The holiday season is a good time to meet Holly, don’t you think?

Greetings blogging world!  Or….. at least, to whoever is reading this!  😉

Kathy was kind enough to think of me to write a post for her blog, and this is the first time I’ve done this, so go easy on me!

I actually started blogging a few years ago, but it was a private blog – kind of an update of our family, just for family and close friends.  I had never considered writing a public blog.

Baby Holly

Let me start by introducing myself – my name is Holly, and like Kathy, I also live in Michigan – but much further South.  For the past 14 ½ years, I’ve worked for local government – the last 9 years I’ve been in the Planning/Zoning office, and finally feel like I’ve settled in!  The nice part about working in this office is that not many people who come in are mad about anything!  🙂

My husband and I have been married for 12 years, and we have two boys (they are almost 8 and almost 4 years old). 

Boys

My older son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 5, and I write posts about him from time to time.  I almost said that I write about the “challenges” of Aspergers…. while it’s true that there are challenges, there is a flip side to that.  If you would like to read more about him, feel free to click on the “Asperger Syndrome” tab at the top of my blog.

V

My little guy is completely opposite from his big brother, in almost every way imaginable.  He is what is referred to as “NT”, or “neuro-typical”.  He is extremely energetic, stubborn, demanding, he learns things VERY quickly…. your “typical” 3 year old, I guess!

L

They do have one thing in common, they are both very sweet little guys!  They love each other about as much as two brothers can, and they love to give (and get) hugs and kisses.

 I do not consider myself a professional photographer, and probably never will.  It’s something that I do for fun, just for me.  I don’t have a specific type of photography that I enjoy the most – basically, if I like it, I shoot it!

boys

 I’d like to say that my interest in photography started years and years ago, my Dad has been into photography one way or another longer than I’ve been alive (he was actually a photographer for the Stars & Stripes newspaper)!  It actually only REALLY started in August of 2010.  I had a relatively new Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 (my husband had surprised me with it after I said that I wished I had it).  I wanted it for getting shots of my boys, and I loved the fact that it recorded movies in HD with STEREO sound (I still think it’s an amazing camera for capturing video).

It was supposed to be a gorgeous summer day, and I was thinking to myself that I would like to do something fun, but peaceful (and free) – a day to myself.

I had heard about a project going on in a part of town not too far from me – a motel that had been shut down was going to be handed over to a group of graffiti artists.  Not just anyone could participate, it was by invitation only!  Artists came from all over the place to participate.  Things like this don’t happen every day around here!  The building was going to be demolished shortly after the artists were done, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to use my camera, and get some shots of something other than my children.

(Kathy's note--but they're so cute!)

I had a great time, walking around the building, watching the graffiti artists in action (how many times do they actually get a chance to spray paint buildings legally, anyway??)!  Click here for images for motel graffiti.

When I was done hanging around the motel, I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet.  I knew that there was a nature center close to my home, so I decided to check it out.

I arrived at Fenner Nature Center, grabbed a trail guide, and headed out.  As I was walking along the trails, I started to notice something – I was relaxed!  No stress, no worry, and no NOISE (living in a house with two little boys, this is a rarity)!!  I could feel my muscles relaxing, I stopped thinking in words.  This was the first time I had experienced something like this.  Oh sure, I’ve been to nature centers before, but never alone.  There’s just something about walking the trails by yourself.  It’s difficult to describe in words, but it is my own version of meditation.

When I got back home and loaded up all the images from my camera, I knew right then and there, I was hooked!  I needed more of that!  (Click here for photos from my first visit to Fenner Nature Center.)

I started browsing the good ol’ world wide web for articles, tips, lessons, examples, anything I could find about photography.  One of the first things I noticed was, the photos that I really liked, were not taken with a point-and-shoot camera.  I was almost embarrassed to tell my husband that I wanted a new camera – again!  He was actually very understanding about it (he did have to pick on me a little bit). 

Collage

I was eventually able to purchase my first DSLR – a Nikon D3000.  This was actually NOT the camera I originally wanted.  I WANTED a Canon Rebel, but there wasn’t a single store in my entire area that had one in stock!!  The last place I stopped before I headed home from my hunt was Meijer (for those of you who are unfamiliar with Meijer, they pretty much have anything and everything you could possibly need). 

