I spent some time volunteering with the Southern Tier Running Club‘s youth club SOAR at their monthly kids fun run providing photography. It is always nice to see all the kids, parents, coaches, and SOAR athletes that come out for these fun community events. Enjoy the photos.
I may have met many of my friends through running but we are all so much more than runners. For me I am among other things a photographer. One of my friends I’ve met through running works in one of the most challenging fields you can, mental health. She puts on what I consider a very important community event. This year I was fortunate enough to be a part of this event again. I am always happy to find ways to use my talents to support our local community.
Walk a Mile in my Shoes is a community wide suicide awareness event held in Elmira, NY. This year was the 13th year this event has been held. Over 2,000 people attended this event to show their support for suicide prevention and awareness.
This is a truly moving event to be part of. Seeing so many people coming together to recognize the importance of such an important issue. So many people are affected by issues surrounding mental health either directly or indirectly. I am sure we all know someone who has experienced difficulties with mental health, and maybe we don’t even know that we do. This community event helps to show that there are people out there that support anyone who is experiencing difficulties with mental health.
Community events like Walk A Mile In My Shoes will help to break the stigma that unfortunately continues to exist around mental health. Mental health is something we need to talk about all the time. It is something that we need to make easy to discuss. That way when people struggle they can easily come forward and receive the help they need. It is sad that it often takes an act of courage to come forward to address mental health issues because of the way our society can treat those who are suffering the most.
I have learned a lot from people who have worked in fields related to mental health and from those who struggle with mental health.
Mental Health is a difficult subject to talk about. Despite my years of study and times spent with others on the front lines it really doesn’t seem to get easier.
I usually consider myself a pretty good writer and think that I can find the words I want especially regarding topics that are important to me or that I am knowledgeable and this is both. But still the right words are not there to convey the importance of this topic and the importance of this event to our community.
This event is simply a powerful and emotional experience. To see so many people come together who have shared perspective. People who have shared experiences. People who know how important just that one word or just that one person for support is. It is truly moving.
I am glad we have people in our community who know the importance of mental health and people who show up to support mental health awareness.
Since I began training for my 50K in the beginning of January I have yet to run any trails. Trail running is my favorite kind of running and my training is to prepare me for a trail marathon and then a 50K, so I have really been itching to get on the trails. So far timing or weather or any other of life’s many variables have conspired to keep me from trails.
Going into this week 6 of the training plan long run I really wanted to get out on a trail to run. The weather had not really cooperated with multiple days of snow into mid week. But I really wanted to run trails. Then life circumstances really started hitting home and I really just felt like I needed to get out into nature. Nature is where I can find my peace and maybe just escape from life for a while. It is what I needed. So I doubled down on my desire to hit the trails today.
Normally on a long run in the winter I would were some running tights, but aparently life prevented me from having any of those clean. I have a pair of windpants that I can run in that have a light mesh lining to them and I figured would be perfect for the temperature and at least keep me warm. So I geared up and went out to my favorite local trail spot at Trnaglewood Nature Center.
My assumption was that Tanglewood is a pretty popular outdoor destination locally. I assumed that people would have been on the trail over the past few days so that the snow would be a little packed down and more runnable. And that is where it started to bite me in that ass. I always think I have learned my lesson about assuming. You know the saying when you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME. Well I sure began to feel like an ass once I began running.
There had been almost no one on the trails. Miscalculation number 1. Especially not on the trails I wanted to be on. I was pushing through fresh 6+ inch snow with every step. I was wearing my Altra Lone Peak 3.0’s that I love but they were no help in that level of snow. There was no traction to be had. The snow was so deep every step was over my ankles. Every step pushed snow up into my open pant legs of the wind pants. Miscalculation number two. Thank goodness I did have the good sense to where nice warm and tall Smartwool winter socks. Also since the snow was pushing up into my pants and the pants had a mesh liner the snow was powdery enough at first to just pass through the mesh liner. Once the snow got between the mesh liner and the outer layer of the pants it compressed and did not come back out through the mesh. I stopped to try to get it out but that was not happening. The snow just built up inside the bottom of the pant legs. Miscalculation number three. By the end of the run it was like trying to run in the snow with ankle weights on.
I am glad I went out with the intent of taking some photos and getting some time lapse footage or I may have given up sooner. Having something else to focus on other than the inability to run helped me to want to stay out there longer. And I did get some decent footage.
It is odd how something can both be a bad experience and a good experience at the same time. Thinking about this experience as a run and it was terrible. It was a grind and miserable at times. But when I think about it as a nature experience it was nearly perfect. I was out in nature experiencing something pretty unique for me, pushing through fresh snow and taking photos. As a nature experience it was something I needed. My dog just died and I needed to get outside and connect with nature and feel some connection and try to let the tension melt off me. This was the experience I needed. It was not the run I wanted or hoped for but it was the therapeutic nature experience that I needed to help me cope with life.
