Posts with tag: "nature lovers"
Friday, March 23, 2018
By MonaElisaPhotography
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For just a little under a year, I’ve had these words play over and over again in my mind, “I am bold, no fear inside. Spread my wings, open my life. Like an eagle, whose home is the sky. I’m gonna catch the wind. I’m gonna catch the wind.” (You can listen to the song here).  I’ve been fascinated by them, meditated on them and mulled them over in my mind. These words became even more special for me in October, as they became my main mantra while our lil’ sprout was coming into this world (read more here).

 

Fast forward 5 months, and I’m still being impacted by them…

 

This March we had the wonderful opportunity to take an eagle workshop in Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands with the organization Birds @ Work Valkerij Manege. They are the largest falconry organization in the Benelux with more than 260 birds including birds of prey and owls. 

 

We were able to handle and meet 4 birds of prey: an adult and juvenile American Bald Eagle, a Bateleur and fly a Steppe Eagle. They were each so incredibly unique both in appearance, personality, and I wouldn’t be able to name a favorite.

 

The most unique eagle we were able to handle was the Bateleur. They originally come from Sub-Saharan Africa but have also been found as far north as the Arabian Peninsula. Their name “Bateleur” pays homage to the French word for tight-rope walker in reference to the way in which this eagle is able to catch its balance in midair. An adult can weigh up to 2.6kg. They can fly up to a distance of 320km and fly up to 8 hours as they glide through the air. One of their most distinctive features apart from their colouring is their very short (and cute) tail. They are on the near threatened endangered list.

 

We also had the opportunity to handle both an adult and juvenile American Bald Eagle. They can weigh up to 6kg and have a wingspan of up to 244cm. They receive their characteristic white plumage when they are adult and ready for breeding. Until then they go through 7 subsequent stages where their plumage varies. They are a force to be reckoned with as they can reach heights of up to 15,000 feet and can swoop down at speeds of 320km per hour. And their eyes! We were both mesmerized by their colour – a light liquid gold and a gaze of such sheer intensity. Equally impressive is the force and strength in their talons: 250kg per square centimeter. Can you imagine?

If there was one moment that was most unforgettable for me was watching how the eagles reacted to the natural elements. It was a freezing day with the humidity and with the wind chill it varied between -10 and -12 as wind speeds surpassed 40km/h and gusts of up to 65km/h. The falconers kept telling us, “Face the wind. Face the wind,” as we handled these beautiful creatures

 

As they rested on our arms, there was no mistaking when the eagle would sense a wind gust coming. The body language completely changed as if they were ready for total lift off. The gaze in their eyes switched from one of neutrality to one of total excitement, concentration, and zeal as if they were telling us, “This is what I was born to do.” For me, there was no mistaking that these were wild animals and they were made to fly. To see this touched my heart so deeply. 

The conditions were difficult with the high wind speeds. We were not able to fly with the younger American Bald Eagle so they brought in a beautiful Steppe Eagle for us to fly with. Steppe Eagles are found in Europe, Asia and Africa. They can weigh up to 5kg and have a wingspan of up to 214cm. It was then that we could really understand that although eagles fly, they aren’t meant to really flap their wings as other birds normally do to traverse distances. Eagles have very large wings which means that they require exorbitant amounts of energy to flap them in order to fly.

 

Instead, they are meant to soar!

 

They flap their wings to create lift but once that’s been accomplished, eagles spend most of their time soaring and gliding through the air. They soar either by finding rising air currents or via dynamic soaring which doesn’t rely on rising air currents. Instead it uses the differences in wind speeds between the ground and higher altitudes. The eagle climbs into the faster airflow by facing the wind and begins a cycle between heading downwind and then upwind between the different airflows to gain speed.

 

Foolishly, I thought soaring for an eagle requires no work or rather it is easy work. However, they are in a constant state of flux, switching between airstreams, speeds, going downwind and then up again and using opposing forces to gain both speed and momentum. Let me say that again, using opposing forces to gain both speed and momentum. Isn’t that amazing? (And I haven’t even started talking about how certain obstacles like ridges or mountains actually provide the best lift as the wind is forced to flow up the side of a mountain).

So often I feel like I shy away from adversity and fierce winds. I make excuses, “It’s too hard. I’ll fail. I’m afraid, etc.” I tend to look 50 steps ahead and feel defeated before I even start. What if I just turned my face towards the wind with single focus and zeal? What if I solely focused on catching the wind from that next airflow and trusting that when I need to change direction, the subsequent airflow will come just at the right time? Or instead of becoming one hot mess when I face an obstacle that seems insurmountable seeing it as an opportunity for the perfect ‘lift’?

 

My friends, I can’t help but marvel at nature. What an incredible few short hours spent with these astonishing birds.

 

As we have been wrestling with changing directions in our personal lives as of late (becoming new parents has a tendency to do that, LOL), I’m storing all these lessons in my heart and mustering the courage to face the wind.  

