Sunday, December 3, 2017

#IAmGrateful 31

Happiness

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise.
It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”
- Ashley Montagu

I am grateful for the moments of happiness that 'seize' my heart and my attention. Each of these moments strung together over time render deeper feelings of joy, peace, and belonging.

And while happiness is not an all-the-time feeling, it is the proof that uncomfortable feelings such as sorrow, frustration, grief, or disappointment are also not all-the-time feelings. As we come around the corner of anger or hurt, a moment of happiness may be waiting to seize us again.

Full of Smiles


Saturday, December 2, 2017

#IAmGrateful 30

Sharing

Sharing is caring! ...Unless you're a gingerbread man, lol!

A shared meal, shared conversation, shared joy, shared laughter, shared peace.

#IAmGrateful

Thursday, November 30, 2017

#IAmGrateful 29 (Also SOTC 262/365)

Weakness

You can interpret weakness however you want here. Faults. Mistakes. Imperfections. The things we just can't help, no matter how hard we try. Everything about us that's broken.

I've done battle with all of that this year, and to be honest, I would not say 'grateful' has been a go-to word to describe my feelings about any of it.

Sure, there is an understanding that our brokenness and imperfections are a part of this complex thing we call being human. And even acceptance that I will come face-to-face with them in life's arena sometimes.

But gratitude...?

...And yet...

I am grateful for my weaknesses--in a way. (I had to pause after typing that, just to make sure I believe my own words.) It's not the same... "flavour"... of gratitude I would ascribe to other facets of life. But, I do recognize that my flaws are a part of what make me who I am. Just as we often talk about how our stronger, more desirable attributes are unique to us, so are our imperfections. No one has the exact same combination of imperfections and broken pieces as me. And so as much as I hate them some days, as much as they leave me with my foot in my mouth, or overthinking things, or being completely oblivious to what's going on--I am still grateful for them. They keep me humble; they challenge me to grow; they help me recognize my strengths.

I am also grateful for those who love me--flawed and broken and all. Those who think I'm worth it not despite my imperfections and weaknesses, but with them and because of them.

At the Breaking (SOTC 262/365)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

#IAmGrateful 28 (Also, SOTC 263/365)

Kindness

"Throw kindness around like confetti!" - Unknown

I am so grateful for the kindness I encounter in this world. It makes the hard days a little gentler, and the great days even better.

Winter Sparkle

Monday, November 27, 2017

#IAmGrateful 27

Sunshine

Winter Afternoon Sun II
I love sunshine. I grew up in Canada’s sunniest city, Calgary, which sees sunshine an average of 333 days a year. Edmonton comes in second, seeing sunshine 325 days out of the year. Pair that with the wide prairie sky for the sun's rays to shine in every direction, and it's no surprise that I love the light so much.

Even on days when it is -30C, the sky can be bright with light. And there's even a word to describe the warmth we feel from the sun in the cold of winter: apricity. ...I'm pretty sure someone out here on the prairies came up with that one, lol.

Especially at this time of the year when the sun is low in the sky and shorter-lasting, I am so grateful for its shine. Along with air and water, it is a source of life and energy. It boosts our well-being both mentally and physiologically. And it quite literally makes things sparkle.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

#IAmGrateful 26

Quiet Time

It's been a busy week. Fast-paced and full. I am over-peopled, and I have been looking forward to today.

It's a rare weekend with no guests, and I am grateful for the quiet of the house. I sleep in, laying in the softness of morning under my duvet until my stomach demands some breakfast. I don't even want to put on any music. It is a day for lounging around in sweatpants, an old hoodie, and thick, cozy socks; I am the epitome of fashion.

Tomorrow I return to the regular hum of the work week. But for now, I'm on my third cup of tea, and I think I may have found a new favourite author.

#IAmGrateful 25

Beauty

I am grateful for the beauty that is everywhere. A vibrant sunset. The vast expanse of sky. A child's innocence. A friend's soul.

