We The People of Hope and Healing

We The People of Hope and Healing

“Love and respect are both verbs.”

When I drove up to the home that Jenn and Regina share, I was struck by the beautiful welcome they create for people… from the “Love Lives Here” sign, to the rainbow colored flag showing off each color as the wind orchestrated its movement and the vibrant gardens they created. There was even a hen house. “They nourish us everyday with the gift of their eggs and we so appreciate and respect them.” They have truly created a sanctuary of gentle harmony to help defuse the stress they face day in and day out.

Jenn is a pulmonary nurse at Temple and they presently have the highest number of Covid 19 cases in our city. Regina is a nurse at Penn Presbyterian’s Medical -Oncology unit. When they return home each day, shoes are bleached outside and scrubs taken off immediately to be washed. The most difficult of days are met with a shared understanding and a deep abiding love between them which restores each to go back and continually give to the sickest among us. 

Because there was so much color and life giving energy at their home, I found myself with so many images that I wanted to use to convey their spirits. They themselves have colorful tattoos with special meanings… a praying mantis for mindfulness, a koi fish swimming upward through many struggles, a reminder to not give up despite the hardships life may bring. I incorporated a red rose to symbolize the love that goes out to many. White and red flowers from their garden, the rainbow flag and the LOVE sign from their property. They also live close to Valley Green (most appropriately named) where they go to walk so I used the greenery, and a “sit for a while and enjoy” bench there to convey the beauty, peace and stillness they receive from nature. 

This virus has unearthed our “fault lines”, exposing the vast inequities experienced across race, cultural and socio-economic lines. People of color are our greatest number of victims being hospitalized in the city. I used the Philadelphia Mural at Pennsgrove Street (unable to find the title and artist) and the one entitled, Peace is A Haiku Song by Joshua Sarantitis to show young Black girls surrounded by doves and cranes symbolizing hope for a new day. May wisdom and respect come forth to right and rewrite the policies that are so needed to be put in place in our country, starting with health care. WE the people! All of us together. These nurses of such compassion and dedication are making a huge difference for those hospitalized and marginalized. They have known the hardships of discrimination. They are an inspiration to me as they live out their dedication, respect for humanity and the earth, and their compassion to walk with others at this very difficult time, putting themselves at risk. They have shown me that both LOVE and RESPECT are definitely verbs! Let us add “Equality in place of discrimination to that list of verbs as well. 

#Pennmedicine  #Templehealthcare  #phillystrong #pandemicportraits#pandemichero  #essentialworkers

We The People of Hope and Healing Portrait 7

We The People of Hope and Healing

“Birth is the epicenter of women’s power”. Ari DiFranco

At a time when we are given a daily death count in the US, Liza Slauch RN is working tirelessly to help bring life forth. She is a labor and delivery nurse at Riddle Memorial Hospital and a Mother/Baby nurse at Chester County Hospital. 
“Covid has changed the birthing experience for our mothers but in return, it’s given us more time to spend with them so they feel cared for and calm during such an uncertain and scary time. It’s hard for them to be there without their families and significant others so we try very hard to be their biggest support during this monumental time.”
This just points to the huge heart Liza has and her wanting to bring all within. 

She is part of a formidable couple…her husband Win drives from Oxford, Pa into Arlington VA where he has been a firefighter for years. Both are called to be there for people during the most intense moments to bring calm with their words of guidance. Liza is also a mother to two little ones, Maren and Gemma and their rescue dog, Elwood. Babies and children surround her and Liza somehow puts more into a 24 hour day than most. 

A baby forms within the womb protected by the amniotic fluid which provides nutrients, hormones and infection fighting antibodies. When birth is imminent, the water flows forth. Water is life giving. Liza is life giving. I used the flowing river in the Philadelphia Mural, “Moonlit Landscape” by Diane Keller and the words, “I Am Strong” from the mural entitled, “I Am The Atlantic by Josh Sarantitis because she reminds women of their strength day in and day out. I incorporated garden scenes, unfolding flowers and sunrise on the water. We need to be reminded that life is bursting forth into our world too. Liza is one of the first to hold that new life. She embraces hope for a new tomorrow. She is truly a hero among us. 

