Nothing huge, mind you. Just lots and lots of tiny things, piling up, all adding weight to one huge ball of stress.
Example: end of quarter, report cards loom. Enough said.
When I curled up in bed with my ipad, those chips and cream cheese, I realized that lots of folks were posting away, the topic being gratitude.
Sigh. I had blown it. I had meant to do this. And, there I sat, stuffing my face with junk and feeling quite sorry for myself.
But, I knew that I needed a bit of feeling sorry for myself time before I could begin to climb out of it. I started, just now, to type, "snap out of it," but in the spirit of full disclosure, there's no "snapping out" of this one; it's going to be a "climbing out."
So, here I sit, typing away, knowing that this day will be all about catching up, doing report cards, and the like.
But, I can begin with posting something I'm grateful for, even if it's a day late. And, I'll post again, a bit later, to catch up by completing day 2.
I am grateful for autumn's glorious colors. Mother Nature doesn't mess around...she throws every bit of color out there for all of us to inhale and love. Colors, patterns, textures...she does it all. I love it!
To quote John Lennon, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." You see, after two weeks of rusing hither, thither, and yon and filling my brain with all sorts of stuff, I finally had a bit of down time.
Perfect. I could complete my photography assignment - blurring backgrounds and bokeh.
In my head, I composed the perfect shot.
In reality? Well, let's see...
Colorful autumn leaves? Check!
Beautiful sunshiney autumn weather? Uhm...not so much.
Lack of a breeze? Definitely not checked. I wanted to blur the background; not the leaves!
Move over to Plan B, and photograph some toy dinosaurs. (Hey, they stand nice and still!)
Still, the hard headed Russian in me figured I could capture that one elusive moment when the leaves remained perfect in place. And, out I went, creating shot after shot of glorious autumn color.
Each and every one of them blurred.
Frustrated with both Mother Nature and myself, I decided to head back inside, when these lovely beauties said, "Hey, stop. Look. See. I may be dying, but I'm gorgeous!"
And, they are...as Jon Katz would say, "Come and see." Beauty there for the taking. No bokeh, but yes, the background is blurred. But, oh, the colors - an utterly gorgeous palate that I did not expect to enjoy. Not the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges autumn gifts us, but the cool blues, greens, and purples of summer. One last hurrah of sorts.
Today brings everything yesterday didn't...glorious sunshine! Still a bit of a breeze, so the leaves are dancing. Still, I had to give it a go.
Glorious color? Check!
Background blurred? Check!
Thanks, Mother Nature...three glorious gifts in two days.
The best? Learning to see.
We hoped to see the dance of the monarchs; instead we watched the rain pour from the heavens. White caps danced on the channel, mocking us, and the beach? Closed due to the government shutdown.Money to spend? None, really...the paycheck, what there was of it, reflected the shutdown.
And, it's all okay. We'd prepaid for our condo, so, we simply went for it, bringing along homemade applesauce, stuffed cabbage rolls, and a bottle or two of wine. Some books to read, a place on the water, and new places to explore.
We even managed to catch a glimpse of the Atlantic from Assateague State Park, and with the wind whipping up the waves, and sand stinging our faces, the glimpse was quite enough!...but long enough to snap a shot or two.
Long conversations into the night, and antique shops to explore. Berlin, MD, home of "The Runaway Bride" with its wonderful old architecture and people to chat with, offered a wonderful old shop packed with antique toys. While we couldn't buy any, we could laugh and giggle over what we'd owned as kids.
Yes, the beach was closed, but with this weather, we wouldn't have been on it for long anyway. Would we have liked to be able to a few things? Absolutely. But, we had a choice to make...dwell in our misery or simply enjoy life as best we could. Dwelling in the misery didn't offer anything but misery.
Instead, we grabbed the cameras, catching bits of magic here and there. A cobalt blue bowl reflected in a countertop. The blessing of the antique toy store owner, who said, "Yes, photograph what you'd like." Chatting with a beader about her native American heritage and the owner of the Boston Bull Terrier about our own childhood memories of Lucky, another Boston Bull. The loaf of rye bread didn't cost much at all, and slathered with butter, offerend its own bit of heaven.
So, it poured, and my hair resembled a brillo pad. Water dripped off my nose. But, boy did I rock my Johnny Depp hat. (Picture to follow, although you can find it on Instagram!)
Life didn't deal what we expected, but life still dealt a pretty good hand, as long as I could remember to focus on what I had rather than what I didn't.
I see or hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack of light.
