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How is August almost over??  Where did the summer go??  No, I mean really – where did the summer go???

Camps, swimming, sleeping in, lunch dates, fairs … it all went by way too fast.  My kids are starting their second week of school and it already seems like a distant memory as we get back to schedules (which isn’t entirely a bad thing.)

Even our family vacation, which was just 3 weeks ago, seems so far away.  So in an effort to keep it fresh in my mind  I decided to share one of my favorite parts with you.  We visited Jekyll Island, along the coast of Georgia.  I had been there once with my parents the summer after I finished 5th grade, so I was curious to see if it was what I remembered.  (For the record, it wasn’t.  Or at least my memory of it wasn’t.  Well, part of it was – the beach.  But I didn’t remember anything else on the island except the hotel we stayed in.)

This was the first time my kids have been to the ocean since they were toddlers, so they were excited to put their feet in.

We spent time on the beach…

the Georgia Sea Turtle Center…

watching dolphins…

As the boat captain said, trying to take pictures of dolphins is like trying to photograph lightening.

and enjoying life at a slower pace.

Sunrise

But one of the most amazing places we saw was called Driftwood Beach.  This beach, on the northern tip of the island, is a landing spot for all kinds of trees.  Walking through the brush onto the beach literally took my breath away.

At first, all I could see was the trees.  Enormous trees.  Scraggly trees.  Dead trees.

But the longer I stayed, the longer I noticed there was more.  The beach was teeming with life in and around the trees.

And I noticed something else.

Beauty.

Such amazing beauty.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned many times in my life, but one I always seem to need reminded of … beauty is found beyond the obvious.

It’s in the big, monstrous.

It’s in the tiny, microscopic.

It’s in the dead.

It’s in the empty.

It’s in the light.

It’s in the dark.

It may take 15 hours in a mini-van to find it.

But it’s also there when I open my eyes every morning.

~mwe

Hi strangers!  I’ve missed you!

I’ve been keeping very busy since we last chatted.  Lots of cleaning, organizing, and decluttering going on in my house.  And even some exercising.  I’m not sure where this burst of energy came from but I’m going to ride it as long as I can.  It’s a great feeling to walk into a closet or open a drawer and feel the peace of an uncluttered, organized space.  Maybe that sounds too Zen to you, but I here to tell you it’s true.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

Today I’d like to take a moment and talk about what we do and who we are.

I love doing things to make people happy, put a smile on their face, or make them feel special.  I do these things because I want to show I love and care about someone.  It’s for them.  If you’re familiar with Gary Chapman’s work, you might say acts of service is one of my top love languages.  It’s how I express my love for others.  But if I’m completely honest with myself, there is some place deep inside me that believes if I didn’t do things for people, they wouldn’t like me.  Which I think comes from a little place that still believes I am not good enough to be liked for who I am.

This really hits home when someone is bothered by who I am.  I mean those things that I do or say without even thinking about them.  Or the way I do or say things.  I feel like it’s not what I say that bothers them (which can be easily fixed), but who I am (which is not so easily fixed).  It’s as if love becomes connected to things on its way out, but it becomes connected to me on its way in – or when it doesn’t come in.  I may have completely lost half of you by now and the other half may think I’m completely nuts.  Either one is okay.  It comes down to the feeling that I sometimes feel like people will love me if I do the right things, but won’t love me just for who I am.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t something that clouds my every thought.  But once in a while a crops up, and when it does, it bugs me.  I’ve come a long way over the years in knowing who I am and there are a lot of qualities about myself that I love.  I wonder, though, where I learned that it’s what I do and not who I am that people love.  And why that belief holds on so tightly.  When did my love language become my reason to be loved?

What do you think?  Do you have a hard time separating what you do from who you are?  If you took away those things would you feel as though there was enough left to be loved?  Or worth being loved?

~mwe

I took a 2 1/2 hour vacation today.  Alone.  And it was lovely.

This may not seem very notable, but let me assure you, it is – for a couple reasons.

First, I can’t remember the last time I did such a thing.  Yes, I go to the grocery store alone or an occasional errand, but for the most part – especially during the summer – someone is always with me.  And not only is someone always with me, but whatever it is we’re doing is for that person.  Taxiing back and forth to practices, rehearsals, the dentist, the orthodontist, the doctor … I could go on but I won’t.  While none of these alone drives me crazy, the steady, seemingly never ending list sometimes has the potential to drive me over the edge.

