Dogs Everywhere

19_02_mediumI have to say, I really do love animals. But it drives me crazy that people have to take their dogs everywhere they go. Yes, I understand your pet is part of your family and may even be like your only child, but there are some things that would be nice if you’d think about.

Right now I work at a grocery store and we’ve been hit hard with the issue of pets in our store. I have absolutely no problem with people bringing service animals into our store. They are a huge help to people in need and I think it’s great that these animals can perform such tasks and help people in the way they do. From my experiences, people who really need service animals due to physical disabilities don’t mind putting the vest on their dog or showing you their card. They are respectful and have all the credentials they need to have their animal with them wherever they go.

What really bothers me is when people bring their “emotional support” dogs in. Don’t get me wrong, some people have been through some real tough stuff and they may need an animal to help them feel safe and whatnot, but I don’t think it’s ok that people can just go online and register these dogs for really cheap <http://usdogregistry.org/registration/register-emotional-support-dog/>. For all we know, these people could be the worst trainers in the world and their dogs could have dispositions to varying types of people (i.e. children, men, women, people with dark colored hair, etc.)

One experience I had was when a woman said that her dog was a service animal and was supposed to alert her of when she was going to have a seizure. While I do believe in the power of an animal’s senses, I doubted the credibility of this dog for that purpose. I told my manager about the animal in the store and he gently attempted to approach her to ask to see her paperwork. But when he did, the dog suddenly got down close to the ground and started to growl at my boss. This did not exactly help the dog’s credibility. If a dog is a service animal, it should not be growling at people unless the owner specifically commands the dog that she/he is feeling threatened.

However there was another lady who brought in her dog and just let him sit in the cart. Since she did not have the barrier between the dog and the cart, one of our managers had to wait till the lady finished shopping, had to help her out to her car, and had to throughly clean the cart so that no one else would use it. Personally, I think this is very selfish of that customer. My managers have better things to do than to wash carts because somebody couldn’t leave their animal at home for their 30 minute grocery trip.

Also, I’ve noticed that people are really touchy-touchy about telling people that they have a service animal. So what if it is? You obviously got the animal certified for a reason so why wouldn’t you tell people? You are in no way required to tell us what service the animal is providing for you, so why not just let the animal wear the vest to make it easier on people who work in places where pets aren’t normally around?

Anyways, in my particular grocery store, they said that there’s basically not anything we can do if someone wants to bring their pet in. All they have to do is put a barrier between their dog and the cart. But this makes me wonder, why the heck would you bring your dog to the grocery store?! The cart is supposed to be where you put your food. And guess what? Other people put their food in that basket too. If you bring your dog, it’s going to be taking up space where you could be putting your food.

Not only that, but I, personally, am allergic to dogs. And let me tell you, it’s absolutely horrible. I love dogs. I used to have a dog. He was a beautiful German/Aussie mix and was one of the best pets I’ve ever had. But I couldn’t play with him too much since we found out I was allergic. We ended up giving him away to the family next door and they loved him as if he were their own. But being allergic to dogs does mean that it bothers me that people bring them with them into our grocery store.

I just challenge the “I take my dog with me wherever I go” people to just think, what if someone else, maybe even a child, is allergic to dogs as well? What if they are highly allergic? Even allergic to hypoallergenic dogs? Then putting your pet for your convenience and emotional comfort into that cart for the maybe 30 minutes that you’re in the store could cause someone else to have an allergic reaction. For me, I get it really bad in my bronchial tubes. I’ll lose my voice for a month and have a horrible cough for a month, accompanied by copious amounts of phlegm. Not only that, I’ll have intense sinus pressure building up in my head for three days, will spend tons of money on sinus medicine, and will daily drink my weight in hot tea and honey.

So does your 30 minutes of comfort and preference weigh more than my discomfort, money, and illness for a month? Maybe you don’t care about me, what about a little child who doesn’t have a good immune system? What if his parents are putting him in the cart for the first time and find out that he has a horrible allergic reaction? Would you be ok with yourself if that baby was sick because you couldn’t leave your dog at home while you shopped?

While I wish customers would not bring their dogs into our store, I absolutely DO NOT condone people leaving their pets alone in their cars while they shop. Fortunately, where we are, it’s not very hot. At all. The normal temp is around 65 degrees everyday. But regardless, cars can get really hot and can seriously harm pets. Check out the picture below.

Hot-DogSo my question to people is, when does your comfort, wants, and needs trump my comfort, wants, and needs? While you may want your pet with you in the store because it’s fun and cute and, by golly, it’s just what you want, when does that mean more than the fact that I’m allergic? And what if your pet has fleas and you (unknowingly) bring the infected pet in?

