Beautiful and terrible

Quote of the day: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ~ Frederick Buechner

Back Yard View

I woke up to one of Mother Nature’s late winter reality checks.  Yesterday, we had rain that turned to ice during the night as temperatures dropped, and then all of that was covered with over 6 inches of wet, heavy snow.

It is beautiful–yes–and terrible.  Branches bowed to their limits, some weighed down beyond their limits, broke and fell.  Traffic in the Twin Cities was snarled with spin-outs and accidents galore. Morning commutes for some were long and frustrating.

And still it is magnificent. It is a miracle. It is a gift.

Life is like that. Take in the beauty. Experience the wonder. Don’t let the terrible make you shut out the wonderful.

The view out my window
Ice and snow coat a small tree branch
Lovely tree
My street
Icy branch
View across the pond - bowed down and broken branches



Losing (and finding) myself in play

Quote of the day: “If you can risk getting lost somewhere along the day you might stumble upon openings that link you to your depths.” ~ Anonymous

Interplay Games

I have spent the last few days losing (and finding) myself in play with 3 different groups of women.  Each group has a different purpose,  but we always find ways to play together, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. What fun to laugh and play just because we can!

By losing myself in play, I excavate my real self–the self that was there before rules, peers and authority figures caused me to hide the “unacceptable” parts away.

Playing is how I discover and recover my true self.  It isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. It brings me joy, reminds of what gives meaning to my life, and helps me stop taking myself so seriously.

Interplay is an active, creative play form that one of my women’s groups has been doing for almost three years. While letting myself play and pretend and be silly was difficult at first, it has been life-changing and healing.

The photos below are from our play last weekend (interplay and other kinds of play).

Total Silliness
Laughter is the best medicine
Dancing, moving, mirroring movements
More silliness
Child playing
If you can't remember how to play, must watch a child in action for 2 minutes

More texture play

Quote of the day: “To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” ~ Hopi Indian saying

White is the color of hope

Dancing and playing with textures tonight…for this week’s Texture Tuesday theme, which is, “Your image must contain at least one layer of any of my textures and center around the color white.”   Many thanks to Kim Klassen of Kim Klassen Cafe for wonderful textures and classes/videos on using them.



The Art of Seeing – Week 4

Quote of the day: “Once you have tried these exercises, you will notice a definite–possibly a dramatic–improvement in your powers of observation. You will also discover powers of imagination you didn’t know you had…You will have more ideas for photographs than you ever dreamed possible, and be itching to reveal your new awareness of the world around you.” ~  Freeman Patterson Photography and the Art of Seeing

Rosemary plant photo
Rosemary plant - noticed the graceful curve of two leaves

This week’s Art of Seeing exercise comes from Freeman Patterson’s Photography and the Art of Seeing.  The exercise is as follows.

Set aside a minimum of three one-hour periods this week for making pictures.  Choose something in your home–inside or outside–that you want to photograph.

Before making any photographs, go to a comfortable chair and relax completely, following the breath and relaxing your muscles until limp.  Empty your mind. After 15-20 minutes, get up, pick up your camera, and start making photographs of the object you selected earlier. Stay relaxed and spend as much time as you want observing.  You can make only 2 or 3 pictures if that is all you feel like. Don’t critique your pictures or worry about whether they are any good. Just have fun.

That’s it.

I had great fun doing this exercise and found that I did indeed observe more than I usually do.  Here are some of the photos I took (along with a little bit of what I noticed when I made them).

Rosemary plant photo
Entranced by the light reflecting off plant pot
Leaves of Rosemary Plant
Loved the play of the green leaves against the colors of the placemat in the background
Fuzzy underside of gerbera daisy Intrigued by the fuzzy green underside of the flower
Curved gerbera daisy in blue vase
Loved the curve of the drooping stem, the negative space between vase and flower, the way the light played on the flower petals
Color impressions photo
Focused on the colors by chosing to take unfocused shot - shows color play without detail
Flower Petal Rhythm
Took intentional unfocused shot to convey the rhythm of the flower petals
Bell-shaped gerbera daisy Loved the fat bell shape of the upside-down gerbera daisy and the cheerful flips of the petals

Gratitude for Infinite Possibilities

Quote of the day:  “And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility?”  ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Gerbera Daisy
Gerbera Daisy

I think we live in a world of infinite possibilites. Today I’ve been playing with photographing flowers. I never tire of the infinite possibilities in such little packages. I love everything about flowers.

What a gift to be able to enjoy such beauty!  What holds infinite possibilities for you?

Fading Flower Fell onto Crocheted Placemat
Jasmine Flower
Jasmine Flower
Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera Daisies
Center of Gerbera Daisy
Pretty Petals

There is no arriving, just becoming

Quote of the day: “‘ ‘Patience isn’t your virtue, is it, dear?’ she says, filling the quiet moment between us. ‘You mustn’t fret. There is no arriving, ever. It is all a continual becoming.’ ” ~ Joan Anderson  A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman

Continual becoming

In my reading yesterday, I found a passage that could have been written about me–“Patience isn’t your virtue, is it, dear?”  Oh how my husband would laugh to read this. It so epitomizes me.  He once gave me a notepad that had a picture of two vultures talking to one another. The caption on the notepad read, “Patience my ass, I’m going out and kill something!”  Don’t laugh! It was a totally appropriate gift for that time in my life (still very appropriate).

