Friday, July 27, 2012

Finished...


It's been several weeks since I rode in the Huntsman 140, and I still haven't written anything here to follow up on the event. Alas, too often I allow for the daily things of life to interfere with things.

Anyway...

I want to thank everyone for their outstanding support, and for the financial contributions. And thank you to the wonderful support teams that helped cheer everyone on, fix flat tires, and in general, just added moral support.

The ride was a wonderful experience, and I'm very glad that I choose to go through with it. In the process of training, I learned a number of things about myself, and there are a few things that I'd like to write about in the future here.

A few years back, I underwent a great deal of preparation for an event which never took place. Afterwards, I was talking to one of my friends, and they asked if I was disappointed that the anticipated events had not materialized as I had hoped they would.

I told her that while I was disappointed, it was all okay, because I had emerged on the other side of the experience a different person than I was before. The changes from that event are still present in my everyday life today.

The most transformational changes in our lives come about when we embark on a task that requires our mental, spiritual, and physical focus at once. These are the events that challenge us to draw on what we already know and understand in each area, but then require us to reach outside of ourselves for more knowledge and understanding. Often times, before these events, we are not receptive to more knowledge, but the very nature of task we undertake seems to have a way of stretching us enough that we will be willing to look for more.

The Huntsman 140 was an event like that for me. Fifty miles would not have been enough. Seventy-Five would not have been enough, but 140 was. While perhaps it was not an earth shaking experience, it was one of those experiences along the path that changes the individual in subtle ways.

Friday, June 15, 2012

One piece...


Tomorrow I will be riding in the Huntsman 140 bike ride starting in Delta, Utah, and finishing at the doors of the Huntsman Cancer Institute on the University of Utah Campus. This has been a quite a journey for me, and it all started with a friend telling me that I ought to do it. At the time, I don't think I really realized what it would take, or where it would take me.

During my training the last month, I've learned a lot of things about me, and I've had some insights into my life. I've found some pieces.

When I started preparing for this ride, it was really just about the challenge to myself. Could I really do 140 miles I wondered? Tonight, I'm still wondering. One Hundred and Forty miles is Fifty Four miles farther than I have ever gone in one ride. I'm intimidated. I'm even a little scared. Even just this last Monday, I was considering doing only the 75-mile portion of the ride.

But in the last three days since I actually registered, and since I started to fundraise, a few things have changed. I'm still riding to see if I can make it. I'm riding to push myself, and to prove it to myself. I've begun to think of it as my own little 2012 Olympics.

But I'm also riding for cancer now. I'm riding for the people that are sick, the people that have struggled, fought, and learned life lessons from the illness that they have. I'm riding for those that lost that battle, and those that won.

When I was about 11, my brother’s wife was diagnosed with Leukemia. I remember when everyone was talking about it. I remember when she came to visit shortly after the Chemo treatments, how she had short, short hair. And then I remember when the cancer came back, and she died. I remember standing there in the room when they closed the casket, and I clearly remember the finality of that moment. Sadly, it was only the first time that I would experience that finality.

I remember reading lots of articles about cancer when I was younger. For some reason, they always struck me.

And when I watched the movie Shadowlands, it sparked a deep fear inside of me. A fear that one day that story could become "Mylands". A story where I would find someone, only to lose them to cancer or some other such disease.

Even just a month or so ago, one of my cousins succumbed to cancer herself after a hard struggle. She was about 22 years old.

So there you have it. Yes, we can learn from cancer and the experiences that it brings into our lives, but I think it's also worth the struggle and effort to find a cure. The struggle towards a way to relieve the suffering that it brings to so many people. And certainly, it is worth the struggle to find better, more mild  treatment methods.

Today, I went down to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation offices and just walked around for a few minutes. Then I went over to the Hunstman Cancer Institute and walked the halls there for a while. I wanted to see what sort of organization I was riding for tomorrow, and I wanted to see what I was asking people to donate to. I was impressed, and pleased. If I had cancer and I was going in for traditional medical treatments, I don't think I'd want to go anywhere else.

In the various waiting rooms that I wandered through, there were jigsaw puzzles for people to work on. How Ironic, I thought to myself. I sat down for a minute long enough to find an edge piece. Yes, it was just one piece, and an easy one at that, but I put it in and left it done for the next person.

One less piece for them to find...
 
-----------------------------------------------

Thanks to those who have donated to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and have supported me on this ride. If you still would like to donate, please visit this link:


This photograph was taken by, and is used with the permission of Kimberly Barlow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Heads up everyone, it’s a magic day today!

And it is also the anniversary date of this blog. I started it on this date, four years ago.

A lot of things are different for me then they were back then. And yet a lot of things are the same. I'm wondering if some of the wrong things are different, and if some of the wrong things are the same.

I took the long way home today. It wasn't because of this date, or because of this post. It just sort of happened. I stopped by the old house where my mother grew up. I'm not really sure why I did that, but I did.

Then I drove through the old neighborhood where I grew up. I stopped at the Barnes and Noble, bought a tea, and walked over to the old Library that I used to go to as a kid.

I left there and I bought a cookie at the Paradise Bakery down the street. I stopped and looked around inside there for a minute, because I wrote a couple of my blog posts from that location.

And then I drove to the park in Sandy that I've been going to for years. I hiked up the mountain and sat there while the sun set. I've always loved parks. When I was a kid, maybe five or six-year’s old, I used to tell people that I wasn't Alma, and that Alma had gone to the park.

Some days, I feel like telling people that now.

"I'm sorry sir, Alma isn't in the office today. That's right, he has gone to the park."

It's a tempting thought. Maybe I’ll try it sometime . . .

Things are a lot different in life then they used to be, and things are a lot different now then I expected them to be four years ago. I'm not entirely sure what I expected, but they are different.

Two thousand eight was really an amazing year, for us as a nation, and personally for me.

Two thousand nine and beyond? Well, it's been interesting the last couple of years to say the least. For everyone.

