A dirt road kinda Sunday

I left home to dump the garbage Sunday afternoon, carrying only my phone and driver’s license. The dumpster’s several hundred feet from the house and after making my “deposit”, I decided to keep driving. When I reached Hwy 19 a mile and a half later, I made a right turn. A mile later, I made a left turn at the northernmost entrance of Adams Cemetery Road.

At the next intersection, I made a right turn onto Power Line Road. Approaching Free Run Church Road, I opted to pass it because it led to the highway, and I wasn’t quite ready for my little adventure to end. So, at the next intersection of dirt roads, I made a right onto Little Pond Road. In search of the little pond, I drove that road for a couple of miles until it intersected with Hwy 126. I made a u-turn across the highway and headed back down Little Pond Road. When it intersected again with Power Line Road, I made a left turn in the opposite direction of Free Run Church Road.

At the next intersection, I made a left onto County Road 83 and drove it until I reached Bo Weevil Road. A mile or two later, after having made pics of fields, streams, and ponds all along the way, seeing a father teaching his son to drive a 4-wheeler on their dirt road, and passing a farmer plowing his field under an expansive blue sky, Bo Weevil Road intersected with Hwy 19. I didn’t double back this time, though, but instead made a left turn and headed in the direction of home…but not before making that left turn onto Free Run Church Road.

The field on the left of Free Run Church Road was such a lush green that the yellow flowers made a strikingly beautiful contrast. I got out for a closer shot of the field and what’s left of Free Run Church across it.

At the end of my drive down Free Run Church Road, I made a left back onto Power Line Road, a right onto Adams Cemetery Road, then a left onto Hwy 19. I was hoping to get a shot of the pond on the left a few hundred feet down the highway, but I only slowed, looking for those elusive cranes. Seeing none, I headed on home.

As I traveled those dirt roads that Sunday afternoon, Rodney Atkins’ song ‘Caught Up in the Country‘ played on the radio. I adopted it as the day’s theme song.

#caughtupinthecountry #dirtroads #countryliving #nature #naturephotography #countryroads #dirtroads #glenwoodga

The bright side of Irma: nature, butterflies, and love

Risk it, or not?

Life continually presents us with opportunities to take risks, to operate outside our comfort zone. The question then is do you take the risk, or do you stick with the familiar and stay in what is oftentimes the not-so-comfortable comfort zone?

I believe that the primary part of our life’s purpose is to allow God to operate in, through, and as us in order to “do something”, to intervene in not only our lives but in the lives of others.

I’m recalling the risks I’ve taken over the past several years, some of which I wasn’t fully aware and others to which I consciously surrendered.

Yesterday, the Universe presented me with the opportunity to take yet another risk: Letting go of the stuff that’s been stored in my sister’s basement since December 2011, or continuing to hold on to it for fear of not having it when I need it.

Here’s the thing. My sister is embarking upon an amazing journey herself and was moving her things from her basement to a storage unit yesterday. As we contemplated whether there’d be enough room for both our stuff, I considered letting it all go, except for those few boxes containing those items of sentimental value, e.g., my son’s first blanket, shoes, t-shirt, etc.; photo albums; the collector volumes of novels featuring my Grandpa Robin Bess as Adam; some limited edition artwork; and, of course, the two tool boxes brimming with my beloved tools and several power drills.

Just a few hours earlier, new friends had left with stacks of books that I believed I could live without. Strangely, though, a few of the books they didn’t select somehow made their way back into a box I’d previously taped shut. “How could I have put them in that pile in the first place?” I wondered.

Later, as a stood in the basement deciding the fate of my stuff and feeling excited at the prospect of letting go, I shared what I was considering with a few of my friends via text message.

My life coach friend Cassandra Nkem-Nwosu (@livingtheiam) shared with me her experience with having done the same: “I did something similar years ago…stored some things at my sister’s house, didn’t even bother to go through it–I just let it go!”

Shortly thereafter, a wave of sadness engulfed me as I faced the reality of no longer being able to dig through the boxes looking for those items I believed I couldn’t live without. Having my stuff, as little as it is compared to times past, gave me that familiar sense of security from times past and from which I had endeavored previously to detach. But here I was again, using stuff instead of God as my security blanket.

Cassandra added, “be present to whatever you’re feeling” as she also pointed out that our attachment to stuff oftentimes keeps us attached to ideas that no longer serve us.

My friend Linda responded with “….think I better let it go…let it go baby..looks like another love TKO….”, a line from a Teddy Pendergrass’ song, ‘Love TKO’.

My wellness coach friend, Star Waters (@grannygoneraw), responded with “That’s an amazing strength you have!! Surrender is awesome!!”, and I felt empowered.

My author and teacher friend Dianne Rosena Jones (@dijones247) weighed in with, “I know that’s right. “Let it go, let it go….” I’m singing the theme song from the movie Frozen.”

So, feeling empowered by having decided to let it go, my nephew John Micah loaded those six boxes onto the truck, leaving the rest to be dealt with later.

A few minutes later, my sister, nieces and I began the two and a half hour drive to the storage unit down near the farm and Mama.

On the ride back to Atlanta that night, I kept hearing “former life”, and as I thought about certain pieces of my stuff, I felt that I didn’t want to be surrounded by stuff from my former life. That whatever my new beginning is, I want it to be wearing a fresh coat.

Awake early this morning, I opened Bill and Beni Johnson’s book Walking in the Supernatural: Another Cup of Spiritual Java to the chapter bookmarked and titled, ‘He Gets to Do Something’, and it seemed to confirm my decision. Author Kevin Dedmon talked at length about how our pursuit of the seemingly impossible affords God the opportunity to intervene in our lives and circumstances by working on our behalf, which is precisely what my journey has been about since leaving my job, selling my house a year later, driving cross country for five months, living on the farm for nine, and with family and friends since then. What a ride it’s been!!

But instead of busying myself with getting rid of all my unnecessary stuff, I spent today reflecting on my decision, writing this blog post, and nursing this horrendous cold. Yes, I feel pretty miserable, but as another friend observed this morning, it’s giving “you the opportunity to get some much needed rest.”

Yes, I am indeed blessed!!

Included here are the few pictures I made while down home yesterday.

On the road again…

June 26, 2014: Today has been reminiscent of a day on my cross-country road trip a couple of years ago. After being there for almost two weeks, I left the farm at 10 this morning heading back to Atlanta. It’s a 2.5 hour drive but after five hours of driving, I’m an hour and a half away in a Macon Burger King where I stopped for libations and to Google the exact directions to the Otis Redding monument.

Quarry

Quarry (?) on the US-441 bypass

I exited I-16 in Dublin to take the US 441 Bypass to Ivey. It was a typical drive on a four-lane highway until I reached that stretch of road called Culver Kidd Highway that runs through Irwin County. The views of the valleys, what appeared to be a quarry, and the puffy white clouds were spectacular. I snapped a few shots but couldn’t adequately capture the magic of the moment.

Several minutes later, I was crossing Lake Tchukolako bridge into Ivey. Pronounced ‘chew-co-la-co’, the pristine lake, spanning both sides of the bridge, sparkled in the sunlight and boy did I want to stop!! Laws being what they are, however, I kept moving and found a place to park across the street from Ivey General Store near the river bank, made photos, and inhaled the beauty. The cashier in the store had recommended the best spot for making photos but unfortunate for me, the gate to the “members only” club was closed that afternoon.

A half hour or so later, I was on the road to Macon when I passed a sign to Griswoldville Battlefield monument, a Civil War battle site. I made a U-turn and was making a right turn onto Baker Road a few minutes later. Nailed to a power line pole at the intersection was a sign detailing the history of Baker Road so I parked and made a photo before arriving at the monument three or four minutes later.

Baker Road marker

Baker Road marker

Except for the house with a car parked out front about 200 feet from the monument, the place, in the middle of open fields divided by the highway and surrounded by woods, was deserted. After reading the markers and making photos of the monument and scenery, I went back to my car to read more about the battle and upload pics to Facebook. As I sat there engrossed in what I was doing—and I hesitate sharing this—I heard what sounded like marching but dismissed it because, like I said, the area was deserted.

Battle of Griswoldville monument

Battle of Griswoldville monument

A few minutes later, I heard footsteps and thought it might be a park employee or someone from the house walking over to tell me more about the battle. When I looked over my shoulder, however, no one was there. I heard those footsteps several more times before I left but never saw a soul! It’s a little spooky to think about now, but I wasn’t at all disturbed at the time.

Next stop on my trek to Atlanta was Macon proper. I say proper because instead of going back the way I’d come, I followed the GPS along the dirt roads of rural Macon, first on Mountain Springs Church Road then on to Old Macon Road.

Having decided to check out the monument late evening or in the morning, I drove to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and found the river level so low that families had made a makeshift beach on the river bank. I, too, left my shoes on the bank and waded in.The rain came, but I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the magic so I sat in the car until it stopped and the sun reappeared. I walked over to a nearby puddle to rinse the sand and river mud off my feet before heading to Vivian’s for the night.

Otis Redding monument

Otis Redding monument

I was out early the next morning but not quite early enough to beat the hot sun that accompanied me on the half mile walk to Gateway Park across the river. So, while ‘Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay’ and others of Otis Redding’s songs played at the monument, I found a spot under his namesake bridge to cool off.

I walked the half mile back to my car, retrieved my tablet, found a shaded park bench on which to read and soak up more of nature’s magic. An hour or so later, I reluctantly relinquished my seat and headed back to the city to help prepare for a weekend long estate sale. And that, my friends, is how to turn a two and a half hour drive into a two day adventure.

 

 

Gone fishing

‘Gone fishing’…that’s what the sign on my door would’ve read yesterday. My brother GB and I headed to the pond around 8:30 and didn’t return home until almost 4:00.

It was a wonderful day to be out—it was sunny, fluffy clouds adorned the sky, and a wonderful breeze dried the occasional sweat from our brow.

We shared the pond with cows that mostly rested in the shade but those that grazed took dips in the pond before returning to their spot under the trees.

The cows, birds, dragonflies, clouds, and reflections on the pond made focusing solely on fishing impossible. The dragonflies, plentiful and colorful, alighted on my fishing rod and lingered long enough for me to make photos. I finally just draped a camera around my neck and snapped to my heart’s content, but I shudder to think of the fish I might’ve missed as my rod lay on the bank unattended. But it was worth it.

Aside from some great shots, my only other catch of the day was a bream. It was small, though, so I left it in the pond. My brother, on the other hand, caught two bass, a pittance, he says, for six hours effort.

There was talk yesterday about going again this morning but brother didn’t wake me so maybe we’re trying again this evening.

 

Down on the farm

Sitting on the steps in the cool of the evening enjoying the cats’ play (hmmm, that one has a brown and a green eye), the birds chirping, the woodpeckers pecking, and the hum of the gnats when the dragonfly alighted a few inches away and joined my reverie. I spotted the other one a little while later after it alighted on a peach tree limb.

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On my birthday

As I awakened to the dawn of my 54th year, I lay there reflecting on my one life and all the challenges, changes, and beauty I’ve seen during the course of those years. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m thankful to have recognized that I wasn’t alone on the journey. I’m thankful to have recognized, too, that the journey wasn’t all about me.

I’m thankful to have realized that for all the times I may have fallen and come short, I can finally acknowledge and accept that I did the best I could with what I had at the time.

I’m thankful for the release that came from hearing Mother Maya Angelou when she told us that “when you know better, you do better.” I’m so thankful that as I have learned better, I have done better.

No, it wasn’t always easy, but I’m forever grateful for the heart and mind for transformation with which the Almighty graced me. It was He who helped me see myself and others as He sees us, a gift that gave me understanding and compassion during those times when I didn’t understand who I or they were being…during those times when all I wanted to do was just cuss and say, “to hell with you!”

I’m thankful for the many days and nights of tears, tears that freed me from decades of repressed emotions and that freed the butterfly I always knew was trapped beneath all the pain, fear, anger, inadequacy, and insecurity. It was a cauldron of emotions on which I’d spent many years keeping the lid tightly sealed, but as that little girl demanded her freedom, it became more and more difficult to do so.

Then, one day in 1996, while confined to my bedroom after surgery on a broken ankle, that little girl’s demands became more than I could repress. At the insistence of my big sister Sheila (Stanley Bowser), I made the call that set in motion the transformation of a lifetime! I obtained the name of a psychotherapist from the insurance company, made the appointment, and began the reclaiming of Lydia. It would be a few years before we got around to releasing the emotions, but we did that, too.

