Divided: Photos Caught During Conversation

As I was “flicking” through photos on my phone, I realized that all of the photos I captured with my phone this week were shot while I was in conversation with others…

An abandoned home while chatting with my hubby during our morning drive:

“Abandoned on 53”

An expiring dragonfly while one of my students was sharing a profound spiritual experience:

“Glassine Wings”

My favorite image of the week–wires and lines while chatting with the same student and a colleague after grabbing lunch:

“Angles”

The pretty butterfly, part of the Christmas decor adorning the banister outside my office as a conversation with another student was ending.

“Pearls and Lace”

I was fully tuned in to each conversation when these images literally grabbed my attention, but I imagine it must be (at least) slightly annoying to have a conversation with someone who pauses or slows her step during conversations to take a shot at something that catches her eye. So “thank you” to everyone who accepts me and my camera (or iPhone) and understands that those pauses to consider the little things provide necessary balance for an often too busy life.

Start with Yes…

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the postcards I received for Love Notes 21, Prompt 1, “Start with…” At the time I did not share the card I designed in response to the prompt because they were en route to the recipients and I didn’t want to “spoil” their fun by posting here.  But here it is…

I captured the train tracks while waiting for my hubby and son to finish up at a pet shop that also sells and exhibits art. Cool, right? The photo served as a perfect image for my response to the prompt:

Start with…yes. The road ahead awaits your consent.

We get so many messages telling us how to say “no”–messages that remind us that we shouldn’t let others take advantage of our generosity or take more than we’re willing to give of our time and resources. The problem is that “no” is such a powerful word that it seeps into our consciousness and into our language even when we don’t want it to, especially when we talk to ourselves. “No” spearheads all the negative self-talk at the root of our unplanted dreams. It convinces us that we’re not prepared enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not articulate enough to do one thing or another. We’ve trained ourselves so well in the art of no that we say “no” to everything…even to things that are healthy and beneficial for us.

So my message…”start with  yes,” is about changing the internal dialogue. It’s about dismissing all the reasons why we shouldn’t and embracing the reasons why we should and all the what ifs in a way that exposes the benefits and not the drawbacks of the word “yes.” Clinging to “no” means we’re stuck in this one place. Never venturing. Never gaining and never reaching what is waiting for us just beyond “yes” and further down the road.

I encourage you to start with yes…and participate as a whole new world unfolds before you.

Red Roses, Yellow Roses, and a Little Slice of Paradise

Recently–as in two months ago–my friend Kemi shared with me photos of the beautiful roses her husband gave her for their 21st anniversary.

That reminded me! I hadn’t hosted a “roses” photography swap in quite some time. In fact, it had been four years since I hosted the “One Perfect Rose” swap on swap-bot . We were overdue for another one–especially since I’ve been making progress on photographing roses. So…I set up the swap in the “A Thousand Words” group.

The goal of the swap was to send a photo that captured the sentiment of Dorothy Parker’s poem, “One Perfect Rose,” and write a note about a gift the sender desires from his or her significant other–instead of roses.

Diane W (Midteacher), my partner whose work you’ve seen here on the blog before, sent photos of her beautiful hybrid tea roses.

Hybrid Tea Rose, or Tahitian Sunset, Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

According to Midteacher, the Hybrid Tea Rose, dubbed “Tahitian Sunset,” is also described as a “little slice of paradise.” She fell in love with the roses while working at a local nursery to help pay for her wedding. A resourceful bride-to-be, she purchased the rose bush and had her florist make her wedding bouquet and other floral arrangements. She even worked extra shifts to make sure she’d have enough of the gorgeous tea roses.

“A Little Slice of Paradise,” Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

Midteacher snaps photos of the blooms every year and shares that the buds are much more colorful than the full blooms. In her usual impressive way, she crafted the photos into inspiration for my walls and journals.

I fretted considerably over which roses to send to my partner–raindrops on roses? white roses? pink roses? red roses? Roses I shot in New Orleans last winter? Roses I shot in Huntsville last spring? I can barely remember what I actually sent her since I looked through so many before making my decision. But I’ll save my photographs for another day.

Let’s give these beauties our full attention today.

Breathe: Water and Abstract Photography

Life is too busy! I’ve shortened my to-do list, turned down invitations, postponed some of my activities, extended deadlines–still there are not enough hours in the day. The weekend seems far too short to make an impact on “all that must be done,” and I find myself moving from one task to another and unable to relax.

As I was looking through my “yet to be blogged” tower of mail, I ran across two of my penfriend Rebecca’s (Beckra’s) photos. Something about the photos urged me to take some time to wind down and relax.

“Cow Parsley,” Photo by Rebecca R.

Beckra shot the photo above in Pennsylvania while visiting her mother. Although the weather was rainy, she managed to capture some cow parsley reflected in the lake of her hometown.

“Kayaking Under the Trees,” photo by Rebecca R.

She shot this one on a Sunday morning while kayaking under the trees, giving herself “a chance to breathe.”

I always enjoy Beckra’s abstract photos. She has a talent for capturing water in the most intriguing ways. You can see more of her abstract water photos in earlier blog posts: Water, Light, and Fairies and Getting Through the CraZieS, part i.

Water has a calming effect on me. When we lived in New Orleans, the Mississippi River was always right there, its muddy waves available to wash away the strain and stress. Since I no longer live “right down the street” from a river, Beckra’s photos suffice, inviting me to take a moment to enjoy the water and breathe.

His Joy…My Strength

Joy is the atmosphere of heaven. It is the air God the Father Himself breathes in every day of eternity. And because joy is heaven’s delivered gift to me while I walk on planet earth, it is my delight and strength to experience the blessedness that God on His throne enjoys.   –Carol Burton McLeod, Joy for All Seasons

Rest. Reflect. Reset.

