2015 Word – Create

House Taken at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia

Winter Scene at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia

Creativity should be an everyday experience.
Creativity should be as common as breathing.
We breathe, therefore, we create.
– Erwin Raphael McManus in the book, “The Artisan Soul”

2015 – Create!

For 2015, my word is CREATE.  Not nurture (like nurturing my creativity theme last October), practice (everything I’ve learned) or even creativity.  No, the word is create.

I took a number of classes last year – on photography, journaling, and being creative.  I took them to learn and have fun, both of which I accomplished.

But the time has come to just create.  Not to worry whether I’ve learned the techniques good enough or if there’s another something to learn.  It’s time to use it all and show it off to the world.  To not be intimidated as to who might be better than me, whether I’m worthy enough, or whether I’m even good enough.

I need to sharpen my focus, cut back on the classes and possibly other activities.  To create – whether writing up my blog, taking pictures or post processing pictures.  To create – keeping my journals, telling my stories, and writing up my observations each day.  To create – in each and every facet of my life, every day, every way that I can.

How will I do this?

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Who are you looking at?  I'll rip you apart!  Don't you look at my Momma!!  I'll make you sorry!  She's mine and I'll defend her!  I'm a lean, mean 7-pound fighting machine even if I have very few teeth left!  This was processed using Topaz Impressions, Cezanne 2.

2014 Word – Remember




Who are you looking at?  I'll rip you apart!  Don't you look at my Momma!!  I'll make you sorry!  She's mine and I'll defend her!  I'm a 7 pound fighting machine!

Who are you looking at? I’ll rip you apart! Don’t you look at my Momma!! I’ll make you sorry! She’s mine and I’ll defend her! I’m a lean, mean 7-pound fighting machine even if I have very few teeth left!  The miniature pinscher photo was processed using Topaz Impressions – Cezanne 2.

As I worked on a post to discuss my “word” for 2015, I wanted to revisit and bring closure to last year’s word.  The purpose of the “word” is to bring focus and clarity to my goals for the year.

2014 Word – Remember

Last year’s word was remember – and what I wanted to remember was TO SMILE.  To remember to be joyful, to laugh, and enjoy my life.  Last January, I wrote out definitions for it that included, “to not forget, to mind; keep in mind” and synonyms  such as, “remind, recall, recollect; fix in the mind; call up.”

My quotes were these two proverbs:

A cheerful heart is good medicine.

– Proverbs 17:22

The cheerful heart has a continual feast.
– Proverbs 15:15

A cheerful heart is good and it’s not something I do very well with.  That is why my blog is about beauty and laughter.  It’s everywhere – I just don’t do a very good job of seeking it out or enjoying it.  My blog helps me to notice and memorialize it.

I also chose that word because I was concerned that the year would become a dark hole with nothing memorable to it.  That 2014 wouldn’t be anything special or worth remembering.

To help me, I took Ali Edwards class again “One Little Word“.  The class was very good but I thought I never really incorporated it into my life except in February, although my recent wrap-up showed otherwise.

When February Came

In February last year, my employer did layoffs.  Every single Wednesday for the entire month plus a few other days as well.  My department had one of the very first ones and again at the end, we were the last one to lay off.  All through February, I hung onto God’s promises to remember to FEAR NOT.  TRUST.  HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE.

My notes from the week of February 17, 2014 said:

I cannot control these outcomes.  Whether I keep my job or not, God has a next step for me in His plan for my life.  For those around me who may lose their jobs, I can offer help and sympathy, but in the end they are responsible for their own lives and careers.

The next week, I wrote:

When I pray, I keep getting that all will be well, whatever that means.  It will all be well.  Stop worrying and have no fear!  Which is easier said than done.

(Interestingly, when I was laid off in November, I was not that upset about it.  I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t as fearful as I was in February – see my post here about being laid off).

After That

After February, I did the exercises from Ali’s course nearly every month but in hindsight, mostly just went through motions.

By June, I’d noted that my experience so far had been disappointing and that regardless of my reminders, I was not remembering to smile, be joyful, laugh, or anything else.  I reminded myself that I needed to focus on it, execute it, and engage in the exercises that Ali provided each month.