#Philadlephiastrong  #Wethepeople #Riddlememorialhospital
#pandemicportrait  #Philadelphiamurals #chestercountyhospital#pandemicfirstresponders

We The People of Hope and Healing – Portrait 7

We the People of Hope and Healing

“A true heart isn’t measured by the size of his strength but by the strength of his heart.” Zeus, Hercules

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Carey told me that he isn’t that religious but it is these quotes that provides him with daily inspiration. He gets strength from repeating them as he single handedly fathers two sons and is a full time “CAREgiver” for Home Instead. A friend of mine, Trish Todd, suggested that I photograph Carey for this project because he has been taking care of her mother for about a year and in her words, 
“He is wise beyond his years.”  
“He is a peaceful soul who is so kind and gentle.”
“He knows how to really listen and understand the layers behind the words.”
“Carey has an innate ability to care for others when they don’t even know they need care and he has a smile that goes right to your heart.” 
Trish’s mom also wanted me to know her thoughts:
“I just love his huge smile as he quietly goes about his tasks and never seeks the limelight. “
“He gets embarrassed by too much attention.”
“The patients always come first over his needs.”

I thought their words would be the best to give a glimpse into this gentle, quiet man’s heart and spirit. When I create a portrait, I sit in stillness and just see what message wants to be heard. Over and over, what kept coming to mind was how Carey just lifts people up…mentally, physically and emotionally. He is a sensitive companion walking with, enabling and enhancing. There is a rising up!
I used an image of a man with his arms spread wide, reaching past the building up to the sky. In one hand there is a flame. Carey’s presence is transformative. This comes from the Philadelphia mural entitled, “Metamorphosis” by Josh Sarantitis. The other image comes from a mural at 17th and Morris St. on the wall at St. Thomas Acquinas gymnasium. I was unable to find the title and the artist but I thought this fit so well because Carey goes into many homes and brings comfort to people from all backgrounds and cultures. He gathers people into his heart as the mural shows people gathered at a table. I added a lotus as the sign of enlightenment and triumph over obstacles because Carey embraces his calling to be of service to those in need. There are two hot air balloons symbolizing how encouragement and kindness lighten one’s soul. I have also included a photograph of a tapestry created by amazing women I met in Peru. The women gather and create this beautiful wall art symbolizing peace on earth – the way we hope life would be. The sale of these help their children have educational programs, healthy nutrition and health care. Carey reads to his clients, creates healthy meals and accompanies them to medical appointments. He creates life as we hope it to be… another quiet but powerful hero among us.

#healthcareworkers  #philadelphiastrong  #philadelphiaproud
#homeinstead  #pandemicportraits

We The People of Hope and Healing Portrait 5

We The People Of Hope and Healing

“The eyes are the windows to the soul.”
William Shakespeare

These days, with gowns, masks and gloved hands, the eyes hold the sacredness of connection. When I photographed Bethany, she was covered from head to toe in protective gear but when I looked into her eyes, I could see the smile she was making behind her mask. The eyes are the windows to the soul and Bethany’s soul has an exuberant, etherial presence. She started out as a recreational therapist and was close to finishing her graduate work, when to her parents’ amazement, Bethany told them she had changed her mind and wanted to study nursing. She felt called to have the physicality with the patients in the hospital. Fast forward to the present…Bethany is a mom to Anna and Luke. Her husband Andrew is finishing up his doctoral dissertation. Kay, her mother-in-law, a few miles away is presently and courageously on hospice care AND several times a week, Bethany gets up before 4 am, drives one and a half hours to Penn Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. She works a 12 hour shift on the medical surgical unit and then drives one and a half hours home. If I just woke up after surgery, I would be thrilled to have Bethany by my side. She has joined forces with other nurses in her town to try to get much needed face masks for protection. On her front porch is a large box and her neighbors drop off food for Oxford SILO (Serving, Inspiring and Loving Others). She volunteered to be the point person! Kindness definitely attracts kindness. When I asked Bethany what she did for herself during these difficult times, she told me that she goes for long walks and just that day, someone left a box of homemade fudge for her by a tree that she goes by. The smile in Bethany’s eyes comes from all the love she shares with so many. When I first contacted her to photograph, she wanted to give me many others who “do so much more than I do.”….I was thrilled when she finally relented!

