Oddly Even

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Oddly Even

Oddly Even

This week marked a new beginning. Awesome and I, in our determination to plant our flag outright here in Virginia, have begun the daunting task of house hunting, looking at finances, educating ourselves on the market, etc. etc. Ad nauseam.

This process continues to remind me that the more I know, the more I know…I don’t know. And I don’t like not knowing…but I digress as I often do.

In an effort to expand our purchasing power in an already extrememly ridiculously expensive part of the country (we’re talking ridonkulous!) I reached out to an organization for some part time work. But not just any organization, one with a focus on business owners…entrepreneurs. Aptly named the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Their mission is to engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow. They are the sole reason why or how I was able to start and sell a company back in my past life before photography, working as an administrator for the San Antonio Chapter. And as luck would have it, their headquarters happen to be right in my backyard.

Back track to last week…

I walked through the doors into a place that was oddly familiar. Mind you, previously working on the other side of the fence, it was strange, yet comforting to pull back that curtain and see the wizard(s) hard at work, turning the gears from the inside out. Like a well oiled machine with an endless supply of coffee, smiles and a willingness to help a newbie but an oldie. It reminded me how important culture is in any organization. How setting values and then hiring people with those same set of values can only create the foundation for an empire. Or rather a community. A team. Working toward a common goal.

It takes a special breed of person to put your heart, soul and resources out on the line to operate and run a business. They are the movers and shakers of the world. The ones who create jobs, inspire others, lift up the community and offer a product/service to better our society. If you’re lucky enough to be around one of these individuals (or many) they will make your head spin with their energy, ideas and charisma. It’s infectious and contagious.

So despite the new surroundings, and my innate need for normalcy and resistance to change (if I’m being honest!), a new calm blankets my being knowing that at the end of the day….I got this!

They say if you’re not the lead dog, then the view is always the same.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS Oddly Even
Oddly Even came about from a recent workshop with The Wild Ones, a trio comprised of Joel Robison, Sarah Ann Loreth and Shane Black. All three, having success with their photography ventured off on a cross country tour to make new friends and educate photographers, old and new, in the ways of conceptual photography. In my ongoing journey to continue to hone my craft and make new friends, I attended the workshop along with good friends Kory and Jessi whom I previously met in France.

Making lifelong friends on these adventures just adds to the icing on the already decorated cake. Getting to explore cool places, slip and slide down rocky terrains, feed off each others’ create energies is merely part of the ride.

The swans came into my life whilst visiting my good friend, Molly, up at Fire Island over the summer. I took many photographs of these beautiful birds (yes, I realize to some they are just geese, but gorgeous geese at that!) with the full intent of incorporating them into my work at some point in time.

A big thank you to Carol Persons for modeling for us!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS Oddly Even

The Great Escape

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - The Great Escape

The Great Escape

There was once a day when I dreamed of running away from home as fast as I could. Without a penny to my name. Brazen enough to never even look back.

A common dream of mine. The grass, naturally, displayed a greener shade and I would flourish in a world without being stuck under the thumb of what I considered to be an intolerable and improper ruling. Oh, and they would be sorry. Never to hear from me again. At that point, they would no doubt understand how their actions led to the great escape of my eager emancipation.

After all, I was a teenager. I knew it all! And how dare they keep me from reaching my fullest potential!

I have to laugh, even now, as I sit here writing this…the self righteousness of an adolescent. It’s a rite of passage that everyone must attend, both parents and children alike. And potentially an ugly one at that. Unfortunately, my mother was gifted the wrath of my early days, packaged beautifully with a bow of venom and hatred. She, more than anyone else, endured my constant threats, slamming of doors, nasty looks and downright ugly attitude on an almost daily basis. It’s amazing I’m still alive!

Looking back now, almost 20 years later, I see with clearer vision. Much clearer. So I would consider this long overdue…

Love Letter to My Mother

I wish I could properly put into words how sorry I truly am for being such a brat (and that’s putting it mildly) when I was younger. Growing up was never easy and as soon as those hormones made their nasty appearance it was all over! I believed I knew everything and hated you for not letting me have my way. But I realize now that despite my behavior, you did everything out of love. So to let you know that I was paying attention, I walked away with some of these valuable lessons.

