Purely Summer

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Purified

With summer in full swing here, I’m going to change things up a bit. Increased family demands and just loving the outdoors has nudged out any time for writing so I’m taking a break from it this summer.

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Evening Blush

But with the camera as a welcome part of the demands I’ll be sharing more photos.

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Arrival of Morn

I’m trying to take part in the Weekly Photo Challenge hosted by WordPress, my blog platform. But I hope to share in-between as well. The writing will be brief, three-hundred words or less. After all, I’m sure you have plenty of other summer reading to do!

Fire over Water

Fire over Water

For this week’s Challenge, the theme is “Pure“. My mind went several directions until I finally settled on some photos of the ocean. Since the beach is my “go-to” place to purify my heart, I thought I’d share some favorites. Be sure to turn your device to landscape to capture the full purity of the views. Makes a difference! 😊

Zoom for a closer look. Turn phone to side

Dawn. Crisp, Clear. Pure.  Zoom in to see a crescent moon. Stunning!

Storm over Water

Storm over Water

Then there’s the storms and artistry of clouds. So settling. Cleansing!

Wind over Water

Wind over Water

The breezes gently sweep and scatter all the busyness that inhabits my mind. It clears the clutter and tidies up my heart and with renewed clarity, I can focus on what’s really important.

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Pure Morning

I am swept clean! Purified!


I hope you’ll enjoy my upcoming summer “short series”.

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Let’s have some summer fun!

But most of all, have a fun summer! 🙂

More soon,
Alexandria


P.S. SimplySage is in transition. It’s gone from simplysage.org to simplysage.me to simplysage.live.  It takes several weeks for search engines to re-index my site so I’m kind of lost in internet space right now. The .me and .org do not work.
I’ll spare all the reasons. If I explain I’ll go way beyond three-hundred words! 🙂


For other interpretation of “Pure”, click here.

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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,

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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,

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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

 

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

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}

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

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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

“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 PietĂ , 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?

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“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)

Change—Certain as the Seasons

Fall Dozes …

The changing of the seasons mirror the rhythm of a soul. There are times of exuberance (summer) and times of reflection (winter). Fall and winter provide reflection and rest needed for the energetic spring and summer. I know this rhythm well.

Winter Sleeps.

I’m so glad I live in a place where seasons change. I lived in the American desert southwest for a brief period. Though it possesses an outrageous and incredible beauty, I missed the changing seasons. Once you get used to those rhythms your soul ever longs for them.

Spring Sings!

The seasons mimic the certainty of change. And as the verse goes, “there is a time for each matter under heaven”, I know God has his hand in every aspect of my life—blessings and difficulties. Difficult times will come are here, but there are many good things surrounding me, too.

This is how life is—the blend of trial and blessing, seasons filled with change. Remembrance of last year fills me now with warm nostalgia. Things have changed this year. Some changes I don’t like, but some I do.

As my sweet grandson and I decorated a gingerbread house yesterday, I wished him so hard to stay five-years-old! But he won’t. As I relished the moment of childlike delight I wondered will he have this much fun next year placing the sugar plums just so? I cling a little tighter to this moment and to him, all the while knowing they both slip from my grasp.

Why do I resist change when I know change is certain? Why does change fill a corner of my heart with an unsettling angst? I cry against it to no avail. It comes anyway. Why can’t I be like nature, welcoming with open arms, and just settle into it quite nicely, ready for the next? Change comes, of that I am certain.

Summer Shouts!!

But there is a certainty of which I’m glad there is no change.

“I the Lord do not change.” ~ Malachi 3:6

Though God set into motion seasons of glorious nature, he exempted himself from change. This truth is abiding and unchanging. This is the certainty I most need. I need his constant grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And he gives all. His love and mercy are the same—when we fall, when we stand. His hand is ever there to walk us through storms or meadows.

Within the unexpected turns of life He knew we needed I need something to remain constant.
Or rather—Someone.

