An Uplifting Commute To Work.

Every Monday through Friday, I get in my car and make the 22-mile, 45 minute commute to my office.  And, every Monday through Friday, as I’m sitting in traffic, I watch the cyclists zoom right past me and wish that I could be as free as them – not confined by the metal of my car or the mass of cars surrounding me. I just imagine how happy they must be all day at work, knowing that they had a wonderful hour riding with the wind at their back and the morning sun on their face. Although I’ve been an avid biker for about a year now, it never occurred to me that I could be one of those cyclists that drivers can enviously watch zoom by while stuck in morning traffic – until this week.

I decided that I was going to stop wishing and instead, I was going to do. So, I rode my bike to work.  I made all the necessary preparations and I did it. Let me tell you – it was just as wonderful as I imagined it all those miserable, traffic-filled mornings.  Actually getting to enjoy the smell of nature as the wind blew past me; really getting to see the sun rise up over Lake Austin; flying past all the drivers that used to be me, it was just such a fun experience.  Take a look at some of the great things I was able to see on my bike ride to work:

Austin nature bike ride

The rolling Texas hills - my view from the road.

Texas wildflowers

Some of Texas' prettiest wildflowers.

Austin 360 Bridge

Austin's 360 Bridge - I have to cross this to get to my office.

More than just being an enjoyable experience, riding my bike to work really reminded me how beautiful our planet is (both the natural and man-made elements).  And it got me thinking – could you imagine how amazing it would be if I actually did win the ProBlogger trip to Australia? If I’m blown away by the beauty that I see in Austin every day, just imagine what kind of experience I would have seeing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or the famous Daintree Rainforest for the first time!

As my readers, I like to think that this blog gives you the opportunity to experience what I experience. When I ride my bike to work and bask in the sun that hits my face as it rises, so do you.  When I taste a delicious cut of meat during a Valentine’s Day dinner, you too can taste it. So when I win that contest (fingers crossed!), it is kind of like we are all winning. Get ready to experience the clear blue waters as we snorkel in one of the planet’s Seven World Wonders. Australia, here we all come!

As you can tell, biking to work brought me so much happiness today (just like I imagined).  After a day like today, I don’t even want to think about getting back in the confines of my car on Monday.  So even though the mileage was lengthy and my legs were tired, I have a feeling that there will be many more bike rides to work in my near future.

Words, Photographs and Competition.

I’ve got a way with words. Be it putting pen to paper or verbally stringing sentences together, I’ve always seemed to have a natural affinity for the art of storytelling.  So it makes sense that I would be drawn to blogging – a hobby that lends itself to weaving the tale of my interests, dreams and opinions.  And maybe it’s just my personal bias, but I feel as if I have the writing part down. Although as every blogger (and avid blog reader knows), there is much more to blogging than words.  Photography plays a large part in blogs (many of my favorite blogs have photos heavily integrated into their design).

I’ve always included photographs in my blog posts, although up to this point, my focus has been on writing compelling content. But to have the kind of blog that I’m working towards, I need pictures that do more than just complement my words – I need pictures that take your breath away. And try as I may, I just haven’t been able to achieve that make-you-gasp-and-drop-your-jaw photo with my iPhone camera. So I’ve decided that it’s time to make an investment in my blog and myself – and I bought a camera. Say hello to my new baby:

The Canon Powershot SX40 HS

My new Canon Powershot SX40 HS.

While still a point-and-shoot camera, the Canon Powershot SX40 provides many of the features of a professional grade DSLR, while still catering to a semi-pro like myself. The low light performance and high-sensitivity Megapixel sensor allow for stunning image quality and the 35x optical zoom makes it possible for me to take even the closest shots with ease. Probably my favorite part about my new Canon is its 2.7-inch multi-angle LCD screen, which will allow me the flexibility to capture any shot regardless of the angle. I can’t wait to take my camera with me everywhere and really learn the art of making art.

This camera purchase really comes at an ideal time, and not just for the expansion of my blogging capabilities.  In order to stay jinx-free, I’ve been keeping this on the hush-hush, but I recently applied to a blogging competition put on by ProBlogger and Tourism Queensland where 10 lucky bloggers can win an all-expenses paid trip to Australia!  Not only has traveling to Australia always been on my bucket list, but the opportunity to spend time with (and learn from) Darren Rowse, one of the web’s premiere bloggers, is an absolutely priceless experience for an up-and-coming blogger like myself.  But I digress. If (or should I think positive thoughts and say when?) I win one of those 10 coveted spots, my new camera and foray into photography will be essential for capturing the beauty of such an amazing country.

The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Australia

The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

I promise every one of you readers that if given the opportunity to go to Australia, my point-and-shoot will bring that country to life on the page.  Readers, it’ll be like you were right there with me, so keep those fingers crossed! But until that day comes (if and when), I’ll be busy building up my skills at home.

Stunning snapshots, here I come!