raindrops on blade of grass macro photography
after the storms this afternoon~

a little rain must fall,
i know it’s true,
on me and you..
but what if we could stay
warm and dry…
would you want to try?

can you face the dark
on the blackest night?
will you be alright?
or does it quicken
that darkness, too,
that lives in you?
it brings a flood
of misery
back down on me —
the downpour never
seems to end
and we’re here again…
where you
make the easy choice
and i have no voice.
stripped bare
by your sharp neglect,
shouldn’t you protect?

the rain devours me
and you still crawl
was it worth the fall?
shame and stench
of your temptation
was it an obligation?
the tired cliché,
a storm has passed,
come clean at last…
pounded out
upon these stones
your fragile bones ~
broken but free
bring me light again
& end this salted rain.

~heather m. tolley

beaded raindrops on leaves of rosebush

This was one of those times that I started typing and the words just came out… I haven’t reread it so it might be really REALLY bad!  🙂  If that’s the case, please go easy on me in the comments, okay?  🙂

thanks for stopping by~


Let’s Enter the Epiphanie Bags “Picture It” Photo Contest!

If you’re interested in photography and anything like me you probably have a gear wish list that exceeds your budget… lol!  That’s why I got SO excited when I saw that Epiphanie Camera Bags was having a giveaway!  If you’re not familiar with their products you should definitely check out the website.  Their bags are a modern, stylish way to safely carry your camera equipment without having to lug around an unattractive camera bag.  (Incidentally, that’s what I’ll continue to do until I can afford an alternative!  lol)  The winner will not only receive a 16×20 photo canvas from ‘Canvas Pop’ – they’ll also receive an Epiphanie Bag!!  If this sounds at all interesting you ought to check it out!  One of the ways to earn an entry in the contest is to post your photo submission – the topic is “green” – but you need to do it soon because the contest ends on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 11:59PM CST!

There were several photo options I considered for my entry, but since I’ve recently been researching small space gardening I opted to go with a veggie photo – a green tomato on the vine!  Hope you enjoy!

green tomato small space garden epiphanie bags contest
I entered the Epiphanie Camera Bags Picture It photo contest. http://bit.ly/xN3Pqc


Hope you have a great Friday!  🙂


Weekly Photo Challenge: Through (#2)

I know I already did a post of photos for the “through” challenge, but there were several shots I didn’t include.  Then I took some shots a couple of days ago and thought one of them would be another good interpretation of this challenge, so I decided to post another set with some of the originals that didn’t make the first cut.  lol!  Hope you enjoy!  🙂


blue macaws on tree branch photograph photo
A pair of macaws seen through the branches of the trees...


rocking chair through the window photo
Rocking chair through the window~


Tunnel walkway - sidewalk path under the road
Through the tunnel! One of the local greenway paths winds back and forth through different neighborhoods and includes this tunnel under the road...


seaside beach dune walkover architecture photo
Through the posts! This is a photo from one of the beach paths over the dunes in beautiful Seaside, Florida. Lovely location!


Finally, the shot I got a couple of days ago —


red tulip petals and yellow stigma photo
Through the petals of this gorgeous red tulip you can see the stigma peeking out...


Hope you enjoyed these shots!  You can check out my other entry for this challenge here…  Thanks for stopping by!  🙂


Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

Well, I typed an entire post and tried to add the last photo only to have the whole post disappear.  I stared at the screen with a stunned expression, went to look at the draft and guess what?  It had already auto-saved the blank screen.  Nice.  lol!  Guess I’m still a little grumpy from being sick all week…  🙂

Ok.  Enough of that!  The original post was about how much I missed participating in the weekly photo challenge each week on The Daily Post.  It’s something I really enjoy and great fun even if your blog doesn’t focus on photography!  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the challenge, this is how it works (instructions taken from The Daily Post):

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Subscribe to The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.


Check it out or try it on your blog – just make sure you come back here and let me know so I can come visit the post!  🙂  If you’d like to start this week, the challenge is “Through”.  Photos taken “through” something or framed by something… what would YOUR interpretation be?  Here are some of mine:


photo of playground swings through slide
Swings at the playground taken through one of the holes in a tunnel slide. (You can't say you're surprised - you knew I was just a big kid! lol)


abandoned warehouse windows
For some reason I love all the details you can see through this abandoned warehouse window! The windows on the front of the building, the row of light bulbs... I took a lot of shots that day so you may end up seeing more of them. 🙂


And finally –


community pool through chain link fence photo
"No Swimming" - community swimming pool through the fence taken the day after it was closed for the summer...