And at the same time, a lone flower in the dirt. An old abandoned house. The texture of cracked paint.

And the richness of colour found even in dying things.

Bamboo's Dying Colours

"Blessed are those who see beautiful things
in humble places where others see nothing."
- Unknown

Friday, November 24, 2017

#IAmGrateful 24 (Also, SOTC 261/365)

Simplicity

Simplicity (SOTC 261/365)


"The point of simple living: A soft place to land,
a wide margin of error, room to breathe."
- Leo Babauta

#IAmGrateful 23

Evening

My mind is full at the end of the day, having explored a thousand different directions since waking. The next few days promise to be more of the same; and so I am grateful for the chance to pause, catch my breath, and settle into the quiet of evening.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#IAmGrateful 22

Words

I have the utmost, heartfelt appreciation for the extensive vocabulary housed within the cavities of my personal lexicon. To be able to utilize the riches of the English language to create vivid imagery around a concept; to express an emotion swelling within my heart; or to simply emphasize a point worthy of your cognitive consideration.

Or, put more simply:

Words. They're awesome.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

#IAmGrateful 21

Nature

Even at -20C, nature still moves about, inviting us into moments of wonder, delight, and awe. I am so grateful.

Lunch

Monday, November 20, 2017

#IAmGrateful 20

Challenge

Considering the Climb
Challenge is when I can't see the end of the road, the top of the mountain, or anything more than the next step in front of me--yet I know I must keep going.

Challenge is a call to perseverance and daring; awakening my inner strength just when we were getting comfortable.

Challenge tests my my boundaries, my integrity, and my stick-with-it-ness.

It reminds me to trust the One who is really in control.

Challenge is air in my lungs, power in my stride, and fire in my eyes.

#IAmGrateful.



"You can't fall if you don't climb. But there's no joy
in living your whole life on the ground."
- Unknown

Sunday, November 19, 2017

#IAmGrateful 19

Liquid

A Splashy High Five
For liquid that nourishes;
that revitalizes;
hydrates.

For liquid that warms,
and liquid that cools.

For liquid that cleans,
that soothes,
that cures.

For liquid that smells good;
feels good;
and tastes good too.

#IAmGrateful

Saturday, November 18, 2017

#IAmGrateful 18

Laughter

Let's show gratitude through photographs, she said.
It'll be easy, she said.

Well, on a quiet Saturday at home, it's tricky to take an authentic photo that shows laughter.* So I went on a hunt to make a collage, and discovered that it's also hard to find photos that show laughter.**

Not because I don't spend time laughing--as serious as I can be, I do value a sense of humour and fun. No; it's more because moments of laughter exist to me in memories, not photographs. Laughter is one of those things you lose yourself in completely, and no one generally thinks to pull out their phone or camera in those moments--we are too caught up in the joy and fun.

And I think this is a good thing--that there are experiences of such authentic delight that they are solely tucked away in the hearts and memories of those who experienced it together.

I am so grateful for laughter--for the jokes, quirky moments, and playful experiences that make me laugh till my sides hurt and my eyes water. And for those who have shared in those moments with me. They are the stories shared around the table, sometimes for years; sometimes making us laugh all over again.



"People with a good sense of humour
have a better sense of life."
- Unknown





*I had this same conundrum with "Excitement."
**Smiles are everywhere, but that's not quite the same.

Friday, November 17, 2017

#IAmGrateful 17

Health

For a strong, healthy body,
a resilient, healthy mind,
and a fierce, healthy heart.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

#IAmGrateful 16

Routine

As much as society romanticized the idea of us being carefree, adventurous, try-ers of new things always, we are all—to varying degrees—creatures of habit. Brain science shows that too much unpredictability is stressful and unhealthy—both in our routines and our relationships.


So I am grateful for routine. For waking up each morning in a warm home; for always-hot showers; the perfect cup of coffee; for a great job, at a great place, working with great people; for time at home to sit and eat and be still; and to return to my little oasis to rest at the end of the day.

