Sunday Stills: The #Future Is Ours

Teaching a Kinder Class

Last week I hinted at the future as I looked back to 2021 and shared images of my events and life. Please join me as I look back again to the future to see where the journey might lead and how I might like to spend 2022.

But first, while researching this topic, I had to ask myself how does one take a photograph of the future? I admit to borrowing the idea for this challenge from the WordPress weekly photo challenge, April 2016, which many of you participated in back then including myself! I bet you didn’t know that you can go back and look at the thumbnails of the participants for additional inspiration (though many have stopped blogging).

Jen Hooks of WordPress, writes “One of the glorious things about photography is that it enables us to take a moment of our present, and make it available to look on in meticulous detail in the future.” This week, share an image that represents the potential of things to come.

The Future Begins

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter F Drucker

Shortly before he died in 2005, Peter Drucker was celebrated by BusinessWeek magazine as “the man who invented management.”

In an interesting twist, university curricula often included Drucker’s writings in management courses, including those that I had the pleasure to teach. I taught a total of 10 full years at the university level, teaching and creating curricula for parks and recreation management students.

Thinking of the future for this week, I found several older posts that support this theme.

The Future Begins with Steps to Education (2016)

Steps to Education lead to the future.

Walking from my classroom on campus a few months ago, I was intrigued by the way the stairs looked on this overcast day. These stairs lead from the east edge of the university campus to the bike trail and onto the bridge that crosses the river. Every semester, I have the pleasure of seeing the eager faces of young adults nearing the completion of their university education.

The future is theirs.

Bloganuary Challenge

Many bloggers are being inspired by January’s daily prompts. I’d hoped to hop into this WordPress event more often, but I’ve been busy shoveling snow and dealing with things on the home front. I have enjoyed many folks’ posts on the daily prompts. I attempt to answer the prompts briefly with an image and simply include these in my Sunday Stills posts. Hope you don’t mind!

I responded to two that seem to fit the theme of future.

January 1 What advice would you give your teenage self?

Take heart, your braces will come off and all that teasing you endured for sporting the braces AND having curly red hair will leave you with resilience and amazing coping skills. And, an excellent idea to take four years of Mrs. Lee’s classes in high school. See below.

January 6 Who is someone that inspires you and why?

Excerpts from a previous post: Reconnecting with My High School Teacher (2017)

Who was your favorite high school teacher? Mine was Mrs. Myrra Lee, of Helix High School in La Mesa, California, a suburb of San Diego. I discovered Mrs. Lee was celebrating her 90th birthday in San Diego in July 2016, and her family posted an open invitation on Facebook to former students.

Initially, I declined the invitation due to distance, but we ended up in San Diego during that very week to assist my ailing mother. Mrs. Lee’s family asked for thoughts to be emailed and I had written a blog post with this thought:

“Now that I am an educator, I wish she knew how much her teaching influenced my life, personally and professionally.” I never believed that I would ever get the chance to tell her face to face after 38 years.

Meeting my high school teacher 38 years later

The day of Mrs. Lee’s luncheon brought me so much joy! I was told by the family that she had suffered a mild stroke a few months before. When I entered the restaurant, I walked up to where she sat and introduced myself. She noticed my name tag and smiled. I asked if she remembered me and she replied very softly that she did. I was elated and honored to get this photo with her.

During the luncheon, we had the opportunity to share the perspectives and experiences we had with her as our teacher.

Nervously I stood and thanked her for being such an inspiration to me. I’m sure I stumbled over a few more words, eloquent and otherwise, but more specifically, these: “I ended up becoming an educator, too, Mrs. Lee, and this has been the joy of my life.”

She smiled and applauded, along with the rest of the room. I sat down with tears shining in my eyes.

As I listened to more of my high school classmates share their stories of this 1977 National Teacher of Year, I watched Mrs. Lee and still saw that razor-sharp glint in her eye, as her educator mind drank in the memories and praise. Even her recent stroke at age 90 had not stopped those gears from turning. She went into eternity just two years later and I will be forever grateful that I got to see her again and for her “take-no-prisoners” educational style and her ability to challenge everything we understood within our teenage selves in the mid-1970s.

Mrs. Lee taught us the value of an education and challenged students to reach for the stars and to not take no for an answer.

Terri Webster Schrandt, Reconnecting with My High School Teacher

A Continuing Educator

Sad as I was to end my 10-year career as a university faculty lecturer, our move to Washington State provided an unexpected and welcomed opportunity. Last week I mentioned I am employed as a substitute teacher for Nine Mile Falls School District. My first day as a sub was for a kindergarten class. I snapped this pic during an UNUSUALLY quiet moment as the kiddos got down to business (for a few minutes, and I’m talking FEW!!). A big difference from teaching university students, although crying happens in both age groups!

