snowga: is the snow doing yoga??

FROZEN: the real-life set (okay, it's our front yard)

This is what we woke up to on Saturday morning, following a great big snow storm. It felt like we’d stepped onto the real-life set of Frozen! Really, really beautiful. Much of the snow has been shaken from the trees by wind, but what remains are some pretty wonderful works of art.

Today, as Tru and I were waiting for the school bus, I looked up and noticed little pieces of ice and snow hanging from or standing on branches. It was like watching yoga masters in gravity-defying positions (how do they get that way and stay that way!?). So, I’m calling this series of snapshots “snowga”…the opposite of hot yoga, I suppose. And I’ve given all the positions names. Because I can.

snowga: ice and snow doing yoga positions?

I’m calling this one The Picasso.

snowga: downward heart

Hello, downward heart.

snowga: tiny snow sculptures in gravity-defying positions

The Frozen Half Moon

tiny ice sculpture, suspended in middair, courtesy of mother natureThe Shivering Warrior

snowga: yoga by snowThe Escaping Dragon

Wishing you lots of tiny miracles today, friends! Namaste.

finding happiness with the ghost of winter past

the happiest people find beauty...via livlane.com

We’re now a full month into spring. I see photos of blooming flowers and green grass and flip flops in my Facebook feed and long for them. See, here in Minnesota, winter loves us so much that it doesn’t want to let us go. We got 6-8 inches of snow several days ago, which slowly began to melt over the weekend – but another snow storm blanketed us in white again last night.

snow covered branches on blog

There are plenty of things that suck about this spring white-out. But you know what? Fighting it and complaining about it does not seem to be helping me or bringing spring to us any quicker. So, I’ve decided to bask in it…relish it…celebrate it. Yes, really.

When I first started blogging in 2006, I posted photos and reflections of something beautiful in my midst every day for a full year. It transformed the way I see the world. The act of choosing beauty became a habit that has lasted and nourished me all these years, reminding me to find the good – in the mundane, in darkness, in sorrow, in a never-ending winter.

So, I decided to look back through my blog and find some favorite winter beauty sightings from the past…to celebrate what is and be reminded of winter’s wonders until it changes to something else. Wanna choose beauty with me?

angel in the ice, photo by liv laneI will never forget walking out my front door in March 2007, photographing the melting ice and then seeing an ANGEL – clear as day, right? – before my eyes. Winter magic, indeed.

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Icicle bicycle! This is not an uncommon sight here (I took this pic in February 2010). Some people ride their bikes even in the dead of winter. Not me…but I so admire their tenacity and resilience.

frozen eyelashes in snow storm

When you’re raised in the frozen tundra, cold weather doesn’t phase you – from snow-covered scarves to frozen eyelashes! This is Ryder, who came inside after sledding in 2009 for a quick break before going back into the cold. Brrrrr!

snow on flowers - october snow storm

I almost forgot it can also snow in early fall, as evidenced by these flaky flowers from October 2010. These red mums were on our front step and I love the contrast of the white snow against the bursts of red.

deer in winter woods

The bare branches and white backdrop of winter allows for wildlife sightings, like this beautiful deer I photographed in 2007. Actually, I just saw three of them yesterday through a patch of trees. They always take my breath away.

riding a tricycle through the snow

This remains one of my favorite photos I’ve taken over the past few years: Ryder, at age 3, riding his tricycle down the snowy street. Despite my initial protests, he would not let the frigid weather deter him.

Whoomp, there it is: I found the beauty in you, old man winter. Lots of beauty. But please remember absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m pretty sure I’ll love you even more if you go away for a while. How does six months sound?

 

the beauty of leaving home

I’m coming down from a beauty high, after spending the past few days in California. I found myself so many times whispering “thank you, thank you, thank you” for the goodness around me. I love the way travel allows me to see beauty in new forms, new places, a new light – but also how it reminds me of what I love in my own daily life. By the end of the trip, I started to miss the autumn leaves, my comfy bed, my boys’ precious smiles.

It is so good be home – but gosh, I’m so grateful for all these beauty sightings during my days away. Thought I’d share a few…

Saint Monica statue in Santa Monica, CA – created in 1934. Lovely in the light.

Flowers within a flower. Swoon.

Belly laughs and special moments shared with my mom and not-so-little brother.

My mom saw these fly-away balloons and I was so happy to get a pic before they disappeared. I wonder where all those balloons were coming from – and where they’re going now.

Gorgeous tree bark with a heart-shaped opening. So many layers of a life well-lived.

Look at that sunset! I think every human being on earth should get to watch the sun set over the ocean. It is one of my favorite things in all the world.

Wishing you all a week touched by beauty and countless reasons to say “thank you, thank you, thank you.”

*****

If you’re here for the first time, via the Pioneer Press article, welcome! Would love to hear from you in the comments section and hope you’ll visit often.

The Meaning of Life

Seeing you in all your glory reminds me that everything in the whole wide world is absolutely perfect. Nothing out of place, no detail too small.

I think about all that it took for you to get to this place, in full bloom, basking in the light, breathtaking with your quiet presence. You were born underground, a seedling in the cold, dark dirt. You had no choice but to accept your roots in order to grow up and out. And that you did. Once you were ready, once you knew deep down it was your turn to come alive, you pushed your way through the darkness, up into the light of day. And wasn’t that amazing!? Oh. My. God. You came up for air after a lifetime in the dirt, gasping and sputtering, then slowly relaxing into being, into knowing all you needed to sustain you was right there.