I went to the electronics counter, and asked them if they had a Rebel in stock, and (of course) they said no, but they did have a D3000 in stock – one left.  It was on sale, too!  After a discussion with a sales clerk (who was studying photography at the local community college), she talked me into it.  They even told me that I had 30 days to try it out, and if I didn’t like it for any reason, I could return it.  So, I figured, “What have I got to lose??”  🙂

Since then, I have been to practically every corner of the internet and back again, reading anything and everything I can about photography – blogs, articles, message boards, communication with other photographers (see my blogroll), etc…  I have never stepped foot inside a classroom to study photography, I have learned everything on my own.  This way, I can learn what I want, when I want, and at my own pace.  Since I have a full-time job, and my boys keep me very busy, I have to squeeze it in when I can find the time!

Right after I discovered that I had a passion for photography, I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis in September 2010).  It was during my second “episode” or “flare up”.  My first one was in 2006, and I was told that I had suffered a stroke because the entire left side of my body – from head to toe – was numb (pins and needles, like when your foot falls asleep).  A year or so after the first episode, I had a follow-up MRI that showed the spot on my brain had disappeared, which meant it was NOT a stroke – but they still didn’t know for sure what happened.  Last year, when I was numb from the ribs down, they did another MRI, and found a spot on my spine.  That means MS.  It is very frustrating when I am in the middle of a flare up.  With all of the numbness and nerve pain, it makes it EXTREMELY difficult to get around.  Which means, no photography outings.  It is a very slow process to recover each time – I am just now getting over another flare up, and it started back in early August.

So, in addition to just enjoying photography, it has given me something to focus on when I’m not doing very well.  Kind of a mental and physical therapy.  It gives me a reason to get out – to go places I might not go to otherwise.

Self portrait

Since I have been enjoying the world of photography so much, and learning quite a bit about it, I had recently decided that it was time to upgrade my camera – again!  So – thanks to some help, I was able to get a Nikon D5100 – and I LOVE it!!  I actually do plan to keep this one for a while!!  😉

Since I began this new chapter of my life a little over a year ago, I have had three photos featured on Popular Photography’s website, I have placed 5th in an “I Heart Faces” challenge, I had a photo chosen as a finalist in the annual Photographer’s Forum Magazine competition, I’ve had two photos shown in a gallery, I joined a local photography club, and I have become friends with some amazing people (including Kathy)!  🙂

I would like to give a big THANK YOU to Kathy for asking me to do a guest blog post for her.  I have always loved her blog, ever since I first read one of her posts… not sure how long ago that was, but I wish I could write half as well as she does!  😉

You are welcome to stop by my blog Photos by Holly anytime – I love to talk about photography, life, family, events, or just random thoughts!!

– Holly

Click here for Flickr images (I would recommend at least my “Portfolio” set if people don’t want to be overwhelmed)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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42 Responses to The holiday season is a good time to meet Holly, don’t you think?

  1. Pingback: Let Me Introduce Myself….. | Photo By Holly

  2. Bob Zeller says:

    Great post, Holly, as I expected that it would. 🙂

  3. Wow, what a wonderful post! Sounds like you have faced some significant challenges and are using photography to help you navigate your way through those struggles–not unlike me. I have bipolar disorder, and visual art has enabled me to negotiate those challenges–as has writing, for that matter. Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to checking out your blog!
    Kathy

    • Thank you so much, Kathy!! These actually aren’t the only challenges that I’ve gone through, these are just the ones that aren’t too painful to share! Discovering my love for photography has been like finding that missing puzzle piece that you thought was gone. I have so much to be thankful for already, but this is something that is just for me. That’s wonderful that you have something to help you get through your tough times, too! You are welcome to stop by my blog anytime! 🙂

  4. Brenda Hardie says:

    Good Morning and Welcome Holly!
    It was such a pleasure reading your guest post 🙂
    Your boys are precious and so full of life! I love your baby picture, such a doll!
    I was sorry to read about your son’s Aspergers and about your diagnosis of MS. Please know that I will keep you and your son in my prayers as you travel this journey.
    You really do have a gift with photography..I’ve quickly checked out your links and wow! I bookmarked them so I can go back and spend more time looking over your work and reading your blog. Congratulations on your photography achievements 🙂
    There is a very similar Nature Center in the town where I live and I love it there. Walking the trails in different seasons makes for an adventure every time. I’ve come face to face with deer, wild turkeys, snakes, and numerous small critters scampering all over. You are so right about the peace that comes over a person while walking the trails. It is like another world with a much slower pace. ♥
    It was nice to meet you, Holly. Thank you for sharing about yourself, and your family and the things you love.
    Wishing you peace and happiness,
    Brenda

