What Happened to My Snowman?

From the students at my church who brought you “I am Not a Turkey” (post here), may I present “What Happened to My Snowman?”

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“Snowmen shouldn’t go to battle!
They would get shot!
They would melt!
They might get hit by a tank!
Finally, they can’t drive tanks!
Snowmen shouldn’t go to BATTLE!!!”

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“Snowmen shouldn’t sit by a fire. They could start a fire. They could melt.
They could be burnt.
So the kids would have to rebuild them.
So, snowmen should not go by fire.”

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“Snowman shouldn’t go to Hawaii because he would fall in the water and melt. So he gose to dry of by the pom trees and cocanuts will fall on his head. He sits by the shor and out of no whar a shark comes and eats the snowmans head. So the snowman walks up a valcano sens he cant see and he falls in and burns and all that is left of the snowman is a fue fils of lava and unsted of the snowman having a smile he had a frown. The end.”

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“My snowman sholdn’t go in the ocean becues he would get eaten by a whale. And he should get stuck in a turtle’s shell. And he will sink to the bottom of the ocean. Also he will be very sad and not come back.

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“Snowmen shouldn’t drink hot cocoa. They might melt. They won’t look like they looked like before. The kids would have to rebuild the snowman. Finally, the snowmen fall down. Snowmen shouldn’t drink hot cocoa.”

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“Snowman shouldn’t go next to dogs. The dog would eat them up. The dog could lick them up. The dog would jump on them. Finally, they get knocked down. Snowmen shouldn’t go next to dogs.”

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“Snowmen should not go in a hot tub. They would melt. They would drown. Their arms come off and their eyes. Finally, there skarf would disappear. Snowmen should not go in a hot tub.”

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“Snowmen should not go to the beach. They will melt a lot. They might want to go in the water and they will melt. They can not get in the sun. Finally, they will need some ice cream. Snowmen should not go to the beach.”

Kids’ imaginations rule.

That is all.

Dream in Color

“If you inherently long for something, become it first.

If you want gardens, become the gardener.

If you want love, embody love.

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If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation.

If you want peace, exude calmness.

If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint.

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If you want to be valued, respect your own time.

If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself.

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This is how to draw it in day by day, inch by inch.”

– Victoria Erickson, author

(Today’s photos are brought to you by the word “Vibrant.” Random rainbow on my hand during a meeting and the sunset during tonight’s run.)

New Light, New Discoveries

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – unknown

This weekend brought a sunrise run after a good number of evening training runs by flashlight. I was surprised to realize how much of a difference natural light makes. During my night runs, my attention is confined to the small sphere of light bobbing in front of my feet that keeps me from tripping and eating concrete or the stars in the sky. So I guess you could say that I’m less distracted than usual.

But in the light of early morning, everything grabbed my attention, making it tough to focus on the task at hand. Not only was I not used to running in the daylight, I was really not used to running at that early hour. Everything looked so different, even though I took my normal route.

The sky was painted differently.

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I discovered that daffodil buds were poking through.

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As were the first snow crocuses of the year.

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I even found a new heart in the sidewalk. (Because of course.)

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New light, new discoveries.

It wasn’t the best run I’ve had physically, but I was marveling when I got home. I had the overwhelming feeling that life was reminding me of hope and impermanence. Simply put, tough times won’t last forever. Dark, dreary seasons in our journeys really will eventually give way to warmth, new realizations and joys, if we’re open to it.

I guess it makes sense that we need darkness to appreciate the light.

Love From Head to Toe

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I didn’t pay much attention to them at first. I was waiting to pick up my to-go order and checking out my phone. But then I caught these lighted shoes out the corner of my eye.

Ironman-red lighted sneaks.

After I finally managed to look beyond the shoes, I had to check out who they belonged to. Older, a little chubby, glasses, sweater vest, (and did I mention) lighted sneakers...he was sort of a lovable nerdy dude. A grown up in kids’ shoes.

But then I noticed his expression. Followed by his body language. He was attentive to the point of insulation and oblivion to the rest of the world. He leaned in and laughed constantly. The only thing more joyful than his demeanor was the light in his eyes. His eyes danced.

I moved my attention to his companion. I couldn’t see her face, but her gestures, laughter and body language mirrored his.

It dawned on me that I was witnessing new love on a lunch date. I knew they weren’t a long-established couple because it wasn’t comfortably familiar or easy. There was too much giddiness and nervous excitement. No wonder his shoes were glowing without the need for motion-detection. It was adorable.

