Growing through concrete

Yesterday I drove to Chicago and back to see a friend. I drove through the usual mess of road construction and major traffic snarls. The closer I got to the Loop, the more bogged down the traffic got.  As I sat (at a standstill) I glanced at the cement median. Along several cracks in the concrete, I noticed grass and wild flowers growing. Not just growing — thriving.

I considered taking a photo but I couldn’t reach my camera safely. (So I found some similar photos on Flickr. See gallery below.)

I thought about how sometimes we feel like those weeds and flowers. Hanging on by a few fragile roots, in the middle of a hot unforgiving place, with just a tiny fragment of space, little or no resources — but still finding a way to not only survive but to actually bloom.

That trite saying “bloom where you are planted” has truth. I’ve had to move more times than I have wanted. Each time, the process of leave-taking then starting over commences: the good-byes, the leave-taking, then being the outsider, mustering the bravada to carry on, and finally searching for the new “normal.”

I got my first teaching job in the summer of 1985. It was in a tiny town just east of Urbana, IL. The band room was surrounded by a tar and chip parking lot. As I prepared for the first marching band rehearsals, I was pleasantly surprised to see some lovely pink lilies pop up out of the tiny seam between the building and the pavement. My mom told me they were Resurrection Lilies. I later discovered other names for them:  Magic Lilies, Surprise Lilies, Naked Ladies, lycorissquamigera, and Amaryllidaceae.

They pop up out of no where (or seem to), bloom and then whither away all in a week or so. Each year I taught there (four, to be exact), I looked forward to seeing those lilies.

Beauty finds a way. Life finds a way. Always.

 

Then today, I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook wall.

From Word Porn
From Word Porn

 

Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
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Found Words

Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC license.
Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC license.
Public Domain photo found via Flickr (em ha). Norwegia 261 unknown author
Public Domain photo found via Flickr (em ha).
Norwegia 261
unknown author
Public Domain photo found via Flickr (em ha). Norwegia 145 unknown author
Public Domain photo found via Flickr (em ha).
Norwegia 145
unknown author

T.S.R.
Lysvold
1892-1899

From earth I flow, seaward I go,
Refreshing the world on my way.
My duty done, my guerdon* won,
I rise on celestial ray.

Drink, weary traveler, in the Land,
And on thy journey fare
‘Tis sent by God’s all giving hand.
And stored by human care.

*Guerdon is an archaic word meaning reward or recompense.

Bambini 24 image by em ha via Flickr CC.  Public Domain.
Bambini 24 image by em ha via Flickr CC. Public Domain.

I enjoy looking through Flickr photos. I peruse the “Explore” recent photos category as often as I can clicking on all my favorites so I can look at them again in the future. Many of the images are sometimes ho-hum and very predictable, but I usually see something that inspires me greatly. Recently I found a whole series of images “em ha” uploaded as Public Domain items. I’m sharing my favorites here. The wildflower photos are mine, though. (TTQ)

An Abundance of Roses

Image by The Tromp Queen, CC License BY NC SA 4.0
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC License BY NC SA 4.0

The Rose
lyrics by Amanda McBroom

Some say love it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
And you it’s only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance

It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dyin’
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong

Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC License BY NC SA 4.0
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC License BY NC SA 4.0

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.
— Maud Hart Lovelace

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
— Emma Goldman

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

the echo of a tune we have not heard

(Wise words from The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis.)

In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.

Image by Bable Fortin
Image by Bable Fortin “Tear Here” via Flickr CC license

I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.

Image by Mudhavi Kuram
Image by Mudhavi Kuram “Gossip” via Flickr CC license

We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.

Image by Juan de la Obra
Image by Juan de la Obra “Yearning” via Flickr CC license

Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.

Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past.

Image by QuirkyJazz (aka The Tromp Queen); via Flickr CC
Image by QuirkyJazz (aka The Tromp Queen); via Flickr CC

But all this is a cheat.

If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.

Image by QuirkyJazz (aka The Tromp Queen); via Flickr CC
Image by QuirkyJazz (aka The Tromp Queen); via Flickr CC

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.

These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers.

The Tromp Queen, CC license
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

For they are not the thing itself;
they are only the scent of a flower we have not found,
the echo of a tune we have not heard,
news from a country we have never yet visited.

image by dave
image by dave “Taj Mahal India”, via Flickr CC

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.

Image by Nishanth Jols
Image by Nishanth Jols “Together Forever” via Flickr CC

When I attempted a few minutes ago, to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the landscape loses the celestial light… For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world.