Hope you enjoyed & hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

~heather  🙂

Welcoming Spring With the Plague

Okay, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to call it the ‘plague’…  Please humor me since I’m the sick one!  🙂

Before I begin a mini-rant I want share a fact about me – I love kids!  I enjoy being around children of all ages and have great respect for parents in general.  Convinced?  I hope so, because I am being sincere!   🙂  Now that you know my general attitude about kids let’s move on to a different, although related, topic: sick kids.  More specifically – taking undeniably sick kids out in public places on nonessential errands…

That probably upset at least some readers, but stick with me for just a few more minutes!  My attitude toward sick children is, for obvious reasons, less enthusiastic than my love of being around those that are not.  I feel bad to see kids suffering from whatever cold/virus/ailment is bothering them and wish them a speedy recovery! Preferably at home.  Where they can rest, drink lots of fluids, be cared for, etc, etc, without being around other people.  🙂  Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the struggles of parenting and know there are circumstances that cannot be helped that make it necessary to go out with youngsters that aren’t healthy.  Altogether I have seven younger siblings of varying relation (a long story for another day, perhaps).  I have lived in a two parent household and a single parent household, so I’m familiar with doing whatever you have to for the well-being of your family.  Sometimes it means taking your child with you to pick up meds,  or get groceries and ‘sick’ supplies at the store, and sometimes it means going places when they’re getting better but might still have a slight sniffle or a cough.  Those things don’t bother me at all.  I’m an adult with multiple bottles of hand sanitizer and a decent amount of common sense.  What I’m talking about is something else entirely.  This discussion is regarding UNnecessary outings with a kiddo that is unquestionably miserable and quite possibly contagious…

I visited a local library book sale last Friday afternoon and watched as an 8-10 year old began coughing and hacking so forcefully and continually that I wondered if she left pieces of lung on the floor.  Generally speaking, I don’t pay more attention to coughing and sneezing in public places than the next person.  I try to avoid germy surfaces and take precautions since I have an impaired immune system, however, I live in a region populated with seasonal allergy sufferers so it’s normal to have one or two in a crowd that sneeze a bit or carry tissues in their pockets.  This wasn’t like that – it was bad enough that at first I wondered if she was choking on something.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case!  She went in search of her mother and began coughing again.  Her mother told her quite sternly to ‘at least cover your mouth a little so it won’t be so loud’ and then held her daughter’s flushed, feverish face against her chest in what appeared to be an effort to stifle the sound.   As soon as she finished coughing she was pushed away and told to ‘go back over there’.  ??  You know – I’m not even going to comment on that part because it just makes me sound even more judgemental and that’s not what I hoped to convey…  Anyway!  The same girl then leaned over one of the tables lifelessly gazing at a book and waiting for her mom to get finished so they could leave.  I felt a pang of sympathy for her apparent misery but, at the same time, promptly crossed the aisle and headed 6-7 rows away.  The book sale took place in a large banquet room at a convention center so it wasn’t difficult to put quite a bit of space between us.  Nevertheless, I told hubby about what was going on and it wasn’t long before we bagged our books and left.

We didn’t go anywhere else that evening and hung out around the house the next day, but the damage was already done.  It is quite possible that what’s going on with me has been brewing in my system for longer than a few days, but since my immune system is so wonky it’s not unusual for me to show symptoms of an illness quicker than most.   So while I’m not trying to blame anyone, it is also possible that this illness is the result of picking up germs at the book sale.  Either way, Sunday morning found me struggling to swallow without wincing and yesterday I made the trip to the doctor’s office bright and early.  My doc, concerned after an examination and discussion of my symptoms, sent me home with instructions to take two full rounds of antibiotics and restrestrest.  Yikes!  He never hands out antibiotics that way!  I was adamantly advised to return if I didn’t see a fair amount of improvement after 3-4 days of meds.  Now on day two and it is the worst it has been.  Today I sound exactly like that poor girl did and feel as bad as she looked… I may be wrong, but I’m afraid I haven’t seen the last of the doc’s office this week.  Whether I got it from her or not, I kept thinking about that little girl and hoping she was also able to get some meds and that we will both feel healthier soon.

