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Photo Essay Series
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This is the second of my photo essay series featuring images from my newly designed 2020 nature photo calendars. The calendars include monthly self-care themes highlighting strategies for nurturing your creativity and inspiration.
These lily pads on a quiet lake provided the backdrop for personal reflection as I took this photo while at an arts-related conference. Being at the spiritual retreat geared toward empowering artists to fulfill our potential was itself an explosion of encouragement. Taking a moment of solitude to think about the impact of artistry on humanity and vice versa, filled my heart with gratitude and the determination to do my best as an artist for peace.
The quiet scene reminded me of the calmness and beauty of the Water Lily oil painting series by the French impressionist artist, Claude Monet. I’ve always been drawn to the water. Monet’s art in particular, evokes for me, the therapeutic comfort of the water’s ebb and flow.
The rich, deep hue of Toda Lake, with puffy white clouds in a pale blue sky reflected in the pond’s gentle movement, and the brightness of shiny green, floating leaves seemed to burst forth with joyful appreciation. Yet, the serene view was relaxing. It expressed a light cheeriness, and life’s depth and complexity all at once.
From my viewpoint, I saw multiple layers of texture; the sparkling lily pads in the forefront, expanding into the lake’s deep blue, mild ripples, and the lush greenery of the Florida Everglades in the distance. This layered vantage point reminded me how our lives are an intricate, overlapping, dramatic and poetic mesh of stories. The paths we take, how they intertwine with the paths of others, how sometimes our road leads back home, while other routes take us to foreign places; All these interconnect to build our community and link our lives.
This photo captures a moment of time for reflection, to appreciate the drama of each chapter of life. It speaks to me of how we must each pause to take care of our inner life, with silence, absorbing nature’s beauty that’s always surrounding us.
When I look at this photo, I let my mind empty. I let my imagination take me to the quietness of this peaceful place. I inhale its joy, with magnificent color and light, allowing the sensation to fill my heart in spiritual therapy. I envision the emotion from this gorgeous, soft moment nurturing my soul. I let my thoughts float away, and allow the profound beauty of this setting to open my life. Then, I exhale, with gratitude, that at any moment of the day, I have the capacity to experience this.
It’s about taking any small window of the day or night, to look for and discover something worthy of attention. Finding that sliver of time, or tiny space within the heart, to celebrate something seemingly ordinary. Yet, within the everyday, there is something exquisite, something that can surprise and inspire with its authentic beauty. Let’s keep looking for moments like these.
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I’m posting my poem (below) to honor Mother’s Day, and as a tribute to my amazing Mom. I wrote it a few years ago, while sitting in my Florida home, as a recollection of fond memories from my teen years.
We lived in a 3-story white stone house, with a chain-fenced backyard, in Lexington, Kentucky. Mom tended a vegetable garden at the end of our backyard.
I hope this post brings a smile to your face and fills you with a sense of gratitude for mothers everywhere. Whether they are biological or adopted, every mother figure in our lives is a treasure.
Speaking of treasures, if you want to get a little something wonderful for Mom, check out my Self Care Resources page. There are some lovely goodies there to pamper Mom!
I hope you spend a little time enjoying and appreciating your mother. For those whose relationships are less than positive, I hope you can have a prayerful moment to appreciate that at the least, you are here because of her.
My relationship with my mother has its complexities and it took years for me to appreciate her the way I do now. Ultimately, though, the gift of life she gave me is the most precious of all. It is for this, and everything else she has done for my life, that I owe her my eternal gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day.
Jenny Leigh Hodgins with her mother, Minva G. Hodgins, enjoying the Lexington Arboretum Gardens.
Remember to get a little something wonderful FOR MOM: Check out my Recommended Self Care Resources!
From My Mother’s Garden To My Heart
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Day after summer day, hours upon hours, her body doubled over, almost upside down, with thick gloves, digging through weeds to pull up yellow squash, or heads of lettuce and cabbage, or cucumbers and tomatoes…
Particularly amused, she’d hold one of the large ones up in the air, flashing it at us as if she’d proudly caught a rotund fish, and shout with glee, ‘Would ya LOOK at this thing?!’
From our swing-set seats or upon briefly halting our mad dashes through the water sprinkler, or our wrestling match with the dog, we’d give it a once over. A quick glance at that bumpy, odd-shaped giant, yellow catch-of-the-day. And roll our eyes in mutual amazement.
With her large-rimmed straw hat, she protected that fair, freckled, beautiful Southern-belle face from the bold sun beating down at her. I was always quietly amused at how she’d brazenly wear those strapless halter tops and short shorts, bearing all kinds of skin, sweating bullets through her pores— completely immersed in the greenery and rainbow of vegetables she tended patiently and cheerfully.
Ever so often, snatching up a hoe, she’d thrust it into the ground, as if spearing a swimming crab, let out an unexpected loud yelp, then flip her arms forcefully, to toss the remains of a garter snake against the fence.
How I used to moan and groan when she’d order me out there with her to pull weeds or pluck green beans, dishing out grief like a true adolescent whenever I had to sit out in that heat with her and my Aunt Nonnie, to pull strings off those green things.
One by one, throwing them in a silent pile inside my grandmother’s big, antique porcelain bowl. Those moments were like sitting on time, as if nothing else in the world would happen next. As if all there was to do was sit in the heat plucking out strings, building my mountain of fresh, snapped pieces in that old bowl.
After all my fussing, there’s still nothing that compares to the aroma and those scrumptious feasts she’d lay out before us, day after day, night after night, with the colors of her garden always arranged as beautifully on our table as any painter’s glorious canvas scene.
Never will forget the warmth of her kitchen, the artistry of her table, set by me with careful instructions from her, my director at the helm. Every meal a special occasion of a mother’s love, each plate carefully decorated with her flair; Vegetables draped elegantly over those flowery designs on the edges of our china. Main course meats and pork sliced ever so symmetrically, dotted with sauces or gravies for just a splash of color or a special, flavorful sensation.
Even now, in my own inferior kitchen rumblings, those delectable moments in my memories of my mother pull me through, guide my tastebuds, hold me up, as I put together my own dinners.
I sit, in silence, chewing my food while far away in time and thought, re-living my mother’s way of filling her children with love and nourishment.
I am grateful, and oh so satisfied, to have experienced my mother’s wonderful, Southern hospitality.
Get your FREE download of YCC's Top 10 Things To Help You Reach Your Goals! Plus get more more strategies for Creativity & inspiration!
Belief In Your Own Creative Vision
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Keep Looking For Moments Like These To Celebrate & Appreciate
How To Maintain Body Mind Balance As Fuel For Your Creativity
Your Troubles Are Your Progress Barometer & Catalyst For Your Full Potential
How To Use Self-Care To Feel Happy
5 Ways To Use Music & Nature For Self-Care
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
To Climb Again My Kilimanjaro
COMING SOON: Watch this space for new ebooks, products and courses for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
In my CREATIVITY blogs, you’ll find tips for exploring creative flow, and inspiring content related to the inherent challenges and tremendous joy within the creative process.