Image by Adib Roy
Image by Adib Roy “Jewel” via Flickr CC

Now we wake to find that it is no such thing.

We have been mere spectators.
Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face turned in our direction, but not to see us.
We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance.
We may go when we please, we may stay if we can, no one cares.

Now, a scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable Something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment.

Image by Ali Arsh
Image by Ali Arsh “Grey Heron” via Flickr CC

We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in the universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.

Roses after Rain

Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license

 

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune!

As fair thou art, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I:
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun;
I will luve thee still my dear,
When the sands of life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

I was walking from Princeton University to Westminster Choir College shortly after a brief summer rain. I couldn’t resist taking photographs of some lovely roses as I strolled along the sidewalk. The poem popped into my head as I was cropping the photos.  I realize my roses are not red, but the poem insisted on being included in this post.
 
 
*poem by Robert Burns

Art in Bloom, part 2

image by Jill, The Tromp Queen (Creative Commons license: attribution-noderivatives-noncommercial 4.0)  Milwaukee Art in Bloom exhibit 2014
image by Jill, The Tromp Queen (Creative Commons license: attribution-noderivatives-noncommercial 4.0) Milwaukee Art in Bloom exhibit 2014

More photos from the Milwaukee Art Museum’s special exhibit Art in Bloom.

 

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First Week of April: Beautiful Blooms

Beautiful Blooms!

The Milwaukee Art Museum recently hosted an exhibit of floral arrangements displayed side by side with the art works that inspired the florists.  Here are a few of the displays for your enjoyment.

Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.
Image by The Tromp Queen, taken at Milwaukee Art Museum during 2014 Art in Bloom exhibit.

images for inspiration — final days of march

March 27

Embed from Getty Images

 

March 28

"Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy." by BK   Attribution-NonCommercial License
“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.” by BK  symphony of love  — Attribution-NonCommercial License

(See more Buddha quotes here.)

March 29

"Strawberry fields en Central Park de NY - en memoria de John Lennon" by KINO   Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
“Strawberry fields en Central Park de NY – en memoria de John Lennon” by KINO
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

March 30 — Art in Bloom at the Milwaukee Art Museum

From Jean Selep at Selep Imaging Blog — Art in Bloom 2008 at the Milwaukee Art Musuem

Read about this event here: http://jeanneselep.blogspot.com/2009/03/anticipation-milwaukees-art-in-bloom.html

I took lots of photos of this year’s event which we visited today!  It was spectacular!!  I will share them and my thoughts about the day in a blog post very soon.

March 31

"Brightness: www.InnerFla.me website quotes by Andrew Jones" by Andrew Jones   Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
“Brightness: http://www.InnerFla.me website quotes by Andrew Jones” by Andrew Jones
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Sorrow prepares you for joy.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eddi_07/4684277955/
Image by Eddi via Flickr CC license.

Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house,

so that new joy can find space to enter.
It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart,
so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.

Image by James Wheeler via Flickr CC
Image by James Wheeler via Flickr CC

It pulls up the rotten roots,
so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.
Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart,
far better things will take their place.”

– Rumi

This Rumi quote has been in my draft posts for quite a while.  I believe I found the quote through Soul Gatherings, and I saved it thinking I might have something profound to say about it eventually.  I chose a few photographs to enhance the imagery and in the process my thoughts got a kick-start.

I do read more (and different meanings) into this quote now than I did last summer, though. The anniversary of my dad’s death is quickly approaching (Feb. 4).  It will be two years since he died, and I find I still have a lot of baggage to sort through emotionally and spiritually.

Dad's funeral flowers, image by TTQ CC
Dad’s funeral flowers, image by TTQ CC

Also, most of you know I’ve been adjusting to (and grieving for what was left behind, really) all the changes this last year brought. I left a home and community of loving, creative, supportive friends after 17 years (and also left our 18-year-old son there to finish his senior year of HS).  I’m still very much up and down in how I’m feeling about and dealing with all of these issues from day-to-day, even now.

This Rumi quote has, at times, made me angry as I browsed past it in my drafts.  “Sorrow prepares you for joy? Yeah, right.  I’d rather avoid the sorrow part, thank you very much.”  I didn’t/don’t want things or people swept violently out of my life then or now — the sorrow is still very present some days.

But then the older and wiser me chimes in.  Yes, I realize sorrow is indeed an integral and unavoidable part of life. Change happens. For better or worse: It happens to us all.

image by Alexander Boyes via Flickr CC
image by Alexander Boyes via Flickr CC

I continue to have Faith and Hope.
I always believe that I’m going to slog through it,
that I will find equilibrium again,
that the fog will eventually lift.

image by OnceandFutureLaura, via Flickr CC
image by OnceandFutureLaura, via Flickr CC

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. 
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.*

I’ve watched nature programs enough to know that after devastating, ravaging forest fires come meadows of lush new grass and rich swaths of wildflowers.

My internal voice gives me encouraging words:

Dawn over Webster Lake, image by TTQ CC license
Dawn over Webster Lake, image by TTQ CC license

The darkest hour comes just before dawn.

Olbrich Gardens, image by TTQ CC
Olbrich Gardens, image by TTQ CC

Weeping may last through the night,
but Joy comes in the morning.
(Ps. 30:5 NLT)


Arboretum Gardens in Madison WI, image by TTQ CC
Arboretum Gardens in Madison WI, image by TTQ CC

For everything there is a season, 
a time for every activity under heaven. —
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.**

first leaves, late March at Gov Dodge SP, image by TTQ cc
first leaves, late March at Gov Dodge SP, image by TTQ cc

On the positive side, I am on alert for the new green leaves and roots: both figuratively and literally.

Literally, I planted a lot of spring blooming bulbs in our new yard. I will be thankful and happy when I see them.  I look forward to fragile new growth as summer follows spring, as the roots and leaves grow larger and greener each day.

UW Madison Arboretum, image by TTQ CC
UW Madison Arboretum, image by TTQ CC

Figuratively, I have made some small forays to find and make friends and to begin to send out roots and branches (creatively, musically and otherwise).

I am thankful for each of you who read my blog.  Many of you have been hanging in here with me for pretty much the whole year I’ve been at this.  I appreciate the friendships that have sprung up, the emotional and creative support and inspiration I gather (and hopefully share), and the incredibly kind and thoughtful comments exchanged.

I just tried to find a comment from many months ago that has stuck in my mind.  I looked through all the pages of comments from all my posts and could not find it. I’m not sure who said it, but I DO remember the meaning of it.  I must have either posted something very short or re-blogged something I found interesting but did so saying I didn’t have any coherent thoughts or time to share them because of the move and all the goodbyes and such — and someone very kindly said (and I’m paraphrasing): That’s fine.  Don’t worry.  We’ll be here waiting for you on the other end of it.  When things get back to normal, we will be here ready to hear about it.  

Thank you for caring.

*lyrics by James Taylor from “Fire and Rain.”
**excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3, New Living Translation.

The thingness of light: James Turrell

James Turrell, Houghton Skyspace
James Turrell, Houghton Skyspace (Photo credit: mira66)

“I want to look at light, rather than have light illuminate another thing,” says artist James Turrell. “I’m interested in the thingness of light itself, so that light is the revelation.”

“There is truth in light.”

English: James Turrels "Space that sees&q...

This guy BOUGHT A CRATER in Arizona and has been working to turn it into a work of art for the last 30 years!!

James Turrell

Satellite view of Roden Crater, the site of an...
Satellite view of Roden Crater, the site of an earthwork in progress by James Turrell outside Flagstaff, Arizona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two separate shots side-by-side looking up toward the ceiling in the middle of the Guggenheim Museum in New York during James Turrell’s light exhibition Aten Reign. cc license Shankbone

I have always been entranced by the color of light at different times of the day and how it illuminates the air itself (or so it seems at certain moments).  Monet, other Impressionists, and artists in general experimented (and still do!) with new techniques to attempt to capture light on canvas.  The best photographers are masters of capturing the nuances of light, shadow, color and contrast.

Here are a few of my attempts to capture light:

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In June 2009, my family went on a camping trip to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana.  We have been there dozens of times but this day was magical.  The fog had settled into the chasms and was lifting as the sun beams began to peek into the caverns.

Thankfully I captured several photos before I dropped my camera on the rocks and it landed in a small stream.  True story! My camera was relatively new and I had to spend part of the next day to go buy a new one because we were just starting our vacation.  But these photos and the fact that they somehow survived the death of my camera, more than made up for the loss in my opinion.  These are some of my favorite photos EVER that I have taken.

On the trail that day we talked with some people who said they had walked that trail usually about 2 times a week for at least the last 20 years  but they never saw the light like it was that misty morning.

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Inhabit my days

English: Tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor) f...

I will not die an unlived life.  

English: One of the many small snails that inh...

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

Et bål

I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.

magnolia bloom
magnolia bloom

I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
-Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.

Who knew?

Who knew that Helen Keller and Martha Graham were friends?

