Category : Nature
Last month on the 10th, I shared 10 photos on sisterhood taken during my retreat with a group of fabulous photographer friends. That post marked my first of our group’s launch into 10 on 10. On the 10th of each month, the group of us are doing a blog-hop, sharing 10 photos on a theme or taken on one day or event. This month’s 10 on 10 has us working on the theme of “festive.” With Tony and I headed to the tree farm, selecting our holiday tree, and trimming it this past weekend, I thought of no better opportunity than to shoot our weekend shenanigans for my 10 on 10.
It was freezing, quite literally, this past weekend with temperatures hovering around 1 degree Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius). While I had hoped to take some Polaroid photos during our adventure to the tree farm, I knew there was no way that was going to happen as instant film does NOT like the cold. So I picked up my long-neglected digital camera, and off we went. (As always, you can click on each photo to see them larger!)
Yonkey Pine Tree Farm is a sweet, family-run operation in a small Nebraska town a bit south of us. On the years when we aren’t traveling back “home” to the East Coast, Yonkey Pine is where we get our tree, selecting it from the rows and rows of scotches and firs, having it cut fresh right before our eyes.
To our dismay, the farm had been pretty well picked over. With Thanksgiving falling much later in the calendar this year, and with beautifully mild temperatures two weekends ago, it seemed like all of Lincoln (if not all of Nebraska!) had already beaten us to tree hunting. In looking over the few trees that remained amidst all of the stumps, we chose a lovely fir. And, a fresh wreath for our front door.
We awoke to snow coming down, made coffee, and got a fire going. After some reading of the Sunday New York Times, we got down to business.
Tony strung the lights, and then we sorted through our collection of ornaments. Coming across Ripken’s dog bone ornament from his first Christmas with us brought a pang to my heart. We still miss him every day.
To keep the festivities going, blog-hop on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her festive 10 on 10!
Friends, I’ve had a roller coaster of life over the past few days. I have dwelled at the bottom, in the throes of despair, anguish, and worry. I have towed the mid-level line with frequent reminders to stay calm, to not freak out, to wait until the picture had fully developed as it were. And, I have risen from the depths to experience relief, to exhale, to return to a sense of ease. And in the midst of these turbulent emotions, I was reminded of gratitude. Yes, I admit to feeling the most gratitude when I emerged at the end of the ride on said roller coaster. But moreover, I was awakened to the truer sense of gratitude — to the idea of being alive to all that we have, both the good and the bad, each and every day.
“GRATITUDE is not a passive response to something given to us, gratitude is being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life. Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is privilege, that we are part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.”
–by David Whyte, published on his Facebook page, November 28, 2013
I can’t say it better than that. xoxo
Messenger by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
Thank you, friends. Thank you for coming to my corner of the world. Thank you for sharing in my creative journey. Thank you for reading my words. Thank you for being interested in my photography. Thank you for cheering me on. Thank you for your kindness and generosity of spirit. Thank you for really seeing me. Thank you. I am so grateful for you, this community, here at Life Refocused. xoxo
I’ve written before about my longing for connection, for kindred spirits, for sisterhood. I’ve shared with you my loneliness of living in an unfamiliar place, of having a small circle of local friends. These longings and loneliness have propelled me to go outside of my comfort zone and outside of my own town. These feelings have given me the push I needed to create communities of connection, to seek out kindreds and sisters. This began by attending retreats and gatherings, and doing so helped me begin to meet “my people.” From there, smaller groups of sisterhood were born.
One of these groups evolved from attending two photography retreats hosted by Shutter Sisters. While attending the second retreat with about 80 women last October, a small circle of us found ourselves at dinner enjoying margaritas, raucous laughter, and each other. As we ate and drank and carried on together, we birthed the idea of splintering off and creating a smaller creative community for ourselves. Within the evening, the Canadians in the bunch decided we would descend on British Columbia for our inaugural gathering. Over the past year, we stayed connected, made plans, rented a house, and bought plane tickets. And a few weeks ago, our idea manifested itself.
Many dreams and projects were shared during our time with one another. One of those ideas was that the group of us would dive into the 10 on 10 project, sharing 10 images shot on one day or in one experience on the 10th of the month. As our first post for 10 on 10, we decided we would each share photos from our time together in BC. Without further ado, here are my 10 on 10 from British Columbia and this magical retreat that was born of kindred spirits coming together for sisterhood, photography, and self-care. (BTW, you can click on each photo to view them larger!)
It didn’t take long for this group of photographers to whip out our cameras and start shooting. I think we looked like a group of paparazzi the entire time we were together. After taking the ferry from Vancouver to make our way to Tofino, we stopped at Cathedral Grove, an old growth forest with trees older than 800 years. The massive trees were amazing and the light among these old beauties was nothing short of magical.
On our second day, we ventured to some natural hot springs, a journey requiring another boat ride to get there. Being out on the open ocean, we were surrounded with beauty in every direction. The mountains, the ocean, the fog…breathtaking.
The small cove that houses the hot springs gave us more opportunities to capture the natural beauty that is British Columbia. I had considered not bringing any cameras with me that day as rain was in the forecast, but fortunately I brought one. I would have been so saddened to have missed this reflection shot.
Although we had an epic storm come through, and I do mean EPIC, we were blessed with many moments of sun and gorgeous weather. And this crew of women did not disappoint with the COLOR that they packed to wear.
