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…

Two Poems for Your Monday

Agape Review published two of my poems last week (yay!), so I’m dropping in to share them with a just little background on both.

Unlike the Musings from My Younger Self I share far too infrequently, these poems were written in my adult years.

I wrote “Word Made Flesh” in 2017 after an exchange with a student in which we talked through the intense grief of losing our sisters. A third student entered the conversation halfway through and offered comfort and her own insights on life and grief. Though the interaction occurred four years after my sister [Karlette’s] death, it was the first time I had ever expressed my feelings over the loss so vulnerably. The title of the poem comes from John 1:14:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The second poem, “God, You Are,” was written about 20 years ago. I scribbled it on a notecard and tucked it inside one of my journals. I rediscovered it a year or two ago, typed it, and added it to my “works in progress” poetry folder with the intention to tweak it. However, I made a split second decision to submit the unpolished version of the poem because that raw expression felt poignant in the moment.

Click the links below to read each poem:

Feel free to leave a comment there or come back here and comment. I look forward to your feedback!


About the Image: The photo art above features a moment of solitude and reflection at Green Mountain this past weekend. If time and energy permit, I’ll share more photos later in this week.

November Chaos | A Moment with the Willow

Anxiety to Joy

We are halfway through November, and I’m finally making my first post of the month! Gasp!

I had this month’s posts planned since September, but after I realized how chaotic this month would be, I “aborted” the mission–to daily share a piece of art I created in September for Sheila’s Creative Gathering. I will share those pieces as the “Spirit moves” and let November be what it will be. [Many prayers, hugs, and hearts for Sheila who is seriously ill and in the hospital].

Today, I am moved to share one of the 10 “abstract” photo art pieces I created for the Gathering. It captures my time with one of the weeping willows at the Unity Pond on campus. However, it is the Bible verse I paired with the photo that compels me to share–a verse of scripture I meditate on frequently and one I often repeat to others as they grapple with anxiety and stress these days.

When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought me joy. —Psalm 94:19

We have been dealing with a bit “too much” over the last 19-20 months. In the early months, we realized and appreciated our need for the slowing down the pandemic required. Now, instead of seeing this time as an opportunity to do things differently and better, we are trying to force an old norm that no longer serves us. I’m convinced that besides the loss and trauma of this moment, much of our sense of overwhelm and anxiety comes from our rush to normal—exacerbated by our not taking time to sit with and process our grief.

It seems everyone I encounter these days is overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious. I have this horrible sense that if we don’t pause or slow down, we’re headed for an even bigger crisis.

Perhaps, you’re feeling all those things too.

I hope a moment with the willow and these words remind you there is relief. Thankfully, in God’s presence we can find comfort, peace, and joy, even when life makes it difficult to pause or slow down.

May you carry that with you.

Oh Deer! [Knowing When to Take a Break]

Deer Art

I had the perfect blog theme for the week, but ugh, after work and people and pandemic issues all day long, my energy was too low for even the things I enjoy. I whined (sometimes inwardly) all week about needing time to just cut paper and glue something. I dreamed of quiet evenings for just that, but after hardly seeing people for 17-18 months, my being around people and talking all day long was draining in all caps. My evenings were spent resting (read: sleeping) and completing very few of the daily tasks of home life.

Of course, I took “micro-breaks” when absolutely necessary: I cut pretty artwork out of a book wrapper on its way to the trash bin while speaking with a colleague. I captured trees and flowers with my phone camera while I walked to meetings or lunch. I doodled sunflowers during in-person meetings, phone calls, and work sessions. I worked on photo edits during Zoom meetings.

The micro-breaks were [are] lifesaving, but the reality is my body and soul need more. So, when my friend and colleague Lisa asked me yesterday “What are you doing to take care of yourself?,” I immediately felt the guilt of not practicing what I preach regarding self-care during these Corona times.  

I had convinced myself that “if I can just get through this week,” I’ll be able to get to a place where I can take a “time out” daily. I’ve been saying that for three or four weeks now. I haven’t taken a photo or nature walk in a good while. Even worse, I haven’t picked up my actual camera to take a shot since the end of last month! That’s almost three weeks! Let’s not talk about the unwritten poetry, prose, letters, and postcard designs dancing in my head, or the great books waiting to be read and the movement my body needs!

I mindlessly opened Instagram early this morning and Beth Moore’s words grabbed my attention. The post drove the point of Lisa’s question home for me. 

Know when to take a break, y’all. This world’s a heartbreaking, baffling, demoralizing ball of fire right now. We’re not God. We can pray and give and speak and act. But we can’t carry all of this 24/7. It’s too heavy for us. It’s not going to give us a time out. We have to take it!

