guest blogging

Deeply Awake – Guest Post by Zoë Trout

Have you ever come across an essay and thought, “Wow! Another human being understands the way I view the world!” As a writer, a quiet observer of humans, I’m constantly wondering if others have the same sensitive intuition as me. When Zoë emailed asking if she could post on my blog, and I read her essay, I inhaled deeply into her words. She gets it. She’s wired like me, at least a little bit. I’ve got sisters and brothers and sensitive folk out there doing the same beautiful work as me. I feel honored to share her perspective. From one beauty seeker to another, write on.

Author: Zoë Trout
Blog: https://speckonaspeck.wordpress.com/

Her favorite quote: “i thank You God for most this amazing / day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees / and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes”  – e. e. cummings

Lately I’ve wanted to write about beauty. When I say lately, I mean for months—
and for months I haven’t written a thing. It daunts me to render something so
vast and brilliant in plain words, and my mind spirals in a hundred directions. I
still don’t know how the thoughts will come together. What I know is that beauty
wants to be written about. It’s been knocking softly over these months of
avoidance, and I’ve come into surrender, and so begin.

. . .

Our acquaintance is long, I’ve always loved beautiful things. When I was little I
slipped into imagination easily and intuitively and no one demanded answers. I
collected beautiful images in a mental folio for daydreams, pouring over
photographs in coffee table books, and copies of O magazine and House &
Garden. I treasured a calendar with pictures of French countryside, and pictured
my own “some day” life nested in fine art and stylish decor in a beautiful setting.
The appeal extended beyond possessions, I wanted my whole being to be a
beautiful thing. I sat on the big purple couch in our living room and practiced
writing in cursive over and over, pouring my attention into the loops of o’s & p’s
& b’s, and the quick, elegant peaks of lowercase r’s—it wasn’t task so much as joy.
I wrote, and drew, and painted; I took pride in helping my mom choose furniture
and fabrics, and in laying out outfits for her to wear. I courted loveliness with the
unspoken belief that it would enrich my life, or really that it already was.

I continued to harbor that belief as I began to grow up. Driver’s license in hand,
many of my first independent trips were to beautiful places that made the world
feel quiet and deep. I went outside, into green spaces and under trees. I went into
chapels and galleries, and visited art I loved. I sat before text and pictures, and let
myself steep in their harmonies. I obeyed the same gravitational pull that lured
me into daydreams, the same finger wagging me towards pockets of delight. I
followed enchantment with beautiful things.

Beauty inspired more substantial decisions, too. In high school I let it direct me
to my first job in a restaurant with windows on a stylish plant nursery across a
little green lawn. At night Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday swam through the
candlelight like honey and kept the restaurant glowing. I wasn’t always excited
for long shifts on my feet but my delight was renewed in going to a beautiful
place, and getting to be part of its melody. When I had to choose a college, an
impalpable charm drew me to the school I attended on first glance. Even from the
car, its campus had the same lyrical poise as a poem, and held me under the same
power of awe.

I would go on to choose apartments the same way, and find myself laying tracks
in beautiful spaces wherever I went. Now, I often get pressed into the fog of daily obligations and then wake up to some physical grace, like a silk scarf, or leaves on
a tree branch, twirling together madly in a sudden breath. Out of the daily plod of
emails, errands, and hourly pay emerges something plainly extraordinary, like
sun on the grass, and my spirit lights anew. Sometimes I don’t watch the road as
carefully as I should in the car; my eyes drag on glassy pond-tops, shop windows
and wings outstretched in the sky; my heaven is a perch with a view.

. . .

The question of vanity is raised, and also the question of escape. Isn’t it
superficial to swoon for aesthetics? Isn’t it irresponsible to abandon screens and
numbers and the high-stakes sport of “figuring out?” What do you get from
simple reverie? The spreadsheet and the checkbook demand an answer. The
insurance company demands an answer, and the accountant, and the banker, and
the boss.

For a long time I asked these questions, too. I thought I must use beauty as a
means to escape or avoid, running away to a false palace of my mind. I assumed
my delight was undisciplined. I reasoned that it was, by nature, a weakness.
It’s easy to confuse immersion with escape.

Today I know the difference. I still seek out brilliance in nature and art, and
anything else that stills my soul. It’s no secret that I know how to escape, and
have plenty of practice, but now I see that beauty never asks me to hide.
Submerging into wonder might look going to sleep, and perhaps it is a kind of
numbing to the outside world. It asks to be prioritized over tasks and lists and
news headlines. It asks that I surrender thinking, and let myself be led. But on the
other side of that quiet I hear my own harmony in a timeless choir. I come to
know myself as lovely and beloved. I come home to my necessity in the great,
mosaicked mystery of everything alive.

The world may continue to question. All I can offer is heartbeat, and sky reflected
in my eyes. All I can do is continue, pen in hand; there’s more to see and more to
say. I keep an eye out for wonder, and the discovery reminds me I am never
asleep in beauty, but only more deeply awake.


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Zoë Trout was born and raised in Texas and studied English and psychology at the College of William & Mary. Despite living in the Boston area, she harbors a deep affinity for the South and enjoys memoirs, contemplative poetry, and traveling widely. She has previously worked as a university writing consultant and served on the editorial board of The William and Mary Review, and she continues to write creative nonfiction while working in mental healthcare.
You can read more of Zoë’s work by following her blog, where she writes about growing up, living with purpose, and finding meaning in a noisy world.
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Beauty Happens Every Night – All Around the World – Guest Post by Charlotte

Another Twitter connection. Another delightful person working bravely to write, create, and appreciate gifts right under her nose. Check out this sensory guest post from Charlotte Underwood. I love how she reminds us we don’t have to venture far to find experiences that please the senses.

Author: Charlotte Underwood
Blog: www.charlotteunderwoodauthor.com

Her Favorite Quote: “Time passes, people move. Like a river’s flow, it never ends. A childish mind will turn to noble ambition. Young love will become deep affection. The clear water’s surface reflects growth. Now listen to the Serenade of water to reflect upon yourself.” – Sheik

Nature is a gift that we receive every day and yet seem to ignore and maybe even act ungrateful for. It’s easy to forget that in our ever-increasing urban lifestyle, that we are on the doorstep of some of earths most beautiful creations.

I have always been infatuated with the beauty of nature and the little gems that the world provides us, memories of me playing in the mud, dancing under blossom trees and going on adventures through woods and dipping my toes in the hidden lakes of my hometown; these are the ones that showed me true happiness, love and awe, it reminded me of life.

Now, I must admit that as an adult with severe anxiety, I do tend to ignore the world that I crave all too much. I want nothing more than to pack up and travel the world, to see each of the wonders of the world and to experience every culture known to man; but for now, that is but a dream but one that I will achieve.

Until I am able to jet off, it doesn’t mean that I can’t make the most of my local area, we all seem for forget that our own towns and neighborhoods contain some truly beautiful sights. Be it the park that has contains a pond full of rainbow fish or a building that fills your mind with curiosity, when was the last time you actually took the moment to look and to ponder, to let that imagination flow.
My old garden and the memories of it has become my happy place when things start to get hard for me, because the environment it gave filled me with such warmth and safety; I’ll never forget it. I used to lie on top of my trampoline in the evening, with the sun glistening through the trees the enveloped my garden and caressed my cheek, I could hear the birds sing and the trees sway in the wind that was tickling my toes, this was happiness.

I can no longer sit in that garden but the memory will last a lifetime and also, right now, like you, I am surrounded by opportunity that will surely leave me breathless and thankful. A short drive away from my home is my local beach and while it is not the prettiest, have you ever sat and watched the sunset on a beach? Where the sun shines a golden coat across the coast and then folds into a hypnotic shade of purple before darkness fades in? This happens every night, all around the world and yet so many of us, even those who literally live on the doorstep will miss out – why?

Mother nature is an artist with the most precious and fine creations that not one person could ever mimic, with no cost or trap to experience the beauty and lust of these masterpieces, it seems almost wasteful that we do not spend more time appreciating what is right under our noses.


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Charlotte Underwood is a young 22 year old from Norfolk, UK. She is a growing mental health advocate and likes to use writing to inform and support.

You can follow her blog,  where she posts a lot about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide. She hopes to raise awareness as well as end the stigma. You can follow her on Twitter.

Beam of Light – Katie M.

My sweet, sweet friend submitted this year’s first entry to the Give Light Giveaway.  Boom.

Katie M. 

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Hi again friends! If you don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m a late twenty-something trying to take daily steps towards something beautiful, both in myself and in life. I’ll never say no to sushi, chocolate, hugs, or a trip to a coffee shop. Make me laugh or laugh at my jokes, and we’ll be fast friends.

I am very excited to participate again in this life-giving idea of giving light. I decided to take a different approach from my last submission and draw out a few of the things that have given me light recently. You may need to zoom in 🙂

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You can follow Katie on her blog Live Step By Step. She’s also previously contributed to 52 Beautiful Things here  & here.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions until December 31st. 

Is Your Glass Half Full?

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Because I believe in looking for the good.

Because I believe in feeling thankful for what we DO have.

Because I believe there is always, always, something to be grateful for.

In a world where all kinds of voices tell us to be scared, that we are not enough, that doom and gloom are coming or present, let’s take a moment to jot down what we are thankful for.

Send me your list between now and Thanksgiving and I’ll publish it here. Feel free to send in whatever format you’d like – a list – a poem – a song. Include a picture and your social media handles – or if you prefer to just include your name that works great. The important thing is to take a moment for gratitude and encourage ripples of gratitude.

Can’t wait to see what you have to share.

It’s Your Turn and Yes, I Love Croissants

Hey you! Yes! You!

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Do I have your attention? One of the most beautiful experiences that has come of this blog is the chance to connect with other writers, creatives, inspirational folks fully living life, who are also seeking beauty in their every day to day ordinaries. I have reached a point where I want my ideas expressed here to inspire others. I am excited to announce that I am now accepting guest submissions to be included here on my blog. If you have had a poignant example of choosing to experience the beauty in your every day life, I want to hear about it, and to share it on this space. If you are interested in being a guest contributor please email me the following to 52beautifulthings@gmail.com:

A post between 500-800 words about your experience with beautiful things

A picture of yourself and your favorite quote

Any social media connections you want to promote – Twitter, Instagram, your blog or website

If you think we may be in alignment, I can’t wait to host your beautiful encounter here.

And now on to this week’s experience with a beautiful thing…..

When I was in college, I vividly remember sitting on the back porch of my bible study leader’s house with four young women who had walked the four year journey with me. It was the week before graduation, and nothing was set in stone. One out of the five of us, one had a job lined up. One was staying in Boulder, one going to DC, and the rest of us were moving home. As the sun set over the Flatirons, our conversation wafted out into the summer night as we shared hopes and dreams, and anxieties about what was next – what wonderful adventures would fill our lives as our bank accounts quivered in fear of “self-sustainability.”

This weekend, I got to spend a full day with two of these women, and my heart was full to the brim. I was amazed to think back to that hot summer night, and to watch in awe at how God’s hand continues to direct each of us on our paths to, I don’t know, the beautiful something or someones rather, that we are meant to be. One friend is living in Manhattan using her amazing skills to sew costumes and alter the beautiful clothes of the rich and the famous. One friend is living in Denver, working her way through the advertising field, gaining skills and supporting companies as they grow and change and morph. I continue to walk my way through the non-profit field, learning new things and finding new ways to connect caring individuals to causes they feel passionate about. The whole group could not be with us in our mini reunion because one woman is in Africa doing missions work. The other in Japan with her husband in the AirForce.

I wanted to turn, as I walked with my friends in the sun, and whisper back to those anxious 22 year olds, it’s ok, you are going to continue to discover more about who you are and what makes you tick. You will continue to learn to stand up for yourself, and what you believe in, and navigate some gain and some loss. You are more beautiful now than you were then, because life and all of its roller coasters bring you more beauty if you let it.

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That’s what growth is – you can’t see it while it’s happening. When you stop to look around though, you’ve got more fruit in your hands than you’ve ever imagined. I miss my weekly encounters with those women, and long to create new community where I have been planted. If you are in your mid-twenties, raise your hand if you have been lonely in the loss of friendship as we all start to divide, to separate, to march into our own territory? I’m realizing, this week, that much like the separation from family is necessary to grow, the willingness to accept your friends coming in and out of your life is a blessing. No, I don’t see my circles of friends each week, each month, and now even as frequently as each year. I do, however, treasure the time I get to spend with those who still peek their way into my life. Thank you for shaping me, and continuing to support me as I start shaping myself.

And, let’s talk about bakeries. Nothing is better than a pastry and a coffee while you wait for brunch. NOTHING! I love me some carbs and coffee. If there are sprinkles, even better. I got to spend my Saturday morning here and the smells of sweet dough mixed with floating flour made my heart happy. Look at those pastries! SO BEAUTIFUL?

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Biscotti: None – but does this bakery count

Essie Nail Polish: got a pedicure instead