What Have You Done Lately?

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Adirondack 46er Finish

Several weeks ago, I posted this photo and caption ‘5 years ago, I became an Adirondack 46er’. The photo came up in my Facebook Memories on July 25th. I remember my emotions when that image was taken. That morning started with a drizzle of cool rain and an overcast sky which did nothing to deter me and my hiking partner from our hike of the day.

The photo is me on Big Slide Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, holding a small, circular patch, tears in my eyes and grateful that the moment was finally happening. It’s been said, “They don’t give out that patch just for walking down Main Street”! I did it. I had just hiked my 46th peak. It took me a long time to hike all 46 mountains over 4,000 feet. It was an enormous goal which required a lot of physical strength, a bit of courage and plenty of determination.

I had the most incredible hiking partner who would always show up well-prepared with more enthusiasm for hiking than I knew existed. We knew safety was our priority, yet there wasn’t a hike where we ever turned back. Rain, hail, wind, mud. There was no whining (ok, maybe I whined a little ascending Seward Mountain in a downpour) …no “I can’t do this”, or “why did we do this hike”. I learned a lot about my hiking partner during our miles over the mountains. I learned a lot more about myself.

I posted that photo ‘ 5 years ago I did this…blah blah.’ The question that really needed to be answered was, Wendy, What Have You Done Lately?

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On July 30, 2016, I finished a 5K.

Big Deal.

Well, yes. To me is was a big deal. You see, I made it to the 7am start of the race (a 90 minute drive). My goal was to start it, to finish it and I hoped to complete it in under 45 minutes.

I had finished Radiation treatment for Breast Cancer on July 20, 2016.

When I crossed the finish line with my son along side of me, I was elated, exhausted, ready to burst into tears and laughing – at the same time. I wanted to remember this moment as crossing the finish line of cancer. I wanted to run further than cancer could. I wanted to be done with the appointments, the treatments, the endless discussion and research of cancer. I wanted to go back to my life.

(Honestly, when I have another ‘memorable moment’ photo opportunity–could someone please hand me a towel to wipe my sweat, and kindly mention to me to fix my hair…? Thanks)

The cancer diagnosis to me is like being a waiter in a very busy restaurant. The waiter has a huge tray filled with plates of delicious food and beverages in pretty glasses – and the waiter is about to leave the kitchen – little does the waiter know that someone is coming IN the OUT door of the kitchen. The tray and its contents end up everywhere, mostly broken into pieces on the floor. Nothing looks the same. Nothing will ever be the same. It’s a very big mess and a long time before it’s cleaned up.

I’ve been on the care-giving side of cancer – which really is no picnic. I’ve now seen both sides as care-giver and person diagnosed with cancer.

I was extremely fortunate for many reasons. As I waded through the diagnosis, I came in contact with some amazing humans. A Radiologist who, while most were obsessed with Pokemon GO!, he was diligent in doing what he does really well and was paying close attention to my scan. And a surgeon who is gifted in her craft and even more, in her role as the most caring human I’ve met in a very long time. I’ll write more about her-she deserves her own story.

Three biopsies and two surgeries really didn’t fit into my workout plans very well. Once I received the OK to exercise after the last surgery, I felt better emotionally. (This is by no means medical advice to anyone.). I then faced Radiation treatments. I had to find a way to stay focused and to get through the 21 days marked on my calendar. You see, everything else in the world becomes less of a priority. There’s less energy to complete all the usual tasks of life. My work as a photographer started to expose gaping holes on my calendar.

I made a decision to take some control in a situation where I really had so little control. Every day after radiation treatment, I went to my gym and promised myself I would run on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Every day. Miles didn’t matter. I thought I could do anything for 20 minutes. There were a couple days where I sat in my car in the gym parking lot, doing my best to gather strength to walk across the parking lot and go inside. No one at the gym knew of my cancer. There were a couple days where I felt I was towing a refrigerator behind me. I had to walk some of those minutes. I was grateful I could move forward – one step. The exhaustion from radiation treatment is real. The effects are cumulative. I remember Day 8 on the treadmill was really challenging. Exhausting. The next day I felt better.

I needed to focus on finishing and being done with cancer. I signed up my son and I for the ‘Runway 5K’ – an opportunity to run the world’s busiest runway at EAA in Oshkosh, WI. If you’re an airplane buff you’ve heard of EAA. It’s an amazing event. My son asked if I wanted him to run with me. Usually I run alone with music but was grateful for his offer, his company. He kept up a steady commentary pointing out some of the thousands of planes parked on the grass, taxiing and taking off on that overcast morning. I mentioned to him before the start that if I stopped running, to just say “keep moving forward, mom”. We ran the whole way. OK, that’s not a fair assessment. Like a thoroughbred under rein, he was doing a slow jog, I was just trying to keep my feet moving.

