I remember a time in my life when I would rise before the sun, seek out the perfect place to watch her stretch out her warmth and hug the sky with her vibrant colors. Watching the sunrise and her colors moving across the sky until they faded leaving behind just her warmth, brought a calmness to me, assuring me that with another day came promises of happiness and joy. I found myself repeating this ritual in times of my life when I needed to feel peace and warmth. If I wasn’t up early, I was chasing the sun to the end of the earth where she would kiss the sky good night, lingering her descend with a trail of colors.
Now I begin my days with hugs and end them with kisses from my children, sometimes unwillingly but always with the same peace I once chased. My days are filled with chaos, joy, homework, dishes, service, love, late night ice cream, and often falling a sleep exhausted on the couch as soon as it’s quiet. Although my life has been redirected many times and I stopped chasing the sun, I still pause and reflect on her beauty in a grocery store parking lot, in the car on our way to home from a long day, or wherever I am. I want my children to recognize the beauty all around them that God created for us. I hope someday they will chase the sun and enjoy the promises she brings everyday.
I still find calming peace and happiness in the sunrise and sunset everyday.
Organization is the most comforting word to me. When my life is organized, I can see more clearly, I can focus on the present and plan for my future. In my mind, I see my life, my calendar, my everything as a desktop on a computer. Neatly organized folders, labeled and arranged in an systematized fashion, each folder containing exactly what I need to be accomplish a task, complete a goal, plan a trip, and keep it altogether without losing myself. When my life glitched it was pandemonium in my mind. I found pieces missing from folders, unlabeled folders, things I have never heard of showed up and everything seemed to be floating in a gentle breeze that often changed direction. Suddenly I could not breathe.
As time went on, I found ways to slowly gather the pieces of my life as they drifted by, taking small breaths as I decide where to start. It took me time, courage and love to see that it is safe to change my desktop. Recycling what was holding me back, making new folders as I discovered new pieces and fragments of me that had been missing for years, and taking what I was holding onto tightly and putting it back into place. Everyday breathing more deeply, more completely.
My desktop isn’t in perfect order, but its close. I’m organizing my life a little bit more every day. I have discovered that I need people in my life. I have learned it’s ok to accept help from my loved ones. I have decided that it’s alright to be a single mom.
I have found happiness among disarray, although I am looking forward to my life returning to it’s organized state a little bit more every day.
The first time I picked up a camera I was in high school and had just become the new sports photographer for the school newspaper, The Viking Voyager. I instantly fell in love with two things, looking at the world through the lens of a 35mm camera and the sound of the football players’ pads crashing into each other on the field. Using the camera become second nature to me as I learned to adjust the aperture and shutter speed to capture life as I see it. Learning to process film and develop prints gave me the
opportunity to show others the world through my camera lens. I was stubborn as technology took photography to new levels of creativity. As I learned to embrace new technology I have grown to love photography more.
Looking at a photograph I can feel the image, the warmth of the sun melting the snow, the hope in the eyes of a mourning widow, the love two people share has they promise to be loyal to one another, or the emptiness of place that was once alive. I can see the color in a colorless picture and feel the emotion in its contrast. I can hear the laughter of children playing, or the soft sounds of a creek trickling water over rocks. I can smell the orange blossoms that surround a country road, or the rain falling on the sand in a dry desert.
I take photographs for me, so that I can capture these emotions, sounds and smells, so I remember they way I feel in the moments that inspire me, teach me and help me experience life around me. I share my photographs so others can feel and be inspired as well. I desire for my home someday to be filled with my photographs, to cultivate an environment that inspires and motivates my children in their lives, and for those that enter my home to leave feeling the world through my camera lens.
Searching for and capturing images that facilitate emotions within me brings me happiness.
I walked into the hardware store with O to pick out the paint for our new living room. I knew exactly what I wanted, Solo Cup Green! I think O came because she didn’t believe I was really getting that color. She didn’t have plans to convince me otherwise, she just stood back watching in disbelief. Her sassy comments about grass growing on the walls and her not helping paint were not unexpected either. I just smiled as I told the gentleman at the paint counter what I wanted. O still in disbelief blushed as the man volunteered to come help me paint, of course I politely declined but in my head I heard myself sing, “oh baby you, you got what I need but you say he’s just a friend…”. I rolled my eyes, smiled and laughed a little at myself, when did Biz Markie get in my head, and that song does NOT even apply here.
