Category Archives: Greeting Cards

There is nothing like a meltdown …

to put things in perspective.

And I had one.

A good, old-fashioned meltdown complete with crying, sobbing, pacing, stomping, ranting, raving and, to make it an official meltdown not just just a casual break in stride, ended with the impressive sound of breaking glass.

What is it about breaking things that culminates  the entire process to tie it all nicely into a neat little package that leads, oddly enough, to the return of sanity.

I didn’t actually intend, when the meltdown started, to break anything, but throwing that heavy candle-holder dead on into my bathroom mirror and watching the shatter … well, that pretty much made my day.

That sounds nutty, right?

Of course it does.

At this point, you are doing one of two things:  nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in disbelief.

Those are the two choices.

There are no gray areas when it comes to the breaking point.  You either do, you don’t; you are glad you did or you wish you hadn ‘t.

I’m glad I did.

My mind is as clear as a bell.

The photographic celibacy I’ve been in for the past few weeks has passed, the writer’s block has been shattered just like that bathroom mirror.

I don’t use the mirror anyway.

My hair is too short to do anything but mousse it to stand up and I haven ‘t worn make-up in years.

I did have to buy a new toothbrush, however, as I wasn’t certain I got all of the glass shards out of it and dentists and coroners alike frown on putting glass in your mouth.

People who don’t know me personally are thinking right now that they are better off, people who do know me are singing the hallelujah chorus.

There is nothing wrong with going, once in a while, off the deep end … as long as nobody gets hurt.

This is a big reason why I don’t date.  Can you imagine it?  I’d  have a restraining order against me after the first week … unless, of course, I could find a nice Irishman who liked a donnybrook now and then as much as I did.

But that is neither here nor there.

Be who you are, even when you are throwing things.  That’s my motto.

Even Jesus threw things … remember the tantrum in the temple?    He is as much a part of me when I’m throwing things as when I’m in His woods or writing His words.

I’m His either way and there is magnificent peace in simply knowing that single fact.  I, like the sun, the stars, the moon, the earth, the grass the trees … have a purpose.

And He helps me find it, sometimes by throwing things.

How very cool is that?

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flames, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Through His creation …

He speaks to me.

Who, you say?

Why Jesus, of course.

How, you ask?

By showing me what He sees through the eyes He sees them with.

And by allowing me to capture on film that which He chooses to show me.

Being a photographer is one of His greatest gifts to me and I don’t take His beauty lightly.

I am, in the space of time that I walk through the beauty of creation, one with that creation.

I am part of that which lives, thrives and survives.

I am His.

He reminds me every day of His love for me by showing me the wonders of the earth He created, of His beauty and, for whatever reason, He allows me to see it through His perfect eyes.  I am often blinded by life, by moments, by disappointments and disillusionment, but He reminds me, every single day, that I am His.

Through the fragrant blooms of springtime that make their way even while winter tries to force his hand.  They are strong and resilient, those blooms.  Strong-willed and fearless as they burst forth with courage and strength.

The Creator's fragrant palette

The Creator’s fragrant palette

Through the fireflies of summer, which frolic beneath a summer moon and compete with the magnificence of the stars.  They blink and fade, wander and mesmerize, bringing magic and comfort and the promise of something wonderful.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Through the colorful leaves that adorn the trees that catch my eye, the smell of decay on the ground mixed with the subtle scent of of beauty that can only be felt in the heart.  The joyous chatter of the brilliance of fall as it rains down on forgotten paths and leaves the mind reeling with possibilities.

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

Through the winter, the cold air and frigid temperatures that can freeze a waterfall in her tracks, making her song one of unrivaled silence as her beauty emanates praise and thanksgiving.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

A bubbling creek becomes suspended in something, motionless and full of such magic that only the heart can understand it.  Some things are  so rare, so precious, so full of beauty that nothing is left but to offer praise.

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Seeing it, immersing myself in it, becoming a part of it reminds me that I, too am, a child of the creator.

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain ... one that I call home

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain … one that I call home

My cup runneth over.

