Fleeting Objects of Affection

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Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting. ~ Unknown

Canon EOS 5D Mark iii Focal length 24 F number  2.8 Exposure time 1/6,400

 If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard

 Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected?  ~Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Canon EOS5D Mark iii Focal length 31 F number 5.6 Exposure time 1/200

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.  ~John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells

For this set of photos I invited my dear “like-a-daughter”, Emily Morgan, to share some photos of her children. I’ve known Emily since she was a baby. Her mother is one of my closest friends since college and we spent a good portion of life raising kids together.

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Emily blossomed into a loving mother of four adorable children (ages 6 and under!). She is also a talented photographer. She and husband, Andrew, have settled in Los Angeles, where Emily frequents the Pacific beach with these sweet little ones.

The beautiful photos above, captured in silhouette, drew my attention because they capture those fleeting moments of childhood. I’ll let Emily explain it in her own words.

“Hearing waves crash and children laugh are two of the best sounds in the world. The moment when your 6 year-old and the sunset collide and you happen to have your camera handy and are able to capture that fleeting moment to hold onto forever is truly special. The way I feel behind the lens of camera brings me to life, but the better gift is being able to hold onto that moment forever in a photograph.” ~ Emily Morgan

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I am convinced that God gave childhood, not as moments forgotten or pined for, but to recapture it in our adult years, much as a photograph captures. So we would not forget to live each day with childhood eyes and wonder, to view every moment with passion and exuberance.

But what happened as we grew out of those wonder years? As adulthood seeped in, it gradually pushed out that wonder and we became grown-ups. Pushed by life and all it’s demands, the wonder nudged back and for some it fell off into the throes of deadly cynicism.

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We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it. ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860
Maybe we can’t banter about as children every living moment of the day but can we not view each day with a semblance of wonder? And spend at least some moments of the day smiling, laughing, running, playing, even dancing?

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With what eyes do you see the ocean above? Are they hardened by life’s demands, unable to drink its beauty … old? Can you not see this vast ocean is but one landscape to keep you young and filled with wonder? To heal you of the cynicism, which robs you of life itself.

Let the waters spray you with healing. Climb those rocks and perch up there. Listen to the words of Emily and let yourself collide with the sunset. After all, it hasn’t moved.

But perhaps you have.

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Experience the healing wonder of childhood … everyday.

Peace, Alexandria
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After a hiatus of bearing these four little ones, Emily is resuming her photography. I invite you to view her  portfolio at www.emilymorgan.la
This is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the Theme “Object”. The ocean is the landscape and the silhouettes of children are the objects. True objects of affection. :-)


Welcome is My Word|Beginnings

Welcome“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

“One Word That Will Change Your Life”
The book title sparked my curiosity. One word? Really? The book’s been around awhile and I have to say, I like this idea. Instead of lofty New Year’s resolutions, it holds to a one-word theme for the year. Smaller actions center around that word. The smaller acts compound throughout the year, where the meaning of the word takes root and becomes the impetus for real, long-lasting change.

One word. So simple. And I love anything simple. The author recommends using the entire month of December to choose a word. Mine surfaced immediately.

Welcome.

It was certainly different from some of the other suggested words like joy, health, and patience. But I really liked it. I knew it was mine. And as I thought about it, I realized it was a pretty hefty word. In fact, I started to visualize other words like spokes on a wheel hub. Words like hospitality, cooking, decorating, and gardening. Such fun! I’m liking this! I envisioned thumbing through magazines filled with luscious gardens and yummy recipes. But other ideas surfaced, too. And that’s where it got hard.

Words like housework, unexpected dinner or overnight guests, digging in hard clay dirt, keeping the kitchen and great room cleared of surface clutter, keeping bathrooms presentable. Then there’s my love-hate relationship with the screened-in porch. Ugh! Those cobwebs and outdoor dust cling with a vengeance. And how can I forget the spare bedroom—that extra “space” meant to be space for overnight guests? Sometimes instead of a spare bedroom it turns into a spare-parts room, filled with assorted what-nots that have no particular space yet.

Not that I am a clean-freak, (am I?) But I do find myself filled with excuses for a lack of invitation to anyone outside my grown children and grandchildren because of one simple word–ready. I am not ready, or at least I think I’m not. Well, in my mind it’s more like not ready enough.

But another excuse really gnaws at me–invitation. I do not  invite in an intentional way like I used to. Oh, I’ll throw out a “just drop in whenever”. But “whenever” turns into “never”, which never becomes “when”. Yes, the kids drop by on a continuum, but that even lends to another excuse. “My cup is full and there is no more room.”