Amidst the shooting, the relaxing in the hot springs, and the indulging in yummy food and deep rest, we deepened our friendships with one another. We shared our work, told each other our secret (and not-so-secret) creative dreams, and opened up about our struggles. Indeed, a new sisterhood was born in British Columbia.
Although we’ve been home for only a few short weeks, I’m already missing these sisters. I’m grateful for our ongoing connection and I’m so excited about the new adventures we have in the works. Thank you Cherish, Corinna, Debra, Lindsey, Tamar, and Tara — stay loose. xoxo
All of my photos in this post were shot on 35mm film with my Canon AE-1 using either Fuji 160 or Portra 400 film. The film was processed and scanned by Indie Film Lab. I have Polaroid photos to share with you from the trip and a few more 35mm pics, too. In the meantime, head on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 (or maybe more) on 10 of our BC adventures!
How do the days keep slipping through my fingers? Where do 24 hours “go” in each revolution of this beautiful earth? As I sit here on this chilly, mid-October day, I’m thinking about summer and the third Tribe retreat. I’m trying to savor the time spent back in July with such kindred spirits on the coast of Oregon, my happy place.
I’m reminiscing about dinner together on the beach, chats on the turquoise couch, walks into town filled with laughter.
I’m reflecting on celebrating dreams fulfilled and mourning one of our sisters not being able to be with us this year. I’m holding on to the ease and security that was born within me that week, those core desired feelings that I struggle some days to maintain.
I’m missing my sisters, their friendship, our connection. I’m reminding myself of how they buoy me when life feels stormy and difficult.
I’m feeling grateful for the space this group has created with one another, and for all that these relationships bring to my life. I’m aware of the evolution of our friendships, as well as the changes that occur within each of us and in our respective lives. I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us all as individuals and as a group.
I’m already counting the days until we’re all — all — together again.
I’m so delighted to share that our group has a collective written piece and photographs in the Autumn issue of Mingle. I hope you check it out.
Remember when I told you about the Best. Hike. Ever.? You know, the one where you wake up around 2am, slurp down some coffee, get your hiking gear, and head to the trailhead to start your hike by 4am. The one where you hike through the forest and up the mountain in the pitch black of night, headlamps on your forehead illuminating the trail at your feet. The one where you keep looking over your shoulder, peeking behind you to check the sun’s progress to the horizon, urging your legs to move faster so that you can get to the top before that beautiful ball of fire emerges. The one where, this year, the wind was so intense and it was so cold, that we asked each other over and over if we should turn back. The one where the gift of seeing the alpenglow at sunrise on the face of Long’s Peak is so incredibly worth it that we pressed on. Yeah, that one. It’s such a beautiful and amazing experience, Tony and I couldn’t resist returning to this favorite hike during our “just us” trip to Colorado.
I’ve lugged my 35mm camera on this hike before (see the first two photos HERE), but I’ve never tried any photos with my Polaroid cameras. This year, I brought along my beloved SX-70 camera and attempted two shots. I was worried with the darkness (it was sunrise after all) and the almost-freezing temperature that both attempts would be futile. Fortunately, I was wrong. The first image is of the sun just beginning to alight over the peaks of Twin Sisters, and the second is of the alpenglow on the face of Long’s Peak.
Oh, friends. I know I’ve been a bit quiet here of late, but I’ve been engaging in some serious self-care and re-charging. Some of that has looked like this…
I’m over at Mortal Muses today sharing some thoughts on how photography allows me (us!) to capture the full range of life. I’m talking about how through photography, I become aware of how we must be alive to it ALL — the highs and lows of this one, wild, precious life we all have.
I hope you click HERE to check out the full post.
Tony and I took our annual trip to Colorado this summer to spend a week hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. This year marked our sixth of this tradition, an upside to having moved to Nebraska and being a day’s drive away from the mountains. Unlike our previous five years, though, our dear friends who introduced us to RMNP and with whom we typically spend this sacred time couldn’t join us. The dates just wouldn’t gel to allow all four of us to be together. Bummer! But, not wanting to miss out on this important week of re-charging right before our respective school years commenced, Tony and I decided to head to Colorado, just us.
And this week in Colorado together…I have to say that it was one of the best weeks we’ve ever spent with one another. I know that the two of us live together, and that it’s “just us” all of the time. But not in this way. We rarely have a full week with one another that isn’t also filled with work tasks, responsibilities, and other commitments tugging at us. I travel and escapade quite a bit, yes, but WE hardly take a trip TOGETHER that doesn’t involve visiting family or friends. It’s actually very rarely “just us.” So this week together in the mountains felt…quite magical.
We hiked, made dinner, played Scrabble. We laughed, a TON. And we talked, like really talked about all kinds of things. I felt so connected, so relaxed, so grateful. After all these years together, I fell head-over-heels in love with Tony all over again. Pretty great, “just us.”
Summer is over. The school year has begun in earnest. Already, the fullness of each day (aka, the to-dos of each day) is acutely apparent to me. My good intentions to take care of myself have resurfaced. I’m “back on the mat” as they say, practicing to limber my body, my mind, my soul.
I’m wanting to dwell in a space of ease.
To be in this life,
moment to moment.
In practicing and moving forward with this intention, I’m reminded how nature, the very sights and sounds around me each and every day, can help me with this awareness. And, I’m reminded of poetry and its rhythms to call forth both a groundedness and a flow through life. So for today, this spider web, these words…
Invitation by Mary Oliver
Oh do you have time
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude—
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.