The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

message-from-the-moon-long.png
message from the moon

message from the moon

Sometimes you lay awake thinking about all of the things.

It’s 1am and your eyes snap open because your brain simply could not wait one more second to tell you:  WHAT ABOUT THESE (MOSTLY IMAGINARY) PROBLEMS??

Had you thought about THOSE THINGS?

You kick the sheets, trying to kick the thoughts.  No go.

Night follows night.  You are no stranger to the darkness.

But then one night you lay awake thinking about none of the things.  Ambivalence—the most insidious emotion—skewers its claws into your ribcage.

It’s too exhausting to care.  What’s the point?

At 3:26am that night, just as you are finally drifting off to sleep, your three-year-old will come into the room because—well it doesn’t really matter why she *says* she comes in every night.  The real reason is that she wants to know that she is not alone in this world and you really can’t blame her for that now, can you?

Or maybe there is another reason she comes in.

You watch, Soldier.  Watch what happens.

After you stroke your daughter's cheek and tuck her back into bed, you will turn, and through the crack in the side of the room-darkening blinds, you will see it:  the moon.

Its brilliance will cut through the night and illuminate your face and cause physical reactions within you.

You’ll gasp, step backwards, and drop down onto the side of the bed with awe.

When was the last time something has cut through the darkness like this?

The white on black, the crisp points of the crescent moon…it’s hard to get that type of clarity in camera.

It’s hard to get that type of clarity in life.

Awe.

There.  There in your moon-trance, you will hear it.  You will finally hear what the moon has been trying to tell you all along.

It’s been trying to tell you this since the very first night that you landed here, but you haven’t had much time for things like moons, have you?

Moon doesn’t mind.

Moon says you were not ready to know then.

You are ready to know now.

Moon is beaming, “I know you think it is the dead of night right now, but that is only in your perception!”

Keep listening, Soldier.  Moon’s message is not only metaphorical but very very literal.

It’s both.

Moon says, “I know it appears to you that the sun has stopped shining but Sun has NEVER stopped shining—NOT EVEN ONCE!!

‘In fact,” Moon is telling you, “Sun is shining RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!  You do not see the sun from where you are standing so LOOK.  I will show her to you!”

And then moon pushes the light of the sun from all the way around the other side of the earth directly to hit your face.

Moon is telling you the light is still accessible, even in the darkest of nights.

“Hold on just a little longer,” says Moon, “and you will not have to try so hard to see the light.  In time you will be SWIMMING in it!  That time is JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  LOOK!”

When you receive this message, oh you-who-is-waking-up, you hug it in tight.  Tuck it into your belly and wrap your knees and clavicles around it and hold onto it for dear life.

Because that’s what’s going to pull you out of this.

Six months ago, I noticed the moon.

That’s when it hit me:  You will not get out of the darkness by laying on your back psycho-analyzing the darkness.  You will get out of the darkness by catching more and more light.

You will not get out by asking, “how did I get here?”  You will get out by asking, “What works?”

Light leads to more light.  Did a little light of mine in footy pajamas not take me by the hand to show me the moon?

So I started looking for more moons:  little slivers of light poking through dark moments.

One moon keeps leading to another.

Look around, Soldier.  Where do you see moons?

YOUR “moon” may not be THE moon, per se.  Maybe the thing that will remind you of your aliveness will be the high that comes after a long walk in the biting cold.  Or the soft nose of a horse.  Or the laugh of your niece.  Or the courage of a seedling reaching towards the sun from a cup on your windowsill.

Whatever your “moon” is, WHEN YOU SEE A SLIVER OF LIGHT, YOU NOTICE IT.  YOU HEAR ME, SOLDIER?

You pay attention to that thing that makes you feel good and alive.

That “moon” will take you to more light.

Which will take you to more light.

And one day soon—I am so sure of this—sooner than you can even imagine—you will belly-crawl onto that brighter shore, exhausted and gasping for air, and you will turn onto your back and sputter towards the sky, “By God, that night nearly killed me.”

But it will not kill you, dear Soldier.

Not if you let yourself be led by the light of the moons.

Calling All Local Yogis! Last Minute Mini Photo Session Opportunity!

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

HEAR-YE, HEAR YE!  Calling all local yogis!

Boy, have I got a morsel of goodness to share with you!

Let me tell ya a wee story about one of my favorite peeps in all the lands.

[Spoiler alert:  this story ends with a rare mini session opportunity for YOU!]

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

You may or may not be familiar with this shining star in our local yoga community: a one Ms Jessie Dwiggins.

Not familiar?  Let's get to know her, shall we?

Here are some photos I took for her kick-arse holistic yoga teacher/nutrition counseling website, www.jessiedwiggins.com.

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

This was the day I fell in love with her.  It was November in Rhode Island.  It was very cold.  I kept asking her to flick her hair in the wind from the edge of a windy cliff and not once did she even look like she WANTED to complain that it was REALLY FLIPPING COLD.

Impressive.

They say that how you do anything is how you do everything, and through that whole shoot, Jessie stayed steady in radiating an energy of enthusiasm, light, and great heart.

We had so much fun, we decided to work together again.

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

Here are some photos of Jessie and her rockstar husband Brian and their beloved pupp, Cassidy...who is right now reading this post from doggy heaven and showering sloppy puppy kisses upon us all.

I'm so grateful to have met Cassidy and was touched by how thoroughly she was loved.  Let's pause a moment to enjoy those sloppy kisses she's sending our way.

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

The point I'm trying to make in humanizing Jessie by showing you these photos is:  if you met Jessie, you would really really (really really really) love her.

And if you had a chance to get involved in anything she was doing, you'd really want to.

[No pressure, Jessie.]

Not for Nothin', But It Might Also Be Worth Noting:

You can probably tell from these photos that Jessie is fabulous not only because she REALLY IS FABULOUS but also because she happens to work with a photographer who specializes in CATCHING PEOPLES' LIGHT.

The photographer is a very important part of the equation for a radiant photo, too.

I'll let you read between the lines regarding which photographer I'm alluding to here.

[Hint:  I'm talking about ME here.  ME is the person I am complimenting.  That is my only hint for you today.]

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

Why am I telling you about Jessie?

My friends.  Jessie is working on a very exciting project.  To my great pleasure, she has hired me as her photographer.

For this project, I intend to capture Jessie in a teaching context.  In a beautiful space.

We have the radiant teacher all set.

We have the beautiful space all set.

We just need the peeps to pose as students.  We need to get the "students" all set.

THAT'S WHERE YOU COME IN.

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

RI Yoga Photography; yoga photographer rhode island

*************

WANNA JOIN US??

Check out this link for all the info you'll need.

Or contact me with any questions.

BUT, FOR REAL, YOU WILL WANT TO HURRY THOUGH:

...because we only have FOUR slots available.

By the time you're reading this, some of those may have sold.

This event is ONE WEEK from today - on Thursday, 1/29/15!

Grab your spot while the grabbin's good, m'friends!

Now get on over to the detail page, lovahs!

Can't WAIT to see you there.

CLASS ADDED! February Photography 101 Class (Last 101 class of the year!)

RI Photography class - photography workshop at Bellani Maternity

RI Photography class - photography workshop at Bellani Maternity

Great news for fellow photography-lovers!

By popular demand, we've added a second (and final) Photography 101 class to the 2015 line-up!  If you missed the first opportunity, here's your chance!

WHAT:  Photography 101 Class with Bethany

WHEN:  Sunday, February 8th, 2015  1-3:30pm

WHERE:  Best Parenting Shop Ever  (Bellani Maternity, 1276 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI)

WHY:  Because you have a nice camera and you’re not using it to it’s potential.  Or you love photography but feel intimidated by it.  Or generally you are just awesome and enjoy hanging out with other awesome people in awesome places.

HOW MUCH:  $99

HOW TO SIGN UP:  Click the "Buy Now" paypal link below or call Bellani ((401) 822-9900) or email Bethany.  You have many options.

I JAM PACK as much good info and light-heartedness as I can possibly pack into these two-and-a-half hours!  Don't miss it!

See the grey box titled "KIND WORDS" at the bottom of this post for a few of the many awesome reviews from previous attendees!

************

FAQ’s

Can I give this as a gift to someone?

Absa-freakin-lutely.  You can and you SHOULD give this as a gift to someone.  Just say the word and we’ll even give ya a gift card to give ‘em.  How ’bout that?

RI lifestyle photographer_1276

RI lifestyle photographer_1276

Aperture, shutter speed, and the rest of those shenanigans are SO CONFUSING.  Do you like to make things confusing?

I’m so glad you asked, Friendly-Question-Asker!  No, I do not like to make things confusing.  I like to make things fun.  I took a similar photography class at the ripe young age of 15, and the teacher made things so confusing that I didn’t attempt to learn photography again until almost another 15 years had passed.  I won’t do that to you.

RI lifestyle photographer_1277

RI lifestyle photographer_1277

Do I need to have a fancy camera to take this class?

No, the concepts we’ll be covering will apply to all photography captured by all cameras, including iPhones.  If you do not have a camera, though, the class is going to leave you WANTING a camera, because of the extended control the DSLRs [i.e. “fancy cameras”] give you over your camera settings.  Consider yourself forewarned.

RI lifestyle photographer_1281

RI lifestyle photographer_1281

Do I need to bring my camera with me for class?

It’s encouraged that you bring your camera so that you can familiarize yourself with the controls and settings we’ll discuss, but this is not a workshop, so a camera is not necessary.

