Category Archives: Greeting Card Universe

Standing outside in the snow …

is one of the most freeing of experiences.

I liken it to standing in the midst of a summer rain while nature falls all around, touching, caressing, permeating my very being and making me one with its magnificence.

How wonderful it is to feel the snowflakes, each different and individual, falling on my skin, touching my lips, landing on my lashes?

The peace of the falling snow is, in itself, a wondrous thing, but to feel it on my skin takes me to a place where my dreams live.

I suppose, to some, it will sound irrational to hear that someone purposely stands outside while the snow or rain falls, or while the wind whips through the air.

It shouldn’t.

It should, instead, be an invitation to feel nature in real time, to partake in her joy as she showers the earth with beauty and marvelous things.

Bask in the magnificence of nature … stand in the rain, stand in the snow, feel the wind on your face.

Find peace in the solitude and realize who you are at your core.

Who you are meant to be.

What you are meant to be.

Listen to the voice of the earth for it is the footstool of Jesus.

Find solace.

Find joy.

Find what you didn’t even realize you were looking for.

Simply be still and let all that creation has to offer overcome you.

It will, without doubt or reservation, change your world for the better.

Listen to the wind, feel the sunshine, bask in the light of the moon, hear the pounding of the surf …

Find sustenance and sublimity in the beauty that surrounds you.

I promise you won’t be sorry.

But don’t simply take my word for it … immerse yourself and find, for yourself, the wonder of nature.

The joy of snowfallSeriously?

A winter wonderlandsnowfall

Finding joy in every momentkisses blown from an angel

Advertisements

A moment of clarity …

is priceless.

Like fine wine from a stellar year.  A bottle unopened and virginal in it’s uniqueness.

A moment of clarity when all of the world is in color, without shades of gray, without confusion that masks the wonders as the snow on an old TV.  Clarity without aluminum foil to make the picture clear.

I love these moments.  They are like photographs that have been taken simply to remind me that this moment isn’t all there is.

There is more.

There is much more.

I am feeling hyper these days and that makes me anxious.  It is such a small step from hyper to manic and I work dilligently to not be manic.

It comes when it comes and I have no say about it.

But it hurts those I care about.

I don’t care so much about myself.  This is my life and I live it, but when it touches others, it hurts me on a level that is far beyond what I feel capable of handling.

I am me.

I don’t know how to be anyone else.

I don’t, however, want to be a burden to my friends.

Yes, I am hyper, but am not yet manic.

It is only a matter of time.

I try to close myself off from everyone when this happens, but there are a few that I lean on and hope that, when all is said and done, they will forgive me yet again.

They are the people who bring me back to reality when I stray and they know who they are.

I only hope they know I don’t take them for granted.

Just a day in the life.

It isn’t always pretty, but more often than not, it is.  I live for the “it is” moments.

I am a survivor and this impending event will not break me.

It may bend me, but it will not break me.

I get by with  a little help from my friends.

clarinethands

Beemer, a sweet Great Pyrenees, shows his Hollywood

Taking it easy, literally …

I’ve said it before …

and I’ll say it again.  I am much too soft-hearted to be a  nurse.  So many things that I come into contact with on a daily basis makes me want to weep and scream at the injustice of life.

I am supposed to simply speak to people and let them know that they are not just a patient, but it isn’t  that simple.  They are people to me.

They are my mother.

They are my father.

They are my daughter, nieces and sister.

They become part of my heart and being and I take them home with me.

I have cried many, many tears for those that I visit with.  I have held their hands, held their family’s hands and prayed with them.  I try to leave them where they are, but they won’t stay there.

They come home with me.  I think about them and hope that they will live until morning; hope that if they don’t, their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers will be able to cope with loss of their existence.

I want to be strong.  I will myself to be stoic and unattached, but that lasts as long as the mist under a strong morning sunrise.  I love these people.  I fall in love with their families and I feel the pain, sorrow and devastation of their loss on every front.

The older I get, the more squeamish, melancholic and dramatic I become.  I surely thought that I would be stronger and more able to control my emotions at this point, but the truth is that I am more susceptible to emotion and empathy than I ever thought possible.

Sometimes, things happen that are funny and yet, the humor battles sorrow for there is nothing beautiful or funny about someone who doesn’t know who they are or where they are or what they have accomplished in their lives.  The emptiness is devastating.  I find myself bringing people home with me in my thoughts and crying over their infirmities.

I never wanted to be a nurse.  I wanted to be a photographer.  I wonder sometimes if I don’t make a better nurse than a photographer.  And then I realize that I can be both.

One makes me a better of the other.

I photograph for the sheer pleasure of it and  yet, when photographs are forbidden, I see past what is present.  I am thankful, on many levels, for the blessings bestowed upon me.

I am a nurse.

I am a photographer.

I am myself.

I am content.

What more can anyone ask than to be content in the life they are living.

I am, above all things, thankful, for the joys, the trials, the triumphs and the the lessons.  Thankful for the things that hurt me and those that bring me joy.

One without the other is insubstantial; combined, they are powerful beyond the description of words.

I. Am. Blessed.

And I am thankful.  The images, whether in real time or captured on film are what life is about.  Life is images and images make up life.

Again I say, I. Am. Blessed.

Bodie Island Lighthouse (my OBX favorite)bodieislandlighthouse

Matt … a truly beautiful human … hatteras_lightning-59

.

A doe at Bodie Island hatteras_lightning-71

Beach Beauties … outerbanks_day1-327

If it isn’t going to snow …

and snow BIG, then I am officially done with winter.  I am filled to overflowing with frosty windshields in the early, still dark mornings.  I am finished with the cold wind whistling through trees that have been bare for too long.  Winter weather advisories that never come to fruition and the forecasters who get my hopes up are now on my short list.

snowfall

Since I love lists so much, it is time to make a new one; a warm weather one.  This new and improved list will not include heavy winter coats, gloves or scarves.  It won’t include three layers of clothes or multiple pairs of socks worn under fur-lined boots.  It also won’t include walking home because the ice is too thick to drive in.

basset_snow

I was recently reminded by a friend that boating season is just around the corner.  It took less than two seconds for the image of skimming across the lake with the sun hot on my skin and the wind in my face to fill my warmth starved brain.  I foresee cold drinks and much laughter as we frolic in the lake.  Actually, I suppose I should clarify; I foresee much laughter as THEY frolic in the lake as I’m not really box-ankled about jumping into water that I can’t see through.  I’m more of a “float-on-the-top” kind of gal.

cherokeelake

cherokeelakejumper

I look at my pale, winter skin and think of sunning myself like a lizard and admiring my tan lines (after the redness fades).  I love the sun and, unlike many people I know, don’t mind the 90 plus temperatures of a steamy Appalachian summer.  I long for the thunderstorms that come out of nowhere, bringing with them the stunning display of lightning and sky that only God can provide.

lightning

I look forward to long hikes along shaded trails and wading in the clear, cold pool at the foot of my favorite waterfall; speeding with the top down over curvy mountain roads to get there.  My sister’s pool with the shimmering water and full-sized slide call to me like a siren’s song.  Trips to the ocean and embracing the sunrise in the wee hours then sipping boat drinks at sunset will find their place at the top of my list.

2-46

littlestoney_020913-161

beachday1 542

Yes, I am officially done with winter and realize as I write this post and compose my list that I am going to need more paper.   Now, if I can only get Mother Nature to cooperate, all will be well with the world and I can stop shivering.

gulfbeauty

As our Gracie grows …

I find that watching her is one of my most wonderful blessings.  The years seem to have flown by and now, she is just a couple of months shy of her fifth birthday.  She can do whatever she tries to do, follows her sister wherever she goes and can hold her own (especially in the ones she starts), in a good old fashioned wrestle.  She has learned that pouting works with everyone but me and doesn’t even bother anymore.  She just points her finger at me and says things that I’m almost glad I can’t understand.  She has her own mind, her own will and her own ambitions.  She has her own way of doing things and is pretty set on doing it HER way.  Having to share everything and everyone with a sister who is cut from the same cloth makes like interesting, to say the least.

sistersrunning2012

When Gracie first came into the world, she was early.  Very early.  And she was almost immediately diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.  She won our hearts so quickly, we didn’t really have a chance to absorb the fact that she had Down’s.  We prayed and God answered; she would touch our lives in a way that none of us, not even us optimists, could ever imagine.

