Learning to Speak

The first voice I remember hearing in my head spoke to me sometime in college. It was a writer’s voice. Quiet. A little fragmented. And all mine. In the many years since, I’ve used the voice to string into sentences all the words I write in.

In 2015,  I started to understand how to speak in photographs too.

This year I learned I have a visual voice, and for the first time in my life, I’m thinking more in pictures than in words.  I am not sure yet what I want to say or what I need to say. I only know I am aching to speak what I see.

Maybe my photographs speak when I can’t quite find the words.

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The words I write live here when I’m done with them.  I’ve got a few readers here and there – not many – but beyond this screen which stays dormant until someone, somewhere decides to view it, I’ve found no other way to share what I hear, what I write, how I think. My connections are limited. My words, passive. My heart … a little lonely, to be honest.

Not so with my photographs.

I’m learning to love  with my camera as much as I’m learning to speak with it.

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My teacher love shows in simple, black and white candids of my students at play. I gifted cellophane-wrapped, original prints carefully mounted on note cards and offered to people I cherish for Christmas. Flowers. Peaches. Mountains. Sunrise. Moonscapes. Barns.

These are photographs of love – my heart reaching and speaking, “Here … these images, take them … this is me … what I see, how I see, my new way of speaking … my new way of loving … here, take them … please.  I love you.”

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I cannot always extend my love in words, but my pictures, I can give. I am learning there is more than one way to speak.

I am a better dreamer than a do-er, and I have no real plan. But I know my voice needs to speak and so I’ll keep writing in 2016 … and I’ll keep taking pictures … and somehow find the confidence to speak, live, love, and share with greater clarity, purpose, courage, and of course … hope.

Here’s to one more hopeful year in 2016.

I’m sharing what I’ve learned in 2015 on Emily Freeman’s blog.





In Need of a Little Light

It’s almost the middle of December, and I have beach sand in my shoes.

Anyone living in New England knows we’re often knee-deep by now, and there I was this morning – walking the beach at dawn with the seagulls.


I loved the light.

Sure, the sunrise was beautiful – but it was the light I lingered for. The way it shined the sand. How it illuminated a path across the water. I felt for it on my face. Warmed. Believe it or not, I turned my back on the horizon to study how the light reaches out to the world.

The world’s been in need of a little light.

I’m always surprised at how often I’m given exactly what I need – not only when I need it – but usually before I even know I need it. One moment after another – like the waves rise and crash in a rhythm I can count on –  each one finding its own way in its own time.

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Like me.

Stepping my way around scattered sea-worn rocks trading holiday carols for the call of gulls and crashing waves.

Finding my way. In the light. On the beach. In December.

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The first gift of Christmas.







Someday When

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You probably already know the best day to begin any major project is the day before you’re hosting a dinner for 14 people.

Let’s call them someday-when projects.

Someday when … I have more time.

Someday when … the rest of the family’s off to who knows where, and I’m alone for the day.

Someday when … I’m better rested, feeling creative, or find a little confidence to give my ideas a go.

Ideally, the someday arrives on a day when you have nothing else planned and nothing better to do.

Like the day before Thanksgiving.

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When we moved three years ago, I brought four almost-new, floor-length curtain panels from our old family room with me to the new house.  Of course, the plan was to rehang them in our new space.  Woven and burlap-ish with a touch of industrial grommet. Just our style. Cozy. Warm. Perfect.

And about 6 inches too short for the new windows.

If windows could wear high-waters, these curtains would be it, and I was so disappointed, but unwilling to accept the situation and move on. Instead, I kept all four of those panels piled in the basement, convinced I’d need them someday.

And I did. The day before Thanksgiving.

It was an inspired moment.

Those floor-length panels needed a makeover – just in time for the holidays.

I measured. Drew a semi-straight black Sharpie line from one edge to the other. And one panel after another,  lopped off a whole long length of curtain.

I’m a meticulous seamstress like that.

There were pins involved. And sewing. Maybe some swearing. Maybe.

But in the end, those former family-room stars emerged from the sewing machine with a whole new look. Sleek. Stylish. Updated.

Valences! And Pillows!

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And free!




Just Down the Road from Overwhelmed

DSC_0612I felt four kinds of awful yesterday. No details necessary,  really. We all know how many real-world ways we can feel like garbage. Deflated. Defeated. Overwhelmed. A little lost.

After work, I grabbed the dog’s leash and set off down the road with the beagle. I imagined that dog’s day and his version of lonely. Drowsily bored and counting the endless ticks from the clock down the hall. Waiting. Always waiting.

Out there on the road, the air chilled my cheeks and fingertips. The day’s
December grays all around me, I searched for any sign of color – clinging a little to the few colored leaves left on a branch here or there. From time to time I breathed deeply – pausing all thought – just to focus on all that air filling my lungs.

Every step, every breath cleansing me. As only the outdoors can.

Why is this a lesson I need to learn over and over?

Beagles walk slowly, smelling each and every inch of the path before them. Sometimes I find this gait excruciatingly s l o w. I am a busy person! I have no time for beagle walking.

But I do.

Really. I do.

Time is another one of those hooks I use to hang my stress on and truthfully, I’ve got a spare 30 to take the dog for a walk. Or rather – take ME – for a walk with the dog.

In those 30 slow minutes of walking and breathing I found my way back to better. One hundred percent better than before. One heckava return on a 30 minute investment, don’t you think?

I guess it’s a lesson I’m willing to learn and learn again. Clarity – for me – comes when I’m outdoors. I can leave it all – and from one day to the next, it all means so many different things – and I can leave it all, out there on the pavement.

I can bring the indoors, OUT.

And leave it there.