Friday, October 31, 2014

Fighting Ebola

Take a moment to absorb these moving portraits from the men and women braving Ebola at a treatment center in rural Liberia.

Today's New York Times features intimate portraits and stories documented by award-winning photojournalist Daniel Berehulak, who captures the physicians, nurses, microbiologists, sanitation workers, gravediggers and Ebola survivors who are on the front line of this health crisis.  


Remember to say a prayer for them and for all the families of the reportedly 4,900 people who have died from this devastating disease. 

Photos by Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Out with the old, in with the new

Sometimes you gotta let go. Yes, the two of you went everywhere together. You were inseparable. Good times were had. But you can't keep going on in this crazy manner. Someone is gonna fall apart. It won't be you. You'll be fine. The poor sneakers on the other hand; they were faithful but now is the time to say bye bye.

I didn't think this day would come so soon. But after our most recent outing to the lake, my trusty yellow Converse sneakers finally said, "Enough!" I came home from the beach that afternoon, my feet not quite feeling right. I surveyed the holes in the soles of my sneakers. Yep, clogged with sand. No matter how much I shook them out, I couldn't get rid of those tiny granules of annoyance.

Plus, years of constant wear had resulted in broken down canvas, dried out rubber, frayed edges and did I mention the smell? I can't tell you how many times I've thrown these puppies in the wash. Just can't get rid of that musty, not-so-fresh odor. Yuck.    

Well, I guess this means we're breaking up, I told the sneakers that night. Truth be told, I was a bit heartbroken.

You see, my sneakers kind of saved me. It was 2009 and I had just been laid off from a job I loved. I was completely blindsided. As an award-winning editor of a small, family-owned magazine I was sure the publisher would consider my position indispensable. But recessions bring out the worst in people. That day I worked 15 hours, making sure every story, every photo and every caption was edited at least three different times. I felt great about my team's hard work. The issue looked beautiful. 

Eight hours later, I got canned.

After the shock subsided (about a week later), I felt like the jilted lover. The girl who got sucker punched by her sweet, seemingly good-intentioned boyfriend. In short, I got dumped and I felt like sh*t.

So I sought refuge. I did what all sensible, intelligent women do after a break-up. I went shopping. It didn't make sense to buy something fancy since I wasn't going into an office anymore (and I wasn't going to be earning a steady paycheck for a while). Plus, losing my job meant more time spent with my toddler. I suddenly got excited by the prospect.

I saw those yellow Converse sneakers and it was love at first sight. Practical. Low-key yet stylish. Comfortable. I went everywhere in them. Explored new playgrounds and parks with my son. Went on road trips. Romped around the beach. Dressed them up with skirts and silky blouses. Dressed them down with t-shirts and yoga pants.        
The bright yellow represented happiness and hope (corny, but you should know by now that I'm a bit sentimental). The durability of the shoe symbolized adventures ahead. And my sneakers were kind of an F-you to what had happened at work. I will thrive, I said to myself and the world. Just watch me.  

And so my yellow sneakers journeyed with me through major life events. Childbirth for the second time. Career successes. Another job loss. Deaths in the family. New additions. A cross-country move. New explorations. Hitting the 10-year mark with my husband. Turning 40.

As you can see from the photo above, my sneakers took a beating. Look at them. Shapeless. They look deflated and exhausted. The life sucked out of them. So I broke down and recently got a new pair. Flawless and white. I wore them a few days ago and I was a bit embarrassed because they are so new. My old Converse was my badge of honor. These new ones kind of make me look like a poser.

I'm wearing them almost every day to break them in. The first few days they rubbed me (my pinky toes, to be exact) the wrong way. But they're getting to know me and I'm getting comfortable in them.

What happened to the old sneakers? Well, I didn't have the heart to throw them in the trash. They're collecting dust in my closet, a relic of the past. Perhaps they are a little resentful that I'm all about town with their newer, shinier cousins.

Actually, I think they are happy for me. We had a good run.      

An ode to my sneakers.
I wear my favorite things until they die.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autumn leaves

The prized possession I received for my 40th birthday was a nifty new camera. Getting my first DSLR camera was a long time coming. After relying on my iPhone for photos, I felt like it was time for an upgrade.

I took my Canon Rebel T5 out for a spin for the first time last week. I've already taken some 400 photos. Most of them are crap to mediocre. But then I got a few gems, like these of my kids frolicking in the autumn leaves.

Here's my daughter, who is obviously very comfortable in front of a lens. What a cutie! 

And my son, who earned extra allowance raking leaves. Go Caden!

Enjoy the outdoors, everyone. Happy autumn!

It's starting to get cold here in Cleveland and not quite ready for this.

This is NE Ohio (LeBron!)

LeBron and the Cavs open the season tomorrow night. Everyone here in Northeast Ohio is buzzing with anticipation. My 8-year-old son, who lives and breathes NBA stats, couldn't be happier with the fact that we're in Cleveland right now. I can't imagine how excited all the kids are in Akron, where LeBron grew up.

Good luck, LeBron and team. Go Cavs!!

LeBron on "coming back home." (Sports Illustrated)
If you wanna know what Cleveland is all about, click here. (Nike)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ballet at 40 (the feet)

I'm Week 9 into ballet and my feet certainly don't take a beating like dancers who wear pointe shoes. Yes, my toes feel cramped in my ballet slippers and my pinkies are a bit chafed after class. But the seasoned ballerina? All those years of jumping and turning, twirling and bending. Countless hours perfecting all of those demanding moves with the pretty French names. Imagine the stress put on those toes, arches and heels.

"A ballerina's feet may not be the most attractive thing to look at," says Natasha Kusen in The Australian Ballet's En Pointe! mini-documentary. "All the calluses, they may look ugly. But it protects your feet."

When a ballerina prepares her pointe shoes, it's often a meditative process. I never realized all the work that goes into it. The sewing, the gluing, the tape, the shellac. It's quite intricate and reflects the personality and discipline of each dancer. 

"Sometimes I think our feet look worse than what they actually feel," Principal Artist Amber Scott says in En Pointe! "A lot of people can be quite horrified. They think it looks torturous. But it's sort of like someone who works with their hands. The joints become a bit bigger over use, the skin gets calloused. But they're doing a job and they're adapting to that job. Yeah, I kind of like them."

Watch and see, and appreciate this enduring art.  

My love-hate relationship with the leotard.
Why ballerinas are way more hardcore than you. (BuzzFeed)