As I did the finishing exercises for December, I reminded myself that it is within my control to enjoy my life more and not be cranky so much.  I reminded myself again that I have to actually do it and not just go through the motions.  Then I wrote myself a letter and realized that having my one word – remember – helped me make it through the first part of the year.  And in the last quarter of the year, I kept a Post-It note on the outside of my daily diary that said, “SMILE – LAUGH – BE JOYFUL.”

I did better with it than I expected.  It provided me comfort during some very bad days when I said goodbye to a number of co-workers.  And I kept it in front of myself continuously even if I didn’t practice it as much I’d liked.

As for 2014, it was a very good year, despite the layoffs in February and my own layoff in November.  Click here to see what  good year I had.

So remembering to smile, laugh, and be joyful was good for me.

Remember even though the outside world might be raining, if you keep on smiling the sun will soon show its face and smile back at you.
– Anna Lee

Here’s the original photo as well as another one where he was howling to scare me away, not realizing (or caring) it was me out there taking the pictures.

Self-Portrait Using Topaz Adjust "Pop" Filter

The Beauty of Shadows

Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings — always darker, emptier and simpler.

― Friedrich Nietzsche

All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

This week’s photo challenge is “shadowed“, in which we are told:

Experimenting with shadows can be a fun and rewarding way to push yourself to try something new with your camera, your subject, and your surroundings. Shadows can also add depth and drama to an otherwise ordinary image.


Self-Portrait Using the Topaz Adjust "Pop" Filter

Self-Portrait Using the Topaz Adjust “Pop” Filter

I love shadows.  I love sunlight too, but shadows bring other things.  Mystery, for one, and on a hot day, respite.

They can also bring beauty to a picture, giving it depth and variety.  I simply like the interplay of the dark and light, the patterns it makes, and the challenge of capturing what I see so that I can show it to everyone else later.

What I liked about the picture above was the beauty of the sunlight from the windows, the shadow of the window cross hatch on the wall, and the light reflecting up and down the wall behind me.  Although some of the other effects were interesting, none caught that light flare as well as a simple processing did.  While it’s not black and white, it did turn out nearly monochromatic, which brings its own beauty and highlights the sun on the wall.

Other photos that used shadows are:

Working a Day Job – Part 1

Naming My Emotions

Time for Tea


After I've edited a picture submitted by Emilio Pasquale to Before & After Friday's

My Fancy Truck Photo

After I've edited a picture submitted by Emilio Pasquale to Before & After Friday's

My edited result of a picture submitted by Emilio Pasquale to Visual Venturing

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
― J.R.R. Tolkien

I look at a row of trucks, like the ones above and they make me daydream.  I dream of hitting the road, perhaps doing a Route 66 type of tour to meander through Main Street USA.  I dream of being in the backroads, just exploring and seeing what’s over the next hill.  I dream of the windows down, wind hitting my face and it’s a beautiful day outside.  Of course, I also dream that I could actually drive and park a big truck like that, although I didn’t do bad with my daughter’s Toyota Tundra!

The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.
― Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die

I love this quote, especially as my life is in change right now during my job search.  It’s hard to be patient, but it is a good trait to have.  So is staying encouraged.  It’s easy to get disappointed, so it’s better if I stay focused on the acts of kindness people are doing for me, from strangers who are part of the process of looking for a new job to old and new friends who reached out to stay in touch.

Stacy at Visual Venturing does an ABFriday Forum, in which participants are invited to take a picture and do their interpretation of post-processing it.  What you see above is my submission, using an original photograph submitted by Emilio Pasquale at Photos by Emilio.

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The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher.  Do you have a treat?

New Year, New Routines

The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher.  Do you have a treat?

The beagle, Vizsla and miniature pinscher. Do you have a treat?

This week’s photo challenge is new – something new for me in 2015 (to see how other photographers interpret it, click here).

What better for this than a picture taken New Year’s Day?  One of the first of the year.  I didn’t have much time for it – just seconds later, they were running over to see if I had a treat to share with them, like this:

Oh the joys of photographing pets!