From: Mindful by Mary Oliver
It's been such a difficult last two weeks, for so many reasons...emotional heartaches on more than one instance, having someone just lamblast me for something I didn't do, and now today, hubby came home, furloughed one more time. Another pay cut...here we come. All of this equals not much blogging, because I really don't want to send out so much negative energy; there's more than enough of that already. What I've been trying to do is to hold onto the little things that fill me with delight.
I'm not a Pollyanna..so not a Pollyanna! My mother, God love her, never quite saw the bright side of things. So, I've hard to work hard to begin to create a new mindset. Sometimes, guys, it's just hard work.
I've been taking a photoclass on line..."Elevate the Everyday," and I'm loving it! There have been daily prompts, and I have to admit to thinking "outside the box" on some of them. A few have fallen by the wayside; the prompts just don't come naturally during the course of my school day. I arrive at about 6:45 am and leave no earlier than 4:30, often later. Now, there's tons of photo ops at school, but for privacy and safety reasons, they're a no go. But, I've been pushing myself to at least get several done a week, sometimes playing catchup on the weekend.
Saturday was glorious...Phil, Dom (our 5 year old grand), and I out in Markham, VA, at Stribling Orchards. So many people, so many cameras. Have to admit to getting a few odd looks when I was scrambling on the ground and poking my head into bushes to get "the shot!" No matter, I loved it. The air, the space, the absolutely stunning colors. A little bit of walking, which I don't do as often as I should. Stopping at an old diner on the way home, just sitting and relaxing...and my grease low level light has been satisfied for some time to come! A bit later, all the tools of the trade came out, and the apple peeling, cooking, and canning began, all with the help of our grand. His grandpa put labels on the jar today, complete with Dom's picture and the words, "picked by Dominic." Such a little thing, but I can't wait to see Dom's face.
So, apples...an amazing assortment of colors, tastes, and textures. Apples bunched on branches. Apples to dodge as they come tumbling to the ground. Everyday apples, so easily overlooked...unless you stop and really notice. Really look. And then let yourself be "killed with delight."
So, I'm working on noticing, on finding things to take delight in and with which to fill my days with joy.
I can't change the furloughs; can't change the fact that some folks will yell at me. I can't change the heartaches that seem to be clustering on my doorstep.
But, I can choose how I'll react to them, and I can refuse to have a pity party, deserved as it might be. I know that my result will be a bigger headache, along with some tensed up muscles. No thank you.
So, here's to noticing all that is good...and there is so much! Pick up an apple and "see" it...what a gift from God!
I am thinking about...apple picking memories that were made yesterday - a little boy and his grandpa picking about 80 pounds of apples and then working in the kitchen to make homemade applesauce. Every time we open up a jar this winter, the memories will come flooding back.
I am thankful for...a husband that enjoys cooking, time spent with my grands, this gorgeous fall weather, and Sundays around my home.
From the kitchen...comes the aroma of apples; there's no getting around that one! Later, stew will simmer in the crockpot, as well as homemade butternut squash soup. Want to come on over?
I am wearing...a long blue fuzzy robe. There's just enough chill in the air to warrant it.
I am creating...a new journal today...more on that later!
I am reading...Elevate the Everyday by Tracy Clark, along with a few other photography books/art books.
I am hoping...for more photo ops in my future. Yesterday, I bounced back and forth between the dslr and iphone. So many apps, so little time.
I am hearing...the snoring on one fat gray cat, whose tummy is full. He's found a towel on the floor and shows signs of sheer bliss.
Around the house...vacuuming waits to be done, closets need clearing out, laundry is in motion.
One of my favorite things...autumn's glorious colors.
A few plans for the week...tweaking this blog, journal play, and more decluttering/destashing.
I hope your Sunday is filled with joy.
You arrived yesterday amidst rain and wind, a gray dreary day on all counts.
In many ways, you make my heart sing. I love falling asleep on a crisp clear night, the breeze floating through my window. Flannel sheets, soft and warm with time, make their appearance on my bed.
With you comes pumpkin in all its glorius forms, from breads and pies to my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Soups of all sorts simmer on the stove...chicken noodle, squash, and tomato to name a few. Phil begins his bread baking and life is so very good.
I admire and envy your wardrobe - those scarlet reds, vivid oranges, and bright yellows. Apple picking commences, resulting in jars and jars of homemade sauce.
Gourds of all sorts peek at me from various corners of my house. Geese wing their way through the sky, a honking chorus punctuating the air.
