Tag Archives: photography

if your spirit breathes me in

if the spirit is truly carried on one’s breath,
please let me breathe you in.
bury my face in the soft curve of your neck
and, when your heartbeat is in sync with mine,
let’s introduce our lips.

uncertainties are carrion for self doubts we wear
so come to me stripped down
layers of your soul laid bare…
and let’s lie on our tummies in soft spring grass
gaze into each other’s eyes
sharing wishes and dreams
trading secrets on whispers fragile as wings.

would you ache to illicit my laughter
as I seek and nurture yours?
and in joy, trace the lines of my face?
be interested in the phrases between words?
those unspoken nuances of emotion –
the tender underbelly, vulnerable and raw
a quiet self hidden from the world
sacred few only see…

and when my soul stands naked before you
is this the pinnacle or descent?
are they equivalent in your eyes?
unencumbered by placating masks,
have I lost my charm and mystery?
are you paving a way for moments to fade
into plastic, nostalgic memory
so you can toss me on a pile with the rest?

it’s not too late – this is only as lost as you want it to be…
so dare to take hold of fear and
please breathe me in once more
– you’ll find me again
in the warmth of your mouth…
where our spirits first learned to linger

pink gerber pair harmony copy



This is My Body on Exercise… Or, Risks of Exertion as an ME/CFS Patient

When there are days you have to sit down to rest after taking a shower, exercise can prove next to impossible. It can really be a pain in the… well, it’s painful. We’ll just leave it at that for now.

Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body.  It can lift spirits, provide immunity support, strengthen and tone, and keep everything in good working order… But what happens if exertion is the very thing that makes your body sicker?  The thing that is capable of completely incapacitating you?  Welcome to living in a body run by ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome).  This is my nightmare.

Before I got sick, I belonged to a local gym and enjoyed going 4-5 times a week.  There was a yoga class I loved, a spin class I was finally getting good at, weights that were toning muscles I had forgotten were there, and a cardio room that I used to meet my sister-in-law in so we could use the elliptical machines together.  It wasn’t always easy to go and sometimes I skipped, but I tried to make make it a priority on my schedule.

Fast forward to the present.  My body has undergone quite a few changes in the passing years.  Harboring several different health issues and a humdinger of a coupla chronic illnesses, the gym has become a thing of the past.  Almost like a fairy tale I made up to amuse myself.  It’s been almost seven years since my ME/CFS diagnosis, and a couple of those have felt like the longest years of my life.

What most people don’t understand is how I can usually look fine on the outside while saying I’m so sick on the inside.  Typically, I look pretty healthy.  A little tired, perhaps.  Certainly carrying more weight than I should and than I used to… In general, however, I look like your neighbor or your sister or someone you would pass at your gym.  Meanwhile, the inside of my body is a wreck.  And one of the main things unseen is how it can take every bit of energy I have to make you believe I feel as well as I look.  *sigh*  It’s something of a curse, at times, because people with ME/CFS have to spend a great deal of time trying to convince people that they really are illEven though some are extremely ill.

A bad day with my puppy protector. I could not handle any outside noise that day so I had to wear ear plugs, my head was pounding so I was using an ice pack, but my body temperature was lower than normal and wouldn't regulate, so I was covered with two blankets. *sigh*
A bad day with my puppy protector. I couldn’t handle much noise that day so I was wearing earplugs, my head was pounding, hence the ice pack, but my body temperature was lower than normal and wouldn’t regulate, so I also had two blankets covering me. *sigh*


Please believe that I am not lazy!  I wish my body was cooperative.  I wish I could exercise like people tell me I should.  The truth is, everything goes haywire if I push too hard.  If you have to sit and rest after washing a sink of dishes, you’re probably not at your healthiest… And while I am MUCH healthier than severe ME/CFS patients, it’s nowhere near the person I was.  (For an absolutely heartbreaking look at what severe ME/CFS can look like, please read this recent article from The Washington Post about Whitney Dafoe.)  Some patients can’t leave their homes – others are confined to their beds.  It’s a blessing not to be stuck in bed, and a continuous source of gratitude to know I am not housebound.  I walk as often as possible, manage to work 20 hours a week, and still have enough energy at times to go out with friends and family to a movie or restaurant.  Heck, when all the stars are perfectly aligned, I might even manage a short hike!