I lived all week for this moment, for this period of contemplation and rest.

We run ourselves ragged by going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny, but all aspects of our health require that we pause, that we tune out all the noise and allow ourselves to repair from the daily wear and tear of the week past.

For the next several hours, I am pausing to…rest, reflect, and reset.  Maybe, you’d like to join me.

Photo Walk: First Day of Autumn Sightings

I’ve been craving time with my camera, so yesterday I arrived at work 30 minutes before conferences with students were scheduled to begin and took a brief walk–camera and iPhone in tow. As expected, there weren’t many signs of autumn, but the walk provided a refreshing start to my day and a clear mind as I headed into the weekend.

My campus walks always start with the trees. The oaks did not disappoint with their gnarly trunks and roots. The fungus attracted my attention here.

Notice the resting ent?

I wonder how he got here from Middle Earth. Or is he a tree troll?

The Dogwoods have so many interesting transformations throughout the year. I’ll have to make a point of charting the changes one year. They’re showing signs of autumn.

Of course, the evergreen deserves admiration all year long.

It wouldn’t be the first day of autumn in Alabama without butterflies and pink.

It’s about to take flight…

A morning walk requires a squirrel.

A couple of bonus photos shot earlier in the week: One provides proof of autumn.

And a tree I encounter (almost) every time I take a campus walk. There’s so much to love and study.

As I’m reviewing these photos, I’m thinking about my older brother, Dennis–a photographer–and feeling a strong connection to him through our mutual love for nature photography. I’m praying him through a medical crisis and sending hugs and deepest love from the Deep South to the West Coast. I love you, big brother!

Photography: Finding Love Notes, Naturally

I’ve been “finding hearts” a lot this summer–when I look up, when I look down, when I’m simply enjoying my surroundings. Here’s a sampling of the hearts I “found” and photographed this summer.

❤ ❤ ❤

After seven years of faithful (and perhaps too much) shooting, my camera died on me late one April afternoon while I was shooting Magnolia blossoms. I was heartbroken. One of my good friends offered to purchase a new camera for me in return for a small favor. I would have done the favor anyway, so I resisted until I read a quote about not denying others the gift of giving to us. It finally convinced me to allow her to bless me in this way.  (And yes, I have amazing friends).

The camera arrived on a quiet Thursday afternoon. I unpacked it, took a shot of it straight out of the box with my phone, then stepped outside to give it a test run. The sun was a bit too much for my eyes, so I decided to shoot the heart I “found” a few months ago–I had to cast my gaze downward, which wasn’t as harsh on my eyes.

But what did I see when my eyes adjusted to the brightness of outdoors? Another heart! The heart affirmed my acceptance of the gift (because “truth be told,” I still had a problem with accepting it).

“Affirmation,” June 2017

❤ ❤ ❤

While my guys and I were walking through Ditto Landing a recent Saturday afternoon, my little one pointed out the heart (below) carved into the pavement–a natural symbol of the love embodied in our little family.

“Etched in Stone,” July 2017

I found a second heart during our walk, but I’m saving that one for another post. 😉

❤ ❤ ❤

My neighbor’s mini sunflower “patch” has been my happy place over the last few weeks. As I fretted over one thing or another one morning, I decided to visit them (again). This sunflower was a double reminder to turn my worries over to God and embrace His all-encompassing love, which will carry me through my difficulties.

“First Visit,” July 2017

❤ ❤ ❤

Just a few days ago, as I was again attempting to declutter and destash, I ran across an envelope filled with “found hearts” I received for a swap some time ago. The sender, Kelly (aka Mugsie), also loves found hearts and she sent several of her original photographs. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

Kelly finds hearts everywhere. If this small collection doesn’t convince you, take a look at her “naturally found hearts” site where you’ll find many more.

❤ ❤ ❤

It’s always a pleasure finding hearts when I’m out and about and it thrills me to share the hearts with friends and family. The photos serve well–in quick “thinking about you” notes, as “love posts,” and even as Liberate Your Art selections. The hearts “appear” when I need them most and reassure me that my world is okay.

What about you? Do you “find” hearts? Or is there some other symbol you “find” or look for when you need a particular message?

Soaring Like a Mountain Eagle

Eagle’s Wings: Photo captured at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans, Louisiana), 2011

…and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Kindness Matters. Period.

We wrap up our seven days of kindness posts with the postcard I crafted for Louise Gale’s Global heART Swap.  And we end where we began.

Kindness matters.

“Kindness Matters. Period.”

However, Jewel’s song was not the inspiration for the postcard. Instead, I was inspired by the many, many expressions of kindess I’ve witnessed either directly or indirectly and the powerful impact(s) they have made.

Many of us are familiar with the Ian McClaren’s quote (often attributed to Plato), “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We read this so much that it has descended into the realm of cliche. We no longer “hear” the import of the words, but the reality is that most, if not all, of us are coping with something tragic, challenging, or traumatic.

We convince ourselves that we can do nothing to help, that our small efforts don’t and won’t make much difference, but they really do and will. Our acts of kindness may change someone’s mood from desperate to hopeful and may even make the difference between life and death.

So…

Extend a little kindness in whatever form it needs to take for the situation–smile at strangers, wish someone a nice day, drive with courtesy, pay it forward, forgive, agree to disagree, or walk away. During the particular interaction with you–no matter how brief–an individual may be dealing with something that is much heavier, much more trying, so give that person a momentary break from his or her madness.

Kindness matters. Period.

Just in case you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, they’re listed below for your convenience.

Have a kind week!