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…

NPM | #ThursdayTreeLove | Blues for the Babies

When I published Tuesday’s blog post, I was unaware of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas. I have been burying my head in the sand because the recent news cycle has been far from heartening. I learned about the loss of 19 children and two teachers in an early morning meeting. I sat through the meeting sick to my stomach and overwhelmed with grief. 

I thought about the appropriateness of the poem I shared Tuesday—especially its title, “The World Is Wild.” Any world in which an 18-year-old, a child himself, can purchase an assault weapon is out of control. I wondered how I would have crafted that poem had I written it Tuesday; I wondered if I would have been able to find the words.

There are times when the words weigh so heavily in my spirit that no amount of lifting can bring them to the surface. This does not feel like a time for poetry. Or a time for song. The only thing I can feel is a slow, long, moan–a deep gut sound that vibrates and sways and rattles the grief out of the soft and hard to reach places.

Our country seems oriented toward violence. Far too often the targets are innocent individuals minding their business and living their lives. And worse, far too often the targets are children wide-eyed with wild wonder and little clue about the dangers that lurk in dark, dark hearts.

It is mind-numbing to know that children are taught to run and hide in case of an active shooter, that teachers who are trained to educate must also be prepared to protect students from gun violence and even take a bullet for the children they are trained to educate. Why is that?! Why do school buildings become a one-sided war zone for twisted souls with a vendetta and time to kill?

I have no words. I have only the admonition to hold your babies close and hold the individuals who have lost their babies and loved ones close in your heart. Including the family of the perpetrator. They are hurting and grieving too.

The words below are the closing lines of a blues poem I wrote during my sophomore year in college. They are appropriate for this moment.

from “Nobody Told You to Be a Fool”
Chandra Lynn (Age: 20)

Just go to sleep, honey; rock your precious child;
Just close your eyes and rock that tiny child—

Protect that baby’s innocence; find comfort in his smile.  


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 | Musings from My Younger Self | The World is Wild

Walking Stick

It’s been far too long since I shared a “musing from my younger self,” so for this last full week of National Photography Month I will share some the words and wisdom of my teenage years with an appropriate, recent photo. The appropriate part is debatable.

Today, I’m sharing a poem I wrote just after I turned 17. My friend, Cy, calls it the prophetic poem. The photo above of a “giant stick bug” walking across the water seemed complementary.

The World Is Wild
Chandra Lynn (Age: 17)

The world is wild-
Men holding top positions
are on the ground,
biting the dust and busting
those who dry out the grass
and smoke it.

Dignity and courage
are part of the past.
Pride left and people fell.

People need chemicals
to erase the pain.
Money buys love.
To be further educated
one must have brains.

The world is wild.
The animals are loose,
and I am shut in.
Thank God!!!

I wish I could remember what prompted some of these youthful poems. I can remember clearly why I wrote some of them. For others, like this one, I draw a complete blank. Thanks to a couple of my students, I’m beginning to find the poems less cringey. They give insight into who I was and who I am.

NPM | Black and White | Eternity

orchid everything beautiful

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11

Ecclesiastes 3:11 is one of the most beautiful verses of Scripture to me. On the heels of the popular “To Everything There Is a Season” poem of the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3, this verse reminds us that everything serves an ultimate purpose and happens when it should.

I’ve spent many days wrestling with God over the the whys and why nots, so I understand this knowledge is not always comforting, especially when we face horrific circumstances. The last part of the verse acknowledges this limitation of our humanity—our inability to comprehend God’s ways–and gets us off the hook of trying to explain the unfathomable. We need only trust His providence, long-range divine vision, and Sovereignty. 

I find the middle of this Bible verse most potent. God has set eternity in our hearts. This explains our thirst for water from an unearthly well. For we were never meant to have all our yearnings satiated in this life. We were created in the image of God, created to commune with Him “in the garden,” and, therefore, with the innate desire to spend “our always” with Him.  

NPM | Lilies and Abundance

Lilies1

Forgive me for interrupting our week of black and white with the rich color of my lilies. It’s only Wednesday, and I feel like I have been working 100 days straight with no break. Can we say ex-haust-ed?

I wonder how I’m going to get through the next day and a half without collapsing or screaming at everyone who crosses my path. Internally, I am having a tantrum. 

I need a walk. 

I need beauty. 

I need light. 

I can’t squeeze in a walk today, but there’s always time for beauty, especially when it’s just outside my [home] office.

My guys purchased and planted a bunch of lilies for Mother’s Day last year.  I observed as they transitioned from vibrancy to dormancy to…death. I watched in horror as the deep frost of winter decimated the “stick” that remained. They were gone forever. 

Then, just as suddenly, I witnessed their resurrection. 

Over the last few weeks, I watched not one, two, three or even four, but five beautiful plants grow with vigor and blossom with lilies! Five times more than the amount that was planted! 

There is certainly a lesson in there about resilience and revival, about faith and bounty. But the greatest lesson for me is that even in our coldest, darkest moments, there is always just enough hope to usher even the most broken of us into the warmth and light of an abundant life.

Lilies2

NPM | 52 Frames | Long Exposure | Walking Meditation

52Frames Week 12 Long Exposure

Walking Meditation
Thích Nhất Hạnh

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.

We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.

Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.

We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.

Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.

Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.


About the Image: The photo above, like the one shared Monday, is from Green Mountain Nature Preserve. This one was for the 52Frames Week 12 challenge, “Long Exposure.” I have some work to do with long exposure, but I love this scene. I hope you find some time to walk and mediate this weekend!

NPM | 52Frames | #ThursdayTreeLove | Leading Lines

52Frames Week 17

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. —Eden Phillpotts

Why am I awake at 1:00 a.m. trying to pass a [technically] Friday post off as #ThursdayTreeLove? Because my time was not my own at all this week, so I am snatching a moment when I can.

The guys and I went to Harvest Square Preserve, a Land Trust near our home, because I wanted to get this shot for the 52Frames Week 17 prompt, “Leading Lines.” This lush scene was everything I expected, but then, we received a bonus! We saw a rabbit that we are convinced is one of the rabbits we rescued and released a couple of summers ago. Unlike other bunnies that hippity-hop away as quickly as possible, he hung around a bit for us, just kind of watching and waiting, maybe building up the courage to “say” hello.

I’d shot the scene above a few times before, so I decided to edit the 52Frames submission. I like how the edit accentuates the lines that pull us into the image and onto the walking trail.

It’s late spring. The trees are bursting and there’s so much to explore.


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.