landscapes

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

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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.

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.

Spring

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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.

After the Storm...

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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.

After The Storm, by Mumford + Sons

* I have posted the lyrics to this song before. It’s one of my most favorite ballads of all times by one of my most favorite bands ever. I listened to this music during a very hard time for me and remember feeling like it was a life jacket that some threw me in a wild, stormy sea. It still brings me to my knees when I hear it.

Ebb and flow

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If there is one thing I have learned about life, it’s that cycles are always prevalent. The tides ebb and flow. The sun rises and sets. The seasons change and progress. We don’t doubt these things. We count on them to dictate the rhythm of our days.

Yet somehow, I forget that these cycles happen in my personal life as well. I forget that work comes and goes, or that relationships wax and wane. I forget the gentle push and pull of everything and wrestle with the notion that rhythm of my life SHOULD be good, abundant, happy, joyful and full all the time.

But what would I know of life without the dry spells? What would life be in only fullness? Would I recognize the tide if it only kept pouring in? Wouldn’t that mean I would be under water. Wouldn’t that mean I would never know solid ground or the sand beneath my toes.

As I watched the tide roll in the other day, I was confident in what would come next. Just as it flooded the lowcountry, soon, as it always does, it would flow out again, leaving behind treasures and findings and room for the little fiddler crabs to breathe again. I never doubt this. I only know with all my heart. I know it will because I have seen it before. Time and time again.

It made me realize that life flows the same way. Life flows. Things come and go. Its a never ending cycle. Practice and trust. Trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness and grace. Grace and practice. It just keeps on going. Always there. Always flowing. Always ebbing.

Silver linings

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I would have missed this sunset if life had been normal.

I would have been in my house, AC cranking, cooking dinner alone in the kitchen. I would have probably been listening to a podcast or book on tape or even watching some sit-com rerun for the umpeenth time, my son in the other room doing homework or playing guitar or a video game.

Instead, my life had been turned around in a first world kind of problem sort of way. We’ve been without AC for weeks. And I am on a cooking strike. So I piled my son and myself into the car and headed to get some form of take out. On the way, we saw this incredible sunset. We stopped in awe of mother nature, the universe and the power of serendipity.

Sometimes, life happen for us. Sometimes situations present themselves. Last night, as we sat around the table at the restaurant, we marveled at the fact that had it not been for the awful week we had, we would all be spearated ,living our own individual moments in front of one screen or another. Instead, we have explored forests, new restaurants, new cities, and even glorious sunsets with views for days right down the street from where we live.

So maybe the past few weeks weren’t really a crisis after all. Maybe it was the just the opposite - maybe past few weeks was the universe trying to break up our regular, safe, ordinary days with new adventures and some much needed fresh perspective.

If it comes with a silver lining like this, I’ll take it.

Weathering the Storms.

Before the storm

I have spent an unmeasured amount of my life running away from the approaching devastation of storms. Afraid of the turmoil and unknown elements they would bring, I tended to protect myself from what might be instead of just standing inside of what is.

Over the years, I have found the things we worry about happening rarely – if ever – come to fruition. In other words, I have spent a lot of time fussing about nothing. I attribute this to not listening to myself or trusting my gut and paying far too much attention to what others opinions are.

As I get older, I seem to get more sturdy with trusting my inner voice. It often whispers quietly and gently, and can be drowned out by the many other opinons, thoughts, and voices that surround me. But if I listen, it’s clear, persistent and confident in it’s conviction. I just have to listen and be still enough to hear it.

This ship – MY SHIP – is the one I have to steer through the stormy seas. So I do what’s best for me with each decision I make. I have to trust myself and know that, even if I am wrong, it’s all going to pass over eventually. Each “wrong” decision is just another opportunity to learn. Each storm I stand through, another lesson. And each time I listen to myself, another chance to build that relationship of trust with myself all over again.

The Island

island

I have been isolating myself like a little island drifting slowly form the coast for years now. Once attached and part of the world, trauma, insecurities, and the wear of the daily grind has brought me to my knees, making me withdraw from so many things. After a while, it's hard to see the shoreline. It's hard to feel attached.

Each time I experience something big that I can't explain or solve, I tend to withdraw. I am not sure why, but I usually make a deep dive inward to search for solutions - swimming around in muck and mire of it until it settles and I can see a little more clearly.

