The Art of Gratitude in the Blogging Community

If there were one word to best describe the blogging community, it would have to be “SUPPORTIVE.” In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been bowled over time and time again by the extreme kindness, generosity, and unwavering support of fellow bloggers.

And now I’ve been knocked over once again–this time with awards from several writers whom I enjoy and respect immensely. Each brings brightness and creativity to the web, and makes blogging not only uplifting, but infinitely fascinating.

Kreativ Blogger awardDeborah Batterman at The Things She Thinks About has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Deborah is not only a talented blogger, but the author of a wonderful collection of short stories, entitled, Shoes, Hair, Nails. She is perhaps the most generous author/blogger/social media whiz I’ve met–continually creating exceptional content for her own site and also sharing relevant, entertaining and just plain cool stuff with us via Facebook, Twitter and SheWrites. I have no idea where she finds the time to do all this, but it’s definitely worth seeing what Deborah is up to. Click on the links above or follow her on Twitter: @DEBatterman.

Candle lighter awardMelissa at Play 101 has nominated me for the Candle Lighter Award.

“The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.

The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.”

It is a tremendous honor to receive this from Melissa because she exemplifies this award. Melissa is an extraordinary writer (former journalist, news anchor, all around smarty pants—in the best sense). She writes about life and children, and always leaves you wanting more. Not only is her blog filled with thoughtful content, but the comments she leaves on other blogs makes you yearn to write (and think) as eloquently as she does.

Hug Award GraphicArindam at Being Arindam has nominated me for the HUG Award (Hope Unites Globally). Arindam is a blogger who lives in India and shares his universal views on love and life through his words and pictures. His posts are always heart-felt, adding a glimmer of insight and hope about the broader world. I’m honored to receive this award from him.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness.

“People do not have to give up or compromise their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs to qualify for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award©. They qualify for the HUG Award© when, without bias or prejudice, they use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.” (see this link for all the information regarding this award: HUG).

The Kreativ Blogger Award asks that I share seven things about myself with you that you don’t already know. This link tells about as much as anybody could ever possibly want to know about me: A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful (click on it if you’re interested).

The best part of receiving these awards is nominating others and paying it forward–sending a virtual hug and a high-five to fellow bloggers. Please check out their blogs and see why I’m thrilled to be nominating each of them.

I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR CANDLE LIGHTER AWARD:

Tracey Baptiste at Knitting with Pencils

Kay Bess at Sometimes Life…doesn’t turn out like you planned.

Brenda Moquez at Passionate Pursuits

Jessica Winters Mireles at Allegro non Tanto

I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR THE KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD:

Amber Dusick at Crappy Pictures

Harper Faulkner at All Write

Cindy Brown at Everyday Underwear

I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR THE HUG AWARD:

Sifting the Grain

Nancy MacMillan at Blog of a Vet’s Wife

Tina Barbour at Bringing Along OCD

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The Luck of the Irish

Photo of shamrocksOn St. Patrick’s Day it’s often said that everybody is Irish. I’m no exception—even if I am only half Irish.

With my fair skin and freckles, and a maiden name honoring the color of shamrocks and leprechaun duds, you can bet I’ll be celebrating all things Irish this St. Patrick’s Day.

Mostly I’ll be celebrating the luck of the Irish, which I’ve often felt I’ve been blessed with much of my life.

Don’t get me wrong or think I’m bragging when I say this because, believe me, I’ve had my share of heart-shattering moments just like everybody else–where I’ve practically had to duct tape my aorta and ventricles back together to keep functioning. Still I’ve always felt ridiculously lucky (all you have to do is read my posts about why I ended up in Aspen (part one and part two), or my post about how I met my husband to understand why).

Here’s another perfect example: several years ago I decided that I was finally going to write a novel that had been kicking around in my head for years. It was time to stop thinking about it, and just do it, as the famous Nike advertisement once espoused.

So I began.

Scene after scene poured out of me and onto my computer. The characters consumed me, the words swirled through me; I even began hearing the soundtrack for my book playing in my head as I wrote it. It was magic.

But then I re-read the pile of chapters I had quickly amassed and realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

After writing into the wee hours one night, on a whim, I decided to go online and take a look at an adult education course catalog for our local community college. The school listed several writing classes, but only one fit my schedule: it was called “Write from the Start,” taught by an instructor named Cork Millner. The catalog merely listed the course title, but no description. I wasn’t sure if this would help me with my novel, but I liked the sound of it, and thought the instructor’s name was charming and quirky (or at least impossible for him to be mean).

