Motivational Speaking…facing my fears

When does the Photograph transcend into ART?

When does the Photograph transcend into ART?


The path I have been on lately again fills me with unfathomable inspiration.  Like many, I’ve never been comfortable speaking in public.  Unless it was loose, undefined, and in the context of my own creative space, I have avoided it like the plague.  Recently my path compelled me to focus on this weakness and to share the bigger story with the outside world.  I’m now targeting a much broader, diverse audience within the highly defined TedX platform that’s characterized by bright lights, cameras, and frighteningly short time frames.  Talk about facing my fears…

I’m proud of everything in my creative world; it’s evolved through unrelenting focus and hard work.  It’s always been about making mistakes, learning, and pushing ahead.  This familiar pattern persists in my new pursuit.  Months prior to my big day, I begin my long, anxious journey.  I first try to identify and identify with my audience, what I want them to know and, most importantly, how I would like them to feel.  Endless editing of images (still and moving) and constantly conceptualizing and reprioritizing my ideas eventually leads me to some place of greater clarity as to what, when, and maybe even how.  Then I inevitably find myself trying to remember it all and naturally but desperately somehow trying to get it all to fit into what always feels like a hopelessly tight time frame.  In the last week before the talk, the pressure to be ready, to be real, and to be relevant is greater than ever.  I set up a camera and record the painfully repetitive practice of trying to get it all to come out cohesively, organically, and on time.  The process is working as a matter of course, but it never feels like it’s working as well as it should.  I forget things, lose my train of thought, and I seem to make the same mistakes again and again.  There’s something about trying to say it all in 17 minutes (the standard TedX time format), or less, that makes it so much harder for me.  It’s kind of funny, but, honestly, it almost doesn’t even matter how much time I have allotted…I always run over.

I’ve been lucky.  So far, when the moment finally arrives, I find myself in positive space, calm, confident, and prepared.  Somehow, in that moment, I forget everything I’ve done to get here and it feels like the experience just happens.  I relish these moments, the moment, when I’m inspired and get lost…Like my friend, editor, critic and coach says, “…at that point, when it really matters, in the moment, just be still, quiet down, and get out of your own way.”

I  have recently spoken at the The Explorers Club Annual Meeting in NYC, TedX Reno at the Nevada Museum of Art, and TedX Youth at Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park.  All of these experiences have touched me; the speakers and their ideas have opened my eyes to obvious but surprising new perspectives and their incredible visions of new possibility.  Their abilities to move me so deeply in such short moments in time again opens my world to the power of original, creative storytelling and the impact it has on all of us, now and for our future.

Someday I hope the butterflies become quieter sooner…And eventually fly away home.




Over 400 kids from schools all over the Peninsula came to be inspired

Over 400 kids from schools all over the Peninsula came to be inspired


Keoki infront of FaceBook Headquarters

Keoki infront of FaceBook Headquarters




A trip of a lifetime to New York City, Explorers Club Annual Dinner 2013

The commander of the Space station called in to congradulate them

The commander of the Space station called in to congratulate them.

John Glen and Chris were honored
John Glenn and Scott Carpenter were honored.

The theme for this years Annual dinner was Sacred Places.

The theme for this year’s annual dinner was
Sacred Places.



What an amazing weekend.  Invited to participate in the 108th Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD) and Celebrations my business partner, Lynn Gibson, and I arrived  at the Waldorf Astoria in black tie and ceremonial dress with a thousand people from around the world on Saturday night.  Both the cocktail hour and post dessert receptions featured exotic menu items ranging from beaver, muskrat, camel,  scorpions, earthworms, and more.  The silent auction offered incredible adventure trips, a ride in zero gravity and a donation of a communicator and phaser donated by Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry.

During the night many awards were given to amazing adventurers who reflected deeply on the theme of the night, “Sacred Spaces.”  President Alan Nichols proudly announced that this was the very first ECAD to be live streamed as a special call came in from the International Space Station Commander, to congratulate astronauts John Glenn and Chris Carpenter for their President’s Legends Medals.  Next up,  Erden Eruc   received a Citation of Merit for spending 5 years and eleven days circumnavigating the globe in a row boat.  The night closed with James Cameron describing ECAD as the Academy Awards for explorers, sharing his passion about carrying the Explorers Club flag to the deepest depths of our planet’s oceans.  Throughout  the night a kaleidoscope of images was projected onto the grand room’s walls and ceiling showing far away galaxies and disappearing glacial sanctuaries.


