Rooted

roots

Like seeds on some random wind, life takes us in unpredictable turns. We land partially where we intend, partially in the forest that we started in, and partially through the fate of where the winds take us.

The first thing that seed does, though, is dig down. It creates roots. A holding space…footing to carry it through so it can grow and blossom and flourish. But if the roots are not started first, dug deep below the surface, that plant will die. It needs support for growth. It needs to ground down in order to shoot up.

Once started though, those roots weave complex patterns for survival - digging into the earth with lifelines to feed and nurture their souls. They weave in between surround tree roots merging into them and becoming one complex pattern together, supporting each other as they work together to become one big complicated pattern of trees and leaves and shade, all supportive of life here on earth.

But it’s the roots that hold the the tree as it sways under the seasons and change. When the roots are deep enough, the tree sways, but always remains fed and nurtured. The roots bring it support, life.

I am interested in my own roots right now - what nurtures my soul, what keeps me going, where I get fed the most so I can support myself through the seasons of change that I see ahead. What is it that I need? What is it that supports me? What is it that brings life-giving nutrients to my soul? This is where my focus goes when I need more - not the parts that aren’t getting enough, but what brings me the things I do need.

For me, it comes back to the basics every time: Getting still. Deep listening. Completely nurturing my body and soul. And a calm and deep love for myself - as I am, where I am, and who I am.

Every day, we dig a little deeper with those roots means that every moment we can grow a little fuller.

As tall as the trees...

Forest

Protect me. Shield me. Nurture me.

Let me breathe life back into my tired soul in your presence. Let me roam wild through your roots. Let me lean on you when I need rest and use you for my strength.

Let me be with you always, listening to the rustle of your whispers through the winds, always telling me things will be okay…that I am okay.

Let me learn from you as you bend and sway, but never break, even when you are weary from what life is tossing you. Let me bow to the nature of you.

But never ever let me take any of it for granted…this love for you that is as tall as the trees and as wide as the seas.

Supporting Skies

sunrise.jpg

I almost discarded this photo on my phone today. Scrolling around for memories, I stumbled across this subtle, washed out photo in a sea of dramatic sunrise shots. I was out for a walk during a moody August sunrise at Folly Beach, the sky playing dramatic tricks on me with each passing second. It felt true to my mood at the time. The sky was stormy, but the light was not having it. The sunrise came out to play that day. But this little Southern sky was playing nothing but a supporting role in the morning.

I stopped moments before I hit the delete button, because despite it’s humble appearance amidst conspicuously gorgeous and fire laden sunrise skies, this photo stunned me with it’s simplicity. The hued blue-grey color palette with it’s subtle pinkish, creamy accent seemed so forgotten. It seemed to fight for attention and it’s own role.

It got me thinking about how we overlook situations like this. Sometimes we are so busy looking at the dramatic sunrise that we overlook the subtle, supporting skies. Much like we don’t notice that mom in the audience as her son takes center stage in a starring role. We forgetting that she, too, has a key role here. She provided support, meals, comfort and endless hours as he honed his skills, making magic for the rest of us. We tend to forget the ones in a supporting role, the ones who support that big, massive, shining star.

But maybe that’s okay too, because that sunrise won’t be looking at me while it makes it’s way through the morning sky. It will look directly at the billowing clouds that allowed it to take center stage.

And that is enough.

After the Storm

IMG_3299-1.jpg

“And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
On my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

But there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

I won't die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair…”

Mumford and Sons, After the Storm.

Touch

touch

Touch.

Perhaps the most often overlooked of the 5 senses, but on so many levels, the most necessary. Physical touch is crucial to survival. It helps things like healing, development and overall wellness. There have been studies to show that babies, if left in orphanages unheld and unconnected, suffer from physical and emotional development problems that can take a lifetime to unravel.

It is as essential as the air we breathe, the water we drink. And yet, we deprive ourselves…starving our souls of this important need.