  • You have to earn it! – In life, rarely does one receive free handouts. Society does not bow to the self-entitled. Success grows from hard work and perseverance. When my English teacher dangled a trip to Europe for 17 days to four countries which included a stop at the Louvre, my heart leaped! I wanted to go more than anything. At first, the answer was a resounding no. The trip came with a pretty high price tag for 1995. But after a talk with dad, a decision presented itself…that my dream could be realized if I paid for half of the trip. So I applied to my first job working at Taco Cabana at the age of 16! Not a glamorous job by any means and it only paid $4.25/hour but I worked after school and on weekends to earn enough for my share of the adventure plus spending money. Again this situation arose when I bought my first car, paying for half. I’ve carried this lesson throughout my life, knowing what it takes each time I set a new goal. You plan. You earn. You celebrate!
  • It’s important to have a strong sense of independence. –  Dad always said this was one of the characteristics that drew you to him. And even after the two of you split, you made it work on your own for so many years. You worked a side job for extra money, never asking anyone for financial assistance. And you worked your way, from the ground up, into a management position, proving what hard work can accomplish. I may not have recognized it at the time but I followed in similar footsteps working two jobs in college and even up until 2010, finding ways to make it work when I started my own payroll business. This made it possible to forge forward, never needing to rely on anyone but myself. Then comes the self actualization of knowing that I could do anything I put my mind to…if I really wanted it.
  • Live lean and mean! – While I think Capt. Awesome curses this side of my personality you taught me the art of frugality. We never splurged on the unnecessary yet still had nice things. I thought it crazy how you frequently saved lightly used paper plates or walked through the house turning off the lights we left on in every single room but you drove the point home…everything costs money. There’s no need to be frivolous! And why pay more when you can pay less for the exact same thing! I now use coupons when I can and search for the best deals. It drives Capt A crazy sometimes but then he’s amazed when I bring home amazing finds like a pair of Levi 501’s for $20! This also factored into other parts of my existence as well. I do believe this is how I made ends meet when starting my business, living on a part time paycheck alone…before I was able to properly pay myself. And the reason why I created a nest egg for the future.
  • Every action has an equal and opposite consequence! – When you’re young, you try to push the limits. Is the stove hot? Let’s see. Burn! Let’s call it a learning curve. Part of the teenage strife involved pushing said limits, specifically when told otherwise. Usually, this involved grounding for me. Grounding from the phone. From hanging out with friends. From anything that involved any and all outside activity apart from school/work until the sentence was paid in full. The worst case involved grounding for an entire a month when the grocery store came a-calling after they found me shoplifting. Not my proudest moment. The cops arrived, filed paperwork, etc. Turns out they filed the wrong paperwork but that didn’t keep you and dad from dressing me up and sitting me down in front of the police chief to receive a stern lecturing on taking what does not belong to you. Needless to say, I never did that again!
  • This is what true love looks like. – As hard as it was watching you two divorce and dealing with the aftermath, there’s a part of me that’s grateful for that experience. Love perishes for so many reasons. So many stay together just for the children, but I don’t necessarily agree with that decision. Each upbringing creates a sense of normalcy to our overall experience. Grow up in a home with a loveless marriage and you’re more than likely to repeat the same mistake. I’ve seen several friends proceed through life this way. So as hard as it was dealing with the heartache of a broken family I have to commend you on the decision to part ways so that we, your children, wouldn’t believe in that kind of normalcy. Then when you found true love, it knocked you off your feet. And hard! Of course, being the brat that I was, made it difficult every step of the way. But now having experienced the same thing, I can appreciate that feeling of elation. I waited for it…as the lesson was never to settle.

This list could go on and on…

But -

I do recognize now, what I then believed to be any and all attempt to keep me a slave, was really meant to keep me safe. It can be a cruel world out there and most of us live inside a safe little cocoon. One that our parents build for us before we’re ready for release out into the real world. When I was told not to drive downtown on New Year’s eve (which I did, which resulted in more grounding) it was meant to keep me out of the path of a drunk driver. When I was told not to pirouette through the living room, it was merely to avoid falling and hurting myself. I now have a scar to prove the defiance. And when I was encouraged not to date _____boyfriend, it spoke of your love for wanting the best for me. And he so clearly wasn’t it!

I love you, Mom. I know we don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but I appreciate all you’ve done for both my sister and me. Parenthood, unfortunately, doesn’t come with a set of instructions, but I can say that you did good!

I wish I had the maturity to understand all of this during adolescents…but then again wisdom comes with the crinkling of lines and the greying of hair. Youth is clearly wasted on the young.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - The Great Escape
Just like Here in My Head, The Great Escape brain child took place on Assateague Island. After learning that wild ponies roamed freely on this island, the 8 year old inside of me begged to travel the three hours to see for myself. But like most animals, they frequent top spots in the morning and evening to feast upon breakfast/dinner after sunrise and before the nightly slumber. So they kept to themselves until it was time for us to leave, making their appearance known along with the setting sun. Looking at those tan hides and bleached blonde hair, I’ve come to think of them as rock stars! And the 8 year old inside of me was satiated once again.

