A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

Category: Faith

Highlights of 2016: Photo heavy as always

In 2016,

I was free from depression.

I loved music festivals, art crawls, hikes, bonfires, urban exploration, and spending time with “my tribe” (as much as I hate the terminology).

One of my best friends got married. Another walked her first runway (the one in the hat). Her husband started an amazing band (also the one in the hat). I did fun photo sessions with great people.

I visited the ROM Chihuly exhibit, Ripley’s Aquarium, the AGO and the AGH (multiple times).

I planned a photo walk with 500px. It got rained out, but it didn’t matter. I had my first solo Art exhibit.

I stayed at a cabin in Haliburton.

I started a new job in a city I love. I explored and walked that city, a lot.

I bought a new car! I helped amazing people do heartwarming things.

I saw how beautiful the world is at sunrise. I tackled things that scared me and found direction I didn’t have before.

I remembered how much I love music and started learning to play guitar.

2016 was an amazing year for me. The first year I thought I might be close to happy. Maybe you haven’t had your year yet. Maybe peace feels impossible. I know this is cliched, but please hang on.

All it takes is a little bit of light into the darkness – a second to weaken its pull and then you will slowly begin to push it back. You will find the path, the fog will break, the darkness will lift. Please don’t give up hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mittens in Trees

They hung mittens in trees at 7:30am on a Saturday morning.

It only takes a little bit of light to chase back the darkness… it’s common knowledge and repeated all the time. Sometimes we forget to focus on that bit light, and then all the dark feels like it’s overwhelming. The thing is though, you need to find a way to only keep your attention on the light. If you can somehow find light in other people, the darkness doesn’t seem so big and impossible anymore. More than that, suddenly there are just more people in your life putting out light. They gravitate towards other “light” people maybe. And maybe you can’t fight the darkness on your own, but when you’re surrounded by people who pour light into your life, it’s much harder to get swallowed whole.

If today, you can’t find any light, I’ll remind you of this example. Dunnville is a really small town, and although the poverty is apparent, the homelessness isn’t always. A lot of people are barely getting by, and even those who are, maybe just needed a little something to warm their hearts. A good friend of mine, Sharon, and her daughter Anita, decorated Dunnville with mittens and hats and scarves last weekend, just for anyone to take. They had acquired over 200 pairs of mittens.

They started out knitting them themselves, along with Sharon’s sister in Holland, but when people heard about what they were going to do, they gave. They donated money and mittens because they wanted to contribute.
070102 03 04 0506 08 sweetest-ladiesThey asked me to tag along with them, and they were doing it before people started coming into town, so early morning. I really love my sleep, but I decided to go anyway. We had the whole town decorated with woollen goods within half an hour, then they treated me to coffee and muffins.

People who found the gloves later in the day, during the Santa Clause parade, were genuinely moved by such a simple gesture, (plus I’m pretty sure people with cold hands were also very grateful). Sharon and Anita worked hard gathering and knitting and planning, and people were just so happy about it and volunteered money and support to help them do it again. The thing is, maybe the mittens won’t end homelessness or poverty, but it brings light and unites people, and I think that’s really amazing. I’m so blessed to have people who shine so brightly in my life.

Look for light, give light when you can. You don’t know who is watching, who needs help fighting off darkness. It’s never too small of an act.

 

Reality: Why I’ve Decided to Live Somewhere Else

“It’s time to live in the real world”, “the reality is…”, “You’re a little bit naive”, “if you had my experiences…”; common enough phrases, but here’s the thing, I have no intention of moving into that world. I have been there, but I prefer my dream life. People assume that because you have chosen to see the good people, you have somehow not experienced the bad. The thing is, I have. Everyone goes through terrible things and my childhood and teen years were definitely not easy. In my early twenties, I was very jaded and had decided I couldn’t really make a difference in the world. I didn’t even believe that romantic love was anything but a silly tv notion, designed to sell cards. People didn’t come into your life and stay. I believed in God, but I didn’t feel like my faith was effective in any capacity. I was hopeless, truly, and very depressed.

