Wabi-Sabi: My Liberate Your Art 2017 Reject

The Liberate Your Art 2017 (LYA) swap has begun! I received my first postcard a couple of days ago and I can hardly contain my excitement as I wait for the remaining cards to arrive.

Some people begin posting their cards on social media and “side-swapping” right away, but I usually wait till the LYA blog hop to post and begin sending extra cards.  I look forward to “the surprises” and want to see the postcards for the first time when they land in my mailbox.

It doesn’t hurt to share a postcard that didn’t make the cut.  Right?

As usual, I had a hard time deciding which cards to choose for the swap, so I had a lot of different cards printed. The design below was an early pick, but after seeing it printed as a postcard, I changed my mind.

“Wabi-Sabi: Beauty and Decay”

There’s nothing spectacular about the original photo, but I liked it when I shot it last August. I was a bit fatigued after being in meetings all day and stepped outside to escape for a moment. The flowers provided aesthetic relief after being trapped indoors.  They were showing signs of decay, but there was something in their beauty that caught my eye that rainy afternoon.

“Beauty and Decay,” iPhone Photo

I edited the photo a half dozen ways using the iColorama app. This was a favorite:

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

Wabi-sabi: a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.  [Definition from WordStuck].

The Japanese principle of wabi-sabi provided the perfect expression for what I was hoping to capture in the photo–beauty in imperfection.  After adding “wabi-sabi” to the photo, I sent the photo for a photo inspiration swap hosted for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

The final edit (first photo) was colorful and cheerful, and I appreciate that it did not mask the imperfections.

Considering the message of the design, it is a bit ironic that this one was not chosen for the swap.  No worries though.  It has made its way into at least two mailboxes and I have a few more in my stash to share. 😉

Have a fabulous week!

Happy Spring: Education Outdoors

The weather today was (and is) too gorgeous for indoors.  By afternoon, I couldn’t resist, so a couple of my students and I decided to take education outdoors.

English majors discussing issues they’re examining for their final projects.

How did you celebrate the first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

Photo Walk: Praying with Trees

I had to take a walk today.  I had to get out of my office and soak in the sun and rid myself of some of the ugliness that had been clawing at my soul.

The last few weeks have been bad. Not because everything has gone wrong and life has been topsy-turvy, but in soul-killing ways.  I’ve been dealing with too many people who simply aren’t nice and it was making me physically tired.  Like, I-want-to-sleep-to-not-deal-with-people tired.

The “everydayness” of the pettiness and meanness and slights were taking a toll.  No matter how well I let things “roll off my back,” when the assaults are hard, fast, and consistent, tiny slights feel like boulders. They aren’t so easy to roll away.  They just sort of pile up and impede my ability to “move on” or not take things “to heart.”

I found it difficult to shake the mood that was gripping me and dragging me to a dark, dark place. I had to do something, so I “escaped” for a bit.

I didn’t take my camera. I didn’t plan to take photos.  (I had my phone with me out of habit and for security).  I just needed to walk and talk with God for a moment. I needed him to “right” my perspective and reset my mood.  I needed him to expel from my spirit the foulness that was intent on sullying my soul.

After a few steps,  I looked up.

The trees were communing and basking in the warmth of this so-called winter and playing against the clear blue sky.

I paused.

I took a deep, cleansing breath.

I listened.

I allowed God’s Spirit to bathe me and exorcise the yuckiness.

And fill me with good things–things that are lovely, pure, right, and true.

I’m light and airy and my gratitude is floating in the wind, dancing with the trees.

 

 

Autumn Has Flowers Too!

At the mention of spring, we imagine an explosion of blossoms in many, many colors. At the mention of autumn, we think of the changing of trees.  But autumn has flowers too, and that was the point of the photo postcard swap in which my penfriend Beckra and I participated.

On a walk in the woods, Beckra captured Ladies’ Tresses which is a kind of orchid.  She writes that it is “great that when autumn brings some relief from Arkansas heat, it also brings flowers. We call it a second spring.”

Ladies' Tresses, photo by Rebecca R. (aka Beckra)

“Second Spring.” Ladies’ Tresses, photo by Rebecca R. (aka Beckra)

She points out that in this photo the blooms have not fully unfurled.