There was really nothing about this trail run that was normal. The snow slowed me to basically a walk at times, especially on hills. The deep snow made finding footing difficult. I couldn’t tell if my footfalls would be on trail or on flat ground. I spent much of the time fitting the edge of the trail being of balance. Tanglewood is a place I love to run at in part because I am so familiar with it. I have been there to hike and run dozens and dozens of times. However, on this occasion the snow also made the trail in general difficult to see. The trail was so difficult to see at times that I couldn’t tell if I was even on the trail during the course of my adventure. I found myself stopping multiple times and looking around trying to figure out if I was still on the trail or not. I could not really tell. I looked around slowly searching for trail markers. It really slowed me down in my progress on the trails but I did eventually find the trail markers and succeed in getting back on the trail.
I kind of think of this as a metaphor for life. In life unexpected and unfamiliar circumstances can blind you to your usual path. The path that you are so comfortable with you can follow blindfolded. But this new life experience has thrown you for a loop and no you are struggling to find your way. So, if you find yourself stuck by some unexpected life circumstances and you are struggling to find your footing or you can’t see the path your life normally follows anymore, stop and take your time. Get your bearings. Look around and find those trail markers that will guide you back to your path and help you find your way. Look to those friends and family members that have always been there for you and count on them to get you back on your feet and help you find your way again.
Art makes up a huge swath of our lives. Art is present in ways that we may not even think about. The TV shows and the movies we watch involve untold numbers of artists working in a variety of ways so that we can enjoy those products. Writers, actors, directors, photography, and digital artists just to name a few work together to bring these things to us. The books we read are works of art. That giant billboard with the cool text and photography that is also art.
Then there are the more traditional works of art we think of: Painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, poetry. These are the kinds of things most people think of when we talk about art and there are many more items that can be included in that list. Many of us enjoy art in its various forums from museums, to art galleries, to public performances. Most of the people who support art also want to support art and the artists that create it.
One of the most challenging thing in these times is figuring out how exactly to best do that. How do we support the arts that we love? Many artists offer their works for sale, but that can be problematic for many reasons. The price of artwork varies from reasonably affordable to something most people could never afford. I am not criticizing anyone’s pricing of artwork. It is just a complication in the art world. You may really love a piece of art but there may be no way you could ever afford to buy the piece you love and enjoy, so how do you show your support to the artist and show your appreciation for their work? Another challenge that arises with works of art is that they take up space. Some of them a lot of space. Perhaps there is a piece of art you love and could afford but were in your house would you put it? Thi can be quite a challnge. If you love art or perhaps are an artist yourself you probably already have a great deal of art in your home. So, if you can’t buy a piece because you have no place to put it how do you support the artist and show your appreciation for what they do?
There is clearly no easy answer to the conundrum of how to best support artists directly. However, for me there is one process that I have found that I really like and that is the website Patreon. This is a great site for creators. People who enjoy creative endeavors can go here and support artists and other creatives directly. People can interact with the creators and enjoy becoming part of the process and even earn rewards for supporting the creators. My goal is to become increasingly involved here and support the people whose work I enjoy through this site.
I believe this website solves some of the biggest problems I raised above regarding supporting artists through buying their work as I mentioned above. You can contribute as little as $1 up to any amount you want on a monthly basis to help support what the creator is bringing into the world. Thus helping to ensure that the creator is able to keep on working. If you want to support an artist but can’t or don’t want to plunk down the whole amount of the price for a piece of artwork all at one time perhaps consider spreading that amount out over monthly payments to support that artist.
I have been becoming increasing active on Patreon. I really think this is the future of art. I try to share more and more about what I have been doing there so that people who might wish to support me can learn about what I do. I recently began to receive support from my first patrons on the website and it is a great feeling to know that people believe in you and want to contribute directly to the work you are doing. I appreciate the support so much. If you enjoy what you see on this blog or elsewhere on the website or my social media please consider supporting me here: KRNaturalPhoto/Patreon
I’ll see everyone at the Southern Tier Running Club Pie and Glove 5k tomorrow. Enjoy the race. I’ll be there to capture the event on camera and share it with you all. You will be able to find race photos on my website. They should be up by the weekend at the latest. Please let me know what you think of them and share links to your favorite photos with your friends. You can also order prints or digital downloads of your favorite photos.
For anyone who was unable to visit and enjoy the opening of my joint art exhibit with my dad here are some photos I was able to take during the show.
I tried to capture a few long exposure photos to show people moving through the exhibit space.
The images themselves didn’t come out as well as I had hoped but trying to capture some photos and mingle with guests was more challenging than I had anticipated.
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