Fashionable Fallacies

And I’ve never been out of his hand.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” ~ Psalm 103:12

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23


Other interpretations of Changing Seasons:
{Note: This is my first time using WordPress new tiled gallery format to display my photos. Click on a photo in each collection above for a beautiful gallery display. Enjoy.}

Christmas Surprise

D

’Twas the weekend before Christmas and I was on hospital call.
This weekend is known for “when you think you’ve seen and heard it all” and suddenly there’s another outlandish story. It’s the weekend notorious for the unexpected.
Or rather …

It’s the weekend of expectation. And as part of the call team I prepared myself for any surprise.

But it was not what I anticipated. No nightmarish awakening middle-of-the-night-jump-out-of-bed-race-to-the hospital. We worked hard but no 14-hours-straight-in-a-row-from-the middle-of-the-night-into-day. And I got to sleep all three nights. For the call weekend before Christmas it was pretty routine and, for lack of a better term—kinda boring mundane.

No surprises at all.

D

Wait. What did I just say? Mundane?
How can I speak so bland for what happened—or rather what did not happen—
this weekend before Christmas? A weekend like this before Christmas never happens in my universe. How did I miss the miracle and dare to call it mundane?

How many miracles do we miss for mere expectation of other things?

Humming Christmas carols during the commute home I was lost in thought Sunday night as I pulled in the driveway. Nudging the car door open, I could not help but peer skyward. And I lost my breath. There it was.

My surprise.

A quick phone pic but I think you get the idea.

Gazing spellbound as clouds danced, swirling around the moon, I was wonderstruck. I sat in awe for a moment, taking it all in. The majesty of God. And I wondered …

What does earth look like down here from up there at Christmas-time?

Up there, amid blankets of swirling clouds and heavenly lights, stars glimmer and shimmer. But what about down here?
Does heaven gasp as the world wraps itself in Christmas—a spinning ornament studded with lights, glitter, and tinsel—another majesty of sorts—glistening from the most tasteful decor to the gaudy, even overdone? Or simple Charley Brown’s, from rich to poor, overdoing everything from lights to food to drink to family to travel to lavish spending?

It’s a celebration like no other. Smiling, I lugged myself in the door, feeling light as a feather.

Many said I got lucky this weekend. But it was not luck. It was so much more, or rather … so much less. Since much did not happen, I received what is nearly absent during Christmas—REST. I needed rest. Rest for the next night.

One of the most thrilling nights of the year—Candlelight Christmas Eve.

I

This is where I sing. A church filled with people from over eighty countries and all ages. And not just any music.

An orchestra accompanied by a glorious, ancient instrument—a grand organ with pipes from floor to ceiling, horns jutting from the walls. The form casts a breathtaking shadow for all who enter.

Walls of glass echo some of the most magnificent sounds ever heard.
For some it’s all about the music—multi-cultural and multi-generational, classics and contemporary. It is joyous, reverent, energetic, fun.

In the choir loft I have the best seat in the house. I get to feel the bass rumble beneath my feet, hear the horns lift, savor orchestral strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion surrounding sound—see the sanctuary fill with hearts full … or empty … or weary … or broken.

Children’s faces fill with wonder. Babies fuss. Families filling rows. For some people, it’s the first time they’ve entered a church for years. For others, it’s the only time of the year they come. And for some, they have never been at all.

But for all the sounds, lights, and rumbles it is long, hard, exhausting work.
Multiple services, focus, breathing, posture, presentation. I recall months of long practices, memorizing every word, note, count, and dynamic, climbing up and down to the choir room buried deep below to loft above, and I think—rest.

Yes, I needed rest for this night of all nights. To give the very best of myself to everyone. And to take it all in—majesty.

So we are all here tonight.
And so is He.

I

For tonight holds our greatest surprise. It’s the celebration of the world, as the glimmering earth spins in space, dripping in lavish everything.

As I gazed skyward the other night I imagined this eve—bathed in mysterious, glorious candlelight—inhaling the wonder of it all. Is God upon His throne inhaling the wonder as His creation celebrates the greatest event in all of human history—Emmanuel—God with us?

That miraculous moment when the divine intersected humanity.

Skeptics and unbelievers try with all their might to squelch Him, to destroy Him, to snuff Him out. But try as they might, the world, believers and unbelievers celebrate the mystery.
He cannot be silenced.