I suppose that everything is cyclical. That's the nature of things. A lot of us had plans, hopes, and dreams. We thought that we knew where we were going and what we were doing, but things changed for a lot of us.

I too, had lots of plans, hopes, and dreams attached to the creation of this blog. Those ideas never really worked out like I hoped they would at the time. Maybe it's for the best, or maybe not. I don't know yet.

I haven't been behind the camera much the last couple of years. That in turn has contributed to less blog posts. We'll see what happens in the future. It needs a re-design, and a re-focus.

I took this image today at the park. It's pretty simple, but it means a lot to me, and it's the best one I got during my walk.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

After the storm...


My good friend Morgan just announced that she recently got engaged. This is very happy news, and it just makes me smile.

I worked with Morgan back during the "glory days" of my cabinet sales business, before the economy began to suffer. The company she worked at was a great client for me, with a great team of people all working together.

Altogether, it was a wonderful experience, and I'll always think back and have fond memories of the group of people that were in the company at the time. I think that most of us enjoyed the experience, and I feel like we had a lot of success.

Alas, we take the storms with the sunshine, and most of us are doing different things now.

It's the hard things in life that help us grow, and those same hard things make the good times that much more meaningful. Without the perspective, we could never appreciate the good things in life.

One day a couple of years ago, I talked with Morgan after she had just gone through a painful breakup. I remember how devastated she felt at the time, and how I tried in my feeble way to encourage her.

They say that when one door closes, another opens. I suppose that if you could ask her, she would tell you that she has grown a lot in the last couple of years, and that this relationship is much better for her.

Life turns around.

It has for Morgan. Nothing stays bad forever, and while sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it hurts, that's okay. Learn what you can, and look toward a better day, because sooner or later it will come around.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why ask for more . . . ???



Quoted from The Alchemist:

"...He was selling better then ever, as if time had turned back to the old days when the street had been one of Tangier's major attractions . . . "Business has really improved," he said to the boy, after the customer had left. "I am doing much better, and soon you'll be able to return to your sheep. Why ask more out of life?"

So...Why? Why should we ask more out of life? As long as we have food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to sleep that is warm and dry, and an adequate social experience, shouldn't we just be content with that and be happy?

"Because we have to respond to the omens," the boy said . . . "Because life wants you to achieve your personal legend . . . "

It's very easy as humans to become content and complacent in our situations. When we have our needs met and we are comfortable, we often tend to "go to sleep" physically, mentally, and emotionally.

But deep inside us, a small something wants to emerge, a small something that whispers to us that we can be, and do, more.

That small something will only be silenced at a cost, and a very high cost at that.

I'm not talking about asking for more money.

I'm not talking about asking for more stuff.

I'm talking about increasing your "expression in the world" as David Allen says it. And I'm suggesting that the best way to do that, is to follow that inner voice that tells you what that expression should be, and how you should begin to achieve it.

Chances are that you’ve put it to sleep. But that's okay, because you can still wake it up again, but you have to start listening, and then start acting on what it's telling you. You have to be willing to follow "the omens."

Scary? Of course it is, but then, there’s no real living without risk.

And that's the topic of my next post . . . .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jeffrey Spencer...



In evening in early September 2009, I was alone in a hotel room far from my home. I sat and listened to some old music that evening that I hadn’t heard in quite some time, and as I did, the memories came flooding in to dance around me. I laughed, I cried, and I started to write. I penned the following words that evening:

"...the closest bonds in this life are formed by struggling together. If we didn't ever struggle, we might never have truly meaningful or close relationships."

It was an article that I meant to post here, a blogpost to honor my closest friends, the people that I had laughed and cried with, the people that I had struggled with, and for.

I never posted it.

Five days later, sitting at my desk, I got a phone call, the voice on the line telling me that one of my best friends, Jeffery Spencer had just died that evening.

As I got in the car and drove up to see his family, I thought back to the few short days before when I had been sitting in that hotel room. The tears that I had cried that night, the great peace that I had felt, and the gratitude I had felt for all of the wonderful times that I had spent with Jeff and others.

I thought of the times when I had so desperately held on to ideals, hopes, and dreams.

And then I thought about the people that struggled with me through those times. The people that would listen to me babble on and on about those dreams. People like Jeff.

I decided that night that it's one thing to care about people, but it's an entirely different matter to struggle with another person for their interests. To struggle in such a way as to help them work for it themselves. That just might be one of the things in this life really truly worth living for.

Jeff did that a time or two for me, and they were the important times.

I remember stopping by his house one night when I was badly discouraged. Somehow, he knew what to say, and when I left, I felt like it would all be okay.

Jeff was the one that got me started on drinking gourmet cream sodas. It became a ritual to drink them and talk about the issues of life.

I could go on for pages here about the hilarious experiences we had, from me getting a concussion while we were night skiing, to us working on the roof of his house, to us riding around Bountiful in his huge jeep and discussing religion.

He was a person that loved other people. He simply cared about them. He was always ready to grab you into a big bear hug when he saw you. And he was willing to struggle with you.

I'm really grateful for the people that I've had the opportunity to really, truly struggle with. I believe that it's generated some of the closest friends that I could hope for.

Thank you, each one of you...

I'd especially like to thank Jeff today. This picture is dedicated in tribute to him, because when I look at it, I think of him.

And on September 9th, I'm going to sit down and have a fine Cream Soda...in memory of him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Freedom...


As a nation, we recently celebrated our birthday, Independence Day. The day when we stood up, declared our self a sovereign nation, and swore to free ourselves from the rule and tyranny we had labored under. We decided that we were worthy of self-government, and that we were willing to shoulder the responsibility associated with our own choices. God was on our side, and we won against our mother country. The United States of America was born.

Two Hundred and Thirty-Four years later, we stand in the middle of another battleground. All around us, are people that seek to slough off the responsibilities that are theirs. People willing to violate the natural laws of actions and consequence. People looking to governments to somehow solve their problems for them. In short, people do not want to think. They do not want to work. And they do not want to be held accountable for their actions.