I would like to be patient.  I work on developing patience, but truth be told, I will never be a patient person in this lifetime. That’s how I’m wired. As I get older I like to think that I am able to exercise patience sometimes. But patience is not and never will be one of my virtues.  It is one of many imperfections that make me who I am. And as my husband likes to say, “As you get older, you are who you are, only more-so.”

As I reflect on people and their idiosyncrasies, I think that it is often their imperfections that make my friends interesting and unique. Think about what a boring world it would be if everyone were perfect!

When we were first married, we spent a lot of time at my mother-in-law’s cabin on the weekends.  She had a wide group of friends and each of them was a character–Vera with her gravelly voice and tell-it-like-it-is bluntness, George with his blustering and never-ending stories, Faye with her legendary impatience and short fuse, Marge with her boozy “Hellooooo’s” and many others–unforgettable imperfect, wonderful, continually becoming people.

Think about the character, Barney, on the sitcom “How I met your mother.”  He is FULL of imperfection. Yet he’s funny and interesting and human (and over the top, I know).  Aren’t the most alive people you know, living fully out loud, imperfections and all?

May all of us appreciate our whole selves, warts and all, and learn to live in continual becoming.

Bear Statue
Bear of many colors
Is your cup half empty or half full?
Colorful Still Life
How colorful is your life?

Learning about presence

Quote of the day: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~ Buddha

Crystal Chandelier

As a long-time meditator, I work on living with presence, and mostly I fail.  I have glimmers of presence but more than anything my meditative practices have shown me how I am not present most of the time.

I’ve been doing an early morning class called ai chi for over one and a half years. (Ai chi is a water-based meditative practice created by combining Tai-Chi concepts with Shiatsu and QiGong techniques.  Take a look at the video below if you’re curious about it.)

This morning, while doing ai chi, I noticed for the first time (after 1 1/2 years!), how I almost always anticipate the next movement or the next breath, instead of staying fully present to the current movement or breath. This was such a big “A Ha!” for me.  I almost laughed out loud. It felt so good when I was in the moment and not anticipating the next moment, but  a devilishly difficult state to achieve.

Now I am  beginning to understand the statement of a classmate who’s been doing ai chi for 15 years. Just after I started the class, he told me that it took him 3 years to get it fully.  At the time I thought, “Hmmm… slow learner.  I’ve only been coming to class for 3 weeks and I’ve got it.”  Well, maybe not…looks like I have many opportunities to learn more deeply about presence.

I think one of the reasons that I love photography is because I stay in the moment when I am making photographs.

A note about today’s photos. I was at a friend’s house and enjoying her wonderful art objects and collections from around the world. These are a few of the photos I made of them. (As you can see, I’m still in a black and white mood.)

Aboriginal Art Coaster
Translucent Flowers
Rabbit Statue Still Life
Black and White Aboriginal Art
Turtle Aboriginal Art Coaster

A Black and White Kind of Day

Quote of the day: “There’s something strange and powerful about black-and-white imagery.” ~ Stefan Kanfer

Interesting collection of shapes and textures

Today I met a friend at a coffee shop/cafe and had only my point and shoot Canon Power Shot with me.  There were some interior scenes that screamed black and white to me, so I went ahead and shot them and then converted them to black and white later.

Wherever I go, I look with different eyes since I’ve become a photographer. Wherever I go, I find beauty. How can you see with different eyes today? Where is beauty hiding in plain sight?

Chair - Black and White
Inviting Chair

Get Inspired Today

Quote of the day: “I have to get inspired by something that touches my soul, or rocks my soul.~ Steven Tyler

One of 15 Quilts made by Beverly Dorsey now displayed at First Universalist Church Minneapolis

Today I was inspired by a slant of light on a flower, the scent of jasmine blossoms, a fresh, heavy, wet snowfall, and the quilts of a Minneapolis artist who quilts just for the joy of it.

Today I got to help hang an amazing quilt show at my church (First Universalist Minneapolis). The artist, who doesn’t really want to sell any of her work because she “doesn’t want to take any of the joy out it” inspired me with her artistry and passion for quilting.

Her passion for quilting reminds me of how I feel about photography.  I am inspired again and again by the wonder of ordinary and extraordinary beauty everywhere I look.

What inspires you? How about making sure that whatever it is, it’s part of your life today?

Inspired by light and bright colors
Fresh snowfall
Wonderful flower petals and colors
One more quilt from Quilt Exhibit

Playing with textures

Quote of the day: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”  ~ Plato

Texture magic - used kk_felicity 2 layers in soft light blend mode, de-saturated original photo a bit

I’ve been playing with 2 Kim Klassen textures this morning and having so much fun.  The first is called kk_felicity, the second is kk_canvasmagic.  And I can tell you, using these textures in your photos is a little bit like magic. Here are some of the results of my play from today.

Iris with 2 layers of kk_felicity in soft light blend mode and warming filter layer
Statue and other pretty things with 2 layers of kk_felicity in soft light blend mode
Painterly iris with 2 layers of kk_felicity in soft light blend mode
Teacup with 2 layers of kk_felicity in soft light blend mode and 1 layer of kk_canvasmagic in screen blend mode
Angel statue with 2 layers of kk_felicity in soft light blend mode and 1 layer of kk_canvasmagic in screen blend mode
De-saturated to B&W, added 2 layers kk_felicity in soft light blend mode and 1 warming layer, text
Added two layers of kk_felicity in soft light blend mode