“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
I have bravely followed in the footsteps of Captain James T Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. Launched into my personal unexplored frontiers of the blogosphere and beyond at warp speed. My trajectory of steep learning has been out of this world for the last couple of months. It has been intense. Thank God it’s over ! Yet – I will miss it. Three free on-line Blogging University courses are over.
As the end of March loomed ever closer, I sat clueless about what to write in this newsletter. Usually the theme emerges and consolidates into focus like a well oiled machine ready for action at just the right time. Not this time. Slowly an idea began to glimmer in the back of my mind a couple of days ago. Last night as I lay waiting for sleep to claim me, my last thought was a plea for the theme to blossom. Which it has. I woke this morning having dreamt and drafted the beginnings. There is a dual purpose for this newsletter. It also doubles as the final weekend wrap up and review for Blogging University photo 101.
Drrruuum rrrooll ! THEME reveal, ladies and gentlemen –
“I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I’m going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice.” ~ Mike Ericksen
I invite you to stroll with me on a journey of blessings that have come into my life. Many have landed in my lap courtesy of Blogging University. This is a pictorial journal of sorts. Throughout I offer questions for your own reflection should you choose to do so. Each daily theme has a link to the original photo 101 post should you wish to visit that. It opens in a new tab so you will not lose connection to this newsletter. The photographs are unpublished ones taken during the course.
Day 1 – Home
Eyes are the window to the Soul they say. Mine have been opened in a new way. I observe the world around me so differently now. With more of a photographer’s eye some might say. What do I say? My mind, body and Soul ‘see’ so much more. The richness and beauty that surrounds me. Hidden treasures in nooks and crannies. The peace, comfort, serenity and safety of my home. A home filled with love. It is home because that is where my heart resides regardless of where it is located.
What about you ? How do you ‘see’ and experience your world, your home – inside and out ?
My street is a cul de sac. These days it’s regarded as inner city, being only 15 minutes from the CBD. It is mostly a peaceful neighbourhood. The landscape is changing now. A new and fresh, modern look will start creeping in with the current demolition. Change is good. In order to create the new, the old needs to be removed. We are in the perfect spot to watch the birthing of the new, labour pains and all. And in watching, I am discovering a treasure trove of riches to photograph. In our home, the neighbours’, the street. As I do, I discover newness and fresh growth within the streetscapes of my mind and Soul as well.
What about you? What is new in your streetscapes?
“I’m thirsty!” is a saying The Retired Husband (TRH) is famous for. That’s his way of letting people know his glass needs topping up – not with water! Water, however, is essential for life. It’s a topic I reflected on in the February Newsletter at quite some length. It’s also a topic very close to our hearts here in the driest state of Australia. We’re in for a wet autumn they reckon. In the meantime we water our garden to keep the plants alive and thriving. It is lush and green. Even if I say so myself, it is the best looking garden in the street. But I have to admit I have not been as diligent in watering my body and Soul.
What about you ? Do you keep yourself well hydrated?
Happiness is a warm puppy, Charlie Schulz said in the Peanuts cartoons. The wriggling, warm bundle of cuteness with baby milk smells is indeed happiness encapsulated. So is the plethora of literature so readily available to us electronically. But for me nothing quite beats holding a book in my hands, curled up in my favourite corner with a nice hot cup of tea. Or a stroll in the garden reacquainting myself with new and established growth. Or time spent with friends and family. All these, and so much more warm my heart and Soul.
What about you ? Do you have favourite pastimes that bring joy into your life?
I live in a house often occupied by six adults and one little four legged fur baby. It can get busy. It’s a big house so there’s spaces inside and out where I can be alone. Solitude is something I treasure. Sitting here in my beautiful office, lovingly renovated by TRH to suit my needs, is tranquil. A sliding door enables entry and exit direct from the lushness of the front yard. My eyes often rest on the greenery as I sit at my desk writing. It’s soothing and peaceful. It also ensures my privacy with it’s natural screening. And if I really want, I can shut the world out by closing the door and roller shutters.
What about you ? Do you have spaces for moments of solitude ?
Reflections are interesting things. They captivate the imagination as layer upon layer of images are reflected off shiny surfaces. It’s almost like peeking deep inside to uncover secrets or multiples of the same thing, yet different. A little like taking a stroll through the psyche to see what reflections and images bounce into my field of vision to give me new insights about myself, my values, my beliefs.
