Photography offers us the chance to be an artist and to witness the world through a lens – creating art through imagery, all while witnessing something unfold right before our eyes. This is why photography is such a worthwhile pursuit that you should seriously consider taking up. However, newbie photographers (me included) may find themselves frustrated at the beginning, as there are some growing pains to endure before getting that perfect shot. Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help you get better relatively quickly:
Do use what you already have
As a beginner, any camera you currently have for photography will suffice, whether that’s your phone or a point and shoot camera, and then you can work up to a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. For now, use what you already have to get a good understanding of the different camera settings and practice composing pictures until you can buy that upgraded camera. Fortunately, there are plenty of good, entry-level cameras listed by Tech Radar that you can begin with. The Nikon D3500 and the Canon EOS 90D are a good start, as both are packed with features and are reasonably priced, but there are certainly others to consider.
Don’t go crazy buying equipment
Some beginners make the mistake of going for the most expensive camera, mistakenly believing that the pricier, the better. While others, stock up on pricey equipment, thinking that all that gear will make them a great photographer. Don’t make the same mistakes. It’s important to remember, it’s not the gear that makes a great photographer. Rather than focus on stockpiling equipment (some of which you might not even need), devote your energy and budget to learning about photography by attending seminars, taking courses, reading books, and learning from others.
While you don’t need to buy everything professionals have in their kit, accessorizing is still important to make the process much easier. Luckily, there are plenty of accessories to begin with, depending on your needs. In fact, the range of photography equipment on Adorama such as tripods, battery packs, and lighting equipment is a testament to just how much equipment is out there to help make the job easier. Whether you’re looking for your camera to last longer by purchasing additional battery packs, or looking to get a steady shot using a tripod, there’s bound to be an accessory to assist you. For beginners, you should start with a lens cleaning kit, a couple of new lenses, spare batteries, a bag to keep your gear organized, and a basic tripod.
Don’t settle for Auto
Photo Pro Magazine state that it can be hard to steer clear of the automatic settings, as it makes capturing photos easy and convenient. However, you should break that habit if you want to become a better photographer as there is a lot to explore beyond the typical settings. At the end of the day, the more you explore your camera’s settings, the better you’ll be at photography and shooting in different scenarios. Not to mention, you may have already invested in a DSLR/Mirrorless, so make the most out of it by testing out new things.
You get better by taking photos of different subjects in diverse scenarios using a multitude of settings. As you practice, keep in mind some guidelines, like the rule of thirds, where you divide a frame into a 3×3 grid and place your subject on any of the four intersections. It’s a purposeful misdirection, as it goes against the eyes’ natural inclination to look directly at something. Nevertheless, it creates a dynamic balance and compels the viewer to look at the entirety of the image. Now, as you practice, it’s important to keep those creative juices flowing, and my ’10 Tips for Finding Inspiration’ post will hopefully help inspire you.
Even walking around with your camera on you at all times will help you to flex those creative muscles.
With the world turned upside down at the moment, many of us are conflicted with a range of emotions. I have friends who are dealing with anxiety and fear while others appear to feel slightly concerned or even indifferent to life’s new reality surrounding us.
We all deal with stresses differently and it doesn’t mean there’s a right way or a wrong way, it’s merely an individual process. I think we can all agree, regardless of how we’re dealing with this new world order created by a pandemic, life is anything but normal lately.
Stay Home, Stay Safe
The majority of people aren’t used to staying at home 24/7 with their partner, children, or by themselves. As social animals, being quarantined is not in our genetic makeup and when the days blend into weeks, many of us are getting a little cross-eyed.
Admittedly, my life isn’t vastly different, but it is different. It’s a little quieter in our RV and around the RV Park. Our days are also a little less hectic without places to visit and a list of things to do.
Although we are tackling a few RV maintenance projects which offer a sense of accomplishment, I actually feel calmer these days looking at a blank calendar, and with all this calm, Al and I have managed to start a new daily routine.
We’re finally exercising every morning … sometimes together and sometimes alone. We still continue to do some work every day on our computers. And we even started a new afternoon tradition … afternoon tea and crumpets.
Even though our tea is very English, I assure you, our crumpets are not, and may take on the look of a good old-fashioned American KitKat candy bar. Perfect crumpet for me! Yep, accepting our new reality hasn’t been all bad around our RV home.
So in short, Al and I are holding up rather well. We have a pantry full of food, a roof over our heads, and a beautiful spot to call ‘home’. Although I may not feel fearful for myself, I do have plenty of concerns and fear for others, but I try not to allow those emotions to rule my day.
Sitting in fear will make you more fearful. Taking small actionable steps can help you cope, overcome, and feel empowered. And when you feel empowered, you can tackle anything!
7 Actionable Tips to deal with fear and anxiety
Be creative. Now’s the time to tap into your creativity and tackle a project you’ve dreamed of doing. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint, write a book, knit, or refinish furniture. Take an online class or watch YouTube videos on “how-to” … whatever it is that interests you, let the creative juices flow. Personally, I’ve been binging on photography tutorials.
Focus on health. Think about proper nourishment and avoid stress eating. Start an at-home exercise regimen. Now more than ever, we need to think about taking control of our health and dealing with any underlying health issues. Perhaps losing weight will assist in improving those issues. Experiment in the kitchen with new recipes and learn to meal prep.
Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water, but when plain water gets boring, brew some tea or coffee. Play around with making your own latte or try replicating that tea you love at the local Chinese restaurant.
Did you know most Chinese restaurants serve a blended tea? Yep, it’s a combination of Oolong Tea and Jasmine Green Tea, and I’ve nailed it – yum! Now if only I could perfect that Orange Chicken entrée
Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine of all. Call a friend, watch a comedian, play with your dog or children, play with your partner and laugh. Laugh about life. Laugh about the craziness of it all. There are plenty of talented YouTubers putting their own humorous spin on this pandemic that can keep you laughing for hours.
