Tag Archives: a photographer’s heart

Well, I did it …

I turned 50.

It wasn’t the big deal I had made it out to be in my mind.

My body did not, contrary to my expectations, spontaneously shrivel and die at midnight.

I slept like a 49-year old and woke up feeling a bit smug that I had moved into a new phase in my life.

When I danced around the kitchen singing happy birthday to myself, Murphy the wonder-pup danced around my feet as though he were celebrating with me.  Either that or he was doggy-praying that I would calm down and act my age.

I felt a sense of empowerment as I drove to work knowing that, on this day, I was half a century old.

I nearly depressed myself with the empowering thoughts because 50 sounds so much better than half a century.  Ugly crying wasn’t an option so half a century turned into two fourths of one.

50 was starting to sound exciting,

Half a century sounded like it belonged in the back basement corner of a now-defunct museum.

During my drive to work, my mind, as it usually does, began to wander.  I started down the broken road of things I would change, but decided unless it was my bed linens or the time on my watch, it wasn’t worth wasting my thoughts on.

I doubt there is a person on earth who wouldn’t change things if they could, but since the time machine hasn’t yet been perfected, it would be a mute point.


So I sang happy birthday to myself again as I drove along and gave thanks to God that He let me have another trip around the sun.

I’m 50 and proud of it.

I can’t say I’m all that thrilled about the AARP mail, but I did like the look of that free backpack.



The obituary column …

is an essential component of living in the South.

Without it, life would take an incomprehensible and irreversible turn.

Every few days, my mom says to me “we’re going to the funeral home”.

The “we” is she and my dad.

I never know what’s going on so, as far as I’m concerned, it could be a relative or close personal friend.

Tonight, it was the wife of a preacher I’ve never heard of.

I don’t take the paper myself and even if I did, I wouldn’t read every word of every obituary looking for familiar names so I’d have a reason to go to the funeral home.

When I was a kid, growing up on a dirt road miles off the “main road”, the obituaries were read on the radio.

You late forty and older crowd, who live or have lived in the South, know what I’m talking about.

There was one AM station on the radio that was only part static and most words could be understood.

First came the Pledge of Allegiance, then the obituaries followed by the madly popular “Swap Shop”.

Since there was only that one discernable station, everyone around our parts listened to it.

They swapped hogs and chickens for mule harnesses and tractor tires, then met at the funeral home to talk about it because someone they didn’t know, who was a relative of someone they hadn’t seen in years, had died.

Congregating at the funeral home; it’s a Southern thing,  I suppose.

Or maybe it’s just a Southwest Virginia thing.

I think we’ll find, however, it’s broader than my little neck of the woods and call it a Southern thang.


And like a mist …

spring came to Southwest Virginia.

More specifically, to Clinch Mountain and even more specifically, to Big Moccasin.

The temperatures and weather over the past couple of weeks has been like riding the world’s most vertigo-inducing roller-coaster immediately after eating corn dogs, grilled sausages with onions and funnel cakes.

Better than Ipecac syrup, that.

But this past Sunday … wow.  Just wow.

A perfect day filled with fog, clouds, blue sky, sunshine, a spring breeze, and a trip into my mountain.



Like my orchard, the mountain isn’t really mine.

It isn’t really anyone’s.

Even though someone may hold the deed to a particular part of the earth, that part thrives and takes what it wants and has little regard for that little piece of paper that claims ownership.

The trees grow, the flowers bloom, the grass thrives, the leaves bud, the creek flows and human existence is of little relevance.

I found this to be true when I went into “my” mountain on Sunday.

If it was glad to see me, it didn’t say so, not with words, but I think, at least I like to think, that it missed me a little bit, anyway.

I went to the Orchard first.  It was just beginning to bud.  I kissed the tender buds, the gnarled branches and the crooked trunks.

Was I worshiping the trees or the orchard or the sun or the sky?

Of course not.

I was worshiping the Creator of those lovely things.


I laid on the newly-greening grass beneath the apple trees and thought deep thoughts about everything and nothing.  I thought forbidden thoughts, dreamed lovely dreams, and reveled in the sense of contented aloneness that I feel while immersed in nature.

I can be myself beneath the trees that I love, without pretending or hoping or wishing.  They have an understanding of who I am and what I aspire to be.  That is the nature of trees.  They are unassuming and accept me, along with my dreams and fantasies, without condemnation.

Just me.

Just as I am, without filters or regrets.

Thank you, Jesus, for the Orchard.

I find peace in no place like I find it behind the lens of a camera watching the world that God created play before my very eyes.  I feel, sometimes, like an intruder into the perfect world of nature but I cannot look away from the magnificence.




Of course, as on any successful excursion, hike or trail shoot, I became unbelievably filthy and muddy by crawling beneath branches and vines on the edge of the creek in order to preserve, through images, the delicacy of fragile blooms that help to define spring.



I didn’t, on this journey, find any fiddle-heads, but it is a bit early yet.  I am already looking forward to my next trek into the spring mountain, for with every trip, every journey, there will be more to see, to experience.  More to overload my already overloaded senses and send me to a place that one can only get to by being in the mountains in springtime.

