I’ve seen fear-mongering in action. And I’ve seen how well it works.

The media uses fear to control the population everyday. (like you didn’t already know that)

And with that idea ruminating around in my brain I thought I’d give fear-mongering a try. Because #suicideisstupid and if these awful, ugly images can stay your hand for even a day, then I will be happy.

Suicide is not beautiful. It’s not poetic. ITS UGLY. It’s coughing, and snot and blood and loss of respect. It’s split flesh. It’s stains on the floor. It’s the cold side of the bed that used to be warm. Its pissing on yourself.

It’s how you will be remembered.

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#suicideisstupid

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I’ve often said that I use my art to heal and to cope with the struggles of life.

I’ve also been knows to say that photography has taught me many a life lesson.

Welllllll….for this post I’m combining the two and using my art (and this blog) to teach a lesson and to cope with a life struggle.

Folks, I’m quitting smoking. 

Don’t get too excited. I’m not. I love smoking. I’ve always had this romantic notion about the harsh pull, the smoke hitting the bottom of my lungs and the beauty of the smoke’s floating tendrils.

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I’ll miss it. I’ll miss sitting outside on the porch swing with friends having deep conversations.

I’ll miss getting FIVE FREAKING MINUTES TO MYSELF WHEN MY CHILDREN ARE DRIVING ME UP THE WALLS. 

I’ll miss using it as an excuse to have secret conversations.

I’ll miss all of it.

But my time has come and gone and since I’m thirty now I don’t heal from ailments the way I used to. My back hurts when I sit for too long. My knees ache. I don’t recover from a cold as fast as I used to. I can only imagine what my lungs look like. 

So here are some facts (facts help me see the reality and the danger of smoking):

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  • More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking since 1964, including approximately 2.5 million deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

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  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90% of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking.
  • Smoking causes many other types of cancer, including cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Urea, a chemical compound that is a major component in urine, is used to add “flavor” to cigarettes.

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  • Smokers tend to develop more lines on their face at an earlier age than non-smokers. This often makes smokers look older than they really are.
  • Cigarettes contain arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and 43 known carcinogens.
  • Smoking affects how the immune system functions by causing oxidative stress. This in turn causes DNA mutation, setting the stage for cancer and heart disease. Oxidative stress is also thought to be a contributor to the aging process. Antioxidants are nature’s way of combating the damage oxidative stress causes to the body’s cells. Smokers have less antioxidants in their blood than nonsmokers.

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  • COPD-related deaths are also primarily caused by smoking, with 90% of these deaths traced back to cigarettes.
  • Smoking can cause and is strongly correlated with emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.

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Wish me luck peons. I go about this level headed but still holding to the romantic notion of smoking.

It may take me a while to completely quit, BUT for the first time since I started smoking I actually want to quit. And for me that is a HUGE step. I want to be around for a long time. I have the most amazing life; The most coveted man, the best, most well behaved children, an awesome job, top notch friends, my farm, my blog and my garden. I am too selfish to give it all up.

Good luck to all who are fighting the good fight as well.

Poetry in non-motion. Photography and emotions. 

A long time ago, way back when I was loaded down with pimples and insecurities, I considered myself a poet. I wrote some words with feeling and others that made little to no sense at all.

Time and my weird brain have kept me from writing down my feelings. It seemed I just couldn’t put into words the way my emotions sprouted legs, jumped around and dug deep wells of sadness in my life.

With the loss of expression through writing I experienced also the loss of a tiny part of myself. The part that needs to Stretch. What can I say? I have an artist’s heart.

When I first began to edit pictures I started with what my abilities were capable of. I turned my face into a tiger. Why? Because it was easy and I didn’t know how to do anything else. But what did it mean?! Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was void of all creativity and emotion. It was my face turned into a tiger…my face….tiger. Lame.

