The Perspective of Beauty – Get Close

Living in the Midwest can sometimes make it hard to find beauty right where you are. With the extra brutal winters of late and string of rainy days, it can feel like only gray and brown exists. Cabin fever sets in. Restlessness. Even depression.

And if you can’t afford to get away for a break – it can feel like you are stuck in some forsaken, barren land.

Well – that’s at least my take on it. Or…it was for many years.

I used to think – if ONLY I could get to somewhere with clear tropical waters, flowers in abundance, sunshine and life! THEN I could find some beauty.

Over the past few years I have launched a new quest for myself and sanity to find beauty right where I am. Right in my own back yard…at any given time of the year.

It has required some childlike perspective and open mindedness. It has required me to get close and deep and sometimes in uncomfortable angles to get close enough to see it.

For example. What do you see here?

frost on bench 038

Just a plain old bench.

But wait…it frosted last night. AGAIN! I am so sick of frost and cold!

Yet…Take a closer look.

frost on bench 015

Still…nothing super amazing I guess. But what if you looked even closer and harder?

frost on wood bench

Dude…What is this? Diamonds? Crystals?

Click on the picture to see it even closer and it really comes to life.

Wow! That’s it! Beauty. Right here in the gray boring Midwest. Right there on my patio bench. Hiding right under my nose.

Right under your nose too.

Life can be hard. It can drag us down now and then. Sometimes all you want or need is just a little glimmer of hope. Something to look forward to. An unexpected beautiful surprise.

Instead of being frustrated at what feels like an eternal winter or late spring, try to find some amazing hidden beautiful surprise. Something you have probably walked right by a million times but never took the time to get close enough.

Once you find that first hidden beautiful thing, you are going to want to run and share it with someone. It’s pretty powerful. And catching.

Whether it is a water drop on a blade of grass, clouds in an interesting formation, a sun dog, frost up close, or whatever – it is all part of a new perspective that has a way of carrying over into other areas of life.

Good luck finding something completely ordinary, and then finding something completely extraordinary when you take the time.

spring frost 008

get closer…

Frost flower

Find Beauty Where You Are #findbeautywhereyouare

frozen pointing finger

Frozen icy fingers in a creek. #findbeautywhereyouare

 

creek frozen patterns

Ice formations in a creekbed #findbeautywhereyouare

 

frozen wave

Ribbons of ice in a creek #findbeautywhereyouare

 

I am stuck in Ohio. Central Ohio at that. Possibly the most boring, unnassuming place in the world. This is where I ended up and then grew roots, and am now somewhat stuck here for awhile…maybe forever.

In my silent midwest protest, I made up a game for myself. It’s called…Find beauty where you are…or create it.

It has become my mantra. A daily challenge to find beauty right where I am.

I am an amatuer photographer. Just a hobby. I have a decent camera, but not top of the line by any means.

When I head out with a camera, the quest is simple. Find spectacular, unimaginable beauty…right where I am. Mostly in my own backyard. You know…In the breathtaking picturesque expanse known as…Central Ohio. And then share it. Not because I think I am a great photographer…but because I am so amazed by the beauty I am finding I can’t contain myself and want to share it with everyone I know.

It seems my favorite shots are close ups, or macrophotography and abstract photography. Maybe because it opens up a whole new world and perspective I never even knew was there. Like examining frost super up close…you discover the amazing details of the crystaline properties and structures of this tiny little piece of frost. Something I have seen hundreds of times and passed by without a second thought now had unbelievable meaning and beauty to me.

Frost. Up close and personal. #findbeautywhereyouare

Frost. Up close and personal. #findbeautywhereyouare

It makes me want to slow down, and take the time and effort to find the beauty that has always been there, yet I feel like I am seeing for the first time.

It has opened up my eyes and made me hungry for more. How much more beauty is waiting out there to be discovered at just the right lighting, just the right weather conditions? Things I have over looked for years, like water droplets on a flower petal or blade of grass. Completely common things, yet…when viewed up close, become completely extraordinary finds.

Just some dew drops on a blad of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Just some dew drops on a blade of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

It requires me to
1, be curious.
2, Be childlike.
3, Focus – filter out distractions.
4, Get very close to whatever I am trying to capture.
5, Move, change perspectives to get the right angle.
6, Get uncomfortable – brave the elements, get in uncomfortable positions, get out super early on a day off, etc.
7, Not be afraid to look like an idiot. (Being all crouched down in the grass or near a creek as a car or neighbor goes by. I can only imagine what they might be thinking).

It’s no mistake that the above list also applies to some great life lessons about more important things as well.

I started seeking this new perspective because personally, I needed it so I wouldn’t lose my mind, or sink into depression, especially in the seemingly endless gray days of winter. But, what it is turning into is something more beautiful and organic than I could have hoped for. It is catching on. People are saying things like…”You make me want to see the world in a different way”.