Teaching a Kinder Class
A rare moment when the kinders were ALL engaged!

The future indeed!

Need More “Future” Inspiration?

In no particular order, I’ve chosen images that represent past and future trips. Mexico may be a far-future return excursion, but Hawaii, San Diego in Southern CA, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona are very doable in 2022. Fingers crossed!

SUPing the waves
Wave Paddling, Hilo

A few more images that depict the “future” from my perspective.

Two years ago this was our future.

Boulder Home Compound
Our Boulder Way Compound in Eastern Washington

Photo Challenges this Week

Each week I am inspired by my fellow bloggers’ photo challenges. I find it fun to incorporate these into my Sunday Stills weekly themes.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

Sunday Stills weekly challenge is easy to join. You have all week to share and link your post.

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Tag your post “Sunday Stills.”
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are this week’s links from bloggers who share photos that might represent the future.

To see more of my images and other news, consider following Terri on Social Media by clicking the icons:

Themes for the rest of January are ready to view on my Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Page. This page is updated monthly and I am open to YOUR theme ideas, too!

I hope you enjoyed my look back to the future. What does the future hold for you? Tell us in any creative way you would like! Join me next week for the monthly color challenge: white.

A future me this summer 2022!

© 2022-2025 Copyright — secondwindleisure.com — All Rights Reserved

Celebrate #Blue with Flowers

Blue and purple hydrangeas
Blue and purple hydrangeas

These blue hydrangeas have inspired me to share their loveliness for not only two photo challenges today, but to introduce a daily journal challenge for the month of July.

Journaling in July

Journaling has been a challenge for me most of my adult life. I did keep a journal when I was between 18-20 years old and still have the books. Nowadays I like to think of blogging as a way of keeping a journal, as I share thoughts about photography, fitness, and leisure.

With that said, I am joining other bloggers for Sue’s Journaling in July, with 31 days of journaling prompts to inspire our creative ideas. Each Saturday, you can link up with other bloggers and share your journal prompts. Please visit Sue’s post for more information.

Journaling in July

How Will I Do This?

Each week as I post for Becky B’s Blue Squares in July and my weekly photo challenge Sunday Stills, I intend to share within those posts, the journal prompts that inspired me that week. We can all use some extra inspiration, so for me, combining these challenges into two posts a week sounds like a great way to spend the month of July as I continue to (impatiently) recover from surgery.

This week I share the journal prompts that resonated the most with me.

July 3 What Makes Me Feel Happy

At our ladies retreat in early May, we also had opportunities to journal over that weekend. A similar question “What feeds your soul” had me answer similarly that I love photography and usually take a picture of something when I see it. The hydrangeas pictured above symbolize my happiness as I enjoy a bit of gardening and can see my potted flowers grow and thrive in the warm California sun. Of course, I will shoot the flowers with my phone or camera so I can enjoy looking at them throughout the day, week or month.

July 5 What I Did Today

Since I’ve committed to gardening, the simple act of watering my flowers and plants daily is gratifying while I am staying close to home. The things we do each day needn’t be glamorous or electrifying, and I am rather grateful to have this downtime. But I admit that watering the front and back yards with a hose while walking with crutches is probably the most challenging thing I did all day!

If I had been asked this question this time last year, I would have written that my hubby and I spent the weekend at the Delta playing on the water, on our windsurf- or stand-up paddleboards. I am counting the days to July 26th when my cast comes off!

4th of July Weekend 2018

If you are craving some blogging inspiration, visit Becky and Sue at their links in the post. I’ve also submitted the hydrangeas for Cee’s Flower of the Day photo challenge.

© 2019 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Festival of Leaves: An Inspired Start to Autumn

Autumn leaves amid clovers

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know I love posting photo challenges on Fridays. I have gotten used to the fact the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge has gone the way of the dinosaur, but we photo-bloggers have found continuing inspiration with each others’ challenges.

Having joined the pink party a little late at Becky B’s Squares in September, I was inspired by all the shades of pink that surround us in nature. So much so that I have been posting pink photos on Instagram for October’s traditional Breast Cancer Awareness Month. More about this in the Sunday Stills challenge this week!

I was pleased to see that Dawn, from The Day After, is again hosting her photo challenge Festival of Leaves. Because you know how much I dislike Autumn

There is still a LOT of green and very little color this early in October.

Green autumn leaves

But, the Festival of Leaves is slowly working its way to the ground amid confused pink clovers.

Autumn leaves amid clovers

In a couple of weeks, we may see this!

Red and green fall leaves

Keep your fingers crossed!

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” Elizabeth Lawrence

Cee Neuner posts an extensive list of photo challenges. Perhaps you will find one that inspires you!