As I settle into unemployment and looking for a new job, I’m developing new routines.  I haven’t written about routines for a while (see my last post here).  What I like about routines is the structure it gives to a day and how the many small decisions that are needed don’t have to take up much  mental space.  At the same time, routines need adjustment to keep them useful.  So along with job searching, what else is new in my routine?

Yoga Each Morning - I’ve never done real well with doing some yoga or stretching each day.  Since something is better than nothing, I’m instead doing ten minutes of yoga each morning before I get dressed.  One of the things I learned from Peggy Cappy’s DVD, “Yoga for the Rest of Us” was how to do a sun salutation without getting all the way down on the floor.  So I do some shoulder work, stretch my torso and back, then do two sun salutations.  If I have time, I do more leg work or get down on the floor.  If I don’t, that’s good enough.  Incidentally, her DVD is excellent for anyone with mobility issues or who is new to yoga and can’t keep up with a class.  It’s a good workout and not as easy as it sounds.

Long Lingering Breakfasts - My favorite boy toy and I have always enjoyed going out for breakfast before I go to work.  The last few years, we’ve gone nearly every morning due to my long hours.  The nice thing about breakfast is we’re both fresh and in a good mood.  We get a lot done during breakfast, discussing all kinds of topics in addition to just visiting.  Now that I don’t have to hurry off to work, those breakfasts have gone from 30 minutes to between 60 and 90 minutes.  It’s been fun and we’re enjoying just spending time together.

Walking The Dogs – The dogs are getting a lot less sleep these days!  They’re hovering continuously to make sure I don’t leave the house without them.  I walk the beagle and Vizsla separately (the miniature pinscher does not get walked – he’s too afraid and doesn’t like it).  I have to sneak them out one at a time, which is challenging.  Some days I take the Vizsla to the local park and if I can, leave him off-leash to run.  The beagle can’t walk very far due to his back, so when I get home, he goes for a small stroll around the neighborhood.

Afternoon Nap - This is so nice!  It doesn’t have to be long to refresh me for the evening.  I just enjoy snoozing in the easy chair for a short while before supper and am much more alert after supper.

My days are full!  By the time I make my phone calls, take care of E-mails and fill out whatever paperwork is due now, I’m not having much time left for my photography or to even read.  I think this will start to settle down, but we’ll see.  In the meantime, these new things in my life are enjoyable.  I will miss them when I go back to work.

Here’s the original photo and another one where I was still trying to get everyone to pay attention to me:



Happy All Year

One of my blogging friends used this phrase recently – Happy All Year – and I really liked how it captures the feeling of carrying blessings through the entire year, not just one one day. Doesn’t that just warm your heart to be happy all year?  It does mine.

I pray for all of you to be Happy All Year, to rejoice in the life you have, to be faithful with the resources you’ve been given, and to give thanks for a good life, whatever it may be.

To cheer your heart, here’s the Christmas pictures from 2014.  The first set are the “normal” family pictures.  The second set. . . well, we had fun.


If you look carefully at the last picture, it appears my daughter is aiming the remote at the mastiff to turn it off!  This is after my son-in-law tried to wrap up the same dog for a gift for one of us.


Hummingbird on the Joe Pye Weed at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia

2014 Accomplishments

Here are some highlights from last year (Nancy’s 2014 Yearbook!):

My Favorite Posts

Some of my favorite posts from 2014 were:

A Gallery of My Daughter Growing Up – this was for a weekly photo challenge on endurance, of which I think parenthood is the ultimate test.

Books Everyone Should Read – these are not necessarily my favorite books, they were highly influential books for me.

Creativity versus Craft – on mistaking a lack of proficiency for a lack of talent.

What Inspires Me – my thoughts on what encourages me

Words of Encouragement – on change and what normal means in our lives

Working a Day Job – how my day job helps my creativity

In October, I participated in a 31 Day Challenge.  I could pick any topic I’d like, but the goal was to blog daily about it for 31 Days.  I blogged on Nurturing My Creativity, from a post that I’d written earlier in the summer (here).  It was harder than I thought it would be, but I am proud of how it turned out.  My landing page is here and my summary, in which I discussed how it went, is here.

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