Once, We Were Young

“Two golden hours somewhere between sunrise and sunset. Both are set with 60 diamond minutes.” ~ Horace Mann

As another autumn (and another birthday) are upon me, and as I face the daily blows of life, this is always a time of reflection of who I am, where I’ve been, and how I am to face my next year of life. 

I finish the year attending to important deadlines and mail that piled up over summer. I try to stuff the idea of the holidays for now, as I’m just not quite ready. 

When I feel particularly burdened about something, I remember how easy it was when I was a child. And I yearn to go back there.

And it’s dawns on me how little of life is spent during those wondrous years.

What is it about being a child that’s so wonderful? The laughter, the chatter, the sheer delight of everything! Think of it. Their smiles, great big hugs, and very wet kisses! Their unconditional love. Their close bonds with family; aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents. The humor. Their innocence. Their nonsense! It’s all so magical and enchanting.

We were all children once. And then one day we woke up and began that rocky trip to adulthood called “adolescence”.

I remember that time. I was not ready at all and I didn’t want to let go. I distinctly remember the summer that spending untold hours in my best friend’s pool no longer captivated us. Instead, we started sitting around just “talking’ by the pool, rather than playing in the pool. I remember feeling so sad about that. My friend and I even discussed it because we didn’t understand why. It didn’t take long to figure it out. But still, we were very sad to see our carefree days slip away so fast.

And adulthood stayed; it never transitioned into another stage. For me, it swiftly outlived its welcome.

Plus, I discovered that we are adults for the majority of our life. And we are adults the rest of our lives. As we constantly deal with the blows and stressors of the adult years, how much do we look back and long for those days as children?

Yes, at times we thought they were dreadful; like when mom and dad said no to candy. (What could be worse!) Or how we couldn’t trudge through the house after building a snowman. And vegetables … ugh! Those vegetables! As adults we laugh at the perplexity of those “problems”, don’t we?

It’s so short … childhood. And adulthood … it’s so long … and so serious.

The thought struck me about those two golden hours—how the sun gets to beam and glow, even finger-paint and watercolor—the sun gets to play just like a child. Everyday. For two solid hours! Morning and night.

I wish during those two hours—sunrise and sunset, that we could become children again, for real.

Just two hours! But can you imagine, just imagine, what would happen in this serious world of adulthood?

Think about it. In some places it would be absolutely hilarious; others, a complete disaster! No, we couldn’t do that, of course!

But at sunrise and again, at sunset, could we not use those times as markers to get our attention, to cultivate an hour to release the cares and seriousness of adult life. And just glow

Maybe we can’t just abandon our post in life to utter nonsense and irresponsibility. But maybe we can let go of life’s burdens for a bit. Maybe stop and just enjoy that golden hour, even for a little while. Smile. Laugh. Release ourselves inside, for a moment, to utter nonsense!

Like a child.

Once, we were young. Can we not be again?


Photo Credits: The spectacular orange Indonesian sunset goes to my friend and guest author, Stephen Deal. Probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Thank you, Steve!

Peace,
Alexandria

The Green-Eyed Ninja

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He came right to my door, yes he did.

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As he circled, I froze at such weaponry! Was I friend or foe?

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Before I could speak the eyes stared me down. Green eyes! Green eyes staring at me! And he reached for his swords.

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Again, I froze. What next!! What was to become of me!

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Swashbuckling about, I knew something about him was familiar. Those green eyes…those deep, green eyes.

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Staring at me. And at last my mind cleared with recognition!

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photo credit: Emily K. Morgan (emilykmorgan.com)

I’d know those green eyes anywhere!

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photo credit: Chris Lymberis

I just never knew he was the mysterious warrior known as the Green-Eyed Ninja!


This Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Transmogrify”.  I’d never heard this word before. It means to “change in appearance or form, especially strangely or magically; transform.”. So I chose these photos of the dashing Green-Eyed Ninja that showed up at my doorstep last year. And little did I know my grandson was a super-hero by night!