Touch becomes such a part of the fabric of our days, it often gets overlooked or unnoticed. Wet hair. Slippery soap. Silky sheets. Velvety doggy ears. Creamy, wet clay. Pokey grass under our bare feet. They are all a part of something we take for granted as we navigate a busy day. We pass by kids and lovers with a pat on the head or tousle of the hair not realizing the impact of that one simple gesture of touch, texture, and connection.

There is nothing quite like collapsing into a loved ones arms at the end of a long day. There is nothing as essentially life giving as picking up a newborn baby and cradling them close as they melt into sleep, comfort and calm. It’s connection. It’s love. It’s belonging.

The act of touch is requires us to be present in something that happens every day. It’s so simple to take a moment and mindfully lean into this simple sense. I try to be present with pause as I touch the familiar, feeling the subtle nuances in my body. Soft. Cold. Warm. Fuzzy. Sharp. Smooth. Hard. The touch of a lover changes our body chemistry almost immediately. Notice it next time. Notice the subtle feeling when your bare feet are touching the soft, warm sand on the beach. Feel the difference when you stroke your cat’s fuzzy head. Lean into the moment a little more.

Because I am certain that if we all felt our way through life more than we are - if we just leaned into all our senses - we would lean into all those soft, juicy, delicious feelings a little more easily.

Seventeen

17

Dear Graham.

Seventeen. You are seventeen tomorrow.

The first time I saw you was like a punch right to my chest. A beautiful baby, full of love. I felt it the day you were born. We all felt it. Naked. Wriggling. Quietly wondering. Fully loved.

Today, I stand on the edge of a lifetime of you, deep in the waters of memories of you washing over me, pulling me under like a rip current. My boy, my child, my young and beautiful man. Thoughts of your sweet chubby cheeks and your hands that fit perfectly in mine are overwhelming in my heart. I miss that part - the part where you were little and life was simple. The part where I had the answers, where I could keep you safe.

But now, you are a man…becoming your own person – capable, strong, and oh-so-loving and kind. You have answers all your own that you don’t need me for now. You make the best decisions. You have the kindest heart.

I have watched you evolve this year into something I could have only hoped for a few short years ago. You are beginning to navigate this path of life a little on your own more and more each day, testing the waters while you are still close, while I still have answers to some of those harder questions, and while I can - for a few short moments - still take precious care of you.

I am not sure what the future holds right now, but I know it’s going to be a wild ride. Bends and twists and hopefully plenty of spots to catch your breath. Lean into all of the messiness as you go. Trust that you are on the road you need to be. Even when you get lost. Even when you feel scared. Even when you follow the clear signs that seem like they are written in another language with another alphabet. What makes you the Graham that most people know is that you know how to take it all in stride. But what makes you the Graham that I know is how full of heart you will experience it all. Trust that part.

And steady as you go, my love.

“Confess I'm not quite ready to be left.
Still, I know I gave my level best.
You give, you give, to this I can attest
You made me, you made me.
You and me forever baby.”

Free to float

waters edge

I have been standing at the water’s edge for a long time, watching the waves lap against the Lowcountry shore in wonder of what’s out there. I have been afraid to jump in and swim around in the salty waters because of the dangers that lurk beneath the surface.

What was I missing out on by letting fear drive the ship? Was there something bad under the surface? Or just stories or random encounters I let take over?

When fear drives, we believe things that might be untrue. We believe if our friend gets bitten by a crab in the water, we will too. We believe that sharks lurk below waiting to attack us for their next meal because someone 3 beaches away had that happen and we saw it on the news. We believe in box jellyfish and man of wars and things that we have actually never seen ourselves. We believe in the worst.

But what happens when you release and dive in? You float. You surf. You bob around in the warm waters and find your way. You feel free and untethered. There are no crabs nibbling on your toes, no sharks looking for a meal. It’s just you falling into what is.

Let fear go. Stop standing on the edge and watching the fearless live your beautiful, unencumbered life. You will float. You will be fine. There is nothing lurking in the deep, dark corners this time.

You are free to float.