This is the lucky part: the class started the very next morning. It was like a sign sent from the Lucky Irish Heavens. Clearly, it was meant to be, so without another thought I jumped off my safe, cozy “do it later” cliff and pushed the SIGN UP button.

____________

The next morning as I got ready for class, I was buzzing with the challenge of a new adventure, but also feeling like an awkward sixth grader on her first day of school. The reality of what I had signed up for suddenly hit me. Nerves made my coffee taste like dirt and my hands turn to ice. I hadn’t been in college in years…okay, make that two decades. I’d been busy running our photo agency.

Between the butterflies in my stomach and the rain dumping outside my window, I could barely force myself out the door. To top it off, when I arrived at school the parking lot was full, offering an easy excuse to bail on the whole absurd idea and go have coffee instead.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I tried to bolster myself as I circled the surrounding blocks multiple times looking for parking.

“The best things in life have always happened when you’ve taken a risk,” I continued until I finally found a spot. “Just do it,” I mentally blasted myself as I pushed the door open and stepped out into the pouring rain.

By the time I finally made it to class I was not only late, but drenched and worn out from the effort. The instructor looked at me with raised eyebrows, and a half smirk-smile as I slinked to the back of the room trying to find an empty seat.

Then he wrote his name, Cork Millner, on the chalkboard, followed by the word CREATIVE NONFICTION.

WHAT? Nonfiction? Crap. My Irish luck suddenly felt like anything but.

I guess this wasn’t meant to be after all, I moaned to myself. I want to learn how to write a novel, not magazine articles or memoirs.

I thought about creeping back out the door right then, but sat paralyzed in indecision and pride. I’d already made a pathetic entrance into the class. I couldn’t bring myself to make a humiliating exit too.

So I stayed. And I listened. And I looked around. In no time I realized that the witty and seasoned instructor standing at the front of the class, who also happened to be a former Navy fighter pilot and the author of numerous books and hundreds of magazine articles, could teach me a thing or two about the art of writing, no matter what type it was.

Thus began one of the luckiest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken. Not only did Cork Millner teach me the most important things I’ve learned about structure, imagery, and the business of being a writer, he also taught me dozens of things I didn’t even know I wanted, or needed to know: particularly that creative nonfiction is my passion.

Blogging, sharing Jeffrey’s photography adventures from around the world and creating an ecclectic mix of health, fitness, food and feature profiles has filled my creative cereal bowl with a pile of sweet, colorful Lucky Charms.

It was lucky that I discovered Cork’s class. It was lucky that I did not bail on it when it was easier to go have coffee, and it was lucky that I stayed open to possibility.

Because of that, an extraordinary mentor was dropped into my life–one who offered me the perfect amount of encouragement, criticism, and wisdom, all at the right time.

Not only that, but Cork’s class also offered a place to meet and learn from dozens of other writers far more talented than me–all kindred spirits who cannot not write, and who feel compelled to share their ideas with the world. Many of these people are doing extraordinary things in addition to writing—like helping people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, working to eliminate plastic bags in Africa, helping families grappling with cancer,  or showing people with dyslexia that it’s possible to become a professional writer.

Photo of author, Cork Millner

Cork and his class will always remind me that luck rarely comes without taking risks, and even more important, the harder I work, the luckier I become.

So here’s to celebrating the luck of the Irish, and a man named Cork for whom I will always be grateful for making a staggering difference in my life (and no, that’s not because I’ve been nipping on Irish whiskey).

Thank you Cork, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!

Drop me a comment! I’d love to know who or what in your life has made you feel lucky!

If Life (and eBook Publishing) is Mount Everest, Then Attitude is Everything

Last month Nancy Mixon, an awesome mom at our daughter’s elementary school, organized a Family Night in which a woman named Petit Pinson was invited to speak to our children about her experiences climbing Mt. Everest.

Photo of Petit Pinson at Mt. EverestPetit Pinson couldn’t be a more fitting name for this wiry, fiery, spunky outdoorsy woman. She epitomizes the notion of what it means to chase after life, and lights up a room like the 4th of July.

Petit showered the kids with stories and images from her trip, and even let them try on her climbing gear—suit, boots and all.

But it wasn’t Petit’s Everest climb that impressed me most, or that fact that she had been on an extreme adventure reality TV show, or that she and her team had given up their opportunity to summit Everest, just one camp away from the top, because they were busy saving the lives of a Japanese climbing team that had gotten into trouble and run out of oxygen.

