Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Play, I Live

Lets be real, life is hard. While we all struggle with different sets of circumstances, the fact remains, we all struggle.  We can focus on the hard choices, the poor health, the loneliness, the bitterness, the consequences of someone else's poor decisions, just plain bad luck and things we just don't understand or we can focus on the good.  I like to stay busy so that I don't have to think about the hard things. I like to train for running events. I like hiking in the mountains surrounded by nothing but God's creations and the voices of my friends.  I like laying on a sandy beach and listening to the waves. I like to loose myself in great music and I love to dance. I like to be that first set of ski tracks on a powdery mountain side. And I love to get the behind my boat and just play.  After a couple of weeks with ridiculous amounts of hard things, back luck, mean people, and so many things out of my control I went out on the boat with my kids and husband. Just as the sun was setting and we were about to come in I decided it was my turn to get behind the boat. The water was smooth as can be, the sky was gorgeous, I was with my family and I was just playing. It felt so good! 
My husband took a video of me out there that night. I love the reminder it is to me to just live and focus on the good things because there are so many! Thanks Jeff for being my biggest fan!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Always CLIMB and zip!

There is a new Zip Line set up on the North Shore and its AMAZING!
The equipment is top notch

The views were awesome
The zips were long and over lush landscape
It was fun for all!
But it wasn't just zip lines 
There were a few stations where there were different kinds of rope pulleys you used to pull yourself up to the zip platforms
Garrett and Drew raced each other up 
cute litte drew actually held his own pretty well 
We had fun with the guides and various contests between the groups zipping on the different colored lines
one of our last zips we got to try with no hands and upside down
They said i was the first they'd seen go down like that 
We had two bridges to cross like this and they were really cool

It was a full day getting over to the other side of the island and back but so worth it! We will definitely be going back!
I was of course thrilled to make it back in time to watch the sun go down.

Surfing and the luck of the Irish

We hoped the luck of the Irish would be on our side as we brought the boys out for surfing lessons on St Patricks Day!
Practicing on land before trying it in the water
because everybody knows practice makes perfect

Lessons were a success but we were exhausted.  I don't think I ever realized what hard work surfing really is!
Back at the resort we found our friend Nate who works at the Marriott coordinating all the activities and entertainment.  Naturally he was dressed as a leprechaun.
Garrett climbing palm trees and looking for rainbows
I was just looking to darken my tan
We stayed out until the sun went down
Then we hit the town! Drew ended up as part of the dance routine for this group of street performers  

Just Wow

Hawaiian sunsets knock my socks off and this one with the rays of sunshine coming from blow the clouds was no disappointment!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Eiffel Tower Engagement Couple Found

The million dollar question right now has been, "Did you find them yet?"  My answer for now is I think so.  The day after The Daily Mail shared their story in the UK it seems the rest of the world shared the story!  I had messages in my now heavily used "other" inbox on Facebook from people in Ireland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, South Africa, Russia, Austrailia, Italy, and Poland all saying that it was all over their news stations and internet.

Several people from Germany have contacted me saying they were friends of the couple.  Three of them claimed to have been in school with them and a few currently work with the couple. I have sent a message to them but have not heard back from them directly.

One of the people who contacted me said they were related to the couple in the pictures. He says the couple has the pictures but does not wish to have their names or any information about them shared with Media as this has gotten so big.   I can certainly respect that!

And that's really the end of the story at this point. There are no neatly tied up loose ends and no fairytale endings here. However, if this really is my couple then I have accomplished what I set out to do which was simply to share the pictures with the couple who was in them.

I owe a big thank you to everyone who helped in my search and to those who shared.  I'm especially grateful for those who took the time to say something kind or defend me against all the nasty comments that were shared.  I had no idea this story would go viral and no ulterior motives, but there has been so much negativity and scrutiny over my intent in taking and sharing the photos that I am feeling so relieved to have some kind of resolution here.

Mission accomplished? I think so.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Going Viral

The day after I posted on Facebook I got a message from our local news asking for permission to share the pictures and to ask a few questions.  She said they would broadcast the segment at 4 that afternoon. I left and went out to the lake with a bunch of my kids and their friends.

When I had coverage again and I checked my phone and saw that Candace Cameron Bure who is probably best known as DJ from the TV show Full House shared my post. There were over a thousand people in just one hour who had liked her share and the number of people who had shared my post was at almost 13,000 by the time I went to bed that night.