We were coming up on the last mile. I was exhausted. I was grateful that the sun was not out. My skin was still hot. I wanted to stop.

I had to dig very deep to keep moving. I needed a positive thought in my head but came up empty. I briefly recalled my 46er finish, but that was too much energy to summon. And in one instant, something came over me that it’s not about me. I could do this last mile for someone who can’t. Immediately I found energy inside. I dedicated the last mile to a woman I met during radiation. We had started radiation the same day. Her cancer story has been non-stop, 24/7 since last October. She’s had chemo, double mastectomy surgery and wasn’t finished with radiation yet. I carried her in my heart across the finish line.

32:45:47

The waiter’s tray is a mess on the floor of the busy restaurant. There’s some yelling and screaming and lots of chaos. I calmly stand up, take a deep breath, I inhale and exhale. I pick up the tray and decide what to place back onto it, if anything.

Most people don’t know I had Breast Cancer. Apparently, as my hair was still intact, people thought I ‘looked great’! Cancer hair loss is usually related to chemotherapy. In a future post, I’ll write more about my chemo story. I’m very fortunate.

I thought I was going to pick up my life where I left off after my ‘6 month Vacation’…(ugh, predictive type always fixes that)…after my ‘cancer treatment of 6 months & Radiation’ – that world doesn’t exist anymore.

Sadly, there are a lot of cancer stories. Many are painful stories with unfortunate endings. Mine is filled with amazing people, mountains of kindness and incredible moments.
I’d like to share them with you.

The journey

©WAVphoto
Maybe
the journey
isn’t so much about
becoming anything.

Maybe
it’s unbecoming everything
that isn’t you
so you can
be
who you were meant to be
in the first place.

I found this quote on #jfindsyoga/sexyfoodtherapy.com on Instagram.
Thought it worked well for this photograph I took during a yoga retreat. The retreat was filled with incredible moments: women bonding, laughing, supporting. Nourishing food and wine, Forrest bathing, meditation, aromatherapy, singing bowls, bowing practice, hikes in the woods and on the beach, perfect weather, yoga and beautiful souls.

More photographs to follow.

Namaste.

 

passion | High School Photography | WAVphoto

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“The things you are passionate about are not random.
They are your calling.”
-Fabienne Fredrickson

High school students are a pleasure to photograph.
Only a few of my subjects have ever been photographed by a professional photographer.
Most have mastered the selfie.

Our consultation gets us on the same page-with each other and with one of their parents!
The day of our session, I have a young adult, filled with energy
and a willingness to cooperate- perhaps needing a little guidance,
a little direction, a big laugh and the opportunity to show their passion.

Then the experience begins.

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I make them feel strong.

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I make them feel confident.

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I help them feel beautiful.

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Together, we create art.

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The art will always remind this person of their unique experience with me, of feeling strong, confident & beautiful.

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http://www.WAVphoto.com

15 minutes

I walked down the aisle past the piano keyboards, past cymbals on display looking like shiny branches on short trees, heading toward the loudest drum section in the back. Music equipment was everywhere on display – calling for
a test drive. The chairs were set up facing the stage. A jazz clinic was about to take place, the special guest performing at a local venue.

WAVphoto

I arrived with little background information, yet was immediately defensive at what I observed. A man appeared to have cornered the guest asking for a LOT
of autographs and kept referring to his phone. Immediately I suspected these autographs were headed for ebay and this man was actively listing each item.

I applaud myself for how wrong I was.

The actual story is so much better.

The local music store had invited our high school jazz ensemble to participate in a clinic with Randy Brecker. Before you immediately judge me on my “I’ve read the album covers and know all the musicians involved for the past 50 years knowledge”, I’ll share with you that I cut my teeth in the 80’s dancing all night to every song I could sing & dance to. Certainly the birthplace of karaoke.

The jazz band took the stage and performed their first piece. Randy Brecker
rose from his seat, ascended the few stairs, greeting the musicians on stage. Humbling even the band director, the clinic began with Randy taking the microphone – ‘I can’t critique this…can I play with you guys?’ I think only a handful of the students could grasp that they were about to play with a
musical legend.

