The Sunday Post: A little bit of everything

It’s a beautiful Sunday here in Virginia. It’s also pretty quiet in my little corner of the world as I’m home alone while Doug is out prospecting with a band mate. They’re looking for new places to gig and most likely enjoying a cold beer or two while taking in the magnificent weather. We have to enjoy these days when we can because you never know what Mother Nature will present us with the next day. She’s pretty finicky, that one.

That leaves me with plenty of time to do whatever I please. Which can be quite a dilemma for me. I have a book to finish before I can start the new Harlan Coban thriller that’s just arrived. I’ve gone to the grocery store and I’m ready for my next foray into my not-quite-abandoned paella quest but I don’t want to start cooking too early. In the meantime I could do some yoga, go for a walk, get back to that book, I can write, work with my camera some more. Decisions, decisions!

What usually happens in these cases is that I waste a whole lot of time going from one thing to the next without fully committing to any one thing.

Sigh.

I decided I’m going to do a short yoga practice before I start cooking.

I’ll read after dinner.

So I guess that means that for now I write or work on my photography skills? Maybe both?

I’ve compromised with a little bit of PhotoShop practice. I’m still a beginner with PhotoShop because I used Aperture for my photo editing until it went away. So today I decided to try a couple filters on a couple of my newer photos.

The first photo was already beautiful without doing anything to it, because these guitars are gorgeous on their own and the afternoon sun gave them a lovely, golden glow. I thought the stained glass filter might be cool here.

stained-glass-guitars
Stained glass filter

This shot of a bowl full of marbles seemed like a logical candidate for the spherical effect.

marblesphere
Sphere effect

Tomorrow I get to play with a new lens and a wireless remote! I’m hoping to get a few good shots at the band’s next show on Saturday (The Acoustic Onion’s 60’s party at Castiglia’s) and hopefully some video and I know the light won’t be great so I need to study and prepare. All tips appreciated! Wish me luck!

 

 

 

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The Sunday Post: Why I write

If we were having coffee this morning, it would be “magic coffee.” After sleeping in on this cold Sunday morning, we decided there really was no good reason for us to leave the house today. Groceries can wait until tomorrow — we have leftovers we can warm up for dinner. Which brings me to the “magic coffee.” After finishing up our first batch of coffee with our French press, we enhanced the second pot with a few special ingredients (we’re partial to the Blitzen). With Alexa providing some background music via Pandora’s Burt Bacharach station, it was a relaxing way to spend a Sunday morning.

So here I sit on the couch in my pajamas, and I’ve just signed up for WordPress’s Blogging University course: Finding Everyday Inspiration. The first assignment is “I write because…”

I’ve tried to write every day since this past summer when I started the “Morning Pages” routine. I’m pretty sure I can count on just one or two hands the number of days I’ve missed since starting. Some days it’s just one page, but I’ve been pretty consistent.

But why do I write?

I guess I write because it’s another way to exercise my brain and creativity. I’m not a great conversationalist. I’m not a great writer either but when I write I can edit myself into someone who sounds a little more intelligent, maybe, or come close to expressing how I really feel about a subject.  When I write I have time to carefully consider the words I put down.

This isn’t the case with my Morning Pages, though, when the goal is just to write whatever’s on my mind for 30 minutes without thinking about it too much. This first assignment is along the same lines:

Today, tell us: why do you write? Set a timer and free-write for 15 or 30 minutes without stopping.

(So, if this post seems a little unstructured and even more ramble-ish than usual, I have a little bit of an excuse.)

I guess writing gives my voice, my spirit, a little more confidence. Taking a photograph that reflects a vision I saw in my head does the same. These two acts breathe a little energy into my body, my soul.

All right so maybe I’ve had enough “magic coffee” for today. See you next time!

Written for WordPress’s Finding Everyday Inspiration course. Day 1: I Write Because…

The Sunday Post: Serenity Now

I’m feeling a little better today. Not so emotional or down in the dumps. Sorry about those last few posts, guys. Some days that tender spot just gets beat up a little too much.

It’s been a productive but quiet day as I work on laundry (Why is it that no matter how much laundry you do, there’s always another load waiting for you when you’re done?), wrap a few more gifts, get dinner in the crock pot, and listen to the Vikings game. My good mood could be attributed to the fact that they are up 24-0 in the first half, but I was already in a better frame of mind before the game started.