What impressed me most was what she taught our kids about attitude.

Her approach was so simple, yet so profound, it has popped into my head numerous times over the past month.

What did she say? She simply used a Sharpie marker and wrote two words on the palms of her hands, holding them up for the audience to read.

One hand said GET and the other hand said YET.

Photo of hands with the words GET and YET

To paraphrase this portion of her talk (in the extreme), she suggested that instead of grumbling about all the things you “have to” do in life (homework, chores, exercise, etc.), think about how lucky you are that you GET to do these things. You may dread taking out the trash or doing the final edit on your manuscript, but if you think about it, you’re darn lucky to live in a place that has trash service, and you’re uber fortunate to have a manuscript that’s in its final phases.

By changing your wording, you change your mindset so you no longer feel like you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do. Instead, you feel like you’re being given an opportunity, which makes you feel lucky.

Her other point touches on perspective. When you’re feeling frustrated that you’re not good at something, remind yourself about the word YET. You may not be good at writing query letters or playing tennis YET, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be later—after you’ve practiced hard trying to master it.

Few people are great at things they try for the first time, whether it’s writing, painting, taking pictures, climbing, learning a language, or conquering a new computer program. We all stumble, and even fall multiple times before we become proficient.

It’s all about attitude and perseverance, and remembering the word YET.

The reason Petit Pinson has popped into my head numerous times over the past few weeks is because Jeffrey and I have been working hard trying to master the art of ebook publishing.

Nothing about it has been easy, especially since our book is filled with photographs and captions, and ebook publishing is still in its infancy. Navigating through all the inconsistencies in information and formatting feels a bit like climbing Mt. Everest.

Steve and i book coverMany times I’ve wanted to head back to Base Camp and call it a day with a cold Negra Modelo, but then I’ve thought of Petit Pinson, and reminded myself that I’m the one who chose this path. I’m the one who wanted to figure it out on our own instead of handing it over to a third party publisher.

Because I chose this more difficult route, I GET to learn how it’s all done, and I GET to publish a book exactly how I want it—in all its various formats—for the Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, and iPad. I also GET to learn several cool new computer and design programs and master things my non-technical soul usually sucks at (for lack of a better term).

Right now, it’s a slow grind up the mountain, but I keep reminding myself about the word YET. We’re not there YET, but we will be. It’s not perfect YET, but it’s close. We will get from Camp IV to the summit because Jeffrey and I are nothing but determined. Best of all, once we finally master this new challenge we’ll GET to add these new tools of knowledge to our creative backpacks for our next publishing adventures.

So here’s a shout out to you, Petit Pinson, for not only inspiring our kids to reach to new heights, but for reminding me that attitude is everything in life (and ebook publishing).

Photo of the North Face of Mount Everest in Tibet

The North Face of Mt. Everest in Tibet, taken at Base Camp in 2000, when I was fortunate enough to venture to the Roof of the World with my dear friend, Janet Cook. This image is my perfect reminder about attitude. ©Becky Green Aaronson.

It’s Not About the Bike

Photo of Lance Armstrong with bubblyLance Armstrong once proclaimed, “It’s not about the bike.”

You would have been hard pressed to convince me of that this morning though, as I took my shiny new road bike on its maiden voyage. Yep, after twenty-four years of riding the same bike, I finally upgraded my Buick to a Maserati (okay, maybe a turbo Beetle).

Why did it take me so long to buy a new bike? Well, first of all they cost as much as a used car. Second, there are so many choices, it makes your head spin trying to figure out which one to buy. And third, even though my old bike was heavy and merely equipped with twelve gears, I knew it inside out and backward.

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson cycling during the Carpinteria Triathlon

Betty and me during the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon

I knew exactly when I needed to shift gears, get out the saddle, or lean into a curve. And I knew every quirk about it. I may have moaned as I cranked up hills, but in reality, I was comfortable with this old beast of a friend, I called Betty. She had carried me through numerous recreational rides and races, several triathlons, and a mountain of leisurely spins.

But last weekend after I finished a long training ride with a fun group of women, I noticed when I loaded Betty up in my van to head home that she had a flat tire.

Somehow this spectacular day of traversing some of Santa Barbara’s most scenic and challenging roads seemed the perfect ending to Betty’s long, illustrious career.

It’s then I decided to retire her and say, “So long, dear friend…”

__________

Becky with her new bike named Lucy

Lucy and me before heading out on a ride

…and “HELLO LUCY!” Woohoo!

