The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge topic is “Forward”.

You don’t have to be

to know that forward motion can be

To get going,  you may need to be very,

You may face unexpected roadblocks.

Overcoming them could require a leap of faith,

And concerted effort,

Not to mention perfectly carefully calibrated speed.

Your “progress” may come at a cost,

And some days, you may need to shine a light on those cobwebs to make any progress at all,

But the best thing is when someone has your back – then you can move forward with ease.

WE’VE  GOT YOUR BACK, an outreach campaign created in 2009 by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Saatchi & Saatchi, supports veterans by encouraging them to communicate with other veterans, who have their back and can help them move forward.


This post is in honor of my son, a Marine deployed once each to Iraq and  Afghanistan, and home since July 3, 2011. I hope he knows I’ve got his back.  And in honor of this little boy from Helmand Province, whose photo was taken by my son. I hope he can move forward with his life into some kind of peace, whatever it might look like.



More Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge entries can be found here.

Photographs taken in (from top) Edison, WA, Seattle, WA (boats), Mount Rainier, WA, Chua Dia Tang Monastery, Lynnwood, WA,  Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, on the Seattle-Bremerton Ferry, WA, New York City, NY, St. Edwards Park, Kirkland, WA, the Plaza Hotel Fountain, New York City, NY, and somewhere in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Unique AND Universal: Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo challenge is to express the concept, “Unique”.   I was struck by the thought that many of the images below, of people engaged in what must have felt like unique situations, at the same time express universal themes: play and self-expression, love, work, journeys, death.

A toddler throws pebbles into a lake, fascinated by each splash and  ripple, his own creation. Standing on tiptoes to kiss a statue, a young woman expresses the unique possibilities of love.  A man belts out tunes on a  piano, singing his own song, for love and money.

In pouring rain on a warm summer evening another man’s handstand expresses the sheer joy in shared experience.  A neighborhood eccentric leans across his porch to tell you a personal, intricate story about his house.  What unique stories the contents of a Marine’s rucksack, fresh from an Afghanistan deployment, must hold. And finally, graves in a rural cemetery bear flower and pottery offerings – visitors’  unique, yet universal expressions of honor and commitment.




















More images expressing the idea of “unique” are here:

It’s Delicate

When my friend Joe worked at a state forensic psychiatric ward, one of his favorite patients was a man who never talked much except to remark, “It’s very tricky!” with a slightly conspiratorial air. Jerry would sit down in the art room and silently paint dreamy watercolor landscapes. For him it seemed life was a tricky series of negotiations between what some treatment professionals called reality and what he was actually experiencing. It was all tricky. One might also say, it’s all very delicate.

The borders between health and illness can be very delicately drawn when you’re trying to negotiate emotional ups and downs that seem to be conspiring to drive you over the edge.

But there’s nothing delicate about arming yourself with three guns and striding into an elementary school to find little kids to kill. There’s nothing delicate about shooting your mother in the face and killing her. There’s nothing delicate about the long nights and days the Newtown survivors now face without their children, their brothers and sisters, parents, friends, teachers.

As a mother of one child, a boy, I feel acutely the horror of the loss of a child when these violent acts happen, and I imagine the horror of grief and surprise that the parents of murderers must feel. Because this latest mass shooting took place not far from the house where we last lived together, I am compelled to look at pictures of my son taken long ago. An innocent infant – so inconceivably delicate:

How many nights did I stay up worrying that he wouldn’t come home? How many days did I spend agonizing over some trouble he was in and wondering if he would even make it to adulthood? It was often a very delicate balancing act, but yes, he is alive, and compared to many, he and I are lucky.

I don’t know what we can do to decrease the frequency of mass shootings – enact gun control legislation? Surely. Educate people towards a more enlightened approach to mental health? Certainly. Pay better attention to what’s going on in the delicate reaches of the minds of those around us? Yes. And perhaps try to embody light, in this dark season, a little more. It’s a delicate balance, isn’t it?

Solitary: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Photo Challenge, hosted by Cheri Lucas, is “Solitary”. This time of year feels anything but solitary to me, but  there are always moments when people are alone with their thoughts.

When you think about it, just about any kid in the world who has the chance will play with water. I wish there was no hunger and adequate water, especially for kids, because I know some children will never enjoy playing alone like this.

This man has been around and seen a lot, I suppose. On an overcast spring afternoon he enjoyed a cigar and a solitary moment in an alley downtown.  Seattle’s Space Needle brings everything into focus – or not, depending on your aesthetic inclinations.

I was in the right place at the right time on this November evening in lower Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty provides a focal point for this man’s thoughts as the sun sets over New Jersey.

A lone kayaker on Puget Sound, north of Seattle, drifts near a flock of brant. I have yet to see a brant alone, on the east  or west coast – they are decidedly gregarious, and they make the most appealing guttural murmurs while plying the shoreline together for bits of eelgrass and other marine plants.

The Great Blue Heron, however, almost always hunts alone.  But on this warm January afternoon on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the heron stuck close to a solitary fisherman, whose bucket of bait was too tempting to let out of sight.

Running up and over the railroad tracks – another seriously fit Seattlite taking fitness seriously. I’m serious. They’re everywhere, making me feel guilty or inspiring me, depending on my own turn of mind.

This is Larry, who lives alone in an old home in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Though he talked a blue streak the day we met him, he was clearly a man content spending most of his time alone. I think his inspiration comes from inside his own mind and from nature – those trees reflected in the window are about to completely obscure his home, and he told us he won’t cut a single branch, not ever.

A young man leans against the barred window of a water tower, high above Volunteer Park in Seattle. A perfect place for a little solitude.

More offerings from around the world on this weeks’ theme are at: