One Story Apart.


There’s an old local legend regarding apt. 26C (The bottom window with the light). Over fifty years ago, there was a man who lived in this room. Every afternoon he wrote a love letter and sat it on his windowsill for the winds to carry it away. He believed in chance and was a romantic at heart. Throughout his entire life, he never lived beyond his means. A box spring mattress, tea cup candles, a worn out record player, and a typewriter passed down to him from generations passed.

Every night he waited and every day he started over. You see, he believed that fate was merely out of his hands and conceded in the hope that his best chance at finding true love was measured greatly by destiny and another’s curiosity. For years he believed that the chemistry between the two would somehow, someday be powerful enough to gently land at the feet of another. She would open his letter and also understand that this was meant for her.

Over these fifty odd years, he wrote over 18,000 pages. All different, and yet all with the same purpose. As the days grew into weeks, weeks into months, and finally months into years, he received a knock on his door forty-nine years after his first letter took flight.

As he opened the door, footsteps quickly exited the hallway but he found thousands of his letters bound together with a note on top. It simply read: “You have changed my life. For the first time ever, I believe in love. Not physical and without judgement. You made me dream and understand that humanity and compassion truly do exist. Although this may be hard to believe, this is as real as anything I’ve ever touched or held in my entire life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 26B.

What makes this story unique is that everyday for almost fifty years, he had passed the lady in 26B. They never once spoke. The book in which was read and written was never opened or typed until fate presented the pages in a new light. Rumor has it they went on to marry and live happily ever after and to this day, the typewriter and a letter still grace the room in apt 26C with what was apparently the last letter he wrote before he heard that one infamous knock that day. It read: This is my last letter, if fate isn’t capable of reaching my love, I am going to finally ask the beautiful lady in 26B. The one woman who I had admired from a far. Chance had it’s opportunity and now is the time for love..

Photographing Compassion.


Every day is a photo walk.

As I awake, I envision where my travels will take me. What I will be able to see, capture, and embrace in my heart. Organizing this photo walk has very little to do with photography. Our goal is to bring people together with common interests and compassion. We are working extremely hard to do something incredible for a very young woman during an extremely tough time in her life. How easy is it and compelled are you to help out a family member, friend, or neighbor in need? What I want to know, is where the line lies with you between extending your compassion to someone you know and someone you’ve never met. How will our impact affect her life and more importantly, how will it impact ours? I wake up every morning at 6am and do something (as little as it may be) to make this day special for someone I’ve never spoke with. We are not expecting recognition, we are expecting greatness. I need to fill my soul with possibility and leave footprints behind that have left an impact on others, especially within my hometown. In some form or another, everyone is in need; just on different levels. As much as my goal is to convince you to be a part of this event and in return make an impact on Tori’s life, I want you to please take a moment and reflect what legacy you wish to leave on your community. Do you believe in karma? Fate? I want you to know that nothing here is a handout. We want what you are capable of offering. The ability to volunteer, walk, donate, or to give a hug. My promise to you, is that I will offer something to anyone for the rest of my entire life if asked or welcomed. Making an effort is all we are asking for. Sharing my sentiments, or our event is more than the effort we seek. Time is everything and we can no longer take that for granted. If we can capture this compassion and pay it forward, our lives with be filled with meaning and inspiration.
Thank you for your time. God Bless.

Welcome to Tori’s journey. It all began around March 10. Tori started in with a bad cough, congestion and feeling very tired. We went to the doctors and he said she had some sinus issues and put her an on antibiotic. She felt a little better on some days, but then got worse. Her days were full of wanting to do nothing but lay around, her cough got worse and her chest began to hurt. She lost her appetite and began losing some weight. She kept the positive attitude, continued to work and manage her school load, but struggled. We took her back to the doctors, who put her on a stronger antibiotic and told us to get a chest X-Ray if it wasn’t better by Monday.Her chest got better at first, but then got bad again. She began having shortness of breath, lost a few more pounds, her back began to hurt (we assumed it was from coughing so much), she was still very tired. Some days she felt pretty good and other days it was difficult to breathe. She began experiencing extreme night sweats and some numbness and discoloration in her left arm when she was actively using it.We had a chest X-ray done which showed some fluid in her left lung. So back to the doctors we went. The doctor noticed a large swelling around the left side of her neck, almost looking like a football players neck. The doctor then told us that the chest X-ray also showed a large thickening down the middle of the chest. He said that these were all sign of lymphoma – which is a form of blood cancer…and thus it all began.