hiking boots


What I would ask you to know, however, is that it comes at a price.  When a reasonably fit, healthy person hits the trails or goes for a run they might have sore muscles after an intense workout, but they can get back out and do it again within a day or two.  For someone living with ME/CFS, exertion of any kind (physical, mental, emotional) can lead to days, weeks or even months of recovery time.  In some cases, overexertion is the reason a mild or moderately ill patient ends up permanently bedridden.  It’s a terrifying tightrope to walk.  Never knowing what a few extra minutes of walking might do.  Never knowing if too much housework in a day will put you in bed for weeks.  Living under that black cloud of uncertainty is its own form of mental exhaustion.  My body doesn’t react to activity like it should.  Sometimes walking from the bedroom to the kitchen causes such oxygen deprivation that I have to lean against the counter until my breath comes normally again.  There are days I may manage to get to a hiking trail, only to discover a quarter-mile in that my heartbeat has become increasingly erratic, that I’m staggering because my equilibrium is way off, or that my body temperature won’t regulate and I’m sweating profusely despite the cold or shivering despite the heat.  I’ll confess – there are times I’ve had to sit down in the aisle of a store or abandon a cart full of groceries simply because my legs became so weak that I couldn’t stand anymore.  It has come down to making the decision to finish a task or have enough strength to drive home.  It’s frightening to be okay one moment and find yourself helpless the next… Every system of my body revolts, sometimes at a moment’s notice, and there is nothing I can do but ride it out.  So many random symptoms might attack – chest pains, missed heartbeats, brain fog – just to name a few…  There are so many severe potential risks to being active that, if I’m not having a good day to begin with, it really isn’t worth taking a chance.

Other times, however, I do risk it.  To enjoy the outdoors, to feel like I have a life, to maintain some independence… I tell you all these things so you know the effort and energy it takes, and so you can be a bit gentle with me, or anyone else you know with ME/CFS.  I would also ask, however, that you remember sometimes we dare to dream… we dare to take the chance.  There are some things in life that are worth it.  By asking you to understand, I’m saying you’re probably one of them..  🙂


One of my favorite things to do when there *is* leftover energy is to get outside and hit the trails.
One of my favorite things to do when there *is* leftover energy is to get outside and hit the trails.



As always, thank you for reading!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Here I am posting my ‘photo challenge’ at the 11th hour, as usual.  🙂   I’ve had the photos picked out to post, but unfortunately, a pretty stout headache this morning had turned into a full-blown migraine by tonight…  After hours of ice packs and pain meds, I’ve finally taken the edge off and I’m going to try to get some sleep.  (YAY!)  Since I already had the shots I thought I’d drop by and put ’em out here.

The theme this week was “Together” and although there were a couple of other photographs I would’ve liked to share there wasn’t time.  Maybe they’ll fit into the theme a different week!

baby animal and mother, mother and baby donkey, baby mule, donkey grazing, donkeys in the field, mules
Sweet baby stays close to mom…


sweet couple, older couple in the ocean, older man and woman swimming, man and woman at beach, grandparents at the beach
This sweet couple went out into the water most days that we were on our vacation… She would swim on out pretty fearlessly and then wait for him while he slowly made his way out with his inner tube to keep him afloat. They were so cute together!


baby ducks, mother duck leads her young, ducklings, baby ducks swimming, ducks in the river,
A mother duck trying to keep her young together as she leads them in a swim down the river.


two shadows, shadows on the sand, the shadows of two people on the sand
Pretty disheartening how much bigger my shadow is than my mom’s… lol!


pelicans flying, pelicans in v formation, birds flying in a v, pelicans against bright blue sky
It’s the ‘pelican patrol’! I love how they always stay together in such great formation…


