Friday, July 25, 2014

Gratitude Is Everything





































School will be back in session in less than a month.  Doesn't it seem like summer just started?

Time has flown by this summer.  It probably didn't hurt that we were on an extended driving vacation for a month, but still it has been a whirlwind this year.

Lesson planning is going to have to begin in earnest very soon.  Look out Pinterest, here I come!

The photo above was taken at sunrise when we were at the Grand Canyon.

It may be my favorite shot from the whole trip, because it captures the liquid gold of the sun as it peeked above the rim that morning.  The sky looked like it was on fire for such a beautiful yet brief moment, and I somehow managed to catch a little of that light in this snap.  It was so gloriously gorgeous.

Looking at this picture takes me right back to the cool of the morning and the walk with The Peanut from our lodge to the canyon's rim in the hazy dark just before the sun began to rise to see this in all of its glory.  It really was the trip of a lifetime, but the little moments like this one were what made it so wonderful.

After everything we had to deal with last summer with surgery and chemo, followed by a fall of radiation and its effects, being able to take this trip still feels a bit like a miracle.  The morning I snapped this shot was one filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude:  for my life, for my wonderful family, for all of the love we have for each other, for all the times they made me laugh during the worst of last year and for how they kept me going and comforted me when I needed it, and everything in between, through something that now seems so far away even though it was only just last year.

As I stood there in the darkness on the rim with The Peanut, holding her hand and shivering a bit in the cool, crisp air, waiting for the sun to peek up, all I could think about was how lucky I am.  Despite everything that I have been through, my life is so good, my blessings are so abundant, and in that moment it all washed over me like a wave.  And just at that moment, the sun began to tint the sky with a faint golden hue that rose to a wash of pure, molten gold.

That is when I took this shot.

I am just so happy and grateful looking at this picture all over again.  Gratitude is everything.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creative Process: Sting, Ships and Excavating Childhood





This is an extraordinary interview with Sting at the 92nd Street Y.

No idea how I missed this when it was posted last October (perhaps chemo and radiation had something to do with my mind being elsewhere, eh?), but it is a meaty discussion about the roots of the new Broadway show that Sting is doing and his creative process in putting the material together.

Just brilliant stuff.

Discussion about creative process fascinates me.  Especially with someone who has been as prolific and thoughtful about it as Sting has been over the course of his lengthy career, with a commitment to the craft of writing and high standards of performance all along the way.  How on earth do you maintain that level of striving for excellence in everything you write, you compose, you play, you put together, all over the course of an entire lifetime?  That absolutely fascinates me.

Take some time and enjoy this one. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Choosing Carpe Diem




















This morning, a quote from the wonderful Anne Lamott stumbled across my eyeballs and smacked me right upside the head (in the most vivid WV vernacular).  To wit:


Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools or oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. — Anne Lamott
Fantastic stuff, isn't it? Filled with letting go and living life to its fullest extent and not in the small-minded, narrow way that conformity brings to the table far too frequently.  As good an exposition of the necessity of choosing carpe diem over cowering in the corner as I've ever read.

Which brings me to the picture above, a picture filled with love and enthusiasm...and one which I had initially declined to share because I felt like I looked a little too big in it. 

"What a shame," I thought this morning, in light of this Anne Lamott quote, "who cares what I look like in the picture when it's such a cute hug with The Peanut, radiating all the love we felt in that moment as we finished climbing the giant, meltingly-hot sand dune."  And then, "why on earth was I worrying about how I looked in the photo, when how I felt was pure joy?"

Why do we do this to ourselves, honestly?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Perspective







































Today's goal is a tired and well-worn one:  getting some part of the house in better shape, doing a bit of laundry and some dishes, trying to accomplish a goal or two before the sun goes down while also wedging in a bit of time for some organization and other work...pretty much the same old, same old.

I am in a rut in the worst way.

The thing about being a grown-up is that certain tasks have to be done over and over again, which ends up making me feel like a hamster on one of those tinny wheels, squeaking away as I'm running toward the same starting line over and over again.  Dishes in, dishes out, dishes in again.  Laundry in, laundry out, laundry folded and away, laundry out, laundry in again.  You name it.