Engage in a new activity. When was the last time you had a spare moment for a frivolous activity like doing a jigsaw puzzle? How about family night playing games? How about a virtual happy hour with friends? Now’s a great time to embrace a new form of fun.
Read. Read uplifting, inspirational stories, phrases and quotes. Be inspired to write your own story. Share your favorite story or your writings with others. We could all use a little uplifting inspiration these days.
Get into nature. Go for a stroll. If that’s not currently allowed in your area, then venture into the backyard or onto a deck and breath in some fresh air. Sit outside or near a window and listen to the birds, admire the spring flowers, and feel the breeze.
Slow your breath, calm your mind, and relax. Be okay with doing nothing. Embrace boredom. And when you have nothing left to do, go take a shower. I don’t know about you, but this whole pandemic has messed with my head. I have trouble keeping track of the days. One day blends into another kind of like that movie “Groundhog Day” or perhaps like a GIF … a repetitive reel. So remember to take a shower and change your clothes even if you are working from home.
Don’t allow fear to paralyze you. Take control of your life and have faith.
(Our version of tea and crumpets . This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support )
Photography has surged in popularity in the past decade with the emergence of social media and smartphones. Even though we’re all taking more photographs, many of us assume we’re limited in our talents due to our equipment. I’m here to say it’s not about the equipment, and you can create great, even amazing, photographs with any camera.
I’ve had an interest in photography as long as I can remember, but my true passion didn’t emerge until we hit the road full-time in our RV several years ago.
After wearing out a couple of point and shoot cameras, I upgraded to a Bridge camera. I still suffer from camera envy and may one day switch to a Mirrorless Camera, but for now, my Lumix(s) fits my needs … certainly not professional-grade cameras by any means.
We’ve slowed down our travels somewhat and now spend our winters settled in an RV Park in Phoenix, Arizona. I enjoy this RV community and the friendships that have developed.
Although I don’t engage in many activities at the RV Park, I do co-host a photography group … a group of like-minded RVers who share a passion for photography. Not only have I learned a few things, but I’ve also been able to teach and share a few tidbits of my own photography knowledge.
I still consider myself a novice photographer, or rather more of a photo snapper and try to improve my skills with every click of the camera.
Being involved in the RV Park Photo Group has served as a great learning experience for everyone involved. Our group consists of every level of shooter along with every level of camera. Yes, we are indeed a diverse group of photo enthusiasts.
Here are a few tips that our RV Park Photo Group discussed on how to create more professional-looking images with any camera.
15 Beginner Tips – How to take better looking photographs
1. Learn your camera inside and out. This might mean diving into that owner’s manual and actually reading it. If you don’t have a manual, no worries, a Google search will come to the rescue. And don’t forget YouTube tutorials. It really is necessary to know how all the settings work and what they mean. Even if you won’t use all the features, it’s important that you’re comfortable navigating the camera’s menu and settings with ease, especially in the field.
Always half-press the camera’s shutter button before taking the shot. On an iPhone, simply tap the screen for your desired focal-point (a little yellow box appears around the item when you do). Once you know where your camera is focused, you can decide if this is where you want the focal point to be in the image, and if not, start over.
One of the best things I did when I first bought my iPhone 8+ last year was to attend some free seminars at the local Apple store. Needless to say, there were a few ah-ha moments by many of the attendees … me included.
2. Shoot regularly. The best way to improve your photography and get comfortable with your camera is to shoot often. Considering digital photography is free, there’s no reason not to spend hours behind your camera clicking away. Learn to love the delete button but always delete in your computer (unless you’ve taken a complete dud, like your lap or something 😆). You’ll be surprised by how an image might appear on your LED screen versus your computer screen. Sometimes it looks better in the camera and sometimes an image looks better on the computer. So give the photo a chance and review it on your computer screen before deleting it.
Experiment with different subjects, different camera settings, and different light. Over time you’ll develop a style and voice that will be authentic to you.
3. Stabilize your camera to achieve sharp photos. Obviously, the best way to stabilize a camera is by using a tripod, but that’s not always convenient, especially if you’re lazy like me and leave the tripod at home. So, the next best thing to do is to use a wall, fence post, or another stable surface to minimize camera shake. Learn to hold your camera correctly and pay attention to your breathing when pressing the shutter. And be sure to have stabilization turned on when handholding and turned off when using a tripod.
4. Use the Camera’s “scene” modes. Cameras and phones are smarter than ever before. Therefore, take advantage of the camera’s preset scene modes. The various modes optimize your camera’s settings and do the thinking for us. Depending on your camera various modes may include; landscape, food, action, portrait, night, and more. I love using these settings, but I always shoot the same image in P (program) mode or A (aperture priority). Remember, taking digital images is free. So shoot away and shoot the same subject using different settings.
On my iPhone 8+, I use the portrait mode to capture food or flowers and create great Bokeh (blurred background).
5. See the light. Before clicking that shutter, observe and assess the light. The first step to creating better photographs is understanding light. Think about how the light interacts with the scene and subject. Is the light highlighting an area or casting unique shadows? Light plays a vital role in the mood and interest of a photograph and is the most important element in creating a great photograph.
Composition guidelines for newbies
6. Rule of Thirds. This is one of the most common tips when it comes to improving your photographs. It’s an easy technique and will aid in making an image more interesting. Think about cutting the frame into thirds by using both horizontal and vertical lines. Then place your point of interest over the cross-sections of the grid.
I have the gridlines always turned “on” on both my camera and my iPhone. By doing so, it aids in composing my image and keeping my camera level. Actually, when I attended a seminar at the Apple Store, the first thing they recommended was to turn on the gridlines on the phone.
7. Leading Lines. This is probably my favorite form of composition. I’m always looking for leading lines to photograph. This type of composition draws the eye into the image.
8. Interesting foreground. Adding an interesting foreground object will give depth to a photograph, especially in landscape photography.
9. Patterns are a repetition of objects, shapes, or colors. Patterns are everywhere if we once train our eyes to notice them.