I realized that I had to do something different, because I was drowning. I cannot say that I could have done this on my own. I needed help, but now that I can see a little more clearly, I’ve made a few choices that help me not fall into that place of despair again.

reality is grass in sunlight

  1. Seek out the good.

Proverbs 11:27 says “He who seeks good, finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it”. If you look for evil, you will find evil. There are so many negative things going on in the world right now. Don’t focus on that. Be aware definitely, but shift your attention. Instead, make a point of looking for good things. Not just in the world around you, but in the people you meet everyday. Enjoy their sense of humour or the way they always hold the door open for others. Maybe they are terrifying, but create beautiful drawings. Find something. Eventually, you will create this little bubble of goodwill around yourself. You realize how much good there really is, and people will end up proving the goodness to you, even on days you aren’t looking for it.

2.  Realize that you can make a difference.

There’s another passage in the Bible “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” – Romans 12:21 and I always took it mean that you shouldn’t give into temptation or something. This week when I read it, I looked at it more in the Lord of the Rings kind of way. There are so many evil things that go on every day in our society, but if we choose to love, and make kindness and goodness our lifestyle, that can make a difference. Every time we are kind to someone, it’s small act against evil. When people are kind to me, it makes a difference in my life. Who knows how much difference you make in people’s lives? Even if you never manage to work major change, it’s better to live trying. You will definitely get hurt. You will definitely be disappointed. You are not doing it because it’s safe, you’re doing it because it’s good and right and LOVE does change the world.

Reality discarded geranium

3. Dream.

There is nothing wrong with working a 9 to 5 office job, but don’t let it steal the magic from your life. Don’t work all day, go home and eat, sleep or watch tv, and then get up and do it all again the next day in an unending routine until the day you retire. Life is FULL of miracles and magic and hope. Daydream. Make plans. Even ridiculous ones. Work towards them. If they don’t happen immediately, don’t give up. Keep dreaming. Keep moving in the direction of your dreams. Refuse to live in “reality” while living in reality. If you really hate your situation, find a new path. Don’t feel so locked in to anything that it’s impossible to change. If you can’t change it right now, dream how can change it. Take steps towards that. Put a few cents in a jar. If you have to spend those cents, start with fresh change the first time you can. Watch videos on the places you want to go. Research the dream career you’d like to have. Stop for five seconds and enjoy the way the light streams through the trees in the evening. Remember that the first sip of coffee in the morning really tastes good. My goal is to believe more in miracles. I have discovered how magical life is, but I still want more. I want the fairy tale. (Not literally, but in the sense that I have found my own happiness and peace through overcoming adversity and taking on “evil”).

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4. Share.

Share what you know about loving and hope. People will undoubtedly think you’re naive and sheltered, but you will know otherwise. You will know that you have deliberately chosen to be an optimist and that that is the path you need to be on. Also, just share. Give people things. Compliment them. Hug them. Find someone who has no one and randomly give them a Christmas present. People need each other. Someone needs you. Be the hope they need.

Leave Hearts

Please leave  hearts everywhere but first let me explain. The symbol of the heart is over-used to the point of almost being meaningless. It’s easy to look past it when you see it so often, (unless you’re in second grade analyzing valentines from your classmates to determine who might have a crush on you). A number of years ago, Drew Barrymore created a coffee table book of her heart photography and although I purchased it, I thought it was sort of silly. Hearts are everywhere. At Art Crawl the other night, I found a chalk heart on a brick wall in an art gallery and I realized how much I enjoy finding hearts when I’m out exploring. I don’t mean hearts made by nature, although those are interesting too. It’s really nice to go out for a walk with your camera and stumble upon a heart scribbled in ink or paint or chalk. It means so much, despite how little it means.

collecting hearts

 

