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Happy Father’s Day

17 Jun

A father’s love is powerful beyond words.

Today I honor my dad who taught me all I needed to navigate through life with integrity and principle, and I honor my awesome husband whom my five sons are incredibly lucky to call Pop, and I thank once again our Heavenly Father who has blessed me with these two incredibly amazing men to love and call mine.

And I wish all of you, my dear friends, who are fathers in one way or another, and all of you who have been blessed with fathers to love: Happy Father’s Day, with much affection!

Seize Today

8 Jun

Carpe diem and all that. Because tempus fugit.

And because, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said,

Every second is of infinite value.

So gather ye rosebuds whilst ye may. Grab today by its neck and dive into all that you’ve always wanted to do. Have you always wanted to learn to  paint? Go to the bookstore today and get yourself a box of paints, some paintbrushes, and indulge even if you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re doing… yet. That’ll come in time. What matters is that you’ve started on the road that leads to your dream. (And it works whether what you want is learning to paint, or reading that book, or figuring out how to work the new vacuum cleaner).

And because what we sow today is a very accurate predictor of what we’ll reap tomorrow, it makes a lot of sense to make sure that the journeys we embark on today, short-lived or long-winded, are those that lead to a good place.

For me, there is no greater reassurance that my daily journeys will be fruitful than to begin it (and yes, end too) with prayer. It’s the one great thing that gives me energy, cheer, and yes, during those inevitable times of human frailty and trial, hope. And the knowledge that, even if in the eyes of the world—and perhaps even in my own sight—it may sometimes seem that I have failed at this or that today, what really matters is the struggle that has been offered up with love.

And so… in a very roundabout way, what I am trying to say is that I have been totally amazed by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week because it merged those two things—today and prayer—in a very serendipitous way:

TODAY. I love that this is the theme this week. Especially because I have long subscribed to the belief that there is beauty, happiness, awesomeness, indeed miracles a-plenty, in each and every day—wonderful gifts just waiting there quietly for us to take the time to stop and discover them.

This was my little awesome gift today:

The Backstory That Explains Why:

His 10-year-old brother and I had just finished reading this little booklet which explains the benefits of praying three Hail Mary’s daily, upon waking and before sleeping. I was in the middle of teaching the older one to say a little prayer in between the three Hail Mary’s, asking for the gift of purity of body and soul. This sweet 6-year-old was playing with his Lego, oblivious (or so I thought) to my conversation with his brother. Suddenly he looked up, folded his hands in prayer, and said, “Mama, teach me also that other prayer.”

I am certain the angels in heaven smiled on him at that very moment. As I did (and then reached for my camera to capture the moment 😀 ).

Ah, the gift of today. And the joys of being mama. And the gift of being asked by a little child to join him in prayer.

Precious beyond words.

And I end this with a prayer that today may be filled with gifts and blessings for you, my dear friends!

Shooting the Blues

19 May

Blue happens to be my favorite color (robin’s egg blue that leans more towards blue than green, to be exact, but I pretty much like all the shades of blue). Perhaps that’s why I’ve never associated blue with sadness. I mean, I can shoot the blues but I can’t sing them. 😉

And so I did. Shoot the blues, that is. At the San Francisco’s Pier 39. And it was just what I needed for the WordPress Photo of the Week Challenge with the theme Blue. (Betcha you guessed that immediately, right?)

So here we go with the last of my backlogged photo challenges: BLUE, for you!

{Click on the image for a larger view}

For the record: I think this was the first time I actually saw this kind of silvery-blue fish. Pretty awesome really, those creatures.

Mason Cooley wrote,

The sheen of ocean gleams on the blue fish-plate.

And so it does, doesn’t it?

Now if, like me, seeing all that beautifully glistening blue makes you imagine the b-l-i-s-s of floating peacefully along, gently rocked by the ocean’s rolling waves, then I’m guessing you’ll love how Enya’s Caribbean Blue brings you perfectly to that place of cool, calm comfort:

All this blue around has made me curious: What is blue to you? Does it bring to mind something extraordinary and uncommon (Blue Moon)? Someone beloved (Blue Eyes)? Love (Mr. Blue)? The wonder of the heavens above and oceans beneath (I see skies are blue, red roses too…)? Sadness (Singing the Blues) or happiness (Blue skies, nothing but blue skies…)?

I personally think blue is cool. But then, you knew that from the first sentence of this post, right? heehee.

Hope today turns out to be cool for you, both literally and figuratively, my dear friends!

(Un)Focused

19 May

There are busy days, and then there are busy days. The kind that seem to rush past in a blur, and when we finally get the time to sit back and take a deep breath, we abruptly find ourselves at the end of the day. Ever have that kind of day? I have many of them.

Luckily for those of us who get caught by the daily rush, there is a way to get through them and survive and even come out victorious at the day’s finish line, cheering and whooping and dancing amidst the confetti rain. I’m not talking about sticky-tacking the hands of the clock when no one’s looking (though I will admit the prospect of doing just that is deliciously tempting, if only it would work. Ha!). And, tempting though it is, too, to follow the day’s hasty pace and charge through our To-Do list with a Tasmanian-Devilish burst of speed, I suspect the answer doesn’t lie there either. Often the blur is something we have no control over anyway, so to go rushing blindly isn’t going to make it go away. So what then?

