2017: Joy in Weathered Space


November 2011

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” ― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

When I started this blog in 2011 I had no idea what I was doing. But I had a lot of things going on in life. A lot of sadness. Not due to anything done to me personally. But a lot of circumstances affecting my dearest loved ones and, I guess you could say, the way I hurt for them and tried to help them resulted in my own deep, deep sadness. Hence, I started to write.

December 2011

Every year some new tragic circumstance hit. Numerous things. Fractured relationships, unusual illness, untimely deaths, even a destructive tornado I found myself right in the middle of.

May 2013

Loss, loss, loss. Each year I prayed for quiet and each year the tsunami’s came. And all this is just a fraction of everything.

January 2012

So I created SimplySage. I needed a “happy place”. A place to find joy in the midst of all the sadness surrounding me. Combined with faith and some good friends, I found an additional place of solace here. And I poured out myself to pull out joys in my everyday surroundings. Simple things, really.


February 2012

And as I looked around my eyes opened to ways that nature mirrors some of the sad times. Then, a long-buried hobby of photography revived. And suddenly I found solace in all the beauty that surrounded me. It was as if God opened my eyes to metaphors in nature. Like the one above. In the dead of winter, there bloomed brilliant orange. Wonders like these carried me to indescribable dimensions. Many of them I could not capture. A photo could never do them justice. All I could do was stand in awe.


March 2012

But I wrote and wrote and wrote. And the storms kept coming. And each year I’d wonder “what next?”


April 2012

Then 2017 hit. And guess what. It was a good year. Actually, an amazingly wonderful year. Yes, the bumps and nicks still came but it seemed to be nothing that absolutely cut you to the heart. And there was a lot of love and joy in 2017. Blessings beyond imagination! Laughter returned and filled every part of my life.

But something else happened.


May 2012

I kinda quit writing.

I guess in all the joy and laughter I was just soaking it all up, And I just kept doing that. Soaking it all in. It was, in a sense, a healing balm to me. Yes, there are some scars left from all the troubled years. Some sadness still trickles in as I ponder all the pain. But I guess I needed a break. To just rest in all of it.


June 2012

It was all so wonderful.

I could sit here and wish and hope for another year like 2017. But there may never be a year like that again. And if there’s not, a few big lessons stay with me as the storms blow in. Here are just a few:

  • There is no one like the Lord, God of heaven and earth, whom you can cry out to from your heart every minute of the day.
  • There is nothing like the comfort and truth in His Holy Word, the Bible.
  • There is nothing like His marvelous creation.
  • There is nothing like a few close, loving friends, and family.
  • Deep down, people are fragile, and are fighting battles within and without. It’s important to understand why they act like they do; and still be kind.
  • There is nothing like the kisses and hugs and sounds of children.
  • There is nothing like gratitude for so many things we take for granted.
  • There is nothing like a nutritious healthy meal and a good, silent walk.
  • Joy can be found anywhere, anytime. All one needs to do it look for it; and be still enough to enjoy it.

As to writing and this blog? Of course, I will continue! Not making any promises, but I will be here. I thank you, my community of readers, for being here. I don’t take your visits lightly. I don’t equate you in terms of “traffic, stats, or bots”. You are friends. And a part of the joy in all the pain.  I welcome you always.


2017, Best Photo

And as for 2017, for now I say, farewell.  I will never forget you.

Peace,
Alexandria


Weekly Photo Challenges:

Weathered

2017 Favorites

 

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Still Friends After All These Years

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

Young Friends

“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 Sea, One of our Favorite Spots

The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, What? You too? I thought I was the only one!

Together

… 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 …

Two Solitudes

in an immense solitude.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves”

Missing You

“You are still my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

~ Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Soul Friends
“How we need another soul to cling to.” ~ Sylvia Plath


This is my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge.  The theme is “friend”. I chose to interpret it in a metaphoric manner. To encapsulate that word in one photo would be impossible for me. Where do I begin??

So this post is in honor of my own wonderful world of life-long friends; who’ve clung to my soul, despite all my quirks and failures, good times and trying times. Thank you. I love you. You are life’s greatest gifts.
Peace,
Alexandria


Credit to Stephanie Goddard for the first photo. 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 these very cliffs in my own life with friends such as these. For more of Stephanie’s fine work visit White Horse Photography  You will not be disappointed.

Of Sunbeams and Rainbows, Look Up!

IMG_0282“Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of the sunbeams.” ~ Helen Keller

Be Thou the Rainbow1-DSC02109“My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky.” ~ William Wordsworth

Summer Love 1-IMG_2063“Friendship is like a rainbow between two hearts.” ~Author unknown
Come the MornIMG_2432“The beauty of the sunbeam lies partly in the fact that God does not keep it; he gives it away to us all.” ~ David Swing

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi

“As on the driving cloud the shiny Bow, that gracious thing made up of tears and light.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“In the world’s audience hall, the simple blade of grass sits on the same carpet with the sunbeams, and the stars of midnight.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

“The smiling daughter of the storm.” ~Charles Caleb Colton

“Rainbows apologize for angry skies.” ~Sylvia Voirol

DSC_3462“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl

Family Tree 1-DSC_0096“Laughter is a sunbeam of the soul.” ~ Thomas Mann

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Home Sweet Home“Never has the warm caress of a sunbeam seemed so ominous.” ~ Joel Achenbach


The Photo Challenge theme this week is “Look Up“.

It’s been a very tragic week in these United States of America. As I watch the events my heart breaks for so many, for so much, and especially for my country. It’s easy to be buried in all of this and tempted to think we will never emerge from the stain of racism. But are we really that racist? The extreme rhetoric from both sides that fills the internet would convince us that we are. But those are words. Do we really act that way in real life?

