Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy New Year!

Tower at foot of State Street, Erie, PA

Tower at foot of State Street, Erie, PA

12.30.2015

Just a quick note to wish all of you a very Happy New Year for 2016! Did you have a good 2015? If not, what are you going to change to make 2016 better? Whatever you are facing for the new year, keep a good attitude and go after what you want.

2015 was an incredible year for me. I had tons of fun, learned a lot about photography and about myself. I totally love life and appreciate each day. I surround myself with good, positive people. I keep my goals in front of me.

I’m looking forward to what 2016 will bring. My birthday is coming up fast. I’ll write more about what this year has meant to me, my 43rd year of life. I still miss my brother and have though of him just about every single day this year. I hope I did him proud.

Make it a good day!

~melissa michelle

In need of a forever home . . . . .

Adoption is a beautiful thing. I was adopted and am very proud of the fact. Early in my life I was considered “unadoptable” and I have no idea where I would have ended up if my foster parents hadn’t become my forever parents. Please read below about a special boy who would love to become part of a good family. My brother wrote the following:

Guo Li is a 12 year old orphan who has visited with us for the last 2 weeks.  He is an intelligent, energetic young man.  We have enjoyed getting to know him and we are pleased with how well adjusted he is.  Guo Li likes to meet people and as we visited family during the Holidays, everyone was delighted with his friendliness and his happy attitude.

What a great smile!

What a great smile!

Guo Li has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy but to non-experts like us, it is an extremely light case.  He favors his left hand and arm but to describe it as a disability would be a major overstatement.  He takes care of all of his own hygiene needs and daily care.  He runs and plays, especially with a soccer ball and he always has more endurance than the old guy he is staying with.  Guo Li’s intelligence seems completely normal to us, maybe even above average.  We taught him to play checkers and he plays strategically and is competitive.  He loves to play “Trouble” and routinely evaluates moves available to him and makes the right one.

Guo Li has tasted a variety of American foods but he loves Chinese food.  Amazingly enough, he is an experienced cook and when we didn’t quite know how to fix food he was used to, he stepped in and sliced, diced, spiced and cooked food for all of us.  He can prepare a complete Chinese meal by himself (as long as we provide the ingredientsJ).  He is also delighted when we taste what he has made and find it delicious!

Guo Li cooking

 

We have had two barriers to complete enjoyment of our time with Guo Li and we believe they will be easily resolved over the longer term:

  1. Guo Li doesn’t speak English and we don’t speak Chinese. This has led to occasional miscommunication and some hurt feelings all around. This is of no concern to us because Guo Li already understands much more of what we say and is using several English phrases to improve our communication.
  2. Guo Li does like to be in control of his situation. We have spoken with several adoptive parents and they assure us that this comes from being unable to control anything in their lives to this point. We have already made significant progress in giving him some control over things that are negotiable and getting him to trust us when he can’t be under control. I am confident that this issue will also be easily resolved as communication and trust build.

Guo Li is a delightful, generous young man.  He wants to please people but he is confident and well suited to make his way in this world.  He is adjusting to our culture and would be an excellent addition to any loving, caring family.  Please prayerfully consider whether Guo Li should be part of your forever family!  We are available to discuss our experience with Guo Li. Please email    smatherstp@gmail.com and we’ll answer any questions you may have about Guo Li.

If you are looking to adopt, please consider Guo Li ~ melissa michelle

Adoption

12.24.2015

I got to meet a wonderful boy today. He’s here from China hoping to get adopted. Guo Li is amazing, energetic, and funny! I really enjoyed getting to know him. My brother and his wife sponsored him to come here from an orphanage in China. He’s 12 years old and smart. When he turns 14 he will be turned out into the streets on his own to fend for himself. I’m hoping we can get him a home before that happens. Here are some photos I took today. If you are thinking of adopting, maybe you can consider Guo Li. He would love to be a part of a family to call his home.

What a great smile!

What a great smile!

He enjoys cooking

He enjoys cooking

And enjoys being funny

And enjoys being funny

IMG_7237

He likes to pose for the camera

He likes to pose for the camera

IMG_7239

Funny face

Funny face

He loves to play games and always says sorry for sending your peg back to home!

He loves to play games and always says sorry for sending your peg back to home!

If you have some room in your heart and home, please consider Guo Li. Leave a comment here and I’ll answer any questions and/or give you information.

By the way, I was once considered “unadoptable” but I had a family take me in and love me and I’m a very successful individual now. Can you change the life of a child today?

Merry Christmas!

~ melissa michelle

Truly Living

Double rainbow - Erie, PA 12.14.2015

Double rainbow – Erie, PA 12.14.2015

12.15.2015

This double rainbow greeted me as I left work yesterday (12.14). I’m sorry for the raindrops on the lens. But I think it still made a great photo.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on this year and my goals for next year. This blog has taken off more than I thought it ever would. My facebook page (Photo Life Journal) has done exceptionally well getting views from all over the world (13 countries in 9 languages, and viewed in half the United States). How exciting to know that my photography has been view in Japan and Australia and Scotland, to name a few!

I honestly set out early this year to learn photography, take exceptional photos, and honor my brother’s memory by living life to the fullest. I think I’ve done all that. I truly “lived” this year, I didn’t just exist waiting for life to come to me. I searched it out and absolutely lived it. I think some people wait for things to happen while I made it happen for myself.

