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.

It was wonderful.


June 2012

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 is look; 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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These Are a Few of My Favorite Grids | Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

A Cupful of Friend

Relaxing in the screen grid

As I looked at the Challenge this week with “Grid” as the theme, I perused through my pictures. And it was amazing to me how much of my everyday life is filled with design.

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Grid bench, where I enjoy my favorite flower.

Be it work, home, or play I’m constantly living life in a myriad of grids. Why, I glance at my desk right now and it’s filled with cubbies of lovely baskets and throws and it’s grids bring warmth, reminding me of my favorite things. And so, I thought I’d share a few with you.

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Rust-colored trees border a grid fence. Barren beauty. (Sometimes I feel like that. Sigh …)

I think deep within all of us there is a hunger for design, composition, and order. Perhaps it’s because so much of life is unpredictable and seems out of control. But then we’ll see something beautiful. And we’ll snap a picture.

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Inhale the forest through the grid. Ahhh….

Everyday we’ll snap pictures of moments. And they become a small piece of peace to latch onto and it all nourishes our soul, doesn’t it?

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Grid grill. Yum! One of my favorites!

Perhaps they remind us that in that very photo we destined order in our chaotic world.

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Light within the grid … shine for me, please.

Our eyes searched for and found the grid. We put composition where it was not.

Clean ovens

The grid shines through. (Sigh … it’s that time again!)

We found design in small things. Like a clean oven. 🙂

Friendly ferns love the grid, too!Grids make a space for everyone, especially friendly ferns!

I don’t know about you but all of these pictures make me smile. I brought a piece of order and composition to my own chaotic world.

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My favorite beach grid. Yes, here I come!

And they make me happy. Very happy!

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A grid to play with bugs. Fun!

And isn’t happiness what we’re all searching for?

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Revived skill behind a grid. Pleased. Very pleased.

So, as you go about your day, look around.

Singing in front of the grid. Inspirational!

Find the grid. Snap the picture. Tell your story. But tell it to yourself first.

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Mmm … yes, lock me behind this grid forever!!

Then sit back and smile. And be happy!

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Let this grid warmth fill me all year long! It’s coming soon!

For happiness abounds! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria


For more entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge with the “grid” theme click here. Have a great week!

Inside the Thorns {A Poem for You Today}

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When life gives you thorns …
“Lift your hands toward the holy place, and praise the Lord.” Psalms 134:2

DSC_0842When life gives you thorns …
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

DSC_0836When life gives you thorns …
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

DSC_0828When life gives you thorns …
“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. ” ~ Alphonse Karr

Lo, How the Rose Enduring

Mystifying, life defying,
Wrapped inside the
deadly piercing.
Delicate, yet
Strong emerging.
Not weathered torn.

But …

Beauty dazzling,
Lightly rising,
Fragile petals,
buds reach praising,
Inside eye
of dreadful storm.

Shall we fare less
inside our thorn?

DSC_0857“When life gives you thorns, grow roses.” ~ Alexandria Sage


I marvel at the rose, how that beauty thrives with the near clutches of thorns. The life of this fluorescent beauty doesn’t just ho-hum grow up. It is pricked by those thorns it’s entire existence, yet it not only thrives, it blooms. Delicate and bold. Tough and tender.
As life pricks us, may we learn to grow–not hardened by hardship–but strong, malleable, generous, kind, compassionate–the qualities of true beauty.
Peace,
Alexandria


Poem by yours truly. 🙂
Photos taken with Nikon D60 with AF-S Nikkor lens 18-55 mm. No post-processing, editing, or cropping.  It’s the same rose, different views.
Perspective matters, doesn’t it?


Related Articles:
Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance
yi-chin ling: much of enough comes
The Silver Leaf Journal: The Struggle to Endure

The Place For … | Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea–Points of View

The sea. The place for …

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Thoughts … To contemplate, ponder, focus.
Emptiness … To let go, exhale, relax.

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Filling … To see, inhale, rejuvenate.
Cleansing … To wash clean within.

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Forgiveness … You have been forgiven. Therefore, forgive.
Giving … Gratitude, glory, praise.