#IAmGrateful 15

Breakfast

I choose cereal six days out of seven, but I am grateful that I have the option to choose at all. And though I'm rarely actually hungry at the time I need to eat breakfast most days, it keeps me from being a hangry hot mess by 10am--and for that, we should all be grateful!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#IAmGrateful 14

Alone Time

Alone time is not an option for me. To be my best self with people, I need regular time apart from people.

I have a collection of quiet spaces. In the summer, my hammock hugs my introverted soul; in the depths of winter, a hot bubble bath does the same. I have claimed the river valley for my own some days, and there's a reason I enjoy driving so much. And after a long or hard or just-too-people-y day, the best quiet space is home.

Growing up, my two favourite oases for alone time were my bedroom and the living room. As an adult, not much has changed; they are still my two favourite spots in the house to curl up with a book, my journal, or my laptop. Put on some acoustic guitar, light a candle, find a cat--and I am set to settle in for the evening.

I am so grateful for these spaces. And grateful to have a lifestyle where this needed time is generally easy to come by--my routine includes it, my coworkers respect it, and my closest friends 'get' it.


Monday, November 13, 2017

#IAmGrateful 13

Gift

At first, I thought I might get all philosophical and abstract with today’s challenge word—y’know, the gift of time, gift of love, gift of life... But I feel like I’ve been living in the deep and philosophical a lot lately, and sometimes even I am just grateful for things at face value—like small gifts from a niece and nephew who know me just too well.


#IAmGrateful 12

Experience

7 Wonders has been a favourite board game amongst the grown-ups for years. What a delight to pass down some of that experience to a new protege this weekend!


#IAmGrateful 11 (Also, SOTC 260/365)

Sunset

Sunset Sky Over Saskatoon

Grateful. SO grateful. For the bright glow, the warm light, the rich and beautiful end to a day—regardless of what that came before. Sky and clouds and sun working together to create this artistic expression of physics that spills forth in several colours.

For the 4:30 winter sunsets that make the drive home less dreary; and the 10:30 summer sunsets that tuck my friends and I in around the campfire.

For the eyesight to see this daily splendour, regardless of where I am in the world; and the luxury of capturing it on a camera to hold onto forever and share—#IAmGrateful.

#IAmGrateful 10

Opportunity

I am grateful for opportunity--to play, to rest, to learn; to connect and to simply be.


#IAmGrateful 9

Food

I am grateful for the food in the table, and the company with which I get to share it.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

#IAmGrateful 8

Technology

I'm a bit of a contradiction when it comes to technology. I am tech savvy enough to navigate most of what 2017 has to offer, but I'm not an early adopter of anything, because I'm also one of those people who will use something until it's absolutely worn out or completely incompatible with my life. Which basically means that I have the newest MacBook, but I still own a tube TV.

But when I think about the technology that has become meaningful in my everyday life, I am floored by its power.

You guys.

I can take a photo on my phone, then open the image on my laptop without having to connect the two devices together.

I can have a "face-to-face" visit with friends who live far away.

I can draft an entire essay on my iPad simply by speaking into it.

I can can unlock my phone and laptop with my fingerprint.

I can use my phone as a boarding pass.

I can use my phone as a concert ticket.

I can use my phone as a remote control for my camera.

And on the topic of digital cameras, can I just note that I would not be the photographer I am today were I reliant on film (or I would be, but I'd be flat broke, one of the two).

...So for all the hazards that come along with technology--the cellular risk of wi-fi signals on, the effect of extended screen use on our health and well-being, the time suck that is the internet, etc.--I must say, I am still quite grateful.

Apple Over the Years

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

#IAmGrateful 7

Purchase

I stare at this small load of groceries, and I am grateful. I recognize that I can afford to purchase this cart of goods without worrying about whether or not I can pay the mortgage after. And not only can I afford the items within this cart, but generally I can afford multiples of those items.