RI lifestyle photographer_1278

RI lifestyle photographer_1278

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Honestly, has no one gotten to the bottom of this yet?  Woodchucks DO chuck wood, don’t they?  Is this a test?

RI lifestyle photographer_1279

RI lifestyle photographer_1279

Which lens do you recommend for a beginner learning photography?

If you’re a Nikon shooter, get this one.  That lens is not only an incredible value, it also lays the smack down on all other lenses as far as learning lenses go;  I’ll tell you why in class.  For Canon shooters, I recommend this lens, which is almost as good.    You do not need to have either of these lenses for the class.

I don’t receive any kick-back if you purchase those lenses, if you're suspicious like that.

RI lifestyle photographer_1280

RI lifestyle photographer_1280

This class is being held at Rhode Island’s best pregnancy and parenting shop.  What if I’m not a parent, or I am not interested in photographing kids?

Do not fret yourself, sweet grasshopper!  All are welcome, and this particular class is not specifically about photographing kids.  The concepts we will discuss apply to all types of photography, which may or may not include children, depending upon your preferences.

RI lifestyle photographer_1285

RI lifestyle photographer_1285

Will you cover XYZ topic in class?

This class is going to be a discussion of basic photography concepts:  shutter speed, aperture, ISO, how they interact, tricks for how to deal with difficult shooting situations, concepts that can improve any photo, etc.  If you are wondering about specific subjects that will or will not be covered, feel free to email Bethany.

RI lifestyle photographer_1282

RI lifestyle photographer_1282

What about refunds?

Since seating is limited, we are unable to offer refunds or exchanges for tickets purchased for this event.  HOWEVAH.  You are welcome to sell or give away your admission in the unlikely and frankly insane event that you change your mind about attending.  Kinda like a concert ticket, you know?  Only better.

RI lifestyle photographer_1283

RI lifestyle photographer_1283

Should I sign up sooner…or later?

SOONER, for shizzle!!  Spots are limited and last year, seats sold out lickety-split.  So get on it!

Here's that payment link again:

RI Photography class review - Bellani maternity photography 101 workshop

RI Photography class review - Bellani maternity photography 101 workshop

How to Plan the New Year So You Get What You Want. (OR: The Method I Used to Significantly Improve a Class I Taught Recently)

Photography class RI
Photography class RI

Because I'm the type of person who boils the ocean to get to the fish, I've consulted the work of at least a dozen professionals regarding the best way to plan a new year.

Want to know my favorite fish in that pond?

Can I interest ya in the catch o' the day, my friends?

Danielle LaPorte.  Desire Mapping.  Get in my belly.

Here's the low-down:

Danielle LaPorte makes the darn good point that with traditional goal-setting, we tend to forget WHY we set our goals in the first place, and then in pursuing those goals we fly in the face of the very feelings we originally set out to pursue.

For example.

Say a bloke sets a goal to "bring home 20% more income than last year."  He sets it because he wants himself and his family to live healthier, happier lives.  And then in pursuing that goal he spends most of his hours and his meals away from home, which leads to emergency marriage counseling and cholesterol meds.

No judgement here, friends.  We're just looking at whether this guy is hitting his mark is all.

(He may very well be meeting his mark if feeling "professionally fulfilled" is more important to him than feeling "happy" and "connected."  Let's not assume one feeling is better than another.  But in this example, the guy's GOAL was happiness and health.  That's all.)

Sometimes (always) goal achievement does require grit.  Sometimes we need to go through the hard feelings to get to the good feelings.  But being conscious of our core desired feelings is so very empowering!

I'll flesh that out in a minute.

In the example above, even if this guy brought in 500% more income, he would never feel satisfied because he is still missing his TRUE goal:  health and happiness.

What this means:

This means that the key to feeling the way we want to feel is by always keeping in mind how we want to feel - so we can use these feelings as our MAPS!  

Danielle calls these our "Core Desired Feelings" (CDF's.)

We keep our CDF's at the top of our minds when we decide *which* goals to take on and *how* we are gonna go about pursuing those goals.

Capiche?

The Big Picture

So first we start with the big picture.  One year.  Check out Danielle's book for worksheets that are helpful in the boiling-down process, but if you're in a hurry, just think:  what are the 3-5 main feelings I want to feel this year?

For me:  Peaceful.  Embodied.  Surrendered.  Playful.  Secure.  Connection.

And a whole lot of other things, like maternal, generous, traction, etc.  But I think those feelings will flow naturally from the top six.

Getting down to only 3 CDF's just feels unrealistic for this feely person, for crying out loud.

A Real Life Example

Next you ask yourself the same question regarding each thing you set out to do.  For example.  In planning my photography class for last weekend, I asked myself:  how do I want to feel while and after I teach this course?

My answers:

  1. Fun
  2. Helpful
  3. Connected.

So I went through all of my slides and handouts and asked myself:  how could I make this more fun / helpful?  How could I connect better with my students?

I threw out the handouts I spent a lot of time on last year.  They bored me.

Instead I created worksheets with questions like this:

Funny Photography 101 question
Funny Photography 101 question

As helpful as last year's handouts?  More so.  More fun than that boring drivel I used last year?  Absolutely.

Before the class I visualized myself being fun, helpful and connected.  And wouldn't you know it but I was on fire that day.  And people said things like this...and this:

RI Photography class reviews
RI Photography class reviews

So I'd say it was a success.

Incidentally

Incidentally, by popular demand, the good people at Bellani and I are offering another 101 class.

Here's that info.

Bethany teaching photography 101 class at Bellani Maternity
Bethany teaching photography 101 class at Bellani Maternity

On a More Personal Note:

I wrote another "New Year's" post for you before this one, containing the biggest lesson I learned in 2014.

I'd say it's maybe my best post ever.  It's definitely my rawest post ever.  I'm note quite ready to put it out there yet.  Gimme a week or 52.

In the meantime, I hope this less personal post has been helpful!  :)

A Word of Caution:

Desire Mapping is a phenomenal tool, but...please.  Don't get it twisted.

It's incredibly empowering to envision how we want to feel and to take small steps every day towards those feelings.

But there are limitations to how much power we have to choose how we feel in the current moment.  Trust me on this one.

Oftentimes, the only way to get to happiness is to be at peace with whatever other emotions are coming up for you.  To stop resisting them.

Please set your intentions on where you want to go without judging where you are now.  There is a reason you are feeling whatever you are feeling now.  All emotions are valid and important, and I'm not just BS'ing you.

Learn from how you're feeling.  And keep moving.

Love to you,

Bethany Signature - no O
Bethany Signature - no O

Photography 101 Class - Returning in January!

Photography 101 Class - Returning in January!

Photography-101-class-2015-camera-presented-by.jpg
Photography 101 class - 2015 camera presented by

Photography 101 class - 2015 camera presented by

Great news for fellow photography-lovers!

It's BACK!  And better than ever!

WHAT:  Photography 101 Class with Bethany

WHEN:  Saturday, January 10th, 2014  2-4:30pm

WHERE:  Best Parenting Shop Ever  (Bellani Maternity, 1276 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI)

WHY:  Because you have a nice camera and you’re not using it to it’s potential.  Or you love photography but feel intimidated by it.  Or generally you are just awesome and enjoy hanging out with other awesome people in awesome places.

HOW MUCH:  $99

HOW TO SIGN UP:  Click the "Buy Now" paypal link below or call Bellani ((401) 822-9900) or email Bethany.  You have many options.

I plan to JAM PACK as much good info and light-heartedness as I can possibly pack into these two-and-a-half hours!  Don’t miss it!

************

FAQ’s

Can I give this as a gift to someone?

Absa-freakin-lutely.  You can and you SHOULD give this as a gift to someone.  Just say the word and we’ll even give ya a gift card to give ‘em.  How ’bout that?

RI lifestyle photographer_1276

RI lifestyle photographer_1276

Aperture, shutter speed, and the rest of those shenanigans are SO CONFUSING.  Do you like to make things confusing?

I’m so glad you asked, Friendly-Question-Asker!  No, I do not like to make things confusing.  I like to make things fun.  I took a similar photography class at the ripe young age of 15, and the teacher made things so confusing that I didn’t attempt to learn photography again until almost another 15 years had passed.  I won’t do that to you.

RI lifestyle photographer_1277

RI lifestyle photographer_1277

Do I need to have a fancy camera to take this class?

No, the concepts we’ll be covering will apply to all photography captured by all cameras, including iPhones.  If you do not have a camera, though, the class is going to leave you WANTING a camera, because of the extended control the DSLRs [i.e. “fancy cameras”] give you over your camera settings.  Consider yourself forewarned.

RI lifestyle photographer_1281

RI lifestyle photographer_1281

Do I need to bring my camera with me for class?

It’s encouraged that you bring your camera so that you can familiarize yourself with the controls and settings we’ll discuss, but this is not a workshop, so a camera is not necessary.

RI lifestyle photographer_1278

RI lifestyle photographer_1278

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Honestly, has no one gotten to the bottom of this yet?  Woodchucks DO chuck wood, don’t they?  Is this a test?

RI lifestyle photographer_1279

RI lifestyle photographer_1279

Which lens do you recommend for a beginner learning photography?

If you’re a Nikon shooter, get this one.  That lens is not only an incredible value, it also lays the smack down on all other lenses as far as learning lenses go;  I’ll tell you why in class.  For Canon shooters, I recommend this lens, which is almost as good.    You do not need to have either of these lenses for the class.