I thought it fit the theme well. And yes, indeed, he does have beautiful deep green eyes! 🙂

Happy Halloween!
Alexandria

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photo credit: Emily K. Morgan (emilykmorgan.com)

This week’s post features two photos by Emily K. Morgan; the two with my grandson in the bow tie. Emily is a photographer from Los Angeles and is known for exceptional creativity as well as technical skills. She captures her subjects beautifully but also captures the emotion and energy of every event. Her wedding photography is absolutely stunning and I hope to share more of her work on future posts. I highly recommend you look at her portfolio at emilykmorgan.com

The Time is Now!

As we celebrate another Christmas, memories of the past are a common thread woven through our countless conversations. We truly are wired to dwell on the past or dream about the future, aren’t we? The photo challenge this week prompts us to think of the “now”, the present. And so I thought I’d share a sweet moment I quickly captured.

After being fenced off from the gifts for an entire week, it was finally time! Now! The blockade was removed and my littlest grandson scurried a quick path straight to a different kind of “present”!

I hope you enjoy your “present”.  And your presents, too!

And finally, may another kind of “present” fill your life.

The presence of Jesus Christ—Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Present.

Remember, His time is always “now“.

Peace and Merry Christmas!
Alexandria

 

Locomotion| Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

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M“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” ~ Steve Maraboli


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Motion. As you can see, a child is a perfect picture of never-ending motion … and locomotion … and commotion! All wrapped up into one!
EnJoy!
Alexandria

If These Walls Could Speak | Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

1-DSC_0052If these old walls,
If these old walls could speak
Of things that they remember well,
Stories and faces dearly held,
A couple in love
Livin’ week to week,
Rooms full of laughter,
If these walls could speak.

1-DSC_0033If these old halls,
Hallowed halls could talk,
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin’ down and dinner bell,

1-DSC_0046And children playing at hide and seek
From floor to rafter,
If these halls could speak.

They would tell you that I’m sorry
For bein’ cold and blind and weak.
They would tell you that it’s only
That I have a stubborn streak,
If these walls could speak.

1-DSC_0005If these old fashioned window panes were eyes,
I guess they would have seen it all –
Each little tear and sigh and footfall,

1-DSC_0016And every dream that we came to seek
Or followed after,
If these walls could speak.

1-DSC_0001They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay.
Here’s someone who really loves you;
Don’t ever go away.
That’s what these walls would say.
That’s what these walls would say.

Lyrics by Jimmy Webb, sung by Amy Grant


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a theme of “Wall”. My son took photos of this plantation near our house. It is owned by a family who chose to keep their ancestral home for sentimental reasons. The grounds are kept up but the house and buildings are gradually dilapidating. There’s a poignant sadness to see such a grand home now stand in silence when once it was filled with life. I think the song lyrics say it all.

For more creative “Wall” Interpretations click here.

Reward’s of Winter

It’s no secret that I suffer through January and February.

dsc_0164Bleak skies, sleet, snow. Daily news intakes of major regions buried in snow and ice. Makes me thankful that it’s a rarity here.

But we still get our share of these elements to halt traffic, down power lines, and interfere with even the most mundane aspects of life, like walking the dog or getting the mail.

dsc_0103A little slip can put you quickly out of commission, not including the countless minutes of time-after-time of swaddling in coats, boots, and gloves to scurry our furry friends out for their repeated rituals!

Winter Commute img_1493Since I commute nearly an hour to work, added preparation is a must and I keep an overnight bag ready for everything. Rainboots, snowboots, thermals, down coat, raincoat, snacks, water! Brrrr…..Grrrr!!!

How Long?Like I said, I suffer.

dsc_0099But lest I lead you astray with the title of this write and leave you wondering how I could find any reward of winter, interspersed in all this dreariness are glimpses so dreadfully beautiful I could cry.

dsc_0084Nature is alive. Alive with anomalies to abate my suffering soul.

dsc_0094To thaw my freezing whine of heart and melt it into a wine of gladness.

Nature is complete and utterly at peace with itself during this chilling time,

dsc_0160And makes beauty in ways unimaginable, unexpected, and unexplainable.

dsc_0166I think of our nation a century ago and all the strenuous winter preparations that were commonplace day in and day out. They were absolute necessities as our ancestors faced these elements head on. My mere preparations pale in comparison.

