the technical definition of "badassery"

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 in grand style (where by "grand" I mean "exactly as you want to celebrate it").

So this week, I was getting ready to put together a playlist for January (I'm addicted to, and as I always do before I make one, I started thinking about what January feels like for me.  I have to admit: I love the beginning of the year.  It feels like a blank page of a brand new journal: full of potential, ready to become whatever I want it to be.  So as I thought more about it, I started picking songs that I felt reflected the sense of let's-go-get-'em-ness that I love about January -- and then I got so excited, I took to Twitter:


This started quite the conversation on the word "badassery."

"Badassery," mused one. "Maybe that will be my word for 2011." 

"That's the addendum to my regular resolution," said another, "live for the now and not the next & strive for badassery. Always." 

People began calling for "badassery in 2011" and a "badassery revolution." Although I was surprised at the strong response, I was pretty delighted.  Badassery in 2011, indeed.

And then one person asked if I could explain what, exactly, "badassery" meant.

Well, to be honest, when I typed the original tweet, I hadn't given it much thought about what it meant.  However,  I have since -- and I've become convinced that in fact, badassery is an absolutely noble goal to pursue.  And although the following might not be an exhaustive list, if I were to put a definition around what someone who practices badassery would be, it would go something like:

  • Someone who isn't afraid to wish good things for herself.  Someone who believes she's worthy of being happy.
  • Someone who isn't afraid to make goals, and then once those goals are made, isn't afraid of taking those first, tiny steps toward achieving those goals. 
  • Someone who realizes that taking care of himself isn't selfish or egotistical, but that sometimes you have to put the oxygen mask on first before you start helping others.
  • Someone who realizes that at his core, he's a good person.  And that given this, when he makes a mistake, maybe he should go easy on himself.
  • Someone who, when bad things happen (and make no mistake, they will happen), will not spend valuable time thinking about who did her wrong, or why the world is conspiring against her, but will instead spend that time working through it by taking care of herself, leaning on friends as necessary, asking for help when needed, and treating herself as she would a good friend going through a similar situation.  Someone who, when life knocks her down, does what she can to pick herself up, dust herself off, and try, try again. 
  • Someone who makes kindness to friends, people around him (like waiters and others in the service industry), and even strangers his primary focus; and who also takes care to surround himself and cultivate relationships with good friends who have equal focus.  Someone who is never afraid to speak his mind or his truth, but always does so with kindness.
  • And finally (and probably most predictably), someone who works hard at reframing the things that make him different, recognizing them as attributes that are sources of great beauty, and when used for good, maybe even superpowers.

Yeah.  That person? In my opinion, that person is a badass.

So here's to working toward more badassery in 2011. 

And also? Here's that playlist I was working on.  It's sort of my Soundtrack of Badassery.

And finally, while I'm at it, a new year's wish for each and every one of you:  may this year be even more than your hearts desire.

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Someone on twitter asked for a blog button proclaiming their commitment toward badassery for 2011.  So for that person (and anyone else who is so inclined), here's a button for you to pretty up your blog.  Simply copy the code next to it, insert it on your blog, and away you'll go:  you'll officially be an Ambassador for Badassery.  A Bloggy Badassery Ambassador, if you will!


<a href="" mce_href=""><img src="" mce_src="" source="blank"/></a>

love thursday: rainy walk

Alex is off of school this week; unfortunately, I am not.  So we have a deal:  she lets me work until lunchtime, and then after we eat, we do something together.  Normally that "something" is a movie (we've seen Tangled and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) or hitting our neighbourhood park.

Yesterday, however, it rained pretty much all day, so the park was out of the question.  (So was Yogi Bear.  I can only do so much, people.)  So after lunch, when the rain abated a bit, we took a walk.




I'd like to pretend that it's an inconvenience having her at home while I have work to do, but the truth is, I love it.  She's starting to go from little girl to big girl, and she's funny and smart and makes me laugh.  Hanging out with her is a wonderful way to wind down my year.



Happy Love Thursday, everyone.


Images:  Photographed with the Nikon D700 that Nikon lent me, and my 60mm micro lens.