To capture that selfless and ethereal love that Bethany so generously gives, I used the stained glass windows from the Philadelphia Mural entitled, “Amplify” by Benjamin Volta. Bethany’s presence is one of a spirited peace that is contagious. Paper cranes are becoming known around the world as a tangible prayer for peace. These colorful cranes are from the mural, “Peace is a Haiku Song” by Parris Stancell and Josh Sarantitis. The white and yellow flowers symbolize her purity of heart and her life giving energy. I inserted the sunrise because Bethany truly lives in the moment and gives her all each day. I wanted this to be posted on Mother’s Day because this mother of two took the shift of another nurse who is a first time mom, allowing her to be home to celebrate. May this be a gift back. She connects heaven to earth and certainly inspired me. Bethany Atkinson, RN is truly an unsung hero among us. 

#Philadelphiaproud  #Philadelphiastrong  #heroamongus
#PennPresbyterianhealthcare  #pandemicphotographs
#heroportraits #nursesonthefrontline

We The People of Hope and Healing – Portrait 4

We The People of Hope and Healing

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

Spending time with Elena let me know I was in the presence of someone who had the courage of a warrior combined with a gentle and beautiful tenderness. Humble strength radiated from her presence. Elena had the stirrings of the call to nursing from the time she was a young girl. Her mother was dying of AIDS and Elena was trying so hard to coax life to stay. In the end, her mother’s spirit needed to leave her limiting body. Without a parent, Elena had to now adjust to institutional living – far too many challenges for someone so young but hearts found each other as they wondrously do. Arms opened and a new family was formed. Elena took the last name of Granito. Through the years, nursing was always whispering to her and she listened, following her heart. She is now at a threshold awaiting to complete her nursing boards. What started out as one of the most difficult challenges has now brought her home. She is grounded in the vocation of caring for the sick. She is the true definition of resiliency. 

Elena is presently working at Abington-Jefferson hospital. There have been many drives home where the tears have flowed. Waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping, this is what Elena and so many other nurses and doctors are living within.

For this portrait, I included a beautiful wave from the Philadelphia Mural, “I Am The Atlantic” by Josh Sarantitis. One can be crushed by the waves or one can ride it. Elena has faced the wildness as each wave came at her and tried to throw her off course and pull her down, but she has masterfully risen above and rode them home. The cranes are from the murals, “Longevity Through The Arts” by Ann Northrup and “Peace is a Haiku Song” by Parris Stancell and Josh Sarantitis. In many cultures, the crane symbolizes happiness and blessings. I incorporated the sky for expansiveness and a yellow flower symbolizing new beginnings. As Elena prepares to take her boards and plan a wedding, may beauty and blessings be hers as she gives so much to so many others. 

#AbingtonJeffersonHealth  #Wethepeople  #philadelphiastrong#pandemicphotographs  #heroamongus #nursesstrong  #covid19portraits

We The People of Hope and Healing – Portraits

We The People Of Hope and Healing

“The light alone –
Gives grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream.” 
Percy B. Shelley

Mike (name changed) was a man of the open road. He so loved riding his motorcycle and feeling the winds of freedom. In an instant, his freedom was taken from him. Mike broke his neck in an accident and is now a paraplegic. Something as simple as scratching his nose is impossible to do. Mike recognizes the sound of Phil’s footsteps and always calls to him. They talk about everything from cars to sports to world events. Phil told me how much that means to him – that Mike listens for him to come. No outside visitors are allowed into the nursing home. Mike is alone…until Phil comes. There are over 100 patients ranging in age from 18 to 80. Approximately half are on ventilators and yes, like so many other nursing homes, there have been deaths from Covid 19. Short staffing leads to 13 hour shifts where this gentle giant of a man brings care and comfort to those unable to move on their own and who are alone. 
Being with Phil, it was so obvious to me that he loves what he does. This is truly a calling for him. In trying to capture his spirit, I went back to the words, “Listening for the sounds of his footsteps” and thought of the sunrise. Nights can be some of the hardest and loneliest hours to get through- just hearing Phil’s steps would seem to be like the morning sun …the light coming up slowly, breaking through the darkness as the sound of his steps increasingly grow louder. I included white flowers because Phil’s heart is so pure. The drawing of the man in his cape is from a Philadelphia Mural by Felix St. Fort. Besides providing the grounding for #Philadlephiastrong, I chose this to convey the fact that Phil knows exactly what he is going into each day. Not only does he face it head on, he brings a true sense of humanity. We are called to do and be so much more during this time and Phil Ryan CNA has definitely listened with his soul. 

