Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Chaos

Perhaps presciently, Ann-Christine chose the theme of CHAOS for this week’s Photo Challenge even before the pandemic was declared.  

What an interesting word – indeed, an interesting concept. I suspect that only human beings, with their big brains and their social biology, even experience chaos. I imagine chaos to be attributed to a situation that evokes a kind of fear, but on a more complex level than a fear for one’s basic survival. 

Social chaos, for example.

Probably most of us have experienced the confusing disorder of emotions and associations that might be described as social chaos. Where do I fit in? How do I connect? Do my feelings mesh with anyone else’s? These thoughts can be quite unsettling to me, but I don’t imagine spiders or starfish or blue jays dealing with that kind of survival anxiety.

Some humans believe that we have a superior gift for bringing order out of chaos. I look at homeowners blowing those untidy leaves off of their driveway in the fall, and I wonder if they imagine they are making the world more orderly while forgetting that our suburban consumption creates chaotic waste in much greater proportions.  

 

If chaos provokes a kind of fear or discomfort, then each of us probably has a different threshold of tolerance for it. And each of us can probably reset that threshold with a bit of work. How comfortable can you become with disorder, ambiguity, or uncertainty? I have to admit that I found parenting to be a great exercise in adaptation to chaos. There were plenty of times that I wasn’t in control of the situation, but I survived, and I certainly learned a lot…and I actually enjoyed it. 

There is plenty to learn in the present climate of global chaos in the human family. There are certainly many questions with unknown answers. There is confusion and ambiguity and anxiety about how we fit together, how we feel, and how we ought to act. And this is going on at a very high level of cognitive function. It is a situation that is created in our big brains. 

At the same time, in the world outside our big brains, Nature is functioning as usual. Organisms emerge, populations respond, life and death dance together in fascinating rhythm. I find this incredibly peaceful, a perfect antidote to chaos. Breathing in the assurance of Nature’s presence, I am strengthened for the work of being a human. It’s not easy work. We have a lot of responsibility. But the first responsibility is being aware of who we are as a species. May we be humble. May we be kind to every being on the Tree of Life. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Reflections

“Use reflective surfaces to create an artistic echo of a scene…” 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…why is it I blog at all?
I started this blog when I began my 50th year of life. That was in August of 2011. I had just moved to Wisconsin to live with Steve. I was widowed three and a half years. I had a lot to process and a lot to learn.

I am now facing another transition: leaving Wisconsin and Steve to live in Oregon, closer to three of my four adult children, my  mother, and my three siblings. I have a lot to process and a lot to learn.

I learn by reflecting on what I’ve seen.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

I am making this cross-country move because I have learned again what I always knew to be my Truth: that I belong most importantly in my Family – my family of origin and the family that my late husband and I loved into being. 

 

“Art is not a reflection of reality, it is the reality of a reflection.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Writing in this blog, storing photographs and memories, was a way to plant the seeds of realization. In my words and pictures, I remind myself who I truly am and see who I am becoming.

“There is one art of which man should be master, the art of reflection.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All my artistic echoes have origins in my mother and repercussions in my children. Being so distant from their heartbeats just doesn’t make sense. I need to hear the rhythm of our art, our lives, in order to keep dancing. 

“What we do now echoes in eternity.”
― Marcus Aurelius


May the love we create in our family be reflected in the world. I believe we all have the responsibility and the capability to make this a more loving, peaceful, beautiful place.

Thank you, Miriam, for hosting this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Serenity

“You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind.” — Henry David Thoreau

Six months ago, I began taking yoga classes at a local instructor’s farm. I’d only done one yoga class before in my life, so I was an apprehensive beginner. The instructor and most of the students in this group were of retirement age, however, so the pace was slow and stately. I started going once a week, then twice, as many times as classes were offered there. I began to realize my intention for serenity, a less fearful and anxious state of mind about my body and my future.

During the six months of class, I was also transitioning out of a relationship that I’d been in for the past 10 years. That relationship had begun eight months after I was widowed. My “Monkey Mind” thoughts were often on my insecurities: my aging, appearance, losses, desires, loneliness.  

In times of uncertainty, I find myself reverting to the role of the achiever. I begin to compare myself to others and try for perfection, just like I did as a student. I look for the A+ that will define and validate me. This is not a place to take refuge, however. It is a place of internal stress. Letting go of that role and allowing myself to see myself with acceptance and love brings me closer to serenity. I believe that serenity will manifest as good health and inner beauty. Yoga integrates the awareness of breath, movement, mind. Practicing with intention is transformative. Accepting change with serenity is a very beneficial skill for life, as life is always changing. 