My Achy Breaky WalkHere I sit and gaze out my window, blanketed in the modern conveniences of heat, indoor plumbing, hot water at every tap, an insulated home with insulated windows, even a back-up generator … just in case.

1-IMG_1420And I think I’m suffering.

dsc_0207How trite. How miniscule.

dsc_0011Thank you, O Creator, for showing me otherwise.

img_1448Oh yes, and lest I leave out one more reward of winter, here he is! Grandson number two. Born right in the middle of cold February. It didn’t snow or ice during his birth. But if it had, well there’s the four-wheel-drive.

Like I said, I really suffer! 😉
Peace, Alexandria

Serenity Lost and Found

Frontal Assault

Serenity Lost

I sought for signs so I could hear
The sound of solace to my ear
To comfort raging heart within
But sound of silence deafened In-

side the corners hid from all
I could not walk but only crawl
Hands clenched tight
So filled with fright,

Moonlight MadnessEndless tossing turning night
Roadblocks loomed, no end in sight.
My breath escaped, my heart did pound
The grief at loss, with nothing found.

Attention!But suddenly I heard a voice
Within the wind, the sea—a choice.
A child’s touch upon my cheek
So soft and warm, my eyes did peek.

Hope's KissAnd clenched hand opened with that touch
Unfolding quiet, in a hush
And fingers joined upward to reach
In prayer position to receive

First VoiceThe grace one needs to live each day
And hear the voice in dawn’s sunray,
In children’s laughter, birds that sing,
Crickets chirp and bells that ring.

DSC_0256Living, loving intertwine
And peace shines forth in rain or shine.
I look for signs and I do miss
The loudness shrieking in my midst.
Ray of HopeFor He is here
And He is not silent.

Serenity Found.


“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”
~ Psalm 19:1-2

“Wisdom shouts…”
~ Proverbs 1:20a


{Poem and photography by Alexandria Sage}

Summer Love Summer

1-IMG_2880 Summer: Welcome Is Still the Word

“Then followed that beautiful season …. Summer … Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new, created in all the freshness of childhood.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Summer Lovin”, where we share favorite photos of what we love about summer–that wonderful break from a hectic year. Here are some of mine.

Summer Love: Beach!

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“A simple life is good with me. I don’t need a whole lot. For me, a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, barefoot on a beach and I’m happy.” ~Yanni

Summer seems to carry a certain rhythm, doesn’t it?  Here’s how mine goes: June jumps me in quick—no problem! July sets the pace. And August slows me down to linger a bit. But I just love it all.

Summer Love: Grill!

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“I love the culture of grilling. It creates an atmosphere that is festive but casual.” ~ Bobby Flay

Yes, there is still the day job, housework, tending the yard and flowers. But there’s also time for friends and family, vacations, and those luscious outdoor holidays. And best of all, no school schedule for my grandson—yes!

Summer Love: Pool Time!

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“The water is your friend.  You don’t have to fight with water,  just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.”  ~Aleksandr Popov

Here’s just a few more things I love about summer.

Summer Love: Front Porch Time with Me and “Fern” (Yes, You are Welcome to Join Us!)

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 “The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a summer porch with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.” ~ Unknown

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“Friends in your life are like the pillars on your front porch. Sometimes they hold you up and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it’s just enough to know they are standing by.” ~ Unknown

Summer Love: Lazy….(i.e. best known as “Rest”!)

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“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”  ~ John Lubbock

Summer Love: Flowers!

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“I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for the heavy perfume of wild roses in early June and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that God gives.” ~ Ann VosKamp

And last, but not least, my favorite quote of all:

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“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen

Yes, I’m finding some respectability for myself this summer! Come, let us be lazy together. 🙂
Peace, Alexandria


Does your summer have a certain rhythm? Can you find a theme for each month? Feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear!

The Grand Chase {aka Mom is “On the Move”}

DSC_3765 - Rest“There was never a child so lovely, but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “On The Move”. I can’t think of anything more on the move than a Mom.

Ava“You Are a Work of Art + You Are a Piece of Work = You are God’s Masterpiece.”
~ Alexandria Sage

So this Challenge is in honor of Mother’s Day.

