Saturday, December 31, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for the last day of the year}

For the past couple of years now, instead of creating a whole list of New Year's resolutions (that I will unavoidably break by 3 pm on the first day of the year), I have tried to listen to God for a word that will point me in a direction for the year.  Last year, my word was engage.  As much as I struggled through a difficult season most of last year, I tried to engage - to show up - and be really present in whatever was going on around me.  The result?  I feel an aliveness that I have not felt in a LONG time!  The heaviness of a trudging season has lifted and I find myself in wide open {breathing} spaces!!

Over the last week, I found myself turning inward, being grateful for the word "Engage", and asking what the word for twenty-twelve might be.  I have had quiet mornings, sitting in my big red chair with only the lights of the Christmas tree illuminating the darkness.  (I am not only thankful for words, but also for the fact that my kids have entered the teenage stage and love to sleep late on holidays!)  I asked the question and waited for the answer.

At first there was nothing but quiet...although that in and of itself is a gift...but as I waited, there was a small stirring.  And that tiny awakening began to take shape into a whispered word....CONSISTENCY.
To be honest, I was hoping for something a little more exciting, so I listened for a few more days, but the song of "consistency" kept finding a rhythm in my heart, mind, body and soul.  My entire being was confirming that, yes, this was the word for me to enter into this new year.

I am not totally sure how this word will form itself in my life...that is also part of the ongoing listening process...but I can see my need for some consistent rhythms.  I have let some small habits go that need to be captured back and consistently practiced.  I need to consistently nourish my body (by eating well and moving); I would like to consistently find quiet moments to read, pray, and meditate; I need to consistently love those around me; I would like to consistently write.

Consistency...consistency...consistency.  What will it look like in my life in 2012?

So what is YOUR word?  What is the word that keeps tumbling through your heart like clothing in a dryer?  What is the word that keeps showing up even when you are not looking for it?  If it appeals to you, take some quiet moments as we start this new year and ask.  Then listen....see what happens.  God just might have a word for you too and it could be a delightful surprise that unfolds itself throughout the year!

Happy New Year!!

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays..or Thursdays}

With all the hustle of getting ready for the holiday season, I could feel my body needing a slow-down moment.  This morning I got up and as the sun was rising in our foggy air, I went out with my camera to capture the images that my eye was inclined to was so quiet and beautiful (and a little on the chilly side.)

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What To Do???

Rumor has it that some of you have NOT done your holiday cards yet!  I've thought and thought about it, but the execution has been lacking.  Plus, you really wanted a good picture of your family to be the masterpiece of this year's chronicle of adventures, right?  But you couldn't pull everyone together, and now it feels too late.

Not to worry!!  First of all, I say start a new tradition!  Why send your cards when everyone else is?  Why not wait until the dust settles and send a picture/note to friends and family in January (say, as a New Year's Card), February (Valentine's anyone? or this year a "Happy Leap Year" Card!), or March (a "we're so happy Spring is around the corner" card). might want to try to take the picture while everyone is together over the next few days!  So here are a few of my favorite tips for a good family picture:

1.  Make Sure Everyone is Comfortable - in other words, keep it relaxed and informal.  As cute as everyone may be all dressed up, someone is bound to be grumpy because of it.  Better to have good attitudes in blue jeans (or jammies) than fake smiles in suits.  Just saying...
(no better time for a family picture - of the kids - than Christmas morning!)
2.  Do Something - kids (and dads) like getting their picture taken SO much better when they are doing something.  Hold hands while taking a walk, maybe a picture of everyone riding their bike (don't run over the kind photographer!), or for that Leap Year picture, why not jump?

3.  Don't Worry About Eye Contact - I know we all like a good look-at-me picture, but when it comes to kids (and parents) sometimes it is totally impossible to have everybody making eye contact with the camera.  Maybe look at each other?  It will make it seem like you like each other and will probably have you cracking up too!

4.  Trade - ask a neighbor to come over and take your family picture and then do the same for them.  Last year I set the camera on our garbage can and used the timer.  Garbage can....neighbor...whichever is closer!