So Damn Lucky

Folly Beach

“Everything's different
My head in the clouds

I hit this corner
My foot on the gas
I started sliding, I lose it
Everything's different just like that”

So Damn Lucky
Dave Matthews

The Sacredness of Food.

tomatoes

I am one of those weird people who finds cooking therapeutic and relaxing. When I tell this to people, they often stare through me, as though I am speaking another language of sorts. Sometimes people mumble back to me, “how do you have time for all that?” or “I just can’t be bothered…too much work!”

I get it. I really do…there are many days that I feel like take out is the best option. But there is something so mystical that I get lost in during the cooking process. Somewhere in the rhythm of chopping, mincing, and mixing, I get a little lost from the thoughts that plague the reality of my life. I get lost in the sacred ritual of it all.

For me, cooking is very definitive. It has a beginning, a middle and an end that usually happen in hours - as opposed to the days or weeks some projects can take. Whether you are baking a chicken or making a cake, the results are instantaneous and tangible. While I can make a cake in an afternoon, it could take days - even weeks and yes, sometimes months - for me to plan, shoot, edit, and deliver photos to a client.

Mostly though, it’s the end result. Feeding someone is giving them a gift you made yourself. When I cook, there is a sacredness to making the meal…I think about what people love, what they need…what they crave. I put energy into sourcing ingredients - where can I get the most delicious produce? Who has the best meats? Who has the “right” food for the meal at hand? The mere process of combining flavors, textures, and smells together makes it feel like art - like a painting coming together in all it’s vibrancy. It’s carefully crafted and created just for them.

So next time you sit down to a meal that someone has made, give pause and think of what went into making it. Or, when you endeavor to make your next meal for someone, think of the gift in the creation of it all. There is a sacredness in the food itself. There is a sacredness in the presentation and the process.

And then, after you think about all of that, dive in with love.

My world in a seashell

shell

I have many memories of my father. He was a passionate and sensitive man who was raised in a time where it wasn’t really accepted to be a sensitive man. But it was always within him, even if it was stuffed down and suffocated by the masculinity and machismo that ruled the world at that time. Whenever we visited the beach - or the seashore, as he called it - he would marvel at the colors of the seashells. “Just look at the colors,” was a perpetual exclamation as we strolled along the seashore, picking up tiny shells along the way, gazing at the rainbow sherbet sunsets of Kiawah Island, where he retired long before I graduated from high school.

He didn’t grow up embracing the loveliness of the little things in life because his siblings wouldn’t have stood for it. Led by fear (and maybe a little ignorance), they would have given him a proper bashing for it, I am sure. But in his distance from his family and surrounded by people who made him feel safe, he was allowed the space to marvel at some of the most magnificent creations on this planet. Moreover, he was allowed to be more who he wanted to be.

My dad recreated himself over the course of his life. He came from very little, and left behind his upbringing in the East Midlands of Post-war England to start over in the USA - the land of opportunity. In his early days here, he worked hard all day, saving money to make a difference for the future of him and his family. Each night, he would go home to his quarters at the local YMCA, dreaming of his future, scheming of how to get there. He feared nothing, often standing bravely in the face of so things that would many of us crumble and give up. The man NEVER.GAVE.UP. He was resilient, resourceful and had a blind faith in life. Most of all, he was always there for us as a family, holding us both emotionally and physically up when whenever we needed it.

All that is important and significant to who he was as a person....

But along with that, he was vulnerably sensitive. He felt deeper than he would ever have admitted…. perhaps more than he even intellectually understood. He saw colors in seashells and vulnerability in animals. He loved flowers and sunsets and babies and puppies and sent me more cat litter advertisements than I would really admit to most people (“now this is a good ad, love…” was something he said often to my young, art director self). He loved us with silence and strength. His heart was kind, but it showed mostly when he felt safe to show it to you - like a dog that had been beaten down, you had to win his trust and affection. He was a dichotomy of fierce love, strong will, and a gentle sensitivity that is unmatched in most humans.

So each time I walk down the beach, this is what replays in my mind like a broken record: “Just look at the colors.”

