Exhaling into Autumn

img_3191

I see the turning of a leaf dancing in the autumn sun, and brilliant shades of crimson glowing when a day is done. ~ Hazelmarie Mattie Elliot

It is autumn and I feel my body relaxing, one long exhale as my senses come alive again after the long, sweltering, humid summer.  My energy has returned and I venture outdoors once more, eager to resume my daily walks with Popeye, relishing the crunch of leaves underfoot.  It’s sweater weather, my favorite time of year.

img_3205

I know the lands are lit, with all the autumn blaze of goldenrod. ~ Helen Hunt Jackson

The flowers in the garden have faded, yet along the wooded path I am greeted by cheery goldenrod and soft aster.  The leaves of the potted impatiens that grace the front walkway are beginning to yellow and drop.  This weekend I shall purchase mums at the garden center, replacing the pinks and blues of our garden with earthy tones of russet, burnt umber and gold.

img_3206

Autumn is the hush before winter ~ French proverb

I find beauty everywhere in autumn, even in the dying Queen Anne’s Lace.  She enchants me even now, proof that beauty is not diminished with age.

Three things:

There is a chill in the air most mornings and I find myself trading my flip flops for warm slippers.

The quilt that has gone unused all summer is now draped across our bed, adding extra warmth and comfort.

I find myself craving the sweetness of macoun apples.

img_3188

Autumn, welcome.

Capturing Small Moments

We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us. ~ Ralph Hattersley 

I have become enamored with taking photographs.  What better way to capture small moments of your life?   Years ago, I used to only take pictures during family functions or special occasions, but recently I have been using my camera as a way to record the small moments of my life, snapshots that viewed separately might carry no meaning for others but for me convey how much I love the simplicity of my days and the beauty that surrounds me.

IMG_5258IMG_5280IMG_2746

Taking walks, chasing the light in our yard, sneaking quick shots of camera-shy Popeye,  I find that I love to visually journal these ordinary moments.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliot Erwitt

I find inspiration in the work of many gifted photographers such as Michelle GD, Cathy Sly, and Alisha Sommer as well as fellow bloggers such as Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise and Jane at writing & stuff.  They each are artists of observation, of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Like them, I try to tell stories about the tiny moments of my life through photography.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” ~ Author Unknown

This past spring I began to wish I could study photography with a teacher I admire.  My goal was to become more knowledgeable about working with my camera in manual mode.  It was something I thought about a lot and, as often happens when you put a desire out into the universe, soon not one but two teachers appeared.

First, I was gifted a course from the beautiful Bella Cirovic {of She Told Storiestitled Camera CraftThis course was the perfect starting place because it helped me become familiar with all the basics I needed to start exploring.

Then, after mentioning how much I enjoyed her photography and inquiring as to whether she would ever consider teaching a course, Michelle GD offered to mentor me for the summer.  What a joy it has been to work with her!  Approximately every ten days we have a video conference where she introduces me to one particular aspect of photography.  So far we have covered the Golden Triangle of aperture, exposure and ISO, as well as the intricacies of the light meter.  Michelle follows up our conferences with written information and assignments.  I love it.  I bought a notebook where I keep each week’s lesson as well as prints of the photographs I have taken.  I find that having the photographs in front of me allows me to better evaluate my work.

Here are a few of the photographs I have taken under Michelle’s tutelage:

1.  Working with aperture:

IMG_1950IMG_1984

2.  Working with shutter speed:

I am so fortunate to have been paired with this generous and lovely teacher!

My next steps will be to somehow put together a visual journal of my favorite shots.  I would love to know how you keep your memories.  Do you use a scrapbook?  A self-printed photography book?  Altered books?  I’m looking for ideas and would love it if you shared some of yours!

Until next week…

Sharing Nurturing Thursday with Becca.

 

On Friendship

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.  ~Lucius Seneca

Yesterday I spent the day with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We had fallen out of touch in recent years…the busyness of everyday life turning the days into months, the months into years…and it was the recent news of my brother’s illness that brought us back into contact with one another.  We met at a halfway point between our two homes and talked and talked. It was wonderful to reconnect, to exchange news of our children, our husbands, our lives.  Her friendship, our friendship, is one I cherish and treasure.

Today as I walked Popeye at our favorite walking spot I found myself thinking of how lucky I am.

IMG_5248

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. ~ Thomas Aquinas

Making friends was not easy for me when I was growing up.  I was a bundle of insecurities, confused by the mercurial nature of grade school friendships.  The word introvert was not part of the social lexicon back then.  I just considered myself awkward, constantly trying to find my footing.  As Popeye and I walked I marveled at how much the friendships I have made through the years have helped shape who I am today.  I am fortunate to have as friends women who are kind, compassionate, loyal, and true.  They are women of grace and I am blessed to have them in my life.