This world is “a lot,” and all that negative energy mingling with all the good stuff can create a chaotic stew inside our minds and bodies. Those breaks Moore encourages help shift and purge the energy. So my silly photo edit with the deer poking its tongue at me? That’s me—knowing when to take a break and poking my tongue at all the things that will have to wait. 

Have a safe and happy weekend…

Fractals | Morning Frax

This morning I awakened at my usual 5:00 a.m. with a bit of anxiety. I couldn’t pinpoint any major stressors, so I figured the culprit was the many tiny things on my mind—the lengthy task list, school (un)readiness, deadlines, projects up in the air.

Deep breaths. Journal. Prayer. Still anxious.

Then, the words of Psalm 94:18-19 came to mind, and I knew I had to meditate and pray those very words. I doodled flowers, wrote the words beside them, and colored everything a cheerful red and yellow in my doodle journal.

A few hours later, to kill time (while waiting at the doctor’s office), I “fraxed” the [photo of the] doodle and words. The result–with scripture added:

Psalm 94 Fractal

May it provide what your soul needs today.

Fractals | #ThursdayTreeLove and Repeating Patterns

Southern Live Oak with Spanish Moss

Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.  –Richard P. Feynman

What do fractals and trees have in common? Well, according to the Reflective Educator:

The growth of trees is actually a fairly mathematical process that at least involves fractal theory, graph theory, and topology. You can actually generate very realistic looking trees using a computer.

While my fractal trees look very little like actual trees, they started as a photograph of a Southern Live Oak gloriously embellished with Spanish moss. I captured the tree last weekend just after we entered Louisiana for our very quick road trip to New Orleans (Yes! I finally saw my parents after 16+ months!).

I played around with one style and different looks. Here’s a “macro” version:

Frax-6

And a “micro” version of the same image:

Frax-6b

If you look really closely (with a magnifying glass), you should be able to see how the patterns repeat ad infinitum, getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

Frax-8

Perhaps, if you look with a little imagination, you might be able to see the tree!


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.

Fractals | Algorithms and Art

Thank you for stopping by last week as I shared a bit of visual inspiration.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that one of the ways I “decompress” is by picking up my camera (or phone) and shooting whatever speaks to me in the moment. I also wind down by playing around with photos in PhotoShop or various iPhone apps. This means I end up with far too many “interpretations” of the same image, and as much as I send out into the world or share here on Pics and Posts, way more than most never, ever have a life outside my computer or the cloud [I’m working on changing that].

The app I find most relaxing is Frax. My blogging friend Laurie of Color Poems introduced me to the app through fractals images she posted on her own blog just before Christmas a couple of years ago.

Even before I downloaded the app, I was hooked. The app uses mathematics to create beautiful, beautiful images. [Sorry I can’t be more eloquent, but math is eh…math]. Laurie explains it much better, so check out her post. I just want to unload (err…share) some of my “fractals.”

With Frax, users can play around with “already fraxed” images in the app library or they can use their own photos. I always use my own because I’m intrigued by the way photos transform. There are infinite possibilities in a single photo, and the motion of the artwork as it morphs in various ways is mesmerizing.

You can play around with texture and colors to get different effects for the same image/pattern, like the two below.

Or you can play around until your favorite color combination(s) jump out at you.

Frax-3

Purple, of course!

Sometimes, the image really surprises, like the heart I shared on Valentine’s Day this year.

I will be sharing fractals in my remaining two (or three) posts for the week. Be sure to stop by!


About the Images: Most of these were done almost two years ago, so my memory is not as sharp. If I am not mistaken, the first two images started out as roses (doesn’t the second one remind you of a perfectly ripened watermelon?); the third image started out as a sunflower; the fourth and fifth images started out as a Christmas ornament. I have no recollection of the final two images’ origins. I should probably do a better job at keeping up with my frax art. Probably.

Until next time…enjoy!

God of the Drop-Kick

Unrelated photo-art because I couldn’t find a “drop-kick” pic. :-/

I “found” the poem I’m sharing today “by chance” on novelist Alison McGhee’s blog. The poem, by 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz, reminded me of the conversation a friend and I had a few days ago about the narrow view of God as a docile, old man in the sky. Many of us “speak sweetly” of the gentle “Lamb of God,” but want to deal as little as possible with the Lion of Judah. We certainly don’t want to deal with a God who tires of human foolishness and foibles to the point that He might consider “drop-kicking” us.

Tired of Speaking Sweetly
Hafiz (Translation by Daniel Ladinsky)

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

Thankfully, despite how impossible we can be, God does love us enough not to harm us. I’m grateful–though He might shake his head or “fist” at me sometimes–His deep love for me and His mercy and grace override any inclination to drop-kick me. This doesn’t mean I get a pass or that He doesn’t get tough with me. He does. But His ways are not our ways. Again…thankfully.


Interesting Fact: Bobby Bare recorded a song in 1976 entitled “Drop Kick Me, Jesus.” Go figure.