A little background: Randy Brecker is a trumpeter, composer & one of the founding members of Blood Sweat & Tears (1968 album), a Grammy Award winner, has toured behind the Iron Curtain in 1989. A studio musician, sometimes never actually playing with the artists but with ‘credits’ on albums by: Steely Dan, Ringo Starr, Aero Smith, BB King, Chaka Kahn, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross (see?, I sort of ‘knew’ Randy Brecker…), Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Frank Zappa, George Benson, Paul Simon, The Average White Band, Lou Reed, The Brecker Brothers…to name a few.

According to allmusic.com Randy Brecker has 2,208 credits on albums.

Next, a 17 year old trumpeter from the jazz band came forward to solo – he exchanged some effortless musician-to-musician strategy with Randy. The music they played-back & forth jazz trumpets with support from the band was just incredible. This young trumpet player got a ‘thumbs up’ from Randy Brecker.WAVphoto Randy Brecker

That moment will probably always live with that young man as it began to sink in that he just jammed with a legend.  Unsure if he even heard what Randy said into the microphone to the crowd…”keep your eyes on this kid” kind of thing.
A memorable experience for this group of musicians to share the stage with living history.

The guy with the autographs?

Sometimes I just can’t walk away. I started a conversation with the man with the autographs & a few hundred record albums. Prior to the clinic, Randy sat, patiently signing album cover after album cover with this man.  The best part – they were not going on ebay. This album collection is his hobby. He has several thousand albums in his basement with over 20,000 signatures – his wife draws the line that they must remain there. I asked how willing the musicians are to sign autographs. He told me one person met him for coffee the morning following a concert and signed a few hundred while they talked.

WAVphoto

Randy Brecker at Cascio Music 2014

After all the albums were autographed, Randy Brecker took a small breath, handed the marker back, reflected saying, “Wow, that was my whole life
in 15 minutes”.

I doubt he’ll get credit on an album for his appearance on a small stage in a music store on a winter afternoon, but the almost 70 year old Randy Brecker made a difference that day.

 

harley

WAVphoto

‘start small & begin promptly’

I love it when I look at something and am instantly inspired! A small
photograph in a frame – is obviously something important. Reading
the caption behind the glass case I learned this small shed
was in a backyard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about 110 years ago.

The shed belonged to a family named Davidson.

If I added the fact that ‘serial number one’ motorcycle
was built in that little building with a friend named Harley
you might start to piece together, Harley-Davidson.

Harley & the Davidsons

Harley & the Davidsons

The Harley-Davidson brand is known in every corner of the world,
easily recognizable on most highways especially in the warmer months.
Over 3.5 million (2002) motorcycles have graced roads, fields,
race tracks, police lines, postal routes and even the front lines in
two World Wars.

I just visited the Harley-Davidson museum where this photograph hangs and what impressed me the most that day was enthusiasm for everything Harley,
a familiar brand that started in this tiny space, a 10 x 15′ shed.

Harley is not just a brand of motorcycle or rider, it seems to be part of life for those who choose to breathe in that air.  It’s a culture.  I saw it in the excitement of a staff member who was thrilled to share his knowledge
of the layout of the building so we wouldn’t miss any exhibit. He loved his job, anyone could see it.

An exhibit, ‘Living Lost’ – photographs from the front seat of a Harley on a cross-country ride. Gritty in open nature, greasy from side of the road repairs, soft in the future generation of HOGs (the term used for Harley Owner Groups), this display showed the camaraderie among riders.

The evolution of fuel tanks ranging in color – looked very much like my memory of a vast display of butterflies. The ‘Wall of Tanks’ was clean & simple yet spoke loud in volume of history, longevity and miles of open road.

Harley-Davidson wall of tanks

Harley-Davidson wall of tanks

One of the most moving pieces I’ve seen in any museum was the ‘Tsunami motorcycle display’. When the devastating wave hit Japan in March 2011 a motorcycle in a container was washed out to sea. The container drifted 4,000 miles and washed ashore on the coast of British Columbia. It was found in May. Inside the container was a Harley, the Japanese license plate still intact. Finally tracking down the owner who survived, it was learned many in his family perished, his home lost.  The owner asked if his Harley could be donated to the museum in Milwaukee as a memorial to those who were lost. The motorcycle is encased in glass in the same condition it was found, the salt water corrosion continues to make progress.

tsunami motorcycle display

tsunami motorcycle display

The structure of the museum is steel, strong & sturdy, held together by rivets.
‘A rivet is the strongest bond that holds things like I-beams and jeans together. A rivet is exposed to the elements & takes on whatever nature throws at it’ (from the Harley-Davidson website).

