Viewing posts tagged Orlando

Orlando Memorials

June 12, 2016 marked the darkest day on record for Orlando. And nobody I know is okay. But the community remains determined to poke holes in the dark cloud for rays of light. I’m awed by this.

For me walking the memorials is still super painful. I can’t lie about that. Watching little children sign posters and letters to the innocent victims who should be on the streets right now along side us is not okay. Little children shouldn’t have to live through times like these. I didn’t. It’s not fair. I got to be a child without knowing this kind of thing could possibly exist. But they can’t avoid knowing. It isn’t fair.

Seeing photos of the victims who are so bright faced and vibrant sitting amidst flowers that are dead and gone just like them infuriates me. The dead flowers have become emblematic to me and trigger tears each time I see them.

My dad’s funeral was one week before the massacre. I was still very raw from the pain. Seeing the families right here in my neighborhood suffering the same pain — but worse — was overwhelming to me. Mothers burying children? No. This is not the natural order. My father suffered for a long time. We knew we would have to say good bye. His body could no longer function properly. He did not die at the hands of a hateful man. I could not reconcile these families’ pain. Their loved ones should not be gone. Yet there they were, convening at the senior center on my block — with memorials growing up all around. Not okay. Not at all.

But the love of this community….

it does not end.

The angels appear at memorials, churches, vigils and events. You’ve seen them on TV. You’ve seen them on social media. I know them.  These people are resolute to love and not hate. They are affecting change. And they are melting some of my anger. They are special.

A man shows up several times a day at the Dr. Phillips Center memorial site to allow people to release white doves.

Mayor Dyer promises a permanent memorial to the victims in Orlando. They will never be forgotten.

Signs inform us that all of the gifts and posters will be saved and curated for future display.

People are singing. Money is being raised. Survivors are being cared for.

Even the dead flowers will be composted into soil for the beautiful gardens all around Orlando.

I’m still reluctant to admit that anything good can come from a tragedy like this, but thank you Orlando and our LGBTQ community for providing such a perfect blueprint for healing. I love you.

My Orlando

I couldn’t write much yesterday. I’m still feeling both physically and emotionally paralyzed. I am far from home, but I’m seeing the pictures. There is a blood bus on my street and later today families of more than 100 families will be convening and the senior center down the block to learn what they can about a madman with an assault weapon who reigned terror and blood over our once beautiful and innocent city.

My love for Orlando is no secret. I am no shy about it. I moved here a little more than 2 years ago just a shell of my former self. I like to say I dropped out of the sky because it was almost an accident that brought me here. But there I was a broken winged bird in a free fall.

I expected a hard landing. But that didn’t happen. I expected a lot of alone time to sort through my feelings. That didn’t happen either.

By some magic I had landed softly on a cushion held by the dearest community I could have imagined. Kind and super creative folks welcomed me as one of their own. And make no mistake Orlando is one unified community. Gender, color, sexual orientation borders have no place here. Nobody tried to size me up. All souls are excepted so it doesn’t matter in what category you may fall. How would one describe a “gay bar” in Orlando? I’m not even sure. Our clubs are all — everything. Nobody is excluded. Every time I go to a “gay” club, I am treated like a welcomed and special guest. Because in Orlando, that is all the people know how to do. So, are they “gay” bars? Sure! Heck yes, in every meaning of the word. But don’t mistake that for exclusion on either side.

I am certain beyond any doubt that the man who reigned terror at the Pulse in the early hours of yesterday was welcomed with open arms. I am sure everyone he encountered on his way in gave him a big and happy smile. The Pulse is in my neighborhood. It has a wonderful reputation for entertainment. It is unheard of that anyone went to the Pulse, the PH, the Venue… or countless other fun clubs downtown without having a great time or feeling welcomed.

I feel as if a canon ball took a swift path through my chest and now there is nothing but a huge hole. What has happened to my beautiful city? How do we begin to support the families of these smiling children? They were children. (old and tired folks like me are home by 2am) These kids were young and energetic. Each one with great promise for a future. All with smiles to bring the light and energy our world greatly needs. They were taken from us all. We all feel the pain, but we must find strength to be strong for their moms, dads, siblings and loved ones. How do we do that?

And what of Orlando? Our city beautiful. What remains of the innocent joy I landed in 2 years ago? Do we find this ever again? Are we still going to greet every stranger with a smile and a hug?

This community only weeks ago was bonding together over missing baby swans. There is love and caring here. Please let it be enough to heal all those that need healing.

The thing that will not change in Orlando: the LGBT community is the Orlando community. We are one. There is pride but there are no lines. This will never change. #onelove #onepulse

Jessica is Perfect

I wanted to share this photo of Jessica Hanley and her adorable family. On Sunday, after a long weekend of work, we decided to take Jessica’s holiday card photo. What you need to know about Jessica is that everything she touches is perfect. Her work is always impeccable. She often brings me a lot of luck with her positive attitude. Well, this image was the first click of the camera on Sunday. I usually shoot off 2 or 3 shots until I am happy with the exposure ratios. And then, of course, there is editing. But this was the first image and it is right out of the camera – no editing whatsoever. Seriously Jessica?!?!?

Time to Format

…and this is the way I’ve been formatting pieces since as long as I can remember. I guess that is 1988. Please don’t say out loud how many years that is. I am doing this piece for the Highlands County Economic Development Commission along with the Avon Park Air Force Range. I have met a great group of people who are looking to expand business and industry in a beautiful section of Florida. My favorite part of my job is learning. I am really looking forward to putting this one together.

Saturday Night

Another Saturday Night logging video. I have to transcribe every word of my interviews or I can’t be certain I get the very best material in the piece

Happy Days!

Every day is a happy day with the kids are home!!! Every thing is funny! Everything! And mostly we laugh at the dogs!

