From Where I Stand

view-from-mountain-cabin-1

View from Mountain Cabin

Creativity disappeared like an autumn leaf blown across the valley by a night wind.  There are probably various reasons, but I never could seem to point to one particularly significant one. So, I have not posted many images to this blog recently.

north-carolina-rustic-cabin

Rustic North Carolina Cabin

It was confusing.  For years, I have been driven to photograph beauty.  My mind always taking snapshots in my head, even when the camera was not in my hands.  And then I noticed I no longer wanted to reach for the camera.  No longer did I evaluate possible images in my head.  And so, the camera was put away except for occasional images of family and friends at significant celebrations.

through-the-windows

Through the Windows

Where you stand makes all the difference in what you see.   So, guess you could say I am standing in a different place than I have for the last decade.  As a result it has changed what I see.  Perhaps that is one reason a break was needed.

These images don’t fit my profile of trying to capture the perfect shot of a close up subject.  But for the first time in months I wanted to pick up the camera.  I wanted to capture the wild, not so perfectly structured rustic cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina.  It was intriguing to see the outdoor beauty framed by cabin windows.  Taking several steps back fits where I see life now.  It doesn’t always go according to plan, but there is still beauty to be seen.  Maybe when life doesn’t go the way we expected is when we most need beauty.  Thanks for taking a second look.

cabin-window

Cabin Window

Including Less

I am on a journey to include less in my life so that it doesn’t hinder me from what is most important.

Anna-Ruby-Falls,-Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls near Helen, Georgia.

Reality is that neither you or I know the exact date or time that we exit this earthly life.  Two more days, a few months, six more years, or maybe several decades, only hindsight will reveal the length of our life journey.  Just saying only God knows the exact number of my days.  He formed me in my mother’s womb, He alone knows how much longer this part of the journey is.  (Psalm 139).

Rushing-Water

Rushing Waters

What’s most important in my life . . . well, somewhere along the way I thought it was having stuff, i.e. possessions.  I am thankful for what I have, but just not interested in collecting and maintaining it as I once did.  As the years progress, I see that possessions are not the things that share love with you. They are poor substitutes for relationships.  I have been very fortunate to have a loving family and loyal friends through the years.

At this point in life, I want to have more time with people and less with the possessions.

These photos were taken at Anna Ruby Falls, near Helen, Georgia. Anna Ruby Falls.  Recently, my husband and I joined my sister, brother and their spouses for a few days together.  As the youngest in my birth family, I know that we now face less future time together than what we have previously enjoyed.  So, at least twice a year we meet somewhere to enjoy being together, since we all live hundreds of miles apart.  Weekly phone calls and texts help, but are not the same as “face time.”

Along-the-Path-1

Along the Path

 

Leaf

Leaf

Texture, texture . . . didn’t have my macro lens with me, but still looked for opportunities in the midst of huge boulders and overflowing waters.

What or who is most important in your life?  Pursue it, now!

Thanks for taking “A Second Look”.  More images available at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.

October Words

Like the savory aroma of homemade soup on the stove, certain words make me hungry for the fall season.  I call them my October words.  Here are a few of them:  colored leaves, apple cider, sweaters, plaid, pumpkins, fall festivals, blessings, juicy apples, acorns, pine cones, hay bales, crisp weather, pumpkin pie with whip cream, fuzzy slippers, freshly baked cookies, and flickering candles.

Crisp-Fall

” Crisp Fall”

Recently, I saw this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald,  “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

“Autumn, the year’s last lovliest smile.”  Unsure who penned those words, but I like them.

“Autumn Smile”

Warm colors of red, orange, and gold seem cozy now that summer’s heat is a memory.  Anne, the main character in Lucy Montgomery’s book, Anne of Green Gables, said of October, ” I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  I agree with Anne.  October is a wonderful month.

“Basket of Apples”

What are your “October words?”  If you would like to see more seasonal images, check out my website at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.  Thank you for taking “A Second Look”.

Watch the Leaves Turn

It’s that time of year in my part of the world.  Summer vacations are finished except for the good memories that linger and maybe a bit of sunburned skin.   Big yellow school buses are on the roads again.  School has started.

Leaves Turn

Growing up, I looked forward to the beginning of a another school year.  Never used pencils.  Pristine, unmarked notebooks . . . I really enjoyed getting new school supplies!
It was a time for embarking on an adventure, a bit nervous and excited all at the same time.  The months ahead promised new experiences and new things to learn.