I’ve been a visitor to a few Harley events – they’ve always intrigued me – viewing the common thread of Harley; the camaraderie between thousands of owners & riders, the feeling of freedom on the road & being connected by a unique energy & culture, being exposed to the elements & taking on whatever nature throws your way.

And to think every time you hear the roar on the back road or highway – it all began in a 10 x 15′ shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

www . Harley-Davidson . com

 

 

 

 

 

tradition

WAVphoto
It takes an endless amount of history
to make even a little tradition.
-Henry James

I dropped an envelope into the mailbox the other day.
That envelope carried almost 70 years of history inside.

The envelope contained my son’s signed contract for a summer job at a camp. Not just any camp, at “The Greatest Camp in the Universe.”
Poko MacCready Camp where the sun is always shining…
Poko MacCready Camp
After turning into the camp road, winding down the rutted driveway, a glimpse of the pond between the trees, it takes only a few moments to allow the memories to fill every part of my soul as I step into the parking lot and smell the pines. Immediately refreshed.

I wonder if that’s how my dad felt when he first arrived at Camp Poko Moonshine so many years ago. My dad and his brother worked summers at camp leading hikes in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of New York State. Fresh air and sunshine in their blood, Adirondack mud on their shoes.
Magic.
Poko photo

Over the years, my brother, cousins and I have participated at Poko MacCready as campers and counselors. My cousins favored the horses, I loved the swim dock. It was the best opportunity to learn what you’re capable of – lessons sometimes realized years later. Planted so deeply was a sense of family and belonging.
MacCready 1973
Soon I was packing hiking boots, t-shirts and bug spray and dropping my own kids off at Poko MacCready. It always feels like home to walk the path again. Nostalgia consumes me when I enter the dining hall with the huge stone fireplace knowing my dad had spent time right there. How could he have known he was starting a tradition? My cousin and I have become friends, hiking in the Adirondack Mountains together, our fair share of gratitude, mud on our shoes and balsam scent in our lungs. My son and my cousin’s son will become third generation counselors this summer. The envelope is in the mailbox!

Honoring my dad who would have celebrated his 84th birthday today.
WAVphoto

http://www.pokomac.com
Celebrating its 110th season this summer!

passion

WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn
‘the things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling’
~fabienne frederickson

I know a young man who has passion.
Passion in how he learns, the quantity of knowledge he has, his joy in sharing his gift with the world.

This young man is a drummer who was born with rhythm coursing through his veins and always a steady heartbeat, barely able to contain his drumming fingers…always at the dinner table, frequently on a drum set.

I know this drummer. I gave birth to him.

‘Passionate’ is the perfect description of his enthusiasm of all things percussion. As a barely two year old trying to configure a drum set using a coffee can, tape, paper plates & a barbecue skewer, frustration mounting as the high-hat cymbals wouldn’t open & close like he saw in a Beatles video.

Shortly after, a December holiday brought an entire drum set–and at his birthday party only 3 weeks later he shared his drumming passion with the world. Ok…maybe to most of his first grade class and all the neighbors.

What I admired about his performance was he didn’t know if he was a great drummer or an ok drummer. He just wanted to play. And he played along with the Beatles music and he started the party.

WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn

So this passion continues and gets deeper (as does his song selection) over the years to include all genres of music. It’s a pleasure to watch the evolution of his style and skill as he proceeds through each phase. I am grateful that heavy-metal was relatively short lived and that jazz is in the heavy rotation.

When I see passion in a young person, it’s not forced. It’s an inner drive, strength, motivation. An athlete on the practice field before the team, the artist who has filled every page of the sketchbook before the semester begins, the mountain climber who has studied the map well before the hike. The drummer who is on the stage for every performance that involves music: the pit musical, the symphonic & orchestra concerts, the student showcase, marching band & jazz bands. And then playing through his selections for hours at a time on his set in the basement. Without applause. Drumming is the blood that keeps him alive.WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn

Where does it come from? I’d like to take a little credit – for the 9 months I carried him I taught step aerobics to a perfect 8 count…

…but that doesn’t explain why, on one of the coldest days in winter, he packed up his set (breaking down drums, stands, cymbals, amps), loaded the pieces into his car – unloaded them at school, set up the drum set, rocked the stage for his Tri-M (music honor society) recital, then took the whole kit apart, in the car, home & back into the basement. It was well below zero degrees F. I know because I was ‘helping’ him get it packed into his car at the school, when everyone else was gone. The janitor was already cleaning the hallway outside the room. There was no applause, just frostbite. Frostbite and passion.