I don’t receive any kick-back if you purchase those lenses, if you're suspicious like that.

RI lifestyle photographer_1280

RI lifestyle photographer_1280

This class is being held at Rhode Island’s best pregnancy and parenting shop.  What if I’m not a parent, or I am not interested in photographing kids?

Do not fret yourself, sweet grasshopper!  All are welcome, and this particular class is not specifically about photographing kids.  The concepts we will discuss apply to all types of photography, which may or may not include children, depending upon your preferences.

RI lifestyle photographer_1285

RI lifestyle photographer_1285

Will you cover XYZ topic in class?

This class is going to be a discussion of basic photography concepts:  shutter speed, aperture, ISO, how they interact, tricks for how to deal with difficult shooting situations, concepts that can improve any photo, etc.  If you are wondering about specific subjects that will or will not be covered, feel free to email Bethany.

RI lifestyle photographer_1282

RI lifestyle photographer_1282

What about refunds?

Since seating is limited, we are unable to offer refunds or exchanges for tickets purchased for this event.  HOWEVAH.  You are welcome to sell or give away your admission in the unlikely and frankly insane event that you change your mind about attending.  Kinda like a concert ticket, you know?  Only better.

RI lifestyle photographer_1283

RI lifestyle photographer_1283

Should I sign up sooner…or later?

SOONER, for shizzle!!  Spots are limited and last year, seats sold out lickety-split.  So get on it!

Here's that payment link again:

Photography101 Review

Photography101 Review

What Not to Say to Struggling Loved Ones during the Holidays

What Not to Say to Struggling Loved Ones during the Holidays

Bethany O
Bethany O

One perk of being from a large family and having no control over my tear ducts is that I am the lucky recipient of a lot of advice.

I also have a lot of data for studying how people respond to my pain.

On one remarkable occasion of untimely tear ducts, my eyelids started leaking just when 30ish family members gathered around two 50th birthday cakes to sing a little diddy to two special birthday girls.

This day was noteworthy because it broke a personal record.  In the 30-minutes following the final serenade of “Happy Birthday to you,” concerned loved ones offered me all of the following:

  • sympathy,
  • God,
  • hugs of varying severities,
  • inspiring quotations,
  • music,
  • a massage,
  • PERSPECTIVE,
  • advice of varying desperations,
  • pharmaceuticals,
  • compliments,
  • space,
  • CAKE
  • laughter,
  • sundry other such offerings.

When people see you struggling, they tend to tell you you need the thing that THEY need when they are struggling.

Which is super helpful, in the highly unlikely event that it’s true.

[Let me be clear that I am NOT requesting that you people stop with the above generous offerings!  Because--COME ON!!!  OFFERINGS!]

Here come some observations that I think could serve the world:

  • By my rough estimates, one million percent of the time, advice-givers have BEAUTIFUL and KIND and LOVING intentions.
  • For sure we’d be hard-pressed to think of a richer blessing in life than a suffocatingly generous family!  [POUNDSIGNTHANKFUL]
  • SOMETIMES well-meaning advice-givers are unintentionally inflammatory.

(Not in MY family, of course!  MY family only says RIGHT THINGS!  I have mainly heard this from other individuals, is all!  Mere conjecture is what this is!)

But now I’m thinking.

Today is Thanksgiving, which as we all know is the day families gather around dead birds to feast and inadvertently hurt each others’ feelings.

I’m thinking of Bridget Jones, who dreaded the holidays because people would always pity-ask her if she had found a boyfriend yet.

And I’m thinking of some friends who are going through some really hard times right now:  divorce, miscarriage, sickness, mourning, job-loss.  I’m concerned they might avoid family on Thanksgiving—the very thing their hearts need for healing—because they dread the pity-parties and the suffocation by advice-givers.

Which is why I want to offer some advice to all the unsolicited advice-givers of the world.

[And for dessert:  IRONY!]

Here are some examples of well-intentioned comments that may or may not be inflammatory:

“I see you struggling and sometimes I feel sad too.”

[NICE!!  100 points for vulnerability.  Thanks for being human, you.]

"...sometimes I feel sad too and I understand what you're going through."

[WRONG.  No you don't know her pain.]

“I have felt sad too and I fixed it so you just need to do what I did to feel better.” 

[Minus two hundred points for creating a Victim/Hero superiority dynamic.  Also:  Yellow card on the invalidation.]

“I see you are sad and you just need to focus on the positive.” 

[Minus ten million points for invalidating like it’s your job.]

“I see you are sad and I AM SO CONCERNED.”

[Minus all the points.  Who is this about?  I’m exhausted just reading your sentence.]

Again:  I see your intentions and I know they are so, so good!  It's the delivery we're tweaking!

The above examples landed on this page all willy-nilly-like, but the reason I came on here today was to tell you about my uncle Jim.

That day at the double-50th birthday fest, I snuck away to another room for a breather, what with all the good advice I was getting.

My uncle came in.

“Hey,” he said, open-heartedly.  (You know an open heart when you see one, friends!)

‘I never know what to say,” he said.  “Your aunts are so much better with advice than I am.  But I want you to know that I care.  Would you mind if I just sit quietly with you?”

AND THEN HE WON THE CONCERNED FAMILY MEMBER OLYMPICS.

Listen.  I’m sure you have a lot of helpful suggestions for your loved one.  But your advice is bandaids on arterial spray if you skip the part about loving them AS THEY ARE.

When we see a person’s pain and instinctively try to change it, we inadvertently create the illusion of conditional love.

We are saying, “I love you, and I need you to change so that I will feel more comfortable.”

Our good intention shifts from being about THEM to being about US.

But as Oriah Mountain Dreamer says, "I want to know if you can sit with pain—mine or your own—without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I can think of no more admirable show of character than this.

I can think of no better gift you could give your loved one this holiday than this message:

“I see you.  I can sit with your pain without moving to change you.  Because I love you just the way you are.” 

Which is why today I will sit with the well-meaning advice givers, and I will not try to change their approach.

Because I love them just the way they are.

Especially when they are offering massages.

How to Cope with Death--and Live Life--with a Little More "Joie David"

How to Cope with Death--and Live Life--with a Little More "Joie David"

RI lifestyle photographer_1131
RI lifestyle photographer_1131

Our family is groping through the darkness, trying to reorient ourselves after the sudden loss of my luminous cousin, David, on October 28th.

(You may remember David from this post about the morning I spent with him leading up to his wedding.)

I've never known anybody with a laugh quite so infectious, an aliveness quite so intense.  He was deep and he was light and it's perhaps his mastery of those two extremes that most fascinated me about him.

David Pearson Deep and Light
David Pearson Deep and Light

My cousin believed that life is "the soul's playground"...a RIDE between the nursery and the morgue.

He used to ask, "Are you enjoying the ride?"

It brings us comfort to know he packed more living into his 39 years than most could pack into two hundred.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My father said it best when he said:

"We've had SO many wonderful relatives and friends send their condolences and love to our family.  For that we are eternally thankful, and that is an incredibly helpful ingredient in our healing process.

But there are a lot of people here today [at his services or on this web page] who never met David.  You are here because you are sorry for our loss.

We are sorry for YOU, because you didn't have the pleasure of knowing one of our favorite people."

RI lifestyle photographer_1130
RI lifestyle photographer_1130

It's been really moving to see how many people have stepped forward since David's death to say, "that man changed my life."

I wrote the eulogy below in an attempt to preserve some of the big ideas David lived by...ideas he was always so enthusiastic about sharing.

I would like David's message to continue on and to spread as far as possible, which is why I've elected to record and share the eulogy here.

For those who have loved David:  may this eulogy help you cope.

For those with the misfortune of never having known him:  may this eulogy help you live.

Intense love,

Bethany

Lift the Rudder, Magellan.

Lift the Rudder, Magellan.

screenshot_012.jpg

Sometimes life feels chaotic, overwhelming, yes?  I've been hearing this from a lot of people lately, most namely from my own brain.

Just wanted to share a few concepts that are helping me on this front.

In too much of a hurry to watch the video?  I know you are.  Because life is so chaotic, of course.

Here are the Cliff's Notes to the video:  all of the answers you are seeking can be found in the silence.  In stillness.

That's where the uni-verse does its whispering.

But you're doing everything in your power to avoid the silence.  

[Oh, snap!]

Outer chaos is only a reflection of inner chaos, outer peace a reflection of inner peace.

This weekend, can you find the peace?  As Oriah Mountain Dreamer says,

...I want to knowif you can sit with painmine or your ownwithout moving to hide itor fade itor fix it.

I want to knowif you can be with joymine or your ownif you can dance with wildnessand let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toeswithout cautioning usto be carefulto be realisticto remember the limitationsof being human...

My friend:  can you do that?

I Know This Much Is True

I know this much is true flowers

I know this much is true flowers

So many thoughts lately. I want to share all of them and I want to share none of them.

While I’m waiting to see where those balls land, a story for you.  One that is deeply simple and simply deep, like all the best stories are.

You may or may not know that I've been doin’ my fair share o' soul-searching lately.  Asking the deep questions, breathing the deep breaths.

When I last wrote, I was about to embark on a two week adventure in the woods wherein I, much like the Indigo Girls, went to see the doctor of philosophy.  “I went to do the doctor, I went to the mountains. I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains…”

I lost myself and I found myself.  Found more of me than I left with—the good parts that I had forgotten existed—the parts of me I most treasure.

I've since misplaced those parts again.

But I know they're not far from me now.  I just had them.  They'll turn up any day now.

More adventures have ensued.

I’m leaving no stone unturned, no demon unseen.

In some quiet moments amongst the chaos, I see that my teacher is right:  joy really does follow peace.

And peace is everywhere.

I feel that, and I remember it.

My peace.

Our peace.

The Peace.

Other moments suck the wind from my lungs as if I have croup.  I grab my seat--white knuckles squeezing for anything that will keep me here--I grab at my seat for dear life.

Awakening’s a bitch, I tell you.

My ego is not going down without one hell of a battle.

Luckily, neither is my heart.

Last Saturday I was on a hike with our five-year-old son and I was chewing on some deep thoughts about worthiness and worthlessness, self-love and self-loathing, when I remembered that kids are the very best teachers.  They probably know innately the keys to self-love and self-worth, I'm guessing.

So I asked him, “[Son] - what do you love about you?”

Without skipping a beat, because kids are wicked sharp like that, he said, “What I love about me is that when I ride my bike, I feel the wind in my face.”

Stay there.  That sentence brought you to your knees, yes?  Stay on your knees and chew on that.

Let it settle in.

“What I love about me is that when I ride my bike, I feel the wind in my face.”

I may still be struggling to put into words and into consciousness the truths that I have always known in my heart.  I may have travelled thousands of miles seeking answers when really the only distance I need to traverse is the vast and nonexistent space between my head and my heart.

But I do know that this much is true:

The answers we seek: we will find them by feeling the wind upon our cheeks.

More love than our tiny minds could ever possibly quantify is as real, as close, and as accessible as the breeze upon our faces.

Also I know this:

The fact that I, too, pause on occasion to feel that breeze tickling my nose...despite all the noise and all the shadows and all the "shoulds" and all the screens vying for my attention...

I love that about me.

That's really something.

That, maybe, is everything.

How to Know If You Are Ready to Pursue Your Dream

How to Know if you are ready to pursue your dream

How to Know if you are ready to pursue your dream

“DAD,” I say. “GET THIS.' 'This Happiness and Success Telesummit coming up? They’re expecting 60,000 people to tune in.  And they’re interviewing ME. As an EXPERT!!”

I slap my knee and say “expert” with punchline voice, certain my dad will find this as funny as I do.

Dad is not amused.  I wrinkle the skin above my nose, thoroughly confused.  My dad finds EVERYTHING funny.

“That’s not how you say it,” he says. "You say [confidently], '...and they are interviewing me as an expert.'"

I say nothing, my playfulness gone.

"Bethany.  You've spent thousands of hours over several DECADES studying happiness.  You are passionate about it like no one I know.  People want to hear your opinion.  You're an expert.  Own it."

I nod respectfully and inside I feel two things:

1) Appreciation for my Daddy's rose-colored glasses, and

2) Irritation that he didn't find me funny.

But irritation is just another Halloween mask worn by fear.

Maybe I'm afraid.

Maybe I'm afraid he's right.

Will this quote haunt me forever?

Deepest Fear Marianne Williamson quote

Deepest Fear Marianne Williamson quote

 ***

Now it's yesterday.  I'm at the gym having a conversation with the woman on the machine next to me because she grabbed my ear before I had the chance to put on my headphones in the universal sign language for, "please don't speak to me."

Gym time is thinking time in my book.

But really the reason I hadn't put on my headphones was because Universe wanted me to speak to this woman.

Because she is awesome.

She manages a large team of employees and I can tell she's good at it.  I recently hired my first full-time employee.  I want to tap into her brain.

I pepper her with questions and she nails them one after another.  I literally take notes.  On the cardio machine.

She finishes her cardio and in a moment of inspiration I ask her if she'd ever consider business coaching.

I'm practically whipping out my credit card, for God's sake.  I'm ready to hire her.

In the time it takes me to ask her this question, I see three emotions flash through her eyes.

1) An inner knowing that she would be good at it. [This passes in a millisecond.] 2) Desire to do it. 3) Fear that she's not enough.

The third is the one she runs with.

“I actually would LOVE to do that someday.  Whether for profit or just to help people, I don’t know.  Someday I should write down all these thoughts I have about management and business.  I would need to do that before I could coach people.”

“Maybe,” I say.  “But maybe not.  I think you’re ready for it now.  Without any preparation.”

She is on her heels for the first time in an hour.

“You know who would be awesome for you?” she says.  “Sally Rodriguez.*  She’s a fantastic business management coach.”

*** I think we're all waiting for the day where we "feel like" experts at the things we love.

But I've got news for us.

I think the only people who actually "feel like" experts are the ones who are furthest from it.  I think all of our favorite "experts" probably go to sleep at night wondering when people will find out that they are not really "experts" after all.

Because those of us who have learned the most are those of us who are truly passionate about learning.  And anybody who is passionate about learning is respectful of the process.  We know there is no end.

The more we learn, the more we know how much more we need to learn.

They call this "conscious incompetence."

So how do you know if you are ready to live your dream?

You don't.

But you could run the deathbed test on it.

Some day (hopefully a long time from now) when you are on your deathbed, will you wish you had pursued this dream?

If yes, then you must pursue it, and you must begin today.

Tony Robbins calls this type of uncertainty "necessary uncertainty."

When Kita asked me, during the interview, what I’ve learned on my journey of studying how to “Let it Shine,” a novel's worth of thoughts popped into my head.

But perhaps the biggest, the simplest, and the most complicated thing I’ve learned on this journey is that shining HINGES upon the word “Let.”

You've got to LET yourself shine, Dahlin.

The only thing getting in the way of you shining is you.

Just STOP STOPPING yourself from shining.

It's as simple as that.

Take it from me [dusts shoulders] because I am an expert.

***

The Power of Being Seen - Bethany O'Connor

The Power of Being Seen - Bethany O'Connor

If it's of interest to ya, the "Happiness and Success Telesummit" will be airing their interview with me about "The Power of Being Seen" tomorrow night at 6pm.

I kind of blanked out on what I said during it and a very large part of me hopes you don't actually listen to it, so I'm guessing it might be juicy.

Here's the link to listen in.  

***

*Sally Rodriguez is a made-up name. I can’t remember the name she said.

Oh, Fear: You Little Punk. (Also: New Music Video.)

Oh fear you little punk

Oh fear you little punk

Oh, Fear.  You little punk.  You have snuck up on me again.

You disguise yourself as overwhelm and perfectionism and I'm-too-busy-ness, but I'm not buying it anymore.

You, fear, have been apprehended.

Again.

It's been said that there are only two emotions in life, and all the others stem from these:  fear and love.

Steve Carrell - I want people to be afraid of how much they love me - FB dimensions

Steve Carrell - I want people to be afraid of how much they love me - FB dimensions

But I might wager that even fear stems back to love.  If you could strip the smelly onion layers off of that prickly pear called Fear, it too would reveal a core of Love.

We crave love from the depths of us.  And we're afraid we're unworthy of love.

We're afraid we're not "enough."

THAT is what breeds all the negative emotions, if you're asking me.

I've learned that whenever a project sits on my "haven't-had-time-to-get-to-this" list for long enough, I need to ask myself what I'm afraid of.

Because it's fear and nothing else that keeps our creative projects from seeing the light of day.  Any parent or creative person can tell you how scary it is to allow our babies into the world.

At the beginning of this year, I hired (the super talented) Jarret Blinkhorn of JB Horn Films to create a video for my website.

Jarret is not only super talented but also super speedy:  the video has been ready for viewing for several months.

I simply have not been ready to be viewed.

I thought the reason I hadn't publicized it yet was because this site needed major updates.  And I have clients to tend to!  And a FAMILY!  And OTHER THINGS!

But those excuses were just Fear, dancing around in Halloween masks.

That little punk.

The real freaking irony here is that I SPEAK in the VIDEO about the tendency to fear that we are not "enough."

When we SPEAK INTELLIGENTLY about things, it is supposed to mean that we are IMMUNE from them!  I have stabbed my victory flag though the heart of Fear!  He is KAPUT for me!   Hence why I have called him out in my VIDEO!  I am a verified expert!  DONE with Fear, I am!  DONE!

So WHY am I procrastinating?

[Drums fingers against cheek like the Grinch pondering Christmas.]

Oh, Fear.  That little punk.

It's scary to the bahjeezus degree to put yourself out there.  Even an expert would tell you that.

But I, for one, refuse to let a silly little thing like fear stand between me and my plans.

When we turn our backs on fear, we see that all that's left is love.

So today I stand before you once again as I (lovingly) tell my fears to F*ck Off.

I present to you:  the new Bethany O Photography music video*.

I'm afraid of how much I love it.

*And by "music video," I mean that it is a video.  And it has music in it.    If embedded video isn't working, click here to see it on youtube.

***

Do you have any creative projects that have been sitting on the "to-do" list for a long time?

Join me in telling Fear to F*ck Off!  

Tell me one TINY step you could take towards moving that project along today!

***

Family Fun Night!

Family Fun Night Banner for Facebook
Family Fun Night Banner for Facebook

Well this all came together swimmingly.

I have the good fortune of working in a building that happens to house a few other rockstar business women.  Did you know that Bethany O Photography has a business location?  I've gotta talk about these things more often.

