#WednesdayWisdom | Some Days and Sunflowers

January Sunnies1

I hope by tomorrow I can unscramble the load of words bumping against each other in my brain. For now, please enjoy the words of Ullie-Kaye. Her poem manages to capture my “some days,” which have been going on for a week or two. Thankfully, though, there were sunflowers.

some days
ullie-kaye

some days are hard. and when they are,
i allow myself to feel whatever it is
that my body asks me to feel and i respect
the time it needs to fumble and flounder
and fall a little. some days i am swallowed whole
by things too big for me to hold.
and so i set them down. i rest, knowing
that even when i cannot slay the beast,
i can lay aside my sword for a moment and
work on protecting my spirit instead.
some days my heart beats like thunder
inside of my chest. it is heavy. and loud.
and relentless. it does not listen to the
part of me that wants to silence the storm.
and so i take my eyes off of the noise and
fix them on quieter places. on music. and art.
and heaven. and trees. and i show myself
grace in the dark. even if i am shaking my
way through it. because some days i still
haven’t caught my breath from yesterday yet.


Note: You can find more of Ullie-Kaye’s work on Facebook or Instagram [click links]. You can also purchase her poems–which always seem to resonate–as 5×7 cards here: Ullie-Kaye Poetry.

A Lesson on Rest

Silhouette-4

A Lesson on Rest
France Archange

(TO BE USED WISELY IF TIRED OR WOUNDED OR LIVING A BUSY LIFE)

When one of his mules was wounded, my grandfather would take charcoal from a fire and put it on the wound. Then he would put the mule away by itself so it could heal and not be exposed to the elements or hard work. None of his workers could use it to carry any load. After some time without carrying any load and being put away by itself, the wound would heal… it’s okay to go away for a while.


The short prose piece above was written by France Archange, one of my former students (and current writing buddy)—now a college graduate on her way to medical school. Her “Lesson on Rest” is an appropriate way to “announce” my two-week blog break. I meet all the criteria for rest: I’m tired, a little wounded, and living a busy writing life. I think this piece can be found in her book, Unraveling. You can find more of France’s work on Instagram: @theunraveledsociety. Speaking of Instagram, I’ll still be posting “musings from my younger self,” so if you miss me, you can visit me there. 😉 Otherwise, I’ll see you in two weeks!

About the Image: The pic is from Harvest Square Preserve.  It is a variation of the photo I chose for the Week 28: Silhouette prompt for 52Frames.

Photo Collage | PhotoArt from the Creative Gathering

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As I wrote the date in my journal this morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks–we are about to enter the last month of the year. The last month! I slightly panicked about all the things I’d planned but didn’t and won’t get to before Christmas. Thankfully, I quickly adjusted. I cannot allow the unfinished business of the year to plague the last few weeks, especially since the deadlines are self-imposed and none of it is actually necessary.

That said, taking time to share beauty and light is always necessary, so this week, I’m opening my camera roll and creating collages of some things I’ve wanted to share, but have been too busy or too tired to do so.

Today’s long overdue post features the 30 pieces of photo-art I created for Sheila D’s September 30-day Gathering (the Gathering).  I went into the Gathering knowing only one thing: since I wanted to feel like a “real” artist, I would put some work into the photos and alter them using PhotoShop and/or other photo applications. After my third post, I decided to work in threes–that is, I would work with one theme or technique for three days and then select my favorite piece for each day’s post. This resulted in 10 themes/techniques for the month–which resulted in a bazillion photos (not exactly an exaggeration):

  1. Music
  2. Circles
  3. Purple Flowers
  4. DistressFx
  5. Sunflowers
  6. Purple and Red
  7. Purple Fractals
  8. Brushstrokes
  9. Textures
  10. Roses

I usually worked the photos in more than one app to achieve the desired results. I shared four of them on the blog in September, and maybe, I’ll get around to sharing the others–and some of the other 709 pieces I created during September. Yes, that is the exact number. Isn’t that close to a bazillion? 😉

I thoroughly enjoyed the Gathering. It provided time out from life’s vagaries and lots of free therapy! Unfortunately, that was the last time I took time to create art every day. In fact, that was the last period in which I consistently took time for creative fun and possibly the last time I could vouch for my own sanity!

