So long, 2015

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Best of 2015 – our first grandchild’s birth

New Year’s Eve.  For most people, it’s a time to look back over the departing year and look forward to the year arriving in a few hours.

Kind of like taking stock of your situation.  What were the high points of the year that you will never forget?  And if you’re like most of the human race, there were also low points that made an impact on your life too.

Looking back over 2015, I can honestly say it was one of the most wonderful years of my life and yet at the same time, it was the most difficult one as well.

The high point?  Oh, no question about that one.  It was the birth of our first grandchild.  She is our shining jewel, our delight, and she brings such joy, happiness, and laughter into this empty nest of ours.  Every time I look at her, overwhelming love swells up in my heart and overflows in a kind of bliss that I’d almost forgotten – that kind of love I felt when I held my own babies in my arms.

But in addition to the elation of becoming grandparents, this year brought great sorrow. A crisis affected us dramatically causing my emotions to fly all over the map from anger and hurt to disappointment and disgust and everywhere in between. 

The turmoil and pain caused by it affected our entire family.  Months later, Papa and I still don’t understand the person who caused it or why it happened and perhaps we never will. We simply are supporting and helping the wounded one recover and move on with life.

So 2015 proved to have a split personality – one ever so amazing and one so very dreadful – and will go down in the books as one of the best and worst years of my life.  I can’t say that I’m sorry to see it end and be banished to the history pages of existence.

Today I scanned over this year’s blog posts in order to find what I thought was perhaps my best post to re-share it with you.  In doing so, I realized that out of the 365 days of this year, I only published 83 posts (counting this one today) and many of those were just photographs. 

This year stole much from me – time, emotion, and even my writing – and I allowed it to do so.  Re-reading the posts I did write, I realized something profound. When I did write, the crisis we encountered proved to outweigh my joy.  No more.  With the Lord’s help, I am putting a stop to that. I intend to focus on what my Bible tells me – the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I am anticipating this New Year with hopeful outlook, with healing for my loved ones and myself, with joyful expectation.

I trust you are doing the same.  

“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan



Words Full Wednesday: New Year’s Eve

blogHappyNewYearWednesdays are usually my no words day here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  Usually I post a photograph I’ve taken that hopefully speaks for itself, slap a title on it that categorizes it, and add no other words. Voila! Wordless Wednesday.

But today I’m deviating from the norm.  It is, after all, the last day of the year.  We say goodbye to 2014 at midnight and hello to brand new 2015 at 12:01.

And today I find on this last Wednesday of the year that I do have words to convey.  So this middle of the week post will be a ‘words full Wednesday.’

The graphic I designed above boasts a citation that is in my well-worn quote notebook.  Supposedly, it came from one of the works of Greek playwright Euripedes.  Many moons ago, I took a classical literature class in college where we read many of the Greek classics.  I didn’t remember the quote at all or where it came from, so I wanted to do a bit of research to see if it even came from Euripedes’ pen.

As near as I can glean from a quick research scan (and I do mean quick), the actual quote is “Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.”  Some of the old Greek’s tragedies were lost or only fragments remain. Apparently, this line came from one of those.

No matter the source, the line speaks well for today of all days – New Year’s Eve.  Another year has passed which included some wondrous occurrences and some disappointing or devastating ones.  Such is life.

I spent a good part of this past year grieving over an old wound from 2013.  Yes, I wasted fresh tears over it.  Sometimes it haunted my dreams; often it consumed my joy during daytime hours.  Some days it just fired my anger into a red hot flame.

But you know what?  No more.  Was what was done to me right?  By no means.  It was unjust and no mercy or grace was shown.  But I refuse to let that grievous event define me any more.  I will not waste tears over old griefs any longer.  I’ve learned to put that wrong and the people involved behind me.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t forgiven them because I have, it just means I will no longer allow those circumstances to reign over my emotions and thoughts.

As I move forward to a new year of opportunity, I will not waste one more minute over this old grief.  It will stay in the past where it belongs.

What about you?  Is there something from the past that you need to let go with the ringing in of a new year? I pray you find the courage to do so and waste not your own tears over past griefs.  Let’s greet the new year with joy instead of sorrow, with excitement instead of disappointment, with opportunity instead of regrets.

Happy New Year!