I have the freedom to choose from a variety of brands and options in every aisle. And I also have the freedom purchase these items from a variety of companies.

Grocery shopping is generally just another errand at the end of the day. But then I consider that this amount of purchasing power and freedom is my experience every time I shop.

And I am grateful all over again.

Monday, November 6, 2017

#IAmGrateful 6 (also, SOTC 259/365)

Warmth

Toques and boots, mittens and wool socks; down comforters, throw blankets, fleece housecoats and flannel pyjamas. Warm candles, hot packs, central heating.

I live in the northernmost metropolis on the continent--I never take our summer weather for granted, and in the winter, I am always grateful for warmth that I can so quickly access and afford, knowing there are so many who can't.*


#IAmGrateful 6 (Warmth)





*Got some warm winter clothes that could help those in need? Check out Coats for Kids and #bundleupyeg--they are currently taking donations!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

#IAmGrateful 5

Excitement

Excitement is...

Visiting friends you haven’t seen in a while.
Receiving an unexpected gift.
Buying that book you've been wanting.
Flying anywhere on an airplane.
Things that come in the colour red.
Celebrating a friend’s accomplishments.
Celebrating your own accomplishments.
Going to a concert.
A road trip.
A camping trip.
A vacation.
Attending a wedding.
Your friend’s baby being born.
Birthday parties.
The first day of summer.

And on and on. The memories that come up as I type these make my heart swell; residual excitement, lol! ...Mind you, I would not actually want to feel excitement all the time. It's kind of a big feeling! Moments of it are great, even a day or two of running on excited energy isn't so bad--but I'm pretty sure chronic excitement would likely start to feel as overwhelming and exhausting as other big feelings.

But don't hear me wrong--I am grateful that excitement is among the pallet of feelings we experience. Goodness knows there is enough heartache and pain and stress in the world—it would be a dark place indeed without feelings like joy, hope, and excitement.

Excitement experienced alone gives us a story to tell; excitement shared invites celebration. And both foster connection; which is really what it's all about in the end, isn't it?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

#IAmGrateful 4

Friendship

Captured from the book Cold Tangerines, by Shauna Niequist

Studies show that we each need at least one friendship like this (not including a romantic partner*)--and that if we have more than two, we should consider ourselves blessed.** Well, then. I am very blessed indeed. And most certainly, I am grateful.




*I read about this study in a book by Shasta Nelson--while not stated in the abstract, she noted in her book that spouses did not have an effect on perceived steepness of the hill.
**Brene Brown uses the word "lucky"--either way...

#IAmGrateful 3

Morning

For fiery sunrises;
hot coffee with cream
that first quiet hour at work before everyone else arrives.

And for mornings that start slowly;
soft light, warm blankets,
and a thick purr that resonates
to my very core.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

#IAmGrateful 2

Comfort

Here-to-stay snow arrived this week, and in between shovelling the driveway and dark mornings and wind chills I’m not quite ready for, I am grateful for the comfort of a hot drink, warm light, cozy layers, and books that hug the soul.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

#IAmGrateful 1 (Also, SOTC 258/365)

Lady in Red (SOTC 258/365)
Person

This girl.

Yup, this girl right here.

With her unassuming and quiet demeanour. With her father's eyes and her mother's hair and her grandmother's build; and her own spirit.

A quirky sense of humour.
A deep mind.
A loyal heart.

Ambition in her eyes and a book in her hand.
Purpose in her step and a camera around her neck.

I am grateful for the person I am, and the person I continue to evolve into. "A masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously."*

I can be tempted to put the word "too" in front of some self-descriptors like introverted, serious, linear, organized... and then I remind myself no! Not "too!" Because the world needs both; the talkers and the listeners, the silly and the serious, the care-free and the planners. I have moments of "too" (we all do), but on the whole, these and all my other qualities make up my being in just the right proportions.

