The Beauty in the Treacherous

It has been several years since I have been camping. Money has been tight. A dependable vehicle has been elusive. And parenting alone means you struggle with leaving your child(ren) at home. Thankfully, I have older children who help with the youngest. And it was actually the youngest who said to me, “Mom. You need to do something  for yourself. Go out. Camp. Go see a movie. Ride your bike. Do s.o.m.e.t.h.i.n.g for you.”

So, that day, about four months ago, I turned notifications back on to a Meet-Up group that I used to play with.
And that same day, I signed up for a camping trip. Wildflowers along the Panther Creek Trail

 

I have always wanted to go on an overnight, backpacking camping trip. But, I certainly can’t go alone. And I wouldn’t take my youngest without first getting some experience.

The Meet Up group offered just the experience that I needed.
Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

I met with the group about a week before the trip. We sat at the outdoor table downtown on the sidewalk at Soy Noodle and discussed things we needed to pack and things we didn’t, what to expect and the plans for the weekend.

I took notes and paid close attention to lessons like ….
Pack your clothes inside large ziploc bags. It will keep them dry if we get rained upon and will keep sweat from soaking through the backpack into them. I found it also kept them dry from the condensation inside the tent overnight. That was super advice.

They also mentioned that hiking boots were important. I have a fairly new pair that are about two years old, but have been seldom worn. They have not been comfortable.My hiking boots

One of the guys suggested wearing them every chance possible between that night and the trip. I took the to heart and found that each day I wore them, they became more comfortable. Several times on the hike, my ankle turned one way as my leg went another.  I firmly believe that wearing those boots on the trip saved my ankle from a painful  injury. 
Panther Creek Falls, Clarkesville, GA

Packing as light as possible was really good advice.
I really wanted to buy a lighter weight sleeping bag for the trip. Backpacking sleeping bags can weigh as little as under two pounds! But, we already own around five sleeping bags so I couldn’t justify buying another one! The $75. price tag that I found on the CHEAPEST lightweight bag just seemed like too much to pay when we already had a shelf full of similar equipment. In the end, the excellent advice on how to pack light (like wearing the same pants in that I wore out on the second day) was pivotal to keeping my pack light. My already-owned sleeping bag weighed a five full pounds, but I packed light enough that it wasn’t a big deal.


So, we left Augusta around 7am Saturday morning and arrived at Panther Creek Falls in Clarkesville, Georgia around 11:00.Our hiking crew

We hiked in on a trail around three and a half miles and set up camp beside the creek.My tent beside Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

We arrived and set up around 3:30 in the afternoon and had several hours to explore, eat, and rest before sundown. A few of the others brought along camp stoves, but I chose to eat food that didn’t require cooking. I brought along cashews, granola bars, tuna in a pouch, a small delicious loaf of whole grain bread, cheese and pickles. And I brought powdered coffee creamer for the morning.Morning coffee

I knew I didn’t want to leave my morning warm-coffee ritual back at home. My backpack at home

(Looking at my backpack above, you see; a sleep mat at the top, a {brightly colored} pillow in the middle and my tent in the bag at the bottom. The sleeping bag is on the outside of the pack and the ziplocs hold my pjs, food and clothes for the second day. My filtering water bottle is sitting upright at the far left. It weighed around 20-25 lbs)

A little fire to keep us warm after sundownAfter we arrived, the trip coordinator and our guide, got a great fire going. We sat around talking until I finally wilted and headed into my tent to snuggle up and rejuvenate for the next day. DSC09724

Surprisingly, though we were at least around 45 degrees that night, I didn’t really get cold. The mat underneath me blocked the cold air from coming into my sleeping bag. I wore double socks and flannel with a hoodie to sleep. I also brought along a hat. While I did find that I woke up several times in the night, I stayed warm and toasty. One of the only photos that proves that I actually went on this trip - a tent selfieAs the sun crested up over the hillside behind us, it slowly brought warmth back into the valley. It was a beautiful sight to watch it creep down the mountainside and illuminate the trees and then the creek. Sun coming up over the ravineI really expected to have more trouble keeping up. The men were all in their mid-forties making Sandra and I were the oldest in the group. I was sore Sunday morning, but all the guys were stiff, too, so I felt a bit proud that I hung in with them well.