Autumn SIGNature

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49 Days In 1988: Week 31 – First Night – Hugh’s Views & News

Night sky

Many thanks to Hugh for featuring me on his blog today!

This weekly feature shares accounts from his journal written in the 1980s and introduces bloggers’ book project and favorite 80s songs!

If you have not visited Hugh’s blog yet, please stop by!

Photo by Emre Gencer on Unsplash

via 49 Days In 1988: Week 31 – First Night – Hugh’s Views & News

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Speaker Interview With Terri Webster Schrandt – WordCamp Sacramento 2017

wordcamp logo and speaker photo

wordcamp logo and speaker photo

My 15 minutes of fame as a presenter comes this weekend at the WordCamp Sacramento 2017 conference! I cannot believe how fortunate I am to be able to attend not one, but two, local blogging conferences in September!

In January, I shared “Need More Inspiration? Attend a Blogging Event” encouraging bloggers to meet other bloggers in person when and where possible. I read that many bloggers discovered regional events they could attend.

WordCamp Sacramento 2017 happens over two days this weekend (Sept 16-17th). This year a blogger track was added to assist bloggers. Through Sacramento Bloggers, I connected with other bloggers and we now meet two-three times per year to share ideas and network. Founder Margaret Andrews, blogger and self-published author, and I are honored to present on the panel for the session: Blogging Success and Monetization.

I am on the panel as a “hobby blogger” and will share how blogging opened the door for successful freelance writing and self-publishing.

WordCamp Sacramento 2017 has a boatload of sponsors. Because of their generosity, registration was a mere $40 for two whole days! Unheard of! As a presenter, I even get the entire conference free!

“WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users.”

More information about WordCamps and other WordPress events is in your WordPress Admin panel. You can see what it looks like on your admin panel below. It may look a little differently depending on your geographical region.

WordPress Admin Panel Info

I have attended a few WordPress meetups in Sacramento, and many communities have these available. Yes, they are heavy on the developer end and focus on the WordPress dot org platform. If you are a hosted blogger on WordPress dot com, you don’t really need this level of WordPress. However, if you have a self-hosted website/blog and you use the WordPress platform, these can be valuable sources of information, as well as opportunities to meet other bloggers.

Had I not taken a look one random day at this box in my admin panel, I might have missed this local event and the opportunity the present with the panel. Once you find a WordPress meet-up group, stay on their mailing list for updates.

2017 International Food Bloggers Conference SacramentoAt the end of September I am attending the International Food Bloggers Conference, also held in Sacramento. I’m not a food blogger, but the event is local and my goal is to meet other bloggers and attend a couple of the general blogging sessions. These sessions include:

  • How to Make Money from Your Blog
  • Why Bloggers Need to Know SEO
  • Get Paid For Your Posts
  • Let’s Talk Massive Instagram Growth
  • Beyond the Blog – Panel
  • and How to Write a Scroll-Worthy Blog Post by my friend and local blogger, Margaret Andrews

 

There are food-related activities, too, and I’m excited about being a part of it all!

After I attend these two blogging events, I will share a post on my take-aways from the events. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, you can read a little more about me. WordCamp organizers took the information from our required profiles and shared each and every presenter in blog posts over the last few months. Mind you, this event is completely run and organized by volunteers. Special shout out to Jennifer Bourn of Bourn Creative who is one of the key organizers of this event.

Source: WordCamp Sacramento Speaker Interview With Terri Webster Schrandt – WordCamp Sacramento 2017

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Eight Simple Ideas to Inspire Your Blogging

8 simple ideas to inspire your blogging

8 simple ideas to inspire your blogging

Another New Year’s inspirational post? Not exactly…

The blogosphere is full of inspirational New Year’s posts. And why not? It’s that time of the year to dust off the good ideas you may have left behind last year and refresh them. Or not.

This post is about finding new inspiration for your blog and its care and feeding. Can you believe some folks’ resolutions are to STOP blogging? Oh, the horror!

Well, that could have been me!

In 2016, I left the comfort of blogging on WordPress dot com, for the world of self-hosting. I envisioned taking my blog to a business level (with no real plan in mind, other than tying it in with my consulting business), having been inspired by many fellow bloggers who have done so. For many, self-hosting is a wonderful and valuable experience. However, there are limitations. Losing your followers is a big one, followed by endless social networking and just plain work!

I retired for a reason!

In September, shortly after re-launching my eBook, my images slowly and systematically began disappearing off my posts. Because I was still associated with WordPress dot com, I successfully used their happiness engineers to aid me with the problem, as well as migrating it all back to dot com. I am much happier here. Since I “came back” I now have almost 300 new followers.