When I look at my life today, I am thankful for the peace, the contentment, the happiness, and the passion I feel. My life today is the opposite of the life I was living in 2010 when I gave it all up to begin traveling light. I’ve had moments—ok, weeks, maybe even months–of fear and panic, wondering what was going to happen to me, where I was going to end up. Thankfully, though, I found my way when God showed me the beauty of the season I’m in right now. Through Joel Osteen, He implored me further to focus on the beauty and all that I do have instead of the burden of what I don’t.

What I see now are the blessings. The blessing of family and friends who love me, support me, and who have opened their homes to me during this continuing season of growth and change.

I see the blessing in experiencing God in nature almost daily in parks and by rivers and lakes in various cities.

I see the blessing in being able to photograph those God moments in ways that will inspire others. How satisfying to hear from a viewer that those photos are a source of inspiration, peace, and calm.

So, while my life may not be what it used to be, I am eternally grateful for what it is. I am thankful, too, for every person who has supported me in ways too numerous to mention as I move through this season, which, quite honestly is the second best time of my life!! What’s the first, you ask? That would be my cross-country road trip.

Oh, there’s one more thing that I’ve realized, and it’s that I’ve embarked upon yet another journey that I know will take me places spiritually—and probably emotionally and physically, too—to which I’ve never been, and I’m very excited about it!

As I end this post, I’m reminded of a line from Gil Scott-Heron’s song ‘I’m New Here’. In it he says,

“No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.”

I hope I’ve said something today that will inspire you to turn around.

With this post, I’m including a few random photos I made over the last few days. I hope you enjoy them.

The times they are a’changing

It’s 24 degrees this morning, and I was awakened by the birds chirping outside my window. Does their song portend the arrival of spring? Except for the lack of electricity during the last “snow storm”, this was the first time I actually enjoyed winter. Even on rainy days I’d bundle up to meet the hawk that awaited me. Whether I was walking the neighborhood or standing by a lake, I reveled in my new relationships with winter and rain. No longer are they things to escape and avoid. The landscape is completely different then, too, and I want to be present to see it.

I’m recalling that day a few years ago when the pouring rain beckoned me to walk around my backyard wearing a t-shirt and shorts. I was concerned at first about what my neighbors would think but after those first glorious moments of the rain pelting on my face, massaging my scalp, cascading down my neck, and squishing between by toes, it didn’t matter.

There’s also that day when, instead of bemoaning the 2.5 hour drive to the farm in the rain, I was actually excited about it. I knew then that the times, they were a’changing. And they’ve continued to change, as have I.

I snapped these shots at Fork Creek Mountain Park in Decatur, Georgia. I discovered it en route to a friend’s house on an overcast morning after a rain.

What a difference a day made

Just yesterday, I was bundled from head to toe against the cold as my niece Savanna and I walked the neighborhood snapping photos of the second Atlanta/north Georgia winter event of 2014, the first a mere two weeks ago, the one I blogged about missing while down on the farm. It was 33 degrees as we snapped photo after photo–Savanna’s alone totaled 160!–the trees were heavy with ice, and the ground that was covered with ice and snow, was beginning to thaw.

Today, I’m sitting by the waterfall at Starr’s Mill, the mill that was featured in the movie ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, wearing only a hood and a scarf draped across my shoulders. It’s a balmy 58 degrees!

Dinah Washington sang it best:

“What a difference a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain”

What is this thing?

It’s 30 degrees today, the ground is covered with ice yet I’m compelled to venture out, cameras in tow, to capture the beauty that’s in the ordinarily ordinary.

What is that thing that awakens me on a cold rainy morning, calls me to grab my cameras and hit the road before daybreak, donning long johns, sweats, coat, hood and slicker to feel the cold on my face as the wind and rain envelope me in a cold yet soothing embrace?

But perhaps that’s it—the closeness I feel to God, the satisfaction it brings to a soul that sometimes yearns to feel a palpable connection to the Divine, that sees Him in the beauty of nature be it on a bright, warm, sunny day, or a day that’s freezing cold and wet.

I hear the call, and I answer. But today, because the roads were icy, I contented myself with the beauty that was around me.

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