2017: Joy in Weathered Space


November 2011

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

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

December 2011

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

May 2013

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

January 2012

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


February 2012

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


March 2012

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


April 2012

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

But something else happened.


May 2012

I kinda quit writing.

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

It was wonderful.


June 2012

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

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

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


2017, Best Photo

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

Peace,
Alexandria


Weekly Photo Challenges:

Weathered

2017 Favorites

 

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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

Why Is Your Structure Such?


You fascinate me.

I don’t know you. Don’t know much about you, actually. I know the monarchs; so regal, vibrant. The little yellow ones—fleeting, quick. But I’ve never seen you.

As I chored about the yard, I caught glimpses of you. And I thought, you’re different. What unusual beauty. Such graceful movements.

But…

So dark. Dark as a moonless night. Dark as a storm front. Dark as deep ocean.

But such a comforting dark. There’s a softness about you. Why is your structure such?

When your lovely flight pattern stopped, I moved closer. You didn’t fly away. It looked as if you waited, and actually posed for me. Your dark was then so beautiful. The rust tinge. The white. The astonishing scallops. And then that lovely shade of blueness. Black and blue. Oh, why is your structure such!

Why did God make a black and blue butterfly??

I’m not exactly sure but I thank Him. For because of beautiful creatures like you, I see the blackest of my days and the blueness in my soul are still tinged with color, and pure white, even if there’s a touch of rust around the edges. Like a lot of things in my life.

If I would just be still; and take notice.

You dawned my day with your dark.

And perhaps that is why your structure is such.

Oh, I know you won’t be around for long. Your life is sadly very brief.

And I may never see you again. But I’m glad we’ve met. 

And I’m glad of the structure that is you.


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the themes “Structure” and “Waiting.” We don’t typically see black swallowtails around here but this year we’ve seen several. These were some of the thoughts that came to me as I observed and enjoyed them. I hope you enjoy as well. 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

Deep Space Collage

“To go boldly where no man has gone before.”

Star Trek. The theme quote. A timeless story.

Aside from Star Wars, it’s possibly the most popular sci-fi series of all time. I loved that show. Captain Kirk—the gutsy, cunning, yet vulnerable leader was a character I most admired! Star Trek, the great predecessor of Star Wars. Still to this day they are both sheer, utter enjoyment.

Space fascinates us, doesn’t it? Huge star ships floating with grace. Hyperspace! Vulcans! Other exotic humanoids (yuk, some of them I could live without ever seeing!)

And who doesn’t love a full moon or a starry night? The constellations that have guided mankind for millennia are mind-boggling.

But did you know you could travel deep space right outside your door? It’s always been there. A space that, once entered, holds as much beauty as the stars in the sky.

Take just the rose, for instance. It’s been out your door all this time  You forge ahead in your day, maybe glance up at the sky, or in your phone, as you rush by, day in and day out.

But have you ever once thought to stop? And finally travel in? Or taken a real camera and captured it? I don’t know—maybe phones these days can do it, too

By gently separating the delicate petals, you can. Yes, they might press against your lens, which you’ll have to clean after. (Such work!)

But the trip is genuinely worth it, isn’t it? Take in the symmetry, the order of this collage of wonder; its beautiful design.

Take some time and enter into the deep space right outside your door. Waiting for you. All these years. Ttop and look. Play around a bit with angle and depth. You’ll behold a wonder you never imagined. Go boldly where few take the time to go.

And you’ll wonder why it took so long.


This is my contribution to the  Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenge with a previous theme, “Order” and the current theme “Collage“.

The designs I find in nature seem so random. Yet they are not. Even in the wild woods that surround me, there is this combined symmetry; a collage that fits together perfect. Our Creator is a master of design. Stop and take a look around you. Don’t dismiss the designs. The order. No matter the collage that is your life, which perhaps at times seems more like chaos, the majesty within nature reminds you of His presence.

Peace, Alexandria


First two photos credited to Sean M. Smith. The rest are by mine, taken with Sony DSLR.