Talking things out when I am struggling is painful for me because it brings up the thing I am perhaps trying my hardest to avoid - answering the questions I don't yet have answers to. So I drift...away from the things that ground and attach me until I come out of it on the other side with all the right answers.  In the process, I become an island in a storm - sea pummeling my shores, wind wreaking havoc on my flora.

The thing I have come to find is that nobody has all the right answers. Ever. And you know what? That's okay. I am learning that daily. And practicing it even more frequently.

And until I perfect it, I will be here, building bridges back to that coastline.

My Best Life

Shooting on farm with sunflowers and toddlers...this is my best life.

Shooting on farm with sunflowers and toddlers...this is my best life.

Right now, I am living my best life.

Wait...I take that back.

I am living my 95% life.

The reason for the 95%...because I always hope there is room for improvement. I hope there is always space in my life for the phrase, "I can do better." If I think about it, that IS my best life. Always striving for something greater. Otherwise we become complacent, right? We become comfortable. And that is where we stop growing.

I have had an amazing year this past year. I have worked in situations I only thought would exist in my dreams. I have worked with clients who share my vision and style. I have worked with missions that I truly and whole-heartedly believe in. I have photographed things I only fantasized over. I have told stories and taken photos of people, places, and things that make me pinch myself in hopes that I really won't wake up from this incredible dream.

I never thought the possibility was real for me to live my best life. Somewhere along the line, I stopped believing. I believed I wasn't enough - good enough, strong enough, thoughtful enough, skinny enough, pretty enough. But somewhere deep in my soul, I believed there was more waiting for me. There was a little ember of hope burning on my belly, not put out by the wet blanket of self criticism. I believed those dreams could actually happen. I stopped hearing the voice that said "give up...you can't do this." I leaned in to trust. I leaned into the fear. I pushed through. I gave it one more try.

Every day I wake up and am happy to do what I do. Don't get me wrong, this is still a job. It has it's moments. And it has come with it's own set of massive sacrifices (ohhhhh...the sacrifices). But I am happy...at least 95% happy.

It has taken a long time to get here. I have made mistakes. I have lived with crippling anxiety and depression. I have failed miserably...wow, have I failed. But all of that has brought me to this place where I can appreciate the complexity of what makes life feel good.

Will I screw up again? Most definitely. Will I be afraid and paralyzed? Absolutely! Will I know how to get up and dust myself off again? You can count on it!

Today, I am opening myself up to possibility. The possibility of hope, failure, success, despair, highs, lows. All of it. Because without all of that, I am not growing or challenging myself. I am not changing. I am not moving forward, knocking off that last 5%.

But if I have to be honest, I will be happy to settle in where I am... Always pushing. Always dreaming. Never settling.

 

 

Lately

raised beds

I have been more quiet than usual this fall and winter. I have been working on some exciting projects and new ventures. Thankfully, quiet = busy… at least for right now.

One of the projects I have hit the ground hard on is a book on saving seeds I am working on with my good friend Julie of Julie's Garden Delights. I liken this project to a type of step by step for seed saving gardeners which has taken me literally from Spartanburg to Charleston and everywhere in between. I have learned so much on this project - not just about seeds and gardening, but about myself and my work. I love when a project comes along and changes everything, don't you?

Here are some images for you to see. I have no idea what's been rejected, but images of vegetables never disappoint! Special shout out the the folks at Charleston Parks Conservancy for my all access pass to their gardens!

sprouts
chopping
carrots
seeding
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My best self

sunset

I resolve to love more and to give more. I resolve to be more gracious at receiving. I resolve to be more aware and mindful each day – to move more and eat healthier. I will work harder at being my best self.

But I also resolve to stop judging myself and others and to know - without a doubt -  we are all generally doing the best we can with what we know. I resolve to stop holding myself to ridiculous standards that don't mean anything to me and to set my own goals that will set me up for successes.

I resolve to remember that just because today is a day on the calendar, that it doesn't mean anything. There are 365 days this year - each one a chance at redemption, love and becoming who I am supposed to be. So if I lapse or falter or trip, I am here, to pick me right back up and set me back on my path... venturing towards my best self.

Back to me.

Owning it

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Lately, I have been taking on too much.

