Inspired Photography by Cristina Mittermeier and Ami Vitale

On January 13, 2018, in BLOG, by brendajohima

As a woman learning to tell stories with a camera, I look to inspiration from other female professional photographers working in the field, in an often male dominated photography industry.

I am regularly  inspired by Cristina Mittermeier, a “Mexican photographer who grew up alongside indigenous Mexican tribes.” She is also founder and president of SeaLegacy, a non-profit working to save our oceans. Also, Ami Vitale, who  is“an American photojournalist and National Geographic Photographer” and she recently joined Ripple Effects Images, who “identify top aid groups that empower women and children and assign world-class photographers to document their programs.”

I can highly recommend listening to this interview by Kim Chakanetsa called Women Behind the Lens on the BBC World Service podcast, The Conversation.  It’s only 27 minutes long and you can learn how these two women work tirelessly to help educate us all via photography about climate change and more.


P.S. You can also find this on iTunes right here :

Women Behind the Lens on BBC World Service, The Conversation.




Save Our Oceans and Conservation

On January 11, 2018, in BLOG, by brendajohima

rocky shell beach in Fanny Bay British ColumbiaOn January 9th, 2017, I made a commitment to myself to do whatever I can, for the rest of my life, or until our oceans, the sea, our environment and our planet is healed, and to do whatever I can to do my part to save it, to protect it, to conserve it.

For now I will be taking action quietly as a volunteer behind the scenes in my own way, and then looking for opportunities with organizations and companies who make even a bigger difference.

As I live amongst nature with the lifestyle that I live, I always try do something for our planet but it really isn’t enough. It’s not good enough.

I can do something more. We call can do something.

Small changes together, yield big changes.

I have lived near the ocean actively since 1999 on Vancouver Island, and prior to that, I was at the ocean as often as possible, while in Vancouver and also at White Rock and Crescent Beach.

While living rural on Vancouver Island (and Denman Island) … the sea … I have been on it, in it, around it; I see it, I walk it’s shores, look at it, drive alongside it, on and on, the ocean becomes who you are, if you choose it.

It’s not just oceans, but the forest, the animals, wildlife, marine mammals, coastal and inland ecosystems. Nature needs our human help to recover from environmental devastation and human destruction.

For now, I start with the sea.

When you are a walker and walk as much in nature as I do, you see and feel things that maybe others who live in a city may  not.

It is hard to walk by plastics and debris without feeling upset; it is. World wide problems like microbeads and styrofoam in pristine ocean waters. Plastic straws and water bottles, plastic forks and plastic picnic spoons strewn along the shoreline. Locally, debris from the shellfish industry; buckets to ropes, plastics that entagle seals and sea lions, causing distress and injury … it is hard to pretend it does not exist when it is in your face, in your neighbourhood.

It isn’t all bad, because this in part, the beauty, the fun and spirituality of living in close proximity to the ocean, is what makes me want to protect it even more; as a swimmer, I have been blessed to swim in some of the cleanest waters in Baynes Sound (Fanny Bay) and Lambert Channel (between Hornby Island and Denman Island), the Strait of Georgia, the Salish Sea. Most recently there has been a great return of humpback and orca whales to the area. Have their numbers increased? Well I am no expert and no scientist, so I will leave that to the experts. All I know is that they have been visible more than ever before on my time on the North Island. I hope I can see more of them and more often.

Most vacations I take are determined in part, whether there is an ocean I can swim and snorkel in and a beach to walk on.

dolphin in puerto aventuras mexico I LOVE dolphins and our incredible many and varied sea mammals. This photo is of a dolphin that I photographed while on vacation in Mexico. Did I swim with the dolphins? Touch the dolphins? NO.

All I felt was sadness that these beautiful creatures were in concrete pens amongst millions of dollars of hotel guests for their viewing and tourism pleasure.

Although in 2009 I took dolphin photos to practice photography with a new Canon camera I had back then, however, I could not feel happy about what I was witnessing.

So back to my Vancouver Island and in the city, in addition to the ocean, when I walk urban areas and neighbourhoods on the Island where there is construction and development going on, it is after hours that you see the real truth. When the construction workers go home, the housing lots and culdesacs of the multi-million dollar homes they are working on, are covered in Gatorade plastic bottles and Tim Horton’s coffee cups.

Not good enough. Guys and gals, workers, pick them up.

I could go on and on but I won’t. All I can do is take action as one person who can do better.




Ed Sheeran : Perfect (Official Music Video)

On January 7, 2018, in BLOG, by brendajohima

This made me cry, in a good way. We need more music and art like this.

Feel good. We need more of this. I do.

Ed Sheeran, no wonder you are … perfect … and are uplifting the world wherever you are.

Music, song, video, art, the creative process, and all of the humans that it takes to get a work of art to this point, show more than only the power of creativity and the arts, but how “entertainment” isn’t just entertaining, but it is art as life itself, expressing the love of millions of people around the world through song and word.

We all want to feel love, and in love.



Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli : Perfect Symphony

On January 7, 2018, in BLOG, by brendajohima

Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli Perfect SymphonyGoosebumps. Feel it all. Let this music, the words and imagery, the recording and creative process, touch your heart and soul; the voices, the clarity, the beautifully resonant yet crisp voices, their hearts, humanity. Feel it all. So beautiful. Oh, and the Italian … oh, my, goodness … no words. no words. Love, pure love is all I feel … and I want to go to Italy again.

Ed Sheeran, Andrea Bocelli, are heart-openers: Perfect Symphony.

After a long long break, music finally returned again into my life, and forever more will always be a part of my life in some way.

Even though I do not any longer perform, heart music fuels photography and music fires up art and music helps writing flow and vice versa. Being a creative, especially during this time on the planet is the greatest thing in the world. Truly, artists are blessed people.

Thank you to Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli for their beautiful inspiration, and …Perfect.

Always Love,


I think that Brené Brown‘s words are the perfect words for me to start off my 2018 blogging.

I’ve looked at, and had to look at, the experience of belonging (and not) a lot over my 56 years on this planet.

Brene Brown quote says stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong

Belonging has been a constant theme in my life and it was all too often a painful and lonely place where more often than not, I felt excluded and left out, rather than experiencing that blissful state of belonging.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had some beautiful times in my life, with deep friendships and intimacy and I know what belonging feels like, that is for sure.

However, often I have had either a great life with a full plate of friends or a blank slate wiped clean, starting all over from scratch over and over again. There was rarely a middle ground, but an all or nothing friend world for me.

So I have been thinking a lot over the years, that the people who have inspired me the most throughout my life are those friends who are friends with everyone; OK, maybe not everyone, but anybody they meet is and can be a friend, even if only for a moment.

If I am a friend to all, there is no need for a best friend as I believe that it’s possible to have several soulmate friends if you are all open to it.

As quickly as I have craved it, just as quickly I have realized that by having a “best friend” it excludes those friends who aren’t that for you and places a hierarchy on humans, excluding some while elevating others to the top. Yes I know that I’m exaggerating as having a best friend can be a wonderful feeling (I hear) but for me, for now, fitting in means that everybody else gets to belong too.

In being a friend to all who come my way, I belong nowhere and I belong with everyone.

Our planet needs for us to reign each other in right now, leave no one sitting on the other side of the fence alone, on the outside looking in, whether best friend, one or many friends … we all belong with everyone.

So there we have it, my first writing experiment for 2018.

Let’s do 2018 together, shall we?

“I am the wilderness.”
—Brene Brown

Photo Quote and Image Credit : Brene Brown via Instagram 


Be Different

On December 27, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

I wouldn’t know if fitting in is any fun.

Being different means you are on the sidelines looking in, often searching for a place to belong. Usually you don’t find it. Being different means you often make no sense to others and that they can’t figure you out.

Being different often equals exclusion. Until you find your people, inclusion is something you read about.

Being different also means that although you may play at life alone, you may be diving deep, secretly having fun, head down, focused on a mission, finding opportunities while others are all sitting together as a group, watching, playing it safe, waiting to make their next move together.

Is fitting in so great? You tell me.

two female and two male mallard ducks on a pond


HAPPY Holidays and PEACE to All

On December 24, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

I wish you HAPPY Holidays and most importantly, my hope is for PEACE to everyone all around the world forever more.

Love from Brenda and Teddy (Dr. T. Poodle)

cream coloured standard poodle on a beach


Look Up

On December 8, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

Look up.

Shut down that phone, look up from that display.

We have a finite existence, a set number of days …

This is a re-post from 2014 but doesn’t hurt to repeat something that seems to just get worse as time passes by; our disconnection from ourselves and from other human beings.

Look Up. Shut Down That Display.

Always Love,


Fibromyalgia : A Pain In The Everywhere (part 2)

On November 29, 2017, in BLOG, Fibromyalgia, by brendajohima

Fibromyalgia; you are what you eat, right?

Well, not so simple, as those of us who live with this syndrome, know all too well.

If you are like me, one who has tried to cure herself of fibromyalgia (for 17+ years), you have tried almost every diet, almost every exercise type, breathing, meditation, medication, yoga, you may have tried as I have : no sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no gluten, no soy, no coffee, the NO Everything Life. Was it fun? NO.