The world now is much busier than the one I grew up in as a child.  So many more options, so many more distractions.  Although I no longer have homework assignments, my “to do” list keeps me busy.  That is okay to a certain point.  As a busy adult, I miss the wonder of running through colored leaves as a child.  At this stage of life, I need to remember that even if everything doesn’t get done . . . I still need to take TIME to be STILL and watch the leaves TURN.

How busy are you?

Thanks for taking “A Second Look”.  More autumn images are available at http://www.stephaniehalstead.com.

Tangled in Your Christmas Tinsel?

It happens!

Tinsel-Tangle

Food to prepare.  Ok, I am going to admit it to the world.  Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, or Julia Child do not live at our home.  Not one of them has stopped by to visit and bring us festive food creations.  Where are these food divas or their Christmas elves when you need them???

Santa's StashPresents to buy.  Some people, I know exactly what to give to them.  There’s a few whose yearly answer is “I don’t know” when asked what they are hoping for under the tree.  I keep hoping next year they will be more specific. 🙂  Probably shouldn’t hold my breath on this one.

Decorations to put up.  Certain decorations I look forward to seeing again.  A few I thought I gave to a charity store last year, but apparently I did not.  Others my mom made I keep for sentimental reasons. This is our first Christmas without her.  (She is probably having the best Christmas of all . . . heaven with Jesus, and angels singing, etc.  Bet it is spectular!)  Definitely keeping the ones made by our kids when they were growing up.  What mother can resist saving those featuring their missing tooth photos?  How did they grow up so fast?

Parties and Celebrations.  This year, we had time with extended family, early November, Thanksgiving, and the first week of Christmas.  Feels like I have already celebrated, because being with family is so important to me!  Seeing our two grandsons (age 3 and 5) open their gifts on Christmas Eve will be the final highlight for me!

Christmas-Time_3990Think I have convinced my husband to drive through neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights at night this weekend.  Thought we would top off the night with some hot chocolate.  Then he reminded me that it’s hot weather here, oh well.  Turn up the air condition.  Create your own mood.

Wanted to shoot some Christmas images, different from the flowers, ornaments, decorations I have done in the past.

Untangle your tinsel.  Enjoy yourself and the ones you love.

Thanks once again for taking a “A Second Look”.  www.stephaniehalstead.com

 

 

Signs of a New Beginning

The rain had beat against the ground for hours the night before.  The Florida sandy soil could absorb no more.  Some had experienced flooding.  Thankfully we had not.  Guess God knew we had enough on our hands to deal with in those days.

-Spring-Delight

Spring Delight

Cocooned in our own little world, Mother was in her final two months of hospice care.  My sister and I lost the sense of tracking time as the rest of the world did.  Our sleeping and eating schedule as caregivers constantly changed.  Our “world” was intense, focused and unpredictable.

Dogwood-Tree

Dogwood Tree

Into that world, God gave gifts to encourage my sister and me as we walked this final journey with our mother.  One morning it was branches of a dogwood tree loaded with blooms.  The tree had suffered extensive damage during the previous night’s storm.  Like a discarded party dress, it now lay cast off, no longer wanted.

Center-of-Dogwood

Center of Dogwood

Gathering as much as my arms would hold, I walked back to the house. Branches. Blossoms. Wet leaves.  I felt so incredibly rich! Dogwoods are trees from my up growing days.  They always heralded that Spring had arrived.  Winter was over.

After that morning, I started walking in the cooler hours of the day as often as I could.  Exercise obviously helped with the stress, but each time I eagerly looked for the next sign of Spring.  Every day brought new delights.  Having lived in the subtropics for over 20 years, I do so miss seeing spring flowers!  The Dogwood blossoms were one of my favorites.

Thanks for taking “a second look.”       http://www.stephaniehalstead.com

Three-Dogwoods

Three Dogwods

 

 

I Am Feeling Rebellious

"Bountiful Blessings".  Photos of pumpkin, indian corn, gourds. Christmas decor items are already in the stores.  It happens every year, at this time.  This year, I am just not interested. I am feeling rebellious.  I love celebrating Christmas,  just not yet.

My “I Am Thankful For . . .” list is still an ongoing work in progress.

For at least a few more weeks I will continue to post Autumn images and focus on the abundant blessings God has given.