When I was at the Nashville Zoo last month, there were flowers everywhere.  In addition to some “still flowering” rose bushes and hydrangeas, there were mums everywhere (I think they’re mums).

"Mums the Word"

“Mums the Word”

And there’s always, always something blooming on our beautiful campus. This caught my eye while I was having a very rare moment to chit-chat with my friend, Meli.

Campus Bloom, iPhone Photo

Campus Bloom, iPhone Photo

I was grateful to see some pink dancing with the oranges, yellows, and reds of autumn, but I decided on “typical” autumn colors for the swap.  I played around with a couple of photos in the iColorama app and ended it up with way too many versions, so my hubby and son helped me select some of the edits. From their selection, I sent three or four to Beckra. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

“Behind the Glass” was inspired by an autumn photo Beckra sent to me.  “Van Gogh” is my favorite of the set, probably because he’s my favorite Impressionist.  “Nautilus” and “Ray” tie for second.

The advantage of a late fall here in Northern Alabama is that everything is still so beautiful and brilliant, but I have a feeling that is going to change with the blink of an eye, so I’m pretty sure this is going to be my last autumn post for the year. Until next year, I’ll just enjoy this year’s photos. 😉

Nature Photo Challenge: Autumn, of Course

"Falling for Fall," Northern Alabama, November 2015, iPhone Photo

“Falling for Fall,” Northern Alabama, November 2015, iPhone Photo

What’s a nature photo challenge without a nod to my favorite season?  I didn’t shoot very much this past fall.  It rained constantly, it seemed, so I missed most of the brilliance.  This is one of the very few photos I captured.  The reds and browns against the blue sky reeled me in for a closer look.

Here’s an edit of the photo:

"Falling for Fall," Edited in Pixlr

“Falling for Fall,” Edited in Pixlr for iPhone

Click on the links below (or use the previous post button a few times):

Just one more day left for the challenge.  See you tomorrow!

Nature Photo Challenge: Tiny Pinecones

I woke up just after 2:00 a.m. this “first day back after a holiday” morning with a headache.  As usual, I couldn’t go back to sleep till about 10 minutes before the alarm.  Then, I was hit with nausea.  And one complication after another.  I took a deep breath and started praying.

I know how easy it is for a bad morning to turn into a bad day, and I am not up for a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  I can’t stop today; I need to smile and get things done.  The nature photo challenge is just the panacea I need.

Today, I share tiny pinecones. I think they’re from the hemlock tree.  These are the cutest! They’re about one half inch to one inch long.

"Miniature Hemlock Pinecones," June 2015

“Miniature Hemlock Pinecones,” Northern Alabama, June 2015

This photo was captured with my iPhone while on a campus walk.

If you want more information on the hemlock tree/pinecones, check out these sites:

To see the other photos I’ve shared for the nature photo challenge click on the links below:

Enjoy!

 

 

 

List Journaling: What Makes 4th Graders Happy?

I really, really don’t have time to write a blog post, but I must interrupt my unplanned blogging hiatus to share with you how I thoroughly enjoyed the brief time I had with a group of fourth graders earlier today (my little one’s class). We talked about and played with some of the things that bring me joy–writing, list journaling, stickers, and washi tape!

The kids must have been as excited as I was: One of the parents sent me a text message thanking me for taking time out to do something special with and for the kids.  I joked that the kids are really my captive audience–since very few of my adult friends want to play with stickers and make lists just for the fun of it.

I spoke with the kids about list journaling, showed them a “100 Things That Give Me Joy” list I wrote a little over a year ago, and challenged them as a class to write 100 things that make them happy.  I figured, if everyone worked toward writing 10 each, maybe, we’d get to 100 collectively.IMG_5593

They had a blast selecting stickers and washi tape and decorating their new journals. In fact, some of them spent a lot more time on decorating than they did on writing!

