Many of my photographs are taken at the North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I have expressed gratitude for birds, trees, ponds, frogs, you name it, and most of my photos that illustrate gratitude are taken at this special place! Tonight I am grateful for the reservation itself. It is a place where one can go to stroll along paths through woods and fields. There I hear the cacophany of numerous bird species, each bird vying for attention or jockeying for position in the “pecking order.” I walk, listen, watch, touch and inhale the forest. It has become a sacred place for me to run to when I need a respite from the work that I do. Whether spring, summer, fall, or winter, the reservation compels me to be more mindful, to observe more closely, to listen more intently, and to watch more alertly. I am indeed grateful for the North Chagrin Reservation.
At times Autumn proves to be a difficult time for me. I love the spring and summer and want to make those seasons last for as long as possible. Autumn means we are heading into cold dreariness. Yuk. But since I’ve been practicing mindfulness on a daily basis, I’ve noticed a measurable change in my perceptions. One day this week when I got home from work, I was struck with the stunning beauty of trees that line the back of our property. As the sun was dropping lower in the west, it’s rays lit up the tree in all its brilliance. I was so taken that I ran inside, grabbed by camera, and shot a few photos. Even afterwards, I sat on our porch (bundled up due to the dropping temps) and gazed at the tree, the leaves as they decorated our lawn (yes, decorated!) and let my mind wander. Those few minutes–less than fifteen–from the time I got home to the time I finally went in for the night, were the most calming I’ve had all week. It occurred to me that if we stay present in the moment, we see things in a different light. It’s all about perception, and perception is what breaks or makes our days. Yes, the cold is coming (is here), and there will be snow. But today, now, the leaves are brilliantly painted in reds, oranges, and golds. And they are beautiful. And I am reminded that there is beauty and wonder in every season as there is in every age. Today I am greatful for Autumn leaves and the lesson they teach me.
My old Pentax Spotmatic, a classic!
Richard knows how much I enjoy photography. He smiles (most of the time) when I unexpectedly blurt out “Pull over,” as we drive down the highway because he knows I see something that is photo-worthy in my eyes. Richard, the dear man that he is, accommodates my obsession. I don’t think many men would do that. Photography was a hobby of mine years ago when the kids were still “ankle biters.” Back then I shot almost exclusively in black and white. “In the olden days,” as my grandchildren might say, cameras used film and film was expensive. I had a darkroom in the basement, but with the cost of chemicals and equipment, not to mention exorbitant amounts of time (it never failed that as soon as I was at some crucial point of the film development/printing process in the dark room, one of the kids had an emergency that only “Mom” [moi] could address), created a dilemma. I reached a point where I had to choose: Mary’s orthodontia, Mica’s running shoes and chiropractic visits, Tim’s art supplies, children’s school expenses, etc., or photographic expenses for my hobby? The choice was clear, so I put away my camera and in time forgot about artistic endeavors. The kids grew up and moved away. I met and married Richard. Then, when Richard and I were planning a trip, my twin brother from Colorado sent me a point-and-shoot camera ~ a loaner ~ so that I could record our trip. Once I held a camera in my hand, then shot that first frame, I was flooded with memories, and the “bug bit” once again. That was four or five years ago, and now in addition to that “loaner” (which Steve finally told me to keep) I have a DSLR and never leave home without one or both of the cameras.
The thing about this particular hobby is that I get to share the wonderful sights and happenings that I experience with anyone who is interested. The world is a marvelous place in many ways, despite the ugliness we see every day and are bombarded with through every medium imaginable. It is easy to forget the beauty in life. Through this hobby I not only see the beauty, I am privileged to share it. In fact, I feel compelled to share not only the beauty, but the emotions evoked by that beauty with all who care to see and to feel. Although I continue to consider photography an enjoyable hobby, it is also a piece of my life’s calling, or purpose if you prefer. I am preparing to become a psychotherapist, and art therapy and photography will be a part of what I do from here on out. Each of us has something that inspires, motivates, brings satisfaction or joy, and can be shared with others. Our hobbies are often expressions of our inner strengths and creativity. I am grateful for the many wonderful hobbies each of us delves into, and how those hobbies express our joys and contentment, our creativity and giving spirit. 🙂
We just returned from a glorious vacation where our travels took us through beautiful landscapes. We were both mesmerized and humbled by the beauty of the natural world. We thanked our Creator for not only the beauty that greeted our eyes, but also the intricacy of the ecological balance in nature that sustains this beauty. I am humbled and grateful for nature’s splendor,