Photo by Elizabeth Halt
Photo by Elizabeth Halt

life with atlas

April 23, 2014 | life with atlas | life with atlas

in my head, i have a long litany of atlas stories, so i thought i would share a few of them with you. i am feeling very tender toward him today because last night, he had an episode that was possibly/probably a seizure. he is fine now, but it reminded me that it is good to love him extra-hard, while he is here in the world with me.

blow, atlas, blow.

savannah likes to incorporate atlas into her bubble play.

she puts the bubble wand in front of atlas’s nose and says, “blow, atlas, blow”. sometimes, he ignores her. sometimes, he lifts his head up, looks at the wand, licks it, then licks his lips with a very puzzled expression. i imagine he is wondering why she’s offering him something that is clearly not edible.

she also likes to blow bubbles “at his toes!” or “at his head!”

pee on the snow.

atlas started peeing in the front yard. i think it’s because it’s the only place with grass.

my mom said no – that section of grass needs all the help it can get. the cars are parked there in the winter, to stay out of the way of the plow, so the grass never really grows.

whenever atlas tries to pee in the yard and i say no, he walks across the road and clambers to the top of the snowbank. with the recent warm weather, the snow is extremely soft. one night, mid-stream, he tried to move his foot to re-adjust, and sank down into the snow while he was peeing.

it was hilarious. as is the sight of him peeing on the top of a snowbank at all.

atlas smells the wild.

the windows in my room are almost always open. one night, i woke up in the wee hours to find the smell of skunk wafting through the open windows.

atlas popped out of bed and delightedly sniff-sniff-sniffed away. he wanted to go outside.

i most definitely did not.

however, i couldn’t be sure that he didn’t also want to go outside because he needed a potty run, so i finally brought him outside anyway, putting him on a leash and peeking out the door before i opened it.

atlas did not appreciate the leash. how could he find the delightful smelly creature with me attached? i, on the other hand, was pretty sure that if he had found it, he would have escaped unscathed while i wound up getting sprayed, so i did not feel remorseful about the leash at all.

the climb.

after the snow went through some rounds of thawing and freezing, there was a reasonably solid crust. atlas could walk on it without sinking too deeply or too often, so he started following his nose into the snow.

there is a hill (two plus houses high) near my house. we call it the dirt hill and it was the scene of many youthful adventures.

atlas and i were out for a walk one day when he caught a scent near the hill, clambered up the snowbank, and started climbing up the snow-covered hill. every few feet, he stopped and looked back at me, a very pleased expression on his face. i cheered him on happily. (i tried to go too, but when i sank to my knees in the snow, i turned around.) he finally crested the top and disappeared.

eventually, he came back. when he finally reached the road, he looked so delighted with himself and his adventure.

oh, dogs. aren’t they wonderful!

they are so good at taking the simplest things in life and turning them into a joyful adventure.

7 reasons you should not join the story club

April 22, 2014

Because I care about you, my dear reader, I must warn you that you should probably not join the Story Club, my story-of-the-month club featuring lighthearted + delightful stories.

Here are 7 reasons why this is so.

1. The Story Club does not belong to the cult of fear + doom + gloom and might poke + prod you into thinking about crazy mixed-up unpopular things like delight + wonder + magic.

2. Adults laugh entirely too much as it is, and the occasional additional laugh might just put you over your limit.

3. The Story Club won’t save you money or save you time or solve that pesky human resources problem or increase your confidence or grow your business or help you conquer your fear of flying or heal all your issues or get you that raise or or or .. In other words, its primary intention is to delight you and you don’t need it.

4. The stories aren’t complex or serious or classic literature or epic in length. Why would you want tiny, easy-to-read, whimsical stories that are always appropriate for children when you could probably write them yourself?

5. You choose a price that delights you so if it’s not expensive, how do you know it’s high quality?

6. Choosing to pause for beauty + wonder in a world of bigger, better, faster, more is a deeply subversive act and we all know what happens to rebels.

7. The earlier you join, the more stories you receive, and you definitely don’t want to receive too many stories.

(Plus, the next story is titled Rabbit Stew. You might start to worry that it won’t end well for the rabbits!)

If you do join the Story Club, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

from darkness into light

April 21, 2014 | from darkness into light | from darkness into light

i can’t remember a time when i wasn’t taking pictures.

to be fair, i only remember snippets of life before third grade, but after that, i remember a camera. it was a thin blue rectangle from fisher price with a splash of yellow, a black shutter button, and an attached flash.

the other day, i asked my mom how old i was when i got my first camera.

she said i was seven.

i am thirty-seven years old, so i have been taking pictures for three decades.

and yet, somewhere on my computer, i have a draft of a story in which i found myself bouncing on my rebounder while crying and repeating over and over again, “but i don’t want to be a photographer!”

when i followed the thread of that cry, this is where it led me.

during all those years i was taking pictures of the world around me, i wasn’t really taking pictures at all.

i was trying to hold onto the vision of the world i wanted to live in – a world of beauty, of possibility, of joy, of radiance, of love, of wonder – in the only way i knew how.

as you know, i grew up here.

after college, i ran away. far away.

i said it was because i was cold, and i wanted to be warm, but that wasn’t really it at all.

i ran away to escape the life i thought i would have if i stayed.

it was a life that didn’t seem like me at all.

what i really wanted, even though i didn’t know it then, was to be happy.

even if i didn’t think it was possible.

even if i didn’t know how.

but i am a seeker.

and sometimes, what you are seeking will find you, even if the journey is long & winding & arduous, and often makes no sense at all.

as i drove east, one of the things i wondered was this: will i be able to be me, in a place where i was never really me at all.

it turns out that returning to the place you ran away from, even after finding yourself, is challenging + illuminating + healing.

and if you are in any part of that journey – in the wanting to run away, in the running away, in the being gone, in the returning – i am sending you so much love.

a web of magic

April 18, 2014 | a web of magic

my little savannah is here for a visit. needless to say, i am preoccupied with bubbles and watercolor paints and snowballs.