This is a very busy time at work for me. During the time when most people are taking extended breaks from work to be with their family and be at home, me and a skeleton crew have been working before dawn and getting home at dark. Not conducive for finding beauty. I was starting to get extremely frustrated.

Coincidentally, and without even knowing what I was dealing with, my friend starts posting these amazing little gems of pictures. Simple, yet amazing pictures of frost on her car window. With her phone of all things. Simple, amazing beauty. Today she posted some pictures of individual snowflakes up close. How I needed that! Here I was stuck in a gray warehouse without any windows, and yet I was still getting to enjoy the beauty of the fresh falling snow through her perspective and camera lens.

And when she commented that her photos were inspired by my challenge of finding beauty where you are…it made me cry lol, but it also made me realize this is so much bigger than me and so much more powerful when shared and reciprocated. Here, I had been trying to inspire others…and what really happened, is that I am the one that got an even bigger blessing by seeing her excitement right when I needed the most.

I called to thank her and it got us talking and thinking. In this day where technology and social media is so prevelant, why not use these platforms as a way to reach a wider audience? There is plenty of other junk out there floating around…why not add some good and positive junk at least?

So…we are launching just that. A little movement of our own. Just for fun. Because we can.

If you want to join in and participate, just search #findbeautywhereyouare

I don’t have any in there yet, but plan on getting some in that folder ASAP.

In the meantime, feel free to share this hashtag and post your own amazing discoveries in your search for finding beauty where you are.

Stay thirsty and silly my friends!!

#findbeautywhereyouare

ice lashes

Tiny hair like “Ice Lashes” #findbeautywhereyouare

ice window

A window of opportunity #findbeautywhereyouare

frozen chaos

Chaotic icy tangles of amazing beauty#findbeautywhereyouare

 

 

Beauty in the Chaos

ripples of joy

The beauty of Chaos

The beauty of Chaos

Sometimes I can get a little intense about taking photos – especially photos of water. Flowing water in a creek, water droplets on a blade of grass or flower. My kids even make fun of me because I tend to go overboard.

“Hey mom! – look! There are some dew drops over here. Better get your camera!”

One picturesque fall day I looked over the bank and saw so much potential and beauty just there for the capturing.

I grab my camera and head down to the creek. Excited about what my lens might find.

Much to my dismay, both of my girls decided they just had to come down with me and play in the creek at the same time.

I thought to myself…well, there goes any chance I was hoping of getting some good shots.

You know what they say about assuming.

Let’s just say I was in for some humble pie and a huge life lesson.

We all get down there in one piece (it is a steep descent/ravine).

The girls started doing what they do best…causing utter havoc. And being completely adorable while doing it. I believe whole heartedly that kids need to experience nature first hand like this.

I am all for getting them out of the house and letting them get a little dirty.

Just not while I am trying to take photos, for heaven’s sake!

But I soon forgot about those frustrations. Just watching them. They are so beautiful. So full of silliness, play, and wonder.

They transform into magical water fairy nymphs right before my eyes.

Then came the splashing. The inevitable splishing and splashing, and accidental falling in. All just a matter of time.

So there I am snapping away at some of the artfully placed leaves I had my eye on from the start. Except now, there was all kinds of chaos going on around this otherwise peaceful scene and moment just a few yards away.

I was about to get frustrated, but thought better of it. I kept snapping pictures. Art is all just an experiment anyways – at least for me at this amateur phase.

And of course you know what happened…

I got some of the best shots I could have hoped for. WAY better than if I had gone down there alone.

Because the most beautiful part of the pictures I captured that day was not the leaves on the water that I had gone down there for…

The most beautiful part was the water that had come to life all around the leaves.

All because 2 little girls were curious and had to follow their crazy mommy down to the water.

And I am so thankful they did.

They continue to teach me lessons like this all the time.

Lessons of letting go of control. Letting go of expectations.

Letting life be even more beautiful by the surprises that happen when you surrender all those preconceived notions or thoughts on how things should be like this or that.

There is a lot of beauty and freedom in that kind of surrender.

They are great teachers. Even when I am a reluctant learner.

And though I still yearn for calm and quiet times now and then, I know I will look back at these days and miss being smothered by two needy, precious girls that will grow up all too fast.

I am thankful for these teaching moments and for the beauty in the chaos.

beauty in the water

beauty in the water

Beauty Wasted

grass

weed

weed 2

weed close up

clover

golden rod fairies

grass 2

golden rod

golden rod sunlight

You know that feeling when you are driving to work on a dewy morning and you can barely resist the urge to pull over and get out just to get a closer look at the amazing dew drops on tiny blades of grass?

No…you probably don’t. It’s not like a common thing.

Most people drive right by fields of weeds and grass bursting with all kinds of crazy beauty without giving a thought about it – most are not even aware of it.

