spring

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.

An early spring

radish

It feels like we are having an early spring this year.

As much as I want to say "praise the maker," I am stuck. It's the same feeling you get when you didn't get long enough to spend in bed on the weekend because obligation rang. Or when a party ended too early. Or when you just weren't quite prepared for your guest arrival.

On the bright side of things, spring is my favorite season. It's gusty winds clear the dust from my aching soul. It's colorful parade of blooms makes me feel like life is colorful and clear and oh-so-alive. The early arrival of spring means a long, lingering season of amazing things...things like fresh, garden grown veggies. Long, lingering days that melt into extended evenings and deep conversations. Bonfires. Delicious meals. Friends. Beach evenings. The best things that life is made of.

Maybe an early spring - crisp and bright like garden radishes, crunching with peppery brightness - is just what I need after all.

Getting Balance

My awesome spring break view.

My awesome spring break view.

I had a shitty "spring break."

Let me explain...

Like many of you, I have a school-aged son that was on spring break last week. We don't have a lot of spare cash these days, so a trip was not happening. Instead, I thought of the bright idea of camping for a few days in the mountains (something I have actually only done once in my life...smart thinking.). We set our plans and started the wheels of our camping trip in motion.

Of course, life being what it is, the universe had some other plans for me. Or maybe I wasn't fully committed in the first place. But my plans changed course somewhere the week before. Some great, unexpected work came up. My teenager had some specific ideas about his social plans. And then I slipped into saying yes to far too many things I didn't want to do. So our camping trip got cancelled, I worked a lot, and then became an unpaid Uber driver for my son in my spare time.

As the week progressed, I started to get increasingly more frustrated. I was mad at life...mad at myself. I felt trapped and owned by some imaginary rules I had set up for a life that I was supposed to live. And it only got worse as I scrolled through social media to see friends enjoying Caribbean vacations, European adventures, and good old US road trips. What's worse was that I knew in the truest part of myself that I was the one responsible for the way this week was panning out.

When I started to reconcile what was happening and got real with myself, I realized a few things.
1. I was in desperate need of a break.  I work weekends a lot. And when the typical work week rolls around, I am usually still working. While I do set my own schedule and have lots of freedom to make appointments and go grocery shopping at odd times, I tend to still feel like I need to be getting work done during the Monday-Friday, 9-5 hours as well. To top it off, I was going on weeks of constant work without a break. I needed a change. 
2. I was telling myself a story that wasn't real. Not everyone I knew was on a spring break vacation. In fact, I knew more people that had to work than those that did not. Spring break trips are a luxury, not a right. And I needed to hip check myself on that.
3. I was feeling sorry for myself. And that wasn't allowing me to live on a higher "vibe" - if you will. I was sulking and wallowing in self pity instead of changing my reality. Once you change that, everything changes. Literally...everything.
4. I wasn't seeing the amazing opportunity around me. I live in a place with abundant beauty. I am 15 minutes from the beach on a good day (5 minutes from one of the most gorgeous parks in the world). I have gift certificates to 5 local restaurants. I have a sister with a pool in her very own backyard. Enough said.
5. I wasn't saying "NO" enough. Not to my son. Not to his dad. Not to friends or neighbors. I was doing things I didn't want to be doing. I was creating my own misery and my own sense of disappointment.

Once I started seeing all these things, I began changing my story. I planned an Easter Brunch to see family I hadn't seen in months. I went to the beach. I watched the sunset. I played with the dogs. I went for a walk with a friend and talked about some amazing topics like meditation, family, and life changes that we are both on the precipice of making. Once I took the wheel back, I lived in the presence of joy and gratitude instead of wallowing around in my own self pity.

The best part of this shift is that it only takes a moment to change your mindset. For me, it finally happened when I got real with myself and realized I wasn't listening to my inner voice saying - SAY NO...YOU NEED A BREAK! I was trying to please too many people - clients, family, friends, neighbors. I wasn't voicing what I wanted to do. But once I finally followed through for myself (albeit with begrudging sighs and protesting from my teenager), everything shifted. In that simple moment of saying "This is what I want," I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and started taking care of myself. I started enjoying where I was in the moment.