ShadowLands

Moon ShadowsMoon Shadows

“Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance in perspective,

German FogSun Shadows

because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill-defined;

1-IMG_2533Cinderella Shadows

That which is contained within their outlines and their boundaries themselves

1-IMG_7343(1)Snow Shadows

will be ill-understood unless they are shown against a background

dLong Shadows

of a different tone from themselves.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Shadow Friends

“Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which increases with the setting sun of life.” ~ Jean de La Fontaine


Tree Shadow

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

Morning WalkMe Shadow 🙂

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows fall behind you.” ~ Walt Whitman

Peace,
Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of “Shadow”. I hope you enjoyed. 🙂 Click here for more interpretations.

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

My Local Artist

This week I’m featuring the photography of my favorite local photographer.
(Be sure to turn up your screen brightness for these.)

Hello There

His chosen profession is law enforcement. He’s one of those gems—giving out more warnings than tickets, soft-spoken, oh-so-witty, and just plain smart. But there’s a little known fact about this tough-looking officer.

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He’s a natural born artist.

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The story goes that at age two, he drew a detailed sketch of a train that was shockingly accurate. It’s true. I’ve seen the picture.

A Room with a View img_7354In school, he didn’t exactly draw. Or color. He “sketched”. He turned down crayons and insisted on colored pencils and by fifth grade started a new trend. According to his art teacher, all the kids wanted colored pencils! They thought if they had colored pencils they could “sketch” like him!

Show Me the Way img_7355

Thinking he was headed for a career in art, in middle school he took up the piano. (By now, I think you know this police officer-artist is none other than my son.) 🙂

Unexpected Bloom

Until I could find a piano teacher I quickly gave him a “Pattern Piano” DVD instruction set. He watched a bit and I distinctly remember his voice, “I think I got this figured out.” And off he ran to the piano.

Jeep

It seemed in no time, he was playing beautifully, without lessons. I’m not sure he ever finished the DVD’s. He still plays to this day; and it’s lovely.

River Dusk

Then he did the same with guitar, as well as singing and harmonizing. No joke.

Drink

He took up photography in high school and was off taking pictures of everything, finding the beauty in the small and unnoticed.

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And this week he upgraded his camera—big-time I’d say!—and has been out and about, capturing the local countryside. These are some of the results and I will let you be the judge. But I think they are stunning. Click on each one for a fuller view. It’s definitely worth it!

Sky Lights img_7353

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but I’m truly not. Just ask his sisters! All full of sugar and spice, they are pure sweetness. They’re smart and artistic, too, but they admit, without hesitation, their brother’s artistic gifts confound them. Of course, they’re not shy about telling anyone either!


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Local“, featuring the photography of my own local artist, my dear son. I’m glad he’s out taking pictures because my life’s been a bit full as of late. He might fill in for me a bit but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. At all! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

Of Sunbeams and Rainbows, Look Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Rainbows apologize for angry skies.” ~Sylvia Voirol

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, Alexandria

Opposite Attraction | Moonstruck

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“Look how the pale queen of the silent night
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her….” ~Charles Best, “A Sonnet of the Moon”

Light and dark. Opposing forces. Both strong in their own right. Both necessary to our human existence. These opposites are not offended whatsoever when one space invades the other.

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“Moonlight is sculpture.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

For nothing shows their contrast best than when they invade the other’s space. They actually flourish together. Both are resplendent in beauty.

They are a remarkable, blinding, spectacular pair. 

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“Together, we form a necessary paradox; not a senseless contradiction.”  ~ Criss Jami

It is said opposites attract. In nature it seems to be a constant. But our human nature seeks to avoid what is opposite.

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“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.” ~Edward Plunkett

Though we can draw many lessons about light and darkness, the opposites in nature serve only to enhance each other. The moon shines brilliant. Stars sweep across the black sky in a breathtaking swash. Yet there is no complaint from the sky as these intruders invade its space.

Why, we humans even invade and see what happens? All so lovely!

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“The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.” ~Frederick Knowles

Perhaps we should not fight our opposites whoever they may be. As dark sky “walks down the moon” to merge in a shining display, and we add our playful silhouettes, can we not do the same with each other?

Would we be any less spectacular?

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Opposite”. The theme can be interpreted in so many ways but I chose the contrast of light and dark. For others, click here.
P.S. Apologies if you received this twice. The link didn’t work on the first one. I think it’s fixed on this one. 🙂

Purely Summer

Wash Over Me 20130905-202159.jpg

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.

Evening Blush DSC01436[1]

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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