Nature’s enthralling beauty includes the way the sky appears when the sun is rising or setting and how ethereal it looks outside after an afternoon rain shower , which are all examples of daily/common treasures that should not be taken for granted. The way the orange, blue and pink hues in the sky blends together as the sun rises or sets is a (thankfully) re-occurring unparalleled sight to see. Perhaps it is easy to become comfortable with natural scenic views like this as we go about our daily lives, but there is also a refreshing & uplifting inspirational feeling we can receive from nature’s beautiful art. If something is heavy on our minds or we’ve encountered a lot of negativity within a day, sometimes we can find inspiration in daily gifts that are not always in human form. It is even scientifically proven that taking a walk in nature is therapeutic and good for our well being. I encourage us all to continue to remain purely fascinated with life’s natural treasures because it is a healthy & positive perspective to have throughout life. We all find happiness and joy in different things depending on what speaks to our souls/and passions. Here are a few examples of nature’s art photographed by me throughout different years & changing seasons that makes me smile and thankful…I hope you find beauty in them too!
Photo taken back in summer 2012. I saved this because it was very beautiful to me! Especially looking above at it, I nicknamed the photo ”Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning’ from a Journey song. The song’s lyrics do not actually correlate with the photo precisely, but the title of the song seemed befitting to me and sometimes I also interchangeably nickname this photo as : The ‘Will’ in the Sky Keeps on Turning (”Will” meaning inevitable events and creations from a higher power/God.
Photo taken on a snowy day in December 2017. I loved the tree’s aesthetic. It’s so interesting how many trees have been here way longer than us and have been present throughout many different happenings and lives as they come & go. This tree, like others, goes through many drastic changes within a year but it is beautiful no matter the season.
Photo taken in 2018. Whenever I am walking somewhere, I like photographing the beautiful flowers that I see planted. Unfortunately, I’ve procrastinated in the past when it comes to planting more of my own flowers, but this spring I am looking forward to actually growing more flowers and doing a little garden work with my mother. Photos like this gives me inspiration and they are so pretty!
Photo taken in Piedmont Park in 2018. I am so appreciative of scenic views in parks. One of my favorite things to do is go to parks & preserves. There are so many activities I can do there. Just walk and take in all of nature’s aesthetics, have an outdoor lunch on the grass with my Dory from Finding Nemo plush blanket underneath, look at the sun setting or rising, go for a bicycle ride, watch the ducks & other animal sightings, enjoy live music, exercise, paint, pet people’s dogs if they let me, take photos like this, whatever. The list goes on and on!
Photo taken in December 2017. This photo (taken with an iPhone) made me decide to invest in a dslr camera instead of taking photos with a phone all of the time. I love astronomy and although I see mesmerizing views with my eyes and a telescope, I really want to start capturing beautiful views like this in better quality. Night time astronomy photography calls for dslr camera quality, and since I’m passionate about astronomy, I’ve been working on my photography more with a different camera. But still, I love & cherish these i-phone shots and I remember looking at it, thinking: ”This is so cool to me”…one of the moments in life that makes me happy.
I encourage us all to never forget the so-called ‘simple’ yet amazing gifts that are a part of nature in this world…it is really all around us. Of course, humans value material things to a certain extent, but let’s not get so focused on just solely these things and forget the priceless treasures that are among us daily.
”To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles”- Mary Davis
I was very excited to hear that Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ is coming to the High Museum of Art starting in November 2018. I am still thankful and grateful that I decided to become a High Museum of Art member back in 2014 (very cost effective & worth it compared to what you get with each membership type), and it is art collections like ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ that makes me eager to return repeatedly for more than one viewing. Yayoi Kusama (1922- present) is known for her captivating and colorful creations that are concept contemporary artworks with different mediums used. Some of her art includes styles such as surrealism, abstract expressionism, and pop art. Here are some interesting artworks by Kusama, which also includes ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ installation.
Infinity Mirrored Room, Yayoi Kusama
Reach Up To The Universe, Yayoi Kusama
Stars by Yayoi Kusama
Infinity Mirrored Room, Yayoi Kusama
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama as a child
Su Blackwell artwork from series ”Dwelling”
When we were children, many of us asked our parents a thousand questions a day, genuinely eager to learn more & curious about what is around us. When there are trips to science museums or book club days at elementary schools, many children enthusiastically look forward to these simple yet amazing delights. The reason why I still visit public libraries for personal interest is because I love what I’ve found there growing up, and it has influenced me greatly. It started with my mother taking me to the public library often, & within the children’s section I was introduced to books like The Magic School Bus: Lost in The Solar System and Here in Space by David Milgrim. I believe educational books like these helped me become fascinated with astronomy & complex matters relating to space and time. Presently, I love books such as Space Atlas: Mapping The Universe & Beyond, Final Frontier by Brian Clegg, and physicist Michio Kauku’s books because they are amazing to me. Captivating books like the ones mentioned inspires me to ask even more questions due to passionate curiosity, & think of all the endless possibilities that have yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, often times a child’s curiosity and eagerness to extensively explore a variety of different subject matters can decrease. Many blame school systems’ educational curriculum, but learning is a process that never really ends. Of course, we may not find all of the truths of life and answers to questions that are surrounded in mystery…but there are valuable sources available to us for a variety of different topics if we are genuinely interested. I encourage us all to continue having a curious child-like fascination and to inquire more. Our whole lives are an educational opportunity, and it should not be limited. Let’s keep going to our city’s museums, supporting our libraries that are sometimes in threat of closing, reading daily, and exploring different topics beyond just the surface. As children, we are so eager to learn more and even what is considered ”simple” makes us want to discover why/how. So, as we continue on our educational journey (life)… let’s keep that same pure fascination/interest!
One of Ernie Barnes most famous paintings is The Sugar Shack, which has been used by Marvin Gaye for his legendary album cover I Want You and for the 1970’s syndicated classic show Good Times. The 90’s rap group Camp Lo also paid homage to the original painting with their album cover for the acclaimed Uptown Saturday Night (which included ”Luchini AKA This is It” song). Before Ernie Barnes was a painter, he was a professional football player that played from 1959-1965 for teams such as The Denver Broncos & The San Diego Chargers. Of course, Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) also created other memorable paintings that are just as noteworthy as The Sugar Shack. Here are some of my favorite Ernie Barnes paintings.
”The Advocate” by Ernie Barnes
”His Effort” by Ernie Barnes
”Room Ful’A Sistahs” by Ernie Barnes
”The Buffalo Soldiers”by Ernie Barnes
Sugar Shack Painting by Ernie Barnes for Marvin Gaye’s ”I Want You”
Ernie Barnes photographed painting
Ernie Barnes photographed behind his artwork
Over the past several months, I was in the process of preparing to turn one of my passionate hobbies (I love collecting vintage rare items) into a professional small business. Starting a small business is not necessarily very hard, but there were times when it was nerve-wrecking. However, in the end I am glad that I persisted on with it. Originally I wanted to open the store on October 8th, my birthday, as a gift to myself. However, sometimes things don’t always go as planned, so I spent that calm rainy day working on my product photography for my store & eating some good wings (only drumsticks, no flats….). It was actually not a disappointing day at all considering I got to see another birthday because of God’s will, and I got a chance to work towards one of my passions while celebrating with my closest of family. As a newly launched small business/store, I am prepared to go through business obstacles & challenges & I want to encourage others to never give up on their dreams/desires. My store, Zanathia, was created after finally realizing that I’ve collected vintage/antique jewelry over the past four years from garage and estate sells & own a plethora of heirloom jewelry …so why not turn a personal hobby & passion into a small business? I collect other things as well, such as classic comic books & vinyl records, but decided to choose vintage & antique jewelry for the focus of of my E-commerce store. Not to mention, I am finally preparing for grad school in the near future and that can be overwhelming sometimes as well . Honestly, I’m tired of school, but one of the passions I want to do professionally requires me to persist on, so my perseverance is still high. A little taxing, but still high. Overall, I am humbly proud & happy that I believed in myself enough to take a faith-based leap into entrepreneurship. The road ahead is full of unknown turns & twists, but that’s just life, right? For anyone who is thinking about taking their bold leap of faith, please do it because it is worth it. Don’t wait until you get more financially settled or whatever. Just try your best to let positive thoughts triumph over negative ones & stay focus on taking steps to achieve your goals. The path/future ahead is a great unknown one, but I am embracing it and looking forward to it if God is willing. A new chapter is exciting and mysterious! I encourage all to go after their dreams, and I’ll just quote the late great musician Tom Petty:
”Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream”
-Running Down A Dream
My store: www.zanathia.com for stunning vintage & antique collectible jewelry
Season 2 of John Singleton’s FX show Snowfall will likely detail more of the effects caused by the Crack Epidemic during the infamous Reagan Era. Predictions for next season include the main character Franklin, the rising ambitious drug dealer, and how some of his own family members will become addicted to crack (likely his father and one of his friends). Will he choose to sell the product to his own blood or a pregnant woman? Will his conscience bother him after witnessing what crack is doing to his neighborhood or will financial desires triumph over virtue? The thing is, some people during the Crack era like real life drug dealer Rich Porter (portrayed by Mekhi Phifer in Paid in Full) and others may have saw selling crack as a way out of poverty, but in the end there was more tragedy than long term success. Crack money came with betrayal from “friends”, countless enemies that wanted them dead, and the people who changed into walking zombies after using the drug. I suppose some may think a multitude of different cars, fresh fits, jewelry, and other material things was worth the tragic end…but it was not a good trade. The significance of Snowfall is not to make the Crack Era seem like a desirable/glamorous time, but it’s importance involves telling true stories from different perspectives. We see why Franklin is doing what he does, but we also see how it is affecting everyone around him in a variety of ways on the show. During the Crack Era, the dealer may not have been affected in the same way as the user or a child, but each one has an interesting story that is still relevant to reflect/analyze on over 30 years later.