Welcome Closer

But there is room. If I make room. You see, welcome is not just for others. It’s for me. And it’s good for me. It’s good for me to reach outside myself and into the world of someone else. To provide a comfy room for weary travelers. Have the neighbors over for dinner. Extend a listening ear. I can get so self-centered and forget that the blessing of my home was not meant just for me and my family. It was meant for others, for the world. I may not change the world, but my welcome may touch a life that will. “Welcome” speaks love and love is not love til it’s given away. May I live generous.

I am ready!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou
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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Beginnings”.  Also, I’m wondering if you noticed the ferns at Christmas? It just happened to be a warm stretch so they got to come outside. Why not? :-)
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My favorite “manuals” to stay welcome-ready. Time to pick them up again!
Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg
Dwelling: Making the Most of the Space You Call Home by Mary Beth Lagerborg

Joyeaux Noel!

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“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”  ~ Harlan Miller

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This December,
That love weighs more than gold!
~ Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

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“Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.  Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.”  ~Francis C. Farley

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“Christmas is for children.  But it is for grown-ups too.  Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.” ~ Lenora Mattingly Weber

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“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.”  ~ Carol Nelson

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“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~ Andy Rooney

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“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven’s making.”  ~ Leigh Hunt

 The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is Joy. Need I explain? :-)
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Peace, Alexandria

Other favorites:
Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy
Merry Christmas in Many Languages, I See Beauty All Around
An Atheist Excerpt, Found
Christmas Favorites, Clicky Chick Creates
Christmas Family Traditions, This Man’s Journey

Beyond the Imagined | Horizon

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“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step.

Yep, that would be me.

 Only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.” ~ Dag Hammarskjold

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Water has an endless horizon; there is no limitation when you look out into the water. 

There’s nothing to interfere with the mind’s eye projecting itself as far as it can possibly imagine.

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I suppose it’s the same way people in the Midwest feel about watching amber waves of grain or endless rows of cornfields. There is something exhilarating about it.” ~ Billy Joel

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“We praise the day and and stand in awe of the night. However, sunrise and sunset live as the union of the two–a marriage formed by day and by night, a reminder that even the world was made to come together. Like love, it is something our hearts can experience, while the mind will never fully understand.” ~ Sean M. Smith

When I leave my day job I walk to the top level of a parking garage to get to my car. Usually well into the evening, I’m greeted by a sparkling city-night skyline. After a hard day of work, it’s exhilarating. But there’s something else in the parking lot that greets me as well—a barely noticeable very slight bump in the middle of it. And you know what? Not a night goes by that I don’t trip over that bump. You know why? I can’t take my eyes off that beautiful city skyline. I do it nearly every time.

It reminds me of my life. In my attempts to stay focused on the big picture sometimes I falter and trip. You see, when your eyes are on the horizon that can happen. But if I focused on that bump in the parking lot I’d never look up to see the beauty of the skyline. Horizon is what I chase everyday. Don’t we all?

Few experiences in life exhilarate like the horizon. Whether yours is a city skyline, an expansive ocean, or a sprawling cornfield, the bumps are worth it. Unless you like standing still.

Peace, Alexandria
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Adventures in Apertures | WPC: Focus

DSC_0498“Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” ~ Tony Robbins

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” ~ Mark Twain

DSC_0461 f/4.2 cropped“Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.” ~ Niels Bohr ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
These photos are taken with differing apertures using two different lenses. They are collections of the same scene.

As you can see, they each have their advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on, well, what you want to focus on. In photography, it’s important to focus on one thing. That one thing may be the big picture or it may be a small object. There is the shallow depth of field and the large depth of field.

It’s kind of like life, isn’t it? —dynamic arrays of focus. And it can be hard in this modern warp speed we are now immersed in. At every moment we focus on “something”. I don’t juggle it perfectly but I certainly try. I have a few big picture goals in my life that get squeezed out by all the little things that draw my attention.

Some of the little things I love, like an unexpected visit from my grandson or adult children. Or phone calls from faraway friends and family—just visiting or planning time with them. They are definitely worth my focus and relationships with them fall into my “big picture” goals. There are many other good things, too, but I do have to say “no” to a lot of those good things.

I sprinkled a few quotes that help me. What about you? What do you say “yes” and “no” to? Where’s your focus these days?

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“Beware of overcommitment. You can’t “yes” to everyone. You must practice saying “no”. Otherwise, you may be at risk of compromising your quality or your integrity.” ~ Stephen Deal
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This is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a theme of “Focus”. It was a lot of fun to experiment and I’m pleased with the results. I hope you are, too. Peace, Alexandria

Other links:
SimplySage: A Return to Organic Photography
Photography 101: Finding Your Focus
Festival of Flowers: Week 12

The Master Speaks | Masterpiece: Eye of the Beholder

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“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

No thoughts nor words. Chills. I stood frozen, trying to maintain composure. I stifled a choked lump in my throat, but I couldn’t stop the tears that filled my eyes, then meandered down my cheeks.