The Purest Form of Art.


As I lay on my living room floor frantically grasping on to the final hours of what can arguable be one of the best weeks of my life, I’ve captured something in these finally moments that genuinely reveals my true intentions and love for simplistic purity. I ended a humbling, yet frantic week by myself. The cameras have turned off, my phone is no longer ringing, and the newspaper clippings have been safely tucked away. My door is slightly cracked with the cool breeze brushing against my tired eyes. My three-legged cat is glued to the porch light. His curiosity astonishes me and his ears perk every moment, as they are laced with sensory overload. He knows there’s another world out there but loves the comfort of the familiarity and security that lies within my tiny home. I finished the day up by walking throughout Uptown Maumee and Sidecut Metropark in order to once again regain the mundane, repetitious grind in which I love and lost this past week. It’s my indescribable version of “Honey, I’m home.” And I could not be any happier.

I can not thank everyone enough for making this all a possibility. You know who you are, and without you, none of this was possible. You took my corny hobby and made it into a small art form (your words, not mine). I went from hopping out of my truck to take a photo (on my phone) in my muddy sneakers in Swanton, to selling a framed version next to a wine truck in Sylvania. I was truly out of my element. Last Friday, I was beyond nervous and full of unanswered promises that would comfort me with assurances. I was twelve years old, lying awake in the wee hours of the night before the big dance. I was kissing my arm and trying to convince myself that I was nearing perfection by doing something that I had absolutely no idea how to do properly. I was the four foot nothing kid with the bowl cut and hand me down clothes. I didn’t want to be prom king. I wanted to make it through the night without having any parsley stuck in my teeth. I didn’t want to trip and fall flat on my face. I was here to be noticed in a positive light. A small night light that would allow me to escape unharmed and more prepared.

Within the first half hour, I hid in the far corner. I would randomly peak through my fingers to see if I was even being noticed. It was a very uncomfortably curiosity that I could not periodically avoid. Nervously doodling nonsense on a scrap piece of paper, I tried to overcome any reluctant thoughts that were now crossing my mind. Eventually, time cures all anguish and I dealt with my current predicament with the assumption that this may be an experience that I will never have ever again. I needed to step out of my comfort zone to enjoy this amazing opportunity in which I was given.

Several people passed without even glancing in my direction. However, I soon made my first sale within a matter of minutes. Someone wanted something I made? This stranger reached into his pocket to pay me for doing something I love? Something I would pay to do? He thanked me, for my “great work”, and I sat back down in awe thinking about how my photo may be in another’s home. There isn’t a price on that.

I did not have one negative experience my entire two days at the Maple and Main art show. I spoke with a WWII Veteran about abandoned trains. I met the ceramic art teacher at the 577 Foundation and we spoke about door frames and simple beauty. The art teacher at Northview High School purchased several photos to show her class the possibilities of creating something with photography. The Sylvania Art commissioner purchased one of my framed photos. The gentleman who owns an art gallery down the road talked to me about new age photography. The gentleman who wrote an article about me came out to purchase a card (as did his proofreader) I had a woman come up to me and ecstatically say “You have no idea who I am, but I follow you on Photos of NW Ohio and I love your work.” Work? Art? What is going on?