Ahem. We were talking about solutions, right? I like to think the answer lies in applying the Shooting Principle. And in case you feel you have to google that, don’t bother: I just invented it right now (haha).

The Shooting Principle of Life

Basically, the Shooting Principle is all about coping with life’s quick pace the same way one would when shooting a photo. If you move around too quickly, or if you don’t hold steady, or if there isn’t enough light (or a tripod to keep your camera steady otherwise—but then how many of us walk around with a tripod on a daily basis, right?), you’ll get a blurry shot.

Yeah, so? How does not moving quickly, holding steady, and working with light translate to the business of real life?  Stay with me, my friend. It’s going to make sense in a bit, I promise. 😉

See, I think, in much the same way, if we rush through the day without taking the time to be grateful for all the blessings that are easily overlooked in the hurry and flurry, if we allow ourselves to be thrown out of whack by unexpected occurences or unforeseen problems instead of staying steadily on track, if we forget to take the time to light the day with moments of both calm prayer and cheerful humor, then our life would be a complete blur.

So the answer, then, lies in keeping ourselves focused, even and perhaps especially when we are caught in the midst of the daily rush. That’s the key word then: Focus. In the midst of trying conditions, the only way to avoid getting lost in the blur is to keep focused. Train our sights on our goals and keep working steadily along. (Let’s see now: Get laundry done. Check. Get the groceries shopped. Check. Get dinner cooked. Check.). Choose to look at the positives and let the negatives fade away. Know what needs to be done at each moment and strive to complete that before going on to the next. Then, even if the blur continues, that which is the object of focus remains standing and triumphant.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Timely, too, that the WordPress Photo of the Week Challenge that I need to catch up on has Unfocused as its theme. Here’s my take on it:

{ Click on the image for a larger view }

Amazingly, there actually exists a song about Frames & Focus! Here you go:

And so, this is where I end for now, as I focus on today’s To-Do List (still full as always, but now with one backlogged WordPress Photo Challenge less and just one more to go before I’m all caught up… Yay!). In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with the right lights, intense focus amidst the daily blur, and lots of good times to capture with heart and hands and perhaps even a camera lens! 🙂

Together = Priceless

18 May

Forgive me for being absent for quite some time… I just got back from a family vacation on the West Coast, and had two weeks of net-free, real life adventures, family bonding and together-time!

And now, to do the accounting:

Pounds Gained = 6 (alack!)
Days Spent Trying to Get Rid of Jetlag = 11
Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenges to Catch Up On = 3
Family Bonding & Happy Adventures = Priceless

More than worth any cost, for sure! 🙂

So apt, then, that the first WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge that I need to catch up on is themed Together. Here’s my take on it:

{ Click on the image for a larger view}

(I especially love that the mom and dad are holding hands while pushing the stroller… did you notice that too? Awwww! :))

And resurrecting an oldie but goodie to celebrate love and togetherness:

Have you gone anywhere together with loved ones recently? Was it awesome, too?

Here’s wishing you loads of happy together-times!

Journey… Arranged. ;)

24 Apr

I am thrilled to find that I am finally getting checks on my backlogged to-do list! (Not everything is checked, but hey, it’s the journey that matters, and I’m getting there, right?) 😆

So here I am, catching up on two WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges that I missed in the past. (Somehow the ne’er-give-up part of me has been whispering “Better late than never” so I just had to get these two challenges done, even if they happen to be long overdue).

The Journey

First, because life is a journey for all of us, here’s my take on the Journey theme:

[ Click on the image to get a larger view]

Would you agree that we all have the same goal at the very end of life (which, I would say, is to have lived a life worth living, one in which we were able to leave the world a better place than when we first came into it)? Yet, although there is one end that we all journey toward, there are different paths to lead each of us there… or not. And isn’t it precisely that “or not” that encourages us to use our wisdom, our talents, and our faith to choose the right path to get to the right destination? And then, yes, to travel that path and to make the journey in the best possible way we can (not according to any person’s criteria, but according to that of our conscience and our faith). Ah. The journey called life. It’s awesome, is it not?

Arranged

As a mom of five, I am a big advocate of order (especially when it comes to getting my kids to pack away their toys. 😆 ).

Seriously, though, I do believe order is essential. One needs only to look at the world around us to see that what is most pleasing to the senses is that in which order reigns (cadences and chords in music, flowers swaying in the field, the rising and setting of the sun, even the way dappled sunlight falls on the leaves of trees). Even the account of Creation as recorded in Genesis reflects order. Amazing, no?

Too, seventeen years of teaching have given me enough evidence to agree with child specialists who proclaim that children naturally seek order in their lives (which is why I understand that it is not only good but necessary for us to set boundaries according to a child’s maturity and capabilities as he grows, with the objective of course of ensuring not that he will rely on us and our judgment forever, but that he will one day be strong enough and wise enough to let go of our hand and venture out on his own :)).