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Receiving … Love, grace, mercy.
Quiet … Stillness, rest, knowing.

IMG_1952Noise … Breeze, waves, seagulls.
Laughter … Children, laughter. Families, laughter. Couples, laughter.

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The sea.
The place for joy.
It brings out the best in all of us. ~ Alexandria Sage

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea
Weekly Photo Challenge: Point of View

All photos taken with iPhone. No photo edits, cropping, or straightening–with exception of #4, in which the built-in iPhone enhance tool was used. Yes, everything looked that beautiful!

2013 | Resolved to Illuminate Beyond

D

The creature transfixed me; I stood captivated, mesmerized.
It rendered me still—a rarity in my world. Its movement was beautiful to behold. Tendrils of tentacles, suspended in lovely designs, moved in tandem.

I’d always run from a creature like this. In fact, everyone I know runs. I was acutely aware of the danger it held if we’d met in other circumstances. But there was a boundary between us now, a thick glass bubble.

The boundary kept me safe, allowing me to marvel at the creature. As I tried to capture it without a blur, it proved an expedition of futility as I quickly discovered it was never still. Its movement was rhythmic yet determined, planned yet random—unhurried— taking its time.

As I watched, I wondered if it had any destination?
Where did it think it was going? Did it ever sleep? Was it ever bored by its never-ending motion? Does it have an instinctual to-do list as it gracefully moves through life? I confess a severe lack of knowledge in jellyfishdom so I truly don’t know. But it made me realize something.

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I don’t move like that.
And neither does anyone else I know. In my American culture the phrase I hear over and over is, “I’m just so busy. I can’t seem to get anything done. There is so much left to do. I gotta go.” That’s our mantra. That’s mine, too.

But what is all this busy? This busy seizes our most treasured possession—time. In my culture we actually prize this robber of time.

We prize busy.

D

And why? Well, we give it a proper name. We call it productivity.

For example—a place I visit on occasion is the WordPress live stats page. It’s interesting because they show live activity within WordPress. It shows new posts, comments, and likes in real time. Keep in mind WordPress is the platform for over 15% of the web; there are 60 million WordPress sites in the world.

As I look at this site I notice some things. Some parts of the world are totally silent. I find it sad these people seem to have no voice. Other parts of the world are silent at times, too. But they are getting what is necessary—sleep. You can tell this by the time zones. Asia and the South Pacific sleep. Africa and South America sleep. Europe is pretty awake but has quiet periods. But the United States?

The United States never sleeps. It blinks 24/7. http://en.wordpress.com/stats/

Productivity.

Why do we continually strive to fill our days with productivity? We’re wired here to produce, to accomplish, to strive. Make no mistake—these are good things; I am not condoning sloth.

What I’m talking about is rhythm, room to relax, room to roam.

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Building rhythm into our days. Allow margin for that phone call to an old friend. Time for outdoors. Take the ear buds out and just sit and listen to beautiful music. Take time to close your eyes and just dream. And take time to love. To love those around us. Not just family and friends. How about looking into the eyes of a stranger or the outcast. Smile as you look. In fact, smile more. Let’s resolve to …

I

Dawn 2013 New Year’s Day

“Stop the glorification of busy.” ~ Unknown

Isn’t that what we do? We glorify this thing called busy. Our self-worth becomes entangled in busy. Deadlines and the to-do list are important. But they are never-ending. We will never get it all done. They grow like bread yeast. And if you let yeast grow unfettered it fills a loaf of bread with holes. Same thing with us.

So resolve to take time

to sleep … to dream … then wake up … savor the sunbeams shining in.

to write … a magical song note by note … and then … to sing with crescendo the song of your heart.

to listen … to every soul you meet … with your eyes and a smile.

Take time … to listen, to gaze, to thank, to inhale, to give, to receive, to learn, and …

I

January 1, 2013

To love.

I heard it said, “If you don’t schedule fun, fun won’t get done.”

D

So schedule some fun. Put one fun thing on that to-do list everyday. It’s okay to venture into the margins a bit, sometimes a lot. The margins will rejuvenate you for the times of productivity.

D

And one more thing …

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Get some good sleep while you’re at it. Let’s alter those stats a bit, shall we?