10. Negative space. When shooting people, animals, or birds, always leave a little extra room in the image toward the direction the subject is looking. This creates interest and mystery. The viewer may wonder what the subject is looking at.
11. Rule of odds. While composing an image, try to include an odd number of elements in the frame. This is a common practice in interior design. With an odd number of subjects, the image becomes more balanced.
12. Include a frame. A natural frame around the main subject will add depth to the image by drawing the viewer’s attention into the photo. Think about a window or tree framing a subject.
13. Move your feet. Learn to shoot from different angles and varying heights. Moving your body closer to or further away from your subject can often create a more dramatic shot. Walk around looking for a unique perspective. Don’t rely on a zoom lens … move your feet and body and explore the subject’s surroundings.
Final thoughts for beginner photographers
14. Get good at processing. Every image needs some amount of processing, some images more than others. Embrace the process, learn the software, be creative and comfortable with whatever program you use. I’m a huge fan of Photoshop Lightroom while others prefer Photoshop Elements (similar to Photoshop, but geared toward beginners). These days, there are a number of photographic editing platforms to choose from. Some are free and some subscription-based. Find something that works for you and get good at it.
15. Slow down and don’t rush the process. Take the time to think about what is going on in your viewfinder before pressing the shutter. Think about the composition and what you’re trying to capture. Understand the creative process and make intentional decisions. Learn to tell a story with your photos. See the light, the lines, the moments, the little things, BUT be willing to put the camera down awhile and truly experience your surroundings and then photograph whatever makes you happy.
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Have you ever had so many things going on in your life that you just didn’t know where to focus? Well, that’s been me lately. Blogging has definitely taken a backseat these days. Perhaps I’m still recovering from our quick nearly 2,000-mile (3,218 km) return drive to Phoenix … 800 miles of which included a storage unit move and me driving a twenty-foot rented box truck while Al drove the RV. Ok, I’m tired just repeating it in my head. Yeah, exhausting and stressful!
But that move didn’t stop me from hopping in my daughter’s car two weeks later for an extended weekend in Disneyland to celebrate her milestone birthday.
While at Disney, I was thinking a lot about the items we moved and continue to choose storing and what it all represents: a life well-lived. Those Disney rides reminded me that going through life is a lot like riding a roller-coaster. There are lots of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Sometimes we experience an exciting thrill while other times we encounter a dizzying headache. No one is blessed with a smooth ride. Besides, wouldn’t life be boring without all those peaks and valleys?
Going through all our crap stuff in storage was an emotional journey. Special momentoes from when our children were little had us questioning where the time went. And then there were items from our deceased parents. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss them. Even with all the things I couldn’t part with, we were still able to whittle down our belongings so we could get one storage unit in Phoenix in lieu of the two we had in Colorado and we were able to get everything into a 20-foot truck instead of having to rent the large 26-footer.
And the move could not have gone any better, but that’s not to say I wasn’t a nervous wreck. I had every intention of catching up with a few of our friends while we were in our old stomping grounds, but I was suffering from a great deal of anxiety and worrying about what could go wrong on the drive. Could that be from too many years of full-time RVing? Ya, know … blown tires, broken landing jacks, engine issues, roof damage, etc. 🤣 Murphy’s Law is alive and well for those of us that RV.
I’m sure the guy at the U-Haul rental center thought I was a little OCD especially when he mentioned, “Wow! Most people don’t read all that”. I even made sure we went over a bunch of what if’s … flat tires, breakdowns, and roadside assistance. By the way, did you know if you rent one of those box trucks and get into an accident, your auto insurance policy probably won’t cover the damages? I called USAA (our insurance carrier) to verify our coverage. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being sold a U-Haul insurance policy that I didn’t need. I needed it! Yeah, renting a box truck is not like renting a car. So, do your due diligence if you rent any moving equipment.
And to think, when Al and I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Colorado Springs, Colorado we never asked any of those questions. Ignorance is bliss, huh! And crossing Vail Pass and Loveland Pass in Colorado was a real treat in a couple of 26-foot box trucks. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can went through our heads as we chugged up passes over 11,000 feet in elevation. The best those trucks could do going up those mountains was maybe 25mph in a 75mph speed zone. We were just glad the trucks didn’t roll backward which we, at one point, were concerned about 😆
After six years of full-time RVing, I’m rather adept at planning and even though all my planning went off without a hitch, it took nearly 300 miles in the rearview mirror before I finally calmed down and said to myself, “You got this!” Since Al and I are well versed in caravanning in separate vehicles, we used our Walkie Talkies to stay connected while driving. He was an amazing cheerleader and knew just what to say and when to say it. Thanks, hun!
Later that evening, while we were parked at the Route 66 Casino near Albequerque next to the “no overnight parking” sign, which we didn’t see until the next morning, we discussed my unwarranted concerns of the day. My behavior was definitely out of character. I’m a rather strong and independent person and don’t usually suffer from anxiety. I’m guessing a lot had to do with my emotions regarding the cargo in the rental truck. So many special momentoes. Ah, the memories …
Driving 800 miles alone in an unfamiliar vehicle without music or an audiobook (radio only worked a fraction of the time), leaves one to ponder, and trust me, my mind wandered aimlessly. But I did think about how life can get stressful and how Al and I have always found a way to get through those challenging times. This move was a prime example. We usually come out on the other side a little stronger and a little wiser. Or so we hope!
12 Tips to overcome stress.
Trust. Trust in yourself and your abilities.
Laugh. Sometimes life gets so crazy that you just have to laugh. Even when Al and I have been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, we try to find the humor in the situation. Even if you are in a serious, sad moment, there is laughter to be had. Laughter makes everything better!
Focus on what you can control. Sometimes there are situations beyond our control (weather comes to mind) and no matter what we do, we can’t change it. During those times, it’s best to just roll with the flow, make an educated decision on the best recourse, and accept you have no control over the situation.
The path is winding … unless you’re driving on Interstate 80 through the middle of Nebraska, only then can one be assured of a straight path.🤣
Everyone goes through stressful times. There isn’t an adult anywhere who hasn’t gone through feelings of being absolutely overwhelmed and stressed to the max. Know you are not alone.
Don’t compare yourself to others. While there are people who will think that it’s helpful to tell you how they handled a similar situation, smile and accept their advice with a grain of salt. Only you know how to best handle an event or situation. We’re all different. Remember, trust in yourself.
Learn from your mistakes. There is no growth without mistakes.
Plan. Prior planning prevents poor performance. Failure to plan is planning to fail. Having a good plan in place will make life easier and less stressful, but be sure you build in some flexibility to help keep that stress level manageable.
What you want and what you need may not be the same. When you’re feeling stressed about something not turning out the way you wanted, ask yourself if it was actually in your best interest? It could turn out that you’re better off with a different situation that you didn’t expect or know you needed.
Tough situations make life better. It might seem silly, but challenges in life are what make life interesting. There’s great joy from successfully tackling a problematic situation. When you gain the confidence to know you can tackle anything, obstacles no longer are seen as insurmountable. Per Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger“.
Understand that things will change. My favorite saying is, “This too shall pass”. Remember all things in life are temporary, including us. I no longer fuss over needing the perfect campsite, the perfect weather, or the perfect scenery… of course, I still want all that, but if I don’t get what I want, I don’t stress over it. Tomorrow is another day.
Lean on your support system. We all have special people in our lives whether they are friends or family. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Studies have shown that leaning on friends or family makes it easier to cope with life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during those stressful and overwhelming times.
So with all the stress behind me, … weeell ……….. except for that long list of RV repairs that we’ll need to tackle this winter, I’m sharing why Al and I moved into our RV full-time in this video. Life can be stressful and sometimes we need to make a change and close one chapter and start a new one.
Oh, and by the way, one of the things that I didn’t explain or it might not seem clear in the video is regarding our careers. We had transitioned from airline careers into a career in homebuilding. So when I talk about our business was slow, that would be our homebuilding biz. Our story is better explained on our “About Us” page if you’re curious.
How have you overcome times of stress in your life? Do you have any inspiration to share?
(Thank you for using my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and really appreciate your support ❤)
Life begins at … life begins whenever you want it to. That’s why more and more people over 50 are seeking new travel adventures, new destinations, and jumping into RVs. After all, you’re kid-free, hopefully, financially stable and slowing down when it comes to work. You are in a prime position to travel extensively. Here are some inspiring tips to help you on your journey.
Relax and rejuvenate
According to a recent AARP survey, 50 plus-year-olds will take 4 to 5 trips a year. They take their trips for a range of reasons. Top of their list is simply to relax and feel rejuvenated. It makes sense. After years of working 40 plus hours a week at a job and being caregivers to loved ones 24/7, there’s definitely a sense that it’s time to make your needs a priority. It’s time for a break. Time to relax, rejuvenate, and rediscover yourself.
Climb every mountain
Perhaps that’s a step too far but, as the song says, why not set yourself challenges and goals? There’s no point making a travel bucket list if it only remains a list. A recent Saga survey found that a third of over 50s felt far more adventurous than they did in their 40s. So, while your kids might raise their eyebrows at your plan to move into an RV full-time or trek the Great Wall of China, or simply learn a new skill, why shouldn’t you? Don’t allow other people to hold you back or second guess your dreams.
Being looked after
If adventure and RVing aren’t quite your thing, that’s OK. Perhaps, after years of looking after everyone else, it’s your turn to think about yourself and do something strictly for yourself? Cruises offer all-inclusive luxury and require very little planning effort. Your needs will be the priority. From entertainment to cuisine to port stops in places you dreamed of visiting, your every requirement is taken care of for you.
Prefer solid ground? There are lots of adult-only focused resorts. Companies have wised up to the fact that many 50+ do not necessarily wish to spend their vacations with screaming kids around. These places offer you a chance to unwind and meet like-minded people. You’ll feel pampered at one of these all-inclusive resorts.
It seems that the over 50s like more than just resorts and beaches. This age group cares about the impact of travel. They like to immerse themselves in the history and culture of a place. We bump into lots of fellow RVers who enjoy visiting cities for all the culture, museums, and activities found in a large metropolitan area.
If you’re about to join the roving 50s, then do some research before you go. If you plan on traveling abroad, learn a few words in the local language. Go on social media and find local groups that post events and information. I find a lot of my travel inspiration from fellow bloggers.
Plan a gap year
Gap years were not in fashion when the over 50s were students. It was all about getting qualified and starting work. Perhaps you deserve your gap year now? Before Al and I moved into our RV full-time, we tested the waters. One year we went on a 6-week road trip and loved it so much that the following year we went on a 4-month road trip.
Gone are the days when age was a barrier to work. Taking a year out is simply that. When you return, you’ll be refreshed and reinvigorated. Perhaps, your travels will inspire you to make further changes to your lifestyle.
Ever hear a photographer say “look at the bokeh in that photograph” and wonder what the heck they were talking about? Well, what they’re referring to is the dreamy soft background in a photo.
More specifically, they’re referring to the quality of the blur or quality of the dreamy soft background. Certain lenses and cameras produce better bokeh than others.
Why use bokeh?
Good photographs are supposed to be sharp, not blurry, aren’t they? So, what’s up with bokeh? Although the background is purposely blurry, the subject is still meant to be in focus.
We want to create an effect like this to draw attention to our subject. This way, we’re literally pulling the viewer into the photograph and showing the viewer what we want them to focus on. They really don’t have a choice because the rest of the photo is literally a blur.
Fun Fact: the origin of bokeh is Japanese and it literally translates to blur!
How do you pronounce “bokeh”?
I think it’s pronounced “bow-kay”, but you can watch the attached video to see all the different pronunciations and decide for yourself. Personally, I keep saying “bow-kuh”, which I’m pretty sure is incorrect.
How do we achieve bokeh?
First off, it depends on the type of camera and lens we use to create bokeh. With a DSLR, we’ll want to use a wide Aperture like f2 or even better f1.4. The goal is to create a shallow depth of field.
With a point and shoot camera or phone, you’ll want to experiment a bit and see what works best with your equipment. With my P&S camera, I set it to the “food” setting and zoom in. The more I zoom in on my subject, the more background blur I create. Good bokeh has a soft dreamy feel to the background, and it’s something we see a lot of in food photography.
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to creating bokeh, but I do have fun trying. How about you? Do you like creating images with bokeh?
Can you believe Al and I are in our sixth year of living in the RV full-time? I know, I can’t! I assure you, we have learned a lot during those six years of living a minimalist RV lifestyle. We’ve also learned the do’s and don’ts of downsizing and the importance of organization. Ah, to go back and be given a do over … hindsight is twenty-twenty!
With summer just a few short months away, Al and I are in full summer planning mode, and at the forefront of our plans is a stop in southern Colorado to visit our storage units, as in plural. Yes, two storage units … sigh! Remember that do over I’d like? Oh, to go back and whittle down all that crap stuff that we’ve hardly missed over the past years.
In our defense, at that time, Al and I weren’t committed to living in the RV full-time for much more than a year or two. Little did we know how addictive this RVing lifestyle can be. Sure, we’ve thought about buying another sticks and bricks home and have even put contracts in on houses during the past six years, but when negotiations would stall, Al and I were always flooded with a sense of relief.
The reality is, we’re not ready to return to a traditional home … just yet, anyway. We know eventually that day will come. Until then, it’s time for us to think about all that stuff we’ve been foolishly storing for the past six years. It’s time to regroup, tidy up, and organize. Where was Marie Kondo when I needed her? But then again, would I have listened to her advice? Purging stuff is hard work!
What I’ve learned living in an RV
I’ve learned a lot about living a more minimalist lifestyle, but at the top of that list would be the realization that our living space and the items surrounding us can impact mental health immensely.
If our RV is cluttered or unorganized, I don’t feel my best. As a matter of fact, I feel unsettled, stressed, and less than energetic. Living in a small space requires organization.
Studies have shown that organization can have a positive impact on one’s mental health, and I can vouch for that.
I’ve also learned that I can live with fewer belongings … fewer purses, fewer shoes, fewer kitchen gadgets, fewer everything.
Do I really need six pairs of athletic shoes and eight pairs of sandals shoved in a small cabinet in the RV? Of Course, I do! Well, maybe! Okay, no I don’t! It’s all about that word need.
I haven’t even talked about clothing yet. Did you know, the average person only wears 50% of the clothes in their closet? I can’t believe Al and I have six wardrobe boxes full of clothing in storage. I’m embarrassed even typing this 🤦♀️ I’m sure most of those items are still in fashion (not) …. and fit!
How NOT to downsize!
When Al and I first moved in together (many, many moons ago), we lived in a small one bedroom condominium in the Chicago suburbs. Between the two of us, we barely had enough stuff to furnish that 700 square foot condo. My how times change.Thirty years, a couple of cross-country moves, and several houses later, we found ourselves downsizing from a fully furnished, every closet full, 4,600 square foot home.
It was overwhelming to say the least. Fortunately, we had a few months to sort, declutter, purge, and organize, but still, we did not get rid of nearly enough stuff. I think subconsciously, all that stuff represented a sense of success to me.
From 4,600 sq. ft., we moved into an 1,100 square foot rental. That’s when the first storage unit was rented. While living in the short-term rental, we built an 1,800 square foot home with another 1,800 square feet of unfinished basement. Can you say, “lots of storage space in that basement?” Yeah, most of that stuff in the storage unit, was once again moved and distributed throughout the new house, garage, and basement … only to be moved again two years later. Seriously, what were we thinking!
It was also during this time of multiple moves that we bought our 5th Wheel. She was purchased with the intent to travel in part-time, and was never intended for us to live in full-time. We went full-time RVing on a whim! And we did that downsize within thirty days.
Thirty (30) days to whittle down all our belongings and move into less than 300 square feet of a moving RV. Whatever were we thinking? (did I already say that 😆) Thus, two stuffed 10×10 storage units were rented. Our goal this year is to purge down to one unit. A lofty goal indeed.
Why organization is key
Once you declutter and organize your things, you’ll be more efficient in your day-to-day activities. You might even notice, you actually know where things are placed. Now where’d I put those car keys?
Organize your stuff, and your life will be more organized.
When it’s time to clean, it isn’t as difficult to tidy up because things are already organized and in their proper place.
Purging and decluttering is freeing. It’s like a weight or responsibility is lifted from your shoulders. Less stuff, more freedom!
When you work in a tidy and organized space, chances are, you’ll be more productive. Organization helps you think more clearly.
There’s a sense of satisfaction when you step back and look at your organized, clean, tidy and decluttered living space.
Having an organized home can lead to an organized mind which leads to improved mental health.
Keeping your home organized, tidy, and decluttered, will make any future move much easier. Trust me on this one! Can I have a do over, please?
Minimize, simplify, organize
Regardless of the size of home you live in, keeping your space organized and tidy will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life and those surrounding you. And when the time comes for you to move to a new home, the battle is half done. You’ll be ready!
What do you do when the creative well seems to be empty? When you don’t know what to blog about or what to photograph? When the creative juices just aren’t flowing? Inspiration disappears for all of us from time to time, and it’s something I personally have struggled with for months.
Since Al and I won’t be traveling much this winter (we’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona, till April), I find myself wondering what I should blog about and what might be new for me to photograph. Ever since our son moved to Phoenix in 2009, we’ve spent a substantial amount of time RVing around the Phoenix valley, and I’ve written dozens of posts in the past about our time in this Arizona city.