Which makes me weird. Different. Strange. Or any number or those those things I remember being called in High School that used to hurt my feelings.

But now…I don’t mind being different. As I am now 40 (something) I realize that we all have a little weirdness that sets us apart.

And that is not always a bad thing.

I was once told that my pictures make them want to look at the world a little differently.

That was probably the best compliment I have ever received.

Because THAT is the key to my photography. I intentionally try to find the hidden gems, beauty, and perspectives that are not common.

I particularly love to take pictures of completely ordinary, otherwise boring and overlooked things – like grass, clovers, various weeds found in any patch of dirt – and show how fantastically beautiful they are when they are covered in dew and the light hits them just right.

It forces me to look hard and close…and sometimes get in very uncomfortable and strange positions to get the sun and angles just right. A neighbor once passed me while I was squatted down in the grass and I am pretty sure he thought I was nuts. He tried to act normal…I tried to act normal, but it was a funny moment for sure.

When I get in a patch of clover and weeds with dew covered on them…it is like a crazy display of potential and remarkable beauty. The really neat thing is that, instead of just seeing a sea of repetitive boring grass, every piece of grass and clover becomes unique and individual when you get down to that level.

Every little piece of grass or leaf has a different perspective or angle to offer. They are set apart from one another.

So. Much. Potential.

It’s kind of like maybe the feeling you would get if you were to find out that your nerdy, awkward neighbor turned out to be a supermodel. Right underneath your nose the whole time and you didn’t even notice!

Maybe I had to find this perspective because I am stuck in midwestern Ohio for now. You know…a great place to raise kids, but not particularly noteworty on the scenic scale of exciting places for photography.

I don’t have the luxury of capturing breathtaking landscapes or exoctic flowers, animals or scenes.

I have to find beauty right where I am. So it almost becomes some kind of challenge, a game…a hunt for wasted beauty.

It makes me happy and keeps me from wanting to run away to Hawaii every other second.

But I hope it also serves a bigger purpose.

I really hope that anyone that takes the time to see my photos might one day wander outside, stoop low in the grass (yes…chance looking like a weirdo) and look closely – to see for themselves.

That beauty is really all around us.

Even in the inner city – all you need is a blade of common grass or an ordinary weed or flower and a few drops of water – early morning dew is the best time. But a spalsh of water from a glass or hose will also do.

My hope is that it inspires people to find beauty right where they are.

Sometimes we can get so tired and disillusioned with day to day life we might feel like victims trapped in a concrete jungle.

We feel like…if ONLY we could get somewhere beautiful!

It can get extremely depressing sometimes.

Over time we, ourselves, can start feeling overlooked. Passed over. Invisible. Lost among a sea of millions.

Just like those bajillion blades of grass.

Like…beauty wasted.

But it’s not wasted, really. Ever.

Like that grass, there is something amazing, beautiful and unique about every one of us when you take the time to look close.

Sometimes it requires us to get ourselves in awkward positions, take risks, try different things to figure out who we really are and what we are really about.

And even if you don’t feel it at the moment – at the right time, the right angle, the right perspective – you too will see it for yourself or someone else will notice it. Usually at the most unexpected time.

It takes a special kind of person to find it and notice it. It’s ok if you want to call them a weirdo too. Maybe one day you embrace your inner weirdo too. Cause weird is actually kind of good.

Remember…Even the plain dry grass at midday doesn’t appear to be anything special.

It’s all about timing.

And seeking.

And believing.

That beauty unseen or unnoticed, is just beauty waiting…

not beauty wasted.

Bloom where you are planted, Shine wherever you are

August morning dew 087 (2)
I’ve been told I’m just a common weed, a nuisance. But what do they know?

\

\

August morning dew 063 (2)
I’m just an ordinary invisible clover in a field of millions.

\

\

August morning dew 125 (2)
Everyone thinks I am just something to be picked to tickle their friends with. They don’t know the real me.

\

\

August morning dew 122 (3)
And me? I am just a hidden mass of leaves in sea of green…no one ever notices me or even knows what or who I am.

\

\

But what if someone took the time to notice.

To really see us.

\

\

August morning dew 103 (2)
To pay tribute to the queen of clovers in her purple head dress adorned with jewels around her collar and surrounded by her royal court with their own gems and diamonds on display in the glory of the sun?

\

\

August morning dew 210 (2)
To look closely enough to see the amazing display of transparent beauty we wear on a dewy morning.

\

\

August morning dew 003 (2)
To understand the simplicity of quiet, still reflection that we live by every day.

\

\

August morning dew 075 (2)
What if they realized what a privilege it is to be among our pristine beauty?

\

\

August morning dew 111 (3)
I wonder if they would be happier?
More grateful…
Changed somehow…

\

\

August morning dew 167 (2)
But even if we are forever overlooked, we will still be.

