I’ll be happy when I’ve recovered from the holidays and I can get back on a schedule and post this within the correct week… Even though it’s a little late (Friday is when the new photo challenge begins), I have a number of photos for this challenge so I decided to go ahead and post them. I couldn’t decide which ones were the most appropriate, so I have quite a few. Hope you enjoy!
Too much going on around the holidays and this year was no exception! I did take time to play, however, and take a few pictures of some Christmas candy that our neighbors were kind enough to give us. Hubby ate part of the box before I could confiscate it for artistic reasons, but I did manage to get a few pictures before the rest was gone. : ) Hope you enjoy!
Between holiday plans, a computer virus and other assorted ‘schtuff’ it was difficult to get anything up this week, but I wanted to put up a couple of older pictures to at least keep up with the weekly challenges. So – here are a couple of self-portrait photos taken with the holiday season in mind. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!!! (and to all a good night! lol)
Didn’t quite sneak this one in since it’s technically the same day the new challenge will go up, but I’ve been struggling to find inspiration. I’ve let all the ‘stuff’ in life keep me from doing much in the way of celebration for the last week or so and that translated into not taking photos for this topic. Soooo – I decided to go back to the archives and see what I could dig up. : )
Have you ever had one of those days? Of course you have – we all have. What I should have asked was: Have you ever had one of those days that drained you to the point of exhaustion and made you examine your systems and strategies for coping with struggle and hardship? Today was one of those days for me.
There were several photos I was looking at as possible shots for the weekly challenge “Waiting”. After the emotional demands of today, I decided that a self-portrait would be the best illustration of this challenge as it pertains to my life and where I am right now. Today. At this very moment. Today I’m waiting. Waiting for strength. Waiting for courage. Waiting for freedom from the worries and struggles that are trying to rob me of all the things that get me through. It’s down to the wire and even though I’ve been in tighter spots and tougher situations, today I’m not sure exactly what I’m made of. I guess we’re getting ready to find out. Yesterday I was trying to be a rock and comfort to others – offering support and understanding, trying to be generous with whatever I could give. Today I’m having a difficult time finding any comfort for myself and my generous spirit seems to have left the building. Isn’t that sad? Isn’t the human condition a fragile, fickle thing? Did I always know it was this way, or does it take struggle and hardship to bring it into the spotlight? It’s amazing to me that 24 hours can create such a change in attitude and even more amazing, and disheartening, that I’m weak (and human) enough to let it.
I say that I’m a Christ-follower- a Christian – and I believe God takes care of me and provides for my needs. Since losing my job it has actually been affirmed again and again. Why was it easier on those days, when money was tight and the deluge of bills pouring in threatened to drown us? When unexpected costs were popping up every other day – I easily got through. When we thought we were losing our health insurance and worried about pre-existing medical conditions – I took a deep breath and kept my smile in place because I knew it would work out… Was I just stronger on those days? Somehow able to go on without feeling a sense of worry, without waging war within myself trying to determine what ‘luxury’ we could cut from our lives if necessary? Or is it possible that I waver like a fair-weather friend – extremely close the day that things are bad and I’m in need and then drifting distantly away the next because life is good…? The one who is inconsistent in their faith… claiming it when it suits or benefits them. Sometimes I’m afraid I’m the second.
Years ago I read a book by Donald Miller called Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (which I recommend to anyone). I think my brother gave it to me, and having a lot of respect for him and sharing similar tastes in books and movies I knew I would probably enjoy the read. In the first chapter Miller discusses the evolution of his thoughts on God and when the shift in his perception occurred. He refers to one of his earliest views as a “slot-machine God”. If things were going well in life he thought it was God’s work, but if things got rough he got on his knees to pray, thereby ‘pulling the lever’ on his spiritual slot-machine hoping he’d hit the jackpot and earn a bunch of tokens of ‘good fate’. He described what he was doing as “more in line with superstition than spirituality”. It’s easy to like a God like that. One that you don’t have to be involved with on any level other than the superficial. Kind of like having a private Santa Claus to give you treats when you’re nice.
