Category Archives: Creative Expression

Tips to Avoid Blurry iPhone Photos


If you are like me and probably most anyone with a cell phone these days,  you are snapping photos left and right!   Over the past couple of years, I have been intentionally taking photos of our everyday activities.  The reason I named my blog Life is an Exquisite Journey was to be able to capture some of the exquisite moments that me and my children experience on our collective and individual journeys.

It is amazing to me how much more attentive I have become to the details of life and the beauty around me while viewing my world through my iPhone camera lens.  My iPhone cameras has been the gateway to my actively engaging in my love for photography.  I’ve always admired the work of other photographers and now I am developing an eye for my own personal artistic perspective.  I devour every new piece of information that I receive to be able to incorporate a new technique or strategy for the next photo opportunity.

Today, I ran across this article,    How to Never Take A Blurry iPhone Photo Again, by Emil Pakarklis.  Emil shares several key points to remember when taking your photos:

1.  Don’t Rely on Auto-Focus

2.  Keep Your iPhone Steady

3.  Reduce the Effects of Movement

As I was leaving the Salamander Resort & Spa early this morning, I tried to grab of photo of this piece of art.  It is a map of Virginia framed in metal and filled in with corkscrews!  It represents the myriad of Virginia wineries that are sprinkled throughout the state.  The detail and variant colors of the corkscrews is what really attracted me to the piece.  However, I tried to take the photo while I was walking through the room.  Instead, I should have “reduced the effects of movement” as Emil suggests and stopped to manually focus the image in my camera lens, while keeping my iPhone steady.  I  would have gotten the desired result – a photo capturing the detail that I could see with my naked eye.


Emil provides great visual images of the PROBLEM PHOTO and the PHOTO with the SOLUTION applied.  Great tips as I try to work towards perfecting my craft.  I thought you might be interested in Emil’s suggestions as well!

Meanwhile, I need to make plans for my next visit to Salamander Resort & Spa to retake this photo and many other exquisite captures!

Hugs and Blessings!

Life is an Exquisite Journey




Zola’s Exquisite Journey as a Classical Double Bassist


10462429_10204318052215420_906693918121963652_o ZOLA SMI 2014

NSO Summer Music Institute Orchestra

“The National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute is a four-week festival of orchestral and chamber music for young people ages 14-21 at the Kennedy Center. Musicians from around the country participate in the Institute, which consists of orchestral and chamber music coached by NSO musicians, conducting and master classes, private lessons with NSO musicians, and additional enrichment sessions. Several of the local students are graduates or current participants of the NSO Youth Fellowship Program, an orchestral training program for talented young musicians. Also included are students participating in the Young Artists’ of Color national training initiative of the Kennedy Center.”   – NSO – SMI website.

My daughter, Zola, a classical double bassist, had the distinct honor and pleasure of performing with the NSO Summer Music Institute Orchestra the past two years.  What an amazing experience and opportunity!  If you have any young musicians in your life, encourage them to apply for the NSO Youth Fellowship.  It includes housing, a stipend, and intense training and performance experiences!

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the final performance of the NSO Summer Music Institute Orchestra which was held in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.  Simply PHENOMENAL!  It is always a WONDER for me to sit in front of the Double Bass Section and watch my daughter transform right in front of my eyes.  She fully immerses her soul and her being into this gift that she has been given.  I am thankful for the doors that have been opened for her through her dedication, hard work and talent.  May Zola continue to inspire others along her Exquisite Journey!

Enjoy  last night’s performance!



The MOST Exquisite Moment: Seeing My Billboard Ad in New York City!


From the first Facebook post from my college friend to the 2:44 a.m. text on Sunday morning from a high school friend telling me that they saw my face on a billboard in NYC,  I knew I would  go completely BONKERS if I did not have a chance to see the billboard for myself!  I mean it is not every day that a mom of five meets a photographer, poses for some shots for an ad campaign and then ends up in the featured photo of a New York Times article that highlights the campaign and the billboard with her image on it!  WHEW!  Talk about a series of EXQUISITE MOMENTS!

In comes the most generous and thoughtful exquisite gesture – an offer to fund my trip to NYC so that I can see the billboard for myself!  I have tears in my eyes just thinking about the magnitude of this gesture in my heart.  So off I go – on a day trip to see myself on 42nd Street in NYC!  I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.  I got three hours of sleep before I had to ride to the bus station which thankfully was only 10 minutes away.  I thought I would get some sleep on the bus – but NO!  I was just to exited about the whole entire trip because this was my first time going to New York City and I was so looking forward to the adventure!IMG_8676

The bus arrived in the city at 12 noon.  It was the perfect day to walk the city!  With so much to see but first things first, I have to make my way to the Pfizer Building.  GPS in hand in Walking Mode of Transport here I go.  I will confess I got turned around for a minute but I finally found my footing and was on my way!