Before the arrival of said rock star, my red-headed niece and I carried a bag of props, a step ladder and a change of clothes out to an open patch of water. Not a cloud in the sky. An intermittent breeze blew at whim. And with the occasional distraction of horseshoe crabs and passerbyers, we managed a levitation pose over the bay as the step ladder slowly sank into the sand.

My favorite memory from that day came from a little boy. His family had just crossed the wooden walkway to greet the bay in search of horses. In his disappointment from an empty pursuit, cried out to his parents, “What a rip off!” Hopefully they stayed through the evening for dinner time!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS The Great Escape

Oct 7, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Tom Newforge - Every young person should read this.

Oct 7, 2014 - 5:14 pm

Mom of Capt. Awes - You are the best! Well said and I love you for putting it out there for all to see and absorb.

Oct 7, 2014 - 9:56 pm

Molly Bayerdorffer - Beautiful. I know your mom appreciates this love letter. I definitely appreciate it being a mother of two adorable little monsters (I mean angels). I’ve known you since those early rebellious days, we’ve grown up together. We are so lucky to be the strong women we’ve become today because of the strong mothers who raised us.

Oct 7, 2014 - 10:36 pm

Marisa White - I hope they do, Tom. It’s never easy growing up for either party. Hopefully this posting will give hope to moms…that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. And to kids that as mean as your mother may appear at any given time, it’s really love and protection in disguise.

Mom of CA, did I ever thank you for raising such a wonderful man!? I know he put you through the ringer too, proving it’s not just us girls reeking havoc!

Very well said, Molly. Very well said.

Oct 10, 2014 - 2:37 am

John Sarabia - The Bee Gees once wrote ” How deep is your love?” The fortunate ones learn that taking the focus off of self eventually opens life to the giving and receiving of true love and as time goes on, the deepest love. Your Mom and I are both very proud of you.

Bedroom Conversations

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Bedroom Conversations

Bedroom Conversations

I’ve come to that point in life when it’s time to start questioning legitimate needs and wants versus the natural ways of society. When I left for France earlier this year I had…well, for lack of a better way to say it, I had baby on the brain. 

It’s funny how being consciously aware of that expiration date can severely alter my thought processes. Aside from the days when I was naive and young in love, mind you I was 18, I haven’t thought much about having kids since. However, I allowed myself enough flexibility and freedom for when Mr. Right, or Capt. Awesome in this case, came along to change my mind. And for awhile there I did. Getting caught up in the romance of it all, imagining what our kids might look like, watching them grow and having that sense of pride for one of life’s greatest accomplishments.

I have to laugh as I often thought those people were silly little nitwits. Clearly Disney and Barbie have distorted our minds from an early age and we all (or most of us at least) drank the Kool-Aid! Is this really what we want? Or have we been programmed to believe it is? Or is it biology?

But in today’s day in age, with coupling later in life, careers blossoming and that feeling of wanderlust tickling my fancy, I have to question if this is really what I (what we) want.

More and more that answer rings no.

Don’t get me wrong, my uterus still skips a beat when I see a precious, coo-ing little bundle drooling in a stroller…but I get all gooey over baby puppies too. Actually, just about any baby animal turns me into an 8 year old.

Call me selfish, but I rather enjoy waking up on my own (sometimes 10am on a weekend), leisurely enjoying that cup of coffee and taking the dog for a stroll. Our evenings consist of dinner plans over a glass of wine, then snuggling to our latest Netflix addiction on the couch. I consider my past and future businesses to be HUGE in the accomplishment department. And then when the wind calls from another land, I can pack my bags for that next great adventure. This time to Iceland. Oh yes, it’s happening!

Of course, this life isn’t right for everyone and that’s okay too! We don’t all fit into the same size box and we all chart different courses on the game board of Life.  After all, happiness paints a landscape unique to its viewer. Mine will just consist of the two of us, sans baby.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Bedroom ConversationsBonnie and I booked this quirky little funhouse of a room during our stay in Paris. It resembled something of a baroque circus show equipped with stuffed birds galore. Seriously, the room contained a full size peacock, owl, raven and peasant all peering down at us with their beady little eyes. Our host named them all too, although I can’t for the life of me remember at this moment. Awh…I do recall the Raven’s name to be Jacob. And let’s not forget the cape-wearing stuffed mouse named Hamlet! (Seriously, those interested in a unique place to hang your hat whilst parading around Paris should definitely book through Kevyn.)