It kinda brings me back to my college days, sharing a building with these ladies.  Well, a healthier version of my college days.  Hours melt away as I bury my head in my work, and when I emerge from my office, I get re-injected with energy from the good peeps in the lobby.

Beth of B Colorful makes me laugh and feeds my creative fires with her seems-to-come-easy-artistic-wizardry.  Lori, Coral, Debbie, and the other yogis of Laughing Elephant are a soulful bunch with contagious good habits.

Por example.  I recently was having a smidge of a frazzled day, and when I showed my face in the lobby, Lori, Coral, and Debbie were greeting people for Coral's yoga class.  They're a perceptive bunch, these yogis.  If I don't want them to notice when I'm frazztastic, I best be sneaking out the back door.

"You need to take Coral's class right now," said Lori, as soon as I appeared with my frazzle face.

"You're probably right.  I'm sure that would be good for me.  And I totally would, but I don't have any yoga clothes with me today," said I.

"You're wearing yoga clothes right now," said Debbie.  [#OHSNAP.]

And that is how I found myself in downward-facing dog that morning.

[Friends:  this is one of the hazards of wearing #yogapantseverydamnday.  Be ye forewarned that ye will have a hard time making the excuses about the yoga when you're wearing the yoga pants all the day.]

It's the best kind of peer pressure, really.

Okay.  I am skidding off-road and off-topic here but there are words popping into my cortex and apparently they want to be said.  Just for a second, let's talk about not having time for yoga, or art class, or whatever it is that connects us with our higher selves.  My philosopher-friend, Brian Johnson, once told me that the Dalai Lama starts every day with one hour of meditation.  Except for on the days when he wakes up and knows he has a really busy day in front of him.

On those days, Mr. Honorary Dalai Lama starts his day with two hours of meditation.

This morning I worked out precisely because I didn't have time for it.

How about you?  (We did just agree that sometimes peer pressure is healthy, no?)

NOW I AM ARRIVING AT THE POINT OF THIS POST.  A couple weeks ago, I was a-chattin' with two of the mighty-fine business ladies in the buildin', Lori Mancini (Rockstar Goddess Owner of Laughing Elephant Yoga) and Beth Brugnoli of (Multi-Tasking Creative Genius Owner of B Colorful, an art studio which offers classes for kids and adults.)

We were feeling the gratitude, appreciating the goodnesses that have come to each of our growing businesses, and we were brainstorming on a fun way that we could collaborate in giving back to the community that supports us.  A way we could each add value to the clients of each others' businesses.

Which was when the idea of Family Fun Night was born!

Here is the page with all the details.

Will you join us?

Will you help us spread the word?

Let us know!

See you Tuesday.

xoxoxo

I Can See Clearly Now; the Pain Is Gone. - My Messy Beautiful

I Can See Clearly Now; the Pain Is Gone. - My Messy Beautiful

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-592.jpg

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-592.jpg

Our gym has mirrors in front of the cardio equipment and I like that.

Narcissist?  Doubtful.  If I have narcissistic qualities, they're probably more the "blogger" flavor than the "mirror" variety.

I like those mirrors at the gym because they remind me of my strength.

Sometimes I forget my own strength, you see.

But it wasn't strength I noticed in those mirrors last summer.  Last summer, I saw tears streaming down my cheeks while I ran.  My knees kicked high and my arms swung strong but what I saw in that mirror was that I was too sad to give a damn that I was crying on the cardio trainer.

Or maybe I thought I was actually a bit bad-ass, what with all that sprinting through tears and all.

Either way:  tears.

When Katy Perry yelled into my ear buds that, "this is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me," I lost her in translation.

I was in the midst of a doozie of a battle with depression and I thought Katy meant that THAT was the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.  That no matter how many tools I employed to keep my head above water in the sea of sadness, I would always be fighting the undertow.

What an awfully depressing thing to sing about, non?

But I just wasn't seeing things clearly.

I am remembering a moment of clarity that took place last fall.  I was not at the gym, I was…elsewhere…and someone really got my goat, which obviously led me to wordlessly ask her with my eyes and face only, "what the hell is YOUR problem?"

This, of course, was what caused my AH-HA moment, because it was neither the first nor the fourth time that morning that I had to use my face to ask someone that very question.

Could I really have encountered so many goat-getters in one morning?  Did EVERYONE wake up that day and put "Get Bethany's Goat" at the top of their to-do list?  Or was I GIVING the goats, per se?

Didn't yo momma teach you never to give goats, B???

Prepare yourself, Kind Reader, for now I shall push this goat-getting expression far beyond its intended threshold for the pushing.

It will be beautiful.

I had to catch a goat when I was 15.  The real kind.  I was babysitting on a farm and they said to make sure the goat didn't get out and wouldn't you know it but that goat got OUT. So I chased that kid (of the goat, not the child variety) around that farm, dove a few times to catch him, and when I finally grabbed his collar THAT was when the goat-catching process got DIFFICULT.

Goats do not like it when you grab their collars, you see.  They'll drag ya in the herbiest of jerkiest ways that they can think to drag ya.  They'll buck up and they'll jump up and they'll do their goat-iest to not be GOTTEN.

And so it is from real-life field work that I can tell you it is no easy task to "get" a goat.  In fact, I'd wager that if you were going to get someone's goat (of the literal, not the idiom variety), the goat owner would need to actually GIVE you her goat.  On a leash.  Inside a fence.  Surrounded by a moat.  By deeding you her land.

For that is the only-est way that a goat can be gotten.

Ya follow?  If someone "gets your goat," that's your work, not theirs.  

Or maybe it's their work too, but since you can only do the work of one, stick to yours.

So please consider my relevant field experience before the next time you go casually throwing around the "that person really got my goat" expression.

[So EN VOGUE you are with your expressions, you!  So FUNKY, so RAD!]

Listen.  Sometimes I grow weary of writing about DEPRESSION and STRUGGLES up in here.  I write about these things with the intention of helping anybody who feels scary-alone in their struggles, as I did for so very long, and also because NOT writing about these things feels a lot like I'd be HIDING (ashamed of) them again.

I REFUSE to stand any longer for the shaming of depression.

F*CK THAT.

But the word "self-sabotage" has been lobbed at me a couple times recently, and I am a smidge concerned that if I keep writing stories of sadnesses (which is actually EASIER than celebrating our victories, innit?) I may begin to IDENTIFY more with the messy part of me than with the part of me that really shines.

I may begin to cling to it.

So I'm navigating that.  I'm tweaking it.

BUT.  AND.  Every time I've done a swan-dive into the deep end of the sea of sadness, I've learned something.  MANY THINGS, really.  These things carry a heavy price-tag (payable only in grit, sweat, time and tears), so today I'm recording just one more of the bigger take-aways from The Great Swan Dive of 2013 before I go writing about The Great Strides Forward of 2014.

Here it is:

When we are not in our healthiest place mentally (whether due to clinical depression or to the occasional human condition of simply being "off"), we don't see things clearly.

The catch is:  we don't KNOW we're not seeing things clearly for the simple reason that WE ARE NOT SEEING THINGS CLEARLY.

SOit is imperative that we take it upon ourselves to watch for clues that our lens is dirty.

Here is one clue.  When we're not on our A-Game, we're more sensitive, more easily insulted, more quick to give goats.  

In my humble opinion, the concept of a "bad day" is [usually] less a statement about the day itself than it is about the person who is having it.

When we ask, "what the hell is HER problem?" we really should be asking, "what the love is MY problem?  What am I neglecting?"  

Likely answers:  Sleep and/or exercise and/or gratitude and/or vegetables and/or meditation and/or other self-love goodnesses of all varieties and whatnots and whathaveyous.

All of those activities clean our lenses.

[PSST!  When I say "we" here, really what I mean is, "I."  But really-est, I do actually mean "we."]

Stay with me, you.

When we/I/WE are slam-dunking the above whatnots and whathaveyous, we have very few goats for the taking.  The person who done-and-got-my-goat last fall could have made that same comment to me today, and because today I am in a great place [please--knock on ALL THE WOODS], my face would have only shown her love and concern.  And light.

My lens is clean.

When we give it time, our messy always has a way of showing us our beautiful.

Today, I went to the gym--the same messy, beautiful warrior I have always been--and I listened to that same Katy Perry song.

Today, I locked my black pupils on my own in the mirror as I sprinted hard and triumphantly, and today I saw my truth more accurately.

Today I saw that I am diligent--INSISTENT, even--about putting one foot in front of the other--not only on the cardio machine, but IN LIFE.

Today I saw that even on days when it feels too painful to get out of bed--when I'd rather lay prostrate, clawing at the earth because the world is moving so very SWIFTLY and the air is so very THIN for the BREATHING...even on those days, I get up.  I MOVE.  I do what needs to be done.

I sprint through tears.

This TENACITY?  This INDESTRUCTIBLE, ORIGINAL, FIERCE, KIND and LUMINOUS spirit?  THIS is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.

And when I say "me" here, I really-est mean "us."

Don't get it twisted.

*** 

Bethany O Momastery Messy Beautiful Warriors Project.png

Bethany O Momastery Messy Beautiful Warriors Project.png

Hello, sweet friends.

I wrote this in case your own lens is cloudy today.  I hope it helps.

Remember that post that went viral a few years ago called "Don't Carpe Diem?"  Glennon Melton wrote that.

