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

 

 

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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

The Hidden Joy of Abstract Art

Abstract art is not for everyone.

I know this firsthand because there was a time in my life that I honestly hated abstract art. I didn’t get it.

It actually made me uncomfortable and angry. I thought it was intensely stupid. It made no sense to me.

No rhyme or reason. No method. No meaning. What the heck was the purpose?

“Anyone can slap some paint on something and call it art these days!” I would think with my eyes rolling back in my head.

But in the past few years, I have been curiously drawn toward the abstract.

At first it was mystery and curiosity. Like…I was intrigued, but had no idea why. I still didn’t get it.

Interestingly enough, at that time in my life, I was a control freak and didn’t even know it.

I was pretty uptight in general. I was a perfectionist.

About 4 years ago, I had a life changing experience that forced me to adjust my path.

It was a break-through life defining moment that forced me to step back, re-examine my life, my attitude, life choices, and most of all…let go of expectations and control – Of both me and others and life in general.

I didn’t realize how that would affect ALL aspects of my life.

Though it makes perfect sense, I find it very interesting that shortly after that pivotal cross road, I started not only being curious about Abstract Art…but actually being drawn towards it.

I had to admit…I actually liked it, and rather really loved some pieces!

But I still couldn’t tell you why.

However, in time it has started to become clearer to me – It has to do with letting go of control and letting my mind play!

A novel concept for such a once upon a time so serious girl.

Maybe it had to do with the letting go of the rigid compartments that I felt I had to have everything in before. Maybe it was a new sense of freedom – no longer being bound to what everyone else thinks I should do or be.

Coloring outside of the lines…Heaven Forbid!!

And speaking of which…I hate to admit, but before my major life changing event, I literally had moments where I cringed when I watched my kids coloring outside of the lines. It drove me batty!

I mean…I HAD ALWAYS stayed in the lines as a child. What could this mean or say of them and their future if they couldn’t stay in the lines?

And if they colored a tree blue and purple? Oh…no. What was WRONG with them?!

Not that I said any of that out loud, but I do remember feeling internally rattled.

Yep. I was that stupid.

The better question was…what the hell was wrong with me?

Thankfully…I can tell you now – I LOVE to see them being unorthodox in their coloring and art…and I actually encourage it! I mean…that is raw, creative, imaginations at work! And I find it not only precious but inspiring.

I actually find myself asking…”What would a kid do?”

And there definitely is something about finding your inner child to be able to just let go and create abstract – to see what happens…not being paralyzed with the fear of making a mistake.

So…What is it about Abstract that I love?

It’s this undefined freedom of expression.

The morphing and mixing of colors blending.
3 panel rainbow

Contrast of dark and light.
abstract 6 panel

Texture.
texture 2

It is use of color to reflect or convey a feeling that doesn’t have words or even a definitive shape.
It’s random, yet purposefully placed lines, or streaks, or drips, or splatters that becomes an exciting adventure with an unknown outcome.

abstract
It is like soul groans of raw emotion in the form of color and textures that becomes its own being…Its own identity.
abstract X

It’s a chemical reaction of different types of paint and mediums that create something completely organic and unexpected.
organic sky pour

autumn panel

Most of the pieces that I create are a complete surprise to me! No kidding.

I mean, I may have a concept, a vision, or idea, but during the process of putting it to canvas, I find the paint takes over and transforms my vision into something that it wants to be.

Sometimes I end up with an enhanced version of my original vision.

Other times the paint leads me on, and dares me to depart from my original plan altogether and go on this wild adventure where I am simply trying to do what the paint is suggesting.

It’s like this fluid relationship…
Sometimes it works out in surprisingly beautiful ways.
Sometimes it’s like we had a fight and need to just start over.

But I learn something each time. Always, always learning.

Now…it doesn’t mean that I love ALL Abstract Art. Just the same as I don’t love all genres of music, or ALL types of cheese.

But I can at least appreciate nearly all art forms in a way that I never could before. I can consider it. Ponder it. Let my mind play a bit with it.

And not to say that only free spirit personalities can enjoy abstract. My husband is an engineer and he loves abstract, which is very interesting and impressive to me. It’s like he has to be a perfectionist at work, but allows himself to enjoy the randomness beauty of abstract work.

It’s been an interesting journey. I consider myself a rehabilitated fuddy duddy.

Sometimes you just can’t see the best things coming. So when life gives you an unexpected secret garden of an open mind…enjoy the hidden joys of it.

Note – All paintings shown are my original works – or results of experimental play time. And all are for sale to purchase.

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.

Kicking the Dysfunction Addiction

Getting a lot of hits on this blog….reposting in case anyone else needs to read it.

Finding Beauty - The Perspective of Joy - Lee Ann Lander

If you stand under a bird’s nest, you increase your chances of getting pooped on.

