I had not written much since last August due to a shoulder injury and due to a need to travel inward….a self-imposed time away. But on a sunny day in early April when I began my new journal habit, this poem flowed forth trying to break the ice damn that had built up. It was how I was feeling sitting in my garden waiting for it to wake up….and hoping my creative juices would do the same.
The pictures above is of my early spring pond a bit muddy, and below my later spring pond full of life and water lilies.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up, Poetry Pantry, for poets who blog.
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” ~Steve Jobs
Recently, I took part in a week-long Photo Quest (#celebrateARTlife ), put together by Whitney Freya. I find when I take part in photo challenges, I really reach deep inside and touch my creative soul. So I was excited to participate.
Each day we were given prompts, and then asked to look at the symbolism of our subject. I liked the idea of the symbolism, as it revealed much about me, and where I am on my journey.
Initially, I posted these photos and narratives on my Facebook Page, but I wanted to combine them and post them here too, where I like to showcase what I am creating. I hope you enjoy the Photo Quest as much as I did…..
On Day 1, we had to post a picture of a favorite piece in our house that has special meaning for us. I chose my Garden Water Maiden statue. Here is what I wrote about this photo:
As a long time gardener, she has special meaning for me. I feel she symbolizes gardeners like myself who cherish the land and the critters who live there. She has made her home in my house for a number of years.
And the water jug she carries symbolizes healing water.
Water also symbolizes friendship and love connecting us to the world. It is vital for life, and is a feminine element. Water is also the element of emotion, purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. Water seems to be the perfect symbol for me now as I work on healing and connecting. And we could all use a bit more healing with cleansing water in the world!
On Day 2, I had to take a picture of my favorite color at the moment. I was surprised with my choice:
Right now pink is catching my eye. I don’t have much pink in the house, but I have a few key pieces like this lovely rose quartz box that belonged to my mother-in-law. It is special and means a lot to me.
Pink has special significance for me right now too. It has very special meanings that are an important part of my healing journey. Pink represents unconditional love, hope, compassion and nurturing. Pink is intuitive, and shows kindness. And pink can signify good health. What a luscious color in my world right now.
Day 3 we had to take a photo of a shape or pattern that was catching my eye. I thought it would take a while to zero in on one, but I noticed my shape right away:
It seems stars are shining for me at the moment. This one is of particular significance; a gift from a dear friend in NM.
Stars have wonderful symbolism and shine the light on our self-reliance. They also symbolize navigation; for me it is navigating a new path with retirement and writing. Stars seem to be guiding my way to my passion and dream, and suggesting I take some bold steps. And this particular star has the Native American lizard symbol on it, also significant for me right now as it represents healing and survival.
Day 4’s prompt was perfect for me, as we had to take a photo of a flower that was most attractive at the moment. I wasn’t sure what flower I would choose until I went into the garden:
Echinacea purpurea, also know as coneflower, is a native wildflower growing throughout my garden smiling on me every day.
It is a special flower as it represents Strength and Health.And it is said that Echinacea helps remove whatever is holding you back allowing you to let go of stagnate energy.It also supports transitions to new ways of doing things.You should use Echinacea when your self-image is beginning to change, but you haven’t completely become your “new” self.
It is interesting that this flower is capturing my attention as I continue on my journey of retirement, change and healing.A good flower to keep around me!
On Day 5, we had to create a mandala with materials found inside or out. I had so many ideas, but when I happened on these materials:
I thought about flower petals and stones outside.But it was hot and humid, so instead I noticed some California poppy petals curled and dried on my little bench indoors.I gathered some little stones and some live petals from a hydrangea flower in a vase, to add to the mandala.
I am combining materials from the indoors with outdoors for my mandala.And if you look closely you will see both live and dead materials.The live or current ringing the past.And there is much pollen left in those long dead petals, which seem to represent my past life.These seem to say to me that I have learned so much from my past, and it has propelled me to my current place now.
