Monday, April 30, 2012

Monthy Mosaic - April

April Mosaic

"God brings men into deep waters not to drown them, but to cleanse them." John Aughey

It is time once again for Magnetized by Life's Monthly Mosaic challenge. This one was a bit more challenging as the color was "crystal clear." The theme is love and strength.

Here's a brief description of each image:

  1. Crystal Clear Moonshine (yep, the real thing and no I don't drink it, make it or sell it and that's all I'm going to say about that.)

  2. Crystal glass holding miniature daffodils

  3. Little girl's hand playing in the fountain at the Nashville Public Library

  4. Glass of Bella Luce win on the back deck

  5. Fountain arches in the botanical garden at the Navy Pier in Chicago

  6. Candles in the grotto at Notre Dame

  7. Tulip stems

  8. My grandmother's wedding and engagement rings

  9. Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea (my favorite) in a salvaged crystal(ish) tea cup.

I'm also linking up with Mosaic Monday at Little Red House.

Today's Linkups

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Retrospective - A Week in the Life and Beyond

First a quick note of thanks to everyone who participated in the very first Flower Art Friday. I hope to see everyone back next week and see some new faces as well. Whether or not you participated, please take time to vote for your favorite work at the bottom of the gallery here. The top three will be featured in my next FAF link up post.

not alone closeup

Today is the final day of Ali Edward's Week in the Life Project. I've not written much about it. Rather I decided to continue with my blogging as usual and just take pictures as I go along and upload them to my flickr set here. At this writing, I still have to upload yesterday and today's images.

Unrelated to this project, I intentionally kept my schedule open this week because I simply need to recharge. Yesterday was the first lazy Saturday in recent memory with nowhere to go, and nowhere to be. I had to cancel plans that I really wanted to keep to make it happen, but some things have to give. I slept until almost 9:00 a.m., which is unheard of for me, and napped most of the afternoon. The only appointment I had was for a massage, which I'm trying to do at least once a month as a part of my self-care regimine.

The thing about letting go and just relaxing is that when you give your body an inch it takes a mile. I slept late this morning as well and don't feel well enough to even go to church. It is not uncommon to feel a bit toxic after a massage - especially when you have lots of pent up stress, so I'm giving myself permission to rest some more, drink lots of fluids and take my time in making the myriad of preparations for what promises to be a super busy week ahead.

I love the concept of creating time capsules such as the Week in the Life project even though so many of my pictures from the week are redundant: waking, sleeping, eating, walking, driving. But, this is my life right now. Lots of time commuting, eating at my desk, working late, and a schedule crammed so tight that I have difficulty being on time. The process has also prompted a mindfulness of the future, and speculating on what life will look like this time next year and beyond.

Along those lines, on the recommendation of one of my journaling group cohorts, I ordered a 10 + year journal. Even though we are well into 2012, the journal is a ten year journal, so I'm really not that far behind. I do intend to use my blog and morning pages journals to backfill as I can.


There's something quite humbling and even disconcerting about looking at a page filled with spots for the same day 10 years in a row. The space is limited so entries must hit the highlights of the day's most memorable moment. What comedies and tragedies, triumphs and defeats will occur in the next ten years that will fill those pages God only knows. The only thing I know for sure is that there is certain to be a mix of good and bad because that is the way of life.

This has been an emotional roller coaster of a week full of the "stuff of life" that threatened my planned for "low stress" week right off the bat at 5:25 Monday morning. It was if God were reminding me of the fuility of resisting stress, but learning to live with it and move through it. New worries about family members' health and well being emerged this week, I learned that I was going to have to let go two of my team members by Friday, and other issues that arose that I won't discuss except to say that the net result of the week's events was a feeling of being quite alone in the way that only a single person can understand during times of trial.

During times such as these, I've often come back to this poem which has given me much comfort over the years - especially in the wake of romantic heartbreak.

Comes the Dawn
By Veronica Shofstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn...
With every goodbye you learn.

And so, I went to Lowes and bought some flowers for my front porch and when I arrived home I was surprised to find a lovely bouquet of purple irises and yellow roses sitting on my deck adorned with droplets from a light afternoon rain. Along with it, a lovely message of support which included the words I most needed to hear in the moment, "you are not alone."

I focused on my own garden AND someone brought me flowers. How cool is that?

It is true, I am not alone. I have family and friends who love me, and I'm a part of a virtual community that has shown just how supportive they can be. Yesterday, I noticed many blogs come across my blog roll with the title "Flowers for Leontien". I do not know this young woman named Leontien who I've learned is battling cancer, but it is clear she has the affections, prayers and support of many world wide. With prayers for her comfort and healing, I share one of my purple irises with her today in gratitude for the reminder that our troubles are relative. The inner strength and positivity I witnessed as I perused through her blog this weekend encouraged me greatly.

