Friday, May 31, 2013

finding our own path

We’re all finding our own path in this world, trying to build a life for ourselves. We all have made choices that we later regret. We all have our personal struggles. We’ve all rushed through moments that later on, we wish we’d thought to slow down and savor. We’ve all lost someone and now wish we had more time to talk, sit, just be with that loved one. We’ve all had great success and we’ve all had smashing defeats. Despite the giant section of self-help books on the shelves in our bookstores and libraries, there really is no true map for us to follow, no recipe or proven guide on how to create the perfect life. We’re all making our own way and doing the best we can. So read the advice from the gurus, talk to friends and companions, but listen to yourself most of all. Slow down, find some quiet time and listen to your heart.  If something in your life is not working out then try another way. If a friendship has turned toxic then walk away. The truth is, there isn’t just one path for us to take in this life and for the most part, there really isn’t a timetable we must keep to. Experiment, play, work, explore, create, sing, dance, eat yummy food, get dirty, make mistakes, love. Don’t get hung up on the regrets and don’t spend too much time rethinking the past. Trust yourself and make the best decisions you can at any given opportunity. And have compassion, not only for yourself but also for the other guy because he too is just trying to find his path.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

corner view: out & about

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “out & about.”

We decided to take some time during our long Memorial Day weekend to visit the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh. It's a beautiful, energy-efficient, environment-friendly, light-filled, airy building holding an impressive collection.

So much to offer in so many different styles and from so many different time periods, there's something for everyone here.

Of course, there are our favorites like this ethereal Monet...

...this amazingly colorful Renoir...

...and this earthy O'Keefe...

...but there's also this Thoma, not as well-known but I just love this painting.

This Thomas Hart Benton painting is on our must-see list when we visit the museum. Benton is connected to our family by marriage and we remain in touch with his grandson, who is also an amazing painter, so we make sure to seek it out.

Of course, since discovering that non-flash photography is allowed, a little bit of silliness ensued...

...particularly in the Rodin garden. It was such a pretty day that we spent lots of time out there too.

Did this 14th century artist really envision Dr Doolittle's Pushmepullyou?

The exhibits don't stop at the museum walls. The grounds offer up trails, outdoor venues, and sculptures...

...this one made entirely of discarded, re-purposed "junk."

We had such fun being out & about at the museum this day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

a half-lived life

"A half-lived life, as Herman Melville describes it, is one in which we do not get to that inner place of peace and joy. Perhaps the most devastating scenario imaginable is to face death knowing that because of some imagined fear, you have always chosen a half-lived life in which you avoided doing the things your heart beckoned you to do. I urge you to change the scenario now. Start living your life with the courage to follow your heart." - Dr Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

corner view: flowers

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “one day in my life” and comes from Kristin.

For many people in the US, when you think of the South you automatically think of the magnificent magnolia. The tree itself has large waxy leaves that stay green year-round and it produces odd looking pods filled with brilliant red seeds, but it's crowning glory comes in the Spring. The magnolia buds are very large and open up into showy thick white blooms. The scent is very heady and lovely. If you want to take a photo of the flower you have to act quickly because it's open for just a few hours during the day and after it's first day, begins to get limp and browns until the petals drop to the ground. We planted a magnolia tree when we moved into our house 20 years ago and it now stands two stories high, fills a corner of our yard and presents us with beautiful blooms each year.


Monday, May 20, 2013

our living, growing family tree

It occurred to me as we were driving home in the pouring rain last night, that in this one weekend we'd visited with the very youngest and very oldest members of our family and how amazing both visits were. I got to hold my tiny great-niece when she was just 5 hours old, rock her and hum to her as she stretched out her new muscles and cooed quietly.

I thought about the large, diverse, creative, complicated, loving, wonderful family she’s just been born into and just how very lucky this little girl is. She has so many wonderful times ahead of her and so many people that just can’t wait to meet her.  I thought too about the people who are no longer with us and who won’t  get the opportunity to meet her, but they are a part of her and she of them, none-the-less.
We also had a nice long visit with my 92 year old father-in-law, listened to his memories of military service during WWII, of his decision to leave an early career at sea, of the trials and tribulations of his working life, of the birth of his children and of his own youth.  He patiently answered questions, filling in the blanks in the story of his life for us. He easily pulled up these memories and was eager to share as we asked for details and more tales, but we also held our breath a little bit as he struggled to rise from his chair and steady himself before we made our way to the dining room for brunch.  Such a long, full life he’s had and he generously continues to give the gift of his stories, wisdom and guidance to us.
It was a great weekend and we are fortunate indeed to have such depth in our living, growing family tree.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

corner view: one day in my life

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “one day in my life” and comes from Kristin.

I was surprised by just how much I wrestled with this week's theme for Corner View: one day in my life. I guess it's because at this point I'm doing a bit of a reboot. You see, I left my job in mid December. It was a very painful decision to make for sure, but it was the right one. Now I'm at a place in my life where my time and my options are all wide open in front of me. I get to reinvent my days and make some new choices. During this time of rediscovery I'm spending a lot more time doing the creative things I love to do and that build me up. All that said though, I don't know what a typical day for me even IS any more. It's all new! 