I had friends, family and neighbors make the trip to Sylvania. I spoke with several people that were truly intrigued with seeing my work solely because of a recent newspaper article, thus making the trip. I met a ten year old girl, Leia, who kept coming back with her own money to purchase my photo cards. I never saw that much genuine excitement in anything I’ve ever done my entire life from anyone during my entire life, thus far. I gave her my only canvas print because of her honest sincerity and curiosity with my passion and she said “Thank you, so much”, as she ran away saying “Mom, mom… guess what!!” I knew that I was doing something right. Can you imagine doing something you love, quite possibly every day, that can inspire someone else? Doing something that can make an impact on another’s life by bringing joy from what I aspire to do in life is my ultimate dream. This weekend, that came true; if only for a short time.

Stories like these can go on and on. I’m flattered by the kind words, messages, and emails. I’m speechless that this weather went from predictions of 90% thunderstorms, to near perfection as the only rain I had witnessed was from behind my truck window on my journey home. During that short trip south, a rainbow had literally stretched across the skyline as if almost visually appearing to end at my final destination. As I gracefully bowed out, and get back to the basics of everyday life, I wanted you to know that I will never forget these moments. It really made an impact on my life that will stay in my heart forever. However, don’t feel sorry for me, this dance isn’t over. I’m hesitant to ever use this platform again, or sell any items, but you’ve given me the renewed energy to capitalize on my dreams. That perhaps, life is too short to only dream at night. I’m ecstatic to see where this may go, and if it only goes as far as my walk alone throughout a local metro park, then I’ll gladly take it and hold onto it forever. You’ve assured me that life no longer has to be a daunting grind. Every day I have an opportunity to do and be something special. Thank you for this! Thank you so so much..

Eric Shanteau

Tori Jennings


Welcome to Tori’s journey. It all began around March 10. Tori started in with a bad cough, congestion and feeling very tired. We went to the doctors and he said she had some sinus issues and put her an on antibiotic. She felt a little better on some days, but then got worse. Her days were full of wanting to do nothing but lay around, her cough got worse and her chest began to hurt. She lost her appetite and began losing some weight. She kept the positive attitude, continued to work and manage her school load, but struggled. We took her back to the doctors, who put her on a stronger antibiotic and told us to get a chest X-Ray if it wasn’t better by Monday.Her chest got better at first, but then got bad again. She began having shortness of breath, lost a few more pounds, her back began to hurt (we assumed it was from coughing so much), she was still very tired. Some days she felt pretty good and other days it was difficult to breathe. She began experiencing extreme night sweats and some numbness and discoloration in her left arm when she was actively using it.We had a chest X-ray done which showed some fluid in her left lung. So back to the doctors we went. The doctor noticed a large swelling around the left side of her neck, almost looking like a football players neck. The doctor then told us that the chest X-ray also showed a large thickening down the middle of the chest. He said that these were all sign of lymphoma – which is a form of blood cancer…and thus it all began.

Thanks, Coach.


For several years, I occasionally saw an older gentleman subtly enter my place of employment and exit just as quietly, if not more so, than when I initially noticed his presence. From afar, he seemed humble, if not authoritative and this instantly caught my attention and respect. It was something you could feel and something that I felt was earned and well deserved. I never truly questioned who he was at first or why he was exactly there. As time had passed, I learned that this gentleman was the father of two of my co-workers. Due to one married name change and my lack of correlation, I never knew his true impact on others outside of the confines of my employment. This is exactly why I believe my aspect may shed a different light on a man and a father, that perhaps lacks the true headlines of accomplishment.

Less than a few years ago, I realized this man was a Toledo legend. He held the most coaching wins in the history of the men’s basketball program at the University of Toledo. His name graces the basketball court and his coaching stats are impeccable. The records, stories, and his ability to mentor kids and young people alike are all stories that appear to be endless. I can not even begin to touch upon this side of Coach Nichols’ life, nor should I. I met him briefly in a car ride to a University of Michigan football game. For some strange reason, I was nervous. Not because of his name, but because I could feel my admiration build for someone I knew deserved honor and courteous acknowledgement. I served in the military for several years and used the word “sir” on a daily basis. I can honestly say, I had not said it in a long time; until that car ride.