If you’ve ever wondered what makes kids happy, here’s a list–in their own words:

  1. God/Jesus
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Animals
  5. Robots
  6. Writing
  7. Playing
  8. Singing
  9. Dancing
  10. L.A.R.P.ing (If you guessed that my child wrote this one, you are absolutely right! Just in case you don’t know, LARP is an acronym for “Live Action Role Play”)
  11. Owls
  12. Reading
  13. School
  14. Bunnies
  15. Lions
  16. Tigers (and bears, oh my!–I added that part for dramatic effect.  Did it work?)
  17. The Philippine eagle (very specific!)
  18. Owls
  19. Panthers
  20. Falcons
  21. Basketball
  22. Soccer
  23. A great view
  24. Drawing smiling faces
  25. Singing happy songs
  26. Rollerskating
  27. Watching television
  28. Physical Education (PE)
  29. Resting
  30. Swimming
  31. Dressing up
  32. Doing hair
  33. Sleep (Yes!)
  34. Going to restaurants
  35. Movies
  36. Reading the Bible
  37. Eating
  38. Love (Hugs for this one)
  39. Brother
  40. Mom (Of course!)
  41. Flowers
  42. Ice cream (Surprisingly, I saw this only on one list)
  43. My pet
  44. This journal (Aww…)
  45. My toys
  46. When people play with me
  47. When my parents buy things for me
  48. Acting
  49. Taking care of animals
  50. Drawing
  51. Watching the flags outside the school
  52. Swimming during the hot summer
  53. Working out at the gym near home (This child is inspiring! How many nine-year-olds work out?)
  54. Watching stars in the sky
  55. Superman movies
  56. Football
  57. Iceskating
  58. Sleepovers
  59. Zoos
  60. Candy
  61. Flowers
  62. Stars
  63. Cake
  64. America
  65. Sewing
  66. Quilting
  67. The color pink
  68. Emojis
  69. Space

IMG_5595We fell a bit short of the 100-mark, but most of the kids wrote at least 10 things. It just so happens that many of the same things make them happy.  As a whole, they seem to value and find joy in things that really matter–God, family, and friends were on almost every list. I like that they take pleasure in participating instead of passively watching.

Their lists did not reflect the materialism that is so much a part of our cultures.They proved the point that no matter how much they whine, beg, and “barter,” electronics, clothes, and the latest “things” don’t really make kids happy.

We ended our short time together with their making a commitment to continue working on the lists and writing in their journals.  That was the goal–to get them writing for pleasure on a regular basis.

Thank you, Mrs. Johnson, for sharing your class time with me!

Just in case you have no idea what I mean by “list journaling,” it is simply journaling via list, usually based on a prompt. Although it is an easier way to approach journaling, it is amazing how much we can learn about ourselves through listing.

If you’re interested, there are many wonderful list journal “communities.”  My favorites are:IMG_5597

  • The Reset Girl’s #ListersGottaList–provides monthly list journaling prompts for adults and children
  • Kam and Amy’s 30 Days of List–provides journal prompts for three months out the year.  A small fee is required.

You can go all the way out and embellish your journal with stickers, stamps, washi tape, art, etc. or you can keep it simple and just make lists. It’s all up to you!

That’s it for now.  Be sure to “tune in” again soon. I plan to share with you artwork by the same group of fourth graders! Children’s art–one of the things that give me joy!

Lego Adventures

“The Paleontologist-Photographer”

As I’m decluttering my desk again, I realize I still have quite a backlog of mail to share.  I thought I’d start with some fun shots.

Swap-bot Tynkerbelle and I enjoyed a few photo exchanges early spring. My favorite was “A Different Point of View,” a swap she coordinated.  For this challenge, we had to photograph from the perspective of a Lego minifigure.  Tinkerbelle sent three photos:

Here’s “Little Lego Man,” as she calls him, propped on a leaf photographing flowers.

Lego Man Propped on a Leaf by Zoey

“Flower Power” by Tynkerbelle/Peppie Selders

Here’s another minifigure on a beach.

“Beach Tourist” by Tynkerbelle/Peppie Selders

And again on a dinner date at Outback.

Dinner Date by Zoey

Dinner Date by Tynkerbelle/Peppie Selders

You can see more of Tynkerbelle’s work on her website, Captured Adventures.

This was a fun swap for my family.  I had to borrow one of my little one’s minifigures and he was super-protective of it.  I couldn’t leave with it and he had to supervise every effort.  I have since purchased my own–the paleontologist in the top photo–and my son purchased many more for his own Lego purposes. Here are the photos we chose to send.