As I was flying along today, grinning from ear to ear on my new ride, I knew for sure Lucy was going to turn me into the next Lance-olita Armstrong.

Tour de France logoThe thirty gears. I repeat, THIR-TY gears. The carbon fiber forks. The hard-as-a-rock seat.

Yeah, baby, look out Tour de France!

But then, after about twenty-five miles my legs started to feel heavy, and my back and triceps started to feel like…well, let’s just say…like they weren’t twenty years old anymore.

Wait a second! That’s not supposed to happen. Do you hear that, Lucy?

Okay, okay, I guess I have to admit what I already know: it really isn’t about the bike.

Damn.

It’s about the person riding the bike. And it’s about the hard work that still needs to be done—the five bazillion squats, lunges and core exercises I still need to do to get into the shape I’d like to be in again. The hills. The hours in the saddle. The discipline. The focus.

It’s the same thing with writing. We may think we’ll be better writers once we have the perfect writing space or when we get the latest computer upgrade, or perhaps when our websites are all snazzed out (or just up and running), but when it comes down to it, it’s not about any of that.

It’s about our thoughts, our creativity, focus, and discipline. It’s about working our tails off to make it happen. It’s about hours in the proverbial saddle, cranking out words and thoughts, like pedals cranking out miles on the road. It’s about commitment, and most of all, it’s about not finding excuses.

My new bike isn’t going to magically turn me into the next Lance Armstrong (or anything remotely close), nor is anything else going to turn me into the next Harper Lee.

Nothing, that is, except for hard work.

Damn.

Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

A Deliciously Selfish Goal for the New Year

Happy New Year GraphicI love the start of a new year.

It screams possibilities. It oozes with adventure. It sizzles with freshness as we renew priorities and set a course for the year.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am one to make goals. What’s the difference? Most likely just semantics. But to me goals feel weightier and more lasting than resolutions.

Goals allow me to focus on what’s important in my life. Without them I tend to wander through days and even weeks without paying much attention to what I’m doing.

Perhaps because I lost my dad at an early age, I learned quickly that life is short. With that niggling notion always kicking around in my mind, often pushing my motivation buttons, I have a hard time forgiving myself if I bump along in a stupor.

This year’s goals keep me focused on giving back, trying new things, and completing projects–all the while maintaining balance between family, fitness and fun. I won’t bore you with the details of how I plan to reach these goals, or even what they mean, but I will share with you one of my all-time favorite New Year’s goals.

It’s one I accomplished two or three years ago, and one that might surprise you in its simplicity. It involved little more than time and thought.

Star GraphicI created a list of the most important people in my life, then I sat down and wrote a letter to each person, telling him or her why he or she meant so much to me.

My brothers were at the top of my list, as were several dear friends and other family members, including my husband and daughter.

With a family that’s often in perpetual motion, the hardest part was carving out quiet time to think. Once I did though, I picked out pretty stationery, settled down with a colossal cup of coffee, and spilled my heart onto the pages.

Each letter took several hours as I thought about how the recipient had impacted my life. My heart sang as I wrote my words, recalling each person’s unique characteristics and how he or she made me feel. I often laughed out loud or welled up with tears remembering funny or warm memories and all the sweetness that person had added to my life.

While my goal was intended to be “other focused,” it ended up being one of the most deliciously selfish goals I ever made because it gratified me in ways I never imagined.

The mere act of consciously focusing on each person made me appreciate how obscenely lucky I was to have that individual in my life; and it allowed me to gush and celebrate what is beautiful and unique about each one—something I’ve never been good at doing in person.

It took me an entire year to write letters to each of the 15 people on my list, but it made me happy in the extreme.

To this day it still makes me smile, especially when I imagine each person going to the mailbox, opening the letter, then instantly being wrapped in a warm, deserving blanket of appreciation. And thinking back to the teary return phone calls and heartfelt emails, telling me how much my letter meant to them, is like an exquisite gift that sits on a permanent shelf in my memory.

Here’s the kicker. I’m glad I didn’t wait.

Two of the special people I wrote letters to have since passed away. While I miss them both, it eases the pain of their loss knowing that no words were left unsaid; they knew without a doubt when they left this world, they had made a difference in somebody’s life.

After all, what better goal is there in life than that?

Star Graphic

Motivation

“Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.” –Benjamin Franklin

While I’ve never been accused of being unmotivated, I do find myself so distracted these days, focusing on blogging, tweeting and working on the “business side” of writing, that my dream of finishing my book has taken a backseat.

