“Do One Thing a Day That Scares You”


Sunflower Pot

I read or heard that advice somewhere last week.  Don’t remember where or even who said it.  Possibly it was Eleanor Roosevelt.

Sometimes, it is doing things I am scared of doing.   More often, it is stepping outside the box of what I am comfortable doing.  It means being proactive and taking risks, some big, some small.

It is stretching and invigorating, at the same time. Some things I try do not turn out well.  Some do.  The results are often a surprise.

Day Eleven in Photo101 class was to shoot an image with a pop of color.  Instructors challenged us to choose one bold color against a neutral background, instead of several colors competing for attention in a scene.

I do so enjoy colors, lots of them, and usually together!  Neutral backgrounds are not what I gravitate toward. The exception would be when I use a black velvet background to make the colors and details of a flower “pop”.

Decided to try something different for this sunflower.  The flower pot I bought at a yard sale.  Love all the texture in it.  Paler background, more texture, and fewer colors, not my usual flower photo.  Glad I tried something new!

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


What is Your Bliss?



“What’s your bliss?”  That’s the question on this fourth day of the WordPress photo course, Photo101.

How does one define bliss?  The dictionary says it is complete happiness, great joy, paradise or heaven.

My bliss is . . .

I thought of chocolate, of being with all my family, or visiting with a dear friend I haven’t seen in years.  A glass of cold sweet ice tea on a  hot, humid summer day even crossed my mind.  All of these bring me happiness, but, sometimes the chocolate is melted.  Family members are tired or cranky or sick. My friend cancelled her plans to see me due to a family emergency.  The caffeine in the sweet ice tea kept me awake later at night than I planned.  Life happens.

There is a place I go that always makes me completely happy.  As soon as I enter, I feel my body relax.  My worries disappear.  Like a kid in a candy store, I want one, two, or three of everything I see!  The beauty here feeds my soul.  In this enchanted place I am surrounded with so many colors and ideas my heart can barely contain it all.  How will I ever narrow down my choices?  Each time I experience awe, because I am enveloped by the colorful, detailed and exotic canvas of God’s artistry.

What is this place?  It is a local, family owned, plant nursery that has thrived in my area for decades.  Whatever plants I purchase here I know will survive in my climate, not one 300 miles north of me.

This love of plants is part of my DNA.  It was passed down to me from my dad who loved to grow food to eat and my mother who never met a flower she didn’t like or want to grow.  My brother and sister also inherited the same plant loving genes.  Every conversation we share always includes at least a snippet about what each of us is growing in our yard.

My bliss?  A visit to the local plant nursery.  My website, http://www.stephaniehalstead.com will confirm how much I love flowers.  Thanks for taking “A Second Look.”

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

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

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

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 Dogwods



Can “Google” Teach Me to Be a Good Mother?

Zillions of flowers given, crowded restaurants, family photos,  phone calls, gifts. . . it is Mother’s Day weekend!

Mother's Day, pink dahlia

Need to know how to be a good mother?   “Just google it.”  Good answers?  Maybe.  Sometimes.

Going through a tough time? Give me someone who has successfully made the same or similar journey and made it to the other side any day over someone who is expounding from their store of facts!  Watching, listening, and learning from those who have walked the path before me beats “google” every time.

Age is not a guarantee of maturity, but often there is untapped wisdom from the older generation.  They made some mistakes, but that also means they have a wealth of knowing how to deal with the struggles and hurdles in life.

 Being a good mother is not about doing it perfectly. (As a new mom I thought it was.)  It is about being there, going the distance for someone, loving sacrificially, loving your child (even as an adult) no matter what.  Activities and responsibilities change with seasons of life, but a mother never stops being a mother.

Mother’s Day is a day to say, “Thanks Mom!”  Over the years, as I navigated the various stages of motherhood, my appreciation has continually increased for this woman who loved, cared, and sacrificed for me. So, Mother, although you are 92 and near the end of your life, this is my public declaration to the world. I love you!  Thanks for always, always loving me.  Your body is weak.  You depend on us for everything now (to feed you, to turn you over in the bed, and a host of other things).  It is a privilege to care for you.  Your voice is weak.  You don’t talk much now and most of the day your eyes are closed.  But, when I tell you, “I love you, Mama,” it still thrills my heart to hear your faint  reply, “I love you, too”.




Two a.m. friends, friends in crises, photo of pocket watch When life is in crises mode, this is the friend that will answer the phone or respond to your text message, no matter what time of day or night.  “Two A.M. friends” are priceless!

The pocket watch belonged to my husband’s great grandfather.  The background is actually a piece of scrapbook paper.  Flowers came from my back yard.  Just having fun making an image for one of my two a.m. friends.  Just having fun making an image that invites you to take a second look.


Favorite Love Story

Our-Love-StoryForget the Hallmark movies.

Listen to others in your life tell their story of love.

Enjoy the smiles on the faces of those in love.

Celebrate with the bride and groom who just got married!

Celebrate with the bride and groom who have been married for many years!

My favorite love story?

Mine of course!

I bet yours is your favorite, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!