IMG_5254

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

We have moved many times during our married life, and I have had to leave behind good friends more times than I would have liked.  It was never easy, saying goodbye, but through the years I have learned that with true friendships goodbye is never final.  As I watched the geese taking off for warmer climes, I realized that parting from friends physically does not necessarily mean that they don’t remain in your life and especially in your heart.  I am blessed in that I have known the sweet experience of reconnecting with a friend after not speaking for a month, for a year, and immediately feeling as if it was only yesterday when we last talked.  The connection that initially brought us together is still vibrant and strong.

IMG_5256

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meaning that a new world is born.  ~ Anais Nin

As we said our goodbyes yesterday, my friend and I made a pinky swear that we would not allow so much time to pass again.  It is a promise I know we will keep, because with age comes the realization of how precious time is, especially time spent with friends, how valuable, nourishing and priceless.  I am already looking forward to the next time we meet.

Sharing Nurturing Thursday (a little late!) with Becca.

Feel the Light

FullSizeRender 28

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.  ~ Rabindranath Tagore

I sometimes wonder how we are able to continue to have faith, especially during times when we are hit with one challenge after another.  It takes such strength to continue singing while the dawn is still dark, doesn’t it, and yet we do, or should I say, I do.

I do because I believe there is a reason for everything that happens in my life, even the challenges, and if I stay strong those reasons will reveal themselves to me.  If I stay strong I will learn lessons that will teach me how to rise above hardship, how to see and appreciate the smallest of blessings.

I believe that during the darkest of times there are those who lift us up on their shoulders and ease our burden, lighten our load.  I believe that loved ones that have gone before us are never far from our side, especially during the moments when we need them most.

I believe in the power of Love.

I believe in miracles.

I have faith.

Sharing with Becca on Nurturing Thursday.

 

 

With Gratitude

IMG_1935

“Giving thanks for abundance is greater than the abundance itself.”

~Rumi

Five things I am grateful for this afternoon:

  1. The summer bounty of vegetables from our local CSA.
  2. Having two of my daughters home this weekend.
  3. This book, which I can’t put down.
  4. The window air conditioner, which makes sleeping at night easier during the summer months.
  5. This little guy, who is my faithful companion:

IMG_1976

*******

“All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don’t pray, they don’t happen.” ~Dan Hayes

Two coincidences from this week:

  1.  I wished {prayed} that a weekly volunteer position would open up at Ann’s Place, where I am a substitute receptionist.  A few hours later I was offered one.
  2. I wished {prayed}I could find a cookbook that focused on vegetables and included information about how to select, prep and cook them.  The next time I went to pick up my basket of goodness from the CSA I found this cookbook on their shelf.

Don’t you love it when coincidences happen?

On this steamy summer day, what are you grateful for?  I’d love to know…

sharing not one but two nurturing thoughts this week with Becca.

 

Giving Thanks

IMG_4701

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.

~Pema Chödrön

So many of you have touched my heart these past two weeks, as well as the heart of my family.  Thank you for all of your love and prayers.  It has meant so much to us.  My brother has made it through his first round of chemo with a warrior spirit and an open heart.  We are truly stronger together!

 

Sharing Nurturing Thursday with Becca

Hello, August

IMG_1913

Hello August, I am so happy to see you.

July was a difficult month.  Learning that my brother has stage 4 pancreatic cancer sent me into an emotional tailspin that I am just coming out of.  It hit all of us so hard; our dad died of cancer when he was 60, I battled it twice in the past seven years and maybe I’m naive but I thought that it would not be a battle we would have to face again.  We’d paid our cancer dues, you know?  But to paraphrase the song “Wait for It” from the musical Hamilton, cancer doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints and it takes and it takes and it takes…

I am so grateful that we live close to him and his family and they know that they can count on us to be there whenever they need us.  He has begun treatment and is handling it as best he can and…well…we are just staying positive.  My brother is a warrior, just like our dad was and just like me.  So many people have offered support and prayers and we are so thankful for the love that surrounds us.

So yes, August, it is good to see you.  Today I awoke with a determination to not lose sight of the blessings that are in our life in spite of the heartache.  I have returned to my meditation practice and am going to make an effort to walk each day.  Being outside in nature, walking Popeye, just listening to the birds singing and the rustling of leaves in a summer breeze soothes me.  I’m going to take advantage of the fresh vegetables we receive weekly from our CSA and plan healthy meals.

Good things are happening this month.  On Wednesday I am volunteering with The Hole in the Wall Gang at the Traveler’s Golf Tournament (I get to be one of those people who holds up the ‘Quiet’ sign to the crowd). This weekend a dear friend is visiting from Florida and our daughter who lives in Dubai will be visiting for a few weeks.  We will be celebrating her birthday (which occurred in May, but there is not a deadline on celebrations, right?) I am volunteering once a week at Ann’s Place (a wonderful organization which provides services for cancer survivors) and the amazing Michelle GD is mentoring me in a photography course (more on that later).

This morning after meditating I randomly opened a passage from Julia Cameron’s book called Transitions.  This is the message it had for me:  When our priorities are in order, our lives flow with purpose and ease.  Often the very act of ordering and acknowledging our priorities seems to cue the Universe to support us in our goals.  

August, my priorities are in order.  I am looking forward to seeing what this month has in store for me.  Let’s do this.