I suppose I could re-purpose some of my old blog posts, but that would keep me inside the RV and in front of the computer, and as much as I enjoy my computer time, the reason for living the RV lifestyle is to seek out new experiences and new sights and not sit in front of a computer screen all day.
The incentive to go out and about is easy when we’re visiting new places, but takes a little more effort and reflection on my part when I’m living a stationary life.
Reflecting on the past can help direct you in the future
Now that I’m sitting in a familiar city that we’ve already spent a significant amount of time exploring, I find myself reflecting on the past for inspiration.
During our last year of owning a sticks and bricks home along Colorado’s Front Range, Al and I decided to pretend we were tourists. After all, Colorado Springs is a major summer destination for many. It was amazing the beautiful sights we discovered right in our own backyard (well, not literally in our backyard, but around town).
I’m grateful that we took the time to explore a little more of Colorado Springs before moving away. We still never made it to the top of Pikes Peak, but perhaps that’s an impetus for us to revisit.
So, think about your past. Think about a memorable place or time, and ask yourself where, when, and why? Memories can serve as wonderful inspiration. All I have to do is think about our five week stay along the shores of Lake Powell this past April, and a smile comes to my face. There was no lack of creative inspiration with scenery like that!
Meet new people
Attending a conference, a seminar, or engaging in a local “meetup” group, forces us to mingle with new people. In the RVing world, this is an everyday event as our neighbors are forever changing. RV parks are a social mecca filled with activities, and meeting new and interesting people is always inspirational. But what if you don’t live in a setting that’s easy to meet new people?
At the end of November, I decided to attend a local WordPress meetup group. I thought it might be a good way to meet locals outside of the RVing community, as well as get a little WordPress help. You see, I’ve had difficulties commenting and liking some of my favorite blogs.
It all started about a month or so ago. I have a bunch of blogs I follow via the WordPress Reader along with receiving posts via email. I used to be able to easily comment or ‘like’ an emailed post, but no more. Grrr … without getting into the nitty-gritty of my frustrations, I was hopeful in meeting some local techies.
Although I enjoyed mingling, this meetup group is geared toward the self-hosted WP user, and therefore, of little help to me. With that said, listening to other creatives was inspirational, making my attendance worthwhile. I might go again or maybe I’ll try some other “meetup“ group.
Go for a walk and search out the beauty around you
Phoenix, Arizona, is known for its mild winters and beautiful blue skies. The other day was cold and dreary. There was a thick cloud cover and the threat of rain. It was late afternoon when I decided to don my sweatshirt and head out on a photographic outing.
My husband was perplexed and expressed concern about the poor weather conditions, but when I explained that today was the perfect day for me to shoot a waterfall, he understood …. well, not really, but he did a good job pretending he understood.
I headed off to a local park in the quaint town of Anthem, Arizona (far north Phoenix valley). It’s a beautiful park with ponds, waterfalls, a Veterans Memorial, baseball/soccer fields, a skate park, railroad, a Sunday morning farmers market, and more.
I had a fabulous time playing with my camera and searching out creative inspiration. That little outing was exactly what I needed to get the creative juices flowing, and I’m so glad I didn’t let the weather deter me.
Study other creatives
Visit a local art gallery, museum, or library and immerse yourself in other works of art. My recent sculpture tour in Scottsdale found me appreciating the talents and vision of the various artists and asking myself, “What inspires them?”
If your creative outlet is writing, are you as awed by J.K. Rowlings talent as much as I am? Sometimes I like to go to the local library and peruse cookbooks looking for recipe and photography inspiration. A library is a great way to discover works of art.
And let’s not forget about music. Listening to the words of a favorite song or dancing to an irresistible rhythm can be very inspirational. Unfortunately, the music gene doesn’t run in my family, but I’m an appreciative listener.
I’d have to say, my most favorite (my favorist 😆) way to find inspiration is via blogs. Seriously, you my friends, are the best creative inspiration around. When I’m really stuck … you know, staring at a blank screen ‘stuck’, and can’t begin to figure out what to write or share, I turn to my favorite blogs.
If that doesn’t work, I go in search of new blogs. Don’t you love it when bloggers write a post linking to other inspirational bloggers? I know I do! Of course, there’s Pinterest to consider, but blogs still rule in my humble opinion.
Write a bucket list
Ask yourself, “If money were no object, I would ….?” Write down a list of things you’d like to accomplish … places you’d like to visit … maybe it’s a dream job … maybe you’d like to publish a book, whatever comes to mind. Be honest with yourself. I bet, when you read that dream list that many of the things you’ve written down are attainable.
Research! Whatever the subject, see what other’s have to say about it. What do they say about that dream job, about publishing that book, or traveling to that destination you long to visit? If you don’t have the physicality or finances, perhaps writing a blog post about those bucket list items will be a start to fulfilling a dream, and your writings might inspire you, as well as others.
Sedona – Buddhism Park, vortex
We all have something we believe in that helps us get through life. For some, it’s attending church services regularly while for others it’s a way of living one’s life. I have friends who tap into their spiritual beliefs by reading the bible or devotionals everyday. Another friend of mine has quotes delivered to her inbox daily, and these quotes serve as her inspiration and enlightenment. Many use meditation, prayer, or both.
I know when I tap into my spirituality, I feel a sense of renewal and hope. That renewed feeling helps me focus and work toward goals.
Meet a friend for coffee (or a drink)
Enjoy some one on one time with a friend over a cup of coffee or a cocktail. Be the listener and really listen to what’s going on in your friend’s life. What are their motivations and goals? How do your ambitions compare or differ?
Maybe they recently read a fascinating book that would make for a great blog article or maybe that photo shared on their phone was taken at an unusual angle, giving you inspiration for your next outing with the camera.
A relaxed get together with a friend is something we should all do regularly!
Take your camera in search
Take your camera (or phone) on an outing devoted to photography. Be a tourist in your hometown. What would you share with someone visiting your town/city for the first time? Walk around your neighborhood and find unique things to photograph.
