Monday, November 21, 2011

A Time for Everything

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up;

a time for war, and a time for peace;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

This poem from Ecclesiastes,
with all of its conflicting purposes
and meanings of life, has
long been a favorite of mine.
I remember that it was
also one of my father's favorites. 

I don't think it is any accident that this poem
of insight, wisdom, and hope
is found in the same Biblical book 
that cries out, repeats, echoes, and resounds 
with this despairing declaration:
Vanity; All is Vanity.

I have often wondered about this juxtaposition.
I've also thought about the wording of this phrase;
vanity is used in a manner that is uncommon 
in our time and it didn't quite make sense to me.
Eventually I sought alternate
translations for habel, the Hebrew word 
that has been traditionally translated as vanity.
Here are a few that I found:

Meaningless; All is meaningless.
Meaningless seems too extreme.
Useless; All is useless.
Seems hopeless.
Futility, everything is futility. 
Hmmm. This seems to capture the essence. 

Futility; All is futility.
It is not that I feel or believe
 that all of life is futile.  
But haven't there been times
in your days and weeks 
when it feels like there is no sense or reason
 for much of anything?  

It is not uncommon during times of 
despondency or depression; 
perhaps also during times of utter frustration.  
Or perhaps when facing inner responses 
to a milestone of aging.   

During such times there can easily arise 
a sense of futility; 
perhaps even a useless, senseless void.
And the vanity, or futility,
 of life may recur in life just as it does 
in this ancient book of wisdom.

These two themes, seasons of the spirit 
and a recurring sense of futility,
resonate with the human spirit.

For me, at this time in my life, they have special meaning.  
I have chosen to take a leave of absence.  Again.  
For I want to experience life.

 I do not want to sink into the quicksand of futility.  
It has had its paralyzing hold on me before.
I sank up to my knees, bound by some force,
and I could not walk forward.
I sank up to my waist and could not turn to face life around me.
I sank further; up to my neck so that I had to stretch
just to breathe.
And I finally asked for help.  

This time I am veering away from that looming miry bog.
I am walking toward something else.
What that is, I am not sure.

I am still learning to be.
And I am now intent on seeking how
to value being rather than doing.
I want to learn mindfulness.
I want to experience joy.
And I want to share in life with others.  

How about you?  Where are you now?
Experiencing a paralyzing rise of futility in your life?
 Planting rather than plucking-up?
Or surprised by plucking-up rather than planting? 
Enjoying a season of laughing, dancing, and joy?

For everything there is a season, 
and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole!

I've jumped down the rabbit hole
into something new!

What can be new and exciting with a jump
down your own rabbit hole?

PS: Let me know if you'd like Your face
collaged into this digital piece.

(I'm amazed how much my 
ten-year-old partial face
looks like mine now -- plus
my well-earned wrinkles of course!)

Just leave me a note in comments or email.
We can place your face, or that of
someone you love, into the digital piece.
Free gift from me to you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Spring!

Spring does come ... regardless.
Thanks for the pic Cody!

Friday, March 11, 2011

All Shall Be Well

Whatever the circumstances of her life,
including the Black Plague
-- not just once -- but twice --
Julian of Norwich received
this "Showing" from God:

All Shall Be Well
All Manner of Things Shall Be Well
And All Shall Be Well.

What circumstances cloud your days?
How might you imprint this promise over
that situation?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ordinary Miracle

It's not that unusual
when everything is beautiful
It's just another 
ordinary miracle 
Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Laughing With Friends -- A Treasure

My grandfather was known for climbing the 
water tower in Crowell (Texas).  
His best friend's mother called his mother one afternoon 
and said, "Dwight's up on that tower again."

That's the friend in this story from my youngest Uncle:
I came to the hospital to visit dad during the last few months, 
and the nurses were kind of chuckling and talking.
I asked what was going on, and they said,
 “We saw this elderly man come in with a walker 
and go to your dad’s room. 
He opened the door and rolled his walker in, 
then went in and shut the door.  
And then in a few minutes we heard two teenagers in there.”

Who are the friends that can still make you laugh like a teenager?
What a treasure they are!

More treasures:
Family memories
Watercolors by your mother (in her young eighties)
Vintage photographs saved by relatives

Friday, February 25, 2011

After the night ...

As long as the night seems,
the morn will still dawn.

What brings you hope today? 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am

I am
the tall Red Hollyhocks my grandmother grew,
the Crepe Myrtle my mother loves.

I am
the books my father loved,
the museums we spent hours exploring, 
the movies he took us to see.

I am
the laughter of my husband's puns;
I bask under his quietly watchful eye.