Serene setting by the Christmas tree

Today instead of feeling anxious or sad when I look at our Christmas tree, I have a sense of serenity.  I’m feeling a bit optimistic, and a little more in control of my emotions. Not sure how long that will last, but I’m going to try to hang on to that feeling for as long as I can.

The Sunday Post: The struggle is real

Jolly” is maybe one of the last words I would use to describe how I felt this morning. A more accurate description would include words like “tired,” “morose,”  and even “slightly hung over.” But considering that today is the day after our company Christmas party you might expect some of that. Except that, for the first time in maybe 22 years, I did not attend this party. I’ve written about this event before in a 2014 blog post and I still believe that it’s important for companies to host these events and for employees to attend them.

I had heard over the last week or so that attendance was going to be down this year. Many speculated that people just don’t like how crowded it has become as the company has grown (the venue hasn’t changed despite a pretty large increase in our staff.)  This probably was reason enough for many to skip it this year. This wasn’t mine. Others may have just had a schedule conflict. My schedule was clear until we made alternate plans.

Since I didn’t go, I have no idea how the party was this year, but I’ve seen a few pictures on Facebook and some comments from party-goers indicating they had a great time and even read a “best one yet” comment.  I hope it was a great party. Hope everyone had a ball and they all won fantastic door prizes. I hope the dance floor was crowded until the very end.

Deciding to skip the party was easy to do and happened on a Friday afternoon in October after a pretty gut-wrenching day. Is it enough to say that it just felt like the right thing to do? I didn’t expect that I would be in a jolly, celebratory mood after the struggle that 2017 has been. Skipping the party was a protest of sorts, even if it was a pretty pathetic and invisible one. The only person that felt the effects was me, so again, pretty pathetic protest, huh? And is a protest much of a protest if no one knows about it? Probably not. Guess I could have made signs and picketed outside the party last night but then I would have just frozen my ass off with the same results but at least people would know about it. And what would my signs have said? Stop the insanity? I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore? 

I’m not that brave. I’m also not foolish enough to think that would accomplish anything. Just like skipping the party didn’t do anything. It did, however, give me an opportunity to spend the evening with some like-minded people who are possibly as frustrated as I am. We laughed, we drank, we exchanged stories. It was a nice way to spend the evening even if there were no door prizes involved and no one danced.

As I think about my posts and journal entries in 2017, the word “struggle” seems to be the theme for the year. It’s been a constant struggle. I’m pretty tired of the struggle. (If you’re still reading this you probably struggled to get this far and to try to make sense of anything I’ve written.) Tired of rambling, too. My goal for 2018 should be to achieve focus. I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish this. Got any suggestions?

 

 

 

The Sunday Post: Old-fashioned correspondence

I used to do it all the time. Sometimes even with people I’d never met before. I wrote letters to my grandmother, pen pals in other countries, and I’ve sent fan mail to my celebrity crushes back in my teenage days. I sent letters home when I was in college on personalized stationery, and then after I married I wrote an occasional letter to my parents. As my job and children took up more of my time, I lost the habit. Then along came the Internet and email, cell phones and texting. Sending something by postal mail became archaic (snail mail!).

A few years ago I bought myself a fresh box of pretty stationery and made myself a list of friends and family I wanted to correspond with, some of them for the first time. I wrote a handful of letters and got a couple back. I wrote a few more. I enjoyed writing the letters, but when I didn’t always hear back I was disappointed. I realized of course that not everyone was on the same mission or had the same communication goals. My pen pals had other things to do and quite possibly did not enjoy writing letters the same way I did. Eventually I lost the habit again.

I wrote a while back about starting a bullet journal. I’ve been using it for about six months now and in July I added a Morning Pages journal to my daily routine. That’s quite a bit of writing. I’ve found that I enjoy the quiet moments reflecting, brainstorming, and often times just brain dumping jumbled thoughts into my notebook.