After things got so stressful today my mind went back to the way I felt the first time I read that chapter and realized I had also been guilty of playing the slots when it came to faith and spirituality. It’s easier to talk the talk than to walk it every day. Most of the time I think I manage fairly well… but some days – today included – I am a miserable failure. Faith is difficult. It requires so much up front without the assurance of being able to hold something in our hands as a tangible thing. Reaching out with finite understanding for something that doesn’t fit into those terms – that was never meant to. I feel like Peter in the bible story (Matthew 14:22-33) when Jesus told him to step out of the boat and walk with him on the water. At first Peter was okay, but after a few steps he was overcome with fear and doubt and began to sink. On any given day I think I’d be capable of walking out on the water without a life jacket, leaving the ship behind me trusting everything will be okay – no looking back. On others, I flail about miserably afraid and confused as to why I’m drowning, waiting for the Lord to place me back in the boat so I can try out faith again… Neither is an ideal scenario because the first means I am perpetually waiting for a reason to step out of the boat instead of living that way every day. Scarcely scratching the surface of what I could do or who I could be because I’m anchored to my ship. The second scenario, when I find myself drowning, isn’t great because it means that fear got the best of me.
Why is faith so hard? I don’t really have an answer for that, but I’ve always heard it is supposed to move and change us. Always beckoning us from where we are to where we’re supposed to be. If that didn’t require any strength or courage or effort, would it still be faith? I kinda doubt it. Because, in a way, I think it’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to require something of each of us. It is, after all, confidence or belief in something that is not based on proof… In order to learn that we have to accept that it isn’t something we can study or research and just find, never to lose it again… Faith is something we acquire as we move through struggles and pain, hardships that make us reach out seeking comfort or support, guidance and wisdom. Each trial in life has the potential to either strengthen our faith in whatever we believe, or call into question what we have based those beliefs on. It is up to each of us to determine our course and actions – actions that are much more revealing than words ever will be.
So. Today was a battle. Even though I’m waiting for the inner turmoil to quieten and still, I know it eventually will. My husband and I will be okay and we’ll make it through this part of life just like we have so many others. Our actions will match our words as we walk in faith and let go of the side of the boat – no looking back…
You may have read the Facebook post from the front page of WordPress – and if you haven’t, you should! It’s really funny. : )
Someone shared it with me and I ended up on a blog that I should have been following anyway. Mary also struggles with several health issues – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia (like me), Lyme Disease and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. Her blog is honest and simply stated and she’s fun to read. As an example – in the post she put up today she talks about her lactose intolerant dog… : )
Anywho – all of this is to say that she has a post that really resonated with me. In the spirit of Thanksgiving she writes about how she was able to find blessings in the midst of a year of health related nightmares. If you have a minute, suffer from chronic pain, have any of these conditions or just want a little inspirational reading you should check it out! The post is: Lucky, Actually. (Which, on an unrelated topic is a great title in my opinion, since I immediately associate it with one of my favorite movies – Love Actually!)
Thanks, Mary. Thanks for being a voice for others to hear. As I told someone just yesterday, it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone…
I had every intention of using this as the photo post for last week. After all, that was the timeframe for the challenge! With everything going on I didn’t even realize I forgot to post something until Saturday or Sunday. Oops! : )
A few words about the two pictures I chose – I have an unusually extended family that I’m close to and having/taking a photo to represent that isn’t something that would be easy for me to do. Since I AM close to my family I really wanted to showcase that in this challenge, but for various reasons it wasn’t possible. So I chose two other representations of it instead. Hope you enjoy!
Today was a full and educational day! A couple of weeks ago I discovered that photographer and friend Shannon Kelley was holding a drawing for one scholarship to her mentoring ‘class’ – Day of Resolve: the Workshop. Her one on one mentorship program had been going on for a while, but how was I to know at the time I wouldn’t be able to find job after the lay-off and that I would have to start considering a new direction for life? By the time I realized that I might actually be unemployed indefinitely and starting down a new path, there was no money in our budget for a mentoring day. Oy vey!
What’s a girl to do, you might ask… Well, for starters I left a comment on Shannon’s blog as an entry in the drawing for that prized workshop scholarship. And guess what? I WON! So, today I got to sit in a room with a group of lovely, creative-minded women interested in taking the next step to reach their dreams! We were all at different places in our journey and we each had different backgrounds and insights, but it was wonderful being around such helpful and supportive people.
