My Happy Place: Rebirth and New Growth

Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 170, aperture f/7.1, shutter 1/50
Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 170, aperture f/7.1, shutter 1/50

My newly uncovered artist heart, rebelled against yet another dreary and chilly day that seemed to match my mood. I headed out in search of some “happy”, and found it in my beautiful albeit very confused Hyacinths. They whispered hope and life to me. A reminder that it is part of God’s design, that after winter comes spring…both in the natural world, and the season of winter in our souls.   New birth and growth bravely press through the cold and muddy mess, and beauty shines through once again.

To everything there is a season…and God has a purpose in it all.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every [a]event under heaven—

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 105, aperture f/8.0, shutter 1/50
Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 105, aperture f/8.0, shutter 1/50
Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 200mm, aperture f/11, shutter 1/50
Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 200mm, aperture f/11, shutter 1/50
Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 150, aperture f/7.1, shutter 1/50
Nikon D90 ISO 200, 18-200 lens at 150, aperture f/7.1, shutter 1/50
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My Happy Place Days 20-24

Day 20:  Living in the "country".
Day 20: Living in the “country”.

It’s been a fairly stressful week for me. The kind of stress that makes me feel quiet and a need to retreat for awhile, which is why I’ve been quiet lately. So today I’m grateful for my camera and the joy I can find in capturing things I love. As well as the ability to express myself in pictures when I don’t have a lot of words to say. It goes a long way to helping me keep perspective in the midst of life’s “crazy”. So here’s to finding my “happy”.

Day 21:  Seeing my boy FINALLY excited about reading.  He read this book in two days!!  Makes a mama happy!

Day 21: Seeing my boy FINALLY excited about reading. He read this book in two days!! Makes a mama happy!
Day 22: Beautiful Sunsets
Day 22: Beautiful Sunsets
Day 23: Warm fires
Day 23: Warm fires
Day 24: How focused my girl gets when she is learning something new.
Day 24: How focused my girl gets when she is learning something new.

My Happy Place Day 18: Sweet Puppies

Sweet Puppy
Po

I experimented a lot with black and whites and metering modes today. I needed to do a “portrait” in black and white, and in all three metering modes (matrix, spot, and center-weighted) for one of my class assignments tomorrow. Since my extended family was all together today and as you can see we love dogs, I decided to experiment with my family’s pooches for a little something different.

Between our family, my 2 sisters families and my parents, we have a total of 6 dogs between us. Here are just a couple of them…my other sis’s dachshunds I’m sure will be featured here soon as well. 😉

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Tifa

Emma
Emma
Rosie
Rosie

My Happy Place Day 11: Rainy Days

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Perhaps it is strange to say that a happy place for me is a solid, all day, soaking kind of rainy day. However, when we have one of those days, particularly on a chilly winter day when I can build a fire and I have no where to go, it suites me fine. Snuggled in the warmth, with the ones I love, there is a quiet soul searching that settles over me. Reflection wins out over the business.

We’ve had a lot of rainy days recently, and even a rain lover can get a little weary of the dreariness when days stretch into weeks. A longing to see hints of the sun eventually will weigh on you. These days have been a lesson for me though…because in the moments when the sun wins through the heavy dark clouds, somehow it is sweeter. Almost like his right to be in the sky has been won in battle.

And at the end of the day, it is in the rain, that I learn to appreciate the sun.

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The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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My Happy Place Day’s 8 and 9

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So it’s been a little crazy around here lately. My Happy Place posts had to take a break as I’ve been pretty much just dealing with life. My happy place day 8 is this guy, my husband Ray. I took this picture actually a couple weeks ago, but it’s one of my favorites. He is my biggest cheerleader, my hero, my best friend, and my rock in so many ways. Everything, and I mean everything he does is for me and the kids. He is my “happy go lucky, the world is a beautiful place” guy that keeps a continual bright spot as an anchor for my melancholy personality. I’m fairly certain I would not survive without him (there’s that ol’ melancholy showing through again! :))

This week he was put in harms way while he was working, and while it could have been much worse, it kind of pulled us both up short. Realizing the world is full of crazy people, and each day that is given is not promised to us, but a gift. I’m finding myself feeling extremely blessed, hugging a little tighter, and praying a little more for him. My heart is full, and overwhelmed when I think about how lucky I am that God gave me him.

Day 9 is my sweet ballerina girl. I love watching her grow and blossom into the beautiful woman God is growing her into. She is one of the most loving people placed on the planet earth, and has been since the day she was born. She wins even the toughest personalities over with her warm hugs, and accepting personality. I can learn much from her. And when she dances, she brings me such joy. Her love for dance comes out throughout the day. At any given moment you might come around the corner and see her choreographing a dance to the music playing inside her heart. She’s grown so much since the first ballet classes she took at 5, and her grace and beauty on stage can take my breath away. I’m truly blessed that I get to call this sweet girl mine.

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One of these two ballet slipper pics will be my submission for the theme “New” on my photography class assignment this week. I’m curious what one you like better?

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My Happy Place Day 6: My Gang Fighting the Post Christmas Blues Together

Happy Place Day #6-0179

Today was the day we packed away the Christmas decorations. It always makes me sad to put them away for another year.  I love how festive and warm they make our house, and it always seems empty and bare after their coziness has warmed our days.  But it’s a task that must be done, and the only thing that made it better is this gang I call my own.  They warm my heart more then anything else in the world, and their presence and  warm fire help to chase the post-Christmas blues away.

Happy Place Day #6-0185

His attempt at an Elvis impersonation. He makes me laugh.
His attempt at an Elvis impersonation. He makes me laugh.

Happy Place Day #6-0218

Happy Place Day #6-0233

My Happy Place Project

Day 1:  My boys.  The only pic I took on New Years Eve and Day.  My ballerina girl was at a sleepover, and we let the little man stay up to watch the ball drop.  He was thrilled.
Day 1: My boys. The only pic I took on New Years Eve and Day. My ballerina girl was at a sleepover, and we let the little man stay up to watch the ball drop. He was thrilled.

I have to admit, I don’t usually put much stock in New Year’s resolutions or that there will be any true change with the simple advance of the clock from 11:59 on December 31st, to 12:00 on January 1st. However this year, I think I was looking forward to the turn of the calendar, as much as I was to Christmas, if only for it’s symbolic picture of a fresh start.

2012 was a tough year for me in a lot of ways. God in His wisdom decided He needed to re-prioritize a few things in my life. It has been a painful journey, fraught with misunderstandings and hurt, death of vision and dreams I felt were from Him…and perhaps harder still to see, hidden blessings. I wish I could say that I’ve navigated it all perfectly and as a picture of grace, but that wouldn’t be true. Frankly, there have been times that I’ve flat out thrown a “temper tantrum” that would put any two year old to shame, because I’ve not liked the path He’s chosen for me to walk. But God has been so gracious to me, forgiving when I humble myself before Him, giving me strength to pick up and move forward again and again. And in that process I’m catching more and more glimpses of the simple truth that, when He allows pain into our lives, it is often used for a deeper and greater good.

While this blog and my journey into photography is only a temporal part of the bigger picture, it’s still now a part of my story. You see, it is these trials and a few other circumstances, that have created the “perfect storm”, that has closed one door and opened another. And honestly, it has pushed me to walk through that door, in a new direction of something I may not have been brave enough to step into otherwise.

So with that back story, you might better understand why as I was visiting the blog of another photographer whose work I absolutely love and respect, I was impacted by her post, “The Wonder Project”. Seriously, Mary Anne’s artistry and knowledge is what I aspire too. I love her heart that comes out in her pictures and blog as well. Anyway, I could relate on so many levels. It was that post and echoes of Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” that have inspired me to throw caution to the wind, and commit to jumping in to my own challenge.

This challenge for myself is called, “My Happy Place”, and it will be my attempt to take a picture a day (or close to) of something that makes me smile, a blessing in my life, a beauty God has opened my eyes too, or things that take my breath away. The things that take me to my “Happy Place” where I’m overwhelmed by His goodness to me. My hope is that it will not only stretch me artistically, but that it will also affect my attitude, change my perspective and keep my focus where it needs to be. So here is my start in 2013, choosing to keep my eyes on God, the good things He has put into my life, and all that He has for planned for me in the year ahead.

One of my favorite families in the whole wide world.  This pic makes me smile everytime I see it.
Day 2: One of my favorite families in the whole wide world. This pic makes me smile everytime I see it.
My pooch.  She bounces when we go outside to play without a leash.  I love her quirkiness.
Day 3: My pooch. She literally bounces with delight when we go outside to play without a leash. I love her quirkiness.
Day 3: Crepe paper flowers with complimentary plastic bee, from the cutest little man I know.
Day 4: Crepe paper flowers with complimentary plastic bee, from the cutest little man I know.
Day 5: Flowers from my husband, who knows me better then I know myself sometimes. They came on a day I really needed to be reminded I am loved.
Day 5: Flowers from my husband, who knows me better then I know myself sometimes. They came on a day I really needed to be reminded I am loved.