Furry little miracles

IMG_3242

Everyday we are faced with the decision to take what the day brings and stay positive or to allow trials to destroy us. I’ve had my share of trials and I admit there are some days that are more than I handle…I cry, I pray…I cry some more…I move on. Not everyone can do that, not everyone has somewhere they can turn, someone or something to look to for help, for comfort…for peace. I’ve made it this far, not on my own, Glory be to God for the peace I’ve received in my times of need. I think I’ve been through some tough times, but today I was blessed to share in a special day, a day of victory, a day of overcoming that most would bow in defeat!

Today was the entry day for all kids competing at the Sarasota County Fair. I remember as a young girl, my friends and I were in the 4-H horse club. We made and sold elephant ears at the 4-H booth. We were allowed to stay the rest of the day after our shift and see all of our friends, but the best part was that I got to hang out with my best friends from the barn. It was a great time in my life, those friends, those moments carried me through some hard times in my life. Now, the county fair brings back memories of rides that made you sick and food that made you sicker! I guess as time passes and the further you walk away from who you were, time muddies the memories and they start to look less like anything you would want to remember. Today, the mud was cleared by the tears from a video of a rescued bunny and a little girl and her calf! Today, I was brought back to the one of the many reasons why the fair was one of my favorite places when I was younger. I was reminded why cows, pigs, chickens, bunnies, goats and ducks were more than just farm animals, they are valuable in connecting kids with the outside, teaching them a sense of pride and accomplishment and most of all, helping them bond with real friends that will last a lifetime!

As I stood in the tent where the bunnies, roosters, ducks and chickens were, there stood an amazingly happy family. Todd and his beautiful wife Jessica were there with their two children, Bailey & Xavier. There were many families there today, all with children that were entering a furry friend into the fair to compete, but this family was different. This family not even 36 hours ago, lost every possession they owned and sadly 3 dogs in a house fire. They were renting and didn’t have rental insurance, so they lost everything! Todd & Jessica are both Veterans who fought for our country, they sacrificed their lives and now this amazing family of 4, have lost everything, but each other. Everything but…a miracle bunny named “Shadow” who was revived and rescued by the firefighters. Everything but…a hedgehog named “Sonic” that was found a day later, still alive!

This family was smiling and giggling the entire time I was there. The strength that Todd and Jessica have… to keep it together for their children, when there is so much loss…they are inspiring others…they know that they have each other and that is the greatest blessing. The parents are trying to keep the kid’s spirits up and being around the animals, the community and their friends helps remind them that there is so much good to focus on! I wanted to meet the family, take some photos to help them create some new memories, give back to my Veteran brother & sister and in trying to help them heal, they helped me remember a time of my life that was missing that I’ve desperately  needed back.

Their daughter Bailey is showing a calf named “Snickerdoodle” today at 7 pm. She lost her show outfit in the fire along with her show boots and belt. I heard that someone had donated boots for her to wear today, but I would love to help Bailey have a beautiful shiny show belt to wear today…shiny like her smile, even in this terrible mess that their life has become overnight. I’m asking my Greenwood Stable friends, Hunt Club friends and friends that are still at barns, to donate to this family. We all know what it was like to show animals, we had our show clothes, our own jackets and boots, but what if we lost them in a fire? I can’t imagine how this little girl is feeling, how her little brother and her amazing parents, how they are coping.  I CAN imagine that maybe giving her something to make her feel special, like a shiny new show belt, how that might make things good just for a day and I want to help give that to her! Her family has been given clothing for the kids and right now they are all staying at their parents house. I know it sounds silly to ask for just a belt when they need so much more than that. I believe that there are many people out there that want to help others, they want to really know who they are helping and they want to really connect. I wanted everyone to really know this family, not just see them as a family in need, this is more than a story of a bunny, a cow or a shiny belt. This is a family of Military Veterans, a 4-H family, a family in our very own community and they need your help. Will you please help?

http://www.gofundme.com/oimqgo?fb_action_ids=10155245481995562&fb_action_types=og.shares&fb_ref=undefined

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finally seeing what has always been there…

Bleeding Heart

We’ve been living in the same house for the past 5 years. Not too much has changed, same color on the exterior, a few walls inside are different, a few new items from Ikea, but for the most part, it’s all the same. The outside vegetation has been completely dead or so overgrown that the neighbors wonder if we’ve moved out 😉 The back yard is the most neglected, we had grand plans for that space, complete with a grill, fire pit and seating for the family to eat outside when it cools off. All that being said, I think we have been out there to eat, maybe once! The plants and the bugs took over and life got busy and we forgot about what grand plans still wait in our backyard.

