play

In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

A few months ago, I met a talented and thoughtful woman on Instagram. We seemed to love the same things and were drawn to each other’s work. Melissa, being the braver of the two, reached out to me, and we started chatting. We talked about wishing we wrote more and decided to start writing together. When asked what she wanted the first theme to be, she suggested PLAY.

Play. It seems like a simple word to define. For me, it took weeks of thinking about it and its meaning to begin to describe it, and if I am honest, I am not sure I am still satisfied where I have landed.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

My first thought was that play was everything I loved to do. Adventuring new places and parts of town, going out on hikes with friends, reading…
Wait, is reading play? And if I keep making that list of all my favorite things to do- napping, meditating, cooking, and walking alone- would I consider these things play?

So I went back to the beginning. Maybe play is when you purposely do something you enjoy just for the fun of it. Well, that takes some things out again. I don’t cook dinner just for the fun of it. I cook dinner because I enjoy making food for my family AND we need to eat. I don’t hike with friends just because I enjoy it. My body needs the movement, and my soul needs the companionship.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

It felt like I was going in circles. I was doing what so many of us do best; I was overthinking it. I decided to put the idea and the thoughts on play aside and just to notice when I felt like I was playing.

So I went about my life. I woke up and made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. I took Sam to school and went for my walk. I saw clients and sat and listened with them. I meditated and read a little. I picked Sam up from school and made dinner. I sat with a glass of wine and talked to my husband about our days, and then went to bed.

I didn’t notice any play.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

So I tried something else. What if I added play to the moments of my day?

I woke up and made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. I timed myself to see if I could do it in less than 5 minutes. I can’t. Especially before I drink the coffee, but it made the mundane chore slightly more entertaining. When I went outside to take Sam to school, the sprinklers were on. Instead of trying NOT to get wet- or more honestly- being grumpy that I need to run through the sprinklers on some Tuesdays and Thursdays, I decided to have some fun. I tried to bend and contort my body as not to get wet. Sam was hysterical at my antics, and so was I. I drove Sam to school wet but laughing. On my walk, I tried paying attention to my senses. I listened to the birds singing and the cars racing past. I smelled the jasmine begging its summer bloom. I watched the shadows dance on the fences and the sidewalk. I felt the fresh breeze push against my back as if it was on my walk with me. I picked up Sam from school and started dinner. I decided to make something new and had some fun with an untried recipe. As Andy and I shared a glass of wine, we laughed and shared our day, and I noticed play in that.

I noticed the play. The previous day I hadn’t. But now that I was adding play and looking for ways to be playful, suddenly play became something I started to notice.  And this has continued.  Whether I am watching a sunset,  grabbing coffee with a friend, or pulling weeds in the garden- play seems to jump out at me. I am finding that I am quicker to ask, “How can I make this purposely fun and playful?”

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

Perhaps more of life than we think can be playful. I recently saw this video on my friend’s Facebook timeline. The hopscotch was there for everyone.  Everyone had the same opportunity to make traveling from one place to another playful.  However, only 129 did while 1,056 decided to just keep walking.

Maybe we look so carefully and seriously at life, that we miss the playful parts- we lose the surprises and the joy of the moments. Maybe if we begin our moments, whether they be chores, work, or even self-care, with a little dose of frivolousness and sparkle, maybe all of life can become sprinkled with play.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

How do you define play? What do you do to add play to your life?

Go to Melissa’s beautiful blog to read her thoughts about play.

New York in Polaroids

My darling husband had a business trip to New York, so I decided to stowaway with him.  While he was at meetings, I adventured around New York and met with some friends I have only known online.  I took my Polaroid OneStep 2 along with me.  I had so much fun capturing this beautiful city with this fun little camera.

I had time to wander the city alone and I also was able to hug the necks of a few of my friends I met years ago on Flickr.   One friend, Amy Drucker,  took me to The High Line.  It is a walking park that was built on an old, raised train track.   It was a wonderful afternoon.

12ish on 12: March

April is very full of very good things. On the first week of April, I received my certificate in Spiritual Direction. On the second week of April, we are having a bridal shower for my oldest daughter, here at our home. On the third week of April, my oldest daughter is getting married. On the fourth week of April, my husband and I go away for a few days to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary… and surviving April.

I didn’t want to miss out on our blogroll again, so I am posting these photos I took for a lens review I did for Viewfinders.   Because this month is so full of beginnings, I am including John O’Donohue’s lovely poem For a New Beginning.  

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

My friend Alison, a talented photographer and a wonderful human,  photographed her day and has documented it on her blog. Check it out!

~Staci Lee

12 on 12: February

My family had a rough start to the year.  My husband’s beloved mother died.  While the family was together and we all were able to say our goodbyes, it was hard and painful and made us all pull in closer and hold onto each other.

One way our family deals with hardships is long family days.  We clear the calendar and head out for adventure for the day.   Because the ocean is holy for us, we decided to head to Santa Monica and breathe in the fresh sea air. I loaded up my Canon N1 with Kodak Portra 400 and headed out for the day.  First stop was our favorite pub, Finn McCool’s.  We had lunch, played cards, took some pictures, and maybe had a drink or two.

