Tag Archives: Love

Small Acts of Love

Is it just me or did the colors of fall come late this year? Back in early November when this area typically sees fall in all its glory, I was sure fall wouldn’t be noteworthy. However, over the last couple of weeks it’s been beautiful. This tree caught my attention today at the park. It lifted my spirit.

I’ve been fighting a bit of a cold and have been a tad ‘Ba-humbug’ this past week. The cold conquered my voice and not having a voice is challenging (to put it nicely) as the parent of an eight year old. He’s a lucky soul that he listens…mostly 😉

It’s hard to believe it’s the first of December. The start of advent season is here. Having grown up in church, I’ve always heard about advent, but frankly, never really thought more about it. For me, it was just part of the season, part of the holiday. A candle that was lit each Sunday until Christmas. The actual definition of advent is, the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Well, that does sum of the days leading up to Christmas fairly well. Advent, the days that lead up to the coming of love. A love like no other. A love this world needs – desperately.

At home, we’re doing an advent chain. There are mini bags for each day hanging in our kitchen window. To start, someone will place a small token in the day’s bag that makes them think of someone else in the house and then that person gets the token that day. The next day, the person who got the gift the day before is responsible for selecting the token for another person. Simple, small acts of love.

Small acts of love and kindness. Very important things this world is in so much need for. Today, I had taken my son along with a couple of his friends to play at the park. When we got there the playground was fairly empty of youngsters running about. As our time at the park progressed, I watched families and kids come and go. It got fairly busy at one point. During this time something else caught my attention and lifted my spirit: the children. I found them incredibly amazing.

I was most intrigued with this apparatus that is much like a modern day merry-go-round.   It stayed consistently filled with gaggles of kids and they each took a turn to push. I did not witness one argument between any of the kids that would come and go. It didn’t matter the age, ability or the appearance of the children that visited the ride. At one time, there wasn’t an open spot available on the merry-go-round. As it would glide around in circles, there was a cycle forming each time someone new taking their turn: leap off, push, hop on, laugh, squeal, lather, rinse, repeat. From the smallest to the tallest and the youngest to the oldest it was simply joyful to watch.

At one moment, a very young girl toppled off and let out a cry. The entire gang stopped the wheel figured out if she was okay, helped her back on and then proceeded to spin. Talk about small acts of love. Talk about kindness. Talk about compassion. Talk about gathering around someone in their moment of need. This is how the world should be. We shouldn’t stop working together. We shouldn’t stop caring. Not because of age, or gender, or race, or ability, or beliefs.

I love the purity of children. The way there is a genuine and authentic acceptance of others, whether they look like them or not. The pact of children is how love and the world should work in the most simplest of terms: if you’re kind, willing to play, take your fair turn in the work, and look after others – you’re in. It starts there. Nothing else matters. That is what’s born in us, that is what’s natural to us. It’s society that teaches us what it feels matters and so many times, what it’s telling us is unnatural to us. Our hearts know different.

It’s the whole reason for advent – the gift at the end of this season is love: undeniable, unconditional, uncompromising love. For all of us. Not just some of us. It was given to all of us. It stands for all of us. It sacrificed for all of us. It’s fine to enjoy your turn on the ride, but also be willing to take your turn to push; and when someone falls, we all must stop and help lift them back up.


Secondary Grace

As I wrap up this season of giving & receiving, I find myself contemplating my favorite little ‘P’ word, Perspective. It wasn’t but a couple of years ago that word never passed my lips without my infamous eye roll (I was told quite recently ago, I’d perfected the eye roll. I snidely responded it was good to know your strengths, finishing with a smirk and my roll; I’m sure leaving a lasting impression). Perspective…’a particular attitude’…I remember in college learning that perception is reality, though reality is rarely perception. That’s a scary thought. Does anyone have a grasp on what’s real then?

I know what’s real to me and you know what’s real to you. How can two people experience the exact same thing having two completely different perspectives. Therefore creating two different realities. What, in all of that, is actually real? I’ve experienced this firsthand: living same life experiences with someone and having two completely different realities. Our perspectives were devastatingly opposite. Not an easy feat, and we lost.

I thought Christmas might be hard this year, considering the loss. Surprisingly, I’ve had a good season. Quite the opposite of hard actually, I’ve been told (a couple of times) I have a glow about me. I was also asked “How did you get so strong?” the other day. Crazy, it’s all a matter of perspective. Truth is, my life is an utter mess right now. And don’t you dare ask about my future plans. You’re likely to get an eye roll (I have no damn idea). Future = murky, so don’t ask. But in all this ugly mess, I realized the other day what it is I feel, joy. Yes, in all that chaos you just read, while living the epitome of ‘I don’t have a damn clue what’s happening in my life’ and in the midst of experiencing a huge life disappointment, I feel joy.

In all of this, there is gratefulness in my heart. Each day I notice things, usually little things. It’s those little things that make me smile. They keep me grateful. And I’ve found as long as I keep grateful in my heart, it’s hard not to feel joy. Even in dark, difficult, nasty moments (and I have plenty of those too) because I keep grateful & joy close by, dark, difficult & nasty find it hard to stay around for very long. Perspective. It’s the light switch in life. There are really only two choices with perspective. On or off.

One of my favorite gifts this year is a mantra bracelet given to me by the one who is the right to my left. This woman brings sincerity and sarcasm to my tribe. And I adore every ounce of her compassionate soul. After all life has decided to throw my way over the last 6 years, she nailed it. My perspective: She believed she could, so she did1225161835_hdr222

And I do. Everyday. It’s a choice. And Dark still visits. I welcome him. Invite him in for a spell, sit with him, embrace him, but then I tell him when he’s overstayed his welcome. There is no easy in any of this. It’s all very, very tough.

After finishing Christmas with my most favorite human to ever exist, I went and saw Collateral Beauty. Let me tell you now, if you haven’t seen it yet (believe it only opened a week ago so not sure why you haven’t seen it yet), but you absolutely MUST see it as soon as you can get your rear end in a movie theater seat. There are so many layers to the story. And without ruining much, three of the most important characters play roles in our everyday lives: Love, Time & Death. Life is the most exquisite tragedy of all time. We will all experience joys and sorrows along the way. The ultimate definition of bittersweet. And how you feel it, experience it, and live it is all a matter of your perspective.

So…are you on or are you off? It usually doesn’t happen in a grand, defining moment. It’s after-the-fact, like a slow awakening. It’s in the little things. The collateral beauty, many times the less obvious, a secondary grace. The things that are undoubtedly harder to see in the tragic moments, but they’re also undeniably difficult to un-see once you begin to realize them…

Grace was given for us and to us. Secondary grace is what we choose to give ourselves. And you’re worth it. Know it. Believe it. Do it. And ‘Keep Pounding’ doesn’t hurt either 😉


I laugh now (which I love that I can still find humor in spite of…), but a couple of nights ago I pitched a tantrum. A legit ten year old girl but with adult words (or sentence enhancers as I’ve grown to adore calling them) tantrum. Pretty certain I was even on the floor kicking and screaming at one point (that may be more along the age of three). Technology got the better of me and it broke me down. C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-L-Y down. It went on for two hours. I was utterly hysterical convinced the world was out to get me. I couldn’t get even the simplest of things to go right. I was on stage in my own one woman drama delivering the performance of a lifetime. Of course I realize my wounds are deep. My tantrum had little to do with technology and everything to do with where I am in my oh so fabulous journey of life.

My life looks so vastly different than it did a year ago, even six-seven months ago. In fact, if you had told me I’d be in the situation I was in now, I would have said no way without a single doubt in any corner of my mind – I’d stand up and punch them out (Who Knew). Never say never…

There is nothing, hear me when I say nothing, absolutely nothing on this side of heaven guaranteed – except death. We are all promised an end. There will be a last breath. But the details of that last inhale/exhale remain a mystery until the precise moment arrives. I wholeheartedly believe in living to the fullest every single minute you’re given. Everything could change faster than the blink of an eye.

When my current ‘dark place’ began I didn’t know whether to look up, down, left or right. All I knew was I had a little one to look after. That meant putting on a brave face when on the inside I was in a thousand tiny little pieces and had no clue where to begin picking them up to put them back together. So, I simply proceed with one foot in front of the other. One inhale after an exhale. One second in time to the next. Looking too far in advance is murky. Perhaps some of the fog has lifted, but I cannot even glance into the future for I have no earthly idea what it could possibly look like.


More days, more moments than not, this picture depicts me internally. It’s hard to have a chronic illness that people don’t see on the outside. Many times it’s hard to understand when I don’t feel good. That coupled with my current ‘dark place’ most minutes of the day I feel like I’m drowning, constantly gasping for breath. Help always just out of reach.

Therefore, enter my ten year old tantrum the other night stage right. It really was quite comical, made for Broadway. I’ll take my Tony now, thank you. As the tears turned into laughter, I thanked Truvy Jones for reminding me that laughter through tears is my favorite emotion too. Glennon Doyle Melton said something that has struck me in all of my mess, “I cry so often for the same reason I laugh so often. Because I’m paying attention.” I do pay close attention too. I see how hard and cold the world can feel. I see how it has made me feel. I also see humor in more situations than not. Even if it starts with irony. And I am constantly reminded and redeemed by those in my tribe how important love is. So I still choose to love. In spite of it all, I choose love.

I told you, my tribe is fierce. Their love is what helps me remember that this ‘dark place’ too shall pass. There will be something more for me after this. They give me strength and support while I’m piecing my thousands of tiny pieces back together.


Cue friend’s message. In the midst of my tantrum, the timing was perfect and with the perfect quote. I needed to remember I’m just down, but not out. I am a warrior – fierce and tender all rolled into one. I may be in a ‘dark place’, but while I’m here I may as well roll over and look at the stars. There is something to be seen here too…

My Monkeys, My Circus

“This is what I like about photographs. They’re proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.” Jodi Picoult

I have always loved pictures. I have always loved a camera. So it came as no surprise when I fell in love with being a photographer.

I love capturing memories for people. Nothing beats giving them something tangible to look back on. It makes my heart swell. Life is full of busy-ness and a photograph is life’s pause button ❤

When I look back over all of the special occasions I have been privileged enough to be a part of: from on-the-shoot proposals to weddings to baby showers to maternity to newborns to families to pets to head shots to birthday parties to sporting activities to foster pups and adoption stories, and so much more, I am humbled. My heart feels full at the end of each session.

Candid shots of families and friends in the moment with each other are the best. It is when an instance of real life is arrested in a photograph. These are my absolute favorite pictures. Life is messy and hard and goofy and sad and crazy, and sometimes it’s all of that at once.

When these times of chaos occur they are what I tag the ‘Gag Reel’. It is in the midst of trying to seize an instant of a perfect pose that pandemonium breaks loose. These fleeting moments tickle me. It is when we learn to laugh when we probably feel like crying. It is learning that happiness happens when we learn to let go of what we think our life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is. Things feel silly, out of control, and sometimes frustrating. They always make the BEST pictures because it is real life. That is the day to day. Those are the moments we actually live in.

With Christmas card season upon us, and everyone trying to capture the perfect family shot thought I would share my family’s experience trying to get a good picture with all four pet dogs. Yes, there is a decent picture and those who have seen it tell me how adorable it is. I smile and say, “Thank you. It was an event.” because I don’t remember getting the perfect posed shot. I remember how the minutes were really spent and the recollection always makes me chuckle. It was crazy, frustrating and fun.

When I saw the images I laughed until I cried. Having the moment of the chaos captured is priceless because it is an honest depiction of my life. Being able to laugh in life (and sometimes at ourselves) is so important for our soul.

So when you have an overly active five year old and two dogs who look like they have lost their marbles and a little dog who lives in her own little world and your husband is no longer sure what to do about the situation or when life is more like the dog in the back to the left (will leave it at that) remember to “embrace the glorious mess that you are” (~Elizabeth Gilbert).

Even though a photo can make everything seem perfect, life is perfectly imperfect and since every picture tells a story don’t be afraid to tell yours truly. Because the truth in my world is, if chaos is a work of art, then my life is a masterpiece.

From my circus to yours ❤


You’re Here…

“When I look to the sky, something tells me you’re here with me.” ❤

I awaken early this morning which isn’t abnormal, but instead of rolling over to go back to sleep my heart all ready aches. The weight of November 28th always stings. I know my mind won’t let me fall back asleep, my thoughts are all ready too consumed of you. I get up. I have a task to do for a turkey anyways. Season it. My mood is grumpy. This time of year is usually emotional now. I feel cheated. The holiday season doesn’t ever feel complete anymore. Something always seems ‘off’.

It’s challenging. November 26th is my anniversary. A wonderful time, a happy time, a cherished time followed two days later by my least favorite memory. How do I not steal moments from my marriage with the impending dread of November 28th? I try hard to be more present during this time so I can focus on the moment I’m in, but it’s always there. I’ll find myself snappy or impatient or just plain grumpy, and at first I’m not sure where it’s coming from. When I stop to gain control of my emotions, I quickly realize it’s sadness speaking out.

Back to this turkey. Season it. I’m tiredly and admittedly cranky seasoning this turkey. I feel like the naked bird – bland. Wish I could throw some salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and sage on me and VOILA! Transformed. As these thoughts are running through my head, the sky through my kitchen window catches my eye. “Beautiful.” I mumble to myself. I finish my task, grab my phone and tea, and head for my safe haven – the back porch. It’s quite nice outside to be so late in November. I snap some pictures. I let the moment soak in. You’re here. This is you saying good morning. Thank you for coming on the morning I need it most. I feel a little uplifted.

Back inside I decide to make your trademark breakfast, oatmeal. But not the same this morning, with a twist. Spice it up. Season it. Transformed. (Btw- it was good. Link here: http://www.foodista.com/recipe/64CFRJ68/baked-smores-oatmeal)


After getting dressed, we decide to go pick out a Christmas tree. I snap a picture of course making the 5 year old pose in front of the selected tree. I see the sun rays coming in on the image, but when I get home to really check it out one ray shines brighter than the rest. Yes, I see you. Thank you. We’ll take this tree home and season it too. Transformed.


As I’m riding back home the car in front of me catches my attention. The last kind of car you drove. You’re definitely here, especially today.


The rest of the day provided more distraction than emotion. Which is a nice and needed break. You knew that too, didn’t you? You sat back, you watched, you smiled. You enjoyed seeing the laughs and grins and hugs throughout the day.

I felt you once again this evening. Watching my brother, at 29, tackle a new sport, hockey. Oh, you smirked (quite a few times), I felt it. Your presence was so close, a couple of times I thought I’d turn to my right and you’d be sitting there leaning back, arms crossed, long legs stretched out in front, with that smirk on your face you got when you were really tickled at something. You loved it. And were proud of your son (and probably slightly impressed too). My brother chose to try something new. Season it. Transformed.


Five years. Five. Has it really been five years since I’ve hugged your neck, held your hand, curled up in your lap (yes, even at 27 years old I would curl up in my daddy’s lap) or pecked those lips (yes, we’re ‘that family’ that goes for the lips)?

With blurry eyes as I’ve written this, a tear finally escapes and slides down my cheek just now. It makes it all the way to my neck. A chill sets in deep. To try and explain how time passes when a close loved one is lost is hard. Time flies by, as it often does in life, but at the same time it feels as though laughter or a touch or tears were just shared with the one suddenly missing. Wasn’t it just yesterday…

“Time heals all wounds.” I’m not particularly fond of this saying. When a wound heals, it leaves a scar, a reminder. You do get used to this new life without this special person, but time doesn’t make the loss any easier.

I saw a quote not long ago, “The wound is the place where light enters you.” It caught me where I least expected it to. There is truth here. But only if you allow it. I felt the light all day. It doesn’t take the pain away, but I smile through the tears. And I’m left – transformed.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Happy birthday, Dad. I’m sure your heavenly birthday is grand, but sure do wish we could celebrate together. Found this going through ‘old stuff’. I miss you everyday and know how lucky I am to have had you to call Daddy. Love you ❤

The first one to hold her it was love at first sight.

An instant spark of life. A moment when everything was just right.

Her first smile. She learned to walk.

She loved to laugh and boy could she talk!

Through the years he would watch her laugh and cry.

He would teach her many things and make her believe she could fly!

Whenever she wanted, she’d crawl into his lap.

They’d be together for hours while taking a nap.

In her eyes he was perfect. He could do no wrong.

She wanted to be just like him, wanted to dance to the same song.

He raised her well and now she’s growing up.

She’s becoming her own person. She drinks from her own cup.

Change and time has affected them both. The sky has no limit.

She wants to know everything and all that’s within it.

As their time together becomes more distant, it is the way life goes without fail.

But there will always be that Little Miss Muffet’s fairy tale.

There will always be the unconditional love and life with its fantastic swirl.

But wherever she may go, she will always be Daddy’s Little Girl.


Written by CAA 12.30.2000

Puppy Paradise

Double your pleasure. Double your fun. We’re definitely not running the Doublemint ad over here…

It’s more like double your pressure, double your run. Running to stop the chewing…running to stop the barking…running to stop the fighting…running to stop the indoor potty-ing…sigh.

But they’re SO cute, right? Sigh. Don’t let their picture fool you. It was taken back when we first got them almost two months ago. They’ve grown quite a bit since then and their little cat fights sound more like two wild beasts going at it for the final kill. Most days it feels like I’m running a three-ring circus. “Prepare yourselves! You’re about to witness the craziest show on earth!”

I’ve been amazed at how smart these two pups are. Although they each are a different kind of ‘smart’. She is what I call clever. She is stubborn. She ‘knows’ what we want, yet she chooses to do what she wants. You can see the challenge in her eyes when she stares you down as if saying ‘What are you gonna do about it?’. He is what I call intelligent. Things click quickly with him. He learns quickly. He aims to please…except when she’s around. Yes, she’s the ringleader. The alpha. The instigator.

Together the mess they can get into is hair-pulling-teeth-gritting-audible-sighing mess. I’ve ‘blessed their hearts’ more times than I can count. It’s true what they say, they’re so precious…when they’re sleeping! It’s hard to keep the choice of two in perspective when one is chewing on the bottom of the kitchen cabinets while the other is peeing down the air vent.

This brother and sister duo can be chaotic, but they’ve also brought lots of love and laughter into our home. We’ve belly-laughed watching him discover and chase his own tail, and her bounce like she’s Tigger with springs in her hind legs. It’s as if they’ve lived here for years. They’re a natural part of our family. They love to be loved and to give love. Snuggles and softness and wet kisses are part of the package with these two. It’s double the loyalty, double the love.

It’s always easier said than done, but isn’t that true with most anything? This too shall pass and I’ll soon forget how crazy they made me and long for those ‘cute puppy days’.

I’ll try hard to remember that while I’m double-lamenting for my sanity 😉