Too many projects. Too much responsibility. Too much drama that doesn't belong to me. I am like a dry sponge just looking for something to soak up right now. And often, that means I am soaking in the wrong things...because to a dry sponge just wants something. Anything.

When I am in that dried up space, I try to pause for a second. Take a breath. And just be wherever I am. I quickly let go of what is not and hold on to what is – air...water...life...love...family..sunrises... sunset. These are the simple things. But they are the essentials that are as life affirming as they are neccessary.

We are all bombarded daily with stuff that doesn't belong to us, yet somehow tries to own us and take us down. Traffic. Deadlines. Money. And even just the simple, day to day activities like having food to eat, clothes to wear, and keeping a roof over your head are really stressful. But they don't have to own us. We have to learn how to own our own selves within this framework. The first place to start - every day for me is to take a simple breath and pause.

It's as easy and complicated as that.

First the rain...

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I shot a wedding this weekend. It was on a boat that puttered slowly and gently around the lowcountry waters, shifting ever so gently back and forth with the sway of the boat and the shifting tide.

The skies were clear when we started our day - even with some hot sun piercing down on us. And then suddenly, the rain came in. It was a steady rain with no signs of letting up at all. Grey skies all around and a constant, gentle drizzle as we coasted the waterways.

Then as suddenly as the rain came, the clouds began to part just in time for us to see this remarkable sunset, color-filled and awe inspiring. I hustled the bride and groom to the back of the boat where I could get a good photo of them. It was all she wanted - a beautiful sunset photos of her and her husband, ready to start their lives together.

As I was snapping away at the photos, I heard one of her friends holler to them over my shoulder. "First the rain, then the sun..." It stopped my in my tracks. 

Of course.

Of course the rain has to come first. Of course you have to weather the storm first to appreciate the sunshine and the sunset. The thunder is there to shake us and move us. The water is there to nourish and refresh us. And then...the sunshine. To help us grow and bloom.

I have been here. Standing on stormy ground. Always hoping to find a way out. Maybe you are there now. Maybe you are stuck in a storm.  Just know in your heart that the sun will shine soon. It has to. There is no room for only rain. We need both to survive. So settle in and cover up, because this, too, shall pass.

The Aftermath

hurricane watch

For the past few days, we have been in hurricane preparedness mode around here as Hurricane Irma barrels towards the southeast. Fortunately for us, it's taken a turn. Unfortunately, it looks like Florida is in the cross hairs at the moment.

I would be lying if I said I hadn't shed a tear over this, both for me and for those in the path of this. Let me clarify...

I am well aware that there is nothing I can do about a storm barreling in my direction. You have to be prepared and do the work. Outside of that, it's just time to buckle up and brace yourself for the ride ahead. I know this. But still...reasoning and logic rarely come into play when you are faced with trauma.

You see, for about 3 years (actually more like 10 if I am being real), we had some very sick people in our family. My mother was on dialysis and my father was on chemo...sometimes simultaneously. At the same time, my son was pretty young...around 3 years old. I also had 2 dogs and a cat that I had to worry about.

To say that the preparing for an event like that was stressful would be an understatement. Thinking of all these moving parts completely overwhelmed me. Have you ever tried to find shelter from a storm inland where there was a dialysis center? Hospitals? Hotels/shelters that took pets? Even with resources, help and support, this was monumental. Every moment between August and October felt like I was in panic mode in those days.

To this day, I get amped up over storms. I am one of the people searching for water early. I am calling hotels that take dogs. I am buying batteries and making sure we have coolers stocked with essentials.  I worry and fret and stay glued to the TV, despite not wanting any part of it all.

And then...

Then it happens. It hits. Or it doesn't (because this time, you were lucky.)  And, just like that... it's all over. The aftermath is what you are left with. You are left with the cleaning up and the sorting back out and putting things back where they belong and sorting through all the broken things that you either need to throw away or repair or keep even though it's broken and bruised as a reminder of where you've been and just how much you are capable of all on your own. 

The big storms come through our lives for a reason. They are hard. They are harrowing. They are horrific. But they are their to teach you...to be prepared, to always have a plan, to know where to ask for help, and to always ALWAYS have some tools on hand to do the dirty work of the aftermath.

 

Sending love and light to everyone in the path of this storm.

You can donate now to the American Red Cross.