I don’t think this is a real ancient Chinese proverb…but it could be…

This insightful analogy came to me on a walk around the block tonight with my adorable, stubborn, sweet and spicy 2 year old lovie hobbit. We came to a place on the sidewalk with quite a bit of bird droppings. Of course – directly above was the source…a nest. I’ll save you the suspense…we did not get pooped on.

But if we had hesitated – we probably would have gotten it – the chances were definitely high. It made me start thinking about choices…the obvious or not so obvious choices that we make in life.

Specifically – about how it seems like I had been standing under the birds’ nest of life for so many years.

Perhaps I was thinking I was…

View original post 1,526 more words

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?

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

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Everyone thinks I am just something to be picked to tickle their friends with. They don’t know the real me.

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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.

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But what if someone took the time to notice.

To really see us.

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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?

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To look closely enough to see the amazing display of transparent beauty we wear on a dewy morning.

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To understand the simplicity of quiet, still reflection that we live by every day.

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What if they realized what a privilege it is to be among our pristine beauty?

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I wonder if they would be happier?
More grateful…
Changed somehow…

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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.

Hurricanes of Ohio

There is a hurricane brewing in Ohio.

At least that is what my mom is paranoid, restless and consumed with fear about tonight. My mom suffers from several kinds of mental illness. She was diagnosed with Schizophrenia right around her 20’s. Now at 72 she has also been told she has dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Any one of those are pretty terrible. Pile all three – and you have a shit storm of confusion at any given moment.

Looking back, my childhood was very different from most. I just didn’t know it at the time.

But now – as an adult, and the fact that she lives 4 states away – it gives me some space and ability to see things for what they are.

I have had time to heal and forgive from the seemingly personal attacks. The souless look in her eyes as she would hurl insults and physical objects my way. The delusions, the voices, the paranoia, the anger.

So now when I hear she is suffering from another episode, it just saddens me. She is in a rehabilitation center worrying…in great concern that I am about to be wiped off the face of the earth from a hurricane. A hurricane in Ohio.

Her mind is taking her down a senseless track of anxiety and fear and there is no talking her out of it.

I remember sitting in the complete dark and silence – no electronic device allowed of any kind – because in her mind aliens were coming and they would enter through the electrical wires.

I remember trying to see the spiders – the hundreds of spiders that she was screaming about – begging me to get them off of her and her anger at me because I didn’t save her from them.

Pretty scary stuff. Especially as a kid. I remember thinking…she IS wrong…right?! right??

There is a natural tendency as a child to want to believe your parent – but in these cases there was a lot of confusion and internal struggles.

The brain is a mysterious place. It happens so fast – She was just fine, laughing and sounding great last week. But this week there is a hurricane in Ohio.

Living with a person with a serious mental illness is a challenge. It takes an extraordinary person to be able to handle it and understand it with compassion, love, forgiveness – especially in the midst of an episode that could involve personal attacking. I wasn’t always that person and am not always that person even now.

The distance has helped. It has given me the opportunity to focus on my own little family. To be a little selfish. I had not realized just how much of my life, my energy, my thoughts had been focused on caring for mom, worrying about her, or living in a constant underlying state of dread when the phone rings and it is her…needing rescued again from something or someone – which usually involved lots of time and possibly lots of money.

But I will always remember a conversation we had a few years ago that completely broke my heart and changed the way I deal with her and look at her.

She said in a moment of realization, “No one likes me Lee Ann. No one likes the REAL me. The unmedicated me. The raw me. People only like me when I am on drugs that make me something, or someone else”.

That is a sad and truthful statement.

She is locked inside a body and brain that has been failing her for years and is only increasingly fading out. The real, unmedicated her is an unpredictable, paranoid, delusional, angry, unstable person.

And the worst part of it all is that she is aware of it. She knows this truth.

So when I step back, and think about it in terms of pure physical illness…I am able to have compassion, patience. Just the same as if she had a failing kidney or heart. It just happens to be her brain in this case.

It is still exhausting, frustrating. The whole thing is unfair. But life is not fair.

We all have challenges to face. How you face them – THAT is what determines who you are.

I lived the earlier years of my life angry and blaming her for a terrible, scary, unstable childhood. A childhood that left scars, and some really awful exposure to some really bad experiences.

So I became that. An angry person. A victim. Resentful. Naive. Restless. Blind. Making unwise decisions and choices.

But it wasn’t because of her. All that was because I made that choice to become those things. In many ways it was coping mechanisms and I did have a right to be angry to some degree. But when it starts tearing you apart from the inside out…that is a problem.

It took me years and a few hundred miles to finally make peace out of all that chaos.

So. Here I sit in Ohio. No real threat of a hurricane. Just a heart that is sad for a very confused loved one that is fighting a huge storm of her own. And having no way to rescue her from this one.