I am the conversations
with my daughter and her love;
I am their photographs:
the waterfalls, the fireworks, the morning sky.

I am the joy of our son,
the woman he loves,
the child he delivered,
the three he takes sledding,
the flowers he tends.

I am
the children of my husband,
their loves, their children five.
I am their music, their sports,
their smiles, their eyes.

I am.
I still am.

I am
the Beloved of the One who
holds all Beloved.

I am
the Winter Pansies,
the Red-Twig Dogwood.
I am
the pine trees
in the winter sun.

I am my friends.
I am you.

I am
all those around me;
the hunched-over figure,
the smiling women,
the 5am men who buy their drugs,
the yogis, the sparkling tin in the alley,
the abandoned wooden cog in the street,
the gracious neighbor
and silent city skyline.

I am
the rows of corn,
the spiders un-stomped,
the peacocks
and longhorn
and wild kittens.

Who are you?
The Beloved also, that I know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

David's Story

As you explore this box what images
capture your attention? 
What juxtaposition of items bring
questions to your mind?

It's from the series
Stories Without Words
that I've just finished for my
first exhibit.  Exciting!  It's up at Dazzle, 
a jazz club here in Denver, for a few
more weeks.  

And now -- finally -- I'm posting again
on my blog. Thanks to all of you who've 
emailed or left notes on earlier posts 
asking me to come back!


So ... what are your ideas about David's Story.
The inspiration for my piece is only
the beginning. Your imagination
brings dimension and expands the story
into your own life experiences.
Share your thoughts and we'll explore together.
Have fun! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sharing the Halloween Candy? Really?

"Madison was hilarious last night."
(She's my 2 year old granddaughter.)
"We would go trick-or-treating to one house and they would 
give her a piece of candy.  Madison would hold onto it 
and when we went to the next house she would 
try to give them that piece of candy when they gave her one.

They would say, “'Madison, that’s yours.'
 So she would put it in her bag and hold the candy they gave her.

When we went to the next house she would do it again, and try to
give them the piece of candy she was holding 
when they gave one to her.
'That’s yours Madison,' they said. 
So she would put that one in her bag and hold the candy they gave her.

At the next house ... 
Oh, and while I’m telling you this Madison is saying 
'Mom ... Mom ... Mom,'
like I’m not supposed to tell you about this."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sun! Flowers

Passing the Sunflower Farm without stopping
just wasn't an option.
I pulled over to photograph the rows and rows of
sunflowers with every single yellow flower 
turned toward the early morning sun.
(I know.  Duh.)
But -- Look!
Every single flower turned toward the sun!
It was so amazing I wanted to climb in there,
right in the middle of all those flowers!
Fortunately ...
there was an end to the barbed wire.
(See me taking the pic?)
I started taking photos ... 
and noticed the amazing bees
... of all kinds
... and all sizes!
Then I discovered how beautiful the flowers were from
the back.  (There's still a bee, too.)
Finally I took my farewell photos ...
rows and rows of the backs of all those sunflowers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flying High 2: Cast Your Vote!

Which do you like better?
There are so many options when playing with
photoshop layers ... it's often hard to choose.

So you get to vote!
Which do you like better?
This one with wings?
Or Friday's post?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flying High

Today I finished altering this photo of mom.
That afternoon mom and her friends were goofing off,
hanging around in front of Crowell High School.
One of the young men picked her up and 
set her in this niche to the side of the front doors.

I've always loved this picture and
decided to play with it. 
Austin is just below mom's feet and
she holds the Yellow Rose of Texas.
Austin is where mom and dad got married,
and we celebrated that symbolic yellow rose on
their 50th anniversary family reunion cruise.

Perched high on a telephone pole (mom, do you 
remember your first telephone? would you write in the
comments any stories you remember?) mom is 
surrounded by hummingbirds that she
loves to paint with her water colors.

As I finish this post one of my favorite shows,
Who Do You Think You Are?
has just finished tracing the ancestry of
someone who explored census records, country
cemeteries, and marriage certificates.

We are fortunate to have some of our
family history recorded in an autobiography
mom wrote during her high school years.

Click below to read how three families in heavily ladened
prairie schooners left the hills of Tennessee for Texas in 1851:

...somewhere in the rear came Squire Campbell's
iron grey hunter and his fox hounds, for he
hoped in the new country to continue the chase of the fox ...

I love hearing family stories, looking at photos,
and then letting my imagination wander freely
as I think about who I am ... and who I might be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Playing with Flowers

There's something refreshing about
playing with beautiful  flowers.

