30 Days of Creative Joy!

My artist friend Sheila invited me to participate in a 30-day Creative Challenge for the month of September. With the beginning of the academic year and a million other demands on my time, of course I couldn’t resist. I needed motivation to take a few moments for creative joy each day.

Throughout the month, I doodled, drew, photographed, wrote poetry and prose and worked on two major creative projects. Here are some of the “little things” from this month’s moments of creative joy.

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I “created” a whole lot more than this. I drew or doodled something almost daily [especially sunflowers], but I sent some with letters and notes and didn’t get around to scanning others. The photographs [on my camera] were a bit too overwhelming to tackle after a long and busy Monday, so I took the lazy way out and went with photos shot with my phone.

Not surprisingly, flowers dominated, and I was also a little obsessed with clouds. But did you notice the two bears I drew? I was determined to draw a bear yesterday. My not-so-little one gave me some pointers [he’s really good!], so I think I’ll continue working on bears next month.

That’s it for now. Sleep calls.

If you’d like to check out more art created this month, check out the 30 Days Creative Gathering group on Facebook. The artists are a-maz-ing!

Have [creative] joy!

#ThursdayTreeLove | …with a Bit of Sky Love

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.  –Kahlil Gibran

For today’s tree love, I’m sharing photos that are [somewhat] equal parts sky and tree. I love trees, yes, but I also love the sky. There’s something about a tree-lined sky that always reels me in, especially when the clouds are showing out.

You’ve probably figured out that these photos really aren’t about the trees, but I hope you have a bit of sky love in you too!

About the Images: The first two photos were shot on the way home from work yesterday [iPhone]. The next three early one morning a couple of weeks ago just before an 8:00 a.m. class [Canon, iPhone}. The final photo is a random shot from some random day on the way from some random place that I randomly found on my camera while searching for photo #3 [Canon].


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.

Optimism and Joy | #WordlessWednesday

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

 “Don’t Hesitate | Swan: Poems and Prose Poems | Mary Oliver
After taking a couple of “mental health” days, I returned to work yesterday and found a huge bunch of cheerful mums from my colleagues sitting in my office. The flowers brightened my spirits and made it easier to get through the day. I did not expect to meet such “sudden and unexpected” joy, but I grasped it without hesitation.

I read somewhere that mums symbolize “optimism and joy.” I like how that phrase honors the moment I’m in while at the same time reaching toward what can be and what will be.
Note: The top photo was shot with my Canon; the bottom two shot with my phone. I had so much fun experimenting with camera settings. I captured way more than three photos, but I’m exercising restraint. 😀

#ThursdayTreeLove | Knot So Beautiful

There is good in life every day.
Take a few minutes to distract yourself
from your concerns–
long enough to draw strength from a tree…
–Pamela Owens Renfro, “Reach for the Good”

August has been a strange month so far. I have felt “out of sorts” most days and have been so swamped with “things to do” that I’ve found far too little time for the things that add color to my days. This has made me even more grateful to be back on campus with the trees. The heat makes my time outdoors brief, but a [literal] moment with the trees every now and then does much to right my spirit.

The knotty tree above caught my eye as I walked past it with one of my colleagues. Naturally, I paused to take a snapshot with my phone camera. Although my colleague was grossed out by the knots, I was intrigued. I wondered about the tree’s story.

Trees develop knots in response to “stress”—weather, insects, injury, viruses. The knots are evidence of healing and repair. They give the trees character, and if we think about it for a second, it’s pretty amazing that trees are capable of creating beauty from something that can potentially destroy them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were more like trees? Perhaps, we are more like them.

To some degree, how we respond to tension is a matter of choice. Instead of internalizing our stress and creating destructive knots that can lead to mental and physical illness, we can respond to it in productive ways–praying, meditating, journaling, creating, crafting, singing, speaking up for ourselves, setting healthy boundaries.

If left unchecked, stress can leave us damaged and unhealthy. We transform these undesirable effects when we work through our stressors in ways that create beauty in our hearts and lives.

As for my colleague—no worries about her. If she continues to hang around me, she’ll be looking at trees in a different way very soon. 😉


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.

Shining with the Moon

North Pole Topography–from the HMOA advertising postcard

The moon, like a flower
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

William Blake, “Night,” Songs of Innocence

In honor of the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon–July 20, 1969–I am sharing more photos from a visit to the Huntsville Museum of Art, this time from the exhibit, A New Moon Rises: Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum “features amazing, large-scale high resolution photographs of the lunar surface.”

The images were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) over the last decade. I snapped only a few photos because the lighting and reflection from the shiny displays made photographing a bit challenging, but here’s what I captured.

Global Views

The “Global Views” display shows the South Pole, Far Side Mosaic, Near Side Mosaic, and the North Pole views of the Moon. You can find more details on these views by clicking here: Global Views.

My photograph of “High Noon on the Moon” was so filled with “people reflections” that it’s distracting, so I borrowed the image below from the Smithsonian website. [Click image to download or for more details]

“High Noon on the Moon,” from the Smithsonian website.

The sunlight at noon minimizes shadows but enhances subtle differences in surface brightness. The dark material is mare basalt, a volcanic rock that formed when lava erupted and flooded large impact basins early in the Moon’s history. The brightest features are ejecta, deposits and bright rays of material thrown from relatively recent impact craters. Notice how dissimilar the near (upper left) and far (lower left) sides appear.  –from the exhibit label

A section of the Lunar Topographic Map

The lunar topographic map above “shows the highs and lows over nearly the entire Moon at a pixel scale of 300 meters (980 feet). The colors represent elevation, from lowest (purple to black) to highest (red to white). the map is centered on the Moon’s near side.”  For the elevation scale and more images and details: Lunar Topography.

Although the moon looks “black and white to the naked eye,” if you look closely at this [partial] image, you can see hints of color.

The subtle variations in color seen here result from the differences in the chemical composition of the rocks and soil of the bright highlands and the dark lowlands.

The craters were probably my favorite of the displays. The two images below are from the Copernican Craters. The “ejecta patterns” make the craters look like works of art. Actually, they are masterpieces of nature in “outer space.”

These two impact craters have large, spectacular ejecta patterns of bright material thrown across the Moon’s surface. […] Each is incredibly well preserved: crisp crater rims, steep crater walls, and delicate small-scale ejecta patterns. The overhead sunlight highlights the brightness variations. –from the exhibit label

I’m holding photographs of another crater for a future post, so stay tuned.

We have marvelous views of the Moon and stars each time we step outside our home at night, but these gorgeous LROC photos give us things to look for and think about when we’re looking through the telescope.

I have a special “relationship” with the moon. My name, from the Sanskrit, means “moon” or “to shine like the moon.” Some say I live up to the name. I hope so.  😉