This week I decided it was time to add letter-writing to the mix, to give it another shot and not worry too much about whether I get anyone to write back. I wrote three letters today. Since I hope to make it a long-term habit, I also added a correspondence tracker to my bullet journal. I don’t think I’ll write three letters in one day too often, but I hope to get one or two out every week. Hopefully I will have a few surprises in my own mailbox over the coming weeks, but I’m prepared for the very possible reality that the only mail our carrier will deliver is bills and junk mail.

The Sunday Post: Summer’s End

Waiting

Just like that, summer’s over. It’s back to business as usual, back to school and regular schedules. Of course, when you have a full-time job things don’t change all that much during the summer months other than having the luxury of longer, warmer days. We haven’t been able to get away to the beach for a while, but we did take a few days to get away to a peaceful setting to rest, relax, and wait for inspiration to arrive.

The Sunday Post

Tonight I don’t really have anything in particular to write about, but as I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing, taking pictures, taking care of myself, I thought it might be a good idea to just write a “weekend coffee share” type post today. Before you click away, here’s a pretty picture to look at:

Twilight Hummingbird
Friday nights

Last Friday after work we had already settled in for what’s become our Friday night routine: movie night (usually a double-feature) with a dinner spread consisting of hummus, crackers, cheese, orange wedges, and tequila. (I highly recommend this, by the way. Great way to unwind after a busy week.) I noticed that the light outside was quite unusual and had an eery quality to it. We watched our movie a little while and then Doug suggested I go out and take a picture. There wasn’t a whole lot out there; I didn’t have any flowers blooming, and everything just seemed too ordinary. Until he brought his guitar out.  I’m afraid the two dozen or so pictures that I managed to get before the light was gone do not do it justice.

As I said earlier, I’m trying to get back in the habit of doing things that are good for the soul, good for the body. It’s not easy to do when there are so many things on your mind. Family issues, office drama and politics, plus financial concerns are all detractors from a creative life. It’s getting better though. While the situation has not changed much in the last couple of months, I do feel a little better this week about one particular situation. I’m hoping there will be progress on that front soon.

I’m pretty proud of having completed four photo challenges this month. I got up for an early morning shoot. I’ve written in my Morning Pages journal every day this month and am currently on a 30-day streak. I’m drinking more water. I took a MixxedFit class for the first time this weekend and am considering doing it again soon. Baby steps, maybe. Still progress.

 

The Sunday Post: Bridges

Bridge in Alum Spring Park, Fredericksburg, Virginia

I’ve tried to start this post multiple times now, the blinking cursor asking me what it is exactly that I want to say. I haven’t figured it out still, which might mean the words aren’t quite ready to be committed to paper, so to speak. I wanted to use this image as the starting point. It would be my entry in the “bridges” photo challenge and the beginning of a story. But I don’t know the end of the story yet, or even at what stage of the story we’re in. Is it the middle? Or are we still setting the scene waiting for the plot to thicken?

I have hopes that this bridge is leading somewhere. That it hasn’t been burned down to ashes just yet.

********************

Since I’m not quite ready to cross this first bridge, I have a different photo submission on this theme, one that I don’t have so much internal conflict over. I’ve tried to challenge myself recently: to be positive, to try to stay above the fray, and to concentrate instead on creative pursuits. I write about this often but must confess that much of the time it’s much easier to talk about it (or write about it) than to actually do it.

I’ve said for weeks now that I need to get up early one day and head down to the river and try to capture a sunrise shot over the Rappahannock, maybe from the Chatham Bridge (the furthest bridge in the second picture below). Some days I even wake up and think to myself: “Get up and go” but just can’t make myself. Today I got up. I brushed my teeth and pulled on some clothes. Didn’t brush my hair — that would have taken too long — and grabbed keys, phone, and my camera and left. I was afraid I was too late. The sun had been up for a few minutes already, and I wasn’t even sure where my best vantage point would be. Turns out I should have headed to the city dock instead of heading to the bridge first. Hard to shoot the bridge while you’re standing on it, but I thought I could shoot in the other direction, toward the railroad trestle. My photos from the bridge aren’t great, but I kind of like a couple of the other ones. And while there aren’t bridges in all of these shots, I’m sharing them with you here anyway. Because maybe they represent a different kind of bridge; one that will help me cross back into the creative world.

Rappahannock River
Bridges over the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Virginia

 

And I even used one of this morning’s shots for a Daily Prompt post – bonus!