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My Lens

Filtering by Category: Inspiration

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

Roni Delmonico

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

Practicing Presence And Expecting Rewards

Roni Delmonico

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Growing vegetables, flowers and herbs has taught me so many wonderful lessons, not the least of which is developing habits of presence.  It's amazing to watch something as tiny as a seed, become a plant just bursting with abundance that feeds my family.  But that bounty that comes from a small seed requires diligence and care.  It means you have to know the difference between a weed and a young plant.  It means you need to water and give fertilizer even when it's hot outside and you're especially tired (in fact it's even more important then).  It means you have to get dirty and sweaty sometimes, and you have to watch out for things that might harm or even kill the fruits of your labor.  

It means you have to notice the needs of something outside yourself.

And it helps to pay attention to the needs inside yourself too.

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Exhaling

Roni Delmonico

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The Biblical story of the creation of humanity has the Creator making man from clay and then breathing His own life into him, and it's said of man that we were made in the image of the Creator.  I find that symbolism striking and relevant.  If our work is to be human, it's our task as its creator to breath life into it.  Inspiration (literally "to inhale") is everything we do to draw our deepest breath from the world around us - all that we love and admire, all that we care about and want to protect: everything that lights our fire.  But it's the act of exhaling into our work that makes it ours, that gives life and spark to what we make.  Your authentic and best work will be made in your image.  It will reflect you to both the world and yourself.   -- David duChemin 

The Tenderness of Eyes That Hear and Ears That See

Roni Delmonico

Both my ears and my eyes prefer a quiet and tender melody.  Training the eyes to "hear" and the ears to "see" is one of the best gifts my camera and music have given to me.  These lyrics... 

Grandeur earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
So let it go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name. 
— It is well.

I remain grateful.

Always.

Children of the Day

Roni Delmonico

I still remember the night I stood here watching the sun paint all those glorious colors into the sky.  It was breathtaking and I felt such peace.  I was holding my flip flops and my sweater in my hand, digging my toes into the soft, cold sand.  It was one of those perfect moments of just being, where there was no need for talk. Such a little oasis in the center of a crazy busy place, where entertainment can be found around every corner, in every nook and cranny, and long past daylight.  And yet it was here.. where I wanted to be. In this quiet place full of waning light and color. That is so representative of my being.  Of who I am at the core.  I find solace in solitude. I need it, in order to function in any kind of healthy fashion.  But I am coming to understand that there is a very fine line between seeking solitude in order to recharge and reconnect more meaningfully, and self imposed isolation whose only design is to separate. One is full of light and peace.  The other is wretchedly dark and dismal.

I received two letters this week from women I have come to deeply respect and admire.  It's ironic you know.. After a very frustrating couple of months, in my anger, I had just finished telling someone that Christians (myself included) are some of the most self absorbed, miserable people I know.  How incredibly self centered (and totally wrong) that was.  Those letters were proof and they were a balm to my heart.  I'm quoting the last words of one here, not only out of respect for the woman who spoke it, but so that I will remember them, later this year, when I will undoubtedly need them again.  

Religion will fail you, people will fail you, but God won’t. There have been plenty of times I have thought that He has forgotten me only to lift me up higher than I thought I could go. I get tired and want to give up but then I think of that story of the Footsteps and know He is carrying me when I can’t do it myself. ...please don’t let.. this world dim that wonderful free spirit of yours. ..I do hope you know that you are not alone.
— Elizabeth Smith

You know what?  I do know that.  Because there are a few of you out there, who continue to remind me that there is kindness and goodness yet in the world, if I will only take my eyes off myself and turn them outward and upward.  I guess this is just my way of retracting some hastily spoken, selfish words and replacing them with something more beautiful.  And it is my way of saying thank you to every one of you (and you know who you are) who have reached out to me in friendship this past year and said in your own precious ways... "We're not letting go." You've taught me more about unconditional love and faithfulness than I could ever.. have imagined.

Our Truest Work of Art

Roni Delmonico

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

Roni Delmonico

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.  

From Courage to Peace to Sweet Release

Roni Delmonico

A doe quietly crosses the Seneca River on a misty morning in Baldwinsville, NY on June 21, 2014.