For most of us, blogging is a hobby, a creative outlet for writing, sharing and connecting. Overall, I want to be able to simply blog about what I LIKE and not what some random “how-to” book suggests to be successful. Just what IS success anyway? A blog with 20,000 followers? Sure. A blog where the writer happily posts whatever they feel inspired to write? Another yes.

Whatever the reason you blog, is yours alone! Own it and be happy to share your thoughts.

However, if you are looking for a little inspiration, try one of these simple ideas now.

8 Simple Ideas to Inspire Your Blogging

Start with the easy ones first!

1. Spruce up your blog site with a new theme, or simply add a new header and fresh color schemes! When I moved back to WordPress dot com, the Premium package was discounted, so I splurged and have many more options for customizing the look of my blog.

  • Debby at DGKaye Writer just posted helpful blog information using widgets.  Small changes make for big differences in the appeal of your blog and help motivate you when you look at your own blog!

2. Reach out and leave comments on other blogs rather than just pressing “like.” (I know, sometimes I do that too when I am in a hurry and want to acknowledge the post). It might take an extra moment or two, but we bloggers ALL love comments!

3. Take part in WordPress challenges. Many bloggers offer their own challenges, whether it is photography, flash fiction, coffee chats, etc. Challenges help you focus on a subject and provide a daily or weekly structure to your posting schedule, while providing subject matter for your blog.

Try these intermediate ideas for sharing and networking!

4. Start your own link-up. Or partner with another blogger who does link parties. Link-ups are a great way to network your blog. I have met countless bloggers through this system.

  • Inlinkz seems to be the easiest method for offering link-ups.

5. Get more involved in another social network—for example, if you don’t tweet, try it!  I recently flipboard started Flipboard, a magazine-style app for saving and collecting articles. I added a button for Flipboard for easy sharing at the bottom of my posts. It’s doable for WordPress dot com users. If you are using Flipboard, please follow me here! If not, at least check it out.

  • Janice at Mostly Blogging turned me on to Flipboard with this post.

6. Explore a local MeetUp with other bloggers.

MeetUp is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.

Because of my growing photography interest, I recently clicked on MeetUp’s explore page and found a local, nature-event photography club. Even if you don’t meet other bloggers, connecting with others in a leisure interest may inspire you in ways you didn’t imagine!

If you REALLY need inspiration, try these more advanced tips!

7. Start a specialized Facebook group tailored to your blog. I am surprised at how many bloggers do not use social media to promote their blog posts.

Facebook groups are more complicated but yield great results for networking. The newest one on the block is Big Up Your Blog hosted by Suzie Speaks. Visit her blog where she has instructions on how to join.

Is starting your own Facebook group a daunting task? This IS the advanced section after all. However, simply joining a Facebook group should be much easier.

I haven’t started a Facebook group yet, but I do have a Facebook page. Second Wind Leisure Perspectives, is set up just for my blog and its posts. It is meant to be separate from my main Facebook page. These are all simple to set up via WordPress.

If you take photos, Instagram is an easy way to share photos from your blog or just for fun. Instagram allows you to share the photo through Facebook and Twitter as well. All of these social networking sites are accessible from my blog’s sidebar and can be set up on your blog site in a similar fashion.

8. Do you have a lot of posts centered around a particular subject? Consider using those to create and write your own eBook. My eBook was inspired by this post, How to Use Your Photos to Generate Blog Ideas and Readers.

Better Blogging coverFrom this and other posts, I was able to write my eBook, Better Blogging with Photography. Perhaps my eBook will provide some inspiration for you. Click the above which will take you straight to the book on Amazon. It’s on sale for 99 cents for the month of January!

I am proud to know a growing number of bloggers who have self-published books within the last year. There is an incredible amount of inspiring authors in this group: Glimpses Book Review and Author Round-Up

What will inspire your blogging this year? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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What Swimming With Whale Sharks Taught Me

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

The beginning of a brand new year can be inspiring for most of us. Last year I experienced something I never thought I would do. This is a re-post from January 2016. I hope you enjoy reading this once more.

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

Several weeks ago, while vacationing in Baja, Mexico, I had an amazing opportunity to swim with whale sharks. If we were having coffee today, I would recount that experience with you and explain what the experience taught me about my life. I’ve got a lot of coffee and tea, so please don’t be shy!

About Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are sharks, not whales. In other words, they are fish…the largest fish in the ocean.  They can range in size from 18 to 40 feet long and up to 21 tons! They are literally as big as buses. They also do not have teeth, but instead, like many species of whales, are filter-feeders, using baleen which filters plankton and krill into their four-foot-wide mouths. Ironically, whales and whale sharks, the largest creatures on the planet, eat the smallest living organisms in the ocean.

