Sunday, July 9, 2017

Move back to the Future - Return to It's a Vera Thing Blog

It was suggested to me that "It's a Vera Thing" is much more creative name for my writing/photography blogging?  What does everyone think? I've had a hard time being inspired by the move to VJ Hurst Creations.  I mostly did it to appear more professional...  So, I am going to cross post my blogging to both places for a while.  Let's have some comments.

And thanks y'all for hanging in there with me.  If you did not hear, I will be featured artist of the month on my local coffeehouse's wall, Corner Cup Coffeehouse, Stow, Ohio in March of 2018.  Look for product by then!

Florida Bound

Last sunset in Florida - Payne's Prairie Wildlife area
It seems an odd time to blog about being Florida bound just as I am about to leave. When I start back to work on 3/9/17, it will have been 2 months that I've been traveling.  It has been a wonderful, delightful, fantastic journey full of new sights, sounds, memories, laughter and friends.  I've shed a few tears, lost some time just sitting watch water, sun, waves.  My car has more miles on it and is full of sand.  These are the benchmarks of living, in my humble opinion.

What have I learned from this journey is that life can be a wonderful adventure full of discovery.  My goal when I was planning it was that it was to be a time to remember the past, think about the future and experience the moment ...for that is all we truly have.

Kayaking with Beverly & Kathy - Fort DeSoto, FL
It was to be an experiment in mindfulness and learning to listen to my intuition.  What does Vera want, what does she find moving and inspirational, what motivates Vera to strive towards the light in each become a better human?  That may sound self-centered but I've spent most of my life doing things because it was what I thought I needed to do or was expected.  Also, my career was all about encouraging others to help themselves.  I muddled along never really thinking about "what do I want out of this life?".

Mass water attack - Trail Days 2017
So, in the next days or weeks, lets see what comes out...not writing for a couple of years has caused the creative pipes to fill with's time to flush the lines and get the thoughts and words flowing again.  Thanks to those who are still here waiting for more. I can't guarantee that it will be anything but honest ....something was left behind after Jim died, that part of me which was us is gone now and I have to figure out who I am now....I am going to strive to at write again and keep on doing what I feel will fulfill my mission.  What is my mission, you ask? Well, Fly free and finish what I came here to do...

First stop in Florida getting ready for the good times to roll - Torreya State Park
Much light and love to all...please be gentle with yourselves and LISTEN to what you have to say. to yourself.  Pick up a few good friends along the way and love unconditionally.  I've found that it is a much more interesting life if one does that....

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Finally a Winter Wonderland

I've posted a new write up about winter and soup over on my other blog at:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Ventures

After Jim's took me a while to recover, to be able to think again, to do anything but just motivate myself to get out of bed and move forward like I knew he would want me to do.  So, now today, it's been 8 months and I am moving forward again.

Thanks to the constant support of friends, I've renewed my efforts to continue to follow a path of creativity which has been so fulfilling in the past.  I've decided to discontinue writing on this blog and move my efforts over to a blog which bears the same name as my small business, VJ Hurst Creations.  So, if you've followed this blog in the past, Thank've inspired me and your reading my blog regularly kept me wanting to write these last 8 months...something I was unable to do until November.   I am slowly working at getting back into it and my writing group's anthology is JUST about to be published on Amazon and CreateSpace!

So, please move on over to my new blog on is located at  I just announced a brand new 2016 Photo Wall Calendar which I think turned out very nicely.  Info about ordering is over there.  Slowly, it is getting going has a new look and I hope a fresher feel to it to mirror my new life.

If you are on Facebook, please like my page VJ Hurst Creations and I hope to do more YouTube videos, so good luck finding me on that social media platform...if you do, please like my VJ Hurst Creations channel.

Jim, I think, would approve....


Sunday, May 10, 2015

In Memorium: Jim Baruzzini - An Ending and a New Beginning

Jim in his new leather jacket hamming it up at home, April 2015.
About a month ago, something life-changing happened.  My partner, love, significant other, housemate, best friend of 13 years died suddenly.  This statement still takes my breath away.  How could such a vital, happy, loving man, father, friend, love of my life, pass so suddenly? One minute here and the next moment be but a memory, a last photo, a final phone is beyond understanding.  I am reluctant to write of this but yet so many of us have or will experience this loss of a partner. 