As I wrote earlier – please don’t misunderstand or think I’m a horrible person!  Parents have to do what is best for their kids and I get that!  I also love books and love seeing the written word spark a child’s interest and imagination so I’m always thrilled to see an adult encourage and nurture a child’s love of books!   I am not currently a parent and, although I have opinions about it, would never dream of telling someone else how to parent their child… When and if the day comes that I have a family of my own, I’m sure I’ll make parenting mistakes with the best of them.  I’d even go so far as to say I’ve been thoughtless at times and selfishly concerned with what I need to do without considering how it might impact someone else.  Some things, however, are just common courtesy.  I’m not calling anyone a ‘bad’ parent, I’m just asking that you please be considerate of your child’s health and the health of others around you.  If you are aware your child is sick, as this girl so obviously was, please postpone any non-essential errands, or try to find someone – friend, neighbor, family – to either keep your child or go for you.  Please don’t bring them to a book sale and set up shop in your preferred section while they suffer needlessly, anxious to go home.  Not only will it help prevent spreading their illness, it will probably help them get well that much faster so you can get back to everyday activities!


This is much wordier than I intended and seems a bit pedantic.  Oops!  Apparently I go on and on when I have nothing else to do but lay here propped up and miserable.  I promise that’s not a direct reflection of my attitude – more a reflection of my current state of physical discomfort!  :)

Enough of that!  Now that I’ve ranted a bit and realized my cough medicine isn’t going to #1- provide much, if any, relief or, #2- knock me out so I can sleep through some of this yuck, I’d like to know who wants to keep me company… ?  Anyone?  It probably doesn’t sound like an attractive suggestion, huh?  I’m honestly not grumpy – just breathing impaired.  : )  And speaking of cough syrup – why do pharmacists assume that adults don’t want or need it flavored?  This is, by far, the nastiest, foulest cough medicine concoction I’ve ever tasted!  It seems to be breaking things up the slightest bit so I’ll keep taking it, but YUCK!   lol


brown cough syrup bottle
Tastes disgusting and is practically useless...

Hope everyone else is feeling good and healthy this week!   I promise not to breathe on you and promise to have a better attitude before my next post!  🙂

you will learn

tempted by warming winds and
twinkling sunlight
hibernation comes to an end
and you emerge ~
hands outstretched
breathing deeply spring and growth
all things made new
and hope,
once a tight bud
closed off and buried deep,
dares to lift its head
its petals begin to unfurl.

and so you reach out
trying to find your purpose
in other lives and other eyes~
tired of pounding out a
lonely existence,
trapped inside – closely guarded –
longing for freedom.

there’s no assurance in words
pretty things that can deceive
and though we’ve been over it before,
how the season lures you…
with peaceful breeze embrace
nourishing morsels
just enough
to keep you fed.
i shake my head at your folly
yet indulge you like a child
never realizing the dangers ~
we all make mistakes…

so it’s a shame about the wind
very fickle this time of year.
and faster than you can imagine
the frost returns.
a hard, cruel chill
creeps up on you
tightening your veins
freezing everything in its path…

it might have been prevented
for even the hardiest succumb
feel the sting
the sudden scar of frostbite –
hunch their shoulders against the cold.
so you – tiny, feeble thing,
never had a chance!
how could you have known
light would be taken
in the space of a breath
the dark side of the moon
turning its back to the sun.

no excuse, really…
you should have been prepared,
i say
and tuck you safely back inside.

you will learn
one day i’m sure,
not to travel on my sleeve…

you will learn.

~heather m. tolley
march 2012

Learning Fibro As I Go

I never know quite how to start a post about Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome… There are so many things that go through my mind that I can’t always organize them into anything that I think is interesting or informative.  Of course, there are also times that my brain fog is so bad that it’s not possible to post anything at all.  Those days are always rough… The last 24 hours or so have been rough for a different reason.  A burning, tingling, roving pain reason.

Since my diagnoses I’ve spent more than a bit of time researching clinical studies, doctor’s websites and the blog posts of other people like me.  With both CFS and Fibro there are many symptoms that I’ve never experienced. One of the weird quirks of each illness is the symptom set is different for each person.  There’s a certain set of criteria that each patient must fall within, but the rest of the symptoms vary from person to person.  I’m so thankful that other people share their thoughts and insights – it’s reassuring to know I’m not losing my mind – but oddly enough, it creates strain at home.  Has anyone else experienced that?  Earlier this evening I was talking to my husband about a new kind of pain that’s been bothering me in the last 24 hours.  He asked me if I had ever considered whether or not reading information from other people ever ‘encouraged’ me toward adding new symptoms to my list… A very legitimate question.  It does happen and I can’t say I haven’t done it at some point.  With all of the information available on the internet – good and bad – it’s easy to become convinced that health problems are much worse than they actually are.  Researching a set of symptoms can return results ranging from the common cold to rare, untreatable diseases.  I try not to do that… If something is wrong with my health, I try to seek care and advice from a healthcare professional.  However, sometimes with CFS and Fibro it isn’t that easy.  There isn’t a doctor in my area that specializes in either of my conditions and the field is still undecided about what causes either illness and what courses of treatment work best.  The combination can bring about less than satisfactory results when I visit my doctor’s office.  Although I trust and respect him, there are days I’m just not up to the stress of not having concrete answers and solutions.