What about you? How do you reflect on Life, the universe, and everything?
Connections enable interaction with something or someone. In this picture TRH is connecting with the stone steps as he climbs up to Mt Lofty House. His purpose is to get to the top and go inside for dinner. This photo is a very interesting one to contemplate on. Climbing the lofty heights in my journey this last month took me to places unexplored. Some of it was anxiety provoking. I doubted my abilities and creativity. Finding what I was searching for and capturing it in a photo that actually worked was exhilarating. Serendipitously there were so many other connections to people doing the same thing as me. New friendships made. Passing moments of interaction. Shared experiences.
What about you? What new or renewed connections have come into your life in the last month?
Sometimes the things I fear loom large and frightening. They block me. Get in the way. Prevent me from seeing other points of view. It takes concentration, will and motivation for me to refocus. To make the large soften, become permeable, and eventually fade into insignificance. Then I wonder why was I so scared of this? Conquering fears is a real buzz. Like learning new computer skills; or learning to use a new gadget like a phone camera on a smart phone which I’ve only had a very short while and am yet to get my head around! It boosts my self confidence.
What about you ? Have you got something looming large and scary getting in the way of your point of view ?
Nothing quite stirs my Soul like nature. This month I have connected with nature in so many different ways as I’ve been roaming the neighbourhood and surrounds snapping photos. Trees are so grounding. I have discovered some awesome ones just within ten minutes of home that I never noticed before. I even took a drive around the local cemetery a few times. The landscaping, serenity and beauty of the gardens there was truly spectacular. I found this beautiful floral display there tucked away in a corner surrounded by bushes. You can see the memorial plaque nestled between the flower arrangements.
What about you ? How does nature stir your Soul?
There is little more comforting in the cold winter months than to snuggle up somewhere cosy next to an open fire with a nice bowl of home made soup and toast. Warmth is soothing. Somehow it seeps into every nook and crevice cradling and gentling the mind, body and Soul. Watching the shadow play of flames is mesmerising. This last month the weather here was the exact opposite of this. It was oppressively hot and humid. Grossly uncomfortable. For me anyway. It required special effort to find the equivalent comforts of warmth. Capturing images of sunrises and sunsets helped.
What about you ? Do sunlight, flames and warmth soothe your mind, body and Soul?
Mystery. It captivates. Intrigues. Evokes. Teases tantalisingly. The bigger questions of life fall into the realms of mystery, spirituality and the esoteric. Mostly it requires a Leap of Faith for we are still only nudging the edges of understanding these mysteries. For me the very foundation of my life is based on a grounded and strong faith in God. Without that, I would be like a rudderless ship lost in the stormy sea of life. Belief in Something Greater is an innate need in all of us. That is my belief.
What about you ? What mysteries stir your Soul?
I play with Light in many ways. My home is filled with beautiful lights of many kinds – like this led light lit crystal angel. There’s a dolphin night light made of Himalayan Salt. Several onyx lamps light from inside. A Turkish glass mosaic lamp. And candles. Lots and lots of candles! I fill myself with Light when I meditate. People who suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (depression in winter) are treated with Light Therapy.
What about you ? How do you bring Light into your Life ?
Did you know that every colour has its own energetic vibration? I found pops of colour everywhere when photographing for this theme. Blues and yellows seemed to predominate. Yellow is the colour of sunshine, life, happiness, the solar plexus chakra. Blue is the colour of the sky, water, and the throat chakra. Colour can be used in many different ways. Colour therapy advocates wearing, drinking, eating and immersing yourself with the colours that are lacking in your Life to restore wellbeing and balance.
What about you? How does colour feature in your Life?
I travelled photographically all over the world this last month sightseeing stunning places, visiting exquisite and ornate buildings. It was a delight to see places I will never get to visit. Buildings, when they feature in our dreams, are a metaphor for our body. Inside and out. In reflective journaling and meditation I have often used this metaphor to reflect on my wellbeing. I have not been the greatest of carekeepers of the Temple that is my body. There is much room for improvement.
What about you? Is your Temple in a good state of repair ?
My life is full of moments. Special connections that often arise unexpectedly. Like the week when I found myself constantly wondering how a friend of mine was faring. Life had thrown many curveballs her way. Time constraints prevented us from catching up. Just such a thought was interrupted by a phone call. From that very person. These seemingly random events, I believe, are not random at all.
What about you? Do you have unexpected moments in your life ?
There are times, when I stand outside in the middle of a sleepless night gazing at the stars or the full moon, that I feel very small. I get to thinking about the scale of the universe and where I fit into that. And I marvel at how connected we all are and unconditionally Loved I am.
What about you? How do you feel gazing at the stars?
When I reflect on the wide panoramic landscape of my life, I wonder in amazement how I got to where I am now. What happened to the time? It seems only yesterday that I moved into my own home as a newly married woman. Sometimes I feel 100 years old. Other times I feel like I am 3. Piecing together these landscapes into a longitudinal view reveals a rich landscape of experiences. I am so blessed!
What about you ? What does your longitudinal life landscape reveal ?
When the children came into our life, I was awed and delighted to view the world through their eyes. The ordinary became extra-ordinary as my vision opened to the wonders of their first experiences. I saw the world anew. The last leg of the flight home from the Philippines with our youngest son was joy filled. We watched his endless curiosity and fascination with a simple bendy drinking straw. It kept him busy the whole flight. Photo 101 has honed my eye to again see the world around me with new and fresh eyes.
What about you? With what kind of eyes do you view your world?
The day of treasures was a wonderful walk through my life reminiscing about the things I treasure most. Everything I chose to photograph that day held special memories attached to moments and people in my life. Some would call them sentimental items. I call them treasures beyond value. One such item is this drawing I have framed and keep in my bedroom. I drew it as a toddler in Finland. Mum had kept it for decades through all the travels of a lifetime of moving.
What about you? What treasures do you have stored in your heart and home?
Science tells us glass is liquid. That it moves. To me it is magical and mysterious. Glass also reflects and captures images in captivating ways. Glass ornaments are spectacular. To watch glass blowers at work is fascinating. I probably took a hundred photos just of glass and reflections in its many forms. I have a love hate relationship with windows. Sparkly clean windows are lovely to gaze through. Smeared, dirty and broken windows are an eyesore. Cleaning them is not something I relish. The windows to our Soul are our eyes. To enable clear inner vision requires regular maintenance and cleaning. I call this spiritual hygiene. Mine, like the cleaning of my windows, has been a bit sloppy lately.
What about you? How clean are your windows?
Edges mark boundaries, delineate areas, provide a point of interest or difference. I learnt early in my career as a mental health nurse that clear boundaries were essential in order to remain objective, work in a respectful and meaningful way. To make the hard calls. And maintain my privacy and integrity. This learning has continued to serve me throughout my life. It’s one of those things I call transportable skills. Children too need boundaries in the formative years. Sure they kick and scream and lash against them. In the safety net of loving boundaries. That is how they learn.
What about you? How do you establish and maintain your edges?
They say we all have a twin look alike. Interestingly I have often been mistaken for someone else. Not that I have ever met that someone else! They also say we all have Soul Mates sometimes called Twin Flames. They can present in one of two ways in our lives. As the great love of our lives. Or as the thorn in our sides. Both versions are rich in life learnings. TRH is my Soul Mate. We have been married now for 43 years. Our journey has been rich and rewarding in many ways. Weathering the tough times has brought us closer. The good times have been full of fun, joy and happiness.
What about you? Is there a double in your life who has enriched it in some way ?
Day 20 – Triumph and Contrast
This month has been one of exploring, demolition, construction and learning on a massive scale. I know I will miss the challenges and the camaraderie. However, I have met many wonderful people who will continue to be in my life through the blogosphere. And I will also be glad to have more time to catch up on all those things that have been put on hold.
What about you? Have you got a pile of stuff waiting to be attended to?
Weekend 4 – Wrap up
This photojournal has been an interesting look back over the last month. Countless blessings, learnings and opportunities.
“May we be strengthened with the understanding that being blessed does not mean that we shall always be spared all the disappointments and difficulties of life.”
“I count as blessings things I could have benefited from, even if I neglected to utilize them. A gift is still a gift, even if left wrapped and unopened.”
“May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.
May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.”
© Raili Tanska