I’ve been wanting to start a new blog series for awhile now, but I just couldn’t pinpoint exactly how to go about doing it. I wanted it to focus on the joy of ordinary moments, and I wanted it to force me to slow down long enough to not only notice all the good things about life right now, but also take the time to capture it in a photo.
Since I decided to quit doing photography for clients last year in 2021 (since I just couldn’t handle doing that on top of the flower farm and my part-time job at the local newspaper), I’ve noticed that my drive and my ambition to improve and push my photography has considerably weakened. I’ve gotten lazy in my picture-a-day resolution (something I’ve been doing daily since my oldest was born), and I felt like I was losing the skills I’d built up over time.
Something that’s been interesting is that even though the past several weeks have been hard since finding out about my missed miscarriage, I’ve also been filled with gratitude for all the good and beautiful things about my life lately (because there have been a lot).
I know the world is an uncertain and scary place right now–and my heart aches for all those who feel unsafe and who are being driven from their homes–but I also know that it does me no good to dwell on things I have no control over. Instead, I find reassurance in boldly and resolutely seeking out the good that still exists everywhere and in helping out however and whenever I can, since there is always someone that can be helped, no matter where you live in the world.
So my new series is this:
Take pictures of beautiful things.
Notice the goodness in the ordinary.
Note: There are affiliate links to any specific books or products mentioned in the series, which means I may get a small commission on any purchases made through those links.
i. appreciating my family as we are, right now
With winter stretching on endlessly and our emotions raw from everything that’s happened lately, I desperately needed a mental reset, and I knew my family needed one too.
So we planned a somewhat impromptu trip over the Presidents’ Day long weekend down to Moab, which is three hours southeast of us and considerably warmer this time of year.
As we soaked in hours of sunshine while hiking in Arches National Park and spent time just having fun together and seeking out new experiences, I came to a powerful realization:
While I fully believe we’ll be able to get pregnant again (and likely soon) and that another child will join our family, I can also be perfectly happy enjoying us just as we are, right now.
And even if our dream of having another child never comes to reality, I am at peace with that, too.
ii. the necessity of winter
I recently finished the book Wintering by Katherine May, and it’s definitely made me re-frame a bit how I think about winter. While winter has always been my least favorite (and most difficult) season of the year, her book helped me to realize the importance and necessity of seasons in life and in nature that force us to slow down and go within ourselves a bit more (to hibernate, if you will).
Perhaps nothing has driven this point home so well as starting the flower farm last year.
Flower farming–while it may seem glamorous–is hard, exhausting, sweaty, constant work. No matter how much you do in any given day, you could (and should) be doing even more to take care of the plants, market the business, or plan ahead for the future.
By the end of September, I was so burned out and exhausted that, for the first time ever, I welcomed the first killing frost with open arms, thankful for the chance it gave me to just take a break from it all. I was even worried that my passion and enthusiasm for cut flowers and for the flower farming process was lost forever in the exhaustion I felt at season’s end.
But, after winter forced me inside and without much opportunity to actively work on flower farming, my body and brain had a chance to rest and rejuvenate, and now I’m more excited than ever for my second season.
So, while I may never “love” winter (or how long it seems to last), I can now more fully appreciate how very necessary it is.
iii. the children’s burgeoning independence
I’ve consciously been working on letting go more lately. Letting go of wanting to have control over everything, letting go of certain expectations.
I’m also working on letting go of my tight grip on my children.
Perhaps part of my tight grip is due to the fact that we unexpectedly lost my nephew fifteen years ago when he was just shy of 3 years old, which has definitely made me a more paranoid parent perhaps than most. Perhaps the other part is due to living in a safety-obsessed world, as well as a world that is quick to point the finger at parents whenever anything goes wrong.
But my oldest is suddenly not so little, and she desperately wants more responsibility, more freedom with age. And my boys are just the same — sure, they love to cuddle me and stay close by my side for many new experiences, but they are also eager to explore the world, to test their own strengths and abilities.
So I’ve been taking time each day to let them have a little more freedom, forcing myself to wait for awhile before swooping in during tense situations between them.
I’ve also been consciously allowing them to help out much more around the house (helped out by reading Hunt, Gather, Parent, which was a good kick in the pants), teaching them new skills that I’d previously just done myself. I taught Raven how to brown hamburger meat and scramble eggs on the stove the other day, and my sons have been collecting and sorting eggs, helping with the dishes, and setting the table.
Rather than rush to just get things done on my own when they are engaged elsewhere, I’ve been taking the longer route and inviting them over at most opportunities to help me, to learn, to practice.
And I’ve been astounded–awed–at how capable they are, at how quickly they learn, and how eager they are to truly help out.
iv. christmas cactus
We have an ever-growing collection of houseplants, each one lovingly tended to weekly by my husband.
Here’s another example of appreciating the importance of each season–several of our houseplants only bloom in the winter or after long periods of dormancy, like our two Christmas cactus plants and our orchids.
If I had the blooms year-round, I would quickly learn to take them for granted, but seeing as how the flowers are fleeting and far apart, I appreciate them so much more, especially in the depths of winter.
Whenever I look over at the blue dresser in our sunny window, I see the green and the blossoms spilling over, cascading down the sides, and I love the pause that it gives me in my daily routines, the gentle reminder to slow down and appreciate the beauty that’s right in front of my nose.
v. i have today
Back in 2017, after a slew of really hard things, I started experiencing some pretty intense anxiety. In spring 2019, the anxiety got so bad that I had to go on medication just to function.
Currently, I have not struggled with anxiety at all for several months and haven’t had to take medication in over a year, something I regularly fall down on my knees and pray my gratitude for, because dealing with mental illness makes everything in life infinitely harder.
When I was in the throes of my anxiety battle for all those years, something I got all too adept at was catastrophizing everything, no matter how minor.
With the war breaking out in Ukraine this last week, my mind keeps wanting to jump to the worst conclusions, the worst possible outcome for us all.
But a tool I’ve also gotten more adept at in the past several years is focusing on the present moment and consciously practicing the art of feeling gratitude.
So for the past week, I have been (intensely!) feeling gratitude for my children, my husband, my home. I am thankful for plenty of food in my cupboards, for warm blankets to snuggle under at night. Every time lately I’ve shopped at a store, dropped my daughter off at school without fear, and gone outside to hear only hushed streets and the drip, drip, drip of the snow melting, I am filled with gratitude that I have the beauty of an ordinary day to enjoy.
I hope you’ll take a moment to comment below and share some of the things YOU’VE been appreciating and noticing lately. I know we could all use a little more beauty and goodness right now!