As I was taking in all of the sights I realized I was almost there!  The address f the Pfizer Building is 235 E. 42nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues!


Then there it was!!!  It is REALLY BIG!!!  LOL!  But I was so happy to finally be able to see it in real life!  As Exquisite Moments would have it, an employee recognized me as I was getting my photo taken in front of the billboard.  She was so excited to see one of the models live, that she rushed me into the lobby and ran upstairs to grab one of the executives in charge of the campaign.  Lo and behold, it was one of the executives that was there at the photo shoot!

As you can see I am quite happy that I finally had a chance to see the billboard live and in person!

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Fear of Getting Old (#FOGO)


How do we debunk myths and fears?  By having open and honest conversations and gathering factual information so that we can move through the fears and keep them in the proper perspective.  Pfizer conducted a recent survey and reported that over 87% of Americans have a Fear of Getting Old – hence the new Pfizer hashtag #FOGO.  I wasn’t one of the people polled, but I can certainly relate.  As I interact with individuals older than me, I hear some of their daily challenges as they try to plan financially for their extended lives and the different needs that they have during this season of their journey.  It gives me pause and reminds me that I have to be proactive about planning for the quality of life that I want to live as I age.  A lot of that has to do with how I feel about getting older and how I choose to embrace change.

How do you feel about getting old?  Visit the GET OLD website and take the #FOGO Quiz!  I took the quiz and I am the Chairwoman of the Board!  One of my #FOGO is the fear of losing my physical mobility and independence.   After you take the quiz, leave a comment with your results and share a few #FOGOs of your own.  Let’s start and continue a conversation and move forward on this journey so that we can “Fear Less. Live Longer.”

Join the Get Old Community on Facebook and Twitter!

To read more about the launch of this re-focused campaign read the New York Times article by Stuart Elliott.  Make sure you take a peak at the featured photo for the article!  Yes, that’s me – one of the #FOGO Girls!  I had an Exquisite Modeling Opportunity working on the campaign with the digital advertising team from Huge and photographer GOKATESHOOT.  The experience was a BLAST!  The article in the New York Times with the featured photo that included one of my images was the icing on the cake!  I am so excited about engaging in these conversations!










National Poetry Month – A Poem In Your Pocket – Where the Sidewalk Ends


For each day of National Poetry Month – Carry a poem in your pocket and share it with family and friends.  Today, I share with you one of my favorites…

Where the Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends

And before the street begins,

And there the grass grows soft and white,

And there the sun burns crimson bright,

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight

To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black

And the dark street winds and bends.

Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow

We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And watch where the chalk-white arrows go

To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know

The place where the sidewalk ends.

Shel Silverstein

Looking for poems to put in your pocket?  Visit


April is National Poetry Month – Dear Poet Project



In the spirit of Rainer Maria Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet, in which Rilke replies to letters from a young military cadet and aspiring poet asking for his advice, the Academy of American Poets is inviting students to engage with poetry by handwriting letters to some of the poets who serve on the Academy’s Board of Chancellors.  Please share the information below with the students in your community!

Any young person is encouraged to participate! Here’s how:

1) Read some of the poems written by the Academy’s Chancellors. Here are some suggested poems to read and respond to:

Latin & Soul by Victor Hernández Cruz

Cherry Blossoms by Toi Derricotte

Broadway by Mark Doty

[Where do words come from?]    by Vénus Khoury-Ghata,    translated by Marilyn Hacker

You and I Belong in This Kitchen    by Juan Felipe Herrera

Fall by Edward Hirsch

A Hand by Jane Hirshfield

Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye

Nothing in That Drawer by Ron Padgett

This Bridge, Like Poetry, is Vertigo    by Marie Ponsot

Comet Hyakutake by Arthur Sze

Fast-Speaking Woman by Anne Waldman

2) Compose a one to two page handwritten letter sharing your questions and thoughts about the poem with its author. (Be sure to include your age and grade, along with a return address if you hope to receive a response).

3) Send your letter to:

Dear Poet Project c/o Academy of American Poets75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901

New York, NY 10038

Select letters may receive a reply from the poet and be featured on the Academy’s website,!