Sheer Joy“How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Those who’ve gone before us, those in our midst, and those mother’s to be;

Mother Loads of Love“Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. ~ Pearl S. Buck

all the “other mothers”, who mother any baby or kid who crosses the threshold of their hearts;

First Held, First Glimpse“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” ~ George Eliot

and a special blessing to mother’s whose children preceded them in leaving this world too soon–may God wrap you in tender memories, grace, and comfort today.

Arms of Love“There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child – and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.” ~ Robert Brault

Whether you chose to be a mother or if motherhood was handed to you, we all know the path is unpredictable. Nothing is guaranteed. But one thing always remains.

Katherine“A mother’s hug never really does let go. Her child is gathered in the arms of her heart at all times.” ~ Alexandria Sage

And that is our love.
Constant, unchanging, guaranteed.
And that is all you really need.

Peace, Alexandria


I received the following videos from my children. They brightened my day and made me smile. I hope they do the same for you. The links are below if you can’t open them here. EnJoy. 🙂


World’s Toughest Job
Here’s to Mom’s


Other interpretations of the “On The Move” Challenge. Give these a visit if you have a minute 🙂
Rynari
Minnesota Transplant
Gleaning the Nuggets
Sweet Capture Photography
Tea and Paper

Me, My Selfie, and Someone Else

Me

When I first heard “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” for 2013, it struck me as odd. I remember first hearing the word from my tween grand-niece. I grinned and shook my head. Young, beautiful, fit, self-absorbed. Yep, no surprise there. Typical tween.

But the word for the Weekly Photo Challenge? Really? Isn’t selfie reserved for the above? The last thing I want is my façade out there for the world to see! Family and friends is one thing. But the great big internet world? No way!

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You see, I am a grandmother. And has it escaped anyone’s notice the whole-hearted near-absence of grandmother selfies? Think about it. Can you really imagine a group of grandmothers taking selfies and plastering them all over the Internet?

I think it’s partly because we’re a bit more private. But let’s face it. Since most of us do not fit the above adjectives, we remain nearly absent on this self-portraiture that has taken the world by storm. (For heaven’s sake, even world leaders take selfies!)

But, the reality is the young are photogenic and few of us are. At least on the outside we are not. But please understand, we are totally okay with that. Though absent in the selfie realm, trust me—we are not absent.

We are most present. And extremely so.

And Someone Else

Perhaps, more so.

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


Related article:

The Christian Pundit: What a Christian Woman Knows About Beauty

 

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

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 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?

Canon EOS 5D Mark iii Focal length 70 F number 2.8 Exposure time 1/8,000
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. 🙂


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!

Jump! | WPC: Carefree

20130720-213801.jpg“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

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“Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ H. Jackson Brown Jr

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“You’ll be glad you did!” ~ Alexandria Sage
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The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Carefree”. One word means carefree for me—Summer. And summer means “water”.

Free from the stiff structure of school schedules, water brings out the brave in me. Water has dominated my summers as far back as I can remember. And I’ve done just about every trick imaginable in the water.

My uncle plunked water skis on all us cousins at a very young age. He would shove them down in a sandbar and take off.  It was drenching at first but in time we learned to skim the choppy waters, dodging large chunks of driftwood which made the ride even more wild. There was never a Do you want to learn this? With unbridled voracity, we bolted to the boat the day our name was called. In my family, this was a rite of passage.

Then there were the rope swings, the high dives, the quarry and cliff jumps. {Yes, I nearly drowned once-seriously.} My own kids didn’t take swim lessons because nothing could keep their mother out of the water with them. {No embellishment here—they are my proofreader’s. :-)}

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Now this little guy is my swimming buddy. He’s getting braver and more adventurous. What’s more carefree than a beautiful summer day and a pool filled with shimmering water to frolic in? For him and me—NOTHING!

But I hope I can get him to shed the goggles soon–summer’s almost over! 🙂

O, How The Years Go By | WPC: Nostalgia

“Nostalgia”. The word is a Greek compound, consisting of “nóstos”—meaning “homecoming” and “álgos”—meaning “pain and ache”. Wow. That’s exactly what nostalgia is to me. It’s that deep pain inside that aches for the past, that longs for home. It’s a warm feeling—home. And homecoming means just that—coming home. So for me, it’s a conflicting emotion. The warmth of home and aching for moments that can never be … again.