I can not truly speak for the people that really knew him. I know very little and I am not trying to represent otherwise. What I do know, is that my co-workers, his children (two of them) speak volumes for what kind of man he was. Very few people in this world can be legendary coaches, teachers, and mentors, let alone loving fathers. He was both. I know thoughtful, genuine human beings when I see them and I can only imagine the life lessons that were passed down to them from their father. This is just a small portion of Mr. Nichols that will live on forever, through them. I can’t fathom the impact his life has left on others and what it will leave on our futures. I’m just a small leaf on the end of the tree and I feel it. Every day, I see the impact that his children leave on those around us. Someday, somehow, I wish to be the man Mr. Nichols was. Not necessarily the coach, but the loving father and human that far surpasses any championships or trophies. Thank you for your strong impact on our community and even on those you may have never even known existed. May you rest in peace and live forever in the hearts of your loved ones.

Eric Shanteau

I Finally Fell In Love.


Growing up, the world as I knew it was gigantic. It expanded as far as my legs could peddle to and from. Wooden Fences, dog chains, and no trespassing signs could never limit my explorations. To me, China was Perrysburg and everything I ever truly needed was in a four block radius. Those four blocks were my world and now looking back, that’s why life once seemed so comforting. Living a sheltered life is impossible when you never step foot outside of the shadows. As I grew older, so did the world. Friendships grew distant and traveling depended greatly upon the price per gallon and how heavy my wallet felt. Leaving Toledo was either something you did, or wished you had. With the knowledge of a truly endless world of opportunity, I literally outgrew my own backyard. The world that allowed me to grow into the man I have become, was now limiting me from everything I could possibly ever want in life.

I almost let the love of my life go for something “prettier” and perhaps superficial. I really had a great thing going and it took me nearly fifteen years to realize that Toledo is more than everything I ever wanted. Northwest Ohio is the girl you want to take home to mom and dad. It’s the love of my life that I grew to appreciate and understand the opportunities it has offered. Every day, I see it’s beauty and every day, my world once again begins to shrink. I am no longer reluctant to find comfort within the confines of the only place I will ever honestly call home. We have several small outlining communities that posess all the necessities we need and unfortunately, that does not force us to explore outside of our tiny bubble. The surrounding cities in each and every direction, the metro parks, country roads, and dilapidated barns were all quietly awaiting my appreciation for my Midwest beauty queen.

Specifically pinpointing locations and highlighting must see spots around our city is exactly what limits our imaginations and our appreciation for the simplistic comforts and hidden gems that present themselves all throughout the upper left corner of this great state of Ohio. I can’t possibly imitate the sounds of the tall swaying pines in Oak Openings, the smell of fresh leaves burning in Tontogany, and the horses roaming the open fields in Swanton. I challenge anyone to gas up the truck, pack a lunch, pick out your favorite playlist, roll down your windows and explore what our city and the surrounding areas have to offer. If I am correct, you’ll fall in love as well. Just know that I found her first..

Photos of NW OHIO- Facebook

For: Ever. From: Me.

    I realized the other day that if I were so fortunate enough to have any last words, they would likely be in the form of a question. I was never blessed with the ability to accept the ideals of life’s simplistic foundation and fundamental guidelines. Everything has to have a profound answer and purpose to its existence or an explanation that pushes the boundaries towards reinventing the entire way we view our meaning in this life. I question normal behavior and it’s profound effect on us and how it’s become a superficial concept that may no longer be permissible. I want to be able to grow wings and fly, but I can not. However, that does not detour me from losing sleep over a nonsensical fairytale that I think exists, but I’ve never seen. I have a motion picture that plays in my mind about how I perceive happiness and my desire to share love with another. Perhaps these details have set up such a high expectation that I am bound to fail. It has caused me to walk away from my own hope and become stepped upon for another’s.