I’m glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed!  🙂

Take care~

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

I got excited about this challenge because I take a lot of photos with the sun as a feature…. Between the leaves of trees or buildings, through the petals of a flower, through cracked windows in abandoned buildings – there are many ways I’ve tried to capture the sun or sun rays in shots.  The problem with this challenge is that I waited until today to post it and today I’ve had horrible nerve pain all day long.  I didn’t get a chance to sort through some of my older shots (which contained better examples) and restricted my choices to about the last 5-6 months.  Even though I didn’t get a chance to pull out a couple of shots that I thought would be nice interpretations of this challenge, I did find some other captures.  Actually, I found quite a few.  So with no further rambling – here they are!  🙂


Roosevelt's four freedoms, 4 freedoms, freedom from fear, freedom of speech, east tennessee veterans memorial, world's fair park, knoxville tennessee, granite pillar memorial park, Franklin D. Roosevelt's freedoms
A side view of the granite pillar showing two of Roosevelt's four freedoms at the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial.



sunset over the river, norris dam state park, sunset over the mist on the water
Sunset and the evening mist over the river~



sunflare, sunflare across abandoned building, abandoned building, sunset over tin roof of abandoned building
Sun flare across the tin roof of an abandoned building...



golden sunset, orange and peach sunset, sun setting over the hills and river, sun setting over the river
Golden glow of sunset~



sunshine reflected in sunglasses, sun reflected in sunglasses, reflections in sunglasses
I've always called this one "I See the Light"... haha!



sun setting over the hills, sunset over the meadow, golden sun over the hills
Sun setting on a day in a country meadow...


I promise I’m almost finished!  🙂


sunshine over the river, sun reflected in water, sunshine reflected in river, sun shining over the lake
Blue skies & sunshine!


And finally – the only picture that I actually took this week.  Hubby wasn’t crazy about it, but for some reason I loved it.  It was such an eerie, strange sky – the photo has only been slightly sharpened and cropped.  It may look like it’s a b&w photo but it’s not!  That’s just how different the sky and lighting were at that time of day at that spot.


God's rays, God rays, sun shining through the gray clouds, sunshine and clouds, rays of sun shining through the clouds, monochrome sunset, faux monochrome sunset, black and white, b&w looking photo
Sun & clouds~



I hope you’ve enjoyed & thanks for stopping by!


As always, please remember that these images are my private property and not for public use or copying.  Thanks!  🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Arranged



The topic for this week’s challenge is ‘arranged’.  This is how it’s described on The Daily Post page:

Arranged.  Sometimes you chance across things which were arranged on purpose, or on a whim – find something in your environment which was arranged by a human hand for others to enjoy!

 Share a picture that means ARRANGED to you.

Seems easy enough… but I ended up with way too many photos to choose from!  I narrowed the list, although it wasn’t by much, and came up with the following shots for this topic.

row of bottles colored wrappers bottle display
I liked the variety of colored wraps on this display of fruit juice bottles.
row of standing yellow barrels
Row of yellow barrels comprising a 'fence' of sorts at a local little league ball field.
colorful beach umbrellas white sand blue water
Pretty arrangement of beach chairs and umbrellas...
bicycles for rent row of bikes at Rosemary Beach
I've always called this shot "Handle It"! 🙂
hay bales in the field bales of hay
Arrangement of hay bales stretching back into the field.
oranges in blue colander kitchen photography
I like the pop of orange against the deep blue in this kitchen counter arrangement...

Almost finished – I promise!  lol!  🙂

red stirrers red stirring straws photo
Stir things up!

And finally —

stack of pans commercial kitchen silver baking pan stack photo
I love the lines and stacks of equipment in a professional kitchen. Last time I was in one this stack of pans just caught my eye... 🙂

I know that was a bunch of photos!  Thanks for sticking it out and making it to the end.  🙂  Let me know what you think… and as always – thanks for stopping by!

Also – make sure and check out what some of the other bloggers are posting for this challenge!  🙂



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  🙂