Heights Gratitude…

It has been a busy week around here. I traveled with Elaine up to Brenham to photograph Catherine & Rich’s wedding. Something in the air beat me up pretty hard, and I was down and out with allergies on Sunday. I had spent the night on Saturday at my parent’s house since it was closer to Brittany and easier to hand off the memory cards to her there, and spent much of Sunday there too as well.

As I was driving into the Heights on Sunday night, I had a familiar feeling. I was taking the same route I always used to take to my former studio before we moved. Southbound on I-45, exit N. Main, take right on to N. Main and an immediate left on to Pecore. It really hit me as I sat at that light at 11th & Studewood, where I used to turn left but now I go straight.

I am home.

After all of those years of wishing we lived in the Heights, after all of those days that I dreamed and lamented that my house was 40 minutes away, I’m here. I live here. It is my home. It is the first time I’ve ever really felt like Houston is my hometown. After 25+ years, that is saying a lot.

I’m so grateful that I had to note the feeling. It could have just been the allergy drugs, but I don’t think that was the case. I’m just so happy to be home at last.


In case you missed them, here are some other recent posts I’ve made…

Lessons While Drowning…

The Fairmont Southampton Princess Hotel's Private Beach

When you go on trip to an amazing island, a brush with death is not normally on the list of things you have planned. Sometimes, it ends up there anyways. Oops.

I went to Bermuda last week for EricaLynn & Stephen’s wedding. It was a beautiful, amazing affair at the Fairmont Southampton, which is an absolutely divine place to stay. Whenever I photograph a destination wedding, I always bring a second photographer along with me. This time, I headed out to Washington DC a few days early for some Hot Mama Boudoir sessions, a visit with my Baltimore, MD wedding photographer friend, Christine and then a stay with my traveling companion and second photographer, Kelly.

Whenever I tell someone that I’m traveling for a destination wedding, everyone thinks I’m going on a most amazing holiday. It is in some ways! But it is also a pretty serious task for us, as we don’t have the usual peer network nearby, being in a more remote location. Because of that I insist on keeping everything pretty low key before the wedding takes place. Have to stay safe!

With the wedding taking place on Saturday, Sunday afternoon & evening was our free time before we headed back to the USA on Monday. Once we had backed up all of our memory cards and wrapped up all of our work, Kelly & I went to the Fairmont’s private beach with plans to go snorkeling – the one activity I had talked about doing for the weeks leading up to the trip. The beach has a dive shop where Kelly rented gear, and we couldn’t wait! After some warm-up swimming in the shallow water and discovering that that “dark spot” that you see in the photo above is actually a school of small blue fish (so cool!), it was time to go further. We were told that there were big fish, coral and sponges out by that big rock, so we headed out for it.

It was then that I nearly drowned. I really wish I was making this up, but at the same time I learned a lot from the whole experience. Lessons that can be good in life in general:

  • People are better off when they do things together. – Buddy system when you swim, people! Thank goodness I had Kelly there swimming right beside me. When I suddenly found myself unable to breath, in a spot too deep to touch the bottom, and I didn’t even think I could tread water as I was starting to panic, I reached out to grab her. I think the buddy system is good for the rest of your life too. Do you reach out for help? Even when it is just an arms length away?
  • Ask someone if they need help. They will probably appreciate it when you do. When I grabbed Kelly’s leg, she stopped immediately and asked me if I needed help. I was already getting winded from attempting to tread water (something I’m normally really good at!), and while it was hard to admit for a second, I did need help. Bad. Matter of fact, I started to panic a little when I couldn’t even get the word “yes” out of my mouth. Do you ask people if they need help when you see them struggling?
  • Keep calm in times of stress. – Ah, panic. It is instinctively the first thing you do when things are going wrong. Sometimes that is a good thing, but if you’re in too deep – literally – it can be very, very dangerous. I kept telling myself to stay calm. Panic wasn’t going to do me any good. Air, that was what I needed. Calm. Air. Calm. (The irony here is that normally I calm myself about sitting on a beautiful tropical island beach. I still used that – because I really wanted to be sitting on the shore!) Do you have a way to calm yourself when you’re faced with a bad situation? Someone to turn to? Breathing exercises? Anything?
  • Remember the lessons you’ve already learned. – Over the years, I’ve attended various water safety courses, watched & read information on how to spot a drowning person, and other random things like that. At first, I started to swim back for the shore with Kelly to guide me. I then remembered that when you’re saving someone, you are supposed to tell them to just float. It was then I realized that I was causing her some resistance and it was going to be harder for her to bring me in to shore. I flipped over on to my back and made myself as still as I possibly could so that I was just floating along with her. Do you know when to struggle and when to just go with the flow?
  • Remove your own obstacles. – We were snorkeling. I had on a mask and the breathing tube snorkel thingie. I flipped on to my back so Kelly could pull me – and quickly realized that having the tube down IN the water was not going to do me any good. I reached up with my free hand to pull off the gear, gasping for fresh air. Do you take the time to remove the obstacles in your way? What is keeping you from breathing in good, fresh air?
  • Take the time to stop. – When we reached the shore, I quickly, frantically, headed for the empty beach chair that was straight in front of me. I was starting to get that tunnel vision of the perimeter of my view going gray, and I’m sure if I hadn’t sat with my head between my knees I would have passed out. I hacked up about half of the Atlantic ocean. I accepted a towel from a total stranger. Kelly took care of me, making sure I was ok. I spent most of the afternoon in a chair, admiring the blue, blue water, and … well, and coughing. It really wasn’t glamorous there for awhile. Salt water & lungs don’t mix very well. But it was ok. I’m not afraid to go back into the water, but I didn’t that day. I knit my sock and enjoyed the breeze instead. Do you sometimes just need to stop and admire your surroundings instead of diving head on in to something?
  • Live a life of gratitude. – I could not possibly be more grateful for the fact that Kelly was there for me. She also stayed calm and did what needed to be done to get me out of a bad situation. She didn’t panic, and when we were on shore she took care of me. Basically, she ROCKED. I can’t even put into words how thankful I am for that. Do you take the time to thank the people that are there for you?

I never expected it to take nearly drowning to remind me that some days, I just need to slow down and enjoy the ride instead of trying to cram so much living into life. In the end, life is about living and enjoying the people you share it with. I’m so thankful for my family & friends that help make my life awesome! I also learned and realized that it is essential to have a health & safety training when going on beach trips just because.

All in all, Bermuda was BEAUTIFUL and amazing. Such an incredible place – I definitely want to go back someday with Mike & Jason! It is just crazy to think that you’re on this island, alone in the middle of a big, big ocean. (Well, ok, series of islands, since there is actually something like 181 islands that make up Bermuda.) There is nothing else around it though — unlike the Caribbean, Bermuda has no neighboring countries. Just you & the sea. Miles & miles of shore with the most brilliant blue water and the pink sand. Truly a magical place!