#wethepeople  #Philadelphiamurals  #pandemicphotographs  #heroamongus

We The People of Hope and Healing

In honor of Nurse’s Day, I wanted to share two wonderful people who are both nurses as well as husband and wife. 

We The People of Hope and Healing

Usually I begin with a quote but after being with Staci and Brian, it was only one word that echoed in my mind as we talked. 
There would be no other word to capture the tenderness of the love they share with each other and their son, Jason. Love is meant to be given away and that they do so well. It is what they bring to their patients at Abington-Jefferson Hospital. Together they have more than 37 years of nursing. Staci is on the Vascular Access Team and Brian is a nurse on the Float Pool which means that he is now working mostly with Covid 19 patients. Brian related that he has never seen so much dying in all of his years of nursing. Those words had such an unnerving and powerful rippling effect. It called for us to just pause and we all just stood there in a profound silence of understanding. As of last weekend, there were so many patients with Covid in the hospital. Putting themselves at risk day in and day out, 12 hour shifts and working within a health care system so in need of more gowns and face masks, speaks even more to how dedicated they are to the science and art of healing. 

Love takes many forms. It releases and helps one rise in their beauty. It holds tenderly and nurtures so I chose the open hand and the releasing of butterflies from the Philadelphia Mural, “Metamorphosis” by Josh Sarantitis. Red flowers symbolize love and white flowers against a beautiful sky for renewal. I added fireworks because in an instant the darkest of nights can be transformed with brilliant light. Together, their love is truly a brilliant light! I can only imagine how darkness is lifted when Brian and Staci walk into a patient’s room. Can we make this the year of the nurses!…a day just doesn’t do it!

#heroamongus  #philadelphiahealthcare  #philadelphianurses #pandemicportraits

We The People of Hope and Healing

“We The People Of Hope and Healing”

My thanks to Frank Staffieri for allowing me the honor of photographing and creating his portrait. Frank is a respiratory therapist. Breath is life so I incorporated the flowing Tree of Life (The piece from the Philadelphia mural “Neighborhood Interfaith Movement” by David Woods and Paul Downie), the expansiveness of the sky and fields of flowers. The colorful bouquet symbolizes the profoundly simple moment of being able to breathe in the sweetness of fragrance, as calm flows through spirit. While this virus seeks to rob people of their breath, Frank’s life is dedicated to helping others breathe in life deeply. He is in a constant battle now and he keeps on… keeps on…keeps on. With much gratitude Frank.
#herosamongus  #Philadelphiamurals  #Wethepeople #pandemicportraits

We The People of Hope and Healing

“We The People Of Hope and Healing”

We The People of Hope and Healing

“He who says, ‘I know no fear’ is no hero.
No man knows courage unless he does know fear and
Has that in him which is supreme to fear and conquers it.” 
Lyman Abbott
The Theology of an Evolutionist

I am in awe of so many now and for the first part of this project, I want to live in the spirit of Namaste to the medical and emergency personal 
Their forward motion, pushing back the fear
At the forefront and in the trenches
Putting their lives in jeopardy while fighting for life to be victorious.