The bonus from this year that I did not expect is the fun I’ve had and all the new places my photography has taken me. I know what it means now to have fun with what you’re doing and to truly enjoy the journey. The fun part wasn’t getting to the end of this year accomplishing more than I set out to do. No, the best part was the journey and where this year has taken me.

There are some things I did not accomplish: I did not photograph every single day; there were several State Parks on my list I didn’t make it to; and, I wasn’t always positive. And I’m okay with that. I’m choosing to look at how far I’ve come, not what I didn’t get done.

I’m excited for next year! I still have a lot to learn in photography so that means even more amazing places and photos to take and share with you.

~ melissa michelle

It’s a favorite!

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls

12.11.2015

I love this photo! And I love it even more since I learned it was picked as a judges favorite in a photo contest I entered. I didn’t win the contest because voting is based on peers and judges; however, it’s very exciting to receive the recognition!

It is curious though – when I originally posted the photo on my Facebook Page (Photo Life Journal), it was viewed a total of 131 times. Yesterday I posted the same photo with my very special news and in just a few hours it was viewed 143 times. I’ll look again tonight to see how many more views it receives.

While I enjoy looking at the numbers and sharing the photos with all of you, the most important thing to me is that I loved taking this photo! It was using one of my favorite techniques that I’m good at doing – slowing down the shutter speed to blur the motion of the water yet getting the lighting right and keeping the camera still on the tripod.

This year I’ve had so much fun and have learned so much. Here are two examples of how much I’ve learned. For one, I now know I need a new tripod. The one I have cannot hold the weight of my newer lens and it does not allow me the freedom of movement that the more higher end ones allow. I also know that I want one that weighs less and folds up shorter to fit better in my backpack. A year ago I didn’t know these things and figured I knew enough to get by with what I have. Not anymore! I asked Santa to give me one for Christmas.

The other example is that I’m ready for a new camera, only after a year of having my current camera that I thought was the greatest gift for Christmas last year. I now know enough about settings and the technical parts that I don’t need a camera with pre-sets. Using shutter, aperture, or manual priority modes means something to me now. And this is an awesome thing! However, I’ll continue to use this camera as the next step up is very expensive!

So there you have it. While I was having fun, I learned a ton of stuff. The main thing is that I tried and I kept going out after the shots I wanted. I still have a ways to go . . . . . but I’m certainly on my way!

~ melissa michelle

 

New York City

Radio City Music Hall - NYC

Radio City Music Hall – NYC

Inside Radio City

Inside Radio City

Inside David H Koch Theatre

Inside David H Koch Theatre

Central Park

Central Park

Light show

Light show

12.08.2015

This past weekend I got to spend some time In New York City! It is such an amazing place to visit. I encourage all of you to get there if you haven’t already. This city knows how to celebrate Christmas, and it isn’t just about selling Christmas, it’s mostly about celebrating it.

I was so very impressed with the show at Radio City Music Hall – Christmas Spectacular. Seeing the Rockettes in person was amazing. However, near the end of the show they did a full nativity scene, with live camels and sheep and a donkey. Very impressive. But what touched me most was they have not given in to what some call “political correctness.” Just because some politicians and people of certain religions do not celebrate the reason for the season, Radio City remembered what Christmas is all about. They remembered the principals this country was founded upon and they celebrated it with all of us attending the show. I applaud their boldness in today’s messed up society.

We also saw the Nutcracker at the David H Koch Theatre – It was a pleasure to see so much talent on one stage. Everyone should see the Nutcracker once in their lifetime.

There were so many fantastic sights around me – I certainly could not photograph them all. Plus, if you remember, I’m a nature and wildlife photographer so at times I was overwhelmed with exactly how to photograph what I was seeing – what to include, how to frame it, etc. But I will brag on myself and say that I did pick the technical settings inside the camera to what I thought it should be and I nailed both photos inside the theatres! I have certainly learned so much this year – about my camera and about myself.

A point I would like to make with all of you as you are preparing for Christmas morning . . . . Remember, it’s not what’s under the tree that matters but who is around the tree with you. It’s not about the gifts presented but about the experiences you’ll share together.

~ melissa michelle

Reflecting

Reflections

Reflections

Walking bridge

Walking bridge

Labyrinth

Labyrinth

12.01.2015

It’s December already! This year has flown by for me. The past week or so I’ve been reflecting on this year. It’s been such a great year. I have learned a lot, tried a lot of new things, and been to so many new places.

So Frontier Park is a new place for me to photograph. I’ve enjoyed being there this week taking a ton of photos, but also reflecting on this year and thinking about my goals for next year.

I’ve accomplished most of my goals this year and am so proud of myself. I’ve learned more about photography than I ever knew before. My sister sent me a message a little while ago asking me to look back on my photos from then until now to see the improvement – and she was right! I have greatly improved!

The most important thing that I’ve learned this year . . . . To live in the moment I’m in & have fun doing it. The having fun part kind of snuck up on me. I’ve always tried to live in this moment – but have perfected it this year. The fun part, well, that just happened along the way. I’m just having a blast seeing what I can capture with my photography.

So whatever you’re doing today or tomorrow, remember to enjoy that moment – don’t worry about the next day. And, most of all, have fun!

~ melissa michelle