Even worse, are the leaders that are not held accountable before the people. Government's seek for a stronger hand, and politicians scheme the ways that they may crush out the individual in trade for a collective mass. Control is in their design. Freedom? Responsibility? Accountability? Where are these things?

No!

The American people must not stand by and watch as though it was some movie in which they take only a marginal interest, or a game to be forgotten tomorrow. We did not become a great, free nation through the mediocrity of human spirit. We were not favored by God because we stood and begged someone to save us from our actions.

We became a great nation because men and women were willing to act according to what was right. They were willing to recognize that every individual has a responsibility for their own soul, their own life, their own actions.

We can not undertake to remove responsibility from people. As a nation, we must shoulder up, and act as though God himself intended for us to act, with courage, dignity, honesty, and purpose.

Freedom will not last without our effort. It will become the stuff of a distant dream, lost in the legends of great men and women.


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Monday, June 7, 2010

Frank Sefton Naylor, Jr...


Today is the 100th anniversary of my father's birth, and so it seems fitting that I should write a note of tribute for him.

Frank Sefton Naylor Jr, was born in 1910. He lived through an age that saw possibly more advancements than any other previous age. As a boy, he rode in a wagon, milked cows by hand, and used oil burning lamps for light.

He was a small boy during World War I, a young man through the Great Depression, and was a father with children during World War II.

By the time he died in 1997, he had seen and played his part in a world changed by technology. He had seen the changes in the ways people traveled, the advent of the personal computer, and the beginning of the internet explosion.

My dad came from a strong pioneer background. His grandparents on both sides were from England and Scotland. As converts to the Mormon faith, they came to America, and then on to Utah. Here they built their lives and families. The Laird family, from his mother's side, came across the plains in the Willie Handcart company, and endured the tremendous trials that faced that company of pioneers.

He was a private man, and he wasn't known for loving the association of large crowds. He was more likely to be found in privacy. He was a fantastic storyteller, and would often recount tales of his childhood in a sort of vivid detail that made you feel as though you were there.

Dad was not one to show overwhelming affection, yet somehow he communicated that he cared, and I don't recall ever questioning that. As a child, I frequently felt that he was on my side, even though it might not have appeared so at the time. He was relatively old when I was born, although I never really considered him old at the time. He was simply my dad, and that was that.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons that he taught me was to be a person that other people could have confidence in, the kind of person that could be trusted to do the things that you were trusted to do. It happened in the summer of 1986, through the following experience:

When I was nine years old, we moved into some fairly remote desert country down in Arizona. There were some people starting a sort of town there, and we went to help build it.

For the first few months, we hauled all of our water from a nearby cattle well in a little trailer with a water tank on it. We would drive out to the windmill powered well, fill up the storage tank with a small pump, and then drive back to the trailer house that we lived in while we built our main house.

For the first month or so, because of the difficulty of hauling the water, then we didn't pipe it into the house. Instead, we filled plastic milk jugs, and carried them into the house to be used.

The water tank that we used to haul the water had a small spigot on it that was used to fill the water jugs. The tank was old, and the spigot was clogged with rust, so the water came out very slowly. Filling the jugs was a tedious process that required that a person sit there and wait for the water to dribble out, fill the jug, and then move the jug and start the process all over.

I was assigned to fill the jugs. The first day, I neglected the task entirely, and my sister went out to get some water. She started the jug filling, and got distracted with more important things. The jug filled up, ran over, and a quarter of the tank ended up wasted in the beautiful red Arizona sand.

When my dad found out about it, he called for me.

It wasn't a long talk, and he really didn't say all that much, but I remember it quite vividly to this day. He sat there on his chair, supervising the building of our house. He told me that I had not done what I was told to do.

"If you're not going to do what I ask you to do,” he said, "I can't have confidence in you.”

Somewhere in that moment, the lectures I had heard on "having confidence in people" all came to my mind and sort of crystalized into something tangible. Maybe it was all part of my fundamental need to help people, or my need to do the "right thing.” I don't really know what it was, except that it really hit me in the stomach that day, and I recall being overwhelmed by a deep sense of remorse over the fact that I had somehow betrayed a confidence.

From then on, I never neglected the water situation again. I found faster and better ways of getting the water out of the tank into the bottles. As it turned out, siphoning it from the top of the tank was the best way around the slow spigot.

But what happened that day, as the pool of water soaked into the sand, turned out to be a powerful teaching moment. A simple sentence uttered by him that totally changed me.

That was my first real lesson in responsibility, ownership, and trust. And it was taught powerfully well. Well enough that it continues to affect me today.

Here's to Frank Sefton Naylor, Jr. a man that I'm proud to call my Father. I'm grateful for the lessons he taught me, and the life that he lived.


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Sunday, May 2, 2010

A plea from our hearts...


Hurt
Pain
Sadness
Loss
Happiness
Joy
Compassion...

...and Love.

We're all human. All the world over. We all feel the same emotions, and experience similar experiences that are dear to us.

It's 12:30 am, and I write these few lines from my hotel, nestled in the heart of Jerusalem. I have been in Israel now for a week, and I will be here a couple more days before I return home to the United States. I've dragged myself from site to site and church to church, and I'm not even done yet.

Israel is in a place that is torn, and torn again. It's so torn that it ought to be threadbare if it isn't. There are so many denomnations represented here on these lands that I can't even begin to keep track of them all. Many of them dislike each other.

In the least cases, they can't get along enough to clean a church, so it falls into demise and gets covered in filth and dross.

They fly miltary fighters jets around at regular intervals to keep watch, and they have miltary checkpoints periodically on the highways.

Some of this ground is said to of had more blood spilt on it than anyplace else in the world. So why? Why can't we understand each other a little more? Why can't we be just a little compassionionate? Why can't we sit down and iron out our differences and stop the hate, the anger, the bloodshed?