5.  Get Outside - natural light is so much nicer and flattering than the harsh glare of the flash.  Go outside...even if it is cold.  If it is, you can all snuggle together to keep warm and it may be your favorite family picture yet.

6.  Fake It - if you absolutely CANNOT get a picture of the family, go to Target and buy a picture frame with some good looking family in it.....JUST KIDDING!!

Here is our Christmas card from this year. fancy eye contact....trying to blow bubbles....traded (a friend of mine took the pictures)....and outside. 

May your Holidays be wonderful!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

We cleaned out a member of our family's (who will remain nameless) room the other day. Much to my shock and horror, we found STUFF crammed into every nook and space in the area. There was STUFF behind the bed, under the bed, between the desk and the wall, in the closet, in every drawer and in the overflowing garbage! STUFF, STUFF, STUFF, STUFF, STUFF....Three bags full!!

Why do we live with so much STUFF? Why do we feel the compulsion to accumulate? What does it do for us? Maybe it makes us feel safe..."if I have all this stuff, bad things won't happen to me"; maybe it makes us feel prepared..."you never know when you might need a ____________"; maybe it makes us feel powerful...."I have more stuff than you, therefore I am better".

Most of the time, however, I just think it happens because we stop paying attention. We hunt, gather and store, like our ancient ancestors, but we, unlike them, don't have any reason for it!

One thing I know for sure is that "stuff-ness is suffocating"...and the funny thing is, we don't even know it. Accumulating is a giant anaconda squeezing its victim just a little bit more with each exhale, so the lungs can't open to their previous capacity. We are suffocating under the weight of our STUFF and we don't realize it until we sweep it into a pile and haul it away.

Three bags (and I mean giant sized-garbage bags!) into our "take-back-my-room" campaign, I could almost physically hear the sound of a full inhale and exhale. Air was reaching into the depths of oxygen deprived lungs! The family member remarked how much better he/she felt and how all of life felt more clean and spacious!

You see the clutter wasn't just occupying space in his/her room, it was crowding out his/her soul as well. Getting rid of the clutter released the soul.

And here I am, writing this at a time of year when we are all running out to buy more STUFF. We need to get lots of STUFF for people who already have more than enough STUFF. We try to STUFF ourselves with food and call it celebration. Every commercial is about more STUFF we can't live without. What is a girl to do? I just checked the color of my skin to be sure it wasn't turning Grinch-green.

Maybe we can't stop all our STUFF compulsions, but maybe, just maybe we can choose not to buy more STUFF just for STUFF's sake. Maybe we can give gifts of experiences, or maybe just a gift of company and a cup of coffee or tea.

Maybe the real gift is NOT giving more STUFF to our loved ones! (How would you put a gift tag on that one?)

And maybe we should give a small gift to ourselves too....finding a small space to clean out - a drawer, the floor of our cars - and getting rid of the STUFF that clutters. Who knows maybe we might be motivated to tackle bigger STUFF problems!

Now I know this isn't rocket science....we kind of know this, right? But the question is, are we willing to let go ofthe STUFF that suffocates us in order to breathe deeply in wider (though perhaps barren-feeling) spaces?

May we all let go of the compulsion to gather more and more STUFF. May we give our STUFF away or throw it away and find a large clearing and a spacious place. And in that spacious place, may we find we can breathe more freely once again.
Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Little Holiday Spirit?? {Federal Way Family Photography}

Shh...I'd like to show you the cutest little holiday spirit (well, little guy) EVER!!  And I am so lucky because he lives next door!!  (Maybe you remember him from here and here??)

Of course, his parents think he is pretty darn cute too!  And the best present of all this year!!

(Took this a few weeks ago, but thought it was so great I just had to put it in!)

I love the overalls and hands in the pockets!!  What a little boy!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Playtime! {Graham Family Photography}

I haven't seen this sweet family in a couple of years, so I was thrilled when they asked me to photograph them again!!  I love getting to see just how much bigger kiddos are...and to see their personalities bloom!

Of course, our two year old dynamo, Z,  kept us all moving and playing...

 I am not sure they get any cuter than this!!  I think I see the makings of a holiday card here!!

We HAD to take the picture on the left...can you see Mt. Rainier in the background?  Well take a good look because that might be the last time you see it before...ummm...July??  (And of course, Mr. Z loves fire trucks!!  He really wanted to get into the cab and drive, but we settled for sitting on the bumper!)

Near the end, the sun was setting (at 4:15pm!!) and it was getting chilly, but Z was still totally up for play, play, playing!

Thanks S Family!!  It was a pleasure to photograph you three again!!
There are a few more on the Facebook page, or Google +.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Class of 2012: Mackenzie {Graham Senior Photography}

As I photographed Mackenzie, the Emile Zola quote came to mind...
"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud."  I don't know Mackenzie all that well, but I have a feeling she does her share of "living out loud"!!

Mackenzie is just full of laughter, smiles and bubbly personality!  (It was so fun to photograph her!!)

Of course, there is a serious side to this full-of-life girl too...

I love the picture on the right.  I asked her to give me a little "catwalk" attitude as she came toward me, and this is what I got....seems to me, that is her catwalk attitude!!

 I have to say I love a girl who can laugh at herself and be playful!!  May your life hold as much color as that wall behind you, Mackenzie...and may you never forget to be silly and skip along enjoying the colors!

You can check out just a few more images on the Red Thread Facebook page or Google +.... 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Breathe {Inspiration for Wednesdays}

Funny...I was wondering what I should write about today, when a friend of mine called a few minutes ago.  Actually, her 5 year old called, declared she wanted to get a present for my daughter and asked what I thought M would like.  After I gave her a few ideas (don't want to list them here, just in case that girl of mine reads this!) the little girl put her mom on the phone.  At that, my friend (we'll call her A), told me the story...

A had gone to visit her grandmother, now in a nursing home, a few weeks back.  As they came to the end of their visit, A's grandma wanted to give her something.  Of course, she is not allowed to have a lot of things, and especially valuable things, living where she lives - just in case they go missing.  But A's grandma opened a drawer and in it was a ziploc bag within which was a Hershey Bar and $40.  She handed it to A, despite protests, and was adamant about A taking it as a gift.

After she left, A called her dad and expressed to him how guilty she felt about taking grandma's money.  She didn't really need it, and was sure grandma needed it much more!  But A's dad told her to take it, and to teach her kids something through it.

A came home and began to tell her kids a story.  It was a story about a grandma who had always been generous and still was.  A story about how her generosity taught her son (A's dad) to be generous and in turn, that son taught his daughter lessons in generosity.  It was a story about seeds planted in the soil of a family, and how they had grown multiple times over so that now generosity was part of the native landscape of the family.

A explained to her kids that even though she was given this money from her grandma, she didn't really think it was hers.  She explained to them that it was for each of them....each would get $10 to buy a gift for someone else.  And thus, she began watering the seeds of generosity for a new generation.

May we all practice generosity this week - whether we do it from a family culture that has taught us to be generous or whether we are planting fresh seeds in our own lives and families.  May we water that generosity so it grows and grows still more.  And may we reap the harvest of abundance that a generous life brings.

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Siblings...Some Things Never Change {West Seattle Family Photography}

Instead of going shopping on Black Friday, I went and hung out with this much fun!!  

I love the picture on the left...with siblings, some things never change!!  I am not sure what brother is getting blamed for, but it is two against one and I think he is about to lose!

Of course, with so many family members gathered in one place, this little pumpkin just assumes they are there to be her playground....which is totally true!!

(Until she tires of the grownups!)

I love the smiles and laughter of this family....(I don't really want to know what was going on behind me to evoke these reactions!!)

Near the end, it was the grownups turn to really play!  Evidently, this is something the two of them did as kids!

Thank you H Family!!  It was wonderful to spend time with you!!