Squad. Goals.

Squad. Goals.

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

 

Sometimes saying what you want isn't about being selfish or narcissistic...it's just about taking care of yourself. Simple, kind gestures that say "Hey wait...I'm important too!" Make yourself answer the call to do more for you. You know when the teeter totter of balance of your life looks like a chunky kid from gym class is sitting on one end with sandwich and a Snickers bar laughing at you for being trapped way up there. Take control back. He's not in charge.

Just get some balance.

Tiny Squares

A recent snapshot from my Instagram feed.

A recent snapshot from my Instagram feed.

In many ways, this is what my Spring has looked like. And at the very same time, this is also not at all how my Spring has looked. Sure, I have seen my fair share of new life, beautiful landscapes and miles of gorgeous green. But there are a lot of gaps that are here that you can't see at all. There have been spaces filled with heartbreak and hard times. Love and loss. And moments where tears filled my eyes and my days. But these moments were in there too. These were the snapshots of my days that I clung to in between those other - and often unbearable - times.

My reason for posting this is not to tell you I have had a hard spring. Nor is it to tell you I had an easy spring (which I did not). It wasn't written to share all too intimate and unnecessary details of my life (keeping things professional here). It's actually to remind us of something important.

We all know that Instagram and Facebook make everyone's lives look envious at best. But those are simply moments - snapshots in between the other parts. Everyone is carrying their burdens. Lots of people have laundry and chores and days filled with nothing but work and computers. Some people have crosses to bear that most often we cannot see - heartbreak, stress, struggles that don't appear in those tiny squares next to their napping cat or the pie theu just made from scratch. But we fill their gaps with a story that we are telling about them. We are filling the gaps with our story. However, that's not our job. Our job is to tell our story.

Whatever your story is on the inside is okay. Whatever story you are telling on the outside is okay too. It's all okay. Because it's your story. Some people want to only hear the good. And others want to hear the real parts - the meat and the details. (Those are special people. Keep them close. They will support you through the details.)  Just remember, you have to keep telling your story however you want to remember it, not how the rest of the world wants to see it. It is your story after all.

If I told you my story over the past 10 years - mostly it's been good. It has looked like this photo in my heart. But truthfully, I could tell you they have been the most formative and difficult 10 years of my life. I lost 2 parents. I said goodbye to countless aunts and uncles. And I even buried one of my sisters. I have raised a boy from toddlerhood to a blossoming teenager and bought a house. I took myself half way around the world, been on some fantastic trips, and loved many people. I have even shifted careers. But what I will most remember about these years is not the trial and tribulation. It's moments like the ones you see here...these snapshots of my life. They represent it all - new and old, big and small, bold and fragile, cloudy and bright.

It's all there looking back at me in those tiny squares. 

There is only love.

puddles

Some days I want to jump in and swim to the other side. Float into the land of glee and ease where the clouds are made of cotton candy and the stars twinkle like diamonds in the night sky.

In my mind, the other side is cool and sunny with soft grass beneath your feet. It's filled with music and laughter, with the right amounts of everything. The other side has just enough of everything, but never too much of anything.

On the other side there is no pain or hurt. There is no anger. No frustrations. On the other side, there is only love.

There is only love.

 

The Rebirth of Spring.

eggs

By now, you may have figured out some of my favorite things are A) spring; B) flowers; C) all things spring; D) and some food.

It's true. And this time of year, I am quite shameless about my posts of flowers and sprouts and sunshine and weather.

I can't stop myself from feeling inspired at this time of year. And I usually ride the wave. While I do love winter and all it's bleak, sleepy, cocooning glory, I seem to embrace the energy of spring the most. The possibilities seem endless and inspiration is everywhere.

We are approaching my most favorite week of all - Easter week. While we are getting ready for an egg hunt - complete with plastic eggs and far too much chocolate- Spring awaits. The concept of Spring and Rebirth is embodied in this very holiday. The chance of refreshing and renewing one's life lies in every bloom, in every egg, in every little new life emerging right now. It seems to beg for us to rewrite those New Year's Resolutions into something we REALLY feel passion for.

