A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

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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

 

 

Travel in your neighbourhood.

Somedays I want to travel so badly, I almost can’t stand staying in one place. A lot of times, I just want to say home and forget a world exists outside of the rabbits jumping around in the backyard. Fortunately, there are enough places in Southern Ontario to explore that most days I can be satisfied with the balance. I always think it’s strange that so often we fly to faraway places to see new things, when so often there are really interesting things in our own neighbourhoods we haven’t yet explored. I’m obsessed with abandoned places currently, so if you know of any good ones in the Haldimand/Hamilton/Niagara area, please let me know. It isn’t the same as returning to NYC with it’s other worldly rhythm, or even camping by a lake. I haven’t felt what it’s like to experience an entirely foreign culture, and landscape, which is definitely a priority in the future, but I do enjoy what’s around me, and that helps fills that wanderlust that colours my night-time dreams.

I use to hate visiting Niagara Falls, until I took a thirteen year old girl there, who had never seen it. We did all the touristy things on Clifton Hill and rode the Maid of the Mist. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed going. Being a tourist in your own area is a lot more fun that sounds, if you can get over the embarrassed and cheesy feeling of doing touristy things.

This is a little place we found about twenty minutes from home.

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You can see other blog posts on abandoned places I visit here and I’ve started a 500px account exclusively for my travels. There isn’t a lot posted yet, but there will be.

Even if you travel the world every few weeks, don’t forget to look around at what is right beside you. You could visit a busy city or a quiet countryside and not see anything that speaks to your heart, but in my home county, I find so many beautiful things. I guess it depends what you’re looking for really; I’m just suggesting you don’t forget to travel to your hometown and be a tourist there for a while.

 

 

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.

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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.

 

Mudcat Festival Part 2 – The Stotts

It’s Canada Day, and I haven’t even posted the rest of my Mudcat Festival photographs. I’m not doing any Canada Day events today, in part because last year I went to the Falls and it was so busy and so much waiting for a very brief firework display that I needed a year to recover, (kidding, I’m just really lazy today!) Canada Day people typically gather in parks to listen to music and catch up with people, so we can pretend these photos are from today.

Beau Bear colourful hair footwear Graeson's sweet face group portrait Haines family Harrison Jimmy P joe Kevin kid table nate Sarah photographing the Stotts Sean the stotts 01 the stotts 03 the stotts 04

I really enjoyed the music in the park on the Thursday night of the Mudcat Festival, and not just because I’m friends with the band. The Stotts put on a really great show; it was lively, catchy, and just good music. James Favron has a great stage presence and the other James and Matt are just super talented. The park was full of younger families and friends of the band, as well as a whole ton of teenagers (friends of the drummer), but people weren’t drunk like at the other younger demographic events. James has a two year old and baby himself, who were out there dancing with James’ wife, and also trying to run onto the stage, so the concert was kid friendly. In fact, the park was full of kids running through, so it wasn’t exclusive in that sense. It was just a really fun night. We had perfect weather, and the Mudcat organizers sold coffee and t-shirts. I ran into more people that I’m friends with now than I did the whole weekend. I realize this is basically just a post full of pictures of people you don’t know, but they’re photos that document the event for me, so please try to enjoy them anyway!

I only made a few cell phone videos of the show, so I won’t post them, because the sound quality isn’t great, but here’s a video so you can here their sound. Also check out these photos by SGWills Photography.  And for those of you who don’t know, a mud cat is just a cat fish, and also Dunnville’s mascot and hockey team. It’s a weird creature to have a festival for, but that is Dunnville.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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YOU MATTER!

Abandoned House Outside of Dunnville

Nature doesn’t need us, but we need it, so we should take better care of it – abandoned homes always make that evident. I remember reading that somewhere. I think I mentioned it in another blog post. Every time we go exploring, I see that evidence that nature finds a way. The dirt and dust seeps in across the floor. The wood warps. The metal rusts. Eventually the grasses and trees wiggle their way through roof tops and vines crawl up the bricks or stones. It makes abandoned places beautiful, although somehow still sad. nature wins house nature wins mailbox

A few weeks ago now, Sarah and I set off to find a different abandoned house, in fact, a few different abandoned houses. They were torn down and new places re-built in their stead. We had almost given up when we came across this place, and it’s one of my favourites so far.