I am grateful for my healthy dose of introversion; for my attention to details; for a naiveté most 30-somethings can't pull off... And for all the other bits and pieces of genetics and biology and relationship and life that make me one whole person.

#IAmGrateful




* Unknown

Monday, October 30, 2017

Getting Back to Grateful

Brene Brown, a qualitative researcher whose work I admire for many reasons, reminded me recently about gratitude. She clarifies that the practice of gratitude supports us to be joyful as we move through this broken world. I do know this; it's my default setting. But when I heard her speak to it again, I realized that I have kinda fallen out of that practice lately.

Oh, it's been one of those seasons. I feel like I've spent much of the last year or so being challenged in pretty much every arena--personal, professional, spiritual... a call to step up my courage, patience, empathy, forgiveness, trust, grace, bravery, daring, commitment, boundaries, persistence, resilience...

In all the hard work,* I have to admit, my joy has fallen a little flat.

I'm not exactly walking around ungrateful, per se. I just... it's hard to feel gratitude when you're trying to muster courage. When your heart is hurting. When you're focused on living in your integrity.  When you're trying something new. I've been increasingly aware of how my gratitude for this wide and wonderful world has become a bit overshadowed by stronger feelings I've been leaning into and exploring.

So I picked up a book from the library that's been sitting on my to-read list for ages--sometimes hearing another's perspective revitalizes us to shift our own--and I also thought I would try a gratitude challenge throughout the next month. Re-fuel, so to speak. Get back to my default setting.

Not surprisingly, I'm approaching this challenge with photography; it has always been a way to capture life around me to spark awe, wonder, delight and gratitude in myself and those with whom I share my images.

So here we go.

Do you need a practice-of-gratitude challenge too? It doesn’t have to be in pictures. You don’t even have to follow the prompts I’m using. But if you’ve found yourself in a season of heart-work that has squished your joy a bit (or outright flattened it), feel free to come wander back to gratefulness with me. :)


"The secret is to never lose sight of the simple, everyday miracles in life.
Good food, literature, laughter, music, compelling conversation, nature, and art.
Look for them in every day, and even when it feels like your whole world is unravelling,
you will never be too far from a needle and thread." -- Beau Taplin




*Important work. Rich work. Necessary work. Just... sometimes also hard work.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

SOTC 257/365

Today on Discovery, squirrels with moustaches...

Squirrel with a Moustache

Monday, September 18, 2017

SOTC 255/365

I just can't get enough of nature thriving in unexpected places!

Little Bits of Nature Everywhere (SOTC 255/365)

SOTC 254/365

This view never gets old.

Coming out of Grotto Canyon (SOTC 254/365)

SOTC 253/365

Downtown Calgary really is a photographic playground.

Pedway for one (SOTC 253/365)

SOTC 252/365

"It's like a giant version of whac-a-mole."

Like a Giant Version of Whac-a-Mole (SOTC 252/365)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Well, Poop (SOTC 251/365)

Sometimes you get more than you bargained for in your images.

Well That Was Unexpected (SOTC 251/365)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

SOTC 250/365

It could be a flower; it could be a weed. But it grows up from dust and rock, and anything with that type of resilience gets my attention.

Shot of Colour (SOTC 250/365)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SOTC 249/365

I've tried very hard to not have too many sunsets as SOTC selections, as they are somewhat of a low-hanging fruit in my photography. That being said, sometimes you just gotta.

Southern Comfort (SOTC 249/365)

SOTC 248/365

The hazy forest-fire smoke mutes the blue and orange of evening to cast its own unique filter. #WhoNeedsInstagram

Evening Mountain Range (SOTC 248/365)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Kindess

Sometime in the spring, I heard about the Big Apple Experiment from a colleague. Essentially, you take two apple slices, love one, trash talk the other, and see what happens. My job involves supporting educators to teach social and emotional skills to young children, and it was an experiment she had done with her preschool class to talk about kindness towards others.

