Behind the Curtain

I’ve often wanted to share with you some of the little (and not so little) everyday miracles that happen around here that don’t make the book. Kind of bringing you behind the scenes of Spot with us — a bunch of passionate, hard-working, fun- and animal-loving loons.

I’ll preface this by saying that the adventure that is Spot Magazine is and has been a marvelous, challenging, sometimes scary, and always filled-to-overflowing-with-blessings ride. And day to day, some occurrences astound while others shock, some bring a belly laugh and others bring a tear. Whatever it is, it’s never-ending. The stories are constant, and the telling often includes the phrase, “this is amazing.”

This week finally spurred me to get off the dime and begin. Welcome behind the scenes. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Here’s what happened this week.

I’d planned a segment for the April issue that, after a little tinkering, showed itself as scrap. Later than ideal I realized I needed to plan a new cover, since Plan A was tied to the now-scrapped segment. No worries; I went to Plan B, tying the cover to a new series we were launching on Great Danes.

Yeah, that didn’t work out either. We found we didn’t have any usable shots and we definitely didn’t have time for a shoot. So Plan C went into effect, tied to a feature on Autism Awareness Month.

Read about Autism Awareness by clicking hereWhich is what brought me to meeting (by phone) Virginia Dunn, mother of Bradley Larios, a 16-year-old who owns and operates the Brad’s Big Bully Dog Leads company, which makes canine gear tough enough for dogs like his. Also, Bradley has autism, and allocates a portion of his company’s proceeds to autism-related concerns.

It was getting really late in the cycle by the time Virginia and I connected. I thought since Bradley had a website, competed with his working dogs, and appeared to have decent publicity shots, it should be easy to get one suitable for the cover. What an awesome thing, I thought, to celebrate this young man who is doing so much. I love it when people do more than they have to.

It’s amazing how so often, things just turn out right.

But the cover is a wicked taskmaster. In order for an image to make the cut it not only must be clear, vibrant and compelling, it also must be very high res, just the right orientation (with its elements juxtaposed just so), and it must have that indefinable quality . . . that  je ne c’est quoi that grabs the heart, brings a smile, or just . . . touches.

Virginia was thrilled with the opportunity for Bradley to be our cover model. In fact, she cried.

I cried too when I learned what they’d been through in the past week. She has just been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Bradley had just become “indisposed” due to a medication-related meltdown. Virginia went on to say that in fact, Bradley was at a real low point just now, and she’d been praying for something, anything, good to happen.

So she went in search of a photo. After about 24 hours of busting her ass to get her hands on a cover-quality shot (very often we’ll think we’ve got it, and the artist says, “No, sorry, too small”). We fired a bunch of great shots at Spot’s Art Director and wiz kid, Lancea. While Virginia had found some great shots, they didn’t make the cut due to tech requirements.

But finally, she nailed it. About an hour before the time we’d deemed the shutdown point where we would simply have to move to another option in  order to make deadline, she went out and got scans of some great shots — one of which graces the cover of Spot’s April issue (another appears inside).

Bradley and his family are the kind of everyday people that, to me, are shining examples for all of us — models who demonstrate the extraordinary in the ordinary,  people who show us that  overcoming gargantuan challenges IS doable. It’s folks like these who remind me that, no matter what, there is a way. Heart, hard work and tenacity go a long way in making the climb surmountable.

Bradley and Virginia have and will surely continue to endure some really tough currents — likely to have as many moments at the sparkling crest of a wave as those low points after the swell — where it’s darker, colder. One thing I know about survivors like them is they make it through . . . and mostly hold fast to the high points.

Thank you Virginia and Bradley, for being diamonds in my sky this month!

And now, in the sharing, undoubtedly shining a little light on you, too.


Thanks for stopping by!

I hope you’ll visit again,