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.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Negative Space, Scorching Days, and a Tree Poem

Japanese Maple

It has been difficult for me to get in a bit of tree love this summer. I need a bit of tree therapy, but my body cannot handle the extreme heat. I am trying to figure out solutions to this problem, but for now, I capture trees “in passing”–as I exit a building on my way to my car or as I exit my car on the way to a building.

Such was the case with the photo in this post. While heading to the parking lot after an appointment, I looked up and beheld glorious bright orange leaves against a clear blue sky. I stood still for a literal second to breathe and take a couple of quick snaps with my phone. [One of those snaps is featured as a watercolor edit in today’s Instagram post]. 

The photo above served as my 52Frames, Week 27 submission for the prompt negative space. I intended to type an excerpt of a poem in the space, but it felt wrong to cover up the gorgeous blue sky with words.

I have been carrying Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk with me for the past couple of weeks, so her poem inviting us to use the tree as our model for how to appreciate our unique selves is my gift to you for this #ThursdayTreeLove.

stand tall
Cleo Wade

the tree never
feels less like a tree
because it is different
from the others
in the forest

so why would we ever think we are meant to all be the same?

to be unique is to be a living thing


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.

Photo Poem | Cry Wild

Cry Wild Red

Last week when my bestie asked how I was doing. I told her, “I am out of words. I need to howl.” So, we howled. Via text message.

Howl

There has been so much talking lately. So many words. Too many wrong words. Words that divide. Words that hurt. Words that maim. About five years ago—when the global noise had escalated unbearably—I shared the words of a former student, “the world needs a little silence.” 

I think we’re at that point again.

We need less words. Less commentary. Less opinions. Less arguing and defending. Less reacting. We need healing words. I realized this as I was reading Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” last night. The length, weight, and relevance of that piece made it intolerable for this moment. Though I indeed feel like “howling,” nayyirah waheed’s poem, “break,” more aptly captures what is needful.

cry wild.
you have probably never cried wild.
but, you know what doors
feel like.
you have
an intimacy with doors
that is killing you.

–break, nayirrah waheed, salt

The losses are mounting. The grief is heart-shattering, but our tears are restrained.

We must unleash them. We must break.

We must break to heal.

Snail Mail | #ThursdayTreeLove | Tree Mail!

from LAW

Who says you can’t fit a tree in a mailbox? My pen friends certainly know how to use snail mail to share what’s growing in their parts of the world, and today I am sharing three photo postcards for your tree-loving pleasure.

My pen friend, Lori Ann W., sent the photo postcard above last October (2021) for a Love Notes prompt. On the back of her card, she wrote:

Find your way through your days knowing you are so very special and are cared about by so many!

A sweet message for a gorgeous scene! The photo was shot by one of her friends, who graciously allowed her to make postcards from the shot.

Christine B, my most prolific pen friend, sent the card below the previous October (2020) for Love Notes too.

from Christine

She wrote:

Give me just a second to remind you how important you are to so many. You have had a lot handed to you and I’m always impressed at how you handle everything.

Aww…this one brought (good) tears to my eyes.

The postcard features a dead ponderosa tree on the bank of Lake Mary in Flagstaff, Arizona. Christine told me Flagstaff has the largest standing ponderosa forest in the country. How cool is that?!

from Karolyn

Finally, these “tree feet” were sent to me by Karolyn for a Photographic Postcard swap on swap-bot. It was sent 6+ years ago, so it has been sitting in my “to be blogged” box an embarrassingly long time.

Karolyn, who’s from Missouri, captured the tree when she visited the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. She found this tree clinging to the rock alongside a waterfall.

All three photo postcards capture the timeless beauty of trees–one tree glowing in the sunset; one dead but standing tall with its evergreen friends; and one with deep, strong roots crawling along a waterfall. Gorgeous sights with beautiful lessons and messages I would have missed if it weren’t for cameras and snail mail.

Snail Mail Quick Tip: Tree mail is easy-peasy to send. Is there an interesting tree along the path you walk, jog, or drive regularly? Is there a favorite tree in your garden? Did you find a tree that took your breath away while you were in a park or on a nature trail? Trees are–thankfully-everywhere, so that makes sending trees a cinch: Just take a shot, have it printed at your local photo printer (even Walmart and Walgreens print postcards onsite), write a note, and send it on its way to make a mailbox and a human happy.


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.

NPM | PhotoArt Inspiration | Revolution

Powerful Revolution

When I shared nayyirah waheed’s poem “ism” on the blog a couple of months ago, I knew I would eventually pair it with a photo. I didn’t know which photo until one day–for a different project–I asked the two students featured to pose for a picture and “act like sisters.” They nailed it with the first shot! When reviewing the pics, I realized I had the photo I wanted.

The students featured are Na’veh M. (nah-vay) and Wanéa A. (Wah-nay-uh). You have seen their work featured on the blog before–“No Woman Is a Paradise Island” (Wanéa) and “Three Poems and a Tea” (Na’veh).

As part of a creative writing course, Wanéa published her first book of poetry, Witness: The Life of Jesus Through the Eyes of Others, which is available on Amazon for a whopping 99 cents! The reflections are presented in various poetic forms–villanelle, tanka, haiku, blues, free verse and more.

Na’veh, like France, just graduated. She publishes her poetry regularly on Instagram and will hopefully self-publish a book soon. I’ll be sure to let you know when she does!

This is our final National Photography Month post, but my camera will not be resting anytime soon. For now, on to other things…

NPM | PhotoArt Inspiration | Divine Feminine

Divine Feminine

I cannot let National Photography Month (NPM) end without sharing a bit of PhotoArt inspiration (PhotoArt plus an inspiring quote). Today’s features an image of France Régine, one of my (now former) students, receiving an affirming hug at the end of a reading in which she read pieces from her book and discussed her creative processes. Unraveling, a collection of journal entries, poetry, stories, and musings from France’s teen years to early twenties may be purchased at Barnes and Noble. I typed on her friend’s sleeve a quote from the queen of the #truthbomb, Danielle LaPorte. After considering France’s presentation and our many in-class and out-of-class discussions about women, writing, healing, and power, these are the words that came to mind after capturing this moment.

Please tune in tomorrow for another bit of inspiration and our final NPM post.

Until then…