We had some plants in the front yard die this past winter, so I asked our youngest, Bronson to find something alive from the backyard that might do well in the front. He chose bleeding hearts. They thrived in the backyard with just dappling of sun during the day, but they were being put in the full sun. Usually I’d read up on a plant to make sure it was the right spot, but being busy, I just smiled as he planted them.

The first 2 months, they dried up, all the flowers fell off of them and I was just grateful to have something in front of the house. I was sure they were gone. Enter monsoon season and 7 inches of rain in a weekend. Suddenly every plant we thought we lost from drought….came back with a vengeance! We are still trying to cut things back after 2 weeks of pruning!! The bleeding hearts are doing beautifully 🙂 I never really cared for them before, they were more like weeds in the back, every time we cut them all down, in a week they would be back. This is a photo of one tiny bleeding heart flower, all alone, silent and still. They were always there, I just never took the time to really see them. I never realized how lovely they are 🙂

I say all of this to bring up the fact that I love photography 🙂 It took so long for me to realize it! I’ve been shooting again, all thanks to God who answers prayers for a camera and gear to shoot with and then amazingly supportive and loving friends like Jennifer Ford-Cote, Joni Dusek and Carissa Warfield, who answered the call!!

I’ve learned a lot this time around. Though I’ve preached about it not being about the gear…I was comfortable saying that with $4,000 worth of gear in my bag! I’ve used entry level cameras this time around and you know what…they still take photos!!! It’s been challenging, but so worth it! I’ve had time to make do with what I had and I really had no idea how good some of the consumer cameras are! It’s been a great experience and now I know after all this time which camera and lenses I want to start back with 🙂 It’s not the most expensive, but I’m comfortable with it for now. I realize that I got caught up in the newest gadgets and better glass (more expensive lenses) and I know now, that I didn’t need all of that!

Thank you for all of the support from my family, my friends and my clients! You all believed in me and you loved me back into a place that I never should have left…I know…you were all right 🙂 I’m excited to tell some more stories with my photos on this blog, maybe not just my stories, maybe your stories. So stay tuned…we’re just getting started!

Corinne Noel †

 

It’s more than just a rock!

I’m sitting at my desk and I have to admit, I’m feeling…numb! It’s not that I’m feeling nothing, it’s more like when you feel too much and then you can’t feel anymore, so you’re numb, but totally aware!! I find that I’m most humble in this place, I get sick of the sound of my own voice. I notice my faults, weaknesses and mistakes…but it’s where I feel most like me. Here, in this place, I can see EVERYTHING!! It’s such a place of clarity for me, I’m not bogged down with emotion, because I’m past the RAW stage, where it hurts, now I can use it to make me stronger, I can lick my wounds, make changes and start again. This is what it must feel like to the forest after a fire…with the potential to grow again, brighter, stronger, higher…better 🙂 There is so much beauty in being humble and fragile!

I see the steps of where I’ve been and the path before me looks a little familiar, but my footsteps veer off into a high traffic area and that’s not where I want to go! I’ve been there, I’ve failed, I got up, tried something new, succeeded but felt empty, tried something new…you know how it goes. I know I’m getting all serious and usually I’m all laughs or I make you cry, but today I know that I need to do something different! Today, I live intentionally and as real as I humanly can! I LOVE photography! I LOVED being a photographer and while I’ll admit there were many things about it that I loathed…I feel like I can’t breathe without it!!

