Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

Posts tagged “personal stories

Happy New Year! Have a Free eBook Sampler!

Field & Hay

Location: USA
Camera Info: Canon PowerShot ELPH 300HS • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 5.6 • 1/800 sec

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” – William Edwards Hickson

So here it is, another year gone by. And I’m trying again! The only comment I have about the past year is: depression sucks. Sorry!

Even if I haven’t kept up with the blog, I HAVE kept writing. Just this past November, my writers’ group published our first anthology, “Stories From the Heartland.” It’s available on Amazon for anyone who wants a copy! Recognize the cover image? 🙂 The book consists of 55 stories from 20 central Indiana authors. I have four entries in it myself, one of which was a story previously told on this blog. Can you guess which one?

But wait, I said something about FREE, didn’t I? 😉 We’ve also uploaded a 7-story excerpt of the book to Noisetrade for free downloads. So hop over there and grab your copy! And if you like the sampler, consider getting the entire book!

Meanwhile, I will try my best to get this blog back to a semi-regular posting schedule so you folks can enjoy more stories and pictures from around the world! Here’s to a better and more productive 2015!

Did you make any resolutions this year? What are they?

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New Year, New Blogs

Windows
Location: Indonesia
Camera Info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/250 sec

I’m back! Or more specifically, I’m trying again. Life got very overwhelming last year, and I had to make some cutbacks, so unfortunately this blog had to take a backseat as well. This year looks like it will be pretty busy as well (I’m looking forward to my wedding, as well as up to three potential international trips), but I will make a strong attempt to keep this going, even if I have to cut back to once or twice a month instead of every week. You wonderful people deserve it! So sorry to keep you waiting this past year.

This week’s picture makes me think of reflections. As I looked out those windows in Indonesia, I thought about where I had been and what lies ahead, and now I am doing the same. This last year has seen Andy and I losing employment, gaining it, losing it, etc. Currently he has found a job and I am still looking (yet another reason why I actually have time to write again!). We are planning our wedding for this spring (finally!) and hope to be heading overseas again shortly afterward.

Together, we’ve had quite the year! Both of us have been very involved in our Toastmasters clubs, with me becoming an officer and taking part in a humorous speech contest, and Andy becoming the very first non-inmate to join a prison club! Andy has kept busy ministering in the prison in various ways, as well as leading tours and working on archive preservation at the historic Harrison House. Of course I can’t mention Andy without his favorite sports, running and archery. This year, he has been teaching me to shoot with him, and he completed his 10th full marathon and 20th half-marathon, earning himself a place in the Marathon Maniacs club (Think: hotel discounts for life!). We’ve also added to our respective families. I took in a stray black cat, Ninja, and adopted a second kitten to keep her company (Leo). And yes, that means there will be occasional cat pictures for you as well! *giggle*

For 2014, we don’t know what it may hold, but we do know God is faithful to lead us. We’re excited for the new adventures that await us… and hopefully they will come with plenty new photos to show you! Thanks everyone for sticking with me. Here’s to a great 2014!

What’s your biggest hope for the new year?


Eating Mexican Food in Poland

Location: Poland
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 8 • 1/100 sec

Yum, doesn’t this picture make you hungry? Or are you just admiring the culinary artwork?

Our group was lucky (or brave) enough to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant when we were in Poland. We were sitting at a long table outside so we could enjoy the weather. It was quite the experience! Along with the decorated food, we had a few good laughs as well. Two of our guys ordered fajitas. Apparently, these are not very common in Poland, because they were served along with written instructions on how to prepare them! That wasn’t all. They also came with bibs! Our server, who knew a little English, explained this by telling us “Fajitas are dirty.” 🙂

Earlier in the trip, we started a running gag at every restaurant we went to. We picked one member of our group, Kelli, and told every restaurant, every day, that it was her birthday. We just wanted to see what would happen! 😉 At this restaurant, most of the servers were dressed in skimpy outfits resembling Spanish dancers from the “Wild Wild West” era. All of a sudden, we heard what sounded like gun shots. A man came running out of the building dressed in all black, with a face mask and cape, and firing a cap gun into the air. Scaring the waitresses, he ran over to Kelli and dropped a cake slice with a candle at her place. Then he took off running again, back into the restaurant. Once we overcame our shock, we laughed pretty hard at that one!