I don’t know a thing about these two, but I do know that if every person had someone look at them the way that guy looked at her, the world would be a much happier place. He made me laugh at first, but it really warmed my heart.

Little Butterflies

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

Sunday afternoon with my Little Sister at the Butterfly House and the Faust Park merry-go-round. Almost 60 degrees in February.
What a wonderful day.

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We even spotted snowdrops blooming and a little bee friend.

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It’s hard to believe she’s been my Little Sister for a year now!

Just Gotta Look Around

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” – Camille Pissarro, painter
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Tiniest old church tucked in a rundown area…
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Smiles from a building under construction…

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Random dominoes embedded in the pavement in the middle of an intersection.

Beautiful blessings abound for those willing to take the time to look around.

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On a random note. This is Spike, the lovely resident kitty of my favorite local bookstore.

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I’ll Get There Eventually

“Aging is the extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” – David Bowie

So I aged a little bit today. Every now and then, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of something in ourselves that really isn’t as it ought to be. Maybe we’re not as patient or kind as we thought we were. Maybe we could be more careful with our words. Or thoughts. Or actions. Or whatever. Anyway, I caught a glimpse today of one of my “somethings”. It wasn’t a fun realization, but I’m grateful for it. After all, how do we change what we don’t realize needs improving?

But tomorrow I’m a little older. And I get a chance to try to do and be better. How lucky is that?

A few other points of gratitude:

A tiny dried bouquet was carried by the wind right to my doorstep when I got home from work.

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A gorgeous cloud and light show out my office window had me playing an entire scene from the Lion King in my head. I kept hearing Mufasa say, “Re-mem-bah….re-mem-bah” And also Rafiki saying, “Hehe, WHAT was THAT? Very peeeculiar.” Total amusement.

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Tonight was the best run I have had since November. Below is a photo I took from a run earlier this week because I didn’t take a single photo tonight; the run felt too good, too strong. It was as close to pure joy as I’ve felt in a long time.

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The sky was spitting snow and I still have nine neighbors with their Christmas lights up.

Weatherproofing

“When life gives you rain, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles.” – unknown

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Or ride your pink scooter while you wait for the bus.

As I sat at a stoplight on the way to work this morning, I got the biggest kick out of this little girl. She scooted all over her driveway and didn’t give one fig about the weather. I tried really hard to get a photo of her when I was close enough, but obviously that didn’t work out too well. Not only was I moving too fast, so was she.

A much-needed reminder to try to figure out how to make the best of some dreary days ahead.

On a different note, can you spot the face in the raindrops on my car window?

Always Be a Unicorn

“Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”

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Recently I posted about a photography hike and how embarrassed I was about looking weird to other hikers. I’ve thought a lot about that day, trying to understand what I had been so worried about. I finally realized that what made that incident unusual is that I was actually aware that I looked weird. I know my worldview can be a little different, but I try not to dwell on it that much. For an artsy Pisces person, different is pretty much the job description.

But embarrassment and insecurity kicked in again tonight when I dropped by the drug store. Drawn to the gigantic stuffed Hello Kitty in the Valentine’s Day aisle, I ended up on a test-hug spree with their entire selection of stuffed animals. Teddy bears, dogs, lions, and *omg* UNICORNS. I was laughing, having a great time entertaining myself and loving all of the cuddly cuteness.

Until.

I locked eyes with some guy walking toward me with a puzzled look on his face. Yeah, I was hugging a unicorn. For a split second, I tried to decide how to salvage my dignity. Do I quickly shove the unicorn back on the shelf, collect myself, and pretend that I’m an adult? Or….

Oh, screw it.

I grabbed the second unicorn and hugged them both.

You know what? I am 45-years old. I’ve already wasted too much time worrying about what others think of me. Life is too short and I am too tired to be anyone other than myself or deprive myself of fun when the opportunity presents itself.

Unless I can be a unicorn. Then I will definitely opt to be a unicorn.

Sunday Stuff

“This is your Sunday evening reminder that you can handle whatever this week throws at you.” — unknown

Since the anticipated ice didn’t happen today, my Sunday happily turned out to be a little more active than I’d anticipated. Got to go to church, went to lunch with my son, and headed out for a run.

Church brought an unexpected heart sighting next to my car…

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…and more cute kids’ art.

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My run brought lots of ice bits falling onto my head from various trees and power lines. But check out the complete ice leaf that fell to the ground intact from a tulip tree.

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What a lovely surprise!