I believe that is where you have to get…get as far away from something that you love, walk away, free yourself from every camera, every lens, backdrop, photo book, etc. and then you can miss it, you can appreciate it and vow if it will let you come back, that you’ll be different this time. I want to come back!!! I have nothing, but an iPhone and a dream in my heart…but it’s somewhere to start!!  I want to be a professional photographer again…for real this time, no giving up, for better or worse!! But how…how do I get there???

photo

This rock…this boring smooth stone…I took this, well actually I asked permission (can you believe that!!) from the desk clerk at the MGM Towers, I asked if I could have it from the waterfall in the lobby, waiting to come back home after my 1st time at WPPI 2011. I wanted to remember how AMAZING WPPI was and how WONDERFUL this photography community really is when you reach outside of my city, to where there are truly big name photographers that are nicer than some of the  local ones with half the talent!  I was on fire and I let it blow out. I still have this stone to remind me of what I felt I could do, of what I dreamed that I could create, of what I really felt…was real!! I’m ready to be real too 🙂 It’s a long way back…but I know all the roads, I’ll be taking a few different ones, the ones I was afraid to take…this time…it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Welcome back…Corinne Noel Photography 🙂

Mission #1 …going to need a camera…oh and probably one with a lens might be good 😉

It’s amazing what can change in a year!

It’s been over a year since my last post…so many things have happened, that I’m not sure where to start. I closed my photography business down and started with Mary Kay. A year later, I’m prettier (thanks Mary Kay) I’m emotionally and mentally stronger (thanks again Mary Kay!) I just recently left Mary Kay and now am a Licensed Insurance Agent working with my hubby 🙂 Everything is new, so there will be new stories, new feelings, new fears, new joys, new faces, but one thing will be the same…shooting straight from the heart as always! I hope you’ll visit me and see my heart from time to time 🙂

I’M BACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!

♫ I’ll Stand by You…♫

 

I was at a camp out this past weekend with my son’s SMA Raider team. Most of you have no idea what I’m talking about so I’ll try to explain. My son’s school is a military school for good kids, focuses on them going to college and really gives the kids the chance to focus on school and be whatever they want to be. At his school, they have a team called “Raiders” it’s a JROTC team with running, push ups, tire tipping, mud-slinging & sweat galore! I left out a lot of other activities, but I think you get the idea.

 

This weekend they also had a competition with another military academy, that also is a public, charter school for good kids with the same focus on college. They were fromSummerlin Military Academy, so it was sort of cool having SMA vs. SMA!  Now, the camping was fun, the competition awesome, but really that wasn’t what the weekend was about. This weekend was about making the team. The kids from our school & some incoming freshman…trained all summer long with 3 mile beach runs on Saturdays and 3 mile park runs on Wednesdays. This was the summer… you know, where most kids don’t leave their beds until noon…only to fall asleep for 2 more hours in front of the tv & then later go out and start all over again. Not these kids! They were focused on making this team. They have 8 slots for the All Male team, 8 for the All Female team & 8 slots for the Mixed team. There will be alternates…a few…but last year my son found out that while it’s just an honor and a great achievement to make the Varsity team…it’s not the same if you don’t compete! The kids on our team were fighting to beat Summerlin, but really were fighting for a spot on the competing team. Raiders training is hard & the 50+ kids that have dropped out in the last 3 weeks proves it! Our kids…really took a beating this weekend and it wasn’t out of fear of losing or worrying about what other people would think. No, it was because they have had a taste of what it’s like to be a part of something bigger…something amazing…something great!

 

Our Raider team has won 1st place at the State Competition for 4 years now! Our kids on these teams are the best of the best! It’s not just because they are faster or stronger, but because they are led by a team of men with great integrity and these kids support each other through everything, even when they fall or fail! I’m so proud to be a part of this team, even at a distance…watching through my lens…grateful that there are still people who will stand by you…pick you back up & support you until you cross that finish line!

 

The Ugly Duckling…

This is a story of a boy and his truck. This boy since he was old enough to talk, spoke of his love of cars and trucks. He had his favorite Matchbox cars and trucks as a toddler. As he grew older, he could name the make and year of a car just barely in sight and tell you facts about that car that the average person wouldn’t know. He would watch “Overhaulin” with Chip Foose every chance he’d get and he would talk about how that would be the coolest job in the world, how he wished one day he would have an old truck that Mr. Foose would come and make new again.  He would constantly ask his Mom who knew NOTHING about cars, very specific questions like, “Does it cost more for 2 small tailpipes or for a really big one?” His mother having no idea and not the ease of Google back then, she would say, “You need to find it out yourself.” This boy would always find the answer…somehow?!

This same boy when he turned 15 and started to drive, was a much better driver than his Mom could have hoped. He listened to her instructions, he did everything by the book, which made his Mother very proud 🙂 He talked about wanting an old truck and every one he would pass on the road, he would say if it would be the perfect one for him. He searched them out on Craigslist and if they drove past one, he would make her turn around just to drive past it…r.e.a.l.l.y…slow!

