My first reaction when I was tagged to participate in the B&W photo challenge on Facebook was a combination of “Yay!” and “Oh, wait, I’m traveling this week, do I really have time to do this?” A valid question in this crazy fast-paced life we all lead. I asked myself if I would have time to stop for 15 seconds and take a picture; it’s then I realized that the mere fact I was questioning my availability for a 15-second task was all the more reason I had to do it.

Thank you for making me notice the details.

I took my first picture in a crowded bar late on a Saturday evening. The noise, people shoving and laughing, yet there it was. I noticed it out of the corner of my eye, this beautiful wall and ceiling decor that seemed unnoticed by the patrons and I felt as if it was asking me to please notice and take its picture. I did, and it was beautiful. Would I have noticed it if I hadn’t had this photo challenge on my mind? Most likely not.

Thank you for making me look up. 

New York City is probably one of the busiest, fast-paced places on the planet. I was walking down the street with my suitcase in tow trying to find my hotel and keep up with the wave of people walking around me so I wouldn’t be trampled. If you’ve ever walked down 42nd street at 5:00 p.m., it’s very similar to that scene from Finding Nemo when Nemo gets on the undertow wave with the turtles. You have to keep with the flow or you’ll be run over and left behind.

I was standing at a red light catching my breath and instead of looking at my phone, I looked at my surroundings, looked up and noticed the architecture of the Grand Central Terminal. It was magnificent and it became my second picture.

Thank you for creating conversation with my teenage daughter.

There is this strange phenomenon that seems to exist with teenagers and the way they text with their parents versus the way they text with their friends. If you have a teenager, you know exactly what I mean. Here they are, texting friends all day long with this device that has become another appendage, yet when it comes time to text mom, it’s one word answers. “Yeah, okay, bye.” Most days, that’s all I get from my “too cool for school” 14-year-old daughter.

She has taken an interest in photography this year; she’s taking a course at school and even asked for a “real camera” for Christmas, so one night I sent her my B&W photo from Times Square. She replied right way, “That’s really cool, what is it?” and from there I continued to send her my pictures each day which led to us having real dialogue. It made my heart so happy. When I got home four days later, we were sitting on the couch looking at all of the pictures again and she said, “Send me pictures again when you go away on your trips for work.” I replied, “Sure honey, that’s a good idea,” trying to be casual and not to let it show that I was doing the happy dance inside.

Thank you for making me see the world around me. 

As the week went on, I felt myself wanting to look at what was happening around me even after I had already completed my challenge and captured my picture for that day. Leaves falling from trees, facial expressions of people waiting in the grocery checkout line, my daughter’s hair getting longer, my husband’s eyes and the way he looks at me. These aspects of our lives are there every day, available and waiting to be noticed and appreciated yet I will be the first to admit I don’t notice them as much as I should.

Thank you for the distraction from the every day.

Perhaps this provided a brief escape from the mundane parts of our lives. The same route to school drop off, the grocery store, work. At times it can all get very predictable, very routine, maybe for some of us as little too routine. Yet, the simple challenge of taking a picture created the opportunity to view my surroundings just a bit differently than I did the day before and I found it to be refreshing, enlightening and even a bit therapeutic.

Thank you for challenging me to stop being  so busy

We’re just all so busy. Our minds race every single day with the to-do lists of our lives. Which kid has gym today? Who has band today and needs her instrument? Who has a test? Who needs a form signed? Whose forms did I forget to sign? This mind chatter is in the forefront of our thoughts all day long while we’re running from one thing to the next. As moms, it’s the season of life we’re in. But, I decided to put the “busy” aside for just a moment, and created space to take a few pictures.

Don’t wait for someone to tag you and invite you to the challenge. Find a small, simple way to see your life from a new perspective this week. Take a deep breath while waiting in the carpool line. Open your windows and breathe in the air. Whatever it is, give yourself the gift of pausing for a brief moment each day to capture a simple snapshot of your life. Your future self will thank you.

Tracie Cornell

Tracie is a writer, blogger, and corporate sales and leadership trainer. A native of Buffalo NY, she lives there with her husband and 15 and 11 year old daughters.   She has been a facilitator for 19 years while also pursuing her passion for writing, coaching and sharing her story of divorce, loss, and a cancer diagnosis all with the goal of connecting with other women to help them through all of life transitions. When she is not writing, traveling for work, and carpooling, she can be found at yoga, on a bike trail, or sitting in a local cafe sipping a latte while on her laptop.  She loves dinners out with her husband and friends and is constantly thinking of where their next vacation will be. Along with being a regular feature writer on HER VIEW FROM HOME - a lifestyle magazine that connects your view to the rest of the world, she is also a contributor on the Huffington Post Lifestyle and Divorce sections. Tracie has an essay, "Getting Back to Me" in the anthology "EAT PRAY LOVE MADE ME DO IT", the follow-up book to Elizabeth Gilberts's bestselling novel where she describes how she found the strength to start taking care of herself as her marriage was falling apart. The book is available now on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Find her at where you can also find how to connect with her on social media.