I wanted to capture the unseen and the intangible
To capture their expansive, truly courageous and life affirming spirit within – that which keeps these men and women going on this forward trajectory
Their very presence is healing grace
The sky symbolizes breath and expansiveness
Flowers, trees, flowing waters convey a profound belief in the power of renewal. 
Within each portrait, there will be a small image from one of the Philadelphia Murals as an echo of “We The People” – words spoken so long ago by those fighting another war and providing the very foundation of our country. This portrait contains the dove of peace from the “Neighborhood Interfaith Movement” and the artists are David Woods and Paul Downie.

My special thanks to the Gefen family for all they are doing and allowing me the great honor to photograph. If anyone knows someone in the Philadelphia area in the medical field and would possibly allow me the opportunity to create their portrait, ( from a distance!) could you message me? The final piece will be put to music and include all of the images as a way to honor and express profound gratitude. 

#heroesinourtime  #Wethepeople  #Phillystrong  #Philadelphiamurals #Pandemicportraits

New York Times Travel Show 2020

On January 25th, the line grew by leaps and bounds as 10 am approached. Pouring rain outside was replaced by excited anticipation. During the next two days, over 35,000 people mingled with over 700 exhibitors from more than 176 countries at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. This is the largest trade and consumer show held in N. America and my press pass is coveted! My addiction to travel and learning about the ways of the world is totally satiated here!

New York Times Travel Show

Decisions, decisions…trying to choose from the 280 speakers covering major developments in travel, saving money, traveling to 52 places in a year, gear to make life easier, travel blogging and what is becoming very important for many of us – traveling beyond the selfie: sustainability, responsibility and innovation…so many choices, so little time!

I was taking notes furiously and have so much to share and will do it over several posts so as not to overwhelm you! First off, Pauline Frommer never disappoints with her “Top Lists”. She suggests the following sites for best airfares:

Skiplagged.com Momondo.com Skyscanner.net

Timing is everything when booking. It is best to book on a Sunday, four weeks before travel for a 17% savings. If one books on a Friday, the price could go up by 12%. The best days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday (except to destinations primarily for leisure travelers). Do your research on one computer and book from another due to cookies and being tracked.

Frommer also mentioned the high fees airlines are charging for every little detail: American Airline is $1.22 billion, United is $889 million, Delta comes in at $788 million, Spirit has charged $638 million and Frontier is coming in as the lowest in fees $366 million. This information was gleaned from Consumer Reports.

Overtourism is a huge concern. In 2017, people in Europe started the outcry that their homes were being overtaken by tourists. Daily life was becoming increasing a thing of the past due to the influx of people and the instagram craze at every turn. Pauline presented alternatives to visit, giving major tourist areas a break. Basilicate, Emilis-Romagna and Puglia could be beautiful vistas similar to Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast. Girona, Figures, Roses rather than Barcelona. Belize or Panama are not as overcrowded as Costa Rica. The Faroe Islands could be a spot to visit similar to Iceland. The Similan Islands are an alternative to Maya Bay. Visit Komodo and give Bali a break. Rather than Machu Picchu, a visit could be made to Ausungate Trek and finally Rovijn would be similar to a visit to Dubrovnik.

If you would like to have a guide when you travel to a new site, here are the top recommendations: Getyourguide, Viator, Tourscanner, Tiquets, Airbnb.com/experiences, Traveling-spoon, Eatwith.

If booking a hotel, here are Frommer’s recommendations:

Hotelscombined.com Kayak.com Booking.com. She also cautioned people to understand the psychological games played on sites when they say the number of people looking at the site right then and there with only few choices left. If interested in finding rentals: Airbnb.com Homewaway.com Zonder.com Flipkey.com VRBO.com

Last but not least is making sure your hard earned money is not lost if something comes up. The best markets to buy insurance from according to Frommer are: Squaremouth.com , Insuremytrip.com, travelinsurance.com.

Digital Sweatshirt “I Love NY”

So much more to come but hopefully, you will find this information helpful and be able to tuck the resources away until you are ready to follow your wanderlust across the globe! Jamie Lyn Beatty said, “Adventures fill your soul.” …and the New York Times Travel Show certainly will get your heart beating and your soul ready to soar.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Marilyn would play her harp while receiving chemo treatments.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, focusing on strength, fearlessness and coming together. In my book, “Living Namaste Photography and Spoken Word Poetry“, I wrote about Marilyn who embraced all of these characteristics and so much more because she touched my life in such a profound way. While receiving chemo, she played her harp for all and created such calmness for everyone. Here is the excerpt from the book and here’s to you Marilyn!