You were just a bud then, wobbling in the wind; the new kid in an age-old garden. You listened to the wise ones; the perennials who’d been-there-done-that but knew they still hadn’t seen it all. You stood your ground on stormy nights and chilly mornings. You encouraged the buds coming up behind you, telling them to hang on, to be brave, to be beautiful together.

And then, one day, you found the courage to open up more than you ever had before. To bless and then ignore the weeds trying to pull you down. You realized standing in your own light doesn’t require you to overshadow anybody else. You chose to reveal all of yourself. And look at you now: every morsel of your being in bloom, doing what you came here to do, feeling what you came here to feel, growing with grace, and radiating joy. This is…you are…the meaning of life.

 

Nesting Instincts

Oh, bless the little birds who saw this No Parking sign and parked there anyway, perching a nest right on top. Such moxie!

In most bird species, the mama sets her sights on the perfect spot for a new nest, the daddy builds it and then the mama decides if it meets her expectations. I suspect the birds who live here, on top of a street sign, longed for a quiet neighborhood for their brood, with access to good schools and nice parks – only to find that every tree was taken or there was nothing in their price range.

What’s a mama to do? She finds a way. She flaps her wings. She breaks some rules. And asks for forgiveness later.

The so-called experts don’t mention this in baby books. They don’t reveal that what we should really expect when we’re expecting is that motherhood will be an act of extreme courage; that sooner than later, we’ll have to slam some doors and turn some tables and raise our voices to get what’s best for our families.

The next time I need to ruffle some feathers, I’ll think of this gravity- and rule-defying nest – and the brave parents who built it – for inspiration. If they can do it, so can we.

53 Seconds at the Beach

I took this video on my iPhone at Santa Monica Beach so I could transport myself back to the ocean anywhere, anytime. It is my ultimate happy place. And while I’ve grown pretty good at getting there in my mind, there’s nothing like seeing and hearing it for real…or close to real. Look at those glorious waves. Imagine your toes in the sand. Listen to the children laughing, the wind blowing, the world breathing in and out and in and out.

I thought you, too, might enjoy a minute at the beach, even as you sit at your desk or kitchen table or on your lunch break. And so, I give you…dear you…the wonderful, beautiful, magical ocean.

 

 

Learning To Love The Here & Now

Two springs ago, my parents offered to give us some of the overgrown ferns that were spreading through their glorious woods. Awesome! I said I’d be by the next day to pick them up and transplant them into my garden.

I remember that day because we had a downpour – hardly good gardening weather! But my dad went out to the woods anyway, dug up some ferns and carefully loaded them into the back of my car. He was so hopeful that they’d survive and add a little more beauty to our backyard. I can still see him in his soggy baseball cap and fogged-up glasses…and feel him giving me a kiss on the forehead before sending me and the ferns on our way.

That summer, the ferns were not happy. They clearly didn’t like their new surroundings {or maybe the way I planted them} and fought the change like crazy. They browned and curled and shriveled up within a few weeks. I was bummed and figured they were a lost cause.

But to my surprise, the ferns decided to give life another chance. Last spring, they burst into the world with new fervor and grew big and beautiful all summer long. I was so delighted! I imagined the ferns had spent that previous winter consulting each other beneath the frozen soil, going over their options:

“We liked our old woods. We didn’t ask for this change! But…if we keep fighting it, we’ll have no energy to thrive. If we allow ourselves to see the good around us, maybe we’ll feel good again, too. We do have some nice neighbors – hosta, lady slippers, tulips. And that woman seems to really want us to survive. So…let’s give this another shot.”

They did! And they were gorgeous. Now, spring is here again – and the ferns are unfurling in a wondrous way, emerging from their fetal position leaf by leaf. I caught myself thinking I should call my dad to share the good news – then realized I couldn’t and got a lump in my throat.  I didn’t ask for this change, I thought. I liked the way things were – not this new world, without him physically in it.

But as I sat with that precious baby fern, I knew it was whispering its own wisdom to me: “if we allow ourselves to see the good around us, maybe we’ll feel good again, too.” Every fiber of my being knows this to be true – but I needed a reminder from the unfurling ferns. As I sat there on the ground, I knew my dad was right there, too – still kissing me on the forehead and sending me on my way.

The ferns are choosing beauty. I am choosing beauty. And life is good.

Under the Sea & Over the Moon

Last night, we watched the documentary Oceans as a family. Oh. My. Glory. Have you seen it? I watched with my jaw flung open the entire time. We all did. It is a piece of art.

I’m a Midwestern girl, but I am so in love with the sea. It is part of so many of my favorite life memories. As a girl, holding hands with my dad as we jumped waves in the Florida surf. As a newlywed, holding my breath in awe on a whale watching adventure. As a mama, building sandcastles and burying tiny toes in the sand and having picnics on beach towels. Little moments that felt like pure magic.

And of course I’ve always been aware of the magic that lies beneath the surface. I’ve seen images, watched shows, read stories. But I’ve never before seen a film that captured the art that exists under the sea the way Oceans does. The deep grooves on a humpback whale’s underbelly look like nature’s original wainscoting. Giant, yellow sea nettles moving through dark waters resemble something from a sci-fi alien movie.  And the hot pink Spanish Dancer fish? A showstopper. All works of art.

In fact, the movie reminded me that while I’m making art in my dudio, millions of beautiful beings beneath the crashing waves are making their art. While I’m tucking my kids into bed, there’s a mama walrus somewhere kissing her cub. Whenever I’m singing along to music in my car, there are whales singing together somewhere at that very moment. Turns out I don’t need to be near the sea for the sea to be in sync with me. We are co-existing. We are co-creating. We are made of magic. Every one of us, swimming side by side.