What are you mustering the courage to face?


Make sure to check out our web shop for beautiful fine art botanical prints to adorn any space you call your own. Let nature in with us! 

 

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Sunday, November 26, 2017
By MonaElisaPhotography
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A couple months ago we announced that our ‘lil team was sprouting. Well, our lil’ sprout is here! It has been just my husband and I for the last 12 years, and now it is unbelievable that we are now 3. 

 

So, let me introduce you to Ethan Oak. We chose the name Ethan because it means strong, optimistic, solid, and enduring. We chose Oak not only because oak trees are symbolic of strength, might, beauty, and highly revered in folklore and mythology. But also, based on the verse found in Isaiah 61:3. It’s a beautiful passage full of hope, and we pray that Ethan Oak will grow into his name and be an oak of righteousness in a turbulent and unsure world.  

We are beyond grateful for all of our families’, friends’, and readers’ warm thoughts, prayers, and support. Ethan Oak was born October 18th. He was 8.3 lbs! Birth and delivery was nothing short of miraculous. Contractions began October 16th at around 1PM. After consistently having contractions for 5 hours we thought he was arriving that night. However, Ethan needed much more time. After 2 sleepless nights with intense contractions ranging from 2 to 10 minutes apart, the midwives decided to break my water in the early morning of the 18th, and we soon held Ethan in our arms!! We are so thankful we were able to have Ethan born naturally at home, and our midwives were incredible and so wonderful. 

 

I marvel at just how miraculous our bodies are made, and how they can create, sustain and push out a tiny human life. 

Nature knows exactly what to do whether it’s how our bodies function or how plants grow and bloom. Every season evolves into the next in utter beauty from spring to summer to fall to winter. It doesn’t need to be ordered or instructed, everything opens itself up to the elements and surrenders itself to the unfolding of life.

 

I came across this quotation a few months ago and it is so apt as the chill of winter is approaching and the last leaves descend and return to the earth. Every fall,” the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.”  

I want to encourage you that if you’re going to through a tough season in your life, there is reason enough to raise your head in hope. There is much beauty to be discovered (or rediscovered) all around you… even in the process of letting go. Sometimes the things that we hold on to most tightly are the very things that are weighing us down, and stop us from enjoying what is right in front of us.

 

Currently, I am learning to be an expert in letting go with this new little one... especially of sleep, but so so so many other things too. And it’s absolutely worth it.

 

It’s in art to celebrate in the ‘letting go’. 


We love to celebrate the wonder of nature here, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed.  And we have a couple of happy announcements!

 

We launched three new mini collections in our shop just in time for Christmas. Each collection comes with a set of two beautiful fine art prints that complement each other perfectly: Tropical Reverie, Fern Fractals, and Arid Daydream. They are each sized 20cm x 30cm or 8in x 12in. They are a gorgeous pair and at a special price for the set.  

Furthermore, we are so happy to announce that we've been able to reduce our flat-rate shipping costs for Canadian, American and UK customers (HALLELUJAH!!) and still offer the same exceptional delivery service *insert happy dance*.  Our state-of-the-art fine art printers in Germany estimate 10 business days for both printing and delivery to North America.

 

We also released a November gift for you and are offering a free phone wallpaper to take you back to lazy sunny summer afternoons for those -20/-30 Celsius days (shout out to Toronto)! You can download your free gift here. Feel free to send us a screenshot of your new wallpaper in use via Instagram

What are you in the process of letting go?

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Friday, March 24, 2017
By MonaElisaPhotography
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Dirk and I always enjoy during our downtime, curling up on the couch, sharing a glass of whiskey and watching nature documentaries. I confess that I always get squeamish during those hunting montages, so with my trusty pillow by my side I’m always ready to do a full-face plant when anyone is getting eaten. 

 

Recently, we bumped into Planet Earth II and I was blown away by one of their segments on the Chinstrap Penguin Colony. These little guys live on Zavodovski Island (just north of Antarctica) on an active volcano. Not only is the island volcanic, and surrounded by treacherous cliffs but it lies in one of the stormiest seas.

Photo credit: taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/

 

Every January, the island explodes with newly hatched chicks. Hungry and vulnerable, they depend on one parent to protect them while, the other goes on a 2-mile hike to the ocean to feed. Once at the coast, they have to time their jump into the ocean with absolute precision in order to catch a wave that will pull them into the freezing water otherwise they fall against the cliff’s rocky edges. They must feed, avoid predators, and swim back to the island, and again find the perfect wave to propel them back onto the cliffs to return to their starving chicks. Many arrive back bloodied, bruised, and/or with broken limbs, while others simply don’t make it. And let’s not forget, that after this ordeal they still need to hike back 2 miles and find their nest amongst 1.5 million other penguins!

