sea glass and picking up trash and I snapped photos of the sunset.  Here I captured a single lifeguard tower silhouetted in the setting sun.


And Tuesday’s foray away from the most traveled path took me to the Mt. Soledad park.  There’s a veteran’s memorial, a controversial cross, and amazingly breathtaking views of the coast and the city.  I noticed this one American flag fluttering against the puffy white clouds.


So…what one subject will you capture in your photo(s) this week?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #one for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Head out with your camera and look for one…and capture it in a photo (or two or three…).  What one will you choose?

Walking My Way In

I spent the last several days thinking and talking about leadership and the pathways that lead to and open into leadership opportunities—particularly in a writing project context. Settled in the rustic natural beauty of the hills outside Austin, I did a lot of walking, and talking, and thinking.


In the educational community, many teachers doubt their leadership—especially if it is situated outside of the classroom. Leadership feels like something bestowed, it comes with a recognizable title, and it means telling others what to do.

But in so many ways, my own experiences with leadership have involved making and doing. It has been about invitations that carry with them a sense of belief that I have something to offer—maybe something I haven’t yet recognized in myself. It has been about saying yes even when I wasn’t sure of what saying yes meant.

And like this weekend, sometimes I walk behind someone else, noticing the footsteps, watching where they sidestep the boggy places and climb over the branches.


Sometimes I break the trail, exploring through my feet on the ground, listening to the sounds around me, noting the running water and the squirrel that runs overhead. When I feel lost (and that definitely happens!), I stop to look and listen. What happened to my path? Can I find it again…or make my own in the moment? And there are times when I simply have to backtrack, retracing the steps I already took.


So I know how to support new leaders in the ways I have been supported to grow as a leader. But how do we recognize and make spaces for leaders with abilities and knowledge different from our own?

How do we make spaces so their leadership can take root and grow outside the groomed planter boxes that are easily recognizable?


All that walking and talking has me contemplating possibilities, and is lighting the fires of design thinking.  I’m looking forward to gathering a team at our writing project site to considering alternatives that will include those who haven’t found our typical entry points, creating new access–hopefully for those who bring talents and perspectives currently missing from our conversations and our planning.


I’m walking my way in to new understandings…and I hope that will also open up new pathways for others to walk their way into leadership at our site, enriching and expanding our community of learners and leaders.




Savoring Summer: August’s Photo-A-Day Challenge

It’s so easy to barrel through life, focused on all the tasks there are to do, checking things off on the mental to-do list, looking ahead and planning ahead…and missing what is right in front of you.  My camera helps a bit, when I am taking pictures I tend to slow down, look closely, consider angles and light…and I also seem to notice sounds and textures, smells and even tastes because I am paying attention.

I recently read something about a savoring walkit was part of a post about ways to practice gratitude, but I was immediately drawn to it as a way to pay attention and really experience the moments in front of me.  In their explanation, you should take a walk for 20 minutes each day and notice as many positive things as you can using any and all of your senses.  They encourage you to acknowledge each of these in your mind–truly savor them–don’t just let them slip away.

This struck me as an interesting way to consider taking photos.  How could a photo account for an experience I noticed with my sense of smell?  I could document that sweet candy smell that permeated the area when I walked into Dylan’s Candy Bar in Chicago by sharing my picture of the giant lollypops that hung overhead, and looking back at it would bring me back and help me remember and savor that experience.


Walking through Millennium Park I noticed the flowers blooming, and when I moved closer I could hear the soft buzz of bees at work.  My husband is always reminding me to be careful, there’s bees there.  But I love to lean close and watch these fascinating creatures hum…they never seem to be still.  The macro lens is my friend when it comes to bees, helping me savor these buzzy moments!


As I motored up the river on an architectural tour, the buildings were the main focus of attention.  And they deserve attention!  They come in all shapes and sizes–tall boxes, some with exoskeletons, some made up of triangles. These corn cob shaped ones are quite distinctive, with their layered rounded edges creating interesting and unique textures you can almost feel with your eyes.


And as I attended to the buildings, I noticed all the window washers hanging off the sides of these metal and glass giants!  Even after my fear-conquering trip up Sears Tower, I’m sure I wouldn’t like hanging off the sides of tall buildings as my work! I wonder how many window washers are employed in Chicago?


And sometimes savoring is all about standing back and taking the broad view.  I savored this moment looking across the Chicago Institute of Art and noticing my husband taking a photo of the Chicago skyline through the long lines of the Art Institute windows.


A ferris wheel?  Yep, an iconic landmark…and a fun way to enjoy the view of the lake and the city.  And as we stood in line to buy a ticket, I noticed that I could see the cityscape framed in silhouette through the wheel…another moment worth savoring!


Shoulder to shoulder with thousands and thousands of locals and tourists, I enjoyed an evening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion watching the taping of the NPR show, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me with some NWP friends.  There was a sense of community and warm summer night relaxation in spite of the large crowd.  People were friendly, laughter flowed, and fun was had by all!


And the festivities continued into the evening as the smell of wet concrete mixed with the glow of the blue moon and the lights of the city to create the perfect nightscape for summer play.  It was fun to watch these young people invent games to entertain themselves as they cooled off and enjoyed a warm July evening.


So take some time to savor summer throughout the month of August, slow down and go beyond your eyes to use all your senses as you notice and appreciate your world.  Here’s some prompts to get your started.

1. Sweet

2. Whisper

3. Smooth

4. Salty

5. Textured

6. Up

7. Complex

8. Layers

9. Loud

10. Crinkly

11. Below

12. Constant

13. Sweaty

14. Rhythm

15. Slick

16. Rough

17. Fresh

18. Down

19. Squished

20. Sharp

21. Melodic

22. Savory

23. Wet

24. Blue

25. Distant

26. Crisscrossed

27. Soft

28. Rolling

29. Transparent

30. Spin

31. Refreshing

Our challenge will allow us to learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot. Every day of the month includes a word prompt to inspire and challenge you as you savor your experiences . You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or throw in a new word prompt for the rest of us to try. You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.

Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them! You can share on Twitter (follow me @kd0602), on Instagram (@kd0602), in the CLMOOC community on G+, on Flickr, or even link back to my blog here.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you savor your summer experiences…through your lens!