Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A New Practice

As for many of you, photography has been like medicine for me. Learning to express myself by making pictures has opened my eyes and my heart.  I've learned not only the craft but also the art of photography, such that I feel like a new person from the inside out.

This blog, Pic Me Up, was a necessary and important place for my creative growth. I've reviewed my work and set new directions for my photography practice. I love that we evolve, that learning never ends, and that our creative work reflects these changes. Or, perhaps our creative work drives the changes we see in ourselves? Either way, I feel gratitude for the ability to recognize what has importance in my life, to visualize those experiences, and make a very personal photograph that is art.

My new practice has a new home. Like Medicine For Me is my daily photography practice, a no-frills journal. One picture, a few shared thoughts, no comments, no followers, no fancy galleries or navigation. Stop by for visit from time to time and see what's new or drop me a note. It's always a pleasure to talk with you!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Time of My Life

I began this blog in March 2010 just after my husband’s second battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and stem cell transplant. And I named it Pic Me Up because I wanted to make pictures that might encourage and give hope to both me and my readers. 

Pic Me Up has been a vehicle for learning photography and honing my writing skills. I’ve learned to make pictures that tell stories, ones that move me deeply.

Pic Me Up has given me a safe place to grow. I’m learning to let go of expectations, control and the need for approval. On these pages I’ve come to embrace imperfection and practice compassion.

And along the way, I’ve made significant and meaningful friendships, deeper than I could have imagined, marked by kindness and affection.

But, now it’s time for a break. And maybe an end.

This last year has been challenging. Our family is changing as our youngest son is off to college and beginning his own great adventure. We faced my mother’s progressive dementia and made the heart-wrenching decision to place her in a long-term care facility. There is sadness in this choice but also relief.

It feels as though the time is right to move on.

Art is a gift and I plan to continue making things that count. 

I thank each of you for sharing - your heart, your artistic expressions, your time and your wisdom.

You made my world better every time you visited. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Worth Considering

I am amazed by and grateful for the workings of synchronicity in my life such just the right people and things land in my life at just the right time. One of the greatest benefits of social media is that it opens more avenues for those connections, making the world seem more expansive and more small at the same time. Learning new things, re-considering, thinking differently . . . like trying on a new outfit or sampling a new recipe . . . fuels my creativity.

And all good things are better when shared. So here's my latest good find - Nicole Gullota and her literary food blog, Eat This Poem. In addition to her blog, Nicole shares a monthly newsletter through her digital club for creative types, The Right Brains Society.

Here's an excerpt from Nicole's February 2016 newsletter ~

During one of my spare moments during maternity leave, I watched Elizabeth Gilbert give a speech on OWN, and in it, she did something shocking. She spoke out against passion and in praise of hummingbirds.

It all started in Australia. After visiting her Facebook page after an Oprah event, Elizabeth discovered a comment by a distressed woman who said her entire life, she’s always been interested in many things, but nothing had stuck the way Elizabeth described. This woman’s heart and soul had many passions, and she felt bad for not having pursued one wholeheartedly. She felt inferior, somehow. 

Elizabeth was struck deeply, and began formulating a new idea. This is where the hummingbird comes in. There are two types of people in the world, jackhammers and hummingbirds. Jackhammers, like Elizabeth, are intense and driven, removing obstacles and focusing on only one goal in their path. They’re ruthless and, she admits, difficult to be around on occasion. Hummingbirds are the opposite. They drift from flower to flower, driven by curiosity, “pollinating” different interests over the years and contributing with unique skills. Most of us, I imagine, are hummingbirds. 

I found this distinction between jackhammers and hummingbirds fascinating.  I am clearly a hummingbird, and I cannot begin to tell you what a relief this is for me. I've often felt I was lacking when it came to passion as I simply do not have one driving goal.

One of the joys of being a hummingbird is that I never grow bored or lose interest in making things that count. I don't have to make the same old pictures over and over again. I can fly by sewing, flit over to picture-taking, hover above writing, feed on museum visits and start my journey all over again. Every. Single. Day.

