What can you do today to add more beauty to your life?
That question was posed to me this morning while journaling. One of the ways I find beauty is through photographs. The photos below were taken early this foggy Autumn morning.
I love how the leaves burst with color. The fog provides an eerie glow in the background.
I am the first to admit that what I capture through the camera lens cannot compare with what I see with my eye. With a little editing using Adobe Lightroom, however, I can come close.
Autumn is my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last nearly long enough and life gets to busy too really enjoy it. Now that it is November, there won’t be many more days before the weather turns cold and the leaves turn brown and drop.
I hope you find a little beauty in your life today, no matter where you are.
I remember a family vacation when my children were young. We were traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado and about three miles down the road, a small voice from the backseat asked, “Are we there yet?” At the young age of five, my son had already learned to focus on the end result. Patience was not his virtue
This is expected of children; they don’t have a good concept of time or how long things take. They lack experience, which is the building block of judgement. Over time they learn basic truths about time, such as the school year is too long and summer is too short;
We adults know better, except when it comes to change. We understand change takes time but we don’t have the patience to see it through. Our five year old self questions how long it will take. We tire of the questions, so we give up.
How we view time is part of the problem. In Western cultures, time is viewed chronologically as a straight line. It reminds me of a Gantt chart: we plot our lives from birth to death, with milestones in between. Other cultures view time as Kairos; things happen at the right or opportune moment. Time is circular, which means no more missed opportunities. Life will present what we need, when we need it.
One of my mentors, James Clear, says that when we decide to change we should not focus on the end result but rather on the process itself. For example, most of us focus on the scale when we attempt to lose weight and can become very disappointed when the scale doesn’t move. Instead, our focus should be on doing the things that will lead to weight loss: tracking what we eat, tracking our exercise, checking in daily with ourselves or others. If we place our focus on what we need to do, we will eventually get the results we desire.
The ancient concept of detachment is one I have been trying to embrace, especially in my writing. In the past, when others did not find what I wrote excellent or inspiring, I would get discouraged. Now, I release my writing and ideas into the world and do my best to let go of how and when they are received. I’m not perfect at this but I strive to be better.
At five years old, my son (and I am sure myself) were impatient for life’s next great adventure to arrive. At 60, I am more content to take life a little slower and let the adventure unfold on its own. Life will give me what I need, when I need it.
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
all photos are the property of Susan Spaulding and cannot be reproduced without permission.
This week is Letter E – Needs to have two E’s in the topic word (needle, elephant, geese, peek, jeep, eye, etc.). For my photo subject, I chose ‘Weeds’. A weed is any wild plant that grows in unwanted areas. We do have a lot of weeds in our yard but some like the ones below add a natural beauty. So maybe they aren’t really weeds after all.
I am not sure what the one above is; below is the dandelion weed. Every child’s favorite.
The next one is the remains of Black Eye Susan’s. They bloomed in late summer but are starting to die now.
In spite of my splitting headache due to either allergies or a sinus infection, Oklahoma spring is almost here and I am glad. Dingy browns from dead leaves and barren ground is being replaced with pops of color from blooming redbud trees and yellow jonquils. The days are mildly warm and with the change to daylight saving time, longer as well. A perfect excuse to get out there and enjoy life. I am ready for spring cleaning, resuming my diet and exercising more. I want to take day trips, sleep outdoors and catch fish.
Spring does come with its share of risks. Lack of winter rain and hot days are the perfect combination for wildfires and strong thunderstorms can spawn killer tornados. But Okies are resilient when it comes to nature. We pick ourselves up and start all over again.
I am concerned that our state budget is in such bad shape that our legislature will actually close down 13 of our State parks. The park system provides a wonderful way for families to enjoy the outdoors, free of charge in most cases. I can’t imagine the savings from closed parks is going to do much to solve our budget woes.
One of the things I enjoy during the spring is yard sales and the Farmer’s market. The Farmer’s market is a great way to support local business and get something good to eat in return. Yards sales are just fun. It’s like rummaging though my grandparents old sheds when I was a kid. They kept everything.
Spring doesn’t last long in Oklahoma. Soon it will turn too hot to really enjoy being outdoors. Unless you like standing in front of an oven door, because that is what it feels like on hot windy days. All the more reason to enjoy spring.
I love landscapes, although I rarely do justice to the beauty that captivates the natural eye. For this assignment, I chose several of my favorite landscape photographs to showcase, including a few that were used for previous Photo 101 themes.
My first two photos were taken last summer (August 2015) in The Badlands National Park, South Dakota. This stark area earned it’s name. The rock formations were formed from wind and rain erosion and there is little vegetation. If you ignore the greenery in the foreground, I imagine this is what the moon would look like.
On this same trip, we drove through the Colorado Rockies. The towering peaks never cease to amaze me.
As we drove down the highway, we came across a creek of melted mountain snow.
Several years ago we visited The Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. The sandstone formations are incredible.
The golden grassland of Nebraska.
Waves breaking on the shore of Galveston Bay, Texas
March in Oklahoma can be described as drabby brown and moldy green. Dormant winter plants have barely begun to break the ground. Dead leaves cling to the trees. There isn’t much color to be found this time of year, except for the vibrant pink redbud trees that have taken bloom. Finding a slash of color among the dreariness of winter was no easy task.
To recap the week, here are some photos that I took earlier today, trying out all the different techniques. Even if the subjects aren’t exactly exciting, it was fun practicing.
Establishing Shot – This is at a local cemetery (to capture the feeling of solitude). I took a long-angel photo down a line of head stones, using the ornately decorated one as the foreground focal point.
Orientation – This picture was taken at a local park. The man sitting on the picnic table was feeding one of the geese. The first picture was taken vertically, the second horizontally. I can’t choose which one I like more.
Rule of Three – The same goose from the previous photograph. I placed him in the upper third of the photo. I was actually standing behind a tree because he wasn’t too happy to have his picture taken.
The water in this photo is part of a stream system that dates back thousands of years. Native Americans once lived along these backs and used the water for drinking, bathing, and cooking. The fish that once swam between its shores feed the tribe. Many tribes lived along these shores and the names the gave this water reflects it value and importance in sustaining life: Water, Cool and Sweet; Clear Good Water; and Cool Goodwater. Today, it is called Soldier Creek, named for the White soldiers who camped along these shores while forcing the native residents to leave their homes.
My husband once told me a story about a visit from his brother Charles’ and his family . Charles lived in California and although he was born and raised in Oklahoma, he must have forgotten to tell his children that Oklahoma had obtained Statehood many years before. The cousins were genuinely surprised by the lack of teepees dotting the landscape, or stagecoaches circling the women folk in case of a raid. Too many bad Hollywood westerns may have given them the wrong impression of this beautiful state. Visiting Oklahoma is not at the top of many people’s bucket list, unless you are like my friend Michael who wants to visit so he can say he has been to all 50 states. Yet there are hidden treasures that can be found, even for long-time residents like myself. Take for instance, Medicine Park.
My husband and I first visited this quaint, cobblestoned town in the fall of 2011. And I do mean cobblestoned! Almost every building is constructed using red stones found in the nearby Wichita Mountains. Medicine Park is an old resort town, once popular among the affluent and known for its healing waters. I was struck by the rustic beauty of this quaint town.
A tree-line path hugs a stream that flows through town. Geese, ducks and large tortoises can be seen near the water’s edge. A small bridge crosses over to a diving platform, used by swimmers during the summer months. Back in the 1940’s this place bustled with activity, but that day there were few people to disturb the tranquil quiet. Who knew Southwest Oklahoma could boast of such a unique and beautiful place.