I also found working with such small materials to represent the minimalism and mindfulness that I am adopting these days.All in all, this seems to be a pretty significant mandala that I created today.
Day 6 had us displaying our sacred space. I have one inside and one outside, so:
I thought I would show a peek at the altar in my sacred space indoors.It holds many cherished memories and mementos.It is where I go to relax, to meditate, to read and reflect.
The picture is one of water lilies to remind me of my pond and cleansing water.The bowl is from a friend filled with last year’s rose petals….the parts of me I am letting go.The cloisonné bell was a present from my parents that was given to me in my former life as a teacher.In the right hand corner you can see a bit of the Georgia O’Keeffe comparative stamps given to me by a dear friend and a picture of my dad.And the vase of fresh white flowers represents my outdoor sacred space, my garden.White is significant as it symbolizes light, goodness and safety.
I painted this sacred space a bright vibrant green, a very significant color as green is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy.It also represents growth, fertility and environment. All the feelings important to cultivate in my sacred space.When I enter there, I have the feeling that I am home.
Finally on Day 7, we had to take a selfie of ourselves doing something we love. What a way to end the quest, with the most challenging prompt:
Those who know me well, know I do not take selfies, but I certainly am up to the challenge.I decided to take a picture of myself doing something I have loved to do since I was very young….reading.I spend hours a day reading for pleasure.And my favorite spot is in my sacred place in my rocker next to the window.
This summer I have been reading more self-help, motivational books that have helped me connect to my inner source.And this personal growth is coming out in my creative self especially through my writing and poetry….and now in my photography with this challenge.
This is our last day of the photo challenge, and I am feeling a sense that I will miss this creative time as it has energized me.But I am sure I will stay connected through my creative endeavors in some way.I want to thank Whitney Freya for a most marvelous adventure!
What creative quests have you been on lately?
The echinacea in the mosaic and at the top of the post were the rest of the photos I took for Day 4. it was hard to choose from all these fabulous shots of an amazing native plant that grows all throughout my garden. You can learn more about echinacea in my garden post.
The photo below is another perspective of the mandala I created.
So a couple of months ago, I started a new series, called Beyond Words. I wanted to showcase different spots I find, in pictures, with as few words as possible. For my first post, I traveled the short 10 minute walk to the lake across the street to see it in late summer.
And here we were again, at the lake in mid-Autumn, to see how the views had changed. It was unseasonably warm in November, so there was lots of color and activity at the lake. And little did I know when I wrote this, that December weather would also be warm and still looking like fall with no snow.
So let’s go to the lake…….
Children were playing on the beach and playground as it was 75 degrees, and a perfectly clear day.
Beyond the children were hundreds of geese spread out from shore. A few ducks and seagulls were mixed into the group, but the ducks are few and far between as it is duck season. Many mornings, at sunrise, we can hear the loud gunshots. Poor ducks.
And the fisherman were out on the lake still. There were about 6 fishing boats I could see, and this lone fisherman who had waded into the shallow water. In my last post, there was a fisherman who had waded in. I wonder if it is the same fisherman? This time the water was cooler so he was wearing his waders.
One of the first things we noticed, besides the trees, was the sandy shore. It was now covered in grass as the beach grooming stopped in August.
And with the lack of beach grooming, there was lots of grassy debris along with seaweed and leaves stretching at least three feet up the beach from the edge of the water.
The grassy jetty that had reached out into the water in late summer was now gone, along with the plants along the shoreline.
Continuing to scan toward shore, you can see the grasses declining and the barren woods giving you a view of the water on the other side of the jetty.
And if we come ashore we can see this lovely path ending at a bench to take in the views from either side…..let’s get in closer.
I love this peaceful view. A spot I must remember to visit more often.
As I turned from the water, I saw this magnificent sight of leaves in their full splendor….still hanging on. There is a mix of American Tilden, White Ash (already leafless) and Maple trees here. The woods are so dense in summer and early fall…..a wonderful shady spot now partially barren, and blazing with the early afternoon light this November day.
This is our first view as we get close to the lake, and it is also our last as we turn to walk back. If you look at the summer post from Oneida Lake, you can see some of the dramatic changes that have taken place during autumn at the lake.
If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs.
Special Note: Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State. It has a surface area of 79.8 square miles, and is located northeast of Syracuse and near the Great Lakes. There are several parks, marinas and beaches along this lake that spans several counties.
“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”
~ Denis Waitley
I promised I would finish up the photography challenge, TheAugust Break, the creation of Susannah Conway. Today I have the last 4 prompts, and my interpretations. These last few words seemed even more of a challenge, but I practiced patience and waited as the inspiration took hold. Some came to me days later, and I changed the images that didn’t seem to work for me. So here we go.
The first picture above is Day 30-Smile. Yes that is me, or what I was willing to show of me as I wanted to emphasize my everyday smile. Just a hint of a smile always on my lips as my mouth upturns and my cheeks puff out. This photo was actually taken on my Mac computer using the application, Photo Booth. The camera on my Mac is easier to use for taking self portraits. And I love some of the effects that this application has. The effect I used for this was picture is called, Color Pencil.
Day 28-In My BagThis particular prompt had me stumped. I had many ideas none of which I liked. As I was going by the pond, I noticed the yellow waterlily finally blooming at the end of summer, which was late. And I remembered it grows in a cloth bag at the bottom of our pond. The cattails have all but crushed this waterlily, but I was happy to see it was not going to be pushed out.
Then the next day, I saw the new bag of my favorite coffee waiting to be opened and ground. And it hit me! I opened the bag on our kitchen table and let it spill out. And here are 3 views of the coffee beans (that was in my bag of coffee) spilled on the table. I love these images and can still smell the coffee.
Day 29-Listening I knew I wanted to take a picture of our, almost antique, receiver. My husband has had this receiver for a long time, even though we no longer have the turntable. We have a CD changer still hooked up to it, and we love to use the radio.
Day 31-August Was…. Full of Discovery. Everywhere I looked in my garden, the smallest creatures seemed to bring delight. And I continued to see more and more special scenes like this one. This a Gray Tree Frog. They are more gray when they are living closer to our trees, and green when in the garden. As I walked by the stalk of a plant, this tiny green blob caught my eye. Only an inch long, they are hard to see, but they make a mighty song in high summer when mating. The pictures were processed a bit differently to highlight this little creature.
At the end of the post is another little creature hard to see when they rest in our big ash trees, on tiny branches. Of course I am talking about the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. This is either a female of juvenile hummer.
“When the creative impulse sweeps over you, grab it. You grab it and honor it and use it, because momentum is a rare gift.” ― Justina Chen
I am continuing my participation in the photography challenge, TheAugust Break, the creation of Susannah Conway. Today I have the next 7 days of words, and my interpretations for you. This week seemed to be quite a challenge as I tried to capture so many images interpreting the latest words, many which are very common.
The first picture above is Day 21-Real Life. This is my everyday work area with my laptop front and center. I liked the picture better in black and white, as color was not an important aspect of the picture.
Day 22-CurvesI had many different pictures picked out for this word. But it was when I was outside sitting, that I noticed the curves in my garden hat. This hat is a prized possession, and I had a lot of fun capturing the curves.
You can see another picture of my garden hat in the last picture. This was an impromptu picture taken while I was sitting outside enjoying the garden.
Day 23-Water One of my favorite spots is the pond in our garden. The sound of the waterfall is relaxing. I wanted to capture the waterfall as it flows down the rocks.
Day 24-In The DistanceThis is the beginning of the wetlands about a couple of miles down the road. It is acres of cattails that end at the woods edge, in the distance.
Day 25-GreenThe cattails end as the wetlands open up. And you can see this amazing Chartreuse green algae covering the entire surface of the water. Isn’t it stunning? Especially against the pinkish-purple flowers of the purple loosestrife plant that has invaded the wetlands.
