Fertilize Your Mind

Quote from a colleague:

“The quest for knowledge can not be abandoned.”

So very true. Expand your mind. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant, or, worse yet, frozen in time like this camellia in my backyard this morning.

The brain naturally shrinks with age, despite being filled with this “knowing” stacked upon that “knowing,” even without trauma or defects caused by medical situations or diseases.

…with increasing age and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions, and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones. (NCBI)

It’s hard enough to remember what you already know as you get older, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to continue to learn – even if that includes unlearning only to relearn from a different perspective. The only way to slow the shrinkage is to continue to learn.

Read. Think about things in an interactive way. Write. Do things to exercise your brain, whether with puzzles or word games or just deep conversations with yourself in thought. Train (and/or retrain) your mind. Remain active in mindful and conscious ways. You’ll thank yourself for it.

I suppose this is a big deal to me because of physiological psychology and being a scholar in that field, but more than anything it comes from what I watched my mother suffer as she deteriorated from the added and horrific bonus of early onset dementia that turned to Alzheimer’s.

Take care of your mind. Fertilize it. Grow it well. Maintain it. Keep it in bloom. ❤️

How Can I Help You Say Goodbye?

Sitting with Mama alone in her bedroom

She opened her eyes, and then squeezed my hand

She said, I have to go now, my time here is over

And with her final word, she tried to help me understand

Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain

Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same

And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye

It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry

Come, let me hold you and I will try

How can I help you to say goodbye?

How can I help you to say goodbye?

—Karen Taylor-Good, Burton Collins

Mextures Formula: GDRSIDA

I Still Believe…

It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

—Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Mextures Formula: CLABPXZ

A Flower, a Memory, and a Message…

As a child and young teenager I felt like the most unwanted, unloved, motherless human being on the planet. This morning I am reminded that I have had more mothers than I prayed for in those days (and probably more than I deserved), and that blooming takes time but it’s beauty is worth continuing on to experience, to behold within, and perhaps someday express or offer to someone else.

This morning I am reminded that the universe has ALWAYS surrounded me with strong, courageous, positive, mothering and loving women who have given me the lessons and the benefits of their strength and even sometimes their weakness, their hope, their courage, their experience and their love – even when they haven’t realized it, even though they weren’t my birth or adoptive mothers.

This morning I am grateful – grateful for who they were and are, and grateful for who I was, have become, and will be because of the many lights they have shone in my life. I am reminded of my personal belief that we do not become who we are and we don’t bloom into our whole selves because we do it all alone – there are always those lights in our lives to outshine our darkest moments and feed our souls like sunshine. Sometimes the sources of that light are people (and animals) – whether strangers in the market line or at the post office, strangers online who make us smile or even become true friends and inspirations, or people in our daily lives who become our friends, whether they remain in our lives for long or a short time…whether they still live or they pass away.

This morning I am…very simply put…overwhelmingly grateful – for the lights that have shone on me in th past and the ones that continue to do so – the glints and gleams that illuminate and encourage my spirit, that help me to grow and ever evolve into a better me than I was each day that’s come before.

Finally, this morning I am reminded of a very important thing for my soul self: Motherly love is not a label or a static characteristic – it’s a state of being…and it can come from just about anywhere, if you’re open to receive it. I am. ❤️

Vision: iPhone 6, Olloclip

Tools: Mextures (formula SRPVZKE)

summer 🔥 heat 

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Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. -Sam Keen

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~ summer🔥heat ~

~ b u r n 🔥 b a b y 🔥 b u r n ~

Vision: Lumix GX7, Leica Macro Lens
Tools: Mextures (formula BJRKZVU)
(Both Images)

C l e a n . . . 

C l e a n . . .

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs. -Sam Abell

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Tools: Mextures (formula KFVIEXP)

Vision: Unsplash, Hotae Kim

My IG Top Ten: Flowers

Flowers!?? Of course, flowers! How could I not start this whole top five/top ten thing with anything else when that is what I shoot the most?? OK – it’s probably a tie with droplets, but even those are technically flower shots. ((blows raspberry)

Specifically, as you’ll remember me mentioning Nicole if you read my last post, flowers are what she first asked me to choose as a top five list. I’m going to have to go with ten, though, because I share so many flowers it was too difficult for me to choose just five. In fact, it was extremely difficult for me to put these in any sort of order. The rest of these will likely be “five” lists. This one was definitely the hardest.

10. Blue

I love this one because it combines different visual elements but still keeps the flower  as the focal point. Another reason this one is special is because I shot it to complete a calendar I was doing for my Mom and it reminds me of the blue and white ceramics that she collects.

**Sony Alpha (a37), Tamron macro 90mm f2.8, manual focus on full, tripod, external flash. Unedited, aside from crop.

09. Calla

I love this flower edit, done with DistressedFX on the fly. I shot this Calla lily at the oil change place with my phone. It was February, and I was attempting to leave for New Orleans for the third time in two weeks. I was so desperate to get there and find something. What I was looking for exactly, I’m still not sure, but I found a lot more than I bargained for and my plan to stay was foiled by understanding and learning in a very tangible way that you can’t  always escape reality, and that when you love someone you’ll always return to them. My dad fell ill and that’s why I ended up coming home in the end – which I wasn’t planning to do at all…and from there my life began to unfold a chain of events that would forever change it – but not all for the bad.