In broad strokes though I can say that each and every day begins with cuddles. Before my eyes even open I'm on the receiving end of soft purring, neck nuzzling love from my kitties - one laying heavily against me and one laying on top of me, adjusting himself as I turn over. Not to be left out, my big ol' dog comes over, stands next to the bed and rests his head on my shoulder and gazes at me with his huge dark eyes. The three of them escalate their furry lovefest until they succeed in getting me up and out of bed. It's actually a pretty great way to start the day. 

At some point during the day a nice cup of hot chocolate is in order! Definitely my guilty pleasure.
One of my creative pursuits is photography. For me anyway, purposefully taking photos is not too far from meditation. I quiet myself, often sitting patiently or walking slowly, focusing on some small aspect of what is going on around me and taking time to notice lines, light, shadows, color and interplay. Capturing joy, sadness, youth, age, and other human conditions is also pretty amazing. The icing on this delicious cake is the surprise I often get when I upload my photos to my computer and see that the camera caught something completely unexpected.
Dave and I are always seeking out cultural events including music and arts and of course, my camera is always with me! There's always something wonderful going on around here and when there isn't, we head out into the great outdoors. Sometimes (as in the photo below) we get both!
And whether we're performing ourselves...
...or enjoying someone else's talent, there's music in one form or another in each and every one of my days.
At the end of the day, Dave and I reconnect after our hours apart, talk about our day, our family, our tomorrow and our plan for days ahead.

Monday, May 13, 2013

this is not an ending...

Have there been changes in your life that have you feeling out of sorts and a bit uneasy? Maybe it feels like things are off-kilter, unsettled. Know that an exciting life often begins when you find yourself at the very edge of your comfort zone. Shift your perspective a little bit and you’ll find that this is not an ending, it’s a brand new beginning!

Friday, May 10, 2013

rainy weekend walkabout

Beautiful pink blooms seem to have extra sparkle when sprinkled with raindrops...
and anything purple always catches my eye!

I was in just the right place at just the right moment to catch these baby fern fronds opening. A little later in the day and I'd have missed them unfurling!
Who is this little guy? Normally I don't work too hard to get bug shots, but this critter was so very pretty and had such velvety, lacey wings, I couldn't pass him by.
NC has a large variety of pines and I thought this long-leaf looks amazing when silhouetted against a rainy, grey sky.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

corner view: birds

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “birds” and comes from :) 

I wasn't exactly sure what had gotten ahold of me last week but I was feeling low. I worked hard to distract myself from the negative stuff that was swirling around in my mind but nothing I tried pulled me away from the blues for too long. By the third day I'd had enough. It was a sunny, absolutely beautiful Spring day and here I was feeling miserable. I decided I had to get moving, so I grabbed my camera and headed out to the lake.
It was a weekday so I pretty much had the place to myself but when I got there it seemed that even the wildlife were in hiding. About to give up and go home, I spied a Canada Goose on the shoreline some distance away. Now, though they are beautiful birds they are pretty plentiful so that wasn't exactly what I was in search of, but I decided I just HAD to get a shot of something otherwise this quest was lost. I pointed my camera, zoomed in as much as I could and was greatly rewarded with....BABIES! I was unable to see them without the assistance of my zoom lens but there they were and definitely something I so rarely get to see.
I stayed for hours taking shots of this adorable family and in fact, was rewarded with a lot of photo-ops as more critters made themselves known. I just needed to sit in this beautiful place, quiet myself and wait. Turned out to be a perfect antidote for me and a perfect afternoon. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

rainy weekend

It seems like Spring is presenting us with quite a few cool, grey, rainy days this year, but that doesn't mean that there isn't still a lot of beauty to be found. So to meet the challenge we donned our rainy day gear, grabbed the camera and went searching.

NC is very fortunate to still have wild carnivorous plants, such as the pitcher plants below. Some of these rare plants can't be found anywhere else in the US. I don't know what the purple, drooping plants are, but I think they're very whimsical!
And it was fun trying to catch a shot of the fish and polywogs swimming around the lily pads in this small pond. Perhaps on a sunnier day I'll see them a little bit more clearly.
An old log cabin makes a perfect backdrop for these burgundy blooms.
And doesn't this fern look simply magical?

Friday, May 3, 2013

are you gentle with yourself?

In times of seemingly overwhelming stress, on that day when you are feeling so vulnerable or out of sorts, when you are haunted by a poor choice made long ago, or are in the throes of having to make a really difficult decision….are you gentle with yourself?
When the hurtful words and actions of others in your past come flooding back and you just can’t quiet those ghosts….are you gentle with yourself?
When you feel like the world is rushing around you and you’re struggling not to be swept away with it…..are you gentle with yourself?
Or maybe this is one of those days when you are feeling a deep sadness at the loss of a loved one…on days such as these, more than anything else, you need to find your safe place to land, find a way to demand a little less of yourself, soften the critical voices inside your head….and be gentle with yourself.