I could not possibly say enough nice things about Glennon Melton, which is why I was tickled pink when I received the invitation to participate in her latest project.

This essay and I are part of Glennon's Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project - to learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

And to learn about Glennon's New York Times Bestselling Memoir, "Carry On, Warrior:  the Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life" (just released in paperback), CLICK HERE!

I am not making this up when I say that "Carry On, Warrior" is my favorite go-to gift for ALL Mommas:  Brand New Mommas and Less-New Mommas too.  I keep a stack of these on hand because Lawd knows I do not ever think to buy gifts until the last minute.

Glennon's team has given me a copy of her beloved book to give to one of my beloved readers.  Because they are thoughtful and kind like that.  

To enter the raffle for the book (YOU WANT THIS BOOK, YOU DO), simply leave a comment below this post.  

All comments count as raffle entries.  If you're feeling short on words today, just write, "LOVE THIS!"  

That will do nicely.  :)

With so much love and light, Bethany

***

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-591.jpg

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-591.jpg

Beating the Opponent You May Not Know You Are Fighting.

Bethany New Year Resolution Video Screen Shot.jpg
Bethany New Year Resolution Video Screen Shot.jpg

I made a video for you a couple weeks ago.  It kind of stinks a lil bit.

The INTENTION behind it doesn't stink and even the IDEAS within it are non-stinky.  But the delivery and the technical aspects of the recording?  STANK.

You might notice that I'm helplessly long-winded, I miscommunicate a couple of points (especially the first one) and from the looks of how I shot this you might think I don't know a thing or three about light and shadows.

Also.  I love that I have big teeth but the angle of the camera here makes it appear as if my face is about 30% teeth, when really it is only 29% teeth.

Do you see what I'm doing here?

I'm burning the grass.

Legend has it that when Napoleon was once losing a battle, he retreated his troops through their own land, burning their OWN grass in their OWN fields as they retreated.

They did that to starve the advancing enemy.  So the enemy would not have any food or water to fuel them as they advanced back towards Napoleon's troops.  And Napoleon would be able to see the enemy coming.

No grass, no food, no power, no hiding.  Burning the grass.

A sales manager once taught me that sometimes you have to burn your own grass.  Mention shortcomings of your own product before the competitor can try to use those shortcomings against you.  Stay one step ahead of the competition so you can cut 'em out at the knees.

Le sigh.

...Le sigh again.

We hu-mans do this all the time.  But less in regards to our PRODUCTS and more in regards to our SELVES.

We speak badly about ourselves so as to disempower anybody who might try to speak badly about us.

As in:  "Oh, you want to say I'm long-winded?  That my video lighting is amateur?  Nope.  Can't say that.  I already said it.  Point disqualified.  Whatchya got now, suckaaaaahs???"

I protect myself from attack.

Let me be the one to come out and say that this "burning the grass" strategy of self-protection?  IT is what sucks.  We think that people are out to criticize us but in the end, the one who is most actively criticizing us is ourselves.

And our subconscious minds BELIEVE the things we tell ourselves, so it becomes self-fulfilling.

And the only opinion of us that really matters is our own.

So as soon as we burn the grass, we lose.

A couple days ago I stumbled upon a link to an article I had contributed to another website a year ago.  So I read it.  And I proceeded to want to vom-dot-com.

I was HORRIFIED.  As in:  itchy-sweat-I-wonder-who-I-can-pay-to-remove-this-from-the-interwebs horrified.  Burn-the-servers horrified.

"What was I thinking??"  I wondered.  "Why would I make myself so vulnerable in discussing such PERSONAL topics on the INTERNET?  How am I so AUDACIOUS as to think anybody would WANT to read my drivel??"

Then I got to the bottom of the post.  Many people had written to say that the post was HELPING them.  Shifting their perspectives.  They THANKED me for my vulnerability.  The post has been tweeted 2,432 times.

Not one criticism.

soulseeds screenshot
soulseeds screenshot

Which gets me thinking.  I'm thinking today about internal Resistance, with a capital "R" to recognize the foe for the powerful opponent that it is.

In spiritual communities, Resistance is the equivalent of Christianity's Devil.  It's the negative force in the world that tries to stop good things from happening.

But it's an INVISIBLE force.  People don't even see it coming.

Stephen Pressfield teaches that Resistance kicks in at its strongest right before we're about to do something good (which usually involves being vulnerable.)  That's when it whispers in our ear that we are not good enough, strong enough, ready enough. 

That's when it convinces us to stay small.

If there is one thing I cannot stand in life it is anybody telling me I am not good enough to do something.  I'll be damned in every sense of the expression if I ever let somebody stop ME from doing what it is I plan to do.

Resistance can go to hell.

So today, I am posting this video.  It may not be the best video any of us have ever seen, but it's a major victory over Resistance.

And that is good enough for me.

(Please note that I especially miscommunicated the advice Nick and my Dad relayed.  It sounded much more positive coming from them.  Oh well.)

***

People and things I mention in the video, for reference:

***

Want to chime in with some thoughts?  I always love to hear from you.

with love and light
with love and light

Things Worth Celebrating. (Also: Help Wanted.)

RI lifestyle photographer_0371.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0371.jpg

First thing yesterday morning, our two-year-old snuck her way into a bag of Milanos and ate an undisclosed number of cookies, then promptly found life to be undeniably worth celebrating.

So she stripped off her clothes and, with cookie in hand, threw her arms and face to the sky, running gleeful naked laps around the dining room table, laughing all the way.

May we all take a lesson from the little one and find the little things to be worth celebrating this weekend.

***

More thoughts:

  1. Speaking of little things worth celebrating, you can finally view photos from one of my favorite photo sessions last year.

Have you seen 'em?  Here's a tease and a link to more.  Which shot is your fav??  :)

RI lifestyle photographer_0372.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0372.jpg

2.  Speaking of little tasks that I'm having trouble time-managing, I would like to officially put it out to you and to the universe that I am looking for part-time assistance.  Are you enthusiastic, dependable, somewhat tech-savvy, and have access to a computer?

If this interests you, please get in touch!  No need to be local to RI.

***

Back to our daughter.

As high as her high was, the sugar crash hit her just as hard.

Later yesterday morning, she promptly screamed for--I am not kidding--45 minutes straight.

"I WANNA COOKIE!!"

Detox is a b*tch, innit?

In one of my less lucid moments, I tried to talk sense into her, explaining the highs and lows that come along with a sugar rush.

A few minutes later, I channelled Jack Nicholson from "A Few Good Men."

Her:  "I WANNA COOKIE!!"

Me:  "YOU-CAN'T-HANDLE-THE-COOKIES!!"

***

3.  Speaking of Jack Nicholson, due to popular demand, we have added a second "Photography 101" class date, if you're interested.  

I've received many emails of gratitude after the first class, my favorite compliment being that it was "packed with ALL the information that had previously confused me about using my camera.  A ridiculous value!"

4.  Speaking of ridiculous value, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the Photography 101 class has nothing at all to do with Jack Nicholson.  I was just looking for a smooth transition a few sentences ago.

Mr Nicholson does not endorse the class, will not be in attendance, and, if you can believe it, doesn't even know who I am.  

Although, if this post does circle back to him, (sorta like when this post I wrote circled back to Oprah's peeps) I'm sure he'll enroll in the class, because I'm guessing HE CAN'T HANDLE HIS CAMERA.

***

Okay good.  I can see that today's post has been filled with non-random things that are not random.

Sounds to me like a little thing worth celebrating.  

Happy weekend, Light Catchers!

with love and light

with love and light

Beautiful Engagement Photos In a Field - Rhode Island Lifestyle Photographer

RI lifestyle photographer_0361.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0361.jpg

Mmmmmm, mmm, mmm, mmmm, MMMMM, I tell you!!

Boy am I sure psyched to finally share these photos with you.  (I got very much behind on blogging photo sessions during the wonderful craziness of last fall!  Many more fabulous updates to come!)

But this one.  This is a very special shoot, you see.  It is special because our family is GROWING.  We are growing to include this downright spectacular LOVE of a man named Matt who sure does already feel like family to us.

He IS already family to us.  Next October, we'll just be tying up the legal ends of that equation.

Not to brag, but the first time I won the sibling-in-law lottery was when I married my husband and gained two soul sisters:  Maggie and Audrey.  The second was when my blood sister married P-Diddy.  And now.

NOW I HAVE DONE AND WON IT AGAIN, FOLKS!

We love you, Matt and Maggie.

Wishing you all the love and all the light for your many wonderful years ahead.

I would say how much fun it was to do this shoot with you, but I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

RI lifestyle photographer_0362.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0362.jpg

Above:  my fav.  :)  We're saving a couple of their favs to be revealed in the Save-the-Date cards!

RI lifestyle photographer_0365.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0365.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0367.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0367.jpg

Above:  I cannot help but smile giantly when I look at that one.

RI lifestyle photographer_0366.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0366.jpg

Above:  Stop it.  Just stop it with your wonderfulness.

RI lifestyle photographer_0364.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0364.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0368.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0368.jpg

Above:  YOW to the ZAS.  Just LOOK at her light.  BAM!

RI-lifestyle-photographer_0363.jpg

RI-lifestyle-photographer_0363.jpg

*** 

Now tell me:  WHICH SHOT IS YOUR FAVORITE??  :)

with love and light

with love and light

Photography 101 Class for February!

Photography 101 Class for February!

