Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

One day at a time… sometimes, even one breath at a time. How often have I heard those words, or spoken them to another? They apply to all kinds of situations, but in my own life, never more so than this past year. Both my father and my father in law have been diagnosed with illnesses that simply won’t get better with time. And most recently, my little dog visited the vet with a cough and left with a congestive heart failure diagnosis that likely means we have no more than 6 months to a year left with her. I am learning on a different scale these days… what it truly means to live one day at a time. And to let tomorrow take care of itself. The autumn days of our lives hold a different kind of beauty. A slower, softer, more deliberate kind of beauty. The kind that sits close to the heart, and wrings every last bit of joy and life out of what remains.

I know there are those of you in my life who are living one breath at a time, just as I am. And this one… this one breath, filled with life… is still beautiful in all its melancholy.

Love deeply. Tomorrow is never promised.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:33-34

Our Truest Work of Art

A year ago, our deck had a table, 8 chairs, an umbrella, a loveseat, two chairs with ottomans, a grill, tons of flowers and a lot of clutter.  No one ever used it except for the chipmunks and squirrels who eventually stole all the stuffing out of the cushions.  This year, we finally had time to refinish the deck, and when I went to put all that stuff back, I ended up saying... you know what?  No.  Just no.  Let's put two rocking chairs out there, leave the grill and maybe a few other folding chaises and simplify our lives.  Now.. we use it every single day.

I've been reading a lot lately...  gleaning nuggets of wisdom from others instead of trying to impart some wisdom of my own.  It's a nice change.  Sometimes as creators, I think we spend so much time trying to say, produce, be something interesting, that I think we can lose sight of the fact that it's important to just be quiet and listen to something interesting ourselves from time to time.  That is one of the things I loved best about Google+ and really miss... all the opportunities to listen to people with very different viewpoints and ideas from my own.

I have the deepest respect for photographer, David duChemin.  He and Chris Orwig have probably been the biggest, most significant influences on my photographic vision in the last four years.  David wrote a post a few months ago that I thought was really brave and truly thought provoking.  I think it probably speaks into the heart of more creatives than any of us might admit.  Things look so shiny and pretty from the outside sometimes, don't they?  

I love what he said here: If you bought it and don’t need it, sell it. Clear it out and don’t fill the space with something new. Tame the appetite. Learn to say no to yourself – or rather, learn to say yes to a bigger thing: a debt-free, clutter-free life that affords you the freedom to do what you want to do... A simpler life, with less consumption, is more sustainable on many levels, including your finances.  I really feel that on a gut level and it's where I'm at right now. The desire to live a simpler life, to be debt free, to get rid of the clutter and all the "stuff" I don't need is at the top of my list of priorities.  

I never noticed with all that clutter on the deck, how beautiful the light is, dappled through the trees and playing with the shadows on the floor.  I can't tell you how many times I bruised my thigh on my way to the grill on the corner of that sharp table nobody ever used.  It takes some hard knocks to get through to my hard head sometimes... but all that floor space, my little white flip flops, some cheerful little flowers, a comfy wooden rocking chair and a few wise words from David duChemin are all it took this weekend.  Well, that and a few purple bruises, here and there.  Do guys dig scars like chicks do?;-)

To my core I believe that our lives can be lived boldly, intentionally, and as our truest work of art. I believe we are all capable of living extraordinary lives; that people like Gandhi, Picasso, or Mother Teresa, were ordinary people who chose to be fully themselves and play by their own rules. I believe that we are all creative and that if our lives are our first, and most intentional, act of creation, then the principles of creativity can teach us to be not only bolder creatives but bolder human beings. - David duChemin

I do too, David.  With every fiber of my being... I surely do.

Food For Thought

I love Saturday mornings.  In our house, they are generally very relaxed and pajama clad, with none of the rush to get out the door that happens on other days.  I often use the time to catch up on blogs and read articles of interest that I bookmarked but didn't have time for during the week, while eating breakfast.  I've absorbed some truly wonderful soul food while feeding the body that way.  Something I read this morning, got an OH HELL YEAH! from me so I thought I'd share an excerpt here in case it resonates and so I can find it again easily when I need a good kick in the butt.;-)  

"...if you want to see what you are truly made of, or just how far you can go and what you are truly capable of  - forget the hack. Commit to the daily pressure that compels infinitesimal progress over time. Wake up before dawn and apply yourself in silent anonymity. Practice your craft in whatever shape or form that may be.. late into the evening with relentless rigor. Embrace the fear. Let go of perfection. Allow yourself to fail. Welcome the obstacles. Forget the results. Give yourself over to your passion with every fiber of who you are. And live out the rest of your days trying to do better.

I can't promise that you will succeed in the way our culture inappropriately defines the term. But I can absolutely guarantee that you will become deeply acquainted with who you truly are. You will touch and exude passion. And discover what it means to be truly alive.  In my opinion, this is the legit definition of success. And the essence of greatness.  Because the seat of genuine value, beauty and satisfaction lies in the experience of getting there."   - Rich Roll

You can read the entire article here.  

Memories and Kindness Remain

As the mother of three teenage sons, it isn't very often that I get to do many girlie things. Usually we watch movies where things are getting blown to pieces and we play video games where cars are racing around tracks (or in my case.. smashing into walls).  We eat meat and talk loud and joke about "guy" things and I am always laughing and physically tired at the end of a day. I grew up with lots of brothers so it's a world I know and feel most comfortable with.  It's an even bigger blessing being the mother of boys, than it was being a sister to them... especially mine.  

But once in awhile, I get to do something really special with the women in my extended family and I can imagine what it's like to be the mother of a daughter. I think I would have liked that. I'm working on a photography project for my sister in law and going through the photographs I took that day, I found myself lingering over one of them.  The day was really so special.  That lovely woman up there is my mother in law. She's such a classy, strong, beautiful woman.  I've known her since 1986 and I've grown to deeply respect her over the last three decades of my life.  We had her daughter's bridal shower out in my backyard and I had spent weeks going to second hand stores and gathering up all the china teacups I could find, to make these special little favors for the women to take home with them. Everything was tinged with pink because that is her favorite color and I was in my girlie glory.:) We ended up with a perfect sunny day and my hydrangeas were in full bloom all around the tent.  I've been out there in the garden a lot lately and these beautiful memories wash over me in sounds, scents, and vivid mental pictures I've stored up in my heart.  Recalling them now is a way of being kind to myself, I suppose.  Many gifts went home with her that day, but the memories remain with me... forever.