Whale sharks are surrounded by small schools of fish that also feed off the bits of food. Remora are fish that latch onto the shark’s body and feed off the parasites that cling to its hide. Whale sharks live in tropical waters and are considered endangered. See more about these incredible creatures here or here.

Swimming with the Sharks

To see the whale sharks, two friends, my husband and I chartered a small boat on the Bay of La Paz. The charter companies specialize in whale shark sightings and fishing activities.

After a 20-minute ride to the edge of the bay, our captain stopped the motor and pointed out a few feet to starboard. There it was, a gigantic whale shark! My heart was pounding! We took some photos, and quickly threw on our snorkeling gear, and one by one, we quietly slipped into the water. I was the last one in. As I adjusted my mask, the captain stood above me and pointed down. I shrieked into my snorkel with both fear and delight as the huge whale shark serenely swam just two feet below me.

Close up a a massive whale shark

In my mind, I knew they were harmless creatures. In fact, they reminded me of giant cows lazily grazing in a pasture. These humongous creatures swim with their toothless mouths near the surface feeding on the plankton-rich waters, with no other care in the world.

We all took turns taking photos of each other swimming alongside the sharks with an underwater camera. At one point as my friend took several of me, as he swam backwards to get a better angle, he bumped into a second one that appeared. It was as if he jumped five feet out of the water in surprise and fright!

I had plenty of faith knowing that my other friend had gone swimming with the sharks before, and therefore knew what she was doing. I have a healthy respect for all members of the animal kingdom due to my outdoor nature. And even after swimming alongside for a while, feeling like a mermaid, most of my fear dissipated, until…

I instantly was surrounded by three of them!

People on a nearby boat giggled at my realization when they heard me shriek into my snorkel again. Curious, but respectful, I cautiously reached out and touched the gentle giant just twelve inches away from my outstretched hand. The skin felt like the texture of wet cement. At that moment the shark loomed before me as if it were my whole world. The shark, unfazed, continued to feed as if I did not exist.

To these magnificent creatures, we puny humans appear as insignificant as a fly on the wall of the world’s ocean. When they finish or grow tired of human interaction, they merely dive and completely disappear in the murky depths and move on to their next meal. I imagine with dread, their huge, powerful tail fins could inadvertently send someone somersaulting through the water.

Seeking Inspiration and Time

If we were having coffee, I would tell you, in 2016, I was uninspired with my blogging before I left on my winter vacation. I felt that I had told all the stories I had to tell. I had been wanting to spend time writing a non-fiction book and was seriously ready to shut down the blog. Blogging and its care and feeding take a lot of time. My part-time work teaching as a university lecturer has taken much more time than I anticipated in developing new curricula and prep-work. Something had to give. I’m supposed to be (semi) retired!

As I struggled with finding time to fit everything in, swimming with the whale sharks taught me a few things. Their whole lives are about feeding. They swim, feed, produce young, and repeat.

I realized the daily mechanics of writing my book could wait until summer when I am away from classes for three months. Since I will be writing about leisure, participating in summer leisure activities will provide me more content for which I can use for the book. There is no hurry to write and publish this project. But it will get done.

Read here about my renewed blogging inspiration.

To help with my renewed zest for blogging, I joined two Facebook groups. Blog, Share, Love  is a group that assists with blog promotion and social networking. Another similar group, Blog, Share, Learn  focuses on blog promotion and improvement. Within these groups are committed bloggers, writers, artists and photographers who take their work seriously, and have fun while doing so.

What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me

Swim slowly through life and enjoy the journey. Things done well take time. There is no hurry for excellence, because it will manifest itself when work is carefully crafted. Patience really is a virtue.

Take time for leisure for continued growth and motivation to succeed. Try new things, have fun and do it with passion and gusto. Be open to new ideas and accept the sense of adventure… and prepare to be exhilarated!

Embrace a healthy fear and respect for the animal kingdom. Our planet is not infinite and neither are our lives. Appreciate the beauty of Earth’s creatures and the environments in which they live. Some may not be there tomorrow.

How small and insignificant my problems really are. Our circles of family and friends hold significance for us as we share our values, passions and love. To each other, we ARE significant. Just like the remora and schools of fish that swim with the sharks, we exist in a helpful community.

The really big things in life are harmless in the grand scheme of things. What may seem like an insurmountable or massive problem can be whittled down to plankton-sized bites to be taken in slowly and dealt with in digestible portions.

Have you had adventures that taught you lessons about life? Do tell!

Winter Weekend Coffee SharePlease consider joining the coffee clatch at Part-Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share 

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What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

Several weeks ago, while vacationing in Baja, Mexico, I had an amazing opportunity to swim with whale sharks. If we were having coffee today, I would recount that experience with you and explain what the experience taught me about my life. I’ve got a lot of coffee and tea, so please don’t be shy!