Photography 101 Class with Bethany O Photography at Bellani Maternity; How to get your camera to do what you want it to do
Photography 101 Class with Bethany O Photography at Bellani Maternity; How to get your camera to do what you want it to do

Hey, now!  You know what's great?  I'll tell you what's great.

This weekend I taught my first Photography 101 class at Bellani Maternity.  And it was awesome!

So awesome, in fact, that we had to turn people away due to overcrowding.  (Thank you, Universe, for this Grade-A problem!)

You know what this means?  This means you have another chance to get off your laurels and join our merry selves, you do!

Here are the deets:

Great news for fellow photography-lovers!

WHAT:  Photography 101 Class with Bethany

WHEN:  Saturday, February 8th, 2014  2-4:30pm

WHERE:  Best Parenting Shop Ever  (Bellani Maternity, 1276 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI)

WHY:  Because you have a nice camera and you're not using it to it's potential.  Or you love photography but feel intimidated by it.  Or generally you are just awesome and enjoy hanging out with other awesome people in awesome places.

HOW MUCH:  $99

HOW TO SIGN UP:  Call 401-345-4177 or email bethany@bethanyo.com.  Or call or sign up at Bellani.  You have many options.

I plan to JAM PACK as much good info and light-heartedness as I can possibly pack into these two-and-a-half hours!  Don't miss it!

FAQ's

Can I give this as a gift to someone?

Absa-freakin-lutely.  You can and you SHOULD give this as a gift to someone.  We'll even give ya a gift card to give 'em.  How 'bout that?

Aperture, shutter speed, and the rest of those shenanigans are SO CONFUSING.  Do you like to make things confusing?

I'm so glad you asked, Hypothetical Question-Asker.  No, I do not like to make things confusing.  I like to make things fun.  I took a similar photography class at the ripe young age of 15, and the teacher made things so confusing that I didn't attempt to learn photography again until almost another 15 years had passed.  I won't do that to you.

Do I need to have a fancy camera to take this class?

No, the concepts we'll be covering will apply to all photography captured by all cameras, including iPhones.  If you do not have a camera, though, the class is going to leave you WANTING a camera, because of the extended control the DSLRs [i.e. "fancy cameras"] give you over your camera settings.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Do I need to bring my camera with me for class?

It's encouraged that you bring your camera so that you can familiarize yourself with the controls and settings we'll discuss, but this is not a workshop, so a camera is not necessary.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Honestly, has no one gotten to the bottom of this yet?  Woodchucks DO chuck wood, don't they?  Is this a test?

Which lens do you recommend for a beginner learning photography?

If you're a Nikon shooter, get this one.  That lens is not only an incredible value, it also lays the smack down on all other lenses as far as learning lenses go;  I'll tell you why in class.  For Canon shooters, I recommend this lens, which is almost as good.  :)  You do not need to have either of these lenses for the class.

I don't receive any kick-back if you purchase those lenses, in case you were wondering.

This class is being held at Rhode Island's best pregnancy and parenting shop.  What if I'm not a parent, or I am not interested in photographing kids?

Do not fret yourself, sweet grasshopper!  All are welcome, and this particular class is not specifically about photographing kids.  The concepts we will discuss apply to all types of photography, which may or may not include children, depending upon your preferences.

Will you cover XYZ topic in class?

This class is going to be a discussion of basic photography concepts:  shutter speed, aperture, ISO, how they interact, tricks for how to deal with difficult shooting situations, concepts that can improve any photo, etc.  If you are wondering about specific subjects that will or will not be covered, feel free to email Bethany.

What about refunds?

Since seating is limited, we are unable to offer refunds or exchanges for tickets purchased for this event.  HOWEVAH.  You are welcome to sell or give away your admission in the unlikely and frankly insane event that you change your mind about attending.  Kinda like a concert ticket, you know?  Only better.

Should I sign up sooner...or later?

SOONER, for shizzle!!  Spots are limited.  I think it was Abraham Lincoln who once said, "You snooze, you lose."  Or something like that.

How Bellani Maternity Has Changed My Life. And a Huge January Promotion.

Bethany O Photography_0357.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0357.jpg

Above:  A photo from the Big Latch On event I photographed at Bellani Maternity this summer.  I later did a family session for this radiant baby and her lovely parents.

***

As a small business owner, it's important to me to go out of my way for my clients.  To get to known them and to provide a level of service that I am tremendously proud to represent.  A customer experience that injects every dollar my clients invest in me with tremendous value.

I learned a lot about the added value that a small local business can offer though my experiences with Kelly LaChance Guertin of Bellani Maternity.

Bethany O Photography_0358.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0358.jpg

[Above:  A photo of Kelly with her three kids last summer.]

I realize this post is gonna read a bit like an advertisement, and that's not my intention.  Genuinely good reviews just sound a little like ads, and there aint nothin' I can do 'bout that.

But if you read my blog, you know that truth is of the utmost importance to me in life and in my business.  I would smash my beloved camera to the cement before I promoted a business here that I do not believe in.

The following is just information I think you should know.

I found Bellani Maternity five years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and searching for a local maternity yoga class.  I later learned that it is owned and lovingly operated by a (North Kingstown) high school acquaintance.

I first thought Bellani was just a shop for classes and maternity and infant gear but quickly learned it is so, so very much more.

Here are three of the many ways that Bellani Maternity has changed my life, ranging from least to most important:

1)  Kelly helped me get out of the house.

If I tell you that Kelly "helped me find the right stroller for me," it might not seem like a big deal to you.  But when you've got post-partum depression and a colicky baby and you feel guilty about giving him formula but he can't latch so you pump your breasts eight times a day and you have already bought and returned six--count 'em--SIX other annoying-assed strollers, and quite frankly you are really not getting out much at all because EVERYTHING IS JUST SO HARD…finding a good stroller is a very big deal.

It makes getting out a lil easier.

You need to get out, you know.

Regain some normalcy.

Kelly understood everything I was going through.  She named challenges that I was struggling with but couldn't put words to.  She knew every feature of every stroller on the market, the ins-and-outs, the goods-and-bads of each one, and she was forthcoming about all of it.

When she demonstrated the one-handed fold of a Baby Jogger stroller for me, I just about fell to my tired knees with happiness.  I think I actually did cry.

The Bellani team knows their stuff.

2)  She helped me feed my child who would not eat.

Eventually (three months later), I waived the white flag over my breast pump and cut that masochistic sh*t out.  But I didn't do so without tremendous Mommy Guilt, so I had to come up with a way to make up for the fact that I was denying my child precious breast milk and also a bonding experience and thereby f*cking with his entire LIFE because I SIMLY DID NOT WANT TO PUMP.

Or at least that was one of the sweet nothings I whispered to myself.

Shortly after sobbing to my husband that our child would inevitably go to California for college because of the lack of a breast-feeding maternal bond, I devised a plan to compensate.

I would make all of his baby food.  I would lay the smack down on the Gerber baby food industry and feed our child only homemade organic baby purees made with love from scratch.

But apparently it would be (and still is) very hard to feed this child--not just breast milk--but ANYTHING.  Probably because of the psychological scars I inflicted while trying to get him to latch.

Also.  I didn't know anything about infant nutrition, and I didn't know anything about making purees.

Kelly did.

I took two of her baby-food-making classes, both of which were chucked to the gills with information that only a ton of reading and YEARS of experience could get ya.  She also knows all the fun tricks for storage and travel and other such good things.

One of my favorite tips from her at that time was to crush up cheerios into dust and shake em around in a plastic bag with banana pieces.  That makes it easier for the little ones to pick up the bananas.

Kelly helped me to feed my child who would eat almost nothing, and more importantly, she helped to calm my nerves and remove the guilt about the whole feeding thing.  MAJOR WIN.

[Noteworthy fact #467:  Our second child LOVES Gerber.]

3)  She empowered me to hold my second baby immediately after giving birth via c-section.

This one.  This one, I will be grateful for until the day I die.

When I was pregnant with our second child, I was in Bellani because my son was enrolled in their *awesome* toddler art classes.  During my visit, I rubbed my belly and bemoaned to Kelly that I was sad I'd have to have another c-section.

My first c-section was a surprise, and the doctor later told us it would be risky and unwise for me to attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), which was extremely disappointing news.

"Have you ever heard of a Gentle Cesaerean?" Kelly asked.  I hadn't, and neither had my OBGYN.  But Kelly put me in touch with Amanda at ICAN RI (Amanda, BTW, also works at Bellani), and Amanda helped me lay the groundwork so I could have a Gentle Cesaerean.

It was the first Gentle C-Section in the history of Women and Infants hospital, thankyouverymuch.

(The best part of a Gentle C is that they allow you to hold your baby on your chest immediately after s/he is born, instead of making you wait until you get to the recovery room, which is what happened when our son was born.  Instead of feeling like you're in the hospital to have surgery, it feels like you're in the hospital to have a baby.  That's good.)

Mark this as one of the very best moments of my life, and one I will remember for ever, evah, evah to infinity and beyond.

Gentle C-section.jpg
Gentle C-section.jpg

[Above:  To answer your question, yes.  My forehead does have an end to it.]

Bellani Maternity has had a huge impact on my experience as a mother, and has connected me with a community of other wonderful moms:  both when I was a stay-at-home mom, and now as I run my photography business.

Have you seen my photography display in their shop?

_DSC2508-569.jpg
_DSC2508-569.jpg

[Above:  Me, this summer.  Listen.  I said I can help YOU to not be awkward in front of the camera.  I did not say that I am not awkward in front of the camera.]