When he turned 16, he was blessed with a job on a surveying crew and his first job was more than his Mom could have asked, because she knew his boss & he was a truly kind man. He worked 40 hour weeks in the hot sun on his Summer vacation to save up for his dream truck. He finally saved up enough to buy a truck, he searched out one online and they were off to get a truck. They drove an hour to get there and when they pulled up to the truck…his Mother’s eyes were as big as salad plates! This truck, that they drove an hour for, looked nothing like what the photo showed. The man walked out, introduced himself and they started thier way around the truck. It was in rough shape and that was even being kind. He came down $450 from his original price, making it a $750 truck. The boy drove the truck and when he stepped out of the truck, what his mother saw was truly shocking. That boy was grinning ear to ear, like he was…in love! How could this be? It is so rusted, the door could fall off any minute and the paint job…it’s been spray painted black…which is now more of a grey! The boy wanted the truck…so he bought the truck.

The truck worked one day…it was in the shop a week…it worked one day…it was in the shop another week. The boy’s mother was hating herself for letting him buy that truck! That truck…the one with all the problems…the one that nobody would want! The man selling the truck told a story of it being his grandparents truck, they bought it in 1977, they drove it around their family farm for 33 years and somehow only put 54,000 miles on it! He didn’t want to part with the truck, it was the only thing he had left to remember them by, but times were tough for him now. He could have scrapped it and made more money, but he wanted to sell it to someone who would keep it, love it and maybe one day restore it.

To the average person,  if they saw this truck, they wouldn’t buy it and if they did, they would sell it to the junkyard for scrap or parts. The boy’s mother had a similar thing happen to her when she was a teenager, but it was a horse that no one wanted, that looked more like a donkey than a horse, and the man who owned her wanted someone to love her. He could have made more money sending her to a glue factory (horrible thought), but he loved her, so he sold her to a man for $200. That horse was loved and was trained by the little girl and when she was older, that horse was beautiful and worth so much more money than anyone could have thought. So the mother understood how he could love this “Ugly ducking” of a truck, because with love from this boy, it could one day be beautiful!

The mother was fortunate to find a really amazing mechanic, who offered to show the boy how to fix his own truck, just so it would run. The boy isn’t worried about how it looks, he just wants it to run, he wants to sit behind the wheel of his dream truck and smile and know that it’s all his and that he loves it…just as it is.

This is a photo of my son Anderson and his truck…this is his story 🙂

To be a Curse or a Blessing…

Most of my life I can remember my Mother telling me to help others before myself. I did that growing up and then found that there is a point where you give so much, that you have nothing  left to give, you are no longer healthy enough to help anyone. This is an area that most people have problems with. Yes, it’s great to help others & do nice things for them, but you have to make sure that you are healthy first! It took a 2 year period of classes at a Lifestyle Management Class in Dallas, Texas called Pathways, before I ever understood how to give & still hold onto some for myself.

There is a process that I went through that is called “Are you a giver or a taker?” This is all about giving to others, not out of personal reward & not out of selflessly trying to give help that you are not really able or should give. This is about giving help in a way that you are able to, keeping some for yourself & that when you do give, it feels good, you still are in one piece & everyone walks away a winner.

I’ve thought about blessings lately…I went to an awesome Ladies Retreat with Aletheia Tampa and although there were many things I learned, the biggest lightbulb moment for me was approaching each new day with the question of “Who can I bless today…How can I be a blessing?”  The question that I believe most people ask themselves toward the end of their lives is…Was I a curse or a blessing? What kind of legacy am I leaving behind? I’m hopefully not nearing my time of departure anytime soon, but why wait until you’re 90 when you could have changed your path at 30 or 40 years old & made a difference & left an amazing legacy for your children!

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? -Nichole Nordeman

Here is my challenge to you…if you know me…ever met me, talked to me online or in the real world…if you are from my past or still in my present…I want to hear from you! I want you to be honest…have I been a blessing, did I choose the high road, or was I less than a blessing and more of a curse? If so, then tell me what I did to bless or curse you…so I may apologize & do my best to now be a blessing to you. Why wait until the end of your life to question if you loved enough, gave back enough, was a good friend or a horrible friend? I want to be a blessing…please let me be…

Corinne Noel †