Sharing a few of my favorite pictures from a recent trip to Richmond, Virginia when everywhere I turned I saw something worthy of artful recording. Curiosity is the best travel guide.

I wonder, are you a jackhammer or a hummingbird?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What I'm doing now

There is a new energy, a new feeling coming into my life. My life is changing and it is fun - nothing about my circumstances has changed only my perspective has changed. This is a beginning.

I'm joining in The/now page movement, created by Derek Sivers. The idea is to include a page on your blog or website that summarizes your priorities and helps you to stay focused.

What I'm doing now . . .

I'm in Virginia, staying focused on things that matter most. I'm spending my time on these things –

. . . being a partner to my sweet husband and a mother to my two grown sons

. . . helping to care for and support my mother who has dementia

. . . staying fit by walking, cycling, hiking, practicing yoga and taking group classes

. . . reading, praying and meditating - often with a cup of tea

. . . preparing and enjoying healthful food, cooking at home, mostly

. . . exploring, wandering, discovering – artful adventures to museums and cities, movies, visiting historical sites and rural America

. . . spending time with friends, either in person or through correspondence – cards and letters

. . . getting a good night's sleep – curfew 11pm

. . . making pictures and other creative endeavors like quilting or writing

. . . enjoying a slower pace and a simpler life

Along this same notion, that declaring our values and setting our priorities is good, come some wise words from Holly Wren Spaulding that resonate with me. 

Despite my energetic and enthusiastic nature, I’ve chosen to actively resist the glorification of busy. More is not more. At least not in my case. More too often means that I feel anxious or fragmented. My focus suffers. My attention wavers . . . 

Busyness keeps the radio on, the tv, and the phone, which pings insistently until we become habituated to reading each text as it arrives, regardless of what else we may be doing: conversing with a friend, preparing carrot soup, tending our newborn, driving, running, walking, listening to the wind, sleeping.

I'm letting go and trusting in the process of life. I'm learning to set limits on how much I will do or tolerate and to say "no" when appropriate.

This is what I am doing now. I'd love to hear what you are doing now.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Holy Kale!

When our youngest son left for college last fall, we missed him like crazy.

But there were a few upsides. Less laundry. Cheaper grocery and utility bills. Cleaner home. More freedom.

And as it turns out a few unexpected downsides. With our smaller nest, meal planning and grocery shopping seemed a big chore. Really, isn't it just as easy and no more expensive to eat out? We fell into the trap of eating out too often . . . and even worse, drifted into eating in front of the television. After so many years of family meals at the table, I was just worn out. My zest for cooking gone.

But, after a few months, eating out lost its charm. Too expensive. Portions too large and too salty. Food overly processed or just not tasty. We both found ourselves missing my cooking and our time together over a really good meal.

We've slowly weaned ourselves away from unhealthful foods – limiting sugar, pasta and white bread. No cookies, chips or junk food in our pantry. But as we cut back on less healthy food choices, we were left with a void.

We need some new new recipes, some different ways of cooking with new ingredients and methods, and we're in this together. I'm the chef and my husband is the line cook. He does what I tell him to do. I like this. He does not. He says I'm irritable when I'm hungry.

From time to time, I'll share our cooking adventures here.
Part food photography.
Part recipe review.
We'll cook our way to health and happiness.

Tonight's meal was this Power Green Salad from Sprouted Kitchen that tastes as good as it looks.

This crunchy salad features kale, black lentils, chopped apple and cucumber, toasted pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese with a honey dijon dressing. As any good cook will do, I tweaked the recipe a bit - adding a little more or less of each ingredient according to our preferences. I don't care for garlic, so I only used a half a clove in the dressing, and I didn't add any salt at all. We found black lentils at Target in a pouch, already cooked - a big time saver.

Next up, I plan to try a few recipes from the latest book by Anna Jones, a modern way to cook

I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Please send or post recipes you've found to be tried and true.  Many thanks from the Chef and her helper.

And, have you watched the PBS show, A Chef's Life?  It's a wonderful mixture of reality and food and southern charm. A great warm-up for an afternoon in the kitchen!

