Do you ever think about what you think about? Our thoughts may be more important than we realize. They direct our actions, our moods, our emotions. I'm working on consciously thinking more on things that are good and true and holy and honorable. Things that are pure and lovely and gracious and kind and excellent.
If you look for things of beauty and wonder in your every day life, that is what you will find.
So, I have started a new photography project. It's called Picture the Holidays, and it's aimed at keeping some joy and delight in the holidays, and not allowing the insanity to take over. I get a prompt each day to take a photograph. I have been particularly bad at taking pictures on a regular basis lately, and so this works to get me back behind my camera every day too.
Today's prompt is titled Holding onto Gratitude. Basically, think about all the things that you are grateful for, and take a picture of one of them.
This is my picture:
I'm grateful for a year that has taught me the difference that a change in perspective can make. Be it in my thinking patterns, or my photography, a change in perspective can result in a unique, fresh view of the world.
We went up to Oak Glenn this week-end for some apple picking. I have to confess we didn't pick many apples, but we pressed our own apple juice. And played in the pumpkin patch. And wondered the raspberry patch. It was fun, and we all got a little sun.
I woke this morning to a gentle rain. Wonderful. The kids and I decided it was gentle enough that a walk to school was in order. I love to walk in the rain. All the trees, flowers and leaves glisten in the light, and we walked passed the most perfect spider's web, resplendent with rain drops. When we got home, I picked up my camera and went on a treasure hunt.
My new favourite subject to photograph is butterflies. I think partly because they are so elusive. Just managing to get close enough, focus, and take the picture without them fluttering away seems like a victory all in itself.
I was going to title this blog "Showing up." Sometimes just showing up is a challenge for me. Some days I feel like crawling back into bed, pulling the covers over, and hibernating. Every time I managed to get close enough to a butterfly to get a picture, it was completely unplanned. I don't know where butterflies are going to be. But I was there, with my camera, when they were. On the days when I got out of bed and decided to show up, there was something spectacular to photograph. Something that made the effort worthwhile. And that makes it easier to get up the next day, and then the next.
I love flying. I really do. I feel like a kid when the engines fire up and the burst of speed required to get us airborne pushes me back into my seat. And I love watching the world beneath us. Merely an observer for just a while. Not involved in the day-to-day activities of the people going about their business below us. It gives me a different perspective on the world, and my part in it.
We flew back from our vacation in Maui two weeks ago, and we took the red-eye. I cannot sleep on an airplane. Just can't do it. So I read, or listen to music, or just close my eyes and drift. I had my little girl asleep on my lap, so I watched her sleep. And I waited for the sun to rise. The sky turned from a pitch black to a navy blue. That was the first hint of the sun's impending appearance. I was sitting on the aisle seat, two seats away from the window. I watched the sun rise. It was gorgeous.
I had to lean across the kids to take pictures, but I wanted to capture the view as I saw it. At first, it was just the wing of the plane, and the clouds. Then Catalina Island appeared, and the west coast of California. The Los Angeles harbour. Cities, towns and neighbourhoods beneath us. It's quite surreal. Seeing the city but not being a part of it. Seeing the endless streets and neighbourhoods sprawling into the distance. So many people. Every life important, every story unique, every soul valuable. And I'm one of them. One of millions, but important to my Maker. One of millions, but with a purpose. With my own story, my own reason for being here. Even among the sprawl of the city that seems to stretch on forever, He knows me. He knows where I am, and what I'm doing and He cares. And I'm reminded how big my God is.
In an effort to follow through with my intention to explore the places around me, I ventured forth this week to my local Botanic Garden. (I never knew I had a local Botanic Garden before I went looking!) The South Coast Botanic Garden is a wonderful place, and I will be taking my kids there in the near future.
As anticipated, there were amazing flowers that allowed me to indulge in macro lens heaven. But as I was zooming, and focussing and snapping away at the gorgeous colours and designs of the flowers, I discovered that the flowers were not the only subjects available to me. There were ants, and bees, and butterflies and caterpillars. Birds, and lizards, and fish. So here are the pictures I took. Some were pure luck. (The bee took off just as I snapped the shutter. I did not plan that shot.) I nearly missed the caterpillar completely. I only noticed him by chance. Little surprises and moments of pure luck are a part of photography that I really enjoy.
My husband and I moved to the Los Angeles area 13 years ago. 13 years. That's a long time. Just ask the parent of a 13 year old. Ask anyone who has graduated from high school. I have lived here a long time, but I don't know the Los Angeles area very well at all. I think I'm going to change that. I am publicly declaring my intent to investigate and explore the places around me.
While Venice is not new to me, it is a place I haven't visited in a long time. I used to live very close to the canals, but I don't think I've visited them in at least 4 or 5 years. I found myself in the area a few weeks ago, with a free morning in my schedule. So I found a parking spot on one end of the canals, and spent a couple of hours walking and enjoying the tiny area of canals, bridges and houses that cost more than I could ever dream to afford. It's a beautiful place, and I was blessed with a beautiful, quiet day.
Beautiful places are all around me. All I have to do is go out to find them.
The Picture Inspiration class that I'm a part of prompted me to take pictures from a different perspective - literally. The prompt was to take pictures from ground level. Put the camera on the ground, and catch the action from a different perspective. I liked the idea, since the day before I had spent the morning on my stomach outside my house taking pictures of a dandelion, and I was eager to try it on a different subject.
Later that day, the kids and I were at a park we hadn't been to before, and it was filled with kids, dogs, and parents. While lying on the grass in my own garden is fine, I'm not someone who feels particularly comfortable on her stomach, with a camera, in a park filled with people. So I ended up just putting the camera on the ground, and pushing the button without really knowing where the camera was focussed. I am delighted with some of the pictures I got, even though the focus isn't on my chosen subjects - in this case, my kids. I think it's a good reminder that a small change in perspective causes you to view things in a new way. And a new way isn't necessarily a bad thing.