    • Greetings, Brenda!! Thank you so much for visiting and commenting!! These nature centers are a wonderful escape from everyday life – especially if someone lives the city! Once in a while I feel a NEED to get away from the hustle-and-bustle and noise of everyday life, and this is a place where I can truly find my focus (no pun intended)! Thank you so much for your nice comment, I really appreciate it – and stop by my blog anytime, you are always welcome!! 🙂

  5. Sybil says:

    The photo with the quite is stirring. The shot is quite, quite perfect. The child reaching out to feel the crop, the road ahead, the driver, the horse’s rump and that damn red can of Coke…. I love this shot !

    Holly, a gentle, large, service dog might be helpful for both you and your elder son. Assist you on solo walks, assist your son in relating to other people in the world around him.

    Cheers, Sybil in Eastern Passage

    • Good afternoon, Sybil! Thank you so much for your nice comment!! That hay ride was so nice, the wagon wasn’t very full, and the driver made sure that my son got to sit right up front so he would have the best view. He loved reaching his hand out to feel the different textures, and listening to the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves – he doesn’t get to experience anything like that regularly (and he absolutely loves anything peaceful and quiet). I appreciate you stopping by, and you are welcome to visit my blog anytime! 🙂

  6. Susan D says:

    Holly, you’re such a treasure and an inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing some of your life story and taking us on parts of your journey. You’re beautiful and so are your boys! What a positive, life-enhancing message you spread, like sun drops over the darker places. I’m delighted to “meet” you. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. Thanks again!

    • Oh, thank you Brenda! You’re so sweet!! 😉 I don’t often write so much about just me, so it was a fun challenge to write this post for Kathy! Mostly I focus on my boys, or I just talk a little bit about my photos. I have faced several LARGE challenges in my life (more than just what I’ve written about here), and I always come out OK on the other side – each time a little stronger and wiser than before. I hope I can help to inspire at least one person that life really can be OK after a hard time – you just have to keep pressing on, be determined (kind of like walking uphill on ice even when you’re tired), and with the love and support of a good family and close friends, life is wonderful!! Thank you so much for commenting, and you are welcome at my blog anytime!! 🙂

  7. Robin says:

    Good morning and it’s very nice to meet you again, Holly! I’ve been inspired by you since I first started following your blog. I am constantly amazed and impressed by how you tackle life’s challenges as well as learning all you can about photography on your own.

    Wonderful guest post. 🙂

    • Hey there, Robin!! Funny how you say I’ve inspired you… you inspire ME!! 🙂 I am amazed by your dedication to your commitments, that takes a lot of strength! I think it’s very important for everyone to find something that they love to do. Going to work is a responsibility (even if it’s something you love to do), being a parent is a responsibility (even though I love my boys more than I could ever say in words)…. this is something that has opened my eyes to a whole new world – a world that is right outside my door! It has changed my life in more ways than I can say. Besides, it has introduced me to a number of wonderful people out there!! 😉 Thanks for your comment, and I hope you keep visiting me!! 🙂

  8. Claire says:

    Great guest blog. love it all so happy to meet you. I will sign up to follow your blog.

  9. Claire says:

    Your life story is interesting, Your boys are great. Back very soon.

  10. sonali says:

    Hello Holly,
    Very nice to meet you! This is Sonali from India. I browsed through your blog, pretty interesting pictures. Hey, the kids are very sweet. I wish you good health and happiness. Take care! *smiles*

    • Hello, Sonali! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! My boys are so full of life and energy (and love), that’s why I need the camera to keep up with them! 😉 You are welcome to visit me at my blog anytime!! 🙂

  11. Elisa's Spot says:

    Wow! We have a lot in common! Asperger’s, sensory processing executive function adhd extravaganza!! and the health stuff and the walking peace and the photos

    nice to meet you!