Friday, January 15, 2016


Behind the scenes, for every picture or story I share here, there is a real world of activity, sometimes slow and self-paced, sometimes fast and furious.

This week there was a trip to my physician to tackle a genetic tendency toward cholesterol and A1C numbers of the not-so-good sort, a very difficult decision to enlist the services of a home companion for my mother who has dementia (my sisters and I are exhausted from work and worry), a first-time appointment with a psychologist to help me navigate the struggles of life, and the usual chores and errands of home.

But there was also the most glorious breakfast of yogurt and granola and fresh fruit. I've switched to full fat plain yogurt, adding a few teaspoons of homemade vanilla syrup, along with chopped apple, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, banana, orange, topped with crunchy homemade granola.  I don't care for the artificial flavor of store-bought vanilla yogurt. The do-it-yourself version is subtly sweet and compliments the tartness of the yogurt perfectly. The whole milk yogurt has enough fat and protein to keep me full. And making granola is fun and easy and it turns out consistently just right.

Other things that made me happy -

~ handwritten letters, both received and sent
~ a new-to-me cookbook, A modern way to cook by Anna Jones
~ a Fujifilm instax mini 8 camera - just for fun

I had a week of #GraceBeginnings playing along with Bella Grace Weekly - January Challenges.

Jan. 11 – My neighborhood is. . . vibrant.

Jan. 12 – I feel lovely when I wear it. . . this scarf, a gift from Miss Polly, like a soft brush that paints me with color. 

Jan. 13 – A time I said yes . . . to shared experiences, taking a class, and learning to draw.

Jan. 14 – Beauty with age. Being older doesn't mean being invisible.

Beauty with age. Gray goes with everything.

Jan. 15 – Show us your favorite words. Even in the middle of winter, I long for Carl's frozen custard.

And of course, among my favorites are I love you, Thank You, Please, and I'm sorry (when it needs to be said). I have a file folder full of inspirational quotes and passages from books I hold dear.

But these words really make my heart sing.

Come on, you know you love 'em, too!

Wishing each of you a restful weekend with rejuvenation for another week of challenges ahead. Donna

Friday, January 8, 2016

Manifesto for Saying Yes

I've been reading The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, and I am encouraged by his notion of how play and a sense of fun can be blended into the serious side of life . . .  so that I might rejoice in the thing that God has made me to be.

An artist delights in her work.

Recently, someone asked me, "What do you do with all those pictures you take?"  Followed closely by "Do you get paid to take them?" At first, I was taken aback and did not know how to respond. The questions triggered a defensive feeling. I gathered my courage, giving the only answer that felt right, "I take pictures because it makes me happy. It's fun."

The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.  – C.S. Lewis

In keeping with my word of 2016, kindness, I'm establishing boundaries and setting some guidelines for what I'll say yes to.

Yes  . . .  
. . . to a camera that goes with me everywhere, everyday.
. . . to pulling off to the side of the road and making the picture my heart tells me to make.

Yes  . . .
. . . to adventure, exploration, discovery and wonder.
. . . to travel by foot whenever I can and fresh air with deep breathing.
. . . to making things.
. . . to learning from others.
. . . to passion - for the pen with the perfect nib, a homecooked meal, a new houseplant.

Yes  . . .
. . . to old-fashioned mail.

Yes  . . .
. . . to friendships that bring out the best in both parties.
. . . to helping someone else.
. . . to books and music and museums.

Yes  . . .
. . . to letting go of old habits.
. . . to waiting and stillness and quiet and boredom.
. . . to valuing myself and my time.
. . . to being fearlessly authentic and transparent.
. . . to asking for help.

My personal philosophy of fun rests in laughter and ease and the spontaneity afforded by a looseness of schedule. If it makes me feel light and happy, it's fun. And while I realize that not every day can be fun, I'm surely seeking more fun. And places where photography is encouraged.

I am hopeful with anticipation and positive expectations. And I hope you are, too.

P.S. If you aim to bring out the best in yourself and your work, visit Brenna Layne and her wise words on living an unmistakable life. And if you'd like suggestions for thoughtful and compelling reading that might help you to grow closer to Christ, check out this booklist from the Unedited Movement.