I see him, walking next to me, bent over to pick up the nearest shell and marvel at it, like countless others before it. Warm corals. Bright yellows. Creamy pinks. Cerulean Blues. Vibrant purples. He’d look to the sunset and telling me to see as many as I could in my life, reminding me that - like snowflakes - no 2 sunsets are the same. It’s like an old movie in my head, flickering quietly to the background soundtrack of Charleston’s warm ocean waves lapping gently against my feet.

I see him in the seashells and the sunrises. I see him in the babies splashing in the surf and the sandpipers running along the shoreline. And if I silence my mind, I can feel him - his gentle and strong arm, leading me just to where I need to be.

Women's Day

mommas

I was remiss at mentioning Mother’s Day on all the usual outlets. I didn’t reach out and wish friends a happy Mother’s Day. And I didn’t write about it or even acknowledge it at all. I am not sure why…I wasn’t sad or depressed or introspective about it. I just…was.

For me, Mother’s Day isn’t a really big deal. I never got into the whole “Hallmark Holiday” thing. Don’t get me wrong…I am happy to be celebrated, but I don’t need a whole ticker tape parade for it. Just some quiet time and maybe a little indulgence….some shopping…a pedicure…or a walk on the beach. Something to honor me and all of us for our incessant hard work.

But honestly, I sort of take issue with us celebrating moms only one day of the year. Because you know what - MOTHERS ARE EVERYTHING. I mean…every. effing. thing.

Mothers are strong and soft. Driven and easeful. They are the duality of all things - as soft as a down bed and as strong as 100 men. They are sage advice givers and tack-sharp fortune tellers. They know how to make cookies, do math homework, plan a meal, do laundry, nurse a baby, and arrange for babysitters so they can attend that work function – all at the same time. Simply put, they are the freaking operating transmission to the functioning world.

I don’t know if it took being a mom to understand what moms do, but friends - it’s a spectacular sight. Women are so amazing. Even my mother, who was imperfect in her way, was the strongest most resilient woman I know.

In the beginning of my lifelong quest of self-exploration and examination, I was initially hurt and frustrated by my Mother’s imperfections. But as I zoomed back and took in more of the picture - the part of her story that wasn’t just about me, but the image of the whole person she was - I sort of marvel at how far she came on her own and how strong she was for us. It was in my darkest moments that my mother took over for me – equal parts comforting and commanding – like a mother goose protecting her little chicks not just ready yet for flight on their own. She was broken, but still had the energy to care for me. Like we ALL do.

It’s amazing when you lean in and really witness to what women do. I am not talking about the perfect image of some cookie cutter June Cleaver-esque mom - there for her husband, food on the table, kids groomed and life running great. But still, that’s effing amazing too. I am talking about the women who struggle to work 3 jobs so they can get their kids out of a life situation they have no control over. I am talking about single moms who have to be everything and everywhere to everyone. I am talking about the foster mom of 6 who sacrifices and fights for those that have less than zero starting out. These are the heroes. They are the ones we need to celebrate. Everyday. Not JUST on Mother’s Day.

So if you are a mom - or really, a woman - hear me out. YOU ARE AWE-INSPIRING. You are strong. You are smart. You are loved. And I see you.

Happy Woman’s World, friends. Keep kicking ass.

Oh, Joy.

mumford and sons

About a month ago, I found myself smack dab in the center of Joy. I didn’t navigate my way there. I just stumbled upon it, like a secret garden or a hidden hot spring that nobody can quite tell you how to get to. It happened right here, at a Mumford & Sons concert.

It sort of snuck up on me. It tapped me on the shoulder a few times, but I ignored it - chalking it up to a song or the energy of the room that night. It was, after all, a great concert. But at the end of the last song, I stepped back, away from the crowd, and I just took a breath. It was in that moment of space that I gave myself that I recognized where I was. Smack dab in the middle of Joy.

It was bound to happen. I had been denying myself Joy for so long….pretending like it didn’t even exist. Maybe I just didn’t recognize it because it had been gone for so long. So each time I saw it, I looked away, seeking it in some other format. Or maybe not at all.