Sean plants ... Holly photographs ... I play around.
Seems you can't go wrong when playing with flowers!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Depression Distractions

That's not a problem after all!
In the process of dealing with one of those
I discovered something interesting:

What craziness!
 To find a looming
dragon of depression defeated
because something else threatened!

What distracts you from stress?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Look Upward and Outward: Cheyenne Flying Thunderbirds Air Show

During Cheyenne Days there are moments
when much of the town pauses to look beyond itself.

As we prepared for the Flying Thunderbirds air show
vehicles filled every parking space near the
community college -- and then lined up and down
the highway.  On a weekday! In the middle of the day!
(?Is this craziness or is this wisdom?)

Children stared up at the sky
as the six jets turned, swooped, and dove in perfect sync.
Smoke streamed behind as some broke off
for a solo dive-spin, duet, or quartet.

Amazing! And mesmerizing.
Young parents relaxed while teens, children,
and even toddlers gazed above.

It reminds me of how Plato describes the power of
looking above and beyond our own selves
in astronomy and other outward-looking activities:
Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards
and leads us from this world to another.

This is true for the children and youth,
some at-risk, who attend camp at the new-ish 
Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus 
near our family ranch in Crowell, Texas.

I asked my brother, why astronomy?
He described how gazing into the universe takes 
us beyond ourselves so that we might
gain a different kind of perspective
and move on to find new meaning in life.

It was later that I realized he had quoted Plato.

How I Love That!
The creative and yet practical
ways Plato addresses struggles!!!

How do you look upward and outward?
The night sky? Cloud gazing?
Civic Park or Cherry Creek at sunset
as homeless unroll sleeping bags?

Click below to leave a comment
so that we might brainstorm together about how
to look beyond ... and expand our souls.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Put Your Anger to Good Use: Those @^*&/!# *%/!#@s!

I love the creative ways some people 
throw down the gauntlet 
in the face of trouble and the garbage of life!

Here's a reproach and metaphor I like:
...those microscopic &*/@!# cancer cells! 
(Insert "Old Testament" thoughts of smiting, 
destruction, pestilence, and burnt offerings here).

Hah! Makes me want to adopt this for the DirtyD word. 
Depression lurks in the same insidious way, 
and we similarly wonder if/when
it will launch a surprise attack from within.

So that you can 
use some of this anger in a positive way
I've re-created
a visual journal page for you.
What do you want to glare at Kabuki style?
What pestilence do you want to smite and destroy?
Go for it!!!  

You can highlight and then save or print this image;
it's one that will work well in black & white or color.

Use the label for your battle cry 
or your own list of creative anger-symbols.

Then use expressive gestures or fonts
as you write/scribble/scrawl your thoughts.
(you can place a text-box on the pages
after saving them on your computer.) 

Post or email me a copy of your creation.
Let's put that anger to good use
to name and &*/@!# those &^*@/#!!!*
depressive cancerous *%/!#@s! 

Journal Blessings!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Battling Depression -- via a Young Don Quixote

As a child I was always intrigued by a section of gnarled tree trunk
that was carved into the head of Don Quixote.
 It never occurred to me to wonder who Don Quixote was; 
after all, he was just some guy dad liked.
Dad also had a small wooden piece, only a few inches tall, a 
skinny old guy with knobby knees, pointed helmet, and tall spear-thing. 
My brother now has these in a niche in his den.  
A good friend has a silkscreen print of Don Quixote on a horse, 
again a scrawny guy wearing a pointed helmet 
and holding a  lance, all drawn with a striking grungy outline.
I finally wondered, who is this Don Quixote?
Well, he’s a guy who seems to be simply silly or crazy-as-anything.
Maybe that’s because he goes through his days with boundless hope.  
Or maybe it’s because he thinks every 
windmill is a giant enemy that needs to be slain. 
(At this point it occurred to me that the pic of dad at nine, 
grinning big-enough-to-beat-all as he sat on a horse, 
would be perfect to alter: Young Don Quixote!)
Seems to me that jousting with windmill blades is either crazy or delightful.  
I think it’s a delightful metaphor 
for battling depression -- that visible/invisible 
giant-of-an-enemy found in homes far and wide.
What a way to bring a smile to your eyes and a lift of the chin:  to face
the day with an imaginary lance (how about this candy-cane striped one 
I found on flickr?) ready to battle any giant you might encounter.
Enjoy!  Click comments below to share your fav Don Quixote story, 
your battle with those visible/invisible-giants-of-depression-or-you-name-it, 
or anything else on your mind.  (Yes, you can
also still email me -- people love to read comments though
as we grow, think, and learn together.)
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