Sometimes all you need… is a little mindlessness. At least, that’s how it turned out for me this week.
I practice mindfulness regularly : I journal, meditate, do yoga, try to eat healthy, and remind myself to be in the moment. I read more than I watch tv, enjoy learning new things, and try to limit my time on social media. I walk my dog often and listen to uplifting music.
This week, that all fell apart.
My daughter experienced what we now think was a severe asthma attack. She’d never been diagnosed with asthma, so when she woke me up on Saturday night because she couldn’t breathe, we didn’t know what was happening.
The last thing I needed was to sit in the moment.
I couldn’t concentrate on my book, couldn’t calm myself through yoga. So I scrolled endlessly on my phone, binge-watched trash tv, and skipped my yoga classes. I didn’t have the energy to cook, or to care about what I ate, so I had chips and cookies and overdosed on dairy. It was cold and windy, so I curled up with blankets and my daughter and my dog and did a whole lot of nothing.
A week later, after multiple appointments and tests, my daughter is doing much better, thankfully. And I am feeling back to myself. It seems a little bit of mindlessness was exactly what I needed.
I hope you find comfort in zoning out once in awhile, that you find some rest in hard moments. And that it all helps you return to yourself.
Sometimes I forget I have a blog. Life takes over, and before I know it, weeks (sometimes, months) have gone by without an entry.
No matter how hectic things get, however, I never stop taking pictures. My camera never gets put away.
In the backyard of the home I grew up in, there is a massive apple tree. In spring, its blossoms are resplendent. In late summer, its apples cover the ground below it. Its gnarled branches have held my children while they galloped on an old tire horse, and shaded their play summer after summer.
Its age shows in its bark, but so does its strength.
Slight movements surround us, always. There are interruptions to our meditations, sounds and distractions. Breath means movement.
While practicing using my neutral density filter, I left my camera focused on the pool for a few minutes to go help my son clean the car. I had just tripped the shutter on a 30-second exposure when he called for me.
My daughter, thinking she’d be funny, attempted to capture a selfie on my camera while I was gone.
The stillness of the shot captured her movement in front of the camera, a faint purple haze in front of the pool.
When I was choosing a photo for this entry, my initial thought was to use this first image, as I felt it showed stillness well:
However, it occurred to me that the challenge of being still is to accept the constant movement surrounding us. Instead of ruining the image, my daughter inadvertently created a metaphor.
Nothing – not even stillness – is perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In my daughter’s collection of doll clothes are a few items kept from my childhood.
This tiny embroidered dress is one of them; I can clearly remember dressing my own dolls in it when I was her age.
I’m happy I kept it. It somehow connects her childhood with mine, the years in between disappearing for a moment. It is also a connection of how many of the things I loved have become the things she loves.
My daughter wanted to do a photo shoot with her American Girl Doll, Rosie. In one of the shots, the doll is literally balanced on a bicycle.
Life and parenting are a lot about balance: Time spent between work and family, between taking care of the house and taking care of the children, and between busy schedules and time for relaxation.
Making this photo was about balance, too: Stealing a few creative shots while also setting up fashion shots for the doll. I got to take pictures and spend time with my daughter; my daughter got to play dress-up and share this with me.
In honour of Valentine’s Day, I decided to switch this week’s theme with one I had planned to do in a few weeks: Love.
Love is a Pink Door
We recently redecorated our master bedroom: new bedding, new lighting, and new paint. The walls are now a soft grey, the quilt a quiet cream. I chose a neutral palette for its serene appeal as well as to appeal to my husband, whose style is about as far from flowery as you can get.
The door to the balcony was dark brown, so it needed to be changed as well. I had the idea to paint it pink, but figured it would end up being white. When my husband asked me what colour I wanted to paint the door, I threw out the pink idea, expecting it to be shot down instantly. To my surprise, he said, “Try it.”
To my even greater surprise, he didn’t mind it.
(Although he did suggest the room needed a Metallica poster to put some of him back into it!)
I was so happy with this pink door, this little bit of pretty pastel.
Then, my dear husband surprised me again: He came home with a pink orchid to go with my pink door.
Love it generosity and comprises. Love is romance and little surprises.
There are so many things I am grateful for: being surrounded by family and friends; having finally settled into a job that I love; a yoga practice that enriches and strengthens me; books that let me slip away; and little things like coffee and chocolate… But when I started thinking about what I would photograph to show gratitude this week, what I realized is that right now, I am most grateful for being home again.
This is the early morning sunrise through my back window.
Christmas is about the anticipation, the preparation. It’s about all things glittery and bright, lights shimmering in the night. It is small hands hanging treasures on the tree, a chorus of words we sing from memory. Christmas is savory and sweet, sparkling drinks and crackling heat. It music and memories, laughter and stories. Christmas is about hugs and kisses, sweet surprises, celebration and imagination.
Armed with nothing but his imagination and sense of adventure, he heads into the woods behind my parents’ house, often with his cousins and friends. He’s done this on gorgeous summer days, drizzly evenings, and crisp snowy mornings.
I’m never exactly sure what he does there, nor do I care to go investigate. I hear the occasional shout and the hard crack of wood against wood, so I know they’re safe.
The woods are the setting for untold stories, and the fallen trees are material for a fort. The darkness is a filter from the rest of the world. There is just enough distance between this forest hideaway and the watchful eyes of parents to allow him freedom to invent without boundaries, to play without rules.
I can’t see my son when he’s in the woods, but this is what I know: I know he is developing his independence, his creativity, and his appreciation for our natural environment.
He may come back to the house bug-bitten, scraped, or splintered, but he comes back happy.
I got to see the efforts of the boys’ hard work. They proudly led me through the woods to their fort, and I was so impressed I went back for my phone so I could share what they had built:
After a year in Ontario, a move we made to be closer to “opportunities” for ourselves and our children, we have returned to the Maritimes once and for all.
As it turns out, the opportunities we sought were neither abundant nor worthwhile. Instead, we have chosen to come back to the small town we came from. Family, friends, the quiet life, and the beautiful beaches drew us home.
And so, I am back to sitting in the sand, listening to the waves, and searching for sea glass.