Living with, and managing fibromyalgia can be a full-time job.

Acceptance isn’t a one time thing, it’s ongoing, as the symptoms with this syndrome change regularly, and daily, and even throughout the day. We never know what we are going to get.

What is fact about fibromyalgia? It’s predictably unpredictable, and that’s the only thing you can count on. Living in the unknown and with the unknowable, and accepting that, is key, I have learned and continue to learn.

(* Disclaimer : I am not a medical professional, consultant or expert. This is my own personal journal of thoughts and writings and I’m not providing any recommendations or medical advice. Please make sure you do what works for YOU only and only what is right and safe for you personally. I am just sharing my personal experience at this moment in  time.  Listen to your gut, smarts and heart, and, seek out the professional advice your physician, a medical expert, a registered nurse, a counsellor, psychologist, naturopathic physician, homeopath, your local hospital or otherwise. Thanks!)

So back to diet. Yes, I have pretty much tried it all, yet I never give up, and I keep on trying different things, and even going back to things that didn’t work in past. Why go back to that which did not work before? Simple. Our bodies are in constant flux, ever-changing and ever-healing if we persist and remain open to a healing force. And why not try what didn’t work in past? It might work this time, I think to myself.

Most recently, even though it was no fun in past nor initially, I have gone back to trying: no sugar, no wheat, no dairy, NO EGGS, minimal to no grains, and minimal fruits. Being a self-professed-fruit-a-holic, fruit was hard to give up.

(and yes, no to alcohol … I rarely drank anyway so that was easy) 

That’s a lot to leave out.

What the heck am I eating?

Lots of vegetables, my only fruits are berries only for the most part, nuts and seeds, legumes and some meats in very tiny small amounts (I am not 100% vegan yet) and vegan protein powder. Drinks include coconut milk and almond milk.

The key to every breakfast is a greens smoothie with mixed berries, lemon juice and a plant-based protein powder. Currently I am using Iron Vegan Sprouted Protein Powder and I LOVE it. For many many years prior, I was using a whey protein, Genuine Health Proteins+ and I loved it, but it was time for a change.

My current raw vegan protein powder has LESS protein than the whey product, by a lot; almost 10 grams protein less per serving (17 grams currently vs. 26 grams prior) however, so far I haven’t suffered as a result, and it seems to be adequate for my current activity levels.

As a result of my strict food lifestyle, over the last couple of months I have reaped the benefits from my hard work on diet, with way less pain, less inflammation, feeling lighter inside, more fluidity in movement (not quite so stiff), ability to think more clearly, ability to complete mental tasks more easily, improved mood, not as much brain fibro-fog.

Am I cured of fibromyalgia? Not yet. However, I have been able to reduce pain medications significantly and I just FEEL BETTER. That is good enough for now. I am thrilled.

Immediate improvements were felt when I first removed eggs completely from my diet. Eggs hadn’t agreed with me for many years prior, but it was an easy and quick meal and protein source, so I kept doing it. Note to Self and Others : if something swells up your stomach like a balloon right after you eat it, it cannot be good for you 🙂

(why do we, I, you, keep doing what we know isn’t good for us? … have you asked yourself?)

Is it a bummer to have to give up SO much of everything that other “normal” people without fibromyaligia can have? NO, not really. It is my life, and I only get one of them to live, so for me, doing anything and everything to reduce suffering and physical pain, is my job, to make my life better, to be able to do more, and to enjoy this precious life we have been given.

To those out there who suffer, and to those who are at the beginning of their fibromyalgia diagnosis, my heart goes out to you, as I know what it is like to live with 24/7 disabling pain and fatigue. Never give up. Never give up. You are loved. You WILL get through this. Be gentle with yourself, rest as much as you can, and take one baby step at a time. Ignore those who do not understand, as only YOU know your pain levels and what you are able to do, day to day. Pace yourself, and keep on learning greater self-love … that is a lifelong journey, for us all.

And for those of us further along the healing journey? Help those who need us, when you are able. Share your wisdom, your love, encouragement and support. Let each of us not be alone with this fibro-thing.

Oh Nuts, yeah, sometimes you have to give up a lot to gain a lot to be healthy.

Always Love,





Walk the Same Trail

On November 28, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

… see something new every time.

Beauty abounds, all year long. I have photographed this exact spot a zillion times.

This morning, something new once again, and the texture, complexity, depth of layers, color, line and light all added up to a welcoming opening to walk through.

Nature never disappoints.

Always Love,


nature path with fall leaves in parksville rathtrevor beach provincial park


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