It’s just not a very sanitary practice and I want to graciously ask people to please leave your pets (non-service animals) at home if you are going to go grocery shopping. Don’t leave pets in your car, just leave them at home. Please respect people, their allergies, and the cleanliness standards of varying grocery stores.

 

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Faerie Nice to Meet You!

IMG_3211_EditI got the amazing opportunity to do a shoot with this wonderful lady. She works at a place in Santa Cruz, CA called Happily Ever Laughter. (Go check it out. Cutest idea ever, right?!) She has many different characters she plays, such as a faerie, pirate, and even a mermaid. She knows how to play some songs on the Ukulele, sings the songs with the kids, and even does face painting. While many of us lose our sense of imagination and play as we get older, this gem right here held on to hers and is sharing it with others around her by bringing joy to little kids everywhere and making their dreams come true. Check out these photos we took and just see for yourself how much fun we had.

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If you ever get the chance to do a photo shoot with someone like this, I highly recommend it. It was hands down, the most fun shoot to date (sorry to all my other beautiful models and subjects). I hope you all enjoyed this post and stay tuned for more!

The Mother of All Shoots

Maternity shoots are becoming more and more popular these days…and I love it! They’re so beautiful. These shoots fully embrace the amazingness of the female body in it’s capacity to grow and sustain another human being within her. Anyways, I did my first maternity shoot a couple of months ago and absolutely fell in love with this style. Here are some of the photos that came out of that shoot.

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We did this shoot at the River Inn in Big Sur, Ca. This lady pictured right here did an amazing job picking out her outfit and matching it with the background. The yellows and greens completely compliment each other and make the feel of this picture very unisex, since this couple decided to wait to find out the sex of the baby. The warm and cozy colors make these photos fun and welcoming.

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This shows how their love came together to create a miracle.

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He wanted to “pop” her belly because he couldn’t wait to meet his very first child! Oh the anticipation…

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This couple was so much fun to shoot. Their love for each other shone through in every picture that I took. When editing these, I couldn’t help but have a dumb smile on my face the entire time!

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Their baby announcement was a picture of 2 chickens and a paper mache egg that read “June 2014.” So we carried the theme of that over and featured a little ducky in their photos.

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They just recently had their baby, and it turned out to be a healthy, happy, and beautiful baby girl. I feel honored that I get to continue to watch their fairytale unravel right before my eyes. Now I’m just waiting to do the baby’s first photo shoot! 😉

Lions, Leopards, and Elephants…and a Texas Cheerleader

I’m sure by now, some of you have seen the petitions trying to “Remove Kendall Jones’ page of her killing animals for fun!” and to “Help stop Kendall Jones from hunting in Africa.” If you haven’t heard about this story yet, you must be living under a rock in an area where they don’t believe in the internet.

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The first petition to remove her FB page has a good point when they say that “Facebook will not allow woman to post pictures of them naturally breast feeding their baby” but will allow her to post her pictures of kills. A few lines down, they express their opinion that “Facebook needs to remove this page and make sure she does not make another one! And really needs to crack down because this is the 4th page in the past few months I’ve seen with this cruelty on!” All in all, the point of this petition was to simply have Kendall’s photos taken down off her page. This has gotten over 14,600 people to “sign” this cause in support of removing her page.

The next petition talks about how she is hunting endangered animals “under the facade of conservation” and goes on to say how she wants to eventually have her own hunting TV show. Then they talk about how she has received “much protest, peaceful or otherwise from a wide variety of people from all over the world on her social profiles, and has, on those platforms, visibly scoffed and shaken off those protests, claiming that protestors are misinformed, or simply the “sheep” to her “lion” morals.”  The supports of this petition totaling at almost 150,200, want to stop Kendall from her trips arounds the world and from her hunting.

Now let’s talk about the articles I’ve seen plastered all over FB. Most of the time, they read with headlines like “This Texas Cheerleader Likes Killing Lions and Smiling in Photos With Their Carcasses.” The writer goes on to say that she  was posting “gruesome Facebook photos documenting [her] bloody summer spree.” But when I looked at her pictures, I didn’t see any blood. Maybe I’m just looking at the wrong ones? The writer of the article, Liz Dwyer, says that “unlike hunting duck or deer during a specific season to prevent overpopulation, wealthy animal hunters pay thousands of dollars to safari companies that organize opportunities to kill rare beasts.” She does go on to give the side of the hunters, saying that they if this type of hunting is outlawed and no cash in being put into their economy, then the citizens would not have any reason to “preserve” these animals. This may be so, but when I read this article, I mainly see descriptive words that are supposed to pull at people’s hearts and play to pathos. And once you’ve got somebody by their emotions, you can pretty much direct their emotions from there.