It seems to me it’s almost like a secret hand signal but also like a lighthouse. It’s a message that someone intended to share with potentially universal meaning. Everyone can understand it but only certain people do. People who still look for magic in the world and by magic, I mean goodness and by goodness I mean empathy, art, compassion and voice, all mixed in one. People who draw hearts know that somehow a lonely individual, or maybe someone weighed down by all that is negative in the world, will see that heart and know that it means love conquers all. That’s pretty powerful.heart carved with initials

 

Not every heart is designed to be part of the code. Sometimes hearts are just decoration or carved in wood to express the love of a couple, but somehow that doesn’t take away from their significance. At least not for me.

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heart fence

I’m not expecting to start a viral campaign or encouraging you to vandalize property with hearts, but if you see hearts somewhere or leave chalk or paper hearts behind you, and you think of it, I’d love for you to share them with me. I don’t have the monopoly on #leavehearts but there aren’t that many photos posted, so we will go with that or email them to me alovelylittleworld@yahoo.com. Thank you so much!

love on the rocks
prudhommeslove wins

 

 

Progress and Inspiration Needed

“Things are dark until they’re not” – Jamie Varon

“My God turns my darkness into light” – Psalm 18:28

We feel this overwhelming need to produce, to make progress, to be creative, to be at a certain place in our lives, to succeed. That’s not bad,but we chide ourselves for not having the motivation or inspiration we need to get the job done, to change who we are.  I’ve always done this, even though I know you can’t rush revelation, but I read an article this week by Jamie Varon that reminded me, I’m not alone and so I thought I would share my thoughts on the subject.

needing-inspiration

It is impossible to change anything about yourself without the personal revelation. A million people can tell you to quit smoking and you may know that they are correct, but until that gets inside you, you won’t quit. You need that internal light switch flipped on. It is required to get the task done.

You can’t force revelation. So many times even with my own business and personal life, I struggled to create something and just felt cluttered, overwhelmed and headed in too many directions. This amounted to staying still. I wanted to develop a brand and niche for my photography.  I would read all the books and articles, check off all the checklists, and researched like crazy on pinterest. All while still feeling like it didn’t fit.

So how does it happen?

Randomly, when I wasn’t trying, I would see a photo or read a line and think “there! that’s it!” I was struggling to design a flyer for an event and praying for inspiration, I turned a page in a magazine, and knew exactly what I needed to do. You can’t force creativity.  You need that “Eureka!” moment. There isn’t a way to have it that I know of, just hopefully for your sake, your’s happen quicker than mine. Personal development is the same. You can resolve a million times to find the right man, or lose that extra ten pounds, but until the right moment, the light switch moment, you’re just fighting yourself.

inspiration rabbit

When you’re so busy trying to accomplish a million tasks, and be the person you think you need to be, it’s hard to have that moment because your mind isn’t relaxed enough. You can’t force revelation, you just have to be open to it. 99% of the time I make a discovery about myself or my work, I’m reading quietly, thinking about what I’m reading, not worrying about branding or personal development. Then it happens. Just like that. EUREKA! INSPIRATION! PROGRESS!

It’s semi frustrating because my revelation process is very slow. Things never happen as quickly as I’d like – but maybe if I breath a little and rest assured that it will come, the anxiety would lessen and I could hear my instincts better. Move forward with the revelation you have, and open your heart to the new. That’s the best advice I can offer. Don’t force it, listen for it. When you’re at peace inside, THEN the revelation will come.

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“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” – James 1:4,5

Also, don’t be so focused on the future, you miss the revelation of right now.