(she is constantly giving atlas hugs. he tolerates them nicely. i, of course, think it’s pretty much the most adorable thing ever, since savannah and atlas are two of my favorite things. today, she wanted to comb his hair and put clips in it, but i explained that his short hair would make it almost impossible.)

but oh, have i been finding the goodness on the web these days.

i thought i would share some of my findings with you.

last weekend, i decided i needed more fun in my life.

even after a conversation with a friend, i was a little confused on how to go about it.

just then, savannah walked in.

so today, i am wishing you moments of laugh-out-loud delight.

because children are so good at reminding me of both the ease and the importance of it.

the blood moon

April 16, 2014 | the blood moon

i spent the wee hours of my tuesday morning watching the lunar eclipse.

it was so worth it: captivating + awe-inspiring + magical.

did you see it?

adventures in fairyland

April 13, 2014 | adventures in fairyland : a chickadee named constance

{this adventure comes to you by way of a chickadee named constance. previous adventurers: fred.}

i was having a snack in the lilac bush today when another bird joined me. this bird was black and white too, but it had a distinctive red stripe on its head.

a new friend, i thought. i took one last bite and flew to another branch so my new friend could take a turn at the feeder.

you won’t believe what happened. instead of flying up and nibbling at the seeds, like we chickadees do, this bird began to peck at one of the thickest branches of the lilac bush.

rap-rap-rap. rap-rap-rap. rap-rap-rap.

what was that bird doing?

was it writing a secret message? was it playing music? was it knocking birdseed to the ground?

i watched for a bit, but the bird was so absorbed in its task that i didn’t want to interrupt. i finally flew away, still wondering. i’ve been asking my friends and family, but they don’t know what it was doing either.

maybe one day i will see the bird again and solve this mystery.

(don’t tell anyone, but i tried pecking at a branch myself. i got a tiny dent in my beak and a not-so-tiny headache. maybe you could try and let me know what happens?)

your friend, constance

on silence

April 11, 2014 | on silence

“When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, exactly like water. Its color is silver. And silence has a sound you hear only after hours of wading inside it. The sound is soft, like flute notes rising up, like the sound of glass speaking. Then there comes a point when you must shatter the blindness of its words, the blindness of its light.”

~ Anne Spollen, The Shape of Water


April 9, 2014 | meet lars

i know i almost never share photos of people, but you met my niece savannah, so i thought you might like to meet my nephew lars, one of the unexpected blessings of my new life here in michigan.

lars is the dearest silliest liveliest little boy, and i feel so lucky to be his auntie.

(his daddy plays the piano beautifully. maybe you can tell?)

a tisket, a tasket

April 7, 2014 | a tisket, a tasket

i am enjoying photos of my beloved lake. soon, it will be blue again. i was hoping there would be green grass and tulips by my birthday but i suspect it is unlikely. on the bright side, it is 40 degrees today. i could wear shorts and a t-shirt, but the reflection of the sun on the snow would turn my white legs red. also, i am thinking of others; the glare of the sun on my white legs might blind oncoming traffic. when i was young, i would lie on the front porch on days like this (in my swimsuit, no less) to get a head start on my tan.

there was a box in the basement labeled “joe’s bones”. joe is my (very much alive) brother, so i am still giggling at the label. maybe it’s just me. anyway, the box was full of skulls and bones that joe and my dad found over the years, including the most beautiful deer antler. it took some begging, but the deer antler is now mine. it makes a gorgeous paperweight and constantly delights me. soon, atlas and i will hunt for our own shed antlers. antlers are sold as higher-priced dog chews, so these will really be for atlas. (he was more intrigued by this antler than he ever was by the ones in the store; maybe it still has the scent of the wild.)

my lips no longer need moisturizer! i am quite delighted by this. i used to (need to) apply it a million times a day. when my lip moisturizer ran out this winter, i was only driving on blue sky days so couldn’t replenish it immediately. while i was waiting for good weather, i started to wonder if not using it was actually more normal than using it, so i decided not to buy any more. there was a horrible period of withdrawal but eventually my lips normalized. if i want to use something now, i use ghee. (atlas loves this. he licks his lips whenever i put it on.) apparently there are products in most lip moisturizers that strip the lips of their protective coating. also, did you know that petroleum jelly and petrolatum are oil byproducts. i put them on my lips! i find this both fascinating + disturbing.

there is room for three more people to receive postcards from atlas. if you were thinking about it ~ for yourself, for an elderly house-bound relative, for a beloved child who would love their very own mail ~ now is the time to join in! it is going to be full of joy.

moments of joy

April 3, 2014 | moments of joy

i just read the loveliest post from photographer~writer~soul-searcher fiona on catching the small joys and letting them radiate out into life.

it inspired me to begin a new journal, and aligns with what i think about when i think about beauty.

for now, some recent moments of joy + beauty.

shared + tear-filled laughter.

spotting a snow rabbit with twig-whiskers on top of a giant snowbank.

peeling apples for crumble and watching the long curly red apple peels fall into the garbage.

the pale-pink sky at sunrise.

the way atlas appropriates the process of towel-drying for his own pleasure by sticking his head into the towel over and over so i’ll continue to rub his head.

an unexpected + delightful voicemail.

handing a pile of colorful + cheerful postcards to the mailman.

do you want to capture your own small moments of joy?

if you feel inspired to share, i would so love to receive them.