Best Nine 2018: Beyond the “likes”

If you are an Instagram person you know that the end of the year brings on a plethora of “Best Nine” posts from the people you follow… any person’s *best* is based on the number of “likes” each post gets throughout the year.

According to this parameter, the above featured photos are my best for 2018. I was surprised to see that selfies ranked so high. I guess my friends want to see me (and me and my hubby). And despite the contrary evidence above, I really don’t take many photos of myself.

Sometime toward the middle/end of 2018 I made my Instagram account “public” which was a bit of a scary step. Little by little I have been putting myself, my life, in the public eye during a time when many feel it’s foolish to do so. Yet still, I have a voice (and a view), and I enjoy sharing. So far the connections to others and the feedback I receive has outweighed the possible negatives. Time will tell.

Sharing my photographs can sometimes feel self-indulgent, especially because I have quite a number of friends who are actual professional photographers. I love their work and enjoy their photos. I also feel an extra point of pride when I get a new Instagram follower who is also a photographer. What better compliment than that? Yet my photos are not about the process… the shutter speed and all the specs and fancy cameras. My photos are more of a means to record my daily activities. For inspiration in my writing. To remind me to focus on something beautiful. To remind me that not everything is beautiful, but needs to be recorded. Sometimes I just want to be a witness.

I do, however, hate when people say… “your camera takes great photos” or similarly “your phone must have a great camera”…as if that’s all that it takes to get a great image. I have been taking photos for well over forty years… so perhaps I am a *photographer* and it’s just semantics.

So, to honor the reason I take photos throughout my days… I decided to cull together *my* version of the Best Nine. Not according to *likes* but according to ME. I have focused only on the photos I posted to Instagram. To boil down the 484 posts from 2018, I eliminated any selfies or photos of my husband (I think we covered that already), and I made a decision to eliminate any photos of our cat Josie or dog Rufus (because they are all cute and I could never pick between them.) Once I had picked some favorites I noticed that I had at least one from each month, so I decided to pick my best 12 utilizing one from each. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide, so I have ended up with a “Best 18” because why not?

PLEASE DON’T EAT THE BUDS January 13, 2018
Philadelphia is overrun with squirrels and I love every one of them. (At some point I will likely do a photoblog of just squirrels.) This is Percy. I have no idea if this is the same squirrel that visits by back patio, but in my head it’s the same one every time. Therefore, ALL squirrels in my backyard are named Percy. Here we are having a discussion about why he cannot eat all the buds on my tree. He wasn’t convinced.
NO ONE LIKES US, WE DON’T CARE February 8, 2018
I became an Eagles fan at age 12 when my family moved to the suburbs outside of Philly… so, yeah, I waited more than 40 years for this… a parade up Broad Street for the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. I was front row… just a few short block from my home. Many of the players got off their buses and walked the parade route, and here is one of my favorites of Zach Ertz and Jason Kelce (aka the Mummer Man.) Little did I know at this moment that Kelce would soon go down in Philly history, Mummer suit and all, with his rousing rendition of “No one likes us, we don’t care” sung to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine. Surely a Philadelphia anthem if there ever was one.
SNOW DAY, March 7, 2018
If you follow me on Instagram you will see I take multiple photos of the same things throughout the year… it’s not uncommon to see the same tree in every season. This is the view out my kitchen window. I like that every day I have a new view. Nothing stays the same.
HEART OF A LION, April 20, 2018
This is one of the cats who lives on my street. He doesn’t belong to anybody. He belongs to everybody. He is fed by several of the neighbors and has a covered bed on one of the porches. This day he was sunbathing in a planter box. He definitely has a heart of a lion.

When taking photos I spend most of my time looking up. Sometimes it pays to look down. I had no idea the cherry blossoms looked just like the fabric blossoms on my shoes. I love these shoes. I didn’t get to wear them much because it rained so much this spring and summer. But this day… well…it felt amazing to wear these shoes.

This was a crazy, rainy, gridlocked moment in Times Square. I had spent the day walking old paths, visiting a curator at the Met, having lunch with a friend. It was glorious to be reminded of the old me. The me who was so full of energy I could conquer NYC daily. Somehow, despite the traffic, I didn’t miss my train back to Philly.
#RESIST, July 23, 2018
I am part of the #resistance. I got involved for selfish reasons. I wanted to save my life. Literally. I got involved to fight for access to health care. If not for ACA, leukemia would have already ended my life. My leukemia journey has been a gift. It showed me how privileged I truly am. It showed me how many Americans are not. It showed me that I have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot. This means I speak up when others tell me to shut up. Sometimes it feels scary. But then I remind myself of my privilege. I am alive. I have a voice.

I said “no selfies” would be included in this Best 18. I lied. Can you find me?

Orchids are forever fascinating. From the time the tight pods pop open to that last pedal holding on for dear life. This particular blossom held me spellbound. I could never decide. Did I see a bat? Or was that a smiling cheetah looking back at me?

COTTON BALL CLOUDS, September 30, 2018
We were driving north on I-95. We’d barely left home, headed north towards our New England escape. I couldn’t help but wonder what I had forgotten to pack. Did I bring cotton balls?

Color makes me happy. We were a bit early for the full-color leaf-peeping of New England, so I was on full-alert for the color red. This was the most beautiful shiny one of them all. I almost stepped on it while reading names on headstones in a cemetery.
EAT MORE CHICKEN, October 8, 2018
There was something about this crab. This crab literally marched across a huge tank full of other crabs, and seemingly walked directly over to confront me. I watched as he approached, getting closer and closer. Could he see me? Do crabs see? Was he looking at this own reflection inside the tank? What was it? Did he know I had just spent the better part of the last week eating all the New England seafood I could order?
BLOOD TEST DAY, October 9, 2019
Every four weeks or so I walk to Pennsylvania Hospital to get my blood tested to see if there are any signs of Leukemia. I am currently in remission. Blood draw days are always stressful. It helps that the building (seen beyond the berry branches) is an historical gem. Still, this view was a lucky catch.
GRITTY’S LAW, November 8, 2018
If you aren’t from Philly, and somehow Gritty has yet to enter your consciousness, do yourself a favor and Google him now. He’s more than just an NHL mascot. His presence is everywhere. Even when he’s not there. Sleep with one eye open.

Driving towards our meditation session (my hubby was driving) I attempted to catch the full moon. I always try to capture the full moon and invariably photograph a boring blur in the sky. This time I caught fireworks. Not really. Just a dirty windshield and street lights.
I had just spent a lovely day at the Philadelphia Art Museum with my friend Jennifer. We were ladies who lunch! We decided to walk down the Schuylkill Banks a few blocks before she headed west, and I headed south. The sunset at 30th street was magical.

SUNRISE REFLECTIONS, December 19, 2018
It was a night of very little sleep. Somehow I was awake as the sun peaked out from behind the row of houses across the street. Perhaps I never slept.
SUNSET ON THE YEAR (ALMOST), December 30, 2018
Cold. Clear. Calm. High Tide. Pink Sunset. I wish I could have caught the pastel pink color a bit better. I think I caught the peacefulness. These calm reflections on the Delaware were special. It was a lovely way to end the year.

If you enjoyed these stories and photos, please take a moment and follow me on Instagram. Even though I don’t do it for the “likes” it is still really nice to have a few friends along for the journey.

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