Some people may not care to emphasize how important preserving the bee population is…until one day we have no choice but to rely on artificially created bees to pollinate plants. Nothing man makes can work as hard or be as nutritious like a honeybee or solitary bee, but scientists are trying to come up with an alternative if the worst case scenario happens. Recently at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology, there has been researchers who are creating drones that can possibly polinate flowers. Instead of focusing on creating insect drones, perhaps it is better to invest in helping the bee population grow and let them thrive without pesticides that harm them.
Education/knowledge on the issue is a great key for all of us. This process affects all of us, so why not learn and genuinely care about it more? Most of our healthy foods are pollinated by bees when they move from plant to plant for nectar. Pollen gets all over their bodies, and with cross pollination the bees are a vital necessity for plants’ seed making process. The Honey Bee species then takes the sweet nectar back to their beehives/colony, while solitary bees do not live in colonies, and they just travel from flower to flower collecting pollen. The bees work hard, and for Honeybees in particular, the honey they create gives them energy and other health benefits that are important for us as well. If more bees continue to consume neonicotinoids (pesticides) that cover many plants and the nectar, then precious bees will die off until they are officially an extinct species. If these solitary and honeybees go extinct, then we can say goodbye to healthy foods like apples, mangoes, peaches, plums, berries, watermelon, peppers, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, avocados, coconut, and the list goes on and on. Artificially created pollinators will not provide us with the same nutrients that bees do. So instead of researching ways to live on without the Bee, it is better to focus on how we can grow and responsibly take care of the populations. Banning neonicotinoids is crucial, and how interesting it is that some of the deadly pesticides that are allowed in America is banned in a lot of other countries. Although magazines like Time has created issues focusing on the dying bee population, our media in America does not continuously focus on these types of issues in an in-depth matter. Yet, if our little blessings like bees’ are taken away from us…everyone will be forced to pay attention. However, it will be too late. Right now, in the present, it is not. Let’s not forget that the resources from nature we continuously use & exhaust are vital to our survival, but nature does not need us to survive or thrive. Preserving and growing the Bee population is not just a eco-conscious concern to occasionally reflect on, but it is a matter that correlates with our own survival and existence.
****For more information and great ways to help & learn more about the importance of Bees ,Bee Native.org, The Honey Bee Conservancy, & The Bee Cause Project are wonderful resources****
Places like dear Somalia are going through a devastating drought, and in America there are still people suffering from chronic hunger who would love to have the excessive amount of uneaten foods being disposed of every day. Each year at least 120 billion pounds of food is wasted in America. This is heart-breaking & unfortunate, and instead of just criticizing or feeling helpless about this issue…we all can help in many ways to decrease the problem.
- Many households waste tons of food and then it ends up in massive garbage dumps, which increases methane emissions in the landfills & causes environmental problems as well. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is way more harmful/deadly than Carbon Monoxide. Some solutions include finding out how to store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer inside or outside the refrigerator, not putting excessive amounts on our plates & then disposing of the rest (Our eyes being bigger than our stomachs), not forgetting or wasting leftovers placed in the fridge, and grocery planning with meal plans & expiration dates in mind, which is also more healthier/cost effective than eating out consistently at restaurants.
- Every day restaurants and food stores throw away unsold items that could go to those who are in need. Of course, they claim it is a liability problem so no one is at fault for a person becoming ill, but it is really about businesses that want to gain profit from all of their items instead of giving away free unsold food to the hungry. Fortunately, there are some food businesses that partner with communities and organizations to give away unsold food. Grocery stores like Sprouts support organizations like local food banks & Starbucks has now started giving away ready to eat fresh meals through FoodShare program, which also partner’s with food banks that help feed the hungry and homeless. Of course, supporting and donating to non-profit organizations/charities is a great way to give back and help in fighting chronic hunger. Hopefully in the near future more food chains will not throw away their unsold food, and instead give it away to those who are suffering from chronic hunger.
- Being grateful and having a caring/sensitive conscience are some of the beginning steps to help decrease food waste as well. I believe this because if someone genuinely cares about the problem & has immense empathy for those who suffer from chronic hunger, including precious children, then this makes it more natural & easier to actually want to do more & implement change.
Of course, there are other great ways to help decrease and eventually end food waste . The suggestions and information above are ways we can directly help, but the agricultural system also needs changes as well… such as food crops being disposed of or forgotten before getting the chance to be distributed. All in all, no matter who we are or where we live in the world….implementing positive change should be a shared responsibility. Let’s not think we have to be wealthy to make a difference!
*** If you would like to help dear Somalia due to the devastating current drought, then here are some organizations to research & donate to: Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, & UNICEF.***
Uplifting photography that represents positive messages are captivating and symbolizes just how beautiful life is…especially the ‘simple’ yet priceless & precious moments/creations we should never take for granted. Here are some of my favorite photos that are delightful, inspiring, and interesting to reflect on. Of course, people may not always share the same perspectives, but I sincerely hope these amazing photos can inspire more happiness/hope and encourage us all to have a wondrous/positive viewpoint on life.
Stephen Banks/VELUX Lovers of Light 2014
Twin Baby Elephants, East Africa by Diane Robinson