Dross Before Gold: Photography, Arts, and Other Skills

Compliments sure feel good, don’t they? I never dreamed they were in my future as I snapped photos right and left during our vacation to the Tetons and Yellowstone, several years ago, but that’s exactly what happened after I started sharing my photos.

Much to my delight, several people commented about what great pictures I took while on our trip. What fun to hear people say things like “Beautiful shot” or “What wonderful photos” after they’d looked at my albums on Facebook or the ones I posted here on the blog.

What they didn’t realize is that I took lots of bad shots in order to achieve the glory shots. They didn’t see the dross that preceded the gold.

Believe it or not, I downloaded over 750 photos to my computer after we returned home. Plus, I’d already deleted the without-a-doubt duds from my camera during the trip. After getting a chance to examine my haul more closely at home, I sent several more shots to my computer’s recycle bin. Even with that, I shared only a portion publicly. Bye- bye, dross. Hello, gold.

As I learn more about whatever camera I’m using and put in more practice time, I won’t have quite as much dross to sift through during future photo-athons. But you know what? I don’t mind the dross so much if I end up with some gold to enjoy.

Photography’s not much different from writing—or any other skill or art for that matter—in the dross and gold department. I write lots of so-so sentences before I finally get some good stuff. I delete and revise certain words or phrases as I type and get rid of others after closer examination. Then I select just the right ones to share with the world. Bye-bye, dross. Hello, gold.

Looks like the old saying “practice makes perfect” proves true once again. It’s up to us to decide if we’re willing to put in the practice to perfect the skill, to deal in some dross in order to gain the gold.

Is it worth it? My spirit says “yes!” Does yours say the same? Okay then—what are we waiting for? Let’s go for the gold!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 GNT

In what skills are you working to achieve gold?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by photosteve101, Creative Commons License

Different Songs, Different Gifts

I went bird crazy a decade ago.

That’s right. Since then I’ve spent time looking for them, listening to them, and taking pictures of them. Pretty amazing coming from me since I’ve been afraid of having birds fly near me in the past—which, by the way, might have something to do with watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds when I was young. Did that scare anyone else silly?!

I’m not sure what started my fascination with birds. Maybe it was the birds’ contribution to the beautiful morning symphony I enjoy so much each day, or maybe I can blame it on the new camera I got for my birthday the year my bird-craziness started. It was just a point and shoot but it had a great zoom lens. So I went on the prowl for opportunities to zoom. And birds made the perfect subject.

While trying to capture some good shots, I also began tuning my ears to listen more closely to the various birds’ songs. I’ve always loved the sound of birds singing but until then I had not paid attention to their particular sounds and melodies. It was so much fun beginning to recognize a few.

I discovered that not only does each type of bird have its own signature look, it has a distinctive song as well. Some warble, some coo, some chirrup, some tweet. Some may be more pleasing to the ear than others, but it’s the variety that makes the symphony so amazing. It’s the differences that keep it interesting.

The same is true in our lives, isn’t it? We each have our own singular appearance and unique voice. We each have our own God-given abilities. Some create, some serve, some organize, some teach. Some may garner more attention than others, but it’s the variety that makes our world work. It’s the differences that keep us intrigued.

Yes, the birds have their various songs and so do we. Are we using the abilities—the voices—God has given us? Have we embraced the roles we’re gifted for? Let’s sing our different songs!

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” 1 Corinthians 12:17 NIV

*How has God gifted you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regular issue, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo