Resist change or be changed

“Looks like nothing’s gonna change

Everything still remains the same

I can’t do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I’ll remain the same”

-Otis Redding –The Dock of the Bay

I’m sitting on my porch listening to the birds chirping. The sound of the water moving in my pool drowns out the hum of traffic not far enough away. My eyes are red and swollen. My shirt is tear-stained. The tears help clear my cloudy vision but leave a mark to remind me of this moment.


Otis Redding recorded “Dock of the bay” just two days before he died when his plane fell from the sky into an icy lake. The world was changing. He felt he was changing too but struggled with the fact he couldn’t please everyone, “So I guess I’ll remain the same.” And he tried not to change. When he died two days later, he left the memory of the man others wanted him to be and not who he wanted to be. He refused to change, and so changed happened to him.


Death can be so unexpected, and I think it’s completely different if you know it’s coming. You have time to say what needs to be said, do what you always wanted to do, and say goodbye to those you love. I’m by no means saying it is any easier to see someone you love falling further and further away from your grasp each day, and you are helpless to stop the suffering. I’m saying it’s just different.


Where my heartbreaks is when I can see both sides of the coin, and neither one is any better.


I remember having a conversation with one of my patients many years ago about loss. My husband of eight years had decided to leave me for someone else, leaving me with two small children. All of the effort I had poured into our marriage to keep the promise of “Till death do us part” was discarded before I could take another breath. This patient had just recently lost her husband to a 3 month battle with pancreatic cancer. My husband had chosen to leave. So, there was just this messy accident; none of us saw the train wreck of divorce coming; we couldn’t stop it or prepare for the impact it would have on so many lives. Her husband, against his will, had to leave. How is either one any better, and why do we have to compare? They are both equally terrible and painful; both cause suffering, loss, and change.


A very good friend I had known since I was in 7th grade left this earth a few weeks ago. He was a beautiful person, inside and out. He was funny and cool. He was smart and popular. Somehow he remained humble and was one of the kindest people I know. He loved everyone, all but one person, himself. I sat with him a couple of times after he tried to take his life. I was just there for him, trying to be enough of something that might make him want to live.

I never judged him. I was always there for him. I desperately wanted to fix him, we all did, but it wasn’t within my power to make him want to live. When he tried again, I quickly learned I couldn’t save him. It wasn’t up to me to decide for him, he had to chose life. I just continued to be there when he needed someone the most. I’m grateful to have been that person a couple of times; I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m grateful for the others who stood beside him until the end of his precious 53-year-old life. He is dearly loved and missed by so many. Sadly as much as he was loved, nobody could love him enough to save him.


Yesterday, the life of a beautiful wife, mother, friend, and angel left earth for her heavenly home. She was 33 years old, leaving behind two children under six, two step-children, and an amazing husband. I’ve known her husband for over 20 years, and he is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. They had a three-year battle with breast cancer, and they loved life and each other until the last moment. Today there is an emptiness to be felt more than just in our town, but everywhere. I know you feel it.


How can you compare which is worse, which is harder on the family and friends? One who chooses or one who is taken? I remember someone telling me about death; I’m sorry, I don’t remember who it was, but they gave me a new perspective on death and God “taking” them away. I was told God isn’t a taker, not of life or breath, but He is a giver. God gives life, and He gives breath, but sometimes for reasons we don’t know or understand … He stops giving. This gave me so much peace, knowing He’s not both giver and taker; He is life, not death.


No matter how much we try to control our lives, we are not in control any more than we are in control of what others think about us or what others do. We are not in control of the days we will live unless our attempts to leave are finally granted. I’m not sure if you believe in God, a supreme being, or the power of the universe, but there is something or someone in control of whether we live or die, and it’s not us. We don’t have that kind of power. If we did, more of us would be gone, or maybe more would more be alive? I think of many I know who left here never wanting to leave, and then I think of those who desperately fought to go, many times unsuccessfully. I know a few still fighting the choice to stay or go. I still feel the final choice is not ours; we don’t have the ultimate power over life, to create or destroy. I have peace knowing there is a purpose for all of this. I know it’s for a more significant reason, and I have faith God is in control, and He knows what He is doing.

Like Otis, I worry about what everyone wants, and I want everyone to be happy. I’m the one who watches you while we sit together watching a movie, to make sure you are enjoying the film. I want to make my parents, sisters, children, and husband happy and proud of me. I wish I could fulfill the wishes, expectations, and ideals all of you have for my life, but I can’t. I wasn’t created to live within the box any person wants to place me in; I was made with a unique mold made special just for me and for my purpose. Life is too short and too precious to be wasted on worrying if you’re living the dreams everyone else has for you. Will you choose the narrow or the wide path? The wide path allows for you to move through life with others, but the narrow only has room for one person. The narrow has room for the one life you were given to live … this life. Don’t waste it.

Life is changing. People are changing. I’m changing and continually need to change to be the person I was put on this earth to be. Both beautiful souls we lost fulfilled their purpose, both leaving a legacy and a message to those who are still living … to live fully and to love. I think the rest will just work itself out. So, try not to fear change because it will come whether you want it to or not; it happens to all of us. Embrace change, life, and love. Remember those we’ve lost, cherish the memories, and don’t forget to look for the lesson in every situation.

-Corinne Noel

Back to the Old Boring Blog

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” —George Bernard Shaw

I’ve been through a pandemic, so have you. We’ve been stuck inside and forced to do things differently. Things are just different, very different, and we are all different too. 

Here I am again.

I’ve been here before—many times. I’ve been all of the things for all of the people in all of the careers. I think that just about covers it. I’ve been back to this blog, time and time again, a love-hate relationship with photography. Hey, guess what? I’m back to fishing after 30+ years … but first, let’s try Mary Kay; oh, did I forget to mention Insurance sales? Oh, I really meant Real Estate … you get the picture.

Here I am again. Doing the only thing which has been constant since I was little—I’m writing. Maybe, in the beginning, it wasn’t on a Mac, or an iPad, or iPhone; in fact, I know it wasn’t, since none of those things were even a seed in the belly of technology at that time. Paper. The smell of paper and the sound of a pen leaving a trail of my thoughts on the page, and only time, water, and fire can make them disappear.

I’m back. After two years of school and a degree in writing and photography, I’ve come back to where I first sent my thoughts and writing out into the void of the internet to see what would come back. I have very few followers; you could count them on the one hand. Really, you actually can since I have exactly five followers. Surprisingly, what came back were very kind words from five people who stuck with me over ten years of trying to find my way. 

I can’t believe I ever left. I’m sorry I left.

I decided to resurrect my blog; it has been waiting patiently in a shallow grave for the last two years. I missed telling stories, sharing my photos, some of my memories, and maybe there was even a response back from somewhere within the void. I forgot how important it was for me to tell stories. I am a storyteller. Whether it is with my camera, computer, pen, or voice, I was made to tell stories. I have always written my stories to have significant meaning, maybe not as important, as an epic poem, a fable, or myth. But they have always had a purpose, connected with the heart, and left the reader thinking about things differently. I feel we all could use something to connect us with our hearts in times like this. 

So — I’m back.

This time I won’t pretend like I wasn’t destined to do this; I know I was. I have rekindled my love with photography, so I’ve even picked my camera back up. I’m ready to take some incredibly meaningful photos. I’m a little rusty, so if you need a portrait or headshot, give me a shout. I could use the practice.

I went back through every blog post I’ve written over the last 10 years, and I saw so many things I wanted to rewrite, change the phrasing of, the punctuation, and spelling. But then I got honest with myself, and sometimes we need to do that. I am only in competition with myself to make myself better today than I was yesterday. I left every misspelling, comma splice, incomplete sentence, blurry photo, and run-on sentence right where it was. If you want to see how technically flawed a writer and photographer I was, go ahead and read my old posts, there are some doozies. If you’re wanting to read some good stories, go ahead and read my old posts, there are a few I’m still proud of, even without the corrections. 

I’m back, flaws in plain view, humble, and ready to step into shoes I’ve been tiptoeing around since I was 8 years old. 

My name is Corinne Noel North-Fuller and I’m a storyteller. 

I write sentences. I take photos.

I hope you’ll stay and see what happens next. 

To my faithful five — thank you ❤️ and here we go again!

— Corinne Noel 

Forever Recalculating the GPS of My Life!

8DCD954E-9147-4BC9-B2E4-2C2A6B03895CI’m sitting with my feet up on the big comfy couch in my living room. I stare out the window in front of me, and since I have the blinds pulled up to the top, I can see the grey overcast sky so thick with fog that I can’t find the sun. My cat is pacing across the top of the couch like a new father in the waiting room of labor and delivery. She sees a lizard doing reptile pushups.  I read somewhere that it’s a mating thing, but I secretly think they are just showing off ! They probably watch me trying to do even one pushup, silent laughing (I’ve never heard a lizard laugh, so they must do it quietly.), Then they purposely sit on my windowsill, knowing I’m struggling, so they push out like 25 in a minute! Jerks! I won’t try to save them next time they get trapped in the house, I’m let my cat play with it, eat it, spit it back out and continue to play with it … all while I sit quietly laughing so they know it’s personal!

Well … that went in a totally different than I thought, but really it will make perfectly imperfect sense soon! Well, those that have followed along with me, know that I was a photographer for a long time and since I’ve had this blog for 8 years you know I like to write. Looking at the amount of posts in an 8 year period, you would think I hated it, now that I look at it. I don’t hate writing, I absolutely love it, just like the small bowl of cheddar cheese goldfish that I’m devouring! When I’m writing, it’s actually freakishly similar to eating these goldfish, because I do it so effortlessly, that I don’t feel like I’m eating an entire bag or writing a small novel!

If you’ve followed along on my blog posts, website, Facebook or even Instagram, you would see my love/hate relationship with photography. The art and act of Photography is a deep love of mine, it’s in my soul and no matter how many times I have walked away, run away or hid in a small closet from it … it still finds me, it knows my heart and knows how I cherish that gift. All that being said, I despise what has happened to the photography industry. Just like a an older women of incredible size and lack of balance, with no grace, rhythm or strength , it’s fine if she dances in her house, with family and friends, but … she probably (just a hunch) shouldn’t try out for “So you think you can dance?”  Neither should someone who just picked up a new $300 camera on Craigslist last week, think that they should post an ad and offer their services as a “Professional Photographer” to poorly document and disfigure an entire wedding party with over editing each photo, all for the bargain price of $100! I’m all for starting out somewhere and I did many weddings and events for free in the beginning, until I was competent and consistent to charge for my services. I went through stages of trying to keep up with every new fad and dropping them as fast as they went away …by the way the black and white photos with just a spot of color, that has been gone for years, it wasn’t even that cool then, please stop! I love to shoot, to capture cool moments and feelings, but I hate to edit! I know I could hire someone else to edit, but really why, it’s my work, I feel editing your own work should be required to still slap your watermark on it and call it yours! I was taught, online by some incredible photographers, that you try to take a better photo and less editing in post processing. However, I like all the cool presets and filters, it’s fun, frustrating and exhausting! So, I’m not looking to carry my photography any further, unless it creeps into me while I’m sleeping and possesses my mind, which then I still haven’t conscientiously made the decision to move forward, so okay, there’s that scenario. I want to just use it when I want, for what I want, with no expectations or pressure. Well, we will see how long this last … this time!

I’ve been writing poetry and stories since I was a kid. I still have the first poem that I wrote my best friend Natalie when I was like 8 years old. Looking back, not bad for an 8 year old who grew up back then, as for an 8 yr old now … it would be total crap and a 4 yr old could wipe the pavement with me. I saw my love for writing and the ability to tell stories, woven like a fine silver thread through my life and now I feel I want there to be a greater concentration of silver in this part of the hand-made cozy blanket of my life.

Where was I going with all of this clown up on a soap-box blog post … to tell you that I have a hunch that you’ll see a bit more of my blog posts popping up in the near future. As for what you will find here, well, I can’t really be sure, I just want to write to get it out of my head. Sometimes I want to paint you a picture of something touching and beautiful and other times it’s something silly and pure brilliance! Either way, I hope that you will stick around to see how this all turns out. I’ve got my bag of popcorn out now and I’m waiting for the good stuff to happen now too, so lets see where this circus will stop next!

-Corinne Noel

If you focus too hard on the prize, you might miss the beauty of the journey!

This…this is the face of joy, contentment and gratitude.

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My journey started back in February when I found out that I had to have a tumor removed from my head. They failed to get a good sample in the biopsy, so until April when it was removed, we had no idea if I had cancer or not. To not know, but think you might have cancer, can really change the way you look at your life. It can completely change you and hopefully your circumstances if done right. Praise be to Jesus, there was no cancer!  While we were waiting for the surgery, I decided to go with Heroes on the Water for an event at Robinson Preserve. They take Veterans out on kayaks to fish with their families for no charge…it was amazing!! Though I only caught one fish, it was enough to remind me of the great love I had for fishing as a child.I was in a tandem with a great guide, he paddled the entire time, which is great, because I’ve never been in a kayak before! 01a2db50382180168f27873ccd5aacaf8958808158

Bronson, my 15 yr old and I rented kayaks from Economy Tackle a couple of times and I heard about a fishing tournament sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida – CCAFL, it was called the CCA Florida Star tournament. The tournament was for 108 days, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, all Summer long which was perfect for me, since I still wasn’t working. I had walked away from a position with US Senior Vets that I loved! I’ve never had that much passion for a job, but there were major stresses that took a toll on my health, so I had to step down. Bronson was out of school for the Summer and I feared he would spend the entire Summer on his iPad, so I thought this would be the perfect way to get him out of the house. After having a tumor, not sure if I had cancer or not, getting ill after the surgery, having suppressed autoimmune disease symptoms attack me and keep me in bed for a few weeks. I wanted out of the house and my renewed love for fishing was the way we would start to change our lives! I’ve wanted to move out of Florida since I was about 15, I’ve hated the beach, the gulf…everything about Florida, but all of that was about to change. I would learn that God could change a heart and that I would grow to love this beautiful state and how fortunate I have been all of these years to live where I do!0145c4b514ebb23a5a6b04d645e10939900dbedfaa

We started fishing in the kayaks we rented, we continually would ask the guys at Economy Tackle for fishing advice on lures, where to fish, best hooks…okay, really everything, because we had no clue! See, this tournament was an inshore fishing tournament, to catch a tagged redfish would bring the biggest prizes, but there were other fish in the Open category that had great prizes too. So, we were hunting, red fish, cobia, sheepshead, spotted sea trout and snook. Not a problem, except that neither of us had ever caught any of the fish needed for the tournament and we didn’t know how or where to find them! I fished a lot growing up until I was maybe 15, then maybe 5 times in the last 30 years and my sweet grandfather always took care of knotted lines or putting hooks and weights on the line, so I really didn’t know anything! I did watch him, so I think it may have helped a little…but I knew how to fish, he taught me that and I think you never lose that! We also were fishing out of kayaks which I will tell you, isn’t very easy and to make matters worse, the first time we rented one, was the first time I’ve ever paddled a kayak on my own and only the 2nd time I had been in one! So we were learning everything as we went, maybe not the smartest way to do it, but heck, we had 108 days…anyone could learn anything in 108 days!

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I found a friend on Facebook that was selling like brand new Kayaks at a steal, so we bought kayaks of our own. We had only invested $60 for me to enter the tournament, my son since he was under 17, it was only $15 for him to enter. The Youth division was for scholarships, there were 2- $25,000 scholarships and 10-$5,000 available. It was enough of a motivator for him to get out and fish and I wanted to win a boat so we would continue to fish and because I personally  was having a problem fishing in the kayak that I wasn’t sharing with anyone. I had developed a fear of sharks & what I can’t see in the water under me, when I was probably 4 or 5 years old. I never outgrew it, I fought it and tried scuba diving with them, no problem, but now if they can get under me or if I don’t know they are there…I get very anxious and I have panic attacks. However, I haven’t really told anyone, because I’ve never really had a fear of anything, no fear at all, until I came back from the Army. I wasn’t in battle, it wasn’t that, but something in me changed while I was in and now I get panic attacks. Anyway, the only person who was seeing me freak out was my son, but he just thought I was scared of sharks or that I was just being a girl! 019d1a96fff76569a195006156392ef99f55361173

 

 

 

 

 

Bronson had his 15th birthday celebration on the boat of my friends Tony & Shelley Ballam. He offered to take us out, they knew we were wanting to really do some deep sea fishing, since the closest we had been was the Flying Fish twice in the last 2 weeks, catching grey snapper and grunt.My older son was home on leave from Ft Bragg, so he went on the Flying fish with me too. It was more like a video game, not much to it.We would bring up 2 to 3 fish at a time and we would have a contest to see who would catch the most, so the Flying Fish is not really the type of fishing we wanted to do. So, going out that morning with Tony & Shelley the weather was rough, most boats never even made it out of the 10th street boat ramp, but we were with a real pro! Bronson caught a 4 ft barracuda, I caught a 15lb Jack Crevalle and we caught our limit of Red Grouper. It was a blast, we had the best time and they were amazing hosts! So grateful for that trip! Tony is a great captain!!01a4c850bf33842c234a0fbc956701eafd3c6392a4 01a5cb31a849e21e63cac26318a52610fd3bef0c91 01ab8b9a1fefae4b34d47ca45acc229fe20fe90179 01c5ea49a005796f04027b6c356e6602c9da3c7ebb 0120c5bbfe9925a00a175e015fe6f9fccb2480741d 0154fe009e5f1268bb9e875a7ecb9ea573a55b409d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we fish our little hearts out for a month between the kayaks and the local pier…we bother Lt. Dan from Economy Tackle so much about these redfish, that I have still never seen after fishing for a month in the tournament, that he offers to take us wading in Lemon Bay. He jokes about it being a shark breeding area, but says the water is clear you can see sharks coming and says he and his wife, Toni will meet us down south on Sunday. I research every possible thing about what attracts sharks,how many attacks and deaths from people wade fishing and if wading gear is a deterrent . We show up on Sunday and it’s overcast, and the water is murky…he says if something bumps you, hit it with your pole! Panic starts to take over my body as we are wading to almost hip high, he’s concerned that we can’t see anything if it was coming for us…then I catch my firsts red fish and she is beautiful and all my fear is gone!! I let her go and then catch my first sheepshead. It turned out to be a great day, but the sheepshead was bleeding a bit and I could hear the panic in his voice to send it on it’s way before we called in the sharks. Still, an amazing day and a great friendship was formed. If it wasn’t for Dan, I think we would never have found any fish!0128b77aeab2aeafec68df68ea5b9c9f60d2162808

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two months into the tournament, we have become decent fisherman, mostly out of the kayaks and if no luck, we stop at the pier on the way home to cast under the pier and catch mangroves so we feel we caught something. The guys at Hart’s Landing Bait shop, said I bought more bait then anyone other than fishing guides…we were there A LOT!!! Bronson caught a redfish from under the pier one day, I was helping bring it up, the line broke…he will never let me forget that…I am putting it in writing just in case he forgets that he will never let me forget  it 😉 We are fishing about 4-5 times a week, still no new redfish, but we are mastering seatrout, so we have entrees for the open division, so not all is lost. People are catching tagged redfish right & left, but they were never registered for the tournament, so they don’t win anything, all 5 boats were still up for anyone to win!01139a1a41d5d0a0351bbe9189ad9d3acdb96b8429

 

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A friend from High school Tami Doutrich had posted a photo of a redfish that she had caught and after asking a few questions…we had a new spot to fish, said to be loaded with redfish! When you don’t know where to find a certain type of fish, everyone will tell you where and how they catch them and 99% of the time, it doesn’t work. I say this, because we chased unicorns for 2 months before we went to the spot Tami told us to go to. She was an angel sent to rescue me from going insane! The first day we went, Bronson caught almost 20 redfish, though all under 14 inches, we were excited, because they were really there! I caught a sheepshead that first day and we realized this was where we needed to fish for the last month of the tournament and we did almost every day for the last month! Tami sent me a message on Facebook one morning and told me her brother had caught one of the tagged redfish in the place we were now fishing that morning and released it. We were fishing in the right spot and now we were even more determined to catch a tagged redfish that would win us a $60,000 boat, motor and trailer!!! We fished in the rain, we fished in the heat, standing up the entire time, battling oysters, a huge population of mangrove snappers and we caught a lot of fish! We mastered sheepshead! I caught over 7 keepers in one day and I made it my goal each day to catch one to log and then try for the redfish. I caught a huge redfish, over 30 inches one day, had to have the park attendant help me bring it up, but my line broke 4 feet out of the water. It didn’t have a tag, so no big deal, but wow, what a fish!

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The last day of the tournament, sister Beth’s boyfriend Jeff Weber, offered to take us on his boat with a friend who catches a lot of redfish.My sister wanted us to win the tournament too, so her and her boyfriend came back from their stay in Miami a day earlier, just to take us out on his boat! We are still blown away by their selflessness! Still wanting to win a boat…we drove down to Cape Coral went out into the storm on Labor Day, fished for hours, dodged thunderstorms, chased tarpon in the marina at dusk, but no tagged redfish. Bronson did catch a beautiful redfish and lost a 40+ inch redfish, and I caught a huge catfish! We did everything we could have, we went from no knowledge of fishing to being pretty good fishermen! I spent hours alone fishing, praying, singing, yelling and crying to God! I wanted a boat so bad, in the end, there were days where I fished 6 hours, came home and then went back out another 4-5 hours, it had become my job to fish! I was exhausted! I was so upset that I didn’t win a boat by catching a tagged redfish!I know that God isn’t  Santa Claus or a magic genie that grants wishes, but I know that if you put in the work, that you will be rewarded. On the ride back in the boat on Labor Day, after the storms had cleared and all was calm, I noticed so was I. I had time to reflect on these past 3 months and I’ve come so far. I have battled my fears, I have fought for time with my boys making memories that will last forever and I have found a new life so far from the one before my surgery. In 3 months, we learned how to fish, and fish from kayaks, while in a tournament! I have found my love for fishing and want to do this professionally one day! I see many more tournaments in the future! I am so grateful for the people who have so selflessly offered there knowledge, their secret spots, their time, their money and their hearts! My husband is the most understanding and amazing man and he became a fisherman’s widow for the last 3 months. He let us fish, encouraged us to fish and cheered us on! None of this could have happened without him. He worked hard while I went off to fish every day. I am so appreciative for his sacrifices to allow us to live this dream! My faith in God carried me when I was ready to give up, His love carried me and He renewed my spirit every day that ended without a tagged redfish.He is faithful…it’s always His way and His timing, but in the end…He still gave me a boat 🙂  Bronson won a $5,000 college scholarship and  I won a boat!!! I promised if I did win a boat that I would use it to help other women, kids and families to learn to fall in love with fishing, with the outdoors and make memories! I want to help others to learn to fish, so they can enter amazing tournaments like this one and win things that will change their live! Even if they don’t win…they will make memories that cannot be made in front of the tv or on the couch with your phone in your hand!

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I don’t know everything about fishing, I’m a long way from that, but I know enough to be dangerous…to the fish! I’d love to help anyone who wants to learn to fish, maybe catch some, but mostly have some fun and not be judged by if you are afraid to touch a shrimp or a slimy fish! This is where the story ends, but our new journey is just beginning 🙂 By the way, I don’t know how to operate a boat or have a place to keep one, so give me a few days to figure it  all out and then let’s go make some memories!

Tight lines and God bless!!

Corinne Noel †

 

 

 

 

 

How did I get here and why did it take so long to find myself?!

me at 6This is the first photo that I have of myself fishing. The fish was actually frozen stiff, but I didn’t really care, I wanted a picture with my fish. My grandmother had dinner ready so we put it in the freezer for just a minute and well…hours later we remembered him! It’s one of my favorite photos! The year was…ummm… a few years ago and I was about six.  I was spending the summer with my grandparents down in Venice. My family moved to Sarasota, Florida and my grandparents lived close, so I would go stay with them during the summer while not in school. I spent most every summer down there until I was about 11 years old. Sometimes my three older sisters would be there or maybe it was just my cousin Christopher and I.  Those summers we spent down there were some of the best summers of my life… but I forgot how great they were and how happy I really was.

Back in the 70’s…giving my age away… both of my parents were working a lot. I had older sisters who would watch me most of the time, but to go to my Grandparent’s house, that was the best!! They lived in a mobile home park, which to this day is still one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. They had two clubhouses with huge pools and many lakes. I would be lying if I said it was the most boring place for a six year old. Oh and I got to drive golf carts around everywhere, it was awesome! They had pairs of swans that patrolled the lakes they were super scary and they chased me home a lot, but it was still fun.

My grandfather, I believe, was one of the most patient men that had ever walked the face of this Earth. He had 4 granddaughters and 3 grandsons and we all wanted to fish. He taught his daughters and all of his grandchildren,  because he knew we would love it as much as he did. He spent most of his time putting bobbers and hooks back on our poles after breaking our lines that were always horribly stuck in the rocks at the Venice Jetties. I don’t believe that I actually ever remember him fishing at all. He was always helping us and there were so many of us! He would go from one to the other and never stop the entire time we fished. We were very high maintenance, it’s a miracle he lived to 99…we must have really kept him in shape!