My instructor put his farm up for sale last week. He and his wife have been there 40 years. I’m not sure how many more classes he will teach, but this morning, I purchased another ten. I intend to keep practicing. And I intend to make big changes in my life soon, too. Still, I believe I can find Serenity, when I am open to it, in every circumstance. That is the position of tadasana, mountain pose. Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to find Serenity. 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Details

I’m with Jen. I love Nature in intimate detail. So much beauty! You have to slow down to find treasures under a leaf…

monarch

…or on top of a flower.

 ladybug

When you take your time to look at details, you can change perspective and admire Nature from different angles.

ladybug from below

Awareness leads to appreciation. The world is fascinatingly intricate and beautiful.

lichen

Soon appreciation becomes an attitude. You see everything for its intrinsic beauty. weightless 5Eventually, this attitude of wonder and respect gets converted to action.

May we all act peacefully and do no harm. Vivid

Details

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

There’s a jazzy Jim Henson Sesame Street song about this…

That’s the first thing that popped into my head. ‘Near’ and ‘far’ are opposite concepts.  Concrete things are rarely exact opposites.  More often, their differences are about contrast and juxtaposition.  Here are some examples:

sculpture and poet 

MKE flower industry

growth piercing

Amazement

green stream

This complex world is full of interesting differences. My hope is that these contrasts become areas for exploration and awe, not areas for fear and hatred.  You know what I mean? 

Peace, friends. 🙂

Opposites

BE inspired … BE creative … BE peace … BE

The second issue of The ‘B’ Zine is out!  This is a collaboration of The Bardo Group (which considers me a contributing writer) and Beguine Again.  The theme for this month is “Preparation”.  I invite you to check it out, enjoy it, reblog it, and be part of the movement.  Peace!

THE B Zine, December, Vol.1, Issue 2 – Table of Contents with Links

THE B ZINE

BE inspired … BE creative … BE peace … BE

Volume 1, Issue 2

a publication of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group

This Month our Theme is

Preparation

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THIS SEASON in the Christian Church is Advent,  a time of spiritual preparation for birth of the Christ spirit in the hearts of human kind.

If you are not Christian, you might use this time and these practices as preparation for the birth of your highest Self as represented by the founder or a saint of your own religion or as an awakening to the Essential Spirit within. If you are atheist, you might see this time as preparation for the birth of the very best You.  Inspiration and suggested spiritual practice are gifted to us by Terri Stewart, Priscilla Galasso, JD Gore, and Rev. Tandi Roberts.

In this issue  we also look back with Corina Ravenscraft at November and its gifts of Gratitude and Rememberence as we cross the threshold into December.  Corina’s second feature is a celebration of December.

Jamie Dedes reviews Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Material by John Kilick and Myra Schneider.  Working with this book might be a good way for you to kick-start the fast-approaching New Year. We have poetry from Jamie,  Joseph Hetch, Terri Stewart and Myra Schneider and a sampling of Naomi Baltuck’s singular photo stories, both inspired and inspirational.

Other features include a reflections on: an Ethiopian coffe ceremony with Karen Fayeth; life and isolation with Joseph Hesch, World AIDS day with Tracy Dougherty; the presence God with Liliana Negoi; and an artful medition by the Rev. Tendi Roberts.

You will find team and guest bios HERE along with links to their work and/or websites.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Features/Preparation

Slowly We Go, Terri Stewart

Prepare Ye – The Way and the Wilderness, Priscilla Galasso

Preparation, Frank Watson

Preparation Ritual, Tandi Roberts

I Knew Advent, JD Gore

Features/General Interest

For the Love of a Good Cuppa, Karen Fayeth

Lifting Stones, Lilliana Negoi

World AIDS Day, Tracy Daugherty

Rememberance and Forgiveness, Corina Ravenscraft

Seasonal Cheer, Corina Ravenscraft

Swann in the City, Joseph Hesch

Book Reviews

Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, Jamie Dedes

Writing Your Self: Transforming Personal Experience, Jamie Dedes

Poetry

Finding Silence, Myra Schneider

Beneath the Surface, Joseph Hesch

You Just Missed it, Joseph Hesch

The Leaves Still Fall, Joseph Hesch

The Republic of Innocence, Jamie Dedes

Winter Is Here, I Know, Jamie Dedes

Photo Stories

Embracing the ‘M’ Word, Naomi Baltuck

The Many Degrees of Spooky, Naomi Baltuck

Virgins No More, Naomi Baltuck

It’s Never Too Late, Naomi Baltuck

Art

Light from Darkenss, Becky Withington

Illustrations:

Header: Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerardvan Honhorst (1622)
Above: Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, Murillo (1655)
Below: A page from an 11th-century Gospel of Matthew (1:18-21) with Matthew 1:21, (35) providing the origin of the name “Jesus.”

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