SongAny other day by Wyclef Jean featuring Norah Jones


One of my favourite gifts I received this Christmas was Vanity Fair: Portraits -- a book featuring some of the best portraits of Vanity Fair magazine, since the turn of the 20th century.  It is a stunning book, and I have already looked at every image of every page twice.

This, combined with some really impressive images I've been seeing online recently, makes me realize that I want to push myself with my photography this year.  I want to do more than just find good ambient light and take a clean, clear portrait:  I want to experiment with light, expression, mood.

I want to play more with photojournalism:  I want to get out and see the city -- the one I live in, and the ones I visit -- and capture more of their story.

I want to take my beloved flowers and shoot them at different times of day, in different stages of bloom, of wilting.

I want to challenge myself.

I want to stretch.

(And this is as close as I think I'll get to a New Year's resolution.  Stay tuned to see how I do.)


Image:  Peony shot with my Nikon D300 and 60 mm micro lens.


SongAs by Stevie Wonder

on tightropes, pogo sticks and santa's slay

I hope you all had a fine weekend and if you celebrated, a wonderful Christmas!  Ours was great -- opened presents in the morning, and then spent the day at my parents' house, where Marcus introduced his new cocktail, the Santa's Slay.*  It was a hit:  we spent the day drinking several of them, soaking it up with a good traditional Christmas feast.  Fantastic.

Today, however, we headed over to the home of our friends, Trish and Carl and their kids.  Trish and Carl are two of our dearest friends, and over the years, we seem to have developed a tradition:  after spending the major holidays (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) with our respective families, we always spend the day after together at one of our houses, usually eating leftovers (or, as today, pizza).  It has become a wonderful way to extend our holidays, and for this and many reasons, Trish and Carl feel more like family than friends.  In fact, our kids even call each other "cousins."

Anyway, Carl happens to be a PE teacher, so anytime we go over to their house, there's always something active that is guaranteed to happen.  This time, it was all about the tightrope and the pogo sticks:






It was such a great time.




And on that note, here's wishing you a wonderful start to your week.

*  Santa's Slay:  In our house, we traditionally toast Christmas morning with mimosas (or, if you're English, a "buck's fizz") -- champagne and orange juice.  However, late Christmas Eve, we realized that we forgot to get orange juice, but we did have cranberry juice on hand.  So Marcus got to experimenting, and came up with the idea of putting a shot of golden rum in a champagne glass, then filling the glass halfway with champagne, and then the rest of the way with cranberry juice.  I asked online what people thought we should call the drink, and Wanda suggested a "Santa's Slay."  Sounded good to me.

(Incidentally, while the drink is seriously refreshing, it packs one hell of a wallop.  We didn't pick the name lightly.)

Images:  All taken with the Nikon D700 and the 16-35mm lens Nikon lent me.  So much fun.


SongFire on the bayou by The Meters

photovent 2010, day 25: beauty (and god bless us all, every one)

"Life is full of beauty.  Notice it.  Notice the bumblebee, the small child, the smiling faces.  Smell the rain, and feel the wind.  Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams."

~ Ashley Smith

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Today is my absolute favourite day of the year.  Christmas Day is awesome of course, with its feasts and presents and music and celebration, but for me, Christmas Eve is where it's at:  it feels like a day of stillness, of anticipation, of oh-my-goodness-what-Child-is-this-ness.  It's the night when kids try to fight sleep to catch a glimpse of Santa, when parents fight sleep to stay up late enough to get the presents under the tree without detection, before gratefully collapsing in their beds.

Christmas Eve is the o-holy-night. It's when everything wonderful goes down.

So, with that, I'm off to enjoy this beautiful, quiet, magical day.  A very Merry Christmas from our family to yours, my friends. 

Family Christmas card self portrait, photographed December 11, 2010.

And wherever in the world you are, whether you celebrate or not, here's wishing you all the beauty of the season.


The image at the top of this post is the 25th and last image of Photovent 2010You can download the pdf for it here.  And click here to learn how to use it to assemble a beautifully different photo garland.