I am, without doubt, blessed beyond measure and I am thankful.

Isaiah 55:12 ~ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.


A Moment of Truth

Today was a learning experience for me; a day of growth, both emotionally and spiritually.  Everyone has them from time to time, often when they don’t really understand what just happened.  Before a couple of weeks ago, I’m not sure I would have understood what happened.   I have, after all, spent the biggest part of my life up to now battling, and more often than not, losing to, my insecurities.  As a child I hid behind the shelter that my younger, more athletic, attention-seeking sister provided.  She was bigger than life and the focus and attention was always on her, leaving me to bask in obscurity … feverishly hoping that in obscurity I would remain.  But … God has a way of putting me in situations that far, far, far exceed my comfort zone and at a precise moment of His choosing, he gives me a choice; live or die.

My childhood faded to teenager, with even more reasons to be insecure.  The more I tried to fit in, the further out of the loop I became until I felt like a party of one … even in the midst of a crowd.  As my teens rolled into early twenties, it seemed that the insecurity consumed me.  I became a slave to the words of other people, whether they were actually meant for me or not.  Every criticism threatened to cause me to simply collapse into myself, not unlike an exploding star.  I became easy prey for someone to take advantage of.  And they did.  And I did nothing.  I felt so powerless.  I was dying.  I had chosen to die.

I suppose it is apt that this blog contain some remnants of Jim as this, had he lived, would have been our thirteenth anniversary.  I met Jim unexpectedly and the moment I looked into his eyes, I knew something was about to change.  I was so broken when we met, and in my mind, beyond redemption.  I had lost my way, my vision, myself and most importantly, I had lost my faith.  Through the next ten years, he chipped away at the insecurity, pushing me to look inside myself and face demons that haunted me … he damaged the high wall I had built and allowed light to shine into paralyzed places in my heart.  He helped me to find enough of myself to build on.  I realize with certainty that I was stronger when he died than I was on the day I married him; his encouragement, faith and devotion instrumental in coming to that realization.

Now, back to today … without a bit of insight into why it was such a turning point, the accomplishment would really have meant nothing to anyone but me.  And so it happened … an older man that I came into contact with today was harsh, with a harsh tone and harsh words.  I immediately felt myself closing off at the possibility of a confrontation and began wondering what kind of terrible home life he must have to be this way… but this time, a little voice inside me said “I thought you were going to work on not doing that anymore”.  And, after a momentary feeling of shock at the confidence (a state of being I struggle with) that I had the power to change, I felt a lock slide open.  As though a mist had been lifted, I saw him not as someone with a difficult home life, but only someone who was different than me.  Someone who had a personality diametric to my own and not simply out to hurt my feelings.  I looked at him differently, as a human being with thoughts and imaginings of his own and I no longer felt the need to ball up and cry.  I smiled at him and conversed regularly in the face of his demonstrative behavior and he smiled back.  He was not out to get me, didn’t hate me and had no idea that he had the power to hurt me; he was just an old man being all he knew to be.  And I didn’t internalize it this time.  The insecurity that sometimes threatens to suffocate me took a serious hit.

There will be many who read this that will have no understanding of such emotions as insecurity and the lack of confidence that is evident here; those of you who are self-assured and confident and have been since the beginning.  There are some, though, and those are the ones I write to, that will.  I found out today that I do have the power to control my emotions to some extent by searching for what I didn’t see before.  The humanness of us all.  What an intoxicating feeling to know that there is still more to learn about myself and,  gloriously exciting, how anxious I am to learn it.  I am thankful, as always, to a loving God who shows me what I need to know to be useful in the places He intends to send me.  I wait with bated breath to see what comes next …

Isaiah 42:3 ~ A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment to truth

You are what you tweet

Social media.  One of the best things, in my opinion, since sliced bread.  I love being able to connect to people all over the world as well as the ones in my own back yard, see what they are up to and give them a little glimpse into my life.  Do they care?  Yeah.  I think they do … at least some of them, anyway.  Of course, it is a lot like everything else in life in that we all want everyone to like us, but reality is a real killjoy.  And like life, some people will like the content that is posted, some won’t and others will be either indifferent or oblivious.  I know when I tweet, Google+ or Facebook something, there is a chance that somebody will read it, relate to it, laugh at it, cry over it, get their back up about it, come to my defense for it, rally for a cause or just pass it along because for whatever reason, they found it interesting.  When they do, they are passing along a little piece of me.  And I want that little piece to represent who I am, what I believe and the things I stand for so that at the end of the day, I know that I have been true to myself.  Same goes for the things of others that I pass along on what started out as a grapevine but has grown into a vineyard that has branches all over the globe.  Look at your own activity.  Do you re-tweet, share or +1 everything you read?  Of course not.  If we all liked everything that everyone else wrote, and they liked everything we wrote, then that would mean that we were all alike and I, personally, would not want to live in a world full of people just like me.  We would brain each other with a hammer inside of a week.  No thanks.