This morning I wandered down to the water's edge all by myself before everyone woke up.  It was about 5:30 am and it was so quiet, I could hear the whir of the hummingbird's wings as she came to drink from her favorite red flowers.  I brought a blanket with me and I snuggled into the bench, watching the mist curl over the water in tiny tornadoes, swirling and dipping, dancing with the sun as she rose up over the trees with a cheerful wave.  Another beautiful Saturday morning... in a long stretch of them.  Mother Nature sure seems to be asking forgiveness for her winter tantrums.:)  I am happy to grant it.

How do I begin to express gratitude for this place?  To live my life in a way that says thank you thoroughly enough?  Are these images doing that feeling justice?  Do my words?  All things I ponder in these early hours of the morning.  I have come to treasure this time for so many reasons.  When people are still sleeping, animals come out of hiding, they run and sing freely with abandon and they act in ways that are so much more natural than I see when they are motivated by getting out of our way.  I can hear God's voice and I can hear my own.  And occasionally, something truly magical happens.

Way off in the distance I saw something making its way across the river from bank to bank, hidden in the mist.  It was far enough away that I couldn't make out what it was, but it was moving faster than any species of duck I usually see crossing the water there so I lifted the binoculars to my eyes, mildly curious. I nearly squealed when I saw that it was a doe, silently gliding through the water, legs pumping like one of Santa's reindeer, swimming through the mist effortlessly as if she did this every day.  I held my breath until she made it to the other side, astonished at her bravery.

Amelia Earhart once said,

“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings.”

 

Sometimes peace is found in the most unlikely of places too.

Men of Honor... I Remember

Roni Delmonico

Today I watched my son and two of his closest friends paddle off down the river and I thought of just how much I have to be thankful for.  This Memorial Day, I sat on my bench surrounded by flowers and blue sky and water and I took a little time to remember a few men who are very special to me.. men who sacrificed that very pleasure on more than one day like this to serve in our nation's military, so that my family and I can enjoy this beautiful peace and freedom.

Brian, Freddy, Dad, Bunny, Rob, Trevor, TJ, Grandpa, Darren, Paul... every one of you crossed my mind today. I'm thankful for all that you've done to ensure that we live in peace and safety.  I remember each of you, more often than you know.  I don't know anyone personally who has lost their life in service to our country.  But I know how I would feel if any one of these men had.

They are men of highest honor in my heart.

A Sign..

Roni Delmonico

May spills color on me playfully, singing.. "Summer is coming, summer is coming!"  And all I can do is laugh out loud and bathe in it, letting it paint my very soul.   - Roni Delmonico

I heard the best quote yesterday on NPR.  It said...

Laughter is the sign that you are not defeated.

Check. :)

It IS Easy Being Green:)

Roni Delmonico

I read something recently that really resonated. It said that we have forgotten how to listen to our bodies and that rather than focusing so much on eliminating things from your diet, you should instead, focus on adding in nutrients you've been starving for.  I loved that positive spin. The assumption is, that as you learn to listen to your body again, and give it what it needs, eventually, you will start craving things that are healthy.  I have to be honest, when I first read that, there wasn't a cell in my body that believed it.  But I loved the philosophy and so I tried it anyway.  It actually does work and it is easy being green if you have a little guidance when first starting out.  

I recently discovered these adorable gals and I love a challenge so when I read about their 30 day green smoothie challenge, I decided to try out one of their recipes and see what I thought.  It was surprisingly good and was loaded with wonderful nutrients from spinach, pineapple, coconut water, mango and just a bit of banana.  I've decided to join their challenge which begins on July 1st and would love for you to jump in too. (Best of all, it's free!) Even if you change nothing else in your diet you'll be doing your body some good by adding in some things it needs.

Simple Green Smoothies

What Really Counts

Roni Delmonico

Last night we had the most beautiful thunderstorms all night long.  I've always loved them but there was a furry little critter vibrating beside me, shaking in fear with every crack.  I wish I could instill my love for them into her so it wouldn't feel scary to her.  Instead, I just fold her in and keep her close and help her to ride it out.  As I listen to my kids get ready for school this morning, I recognize that this is one of the beauties of being connected to family.  It's a safe place always... to ride out any storm.  

We didn't get a lot of sleep last night, but I still find myself smiling.  She wakes up like sunshine every morning, no matter how bad the night has been.  I could learn a thing or two from that.:)  She has her own gallery... did you know?  It's right....  here.  Good morning, Sunshine!  

A person can learn a lot from a dog .... about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. ...to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight - and about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.

A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that column ... I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.
— John Grogan


Simple Things

Roni Delmonico

Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.
— Hippocrates

Today, I started my day soaking up the early morning sunshine and listening to a guided visualization that put me in a beautiful, positive frame of mind.  Now, I find a whole day has gone by and I'm sitting here with candles glowing and lightning sizzling across a dark night sky.  It's so lovely. 

There really is a lot we can do to change our lives for the better.  Simple things that promote health in body, mind and spirit.  I never realized just how profound an effect the things I put into my mouth and my mind can have on the health... on the healing of my body.  I am learning. 

Some helpful websites:  

Mind, Body, Green 

This Rawsome Vegan Life

Dr. Mark Hyman

Tonight, I made a salad full of so many wonderful things.  I really didn't think the kids would eat it but they ended up asking for seconds and then thirds.  It was such a nice dinner and we felt energized afterward, not lethargic and sleepy.  My son shared a beautiful piece of music with me and we listened to it together during dinner.  Simple things...  such a gift.

Big sigh.* 

Your Ultimate Power

Roni Delmonico

I'm kinda nuts about the gift of one flower.  I think it originated in the grubby little hands of my oldest son, who always seemed to delight in pulling them out one at a time, with the hairy roots dropping clods of dirt on my floor as he presented his gift with an innocent smile. Eventually, I taught him that those flowers are best left in the ground where they can continue to flourish, but his heart was in such a sweet place, and I chose my words carefully so I wouldn't crush that spirit of giving in him. To this day, he knows how to give the simplest gifts, with the most profound impact. When I am practicing visualization, imagining the best in myself and in those around me, I often end up surrounded by flowers and my children. Beauty and innocence. Kind intentions and simplicity.  I believe firmly in the power of simple words. Words can heal.  Words can tear down and destroy.  Words will repair or words will unhinge. Never, ever is this more true, then when you are alone, when no one else is in the room... and you are using them on yourself.  If I could give you one gift this weekend, if I could give myself one too... it would be this: words of love, words of healing, kindness, joy, faith, peace, patience, gentleness, self control, forgiveness, and hope... for yourself most of all.  And you know what?.. I can.

So I do.  

Choose them wisely.

God Knows That Shifting Gears Ain't What It Used To Be

Roni Delmonico

Last weekend, we took a drive just for fun.  Do you ever do that anymore?  Remember when we used to crank the windows down by hand? I think I'll do it again this weekend. I wish someone would send me a letter that had a stamp on it and took three days to get here!  And because I wish that, I think I will do that, for someone else.  Send me a private message with your address if you'd like one.  Then be on the lookout.;-)  After you get it, send one to someone else. (My address is at the top there.. just sayin.') See... maybe it's not so hard to shift gears, after all!  Don't be shy! Even if you don't know me personally yet, wouldn't it be nice? Sometimes, I really do miss the days when things weren't so automatic. (Hit the play button on the photograph.  It's sweet.)

The Small Things That Are Bliss

Roni Delmonico

My recipe for the perfect breakfast.:)

A pinch or two of birdsong.  (Red and yellow will banish the blues).

A few dandelion greens (good for reducing inflammation, especially if you lay down and roll around in them with your dog.)

A smile and a wave and a really really good dream come true...

Some fresh caught fish and a handful of diamonds to decorate the table.

A rocking chair.  (An old blue chair is best, but black will do in a pinch).

And some friends that know how to sing.:)

So I lift up my hands now
And I open my heart
And my gratitude goes out
To everything near and far

All that I am
All that I see
All that I've been 
And all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
Its so amazing
And I’m grateful for it all.

More Delight, Than Fifty Common Years

Roni Delmonico

I held my arms out to him without a word and wrapped his silence around me, carefully smoothing the folds that were closest to my heart.  And when he left, I dried each tear with the edge of my own silence... until there was only music. - Isabel

Thank you for reminding me, John {Keats}...   How I love your romantic heart.