 

I was deeply moved watching this. Are these penguins extreme thrill seekers? Is it instinct? Are they just bat crazy? What possesses them to do this EVERY OTHER DAY? Unfortunately, I can’t answer these questions. I’m not a penguin, and I’m so grateful I’m not. But the single motivation that I can observe is that they are consumed with an absolute desire to feed their chicks and give them a chance at survival. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, awesome, incredibly vulnerable and frightening. These penguins have only one single focus and that is the preservation and protection of the next generation. (You can watch the clip here).

 

It reminds me of a beautiful quotation I ran across on a storefront two years ago:

I marveled at those words the first time I read them. It’s so easy for me to be consumed by my own desires and needs without a second thought to how my choices may affect those around me. Or how I can be blind to the needs of others. When I read those words, it made me pause, and start to question the choices that I make and the way that I live my life.

 

As we get ready to launch our online shop on April 11, one thing that’s become incredibly important to me is the desire to leave the space in which I inhabit on this earth (hopefully) better than the way I leave it, not only for the environment but also for those that will come after me. And I want it to be a part of my business model, without question. 

 

When you invest in a piece of fine art with us or any product you purchase in our online shop, a percentage of all proceeds will be donated to one of three organizations whose sole mission is: wildlife and habitat conservation, offering medical care to displaced persons in war torn countries, or rescuing children from the sex trafficking industry (more details coming soon in a future blog post).

 

Firstly, I’m very excited about this as it allows us to support and empower people to bring about good in this world in the midst of incredible injustice and pain. Secondly, as a customer, you can choose which organization you would like to receive the proceeds. Thus, choosing one that aligns closest to your own passions. We are all so very different and have diverse causes that we care deeply about. 

 

So, whether you are concerned about the environment, or you passionately care for the next generation like the Chinstrap Penguins, please know that when you invite us into your home by purchasing a piece of fine art photography from us, you’re also doing good and partnering with us to leave our temporary earthly home in a better place than it was before.

 

What causes are you most passionate about? 

 

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Friday, March 10, 2017
By MonaElisaPhotography
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Marvel.

 

I love that word.

 

It’s what you do when you come into contact with something or someone that is extraordinary. It evokes admiration and astonishment. It also nurtures a sense of curiosity and pure enjoyment. It means your heart is captivated and you are filled with wonder. It’s both a ‘something’ that impacts the way you see and feel, and an action that makes you pause, admire and reflect.

 

I’ve always carried a hunger to explore the world around me. In my earlier years, I usually attempted to cram as much as humanly possible so as not to miss out. As I’ve matured, I’ve slowed down and tempered to the utter relief of my husband. My curiosity and hunger remain however, I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to enjoy life at a different pace.

 

 I’m learning to marvel. 

When we moved to the Netherlands two years ago, I had assumed it would be a grand adventure. Challenging, of course, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I was wrong. For the first year, I was inconsolable. From a bustling multicultural metropolitan city awake at all hours to a small town where you were lucky if you saw 3 people on the street at one time on a Friday night (I have video proof). From a rich and diverse community of family and friends to zero friends. Add to that not being able to work, a different language, a different culture and the unending grey and rainy weather … let’s just say I was unraveling ;)

 

There’s two types of noise that can feature as our companions. The one I had been used to in Toronto was that of external noise. The one that says, “You CANNOT stop. Pick up that phone. Fulfill your obligations. Make sure to respond NOW. Don’t forget to do this. You MUST do that.”

 

Then there is internal noise. This companion I was familiar with and I know her well.  But without all the external noise, her decibel increased by astronomical proportions. As I battled all the internal noise and loneliness I was experiencing, there came a point where I just couldn’t listen to that voice any more. 

 

I was hungry for a different voice. 

What I discovered? There was beauty all around me and if I could just stop and let myself be captivated by it, it could offer some relief. If I could open myself up to it, to know it and be known by it, I could find some peace from all the negative voices and noises I was constantly hearing. This beauty may have looked and sounded different than what I was used to, and it may have even not been to my taste at times but it was and still is beautiful, worthy of being appreciated and precious.

 

See, to marvel, is to take your eyes off of yourself, off of your problems, and off of all the voices that bombard you whether external or internal. It asks you to be still, to pause, to admire and to wonder. And in that moment, it’s just you and that extraordinary vista, or that tiny bud about to burst with color, or your best friend’s laughter in full force, or how the breeze makes your curtains dance in the afternoon light.

 

To marvel is to be fascinated by a wonder and a beauty that transports you to another state of mind where all you can do is be captivated.  This is what my heart hungers for. Not the busyness or the to-do lists but those quiet moments of awe that feed my soul, inspire my senses, and ground me again.

 

And this is what I hope to inspire and offer to others as we forge into a new direction at monaelisaphoto. We want to inspire you to marvel again at the beauty of nature, and the details of the world around you. 

What makes you marvel?

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