My mind is starting to think in 140 characters rather than long, delicious prose, and that, my friends is not a good thing. Sooooo…I’ve decided that I’m going to turn up the white noise for the next several days, or maybe even a week, and immerse myself in writing my next chapter.

If I don’t respond to your emails, Tweets or Facebook quips, please don’t take it personally. I’m just putting on my work clothes and chasing after my dream.

Wish me luck…I’m heading on another crazy adventure!

Worlds Away THEN… Gratitude NOW

Photo of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, TibetTibetan pilgrim spinning prayer wheels in Lhasa, TibetTibetan Monk at the Jokhang Temple in LhasaTibetan Pilgrims at Tsurphu Monastery

Photos of Tibet: The Potala Palace in Lhasa, a pilgrim spinning prayer wheels in the Barkhor, a Buddhist monk at the Jokhang Temple, and pilgrims waiting to be blessed by the Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery. All images ©Jeffrey Aaronson.

THEN: WORLDS AWAY (Part One)

August 1988: I don’t know my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, yet. He’s photographing on the Roof of the World in Tibet. I’ve just graduated from college in Portland, Oregon, and when I’m not working at my job as a bookstore maven or sending out resumes trying to wrangle a real job in the fields for which I’ve just spent a bazillion dollars earning my degrees, I’m tossing back beers with friends, listening to U2 and training for my first Olympic-distance triathlon.

Jeffrey has called Aspen, Colorado home for the past decade, but spends most of the year traveling around the world, living his dream as a photojournalist. I don’t even know what my dream is yet for sure, but the restless pull of life has me aching for adventure. And the tug of my pen has me writing it all down in journals. Even though I would never call myself a writer at this moment, I do realize that I cannot not write; that I’m compelled to dance with words in some form or another, even if I’m just scribbling down musings for myself.

During that hot summer of 1988, Jeffrey’s and my worlds are so far apart—both literally and figuratively—it’s impossible to believe that they will ever collide. But then something so improbable happens, the only way to look at it is fate or kismet…or any of those other sappy words we hate to admit make our skin tingle…

  • Read Part Two in my next post from THEN. I promise I won’t leave you hanging each time—that’s way too annoying. If you’re interested though, stick with me and you’ll soon find out how this improbable couple met.

NOW: GRATITUDE

August 2011: I don’t know whether to be horrified or humored, but more than two decades later I’m still tossing back cocktails with friends, listening to U2 and training for triathlons.

Becky Green Aaronson at the Santa Barbara Triathlon

My biggest little fan after the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon

Well, at least in between being a wife and mom, a domestic goddess and a social coordinator for my family…and when I’m not being tortured by Justin Bieber as I taxi sweet Olivia back and forth to camp or play dates…or when I’m not trying to heal a nagging back injury which has left my running shoes in the closet for the last five months (but that’s a whole other story).

And then of course, there’s the writing. Though it has taken me much longer than I care to admit to finally jump into the world of writing professionally, here I am…at last…a writer…writing my book, The Art of an Improbable Life, as well as magazine articles, and now this blog.

Jeffrey Aaronson driving Mabel, his 1959 Rambler station wagon

Jeffrey and Mabel

Jeffrey has been on too many wild adventures to count, but has magically circled back where he started—immersed in an art project about Tibet, trying to use the power of his photography to make a difference in the world. That is when he’s not feeding lettuce to our daughter’s tadpoles or cooking a fine meal for his family or tinkering with Mabel, his 1959 Rambler station wagon.

So much has happened in the last twenty-odd years—from the life changing to the banal, from the heart wrenching to the absurd—I get vertigo every time I think about it.

But one thing for certain, Jeffrey and I know we are living the dream, and we don’t take it for granted. We are both filled with gratitude for all the things that have happened in our lives—from the extraordinary people we’ve met to the friends we’ve made, to the nutty and loving families we have supporting us on both sides, to the numerous improbable moments that have swirled into this life we call our own.

Even on days when my greatest challenge is picking up yet another pint-size pink clothing item off the floor or answering a mind-numbing mountain of questions, I know I’m lucky. Ridiculously lucky. It’s all about gratitude, and appreciating that the improbable has happened for a reason, even if that reason isn’t always clear.

Portrait of Jeffrey and Becky Aaronson

Improbable

Improbable: Unexpected. Not likely to happen. Events of rare coincidences. Hundred to one. Outside chance. Rare. Slim. Unimaginable. Fanciful. Incredible.