Close up a a massive whale shark

About Whale Sharks

Whale sharks are sharks, not whales. In other words, they are fish…the largest fish in the ocean.  They can range in size from 18 to 40 feet long and up to 21 tons! They are literally as big as buses. They also do not have teeth, but instead, like many species of whales, are filter-feeders, using baleen which filters plankton and krill into their four-foot-wide mouths. Ironically, whales and whale sharks, the largest creatures on the planet, eat the smallest living organisms in the ocean.

Whale sharks are surrounded by small schools of fish that also feed off the bits of food. Remora are fish that latch onto the shark’s body and feed off the parasites that cling to its hide. Whale sharks live in tropical waters and are considered endangered. See more about these incredible creatures here or here.

Swimming with the Sharks

To see the whale sharks, two friends, my husband and I chartered a small boat on the Bay of La Paz. The charter companies specialize in whale shark sightings and fishing activities.

After a 20-minute ride to the edge of the bay, our captain stopped the motor and pointed out a few feet to starboard. There it was, a gigantic whale shark! My heart was pounding! We took some photos, and quickly threw on our snorkeling gear, and one by one, we quietly slipped into the water. I was the last one in. As I adjusted my mask, the captain stood above me and pointed down. I shrieked into my snorkel with both fear and delight as the huge whale shark serenely swam just two feet below me.

Whale shark was a few feet away from me. A good 20-footer.

In my mind, I knew they were harmless creatures. In fact, they reminded me of giant cows lazily grazing in the pasture. These humongous creatures swim with their mouths near the surface feeding on the plankton-rich waters, with no other care in the world.

We all took turns taking photos of each other swimming alongside the sharks with an underwater camera. At one point as my friend took several of me, as he swam backwards to get a better angle, he bumped into a second one that appeared. It was as if he jumped five feet out of the water in surprise and fright!

I had plenty of faith knowing that my other friend had gone swimming with the sharks before, and therefore knew what she was doing. I have a healthy respect for all members of the animal kingdom due to my outdoor nature. And even after swimming alongside for a while, feeling like a mermaid, most of my fear dissipated, until…

I was instantly surrounded by three of them!

People on a nearby boat giggled at my realization when they heard me shriek into my snorkel again. Curious, but respectful, I cautiously reached out and touched the gentle giant just twelve inches away from my outstretched hand. The skin felt like the texture of wet cement. At that moment the shark loomed before me as if it were my whole world. The shark, unfazed, continued to feed as if I did not exist.

To these magnificent creatures, we puny humans appear as insignificant as a fly on the wall of the world’s ocean. When they finish or grow tired of human interaction, they merely dive and completely disappear in the murky depths and move on to their next meal. I imagine with dread, their huge, powerful tail fins could inadvertently send someone somersaulting through the water.

Seeking Inspiration and Time

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was uninspired with my blogging before I left on my winter vacation. I felt that I had told all the stories I had to tell. I have been wanting to spend time writing a non-fiction book and was seriously ready to shut down the blog. Blogging and its care and feeding take a lot of time. My part-time work teaching as a university lecturer has taken much more time than I anticipated in developing new curricula and prep-work. Something has to give. I’m supposed to be (semi) retired!

As I struggle with finding time to fit everything in, swimming with the whale sharks has taught me a few things. Their whole lives are about feeding. They swim, feed, produce young, and repeat.

I realize the daily mechanics of writing my book can wait until summer when I am away from classes for three months. Since I will be writing about leisure, participating in summer leisure activities will provide me more content in which to use for the book. There is no hurry to write and publish this project. But it will get done.

Read here about my renewed blogging inspiration.

To help with my renewed zest for blogging, I joined a Facebook group, Blog, Share, Learn  which focuses on blog promotion and improvement. Within this group are committed bloggers, writers, artists and photographers who take their work seriously, and have fun while doing so.

What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me

Swim slowly through life and enjoy the journey. Things done well take time. There is no hurry for excellence, because it will manifest itself when work is carefully crafted. Patience really is a virtue.

Take time for leisure for continued growth and motivation to succeed. Try new things, have fun and do it with passion and gusto. Be open to new ideas and accept the sense of adventure… and prepare to be exhilarated!

Embrace a healthy fear and respect for the animal kingdom. Our planet is not infinite and neither are our lives. Appreciate the beauty of Earth’s creatures and the environments in which they live. Some may not be there tomorrow.

How small and insignificant my problems really are. Our circles of family and friends hold significance for us as we share our values, passions and love. To each other, we ARE significant. Just like the remora and schools of fish that swim with the sharks, we exist in a helpful community.

