photography

August Favorite Things

There are hundreds of versions of this idea – what you put out into the universe is what you receive. I have a hard time with this concept. It feels too abstract for me. Then I think, ‘eesh, I don’t want to put abstract into the universe’ so I redirect. I want to radiate beauty, goodness, and kindness. I want to attract lifelong friends, lip smacking kisses and inspire viral blog posts into the universe.  I type those things here, and then I shrink. Hover over delete. It’s hard projecting what you want over the interwebs.

I’ve been reaching out to PR people and asking for money and contacting creators of podcasts and most of the time, I don’t hear back. That’s ok. I’ll keep trying. I believe when we share other’s brilliant work, they’ll lean in, give back, and be willing to share mine.

This month I’m sharing the work of some brave, creative people who are doing their thing. I’ve also got a tasty treat in the list, and a chance to give back to something bigger than you. Happy August.

August. Wow.

  1. Here for You Blog by Kellyn Shoecraft

I “met” Kellyn online when she bravely shared her work on the Modern Loss Facebook group board. She writes about her experience with loss, doodles brilliantly, and has found a way to channel her pain into helping others. I love her blog and her drawings which capture so perfectly the way I feel on my bad grief days. We’ve been emailing back and forth a bit about her post Angrief, which is so damn true. You can order Compassion Packages full of beautifully selected cards and gifts and a mix of practical things that are hard to buy for yourself when you are grieving. Think toilet paper, garbage bags, and gallon size freezer baggies for all of the breakfast burritos people send you when people die. A perfect gift for those of you who may be feeling “there are no words.”

2. Aaron Hill Photography

I met Aaron years ago when he was volunteering at the agency I worked for serving at-risk youth. His heart for the hurting led him to graduate school and he is now a social worker in the mental health field by day and takes photos by night. He has an eye for unique angles, golden-hour light, and magical moments in nature. We recently met up with him for a photo shoot and I can’t wait to see what he captured! If you are looking for an artist to work with to capture this stage of your life, he’s your guy. Why is he one of my favorites? He’s affordable, sensitive, sees people and believes we can change the world by how we treat one another. His work can be viewed here.

3. Dead Parent’s Society Podcast

You know what’s helpful? Knowing you are not alone! I came across this beautiful podcast on the Modern Loss Facebook Group post ( It’s helpful ok!) and I almost giggled in delight. One – there are enough people in this horrible club with me who have created a SOCIETY. Two- this group of WRITERS share their experience about loss in words, read their essays, and then talk about the work. I started listening to the episodes while I’m at the gym. Pounding my feet on treadmills and ellipticals I listen in to others words of loss, of hope, of recovery, of our the uncomfortable ache bubbling up when others speak of their dads freely. Pound. Pound. Pound. Yes. Yes. Yes. Grief is just as they describe. Listen in to this project out of Kelly Writers House and keep telling Jamie-Lee this project changes lives. It’s changed mine.
4. Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Remember Nutella? This stuff is better! We filled up our backpacks with hiking treats back when we hiked a 14ner a few weeks ago and now I bought a stash of these packets for afternoon snacks. Spread the stuff on toast, eat with an apple, or just squeeze right into your mouth.

5. My brave friend Jenny

My brave, childhood friend Jenny Stoecker is working in Bangladesh with refugees with Medical Teams International. She’s been back and forth several times over the year and I am floored by the work she is called to. Every time I feel overwhelmed I think of the people she is living with, working with, walking with, and I’m brought back down – perspective makes a world of difference. The issues facing Bangladesh are large in scope, complex, and full of political implications. Helping people on a global scale is complicated. What’s not complicated? Giving what you can of your life to those in pain. Consider donating to her organization Medical Teams International here. 

I continue to be amazed by her willingness to travel, advocate, and show up for those hurting around the globe. Follow her gorgeous pictures here.

