Accepting imperfection

Cosumnes River Preserve
Cosumnes River Preserve
Fujifilm X-T1 | 18 mm | f 8.0 | 1/60 | ISO 200

There’s a purple streak of light, resulting from the lens flare, in the middle of the photo. I spend a lot of time deliberating whether to remove it. Ultimately I decided to leave it in, accepting the photo’s imperfection.

One of the lessons I like to reiterate in my work (with people with intellectual disabilities) is that you cannot just look at a person and know that they have any disability. And it’s the same in reverse; you cannot assume someone has a disability if they look physically different.

The same goes for other aspects of people and health. Judging people by how they act, look (physically), or communicate is not enough for you to make a decision about their health. This rings even truer for me now, with a recent diagnosis of another chronic disease.

Pain, stress, confusion, sadness, denial, worry, and depression. They can be hidden with something as simple as a smile.

Using nature to heal

Cosumnes River Preserve
Cosumnes River Preserve
Fujifilm XT-1 | 19.6 mm | f 11.0 | 1/30 | ISO 200

August was a particularly difficult month for me, having received some personal health news that forced me to evaluate and make some immediate changes to my lifestyle. While the main focus of these changes revolved around diet and exercise, there were other changes that I have implemented (and are considering) that were caused my a “ripple effect” in my overall quest to make positive changes.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Fujifilm XT-1 | 35.8 mm | f 8.0 | 1/60 | ISO 1000

I started to take more walks and hikes, making it a point to not only get daily exercise but to be outside to experience and explore. An added benefit to this is being able to take my camera with me, to achieve my longstanding goal to simply “photograph more”.

It’s the combination of body movement, breathing fresh air, and taking time to notice and really look at things in different ways, that has had the most impact on my mental (and physical) health.

seeking light
UC Davis Arboretum
Fujifilm X-T30 | 50.5 mm | f 20.0 | 1/60 | ISO 200

My mindset is shifting in various ways. As much as I have shifted and reprioritized what is important to me, this last month has destroyed most of those ideas, forcing me to rebuild. It’s certainly not a negative thing rather, it’s just unexpected.

Hike #30 - Dave Moore Nature Area Trail
Dave Moore Nature Area
Fujifilm X-T30 | 35 mm | f 16.0 | 1/60 | ISO 400

A lot of my recent photography has been around flora, including a lot of trees and shades of green. Sure, while on the surface this is simply due to the hikes and nature areas I have explored but, it’s intentional. I find the shades of green to be calming. I appreciate the longevity of trees, especially those of the Coastal Redwoods. I admire the resilience of flowers and plants that find ways to grow and survive in so many different kinds of conditions.

Being outside, walking through nature, has become very important to me. It’s something I never want to take for granted (again).

Unintentional breaks

She goes where the sun goes

I haven’t written much lately. While it’s obviously on this blog, I haven’t posted much anywhere else. I haven’t opened my paper journal in a few weeks. I just haven’t written.

I wish there was some profound, deep excuse for not doing so. The truth is, I just haven’t wanted to write.

Focusing on fundamentals. That’s what I like to think of myself doing fopr these past few weeks. Getting back to basics and whatever other cliché you might want to insert here. This includes home and school, really.

We spend a good part of the weekend reorganizing the garage to more efficiently use the space (and built-in storage cabinets). We inherited a refridgerator when we bought the house and have since ben using it as a second space in the garage. But I have come to realize that it’s just not needed. We don’t need the extra space, the extra add to our power consumption, nor another appliance to maintain. So, I donated it to a local high school “life skills” group.

We also spent a lot of time on the kitchen, reorganizing for a cleaner workflow and grouping like items together in a much better (I think) way than they were before. We have a lot of ideas along these lines for all over our house, and want to work methodically to “implement” them for the next few months.

Making our house a home.

I have managed to keep up on my weekly newsletter. I like the routine of reflecting on the week and sharing those random topics with the subscribers. It keeps me thinking about writing overall.

The break wasn’t intentional but it was necessary and appreciated. I think I’m ready to get back into it now.

Margaret Bourke-White

I spent a lot of time looking at Margaret Bourke-White’s photos, on this The Atlantic article. Such amazing work, still relevant today. What a life!

Bourke-White held numerous “firsts” in her professional life—she was the first foreign photographer allowed to take pictures of Soviet industry, she was the first female staff photographer for LIFE magazine and made its first cover photo, and she was the first woman allowed to work in combat zones in World War II.

Alan Taylor, The Atlantic

I am loaning money to Starbucks

I subscribe to, and enjoy, Dave Perell’s Monday Musings newsletter. This morning’s contained a link to an article on Starbucks, which I found very interesting.

Basically, when Starbucks customers add money to the company’s app, they are effectively giving the coffee giant a free loan. At Starbucks’ scale, the benefits are enormous. 

Dave Perell

Per Dave Perell, “Some sections that caught my eye:

  • Starbucks has around $1.6 billion in stored value card liabilities outstanding. This represents the sum of all physical gift cards held in customer’s wallets as well as the digital value of electronic balances held in the Starbucks Mobile App.* It amounts to ~6% of all of the company’s liabilities. This is a pretty incredible number. 
  • Stored value card liabilities are the money that you, oh loyal Starbucks customer, use to buy coffee. What you might not realize is that these balances simultaneously function as a loan to Starbucks. Starbucks doesn’t pay any interest on balances held in the Starbucks app or gift cards. You, the loyal customer, are providing the company with free debt.
  • The only way to cash out of Starbucks balances is to buy a coffee–a promise that Starbucks can always keep! And so Starbucks can immediately put its customer loans to work in higher-yielding opportunities like funding its operations and expansion.
  • Each payment made through the Starbucks app is a payment that isn’t made by credit card. Since each credit card payment will cost Starbucks 1-2% in interchange fees paid to the card networks and banks, the company saves a lot of money by guiding customers to its payments app.”

Life-changing writing prompts

On a suggestion from an email newsletter that I subscribe to, I ordered a set of Life-Changing Questions. It looks like they won’t print and ship to me until mid-September which gives me something to look forward to.

I’m looking forward to using them as writing prompts. I envision using them for blog and (private) journal posts. I also like the idea of using them for social gatherings and fun discussion prompts.