The producer from our local news checked in with me the following morning to see how my search was coming along and I told her about the help I'd gotten from Candace and checked the number of shares it had gotten. I was up to 30,000  and by noon it was at 60,000 and it had only been up for just over two days. The news came over and interviewed me at the house. That broadcast locally at 11 that night.

I began to get messages form the same news agency across the country but from different affiliates wanting to share and asking more questions. It went to Chicago, New York and Atlanta that I knew of and then someone from their online department wanted to run the story.  As I spoke with her she told me about the "other" box on Facebook where messages go from people you don't know. I had no idea!!
If the couple tried to reach out to me that's where it would go. I checked the box and there were literally hundreds of messages and I was going to need to read through each one just in case. The other funny thing that happened was my Facebook friend requests.  I was literally getting hundreds of those as well! Then I got a text from a friend of Wes showing that he'd tried sending me a Facebook friend request and had been denied because I had reached my limit of requests! I didn't even know that was a thing, but apparently when you reach 1000 requests no one can send you anymore until you respond to the ones in the box!
As I worked my way through the "other" messages inbox I was overwhelmed that so many people had taken time to say how great they thought it was what I was doing to try to find the couple. I was floored when I saw that more than half of them were from outside of the U.S.!  I have responded to every message that has come though that box and researched the various leads I've gotten though there. There was one that I got several messages about.  A woman had also posted on Facebook that her daughter had been proposed to on the Empire State Building and they didn't get any pictures of the engagement but that there were so many tourists there that witnessed the proposal and she was hoping to find someone who had gotten a picture.  She was asking people on Facebook for help.  Unfortunately the pictures she was hoping to get were from a different day, a different city, a different continent and a different landmark. It wasn't the couple I was looking for but it gave me hope.

As the messages come in, people from across the globe started sending me links to news broadcasts and articles that have been written and shared all over the world with my pictures.  I am still getting countless messages from various news agencies and journalists for interviews and to answer questions about the pictures every day. I am floored that the pictures and this story have spread so far  and so quickly. Never in a million years could I have guessed that so many people would even see my little post and care enough to make the effort to share! Its pretty cool to realize how many people out there are truly nice and want to help out where they can.
On the flip side there are a lot of people out there who didn't read any articles and criticized me for not giving the pictures to the couple immediately afterwards. If they had read the articles they might have known how impossible that would have been for me. They claimed I was a photographer just trying to get my name out there so I could make it big.  This one was laughable because I didn't even take the pictures with my good camera. I snapped them on my phone and unfortunately because of the hurry I was in some of them aren't as clear as they could be. But to jump to the conclusion that I was a photographer judging from these pictures was just funny to me. Then there are the claims that I'm just trying to get my 15 minutes in the spotlight. This is also ridiculous because it's not a picture of me that is circulating around, its not my vacation to France that I'm talking to anyone about, in fact people know so little of me that they assume I'm a photographer and don't know why I didn't get the pictures to the couple. The reason for this? Because it's not about ME! So many of my friends went online trying to defend me on these points, in fact so did a ton of strangers too. To those of you who did, thank you!
The only criticism I have no real answer to is that this was a private moment and I was rude and insensitive to witness, take pictures of it, and to blast them all over the world.  I did hesitate for a moment as I have said countless times, wondering if it was crazy to take pictures of strangers, but what made me do it anyway was the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you.  If it was me I would want the pictures. If it was me I would be so grateful that someone captured that magical moment in my life.  Are there those out there that feel differently and would not want pictures and want to keep the moment private, yes there are for sure. There are plenty of reasons why someone wouldn't want these pictures and even more why they wouldn't want them shared. I do understand that, but overwhelmingly the response I've gotten from around the world is that there are many many more people out there like me who would just be grateful for the pictures. So I just hope that the couple in the pictures thinks and feels like me and most of the people commenting.

The pictures and how they came to be have now been shared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and countless news broadcasts across the globe.  There are articles written in so many languages and countries it blows my mind. Popular ones like the Daily Mail, Reddit, Chive, It seems the whole world is looking out for these two and wondering who and where they are!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Eiffel Tower Proposal

Have you ever had one of those moments where your gut says to do something and you hesitate for just a split second and then decide nah I better not. You wrestle with it in your head for a second longer and  then decide to just go for it. Gut instinct. Or maybe it's really because thats what you would have wanted done for you if the shoe were on the other foot.  I've had those moments countless times, but the most recent was while I was on vacation in Paris and I was at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
It was the second time during the week that we had gone up to the second viewing deck of the tower. At the beginning of the week our first time ever to France, I had booked us a tour that had us cruising down the Seine River and followed by skip the line tickets to the second viewing deck on the tower. If we wanted to go up to the top additional tickets needed to be purchased on the deck before riding the elevators up to the top. We learned the hard way that the ticket booth and elevators close up much earlier than the lower viewing decks do and we missed our chance.

