Practicing Stillness

Be Still. . . Preferably, With Some Tea; Photo Stylized With Topaz Impressions

This week’s photo challenge is minimalist, explained as:

An artfully executed minimalist photograph is anything but mundane. It illustrates a moment in time, or an artistic perspective, with simplicity and grace.


Minimalist photography is characterized by a large portion of negative space, a fairly monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject that is able to stand on its own to capture the interest of the viewer. At first thought, it may seem like it would be easy to shoot an engaging minimalist photograph, when indeed it can often be the opposite. A minimalist photo can also effectively tell a story, in spite of its relative simplicity, and it is anything but “plain”.

After I edited my picture, I added the minimalist phrase, “Be Still”.  It comes of course, from one of my favorite Bible verses:

Be still and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10

Simple.  Minimal.  And so very hard to actually execute.

It also comes from my creativity class with the ever-so-creative-herself, Kim Klassen.  In the very first week of “Be Still – Fifty Two”, she encouraged us to practice stillness, even if just for a minute a day.  To paraphrase, she said:

Take a breath ~ pause ~ move forward ~ one day at a time ~ center ~ peace ~ trust.

Also simple and minimal.  Also hard to actually do.

The reasons it’s hard to execute are not a surprise.  Too busy, too many demands, too tired, etc etc etc.  I could put a checklist out here and y’all would check them and add more to it.

That doesn’t make it any easier though to slow down, be still, and just be.

Be quiet.

Be simple.

Be present in the moment.

Be content with here and now.

Be grateful.

Be open to trusting God.

Which is why I chose a tea picture.  Making tea takes time.  There’s a whole ritual to it, starting with pouring out the old water and filling up the tea pot.  Get out a filter (or basket) and measure out tea.  Cut up a lemon, wash the cutting board and my hands, and wait more on the water to get hot enough.  And of course, the time waiting for the tea to steep, then cool enough to drink it.

There are days I don’t make tea for myself.  I don’t want to wait.  So I have a glass of plain water instead.  Which is still good for me, but it’s a shame that I don’t wait on my tea when I enjoy it so much.

If I slow down too much, even less will get done.  But I miss not sitting and just thinking as well.  I need it and function better when I do it.  I think like with anything, this needs practice and for me to make it more important.

So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking


We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
― Ray Bradbury






Encouragement Photography Tea Topaz Labs Weekly Photo Challenge

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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

8 Comments Leave a comment

    • I love tea! I have it iced every morning with breakfast (I did even in the depth of winter when I lived in Minnesota) and hot throughout the rest of the day. It just really makes me happy and comforted no matter what’s happening around me.

      Thanks for the compliment on the photo too!

    • Thanks Patti! The Be Still reminder needs to get written on the back of my hand somedays – or maybe pasted to my forehead! It’s so easy to forget to just take a deep breath and let it all go. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

  1. What a beautiful post Nancy. I think I just posted something similar on my blog – it’s about one of my favorite songs, I love it so much because there are no words. It tells stories without a word, if only one takes the time to listen. We have to be still to do that right? Easier said than done at times! Ive heard modern music add words to this song, and I can’t figure out why. I mean I can figure out why but it cheapens that lovely song somehow. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. Did I tell you I have a very similar mug, just not in red, it’s a sage green…I thought it was an English teachery color.

    • Thanks for the lovely note! It was so nice to get this from you.

      I’m not surprised you have the same mug – it’s an Emile Henry and they are just gorgeous. I love the way they feel.

      I listened to that music on your post and it was captivating. I really got swept away in the emotions of it. And it did create stillness for a few minutes for me, which I needed at that moment.

      Thanks as always for the encouragement!!

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