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 †

 

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♫ 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 🙂

The Hopes and Prayers of a Single Mom

I still remember the moment he left, the moment I knew I was on my own. I remember how I felt, first I felt abandoned, then I felt anger & then at the core of it all…FEAR that cripples even the strongest of people. My fear…raising two boys on my own. Now, I was fortunate to have some child support & the fact that their Dad was still local so they still had him in their life. There are hours of things that I could write about that would anger even Mother Theresa, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the victory, the end result, after all the bad…the bright shiny ending 🙂


See, I was a single Mom for 7 years with two amazingly wonderful boys! I’ve since remarried about 3 years ago, but again, this isn’t what this story about. This story is about the single Mom & how she hope & prays every free moment, that she loved those kids enough & that they won’t miss the other parent. They pray that they give them enough & that their kids don’t want for anything. Single Moms work sometimes 2 & 3 jobs to provide for their kids & so they have the best that they can give them. Single Moms worry about their kids sometimes to the point of being ill & they love them until their hearts burst!

We hope that we taught them enough, loved them enough, prepared them enough & was there enough, even though we know we couldn’t be & it wasn’t a matter of choice like with other parents. I think we hold our breaths until they graduate from High School, because there has been so much put into them to get them this far. Now after hanging onto our kids for dear life…we have to learn to let go…let them spread their wings and fly…watch the beautiful sight of them making a life of their own & smiling when you know that you had everything to do with it! Well…you & God, but He was the one that entrusted you to carry this life until he could walk on his own & love him until your own breath was gone.

This photo is one of my friends Latoya & her son Kenny. She is an amazing single Mom 🙂 She has raised a wonderful young man & soon he will graduate and head off to the Army! I love that I was able to capture this moment last week, where she can rest her head on his shoulder for a change. Latoya…your prayers have come true & your wishes come true 🙂 He’s a good man! Just like we all hope they will be…so breathe…smile & know that someone appreciates all of your hard work & is so proud of you! Love you…you did it!

Corinne Noel †

Giving a chance to those without a voice…

I’ve recently had the pleasure to help out a local animal rescue here in Sarasota, one that is near & dear to my heart. My friend, hero…angel, Michelle Sampson runs an animal shelter/rescue called “Gimme Shelter.” She not only helps to get animals in her shelter to forever homes, but she also has a local television show  where she goes to other shelters & rescues trying to help them be seen by the public also. She has a blog where she educates the public & pleads her case for animals needing to be rescued. If she’s not on her blog, she’s trying to reach out to the public on her Facebook fan page. She has been known to travel to anywhere in the state of Florida, to save perfectly good animals from being put down, rumor  has it she might go as far as Georgia. I’ve met one of her rescue puppies named “Georgia”, so I’m sure it’s not just a rumor 😉

I had the pleasure to meet about 10 new furry friends yesterday, they all were very well-behaved for their photo shoot 🙂 There was one special friend that I had seen on Facebook about a month ago, his name was Theo. Michelle rescued him from Orlando, he was set to be euthanized, his only real issue was mange from not being cared for.  She took this puppy, bathed it, treated it, loved it and now he’s almost ready for his forever home 🙂 She saved his life on March 10th, 2011…now look at him…

I’m grateful for the chance to try to help. I offered to take some photos, in the hopes I might be able to show their personalities better than someone just taking a snapshot. I’ve seen some of these photos online with other shelters, with red eyes & cowering puppies, they do them no justice. I think they would all have a better chance if you we all just give a little of ourselves, just a little time, a little money, a bag of food, maybe open your home if you can, or maybe just thank the people doing this amazing work. It’s hard, heart breaking, loving, selfless work! Michelle introduced me to our foster puppy, which became one of our family 🙂

I’m so grateful for her, for what she does, for being a voice for these animals that don’t have one…she’s saving lives…won’t you help?

http://www.gimmeshelterpets.com/

Stop by the Fan Page & see what’s going on, how you can help, or maybe just drop a note to say “Thanks” 🙂

Gimme Shelter Fan Page

Things that I take for granted…

 

Today I’m sitting in my studio & I’m thinking about all the stuff I need to do, things I wish I had, but don’t have & all the things that I’ve either sold or given away that maybe I should have thought it out first. Questions & thoughts like this can burn up hours in a day & probably shortens your life span, much like cigarettes, however the verdict is still out on which is worse for you. Worrying is wasted time, tears, thoughts & effort. If I was doing something productive instead of wasting the time that I worry, I might have my closets organized or know where my other pink fuzzy sock is 🙂

So…I’m taking a deep breath…ahhhh…handing it all over to the ONLY one who has any real control over this stuff…GOD! Now with lighter shoulders, absence of the monkey on my back & the fear of making mistakes…I have time to think about the things that I take for granted, but am truly grateful for 🙂

First…My goodness, the peace in knowing I am saved & cleaned of all the sin in my life…not excused, but forgiven of my wrongs, clean slate…do over…thank you Jesus!! Unconditional LOVE!!

Second…My husband is a truly amazing individual 🙂 I’m tearing up thinking about how much I love this man! He supports me & our children with every ounce of energy he has, he always tries to better himself, always believes in me, even when I don’t & he is a God-fearing man whose heart is bigger than even he knows.

Thirdly…Our children…Anderson my 16yr old…that boy is going somewhere! He is brilliant! He’s beautiful & manly & the hardest working, focused kid I’ve ever seen! I wish he could see what I do…nothing can stop this guy! I’m just so proud of the wonderful young man he is becoming. I love him so much!   Bronson…my 10 year old…what a beautiful boy with the heart to match 🙂 He is creative & funny, sooo caring & compassionate! He’s going to do great things, he will help change this world! So proud of him & his dreams to be so many things! I love him so much, he’s my little guy 🙂  My parents whom I love dearly…my sisters who are the reason I’m as passionate as I am. My sister Dawn for always being there…always 🙂 I’m truly blessed by the family God gave me!

Lastly, but not least…photography! I’m forever learning more about photography…about how lighting changes moods, how with the right composition, one image can tell an entire story. I will always be learning about photography, because this passion of mine is forever changing! It’s one thing that I love so much that I sometimes forget to breathe when I’m in the moment…there isn’t just ONE person who is “the best” photographer…we are ALL still learning & growing in our art, so it keeps me humble, keeps me challenged & keeps me happy 🙂

I’m also pretty grateful for ANYONE who reads this 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read & learn more about me…a silly, passionate girl trapped in a world that sometimes doesn’t get me 🙂

Corinne Noel †