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.

Creative Gathering | Music and Peace

Sarah R-1

When playing music, it is possible to achieve a unique sense of peace. –Daniel Barenboim

Today, I shot a photo of a new colleague, a gifted violinist, as she performed for our chapel service today. She had such a sweet, peaceful expression as she played that I was compelled to pick up my camera. I attempted the impossible–to capture the profound moment when musician and instrument coalesced and conspired to unshackle us from the bonds of this world and invite us into that peace. 

Musings from My Younger Self | What Is a Friend?

Heart Rose wm

Yesterday I found another two folders packed with poems written by younger me. Apparently, at some point in my “teenagedom,” I put together an extensive collection of writings divided in five parts, complete with introductions. I even used Roman numerals. Whew! I might have been more focused as a teenager than I have ever been in my adult life.

Finding even more writing almost makes me want to extend sharing my musings for another week. No worries. I won’t, but I am sharing a poem from one of the folders this evening. 😉

What Is a Friend?
Chandra Lynn (Age: 13)

A friend is someone you can tell
your innermost thoughts to:
someone you can share your secrets and dreams with;
someone you can turn to for comfort
when things aren’t going as you wish;
someone you can trust;
someone who won’t let you down;
someone who’s there even when [s]he isn’t.
someone you admire and find joy in;
some who can give and take criticism;
someone who’ll understand when you face difficult problems;
someone who shares your tears;
someone to love. 

I was surprised to find this poem written shortly after I turned 13—before life got too complicated. Don’t you just love the innocence of youth? 

Musings from My Younger Self | Troubled

Altered Rose-1Warning: Today’s poem is not so bright and cheerful, but I’m sharing it because it demonstrates the range of topics of the poetry of my youth.

Troubled
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

Troubled,
the man killed himself–
not physically.
He stopped living.
He fell out of love with himself.
He fell out of love with life.
No one understood him.
No one cared.

He lived in seclusion,
a place of total isolation
and that is where he died.

No one knows the world he lives in
or how to bring him back.
Those who know him–
They know not what to do.
All they want to do is see him,
hear him,
touch him,
love him.

This poem is a little scary for me. I had planned to post it some time ago, but put it on hold because it felt so dark. But, now it feels “prophetic.” Even though I wrote it many, many, many moons ago, I have a beloved mentor who is in a similar situation. He abruptly and inexplicably cut himself off from all who know and love him. All attempts to draw him out have failed. Considering the “life of the party” he usually is–both socially and intellectually–it is painful to imagine him in this state. Prayers, please.

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.

Seven Favorites from World Watercolor Month | Rose

Watercolor 1 -2022 wm

World Watercolor Month 2022, Day 1 (July 1, 2022)

The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all. –The Emperor, Mulan

Welcome to August, folks! The madness began for many of us in the academic world today, but that didn’t stop my friend Cy from challenging me to blog every day leading up to my blogiversary—which is in the middle of September. 

I just might be insane because I’m thinking about accepting the challenge. Since I don’t know what obstacles I’ll face, I’m traveling this road with caution.

So, this week, I’m sharing photo art created during World Watercolor Month, a charitable event to support arts education sponsored by Doodlewash. The challenge to create art every day ended yesterday.

Throughout the month of July, I worked 31+ photos into watercolor-like photo art, at least one per day. I enjoyed taking time out from the daily grind and creating something to share with the world. I “upped my game” a bit this year by processing the photos in multiple applications to achieve unique looks. I shared [cropped to a] square versions of each piece on Instagram

This week, I will feature seven [uncropped] personal favorites from the month. With each image, I will share something that struck me during the day–a word, a phrase, a poem, a quote. I hear or read so many beautiful things throughout the day, and I’m looking forward to sharing the tidbits with you!

#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.