But I know why. I understand the nature of a fundamentalist sect better then most. I understand how they think, and how they are taught. The situation makes me want to sit down and weep. I don't know that it can change without a whole lot more suffering and pain. I wish that it could, but I don't know.

My solace lies in the fact that I am a person of faith, and I trust that the Lord can work all things to his end, and for his good.Go out today, and care about someone. Show compassion for them, regardless of who they are, what they look like, and what you think about their beliefs.

----
The "Wailing Wall", or Western Wall of the ancient temple complex in Jerusalem, Israel.

This is perhaps the most profound place in Israel that I have visited. It is the most holy site for the Jewish people, and I was deeeply touched by their reverence for this place.


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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Recovery...

We all hear it from time to time, people saying that your failures can turn into your greatest successes. But when your standing firmly in the moment of failure, it's a little hard to see through the fog of what seems like your own personal earthquake.

In December of 2007, I visited the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, in Santa Barbara, California. While there, I took some of the photographs that have been previously posted here on my blog. These include "The Grandfathers" and "Bridges of Transition".

In December of 2009, I visited the Garden again. When I wandered into the gardens that day, I expected to find everything as it was the last time that I was there, perhaps thinking it had been maintained in some sort of blissful stasis. I was very soon reminded that "stasis" is not really a popular idea in the natural world.

Upon entering the Garden, the lady at the registration desk informed me that there had been a fire that had ravaged the garden. Fire crews had saved as much as they could. The walk bridge it turned out, was lost. I asked about the redwoods, and she said that they had been saved.

I wandered through the Garden that day encountering burned objects here and there. Although most of the trees were preserved, their trunks were black with soot and charred bits of bark. The majority of the thick brush that was once there was now gone. As I looked up at the surrounding hillsides, the charred remains of trees and bushes told the story of the fire that had indeed ravished the entire area. No doubt, it was the efforts of the firefighters that had saved any of the Garden at all.

I'm in sales as an occupation. I've been doing this for years, and believe me, I know what failure tastes like on so many levels, including business failures, financial failures, relationship failures, and simple, silly things like dancing failures.

Perhaps that's why I had a strange attraction to this burned shed when I came across it that day. Doors hanging open, the paint all burned and charred. It looked like I think people feel sometimes. Even the stuff inside was burned, ruined and worthless. All around the shed the trees were burned, and charcoal littered the earth, intermingled with the wood shavings left from the cleaning crews that had shredded up all the debris left after the fire.

And then there was a little green bush growing there in front of it. To be sure, it was small, but it was green and it was Alive! My attention turned to the recovery of the garden around me. Nature, refusing to be locked in stagnation, is ever changing, and it was coming back! Shoots of grass were pushing out everywhere, little bushes were growing, and all around me was an abundance of life!

The beauty of observing nature for me, is that the lessons are real. We know they are natural, and that they are not the products of hype, marketing, etc. Thus, the lessons become important to us. They become a type and pattern for us to follow, to apply to ourselves and our own lives.

Over the next little while, I'm going to be working on a series of articles that focus on recovery and growth in the midst of opposition. We'll talk about thinking patterns, ideas for how to change, and I'll share some of my favorite stories and quotes centered around this topic.


To be continued . . .

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Song...


Located in Seattle along the banks of Puget Sound lies Discovery Park. The park is a sprawling 534 acre natural area that has the certain tranquility about it that we discover when we visit a natural area in the midst of a spralling metro.

Standing on 20 acres within the park, is the Daybreak Star Cultural Center, which is a conference/community center maintained and managed by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation.

It was a beautiful spring day, and I had been wandering through the park. The sun was out, but it was filtered by a light and thin cloud layer, almost like a haze of sorts. The effect was a very pleasant softening effect on the light. There was little or no breeze that day, and the grass seemed to glow with a strange sort of florescence that was radiating from the inside out. The trees were beginning to bud, and one could tell that the whole area was about to burst in a magnificent display of the wonders of nature as spring emerged.

I wandered into the Daybreak Star Center, and there in the hallway was an old piano. It looked rough, and I went to it and plunked a couple of the keys. It sounded old, and probably way off tune, but I had the sudden desire to play the old piano.

I wandered towards the back offices until I found some people, and asked them if I could play it. The old native gentlemen looked at me sort of strangely. "Sure" he replied.

The piano bench had been confiscated, so I borrowed one of the guest chairs that was sitting at the entrance. I sat down and tentatively fingered the keys, letting myself feel the roughness of the instrument and the energy that it had acquired over the years of its use. Doubtless, it had seen many faces, and it was probably donated to the center by some kind soul that could no longer play it.

I began a song. A simple tune, no doubt repetitive, and known only to me. The music came from my soul that day, a sort of melancholy sadness perhaps evident in the music. Visitors wandered through, looking at the various pieces of art on display. I paid them no mind. It was about me, the piano, and the expressions of my soul.

For perhaps 45 minutes, I played to the people of the past, the people of the present, and the people of the future. When my song ended, I quietly put the chair back and left. I felt better, perhaps cleansed a bit, and I was thankful to the people at the Daybreak Star. The old piano had helped me that day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Everyone has a story...


"Everyone has a story." It's a quote from one of my favorite movies.

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to go out with a new mother and photograph her baby. As usual, with any portrait session, I was all stressed about it for weeks. Things like lighting, expression, and posing, had me as concerned as they always do.

I'll admit, I went with a bit of an expectation for what I wanted. The primary subject was the little boy, and the mom really didn't want to get in the pictures, but what I really wanted to capture was the experience of a new mother showing her little boy the world. I wanted to capture the joys, the wonders, the compassion, the love, the mystery, and the magic of it all. Talking to a friend a week before the shoot, I made the comment that I really didn't want the mom to feel rushed at all. "I want her to sit down and play with her little boy," I had said.

This little guy is very photogenic, and we had several really nice shots where his personality came right through. But it was when we walked past this road covered in leaves that I felt like something was there, lying uncovered. And luckily, the mother did just what I'd hoped, she sat down and played with her little boy. I swapped out for the longer lens and retreated to a distance to catch the magic as it happened.