Depriving ourselves of joy is not new. We do it for many reasons. I think mine was a sort of self-flagulation, as if I didn’t deserve a relationship with Joy….as if I wasn’t meant to live side by side in the presence of something so simple and true to our well being. I wish I had a better explanation of why I have left Joy behind in a dustcloud - shame, guilt and fear all vying for shotgun in my life, but I don’t. It’s silly and ridiculous and I wish I didn’t feel this way. But the fact is that I do. Or at least I did.

After I snuck away from the mosh pit of humans that night, I squared myself up center to the stage - iPhone in hand to take a shot. I took a deep breath in and smiled, just lingering in the moment a little. That’s when I realized Joy was back. And there we were… face-to-face, hand-in-hand with all the other couples in the back of the room. We cozied up and renewed our long lost commitment to one another, dancing under the confetti like we had just renewed our holy vows.

And if you, too, are seeking Joy in your life, I think you can find it tucked away at the crossroads of love and gratitude. Just make sure you don’t bypass it as you take a direct route on the superhighway to where you think it should be. It’s not clearly marked on that map someone tricked you into believing. There are no shortcuts. No direct routes. No signs pointing to a singular destination. It’s tricky to find and even harder to recognize. But once you arrive, you’ll know it.

Connections

I pressed the button here, so this is technically not my camera or edit. But these are my best people. Credit to my cousin, Rowan Williams of  Parrot & Pineapple Photography , for her mad skills and camera.

I pressed the button here, so this is technically not my camera or edit. But these are my best people. Credit to my cousin, Rowan Williams of Parrot & Pineapple Photography, for her mad skills and camera.

A few weeks ago, we had these lovelies visiting us for a week from England. My whole family is from “the Motherland,” and we don’t get to see them nearly as much as I would like. When we do see them, days zip by as we navigate through meals and sightseeing, sitting poolside watching time slip away relentlessly, like water in a sieve.

Shortly after their visit, one of my best friends came to the area for a brief overnight trip. I felt the same tugging at my heart - that familiar feeling you get when you slip right back where your friendship last dropped off, despite years of children, missed birthdays, and too many miles between you both. It’s a familiarity of friendship that can’t be replaced or changed. I melted into the feeling once again, leaning into a sense of peace as they shuffled out to the car in my dark driveway, sleepy babies in tow…the fuzziness of familiarity, peace, and satisfaction of a delicious evening together.

It’s that feeling that I always want to bask in…the timeless love, forgiveness of sins, and unabashed acceptance of one another as we are in the moment we are in.

It’s not often we get these people in our lives that can hold space for us as we are. It’s not often we get people that love us unconditionally. I mean…let’s be real….I don’t even love myself that way. But when spend your time with people who make you feel wholly you – without hidden, selfish agendas or a mission to change you – isn’t it worth hanging on for dear life?

Perhaps the place I am in with life right now makes this even more poignant… change is on the horizon: my child is grown and ready to spread his wings, and loved ones have passed on…leaving connection to the people I have been closest to that much more desirable and necessary.

We are hard wired for connection. Ask any anthropologist or sociologist. It’s a requirement for living. Babies will actually die without physical connection, even when their other needs are met. So it’s no wonder that despite my best efforts to cut myself off, these deep connections I feel with family and friends who I have shared a history with are normal and expected…and, dare I say, necessary.

So now, I look forward to what the next phase holds. Maybe it’s a re-connection phase. Or maybe it’s a freedom phase. I just know it will be a phase of deep, meaningful relationships wherever I turn.

And thank goodness for direct flights.

Spring

Spring-100.jpg

Each spring, life bursts through the frosty earth and spiny trees. The world slowly comes to life after it’s dormancy through the cold and quiet winter. Cycles renew and continue bringing forth familiar rhythms and energy.

These little lessons teach me every year. Spring is time to burst forth with energy and hope. It’s time to unfurl our colors and wake up to the possibilities around us. It’s time to hold on to what brings new life and new energy. It’s time to let those winds take the seeds of hope and possibility, spreading them all around to grow and fruit under the heat of the fiery summer sun.