When she emailed me and shared the experiences of the children and educators in her room, as well as the effect on the apples, I was moved. Are our words really that powerful? I started thinking it could be a meaningful exercise to try with my own coworkers. So I put a couple of apple slices in jars, and asked everyone to be kind to one, and be mean to the other. I did not tell them why.

Here is the apple we were kind and caring towards. I often heard it being cooed to, complimented, and occasionally someone sang to it. Four weeks later, it looked like you could dip it in caramel and still eat it.


Here is the apple we were mean to. It was talked to in tones of contempt, occasionally the table it sat on was smacked as frustrations were spoken to it, and one of my colleagues admitted to giving it the finger. ...I couldn't even touch it when I pulled it out of the jar. It was mouldy and squishy and just... not in good shape.


The two slices came from the same apple. They were cut with the same knife and placed at the same time into identical mason jars.* And because they were placed at opposite ends of our office building, I even switched their locations part way through so that each experienced the same traffic patterns of people overall. And what blows my mind is that both jars were sealed. The apples were not touched or tampered with. The only difference between these two apple slices was the attitude with which they were treated.

There is clearly an entirely different energy in hurtful words and actions than in loving ones. One rots; one protects. When we are unkind, not only do we wound another emotionally, or even fracture a relationship--we also leave behind a lasting negative energy. If this is what meanness does to an apple at its core, what does it do to a person in theirs?

...As someone who spends her day talking about social and emotional well-being, let me be clear that I'm not saying we shouldn't express our hurt or anger. We need to be authentic with all our feelings. ...But we do need to be mindful about where and how and to whom we're directing our energy.

We have a choice in every interaction--with the cashier at the grocery store; the customer service agent on the phone; our child or spouse at the end of a long day, in hard conversations with friends; at a tense team meeting--to choose: malice, sarcasm, belittling, anger, a raised voice? Or kindness, compassion, patience, empathy, and truth spoken in love.

We are not always going to be perfect, but the good news is that we have endless opportunities to practice.

I know what kind of energy I want to leave in a room, or in someone's heart.

I choose kindness.








* Yes, I washed the apple, the knife, the jars, and my hands before doing this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Where 100,000 Will Take You

I enjoy driving. I am my father's daughter in this regard, traversing whatever kilometres I must to get where I want to go. When I'm not commuting to and from work, I'd say the majority of my driving is to either visit the people I care most about, or to explore somewhere with my camera.

So is it any wonder that after four years of moving to and from these places with my current car (a Dodge Dart named Tom), he would hit his 100,000km mark on a road in rural Saskatchewan... a trip he has made many times to keep me connected to some of my favourite people.

Within Edmonton, I must admit that Tom and I have... struggled... to get along with the city streets.* But--we have always enjoyed the open road together. It is interesting where different seasons of our lives take us. My Honda went everywhere. Mountains, ocean, foothills, prairie--she even crossed into the United States more than once. To be fair, I owned Aubergine twice as long as I've currently owned Tom. That being said, thus far, Tom has only had a taste of the mountains and foothills, he's never been to the ocean, nor has he crossed any international borders.

But the prairie.

Well.

Tom is a prairie expert.

The view at 100,000km.

Under the ever-wide sky, we have explored the green and yellow patchwork of summer fields, as well as the white blankets of winter. We have stopped to take in unexpected delights, and we never hesitate to pull over for a good sunset. In the dark of winter, thousands of songs, a hundred podcasts, and several audio books have helped to pass the time.

All so that I can access the pieces of my heart that I have scattered abroad.

Tom's knees are starting to creak, his face is pock-marked by gravel and dust, and his interior is in desperate need of a bath. ...I've put him through a lot in four years.

At 25,000km per year, I am hoping he and I can enjoy at least another four together, and I am curious to see which directions our ambitions take us.

There is so much yet to explore.


* But if you need to find a pothole, a nail, or a piece of wayward rebar, I'm your gal.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017