My own community of friends and acquaintances are from different races and countries. We care deeply for and respect each other. We laugh and cry together. We share life together and accomplish wonderful things; like rainbows and sunbeams that split through dust and clouds and rain.

One friend told me the story of how her tire blew the other day. She was alone on the side of the highway and two different people pulled over to help her. One was a Black man. The other Hispanic. She is White. Not one hint about skin color. Just people working together to help someone in need. Sunbeams and rainbows. They are in our very midst everyday. They don’t make the news but their actions are how most of us really are.

I’m glad God sets examples in the sky; sunbeams and rainbows. Neither can happen really well without dust and clouds and rain. Aside from the events of the past week, life is very hard just on its own. It’s tough to work and make a living, to take care of our families, to raise children. Life is filled with a lot of stress—dust, clouds, and rain. The people we rub shoulders with everyday are the rainbows and sunbeams that get us through.

Though my nation is filled with clouds, dust, and storms right now I hope we can look up and find the rainbows and sunbeams that surround us every day, just like my friend did. Just like I do.

We may never make the headlines. But we are a great story.

I hope these photos lift you up from where you are.
And remember, we are all Americans.
Let us love one another.

Peace, Alexandria

Jubilant Community

Jubilant Spring 1-IMG_5807

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Jubilant“.  I’m sharing the abundant flowering of a clematis I bought three years ago at WalMart. In its first year it had less than five blooms.

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Thinking it wasn’t feeling too much at home here, I nestled it among good things; roses, lilies, shrubs. I gave it the proper light and good old-fashioned fertilizer. And I remained … waiting.

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In gardening of any kind there is so much waiting!

In its second summer it was just a scraggly green bush. Cute. But so shy! And so I waited another year.

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And it finally opened up!

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And blossomed unimaginable!

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 No more shyness. No more hesitation.

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 In fact, as the quote says, it is a perpetual astonishment. We are nearing June and it’s full of buds.

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The vine is branching out beyond. But it’s still connected to home. Through the wind and rain it’s held tight.

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It’s all become its own little community. The vine gently weaves a pattern with the flowers. Together they reside. Yet the tender flowers are never destroyed. Nor is the vine ever suffocated by the broad, expansive flower.

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Look how they cling to each other as good friends. Neighbors. Caring for, looking out for each other. And the seed pods are so abundant that next year I’ll need to add another trellis. This community is growing! Good neighbors do that.

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Good neighbors promote growth. And speaking of neighbors …

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What ever happened to being a good neighbor? Watching out for, protecting, sharing, loving, being kind?

Different, but dwelling together?

Whatever happened to “community”? Real community. Real people rubbing shoulders with real people. In the earlier photo, the clematis is neighbors with the lilies, roses, and shrubs. All different. But look how beautiful together.

Today there are all these “online communities” and believe me, I’m all for them.

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But sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be with real people. We sit in our temperature-controlled environment and pluck away on the keyboard or our smartphones and call it community.

And another thing I see as I scroll through social media is how easily it is to be unkind. Words filled with so much venom. I wonder would they be that way if they were face-to-face?

Closer 1-IMG_5793

Somehow, I think not.

There’s an abundance of words and opinions nowadays. And I am definitely a free-speech warrior. But imagine the human—the actual real live person. Think about your words before you type. And work toward a jubilant display such as this. Nurturing beyond just existence. Nurturing to grow.

Good neighbors.

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Can we not do this? Whether online or in person, is it so hard to do?

Peace, Alexandria

 

 

Best Buds |Weekly Photo Challenge: My Happy Place

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When I saw the photo challenge titled “Happy Place” the words that immediately came to  mind were “travel destinations”—places that invoke that glorious feeling of combined rest and joy, one definition known as “happiness”. I thought of places I’ve been (North Myrtle Beach).

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or places I’ve dreamed of going (Moorea).

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When I went to Acadia National Park (above) I thought, “Oh, now this it. This is the ultimate, the place to unwind, to get away.” I was happy!

However, travel can bring its own stresses, as we all know. The planning, packing, and getting to-and-from can be tiring. You’ve heard people say, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” 🙂

a rainbow in the sky."

It can feel like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,

Moon Shadows

or trying to truly capture the presence and majesty of another breathtaking moonrise,

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or that ever elusive butterfly.

But when you’re in immediate and desperate need of joy, finding a happy place cannot always be found by thumbing through travel guides for yet another trip or even dreaming of those places.

It’s times like that I totally forget a happy place that lives right out my front porch. Most of the time I find I’m looking beyond it, rushing past it toward some goal, the “next thing”, that place called “when I finally get there, I will be happy!”

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I forget the happy place staring straight at me. It’s a place where they’re straining their necks to grab me, to get my attention, to make me stop in my haste to happiness and see that they are what I really need;

that they live, they thrive, they exist to make me happy! (I’m convinced they serve no other purpose.) They are my never-ending friends, through every season, through every joy, through every sorrow. They are constant and oh, how I take them for granted!

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They remind me that we both endure some thorny paths and sticky situations,

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that I’m not the only one out there feeling so alone,

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drowning in life’s demands,

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and kind of hanging by a thread,

First Rose

or in need of a hug;

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that while we pass each other everyday in the coming and going, we can still rise and hold our head high, together, and shine in the sun!

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You see, when you have best buds you can find happiness no matter where, no matter what. 🙂


I write this in honor of my friends and family, my “best buds”. Thank you for being just a phone call away. I always miss you.

Peace, Alexandria

 

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