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We couldn’t actually go into the house since the floor was caving in, but I took so many photos of the vines coming in through the roof. On the front of the house, you could see rays of sunshine just above the eaves. I couldn’t capture it though. Someone how pulled old magazines out of the drawers and left them on a counter. You could tell that they hadn’t been there long because the elements hadn’t gotten to them yet. Someone lived in there once. They slept here and came home from work here. It’s just so weird to imagine.

The path behind the house was covered in wildflowers, and the barn was even more overgrown.

adventurer dandelions nature wins frame nature wins silo nature wins window inside path in the wild wild flowers 02 wild flowersThere was wild phlox everywhere! We went right after noon, so the shadows are harsh, but I think you can still get a sense of the beauty of the place. Definitely a good place to find ticks, but I didn’t go home with any hitchhikers this time. On the way, when we got turned around, we did find some sheep though.

sheep crossing

Dunnville Mudcat Festival

If you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls, you have a pretty good idea of what small town life is like. Not in the sense that small towns are quaint and idealistic, but in that small towns are full of unusual people and quirky happenings. When you go to a festival, you will run into dozens of people you haven’t seen since high school, other than when you ran into them at the festival the year before. Nothing really makes sense, particularly the parade, which definitely has quite a few tractors, but if you watch it for the kitsch factor or you’re a very small child, you’ll enjoy it. The parade actually runs the Saturday of the Mudcat festival, and although it’s not the first major event, I’ll start there, because I laughed a lot. Honestly, most of the people who turn out put a lot of work into their floats and so forth, and that is too be applauded, but no matter what, it’s Dunnville and I love it, but it’s weird.

Here are a few of the good and bad moments of the parade. I didn’t capture all unfortunately. I was too enthralled, then I was like, “oh no! I’m missing preserving this!”, and started snapping, even though there were people standing in front of me and I’m short.

 

Mudcat Parade 2016

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The Mudcat Festival also has a Midway, Street Dance, Fireworks and Live Music. The fireworks are always really good. The park on the river is jam-packed with people and that’s always fun, although sometimes it’s tricky to get good seating.

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I’ve just realized how photo heavy this post is, so I’ll break it into two posts! I’ll save the photos from my favourite event until last. What other small town festivals are good? Are there events that are different? Maybe I should try to hit up a few for comparison.

 

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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Overlooked Places: Abandoned building in Port Maitland

So many times we visit a place over and over and miss the secret things that exist there. You can pass a bright orange building more times than you can count, and not even know that it’s an abandoned treasure. Finally, a friend of mine decided to look in it, and he snapped some photos and then I saw it for the first time. It’s like when you see a quotation or read a book, and it doesn’t speak to you, until suddenly it does. Sometimes I wish I could speed up those revelatory moments, but it just doesn’t work that way.

james 02 james 03  stove suitcase window  SarahjamesdoorwayThe best part about this place was the light. It streamed it through the empty door off the river. It wasn’t the easiest building to photograph from that standpoint, a wide dynamic range, but it illuminated the old stove and our faces when we stepped near the doorway.

I know that we can’t force revelations to happen, we can’t find perfect places that we don’t know exist, but somehow we need to find a way to be open to new experiences and not miss the chance when they come our way.

This spring has been full of abandoned places, and I love how you are transported back to the past for the length of time you are there. Yet, even there, time doesn’t stand still. Nature takes back the space. People visit and stay over night, or have parties there, and leave their drinking cups or water bottles. The dust is disturbed, the mattresses are moved. No place is untouched by humans, but it’s nice to venture into places that are neglected and discarded. There are so many, but you have to look. You have to be ready to slam on the brakes. You have to be willing to see beauty in unlikely places. Hopefully then, the overlooked places and knowledge will be easier to find.

Hamilton Art Crawling

This is an out of date post. That’s how behind I am on everything. On a positive note, in part it’s because I’ve been adventuring more and not sitting editing at my computer.

I love the Hamilton Art Crawls. They take place on James Street North on the second Friday of every month, and they’re ideal for people watching. All the artists, hipsters, hippies, and gypsters show up in full force and full-fashion, and it’s wonderful to mingle in the crowds on a warm summer evening.

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I took less photos this time, I’m not sure why. I do remember I was really tired. For more Art Crawl scenes, see my post here and check out the big art event Super Crawl too!

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