What do you think? Success or no?

But wait, there's more...

Everyone has a story. The story of this mother and baby boy, is that she was childless for over fourteen years before this miraculous little guy came along. The dad is my Nephew, and we work together every day. Because of all that, I've known about some of the frustrations, despairs and unfulfilled desires that they went through over the years.

Since "Eli" came along, I've personally watched them both with fascination. I've watched the mother fawn over this little guy as though he were her whole world, and that's what I really wanted to capture.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Creation...



"...he sat and observed the awesome creation manifested before him. He pondered it, wondered at it, and strove to understand it. But it was beyond him..."

After spending an entire Sunday in the house last weekend, I decided just after dark that I would go out for a walk. I donned my shoes and jacket, and set off down the street.

It was in fact, absolutely wonderful outside. The sidewalks and the streets were wet from the rain, there were little streams running down the gutters, and the air was heavy with a variety of aromas that made a person want to stop, breath deep, deep breaths, and feel the sheer joy of being ALIVE!

I wandered past the library, past the business offices, past the bank, and past the McDonald's, crossing the street several times because the sidewalk doesn't run continuously. I hopped over puddles, chuckled a bit to myself at the way I obsess about trying not to step on the cracks in the sidewalk (obviously, I look down too much), and I smiled a bit when the sidewalk ended abruptly in a corner behind a power transformer.

Turning around, I wandered back the same way, passing my house and continuing around the block. I stopped by some juniper hedge, stunned by the aroma that brought back deep memories. I wondered a bit at how the hedge was trimmed into a funny little row with humps along the top. And then I found a little hidden path that led to the inside of the bushes. "How delightful," I thought to myself, "It's like a hidden little corner."

On the way back, I realized that there was some sort of vacant lot on my street that I've never even realized was there. And I also discovered a very large yard without a fence that had grass in it and a huge old tree. I wondered a bit that I had never even noticed it, even though I have walked my street several times.

In the dim light, I couldn't quite figure out which house the yard even belonged to, but I ventured the ten feet into the short grass to touch the huge tree. It is enormous, probably close to four feet in diameter, and it has too be about 30 feet taller then any other tree on the street. I wondered a bit that I have never noticed it before. As I touched the old weathered bark, I felt as though I was wrapped in it's grandfatherly embrace. Smiling, I looked up into it's branches towering above me and wished for a moment that I could climb it.

I decided that I must always hurry too much to notice what is around my house. Perhaps it's time to open my eyes a bit.

During the last few days, between reading Eckhart Tolle's: A New Earth, and Arbinger’s: Leadership and Self Deception, I don't think I'm looking at life through quite the same glasses. I feel profoundly affected, and I highly recommend both books. I feel like we need to try and look beyond the words and the labels that we attach to things in life. It might be said that we need to allow ourselves to actually experience life, and the people that are in our lives. We need to feel, see, and understand more.

And most importantly, we need to understand who we truly are....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Look at the MOON!


The white light fell around me, gently shimmering through the trees. A slight breeze flitted along, and the clouds raced overhead, now and then obscuring the moonlight that brought the landscape to life with strange shadows.

What an amazing day, I thought to myself. What an amazing moment. A bit of magic, to be sure.

I arrived home late Friday night (or early Saturday morning, depending on your point of view), and I was so enamored by the moon, that I dropped my briefcase in the house and then went back out with my camera and took several shots.

I felt like standing back and shouting: LOOK AT THE MOON!

If you’ve seen the movie The Kid, then you know what I’m talking about. :)

With this entry and this shot, I close out the Chamenos Series, and I start a brand-new series. A series dedicated to the beauties, joys, and emotions of living life, even when it seems hard or difficult.

There is a secret in this picture, a hidden celebration if you will. I’ll leave you to figure it out. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Path...



"I stood there in the fading light, and stared down the at the path. I wondered what madness had ever convinced me to set my feet on the path in the first place, and I further wondered why I had been brought here to this place. For I really did believe that I had indeed, been brought to the winding path; a path in which the end was obscured and lost to me. "

-------

Quite often, people talk about living in the moment and creating your own destiny. It seems to be a trendy sort of thing, and while all of these ideas carry a great deal of good, and a great deal of truth with them, I personally think that they err a bit.

Other people wonder at the term "calling", and wonder why people say it and what they mean by it.

I believe that peoples' lives carry a certain mission that they came to accomplish in this realm. It may be simple, or it may be great, but it is specific and necessary for them to perform. A calling is simply this: The sum, or at least an extension, of their mission in this life. It is something that they need to perform in order to be whole and complete.

Things are so intricately connected in this life that if we could fully see the connections, I think that it would baffle us. And although we may think that we are creating something majestic by our own power, we really are all a part of a grand prophecy that has been in force for eons. A set of words so powerful as to shape worlds without end. And each and every human life and conscious intelligence is a part of that prophecy, which rolls forth with a power well beyond our tiny arms and mouths. Each one of them enlisted to play a part that may be great, or small, in the moment; and yet infinitely important at the same time.

And yet, to our trial, we sometimes only see that mission and purpose one day, or one moment at a time. Hence the reason to "live in the moment". But we must remember the responsibility of our mission and seek after it, to live it fully.

To quote Stalking Wolf: "A man not living his vision is living death."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

4 minutes 4 seconds...



That's how long it took. Four minutes and four seconds elapsed between the moment that the bride handed the bouquet to the first bridesmaid, and the time that the person conducting the ceremony presented them to the audience as "Mr and Mrs.".

Later on, as I sat and thought to myself, I was quietly amazed. So short a thing for such a significant agreement. I found myself thinking that it should seem more ceremonious, or something.

And then I thought further about it and I realized that the commitment they had just agreed to had been happening slowly for a long time. Indeed, it had started when they first met, and had progressed all along. The agreement had been slowly happening for months. Every step they took had affected one very short, but dramatic outcome.