Harp and Soul

The monitor’s flashing lights



Stared at as if it was the judge and jury

On the verge of the verdict

A pronouncement of fate

All the while the machine scans take control

Beep after Beep

Drip after drip

Can chemo be convicted of a murder charge

Please God

Kill the cancer within

Each person around the room

So many stories to speak

Hearts yearning for those once

Incidental moments of

Ordinary life

Now Grown extraordinary in scope

Lifelines of hope

Intimacy and sterility

Each has been touched

Tested Scanned and cut

With scars left to heal

Similarities and differences

References and preferences

Fear and fight

Courage not cancer must survive

Must have might to see the light

A woman in the chemo room

Tubes and drips

Connected and grounded and yet


A gentle spirit

A musician of the heart

Soul soothing sounds unbound

The freed notes float with a whisper of hope

The mystical magic streaming from her harp

The tremor of a string to calm

The tremors caused by fear

Comforting held so dear

The musician

The patient

The healer as one

Thinking of others

The gifting to others

The lifting of others

I bow to you my teacher


Your divine life a work of art

Inspiring us all to do our part

Create a melody of sanctuary and shelter

A presence so soothing and soul centered

Harmony and healing.

Ode To Summer, 2019

For most of my life, I have spent summers at the Jersey shore…Sea Isle City specifically. As these days of summer are fading away, I wanted to stop time for a bit and capture a place I hold near and dear to my heart because it has given me so much. I wanted something different from what I usually do so I loved capturing the sites with my drone. I hope you enjoy it! Just click on the link below.


The Irish Cemetery Sunday

Graves from the 18th century

While I was in Ireland, I was fascinated with all things castles, cottages and cemeteries. They hold the spirits of greatness, intimacy and connections. Since my DNA was gifted to me from those born in Ireland many years before, there was a strong pull to the cemeteries. (It is said that my ancestor was King Brian Boru but I will save the castles for another time!). The cemetery was where I could stand on the dark sacred ground joined in some way with those who came before me. In quiet, I could connect and try to hear the stories being whispered into my soul.

18th Century Graves

On our first full day in Donegal, the rain was pelting and pouring down with the wind whipping. We were staying with Joe and Noreen McFadden, two of the most wonderful people you could ever meet who could write the definitive book on Irish Hospitality As A True Art Form! They told us that this was Cemetery Sunday. A first for me since I never heard of it before growing up in the states. Throughout Ireland, each Catholic Church that has a cemetery attached chooses one Sunday in the year to hold an outdoor mass and those with deceased family members buried there come together to honor, remember and reconnect. Did we want to come? I couldn’t think of anyplace I would rather be!

Cars lined up for miles in Donegal, Ireland

The teeming rain was no match for the love and dedication of the people. Cars were backed up for miles to park. Once in, the greyness of the cemetery was enlivened with the colors of flowers and umbrellas. Each person would decorate the family grave and stand by the headstone during the mass. If someone knew that a family member would be away and there would be no one to tend to a grave, others made sure they would decorate and stand in. The beautiful bouquets were not only in the flowers but also in the offered kindness of others. Through the music, prayers and affection shown, this bit of earth was transformed into a sanctuary of an invisible, unending communion. The cycle and connectedness of life were palpable as the fathers’, mothers’, sisters’ and brothers’ stories were told and as the living stood with the dead.

People making sure each grave has flowers.
People stand through downpours to honor loved ones.
Hundreds honor their loved ones in the midst of pouring rains.
Gathering After The Mass

All during the mass, people were huddled together in support and then gathered together after it was over. As I was photographing the groups of people, I looked up to see a young man who had walked up to the end of the cemetery. The wind and rain were pelting but he was just looking out onto the sea, alone with his thoughts. It was all so striking to me…the rhythm of accompanying and letting be, the need to gather together and then the need for each person to go off and in the aloneness, try to hear the love being whispered into their soul. I had never experienced anything like it and yes, there was no other place I would have wanted to be.