niecesinthesand_2009

gracy_buddywalk2012

While she says many things that are amusing, there are two phrases she says that melt me like warm chocolate.  “Hi Nini” and “Love you, too, Nini”.  I’ve never once called when Gracie was around that she didn’t pick up the phone and say “Hi Nini”, whether she knew it was me or not.  I love that.  It makes me feel good inside to know that I am part of this beautiful child’s life.  I’m not the only one, though.  Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of being around her; she has a gift.  A gift of encouragement and light.  She never fails to bring joy to anyone who sees her.  It is rather awesome to watch.  She has a special light around her; one that makes everyone want to be near her … makes me want to be near her.  A light that makes even the worst of days insignificant when she puts those little arms around my neck.

gracielaughing_2011

She has come a long way, our Gracie.  From barely hanging on to thriving and living in a world she feels safe in and isn’t afraid to explore.  She reminds me what I want to be when I grow up.  Yes, she is truly a blessing in my life, but by far, not the only one; not by a longshot. (If you haven’t read Watching Gracie Grow, read it here http://wp.me/p1CqmN-m )

mygirls_beach2012

Psalms 100 ~  1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord; all ye lands.  2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.  3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Officially now, into the New Year …

my heart is full of dreams, hopes and fantastical wishes.  My imaginings are more vivid than they have ever been and I feel that surely, I am closer than I was before to reaching that which stirs me.  Even as these pleasing thoughts fill my head and pump through the blood in my veins, filling every cell in my body, I realize, rather disillusioned, that they didn’t reach every cell.

In the background, a chill passes across the recall in my mind and I am, momentarily taken  back to last year.  It was a hard year.  A year full of sickness, injury, tragedy, death and loss.  Not just mine, but the people I know personally; my family and friends as well as those I simply ran across on any given day. I found myself in unusual circumstances and, much of it, even with my annoying (I’m often told) optimism which goes a long way in making me who I am, was hard.

It was harder on others I know, the brokenness they had to face, the loss  –  a dad who lost a brother, an aunt who lost a husband, a daughter who lost a daddy a granddaughter who lost a grandfather; all the same man.  And a friend who lost someone beloved to them, someone inspirational.  Friends, good ones, are irreplaceable.

Multiple people, my mother included, seriously injured themselves in a fall and I, myself injured myself moderately from two separate falls.  Patients come into the office I work and they are hobbling in on canes, crutches; with black eyes and busted ribs.  I fell on the curb.  I fell down the steps.  I tripped on a rug.  I slipped in water.  I got my feet caught in a cord on the floor.  I tripped over a Basset hound.  I find it a bit incredulous that I know so many people who had falls last year.

I’m not going to dwell, though.  I just thought it worth remembering, one last time, how many things God helped me through last  year and to remind myself that He’s the same as He was.

Now, back to more pleasing imaginings.

acornsandleaves

On the Eve of New Year’s Eve …

I have found myself looking back over memories of the past year.  While some of the looking has been within the vast memories of my mind and heart, most of the thoughts have been invoked from the photographs that depict the life I have lived.  While I appear in but a few of the photographs (part of being the photographer), they depict what I have found to be inspiring, beautiful, profound, enlightening and without doubt, some of the most exceptional moments I could ask for.

I have learned that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you know (or think you know), there is more to learn.   People are complex and, at the same time, simple and beautiful  My niece Gracie has Down’s Syndrome, but I’ve learned from her that the things that make people different aren’t an anomaly or defect, but something to be praised and honored.  She reminds me that, if I get lonely, I only have to look into myself to find company.  She only sees the beauty, the positive and she never fails to offer a smile.  She reminds me to smile, even when I don’t feel like smiling.

spring_042012-29

I have learned that I don’t have be alone when I want to go to the hard places; that there are people willing to go with me, not because they want to go, but because they know I want to.  A long and arduous trek to the White Rocks this Autumn brought this thought process to fruition.  My sister knew how much I wanted to go and because she didn’t want me to go alone, she, along with my niece, Sophie and cousin, Emily, made the journey.  It was exhausting and breathtaking and full of fellowship and fun.  It reminded me that there are people in my life who care about the things that are important to me and want to help me succeed in finding them.  These are memories that, as long as my mind lasts, will stay with me, for they are precious beyond words that can describe them.