As for Shannon – I don’t even know where to begin… My husband and I contacted her a couple of years ago to discuss the possibility of having her come into the crazy circus of our lives to take pictures for our engagement and at our wedding. She did an AH-MAZING job and was SO talented and easy to work with! I’ve learned many things in our conversations and I’m pleased to call her my friend… Being able to pick her brain and listen to her words of wisdom today was a fantastic opportunity, and all of the tips and information I got will only serve to make me a better photographer, business woman and person. 🙂
Unfortunately (for those of us around here), Shannon, her husband Brad and their daughter Lena will be leaving to move to Haiti next month to begin a new life in the missions field. (Please read some of her mission blogs! One of my favorites here, another here… They are honest and raw and unforgiving – in an extremely fantastic way!) Their move is actually a wonderful thing, however, because it is where God has led them. Her positive attitude and blog have always been so inspiring to me… Can’t wait to see how the inspiration level bumped up a notch (or several!) when she reaches the place her heart has been leading her to!
Sooooooooo – school is out for the day. I’ve enjoyed a fantastic dinner – an everything bagel, cream cheese and lox! I’ve still got batteries to charge, memory card to check and a little homework to do before the hubby comes home, so I’m going to run. Hopefully I’ll have great info to post again tomorrow after our workshop photo shoot (!!!), so ta-ta ’til then!
One last thought – I’ve just realized that I never posted my weekly photo challenge post last week! Even though it will be late, I’ll try to get that up by Monday at the latest. : )
This may seem like I’m patting myself on the back, but it’s difficult to contain my excitement and so I must share the news. In order to quit talking about it to my husband repeatedly or spamming my Facebook family, I thought I’d post a quick blog and try to get it out of my system… Ready?
ONE OF MY PHOTOS WAS ON THE FRONT PAGE OF ETSY!!!!
Whew! I feel a little better now…
For those of you are not familiar with the site, Etsy is a social ‘market’ website focused on buying/selling handmade and vintage items along with art and craft supplies. One of the nifty and unique features of Etsy is the option to view and create “Treasury” lists. A treasury is like the front window of a store – it’s a gallery of items for sale that a site member has picked out and placed together in a grouping. These curated lists are on a part of the website that can then be searched and viewed by others. Most treasuries contain 12-16 different items and consist of 3-4 rows of pictures that list the seller and link back to that item’s page to view and (hopefully) purchase. Creating treasury lists is a great way to keep track of groups of items you’re interested in, helping to promote other businesses and meet and network with people. I happen to love creating them and enjoy viewing other the treasuries of others.
Sorry for all the detail! I just wanted to provide a bit of background so it would make more sense when I tell you that Etsy uses treasury lists to provide the bulk of the landing page of the website. It’s changed throughout the day to feature different treasuries and lists each seller/price/brief item description below the pictures and credits the creator of the treasury. Here’s a screen shot of the current Etsy front page:
I set up a small ‘shop‘ on Etsy a couple about a month and a half (2 months?) ago and offer a variety of artistic photographs. Since Christmas is coming up I recently added a few pictures that were holiday related. A couple of days ago someone included one of my photos in their Christmas treasury and it was chosen to be on the front page! So, long story not at all short, one of my photos was ‘treasured’ and then featured on the front page of the website! It was thrilling to discover! I never thought one of my listings would be included in a front page group and I’ve already chatted with quite a few sellers that have waited for years to receive that honor. Wow! (I should probably add at this point that unfortunately I didn’t get to actually SEE my photo on the front page because I wasn’t online during the timeframe it was there or I would share a screen shot with you. Doesn’t it figure that I would be honored like that and miss it completely? *sigh* Still – other people saw it and I got a lot of extra traffic in the shop, so it’s still SO exciting!)
Well, enough about me… How are you? lol! Hopefully blogging about this has helped me put it (slightly) behind me and I’ll be able to quit talking about it soon. In the meantime – you should definitely check out Etsy if you haven’t already! There are so many amazing handmade and vintage items that would make perfect holiday gifts… And if you see someone’s listing has a little note that says “This Item was Featured on the Front Page of Etsy”, please understand that they probably had to put that on the listing in an effort to try to diffuse their excitement a little so they’d stop driving people crazy by talking about it everywhere else!
Observations from an artist, photographer, and dreamer…