    I preemptively offer you the nonstandard translation guide NT/nonNT, and every stop in between! 😀

    • I love meeting people that I have things in common with! I will definitely have to stop by your blog soon!! Thank you so much for commenting, and you are welcome to pop by my blog anytime!! 🙂

  12. Dawn says:

    Hi Holly! You are inspirational! Went and enjoyed several of your photos too, all just gorgeous. Your boys are darling, and I bet they are glad Mom found some other things besides THEM to photograph! On the other hand, you have some lovely memories of their childhood stored in those shots! Will be back to visit again…

    • Thank you so much, Dawn!! 🙂 My older son is definitely glad that I have some new photo subjects, but my little guy is always jumping in front of the camera yelling, “Want picture!!” Sometimes I don’t even have the camera out, and he’s begging me to take his picture (he’s a ham for the camera)! You are welcome to visit anytime!! 🙂

  13. Hi Holly, don’t I know you from somewhere? 😉
    Thank you, Kathy, for inviting Holly to do a guest blog, and giving us an opportunity to get to know her better.
    And Holly, you look waaayyyy too young to be married for 12 years!

    • Hmmm…. maybe? You sound familiar….. 😉
      Good to see you over here, too, Michaela! People say I look a few years younger than I really am, I certainly don’t FEEL my age! I was married when I was just barely 23 – at the time, I didn’t realize how young that was!! See you at the word board – but I don’t want to see any 105 point words!! 😉

  14. Kiah says:

    Welcome, Holly! Thanks for the lovely post. Loved your photos in the ‘portfolio’ set on Flickr.

    -Kiah (Kathy’s daughter)

  15. HolEssence says:

    Goodness, gracious — this was a delicious post to see and read! I gobbled it up so fast the first/look through I had to get another cuppa tea and do it again. Wonderful! 🙂

  16. Wonderful blog, Holly! Thanks so much for sharing so freely and warmly about your life. All the best to you and your family.

    • Thank you so much! I believe that people learn best from other people – I am willing to share quite a bit – but not everything! 😉 I appreciate the comment – stop by for a visit anytime! 🙂

  17. Colleen says:

    Holly, it’s such a pleasure to meet you! I’m looking forward to exploring your blog and your wonderful photography. And thank you for your insights and sharing….all greatly appreciated 🙂

  18. Kathy says:

    Thank you, again, Holly, for being such a wonderful guest blogger! I loved reading about your life. It feels like we all know you a little better now. (You did a most wonderful job. Almost like you were a guest blogger pro!)

    • Thank YOU, Kathy – for asking me to do this! I don’t often write so much on my own blog because I don’t know if anyone else would be interested in reading it! BUT, since you asked me to do this, I just kind of “let the words flow”!! You really got me thinking about it, and maybe I’ll try to write more in the future. I used to write often (I was even writing some poetry as a teenager – I have no idea where it is now), and English/Writing was always my best subject in school. I have always loved your detailed descriptions and the way you write so that the reader almost feels as if they’re experiencing things with you. I’ll have to dust off the part of my brain that requires creative writing….. **blowing off the dust** 😉

  19. john says:

    Thank you Holly and thank you Kathy for introducing us. I really liked the picture “Standing Tall” (on your blog). It has such a pen & ink feel to it.

    • Hello, John! Thank you for visiting my guest post!! That was actually the exact look that I was going for with my “Standing Tall” photo, I’m so glad you saw that! You are welcome to visit my blog anytime – I always love hearing from new people! 🙂

  20. Karma says:

    Hey there Holly! Nice to see you here and learn more about you! We have more in common than I realized – I was 23 when I got married too, never realizing just how young that was at the time, and my girls were 9 and 7 when I was your age (kinda close to your boys ages!) You’ve made such beautiful progress in your photography, and have taken to levels that I probably never will.

    • Hey Karen! Looking back, I can’t believe I was so young! I felt older, though, I had been supporting myself for a couple of years, working full time, and making a decent living. I knew what direction I wanted my life to go in, so I guess I was ready! I believe that anyone who has a true passion for photography (they can feel it in their heart), can produce stunning images! It just takes a lot of patience, practice, studying, and a TON of trial and error (especially in the beginning)!!

  21. Wow, Holly, I did not know your backstory which makes your recent Best of 2011 submission to my blog even more special to me. Thank you…just thank you. Hugs and here’s to more wonderful visions in 2012.

  22. Hi Scott! Yeah, I haven’t been doing this very long, but it just felt right, right from the start. I loved participating in your challenge, because it gave me an opportunity to go back through my whole first year with photography, and see which ones really stood out to me. That helps me figure out the direction I want to take my photography in. I love your shots from Disneyworld! My husband and I went on our honeymoon there (in 1999), and haven’t been back since. We hope to be able to take our boys there someday – we loved it!!

Although I don't reply to every comment on every blog, I do read all comments with mesmerized interest and try to return the favor by visiting YOUR blog or at least sending you heartfelt well wishes.

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