A Week In My Life

“I think daily life is the most beautiful and wonderful thing that anyone can have.” – Ana Tijoux

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Week 2 with A Month of Multiples (Kim Klassen) had several assignments, including documenting everyday life and real (raw) life. I combined them together to a week in my life.

This includes:

Walking at the local park – I love going here. It has paved paths which is nice when it’s rainy or I’m tired. The dirt paths give my feet and ankles a great workout, although I have to be careful not to trip. Best of all, it’s only a 5 minute drive from the house!

A day trip to do some photography – We drove to the western edge of Virginia to a town called Dayton. It was cute, we had a nice lunch at a local restaurant, chatted with a number of locals (our cameras and tripods created a lot of curiosity), and got some nice pictures. In this picture, the Blue Ridge Mountains are in the background.

Reading on the deck with a clingy old dog – He’s getting even more tumors and instead of being squishy, they’re rock hard. He’s not breathing right either. But when I go outside to read on the deck, he wants to be there with me. I’m loving him as much as possible while I still have him.

Trimming nails for the same old dog – Since he doesn’t go outside much anymore, his nails grow long really fast. I think it’s easier for him to walk if they’re short, but since he hates getting them cut, I’ve let them get longer. It’s not ideal, but I don’t want to argue with him over it anymore. It’s not fun for either one of us.

Taking a walk around the neighborhood – Between our subdivision and the sidewalks on the main roads, I can go a good long ways. I usually turn around at this corner, but I always enjoy taking a minute to enjoy how pretty it is.

Our crepe myrtle came in bloom a second time! – All the crepe myrtles came back in bloom recently and they’re even more lush than they were in July. We’ve never had that happen before, but they must be liking the cooler weather and rain.

Walking an old beagle twice a day – His walks are mostly sniffing for cats in the storm sewers these days, so he gets his own walk separate from mine. On the days it’s super hot or he’s limping, our walks consist of checking out the side and front yard. It makes him happy and helps him sleep better.

So that’s my raw and real life! Thanks for coming along and having a chuckle at how awesome my days are.

A Late Winter Walk

Path at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Path at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.
– Henry David Thoreau

A few days before the official start of spring, I took a walk at one of my favorite places, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. The shadows were lovely, even though the trees are still bare. The crocus were in bloom – just barely – so spring is definitely on its way.

Crocus at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Crocus at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The last time I shared pictures from the botanical gardens, it was still early fall (click here to see) and there was an abundance of colors all over. The day I took these photos did not have such. I still enjoyed being there, but had kept my expectations low as to what I would see.

The gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
The gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

When the leaves are down, I see things that are otherwise covered up. I made that observation years ago and it’s still true today.

Greenhouse from the side at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Greenhouse from the side at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Here’s another view of the greenhouse. I don’t normally stand this far back, but I loved the composition of the center of the greenhouse against the empty trees.

Front view of the greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Front view of the greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I also don’t normally photograph the bridge from the gazebo (my gazebo shots are usually taken from the bridge though!), but once again, I liked how the light played with the shapes. Plus it was pretty empty, so I didn’t have to wait so long to get pictures without people in them.

Looking at the bridge at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Looking at the bridge at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I’ve noticed when I walk the dogs around the neighborhood that the leaves are sounding like fall when they skitter across the blacktopped road. We have a lot of old oak trees around the homes here and they don’t drop their leaves until they’re nearly ready to start putting out new green ones. So everyday there’s more leaves on the grass, the cars, and skittering around in the wind.

Overlooking the pond at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Overlooking the pond at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I was cold. I didn’t wear a winter coat, but I was wearing a heavier hat and my fingerless gloves.

Self-portrait
Self-portrait

The greenhouse was its usual oasis of warmth and bright colors. I love going in there when it’s cold out! Years ago, a fellow blogger (Patti at A New Day Dawns) left me a comment that the greenhouse was like dessert after a cold day in the garden. I laughed then and I still laugh now at that, because that’s exactly what it reminds me each time I go in there when the garden has so little color. In fact, some of the pictures that I took in January 2012 had more color and foliage than I found in mid-March of 2015.

That statue had a little brown spider (most likely a wolf spider, nothing more) on its head. I didn’t realize it until I was nearly done shooting the picture and the spider moved! And yep, every one of my carefully composed pictures had that little spider on it. I did clone out of the final photo above. Still, wish I’d known it was there. I would have come back later to take the pictures.

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I enjoyed the beauty of the day. No, it’s not the over-the-top cacophony of colors that I see from April to October. But it was pretty, the fresh air was great, and I enjoyed finding new photos that I wouldn’t have probably taken when the trees were in full leaf. It was a good day.

What Inspires Me

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The question I’ve been mulling over this week is what inspires me?

This came from this week’s management tip on lynda.com by Todd Dewett called, “Inspiration Is A Choice” in which he stated that inspiration is not a random occurrence, but is a choice.