His beauty unfolds before me in the misty rain of barren landscapes, foggy sunrises behind mountains and beneath a black sky glittering with stars.

without rain, there can be no rainbow

without rain, there can be no rainbow

From my front porch

From my front porch

I am blessed and, when I forget that, He reminds me with His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two road diverged in a wood, and I — I took the ones less traveled by, And that has mad all the difference ~ Robert Frost

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

Organization …

is not my strong suit

My desk at work is organized because I would simply fold in upon myself otherwise.  I find it difficult to focus enough to know where I am and what I am doing there, so being disorganized is not an option.

Not if I want to keep getting a steady paycheck (which is imperative to fund my real ambitions of photography, writing and travel).

My photographs are organized.

Brutally so.

With tens of thousands of photographs, literally, there must be organization or I would never be able to lay my hands on a particular photograph when I needed to.

As crazy as it may sound, when I look at an image, I remember the moment it was taken.  It is like a bionic power of some sort that allows me to pull from the brain pan recesses in perfect clarity something that happened on some obscure day in the past though I often have difficulty remembering what I ate for breakfast.

When I remember to eat breakfast, that is.

My house is not organized.

It is jumbled and chaotic, but I know where everything is.

I’m not big into “stuff”.  I have one photograph on my wall and the calendar is still on may of 2011.  To those that know me personally, this will not come as a surprise.  To the rest of you … close your mouths.  It’s not that big of a deal.

I have clothes on the floor, shoes on the floor and junk on the couch.  But my kitchen and bathroom are clean.

I rarely cook anymore, which is a shame because not only do I love to cook, I am very good at it.  That isn’t bragging, just stating the facts.  I am an excellent cook.  I just don’t do it.

But if one day the mood strikes, my kitchen is clean and my butcher knife sharp.

I think I started this whole post with organization. I’m not sure why that was even on my mind since there are only the three areas, work, photographs and kitchen that are organized.

My house, at any given time, looks as though a band of rogue monkeys swept through and had a free-for-all.

I don’t care.  If I’m ok with it, anybody who finds fault is simply a fault-finder.

If you are coming to see me, come ahead, if you are coming to see my house, make an appointment … about one year in advance.

I never understood and still don’t understand people who pretend to be what they aren’t simply to impress someone who likely wouldn’t be impressed even if you levitated while juggling flaming torches.

If being impressed by me is what someone is looking for, they will be sorely disappointed.  I live in my house and clean it when I feel like it, I wear clothes so I don’t get cold or arrested and I work so I can afford to do the things I really want to do.

Organization?  Not if I can possibly avoid it.

I’m much too busy living to worry about the small stuff.

flowersfornini

Being human means that …

we open ourselves up for things that maybe, if we weren’t human, we wouldn’t otherwise know.

We open ourselves up to disappointment.

To hurt.

To humiliation.

To joy.

To love.

To faith and friendship.

To knowledge.

To trust.

These are all part of what makes us human.  Trusting, loving and relying on other humans as we try our best to make our way along this journey is part of the process.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what we feel, what we believe, where we put our faith … that is what is important.

People will let us down because at the core, we are are human.

None of us are perfect and none of us can be trusted implicitly.

I find myself realizing for the hundredth time how foolish I was.

It won’t make any difference the next time.

I will trust and put my faith in humans knowing in advance that it could very well be a mistake.

But we are fallible.

It is ok to be wrong.

It happens sometimes.

Being wrong about someone isn’t the end of the world.

Yes, we will cry and cry and cry.  Or at least I will.

Crying and throwing breakable things is how I best deal with disappointments.   However, until I replenish my breakable stash, crying is my most appealing option.

Nothing wrong with crying when you realize you were foolish.

But if crying is all you do, then you never move past being foolish and if you never move past being foolish, then you didn’t learn a thing.

Learn something and move on.

People will sometimes let you down.

That is part of the whole human thing and just as we have been disappointed, we will disappoint others.

It is a circle … imperfect and yet a circle just the same.

And whether we like it or not, we are human.

Live.  Love.  Rejoice.  Enjoy.  Cry.  Laugh.  Embrace.  Trust.  Live.

That is the circle.

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera.  I was awestruck.

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera. I was awestruck.

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 …

Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …