The tree was up, except for the star. The star was lost.
Well, not exactly lost. Last Christmas, it didn’t get put away when I took the ornaments off, and when I discovered it, I didn’t have time to put it where it belonged. So I tucked it into a little safe place where I’d find it when it was needed.
Now it was Christmas again, and no star. I looked in places it might be hiding. I remembered just enough of last year to know what I’d done, but not where I’d put it. I hung the ornaments, put out other decorations, and figured the star would show up in the process.
Two days before Christmas, I was sitting in my chair reading, when I glanced over at our tree. It was lovely but incomplete. Out of utter frustration, I stood up in the middle of the room and declared, “OK, I give up! I need help. Where is the star?”
My eyes went immediately to the bookcase. There laying across the tops of a row of books sat the box I’d been seeking.
The moral of the story? I don’t know — there may be more than one. But I’ve been thinking about loss this Christmas season, and we all know something about that.
Whether you’re the one who’s lost, or you’re feeling the loss of someone or something near and dear to your heart, I hope you also know comfort and joy this Christmas season.
Even if you don’t feel merry.
©Shirley K. Weyrauch, 2019
The Palouse in southeastern Washington
At one point in my life, I would have said I was not creative. Over time, I’ve discovered that I am. It’s still a surprise and a little hard to claim.
I sing in a vocal ensemble that performed recently. Our program included a piece by Sarah Quartel, titled “Wide Open Spaces.” Here’s a link to our performance. The lyrics are below the link, if you’d rather read it, but the lilting melody is catchy.
“Wide Open Spaces”
There’s part of my story,
there’s part of my song,
there’s part of my journey,
that’s yet to be found.
With life all around us,
there’s so much to see,
adventure is calling,
it’s calling to me.
Out in the wide open spaces around me.
With big sky above me,
I’m on my way.
Scanning the horizon
of a brand new day.
Feet to the earth now,
there’s no turning back.
Into the world now,
look at me, look at me go!
Out in the wide open spaces around me,
out in the wide open spaces around me.
But as I journey out,
I look within and see,
the spaces inside of me,
yet to be filled,
filled with what I have seen
and what I will be, Oh!
I’m filling the wide open spaces inside of me,
with something I love,
something I would like to be, be, be.
Filling the wide open spaces inside of me.
Filling the wide open spaces within me.
This could become my theme song, as it refers to both the outer and inner spaces we each encounter.
About a year ago, I joined a local poetry club, so once a month, I’m learning about and writing poetry. Last summer, I took one giant leap of faith and attended a week-long writing seminar where I signed up for the poetry intensive. We each submitted a poem as part of our registration, which was critiqued by the group over the course of the week. I was relieved when mine was one of the first to be reviewed, and the process wasn’t as intimidating as I’d feared. In addition, I discovered I enjoy writing in the company of other women, having previously considered writing a solitary activity.
Mo'omomi, Molokai, Hawaii
I also love photography. Through participation in photography workshops, I’ve traveled to stunning wide open spaces. My soul is saturated with images of the places I’ve had the privilege of visiting. More than that, I believe the people with whom I shared those experiences have had a profound impact on me.
They’ve encouraged me in both my photography and writing. They’ve helped me explore wide open inner spaces that I might not have otherwise. Many have become peers, mentors and lifelong friends. Sharing their creativity freely has given me permission to explore and share my own in ways I would never have thought. My website, blog and book all came to life since beginning this exploration into creativity.
What about you? Do you believe you’re creative? If not, why not?
When have you taken big steps outside your comfort zone? What would it take for you to do it?
Who’s been a mentor and encourager to you?
Glacier National Park
©Shirley K. Weyrauch, 2019 (text and images)
If you enjoy my writing and images, please check out my book, Following the Bread Crumbs. It's a collection of devotionals and includes original photos. www.shirleyweyrauch.com/book.html
I was reading an article and mistakenly read “gratitude degrees” instead of “graduate degrees”. At first, I just thought, “oops! Freudian slip!" But then I realized it’s an interesting juxtaposition of words. Are there degrees of gratitude? How many different ones can I imagine?
What about degrees on a thermometer? I pictured one of those large wooden cutouts organizations use to indicate progress toward a goal. If I measured my gratitude in degrees of temperature, would it hover somewhere near the bottom or burst out the top?
Next I considered geometry - the degrees of a circle. Ninety degrees would be two pieces of pie or a right angle. A half moon would be 180 degrees. Three hundred sixty degrees is a complete circle, like one of the rings on your finger. How would the measure of my gratitude be described geometrically?
An expansion of the geometric idea would be geographic. Degrees of longitude and latitude. In this way, I can pinpoint with precision the places I’m most grateful for and the location of my family celebration. (I’d hate to miss those pieces of pie…)
The last one was the most obvious, given what I’d been reading - college degrees. What degree would I be granted upon examination? A Bachelor’s degree? (For some reason a BS in gratitude doesn’t really appeal.) A Master’s degree would be great. I’d love to be able to say that I’ve mastered gratitude, but I think I still have some work to do. I’m not even sure what a Doctor of Gratitude would involve. Do you know anyone who’s achieved that level of gratefulness?
I appreciate you indulging me in this exploration of gratitude. However you choose to measure it, whether it’s lukewarm, angular, circular, geographic or advanced degree, I hope you have plenty for which you are grateful this Thanksgiving Day.
I know I do.
Full moon - 360 degrees.
from oak trees
kerplunking on our house roof
announcing fall is the season of letting go.
©Shirley K. Weyrauch, 2019
Our Southern Border, 2019
Look at me.
Do you see me?
I am Somebody.
I am somebody’s.
I am a daughter,
I like to play, I love math, I cook with Abuela.
I sing my brother to sleep.
Look at me.
I have feelings -
I love, I laugh, I cry.
I get angry, I know fear, I know tenderness.
Look at me.
I could become a singer,
a teacher, an astronaut.
I might cure cancer.
Look at me.
Do you see me?
I could be Your Daughter,
Look at me, behind this chainlink fence.
You think you know me.
You do not.
I am Somebody.
I am a girl.
©Shirley K. Weyrauch, 2019
This was written at the 2019 International Women's Writing Guild summer workshop during a session led by Dorothy Randall Gray.
Some of the oak trees in my woods retain their dead leaves until spring, when the new leaves finally push them off. Marcescense is the technical term for that retention of dead plant organs which would normally be shed.
I wonder why they do that - there must be some value. Several theories have been proposed. Perhaps it protects the new buds from the harshness of winter. They might act like a snow fence, causing snow to collect beneath the tree providing extra moisture in dry areas. Maybe they create a layer of mulch in the spring when they finally fall. Those dead leaves may make the tender shoots and branches less palatable to the animals who would nibble on them through the long winter. I haven’t discovered any definitive answer for why this happens.
It did make me wonder…am I clinging to anything that isn’t serving its purpose anymore?
What would it take for me to let those things go?
Will something new grow in its place?
If you enjoy my photos and ponderings, you might appreciate my book, Following the Bread Crumbs. A brief selection and more information are on my website at http://www.shirleyweyrauch.com/book.html
I keep coming back to this image. I took it in Pienza in 2017 during a photo workshop. I’m not sure what drew me to it then nor what keeps calling me back, but I identify with it in some deep way. I heard David Whyte read this poem the other day on a podcast, and I think the first few lines of it are part of my answer.
Stone (Thobar Phádraig)
The face in the stone is a mirror looking into you.
You have gazed into the moving waters,
you have seen the slow light, in the sky
above Lough Inagh, beneath you, streams have flowed,
and rivers of earth have moved beneath your feet,
but you have never looked into the immovability
of stone like this, the way it holds you, gives you
not a way forward but a doorway in, staunches
your need to leave, becomes faithful by going nowhere,
something that wants you to stay here and look back,
be weathered by what comes to you, like the way you too
have travelled from so far away to be here, once reluctant
and now as solid and as here and as willing
to be touched as everything you have found.
I felt like the woman was gazing at me as I was gazing at her, and yet she was looking into the distance. There was a longing with which I could identify.
I keep coming back to this image.
Hear David Whyte reading the poem here.
I found this keychain in the Smoky Mountains. Biographical or prophetic?
Headed Somewhere…Resolutions 2019
“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra
I read with interest and dismay many of my friends posts about their resolutions, ideas and plans for 2019. Interest, because I love my friends, and I enjoy learning what’s on their minds and hearts. Dismay, because I had no desire to write such a thing myself.
At this point in 2018, I had plans. I knew what workshops I wanted to attend for photography and writing, I’d registered and paid my deposits. I had plans with family, plans for summer camp, plans with friends. Plans, plans, plans. I knew where I was going.
This year? Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Blank calendar. I couldn’t even generate any enthusiasm for figuring it out. Have you ever been there?
I have a new journal, but I didn’t even start writing in it until ten days into the new year.
Something will surely stir me from these doldrums, but for now I’m just waiting. I don’t like waiting. I like knowing where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.
I’ve put my own spin on Yogi’s quote above:
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
If I find the answer, I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I’m headed somewhere.
This root-bound rock along the river bank in Smoky Mountain National Park caught my eye as soon as I saw it. I had ideas about using it as a metaphor for the things that bind us or hold us back. Little did I know it was soon to be my reality not a metaphor.
I had a right total knee replacement ten days ago. It was outpatient surgery, which in my mind meant I’d be pretty much good-to-go or they wouldn’t send me home. Right? Not exactly. It still meant I needed a high level of care for the first few days, I just needed someone at home to provide it rather than being in the hospital. Thank goodness for sisters who are nurses and a spouse who will get up multiple times through the night.
Those roots in the photo are the cords, hoses, wires, and gadgets that keep my knee constantly cooled to reduce the swelling and my legs compressed to prevent blood clots. I’m on a short leash and for the first few days, it was a lot to manage. It’s gotten easier every day, and the restrictions are gradually being reduced. I suppose chafing at the binders is a sign that I’m healing, and that’s all good.
Soon I’ll be gazing at this photo and thinking in terms of metaphors again. What about you? What’s holding you back?
While I was in the Smoky Mountains, I found myself fascinated by the windows in the old cabins and houses at Elkmont. I'm pondering that and will be sharing more with you soon, but here's a tiny preview to keep you wondering. I love both shadows and reflections...how could I resist both in the same shot?
Shirley K. Weyrauch
I love reading, writing, and photography! Spending time with my family and friends around the kitchen table is about the best occasion I know. I'm just beginning to stretch my creative wings, so here's to gentle breezes and clear skies.