I dunno. It makes one think and wonder a bit. What are we leading towards every day of our lives?

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Corvette...


This couple was so fun to work with. It probably helped that it was my sister, but they were very amiable and patient. And credit goes to the groom for being adaptable and willing...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Charlotte's Wedding...


The couple wandered to the top of the hill and posed themselves. It turned out to be one of my favorites shots of the day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gratitude...



Life goes on doesn't it? A lot of us are pretty blessed if we take a minute to stop and really think about it... God is, after all, quite good whether we think so or not.

---
Those of you who were out camping where I was a couple of weeks ago know that I hung around most of the afternoon waiting for the lighting in this shot. I ended up with about one minute to catch this.

I had been out on the bluff the evening before in the rain, so I knew sort of what I was looking for. To get this, I used the lowest ISO with the longest shutter speed possible, and then I used my hat to shade part of the lens and even out the exposure. I had to flip the hat up at just the right moment to fade everything properly. You would usually use a neutral density filter for this sort of thing, but I had accidentally left mine at home. In the end, it really was sheer luck that I got the timing right.

The beetle....



Sometimes, maybe the only real option left is to rake all the rubbish into piles and set fire to it....

---
For many years now, our family has owned some property in the Ashley National Forest. In the last five years, there has been a shortage of water in the area and at the same time, the forest was invaded by a beetle. Unless the trees have sufficient water, they cannot resist the beetle, and the end result is that they die.

The result for our little area, was that many, many old trees died, and the forest has been in a sort of ruins for a while. There are new little trees growing, but right now, it all just looks pretty bad.

When I drove in, loggers had gone all along the road and piled all the dead limbs into these neat little piles. Although they had done a really nice job, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of devastation as I looked at all the piles. I was listening to Secondhand Serenade's song: "Why" at the time, and honestly, I felt like pulling over right there and crying.

I spent a day and half wandering the hills and valleys that I walked as a little kid. In many ways, it was like going back in time. Because there has been so much rainfall this year, it is greener then I have seen it in a long time. Possibly the greenest that it has been since '83-'84 when I went up there the very first time. Flowers. Tall grass. It was nice. And it was sad. Sad because so many things have been lost. So many things have changed.

From the moment I pulled in, I wanted to take a photograph that captured what I felt when I looked at all those neat little piles. I took this the last evening that I was there, on my way out...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Miracle Shots...



"I don’t want to have my picture taken," she said. "I’d like one of those puffy flower things though."

"Well go pick one," I replied.

The next thing I knew, there she was, all settled in with the tall grass all around her. Suddenly, I felt like I was photographing an angel...

Later on, when I sorted through the images, I thought to myself how every so often, we are graced with a miracle shot. I suppose that some people can produce them all the time at will. I can't do that. Especially when I'm working with people.

My goal in photography is to be an artist. I have no interest in being a professional, and the two are significantly different in my opinion. My interest lies in catching something that is just a bit more than a photograph, and with this shot, that worked out.

----
For an entertaining read, visit Ken Rockwell's site and read his Seven levels of Photographers artical.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

To Live...

A while back then a friend said something to me:

"I would prefer to give everything I have and live for just that moment than to live a sham of a life never expressing my feelings and sharing with others." - A. McIntyre

So many times in life, I feel like I've gone out there and I've hoped, I've tried. And in the end so often, just so, so often, I feel like I've fallen on my face. Like I've done it all wrong. It's seems like if there could have been a mistake, I would have made it. And sometimes I've felt like there was no way that I could do anything right. And sometimes, it makes me want to just run and hide. Hide from a world where so much seems wrong, where so much seems broken.

But...

I've honestly struggled, and tried to do the best that I could. I've loved. I've laughed. I've cried. And in the end, I wouldn't trade it at all. Despite the hurt, the pain, the disappointment, I still think that it has been worth it.

It's the moment when I feel the vibrations from a musical instrument as they carry a piece of soul from the one who plays it. The moment when I stand on a rock hundreds of feet above the ground and feel the wind sweep around me, almost as though it could carry me away. The moment when I see the pure joy in a child as it plays. The moment when I see a tiny new blade of grass pushing to the surface from a soft, brown, mother earth. The moment when I stand out on a bluff and watch the sun set, it's golden rays spreading out across the sky above me. The moment when I look deep into another persons eyes, and I see a piece of their soul. And those moments when I sit and watch the stars, and everything is so quiet that I could hear a pin drop. And I wonder....I wonder who? Who can fathom something so grand? Something so wonderful?

Those moments, they are the moments that I feel loved. And those are the times when I believe that if I continue to try my best, things will work okay.

So, like my friend so beautifully said, don't settle for a sham of a life. Give everything you have, because in the end, it will be worth it.

----
This photo is taken at The Red Butte Gardens at the University of Utah.

Monday, June 22, 2009

On engagement sessions...


This is one of my favorite shots from an engagement session that I did about seven weeks ago. I've totally ignored my blog lately, so they are actually married now.

Out of people shots, I believe engagement sessions just might be my favorite to shoot. The two people are usually so accommodating of each other that they tend to trip over themselves in the process, and the entire atmosphere has a unique and beautiful energy about it. Two people on the verge of making a commitment to each other that will change their lives forever. And they usually can't hardly wait to walk down the isle.

This is my sister Charlotte, who has modeled for me in experimental photography sessions many times, and her fiancé. This is one of the last shots that we took that evening. I had not been out with the camera in a while, and it was a very nice, pleasant experience. Thanks goes out to my assistant Carol for her help during that session.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, '09


On Sunday, July 31, 1994, my older brother Sephton Frank Naylor, was killed in a car wreck on his way home from a fishing trip with his young family. He was 26 years old, and had three small children.

The loss of Sephton was an incomprehensible loss to the entire Naylor family. A deeply spiritual person, he had probably only begun to catch a glimpse of his potential; and we can only wonder where his gifts as a Shaman and Healer might have taken him.