Have been trying to give myself a different perspective on all of this in order to make the constant a little more fresh, at least mentally if not in actuality, but the trick of the mind isn't exactly tricking me into enjoying it.  And so it goes.

What is a girl to do?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot







































When we were in Tucson, AZ, we were fortunate enough to eat brunch at the Hacienda del Sol with some good friends of ours.  Their version of Heuvos Rancheros was wonderful -- complete with homemade tortillas -- and the side of sauteed chorizo and potatoes was killer good.

After brunch, we sat in the shade in the lovely entry courtyard and chatted for a bit, amid the pots of lovely agave and flowers and the hum of insects and fluttering of birds.  The bit of water burbling in the courtyard fountain added to the mix, and it made for a very relaxing morning in a beautiful setting. 

There were some chiles drying in the sunshine, strung up on the front porch, and their glistening, red brilliance caught my eye.  Just had to snap a picture.

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.  Copyright and use rights reserved -- please do not use or copy this photo in any way without express permission.)


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Climbing The Mountain




















When we were at White Sands National Monument, during our lengthy driving vacation, we took the long, looping drive around the dunes, leaving the ranger station behind and driving out into the silence of pure, white sands.

The day was hot:  a 116 degrees in the parking lot, and hotter in and among the dunes kind of hot, but The Peanut and I got out of the car and climbed to the top of a dune nonetheless.  Here is one of our pictures, helpfully taken by Mr. ReddHedd, who stayed on the floor of the dune to be our version of Ansel Adams.

This was my first real "take that, breast cancer" moment of our trip.

It was seriously freeing to think of it that way, to finally have gotten on a long vacation and spending serious quality time together as a family through the entire journey, and I absolutely loved each and every minute of it.  Looking at this picture makes me smile and think of how fun it was to scramble up the dune with The Peanut, and this may have to be a photo that I get printed and framed for that reason. 

As you can see, the dunes are huge and brilliantly white, due to being composed of gypsum.  We were ridiculously hot, but had a great time.  How often do you get to see dunes as far as the eye can see and a crazy family trying to have a picnic on a dune in the stifling heat?

There are more shots from this beautiful park, but I haven't gotten them all sorted and fine-tuned just yet.  There will be a lot more to come.

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.  Copyright and use retained -- please do not reproduce without express permission.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Snapshots







































When we were at the Grand Canyon, The Peanut and I got up before dawn to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.  It was one of the most awe-inspiring things that I have ever seen in my lifetime - the hush that fell over the folks around the rim said that they were experiencing the same sense of wonder.

It was gorgeous, and the photos that I was able to snap do not remotely do it justice.

At various points, it was so beautiful that it was all we could do to breathe.   Just jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Home Again





Home again, from a month-long driving journey across the United States and back again.

Ours is a gloriously beautiful nation. 

And I have the photos to prove it.  Once I finally get them uploaded to the computer, I'll share some of the view with everyone.

But first, the fridge desperately needs to be cleaned out and we have luggage out the wazoo to unpack.  Ahhhhh, it is so good to be home (absolutely no sarcasm intended).

(YouTube -- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, singing one of my favorites, "Our House.")

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summertime And The Living Is Easy





Summertime, and the living is easy.

Or at least it will be if I ever get done packing for a trip....SIGH.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In Time, We Will All Be Stars



















Having a Walt Whitman kind of morning:
...Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
From Whitman's poem, Passage to India, from his amazing Leaves of Grass. 

The photo was too amazing to keep to myself.   Thank you NASA!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Longest Time





The longest time on earth is that period between when you start planning the trip and then write up the packing list and when you actually get on the road. Packing drives me absolutely bonzer yo-yo.

There has to be an easier way to go somewhere with your family that doesn't involve an army of servants, a la Downton Abbey, or Winky, the house elf from Harry Potter.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!





















Had a dream about New Orleans last night.  The steamy heat and vivid colors of the French Quarter seemed real enough that waking up here at home was a little jarring.

Am clearly in need of a vacation.  Or just a "go cup" for the day.

Happy Father's Day, to one and all.  It's a gorgeous day here, and we are going to enjoy it by relaxing and spending some time together. 

It's good to love your family so much.  Hope everyone is feeling the same way today.  Have a wonderful day!

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith, taken in the French Quarter in New Orleans, near Saint Ursaline's convent.)