What my Rose Bush taught me about Life

If you want some lessons on forgiveness, the value of persistent work, and how life is usually more simple than we humans make it out to be, take this advice: throw away your Self Help Books, and fire your Therapist. All you need are a rose bush, a watering can, and the ability to laugh off your mistakes and keep trying.

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Behold, my contribution to the August Break 2014 Photography Challenge – “Nature”

I have always dreamed of having my own garden, so I was exstatic when, after years of cramped apartment living, my wife and I moved into our first home. Unfortunately – as is the case with many dreams – I learned that the reality was a lot more difficult than I had previously imagined! Gardening in my suburban Texas yard has turned into a constant battle against an unyielding clay substrate that calls itself “soil”, scorching summer heat that wilts both me and my little plantlings, and a ghastly water bill – just to provide the bare minimum hydration to keep my leafy charges from dying a grisly death, sad, withered and alone. And that’s not even getting into the fact that I am sometimes guilty of overestimating my competence at new hobbies… not that I’d ever to admit to it, mind.

The house a friend had grown up in was set for sale and demolition, and we were all sad to think of the fate of her grandmother’s prized rose bushes. So my wife and I took an afternoon away from the feverish unboxing that breaks the hearts of freshly-transplanted humans everywere – in favor of a different sort of torture … we pried a specimen from the earth, and gave it a Forever Home in our own garden!

Frances (so named for the grandmother that tended her) almost died that summer, but she’s never held it against me. She’s never pointed out that I really knew nothing about Caring for Roses when we started this adventure, and never complains if I get too busy to prune her for a while. I love that about her – every time I tend her is a fresh start, and a reminder to stop holding myself to impossible standards. Water, sunlight, and a bit of TLC are really all Frances asks of me, and in return I get the most fragrant profusion of blooms!

So do it – I dare you. Plant a bit of sage in an obliging windowsilll, or hang some english ivy so your cat can’t sabotage your efforts. And if you do manage to send your little plantling to an early grave, forgive yourself and try again. Because that’s life, isn’t it? Things rarely go as planned, but the journey can be quite lovely, if we just choose to carry on.

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World Market, India, and my Love Affair with Yoga

When I was a lass of but 17 years, I wandered into the magical wonderland that is World Market for the very first time. A close family friend, a man from India, had introduced me to things like Naan bread, Basmati rice, and Mendhi (the art of using Henna dye to adorn the skin of the hands and feet)… and I was a goner. I was raised in a loving, but very homogenized christain faith — tasting, feeling, drinking in the exotic trappings of a land steeped in history, tradition, and beauty was like a spark in the starved imagination of this inquisitive girl.

… aaaand World Market was like the gasoline. Thus a love affair was born.

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In that very first visit, I found a yoga mat with a shimmery lavender silk bag. My naive little 17 year old mind connected a few dots. I wanted to learn more about the culture in India: They do yoga, right? But I was so shy about purchasing it, I almost put it back three separate times. What swayed my indecisive heart? What can I say – I’ve always been a sucker for Sparkles.

I’ve done Yoga now on-and-off for 12 years. Gods, that makes me feel old! At the beginning I could contort my flexible teenage body into any position, and I started to wonder what all the hype was about! It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I started to include some of the meditative practices as well… Suddenly it made a bit more sense.

I love that as I have grown as a person, my practice has changed. As my body has aged and become less flexible, and I grapple with chronic pain on a daily basis, visiting my mat each week has become a way to let go of self-judgement. I have become intimately aware of my body and its alignment, learning to love it where it is Today. Somewhere along the way, and almost without my conscious notice, I’ve started to apply that same love and patience to my heart and soul. I am convinced that without Yoga, I could not have created the life I love today. I have made changes and grown in more ways that I knew were even possible.

What may have started out as an infatuation with the vibrant colours and tastes of another land has since developed into so much more.

… I still pretty much adore the riot of colours though. At least the romance hasn’t waned. ;P

August Break 2014 – “Handwriting”

I loved this particular photo challenge. I got to incorporate some of my favourite heirloom trinkets to help set the stage for this one. I loved “playing” with the props, moving things around… I was very pleased with the idea to use an antique tablecloth as a backdrop! I was also surprised to find out that smart phone cameras have come a long way since my first iPhone years ago – my LG’s auto focus can be turned off, allowing for some intriguing Macro possibilities….

So, without further adieu, my contributions for the August Break “Handwriting” prompt:

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My wife inherited a few mementos from her family, collected over several generations. Some of my favourites have been the old photographs and letters – some dating to the late 1800’s! I love pouring over the century-old correspondence, trying to puzzle out the context, imagining what the author’s life must have been like.

I love the looping script, blotched in places by errant specks of ink. Knowing how painstakingly these letters were written, deliberately, slowly – makes me yearn for a slower time myself.

There’s a profound reminder in remembering a time when getting in touch with family or friends meant pausing your day enough to spend an hour writing a letter. It makes me realize how silly my excuses seem in comparison – when I can’t even make time to pick up the phone, or skype!

Slowing down my pace, and relishing the moments that fill my heart – that’s up to me. And every day is a fresh chance to start!

August Break 2014

I follow a lovely London blogger by the name of Susannah Connway – I just love her writing. She is so uplifting, and her joie de vevre is absolutely infectious!

She recently talked about how hard it can be to come up with content, week after week – and how easy it is to burn-out. So one year, instead of falling off the face of the map for a break, she started challenging herself to post only photographs for the month of August. She found she really liked the change of pace, and thus a tradition was born! This year she invited her readers to participate, and posted a list of daily photo prompts. She even created a flickr group just for the occasion.

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I loved how Relaxed she made it feel – if you post even once, that’s ok. The whole idea is to remove the pressure from Blogging, and to look at the world through a different lens along the way. (see what I did there??)

I’m joining for slightly different reasons, though. In case you hadn’t noticed, my blog is leetle, and new. One of my personal goals has been to start something, and follow through – even on the days when it’s hard to muster much more than a “Hello, again….”. So I don’t feel that taking a Vacation from Writing is really the best idea for me right now….

But learning to relax and just play with an art medium that I’m not used to is.

Starting a business from a passion of mine has been a wonderful experience, but it can also be quite draining. Dumbledore once said “I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being –forgive me– rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.” So it is with self-employment. Because I am playing with my whole heart, the stakes are so much higher … and the payoffs much sweeter.

I’ve started taking a few photos, and I will be posting them here, as well as in the August Break Flickr Group. I must say, I have loved staging photos, finding great angles, and fiddling with a few photo editing apps.

If you feel inspired to join in, sign up over here! If not, you can peruse the great content on the Flickr Group, and I hope you enjoy the additional content on here this month.

Ciao, bellas. 🙂