So what’s a mom to do when she feels like she’s living everyone else’s life but her own?  She gets away, right?  Let me assure you, the thought has crossed my mind.  I’ve researched all kinds of retreats and getaways.  They all, however, seem to come back to the same limitations – time and money.  Oh – and the fact that I’m not a huge fan of traveling.  I love being in new places, but getting ready and getting there often leave me deciding that staying home is a better option.  (Let me say here, my husband is more than supportive of me taking a little vacation.  It’s usually my own “inner voice” that shuts it down before it happens.)

The fact remains, though, that I still feel the need to have a little alone time.  Go somewhere of MY choosing, do what I want to do there, for as long as I want to do it, and leave when I’m ready.  So as I was driving home from church, I had an idea.  The art museum.  Yes, I could go to the art museum.  I’m not on call to take anyone anywhere for the afternoon.  Robert would be home.  And the best part?  It’s free on Sundays.  I brought it up to Robert and he immediately knew what his answer should be.  He’s a smart guy.  When I told my girls good-bye they asked where I was going.  When I told them they said, “Alone?  Without me?”  And as hard as it was to say, my answer was, “Yes.  Alone.  By myself.”  A smile and a kiss and I was out the door.

Let me tell you there was still that little voice that tried to talk me out of it.  Somehow even an afternoon seemed selfish.  But once I was in the car I was positively giddy.  I couldn’t wait to get there and walk around experiencing the artwork and taking pictures.  (Yes, contrary to what the older gentleman next to me in the first gallery asked his wife,  you can take pictures in a museum.  At least this one.  As long as you don’t use a flash.)

Here are some of my favorites …

This was part of an outdoor Alice in Wonderland chess set.

So was this. I'm crazy for the crazy look in this cat's eyes.

A display of American coverlets

I fell in love with this little girl. Her name is Lady Gertrude Fitzpatrick and the painting is called "Collina" by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

There was an exhibit of works by a Columbus artist named Aminah. These all represent different spirituals.

Amazing Grace

Another piece by Aminah

"Endeavor" by Lino Tagliapietra

"Endeavor" by Lino Tagliapietra

Dale Chihuly ... love love love.

Glass and stone

More Chihuly

And some more ... did I mention I love his work?

As I was driving home, I realized how glad I was I took the time for an afternoon to myself.  And how less traumatic it was on everyone than I thought it would be.  Maybe I don’t need to go away and spend a weekend or a week alone (mind you, I’m not taking that off the table – it just doesn’t seem quite so urgent.)  Maybe a few hours every couple of weeks would do wonders for me.  Maybe it would do wonders for my family.  Because as hard as it is to admit sometimes, my mother’s example of giving every minute of every day to every one else may not be the best example for me to live by.

Sometimes … once in a while … a person needs to be herself.  For herself.  And no one else.

And when she does, she may even start to feel a little like Julius Caesar …

I went where I wanted to go.  I saw what I wanted to see.  I read everything I wanted to read.  For as long as I wanted to stand there.

Then I had ice cream.

It was quite a lovely day.

~mwe

Summer Cool Down

This picture makes me think … cool.

How about you?

~mwe

Take 5

Hello all –

I want to let you know I’m taking a little time off from daily blogging.  I’ve decided I’d like to devote some time and energy to other things – namely my physical health.

One of my first 5k's

Almost five years ago I was about to run my first half marathon and I could bench press almost 100 pounds.  Then I went to grad school, wrote a dissertation, and spent a year recovering from it all.  Needless to say, it’s taken a toll on my fitness level.  As those of you who blog daily (or often) know, it can consume a considerable amount of time and energy.  My plan is to redirect this time and energy to getting myself back in shape.

Writing has become an important part of my life, so I’m not giving it up!  I’ll still write when I feel I have something to say (or ask), and I’ll still be posting some photos that I take from time to time.  Most importantly, I’ll still be reading your blogs.  Although it sounds odd, I feel like I’ve come to know many of you and I don’t want to lose the sense of relationship I’ve come to have as we share our thoughts and feelings.

Remember, you can be notified of when I do post by subscribing (if you haven’t already).  You can do this even if you don’t have a WordPress account by submitting your email address.

As always, thanks for reading!  Until next time …

~mwe

Rainy Afternoon

The day started with bright blue skies, but by the afternoon it was pouring rain.  I headed to the back porch to see what I could find.

 

 

~mwe

Unhinged

Coming unhinged is usually seen as something bad.  You need to hammer that nail back into place.  Put isn’t it coming out because it doesn’t fit anymore?  The wood around it has changed and pushed it out?  Maybe it needs to come out and be used to build something else.  Maybe it needs to find a new purpose.