“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” – Brooks Atkinson



When the end is the beginning

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Polaroid film photography 1967

In the beginning there was film.  Black and white film.

And it got loaded into a Swinger Polaroid camera received for my 12th birthday.  When the picture rolled out of the camera, I patiently waited the proper amount of time and watched as the image I’d just snapped magically appeared on the photographic paper.

Then I swiped solution across the photo to ensure it wouldn’t fade away again.  After it dried, I inserted it into a crazy black and white checked mod patterned album expressly for Swinger polaroid pictures.

And there those photos stayed all these many years.  Occasionally, I pull the photo album out and look back at the interests of my 12-year-old photography.  I had always wanted a camera of my very own back then, and it’s interesting to see what the subjects of my photography were.

My bike standing in the peach orchard of my family home.  Photos of my neighbor playmates and my family.   Our cat.  Trips to the zoo and camping with other youth from my church.  Christmas celebrations from 1966-1970.

And then the photos stop.

Other interests garnered my attention like high school and friends and boys and getting into college.  I occasionally borrowed my parents instamatic camera with the flashcubes that you popped onto the top for indoor shots and took a few color college photos of friends and events with the boyfriend who became my husband.  But buying film and then paying to have it processed wasn’t in my budget, so I didn’t take many pictures.

After our marriage, hubby and I bought ourselves an automatic camera with electronic flash attachment.  With that film, I tried to document our lives together.  Dissatisfied with the results, we moved on to our very first 35 mm single lens reflex camera.  I had to learn how to use F-stops and remember to rewind the film, but did manage to take much nicer photos.  Hubby and I even took a class on how to develop our own film but I’ve forgotten every thing I learned except being in pitch black to take the film out of the canister. 

That camera documented our life in the Southwest – military life, occasional family get-togethers, vacation trips to other states and home, always home. 

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35 mm film photography 1980

It recorded the first few years of our oldest daughter’s life, but eventually, that camera stopped working. 

By then, hubby had left the military and we were struggling to live on one salary from his new found career.  We had a child, a mortgage on our first home, car payments, and a whole list of redecorating and updating to accomplish in our home, so we opted for a simple 35 mm point and shoot camera with built in flash because it was less expensive.

Most of the time, I was the one behind the camera lens attempting to capture moments we shared and the places we visited.  When that camera died, we went without one for some time relying on the video recording camera instead.

But eventually, my hankering for a camera to take still photos returned.  And a few years ago, my middle daughter handed down her digital point and shoot camera to me when she bought a new one for herself.  And that’s when I started taking photos just for my own enjoyment.  It reminded me of my old Polaroid.  As soon as I captured the shot, I didn’t have to wait for film to be developed, I could view it immediately.  And if I didn’t like it or it wasn’t as good as I hoped, I could delete it and start over again.

That was another beginning.  The beginning of my new found hobby – taking pictures.  And the more I snapped, the more I enjoyed it.  I progressed onto my own upgraded point and shoot digital – a little Nikon CoolPix – and was amazed at the sights I could capture with it.

But like anything, the more you get involved, the more you want something better. Last year, my husband gifted me with a DSLR, a total surprise for me.  And I’m hooked.  My camera has become my companion even though I’m still learning how to use some of its features. The joy I get from looking through the lens of that camera has been eye-opening.  And that is a beginning – getting to spend time engaged in something I truly enjoy.

photography 2013

Digital Single-Lens Reflex photography 2013

This week’s photo challenge has been “beginning.”  It immediately reminded me of a song from “The Sound of Music” – “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

In my stage of life, I haven’t thought much about beginnings, so reflecting about that concept does prove a good place to…well…begin. 

So many aspects of my life have ended.  I’m in the empty nest stage of life, so raising children and getting them through college has finished.  All of my children are married adults living their own adventures away from home.

My parents and my husband’s parents are both deceased, so caring for them has ended.  The job that was such a huge part of my life is also finished.  There have even been some endings to relationships because of that.  And I’ve lost interest in some activities that used to capture my attention.  And while this is the beginning of a brand new year,  2014 will mark an ending as well when I close out another decade of life and turn the big 6-0.

Yes, I’ve encountered a lot of endings.  But I’ve come to realize those endings may really be a beginning.  The beginning of a stage of life I might actually come to enjoy instead of dread.  We’ll see what begins in this new beginning.  

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” ~ Louis L’Amour