Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Best Part of Christmas

The shopping is done. The presents are wrapped. The cards – well, so what if they’re a little late. There is no tree this year, but the Nativity and the stockings and the votive village lend an understated glow to the room.

And now comes the best part of Christmas – quiet moments of peace and reflection, time to ponder the blessings in life and to offer silent thanks for each and all of them. Thanks for friends near and far, for the gift of having someone to hold close, for sunrises and sunsets, for health, and for smiles from sometimes unexpected sources. For the beauty of the earth, for talents, and the support to try to improve upon them, for warmth – inside and out. For peace of heart. For promises kept. For light, and hope – and dreams.

May your own Holidays bring you ample time and opportunity to appreciate all you have and those around you. May the silent night give you new hope and refresh your soul. May the warm glow of a fire bring warmth to your heart. And may the promise of this day and of the new year about to dawn bring you hope and opportunity, health and happiness – and a special peace that will linger long beyond the holidays.

To all of you who take the time to stop and read these words from time-to-time, please know how grateful I am for the time you choose to spend here. I truly hope that your own holidays find you warm and happy, that you allow your inner child to emerge, and that each of you is blessed with a quiet moment or two to reflect and appreciate – and to hope and dream in childlike wonder.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year. Thank you.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Thanks

The theme for this week’s Community Photo Challenge is ‘Give Thanks for…’. Join us by entering an image that conveys the meaning of these words to you – and help us all to better understand the things that you are thankful for.

If you know me or have read previous entries in this Journal, you already know that Thanksgiving is perhaps my most favorite holiday. While Christmas has deeper and more profound meaning, the overwhelming nature of its celebration and all the preparation can leave one reeling by the time the day itself approaches. But Thanksgiving still holds at least some of its original intent – and the spirit of simply taking the time to express appreciation and gratitude for all we have is in many ways the embodiment of the way I try to live each day.

Some years are easier than others to be truly thankful, as challenges come and go. And these past few years have in many ways been more difficult than most. But in the end, one need not look very far to find things and events and people for which to be thankful – and this year is no different.

I am thankful to wake each morning and face a day filled with new opportunities. I am grateful for the warmth of the sun and the beauty of nature that lives just outside my door. I am thankful for light in all its forms and the truth it reveals, even within the shadows. I am thankful for God and country and the beauty of the land. And at the end of each day, I am thankful for the stars, the peace they bring and the hope they offer.

My life has been blessed by people, both new and long familiar. There are friends to whom I can always turn and a special one to hold. There is not a moment when my heart is not full - and, no matter the depth of the darkness at times, there is always a reason to smile if I look hard enough. I am grateful for the ability to see the beauty in all that surrounds me – and for those who help me to see.

Whether there is more sunshine in your life or clouds this year, I wish for you the perspective to see the things which are good and right and decent and loving – and to let each and all of them guide you, give you hope and grant you peace. Thank YOU for reading!

Monday, November 3, 2008


This week's Community Photo Challenge topic is, appropriately, Autumn. This photo is just for fun, since I am honored to continue to serve as a judge, but I hope that it inspires you to find one of your favorite autumn scenes and post an entry.

Our fall has been gloriously warm and sunny for the most part, but lack of rain in late summer and early fall has subdued the color - and finding opportunities to capture the traditional beauty of the season has proven challenging. This photo was taken not long after sunrise (and those who know me know how rare a shot like that can be!) at a State Park not far from here. A flock of geese flew into the shot just to add some interest, and I was most appreciative of their timing.

As the days shorten and temperatures fall, the colors of autumn serve as a reminder of the beauty of nature and the promise of the spring to come. Winter may sometimes be harsh in climates like ours, but life continues under the blanket of snow - and warmth comes more from the inside, which is not a bad thing at all. The change of season also causes us to alter our routines - and perhaps causes us to take stock of where we are and where we'd like to be in the journey of life. But wherever you are in your journey, I hope that you pause to reflect on the beauty of the here and now - and let the colors of autumn carry you through the more subtle shades of winter. Each season brings its own blessings, and those who take the time to see and appreciate them find light and warmth no matter the color of the sky or the numbers on the thermometer. I hope that you cherish each day - and always find the blessings within.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Community Photo Challenge - Spooky

Okay – My first try at this didn’t end so well, but we’ll try again. This is really more of a test than anything – and a chance to promote the Community Photo Challenge. Their theme this week is ‘Spooky’ in honor of the season. While this image is more somber than spooky, as a judge I can’t participate in the voting round anyway, so I’ll use that as my excuse to bend the rules a bit.

This image was captured in a large cemetery not far from here. Among its more famous residents are John D. Rockefeller, President Garfield and Elliot Ness – as well as Ray Chapman, immortalized in one of my previous entries. The cemetery treats itself more as an outdoor sculpture garden than a place of sorrow – and as such is typically filled with walkers, joggers and students from the nearby university studying or simply decompressing after a stressful day. It is a place that celebrates life while still showing respect for loss, and it’s that mixture of emotions as well as the serene beauty and wonderful play of light no matter the time or the season that draws me here often.

This particular monument has caused me to pause and reflect for the silent power of its message since the very first time I saw it, so I’ll share it with you and allow you your own opportunity to reflect if you wish.

To participate in the Photo Challenge, simply click on the link above and post an entry. Topics vary widely and a new Challenge is offered bi-weekly. It’s a fun way to share your work and an opportunity to see the wide variety of approaches people take to a subject. Good luck to all entrants – and I’ll attempt to be back here with a more typical entry in the near future.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughts from the Car


I don't take the time to write here often enough and when I do it seems that there are too many common themes.  So if you've heard a version of this before, please forgive me and don't further waste your time.
One of the things I used to treasure was 'alone' time in my car.  It was my refuge from life and a chance to be alone with my thoughts.  But in these days of wireless phones and bluetooth headsets and email alerts and text messages, the car has mostly just become an extension of the rest of life.  Most times that's a good thing - because it allows me to continue to accomplish things and stay in touch.  But sometimes its nice to have a break - and last night was one of those times.  

I had my car in for service the other day, and took the phone charger out to put into the other car.  I failed to put it back and found that I had a depleted battery and no charger - so suddenly it was like the 'good old days' - me and my thoughts and nothing else.  I put on the radio but there wasn't a whole lot to keep me company, so on a whim I pressed 'play' on the CD to see what disc I had in the player.

Initially I was shocked to find that I still had a Christmas disc loaded - and at first I started to scramble for something else to listen to. But after a few moments I simply let it play - and the longer it did, the wider my smile became.

So here, just a day or two before the official start of summer, I turned up the music and lost myself in the spirit of a season and a state of mind that too often we reserve for only a limited part of the year.  And by the time I reached my destination, my load seemed lighter and my outlook brighter than it had when I got in the car.

I think I'll keep that disc loaded and ready.  I don't know when the next chance will be for me to lose myself in the spirit of Christmas and a general feeling of warmth and peace again, but for now my heart rests a little more easy - and the magic of that season lives within me - even without a blanket of snow and a 'silent' night.  

I hope that the peace and calm and warmth of the Holidays visit you at unexpected times and in unexpected ways - and that your heart smiles as a result.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Photo Challenge - March into Spring

I'm honored to be acting as a judge for the AOL Community Photo Challenge again this week. Feel free to join the fun by entering in the category of your choice. Since I'm ineligible to participate, I thought I'd throw a small curve into my entry.

Some days you wake up not feeling particularly well, but when you look out the window and find this perched in your backyard, suddenly you think 'Gee, maybe I'm not feeling so bad after all....' and just hope it goes away soon!

Actually, this does fit the 'March into Spring' category, since the tradition in these parts is that in early spring the buzzards come home to roost in a local park - not quite as romantic as swallows to Capistrano mind you, but still a reason to look forward to warmer days ahead.

I wish you all warmth and sunshine - emanating from the inside, out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Photo Challenge - Winter Blues

Since I don’t seem to have much to say lately, and since I’ve been privileged to act as a judge for the new AOL Community Photo Challenge these past few weeks, I thought I’d post a photo that relates to this week’s theme. The theme is ‘Winter Blues’ and I’ve always liked the way that this photo portrays the stark beauty of new fallen snow painted with shadows, while the blue of the sky offers a promise of hope for the warmth and life of the Spring to follow.

As a judge I can’t compete in the Challenge, but perhaps this scene will inspire you to share your own work. To learn more about the Challenge, its simple rules and timelines, click here: AOL Community Photo Challenge Good luck!