Day 16-DoorWhen I originally was thinking about this word, I wanted to capture our front door. But then as the day went on, I wanted to look at a few more doors around the house and garden. I especially love the view through the door on the gazebo. Isn’t it inviting?
Our purple front door is bottom right, the door I originally wanted to capture. And then I experimented with opening the door to a couple of rooms and capturing the view as you enter.
Day 27-Favorite RecipeDuring tomato season, we love to make sauce. This is a special recipe from a garden friend, Kathy@The Violet Fern. It is calledSummer In A Jar, and you can read more about it here. All the ingredients, basil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, were grown in our garden this summer.
So there you have the photos from days 21-27 of The August Break challenge. I will have the remainder of the words, for days 28-31, in two weeks. Next week will be another Wildlife Lesson post, always on the first Thursday of the month.
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” ~Hugh MacLeod
I have been enjoying the photography challenge, TheAugust Break, the creation of Susannah Conway. And today brings another 10 days of words, and my interpretations. This creative challenge continues to tickle my creative muscles as I play with ideas, composition and perspective. Again I am including a few collages of pictures as they make for interesting photos too.
The first picture above is actually Day 11-Edge. I was looking at this vase that was sitting on the windowsill of our back windows that angle out. And I saw how it was peeking out from the edge of the wall. I thought it was an interesting shot.
Part of the same vase contained Queen Anne’s Lace which I just love to photograph. And it is especially stunning in up close pictures emphasizing the Edges!
Day 12-YellowThere is so much yellow outside in the garden, so I was searching inside for something yellow I wanted to showcase. I spied our yellow hummingbird teapot that we bought in Santa Fe, NM. It was perfect next to the same vase of declining sunflowers (also yellow).
Day 13-Last YearWhen I searched through the photos from last year, one special event that I just loved was the twin fawns that visited nearly every day. Surprisingly, we have not seen any fawns so far this year.
Day 14-Favorite SmellAt this time of year, my favorite smell is fresh picked tomatoes sitting here on the kitchen counter. They are a favorite treat as well.
Day 15-ArtThis word was a challenge until I looked out at the garden in the morning light, and saw this hardy hibiscus glowing. The incredible details of the huge flower petals are truly a work of art. I thought I would make the inset picture into an actual painting, and then compare them in this collage. I can barely tell the difference between the two….both Nature’s art.
Speaking of Nature’s art, I have a picture of a monarch, at the end of the post, that has been visiting my garden for several days. I consider monarch’s and their beautiful wings, with the stripes and spots, artwork!
Day 16-FireThe early morning light coming into the garden creates so much magic. And as it touched the red and orange sunflowers recently, it looked like the flames of a fire.
I absolutely love these sunflowers because of their color, and they have about 50 flowers on a 7 foot tall multiple branched sunflower. And this sunflower is a volunteer from last year’s plant. .
Day 17-ReadingI have so many bookshelves filled to overflowing with books. But my absolute favorite is this Stickley glass-fronted bookcase. I keep very special books in this bookcase with special artwork. The tile and the pottery are both from NM.
Day 18-Look UpThe days have been hot lately, and the sun around midday washing out all the color. As I sat on the patio step and looked up, I shot a bunch of pictures. And to my surprise, I caught some interesting spider webs being constructed in the Sanguisorba officinalis. It is always good to look up!
Day 19-Sweet Delight What better sweet treat on a hot day than a popsicle.
I left it out in 85 degree heat and photographed it melting from many different views.
Day 20-TwoI was not sure what I was going to do for this word as I already had a few pictures with 2 items in this post. Then Tuesday, we had severe thunderstorms that snapped many of my beloved sunflowers in two. Those same beloved sunflowers above set ablaze by the sun.
Now they are in a vase a bit bedraggled, and dropping petals….these two petals were my inspiration! It seems sunflowers have been an ongoing inspiration for me during August.
“Non-judgment quiets the internal dialogue, and this opens once again the doorway to creativity.”