Spring makes me feel rebirth is possible on every front. It makes me ready to embrace change once again. It makes me want to push through all the blocks and set my dreams free - like chicks from the egg...ready to fly away at any moment.

Props

azaleas

Today I was shooting a product here at my house that was screaming for these delicate babies  as props.

I have been shooting more and more propped, staged shots recently and I am LOVING it. I love setting a bit of a scene without making the shot appear to have been staged. I always want anything I shoot to look like someone just dropped the items in the photos as they appear. Those excellent photos you see in magazines - never like that. Those shots take multiple professionals and hours of labor to make the photographs appear the way they do.

The trick in the world of commercial (and often personal) photography is to make it all look like it just happened naturally and without effort. The real truth is it all takes work. So even though it all looks effortlessly perfect, the good looking stuff stuff always happens with a lot of work and elbow grease.

Isn't that really true about everything though? Haven't we been taught that the real stuff takes work and props and hours of preparation? So why do we still ruminate on other peoples lovely Facebook photos and their well-curated lives? Why is it that we feel the need to compete with something that has been staged and propped beyond comprehension? Those friends of yours at Disney World in their matching outfits....that just didn't happen magically. Take your filters off. There is a lot you may not be seeing. Tantrums. Threats. Bribery. A mom with PMS and a dad with a hangover. It all looks good in the photograph. But it's all propped the same as my commercial shoots always are. Outfits are bought ahead of time. Tickets were purchased well in advance. Travel plans coordinated months prior to the posting of the photo. And that photo - they knew exactly where they wanted it taken. It wasn't a happy accident. It rarely ever is.

So my advice is this: Take the lenses off. Remove the props. Things are the same on the other side of the screen for all of us. The struggle for perfection can be real for some people. But don't buy in. Because the real stuff is where you get to the juicy center part. That's where life is lived.

And those props...they are just there to soften those hard edges. 

Welcoming Spring.

tulip magnolia

Over the years, there have been many symbols that showed me the onset of Spring. Changing temperatures are a clear sign. But it's those visual pieces that stir me to remember the joy that Spring ushers in with her arrival.

When I was a child, the crocus blooms peeking up through the melting snow in our backyard were my first sign of the excitement of Spring's approach. In high school and in college, the budding azaleas made me pull out my shorts and search for the sunscreen.  And later, the lovely daffodil bulbs that carpeted my backyard in the south were clear signs of the arrival of the party of Springtime.

In recent years though, I have bid farewell to Winter with the onset of these gorgeous blooms. The Tulip Magnolia is a sweet smelling spring tree that buds in my yard each year. I love what the tree (and really all of Spring) represents: rebirth and regeneration and growth and perseverance. The cycle of life - carrying on as it should - in beauty and grace.

So today was the magical day. Gloomy and cloudy and overcast and drizzly. But this has been trying to happen for a week and today was finally the day. I am so glad. Because all this means to me now is that spring is sitting on my doorstep, waiting for me to welcome it inside.

 

Cheating Spring.

lettuce

I am cheating Spring a little this year. Coaxing it out a little earlier than I should.  I simply can't help it. I am done with winter. I am done with hibernation and slumber. I can't wait for the vibrant colors pouring out of every flower bud. I am excited for the smell the spring rain splashing onto the parched winter grasses. I am so hopeful for sunshine and breezes blowing my hair around my face and warming my chilled winter skin. It's time. For all of it.

So hurry up spring. I am marking my front row seat for your spectacular show.

Confetti

I love this time of year. Spring is about to burst forward. I know because this scene above is one of the first signs around here. Mother Nature throws me down a blanket of camellia confetti all over my front stoop. And I couldn't be more excited to see it come.

This has been a long winter for everyone. Harsh weather and bad news seem to have overshadowed any joy and good news we got around here. I am just very ready for some change. And nothing brings about change like Spring's vibrant energy. Colorful and sunny and breezy and bold. It's just what we need around here.

So for now, I am looking forward to a new season...change, color, sunshine and rebirth.

Happy (alllllmmooooossst) Spring!