Spring is my favorite season…it’s full of little seeds of hope, cleaning rain, refreshing clearing winds, hopeful blooms. And if we just relax into it, we, too, can bloom.

The pursuit of joy.

play

Do you remember what it was like to play or be silly? When was the last time you laughed so hard your cheeks hurt? Do you remember the feeling of reckless abandon…driving with your head out the window or skipping along a path or falling hopelessly in love with someone?

Somewhere along the way, somehow, I feel like we have collectively lost our sense of joy.

Maybe it’s the heaviness of the news right now. Or maybe it’s adulthood pulling at you to responsibly face everything…the laundry, the bills, the carpooling, the work, the shopping, the taxes. Or maybe we have been spending so much time in our heads, we have forgotten how to connect with how we feel in our bodies.

After so many years of being corrected, punished, and told how to act right, the world gives us no time for pleasure (no wonder drug use, prescription medicine and alcoholism are at an all time high.) We grow up being told to stand in line, take your turn, smile petty for the photo. We are told to suffer through it all or suffer the consequences. We are put into tiny boxes, expectations swirling around us like vultures ready to feast on the dying carcass of joy trailing behind us. After all, you can’t pay the bills having fun.

Or can you?

Could you – just for a moment – decide that life (and even work) was meant to be fun? Could you assume that there is joy within it all? Wouldn’t success come more readily while we are finding things we enjoy?

Pleasure, or joy, can come in many ways…going for a nourishing walk through the woods, finding an amazing concert of your favorite band, road tripping to a fun, new town with your favorite friends, or even in your daily work.

When I am photographing a family, or food, or whatever I am doing, I feel joy. But I can get caught up in the seriousness of it all with things like “Am I good enough at my job?” or “When are they going to pay me for this?” can get in the way of WHY I am doing this. It puts joy in a choke hold and suffocates it. If those questions creep in, I always see it in my work.

Finding the fun in the everyday isn’t only a recommendation anymore, it’s a requirement - like breath and water. We need joy, but it seems like we have lost it inside of adulting. When the heaviness creeps in and gets in the way of all that we are doing, it zaps energy and steals the joy we have. When I approach life with the “What am I gonna get out of this” mentality or “what is the (so-called) cost of this,” joy always takes a back seat. It’s an immediate buzz kill. If I worried about the price of the tickets to the concert we went to this week, I would never have been able to lean into the experience. I would never have felt that deep joy.

Much like anything, joy takes practice. It’s a shedding of layers of guilt and years of unraveling what messages we got around being happy - if we deserve it, if we are worthy enough for it’s company. But like everything, you have to keep trying.

But your happiness - your pursuit of of joy - has ripple effects. Your joy affects everyone you come in touch with and everyone around you. And, my friend, that little practice has the power to change the our whole world.

So buy that ticket. Invite those friends over. Pursue that new career. Jump off the diving board into the deep end and swim around in that joy. You’ll be so happy you did.

The Not-So-Starving Artist

La Gloria

Recently, I was on the phone with a good friend talking about the daily struggles of life. I told her I was tired, run down and sick of struggling…sick of worrying about my finances.

“You are the one that chose to be the starving artist,” she said.

Her response cut me in half.

Truth be told, I never imagined myself here. I never imagined the starving part…artist, yes! But starving? Not even close.

In my wildest dreams, I always imagined myself to be wildly successful - not for the fame or the legend of it all, but because I wanted to be that good. I knew I could be that good. I knew I had it in me.

But sometimes, life takes over and my story had a mind of it’s own - weaving it’s own vine-twisting, kudzu-suffocating plot twists in where I hadn’t even considered it. Single motherhood. Sick parents. And a relentless economy in the middle of it all. So my dreams took a temporary side step to get out of the way of reality. Temporary.

