Defining Moments | Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

DSC_3496

“Wherever you are, be all there.” ~ Jim Elliot

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Lost in the Details”. And what a challenge it is. Don’t we get utterly lost in the details of life? Opportunities missed, lost windows of time—to show kindness or listen, to be all there. What about those that consume, order, and demand, leaving us so distracted we miss the wonder and joy of other moments?

The Observer

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” ~ William Morris

And then there are those moments that shake us … or rather, shape us. We come to full attention. They are usually spun by a variety of events—some good, some not so good. Whatever their source, I find they can be a birthplace of goodness or newness. They are, in essence, whatever I choose them to be.

Autumn Hydrangea
“After all, it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.” ~ Evelyn Underhill

These moments serve to keep us in check or bring a new awareness of vulnerability or strength, moments to discover what we are made of. Are we flexible to receive honest criticism and ready to change? Or if we have done right can we have peace within and stand firm, even when we are misunderstood? Either way, are we ready to forgive—to let go—to forget, to move on, knowing we can’t fix everything?

“All the details of life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of their writing remains.No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there.” ~V.S. Naipaul

Whatever moment you are in today, whether joy or pain—never dismiss that moment, for the only moment that truly exists is the one you are in right now. Some moments are times to embrace and absorb joy. For the difficult moments we need to receive love from sane, safe friends and family. It’s okay to not always be the giver or to have all the answers or to have everything together. Cherish the good moments, learn from the difficult. I found the following drawing and thought it details the true reality of life. May it bring a smile to your face as it did mine. I hope it increases your joy as you trek your own crooked path.
Peace,
Alexandria
SuccessDrawing
“If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.” ~ Maria Edgeworth
See the Weekly Photo Challenge for other interpretations.

Drawing credit: Unknown
All photography by Alexandria Sage, except the first one, which is by S. Michael
(aka—my dear son)

A Tale of Agony {Or Whatever Happened to Winning?}


I’m not sure when it happened, but some time during the last thirty years our culture forgot how to celebrate success. We forgot how to be proud of achievement and became more concerned about the feelings of the loser than the accomplishment of the victor. It’s happened in almost all areas of life, but is most easily noted on the athletic field, in the classroom, and now has crept into the business and financial world.

I first noted the change on the athletic field when my kids were small, participating in league sports. When I was a kid, there were winners and losers. Trophies were awarded to the champion and perhaps the runner-up. But for my kids, everyone took home a trophy or a medal. Even the kids that came in last got to take home a medal. Somewhere we lost “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Instead we became a culture that celebrates the “thrill of participation.”

I learned a lot in athletics but a key lesson was this—I learned more from losing than winning. But even beyond, the most important lesson I learned was that I didn’t like losing! This extreme dislike made me work harder to improve, perfect, and finally accomplish.

From that spawned another lesson—I liked success. The entire crux of the matter found its summation in the most crucial lesson of all—between the reward for success and the negative feelings of failure, it didn’t take me long to realize the extra effort was worth it. Failure spurred me into high gear. No one can achieve perfection but failure drove me to deeply look at how to do things different. In this quagmire of self-examination, success begins. If the self-examination of failure is removed, accomplishment declines.

The classroom is another place I noticed this. Academically, we started celebrating mediocrity. The best example of this is the change of the bumper stickers given out to kids in school. First, we had the bumper stickers that said “My Child is an Honor Roll Student at Fiddle Faddle Middle School” but this obviously offended the non-Honor Roll student so soon the signs changed to “My Child showed Good Character at Fiddle Faddle Middle School.” I’m not knocking integrity but anyone can show good character with very little effort.

Kids that work hard today get passed over, snubbed, even dismissed because we have to lift up those that “showed up.” This is ultimately discouraging for those trying to achieve. Why do we not celebrate their success and achievement anymore?  Extra effort that leads to success was the foundation for the greatness of American achievement, but is a time-tested truth for any society that aspires to greatness. We did not succeed by celebrating mediocrity in any arena.

(Please note—I believe celebrating the Honor Roll Student is correct, but the parents should teach humility by placing the bumper sticker on the refrigerator and not on the car. That way the child has their success celebrated and is also taught the importance of caring about other’s feelings.)

Now, about the financially successful, most have worked extremely hard. They worked harder in school than most, some continued their education, and they work more hours than those who don’t succeed. Certainly we can point to other reasons for their success but largely, we make excuses for it. “They are smarter, they had more opportunities, they had a good home life.”  The real truth is we don’t like to admit someone else worked harder that we did.

But perhaps this honesty can cause us to return to the principle of hard work, learn the lessons of failure, empower our abilities, and celebrate the success of others. Let’s not settle for mediocrity. Let’s relish success and achievement. Every time I meet one of the successful I look at them with the joy of knowing with some hard work I have the same opportunity.

So where did we screw up? I think we simply forgot how to celebrate the success of others and the important lesson failure teaches. It is truly okay to have winners and losers. We are not all created equal and have different talents. But there is no denying we are each called to use our talents to the best of our ability. And this usually comes with a healthy combination of desire for success and fear of failure.

Thoughtfully,
Steve

Standing Tall

“Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected.”

~ William Safire

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moments | Onward!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens.
But often we look so long at the closed door
that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

~ Helen Keller

This is a contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting. It is a redo of a previous one titled Fleeting Moments. My cats are the hardest creatures to photograph. Just when you think you have the perfect shot they move. So here is an opportunity to showcase this one’s fleeting movements one fleeting moment. :-)

For other contributions to the Challenge, visit the following link:http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/weekly-photo-challenge-fleeting/

Shift, Subtract, See. Simple Math | Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship

“The art of subtraction can frame life into a masterpiece.
Shift to really see.
I shift. Subtract. See.
“Whatever things are lovely… think on these things.”
I shift and subtract, see the things that are good and pure.
Step over wire fences.
The art of subtraction is the art of loving well.”

~ Ann Voskamp
~ Paul, the Apostle

Friendship.
What does this photo have to do with friendship? Please bear with me a bit as nature teaches a perfect lesson.

One of the mystery’s of photography is knowing when less is more. Sometimes you try your best to capture a shot when you realize if you shift, subtract a bit, you have a fresh perspective on the whole.

Isn’t that how friendship is? The give and take, ebb and flow—the forgiveness. Followed by fresh perspective.

The subtraction of the faults lend growth to the whole. This photo in no way captures the whole of the tree nor the sky that day. But shifting to capture less provided a rich perspective on the whole. And it’s kind of funny the way the eye still sees the whole. You see the rest of the tree. And you see the whole of the sky.

And that’s when subtraction becomes more than simple math. It becomes an art—the art of loving well.

“Unless you bear with the faults of a friend, you betray your own.”
~ Publilius Syrus

Another thing—the colors here are blue and orange—complimentary colors on the color wheel. And isn’t that how friendship is? The balance of strength and weakness. The result? The perfect blend of mutual love, laughter, and life—rich enduring friendship.

Peace,
Alexandria

Good Medicine

‎”Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

- Winston Churchill

Credit We Don’t Like, but Sometimes Need

“During your life you will make mistakes. When you do, take credit for them – don’t blame others. Mistakes confessed have much less impact than mistakes discovered.”

~ Stephen E. Deal

Truthfulness

“Always tell the truth. I know this sounds a bit simplistic but I can assure you it is a lifetime pain reducer both for yourself and others around you.”

~ Stephen E. Deal

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