But with the growth of knowledge in photo editing I began to see a new outlet for creativity and expression. I asked myself if it was possible for me to evoke emotion, to awaken a feeling when there was only one sense to experience it. No music to hear it, no smell to enhance it, no possible way to reach out and touch it. Only eyes to see it (with all its mistakes and imperfections) Was it possible? Once I was able to grasp the ability, yes, it was possible. My mind went wild with the possibilities.

I began to look at emotion in a new way. If feelings were a tangible thing, what would they look like? My editing took a new turn in that moment. And my pictures started to look a little like this:

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Title: “But he loves me”

I made this to bring to light the horrible truth about domestic violence.
And this:

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Title- “Vanity”

I made this because I have three daughters. And I know first hand how the media makes women feel like they aren’t good enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. I want more than that for my girls.

I had a new goal. To inspire with my work. To make one think deeper. To force feelings to bubble to the surface, whether they be love, anger or inspiration.

I challenge all to take a deeper look into your own weird brain and see what is in there. Poke around for a bit. You might find something hidden in there. Something amazing!

The reasons why. Welcome to my brain.

*Stands up*

“Hi, My name is Jake and I was wrong”

I was that person, stubborn and uninformed, stuck on film photography like I was holding a piece of the past in my fingers. I’d scoff at those “Digitals” walking around like zombies, eyes glued to the screen of their bulky camera’s, missing great shots left and right. Because with a film camera, (in my case, a Nikon Fm3a 35mm beauty) you aren’t stuck scrolling through your shots. It’s a simpler life with film; spot, focus, press shutter, thumb lever, done! I thought, then, that I was holding myself to a higher standard. Dare I say, I thought i was better than them. Ha!
Until one day……
I was introduced to the world of photo editing through a friend. A magical thing. A new toy. A new way to look at pictures. A whole other side to photography I had never even touched! I was enamored with the idea. I could put horns on someones head? Give them purple eyes? I could take ideas from my head and make them real? Shareable even? Sign me up!

Off to the camera store I went and bee-lined for the Nikon section and settled on a D5000. I was amazed at just how many pictures you could take on a digital camera and how fast it was! No more waiting for film to develop!

Want to see the very first picture I ever took with film?

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Not bad huh? When you eliminate all the graininess from the scan it’s actually quite beautiful.

And my first picture ever taken on a digital camera:

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Beautiful! I was sold.

Besides the quickness and versatility of digital there was the concept of editing. Once I mastered just how to take good quality pictures with the D5000 (which took a whopping day and a half) I was off to learn editing. I downloaded Gimp and spent hours and hours learning the craft (It did not take me a day and a half). And five years later I’m still learning things with every photo I edit. Now I rock a Nikon D7100 and three editing programs! Iv’e come a long way but I still have so much to learn. I will never set limits by calling myself a master.

Editing pictures for me is a safe way to express myself. I am a mother of three daughters. I live a safe, stable and dare I say, boring life. I don’t have the time or inclination to do drugs or engage in illegal activities. I like the safe life. But with it comes the proverbial Inner-teenage-rebel. We all have one. Don’t lie. When you see a girl (or boy) with the same outfit as you, don’t you just want to go buy one that stands out more? When your boss (or other superior) barks out an order it’s your inner-teenage-rebel that forces thoughts of mutiny into your head.

I live with this ITR a lot, simply because I am always following rules and doing things the safe way. For my family. Creating beautiful works of art that speak, provoke anger, make people think, is my way of expressing the rebel that lives inside me. I create these photo transformations for myself (Mostly because no one will pay me for photoshop madness. They only pay me for boring pictures *gag*) and because nothing feels better than looking at a side-by-side before and after of a photo creation.

Here is one of my very first edits. It’s crude and full of mistakes. Kinda like myself!

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Oh how far Iv’e come! Thank you for joining me on this journey as I learn more techniques into photo editing and making new art. I hope you enjoy the view from inside my head (I heard it’s very squishy in there and painted with pastels)