Tag Archives: photography

Pilgrimage

Standard

Soulful sounds, hallowed grounds and Guardian Angels…

My last couple of posts here have documented some of the high points of my post-work-road-trip-adventure, which I named #OperationTakeAMinute.  Having never embarked upon a trip like this before, and likely never having the chance to do it again, I set out to keep thorough records of the people and places I visited, the music I chose to listen to on the road (as well as the times when I chose to listen to the sounds of the road itself), the memorable meals I enjoyed and all the other little—and not so little—details of my time on the road.  I was very intentional in the planning, knowing that I needed restoration of heart, mind and spirit.

I am firmly entrenched in middle age, and as a middle-aged woman, some of the music I chose on the road was in my phone…and some was on CDs, in the actual old-school CD binder that I STILL carry with me in the car.  Old habits die hard, what can I say?  Don’t judge me.

9B642A96-F548-405B-AACD-C6D99584CCEE

In addition to listening to soulful sounds to empower me, I knew that I needed time with my Guardian Angels, namely my Aunt Helen and my cousin Debbie.  These women have, for as long as I can remember, been in my corner with unconditional love, support and encouragement, believing in my when I have not believed in myself.  These are both ladies from Mama’s side of my family, and the Williams is strong in them both.  They are both eternally young, beautiful, with sparkling personalities and enormous hearts.  In my entire life I can honestly say that I have never felt judged in their presence.  This is beyond priceless.

After visits with Aunt Helen and Debbie, I took the opportunity to see something new to me, in a town I had never visited.  The side trip to visit Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama, was a revelation.  I hope to return in different seasons and times of day, to see and photograph the marvels there in varying degrees of light, shadow and color.  The stillness there, punctuated only by birdsong and breeze, quieted my soul and set the tone for the next step of my pilgrimage.

I knew that I also wanted to visit the church that Jeff and I attended when we lived in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, when we lived down there between 1987 and 1990.  First United Methodist, DeFuniak Springs, provided us with a safe, loving and accepting church family, welcoming us into their choir and asking (and TRUSTING!) us to teach senior high youth in Sunday School.  As many times as we both sang in that beautiful sanctuary, I never thought to photograph the space.  I intended to rectify that on this trip, and I did.  My friend Vicki’s mom Marsha, still lives there and faithfully attends the church, so Vicki told her I was going to be there and to look for me.  She rolled out the welcome wagon, re-introducing me to a number of the folks I remembered from there who are still among the faithful members of the church, including Nancy, who now directs the choir.  And it was a delight to learn that our friends, “Miz Mary” and “Mr. Buddy” Pinckard, are still there.  Miz Mary is to this day one of the best piano accompanists I ever had the pleasure to work with, a consummate musician and a genteel Southern lady in the finest tradition.  We exchanged letters for years after Jeff and I moved back to Tennessee, but a few years ago I lost touch.  I hugged her close and sat next to her in worship, tears trickling down my cheeks in gratitude and joy.  During the service, she jotted down a note on her bulletin and handed it to me—her email address!  This lady must be near 90 years of age, and now, we pen-pal online.  Everyone asked about Jeff, and made me promise that, next time we are in the area, we will BOTH attend services.  It will be a happy promise to keep.

Next stop (after a brief detour to The Donut Hole Bakery and Cafe, home of The Best Key Lime Pie On The Planet and another piece of hallowed ground!) was a nice long visit with #FirstEverWorkHusband, Martin, and his little dog, Boris.  Martin is, like me, an artist (he’s an actor/director to my musician/writer) and he possesses a unique understanding of the crazy places in my soul that I tend not to share with most people.  We cooked and ate, laughed and cried, and rested.  Despite Martin’s health issues, dialysis and diabetes and all that comes with those conditions, it still feels like he’s the one who props me up more often than not.

