In the Moment Stories

I’ve wanted to blog all week, but “crazy-busy” wouldn’t let me, so after photographing flowers Thursday morning, I opened the Instagram app to post a photo with a few hashtags. Then, I remembered “stories.” I’d never posted a story before, but I discovered immediately that they are perfect for sharing “in the moment” photos or thoughts when a blog post is out of the question:

Like when you’re driving along and the flowers on the side of the road require some time with them.

Or when, at some point during the morning drive, you look up and the sky deserves more than a glance.

Or while you’re sitting in your car waiting for a meeting to start and you notice dogwood blossoms not too far from you, when everywhere else (as far as you know) the blossoms took leave weeks ago.

Moments like these often sit in my camera or on my phone unshared. There are thousands of them (literally). I’ll do better.

I plan to “flesh out” these particular experiences some time soon with more photos (and words), so stay tuned.

Enjoy your weekend!

Paradise: Moments and Connection

I went on a brief trip to Chicago–for the College Language Association’s (CLA) annual convention–late last week. The conference is always a treat, and I can’t believe I hadn’t attended since 2012!

CLA was founded in 1937 by Black scholars and educators to strengthen teaching and scholarship in literature(s) and language(s). The organization was formed because, at that time, Black scholars were excluded from the Modern Language Association (MLA), which is considered the “flagship” organization for English and Language professors. Like today’s MLA, CLA’s membership is open to all scholars in literature and language studies.

The annual convention is a huge academic reunion, where we test theories, exchange ideas, and (re)connect with friends from our undergraduate and graduate school years, former students–now professors themselves–our own former professors and mentors, and colleagues from all over.

Today, many CLA members, like me, are members of both organizations. As much as I appreciate MLA, it is CLA that gives me a sense of purpose, affirmation, and community.

I read a quote yesterday, posted by a friend on Instagram, that perfectly expresses how I feel about the conference:

Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments. In connection. In flashes across time.  –Victoria Erickson

Paradise.

CLA is about the moments we get to spend together as scholars and friends who support, encourage, and inspire each other.

Color Harmony: Can There Be Harmony on One Side of the Wheel?

Icy cold temperatures kept me indoors quite a bit over the last few weeks, and since I’d rather explore and experiment with my camera outdoors, I delayed work on Dogwood’s Week 3 prompt when I looked at the forecast and saw that this week promises warmer weather.

I managed to complete the Week 2 prompt more than a week ago. Somewhat.

The prompt, “Color Harmony,” under the “composition” category, called for photographers to:

Get out your color wheel. Do opposites attract? Can there be harmony with opposite colors? Does the Hulk wear purple pants? Mix warm and cool colors.

I had a number of things working against me. The weather (rainy and/or cold), meetings, and the beginning of a new semester conspired to limit my time and energy for photographic creativity. Here’s what I managed:

[Shot with my Canon].  I like the silhouette of the the house and trees in this photo of the sunset sky as the evening clouds began to roll in, but I’m not pleased with the composition.  At the moment of the shot, I was focused on the sky and getting out of the cold! I should have changed my position a bit to get the right balance. Few things can compete with the beauty of a naturally painted sky–and this one offers a nice blend of pink to orange to yellow masking the blue day sky.

I snapped this one on my iPhone while racing through Walmart. I’m not a fan of fake flowers, but the pink and purple “silk” flowers on display drew my attention. Why? Pink and purple, of course! I edited the photo because I couldn’t tolerate the fact that they were so obviously fake.  Now, they have a reason to look “unreal.”  The conundrum here was trying to determine if the photo captures “warm” and “cool” colors. Purple and pink are straddlers. The pink feels a bit warmer than cool to me; the purple a bit cooler than warm. What do you think?

Lastly, another one snapped on my phone. These are my mom’s forever sunflowers. I forgive them for being fake because they are so realistic that many people think they’re the real thing. Furthermore, I accept sunflowers in all forms.  😉

Do they meet the challenge? I’m not convinced there were enough opposite or warm and cool colors to create interest.

I’ll keep working on “color harmony”–when the weather warms a bit.