Most of the time I would fish in the lakes at the park. They had a beautiful clubhouse with a porch overlooking the lake with big wooden rocking chairs. I would gather a bag of old bread and a couple of hot dogs, and head over to the clubhouse porch to fish every day! They had thousands of blue gill  that could easily be caught by balling up a piece of bread or ripping off a piece of hot dog. You would carefully put it on the hook and lower it into the water. Hopefully it stayed on long enough for a fish to get it and if you mastered the art of bread balls…you could pull up fish every minute, all day! They would feed like piranhas! Not much sport in it, but could be very competitive when seeing who could catch the most or the biggest.

Now the biggest fish in the lake were the bass, but the biggest was this one large mouth bass, “Big Daddy Bass.” He was a mythical creature that others spoke of, but few actually ever saw. In my years of fishing there, I saw him maybe five times and I caught him once! He was too heavy and broke the line, but it was an awesome day!! I loved fishing and it was hard to keep me away from the water back then. I don’t know really know what happened to me, but I guess I just discovered horses and boys, which left no time to fish.

As I look back, there was never a time where I loved living in Florida, I’ve always wanted to move to the mountains and be near lakes. I’ve truly hated living in Florida and as I grew older, I never went to the beach and definitely would not go in the water or fish. If it was a holiday that my big, crazy, awesome family would spent out at the beach I would go. I might fish, but it was just to pass the time, no real enjoyment. Then in March of this year I was contacted about a Heroes on the Water event at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. They offered to take my family and I out in kayaks to fish for no cost, since I was an Army Veteran. Not many fish were caught, but I caught the fishing bug that day…my love of fishing returned and what happened next would change everything!

Shortly after that, I had decided to have a tumor in my neck/head surgically removed. I had ignored it for a few years, for the fear of having partial facial paralysis. I was having problems that left me no choice but to remove it.  We tried to biopsy the tumor, but it was in such a tight area, they couldn’t get a good sample. So going in to this surgery, we had no idea if it was cancerous or not. I was under a great amount of stress from my job and my doctor said there would have to be changes made in my career and a lifestyle change with more fun and less stress! I spent every moment like it was my last, I fished a lot with my younger son and then I went in for the surgery. Praise Jesus that it was not cancerous! I realized there were many changes I would have to make in my life. When I was recovering, I realized how much I had truly missed fishing all of these years. I realized how much I LOVE where I have lived for almost 40 years. I realized that I have not been living, just going through the motions and I was ready to start the life I owed myself, my husband and my children. I was ready for joy, laughter, contentment and peace with who I am. For anyone praying for God to change a family member or friend’s heart…I’m proof! He completely changed my heart…it took 40 years, but it can be done, please don’t lose hope!

I know this was a long story, but I felt the need to bring you up to speed, to how I got here and why I’ve turned a photography blog into a fishing & lifestyle blog. I’ve been fishing non-stop since I recovered from my surgery back in May. I’ve searched for 2 months for the elusive redfish and finally caught one! I will have to tell that story another time, but know that it’s my favorite fish, so strong and gentle all at the same time! Don’t get me started on how beautiful they are! I try to fish 3-5 times a week and it still seems like I want to do more. When my son is tired and wants to quit…I’m just getting started. I would love to fish professionally one day, hopefully before I’m 60 or I won’t be able to get the fish in the kayak! I fish by kayak when weather permits, but it’s summer and highly unpredictable like a toddler. So lately, it’s been pier fishing, which is not my favorite, but please know how grateful I am to just be fishing, to be alive and to spend time with my husband and kids! Someday I’d like to have a small boat, maybe I’ll win one…maybe I won’t…but it won’t matter either way…because I’ll still be fishing! If you ever want to fish, I’d love to go!  If you don’t know how to fish,  I’ll teach you everything I know, which honestly isn’t a lot, but I’ll make sure we have some fun. If you know a lot about fishing, I’d love to learn anything you are willing to share.

I wish for you all…lines that are tight, bait that is lively, hooks that set & big fat beautiful fish that make you smile 🙂

Corinne Noel †

Furry little miracles

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Everyday we are faced with the decision to take what the day brings and stay positive or to allow trials to destroy us. I’ve had my share of trials and I admit there are some days that are more than I handle…I cry, I pray…I cry some more…I move on. Not everyone can do that, not everyone has somewhere they can turn, someone or something to look to for help, for comfort…for peace. I’ve made it this far, not on my own, Glory be to God for the peace I’ve received in my times of need. I think I’ve been through some tough times, but today I was blessed to share in a special day, a day of victory, a day of overcoming that most would bow in defeat!

Today was the entry day for all kids competing at the Sarasota County Fair. I remember as a young girl, my friends and I were in the 4-H horse club. We made and sold elephant ears at the 4-H booth. We were allowed to stay the rest of the day after our shift and see all of our friends, but the best part was that I got to hang out with my best friends from the barn. It was a great time in my life, those friends, those moments carried me through some hard times in my life. Now, the county fair brings back memories of rides that made you sick and food that made you sicker! I guess as time passes and the further you walk away from who you were, time muddies the memories and they start to look less like anything you would want to remember. Today, the mud was cleared by the tears from a video of a rescued bunny and a little girl and her calf! Today, I was brought back to the one of the many reasons why the fair was one of my favorite places when I was younger. I was reminded why cows, pigs, chickens, bunnies, goats and ducks were more than just farm animals, they are valuable in connecting kids with the outside, teaching them a sense of pride and accomplishment and most of all, helping them bond with real friends that will last a lifetime!

