• When nothing makes sense, all that is left to do is paint...and hold onto what we know to be true.

    When nothing makes sense, all that is left to do is paint...and hold onto what we know to be true.

    If we are honest with each other we will admit that it happens to all of us.

    'Stuff' happens and we find ourselves knocked off balance...seemingly spinning out of control. What knocks me off my balance beam probably wouldn't push you off your sense of normalcy.

    But really, is that even important? Do we even need to judge what tripped us/others up? The truth is; we will find ourselves, somewhere on our life's path, grasping desparately for anything that will stabilize us and keep us from falling.

    My encouragement...(to me/to you)...when this happens...because it will...

    Take a deep breath, steady your thoughts, fix your gaze

    reach for what you know to be true

    grasp faith, seek out hope, clutch life

    choose love

    choose to believe

    The emotional vertigo will eventually subside...our gait will again be sure and steady

    ...the path will straighten before us...

    After a time, we will be available to extend love and a steady hand to our neighbor when their path begins to quake and tremor...because if we are being honest...it will.

  • Stark Reality...Stark Beauty

    Stark Reality...Stark Beauty

    Photo above is titled "Stark Beauty Tempered" © Karen Cunningham

    Today, October 29, marks one year since hurricane Sandy hit the coast and changed the lives of many individuals and families. I was listening to a radio station as they aired interviews with some of the people affected by this powerful event. There was still so much raw emotion as they retold their heartbreaking stories.

    Along with the personal stories, there were interviews with counselors who gave insight into the healing process after traumatic incidents such as these.  Specifically, they referenced a book written about recovering from hurricane Katrina. I did not catch the name of the book or author but something they shared caught my attention.

    It was mentioned that the first year after such a traumatic event a person may experience numbness... a sense of shock...uncertain which way to turn or what to do next...just going through the motions to get through each day.  The second year the individual may begin to really feel the fullness of the pain as reality begins to settle in. Wow, how often we forget it can take years to recover from storms!

    The stories were about storms of nature and the devastation that followed. I was struck by the thought that the recovery process mirrored my experience during storms of life; particularly a storm that hit my life recently. I have often wondered why it is taking me so long to find some peace and healing...it has almost been 2 years since my life changed so dramatically and yet I often feel stuck, mired in the muck, and seemingly not moving forward.  It was somehow comforting to hear that this may be normal following a devastating, life altering event, or series of events. I may just be normal!! Now that is a comforting thought!! There is hope...

    How beautiful it is when we can come alongside others experiencing their own storms! The stories of recovery reminded me that we need to persevere. Recovery from a storm (whether a force of nature storm or a personal life storm) takes time and patience...and a helpful hand or strong shoulder to lean on. The truth is; we need each other.

    Reality is what it is...sometimes stark and cold...but as we come to terms with the truth emcompassed within our reality we can begin to see the harshness tempered with rich beauty. Hopefully, along with the stark reality, there is love, comfort, joy, and friendship...all being woven into our story. May we always be looking for opportunities to love, to comfort, to bring joy..to extend an offer of friendship. May we be the warmth in someone's stark, cold reality.

  • What's in a name?

    A few years ago I saw a moving van in Destin, Florida.  The companies' name was PMS-Professional Moving Service.  Their tagline was Attitude Is Everything!!! On the front of the van was written MOVE IT!!! So if they pulled up behind you while you were driving, "Move It!!!" is what you would read in your rear view mirror. I don't know what their reputation is like but I love their business name and sense of humor!

    When I was putting together my art/photography business I put a lot of thought into what the name would be. I made a list of what I wanted my business name to represent. I thought about colors and designs that would be part of that representation. I also thought about my personality and how that would be represented by the name. And I examined the "personality" of my art; how would it best be represented by the name.

    I believe that the best photographs and art evoke emotion. The art or images that I am drawn to are the ones that make me feel something.  I want my art to mean something to the viewer and cause their emotions to stir a little...or maybe more than a little. When I record a moment in a photograph I want to capture the essence of the person or the memory being created in that moment. I want to capture the moment not create the moment or re-create the person.

    As I thought about what is important to me, I began to stroll through my own special memories. I loved how my parents would insist that my brother and sister and I be involved in fun, family projects. One year, my mom bought a box of unfinished wood Christmas tree ornaments. Every night, after dinner, we would paint an ornament.  We did this until all of the pieces were painted and then she put them away to use on our Christmas tree that year.  The funny thing is we completely forgot about them and didn't use them on the tree that year! (I have those ornaments now and use them every Christmas.)

    One summer my mom and dad were experimenting with wine making.  I remember them crushing bags and bags of cranberries and the aroma of the berries mixed with sugar and yeast. The filled wine bottles were stored in our basement crawlspace to age. When they decided to try their hand at making dandelion wine we were all required to go to the high school lawn and pick dandelion flowers...lots and lots of dandelion flowers.  All I remember about that is our hands were stained yellow from the flower heads...and that the wine was never tasted because the bottles all exploded when they were being aged in the crawlspace!

    I absolutely loved dandelions when I was little. They were so beautiful! I spent many hours tying them into necklaces and when they went to seed I blew more than a few wishes and dreams into the breeze.  It was also my job to dig them out of our lawn each summer as this magnificant flower was considered a weed in our modern, suburban neighborhood!  Just looking at a dandelion stirs memories in my heart and mind...all good memories.

    Unpretentious, simple beauty, nourishment, comfort, security, cheerful, vibrant, earthy colors, gentle warm breezes, the sun on my face, long afternoons full of hopes and dreams, deep roots,..those are the words and phrases I think of when I contemplate the dandelion...and that is how I settled on the name Dandelion Wine Images.