Friday Photo: It’s Just Like Life

fall trees in California

It was the juxtaposition here that caught my eye; the hovering between the change of seasons, between permanence and the fleetingness of the moment. I ride by these trees every day, hurrying to school, never stopping to look up or notice.

It wasn’t until this month, when the light changed and the air cooled that I really noticed them – that I really stopped, looked up, and paused. It was the position, really, between the durability of the palm with its strong backbone, its wide, graceful fronds against the fragility of the pistache, finger-thin branches freeing themselves of vibrant red and yellow and orange debris.

It’s just like life.

One minute, we’re enduring life, riding the bumps and bruises and crests of the moment. We’re holding fast, occasionally throwing our arms up in glee, knowing that the immutability of what we know to be real is there to keep us safe. Strong. Comforted.

And right next to us, close enough to touch, a blaze is extinguished. A force at once vibrant and animated, slowly shedding its color in preparation for the next season. The next stage. To go dormant, to conserve its energy for what is yet to come. Fragile. Fleeting.

Both equally exquisite. Both equally elusive. Both equally extraordinary.

It’s just like life.

So I stopped my bike and snapped a photo.

Friday photos are a snapshot of life, a moment in time, an image that lingers. They’re my attempt at capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary – taking a pause to breathe in the moment in this wild and fleeting life.

p.s. – I think you might enjoy these Friday Photo moments from weeks gone by, when I captured a last gasp of summer, Dia de los Muertos and a harvest. Click over and take a look, and please, let me know what you think.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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True Beauty

“Now we make you ugly, my mother said. She whistled. Her mouth was so close she sprayed my neck with her whistle-spit. I could smell beer. In the mirror I watched her move the piece of charcoal across my face. It’s a nasty life, she whispered.”

~ from Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

What is the definition of true beauty? I’ve often written about beauty; the beauty found in nature, the beauty of motherhood, and the beauty of simplicity populate this blog on a regular basis. I find my soul searching for beauty in the everyday moments of life, my heart clinging to those images that I fear will be simply flashes in an overly full life. Beauty, in my world, is found in the landscapes that surround me, the spirit of my children, and the thought that right now, this moment, is everything it needs to be.

But after reading Prayers for the Stolen, the opening quote above has lingered in my mind. What does true, human beauty look like, and how does it influence how we see the world, and how we interpret the moments of our lives?

Mary Wollstonecraft believed that “Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.” Does physical beauty hinder a woman’s ability to be seen as an entity onto herself, trapping her in some sort of self-imposed prison? Our media would certainly have us believe the contrary; daily we are barraged by messages of power and strength born through a beautiful exterior, with intelligence and inner fortitude taking second place to air brushed images of ‘real women’ on our social media feeds.

A few years ago I wrote about Iran’s banning of the Barbie doll, and in some ways, I agreed with their attempts to squelch the stereotypical image of westernized beauty – in my own home, I had experienced a similar ‘banning’ of Barbie for my own daughter. Although not a fan of censorship in any form, their alternative to Barbie did seem more physically realistic. As a mother, I’ve attempted to create a home where strong, healthy bodies are honored and valued over what type of clothing or make up we adorn those bodies with. I’ve hoped that these words for my own daughter echo those of Eckhart Tolle when he reminds us that ‘If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” I want my daughter to harness the power of her inner beauty,blooming into a woman who is seen first as a beautiful human from the inside out.

I hold onto the hope that together, we can teach our girls that physical beauty is not the end goal of womanhood, and also that physical beauty doesn’t have to hinder us or force us into fallacious roles adopted out of some perceived societal expectations. I hope that our daughters will learn that true beauty burns from within, that beauty is no indicator of intelligence, and to truly grow into woman hood, as Mary Wollstonecraft reminds us, “[I]f we revert to history, we shall find that the women who have distinguished themselves have neither been the most beautiful nor the most gentle of their sex.” Beauty, in my world, has no bearing on success, happiness or an ability to chase our dreams. True beauty, in my world, comes from the inside out or the outside in. It really doesn’t matter how we get there, as long as we eventually find it.

This post was inspired by the novel Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement.  Ladydi was grew up in rural Mexico, where being a girl is a dangerous thing.She and other girls were “made ugly” to keep protect them from drug traffickers and criminal groups. Join From Left to Write on February 18 we discuss Prayers for the Stolen. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Creamy Miles of Quiet

Quiet at Donner Lake
Quiet at Donner Lake

“Creamy miles of quiet….Giant swoop of blue.” Naomi Shihab Nye

I pull the car over, suddenly, a little bit recklessly

and ask you to take a photo

to capture that moment that I feel should last just a second longer

the tranquility, the stillness, the beauty

of that flash in our ordinary day.

I want to envelop it in pale pink satin and wrap it around me

gently forcing it into every pore of my skin and

pushing it deep into my core.

That twinkling of light, and silence,

and you

and creamy miles of quiet to come.

Words on silence inspired by January prompt-a-day with writealm.com

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Worrying

Rainbow
Rainbow by Cameron Wolfe

“I think these difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes around worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” – Isak Dinesen

Something to think about…

What are you spending your energy worrying about, instead of noticing the richness and beauty of life right around you?

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Double Delight of Beauty and Friendship

Double Delight beauty
Double Delight beauty

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing:

that is enough for one man’s life.”

— T.S. Eliot (The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism)

This double delight was right outside my door today,

bursting forth with vanilla scented deliciousness,

 flowers tipped in fiery pink.

When she blooms,

sometimes I walk right by

not noticing

or taking the time to stop.

But this day,

in this moment,

I paused,

and thought about this rose

given to me by a dear friend many years ago.

I remembered our tears when she left

and our smiles when we catch a glimpse of each other

every few years.

The double delight

of beauty and friendship.

Beauty is all around us. All we need to do is pause, look, and she is there.

Tell me, where did you find beauty today?

 

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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