Last August I participated in a photography challenge called TheAugust Break, the creation of Susannah Conway. And I was excited when I heard she was doing it again this year. Each day is a new word, and you decide how to show it. So for Thursdays in August, I will be showcasing my pictures from the challenge.
I love this challenge because it is simple, and allows me to be in the moment and to be creative. I thought I would break it up into thirds and show you what I came up with in 10 day chunks. I am truly a novice with photography still using the auto setting on my point and shoot. But I am enjoying composing the images daily, and looking for different perspectives. I have included a few collages of pictures as they make for interesting photos as well.
The first picture above is actually Day 10-Talisman. This hand-blown glass rabbit has been with me now for about 30 years. I bought this at our local Renaissance Faire as I was told it was a special animal spirit for me.
Day 1-BreakfastI took a few different perspectives of my breakfast plate; in more light and then less light.
Day 2-AirThis was a bit challenging to decide what to shoot, but when this dragonfly perched on the tip of this tiny plant right in front of me, I knew this was my shot.
Day 3-SkinI wanted to find something besides the obvious human skin to shoot. So when I saw these cucumbers from the garden, I was drawn to their skin which can be smooth or bumpy. They also make great pickles! YUM.
Day 4-NumbersI took this day to go around the house looking for interesting numbers. And then I thought about how I would compose the photos of these ordinary objects. The first is of an antique crock. Next is an antique kitchen timer. Both antiques belonged to my aunt and uncle.
The last photo is of a ceramic clock we bought on our honeymoon in Italy. I love this photo because even though the numbers are Roman Numerals, the number 4 is incorrect. It should read IV as a Roman numeral. It gives this clock more personality the way it is written as tally marks instead.
Day 5-CitrusThere isn’t much to tell here. Again I was playing with perspective when shooting the lemon next to this vase of flowers from my garden.
Day 6-NotebookMy notebook is my journal. I opened to the next blank page and took a picture. I liked working with the perspective and angle of this shot.
Day 7-5 Facts About MeI had no idea what I was going to use for this day. As I was sitting on the couch and looking out the window, the sun was streaming through this little display on the windowsill. The screen was up so the garden in the background was more pronounced. I loved how the scene glowed and I knew this was the picture.
So what are the 5 things about me: Love to garden, love to pick flowers and arrange them, love New Mexico where I bought the glass tile (and wanted to move there at one time), my dear friend (who lives now in NM) bought me the 2 figures and the gourd is an inspiration to me for many things including gardening, and I am fascinated with Native American lore, history and archeology. In another life, I might have studied Native American tribes as my career instead of being an educator.
Day 8-SmoothSo many choices here, but I decided on the lily pads in the pond that are still occupied by many frogs who love using them as lounge chairs. When I was leaving the pond area, I caught sight of the native cactus I have growing in the stones on the side of the waterfall. The contrast struck me, and I added it to the picture.
Day 9-EarthAgain the possibilities were endless, but the sunset that night was too beautiful not to use here. The atmosphere of the Earth working its magic here and in the last picture below.
“People often ask themselves the right questions. Where they fail is in answering the questions they ask themselves, and even there they do not fail by much…But it takes time, it takes humility and a serious reason for searching.”~ William Maxwell
As I end this special month of my birth, now another year older, I continue to contemplate life…asking myself questions about what I am doing, where am I going, what do I want out of this life of mine….and I am finding many answers within, as I listen to my heart and soul speak to me. As you may remember, this year I have chosen to be part of an online group, Women’s Circle of Joy, led by Cigdem Kobu of Peaceful Triumphs.
And this month, we have been exploring, “Living Lighter”. It’s not just about losing weight or getting rid of your stuff…it goes much deeper. We were asked to examine seven areas of our life to see if we were Living Lighter. These areas included: Our Private Lives, Our Physical Body, Our Environments, Our Emotional Weight, Our Mental Hassle, Our Career and Work and Our Social Lives.