Silent Reflection

PS…Lorla and James, you could also co-author the book! Heartfelt thanks!

Living Namaste: Spoken Word Poetry and Photography

How our new book has been waiting for this moment in time!

Book Cover

As a young girl, I always was enamored with the ways of the world. I was fascinated by people who did not look like me, who celebrated different festivals and who lived lives in far off places.

Then transformative events happened within the magic of Christmas day, the day we celebrate light and new life. When I was 13, my Aunt and Uncle gave me a subscription to National Geographic. I was the only one in the family who ever received a magazine subscription as a gift. How did they ever know their choice would have such a profound impact on my life?

Three years later on Christmas morning, my Mother gave me my first “real” camera. With 5 children, money for gifts was tight but somehow she found a way. She knew how much I hoped for it and how much it meant to me. This woman, my mother was truly my Auntie Mame, Pied Piper and Peter Pan all rolled into one. She (and my strong, quiet father) gave me the security of deep roots while encouraging me to spread my wings, try new things and go to new places. For years on Wednesday nights, my parents would invite anywhere from 10 – 25 people into our home for dinner. My mother told me that the work would always be there but the people wouldn’t and the more the merrier! One of the greatest gifts my parents gave to me was the name of Frances. It was my dad’s idea to name me after my mother. Within my name also lies my calling. I only had my parents for 26 years and now I find myself trying to honor my mother’s legacy of welcoming and connecting, generously giving while living life with openness, appreciation and exuberance. I try to live up to my name but she set the bar high! My mother gave me my first camera so it has become very important to me to do as much good as possible with my photography. All of this has woven its way into the desire for this book to make its appearance to the world today on June 15th – what would have been my mother’s birthday and also on the weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. I hope my work makes them proud!

We are surrounded by images of violence and words that belittle and divide. Alysa and I wanted to counter that with images and poetry that hopefully would uplift and honor humanity. I have been so fortunate because no matter where I travel to my experience has always been that of kindness and acceptance from the people I have met around the world. A heart felt inspiration called me to reflect upon the first words spoken. Greetings from around the world are both powerful and beautiful and if we allow those words to enter deeply into our consciousness, we honor the space between. There is harmony and the experience becomes poetry. I started living in the spirit of Namaste and it has totally changed my life. A practice so simple and yet so profound. We both put pen to paper and birthed, “Living Namaste – Spoken Word Poetry and Photography sharing life lessons and wisdom. It would be our hope that the words and images cross borders and boundaries to bridge and heal. Therefore, partial proceeds from the book will be given to Doctors Without Borders and The Untours Foundation. We have also made the decision not to post our book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.com because that would add $7 more to the cost of each book. We would rather have money going to the charities and keep “Living Namaste” affordable. We are hoping that people will enjoy the book enough to spread it’s existence by word of mouth so that we do not need the Amazon platform.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the journey of this creation from the heart. If you would be interested in purchasing, here is the link:


By A Beer, F Schwabenland

Amish Mud Sale, 2019

Amish Buggies For Sale

Each year in Lancaster, Pa. the bond between the Amish, the locals and the firemen can be witnessed. Starting on the last Saturday of February, each township holds sales and auctions in order to raise the much needed money for the local fire company. It is community caring at its best. These events run into April and with weeks of spring precipitation, the mud follows and hence the name “Mud Sale”!

Hand in Hand

The Amish live very simply without technology and electricity. They are a very close, traditionalist Christian based community. Their dress is very plain and they travel by horse and buggy, trains and boats but never planes. The children attend school until the age of 14 when their education is complete and Rumspringa begins allowing the teens to experience technology and fashion. After two years, if they decide to get baptized they return to the simple living and begin a family. Many come from all over the world to attend these sales and be a part of a unique gathering of cultures and life styles all in the name of supporting the local fire companies.

Waiting for the Sale
Home Goods at Auction
Planning and Anticipating
Fold and Sold
Girl Huddle
Potty Seat for $2.00
The Name Fits