So here it was Sunday night around 9:45pm on June 21st and the sun was just beginning to set. We were back again determined to make it to the top of the tower before going home first thing the following morning.  We had our tickets and had been waiting in line for some time when I mentioned to Jeff that I was going to need to use the restroom when we got up there.  A helpful fellow line waiter mentioned that there were no restrooms at the top of the tower. They also mentioned that there would undoubtedly be a line to get on the elevators to come back down. If I didn't want to have an emergency on my hands I was going to have to figure out how to climb through the maze of bars and nylon straps forming the line that was crammed with hundreds of people.  The observation decks were also full and getting though all of the people to find my way to the bathroom was no joke!

I raced to the restrooms only to find that there was yet another line there to go in.  By the time the emergency was averted I had a new potential emergency on my hands. How could I possibly make it back through all of the people and all of the lines to where Jeff was waiting for me in time.  We were already fairly close to the front of the line when I left and I had been gone a while. I knew if I missed him there was no way we would make it onto one of these very last elevators of the night to the top.

I was moving as quickly as you possibly can through a crowd like that, getting in a few brisk steps before  someone else dodges out in front of you completely stopping any movement in any direction until another hole opened up through the masses and I could take off again.  As I came up on one of these blessed openings I saw a man begin to bend down on one knee proposing to the woman he was with.  No one else was around.  The sun was just starting to go down and it was a gorgeous day.  I couldn't believe what a perfect setting it was and grinned at my fortune at witnessing something so sweet! Instinctively I reached for my phone in my pocket thinking I should take a picture for them.  Then I hesitated thinking, "Nah that's kinda creeperish to take pictures of strangers".
I am no professional photographer and have no ambitions of becoming such but I sure do love when I can capture a real moment on camera. I am always the picture taker when I am out with friends or family.  I'm good about sending the pictures I've taken to everyone who is in them.  My friends are always grateful that I've snapped away and documented our trips and fun times.  So the thought to take pictures of  this moment was my first reaction. I shut it down and kept walking.  After I was at least 20 feet away I was still wrestling in my head with it thinking, "If that was me on vacation and being proposed to at sunset on the Eiffel Tower I would want those pictures!" So following the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have done unto you, I stopped, turned around and took 5 pictures of the couple. The man had already gotten up from his knee.  The woman's reaction was clearly one of joy and happy tears.  I watched as she threw her arms around his neck and gave him good kiss.
Almost instantly the rush of people was blocking my view of them and I could hear my husband whistling our family whistle letting me know he was looking for me. I knew he must be at the front of the line.  I would worry about finding the couple to share the pictures later, right now I was on vacation with my hubby and I really wanted to make it to the top of that dang tower.  I was breathless and a bit flustered when I finally had finagled my way back into line.  I just barely made it back in time to catch one of the last elevators of the night.

On our way up I shared the pictures of the engaged couple with my husband and a few people who'd been in line with us. I wanted them to see what the couple looked like and asked them to keep their eyes open for them when we came back down so that I could share the pictures with them.   The view from the top of the tower was gorgeous. I was so thrilled that we made it. We looked for the couple from my pictures on the way down.  We kept an eye out for them once we got down off of the tower as well.
It was the first day of summer and the entire country was celebrating with a huge music festival.  Every city had free concerts going on with music of every genre.  Paris had several of them and one was in the same park as the tower is located so it was even busier than usual.  Our search was futile.
After we had been home for a few days I was still thinking about the proposal I had witnessed. I kept thinking about how if it was me I would want the pictures of that beautiful moment.  A friend had suggested sharing on social media to see if anyone knew them.  I decided since I had friends across the country and I had guessed that at least the man in the pictures was dressed similarly to men from the US and maybe I'd have a shot at finding them.
Wednesday morning I posted the 5 pictures on my Facebook wall and asked my friends to share the pictures and help me find the couple.   I had several suggest sharing with the media.  I decided to share in two places. One being our local ABC 30 and then I shared the pictures on Ellen's Facebook page.  I knew it was a long shot but again worth a try.