Week 1: Vision: Looking Ahead

Thrive…

Life has evolved to thrive in environments that are extreme only by our limited human standards: in the boiling battery acid of Yellowstone hot springs, in the cracks of permanent ice sheets, in the cooling waters of nuclear reactors, miles beneath the Earth’s crust, in pure salt crystals, and inside the rocks of the dry valleys of Antarctica. –Jill Tarter

My hubby and I visited a cute garden shop today and while waiting for him to complete his transaction, I explored the grounds–checked out the various fountains, marveled at the ice patterns formed in what was once flowing water. I was drawn to a fountain pouring water into a heart-shaped basin and was so pleased to find goldfish surviving and thriving in the frigid water.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Ice Story: Too Cold! Too Cold!

Too Cold, Too Cold!

I grew up and spent more than half my life in the Deep, Deep South–in New Orleans–where the west bank of the Mississippi River meets rock. So when the temperature gauge reads 8 degrees, there’s no question about it. I plan to stay indoors until Sir Sun shows Jack Frost who’s boss. But life isn’t always convenient, and sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

I braved the coldest temperatures I’ve had to deal with in my life–minus 5°F (with wind chill factor) when dropping my son off at school yesterday. Gasp!

“What? There is school?!”

That was my reaction when I woke up yesterday and found no notification of cancellation–or at least a delayed start to the school day. I guess it says a lot about my relationship with “extremely cold” weather that I seriously expected schools to be closed because of the single digit temperatures. I was tempted to let my son stay home–warm and cozy by the fireplace–but, like responsible parents, we sent him to school.

After drop-off, with multiple layers and thick, bulky coats on all, a trip to Walmart for thermals gave me this gift of ice. [Click an image for a closer look]

My first shots of the year. iPhone pics. Meh.

Unfortunately, I ignored the inner prompting to grab my camera when we were heading out the door. Of course, the “real” camera would have required more fidgeting with settings and more time in the ice cold temps, so I’ll accept these–my only evidence that I went outdoors and survived way below freezing temperatures.

Kudos [and thanks] to the Walmart team member for leaving the sprinklers on! 😉

Divided: Photos Caught During Conversation

As I was “flicking” through photos on my phone, I realized that all of the photos I captured with my phone this week were shot while I was in conversation with others…

An abandoned home while chatting with my hubby during our morning drive:

“Abandoned on 53”

An expiring dragonfly while one of my students was sharing a profound spiritual experience:

“Glassine Wings”

My favorite image of the week–wires and lines while chatting with the same student and a colleague after grabbing lunch:

“Angles”

The pretty butterfly, part of the Christmas decor adorning the banister outside my office as a conversation with another student was ending.

“Pearls and Lace”

I was fully tuned in to each conversation when these images literally grabbed my attention, but I imagine it must be (at least) slightly annoying to have a conversation with someone who pauses or slows her step during conversations to take a shot at something that catches her eye. So “thank you” to everyone who accepts me and my camera (or iPhone) and understands that those pauses to consider the little things provide necessary balance for an often too busy life.

Kindness Matters. Period.

We wrap up our seven days of kindness posts with the postcard I crafted for Louise Gale’s Global heART Swap.  And we end where we began.

Kindness matters.

“Kindness Matters. Period.”

However, Jewel’s song was not the inspiration for the postcard. Instead, I was inspired by the many, many expressions of kindess I’ve witnessed either directly or indirectly and the powerful impact(s) they have made.

Many of us are familiar with the Ian McClaren’s quote (often attributed to Plato), “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We read this so much that it has descended into the realm of cliche. We no longer “hear” the import of the words, but the reality is that most, if not all, of us are coping with something tragic, challenging, or traumatic.

We convince ourselves that we can do nothing to help, that our small efforts don’t and won’t make much difference, but they really do and will. Our acts of kindness may change someone’s mood from desperate to hopeful and may even make the difference between life and death.

So…

Extend a little kindness in whatever form it needs to take for the situation–smile at strangers, wish someone a nice day, drive with courtesy, pay it forward, forgive, agree to disagree, or walk away. During the particular interaction with you–no matter how brief–an individual may be dealing with something that is much heavier, much more trying, so give that person a momentary break from his or her madness.

Kindness matters. Period.

Just in case you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, they’re listed below for your convenience.

Have a kind week!