My neighbor, here in the RV park in Phoenix, is a photographer. In an effort to exercise, he walks around the park, up and down the streets, regularly photographing interesting sights … the little yard decorations, door details, interesting plants, colors, etc., and in the process, he gets in his steps.
If the weather is too cold and blustery in your neck of the woods, think about heading into the kitchen and cook/bake something new … then photograph it. Step outside of your comfort zone. Photography is about finding out who you are and focusing on the world around you.
Listen to your thoughts
Allow yourself to slow down, look inward, and listen to your thoughts. Although my camera shutter clicked often at the park the other day, I did take time to just sit on a park bench and watch the world go by. I watched the ducks drift by on the pond. I listened to the trickle of water from the nearby waterfall. I watched the storm clouds swirl about. I watched the changing light on a mountain as the sun was beginning to set.
I thought about the photographs I had just made, and recognized my strengths and weaknesses. I was feeling creative, a feeling which I hadn’t felt in some time, and it felt good. I needed this time at the park to just be … to listen to my inner voice and listen to my thoughts.
It was at that moment I realized, I don’t have to travel to far away places to be creative … to find blog material, photographic material, inspirational material. I just need to look at things from a fresh angle and shake up my routine.
10 Tips on how to find creative inspiration
Reflect on the past. Analyze fond memories and decide to create new ones.
Meet new people – interact, learn, and find out what inspires others.
Go for a walk and immerse yourself in your surroundings
Study other creatives
Write a bucket list
Embrace spiritual enlightenment
Meet a friend for coffee or a drink
Take your camera in search
Listen to your thoughts
If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us – Daisaku Ikeda
How do you find blogging ideas and subjects to write about? How do you tap into your creativity or decide what to photograph? What inspires you?
A geological marvel … one of America’s most beautiful places … multi-hued red rock formations jutting upwards from the high desert floor creating a mesmerizing setting … ah,yes … I’m talking about stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock Country is unique and exudes a sense of spirituality along with a mood that changes hourly with the light. It’s no wonder this majestic place attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors to Sedona have easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation, but Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.
With such an abundance of public land access, the availability of experiencing this amazing landscape is endless. There are trails for hiking and biking, along with plenty of 4×4 gravel/dirt roads perfect for scenic Jeep tours or ATV excursions. Meandering in the back country among red rock pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes is an absolute must for any visitor, and yet, you’re never far from the conveniences of town.
A birthday weekend …
It was the third weekend in September, and although a few weeks past my actual birth date, it was a great time of year to visit Sedona and celebrate my birthday together with family. This trip was actually all planned by my children as part of a gift … awe!
Since our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all had to work that Friday in Phoenix, we didn’t check into our double-suite condo like lodging until 7:00 p.m., but that still left us a few hours for some socializing over cocktails and snacks before it was time to head off to bed. Sedona is less than a two hours drive and about 116 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. We stayed at a lovely resort called Sedona Summit.
Saturday morning, my daughter and I were out the door by 8:00 a.m. with cameras in hand. As many times as we’ve visited Sedona, there’s always something new on our list that we look forward to exploring.
First stop, spiritual enlightenment
Located near the base of Thunder Mountain is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal. Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park offers its visitors spiritual transformation and healing through the fascinating architecture and geometry of the stupa. Stupas are one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture and Buddhist practitioners have built them to promote spiritual deepening, healing, prosperity, and peace.
Filled with hundreds of prayers for peace, sacred relics and ritual offerings, the Amitabha Stupa is a vortex of enlightened presence and blessings.
Ashton and I were fascinated with this Buddist park, but then again, anything associated with Nepal or the Himalayas seems to captivate our attention and that includes all the Prayer Flags. During her college days, Ashton and her roommate had prayer flags hung around their tiny dorm room. The prayer flags belonged to her roommate and were actually bought in Nepal during a family trip.
My daughter and I share a secret interest in someday traveling to Nepal – a land far away. In reality, I think this Sedona peace park or the time we went to Disney World and experienced Expedition Everest is the closest we’ll ever get to Kathmandu, and in reality, I’m okay with that … but shhh, don’t tell my daughter 😉
(To enlarge photos, click on any image in the photo gallery)
Discovering ancient history
Next on our agenda was heading into the back country in search of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. We originally wanted to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, but hikes are done via a tour, and since Ashton and I were already running a little late, we opted to visit the less popular Honanki ruins where you’re able to stroll without a guide.
After the split in the road (one way to Palatki and another way to Honanki), the road to the Honanki Ruins gets a bit rough in spots, and I was glad to be driving a vehicle that handles these rough roads perfectly. We did see the occasional car, but we mostly saw Jeep Tours or ATV’s. Here’s a quote from the National Park website about the road condition: “Those with high-clearance vehicles and/or a sense of adventure can turn ….. the compensation for abusing your motor vehicle are wonderful views of the red rock formations that Sedona is so famous for“. Alrighty then!
A final note on the road conditions. Older publications will tell you the route to the Palatki Site from Dry Creek Road is rough. Road conditions have improved substantially within the past year. The Enchantment Resort has brought new development to this end of Sedona and the road is now paved beyond Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain Trailheads. Once the pavement ends, the gravel road is still easily accessed by most vehicles all the way to the Palatki Heritage Site. However, you might want to check with the National Park Service for the latest up to date road conditions.
easy stroll to the cliff dwellings
Rock art at Honanki Cultural Site
Yeti … the abominable snowman? Another connection to Nepal?
Honanki cliff dwellings
Once at the Honanki site, we enjoyed a short hike to the cliff dwellings and slowly toured the area taking in the ruins and interesting rock art. Could the ancient cliff dwellers be telling us that Yeti, the abominable snowman, did exist? Another connection to Nepal?
The Honanki cultural site is relatively small and my daughter and I spent less than an hour exploring the area, but we were glad we made the long, bumpy trek out to the site. The drive was all part of the adventure and taking in the beautiful landscape.