But, fall, I do have a few bones to pick with you! Ineveitably, with you, arrive cold dreary days. Each day has less and less light, more and more darkness. This, fall, I could do without.
Heavier clothes equal more time in the dryer, and laundry becomes that much more of a chore. Although you deck yourself in glorius color, my wardrobe seems to consist of more blacks and grays. That, fall, I have to do something about.
All in all, I must admit that there's more positives than negatives in your columns, and for that, Mother Earth, I say a loud and resounding, "THANK YOU!"
A slight pause, and then, again, Code Red.
My third gradrs looked at me puzzled; this was something new. Something they'd never heard of...code orange? Yeah. But not code red.
Instinctively, I walked over, locked our door, all the while teaching. Not to worry, I told them. But my mind was reeling...I knew code red meant trouble, because this was a time period where we never practiced for this type of emergency with children present. It was thought that just the adults should know...we didn't want to worry our kids.
I could hear flurries of activity, and eventually, a volunteer, a mother I knew well, knocked. I opened the door a crack, and she whispered, "The Pentagon's been hit." I nodded, mind reeling...my husband worked there.
I smiled at the kids, and we continued our lesson.
Another knock, more whispering. By this times sirens wailed; I taught in the same community where the injured were being taken.
One class had been hustled inside; they were on the playground and the adults present could see the plane going down.
Volunteers came and went, children quietly being escorted to waiting parents at our office. Our population was largely military. Later, I would learn, a child I'd taught the previous year lost his father. My husband lost good friends. But at that moment, all I knew was to keep my "babies" calm.
Eventually we took the children into our cafeteria, and we told them what had happened. There was a moment of stillness, a collective gasp, and then we prayed. We reassured them the best we could. One child sat on my lap, and I rocked her. Her mom worked at the Pentagon as well.
I had no idea if Phil was okay, but the taking care of my "babies" kept me in motion. It was all so surreal. What do you do to keep everyone calm as children were constantly being shuffled off to waiting arms?
One son heard the news as he lined up his students for school photos. Another heard which side had been hit and breathed a sigh of relief. Little did he know his dad was in a meeting on the side where the plane came down. Later, my husband walked me to the spot where the plane had stopped. And, then he silently pointed to where he had sat in his meeting. The distance...too minimal, too close.
No one knew much; cell phones were useless and landlines overwhelmed. At some point, my door opened quietly and my husband walked in. We held each other quietly, rocked to and fro a bit, and then, back to my students. Phil had walked several miles to get to me. Our car was in a spot that had been roped off.
Finally, all my chicks had left. A good friend drove Phil and I home. We finally, hours later, could make contact with family.
So, today is a day for memories. I don't write this for sympathy. So many lost husbands, wives, friends. So many today are fighting their own worries, whether it be cancer, divorce, or going into war.
What stays with me, more than anything are the helpers, the ones from Mr. Roger's famous quotes.
I remember those who reached out to see what they could do for my little family. I remember the moms and dads in our halls that escorted children to and fro, all the while wondering about their own loved ones safety. I remember the nurses and doctors whoe worked ceaselessly those days...the firefighters who and coworkers who entered buring buildings to get others out.
I thought awhile about the picture that would go with this entry. I ended up choosing something simple, something that happens every day. Because this is the gift that all the helpers gave me that day...the gift of life, of hope, of normalcy. I am blessed.
I am thinking about last weekend, the salt air and crashing of waves on the shore. Bliss!
I am thankful for a husband who cooks; I'm savoring a delicious omelet right now, complete with the herbs he grew. Yumminess.
From the kitchen comes a lingering scent of the chicken he smoked last night.
I am still wearing pjs.
I am creating photographic memories and visual art journal pages. It's good to be playing again and enjoying the process of it all. Instagram and Pinterenst have caught my attention as well.
I am going to be grading papers in a bit; not fun, but necessary. Then I get to post the grades and do other "exciting" school stuff.
I am hoping to not get sucked up into too much negativity this week. When you're tired and stressed, it's all too easy to do. I need to focus on gratitude instead.
I am rereading Expressive Photography and need to go get Tracey Clark's Elevate the Ordinary for an online class starting next week.
I am hoping the weather stays like this and to get out and shoot some more photos during the week.
I am hearing the sounds of Phil cleaning up breakfast dishes.
Around the house, clutter needs to be gotten rid of and some general cleaning done.
One of my favorite things is cookies and cream fudge. Some snuck into my car last weekend and followed me home from the beach.
A few plans for the week...tons of school stuff to do, functions to attend, and a blog that needs refurbishing.