**iPhone 5

08. Finding It

This cute little flower was hanging out on my cousin Gail’s porch at the farm. I shot this during a time when I felt so…overwhelmingly lost. It was a day when I was struggling to find meaning in ever leaving my room again, and when I saw this flower and spent thirty minutes photographing it and even longer playing with the DistressedFX/Mextures edit, I found a ray of meaning to get out of bed the next day: a desire to find more flowers to shoot. It was a very meaningful day because of this tiny little flower.

**Lumix GF3, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, manual focus on full, handheld.

07. Energetic Shift

I found these daisies on clearance at Home Depot around mid-spring this year. This experience was something on many levels that I can’t even put into words…but this shot is visually one of my favorites because of the angle, focus and colors.

**Lumix GF3, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, manual focus on full, handheld.

06. Refuge

Some form of wild sage, I think. I shot these while walking in the woods somewhere in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I love these little purple flowers, and I didn’t have any super special experience with this shot. I just love the textured edit I did with it using Mextures.

**iPhone 5. Mextures Formula Code – TWTIYIE

05. Lightroom

With this shot, I was playing with Lightroom – which, at the time, I hadn’t done for a very long time. I’d been using mobile apps and devices and hadn’t touched my computer for months (ok, truth be told, years). Here I was trying some different styles with some shots from earlier in the year, and I was especially addicted to some Lightroom presets I’d gotten from Creative Market. Mixing presets and filters with Mextures formulas and effects from other apps, like DistressedFX and Stackables, is fun and you get some pretty cool results.

**Lumix GF3, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, manual focus on full, handheld.

04. Soul Dance

I chose to include this image because I love the gradient of the colors in the edit, but when I looked back at the original post I remembered very clearly how I felt on that day and why I called it “Soul Dance.” It was all down to music – a song called “Crystallize,” by Lindsey Sterling – as my moods often are. Internally, I was having such a hard time. I remember how light and how empowered that music made me feel, and as I was editing this image whilst listening to it and was trying to imagine my spirit flying like these dandelion seeds soon would be, I titled it after the song.

**Lumix GF3, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, manual focus on full, handheld.

03. Sun Goes Down

Continuing with my dandelion obsession this year, this shot is one of my all time favorites. I shot this while walking a trail at Norris Dam State Park, located on the Clinch River in Campbell County, Tennessee. I was sitting down, talking on the phone with my Dad (one of the last times I ever spoke with him before his illness and death), and he was telling me he was still not feeling well. It was at that point that he was going back in to the doctors to request more blood work and I was very scared and concerned and asked if I needed to come home. He said no, he’d be ok.

I remember telling him that the sun was going down and I saw this shot I wanted to try to get while I’d been sitting on the path talking with him (this shot), and I had to go, but I’d call him later that evening when I was back at the place where I was camping. That return phone call was when I told him about my art show in Knoxville, and he was so excited about it and didn’t say a whole lot about his health the rest of the time I was on that trip. It was just a couple weeks after I returned home that he went into a diabetic coma.

Sigh. It’s sometimes very emotional for me to see how things fit together when I look back on them. I’m so grateful that I got a good shot of this. It’s funny to me now that half the dandelion is missing – half of me is missing now, too…

**Lumix GF3, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, manual focus on full, handheld. Unedited, aside from crop.

02. Invisible

A very recent edit and a new favorite, I shot this the same day that I shot the blue flower at number 10. I was still experimenting with the external flash, and decided to play with this paper white bloom that had fallen to the floor when I’d moved things around for the blue flower shoot. I love the way the shot turned out, and edited it to further blend into the lighting with Mextures and the Stackables app. One of my all time favorites of my edited shots.

****Sony Alpha (a37), Tamron macro 90mm f2.8, manual focus on full, tripod, external flash.

01. Eternity

My number one favorite flower image is this macro image of a rose that was in one of the many gorgeous vases that were delivered to my house the day after my Dad passed away. I suppose we all know that flowers are my favorite, they are my friends, and I photograph them more than anything else. I just absolutely love flowers and have a fascination with them at many levels. This is something, interestingly enough, that I shared in common with my Dad. I kept my sanity during the weekend before we were to plan his funeral by shooting these flowers, somewhere in my heart hoping that he was there with me, invisibly enjoying them, too.

As I was shooting this particular flower, I had one of my first spiritual experiences with my dead father, as well as my first completely overwhelming, breathtaking, soul wrenching moment of grief. I remember falling to the floor and just completely breaking down for the first time that afternoon. I began to talk to my Dad, out loud, and I remember having this revelation that got me through that night and the next morning (the funeral home, picking out the casket and all that happiness).

As I shared on the original post:

I used to think that nothing lasts forever. Now I know…the love of a father does. I feel it all around me, especially when I close my eyes, and especially when I cry…even though he is gone. What a beautiful thing.

**Lumix GF3, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, manual focus on full, handheld.