I know not all of us are called to global work. Some of us hear whispers of creativity, build buildings, or tell powerful stories to delight people in the towns we grew up in. You don’t have to cross the ocean to influence a life.

What matters most to me? What are you putting out into the universe? And how are you giving back? How is the universe showing up beautifully in your world?


P.S. – I’m in the middle of planning a trip to England and Paris – if you know of quaint, affordable places to stay please let me know!
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Hope Floats on Whispers

Each time I log onto Facebook these days my stomach lurches a little bit. I know I have a choice in entering my password and scrolling through feeds that are slightly biased towards the left – most of my friends agree with my stance on political things.

It seems to be getting bleaker, more complicated, more hurtful out there .

My heart is aching for those who are facing the very real, life changing consequences of political actions that have taken place this week. And I realize too, just how risky it is to put my thoughts and reactions out on the internet.

I could and maybe should log on to CNN or The New York Times, or Slate, or spend time evaluating these infographics that are circling around that tell me just how ‘Alternative’ my new sources could be. But honestly, I don’t.

I know this ability to tune out the news is a reflection of my privilege and I hesitate with every sentence I write down here. So much potential for offending all across the board. I don’t really think the internet is a safe space to launch such flames of disagreement.

And here I am, nervous again, to write about the good, when things out there seem so very bad. So this is my disclaimer for the year – I see, I hear, and I do not ignore the very real confusion and pain caused by our political climate here in America. I do not dismiss it and I want to be an ally.

i-believe-that-i-can-influence-the-world-with-whispers-of-beautiful-things

I also believe that hope floats on whispers, on promises of good, on lists of gratitude. My efforts may not be loud, or in crowds of hundreds of thousands – heck I’m lucky if each post I write gets more than 17 views. However, if I choose to stop writing the beautiful, it’s another example of where fear will win.

Many of you may have seen my post on Facebook this week about the barista at Starbucks who gave me a free drink even though my birthday coupon had expired. Ugh – you can groan – at the example of white girl privilege – symbols of excess funds and the caffeine raddled habit that oozes corporate coffee. What I saw though, was a twenty something millennial, working his butt off in the early morning, reflecting kindness with the choice to just give me a free coffee anyways. There is still good in the world.

As I drove to work I had to smile because a 40 year old woman with two kids in the car was blasting music and encouraging her two kiddos in the backseat to dance along. Ugh – you can groan – at the example of oil dependent individuals  in foreign cars on busy roads. What I saw though, was the influence of music and artists who have created catchy beats that inspire smiles and laughter while getting from here to there.

We live in the challenging dichotomy of good and bad. Of catastrophe and regrowth. Of pain and beauty.

I just want to keep honoring the mystery that God allows both to exist.

So here are some other things I found to be beautiful this week.

  • Home Brew – we made a match of beer with our friends a month ago and the bottles are finally ready to drink – magical chemistry made a tasty drink in our very own kitchen.
  • Flannel Thermals – my husband got a new thermal top for Christmas and I really just love the ability to snuggle up next to him as he wears it to sleep.
  • Reflections of my puppy in the mirror – our downstairs bathroom is torn apart because we are painting so the large mirror that typically hangs on the wall is sitting on the floor. As we sit on the couch, Olive keeps staring at herself in the reflection. It makes me laugh, and then thing, heck I do the same thing too with window reflections at work. We love a chance to look at ourselves.
  • Gifts from the fruits of your friend’s talents – I asked my long-time friend Jenny Stoecker to take some updated headshots for me. In about 5 minutes she captured my uniqueness in some photos and I’m really thrilled to start using them more. If you need some photography, keep her in mind.

 

I invite you to join me in using the hashtag #stillgoodintheworld . This won’t discount the bad, it can’t erase our pain, but it can gather us together to think about how our efforts and our choices to see the beautiful remind us to keep hoping.

Start whispering guys. Or for all I care, yell! My little heart just isn’t ready for that quite yet.