As I stood in the tent where the bunnies, roosters, ducks and chickens were, there stood an amazingly happy family. Todd and his beautiful wife Jessica were there with their two children, Bailey & Xavier. There were many families there today, all with children that were entering a furry friend into the fair to compete, but this family was different. This family not even 36 hours ago, lost every possession they owned and sadly 3 dogs in a house fire. They were renting and didn’t have rental insurance, so they lost everything! Todd & Jessica are both Veterans who fought for our country, they sacrificed their lives and now this amazing family of 4, have lost everything, but each other. Everything but…a miracle bunny named “Shadow” who was revived and rescued by the firefighters. Everything but…a hedgehog named “Sonic” that was found a day later, still alive!

This family was smiling and giggling the entire time I was there. The strength that Todd and Jessica have… to keep it together for their children, when there is so much loss…they are inspiring others…they know that they have each other and that is the greatest blessing. The parents are trying to keep the kid’s spirits up and being around the animals, the community and their friends helps remind them that there is so much good to focus on! I wanted to meet the family, take some photos to help them create some new memories, give back to my Veteran brother & sister and in trying to help them heal, they helped me remember a time of my life that was missing that I’ve desperately  needed back.

Their daughter Bailey is showing a calf named “Snickerdoodle” today at 7 pm. She lost her show outfit in the fire along with her show boots and belt. I heard that someone had donated boots for her to wear today, but I would love to help Bailey have a beautiful shiny show belt to wear today…shiny like her smile, even in this terrible mess that their life has become overnight. I’m asking my Greenwood Stable friends, Hunt Club friends and friends that are still at barns, to donate to this family. We all know what it was like to show animals, we had our show clothes, our own jackets and boots, but what if we lost them in a fire? I can’t imagine how this little girl is feeling, how her little brother and her amazing parents, how they are coping.  I CAN imagine that maybe giving her something to make her feel special, like a shiny new show belt, how that might make things good just for a day and I want to help give that to her! Her family has been given clothing for the kids and right now they are all staying at their parents house. I know it sounds silly to ask for just a belt when they need so much more than that. I believe that there are many people out there that want to help others, they want to really know who they are helping and they want to really connect. I wanted everyone to really know this family, not just see them as a family in need, this is more than a story of a bunny, a cow or a shiny belt. This is a family of Military Veterans, a 4-H family, a family in our very own community and they need your help. Will you please help?

http://www.gofundme.com/oimqgo?fb_action_ids=10155245481995562&fb_action_types=og.shares&fb_ref=undefined

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Finally seeing what has always been there…

Bleeding Heart

We’ve been living in the same house for the past 5 years. Not too much has changed, same color on the exterior, a few walls inside are different, a few new items from Ikea, but for the most part, it’s all the same. The outside vegetation has been completely dead or so overgrown that the neighbors wonder if we’ve moved out 😉 The back yard is the most neglected, we had grand plans for that space, complete with a grill, fire pit and seating for the family to eat outside when it cools off. All that being said, I think we have been out there to eat, maybe once! The plants and the bugs took over and life got busy and we forgot about what grand plans still wait in our backyard.

We had some plants in the front yard die this past winter, so I asked our youngest, Bronson to find something alive from the backyard that might do well in the front. He chose bleeding hearts. They thrived in the backyard with just dappling of sun during the day, but they were being put in the full sun. Usually I’d read up on a plant to make sure it was the right spot, but being busy, I just smiled as he planted them.

The first 2 months, they dried up, all the flowers fell off of them and I was just grateful to have something in front of the house. I was sure they were gone. Enter monsoon season and 7 inches of rain in a weekend. Suddenly every plant we thought we lost from drought….came back with a vengeance! We are still trying to cut things back after 2 weeks of pruning!! The bleeding hearts are doing beautifully 🙂 I never really cared for them before, they were more like weeds in the back, every time we cut them all down, in a week they would be back. This is a photo of one tiny bleeding heart flower, all alone, silent and still. They were always there, I just never took the time to really see them. I never realized how lovely they are 🙂

I say all of this to bring up the fact that I love photography 🙂 It took so long for me to realize it! I’ve been shooting again, all thanks to God who answers prayers for a camera and gear to shoot with and then amazingly supportive and loving friends like Jennifer Ford-Cote, Joni Dusek and Carissa Warfield, who answered the call!!

I’ve learned a lot this time around. Though I’ve preached about it not being about the gear…I was comfortable saying that with $4,000 worth of gear in my bag! I’ve used entry level cameras this time around and you know what…they still take photos!!! It’s been challenging, but so worth it! I’ve had time to make do with what I had and I really had no idea how good some of the consumer cameras are! It’s been a great experience and now I know after all this time which camera and lenses I want to start back with 🙂 It’s not the most expensive, but I’m comfortable with it for now. I realize that I got caught up in the newest gadgets and better glass (more expensive lenses) and I know now, that I didn’t need all of that!