    Most love comes from one of life’s most selfish gestures; stemming from how YOU feel with another in order to willingly offer your companionship in return. Other than the love for a child, I have a very difficult time intertwining unconditional with love. Divorces, Infidelity, and distinguishing true love from conformity of comfort with reputation and familiarity. I have read a lot that love lasts merely a few years and then the concept of separation often becomes too unbearable for consideration because your life has been situated and based around/upon someone else. I hope I am wrong. I want to spend the rest of my life with someone so compatible and complimentary that we wouldn’t be able to achieve our dreams without one another. I think the idea of balancing another’s happiness for the rest of my life scares the hell out of me. I think it’s one of the biggest factors in making a successful relationship last and I can’t even balance my own. Till death do us part and forever is something I take extremely serious and perhaps to all fault of my own. I can’t half ass the idea that there is only just one perfect person for me that can complement my life just as I can hers. I can’t settle for anything less.

Broken Hearts and Discarded Toothbrushes

Breaking Bad : A Holiday Tradition

Hi. I’m back. (You know what that entails)

As disheartening as it may be for you, it’s near devastation for me. As I opened up my laptop on the exact night that is designated towards giving thanks, I could still see my fingerprints from months ago upon the keyboard and visualize the desperation in which they were laced with. I could envision my old self once again as the light from the screen beams into my now dreary and exhausted eyes. I failed miserably at writing about the times I have smiled and laughed and loved during this short hiatus. With all apologies to those, if anyone, whom I left in the dark, I was busy living and when you’re living, your sorrows are far to shallow to drown in or consume. I’ve wanted to write about falling in love and how I escaped the deafening silence and self comfort of a broken heart on the way towards self toleration and eventually compatibility. I needed to express the joy of fate and how it brought a photo to life and allowed me an opportunity to break the bad. This did not happen. In fact, it parlayed itself into a tradition that only I could be capable of achieving.

Whether it’s pure coincidence or the moons gravitational pull, I’ve relinquished a lot of relations on or near holidays. I can’t answer why. November has been a near disaster for the Shanteau side of our family and although I do not entirely believe in fate or destiny, I would never disregard fact. I can’t fully understand why we seem to pass away specifically during one particular month over the remaining eleven. What I must tell you, is that life holds a lot of answers and lost puzzle pieces that we are incapable of understanding until quite possibly our time has passed. Unfortunately, I am a firm believer that this is when we finally realize that these missing moments and opportunities were intentionally unavailable in order to mask reasoning and highlight misfortune in hopes of learning and bettering future moments that are forthcoming on a daily basis. Be it in this life or the next. The decisions I have made in my life have all been derived from my willingness to do what was best at that exact moment. Thus, I have never made a bad decision. However, we grow as human beings and transform into something better and unfortunately, time often allows us to reflect back and sometimes regret those decisions. I can only hope that if it was meant to be, then our paths will cross again and allow my regret to relinquish into a second opportunity.

Heartbreak never gets easier. I’ve learned with age, that it’s just a part of life. (and blogs) Whether you’re single, married, divorced, widowed, or all that proceeds, vice versa. Deep down in my soul, I’ve never hated a single person that I have crossed paths with during this lifetime. Two people bond in one form or another and may separate as that initial connection is quickly substituted with thirty four years of trials and tribulation within great detail in a short period of time. I know that physical features, personalities and traits allow us the differential that is necessary to separate one person from another. This guides us towards an opportunity to close the gap between one and the one. It’s helped me to understand that if something does not work out, that hatred and vulnerability need not persist. It’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances that leads use to another. That patience is a virtue within a life that refuses to wait for our permission to officially begin. I’ve held on too long and let go too early. I’ve listened to my heart and also ignored it. What I envision as “life” or “living” when my eyes are closed and my heart is open, is expressed when ever I’m willingly allowed to grace the ground with my foot each morning. That “life” may never happen and that is something I am willing to accept as long as I believe that it can each and every day. That possibility is my greatest asset and it will surround me and comfort me just as much as another had previously.