I painted all three walls of the living room green that night. At 2 o’clock in the morning, I sat in the middle of the living room in our empty apartment feeling peaceful and exhausted. I no longer felt overwhelmed with emotions about living as a single mom in an apartment. In that moment of feeling sore, burnt out and completely exhausted I realized what was missing from my life. Color! My life had become dull and uninspiring. Solo Cup Green brighten my life again and inspired me to create a fun environment full of color, with happy nostalgic memories hanging on the wall. My living room has become my favorite place in our home.
I have found happiness and inspiration in Solo Cup Green.
My little boy K is not so little anymore, even though I want to think of him as the same cute little boy I found half-naked standing almost inside the refrigerator looking for some milk, even though the entire box of cheerios was all over the kitchen floor. And that rosy cheeked little munchkin that would roll around in the fall leaves and bury himself. Or one of my favorites, the kooky kid that put googly eyes all over his forehead so he see better. I am still cleaning up after him, still delight in watching him play, still laughing at his nonsensical ideas; even so somehow, he is not that little boy anymore. I should not have blinked.
K’s favorite book to read is the car manual. He reads it when it is his turn to ride shotgun, and tells me everything I need to know about wearing my seat belt properly, changing a fuse or headlight and reminds me to use the emergency break, especially if I am parked on a hill. Due to the many teaching opportunities I have given him, leaving my car lights on, he can jump-start my car.
This funny, charming, helpful young man makes my heart happy. When away from home he sends me dozens of kissy face emojis and wants video chat with me everyday. He will look for opportunities to make my work load easier by volunteering to cook dinner.
Although he enjoys being the “man of the house” and taking care of the girls, I know that sometimes he’d like to have some boys around too. He mentioned to me on more than one occasion, “Do you think you could marry someone with a son named Jon? It would be cool to have a brother named Jon”. I smiled at his request, happy that he would be okay if I did someday remarry and asked if he had any other requests, to which he replied, “He should also like football, especially the Cardinals”.
This football loving, nonsensical, caring young man makes my heart happy.
O is the kind of teenage daughter that makes an already half-crazy, occasionally-befuddled and always-exhausted mom want to applaud her courage, shake my head at her bold personality, and scream at her sassy attitude all in the same day. All of this, her courage, personality and sass if well cultivated and handled with grace and refinement will prepare her for real world experiences, I hope.
I have to remind myself that O’s life has been redirected just as much as mine, maybe even more. I find subtle ways to show her that she can be gentle and softhearted while being bold and strong (with a little sass). O will hold my hand in the car on the way to school and talk to me about her friends and the girls whom are not her friends. She will tell me about her studies and plans for the future and she will even tell me about her latest crush. When she needs time with just mom, she will ask if we can lay in bed and talk. These conversations are the refining moments in her life, when she feels she can share with me anything and we laugh and cry together, and I get a glimpse into the smile and tears of the young women I am proud of.
O brightens my life and I have found happiness in being her mom.
I think the most beautiful creature God has created is the male peacock. The brilliant colors of his feathers are stunning. The length of his tail as he lays resting under a tree, awesome. The full fan of his vibrant feathers as they stand erect, showing off the beauty and basking in the attention is positively astounding. The beauty of this bird has inspired me and my happiness. I choose to surround myself with brilliant greens, rich blues, deep purples and touches of warm gold and oranges in my home. Ironically I have found peace in resting quietly surrounded by these bold and brazen colors.
Recently I have started to visit a near by park where peacocks freely roam. Bringing berries and grapes to feed them as I enjoy watching them rest under the trees, run from excited children, and saunter while showing off their beauty.
It has become a happy place for me to visit.
*photo credit goes to my son, who sent me this picture he took at the Idaho Falls Zoo while visiting his grandma.