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“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” ~ Michelangelo

Still freshly astonished at churches, ancient structures, the Vatican Museum, and Sistine Chapel, I expected more of the same. But nothing prepared me as I stepped through the door of St. Peter’s Basilica. So unexpected. Unimaginable. My breath escaped, and I filled with wonder, How could anyone create beauty of such magnitude? And who were these creators? Even more, why?

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This was greatness of another dimension. For a few moments I became wordless, thoughtless. Then the vacuum that occupied my mind and heart at that moment became filled with a tenderness, a sweet gentility, a touch. A touch of … love.

But it was love unleashed.

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“All the masterpieces of art contain both light and shadow. A happy life is not one filled with only sunshine, but one which uses both light and shadow to produce beauty.” ~ Billy Graham

Grand, spacious love in a pinnacle masterpiece. Love that was enough … for everyone. You could see love–painted, sculpted, flowing, flourishing in every square inch of rock solid marble. But why? The question haunted.

These were masters of another kind.

Rome Day 3 262“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

I know the history behind the excesses of some of the pope’s as well as how artist’s squabble.  But these artist’s stretched above and beyond any earthly demands or human frailty to something deeper. Isn’t it like God to use imperfect people to magnify Himself? Perhaps even they didn’t understand why. They just unleashed it all.

Rome Day 3 260And this timeless structure was like a soul connection to God Himself—a love intent on touching earth with heaven. They were light-years ahead of their time–visionaries. Could they envision me standing there today, losing my breath, tears streaming down my face, asking the question, “Why?”

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“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~ Michelangelo

This place was elegant, tasteful, immense, grandiose. As the earth spun gracefully around the sun, the beams cast changing rays in a delightful show of light and shadow. Science and art merged to exquisite perfection. Intentional. This was no cold stone ancient relic.

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It was soft, warm, alive … welcoming. It was as if every stroke, cut, and design were destined way into the future. For today. For everyone. For this day. For me.

DSC00318The place was filled with people, families, children and babies, but there was a hush, a reverence. An awe. All eyes looked up. For in the confines of walls, these masters harnessed but a small glimpse of the Master of all.

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And I, an honored guest, could hear His voice, whispering soft. “Welcome. Come in. Just enjoy.”

“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all come.” ~ Michelangelo
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All photography {except #9 (that’s mine with a Cybershot)} is by Dan Pope of Precise Photography, based in Arlington, Texas. These photos are completely unedited, with exception of cropping Pietà, of which no one can get that close enough to photograph. See Dan’s website and browse a few of his Galleries for a phenomenal portfolio. My husband and I enjoyed a trip to Rome with the Pope’s as we both celebrated anniversaries. Dan has a big heart and an engaging sense of humor and makes friends with everyone he meets, including the Swiss Guard! He teased about how “the Pope” had come to visit Rome. Good thing Italians have a great sense of humor.

Peace, Alexandria

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” ~ John Ruskin
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Some of my favorites on this Challenge:

Sejeong Production
Postcard Photo
Blessings Through Raindrops
Chronicles of Illusion

Am submitting this as well to the Work of Art Photo Challenge from June 2014

Friendship Formulae |Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable II

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“To get the full value of joy you must find someone to divide it with.” ~ Mark Twain

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”
… It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves”
“How we need another soul to cling to.” ~ Sylvia Plath
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This is my second entry for “Companionable” in the Weekly Photo Challenge. Thanks and credit to Stephanie Goddard for the first photo. Though the Challenge is closed I just had to do a second entry because of this photograph and many others that I thought fit the theme so well. Capturing these four friends mid-air with such clarity is a photographer’s dream. And Stephanie does it so well. {How well I remember jumping off this cliff in my own life with companions as these! Shall I add it for this week’s theme of “Nostalgia”?} For more of Stephanie’s fine work visit Goddard Photography. You will not be disappointed.
Other interpretations for the challenge can be viewed at  Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable
Peace, Alexandria

Some of my favorites:
Vastly Curious
West Coast Kayaker
This Man’s Journey
Island Vignettes
Jean’s Photography Blog
Raven Photography by Jenna Goodwin

Rise Above | Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Home Sweet Home Inside“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility—for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.” ~ Thomas a Kempis

No Small Matter“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” ~ Roald Dahl

Harmony“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” ~ Colossians 3:12, The Holy Bible

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These are a few of my submissions to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “From Above”. The photos were to be captured with a perspective from above. I hope you enjoy the photos and the quotes. For more interpretations see the links below.
Peace, Alexandria

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Nature’s Usual Pose | Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

The Life of Less

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

The Climb

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

It's a Bug's Life

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow them.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

Aspire

Man cannot aspire if he looks down. If he rise, he must look up.” ~ Samuel Smiles

The Sign of Heaven

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Heaven's Promise“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
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Here are other interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme of “Up”.

Defining Moments | Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

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“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.

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“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)

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