Speaking of children and order leads me then to my take on the Arranged theme for WordPress’ Photo of the Week Challenge:

[ Click on the image to get a larger view]

Even little plastic men feel the need for order imposed by my sons’ hands. <teehee>

And of course, I could not resist leaving you with an old but nevertheless wonderful song to go with this post:

And a question for you too: Of all the journeys you’ve taken in life, what is the one that you will never forget?

Two.

17 Apr

Two is for the number of weeks that I’ve been getting less than 4 hours of sleep, working on ten million and one projects, all at the same time. (Could life get any better? 😆 ). Two is also the number of WordPress Photo of the Week Challenges that I have missed and need to catch up on.

And two is the theme of this week’s WordPress Photo of the Week challenge (and thankfully, I’ve managed to grab the time to get back on track).

The challenge prompt for this week was:

Two Subjects. This “theme” is more of a composition challenge. In the picture above, there are actually two subjects – one in the foreground (the cup), and one in the background (the dog) – both are essential parts of the picture and they each contribute something differently to the photo. Share a picture with TWO SUBJECTS! 

[ If you want to see the cup and the dog in the prompt photo, you can see it here ].

I am always delighted when the theme for a challenge is open to a million different interpretations. I am also delighted by sunrises, snowballs, delicious pairs of boots (note the plural form 😉 ), children’s laughter, my camera, and my computer… and above all, I am delighted by love in all its myriad manifestations.

Which brings me to my interpretation of this week’s challenge:

[ Click on the photo to see it in full size ]

My sweet nephew and his darling girlfriend have decided to tie the knot next year, and he got her the ring to seal the deal! (About time too, Joey! ;)). Ah, youth and love. *sigh & swoon* What a delight.

And delight is this song, too, which is, quite literally, perfect:

My Perfect Two is of course my hubby and me (which over the years morphed into the Perfect Seven = one girl, me, and six men… or boys, as the case may be :grin:). Still another Perfect Two of mine are my camera and my computer. Oh, and my coffee and my biscotti too!

What’s your Perfect Two?

Whattaguy.

27 Mar

I love surprises. I love it when yet again there is proof, both visible and audible, of the wisdom in this truth: We must go beyond the surface and seek the beauty that is within. And I love it when that truth is proven in such an unexpectedly stunning way.

Hang on a sec, if you’ll just indulge me just a wee bit, I feel the need to gush some more: I especially love it when the underdog rises above a hurtful past and manages to come out so wonderful, not despite but perhaps even because.  I love it that someone who has every reason to be proud of himself chooses instead to remain refreshingly humble. I love that in the moment of victory he remains magnanimous, and doesn’t forget the friend who has journeyed along with him.

Such deep lessons from a seemingly simple video.

And whattaguy, seriously.

Check it out:

 

PS. Clicking above will lead you directly to the video on Youtube since the video doesn’t permit embedding in blogs. Sorry about that. But it’s worth watching, I promise you. 🙂

The Countdown Begins!

3 Mar

2 more hours!

Just two more hours—and the minutes are ticking by—before I host (for the very first time) the Speed Scrap at JessicaSprague.com! This is part of the four-day party we’re having to celebrate my being in the Designer Spotlight this weekend. It’s wild (with a 40% off discount on everything in my shop), it’s wonderful, and it’s guaranteed to make you go WOW! 

So join me, please, in two hours? It would be awesome if you would! (Plus a little birdy told me there will be a little sumpin-sumpin for those who do ;)).

Image

Indulge in Life

27 Feb

Indulge. It’s the latest theme for WordPress Photo of the Week. (Love the constant challenge!)

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word indulge, I see things in my mind that look a lot like chocolate fudge loaded with whipped cream. Or a lazy afternoon on the beach with a shallow book (purely for entertainment) and a tall glass of fruit shake. Loads of laughter and long tight hugs from my kids. That sort of thing.

But indulge can mean different things to different people. Heaven knows, the dictionary itself defines it in various ways:

  • to gratify
  • to yield to a desire
  • to engage or to take part in, especially freely or avidly

Sounds good enough, except that as I’m going through the rest of the definitions in the dictionary, I start to get the feeling that the act of  indulging might not be something I’d want to admit to, too often… especially when the additional entries in the big book define it as yielding to the desires and whims of, especially to an excessive degree and allowing oneself unrestrained gratification. Eep! Sounds like that might be a mite too unrestrained and maybe a wee bit too risky for my taste…

Except, I think, when it comes to living life.

Indulging in life: now that, to me, means living life to its fullest, and that can’t be anything else but a good thing, right?

But how to represent that in an image captured through a lens? For that I’d need a metaphor, and this is what INDULGE looked like through my lens today:

That’s actually just part of the story. Here’s the full monty, the big picture (poster?) that gives the complete story that lies behind the final cat-who-got-the-cream SLURP! shot:

(Click on the image to view a larger size)

And speaking of indulging in life and all it has to offer, here’s Andrea Bocelli to remind us of what we need most in order to do that as best as we can:

Hope you have a wonderful day filled with love-filled indulgences!

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