Tonight, I wondered how many times it takes following off a horse until I no longer want to get back on. How many times do I have to touch the stove before I know it’s hot? Why is possibility burning my finger and extinguishing my desires? How many toothbrushes will I have to discard? Then I realized that without tribulations, I would never get back up. I would never experience what I have and in return, I would not be the person I have become. Slowly, I am trying to grasp the concept that I do not have to get right back up. I can slowly evaluate myself and allow my experiences to relinquish my mistakes thus presenting the positives. I’ve learned that balance in my life is what I desire. I’ve seen my scale tip from one end to another as I tried to find what was missing from one to the other and in return, this has made my life erratic. Thus, I am currently emotionally and physically drained. Possessing patience will hopefully allow me to balance out and even keel my life and maybe, just maybe allow me an opportunity with complete compatibility with another in the future. Permitting me to break the bad and understand that heartbreak does not come with a permanent scar.

Innocence Lost.


In even the most horrific moments in life, I somehow view them differently than most. My heart is heavy and the four words; Hug your children tighter, has been echoed repeatedly throughout every social media outlet I’ve ventured through during the past twenty-four hours. Without reiterating what seems logical and expressing yet another opinion that will go unnoticed due to topical overload, I want to share what goes through my mind. A single, middle-aged man, with no children. I hardly know any details, nor do I want to. Nothing is going to change what has happened, and hopefully we make sure it never does again.

I think about the suspect being born. I think about the innocence of birth and how it will never be as pure ever again as it was in that exact moment. I think about him being held in his mothers arms, as his tiny hands grasp her fingers. I imagine her looking into his eyes and smiling. She thinks about hope and endless opportunity. That without her nurture, he would not survive. I do not know how his childhood upbringing may or may not have contributed to a mindset that no one in this world can relate to. However, I think about how evil is never born. That even the worst souls have loved and felt loved. That at one point or another, he had smiled and brought joy to this world. Unspeakable actions, such as this, will diminish those memories. I am sadden tremendously by the thought that good can turn to evil. That innocence is lost in all sense of the matter; for what was undeservingly taken away from what was once his very own hope. To make strangers suffer in your own pain, instead of realizing that life has choices that do not require the unthinkable action. Hatred is a fuse that effects anyone that does not refuse to contribute wrong by passing it upon the innocent. Let it stop with you. Stand up for the good in what you know exists and defuse the very thought of hatred. Let go of the evils of yesterday, by focusing upon the joys of today.

Roadtrip Confessions – Ultimate Happiness.

Stop. Don’t listen to this if your going to be judgmental. I am by all means capable of taking all the sticks and stones thrown in my direction, but I’m warning you in respect for your own time. Don’t bother with it. Doing something malicious with your time instead of hugging your children or complementing another is not fair to yourself. I know that my blog, photos, and what I write have reached someone. That is enough for me to keep going. Impacting someone, to me, is very rewarding and hopefully someday, I will impact more.

I absolutely hated being in the military. Don’t get me wrong, being near Savannah/Charleston, driving an M1A1 Tank, Shooting a 120mm gun (for the first time), and making a few friendships was about the extent of what I enjoyed. However, what I took from enlisting are life lessons that I carry with me. Possibly never realizing that I had grown, considerably. Traveling, being a minimalist, eating what is offered to me, respect, the ability to function without life’s material objects (including daily showers), honor. And two of the biggest factors: 1. Appreciating what you want in life. You make very little decisions for yourself in the military. 2. Being able to live and cope by myself.

I drove from Portland Maine to Erie Pennsylvania (nearly 11 hours) in a downpour. I had a lot on my mind and things were popping up and I couldn’t write them down. So, I naturally recorded me talking. It was initially meant for notes to write my next blog, but I did not stop. That’s how I know I can write. When I sit down to write, my fingers never stop. They just know what I want to say. I’m not going to lie, I talk to myself occasionally and the rain, coffee, and fruit loops among little sleep had contributed to it. I’m sharing this because I think someone out there is going through what I am. All in all, we are all very similar. We just don’t know it yet.

(This isn’t staying up that long)

Obviously I am not a public speaker and I apologize for using “like” You know”, etc all the time. Just realize that this was intended to be used as notes.