 

Heaven on Earth: A Photographic Essay

I’ve had a tumultuous  relationship with Hope for quite sometime now. A few years ago, I participated in an art journal challenge, where each day you drew a provided prompt. That particular day, the prompt suggested I draw how I was feeling. At the time, I was struggling with a lot of sadness, loneliness and defeat, yet the drawing I produced was a girl with wings and arms outstretched for flight. I realized then that the darkness I was feeling was separate from me. Deep inside I was an optimist, aware that at any moment, things could get better. At every crossroad there are two options – believe you are lost and the worst will happen, or believe that one of those roads leads to freedom. That hope, even as a tiny flicker that I wanted to extinguish, kept me from much worse possibilities. I cried once to someone talking me off a metaphorical ledge,

“I can’t do it! I can’t stop hoping!” and he laughed kindly and assured me it was a good thing, and although I didn’t agree, ultimately Hope saved me.

That is what ‘Heaven on Earth’ is about – Hope.

Not just for myself, but in the sweetness of humankind and the beauty of nature. We are surrounded by mental illness, depression, custody battles, death, war, blackness, every single day, but we haven’t forgotten how to love, how to laugh, how to be kind. We can still admire sunsets and feel therapy in the woods.

Despite it all, there is a piece of God in earth, and it is us.

cranberry lake 02 forest 02 another sunset sunset in algonquin park

Some angels don’t need wings for us to see their goodness.

some angels dont need wings Mike and Daneel

They make us laugh in spite of our determination to bask in failure.

They show us friendship is about mutual weirdness and having one another’s backs.

angel farren 02 bw cropped

They keep the sidewalks meticulously cleaned and always pay friendly compliments.

They face the world with resolve and clarity even when it betrays their trust.

James Morgan

They sing, they share, they smile and encourage you, and sooth your aching emptiness.

Robert

They listen to you, and are amazed when you are rejected and teach you how to love through their children to take risks and explore everything.

Tori's wings bw

You are one if you want to be – standing in the midst of the painting that is earth.

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You can encourage and give hope and stand strong and love and show others that kindness matters and forgiveness will change the world.

Angels bw

Hope little angel, fly little bird, love madly little human 

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YOU MATTER!

Being Alone, even with faith

I haven’t been able to take much comfort from the assurance God will always be with me.

Lake Erie

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” – Hebrews 13:5 doesn’t have meaning when you feel like you’re on your own facing the challenges of daily life, or at the very least, that God is distant and His direct presence requires some kind of faith I don’t have.

Also, I kind of just want a husband and family of my own, so it’s hard to get peace out of the thought God is present when you want a flesh and blood human beside you.

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My dad died when I was seventeen, and I was grossly aware of his absence and how much I needed him still. At that time, I clung to God’s promise to be a father to the fatherless and although that thought provided temporary relief – it never sank deep enough into my soul to cause life altering change.  Plus what made me so special that God would see me as a prized daughter?

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And I’m not saying that I’ve since got it figured out. I just feel like if we could really grasp the intent of God’s heart, we wouldn’t ever feel alone.

We are alone because we don’t fully appreciate how present He is and use that to our advantage. We are alone because we don’t have a relationship with Him the way that the He offers. We keep Him “on high” instead of beside us.

Isaiah 45: 2 says “I will go before you and will level the mountains”, but instead of providing comfort, verses like “levelling mountains” that make me feel extra alone. Why doesn’t God level mountains for me? Only nothing even that massive, much smaller stuff.

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But I think he wants to.

I think God does want us to trust Him enough to turn to Him. He really is beside us every second. We don’t fully turn to Him because we don’t fully grasp it. God, THE GOD, is right there with you every second and you can turn to Him and talk to Him and He will LOVE it since that’s why He created you and He’ll help you and give you “hugs” in the sense of comfort and all that you need.

But somehow, you have to fully understand, to fully grasp, that you are not alone. And that thought may not make up for your lack of husband, but at least it makes the void smaller and the journey less lonely, and more than that, you can focus on being who are you are meant to be and the beauty all around you because you have to worry or feel pathetic or empty.

Some who’s love is perfect, who will never infringe or hurt you or steal your independence or take all your space is right there loving you. You are in the spiritual presence of the divine any second of any day and the possibilities for that are endless, not based on anything YOU can do, you just have to see it.

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