As the saying goes, it could be worse and I am acutely aware of the smallness of my problems relative to others such as Leontien. This week I invited one of my earliest flickr friends who creates spectacular floral photo art to join my linkup only to learn that she very recently lost her husband of 43 years and is still reeling from the shock of it. I spoke on the phone to a friend who lost her son right before Christmas last year and reached out to my former boyfriend in remembrance of his son who would have been 27 years old this week if not for losing his life in Iraq. Two of my employees had their weekends ruined with the news that they are now unemployed through no fault of their own in a time when prospects for finding new employment aren't so great.

This brings to mind an excerpt from Naomi Shihab Nye's poem entitled "Kindness" that I've shared here before:

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

It is this cloth that I can wrap around me when a pair of arms to hold me in my sorrows cannot be found. It is a cloth which shields me against bitterness and cynicsm that threatens to creep in when my ego tells me I deserve more than what I'm getting. It is a cloth which warms my spirit with compassion and empathy towards my enemies or those who may have unintentionally caused me pain, understanding that we each have our sorrows to bear and are doing the best we can in the moment. It reminds me that we all have the love of a benevolent God who wants for our highest good. As Nye says, when wrapped in this cloth, you realize that "it is only kindness that makes sense anymore." It is a cloth that I can wrap around me for instant connection and companionship (if only metaphorically) when I feel alone in my trials.

This month's One Little Word project involves writing a letter to our future selves. I have not done this yet, but I plan to take some time to do that this afternoon. I have not decided whether or not I will share it here.

What will fill the pages of today's date in my ten year plus journal one year from now? Or, two? Or five? Only God knows that for sure. I hope there will be entries regarding grandbabies, and that my family will remain healthy and happy through this time. Although I can't seem to envision it at the moment, I hope to find love and possibly marriage (or the plans for it) somewhere in those pages. It would be wonderful to be doing more and more creative work, whether that be vocationally or avocationally. Getting my creative work published, or sold would also be intensely satisfying. Physically and emotionally I want to feel strong, whole, and healthy.

So, I have some goals. But plans? No. I think I'll just leave that up to God (as if I had any choice). He's got this. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah, 29:11.

And so, I'll finish by linking up to Urban Muser's "In the Picture" self portrait challenge with this shot of my freshly painted toes, standing still and symobolically waiting for some clues as to the right next step for "I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps" Jeremiah 10:23. Even the fact that I could afford to sit in a nail shoppe and get my toes done is a reminder that most of my problems are what a facebook friend called "first world" problems this week.

I am blessed, I have much to be grateful for, and indeed I am not alone.


Today's Linkups

In The Picture

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flower Art Friday

yellow iris

Welcome to the very first Flower Art Friday! I sure hope some of you will join in with your lovely creations. Here's just a reminder of the very simple rules:

Flower Art Friday is a weekly gallery featuring your floral themed creations. We will have themes from time to time, but these will only be suggestions and you may feel free to deviate if you like. Obviously the theme revolves around flowers,and works submitted can be photos, digitally manipulated photos, textured photos, or mixed media collages.

Check out my resources page for information on some great sites that provide free textures, clip art, and tutorials.

The rules are pretty simple. Your link should go directly to your blog post or flickr post, and I ask that you post a link back to my blog in return. Post only your original work, and give credit appropriately to the source of images, clip art, or textures you may use in your piece. It would be awesome if you would grab my badge and include it in your post.

You also get to vote for your favorites. I will feature the top three picks on my blog next week, so if you participate please note that you are also giving me permission to repost your photo here.


I'm also sharing the linky love over at Pixel Dust PhotoArt, where Bonnie has reconsidered her summer break and is moving forward business as usual with PhotoArt Friday. I decided since I'd already invested in the linky tool and announced it, I would continue with Flower Art Friday AND continue participating in her linkup. For this image, I used her "Painterly" texture along with a whole lot of Topaz Labs processing.

My hope is that eventually I can share more about my "recipes" and techniques, but for now its going to be just about creating, experimenting and sharing.

So, without further ado, let's get this party started!

Today's Linkups

Photo Art Friday

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reelfoot Regal


One of the big attractions at Reelfoot Lake are the bald eagles. They are pretty much gone by the end of February, but they do have a few injured ones in captivity at the visitors section. They also had a beautiful Red Tailed Hawk.