E96288A7-4824-49FA-B1E4-E3661C7E9FEA

49C64E7D-FBE1-468D-B56C-37840A7FBBAF

From Martin’s in Orlando, I traveled north to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to visit some other hallowed spots.  I arrived on Friday afternoon in heavy rain, ordered supper, did laundry and relaxed for the night.  Saturday morning began with a visit to GJ Ford Bookshop, an independent local bookseller (and bookworm destination) when we are there on vacation.  From there I trekked the short distance to Christ Church, an historic landmark that I’ve always wanted to see inside but never made it during open hours, until this trip!  A wedding was scheduled there for later in the day so I was able to catch a couple of sneak photos of the happy couple as well.  The sanctuary is small but glorious, with exquisite stained-glass windows and a gorgeous organ.  The docent gave a brief but detailed presentation about the church’s history, adding to my awe of standing in that holy space.  I hope to attend services there at some point when we make our way back to the island.  Before heading to the pier/village/shops/beach, I grabbed a snack at Palm Coast Coffee, a place we discovered on our first trip to the island. It is now a “must-stop” part of any trip there as well.  My day on St. Simons Island was packed with “doing the things”, and left me feeling grateful and grounded.

From two nights by myself on St. Simons Island, my next leg of travel was to Candler, NC, and a little cabin there that backs up to a creek, for a couple more nights of pure solitude.  I planned this time purposefully, the quiet serving as a buffer between the trip and my arrival back in Knoxville, to my sweet husband and dog, the job hunt and the realities of everyday living.  While in the cabin,  I listened to the rushing water, enjoyed soaking in the hot tub, rested, wrote in my trip journal and prepared to go Home…perhaps the most hallowed spot of all.

 

Advertisements

Muses

Standard

What inspires us…

My friend David shared an insight with me years ago that I have never forgotten.  He said that all creative/artistic types have more than one outlet for expression.  That one bit of wisdom has held true for me, even before he said the words to me and, in fact, since long before I ever met him.

I read somewhere that famed fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy cited Audrey Hepburn as being the inspiration for much of his design work…she was his muse.  Over the years I have found my own inspiration in many places, things and people.  A conversation with a valued friend can spark an idea for a blog post, or for a different way to interpret a phrase in a song I am working on; seasonal change and the beauty of nature often urge me to snap photographs, capturing a moment of color, texture, light and shadow; a sound, scent or memory can prompt me to write a poem, haiku or brief passage which might eventually find its way into a larger work.

Inspiration does not always come from things that are traditionally considered beautiful.  Sometimes an inspiring image is one depicting pain, brokenness, sickness or even death.  For me, if a thing evokes a strong emotion, it can serve as a muse.  I want to explore it further, document how it makes me feel…to wonder about, or create, its story.

In future posts, I hope to write more about my various muses, their stories, the reasons I find them so meaningful and inspiring.  You may find yourself mentioned here, or pictured here.  You may see a photo that evokes an emotional response.  I hope you do!

DDC9CDAD-F49D-4083-A37B-F917729AE66F4F4DC827-CC42-4EF0-8DA0-1F818B2DBDAF4C8A1C8C-246C-4887-B0BC-1E5DE6D0A55DC75755FA-4B28-411E-85E4-F4DB7225A529image1C6C31DD-7912-4A56-AE0F-5C27C80AB674

 

 

God Grant Me…

Standard

All that stuff in that prayer, and then some…

A few people recently have asked me about my New Year’s resolutions, if I make them and what, if any, they are.  My answer has been, I’m not resolving to do anything special that I don’t already do anyway.  And that’s sort of the truth.

The fact is that there are so many resolutions I’d like to make, I hardly know where to start, and the sheer number of things I’d like to accomplish makes my head swim.  Of course, as a weight loss patient, I deal with the daily ongoing battle of me versus the scale (one I feel like I am losing right now, by the way), me versus my nutrient levels, me versus the urge to comfort myself with poor food choices.  Me versus me.

A lot of my wish-list-to-do items are small and seemingly random.  Reed gave me a gift certificate so I could go and get some of my rings sized down.  That needs to happen soon…and I’ll get to it.

image

 

My solution of using Band-Aids to snug them up (what I call my Redneck Ring Sizing Kit) is kind of pathetic, and I need to get them properly sized.  Several watches need new batteries as well.  One trip to the jeweler will take care of a number of items.

I did some baking for Christmas, and I’d forgotten how much pleasure I take from making something delicious to share with people.  I’d like to bake more in the coming year.  To SHARE.  I don’t need to be baking a bunch of tasty stuff and eating it all (refer back to paragraph 2).  But sharing is good.  I believe it pleases God when we share.

image

Very slowly, I’ve been photographing some local signs and landmarks and adding those pictures to a Facebook album. There are lots more places I want to capture, especially the ones that are not going to  be around much longer, at least, not in the form I’ve grown up with.  So spending some time just out and about with my camera is one of my wish-list-to-do things.  And sooner rather than later.

image

All those are concrete, measurable goals.  The real challenge I face is trying to find peace.  Life is complicated sometimes, and relationships aren’t always easy.  I’ve struggled lately with hurt feelings and a broken heart because things change.  Traditions aren’t what they used to be; family is not what it used to be.  Mama and the others who always held our family together are gone, and there’s no “glue” anymore.  As I was told, “It is what it is,”.  And that’s true.

It is my job to balance loving the challenging people in my life with protecting myself from the pain they sometimes bring me.  I need to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. I have a feeling I’m not the only person who struggles with these issues.  So in the coming year, I will pray and work to seek serenity, courage and wisdom.  And peace.

God, grant me.

 

 

Restored…And Re-Storied

Standard

Old things new…

A few years ago I started a family heritage scrapbook thinking it would be a nice way to spend a little free time and organize some of the old pictures I had gathered over the years.  Little did I know what a consuming project it would become!  I am convinced now that it will never be finished in my lifetime because I keep finding or thinking of things I want to add to it.  Some younger cousin will likely inherit this book and all the stuff in it.

My scrapbook contains lots of pictures, of course.  But there is also a lot of journaling (scrapbook-ese for little blocks of writing that explain the photographs, tell stories, provide captions, etc.).  It probably breaks lots of rules for me to add as much journaling as I do, but it’s my book, at least for as long as I live, so I can make it how I want it!  Plus, this book is becoming a sort of archive for family moments and memories.

Every picture tells a story.  But over the years, the pictures begin to fade, and memories become dim.  It is so important to document events while we have the chance.

Mama was wonderful about always writing the dates on the backs of pictures.  I wish I had picked up that habit long ago, because now I find myself wondering, “When did we take this?”  and “What was the occasion?”.  More frustrating is the fact that many of the really, REALLY old pictures have no writing on them to tell when they were made or who the people were.  (At least with digital photography, there is usually a date and time stamp on the pictures we take now, along with other information like the camera model used.)  It’s no wonder services that trace family genealogies are becoming so popular.  I think we all want to know the stories of where we came from.

I have also been able, through the wonders of modern technology, to clean up and restore some of the older photographs.  Computers and picture editing software can sometimes produce near-miraculous results in making pictures look better.  Lots more old pictures are waiting to have the magic wand of restoration waved over them so they can be viewed and enjoyed by future generations.

But for me, the pictures are only half of the equation.  The stories are what make the pictures come to life.  And usually, one story sparks a memory and another story, and then another…and before we know it, a loved one long gone lives again through the telling, and a young person gets to know someone they never had the chance to meet.

This is part of the legacy I hope to leave behind.  The pictures restored, and the stories…re-storied.

image

 

image

 

(This may be the first picture of our family together after I was born in May of 1964.  The date stamp on the side reads Jul-64.  This is outside South Knoxville Baptist Church, where my parents were members.  I was able to restore it using photo editing software and I have to admit, I was pleased with the results.)