Tree Swallows at Magee Marsh, Lake Erie Beach 2015.
Many things assure me that he is still here, in another form and in another place but yet still present.  I see him in the birds that fly....he knew I loved birds so when they startle up from the ground and fly free into the sky, I remember how much he loved being the 'fly guy' and relished the freedom and variety that flying somewhere gave him.  I feel him in the wind as it touches my face and reminds me of his hand on my cheek. In his presence, I always felt a deep sense of being at home and safe....he being a mixture of all the things I loved in a man, strong, supportive, a pain in the butt when I was being a pain in the butt, someone who would give me that 'look' when I needed to rethink something I was considering ..not in a judgmental way but just a are you sure look.  When I walk somewhere in the woods and breath in the sweet scent of the woods, feel the sun on my face, hear the sounds of the trees, he is with me my memories of times we did these very things or just enjoyed life on our back porch.

Jim & Vera in 2002
He was someone who enjoyed that vital cup of coffee in the AM as much as I did and often brought me one as he was always up long before I was...we laughed a lot so when I see other's laughing I remember our private jokes gleaned from funny or irksome things we did ...we made them into jokes so that they wouldn't be bones of contention between us but reminders of the fact we all have aspects of our personality that our mates must accept ...the good always with the irritating...all made up the complete without the other would a different person make.  So, often, I find myself remembering that we made each other laugh. How small a thing that seems but often was the glue that held us together.

Jim Contemplating
Contemplating things that we said to each other and words of wisdom he said to me...I realized that his quiet strength lay in his ability to "see" a person for who they were, accept them and then solve problems based on what he heard while trying to understand not respond.  This is a giant a-ha ...he learned this from years of introversion and customer service jobs where fixing a machine could safe a person's life. 

Jim with his smallest to hold on to Aiden as long as allowed.
He started at the simplest of places to solve a problem, "Is the machine plugged in" which reminds me to start at the smallest place and deal with issues/problems one at a time. He, also, trusted that he had the skills to deal with anything that came his way...he trusted himself to have the inner strength, wisdom, brains, combination of all those things to deal with whatever came his way...this certainty sometimes disturbed people who were less sure of themselves but he was able to figure out the trickiest of problems using this understanding of himself and patience.

Jim, Vera, friends, Matt & Anna at Harper's Ferry 2003
Confidence in one's abilities goes a long way towards keeping one calm in a difficult situations...panic starts from the basic feeling that WE cannot solve or handle ourselves in a crisis.  Another big a-ha for me ...realizing these things have helped me through this ...for I believe in myself...I have the skills and strength to get through this and emerge a 'better' nay stronger more understanding person.

Still lovin' every minute of it.
I think the most powerful truth which has come forward for me is this, that Love never shrinks but always expands.  When Jim died, I became a completely different person....I was alone.  I felt small, frightened. I spoke only of the support person had gone leaving me homeless...because I could not speak of the deep...that the person I loved the most had left me suddenly and inexplicably and how in the world would I go on, what was my purpose, where would my path lead me now?  I wanted to shrink into myself until I realized that above truth...what/who we love always makes us bigger, always expands and to deny this would be a I chose to open my heart even wider and embrace all that is and was 'us'. 

Me now, still smilin' -  walkin' the journey thanks to supportive friends....Photo credit: J Andrew Davis Photography 2015
...and really, each new day we awaken to the fact that nothing is the same, I am not the same.  Life is fleeting and we cannot know the moments we have one with another.  So enjoy, do, be, live, love, do not accept mediocracy.  Be all that you are supposed to be embrace the unknown and the scary.  I do not know right now where or what I'll be doing so don't ask...:)  I do know that life is a great adventure and I will walk confidently forward.  Many thanks to all those who love and support me....without you, life would be a lot less interesting and definitely harder.  Please stay tuned.....

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Everywhere Outside Can Be An Adventure

Perched on a rock overlooking the Rio Grande River in New Mexico.
Do you remember the first time you did something scary?  Something that made you think...maybe I might not live to see the light of the next day?  I bet most of you will say, sure I do and in your mind a picture of driving on the interstate or your first encounter with a bear or rattler on trail will come to mind.  Well, for me the first thing I remember that made me so scared was sitting in a tall tree at about age 10.  As the wind moved the tree back and forth with greater and greater force, I thought, the heck am I going to get down?! 

Oh, how I love to climb up in a tree, up in a tree so high
I did get down from that tree and went on to do other scary stuff.  The standard for my idea of scary, of course, becoming ever greater as I aged.  How large were the effects of that early risk taking behaviors on my willingness to take more and greater risks throughout my life?