I was 16 at the time, and I vividly recall standing in the funeral home as many, many people walked through and quietly paid their respects. Countless nephews and nieces that respected and loved him. People that had grown up with him, and many people that he had worked with over the few short years.

"A terrible tragedy," we all said. And it was. I still remember walking in the room and seeing the haunting looks in his small families eyes. An incomprehensible loss.

But then again, maybe there was more to it then we know...

Maybe the Naylor family was in real need of a spiritual giant on the other side, working in their behalf. Maybe there was more that he could do as healer there, working with us on a spiritual level. I don't know, but it just might be the case.

In the Bible, in 2 Kings chapter 6, the king of Syria learns that the prophet Elisha is in a place called Dothan, and he sends an army to "fetch" him. The story says that there was a "great host" of horses and chariots, so use your imagination there for a number. But in any case, it was enough of an army to scare Elisha's servant.

The story continues:

"And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. "

This memorial day as we go out and visit the graves of our loved ones, and recall the tender memories that we have of them, and as our hearts ache for the loved ones that we have lost, I want to leave people with a simple thought:

Your loved ones that seem gone, are in fact with you, working for you, and doing everything that they can to help you. It might be possible that they are able to help you more then if they were here. I don't know that, but it just might be the case. So take heart, and try and be comforted. Feel them, and even talk with them.

I'm not saying that you won't miss them. I'm not saying it won't hurt. And it just might be that way your whole life.

But...

Sometimes, you can still be graced a little bit with their presence. And someday, you will see them again. I can promise you that. And in the meantime, they will help you, maybe more then you know.

---
This photo was taken at the Fort Lawton Cemetery, located within the grounds of Discovery Park in Seattle, Washington.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

One year of publishing...

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of this bog. Really, it’s a little amazing to me, and almost every time I log in to my blog page, I wonder a little at myself. Being a person that loves to keep my life, and my doings, so private and secretive, it’s really weird that I would be publishing a blog with my thoughts, writings and photos.

I’m also surprised at the way that it has changed over the months that I have been publishing. I’ve had some people ask why I write a blog. They ask why I take pictures. I usually answer, "I don’t know", but that’s not entirely true.

It’s interesting to note the paths that life leads us into. The original reason that I even started this thing was a slightly ridicules childish fantasy. But it seems like things are larger then me, and it seems that even though I may have reasons for doing things at one point, they seem to sometimes end up as something much different then I might have imagined.

I don’t know what will become of this blog. I don’t know what will become of my photography. I suppose that everyone in life wants to make some sort of a difference in the world. I feel like it is a little pretentious for me to think that this blog is, "making a difference". But I can hope that somehow, my life and efforts can be used to somehow touch others, to somehow become a catalyst for comfort, hope and change.

We live in a world that is so full of pain, sorrow, and heartbreak. Just last week:
  • I went and watched The Soloist, and I left pondering about the 90,000 homeless people on the streets of LA, and the countless homeless people the world over. People dying from disease, hunger, and tragedy...
  • I talked to a friend of mine that had broken up with the guy that she had been seeing for eight months. She was heartbroken, and she said some line about things like that making you stronger. I told her I thought that line was BS...stronger for what? Harder? Colder?
  • I talked with a dear friend that was struggling with her marriage and was deeply hurt. It seemed that she didn’t know how to go on, or what to do. I knew not what to say...
  • I found out that someone that I had recently become acquainted with had lost her sister in death about a year ago, and she was having a hard time with the one year anniversary...
What can I say to these sorts of things? What can I do? I don't know. And yet, there are happy things. Last week on the flip side:
  • I talked with dear friend of mine, in her fifties, that was excited about the prospects of a new relationship that she is in, after having been single for about ten years..
  • I shot an engagement photo session for a young couple. Such an amazing experience it is, to watch a young couple, excited to embark on a journey through life together.
  • My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I visited her, and listened, as she recounted the love that she realized that she had for this little girl before she was born.
  • I watched a new mother with her little girl, as she held her, and talked to her. Her dad worked on something close by. I watched as the little girl watched her dad, her soft brown eyes intent on his every move.
  • I watched a friend that had been childless for 14 years of marriage, as she held her new little baby boy, and cooed at him...
Life happens. What can we say to it? What can we change about it? Really change? With our puny little arms? I don’t know that we really can. Not without the help of our dear Father in Heaven.

In short, I continue to publish this blog for the same reason that I continue to photograph.

I feel called to.

Plain and simple. I don’t know why. I don’t know what good it does. I just feel like right now, it is something that I am supposed to do. I trust that. It might just be practice for something that is yet to come. Maybe it does good, and maybe it does not. I don’t know.

And another reason. I love the creative process. I love it when I start with a blank sheet of paper and emerge with a written piece. I love it when I drive down the road, or when I walk across a park and words come into my head. I love it when I pick up my camera, and I loose myself in my surroundings. To where time and place almost don’t matter, and it is just me and the camera, the light, the scene. I love it when I look at a photograph later and it takes me back to that second, that moment in time, the things that I felt, the things that I thought, the things that I hoped for. Sometimes it is sad, and sometimes it is happy, but it is all real. I don't really get inspired by my own photographs. I simply remember...

Some artists start with an image in their head and create that. I don’t. I don’t see it until it is there in front of me. It is the evolution of the subject, the writing, the photograph, the drawing, the song, or the dance, that I love. The change, the design on the fly. The complete lack of planning and structure. A sort of free-flowing creation that creates an exhilaration in my soul, and my spirit.

I suppose it is something that you have to experience to appreciate...

----
This photo was taken at Martin’s Cove, Wyoming. I was deeply moved while I was there, and the area is very sacred to me. I was coming back from New York via Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and I drove right past it, quite on accident. I had no idea I was going to pass it.

The people of the Martin, Willie, and other companies that embarked on the journey that ended in the death and suffering of so many, were undoubtedly remarkable people. I believe that they were people of faith. People that cared, that believed, that trusted God.