According to the dictionary, to inspire is:

to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence; to spur on, impel, motivate; or to affect, draw forth or bring out (such as thoughts or emotions)

Dr. Dewett gave four pointers to practice to attract inspiration:

  1. Always choose a positive perspective
  2. Spend your time with positive people
  3. Count your blessings
  4. Spend time every day finding things that inspire you

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On the day that I listened to this, I paid particular attention to what inspired me on that day to be energetic and engaged, to relax into finding the solutions I needed at work for several problems, and to desiring to spend time working on my photography at night instead of frittering away time in front of the television.

Here was my short list.  I share it with you to inspire you to look for and attract your own inspiration:

  1. Making random chitchat on the elevator.  This day happened to be an executive that I did not know, but I heard about his recent travels and what his family was up to (we actually started talking as we walked in from the garage, so it was bit longer of a chat than usual).
    *
  2. Walking outside during lunch.  It was hot and humid, but the crepe myrtles are in full bloom right now and they are all different colors, as you can see in my photos, from white to purple to red to pink.  I love how the colors just make everything bright and cheery.
    *
  3. Taking time to enthusiastically greet the dogs when they mob me at the door after work.  They’re so excited that I’m home!  It’s fun to make a big deal of them and get them more wild for a few seconds before they go lay down again.
    *
  4. Working on my photographs and seeing them improve as I learn to use Lightroom better.
    *
  5. Encouraging others in their creative ventures, from you – my blogging friends – to the waitress at Cracker Barrel whose poetry books I buy and read, to my favorite boy toy as we both realize that he’s having a major equipment failure with his photo printer.

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This is not a one-time exercise.  I’ve increased my observation of what inspires me, to identify and court it in my life, and just like I’m working on nurturing creativity, I’m also choosing to be inspired.

How about you?  What inspires you?  I’d love to hear it, because you give me ideas to consider and so often, help me clarify my own thoughts.

I leave you with these two quotes, to remind you that inspiration, like nurturing creativity, needs to happen daily.  And that it happens by paying attention, being present in the moment, and being eager to receive it.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last.
Well, neither does bathing. 
That’s why we recommend it daily.
– Zig Ziglar

Do stuff. be clenched, curious.
Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or
society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention.
It’s all about paying attention. attention is vitality.
It connects you with others. It makes you eager.
stay eager.
Susan Sontag

 

Travel Theme Challenge: Foliage

Ailsa, over at Where’s My Backpack, invited me to join her travel theme challenges with my photos.  I had a great time browsing her blog – she has a post about the Eternal Flame Falls near Buffalo, New York.  It’s not very far from where I took this photo from Letchworth and is undoubtedly part of the same geological upheaval that created Niagara Falls.

Part of the fun of the photo challenges is the opportunity to go back through my photos, ooh and aah over them and then pick a few to share.

I decided to show foliage from all four seasons, as a reminder of the changing seasons.

Winter – Freshly fallen snow brings such a beauty to the landscape, but I enjoy it much more if I don’t have to go to work.  I love my snow best from inside my house, preferably with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand.  I don’t spend as much time outside in the cold, so it’s finally time to work on my indoor projects.  I love Sunday afternoons snuggled under my electric afghan, reading a book.

My backyard

Spring – After the cold, snow and ice of winter, spring is such a welcome relief.  It’s still cool enough to need heavier coats and clothing, but at least my hands and feet aren’t so cold!  Once the temperature hits 38 degrees, I’m back outside walking during my lunch break at work.  The flowers start coming out now, giving food to bees who are starting to waken.  I love the cold hardy plants that make their appearance and keep on growing, even through several more frosts.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Summer – I grew up in and lived in the Midwest for many years, so the lethal heat and humidity of the summer is not a surprise.  I do wish it wouldn’t last so long though!  A new round of flowers are blooming now, from daylilies to hollyhocks.  The dragonflies are out, so are the butterflies and bees.  I love the early morning of summer, when it’s quiet and peaceful and the dew is on the ground.  I enjoy sitting out there and just relaxing for a few minutes before going to work.

Taken at Colonial Williamsburg

Fall – I think fall is my favorite season.  The nights are cool and I can sleep with the windows open, but the days are warm enough for shorts and T-shirts.  The marigolds and mums are in full bloom during this time and will survive even an early frost, as will the thyme and mint in my garden.

Fall has such a noticeable progression, more so than any other season.  First the leaves are green, but drying out so that they make a clacking noise in the wind.  Gradually they start turning colors and dropping off the trees.  Finally the fall colors come into a full riot of reds, yellows and oranges.  It might last but a few days, especially if its rainy during the peak colors.  As fall winds down, some leaves cling stubbornly to the trees, way past the others, creating a minimalist beauty of their own.

Maryland Side of the C&O Canal
(Near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia)

Thoreau once said,

Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.

This quote is where the name of my blog came from – a reminder to live each season fully and not be wishing ahead to what’s coming next.  Live in there here and now, let it influence my life however big or small, and enjoy the present moment.

The seasons are, of course, not only the physical changes that happen with the passing of each month, but also the seasons of life.  Enjoy each one so that when it passes, there are no regrets.