Song: What Child is this (Greensleeves) as performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio

photovent 2010, day 24: give

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

~ Winston Churchill

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"What are you thinking about?"

"I'm thinking about the toys that I want for Christmas."

"Oh, I wasn't going to give you any toys for Christmas."


"I wasn't!  I figured that I would just give you tons of hugs and kisses."


"What?  I'm serious!  Are you suggesting that there is anything sweeter than my hugs and kisses?"

"Um... no?"

"I should hope not!"

"I mean, yeah! No! Of course not! I...uh... in fact... you know what I was going to ask for for Christmas?"

"What's that?"

"A jar full of your kisses.  That's all I really want."

For that quick thinking, guess who's getting a mason jar full of chocolate kisses for Christmas? And given how strict I am with candy in this house, this particular gift will blow her little mind.

(I might even give her a toy, too.)


Happy Love Thursday, everyone. 

(P.S.  Speaking of giving, did you read about my friend, Jenny?  She's so incredibly awesome.  And that's the truth.)

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The image at the top of this post is the 24th image of Photovent 2010You can download the pdf for it here.  And click here to learn how to use it to assemble a beautifully different photo garland.


SongGive it up by Amos Lee

photovent 2010, day 23: believe (and the difference between the nikon d300 and the nikon d700 in low light)

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * * * *

Christmas fast approaches, my friends.  And it dawned on me yesterday evening that I promised you some low-light shots to compare my Nikon D300 with the Nikon D700 that Nikon lent me; yet here we are, and I had yet to do it.  So for those of you who don't care about such things, please feel free to click over to The Beauty of Different blog, where I talk about the vision boards that Alex and I made this past weekend.  However, for those of you who do care about such things, read on below (and then, you know, feel free to click over). 

So yesterday evening, I took both cameras out, set the ISO to 6400 (which is the highest the ISO goes on my D300) on both cameras, attached the 16-35mm lens Nikon lent me to each, set the aperture and shutter speeds on each camera to the exactly same, and shot away at my Christmas tree in our living room window (you know, to add a festive feel to this whole experiment).  Here are the results, both completely unretouched:

The D300.


The D700.

Dude, are you seeing this?  Look at the image on top:  notice how fuzzy the image is?  Film enthusiasts would call that "graininess"; digital camera buffs call the same thing "noise."  It's very common when shooting at a high ISO number (which is typically how you would shoot an image in low light, if you didn't want to pull your flash out).

But in the bottom picture -- notice how crisp and clear that is?  This -- this -- is where the power of the D700 lies:  it does a lovely job shooting in low light (and is capable of even higher ISO numbers, up to 25,600!!). Really amazing.

So my verdict?  If, like me, you're the type of person that shoots mostly in daytime in natural light, unless you really want that full-frame sensor capturing all the scene on the periphery, you're probably fine with the D300, and spending the extra $1,000 for the D700 probably isn't worth it.  As you saw before, the difference in detail in daylight was truly undetectable (and in fact, the D300 ostensibly would be ever-so-microscopically-slightly sharper).

If, however, you plan on shooting a lot at night, or at dusk, or at, say, live concerts or other dimly-lit venues (like my incredibly talented friend Sarah-Ji does, for example), then perhaps shelling out the extra cash for the D700 might be well worth it.  Because the difference is definitely noticeable.

So there you go.  Santa only has 2 more shopping days -- better let him know ahead of time which one you'd like!

(As for me, I'm going to stick with my D300.  But I'm going to have a lot of fun with this D700 before I have to turn it back in.  Thanks so much, Nikon!)


The image at the top of this post is the 23rd image of Photovent 2010You can download the pdf for it here.  And click here to learn how to use it to assemble a beautifully different photo garland

SongChugjug by Family of the Year

photovent 2010, day 22: wonder

"We need a renaissance of wonder.  We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic."

~ E. Merrill Root

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I couldn't agree more.


The image at the top of this post is the 22nd image of Photovent 2010You can download the pdf for it here.  And click here to learn how to use it to assemble a beautifully different photo garland.


SongAll that I want by The Weepies