Joyous New Year,
Alexandria

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:27-30

This post combines three themes: Resolved, Illumination, and Beyond. I started with Resolved and didn’t finish in time. So then I added Illumination and didn’t finish in time. Then I saw Beyond and thought the photos adapted well to that theme, too. I hope you agree and I think I’m finally finished.
Enjoy.

Here are other interpretations of the themes.

Photo Credits: Alexandria Sage and S. Michael

In a World Gone Mad … Words That Heal, from an Anglican Parish Priest

Need Some Space?

A quiet place?

Space for
Reflection … Repose … Reposition … Respite … Release?
Space …
for Peace?

Expanse … Solitude… Space.
My soul needs to breathe.
What about yours?

With a world in turmoil, my soul needed some breathing and it came to my Inbox the other day. I just had to share it.
I am reblogging a post, with permission from the author, Simon Marsh, an Anglican parish priest from North Western England. The link is below, titled “SOME SPACE”.

Simon’s words washed over my soul with eloquence and elegance.
A message for a world o’ hurt.

Does your soul need a place to breathe?
There is a place … that always has space …
for you.

Thank you, Simon, for saying what I could not.

Peace,
Alexandria

http://simonmarsh.org/2012/09/13/some-space/
by Simon Marsh

© from Simon Marsh blog post “Some Space”

My Thoughts on Aging, from the Guest Author

The other day I was talking with a 75-year-old woman about the frustrations of aging. The aches and pains, the limited mobility, the failing memory, the sagging skin—how it all created significant frustration.

We joked about the 98-year-old woman who told me the best thing about wrinkles is that they don’t hurt. Then, in a tone more serious, she admitted she just didn’t understand the value of all this “getting old” business. She posed a valid question. The question prompted some thinking,
Might there be a valid reason?

My Dad always told me he wanted as many birthdays as he could have as long as he knew he was having them.
Over the years, he collected more than his share of serious ailments. No one loves his family or wants to be with them more than Dad. So far, he is still hanging in there. But I wonder if he is beginning to question that statement.

Like me, my Dad is a Christian. We believe in the place the Bible calls Heaven, and life will be better there than here. It is a beautiful place filled with reunion, the pain and suffering will go away, and the tears will be wiped away from our eyes. Life will be better!

So there, in the midst of that conversation, it struck me. Maybe this horrific thing called aging has a purpose.
By allowing us to change our sights from the here and now to the eternal, it reminds us that we are visitors here, waiting for our trip home.

And most of all, it reassures us that the best is yet to come.
The few glimpses of Heaven in the Bible show it to be an extraordinary place, a place so wondrous the Apostle Paul could find no earthly words to describe it. For our families it takes away a bit of the sting of death. When they compare their loss to the gain of the loved one passing, only the selfish can wish for the situation to be different.

So what should we do in the meantime?
Remember the answer to the riddle attributed to King Solomon? The riddle inquires—What four words will make a happy man sad and a sad man happy? The answer was inscribed on the inside of a ring—“This too shall pass.” And in either case, isn’t this the truth? Life is indeed fragile and every moment is a gift from God. Because of Heaven, we can have peace in the midst of all circumstances and hope in a future that bears no suffering.

This life does not end here. It is just the beginning.
So for now, love the life you are given, accept the ailments as a badge of honor, and remember—your Heavenly Father has a better life ahead.

Thoughtfully,
Steve

 

Daily Prompt: Young at Heart

First Voice

For me a sunrise can be likened to the arrival of God’s presence upon my day. He arrives softly—at first peering. Then, with a sudden blink, He bursts on the scene. Sometimes gloriously loud, sometimes whispering soft as the morning shown above—misty … soothing … calm. I, sleepy-eyed, am roused suddenly awake. He nudges me to rise, for it is a new dawn.

When I stepped into this particular morning there was simmering excitement as I witnessed something I’d never seen, and may never again. The fog, clouds, and sun combined with early hints of spring to render a surreal palate of soft color and pattern. And clouds melting?  I’ve witnessed a multitude of sunrises, but this—this was a touch of the heavenly. God’s hand painted for me another unexpected surprise. (See “Do It Again!”)