Retail Therapy and Dining
Once Ashton and I returned to our lodging, we grabbed a bite to eat with the rest of the family and then the five of us headed to the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little retail therapy.
I love the architecture of this place and always find interesting shops and galleries to stroll through. During a previous visit, my daughter and I enjoyed a little wine tasting, but this time, we stumbled upon Spirits & Spice. This unique shop had the entire family engaged in tasting, and it did not disappoint. I assure you, none of us left the store empty-handed.
Spirits & Spice – just a sample of their amazing products
Interesting stuff, but no room in an RV
Always unique shops to stroll
Spirits & Spice – son and daughter-in-law enjoy the samples
Love the Architecture
Dining … since we had a full kitchen at our accommodations, during this particular visit, we ate in most of the time, but we did enjoy a yummy Sunday breakfast with a great view at the Wildflower Bread Company. Another fun stop for us was at The Art of Wine for a little wine tasting. My daughter ended up buying some Arizona wine.
Awesome outdoor seating at the Wildflower Bread Company in Sedona
Great breakfast at the Wildflower Bread Company
Art of Wine, Sedona
Restaurants we’ve eaten at in the past: The Coffee Pot Restaurant is ideal for a hearty breakfast and serves up some of the best coffee. I enjoyed the coffee so much that I even bought a bag of their beans to brew back at the RV. Javelina’s Cantina is one of Al’s favorite lunch spots. Oaxaca Restaurant is another tasty Mexican restaurant if you happen to be strolling Main Street. And for those looking for specialty foods, Chocola Tree is worth checking out. Their outdoor patio is very zen with a hippie vibe.
Final thoughts on Sedona
Sedona is most definitely a tourist town and on weekends traffic can be congested and challenging, but if you can get beyond the hoards of people, you’ll discover a sense of history, beauty, and well-being like non-other.
The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations as evidenced by the Honanki ruins; AD 1150-1350. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.
And we can’t ignore the energizing vortexes which attract believers from around the world to experience these mystical forces. What is a vortex? They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.
Whether you believe in the power of a vortex or not, I think we can all agree, Sedona is unique, and worth at least one visit. As for my family and I, we aren’t done exploring Sedona, Arizona, and are already planning our next visit. Yes Sedona, we’ll be back!
Top 7 things to do in Sedona
Hike or bike the 300 plus miles of trails. You’ll find a trail for every level of ability, but do note, the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. Sedona’s secret 7 hiking trails.
Take in the incredible red rock landscape by enjoying a Jeep or helicopter tour.
Visit a vortex. Regarded by Native Americans as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many come to experience the vortex centers of Sedona to tap into spiritual energy.
Or simply relax around a luxury resort. Sparkling pools and rejuvenating spas abound.
Home? What does home really mean? The dictionary says – one’s place of residence, place of domicile, but I think it’s so much more than that simplistic definition.
I was fortunate to have grown up in a house that my parents owned with a nice yard, nice neighborhood, and have some very fond childhood memories as a result. Once I was no longer living under my parents roof, it wasn’t uncommon for me to still refer to that childhood house as home. I’d quite often say to my roommate, “I’m going home to spend the weekend with my folks”.
Knowing my living arrangement with that roommate was temporary, my heart continued to view my childhood residence as home. In addition to any physical house, I think many of us still view the town or state we grew up in as home.
The meaning of home
A home is more than a financial asset or physical structure. Whether you live in a big house or a little house, an apartment or a temporary house, or even a RV, home is a place where you feel that you belong … a place you enjoy sharing with friends and family … a place you connect with because your ideas or attitudes are the same as those of the people around you … a place where you can put your feet up and let out a big sigh of contentment … a place where you can relax and say, “Ah, life is good”.
We have a saying in the RV community – “Home is where we park it“. We travel with our houses in tow and have the freedom to change our yard and views on a whim. It’s a glorious way to live, but it’s not without its faults.
Al and I moved into our RV on a whim over five years ago, and had every intention of living in the RV for merely a year or two … just until we found a new home base. Over the past five years, we’ve put contracts in on three different houses in various locations, and in each case, we breathed a sigh of relief when negotiations stalled. (hmm, wonder which client stuck their feet in the mud during negotiations? 😁)
Do I miss the large custom home in southern Colorado that I designed, generaled, built, and raised my children in? … Nope! As much as I loved that house, and it was home to our family of four for ten years, once Al and I became empty nester’s that house became way too big for just the two of us. Plus, my sense of wanderlust took hold, and I was ready for a new direction, a new adventure, and a change of scenery.
The freedom of RV living is addictive, and clearly, Al and I aren’t ready to change our home scenario anytime soon. We love our RV home and our ever-changing backyard! With that said, we’ll keep looking for that home base, and when we do eventually find it, you’ll be the first to know … well, maybe second … our children should be the first!
Along with all the fabulous and varying locations we’ve enjoyed calling home over the past few years, we’ve also met some of the nicest people living this RV mobile lifestyle and made some wonderful friends along the way. Friends help provide a sense of home no matter where we’re camped.
This summer, we managed to snag a great campsite in a RV park next to fun neighbors. We adore these neighbors that we’ve lived next to for the past five months, and will be sad, yet excited, to be moving in a couple of weeks.
And as much as we’re looking forward to the change of scenery, we’re already looking forward to returning to Prescott next summer, if for nothing else, than to harass our dear neighbors 🤣 because yes, we do intend to camp next to these very same people again next summer. Although we realize that there’s a risk they decide to change their housing situation. Run Forest, run!!!
Today, some places feel more like home to us than other places. The state of Colorado will always have a special place in our hearts, but it is no longer home. The meaning of the word home has taken on more of a spiritual meaning to us than that of a physical structure or place. Home is where our heart is!
Photo challenge – theme – prompt
For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of home. What does home mean to you and what does it look like? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see images of your home.
Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations
Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!
Next weeks photo challenge – Architecture …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!