The really big things in life are harmless in the grand scheme of things. What may seem like an insurmountable or massive problem can be whittled down to plankton-sized bites to be taken in slowly and dealt with in digestible portions.

What swimming with whale sharks taught me

Have you had adventures that taught you lessons about life? Do tell!


 

I am also including these photos in Jennifer Nicole Wells” Color Your World Challenge “Denim.” 

Winter Weekend Coffee Share

Please consider joining the coffee clatch at Part-Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share 

 

 

How to Use Your Photos to Generate Blog Ideas and Readers

Large, blue garage door graces this fabulous retirement villa in Baja.

January always seems like a great energizer to either begin a blog or to re-energize a current one. With January almost over, have you met your short-term blogging goals? Are you still inspired and keeping up with your posting schedule? Do you need a kick-start to your inspiration?

Use your images as inspiration for your blog.
One way I find inspiration is to look at my photos. Between my old digital camera and my Samsung phone, I have thousands of photos! They say a picture is worth 1000 words. I am here to tell you a thousand words (in a blog post) are worth a picture!

If you have a large file of digital images, take the time to go through them. Most images tell some kind of story, whether it is a memory of a special vacation spot, family photos from 20 years ago, or images that can be edited into “art.” Chances are, you have a great subject for your next blog post and the image to go with it!

Photography Challenges
Another source of inspiration is to take a look at the variety of photography challenges available. Several bloggers offer these as challenges to share photos that fit a particular theme. Here are some to visit:
Jennifer Nicole Wells’ Color Your World Challenge. 

WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge

Norm 2.0 Thursday Doors 

Cee’s Photo Challenges

Hughes News and Views Weekly Photo Challenge

Large, blue garage door graces this fabulous retirement villa in Baja.

Baja Doors
The photo above (featured image) is submitted for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors. Because of this challenge, I now purposely take photos of interesting doors. In doing so, I have guaranteed future blog posts with stories behind the images.

I took this photo while we were in Mexico. Several of our friends own properties and homes on the Baja peninsula. Most of these folks have retired and spend a few months in Mexico where they indulge in leisure pursuits like windsurfing, stand-up paddling, golf, hiking…you name it. Many of them plan their time so that they never have to see another winter day!

I also incorporated this photo into the color theme “cornflower” for Jennifer Nicole Wells Color My World. See? Two photo challenges with one photo!

Images can also be the source of poetry, prose or flash fiction. PJ at Beautiful Words frequently posts short flash-fiction inspired by a photo. You may be able to submit a photo for these challenges, which will create interest in your blog.

Photo challenges can also bring in more readers and followers to your blog. Many challenges have a link or a ping back which places the photo in a community where others can click on the image and read your post.

In fact, the Weekly Photo Challenge, which begins each Friday, is my biggest traffic generator and my best day of the week for blogging.

Photo Apps, Quotes and Text
Using photo editing programs/apps like PicMonkey or Canva; or Photoshop, for serious photographers, can add dimension to your images and the ability to watermark your image with your name/website. Using text on images, in the form of a blog title or an inspirational quote, elevates your photo to other social media sharing opportunities like Pinterest and Instagram.

I have used quotes on images with great success. Not only do they inspire another blog post, but the images shared in linky parties may get featured, shared and pinned, therefore bringing in more traffic to your blog.

Here is the same photo with a quote added to it as text. This adds much more dimension and potential for a post about the subject of retirement abroad.

use a quote on an image to generate interest

And then you can take the same image, crop and edit it further and make this your featured image. When I share this post in the link-ups I take part in each week, I will be able to select the photo below to help “sell” the post in the link-up photo gallery. I also add these to my Pinterest and Instagram accounts for more sharing opportunities.

using images as inspiration for your blog

If you find you are in need of inspiration, kill two birds with one stone. Go through your files and look for an image that tells a story and off you go. Add it to an appropriate blogging, photo or fiction challenge and have fun with it!

 

Stumbled, Broken and Inspired: Weekend Coffee Share

Travel to find new hope and renew the mind

Travel to find new hope and renew the mind

Or, “What I did on My Winter Vacation”

If I say my blogging break is over and is now past tense, is my break broken? Well, ponder that while we have coffee this morning and we “break” our fast.

Yes, my blogging break is over. You saw that I did manage to post for the weekly photo challenge, which has always been my best day of blogging. If I did nothing else on this blog but post for the weekly photo challenge, I could still enjoy a rather successful blog in terms of readership.

But…

…I like to do more than that. I actually like to write. I managed to write some content for the non-fiction book over my break, but leisure reared its lovely head and beckoned me to SUP, windsurf and relax on the beach in Mexico. The photo is of me snorkeling.