This path to living lighter really started for me last year in retirement. I wanted to simplify my life, and took time to reacquaint myself with my home, and my husband as we would now be together 24/7. We have easily slid into this new phase of our lives working together as a couple sharing the load. We did a huge clearing in February when we clutter cleared our house from top to bottom. It felt wonderful to let go of stuff we no longer needed, but I have learned this clearing of stuff is an ongoing process you must continue to revisit every couple of months as clutter can sneak back up on you fast.
And most of all, I have been building better habits that will bring me closer to perfect health. Moving more, finding what physical activity I like to do, daily meditation and journaling, and discovering which foods are best for my body.
I have recently found it important to take time to pause and reflect on life. I think that is where the poetry I write comes from….those things that give me pause or that I see when I pause…so magical really that reflective time. And in that time when I let my mind wander and wonder, I think about my easy, carefree future. What does it look and feel like…..
In this future, I awake from a restful slumber to the sounds of nature…refreshed and eager to see the new dawn…the wondrous colors of the day both in the sky and in the garden. I move easily out-of-doors, and walk in this new light of day coming back home to the incredible smells of a nutritious breakfast. What do I want to accomplish today? A bit of weeding, a new writing project, a little cleaning and clearing in the house, or is this my day of rest where I can play or take a fun trip to a new spot. Will I be grabbing lunch with a friend or perhaps seeing a practitioner for a bit of wellness care.
And part of my day will be spent in quiet contemplation….writing about my gratitude for the wonderful things in my life. There is always time for daily reading; books for pleasure (mostly mysteries), or books I find more personal and spiritual….maybe someone’s journey of inspiration. There are always things I can do to keep life simple…and with that simplicity, comes time for joyful activities that allow more room in my life for new experiences, new friendships and new journeys.
Note:The Daisies pictured here are from my garden, and are said to represent simplicity. Daisies were the first flower I remember that I cherished as a young girl. They are such a simple flower of pure white that never cease to bring me a smile.
I leave you with another thought about simplicity or living lighter. Feel free to download this photo and share.
All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015. Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.
I have these inner dialogues with myself sometimes when I am hurting, depressed or going through some unpleasant strong emotions. Recently with my mom’s illness and weakening, some of these darker moods have shown up again to be heard. And so the inner dialogue continues as I move through them. For me, I know I must lean into these times of shadow, in order to move back out into the light.
I am joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog. Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.
I am participating in The Personal Photo Challengehosted by Donna@Cottage Days and Journeys. This month’s challenge is called Christmas Scenes. I wrote this poem on my way to see family for Thanksgiving. I had not seen much of my family for a few years. And on the plane ride, some lovely thoughts of Christmas were running through my brain. So I hope you enjoy the poem that is filled with many of my childhood memories.
I am also joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog. Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.
Special Note: These Christmas scenes were taken upon our return home once we did a bit of Christmas decorating.
All photos were taken on auto mode and first processed in iPhoto (so nothing fancy). The collage was made in Fotor.com. The tree images were further processed in PicMonkey.comto add some brilliance, snow, frost and stars.
I am participating in The Personal Photo Challengehosted by Donna@Cottage Days and Journeys. This month’s challenge is called Trees. I wrote this poem on the first day of my retirement, March 3rd 2014, after over 30 years in public education. It is a testament to my perseverance and what awaits me now in my new life beginning again. I hope you enjoy the poem.
I am also joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog. Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.
Special Note: These trees are from my garden and surrounding my garden. The views I see every fall when trees are at their finest.
All photos were taken on auto mode and processed in iPhoto (so nothing fancy). The collage was made in Fotor.com. The last image was taken in black and white on a foggy autumn morning and processed in PicMonkey.comto add the text and frame.
I am participating in The Personal Photo Challengehosted by Donna@Cottage Days and Journeys. This month’s challenge is called Still Life. So I decided to create a poem about how my garden has become a still life as it fades and withers to winter, and that it still has life as do I as I age being reborn again. There are multiple meanings in this poem but you can also take it at face value. I hope you enjoy the poem.
I am also joining in with Poets Unitedfor their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog. Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.