Sunday runs are awesome because I love the smell of fresh laundry wafting from houses’ ventilation. Somehow this scent makes me feel a little cozier in the cold. Although, I must offer a piece of unsolicited advice from a less-than-average runner: that little sliver of ankle that is exposed between the bottom of your leggings and the top of your ankle socks seems A LOT bigger when the temperatures are in the lower 30s. Note to self.

Blessings on Ice

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This is Archie, the resident cat of our neighborhood hardware store. He was overseeing shopping preparations last night as people poured in to buy flashlights, batteries, candles, water, etc. Not only is he a hard-working kitty, he’s a big, purring love bug.

With a three-day icy forecast, I stocked up on everything we needed to settle in and wait it out. We’ve been home ever since.

It’s not convenient, I’m nervous that we’ll eventually lose power, but I find snow/ice days oddly healthy. They simplify things. They force all of us to pause, live in the present moment and not look or work busily towards something in the future. With only a few emergency personnel exceptions (and thank God for them), our work really isn’t as time-sensitive as we so often feel. We can adjust. Work from home. Even if it’s just for a day, we realize that if we don’t have health and safety, we don’t have anything.

And perhaps, most important and obvious, days like this are an exercise in gratitude. Our cats monopolize the floor heating vents, but we’re warm. We have blankets and heat. We have days’ worth of meals, drinks, and snacks. Our choice of healthy nosh or crap. We have a roof over our heads while the world outside is coated in ice. We’re safe, dry, and without struggle. Obviously we’ll have some issues if the ice compromises our power, but that, too, will be temporary. And we’ll adjust. It will be alright.

Even in the midst of an ice storm, we continue to be blessed beyond reason.

The Heart Knows

“Let your heart guide you. Listen closely, it whispers.” – unknown 

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I’m not sure when it started, but I seem to have developed a thing for spotting hearts. Rocks, tree knots, oil spills, ice patches, leaves, grease spots, mud clumps…you name it, they’re everywhere.

Over time, I’ve tried to share some of my heart sighting photos on Facebook and Instagram — and several friends have been kind enough to share their own heart sightings in return. Few gestures are more meaningful or rewarding to me, as one of my goals for my photography is to encourage people to see things differently. But recently, a friend really got me thinking. She sent me a heart leaf photo that a friend of hers had posted. The caption explained that when she and her children spot a heart shape, they say their granny has come to visit.

Hmph. I’d never thought about that.

I’ve always referred to these hearts as “life’s love notes,” but it never occurred to me that they could actually be signs from someone. What a neat and comforting thought! If this is actually true, I’m not sure who visits me so often, but I sure appreciate the love.

I spotted the above heart carving on a tree trunk this afternoon and had to laugh because it could possibly be my name faded at the bottom. I didn’t do it, by the way. 

On the Surface

With temperatures outside in the 50s, I decided to grab my Canon and head out for a walk in the woods. I didn’t have anything in mind when I set out, but I settled into a photo project that I really enjoyed.

But as I took pictures, I noticed some curious looks from other hikers. Weird looks. “What is she doing” looks. It finally occurred to me that they didn’t know what was in my viewfinder. Ohhhhh…..they probably think I’m taking pictures of dead trees! You’d think that a 45-year old woman would be through with the self-conscious phase, but I was embarrassed that people might be thinking that I’m weird.  So I started glancing over my shoulder to see who was around before lifting my camera. I even faked tying my shoes when someone walked up while I was squatted for a photo.

Finally, an older woman stopped me and said, “What could you possibly find interesting out here this time of year?” Feeling foolish, my first inclination was to say “nothing” and go on my way. But then I shrugged it off and figured I’d just tell her the truth. I explained that I was fascinated by the enormous variety of textures, patterns and colors of tree trunk surfaces. Also, I’ve always been so fixated on the leaves that I’d never really taken the time to check out the rest of the tree.

She paused for several seconds, glanced around, and said, “You know, you’re right. I’ve been walking these trails for years and I’ve never thought about that. Thank you — I’ll start looking around more.” Then she said something that made me want to cry. She said, “I’m inspired now.”

I don’t share this story because I did something special or because I have any profound insight about anything. I want to share a valuable reminder I took home today: stop being embarrassed by who you are. Stop trying to hide what’s important to you or what you find beautiful or interesting. Sure, on the surface, someone might think you’re weird. That’s okay. On the flip side, your perspective could also be meaningful to someone else and help them see things differently. Be brave enough to share yourself. Or at the very least, don’t worry — you’re okay just as you are.

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