My ancestors were among those that struggled with the Willie company in that area, so I stopped and hiked around. I got there at dark, so I couldn’t stay long, but I did make it back to the actual campsite of the Martin company and I took this photo. I like it because we all have a path in life, with shadows and bright spots, sorrow, pain, happiness, and joy. And we might not see the end of the road right now, but somewhere on the horizon, there are bright areas, and all things work to the good of those that love God.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Tribute to Paul Cardall...

Paul Cardall is one of my hero's. He is a fabulous musician that has done huge things for the music community here in Salt Lake. I've been listening to his music for years, and it never ceases to touch me.

A few years ago, I bought one of his albums for a dear friend of mine as a gift. I e-mailed him and asked if I could meet him and get the album autographed. He told me that he had a signing already scheduled at a local store. When I went down to the store, no one else was there, and we talked for a few minutes. He smiled at me with a mischievous smile, and asked me what I wanted him to say on the album. "Nothing too heavy," I replied. He chuckled a bit as he autographed the CD.

We talked a bit about his albums. "Paul," I said, "you realize that Hymns One and Hymns Two are totally different." (For those of you that don't know the story, Hymns One was recorded on the spur of a moment while they were in the studio recording another album. Hymns Two was a planned recording.)

"I know," he replied. "The first one has magic."

What a perfect way to describe it.

About two years ago, I attended a concert by him at the Rose Wagner Theatre. It was a small and intimate setting. Just him and the piano. A wonderful setting and a wonderful concert, I sat in deep introspection through most of the music.

Paul Cardall has fought Congenital Heart Disease his whole life, and he is currently on a waiting list for a heart transplant. I want to recognize him while he is alive, and I hope he is with us for some time to come. I'd love to hear him again in concert.

---
I wanted to post this photograph, and when I read Paul's blog today, I knew what I was going to write to go with it.

This shot was taken in the Sacred Grove on the Smith Farm in Palmyra New York. This is my shot of the grove. And by that, I mean that this is the one that you would find in my house, on my wall. I took the other one to depict the common story, and it is clean of me. This one however, has me all over it. I adore this picture, and I am dedicating it to Paul Cardall, his efforts, and his inspiration to me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Forgotten City...


As I looked over the city ruins, I wondered, who had walked here? Who had lived, loved, laughed, and cried? What happened to them? Forgotten and lost, who had they been, and what had they done while they were here?


---
This is my first post that includes a photograph from my trip to Turkey in 2005. It's a neat place, with a lot of neat ruins. Everywhere. I'd really like to go back and spend some quality time with the light in some of those places, but I wouldn't want to be on a tour again. I'd have to be on my own time. You know the cool thing? That person just wandered out there as I took this shot. I didn't pose that, and I don't know who it was. I never even realized it until I got home. This shot is nice in color as well, but has a much different feel.

In 2007, at an international competition, PPA found this print "not worthy of a merit." Sort of surprised me. That's when I decided that I was going to have to ignore PPA's opinion on things. I haven't bothered to submit anything since. This was shot with film on Fuji Reala 100 (not the best), so maybe a better scan would have helped. I dunno.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Di-Ahman...


Last Sunday, I made the first site visit for what will be called the Di-Ahman Project.

In short, this project will be an effort to get one photograph that captures the spiritual essence, hopes, and dreams that Adam-Ondi-Ahman holds for those with Mormon background.

I've never seen a photograph that really captures this place. It's a huge valley, and frankly, it's not easy to shoot. But the place is magical. I drove there and I expected to feel nothing. Honestly, I lived in Missouri for about five years and it's a nice place, but I wouldn't care to really live there again. I joke with people about what there is to see. "Trees and grass", I always say. Indeed, it seems like you can drive across four states and they all look the same.

When I got to Di-Ahman, I came in the back way and drove straight to Tower Hill. I got out of my car and walked down the little path that goes down the hill to the valley floor.

I was overcome.

Overcome with a deep sense of peace and tranquility. The place is possibly the most peaceful place that I have been to in the whole world. Honestly, I really didn't want to leave. I could have sat down by a tree and just sat there for hours. I wandered through the trees and fields almost mindlessly for an hour or so and it was very, very healing on a deep spiritual level. It was Magic, in the best possible way.

Once while looking at my Sacred Grove shot, I told someone that I wanted to shoot a shot of Di-Ahman but that I figured that I would need to spend about three days. They said that there wasn't a lot to see there, and that they didn't think I could spend three days there. After this visit, my conclusion is that my preliminary estimate was wrong. I could easily spend a solid week here, just watching the light, the weather, and trying to capture it. The place was just amazing, and so many shots seemed to just leap out at me, with everything coming from a hundred different directions and angles. I didn't even have any sunlight to work with, because it was overcast. Just imagine the different light possibilities...

I probably could spend every weekend for six months. I'd really like to see it in all different weather and seasons.

It's a long way away from Salt Lake though. I have no idea how I can do this project, but I decided that it is important. I don't know if I can even get a shot that portrays the valley. It's really big, but I feel like I have to try. I will probably be working on this for a while, and it will likely be the focus of all my foreseeable trips to Missouri.

This shot is taken at the main entrance to the fenced farm area, about a mile from Spring Hill and next to the mouth of the valley. I actually drove past the main entrance, and then I had a second thought to go back and store the site in my GPS unit. When I pulled in to the main gates, I saw this tree and had to stop. I'm glad that I went back...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Please, sit next to me...?"


The elderly lady walked past me on the path, her gray hair neatly done. She had a large black dog with her that looked like it could have dragged her around. She asked me what I was doing and I replied that I was watching and waiting for the light. She smiled and continued on her walk.

I had been here a year before, but it seemed differnt now. Different, but the same. Maybe better. It was very pleasant and peaceful.

I moved from the old log that I was sitting on and walked through the small park one more time. Nothing seemed to be working out, but the as the sun went down, it popped from behind the clouds and it was the moment that I had been waiting a couple of hours for. At the bench, I stopped and looked back. And that's when I saw this picture.