Thank you for all of the support from my family, my friends and my clients! You all believed in me and you loved me back into a place that I never should have left…I know…you were all right 🙂 I’m excited to tell some more stories with my photos on this blog, maybe not just my stories, maybe your stories. So stay tuned…we’re just getting started!

Corinne Noel †

 

Where do I start?

It’s a Wednesday afternoon, I’ve been working my insurance job most of the day and for a moment I reflect back on my photography career. I’m sure many will let out a laugh or maybe roll their eyes, thinking that it wasn’t much of a career. I was never famous, I was never paid $20,000 for a wedding, I never won an award at WPPI for one of my photos and I never went on tour teaching others my style of photography from my tour bus. However, I did start taking photos when my oldest son Anderson was 5 and he’s 18 now.

In the last 13 years, I’ve photographed weddings, graduating seniors, babies, families, pets, talented athletes, homes for sale, new businesses, wild animals, amazing sunsets and much more! If you asked anyone about their photos…they would say I captured the right moment, the one look that defined the moment or that I helped them to realize something special and beautiful. I made a difference in someone’s life or something’s life, like a dog that needed a forever home, but I made a difference!! That means more to me than being a Rock Star Photographer!

I’ve made money, but I did a lot for free and you can’t have a successful business or support your family when you do too many things for free. I did a lot of photographing for myself in the beginning and I find that I really got away from that quickly and then it all seemed like work and forced creativity, which is painful for any artist! Again, I’m sure there will be more eye rolling, but I am an artist. A great chef isn’t great because of the stove or cooking ingredients, it’s what he creates with them. It’s not the camera, it’s where I focus my attention, the lighting I choose, the mood I want you to feel…that is art! I forgot about the art, I focused on what others were doing, or what I needed to do so I was like all the other photographers! I lost the part of my photography that was me 😦

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When I think about where to start, I know I need a camera and that is still awhile off, but I need to find out where I want to be, what I want to photograph, what were my mistakes, what really worked for me, where was I comfortable and did I push myself in a direction that I couldn’t connect with? What do I photograph that takes my breath from me, but still makes me feel alive?

I don’t have $3,000 for a Canon 5D Mark iii with a 24-105mm lens today, so I’m going to work with what I do have. There is a cheesy saying ” I think I was taking photos long before I ever had a camera!” It may be cheesy, but it’s so true! I will photograph with my mind until I get a camera, I’ll remember how to see what others miss, to appreciate each moment, to wait for that thing… that one thing that happens at the right second and its tells the whole story in that one moment! It’s humbling to start over, to pull yourself out of the ashes after crashing and burning, but it’s also really beautiful. I get a do over and who doesn’t love a do over!!

Corinne Noel

It’s more than just a rock!

I’m sitting at my desk and I have to admit, I’m feeling…numb! It’s not that I’m feeling nothing, it’s more like when you feel too much and then you can’t feel anymore, so you’re numb, but totally aware!! I find that I’m most humble in this place, I get sick of the sound of my own voice. I notice my faults, weaknesses and mistakes…but it’s where I feel most like me. Here, in this place, I can see EVERYTHING!! It’s such a place of clarity for me, I’m not bogged down with emotion, because I’m past the RAW stage, where it hurts, now I can use it to make me stronger, I can lick my wounds, make changes and start again. This is what it must feel like to the forest after a fire…with the potential to grow again, brighter, stronger, higher…better 🙂 There is so much beauty in being humble and fragile!

I see the steps of where I’ve been and the path before me looks a little familiar, but my footsteps veer off into a high traffic area and that’s not where I want to go! I’ve been there, I’ve failed, I got up, tried something new, succeeded but felt empty, tried something new…you know how it goes. I know I’m getting all serious and usually I’m all laughs or I make you cry, but today I know that I need to do something different! Today, I live intentionally and as real as I humanly can! I LOVE photography! I LOVED being a photographer and while I’ll admit there were many things about it that I loathed…I feel like I can’t breathe without it!!

I believe that is where you have to get…get as far away from something that you love, walk away, free yourself from every camera, every lens, backdrop, photo book, etc. and then you can miss it, you can appreciate it and vow if it will let you come back, that you’ll be different this time. I want to come back!!! I have nothing, but an iPhone and a dream in my heart…but it’s somewhere to start!!  I want to be a professional photographer again…for real this time, no giving up, for better or worse!! But how…how do I get there???

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This rock…this boring smooth stone…I took this, well actually I asked permission (can you believe that!!) from the desk clerk at the MGM Towers, I asked if I could have it from the waterfall in the lobby, waiting to come back home after my 1st time at WPPI 2011. I wanted to remember how AMAZING WPPI was and how WONDERFUL this photography community really is when you reach outside of my city, to where there are truly big name photographers that are nicer than some of the  local ones with half the talent!  I was on fire and I let it blow out. I still have this stone to remind me of what I felt I could do, of what I dreamed that I could create, of what I really felt…was real!! I’m ready to be real too 🙂 It’s a long way back…but I know all the roads, I’ll be taking a few different ones, the ones I was afraid to take…this time…it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Welcome back…Corinne Noel Photography 🙂

Mission #1 …going to need a camera…oh and probably one with a lens might be good 😉