The heron, (Francesca?), so appeared like a stork in my mind that she called for attention. Two flash set ups and a rearranging of said bird later and voila!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Bedroom Conversations

Sep 30, 2014 - 5:10 pm

Tom Newforge - Marisa, great piece. Well written. Great image. Good concept. Cannot wait for Iceland:) I hope whatever you decide is what truly makes you happy. Listen to your heart. It’s hardly never wrong.

Oct 1, 2014 - 12:21 pm

Jay Robertson - Seems that you have made up your mind and are looking to justify those feelings – follow your heart

Oct 1, 2014 - 1:59 pm

John Sarabia - Perfect picture for the blog.

Left Here Silent

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Left Here Silent

Left Here Silent

Hard is the way watching those closest to you doing mean and spiteful things to one another. Especially, yes especially, in the case of family.

They say blood is thicker than water. Well I say that some need a serious reminding of that.

How arrogant and selfish are we to believe so strongly in winning that we sacrifice the gold. How blind we are not to see that the gold was the only thing worth fighting for in the first place.

So play that little silent treatment game, the one mastered so well. Just recognize when the nights are long and filled with loneliness, that the circumstances were not imposed upon you, but rather self-induced.

Perhaps that’s when irony will come full around and slap you squarely in the face.

Those that know me understand my deep infatuation for Tori Amos. It’s a sickness. Sarah and I travel to see her on tour with Seattle being our latest adventure. Much of her lyrics float around in my mind trying to find a way out through my work. Sometimes it’s glaringly obvious, sometimes not. And then sometimes I create an image with an independent concept but come to find it wrapped and intertwined regardless as if the song somehow imbedded itself into my subconscious waiting for the right moment to pounce.

This happened to be one of those cases. She couldn’t help herself. The moment was ripe with rightness.

So I give you –

Little Earthquake Lyrics by Tori Amos

And if you feel so inclined to actually listen…click here.

Grace had no idea what she was getting herself into when she agreed to go out with me that fine day. Armed with several ideas and only half a mind as to how I could actually complete them, she patiently allowed me to contort her into some weird positions, hold flowers in her mouth, remove her coat and momentarily place her bare feet on the snow!

This beautiful girl had a birthday yesterday. Grace, I hope all your wishes and dreams comes true!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS Left Here Silent

Unseen This Eternal Wanting


© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Unseen This Eternal Wanting

Unseen This Eternal Wanting

I had a long chat with a new friend the other day. She had just returned from a beautiful, three week holiday jet-setting to a tropical paradise. A breath-taking holiday, to say the least, but somehow the aftermath of said holiday left her feeling a little melancholy. Actually it wasn’t the vacation itself, rather the act of returning. Returning back to life. The humdrum of monotony and routine. Paying bills! 

Yes, I must say that I’ve caught the very same bug. It’s been years since I’ve truly been able to travel. YEARS! People think that owning your own business gives you the flexibility to pick up on a whim and head out to exotic places like Tahiti (or maybe even just sleep in late), but most of the time it’s the exact opposite. After I sold my payroll business, Capt Awesome and I took a 2 week adventure hopping around the State of Colorado. Carefree, we just picked a direction and drove landing in a new town every couple of days or so.  It still remains one of our fondest memories. But the last time I set foot in another country where the native tongue was not English…well it’s been almost a decade.

So after a magical time in a far off land (France), exploring new surroundings and making new friends it almost feels like a rude awakening to be back home. (No offense, Awesome.) Those salty crepes are calling my name. The two hours required to casually enjoy every meal from breakfast to dinner with no exceptions…the waiters tssk you if you even try to rush their stride. Where the colors of green and red have no reference to Christmas but to the artsy district of Montemartre where the macaroons decorate every quaint, colorful sweet shop. And where the wine is cheaper than water, oh yes!

I want to go back!

Or at least somewhere new.

The winds blow strong with the scent of a new place to discover. Perhaps an island this time. Maybe even Iceland.


© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Unseen This Eternal Wanting - BTSYet another creation from the beautiful chateau in France at the Brooke Shaden Workshop. And what giant wardrobe doesn’t cry Narnia? I kept expecting to see Lucy peeking around the door to beckoning to me. Off to the land of Mr. Tumnus, Aslan and endless supplies of turkish delight.

A big thank you to Jen Brook for her delicate modeling sensibilities and KD for always reminding me to take my base shot….as well as providing some strategic fluffing! And for the cutest little lamb that crossed our path on the way to Salernes. Nothing gets my awhhh factor going like baby animals.



© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Unseen This Eternal Wanting - BTS