You can get an overview of the full Gathering and a glimpse of the work of the other artists by checking out Sheila’s post featuring the Creative Gathering Group Gallery. There’s lots of wonderful eye candy for your soul!

Musings from My Younger Self | Three Country Heartbreak Poems

52Frames Week 10 Low Key

“Wilting Sunflower.” My submission for 52Frames Week 10: Low Key

Tonight I’m dropping in to make good on a promise I made last month—to share some of the “country heartbreak” poems of my youth.  I really have no idea what I was exposed to that made me write them. They might be based on songs I listened to, soap operas I watched, or even books I read. I repeat: I.have.no.idea.  By today’s standards, I lived a pretty sheltered life, so even though the subject matter of the poems is not comical, my knowing I had little to no first- (or even second-) hand experience makes these poems pretty funny to me. 

I wrote all three poems the same day, about a month after I turned 15. There was a note at the top of “Guilty” that “all grammatical errors were done on purpose.” 

Guilty! 
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

I turned my back
and you’re headed on another road.
Well, I’m glad you’re gone
‘cause I don’t want you no mo’.

Comin’ home late ev’ry night
wit’ whiskey on your breath;
I’m telling you now,
nothin’s happened, not jus’ yet.

‘Cause when I git started,
I’m gonna go rough,
‘cause it’s no-good punks like you
who make a woman’s life tough.

So when you’re found guilty,
don’t act like you’re surprised.
Your pathetic life
is gonna flash before your eyes.

Promises! Promises! Promises!
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

You promised you’d come back;
you said you’d be back quick.
You promised we’d get married;
you put me in a fix.

Well, now you are back,
only two years late;
now, you’re married,
and I’m not your mate.

You said you love me,
but how could you?
You’ve hurt my feelings
and double-crossed me too.

Now, here I am,
a heart as cold as ice;
I am so heartbroken
that I cry all night.

You made too many promises,
promises you didn’t keep.
You told me you love me,
but the love you had wasn’t deep.

Our Illegitimate Child
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

Life has no meaning now—
You have gone away.
I gaze out my window,
praying you’d come back some day.

Nothing seems to happen;
I guess, that’s how it’s meant to be—
I take two steps forward,
and you turn around and leave me.

Nothing or no one can replace you
or your smile,
only this one reminder—
our illegitimate child.

Yes. I know the poems are problematic and flawed, but as I told an Instagrammer who offered unsolicited tips on improving one of my “youthful poems,” adult me is going to let teenage me be who she was as a writer. If you’re not already following my Musings Instagram, click here to follow: Musings from My Younger Self.

I Call Her “Too Much”

Too Much

When I crafted the autumn flower above for Sheila D’s 30-Day Creative Gathering (Day 24), I sent it to a friend and told her this one might be a little “too much,” so I decided not to use it. Unwilling to leave her in the heap of “never-to-be-seen-again” photo projects, I worked on her a little more.

I tried to mute her brilliance, but no matter what I did, her radiance seeped out. After looking at all the renditions, I looked at her again, and decided…too much is actually okay. 

So…

This one is for all of you who have ever felt the need to douse your light or mute your shine to make others comfortable. 

This one is for all of you who can tell from the side-eyes, rolled eyes, wide eyes, and blank stares that people just don’t know what to make of you.

This one is for all of you who have been told at one time or another you’re too silly, too loud, too dramatic, too “extra,” too smart, too colorful, too difficult, too much this or too much that.

This one’s for you. 

In spite of all those eyes and all those voices that don’t yet appreciate the grandeur of your extraordinary—your “too much”—keep being you. 