No Blog Yesterday…

Yesterday was long day filled with the usual ups and downs. My favorite line of the day came from my assistant Anthony who showed up around dinner time. “You are really racking up victim’s rights pamphlets!” he said, as he looked at the paperwork Officer Escobedo left on my kitchen counter.

My second bike stolen in two weeks. Might not seem like a big deal to some, but I live for my bikes! I ride every day. I ride for fun. I ride for transportation. I ride just to think. The first one stolen was my favorite. I had it for 21 years. I moved it everywhere I moved and it moved me. I felt like my legs weren’t complete unless my feet were in the peddle cages. I had that bike locked up fairly well to a stair rail right outside my kitchen door. My yard is enclosed with electronic gates and this area is not easily visible from the street. I locked the second bike in the same place. (losing reader confidence – not smart I know) But this time I used a huge intimidating cable, the largest I could find. My brain told me that the robber had probably moved on and even if he didn’t “he would never want to deal with this size cable.” My brain also thinks everyone is a nice person deep down so “naturally the robber probably feels very badly that he stole my first bike. He won’t return to hurt me again, but I’ll lock the bike really good to block any temptation.” My self dialog is kindergarten.

I woke up happy yesterday morning. That’s usual for me. I am always an optimist in the morning. Every day has the potential to be a great day. I put on my yoga clothes, packed my bike trunk and strapped my mat to my back. I said good bye to the dogs and hopped out the kitchen door. I saw the super large cable lock in the driveway before I even noticed the bike missing.

The work day went fine. I shot some real estate photos. I had lunch with some great friends. I furthered my relationship with the Orlando Police Department who tried (I am sure only to please the bicycle nut that is me) to dust for finger prints on scrap metal left at the scene.

There was only one choice for dinner. Yup. Tijuana — the feel good place.

Then Anthony and I played around with light and filters for an upcoming shoot. I laughed so much when I saw this picture this morning. It looks like I could not keep my eyes open. I look exhausted. Modeling is my least favorite thing, but necessary for the job of making others look good. (Not even I could ask Anthony to model this one) The woman who will actually model for these shots will be perfect! She is a super talented and beautiful actress, singer and dancer. I thought it would be fun to show the before (me!) and the after (Blue Star). I am looking forward to the shoot.

I haven’t opened the victims right pamphlets. I hope they tell me that the best thing for me is a new bike or a massage or even a mani/pedi. I hope they don’t just tell me about the judicial process, prosecution and stuff. I’ll choose my self dialog this time. It’s usually way more optimistic!

A Single Empty Nest Sunday

Maybe Sundays are the most emblematic of the empty nest change of life.

Look at my Sunday (which is only half over as I write). I woke up late. That in itself is a major achievement and something I never thought could happen to me again. (big win!) But when I looked at my phone I realized I had only half an hour to get up, feed/walk the dogs, ride my bike to church, find a seat and be ready for service to begin. My good friend Larry Watchorn was to preach for the very first time. No time to make coffee.

Larry’s sermon was spot-on for what I needed to hear today. He used himself as an example. Like many of my friends just past 50, Larry is hearing his calling more clearly than ever before and has decided to become an ordained minister. He said he feels like Scrooge waking up and realizing there is still time!!! Those words gave me goose bumps. There is still time! It is a reminder we all need to hear. He talked about seeing signs recently (actual ones) saying “Do What You Love.” It was a sermon for all of us to live our truth. Larry has a wonderful professional career and is a seasoned marathon runner. With all the awards in his trophy case, I am certain his mother was never more proud than she was today. She ran to the alter to give Larry a huge tearful hug after his sermon (and while service was still going!) and then proceeded to hug half of the congregation on the way back to her seat. I was weeping as I witnessed.

After the service, I spoke with Joel Ogburn, the music director for Joy Metropolitan Community Church. He told me he recently left his successful career/business as a hair dresser to work for the church full time. I was looking at a man who looked 10 years younger than he had a month ago. His joy was all I needed to see to understand. Joel’s enthusiasm during the service had me raising my hand to purchase two pet calendars for 25 dollars when 1 pet calendar costs only 5 dollars. That’s what enthusiasm will do for you!

Two minutes later I phoned a girlfriend who is finding herself again after turning 50 and after divorce. I shared Larry’s sermon. Life is like that: good things have a ripple effect that never end.

I rode my bike home and pressed a quick pot of coffee (a girl can only hold out so long), and then jumped back on my bike to go to Yoga in the Park, a popular and well attended Sunday tradition here in Orlando where a group of great yoga instructors teach a donation based class. People bring their kids and dogs to their practice while drinking in the gorgeous blue skies, the aroma of flowers and the views of swans swimming in the reflective Lake Eola.

I thought about Larry’s words as I practiced today and wondered what I will do with my own realization “there is still time!” That brought me to think about Patricia Arquette’s character in “Boyhood.” I could write volumes praising Ms. Arquette’s performance, which is precisely how I can focus on the character of Olivia as if she were a real person! Olivia breaks down emotionally when her nest empties. She had made a life of providing for her children. Her life is suddenly as empty as her nest. I want the movie to go on a little longer. I want Olivia to understand “There is Still Time!” and then I want her to “Do What You Love!”

I ate lunch – you guessed it – at Tijuana Flats! That makes the day pretty perfect, and played right into today’s theme. I can do whatever I want!! I’ll head to the bike store this afternoon to add a few accessories on my bikes. I may also do some yard work. I’ll leave work work for tomorrow and enjoy this single empty nest Sunday doing what I love. (Camera in hand!)

Tiger Mike

Here are a couple of shots of Tiger Mike at LSU. I don’t like seeing him cooped up at all, but he certainly is a beautiful creature.