The next article I’ve seen is called “Reminder: Why Killing A Lion Is The Most Cowardly Thing You Can Do” which has an interesting writing style. It’s obvious by the way they write that they are writing to a younger crowd. With their one-sentence paragraphs and their uses of “like, yeah,” they drew in the crowd that they wanted. Not only that, they use foul, informal language, such as the F-word, which makes me, personally, respect them less as a journalist. If one is a journalist, they should be able to properly portray their opinion in a respectful manner using the various English words that we have in our dictionary. Instead, rather, they use the most common noun/verb/adjective that is prevalent among the youth of today. Later on, he shows pictures of how the animals are not ferocious beasts and how they were very close to his car during his safari trip. One of his captions is, “Like, I am straight up chilling next to a pride of lions.” So, it’s easy to see how he grabbed his target audience with this article.

Those were the main articles that I saw bashing Kendall. Unfortunately, I saw only articles bashing her before I saw anything remotely defending her (mainly 50 shares of bashing articles before 1 defending article). This made me think, “I wonder what the other side of this story is?” I hoped and waited to see if anyone was going to post an article explaining the other side, just so I could see their point of view and make a more informed opinion. A few weeks after I had these thoughts, I found a few articles.

I saw this article “Just Pretend This Dead Lion is a Human Baby, and Then You Won’t be so Upset.” The writer of this article, Matt Walsh, has very defensive, sarcastic writing in her defense. He makes it out to seem like all of the people bashing her are overreacting (which some people might have been, as by forming a strong opinion without getting all of the facts and researching both sides). Despite this, he does have some good points. He goes on to say  that he would rather see her pictures of her and her kills over “the pornographic garbage that clutters half of my newsfeed on a daily basis.” I’ve noticed this as well. With the rise of #selfies, it seems that more and more people are taking pictures of themselves, and not all of them are completely covered in all of them. Anyways, he said that “it’s funny that, of all the filth and depravity online, it takes an image of a dead zebra to really rile people up…Even more peculiar: a million babies are killed every year in this country, yet that has never sparked this level of popular outrage.” He goes on…

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I have a strong opinion on abortion based on the experiences of some people close to me. They have always regretted it and wish they could go back and undo it. Each person is entitled to their own opinion and has their own life experiences to support that. But these two sentences right here made me think about this whole situation. Yes, I do think it is incredibly important to conserve and protect our planet. We’ve already lost a lot of wildlife due to overhunting and extinction. But are animals really more important than human lives? Do people ever stop to think, “If that child is born, they may grow up to fight for the causes that I care so much about. They could be a supporter.” Honestly, I mostly hear people saying, “It’s not a person till it’s born,” and that just makes me sad.

Finally, the last article I’ve seen on this is called “No, That ‘Texas Cheerleader’ Isn’t an Endangered Species Killing A-hole.” This article mainly uses Kendall’s posts on FB defending herself and explaining her side. She talks about how she spends money on her licenses (a lot of money at that), how that helps the economy, how her hunts are either studied or the meat is taken by locals, and how her hunts may fall under the utilitarian view of ethics. Her killing one lion might save the pride from losing 5 lions because of that one. While people might not agree with her point of view or her reasonings, it is important to hear her out and see things from her side.

Before you go off preaching your own morals and putting down other people’s, you need to see the differing variations of ethics. There are many different schools of thought that all don’t match up the same. Check out the difference between utilitarian, deontological, and virtue-based ethics.

As horrible as this may sound, I’m going to bring up the issue of child labor in other countries. We in America think that it’s absolutely wrong — children should be in school, playing in playgrounds, and not worrying about life. But in those countries, sometimes those families need their children to work. Maybe it’s part of their culture and how their society functions. Maybe children who aren’t working are made fun of and bullied. Maybe working for their family creates self-respect for that child and develops them to enter into the working world earlier than other places. Now I’m not saying it’s right, but if we Americans fight so hard to end child labor, we could be eliminating an income from one household. How would you feel if just because China put a limit on the amount of kids their citizens can have, they decided to come over to the US and enforce their beliefs on that subject. All-in-all, it’s hard to always have a clear-cut opinion on what is right or wrong.

Now to finally get to my own personal thoughts…does anybody remember any of these events?

