Stretch / by Nicole

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

We have a new puppy. Milo is a Baja mutt - he made the journey across the US-Mexico border and into our (and more importantly, Elvis') home courtesy of the Baja Animal Sanctuary. Milo is NOTHING like our Elvis. Elvis is big and "handsome" (or pretty, depending on who's commenting) - was a cinch to train, and never had an inkling to run into unfamiliar territory without looking to us first. He is a certified therapy dog, has zero prey-drive, and loves everything, including cats. Everyone loves Elvis. People on their evening walk trek up our driveway just to see him. Really. The UPS and FedEx delivery folks bring him treats - even if we don't have a delivery.  When we three (Jim, me, Elvis) marched in our local holiday parade last year, people yelled, "Elvis!". Elvis is the mayor … and the mayor's life is very good.

Chill

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This April marks the one year anniversary of beachradish images®. When we launched this effort, I was commuting to a job 80 miles away. I was working with a good team, had a fair amount of autonomy, and the brain tease of my work was engaging. In her essay "A Short Guide to a Happy Life", Anna Quindlen writes: "People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit." She refers to this spiritual crafting as "getting a life", which includes being present, being still, but most importantly, "doing good":

"Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas making fuchsia star bursts in spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take the money you would have spent on beers in a bar and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Tutor a seventh-grader.

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough."

When we launched beachradish images®, it was in response to a call for art donations for the Surfrider Art Gala; we also donated to the Longboard Luau, and have launched Feel-anthropy images - each supports the health of individuals or our environment. And while I wouldn't yet say we're doing "well", there are distinct moments when I know my photography is doing "good". And this really does lend purpose and meaning beyond the somewhat selfish joy of creating the images. Shortly after last year's Gala, I decided to bring that mantra of doing good vs. doing well to my professional life … I stopped taking the train, embarking on a different, and hopefully more soul-ful journey. It's been a risk for sure - taking a career that was very good, where I did well, and turning it on its head … fingers crossed that indeed life expands. And, more importantly, that it does "good". 

Our little Milo has certainly injected spirit into Elvis' very secure, predictable life. A muppet of a puppy, he's all spunk and no fear … gathering speed, launching all 18 lbs of cartilage, disheveled grey fur, and gaping jaws of puppy teeth at his 95 lb older brother … nipping heels, jowls, or any other yellow dog part that he can get his mouth around. Milo snarfs up the biscuit that the UPS man leaves atop the boxes on our front step, while Elvis sniffs at the vaguely familiar scent that he can no longer seem to locate. Oh how Milo LOVES his Elvis. And while Elvis would be the first to tell you that no one consulted him, one only has to see the two curled up together to know that this was a chance worth taking and that his life (and ours) is much bigger for it.