Presenting The PUSH To The Explorers Club


Keoki with Explorers Club President, Alan Nichols

On Sunday the festivities turned to the Explorers Club House on 70th St.  The five story brownstone was filled with exploration banter from the morning’s Board elections to an afternoon of keynote speakers.  The topics ranged from the Wounded Warriors ascent of Kilimanjaro to Arita Baaijens’ search for paradise in the mysterious kingdom of Shambhala hidden somewhere in the Altai Mountains of Asia.  There was an incredible tech-driven digital photo presentation of Everest shot by David Breashears  that shows what 4 billion pixels (477 photographs) can allow you to see.  Then Les Guthman shared a preview of his newest project, a film on Saturn…Other worlds, so close in our vast universe unfolded onto the screen,  stunned me with their brilliance and inspired profound thought.

Near the end of the day I got my chance to share the PUSH with the Explorers Club.  My parents and my business partner, Lynn Gibson, sat in the front row to cheer me on.  As I began to tell the tale of this incredible journey to the bottom of the world, I got out of my own way and the heart and soul of the moment filled the room.



For more on all fours – Black Ties and lots of tails

Keoki gained perspective while maintaining the camera angle at Golden Retriever eye level at the Annual Black Tie and Tales event at the Ritz Carlton, Northstar on February 16th. The event grows in success each year with this years proceeds breaking all previous records. The highlight is pup and master outfit pairings.

I love you more

I love you more

Who's best dressed?

Who’s best dressed?

Order your Black Tie and Tails images now

Go to to view fabulous photos from Black Tie and Tales.
Over 300 images to choose from. Call or e mail Gallery Keoki to place orders. 530-583-1404; Images can be purchased as standard size unframed photos, prints on Metal (ready for wall hanging or table top display), or as a digital file for personal unlimited use. Special pricing available. Shipping included. Gallery Keoki will donate a portion of all sales to the Humane Society. Thank you so much for your support and see you next year. Aloha.

Dan Morgan with first mate - just don't tie the leash to the chair again..... :)

Dan Morgan with first mate – just don’t tie the leash to the chair again….. 🙂

CARVE International Snow Sculpture Contest

The CARVE snow sculpture contest that was held last week at Northstar was incredible. Teams from around the world showed up and made magic. They all came to Tahoe with very different perspectives, different visions, different objectives and systematically, day by day, chipped away at their 10x10x12 foot high blocks of snow. Each team of three had submitted a sketch months before to be accepted into the contest, I had seen them and quite frankly in some cases, I was having a hard time imaging them pulling off their ambitious plans.

They spoke different languages, used different tools and clearly were following different strategies. Some of the teams were made up of veteran carvers who had travelled the world competing for years, others had less experience. All of them faced a new obstacle, one foreign to the rest of the stages they were used to…The California sun. The Tahoe heat, wrecked havoc on plans. On day two I showed up to see tarps thrown up everywhere… luckily it still dipped into the 20’s at night and the blocks froze hard.

As I watched the forms emerge out of the blocks I couldn’t help but be inspired. As a judge, I tried to wrap my head around the wide range of forms and message, looking for common variable to measure by. It was amazing to see the evolution.

At night changing LED lighting set the works a blaze in color and form. The darkness framed each incredible flowing piece of art as they called out and danced together for the stars.

In the end, one sculpture rose to the top. It was a minimalistic, precariously balanced statement. Clearly it was “a all or nothing” attempt. The Germans pulled it off with practiced strategy and precision.

Unquestionably, CARVE was a huge success.

The Gallery Keoki team enjoys a winter boat ride on Lake Tahoe with Tahoe Social

The perfect winter picnic

On a chilly Wednesday morning in February, we set out from the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in search for the perfect spot for our winter picnic.

Our first outing with our new friends, the lovely ladies from Tahoe Social, was also the first time any of the Gallery Keoki team members had experienced being on Lake Tahoe during the winter season. Warm smiles and cheery laughter fought back the cold wind as we made our way to Keoki’s secret beach along the East Shore.


East Shore Picnic

Our simple winter picnic quickly turned into a feast as homemade pulled pork sliders, red velvet cookies, and freshly cooked dumplings were spread out across the small blanket. With full bellies we sat back and took in the view.

As a new (by Tahoe standards) transplant from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, I am still easily taken aback by the beauty of Lake Tahoe. The crystal clear water looks as if it belongs along the shoreline of Cozumel. Luckily for us, we have it in our own backyard, surrounded by the mountains we love.

Perfectly cooks dumplings

This diverse environment offers many opportunities that are not available anywhere else in the world. Who else has this view for their Wednesday office meeting? I will never get tired of this place.

-Sarah, Gallery Director