I become enveloped and embraced in soft warmth. Then I hear the whisper—no—the still … small … Voice.

My First Voice of each new day.
Good morning. I’m here. Take my hand?

He is … here.  But, am I … here?

To hearHim?

“… Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
1 Kings 19:11,12

And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:9

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27

“… but only one thing is necessary.” Luke 10:42a

Peace,
Alexandria

Body Work

“Just for a moment I want you to imagine that I gave each of you a car today. The bad news is that it will be your only car for your lifetime.  I suspect given that information, I would see you taking great care of that car.  You would wash and wax it, get the oil changed and get routine maintenance.  I suspect you might even drive a little more carefully.

In the same way… take care of your bodies. They will last you your lifetime.  Remember to exercise, eat wisely, and seek appropriate healthcare.”

~ Stephen Deal, excerpt from speech Things We Want You to Remember
www.vimeo.com/stevedeal

The other day I was talking to someone about some health issues. They were hesitant to get some medical testing because of having to meet a copay or health insurance deductible. We talked about health care costs, which seem to be on everyone’s mind these days. However, when you think about if your car needs some costly repairs, often no one balks at having to pay a price for something like that.

Yes, good health is costly. But it’s an investment. And over time, it’s an investment that pays well. Health care maintenance is an investment that may not show anything outwardly, but good internal health will reward you with more energy to fulfill your goals, to think clearly, and to function optimally. Plus, it gives peace of mind.

Unless you are hit with an illness that was not of your own doing, and we all know this happens, investing what’s needed to keep your body functioning optimally should be looked upon over time like the vintage car in the photo above. Someone invested a lot of money and time and this car is a beauty. I’ll bet the engine is just as pristine.

We owe it to ourselves to care for ourselves and invest in good health. That new crown you got may have cost a small fortune but there’s no price tag on healthy teeth to nourish your body with good food. No one can necessarily see it but the nourishment your body receives from the good food you eat knows it.

And yes, an annual check-up with your physician will be costly, especially when you add some lab work to it. But think about this. You do it for your car. Why would you do any less for your body? Over your lifetime you will more than likely own several cars. They are replaceable but your body is not. You only get one. How about scheduling a check-up today?

Peace,
Alexandria


Weekly Photo Challenge: Create | Portraits of Success

Children have an insatiable desire to create, to dream. What better way to adorn a front porch than with these beautiful child drawings? Don’t children provide a continual delight with constant surprises of the creative urge? We smile, we laugh, we delight. We are captivated, enchanted.

But there is deep within us a simultaneous lament, an angst that pains the delight. We look bare-faced at ourselves. Life progressed and the weight of the world gradually nudged out the child—and the dreams, drowned in the cares of life, swirled in a whirlpool down the drain. The child within seemed to disappear. Then we become bearers of children and begin a quest, and cultivate to make it different for them.

But should we do no less for ourselves?  Should we not reclaim the artist, the child within? For the artist within leads to one of our Creator’s intentions for us—joy. Sheer joy.

A twenty-something picks up a brush for the first time and discovers something wonderful

The insatiable desire to create was given by the Creator to feed our dreams throughout life and create, create, create into adulthood—to keep us, in the words of Steve Jobs—”hungry and foolish”—and become all we were intended to be. And we can find our “adult work” through nourishing the artist within. Our work will not seem like work. In a sense, it can even seem like play. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” Children are risky and lavish as they create. They are not gripped with insecurity, fear, and hesitation that bounds we adults.

A great-grandpa stays a child and builds something wondrous—Thomas the Train!

As grown-ups we must practice the art of creation and reclaim our childlike wonder. We must be intentional this time because we have lost our natural inclination to do so. Keep creating, keep looking, keep finding. After all, our Creator has the same insatiable desire. Look at the intricate beauty He presents to us everyday, everywhere—touches of heaven. Let us mimic Him.

Chalk is a great place to start!

Thoughts on this, please?
Peace,
Alexandria

Other thoughts on this:

https://simplysage.org/2012/01/22/nourish-joy/

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 NKJV)

“To laugh often and much—to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children—to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends—to appreciate beauty—to find the best in others—to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition—to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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