After some time at the pub, we took a walk around town and visited the shops.  Santa Monica is filled with life and color, just like my blessed mother in law.

As the sun began to set, we headed to the sand.  We watched the sunset and said our goodbyes to Andy’s mother, Barbara Jeanne.   We miss you.  Thank you for all that you gifted to us, especially Andrew.  We will love him with all that we have until we all see each other again.

 

To see what Vanessa was up to last month, head on over to her blog and then continue through the blog circle. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

12 on 12: one day

For the last six years, a group of women photographers and myself have shared our five favorite photos from the previous month on the fifth of the month. We called our project “5 on 5”.   We loved the project, but this year wanted to try something new.  This year we will be posting 12 images on the 12th of the month.  I am choosing to take a photo an hour from 7am to 7pm.

My day started quite normally.  I woke up and made myself a  cup of coffee.

After enjoying my cup of coffee and doing my morning chores, I usually sit down with my practice.  Right now I am going through the Spiritual Disciplines.

Because she was still on Christmas break, Kyle and I were able to go on our walk together.  I love this time with her and I have missed it since she started working as a teacher.

I had a big party for my friend the next day, so I went to the grocery store for a few items that I needed.

We were going to be out on an adventure before the party, so I had to make dinner beforehand.  This big blue pot is our camping or party pot.  I can make four batches of soup in one pot.  I love it.

Laundry.  Let’s be honest… this happens every day.

Birthday cake for the birthday girl.

By the afternoon I was tired.  I sat for a bit and read while Sam played one of her new video games.

Then I set myself to make dinner for the family. I usually listen to a book or podcast while cooking.  On this day, I was listening to Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.  It was a fantastic book.

Dani and her friend started a sewing project.

It went well into the evening.

After my long day, I took a shower and went to bed.  Good night!

I am doing this project with some amazing photographers.  Hop on over to Vanessa’s blog to see what her day looked like.

in the rain

My Japanese Magnolia is blooming.

And it is finally raining.

Two of my favorite things are happening at once, and it makes my heart so happy.  Here are two poems or prayers I am enjoying right now during my morning practice with a few images of my Japanese Magnolia in the rain.

A Blessing for Beauty
John O’Donohue

May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity.

May the wonders of the earth call you forth from all your small, secret prisons and set your feet free in the pastures of possibilities.

May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.

May the liturgy of twilight shelter all your fears and darkness within the circle of ease.

May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.

May you allow no dark hand to quench the candle of hope in your heart.

May you discover a new generosity towards yourself, and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.

May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.

May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.

May the shelter and nourishment of all the good you have done, the love you have shown, the suffering you have carried, awaken around you to bless your life a thousand times.

And when love finds the path to your door may you open like the earth to the dawn, and trust your every hidden color towards its nourishment of light.

May you find enough stillness and silence to savor the kiss of God on your soul and delight in the eternity that shaped you, that holds you and calls you.

And may you know that despite confusion, anxiety and emptiness, your name is written in Heaven.

And may you come to see your life as a quiet sacrament of service, which awakens around you a rhythm where doubt gives way to the grace of wonder, where what is awkward and strained can find elegance, and where crippled hope can find wings, and torment enter at last unto the grace of serenity.

May Divine Beauty bless you.

Peace Within
St. Theresa of Avila

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

 

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent when we celebrate the hopeful cry, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.”  It is an interesting proclaim as we are in the middle of Advent’s darkness, isn’t it?

How many of us, while in darkness and question and pain want to proclaim joy?  For me, joy is not the go-to emotion while wandering in darkness.  Joy is not what I usually ask for.  I usually ask for relief or rest, but never joy.  And yet, Advent reminds us- here, now, in the middle of the dark nights of the soul, joy is there.  She is waiting to surprise us.

So for this Gaudete Sunday, I am sharing with you two poems that have met me while I have been in a dark place and they gave me hope, and with hope came the little surprise of joy. I am pairing these two poems with images from my Japanese Magnolia, that blooms in the middle of winter.  And although I first edited these in purple, my small homage to Advent, today I give them to you in black and white, as a reminder of the darkness each soul must journey through.

First, John O’Donohue’s For a New Beginning.

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

And then Mary Oliver’s The Hermit Crab.

Once I looked inside
the darkness
of a shell folded like a pastry
and there was a fancy face—

or almost a face—
it turned away
and frisked up its brawny forearms
so quickly

against the light
and my looking in
I scarcely had time to see it,
gleaming

under the pure white roof
of old calcium
When I set it down, it hurried
along the tideline

of the sea,
which was slashing along as usual,
shouting and hissing
toward the future,

turning its back
with every tide on the past,
leaving the shore littered
every morning

with more ornaments of death—
what a pearly rubble
from which to choose a house
like a white flower—

and what a rebellion
to leap into it
and hold on,
connecting everything,

the past to the future—
which is of course the miracle—
which is the only argument there is
against the sea

May joy surprise you this Advent.