We will still bloom.

We will still shine.

Because who we are is not dependent on the validation, or attention of others. And in the end if we are never noticed, it does not change our purpose or calling.

Bloom where you are planted.

Shine where you are.

Trees of December

december tree I drive by this tree everyday on my way to work. Covered in snow it is even more glorious. My whole family knows…that is my favorite little tree.

tree I drew this during a time of quiet reflection. If you click on the picture you can see the words Love, Hope and Faith hidden among the branches. All these things are there for the taking, but you have to be looking for them…intentionaly chasing after them.

The other day my youngest daughter (age 6) pipes up and says, “You know…a lot of people think bare trees in the winter are ugly, but I don’t. I think they are really pretty and interesting…especially with snow on them”.

Wow. She gets it already. I am not sure if I have influenced her by my frequent comments, drawing and photos of trees in the winter time. I am kinda fascinated with them.

Maybe because they are so paradoxical. So simple, yet so complicated. Simple silhouettes against a sky or sometimes a tangled mass of chaos.

Even more ironic is that I wrote a song years ago – and I am pretty sure she has never even heard the song, but in this case…the branches don’t fall far from the tree. The song pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about the whole subject.

Trees of December – ca. 2005

Autumn’s come and gone, all the trees are bare.
They reach their strong arms to the sky
But does anyone really care? Is anyone even there?
But they hold their ground…without a sound.
Just the wind blowing through their arms
And they wave so gracefully. They hold their mystery, for the time…

When the spring arrives and they show the glory of the work they’ve done
In the secrecy of the winter.
Just below the surface, the whole time they’ve been busy getting ready
For the splendor they’ll adorn.

Does anybody ever look at the trees in December?
Does anyone see the beauty they behold?
They hold their complicated branches reaching ever towards the gray dark sky.
Even in the dead of the winter.

So are you and I. More than meets the eye.
Underneath the surface we hold secret mysteries…love and injuries.
And we go down deep. More than what is seen.
Yet we fail to recognize our roots are intertwined. We act as if we’re blind…When we…

We judge other trees by their branches…and we cut the things we fear…
May cause trouble down the road.
We step back to see the damage we caused but it’s much too late
and cannot be undone.

Has anybody ever seen the trees in December?
Does anyone see the wisdom they reveal?
In all of their bare majesty we see their branches so clearly
But still, there’s so much below the surface.

Has anybody ever felt like a tree in December?
Screaming out with arms stretched open, wide?
Feeling so misunderstood, looking like some dead, gray wood
Yet still, so alive beneath the surface?

What the Water Told Me

Indeed I do love Florence and the Machine’s song, but this is more of what the water told me – directly. Well, not with words because what would be both creepy and psychotic, but rather – here is a lesson I learned from watching and listening to water.

Anyone that knows me knows I have a fascination…no, possible addiction to flowing water. I could honestly sit and watch it for hours. It is one of the most therapeutic things I know of. So now that I live right beside a creek is pure and total joy for me. It’s the closest I have ever come to (un)intentionally meditating. Just sitting there, focused on watching the water flow, watching how it moves and flows over and around rocks. Peaceful fascination.

And that’s when I got it. A rock, or an obstacle doesn’t stop water (unless it’s like a hoover dam kind of obstacle…that kind of stops it up pretty good). Water flows right over it and around it. It covers it. It dances as if moving right through it. It gracefully tumbles and rolls. And as the water flows over these obstacles it makes music.

In fact a creek with no obstacles may be kind of beautiful in it’s own right, but honestly it is quite boring compared to a creek with rushing, bubbling life…which can only come through chaos and interruption.

The very prettiest parts of a creek are at those places with the biggest obstacles and disruptions. It causes ripples, motion, breaking of the water that creates the most comforting lulling sound. In some cases the water appears to be flowing backwards as backcurrents are created with all it’s bubbling and churning.

Wait – kill the pan flute…I think I might throw up a little…a big unicorn and rainbow glittery kind of throw up.

Bleck…enough whimsical talk. Here is the break down peeps.

Water can carve rock.

Water can move mountains (even if it takes a very, very, very long time)

Which brings us to another point…Water is persistent.

And – it doesn’t work alone. One water molecule can’t do much, but bonded with others – it is incredibly powerful. It can also use even abrasive things like sand and rocks to help it towards it’s purpose of reshaping canyons, or grinding boulders into crystal beaches.

And yes – it pushes through obstacle after obstacle and makes something incredibly and surprisingly beautiful out of it…and keeps going.

Sometimes I feel like my life gets a bit chaotic. Sometimes I have even felt trapped in a back current of endless churning but it’s important to:

Keep moving.

Find a way to take the grit in life and make it work for you.

Don’t always work alone.

And make music as you go.