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Has anyone gotten the feeling that that government is afraid if we aren’t freaking out about something? If it’s not a national health outbreak, like the H1N1 virus, then it’s a national crisis, Super Storm Sandy or the Great Recession, or it’s a or we’re hating a person, Donald Sterling, Kony, Kendall Jones. Does anyone ever stop to think that the media is only telling us what they want us to hear? I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but this Kendall Jones thing made me stop and think. The media mainly reports on horrible things happening around the world, with maybe one heartwarming bit per 30 minute segment. But most of the time, they are reporting on tragedies and telling us that we need to worry.

Think about all of the college shootings that happened all at one. Parents, did it not make you fear for your college children who had moved out of the house and into the dorms at a university? Were you freaking out that some virgin was going to use your kid as their next target practice? It made me scared for all of my friends who are away at different schools! You really never know what’s going to happen. But what I’ve noticed is that the media only tells us what they want us to “know.” If there’s nothing in the economy to freak out about, there’s some health crisis. If there’s no health crisis, somebody somewhere is doing something despicable and we need to focus all of out thoughts, energy, and hate on them. Am I the only one that sees this?

Next time a lot of hate is going around the internet that’s targeted at one person or a nation, or we are being told to freak out about our economy or a health crisis outbreak, take a step back. Research before you form an opinion. The government thrives off of our fear. When they say that we are all going to die unless we get that one vaccine, then people rush to the hospitals and local drug stores to get that shot. You know what that does? It causes people to spend money. You know where that money goes? Into our economy. You might think, “Well that’s not so bad. At least we’re keeping it in America!” But it’s the governments way of making you spend money.

Like I said before, I’m not a conspiracy theorist of any kind. I actually find those people to be a little irritating, since they are constantly living in a state of paranoia. Anyways, what I’m hoping you’ll take from this is to please, please, please, research before you form a solid opinion. There are always two sides to every story. And even after reading both sides, you may side with your original feelings, and that’s completely fine! But it is incredibly important to think about the other side and what their opinions are. Also, don’t just take everything at face value. There’s always someone or something behind it all that’s motivating it. Think beyond what’s on the page and create an opinion for yourself by yourself. You’ll be steps ahead of the rest and you will be able to have real conversations with people who don’t think like you. After all, like I said in The Best Lesson I’ve Ever Learnedit is important to be around people who don’t think like you. Challenge yourself to grow spiritually, physically, and, of course, mentally.

The Perfect Pesto

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Everybody loves a good sauce, right? Well I’m not very good at making very many sauces, but I did learn how to create an amazing pesto. I started out by googling for recipes and then made some modifications of my own and I wanted to share it with you all. So here goes…

For this recipe that makes 22 oz. of pesto, you want to start out by buying all of the following ingredients:

  • Basil (4 oz.)
  • Mint (0.75 oz.)
  • Cilantro (0.75 oz.)
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese (2.5 oz.)
  • EVOO (1.5 cups)
  • Pistachios (1 cup)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Garlic (4 gloves)

My favorite type of blender is the Vitamix. It has so many different settings and really lets you control how much you want your sauce blended. But honestly, any blender will work. You want to start out by washing the Basil, Mint, and Cilantro.

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After drying, tear each leaf from its perspective stem. This will take a little bit of time but just enjoy it! Cooking should be fun and enjoyable. Alright, now once you’ve finished, your blender should look something like this:

IMG_3008_GreensNow that you have all of your leafs in there, you can start to add the heavier ingredients. Pour about 2.5 oz. (half of the pictured container) in the blender on top of the greens. Now pour 1 cup of salted pistachio meat on top of that.

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Doing this helps to push the greens down towards the blade of the blender. Next, sprinkle a little bit of pepper and salt over the top. You don’t have to use a lot of salt if you get the salted pistachios as I did. But if you need to cut down on the sodium in your diet, it might be a good idea to get unsalted pistachio meat so you can add your desired about of salt. However, when I add salt, I prefer to use a little bit of Himalayan Pink Salt because of the many health benefits it has.

IMG_3003_SaltFinally, before you pour your EVOO in, push down on the contents of your blender to make them closer to the blade and easier to blend. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of EVOO on top of that and start to blend. Your blender should look like this:

IMG_3010_BlenderBegin to slowly blend, only increasing the blending speed as the contents start to blend easily. You definitely don’t want to blow out the motor on your blender because 1) it’s expensive and 2) it stinks like burnt rubber…forever. Continue to slowly increase the blending speed as everything gets all mixed up.

DO NOT blend garlic in! Mince the garlic on the side and then put it on top and slowly mix it in with a spoon. This makes for a much stronger garlic flavor, which I prefer. But if you want a more subtle flavor, then go ahead and blend it in.