As Madame de Stael once said, “In matters of the heart, nothing is true except the improbable.” And nothing could be more accurate when describing my life or that of my husband’s…and even more so, the life we have created together.

As a young college graduate, it was an improbable moment that changed the trajectory of my life and sent me on a plane heading to Aspen, Colorado. And it was another improbable moment that dropped my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, onto my doorstep and launched me into a career I never could have imagined. And yet another improbable moment that inspired Jeffrey to trade in his job as a biochemist and cancer research specialist to become a photojournalist.

Our worlds blissfully collided more than twenty years ago from this series of unlikely events, and soon after inspired us to begin working side-by-side in the field of photography. As an international photojournalist, Jeffrey traveled around the world on assignment for many of the nation’s top publications—everyone from Time, Newsweek and the National Geographic Society to Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

Time Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverNational Geographic Book CoverSmithsonian Magazine CoverGEO Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverTime Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverTime Magazine CoverTime Magazine Cover

While Jeffrey was off gallivanting around the globe on assignments, I ran our busy stock photo agency, Still Media (formerly named Network Aspen before relocating from Aspen to Santa Barbara). As Director of the agency, I focused on all the marketing, sales and promotion, and also oversaw the staff and coordinated assignments. On a few occasions I also managed to jump on planes with Jeffrey, learning first-hand the challenges involved in not only getting an assignment done, but getting it done well, and on time.

Photo of Jeffrey Aaronson taking picturesPassport scan

During those two decades, Jeffrey flew over a million miles crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of photographic stories. His passports (all four of them) quickly became colorful art pieces, with stamps from every corner of the world. From the shores of the Pacific to the high peaks of the Himalayas to the heart of the Sahara Desert—he pursued Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, boated down the Yangtze River in China, outmaneuvered the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and ventured into some of the most remote regions of the world. He also photographed everything from China’s Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in South Africa to life behind North Korea’s Iron Curtain.

Photo of Moroccan woman in a burkaSouth African woman with new flagPhoto of Japanese woman in Kimono, TokyoPhoto of Kim Il Sung statue in North KoreaPhoto of Evzones in Athens, GreecePhoto of Buddhist monk in Lhasa, TibetPhoto of boy with AK-47 in CambodiaPhoto of Muslims praying in VietnamPhoto of Moscow, RussiaPhoto of the American SouthwestPhoto of Rice Paddies in Sichuan, China

We shared both an exhilarating and exhausting life—one that was not only fast-paced and unpredictable, but also deeply gratifying. We breathed news, cultures and world events and felt the pulse of the media through the many talented editors we worked with on a daily basis.

Even though it wasn’t unusual for Jeffrey to be on the road for weeks, if not months, at a time. we still managed to live a completely normal, deeply romantic, and rich life together. Well, normal, I suppose if you consider it normal for a wife to count her lucky stars that her husband wasn’t arrested or killed by an oppressive regime. Or that the airplane he was flying on didn’t go down during a hell-on-earth thunderstorm in the Himalayas, or the duct tape on the antiquated Russian helicopter in Cambodia didn’t fall apart in mid-air. Or simply that he didn’t contract malaria or dysentery while working in one of the many hot spots of the world like Africa or East Timor. Or if you consider it normal to master the fine art of suitcase-packing and airport departure routines, or learning how to speak to each other in code when communicating via phone, fax or email in countries in which it wasn’t safe to talk openly.

Portrait of Jeffrey and Becky AaronsonThis blog, The Art of an Improbable Life, is meant to be a head-spinning look back at the simply complicated, fortuitous, improbable life Jeffrey and I have shared  in the world of art, photography, writing, and more recently, parenthood. On many levels it’s a love letter to my husband, a celebration in words and pictures of all the extraordinary moments we’ve experienced together, and those he’s captured through his lens as a photographer; and all the stories he’s planted deep in my heart after coming home from assignments in far-flung locations.

My blog will contain moments from THEN that are worth re-telling—particularly some of the improbable moments that helped Jeffrey create several of his most important photographs—and moments unfolding NOW in the lives of two creative types trying to chisel out time to write, create contemporary fine art photo projects, and raise a young child with the same amount of love and tenderness they’ve always given each other and their work.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I hope you enjoy the adventure as we travel to foreign lands and navigate through exotic cultures and historic world events. I also hope you’ll join in the conversation by posting your comments, questions or thoughts.

–Becky