Happy Autumn!

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

~ Mary Oliver, Song for Autumn

Good Advice; Your Words Matter

Here’s some great advice from my friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee:

“Here’s a little secret for writers: The way to write authentically is to pay attention to your regular life.

“I have written three books, one Bible study, and thousands of blog posts. But it took me a while to get in touch with The Regular.

“When I took that one simple step, everything about my writing changed.

“It’s like this: we can look around at our regular life and see it as quotidian and boring. That’s true whether you live on a cul-de-sac in Denver, or a farm in northwest Iowa. We hesitate to share from our own experiences and places because we’re afraid others won’t relate. Then, we water it down with generalities, and the life gets sucked out.

“But when I began to OWN my particular stories and places, an interesting paradox revealed itself — my regular life was what made my story both unique AND universally understood. Because when I explored my REGULAR life, all of the worries, fears, emotions, dreams, boredom, doubts, pain, anger, apathy, joy, and hope began to emerge from it.

“This is how you find your magic. You begin in the place where your bare feet roam, under the sky that domes over your head. Start with Place. Start with Home. Start with Regular. Start with your own weird thoughts, fumblings, and ponderings that emerge in your grocery store, church, back yard, bathroom, hospital, counselor’s office, cemetery, school gymnasium. Excavate the feelings underneath the places. The excavating ALWAYS starts when you put the spade under the dirt directly in front of you. Then, you’ll discover whatever it is that makes your story YOURS.

“As a writer, this is your ultimate strength. Write the stories only you can write. That’s how you find your style.”

This reminds me of a poem by Mary Oliver:

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

The path
Is a doorway
Follow me

To wonder
In fourth grade
We learn

Words matter
Susan and I
Bridges Together volunteers

In class
We read and write
Talk and laugh

Create art and friendships
Student Sabina whispers to me
“Susan is so beautiful”

Indeed she is
Inside and out
Her idea

To bring to class
Bushels of apples
For the students

And teachers and volunteers
Student Eva asks me
“May I have another apple?”

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

One Step At A Time

Susan sent me this Mary Oliver poem yesterday. I thought I had read every poem by her. I was wrong. And this one really spoke to me.

“Praying”

It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, 

it could be weeds in a vacant lot,

or a few small stones;

just pay attention, then patch a few words together

and don’t try to make them elaborate,

this isn’t a contest

but a doorway into thanks,

and a silence in which another voice may speak.

I had my website redesigned well over one year ago by Diane Ensey with the thought I wanted to encourage my self to write more often and to find artful ways to combine words and photography. Oh, the photos keep coming. The words have not.

But this poem speaks volumes to me about just do it. Just get started. A beginning begins somewhere. So I have made a commitment to “patch a few words together.”

And somehow, for me, this relates to something else: walking.

I went for a walk yesterday. A long walk. A one hour walk. Oh, I have been walking every day but that’s short walks with Freddy, our dog. And that’s not so much walking as walk, stop, sniff, walk, stop, sniff, pee (Freddy, of course), walk, stop, pee again, walk, stop, poop.

Last summer I walked 4-5 miles everyday. Wait. Was that last summer? Or the summer before? Not sure. And who cares. The important fact is that I am back to walking. But I do need new walking sneakers; I came home yesterday with a big blister on the left heel. Ouch!

And this photo above? That’s what I saw on my walk. Thank you. One step at a time.

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

After the Snow Storm

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” – Mary Oliver

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Honoring Mary Oliver

People who know me well, know I love the poetry of Mary Oliver. I am not sure when I first discovered her, but I am going to guess it was in December 1999 when The New Yorker published her poem “Winter At Herring Cove.” I clipped it out of the magazine and it finds a home in whatever Oliver book I am reading at the time. I usually read a poem by her everyday! I bought many of her books. Susan bought me one, “Dog Stories.” And her mom bought me one, “Blue Horses.” My writing has been influence by her—and others, Gary Snyder, for example, and the Bible. In remembrance of her:

Here are a few inspiring quotes from Mary Oliver, along with some photos of mine.

Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.

There are so many stories, more beautiful than answers.

Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?

And again this morning as always I am stopped as the world comes back wet and beautiful.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life  I was a bride married to amazement.  I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.

I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us.

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.

The dream of my life is to lie down by a slow river and stare at the light in the trees – to learn something by being nothing.

Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?

And this poem, “Wild Geese.”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

And, “I Ask Percy How I Should Live Me Life:”

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.