whiterocks_trailshoot-146

I learned, through my niece Sophie, what it means to be courageous and not to balk when an obstacle presents itself in my path.  She is fearless and has a sense of adventure that makes me proud.  I’d like to think that, somewhere in her heart, she has a tiny bit of me and that between the two of us, we can see and experience everything.  She, while sometimes a challenge, is an inspiration to me and a constant comfort.  She is beautiful and strong and reminds me that life, even when it seems to be mediocre, is an incredible journey that should be loved, for the moment, at the moment; the rest will fall into place when it should.

whiterocks_trailshoot-104

flowersfornini

I have been reminded that music has no boundaries when it comes to what moves the soul.  I have been introduced to new music that has touched my heart in such a way, that it will never, ever be the same.  Friends come into my life and then fade away, but the mark they leave is everlasting and causes a chain reaction of the thirst for knowledge of music in its purest form  and the peace that it brings to my mind.  For those who have influenced me, I am thankful, for there is much I would have gone my whole life without knowing had there not been special ones to show me that there was more than what I thought possible.  Music always has and will continue to be a balm to my spirit.  I am grateful for the musicians that have graced my life and made it, because of their presence in it, richer and more beautiful than I could imagine.

tay_music

clarinetplayer_friend

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-301

I have been reminded just how wonderful it is to have the love of a beloved pet.  One who will let  me hold them way too tightly as I cry into their soft fur.  One who knew all of my secrets and then took them to heaven with them, for I cannot imagine that these sweet animals that stole my heart could be anywhere other than in Heaven.  They were my friends, my confidants and my loved ones.  As I think of them now, tears run down my face, for I miss them terribly.   They were the best of me.  The purest of me.  And the most loyal of any friend I have ever known.  They were an extension of myself and brought me great joy, teaching me even as they lived, what it meant to be a friend.  I have learned so much from them and thankful to have had them, for but a moment, it seems, in my life.

thegirls_easter-36-2 GMK12545

stuff

I’ve been reminded that sometimes, something as simple as a ride on a tire swing can bring joy unspeakable.  Through time and space, I was transported to my childhood and immersed in the beauty of the memories that bring me happiness.  There is nothing like being reminded of happier times to bring a smile and moment of happiness to my heart.  I am thankful that the little ones that I am blessed to be a part of their lives, who remind me what it was like to be a child, to be carefree and to have no worries other than when I get to swing again.  My blessings continue to mount as I reminisce over the past year.

sophieswings

My parents, whom I am blessed to still have in my life, have been a profound influence on me. The took me to church when I was but a babe and, while there were times I didn’t want to be there, it all came full circle when I came to the point when I wanted to give my life to Christ.  They encouraged me when I was down, supported me when I was an embarrassment to them and loved me when I was, as I know there were times when I was, unlovable.  I owe so much to them.  My parents.  My biggest fans.  My rocks.

parents

I am reminded of those who have gone to be with God, who will grace this life I live no longer, other than in memory, and am not ashamed at the falling of the tears at there absence.  I am richer for those I have known, more blessed for the ones that have graced my life and more fulfilled because some of the most wonderful people I have ever known have passed through my life.  It has, while moments of sadness would say otherwise, been an incredible year of learning and discovery.  I am blessed beyond what I deserve and am thankful for every experience.  Not all of them have been good, but through each one, I have grown a bit, both spiritually and in the human factor.  I have no regrets.  I have no wishes for do-overs.  While there are those that have left a lasting impression on my life, be they alive or dead, I am grateful.  Each experience has brought me closer to that which is written that I should accomplish.  I am thankful.  I am grateful.  I am in awe of my Awesome God.

familyreunion2011_sat-10

spiritofjim

Through it all, there is joy unspeakable in the beauty that my Heavenly Father reveals to me, through His astounding beauty and wonderful works.  I am thankful for all that I have learned this year and anxiously await what He has in store for the next.  God Bless my friends, followers, family and everyone who feels that their life has, for one reason or another, been in vain.  Know that you are important to so many and that without your influence, things, at least for me, would have much less wonderful.

home

beach_birds-158-2

droid_5_2011 2119

For each moment, each experience, each happiness, each sorrow, each disappointment, each joy, each heartbreak, each smile, each tear, each lesson … I am grateful.  I can  only hope that the next year will bring as much knowledge, love and friendship as this one.  I am grateful.  More than words can say, even through the hard times, which have been many, I am, thankful and optimistic.  That is my nature.  I am a Christian and a Sagittarius … What choice do I have, after all?