My husband does his best to understand all that and tries to provide support any way he knows how.  Problems only arise when I need one kind of support and he tries to provide another.  Asking if I’m adding symptoms due to research was his gentle reminder of the pitfalls of relying on so much outside information…  I’m grateful he’s looking out for me, but it’s not easy conveying how helpful it is to put a name or description to a symptom that I thought might only exist in my head.  Being able to breathe a sigh of relief because I’m not, in fact, going crazy and there are other people who understand the things that are happening to me.  Even the things I haven’t spoken aloud to anyone.  I’m doing my best to try to communicate with him that part of having ‘invisible’ conditions means that I need positive, uplifting support no matter what.  On the flip side – I hope that I’m appreciative enough of the effort that he’s making.  My health concerns him too, and I know he’s just worried and trying to help.  Living with this is a strain on both of us and I hope that we can continue to refine our communication styles and grow stronger together…  Even though he won’t ever fully understand what I’m going through, I can’t imagine dealing with this without him!  We may not always see eye to eye and I know he can’t read my mind and always anticipate what I need, but I’m blessed to have someone who loves me and tries to do what he can to bring me peace, hold my hand and walk by my side.  Even in the midst of all this pain and confusion, I’m so very blessed…  🙂

love you, buddy!

Southern Squirrels Love Their Biscuits!

Just wanted to share a shot I got the other day – it cracks me up.  🙂  Apparently when squirrels ‘Down South’ eat dinner they stick with a popular staple – biscuits!  He patiently chewed away while I tried to get a better angle, and didn’t feel threatened until I got a little too close.  Then, of course, he took his snack and made a run for it.  lol!


gray squirrel photo squirrel eating a biscuit
Got gravy? : )

Click here, if you’d like, for a look at the listing in my Etsy shop.  Thanks for having a ‘look’!

Happy Monday~


thoughts from the darkness

Do you ever feel alone?  Like no one understands you or knows you – the real you – that lives deep inside?  I’m a fairly open person – easy to read… but some days I wear a public face.  Wearing a ‘mask’ is not my default.  In fact, it’s not a normal occurrence at all.  Sometimes it just happens due to a certain set of circumstances or situation.  It could be that I need to appear calm when my mind is racing, or hiding pain when my physical body is having a bad day… being polite when I don’t feel very social.  Sometimes, I’m so very ashamed to admit, it’s a mask of kindness when I’m feeling selfish or my heart isn’t cooperating and being charitable like it should.  (Of all of them, I’m glad that mask doesn’t slip on very often.  Or easily.)

Lately, however, I’ve worn a mask because I’ve felt alone.  I try to make it seem like I’m engaged and 100% in every moment, but there are times when it’s the opposite of what’s going on inside.  Like I’m watching myself participate in life without knowing where I belong.  Perhaps it’s because I’m still unemployed and wondering how I’m supposed to contribute to our household without a job.  Maybe it’s because there are goals my husband wants to reach – buying a house – and I feel I disappoint him because my lay-off is such a setback to realizing that dream.  Wanting to do something with my creative side and facing insecurities that tell me it won’t happen because I lack talent or skills… feeling guilty when I can’t physically do things that once were easy for me… It could be something as simple as being at home alone too much.  Whatever the reason, there are days that I feel I could stand in the middle of a busy sidewalk and scream at the top of my lungs without anyone noticing.  That my words bounce off everyone’s ears and my voice has become lost in a dark wilderness.  Or worse – I have no voice at all.

Once I was afraid people wouldn’t like me if they knew what I was really like on the inside… some days I feel like that’s impossible because no one sees me at all – good or bad.  Am I the only one?  Have you ever felt like no one understands or sees you?  That you’re trying to communicate from a void?  Sending smoke signals up in the middle of a hurricane?  Finding yourself lost in static darkness is a lonely thing.  I pray that light will soon come pouring back in… for us all.

passing storm cloud photo sun rays photograph sunlight after rain
Sunshine returns after the storm...
sunlight through clouds photography god rays gray clouds after storm
Rays of sunlight filter through the clouds after the rain~

I wish you sunshine after every storm~