This recipe makes about 22 oz. of pesto. From here, you can put 11 oz. into a glass jar (without the minced garlic, let’s try to keep that stuff as fresh as possible!) and freeze it for one of those times you’re lazy and want a home cooked meal but don’t really wanna cook or clean and yada yada yada. But the other half you can use tonight!

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This pesto is amazing for many things. You can use it as a pasta sauce (duh), a spread on sandwiches, or a base to stir fry chicken. I hope you enjoyed this recipe and will try it soon!

 

Capturing the “Yes Moment”

WebsiteSo recently, I decided that I wanted to see where my photography could take me. I began by starting up a website. I used GoDaddy.com  and absolutely love it. Their prices are great and their website is easy to use. From there, I created a Facebook page. I feel so blessed to have received so much love and support from my friends and family. Within the first week, my page reached over 100 likes and is continuing to grow!

I am trying to do a range of different styles. While I do the normal portraits, I really want to try some new styles. I am looking into doing pinup, child/milestone pictures, and many other styles which you can see if you go to my website JeLauPhotography.com. But here is a story just to give you a little taste of what I’ve done so far.

This lovely couple here got engaged and I, being best friends with the guy, was asked to photograph his engagement. It was the most beautiful proposal I have ever seen. Never have I seen two people more in love than these two. We started out by telling his lady that we were just going to go do a photo shoot so that I can practice my photography skills and have more pictures to work with in editing and whatnot. So we went down to Pfeiffer State Beach in Big Sur, CA and had planned to take pictures on the beautiful purple sand. We started out by taking normal couple pictures such as the ones below.

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After we had gotten some good photos and the right lighting, this guy went and changed his outfit (AKA get the ring out of my camera bag) and we continued to do some more shoots. After a short while, he got down on one knee and this happened.


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This was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, next to their actual wedding, of course. They are such a wonderful and lovely couple and I hope that they live happily ever after for the rest of their lives. Shooting this was so much fun too! Being able to see and feel the joy that both people were feeling/exuding was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. If you ever get the chance to photograph or even be near something like this, it is definitely something that you won’t ever forget.

The Best Lesson I’ve Ever Learned

CPIC2013One of the things that I learned while attending Obama’s second inauguration, in 2013, was taught to me by James Carville (pictured left), and I believe it to be the best advice I’ve ever been given.

If you don’t know anything about this couple, I’m going to give you a little briefing. James is married to Mary Matalin (pictured right) and they are both very prominent political figures. James is a far left Liberal and Mary is a far right Conservative. This probably makes you think, “Whoa, if they don’t agree on stuff like political issues, how can they even stay in the same room as each other?” Well, you’re not the only one to think that.

Personally, I don’t claim to be a part of either political party, but I tend to think more conservatively. Most of the time, when I’m in the room with people who are incredibly left-winged, they end up spouting off their opinions and I feel like they are shoving them down my throat, as if I’m supposed to believe them or I’m stupid (and I’m sure that Liberals feel the same way about Conservatives). Like most normal people, I don’t like that.

What James said in his speech was that it is important to be around people who don’t think like you. That if all you do is hang out with people who think exactly like you do, you won’t learn anything. You’ll stay in your own little bubble and will never grow intellectually.

He went on to explain that it is so easy nowadays to go online and find validation from people who think just like you. Honestly, that’s the most comfortable place to be and most of us aren’t willing to let ourselves be wrong because then we might actually have to change. The fact of the matter is, change is hard, especially when it’s an established mindset. But James said that it is important to hear the other side out and find out their opinions and their reasons why. That is the best way that we can learn and not become ignorant Americans, as the rest of the world tends to see us.

As I browse my Facebook wall, I see my friends getting all huffy and puffy over certain events that the media is pumping out. When I start to think about what I’m seeing, I see a bunch of people forming opinions off of only half of the real story. But when I think back about it, I was doing the exact same thing before I had not been given this important and insightful advice.

The gist of this is that it is important to keep learning. There will never be a day where we can just say, “Nope, I’ve got it all. There’s nothing else I need to learn. I have my thoughts and opinions and they are going to stay that way.” If that’s the way we think, we will never learn. And think about it, if the entire world population thought that way, where would we be? No negotiations, no peace treaties, no compromises of any kind. Continuous learning is important and we should never be afraid of being wrong or talking about our opinions with others to maybe find a common ground.

Being wrong allows us to learn and grow as individuals. We should aim to continuously be growing and learning for the rest of our lives.