Getting to My Point:

Every time I visit Kelly, she is helping another mom with something totally unexpected.  Last week, I overheard her helping a mom whose three-year-old daughter is insistent upon knowing how babies are made.  On my previous visit there, she helped a pregnant mom relieve her back problems.  (The mom didn't know she was wearing the wrong kind of maternity bra.)

I cannot express how much Kelly and the team at Bellani Maternity have impacted me, and that's why, when they approached me about collaborating on a January promotion, I was eager and excited to jump onboard.

(This promotion also coincides with the same month I am teaching a Photography 101 class at Bellani!  There are only two spots left in the class so please register soon if you're interested!)

You can read the details of the January promotion here.  Basically, when you spend $100 at Bellani this month, you are entered to win a photography package with me (worth over $1K!)

This promotion is my way of showing gratitude to the whole Bellani community for the many ways they have positively touched my life, and it's Kelly's way of showing gratitude to all of her supportive clients, and of adding even more value to her own client experience.

As if she needs to.

***

Has Kelly or someone else in the Bellani community touched your life in a positive way?  Tell us about it in the comments!  :) 

Something Good is Going to Happen Today.  (A Birthday Post.)

Something Good is Going to Happen Today. (A Birthday Post.)

Bethany O Photography_0356.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0356.jpg

Something good is going to happen today.

You're going to be going about your day, minding your own business, and a thought is going to cross your mind.

A quiet one.  One born from (and filled with) light.

It's going to tell you to do something for someone.  Hug them, maybe.  Or to stop thinking about your to-do list and just listen to what they are trying to tell you.

Maybe the someone the voice is prodding you to celebrate is yourself.

Maybe the whisper will tell you to skip on your way to your car in the parking lot.

And then it will be gone, that whisper.  It will be quickly vetoed by "reason:" that idea is "silly" or "weird" or "impractical."

You'll blow out that light like a candle on a birthday cake.

You've got things to do.  A plan for your day.  Your plans don't include skipping, hugging, or listening.

I know because I do it too.  On my way out of the UPS store this morning, I wanted to turn around and shout exuberantly to their nice staff, "HEY!!!  IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!"

I know my excitement would have made them smile.

But I didn't do it.  Because, you know:  weird.

But today, my friends.  As of today, January 7th, 2014, I have completed--I'm not even exaggerating--THIRTY THREE trips AROUND THE SUN.

I know!!  Wild, right??  What a long, strange, short and spectacular trip it has been.

Today I have one request.  One request to help me celebrate.  And I don't ask this lightly:  I request it with every fiber of my being.

Today, when that quiet little light-filled voice pops into your mind, could you please listen to it?  

If I knew that you did that in honor of my birthday, it would give me chills and teary eyes and it would be the very best birthday present ever in the history of forever times infinity.

Thank you, kind friend.

I love your light.

Happy My Birthday to you.

It Will Be Simple. And It Will Be Beautiful. (So Help Me God.)

I wrote this in June. As you surely noticed, December immediately followed June this year.  This post was one of the many items that fell to the wayside during that rare calendar event.

With the holidays upon us, it could not have resurfaced at a better time for me.

***

Bethany O Photography_0354.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0354.jpg

September is the time of year when I think it is a good idea to sign the children up for all the things.  I register for classes, seek festivals, set play dates, and generally fill our calendar until its seams pop.

That's one of the requisites for being a "good mom," right?

In our case, we attend music classes, soccer, dance classes and the like, not because I have grandiose ideas of my children becoming the next Chopin or Pele or Paula Abdul, but because I find it is generally best for everybody involved if this stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) does not, in fact, stay at home.

June, though.  Now is the time of year when I realize that we are so busy ALWAYS GOING SOMEWHERE that we never get to just BE.

Essentially, we human beings are too busy being human doings to actually do any BEING.

Am I being clear?

June is when I become convinced that I will only be able to wrestle the kids into their car seats 3-7 more times before, so help me God, I lose my ever-loving mind.

June is when I want to SIMPLIFY.  SIMPLICITY, I tell you!  It is the "good moms" who keep things simple, is it not?

So last Saturday, we cleared the calendar for one plan and one plan only.  We would turn on the sprinkler.  The children would run in the grass.  Husband and I would observe how beautifully the sunlight back-lit the water drops dancing through their laughter.  We would sit.  We would just BE.

And it would be beautiful.

The only detail to address was that we didn't have a sprinkler.  No biggie:  we live five minutes from Benny's (our local hardware-and-more store.)  We would go get a sprinkler.  We'd come home and plug it in.  They would laugh, we would sit.

Simple.  Beautiful.

Except.

Upon entering Benny's, we walked straight into the toy aisle, which is positioned directly in front of the entrance.  (Well played, Benny's.  Well played.)

During our frolic down aisle 1, our almost-two-year-old daughter placed roughly 27 items into our shopping cart.  Since I was replacing them as quickly as she picked them, the whole thing seemed cute and innocent enough.

Until it didn't.

When we reached the beach pails, said daughter turned around to survey her bounty, and the earth dropped out from beneath us.

"NO!!!!!!!!!!!!," she screamed from the depths of her.  "DAS MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE BOAT!!!  DAS MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE DOLLY!!!  DAS MIIIIIIIIIINE EAR-O-PLANE!!!!"

When she launched herself face-first upon the floor, I picked her up, just as Beverly Cleaver would do.

But Beverly Cleaver never taught us the proper hold for a screaming child who has perfected the art of the horizontal open-and-close jackknife body buck.  While I struggled to 1) keep her from falling and 2) play it cool for the growing number of on-lookers, my just-turned-four-year-old son announced that he needed to use the potty.

Husband was running another errand.

I can handle situations like this.  I am strong, and not easily jostled, or at least that's what I like to think.

But THIS DAY was supposed to be simple.  THIS was FUN AND SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL DAY, for crying out loud.  There are NO TANTRUMS on fun and simple and beautiful day, DOESN'T EVERYBODY KNOW THAT??

I abandoned our cart and diverted the childrens' attention to the automobile aisle, where there was a well-placed rack of colorful women's sundresses for only $6.  (I KNOW!  Can you believe it???  Only $6!)  The kids--easily distracted--embraced the cave-like qualities of the clothing rack, so I seized my chance to try on the sundresses over my outfit.

My sense of personal style can be described as nothing if not "opportunistic."

The third time the store manager came to our giggling-and-shaking clothing rack to ask if he could help with anything, I recognized that he did not understand how fabulously CONTAINED my children were in there.

That was also when I realized that the terribly ripe diaper smell wafting from the rack was becoming an embarrassment, even for me, the woman trying on sun dresses in the automobile section of Benny's.

(I'll have you know that it was our diapered daughter--not our potty-trained son--who was responsible for the smell.  [Hashtag thankful.])

So, being the model parent that I am, I took one child's hand in each of mine and set out to find my husband, who should have surely, so help him God, finished his previous errand and arrived at Benny's by now.

Which is when things took a turn for the worse.

In an effort to prove that young children truly do not have any impulse control whatsoever, my son released my hand, grabbed a styrofoam bat, swung the way his college-baseball-star-father taught him, and whacked a hunched elderly man in the back of the legs as we passed.

WHY.  IS.  SIMPLE.  SO.  VERY.  HARD???????????

Husband (thank-you-Jesus) materialized just then to whisk the baby off for a diaper change, and I retreated to the lawn chair section to put our son--and myself--in Time Out.

Simplicity waits for us in Time Out, you know.

That's where I saw things more clearly.

I saw that, when I had been trying to distract the baby from her tantrum, I blew raspberries into her neck.  Until the day I die, I want to always remember the way my nose squishes into the soft-but-firm folds of that baby's neck.  I want to always remember the sweetness of her high-and-low pitched laughter tickling my ear canal.

Because that is simple.  And it is oh-so-beautiful.

How relieved was I to see my husband when he appeared?  How proud was I when our shy boy looked that elderly man in the eye to sincerely apologize?  How high did I feel when my heart skipped that beat?

Those moments - the in betweenmoments - they're so simple.  So beautiful.

The [very] elderly man emptied the contents of his pockets into my son's hand, which, once the life savers were removed, totaled six coins amounting to 19 cents.

Get a load of this.  That elderly man then thanked me for "raising [my] kids the right way."  I'm willing to overlook the fact that clearly he was either senile or had me confused with someone else, because--well--19 cents is 19 cents, you know?

That man told us he was especially thankful that my son made him smile that day, because his granddaughter had had to cancel their lunch date that day, and he was feeling a little lonely.

Which brings a happy tear and a sad one to my eye.  Simple and beautiful ones.

The best moment of all was when another tantrum erupted in the parking lot on the way back to the car.  In an effort to keep our flailing children from getting hit by traffic, husband and I released our hold on the too-many-items we had just purchased, and they spilled onto the pavement.

What caused that tantrum?

Oh, our son had grabbed my hand.  And our daughter, in her daddy's arms, became irate.

"NO!!!!!!!!" she yelled.  "DAS MIIIIIIIIIIINE MOMMY!!!!!!!!!"

So simple.

And oh, so beautiful.

***

Sending all of my readers so much love and appreciation today, and wishing you all a very simple, very beautiful holiday season.

In case of emergency, remember:  simplicity waits for us in time out and hides in the in-between moments.  

With love and light, B