“Posing in the Purple Weeds”

We were just warming up in this photo. “Blue” loved the purple weeds and just had to get a shot with them.

“Assessing the Challenge”

Then, with my hubby’s help, “Blue” and “Orange” joined forces to conquer “Big Rock.”  Can they do it?

“The Struggle Is Real”

They’re going to make it!

The last shot we sent her is my favorite, probably because it’s black and white.  Tynkerbelle noticed bunnies throughout the photo, and now it’s extra special to me.  😉 Can you see the bunnies?

Bunnies Everywhere

“Bunnies Everywhere”

This one wasn’t included in the exchange, but my son’s Spiderman minifigure came in handy for Spidey’s “selfie.”

“Say Cheese!”

Shooting from the perspective of a minifigure requires getting down low and getting close.  For me these were easier to shoot with my iPhone and my son’s Canon point-and-shoot than with a Canon DSLR, but I’m still experimenting.

As you can see from the top photo, I found a smart-girl Lego minifigure to take on adventures. She now has a permanent spot in my camera bag.   Tynk’s photos motivated me to get her a camera.  If memory serves me well, I found a pack of five on eBay for $2 or $3.

If you’re interested in more Lego Adventures, check out these sites:

Maybe, you’ll be inspired to go on a Lego adventure!

Snow Day!

I know some of my friends in colder climates are suffering a bit of cabin fever along with other inconveniences because of the brutal winter weather.  I am sure they would probably scoff at the mere eight inches of snow that fell on the Tennessee Valley a couple of nights ago, but, for me, the two “snow days” provided much needed respite.  I actually had time to do some fun things–besides play in the snow! 

Of course, I captured shots as the snow started falling, at various times during the daylight hours, and late into the night.

"First Snow," February 2015.

“First Snow,” February 2015.

It was a treat to watch this little guy riding his bike through the snow.

"Snow Ride...Take It Easy," February 2015.

“Snow Ride…Take It Easy,” February 2015.

I forced myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. the next morning to catch a view of the neighborhood before people started stirring about.

"Early Morning: Snow Blanket," February 2015.

“Early Morning: Snow Blanket,” February 2015.

I love this scene.  The neighborhood was so soft and serene. The quiet was almost sacred.  

Although I nabbed several (dozen) shots “for the record”–memory keeping and such–none of my shots compare to the winter shots my penfriend Dee sent to me earlier this month.

Canada by dee

“Winter Sunset at the Beach,” Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Photo Card by Dee

These were captured January 2014 at Harrison Hotsprings Resort in British Columbia.  The two cards here show the beach where she and her husband go many times throughout the year.

Canada

“Winter Sunset at the Beach,” Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Photo Card by Dee.

The area usually doesn’t get snow, and when they arrived the day these photos were taken, they were shocked to see that snow had just begun.  In true photographer fashion, Dee took advantage and shot these a few hours later.  She wrote that this was the first time she had seen snow at Harrison Lake in all the decades her family had gone there.  Hundreds of photos of the same area, she exclaimed, that only show the sandy beach all year long.

How exciting it must have been to be there for this rare treat!

Stay warm!

Leaves and Hearts

I realize Valentine’s Day was last weekend, but I was busy pouting because my family couldn’t  visit as we had planned. Winter weather–my enemy–prevented the visit. Sure, I appreciate delayed starts to the workday, but really this cold weather has.to.go.now!

I made V-day cards, as usual, and did not send them out on time, as usual. Who are we kidding? I still haven’t sent most of them out. But I know who I am so I designed the card to be given anytime.

Spread Love Postcard

See? No pink or flaming red hearts.

In case you can’t tell, the “hearts” are actually a leaf I was fortunate to find waiting in a puddle for me when I returned home from an errand. I almost stepped on the poor thing. It was raining, and I didn’t want to take my camera out, so I used my iPhone to snap a few shots. I altered the hearts with various apps. I can’t tell you which because I really don’t remember and I’m sure one or two of them went through more than one “process.” The individual hearts are “just okay” alone, but together they make more of an impact–in my opinion.

I like that I typically don’t get V-day cards delivered “on time.”  Perhaps, when they land in mailboxes “late,” they serve as a reminder that we should express love and appreciation every day, not just Valentine’s Day.

Hugs and hearts to you!