It’s winter in Minnesota. After several warmer than normal winters the past few years, this January has been cold—bone chilling below zero wind chill cold, need to wear long underwear layers indoors cold, wearing 3-4 layers outdoors cold. Fortunately temperatures moderated a bit this week and we’re having a short thaw, enough to clear some of the ice off roads, streets, and driveways but not enough to melt all the snow on the ground. Another big snowstorm is on the way so we won’t see the end of our white-covered ground any time soon.
It is challenging time of year for me. I’m not a lover of cold weather nor am I one of those Minnesotans who relishes bragging about conquering the challenges of slippery roads, shoveling snow, and below zero wind chills. It would be great if I enjoyed ice skating, cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, and other outdoor sports, but I don’t.
Some days when the weather is particularly bitter I briefly fall into a mid-winter funk. If I’m lucky I remember to focus on loving what is.
Loving What Is
“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”
— Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
Since I live in Minnesota, I love living in Minnesota (except in the winter-time) and I don’t plan to move anywhere else, it makes much more sense to find something to love about this time of year—to practice loving what is.
Finding ordinary beauty
Recently I’ve been loving making photographs of the cold snowy outdoors from within my warm house. Tracks of animals in the snow, hockey sticks propped up against a bench near the pond behind our house, snow falling, prayer flags blowing in the cold winter wind, and snow-covered pine trees all challenge me to see if I can create images that portray the beauty I see.
Reading is one of my favorite pasttimes
Cold winter days are a perfect time to curl up under a cozy blanket to read. Last week I read 2 really great books.
The first book I read, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is a teen fiction book. It took me only a few pages to become mesmerized by this story. The author speaks in the voice of a teen girl who moves between two worlds, the poor neighborhood where she lives and the suburban school she attends. When she witnesses the shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend by a police officer her life becomes complex and sorting out how to be true to herself and speak out becomes more important to her than staying safe and fitting in. It’s a powerful book.
The second book I read, Marrow: A Love Story, by Elizabeth Lesser, is a memoir about the journey of two sisters uncovering their love for one another through a bone marrow transplant. It’s also a story about understanding oneself, healing childhood hurts, practicing mindfulness, finding purpose, acceptance, and love.
Collaborating with friends
I’ve begun working on a project in collaboration with a friend who is a musician. The project will include photographs from my Wild Altars photograph series to create a video/slide show using music composed and performed by my friend combined with my photos. We hope to make this slide show available for physicians’ waiting rooms, healers’ offices, and other places where the magical healing of nature and music would be helpful. My friend and I are both super excited about this project. I ended up re-working all of my Wild Altar series photographs from a square format with dark framing to a rectangular format with no framing. It was like taking a happy journey down memory lane revisiting these photographs and often making improvements in my edits from the original ones.
Next week I continue making photographs for my Makers’ Hands series. I plan to photograph 2 different visual artists at work. This series continues to intrigue me and challenge me to improve my skills.
So the journey of loving what is continues as I fill my days doing what I love, practicing gratitude, seeing beauty in ordinary life, and connecting with friends and family who light up my life.
Where does your journey of loving what is take you?
May you walk in beauty.