You see, I am a creative soul - a photographer, an artist, a chef, a writer. I have this need to make things…it’s a draw I can’t ignore, a calling I must answer with every fiber of my soul. I would die sitting behind a desk 10 hours a day, staring at spreadsheets and decimal points. I couldn’t do it. It may mean that I would be able to pay my mortgage, buy a sofa, and plan a trip all in the same month, but in truth that isn’t what drives me. That isn’t my truth. And I would be starving on the inside.

For creative people, there is no other way except To Make. It’s the work that nourishes us and gives back what we need to live. That doesn’t mean we can’t be successful or wealthy. It doesn’t mean we suck at creating either. It just means the rest will come in it’s due time. The rest falls into place when we are ready. So I just keep making, not stopping until I reach the end.

I won’t lie…there are months that are hard. This month, I have to forgo some sweet concert tickets to one of my favorite artists coming through town because I have more pressing needs that need to be met. And that is a bummer…today.

But when I walk out on my back porch to take a business call, azaleas bursting with color around my yard, bees and birds flying overhead, fresh air to breathe during my meeting, I smile. Because a life like this feels like anything but starving to me.

Tiny Changes

These little flowers changed my day in a big way today.

These little flowers changed my day in a big way today.

This morning I sat waiting for a client in a sweet, local cafe. It’s raining and the temperature has dropped a good 20 degrees over the past 24-hours. It’s gloomy, grey and wet… a mirror of my heavy heart these days. Between saying goodbye to our family dog a few short weeks ago and dealing with the rest of regular life like taxes, prom planning, bills and laundry, I just feel like I am moored to Life.

As I sat there, I looked down at the clean, marbled table and paused to notice this tiny vase and these little perfect flowers curling and weaving around each other. I was baffled at their delicate strength. I was consumed by their simplicity for a moment. I became curious about their unassuming gentleness and forgiving nature. They made me stop my train of though for a brief a minute…to pause, to breathe. To remember to forget and to let go.

Life can be altered in these little moments. They are the moments that encourage us to lean in. They are the moments that encourage us to breath, pause, remember or forget. They can be transitional and transformative. But mostly, they are when we can learn to tolerate ourselves, our stories, our lives, and all the things that wait for us beyond their delicate and perfect features.

Changes usually come to us when we are ready. But sometimes, I think the biggest changes can come to us in the tiniest moments, bravely weaving and curling their way gently into our tender, aching hearts.

Loss

charleston harbor

I’ve been looking for that sliver of blue sky lately - the tiny slice of hope that keeps us going through the dark and stormy times - wondering if the sun was going to ever shine back down on my heavy heart again.

I am in a stage of loss right now – something all too familiar to me. I have experienced loss before… Parents. A sister. Aunts and uncles. Friends. Pets. To be honest, loss never gets easier. And it doesn’t diminish at any stage. The overall feeling is still the same.

Loss comes in many forms. And so does the grieving. It doesn’t have to be traditional - like a death. It can happen when a friend leaves your life or you have a relationship-altering disagreement with a family member. The loss of a loved one can have a ripple effect, too. Breaking up with a boyfriend or divorcing a spouse can lead to losing extended family that you thought you would be with forever.

A few years ago, I had some friends move back home to Europe. I remember the grief I felt when they were gone. It was a loss in it’s own way. I also remember having to hide it - stuff it down like it didn’t exist. They were, after all, not gone…or so everyone kept trying to remind me. But with kids in schools, different schedules, different time zones and expensive plane rides, the likelihood of us seeing one another often seemed like a fleeting hope as I watched them drive away that last time, my battered heart trailing behind them in the dust. I felt heart broken. I felt loss.

I feel it each time I drive by their street. I feel it on Saturday afternoons when we would be making plans for the an evening of dinner and conversations together that lasted late into the evening. I feel it when the weather warms up and we head to the beach, picnic in tow, empty chairs beside us. The pangs of loss can linger for a while.

But, as I sit there on the beach on these cloudy days with my picnic in tow, I just look for that sliver of blue over head. Because it’s always there… peeking through just to remind us that above all, this, too, shall pass and that that big, bright, beautiful, warming sun is always shining above those heavy clouds.