You might as well. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to subdue your light. Besides, the rest of us love you, and for us, your “too much” is actually okay!

My Golden Reminder to #facethesun

Golden Hour 1-B

Today is the fourth anniversary of my sister Lori’s passing, so, predictably, I woke up in the grips of sadness. I wanted to spend the day in quiet contemplation, perhaps, dreaming in purple, but Monday means necessary work. I was not exactly looking forward to a long “working meeting” day and wondered how in the world I would get through, but God reminded me that work is sacred and that as long as I continued “working for Him,” He would do His part in helping me feel safe, focused, and strong enough to get through. 

After a gloomy weekend, the sun is shining brightly, an invitation for me to glow in the moment. I am thankful for this moment. Though grieving the loss, I am grateful for Lori’s beautiful life.

I crafted the sunflower in today’s post for the Week 36: Golden Hour prompt for 52Frames. Unable to find a good “golden hour” to shoot in, I spent a figurative golden hour with this sunflower. It is just the image I need to have in my mind–a sunny reminder to change my focus or #facethesun [the Son of God] when I encounter the unpleasant moments of life.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Appreciating the Colors of Late Summer

Crepe Myrtle Duo

I couldn’t resist photographing the tree above as I walked to the science complex to meet with STEM leadership last Thursday. I also couldn’t resist transforming it to photo-art. 😀 I love how, as we are heading into the autumn season, the crepe myrtles are still holding on to color–not everywhere, of course, but certainly here in Northern Alabama. It was a little odd to see two earlier today sitting brightly next to a small oak which is already showing signs of autumn. Summer has been chaotic and far too busy. Though I am looking forward to the quieter, soul-settling days of autumn, I can appreciate the colors of the waning days of summer. 

In case you have been following along and wondering why I broke my posting streak (34 days!) leading to my blogiversary, Cy (the friend who challenged me) modified the challenge and decided I should reach a different milestone on my blogiversary. 🙂 More on that next week…Until then, be sure to make room in your heart for the trees!


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Sunny Blossoms | Sunflowers at Her Grave

“Shine Brightly.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

Some time ago I shared a short sunflower poem written by rupi kaur on the blog. I think of this poem often—whenever I think of my sisters, my friend Julie’s oldest daughter (who was also my student), my pen friend Eileen V’s daughter, and others who passed far too soon.

As I was noting the darkness in my office one stormy morning this week, I mentioned to Julie that I need to transfer my sunflower wall back to my office at work, and she began telling me her special sunflower story.

She planted sunflowers at her daughter’s gravesite. For some time, she tended that garden, a necessary act as she worked through those first shocking moments of grief. The garden grew and grew, as gardens do. Eventually but unsurprisingly, she was told it had to be scaled back (out of respect for other decedents and their families). She was able to chuckle a little when she shared that part, as there has been by this time enough distance between the shattering pain of losing a daughter so young and the present moment.

The image of a gravesite bedecked in sunflowers reminded me of the statement my blogging friend, writer Ellen H, made in a comment on one of my recent posts about grief—

Beauty is both stunning and sad. —Ellen Hawley

There is a cost to beauty, so while I marvel over the amazing grace God showers on mothers who lose their daughters, I am keenly aware that the loss leaves a wound that never heals. As Julie says, “it’s a club to which no mother wants to belong.”

Even so, I thank God for Karlette, Lori, Témar, and Alanna. Though there is sadness, I am in awe of the stunning gifts of their brief but brilliant lives.

despite knowing
they won’t be here for long

they still choose to live

their brightest lives

rupi kaur, “sunflowers,” from the sun and her flowers


About the Image: The sunflower art in this evening’s post comes from a photo-art journal crafted by my swap-bot pal, Diane W (aka midteacher). I shared most of the beautiful journal on the blog a few years ago, with a promise to come back and share four of the images in individual posts. I’ll get to the other three…eventually.