Just gaze at the stars above and you will see—night after night. Christmas is always there for you and for me.
You just can’t miss it.

I

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4

Merry Christmas from my home to yours,
Alexandria

Photos of church by family and friends
All other photos by Alexandria Sage

Referring Article’s:
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/weekly-photo-challenge-surprise/
http://scottamartin.org/2012/10/30/a-story-worth-telling/
http://eof737.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/weekly-photo-challenge-surprise/

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

Legacy of Joy

Sony Cyber-Shot. Self-portrait in front of a mirror. {Ok, WordPress, I’m trying.}

My dear readers,

WordPress asked all bloggers to write a post about what inspires us to blog. They wanted photos of us doing those activities. At first I was hesitant. I am far more comfortable behind a camera than in front of it. The other hesitation is my wish to maintain a measure of privacy. I confess the global world of blogging still intimidates me. But I will do my best to strike a balance with both.

WordPress encourages us to write and click. To write about EVERYTHING. To take pictures of EVERYTHING. I’m not a great writer but I love words in the form of quotes, with a dab of writing here and there. I love words that resonate healing, words that echo affirmation in the soul, words that bring joy.

I add photography and sometimes if I get lucky the pictures seem to coordinate with the quotes. Total creative fun.

Capturing another glorious sunset using the amazing iPhone camera. HDR settings, of course.

Capturing another glorious sunset with an iPhone.

Why do I blog? The biggest reason is my family—past, present, and future. And second, the multitude of friends throughout the years that have enriched my life, which now include you. I’m inspired by what makes me smile, that gives me a break in this hectic wild ride we call life and just inhale some gladness. I share to decrease sadness and increase joy … for everyone.

In addition, I hope to preserve a place that leaves words and pictures of my faith, footsteps, philosophy, and focus. WordPress says don’t hold back. But if I didn’t this would be a book. So here goes—in the most succinct I can be.

My mom and dad, both in heaven. Dad—the kindest, most generous man on the planet. Mom—organized, thrifty, clean. Together they gave me the best upbringing one could imagine. I miss them terribly. They were taken so soon. This blog honors their memory.

Wedding of my parents.

My parent’s wedding

My sweet grandmother. You lived two doors down from me. How could I ever forget the overnights and morning tea? Jumping on your bed and nighttime prayers? Your fluffy, down pillows? Your gift of sewing. You designed and made all the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses in the photo above. My family says I’m so much like you and I think that’s pretty cool.

My siblings. Amid the rivalry we emerged strong and united to this day. If I needed you at my side today, you would be there. {Dear brother, I’ll never forget when you drove cross-country to bring my Christmas presents.} In losing our parents so soon maybe we don’t take for granted the gift of each other.

Me peeking around for some candid shots at a family event. {Nikon D60 DSLR}

My husband. Wise, smart, funny, kind, philosopher, wizard. You give to everyone the most prized of possessions—your time. Cares for and watches over me with tenderness, patience, and love. Comes to my rescue for everything. Pulls over at a moment’s notice to let me capture another exquisite never-to-be-seen shot. Keeps my gas tank full. So much like my dad.

DSCF1993

Taking me up the hill the easy way, after a long sled ride down.

My children. Joy beyond belief. Each finding your way. Each blessed with kind and generous hearts. I know without a doubt that whatever path you choose, it will be done with the highest integrity. Where do I even begin?

A summer job for oldest daughter. She loved it {farm girl}

A summer job for oldest daughter. {Farm girl}

My grandson—I delight in this crazy notion called “grandparent love”. It is wondrous and enchanting. He is a ray of sunshine in my life.

The grand having a grand time in the mud.

The grand having a grand time in the mud.

My life-long faraway friends. Glenda, Debbie, Janna, Mary Beth, Peggy, Nancy, Lisa. We just pick up from where we left off.

P

Morning coffee on the back porch with a friend

My near friends. When I moved here you soothed my homesickness and the pain in losing my mother shortly after my arrival. We share the deepest parts of our lives, the heartaches and joys. You know who you are and I love the richness and trust we share.