I do not have much time to write today, but wanted to share these regal beauties for World Bird Wednesday.




Today's Linkups

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Texture Tuesday Watercolor eDition


For this week's texture Tuesday, we were challenged to use layer of Kim's "Oh My" or "Let Go" textures. I chose, "Oh My." The text is also a brush created by Kim.

This little potted Gerbera daisy now sits on my kitchen table. I love these little flowers.

I used several layers of various Topaz effects, and masked out the background with Topaz Remask.

While we are on the topic of flowers and art, let me remind you that the Flower Art Friday linkup begins this Friday. You can read all the details here.

Grab a badge and join me! There won't be a theme this week. Just create something you love and share it with us.

Today's Linkups


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Monday, April 23, 2012

Jet Lagged

notre dame

Just catching up on some of my travel shots from last week. Here are some of the images I took at Notre Dame.

I'm busy taking pictures and uploading them for Ali Edwards "Week in the Life" project. You can check out the album here and I'll be adding images all week.

It has been a long and difficult day so there are few words to share. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

notredame dome

basilica side entrance

basilica side entrance 2

basilica front entrance

basilica front doors

basilica interior

basilica inside

basilica to the back


grotto candles


grotto candles 2


white tulips



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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Good to Be Home


I'm back from my trip to Reelfoot and have lots of pictures to get through. But, tomorrow is a workday and I need to get myself in bed. So, here's one and more will be coming later.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Flower Power


Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

What photographer can resist a flower? Not me. On my trip this past week, there were many many flowers (mostly tulips this time of year) to capture and they were just as interesting to me as the architecture. Make no mistake, there are plenty of pictures of the hardscape, but today I will share just a few of the flowers I "picked" in Chicago.

But first, I want to announce that I'm starting my own linkup beginning next Friday. With Bonnie's announcement that she will be taking the summer off from Photo Art Friday, I felt a little lost. Hers is one of the first linkups I joined in with and never missed.

Earlier this year, Lisa Gordon closed her Creative Exchange which also was one of my first and favs. Lisa is known for her spectacular floral images, so as this whole situation rolled around in my brain, I came upon the idea of making a combination linkup featuring flowers and photo art. Thus, Flower Art Friday was born.

I hope you all will participate. As I just came up with this idea last night, I haven't hammered out all the details yet, but stay tuned for details and go ahead and grab the badge if you are so inclined. :)



I may just do this for the summer while Bonnie is taking her break, and summer is a great time for flowers, so it seems to make sense. The more I think about this the more excited I'm getting about doing this.

tulip row

At some point, I'll have to move on from talking about my trip because I've got lots more going on right now including my trip to Reelfoot Lake this weekend, and next week is going to be all about Ali Edwards "Week in the Life" project.


So, while I may come back to my trip and all these many photos I took, it may be a little while. As I'm processing my photos, I'll be putting them up in a set on flickr, so you can check that out here.


And with that, I'll leave you with just a couple more shots and get on with my day.

single tulip

Here's wishing everyone a fabulous weekend!


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Give Me A Break

Navy Pier

My business trip was a great success and lots of fun, too. With every job, there are good aspects and stressful aspects, but one thing I am truly grateful for is that I have a lot of fun with my cohorts and we genuinely enjoy being around one another.

It seems I'm having my share of little mishaps lately, and it did make me think twice about air travel. :) The biggest problem I encountered was my hard drive crashing as I was beginning my training session. Fortunately, the training was able to continue by remoting in to their system through the IT guy's computer, which worked out for the best. But, I swear sometimes Mr. Murphy is stalking me. I wasn't able to get my computer fixed until I returned to the office today, so I was without the ability to post on my blog either.

I have lots of pictures I'll be sharing soon. For now, I'll share one for Photoart Friday that's been processed with Photoshop and Topaz.

For the texture, I used Bonnie's "Blue Me Away" texture. Bonnie let us know today that she needs a bit of a break so PhotoArt Friday is taking a summer break. I just want to say that this linky will be missed and I am looking forward to its return.

After being away from the computer for the past couple of days and taking probably a thousand photos, it will take a while to get through processing all of them. We actually touched three states on this trip. We flew into Chicago, our business was in South Bend, Indiana and we finished up with a little side trip to Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. It was a whirlwind trip, but we crammed a lot of work and play in.

This weekend involves more travel as well, so I'm not sure I'm going to be adding to my backlog of unprocessed images. I'll be going to Reelfoot Lake with my photography group and my niece who is a student at UT Martin, which is nearby will be going with me. The weather should be great and I hope to get some great photos.

Today's Linkups

Photo Art Friday

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