I guess this is what the Polish think Mexico (and likely Texas as well) is really like! LOL

How do your international friends see other cultures, even ours?


Speaking Without Words

Location: Mexico
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 13 • 1/400 sec

If a picture is worth 1000 words, I probably don’t have to explain what’s going on here. But just in case… I was at an orphanage in Mexico, playing with the kids. I had been given power to control the bubble solution stock (big yellow bottle). The kids had their own small bubble wands, and when they needed refills, they came to me. There was limited stock and I was trying to help them be conservative. This little boy was doing his best to convince me that he needed more anyway. However, I didn’t know any Spanish and he didn’t know any English, so we had no clue what each other was saying. Yet we still communicated all this without language.

Have you ever run into a situation like this, where someone you try to talk to doesn’t speak your language? Yep, it even occurs right here in the USA. So what do we do? Our basic tendency when we don’t feel understood is to speak louder or slower, hoping that if we enunciate better, people will understand us. But when someone doesn’t know your language at all, it just makes you look silly.

In my travels, I’ve learned that one old speaker’s addage still holds true internationally. “Communication is 20% what you say, and 80% how you say it.” People pay more attention to tone and body language than they do actual words, so learning to capitalize on that has allowed me to communicate with many people worldwide who don’t share a common language!

How about trying some clear body language? When I tried to ask an Indonesion kid the word for “rain”, I pointed to the ocean nearby (water), then to the sky (clouds), and made a motion like raindrops with my fingertips. He knew exactly what I wanted then, and gladly taught me that word as well as several others. Children in India often beg by putting their hands to their mouths, imitating eating, then put their hand out to you, hoping you will fill it. Facial expressions also are clear indicators, as long as you emphasize your feelings well. Smiles are known worldwide!

How could you indicate a question or statement using only body language and facial expressions? I’d love to hear your creative ideas!


Musical Mistakes in Poland


Location: Poland
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 5.6 • 1/15 sec

Now, on a lighter note… 😉

Everybody has good and bad days, even professionals. Sometimes the results are just plain hilarious. On our band trip to Poland, we got the opportunity to visit a preschool in between concerts. The kids didn’t really know much about our team, except that we were from America. But they were proud of their preschool and wanted to show off their mad skillz as well. All the classes combined into one room, and the kids performed a song they had learned a few weeks prior, complete with hand motions (well, some hand motions. The rest were random kids spazzing, dancing, jumping around, picking their nose or their friends’ hair, and doing whatever else little kids do).

Next, it was our turn. Since we were just there for a visit, the band did not bring their instruments, so we were left doing things completely a capella. Not usually a problem, but the song selections we had been singing were pretty dependent on having a rockin’ musical backdrop. We did have one song that included hand motions, so we decided to do that one for the kids. Half the team clapped to keep the beat, and the rest of us taught the kids our dance. They loved it.

Then, one of the volunteers wanted to hear a “serious” song since they would be missing our concert later that night. Our band leader selected one that was in a similar key & tempo to the first, but no motions and good lyrics. Sure thing! We started the song, and even the kids continued to dance around for the first verse. We continued on to the chorus, and all of a sudden our director had a panicked look on his face. We had accidentally switched back to the chorus of the first song! :O We kept singing, and the director fed us the lines for the second verse so we could get back to the correct song and finish. At least the two flowed together well! Hopefully no one would notice, right?  NOT!  This became known around the trip as “The Preschool Medley.”

Has something ever gone hilariously wrong at a concert you’ve attended?