My very shy friend. Yes, she's under there!

My very shy friend. Yes, she’s under the umbrella!

The day job. I work with exceptionally talented people in a very narrow field of medicine. I was stretched to learn a most demanding skill and with tenacity and a lot of prayer I did. And I get to do some really neat stuff that cares for very sick patients. Witnessed a few miracles, too. Every time I walk across the parking lot to begin my day I thank God for my legs and that I get to do what I do. At the end of the day I get to leave and go home. Those who are sick have to stay and wish they could go home.

Steve's stuff. He taught me how to use these—not easy.

Stuff I use at the Day Job—not easy to learn.

God. Sunrises, sunsets, flowers, nature bursting forth with color, light, and wonder. Majestic painter and creator you are. You are a very present help in time of need. Your Word, living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword guides me. Apart from you I can do nothing.

Winter sunset out my backdoor. Hand painted by God. Incredible.

Winter sunset out my backdoor. Hand painted by God. Incredible.

And this is just the introduction to my inspiration for the wonderful world of blogging. It’s a peek into my life “in focus”—behind the camera, behind the words. Relationships are my greatest inspiration. And these are but a few. Blogging is a place where I can sort of “hang my heart” in honor of all of them.
As I press on may I leave a legacy of joy.
Peace,
Alexandria

I

This is just a photo-op. Serious photographers know you can’t take a picture of the moon without a tripod and special lens. I’m posing with the Nikon D60 with stock lens. Like I said, a photo-op to show me taking a picture. It was a beautiful backdrop, full moon rising. One of these days …

All photos taken with Nikon D60 DSLR with AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G lens, Sony Cyber-Shot, or iPhone. Photos of me were taken by my family, except the first—taken by me. 🙂

Other interpretations of the Challenge and related articles:

The Beauty of a True Friend | Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

“You have been 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

This is my second entry in the Weekly Photo Challenge for January 25, 2013. The theme is love. This is one of my absolute favorite quotes on friendship.
We’re all just a bit of a mess, aren’t we? Vulnerable and fragile? Transparent and forgiving? Filled with love, filled with faults. Yet the bonds of friendship intertwine beautifully with enduring love. We love amid the mess.

For more posts on this theme visit this link.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create | Portraits of Success

When I saw this week’s Photo Challenge my thoughts turned immediately to my previous “Portraits of Success” photo of child’s chalk creations. I have reposted with some added thoughts and photos. Enjoy, contemplate … create.

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 a wondrous gift

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, or hesitation that bounds we adults.

A great-grandpa that knows how to stay a child and builds something delightful.

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

Less About Me

Greetings, I am Alexandria Sage and
this is the new “less about me” page. As humans we are complicated
creatures and cannot be summed up easily. I have a “more about me”
page, a different story of me—longer. If you’re still reading this
by now, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope you’ll
read on … and get to know “less of me”, which may be all you need
to know. But—just in case—there is always
more.

I like … words, art, flowers, dawn,
dusk, history—all of it, current events, cultural trends, peanut
butter and jelly, simplicity, excellence, hard, exhausting
work.

I have … a
lovely dwelling place, the sweetest canine, two fierce, outdoor
felines, a red four-wheeler, great health that comes at a high
price, a fulfilling job, compassion for the lonely and lost,
enough.

I can … keep a secret, water ski,
grow flowers, sing first soprano.

I struggle with … the usual
insecurities, failures, and frailties inherent in human skin, a
chronic disease, man’s cruelty to man and beast.

I love … family, friends, the smell
of children, the stories of old people, solitude, the Holy
Scriptures, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I am … a loyal friend, passionate
about nearly everything, including sleep and play, loved deeply by
my parents, husband, children, and siblings. a truth seeker, truth
examiner, truth finder, intrigued by philosophy, a dedicated
student of the Scriptures and follower of Jesus Christ,
so fortunate, old
enough.

I need … love, mercy, patience,
kindness, forgiveness.

I long for … legacy,
significance.

I want
… to decrease sadness and increase joy, to make a difference for
… everyone.

Peace,
Alexandria

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