Given the freedom, kids will touch anything, once
If given the freedom and opportunity, all children are born explorers.  They do not know what a risk is…..everything is new, bright and shiny!  They are so close to the ground things like ants, grasshoppers, butterflies, tiny tree frogs are easy to inspect if able to be caught.  Following nature to secret places, deep in high grass or up a tree or into a creek turning over rocks, plucking that first snapping crawdad from under rocks, takes daring and courage.  Building upon a solid base of challenges to a child’s courage, walking through small injuries and learning that a burst of adrenaline is a good thing and is not going to kill you is all a part of growing up.  Well it used to be.

In hot pursuit....
In this day and age, parents must balance the possibility of injury vs. the pay off.  A child who is courageous, able to deal with stress and challenges in a positive manner and is curious often runs ahead, literally, of a parent's ability to catch him/her.  If a child doesn’t learn to deal with difficult situations and doesn't discover that they can work out either a good OR a bad solution for themselves, how then as adults will they have a basis for making good decisions? Risk taking and dealing with challenges in increasingly difficult situations builds confidence and teaches a child how to make good decisions. 

I am sitting on the edge of a cliff to take this shot in Santa Fe NF, NM
I can’t say that I make perfect decisions even now as an adult; I tend to go towards the unknown, the challenging, the risky.  Often, I fall on my butt. It usually is a lot of fun though and I learn a great lesson which empowers me to move forward. 

First view of Lake McDonald, West Glacier, MT
I’ve seen a few mountain tops, not as many as I have wanted to but still, I’ve seen them.  Paddled a few streams again not enough.  I’ve listened to animal noises in the dark, alone, on a wilderness trail and slept but haven't done this enough.  For me those early challenges, explorations into the backyard trees, woods and creeks pushed me to explore and to seek what is around the next corner.  I learned early that everywhere and everything outside can be adventure and that HAS made all the difference.

Dang, it's cold!
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall's Splendor

The mower didn't exactly purr but it ran well enough to propel me at moderate speed through the prodigious piles of fallen leaves which had accumulated over the last week.  The weeks of rain had made the yard a swamp and I'd waited until the last day before it was going to start to rain again before mowing the overly long grass.  The azure sky was dotted with cottony clouds completely unlike the clouds that would come marching across the Northeastern Ohio sky very soon.  These clouds, layered atop one another like the snow drifts they contained, would mark the coming of winter and would, sooner than I was ready, cover my yard in white.

But today, I rode my mower under tree limbs still covered in scarlet and red.  The sunshine as it filtered through the leaves cast first yellow then red shadows across my face which made the edges of my mouth turn up as I cast my eyes skyward.  The light wind tossed the branches playfully around like children swinging, legs outstretched as they reached for the sky.  Leaves launched themselves into the air and the floated around me as the exhaust tossed them back up into the air.  They circled and circled in a carefree dance, the wind and mower creating mini ground tornadoes of amber and scarlet.

Autumn is my favorite time of year; the seasons change, the weather is a perfect combination of hot and cold, the skies are perfect, cloudless blue and my birthday occurs.  Since, this year I officially crossed over into maturity, I find myself thinking of endings and how seasons so wonderfully mirror the seasons of our ages.  

Spring is carefree, happy and innocent like children, then comes summer and storms, lightening and lots of heat and sweat just like those child bearing years when we find passion and purpose.  

Then comes Autumn the mellowness of changing leaves, changing seasons, animals storing up against the winter lack and the perfect blend of weather with long, cool nights perfect for snuggling mimics where I am now in life and I was reminded of this as I circumvented the yard.  I thought about what a wonderful time this was age-wise for me.  I feel both wise yet free to be myself, able to be brilliant all while falling into winter.  The trees shedding their brilliant leaves in a wild showy cascade as they dance wildly in the wind; bare branches free of burdens and cares know exactly how precious each moment is and so enjoy it with abandon.  I am learning to live this way with an attitude of enjoying just where I am at that moment because I never know when that last moment might be.  The snow can fall at any time. 

Winter then is in the air, I think, peering out the back windows at the sky as thin high clouds stack up like cards on the horizon.  The squirrels run around the yard in frantic bursts of energy.  Huge black walnuts held in their mouths do not seem to slow them down.  I've put the snow stakes in the driveway and cleaned the mower of its blanket of dried grass and pine needles.  I've moved the snow blower to the front of the garage and rearranged all the moving machines which are housed in the garage so that I can back my front-wheel drive car into the garage.  The weather woman says we'll have snow showers on Friday and Saturday.  Winter is coming, soon, it seems.  Will I be ready?