Hellen Keller visits Martha Graham’s Dance Studio

These two incredibly intelligent, creative, wise and strong-willed women were friends.  Both were and are internationally famous.  As I read about their friendship and refreshed my memory about their individual accomplishments I discovered several quotes from each of these ladies I’d like to share here.

Click on this link to read more about the friendship between Helen and Martha:  Dance Is Like Thought:  Helen Keller visits Martha Graham’s Dance Studio by Maria Papova on brainpickings.org

Link to the book mentioned in the article above: Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings by Craig Brown

Helen Keller quotes:

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

Red Rose macro with Helen Keller quote
Red Rose macro with Helen Keller quote (Photo credit: IronRodArt – Royce Bair (“Star Shooter”))

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

Friends
Friends (Photo credit: Leonrw)

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.

Contentment
Contentment (Photo credit: Ian Sane)

As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.

Sunflower

The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.

Ant at Work
Ant at Work (Photo credit: DavidDennisPhotos.com)

It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.

Sunset

I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world.

magnolia bloom
magnolia bloom

What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.

Inner Peace
Inner Peace (Photo credit: JeneaWhat)

The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.

photo by quirkyjazz

Martha Graham quotes:

Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.

English: Children dancing, International Peace...
English: Children dancing, International Peace Day 2009, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The body never lies.

skinny-page-on-martha-graham
skinny-page-on-martha-graham (Photo credit: creativelenna)

The body says what words cannot.

The body is a sacred garment.

Touching : Earth and Air
Touching : Earth and Air (Photo credit: ipythias)

Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

Endpapers of Martha Graham
Endpapers of Martha Graham (Photo credit: Crossett Library Bennington College)

Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.

Portrait of Martha Graham and Bertram Ross (19...
Portrait of Martha Graham and Bertram Ross (1961 June 27) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.

It's been a musical week in our house. The rai...
It’s been a musical week in our house. The rainy evenings are condusive to practice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.

dia 036
dia 036 (Photo credit: rogerblake2)

First we have to believe, and then we believe.

BELIEVE
BELIEVE (Photo credit: spitfirelas)

The only sin is mediocrity. (Videos below — The Heretic and Night  Journey)

DSC01158
DSC01158 (Photo credit: ellemorgan)

30 minute documentary:  A Dancer’s World (1957)

Narrated by Matha Graham

Tribute to Martha Graham

Joy and Beauty

“Let the beauty of what we love be what we do.” — Rumi

Thank You
Thank You (Photo credit: drp)

I have a necklace that has this Rumi quote on it.  This is what I endeavor to do with my life every day.  It isn’t always easy to stay focused and to be in that zone of creativity/beauty/joy, but I do make that my goal.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” — Rumi

Flow, river, flow
Flow, river, flow (Photo credit: spodzone)

Doing things from your soul.  Yes, it takes energy and some days you just would rather be a slacker and stay home in bed.  But once you put yourself out there and get moving, you realize that who you are and what you do matters greatly to those around you.  I have been experiencing and living in this river of joy this week.  The college students in the choirs I accompany surprised me at our last concert with bouquets of flowers and much pomp and circumstance.  (There was a throne, a crown, a dozen red roses, a bouquet of flowers, a box of tissues, and alumni returning to sing with the choirs not one but TWO songs sung in my honor!!) I was overwhelmed by their generosity and by the things they said and did to express their love and appreciation.  They gave me a scrapbook full of letters.  Some were beautifully illustrated and amazingly creative and others were written on plain paper with a pencil.  ALL of them touched me deeply.  They all in their individual styles shared stories, memories, gratitude, appreciation and wishes for a bright future for me.  I was and am overwhelmed.  Did I already say that?  Well, I was.  I am.  What a wonderful thing to be told that I have made a difference to and had a positive impact on so many of these young lives!  I will never forget what they did for me.  Their words and actions will stay with me in my heart forever right with the memories of all the joy and music we’ve shared over the years.

“I have found the joy no tongue can tell,
How its waves of glory roll;
It is like a great o’erflowing well,
Springing up within my soul.
There is Joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Oh, the half has never yet been told!”
— Barney Warren (hymn written in 1900)

bubbling brook.
bubbling brook. (Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

“But listen to me. For one moment quit being sad.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.” — Rumi

in November
in November (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These quotes about being quiet to listen for blessings dropping and about choosing joy are ones that I also find inspiring.  My mom and I were just talking about this today.  I said, “Some people are just determined to be unhappy.”  True!  It takes a certain core of fortitude to seek out and choose to recognize (and then embrace!) the joy.  It is always there.  Sometimes it is deeply buried and we feel the darkness settling in.  Living through those times takes endurance, family, faith, friends — most of all it takes LOVE.

“We can not cure the world of sorrows but we can choose to live in joy.”  — Joseph Campbell

“Joy does not simply happen to us.  We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” — Henri J.M. Nouwen

Choose Joy
Choose Joy (Photo credit: denisedaysmith)

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” — Ps. 30:5 New Living Translation

Sunrise 30-4-2011
Sunrise 30-4-2011 (Photo credit: Mundoo)

“Yahweh, your God, is in the midst of you, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” — Zephaniah 3:17 WEB (World English Bible)

JOY to the World!!!
JOY to the World!!! (Photo credit: Jeanette’s Ozpix)

A dear friend of mine sent me this scripture from Zephaniah recently when we were needing to make the decision about taking the new job and moving to another city.  I really like the imagery of being calmed with LOVE and that an eternal being (God) would rejoice over me with singing.

Another friend reminded me of this Dr. Seuss wisdom:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
— Dr. Seuss

I have shed many, many tears this week:
Many, many tears of Joy —
A few tears of sorrow.
I also smiled.  I smiled a LOT.

I am sad that it is over.
But I am VERY, very, very glad it happened.

Love heart
Love heart (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The edge that crackles

A Wild Cherry in flower. Français : Un Merisie...
A Wild Cherry in flower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I work with some absolutely phenomenal people on a daily and weekly basis.  I am a professional pianist.  One of my jobs, is to play for undergraduate voice majors during their weekly lessons and performances.  One of the professors I work with was taught by voice teacher Thom Houser.

That professor, my good friend Sue, sent out this poem when Thom died  a while ago.  I spoke to me, and I saved it.

This is what Sue said when she sent the poem:
Thom loved this poem. He devoted his life to helping us

“be more ourselves…”

Is this not what a great teacher does?…help us to find more of who we truly are, deep inside.
There is true joy in each of us if we stop enough to hear it sing.

(photo credits for blooming crabapple gallery:  quirkyjazz)(JillHasker)

The Wild Cherry Tree

Why does the wild cherry tree
blooming
on the Hudson
make everything
more so
more itself?

So the green
of the elm is greener than
when it stands alone,
the sky
bluer.

So you
are one of those
who make others
more themselves
more what they
are!

Of those who draw them to the extreme verge,
the edge
that crackles:
that is
your beauty:
that is what
you do.

Hilda Morley

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
― Rumi

Shams of Tabriz as portrayed in a 1500 paintin...
Shams of Tabriz as portrayed in a 1500 painting in a page of a copy of Rumi’s poem dedicated to Shams. BNF Paris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Impatient for blooms

It usually happens in February.  I get the urge to make a quilt using wild and crazy colors and/or a wild and crazy pattern.  I eagerly await the emergence of Spring flowers.  It seems to take forever.  Every single year.  I am an impatient resident of winter.  It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the beauty of winter — I do!  But by the time February rolls around, my eyes are feeling deprived of color and of sun.

IMG_0291

One of my favorite “Spring” poems is this one:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

BY A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

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I am about a few decades older that the person in this poem. I most likely don’t have even 50 more springs to see the branches “hung with snow” — with those lovely white and fragrant blooms.
I certainly plan to enjoy each and every spring (and every moment of every day!) for all the years I have left to live.

I love taking photographs of flowers.
I love all kinds of flower, but I seem to gravitate to roses, spring blooms and to day lilies.
I even take pictures of flowers in vases and pots that I happen to have at home.

I took a few pics of the potted hyacinths and tulips I bought this week (Valentine gifts for my two teenagers).

Here are some of my favorites from other seasons and times (all taken by me):

I just found these beautifully inspiring Big Blooms by Paul Lange today. Please follow the link to see Lange’s photographs. It is worth a look.

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/paul-lange-big-blooms

As a prominent fashion photographer for 25 years, Paul Lange has had his photographs featured in such publications as Vogue, Glamour and Elle. It was only eight years ago that he decided to make the switch to Fine Art photography, using the skills he had acquired in fashion to create his own original series. Big Blooms, which was started back in 2007, is a series that gives us a fresh new appreciation for flowers. He calls it Big Blooms because his photos of the flowers are blown up or as he says, “thrown out of scale.” With every single portrait, he takes into account lighting, line, form and composition, using the same approach he’s used in portraiture or fashion.
–quote from the blog by alice on mymodernmet.com