My parents and grandparents—how I ache for the moments I had with them. How I long for a conversation with my mother and dad. It makes me talk a lot longer and take a lot more time with my brother and sisters. I look at the photos of my children and I think Did I do those moments justice? Was I fully there for each one? Just now as I think of this time last year, there are memories I long for. Though I can never return to the past, I have this very moment to make a memory to cherish.
We cannot possess the past, but the past can mold our present.

Behold the present, and be all there.
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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a theme of “Nostalgia”. You can see many others at the following link: Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia
Much thanks to Vastly Curious for her in-depth definition of this week’s theme.

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

Mother Loads of Love | Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

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“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.”
~ George Eliot

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week has a theme called “Love”.
I know—where do we begin, right? I’ve got other posts on love so I thought I’d focus on one particular type of love. Can you guess? These photos are just candid shots, some very poor images, but you cannot deny the very spirit of motherhood in them.

Sometimes love needs no explanation or definition. You just know it when you see it. Don’t you just see love in the photo above?

Now that my children are grown and in their twenties, trying to find their way, I do something I swore I would never do.
I worry.
If I let my mind wander and dwell it can flourish into a constant panic attack in my chest. I just have to push the “Stop” button sometimes. A lot of these thoughts can wander into places imagined, things that may never take place; but what of the real problems they face? Is there anything I can really do?

Hands Guide an Adventurous Walk

All three of my children are healthy, loving, and growing in wisdom. They are making good decisions as they face the realities of life. I thank God each day for them and turn my anxious thoughts into prayers. I wholeheartedly enjoy them.

I reminisce at their childhood. When they stumbled and got hurt I could scoop them up with heavy doses of mother-love and lots of band aids and everything was just fine. In fact, everything was just fine as long as they were in my hands, tucked safely in my arms. My arms could snug them tight and my hands could stroke and soothe. But then I learned the simultaneous joy and pain of motherhood.

And that was letting go …

Hands Let Go

First to preschool, then kindergarten, on and on.
My arms and hands were emptied of them and the thoughts would begin—are they okay? Will they get hurt? What if someone is mean to them?

As they grew out of physical harm the wounds of the heart kept my intuition on its toes. Once again, my touch could soothe. And each hurt pinched my own heart a bit. Still does. When you carry them inside you for those nine long months there is that strong bond of just “knowing”.

And I try not to worry. I try to pray. But I catch my hands, my arms. Empty. Where are they right this minute? Are they happy? Are they suffering? Is there anything I can do right this minute?

I thought about my grandmother, how she did this, standing there wringing her hands. My mom did, too.

Now I am doing it.

Why, oh why, oh why? This has just got to stop! And one day it did. While rocking my sweet grandson I figured it all out …

Arms of Love

The only time we feel our children are safe is when they are in our arms. When they are not we wring our hands. Our arms and hands must be wrapped around them, else worry never leaves us.

I remember the moment of their birth cradled first in my open hands, me all giddy, forgetting the horrific trauma of the prior moments! You’d think those moments would linger but no—our hands are full of a wonder so great the birth pangs slip easily from our memories as our hands and arms wrap around that gracious gift. And so it goes from the time they are born …

if they are not in our arms, we wring out hands. Our hands must, they must do something! Our arms, our hands hold the key to their safety, their wholeness, their existence, don’t they!

What are we to do with our empty hands? What should fill our hands when our children do not?

Why not assume a different position … and a difference perspective? Unclench and pry apart, then turn those wringing hands into peaceful palms together, then point them heavenward … in prayer.

Could it be for this very reason that hands folded together are prayer’s only adornment? I wonder that perhaps God knew mothers would need something useful to do with our hands when our little ones are grown and out in the great big world.

For in this simple gesture is the truest place where heaven does move earth, as a mother’s prayer is borne like no other. For those folded hands replace the empty hands and fill the heavens with songs whispering the best and highest we can do for our children—place them in the hands of the One who never sleeps and has His eye on them at all times.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Other interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge that I like:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement | Unapologetically You

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”

~ Steve Maraboli

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

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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