my birthday week of men
i've always thought it kind of cool to be the lone girly fish in a sea of men. surrounded by testosterone, manly men sporting guns (the arm-candy kind), smiling and being shifty. if you're a woman and reading this, tell me i'm wrong. you can't. i know you too well.
it's my birthday week - yes, when you're this old, you get a week - and i started thinking about all the men that i have been around these past seven days. so, here's a list, in order of appearance :)
1. lloyd carter: he's my touchstone to my past. a father of a friend who reminds me just how good life was and is. his smile is contagious and his attitude, inspirational. len and i spend last sunday afternoon with his family, at the family reunion. since our parents are gone, we've adopted new parents plus an entire family. i can't think of any better than this man. thank you lloyd for loving me and showing me the way. you're a 91-year old-pistol!
2. his holiness the dalai lama: i know what you're thinking. you really weren't with him, but i like to think sharing the same air space counts for something. after all, a year ago, if you had told me i would be 'shooting' this man, i would have laughed in your face. so there's two moments here; one of opportunity and one of inspiration. being in gwinnett arena on wednesday proved that you're never too old to dream. if you want something badly enough, well, then, go get it. today, i'm 54, and i - along with my husband - want to be tops in the travel/writing/photography industry. i'm on my way because this week - i photographed THE dalai lama. wow. secondly, it never hurts to hear some common sense preached. simple concepts of love, compassion, respect - that's all it takes to solve the worlds greatest ills. sounds like the thoughts of another who changed the world. i'm overflowing with gratitude.
3. ty johnson: yes, he's my son, and i'm partial. as a mom, i have that right. over the past few months, he has been my inspiration. len and i have been watching him map out his life, attempting to figure out the path that will lead him to where he wants to go (and, yes, it has nothing to do with spelling). it's not where he wants to go that's impressive, it's the steps he's taking to get there. the old adage of "it's not the destination but the journey" rings true. he has taught me the importance of commitment to a goal and the risk of being steadfast and to jump when all those risks line up. i'm proud of him, and i'm proud to be his mom. i'm tickled-pink to find a hand-written note on the counter before sunrise. again, so much gratitude.
4. len garrison, sexy man: that's his listing in my phone. when i call upon my voice commands to dial him up, she always asks if i want to dial "len garrison, sexy man". i always giggle, and say yes. and then i giggle more when i realize that he's mine. and as he reminds me on my birthday card, he's "my own personal sheldon". and then i remind myself of just how lucky i am. rock-bottom was my only option until i found him - or rather, he found me. then he raised me up, allowed me to dream, and promised he'd be there every second. that - my friends - is the gift that keeps on giving. overflowing with gratitude.
so these are my men of this birthday week. a distinguished assortment of testosterone.
the 11alive forecast told of a perfect day in georgia. an "11" on the wizometer. i tend to agree. it's only a few hours old, and perfection is rising.
october 8, 2013
the visit 2013
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
presidential distinguished professor
the arena at gwinnett center
the pillars of responsible citizenship in the 21st century global village and secular ethics in education
over 10,000 in attendance
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, one of the world's most renowned and revered voices for peace and universal ethics, is the 14th spiritual leader of Tibet and the 1989 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
on my way to the media area, i accompanied two travelers who had come from some distance for the lecture. she told of the last time she saw his holiness and explained how the garbled audio made it nearly impossible to understand his message. "the audio was jumbled," she said, "but it didn't matter. we were in his presence." it was at that moment that i knew that this would be a life-changing gathering for many.
his first few moments on stage were brief. upon seeing his longtime friend, richard moore, founder of children in crossfire, in the audience, he left the stage and reemerged among the shocked audience, embracing his friend and sharing in moments of laughter. at age 10, moore was blinded by a rubber bullet fired at point blank range into his face. "i consider him my hero. the conflict in northern ireland, some soldiers, british soldiers, bullet. and instantly lost his two eyes. and when he recover his memory, he's already in hospital. but then he never felt anger. only he felt now i cannot see my mother's face no longer. so my work is easier just to talk. love, love, love. he practice that as a young boy. so i call him my hero."
he returns to the stage, still chuckling along the way. "sorry. sorry. actually, i always act like that, completely informal, informal way." applause and laughter sweep through the arena.
he speaks of the evils of the 20th century: europe, wwii, japan and hiroshima, victims of nuclear bombs, the korean war, vietnam. "some historians say over 200 million people killed in that century through violence. and then i think thousand year concept of the human being, in order to win yourself, force is the key element . . . the immense sort of violence really brought new world, new shape of world, that way of thinking; force is the key element to win over so-called enemy."
"i feel the beginning of the 21st century, some violence even today, like syria."
"innocent people, children, great suffering. these I believe are the symptoms of the past mistakes and negligence."
". . . very much based on extreme self-centered attitude, individual level, national level. So that's the key element to violence. if you keep others also part of humanity, also brothers, human brothers and sisters. . . "
"there is a possibility to create a peaceful century."
"so I feel not only myself but many of my friends now feel the only way to solve this problem, through dialogue, dialogue, can solve. so there the dialogue means respect others, respect their interests. . . the proper way is whenever we face problems, the potential conflict, and with respect to their right, their view . . . "
"now in order to develop, in order to create a century of dialogue, we need I think we should reduce the extreme self-centered attitude. so the only thing is more respect for others. how to develop respect. if you develop a sense of concern of genuine love not a sense of pity, looking down, no. respect them."
"our survival entirely depends on someone else caring."
he continues to explain the necessity of compassion in all areas of one's life and that the course of lives are often dictated by the influence of the home. he speaks lovingly of his mother, crediting her as the designer of his character.
"i always telling people, i have some kind of - certain amount of compassion, that firstly i learned from my mother."
"maximum affection from our mother, from our parent, and our friends. i think these people deep inside are much happier. those individuals who received less affection or parent abandon, sometimes abused, those of distrust, always remain a little bit distance from others. we are social animals. the very basis of our future."
"outside a very good car and inside a very good television, all these things are there. but if that family even a member of the family, some kind of jealousy, some kind of distrust. husband a little bit of distrust wife. wife, a lot of ornaments, but a little bit distrust husband. then I think that home never by very happy human home."
"build this century as the century of compassion."
"it is not sufficient just to complain about our problems."
"we need enthusiasm, not money."
" . . . peaceful mind, then no need for drugs. If they're mentally unhappy, then this lack of knowledge how to reduce mental problems, then just relying on alcohol or drugs, like that. America I think seems a lot of customers of drugs. So then blame on some other country. if no customers, then they will not bring them."
"common interest is more important than individual nation's interest."
"some emotions are bad for our health."
"action is more important than faith, than prayer."
it was a melting pot of the world's people gathered to hear a very simple message - one of hope which included a charge for compassion, communication and action. i listened with the strength of my fifty years and found myself nodding, hearing reflections not only from a pulitzer prize winning man but also a wise man of an older generation who long ago figured out answers to the world's questions even before the world asked. i watched as others watched and saw the reverence, the admiration, the tranquility in their faces. it would be the beginning of change to those who would listen.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.