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I had to prepare quite a bit of curriculum for my new course that starts at the end of January, and I spent about 12 hours of vacation time working on that. As a professor, I like to be prepared. My class teaches leisure education to new recreation majors, and, ironically, I created and typed most of their assignments from my beach chair. Nothing wrong with that.

My break gave me some time to find some much needed inspiration. At this time last year, I was enjoying my first month of retirement (no part-time teaching) and had gleefully committed to blogging every single day. It helped me develop great habits and gave me a framework for using an editorial calendar and remaining consistent with my blogging schedule, now whittled to three days per week.

I also had a chance to read some very inspirational posts. There is nothing like the motivation of a brand new year to dust off the blog and write fresh content. I recently read a post about “Stress Free Blogging” and it mentions taking a break and making good use of time management. Check it out on Mostly Blogging.

If we were having coffee, I would explain whaI mean by “stumbled?” If you haven’t yet heard, Stumble Upon is a web site where visitors choose and “like” content that appeals to them. Like any social media site, bloggers’ content may be “stumbled” which helps bring more readers to their blogs. Bloggers cannot stumble their own blog posts. Having a community of bloggers who love to read your content and choose to share on social media will help promote your posts. You have to reciprocate. This is one of the reasons why blogging is fun. Yes, it takes work, but it is worth it.

But I digress, a little…one of my posts was stumbled by a couple of great bloggers which resulted in 56 views. Not a huge number, by any means, but significant to me. I created a Stumble Upon account and loaded the Stumble bar. When I read a blog I like, I add it to my list then select the thumbs-up icon. It takes 6 seconds. I have committed to using this to help promote great blog posts!

Indeed, blogging takes time, energy and commitment. Using social media and other ways to promote our own blogs as well as others can pay off in many ways!

What inspires you to continue your blogging journey?


Fall-weekend-coffee-shareThanks to Part-Time Monster for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share feature.

No Room; But There’s a View

Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows
The Mountains are calling and I Must Go–John Muir

I never get tired of visiting Tuolumne Meadows in the high country of Yosemite National Park in California. My parents traditionally took their two-week vacation to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which from San Diego was about an 8 hour drive. By the time I was eight years old and my brother was five, we were old enough to finally go with them!

I have been to Tuolumne Meadows 23 times (twice in 1979). “The mountains are calling and I must go.” ― John Muir. Muir wrote volumes about Yosemite and referred to the Sierras as the “the range of light.

Unicorn Peak overlooks Tuolumne Meadows
Unicorn Peak stands watch over the meadows

Although I am not nearly the writer as John Muir, I am still staggered by the beauty of the high country of Tuolumne Meadows. Nearly impossible to capture in a photo, the sunlight shines off of every pine needle, validating the incredible glow as the stately Lodge pole pines reach toward the cerulean sky.

Adding to the light are the granite peaks reflecting their surreal splashes of what one might believe is water. Tens of thousands of years ago, the entire continent of North America was covered in ice. As the Ice Age ended, massive avalanches carrying untold tons of giant boulders and debris scraped and shaped the domes, creating vast, shining sheets of polished rock.

Glacial Polish on Lembert Dome

At sunset, the remnants of glacial polish reflect the fading sunlight, back-lit with an effect known as alpenglow.

At nearly 9,000 feet in elevation, even the night sky is ablaze with the light of billions of stars. The Milky Way is so bright it looks like clouds have made their way over the meadow.

Alpenglow
Alpenglow lingers on opposite peaks after sun’s descent

A day or two before our family vacation, my mother would schedule a trip to the library where we would check out a stack of books to take along. It was probably then I developed my love for reading. There was the 8-hour drive in which to enjoy a great book, as well as plenty of leisure time in between hiking and fishing trips. Laying on the meadow among the sedges, listening to the Belding ground squirrels’ high pitched warning whistles, with the gentle breeze whispering in the pine trees, created an imaginative setting for whatever I was reading. As I grew older, I was inspired to write in my journal about whatever teenage troubles I experienced.

Tuolumne Meadows

The Range of Light has infused inspiration into my soul since I walked these meadows in 1968 as an eight year-old. While the camera has its limits to what it can capture, my eyes see the miracle of the incredible beauty that John Muir saw. What scenery he described and illustrated in the late 1800s, I can now capture on my phone 125 years later. That in itself is an inspiration and a step back into time.

As a leisure educator, I revel in these special leisure spaces. Without them, humankind would certainly shrivel and die. I never tire of visiting, whether we stay in the campground or motel camp in nearby Lee Vining. Even more fun is when we go with people who have never been there, and experience the awe and joy through their eyes.

Show-Your-World

I have been invited by Tiny Expats to share this post on “Show Your World.” Please enjoy my backyard 🙂