Archive for January 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

January 31, 2013

Another photo challenge? And with the theme of LOVE?  “Oh no!” I thought, “I will skip it.” I knew that a huge number of bloggers would respond to it and I did not feel compelled at that time to search for photos of loving couples, mothers with babies, people with puppies, kittens, and roses…. My mind was occupied with a different issue – the issue of growing gun violence in this country. And gun violence is the opposite of love! Gun violence breaks hearts of so many. Although I have addressed the gun violence issue in this blog several times, I still had plans to voice myself about it again. Articles, newspaper clippings and photographs were piling on my desk. A bunch of links gathered on my computer desktop were also waiting when I opened Jim Nintzel’s (Tucson Weekly journalist) tweet informing about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings the next day—January 30th (which was yesterday)—and I knew immediately that I would watch it. I also knew that I would take that photo challenge on LOVE, even at the risk of being very late.

Hears of love for Gabrielle Giffords

Tucson Loves Gabby

Paper hears of school children for Gabby Giffords

Loving Gabby

Paper chains with messages for Gabby Giffords

Chain of Love

I took these photos two years ago in front of the University Medical Center (in Tucson) where our Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords—affectionately called Gabby by Tucsonans—was fighting for her life after the violent shooting spree by Jared Loughner. Six lives, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, plus a number of injured were the horrible toll of that shooting. It placed Tucson at the center of attention of the entire country and the world. That was two years ago and in the meantime several other horrible and senseless shootings have occurred—the latest, and the most brutal, took the lives of 20 children and six of their heroic teachers at the Sandy Hook School.

Yes, it was two years ago. Tucson took time for healing and so did Gabby to recover from the severe head injury inflicted on her. It is remarkable how well she is recovering. We witnessed her painful struggle for many months, admiring her strength and determination. She could finally return her love for Tucson by moving back here recently with her husband Captain Mark Kelly. Mark’s presence by her side from day one of the tragedy and his dedication to Gabby’s recovery became a symbol of a durable love.

Gabrielle Giffords with her husband Mark Kelly

Gabby and Mark – photo PK Weis

And there is another story of love, love larger than life. It is Gabby’s love for her work, her loyalty to her constituents, her love of Tucson, of Arizona, and of this country. Such love requires solid dedication. And our former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, demonstrated that before the Tucson tragedy and she demonstrates that now while still recovering. Her tireless effort to do the right thing for society is so inspiring that TIME magazine recently featured her on its cover.

The cover of Time magazine

Gabby’s short and moving statement yesterday in front of the Judiciary Committee touched me deeply and, I am sure, touched millions. I was tearful watching her with amazement that two years after that horrible day of January 8th of 2011, “our Gabby” could deliver her statement and that she looked so beautiful, as if nothing had happened! But it did happen! That is why she was there. In spite of the limitations that tragedy had placed on her, she was there in an effort to prevent similar future tragedies. If that is not an expression of love, than what is?!

Gabby Giffords making statement in front of the Judiciary Committee

Gabby Giffords making her statement

“Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important,” stated Gabrielle Giffords at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying – too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act….”

That’s right— there is no excuse for inaction. And yes, it will require some love by the people for the people to get involved and to demand significant changes to our current gun laws and regulations.

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Here are some links for you to explore:


Jim Nintzel

Violent Imagery Shapes Our Reality

American Tragedy in Tucson

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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann except photo (cropped) of Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly              © 2013 by PK Weis

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

January 24, 2013

It was a day full of symbolic images tied to the history of this country—cherished with pride and joy by many.

Imafeof the Inaguration 2013

Beyond Images (c) 2013 by Alicja Mann

BEYOND those images are the dreams, hopes, and great expectations of many Americans. Beyond those images also are disappointments, criticisms, and political conflicts that were left behind for that celebratory historic moment.

The day of the second Inauguration of President Obama was like an elegant portrait of this country, carefully staged and shared proudly with the world. And as such portraits tend to be, it captured the best images of us. We should be aware of that, but enjoy it without any guilt feelings because such is the purpose of most celebrations.

The determination of Latinos, women, gay people, and African Americans secured a second term in the White House for our first black president. Our diversity and prosperity were very visible in that celebratory portrait of this country. As The New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg stated, “…the faces of 2013 Inauguration Day were the faces of those left behind by the political process in decades and centuries past.”

And that is something truly to be proud of.


I took this photo watching the second Inauguration of President Obama on television in the comfort of my home.


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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

January 15, 2013

Illumination of the Heart I named this photo. It is a poetic photograph that came to life partly intentionally and partly by chance.

Image of the illuminated heart

One deep dark night I was playful with my camera— photographing the colorful lights of our little Christmas tree, and this heart appeared among other whimsical images. It was a joy to see, like an unexpected gift!

Illumination of the Heart. What is the meaning of it? It is a metaphor, of course, and for me symbolizes a need to pay attention to feelings—ours and others’. It means to walk toward and embrace another human rather than be absorbed with statistics of social networking or marketing. It means to pay more attention to our humanity.


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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann.

After the Non-Apocalypse

January 8, 2013

No other year sapped my energy as did the year 2012. It started with a big shadow of personal sorrow that dimmed my spirit for most of the year. It ended with a deep darkness, in my heart and many other hearts, cast by the tragic happenings in this country and around the world that made impossible to not question the direction we are going as a society and as humanity. The fact that those tragedies were man-made added extra tint to that darkness: the unforgettable tragedy of the Newtown Elementary School, the unimaginable drama of the sexually assaulted woman in India, the unbearably long and harsh struggle of the Syrian people against their government, and the unfriendly and divisive politicking in this country, could only make one sick. Dealing with so many uns, it was hard, or rather impossible, for me to write those cheerful “Happy Holidays Greetings” and I sentenced them to sit in their box till next winter.

When an invitation for celebrating New Year’s Eve among friends came along, I was very grateful since I hardly could wait for 2012 to end. I put my dancing shoes on, and decided to dance all my troubles away that night – into a better, happier 2013.

Alicja dancing troubles away

I already like this year. It ends with number 13, which I consider my favorite number. After all, I was born on the 13th and according to some predictions 2013 is supposed to be a very good year for those born on the 13th of any month. Don’t ask me, please, where I got this idea. Perhaps I dreamed or invented it, but I like it!  The next year ending with my lucky number will not arrive for another 100 years….so I need to adopt a “this year or never” attitude without any delay.

I wish you, who read this, to have a Happy and Lucky New Year – regardless what your birth date is! Have great energy and some fun in 2013.

Lucky 2013

One really good thing that did happen in 2012, or rather that did not happen, was that the world did not end on December 21st as some believed it would. I was not really fearful of that ending, but “just in case” I wanted to have a picture in front of my studio (aka Word Studio) with The Writer magazine in my hands. Now it will serve as a reminder of that day and my recommitment to my writing, photography and publishing.

Alicja in front of her studio with the Writer mag

So it did not happen! Besides that, according to some theories we are entering the Age of Aquarius – an age of love, light, and humanity! Let it happen, or rather let us make it happen. First of all, let’s celebrate!

An art exhibition celebrating the world not ending is taking place at Raices Teller 222 Art Gallery in Tucson with the opening reception on Saturday, January 12 from 6 to 9 PM. I am part of that celebration and would love to see you there. Please feel invited!

Here is the detailed information:

Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery & Workshop

218 E. 6th Street

(1/2 block east of 6th St. & 6th Ave.)

Tucson, AZ 85705

(520) 881-5335

Exhibition Dates – Jan 12 through Feb 23, 2013

Opening Reception

Saturday January 12, 2013

6:00 – 9:00 PM

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Text and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

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