Andre and I often brought up the rear.  He stopped to talk to every passerby.Andre talking to a group

And I took photos while he chatted. Beautiful mushroom
We made a perfect caboose combination.
Panther Creek Trail

As we walked, one thing I thought about was how narrow  … and even treacherous  …. the path was along much of the way.Panther Creek Hiking Trail
While there was a reprieve from time to time
with nice wide walking spacePanther Creek Hiking Trail, Clarkesville, GA
that was comfortable and easy,  Panther Creek Trail along Panther Creek in Clarkesville, GAmuch of the trail teetered narrowly on a ledge.Looking down from the trail
A stumble, trip or mis-step could easily land you 20-50 feet (or more) below.

And what stood out to me was how rooty we found the trail.
It is an obviously heavily traveled path.
While the exposed tree roots offer great risk of being stumbling blocks …

Roots along the trailthey also offered a foothold.
Often, I found myself strategically placing my feet between the roots
and using them to steady my next step,
especially when climbing
and on the more narrow sections of the trail.
So, in truth, they were a double-edged sword.Climbing

There were times when walking across smooth rocks
that offered no resistance and often appeared  slick and polished
felt much more risky and uncertain
than when you once again found yourself
with those uneven, tricky roots underfoot.

So, in reality ….

 

Exposed  roots COULD be a stumbling block to cause you to trip …..
or  provide a reliable stepping stone to your next, more steady position. 

In reality, how you viewed those roots
had to do with your personal perspective.
And I thought about how true this is in our lives.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

This is a spiritual/physical parallel
of how we view life’s difficulties.
As the path of life turns and dips
with the valleys and hills that unfold before us,
we will find things happen that we can view as a hindrance
or stepping blocks
to whatever comes next.
We can be totally surprised by the new distraction or difficulty.
We can bellyache and be frustrated that there is a tangled, mess in life in front of us.
OR  … we can expect the unexpected.
We can know that life is going to happen and it won’t always be easy.
And we can use those tangled roots in our path to give us better footing
as we strengthen our legs,
take a deep breath
and get stronger with each “next step.”

And those messy roots can take absolutely any shape or form …  like a flat tire, a lost library book, a bounced check, a divorce, a car wreck, a broken arm, a burned dinner, a disgruntled friendship, a spilled cup of coffee on a new bedspread, a broken lawnmower, a wayward son, a positive diagnosis, a speeding ticket, a split seam in a dress while you’re away from home, a broken phone screen, a sentence taken out of context and used against you in your absence, a heart attack, a lost job, a revoked license, a tree limb through your roof, an angry daughter, a sideswiped plan, a friend who turns out to be a Sociopath, a lost job, weeds in your grass, an unanswered prayer, a computer crash, a tax hike to take more of your earned money, cobwebs that are out of reach, a setback in recovery, a hole worn in your favorite shoes, a cracked window pane, a lost pet,  ….
Truly ….  the list goes on and on.

The question isn’t whether these things will happen to us,
the question is when … and which ones.
But more importantly, how will we handle them?
Will we become angry and frustrated because these “roots” are in our path
or will be see them as part of the obstacle course of life
that allows us opportunity to grow, increase in agility and balance
and move on to the next thing, stronger than before.Panther Creek, Georgia

I see it all as an adventure.
Yes, I become weary …
but life involves people … and people are messy.
We’re all broken.
We’re all hurting.
And with the right perspective, life offers us opportunity
to love on each other
offer a helping hand
and continue moving … getting stronger as we travel.Autumn color along Panther Creek Trail

The hike was set in a weekend of perfect weather.
The trail offered beautiful explosions of autumn color
among the still green hills.
And as always, the life lessons God shows me along the way
are the most precious of all the gifts involved.


Fall color - Maple Leaf

Makes Me Happy Monday : Snail Mug

My super lovely friend, Elizabeth Collins,  lives in Madison, Georgia and plays with clay for a living.
One of the creations that she is known for
is the mermaids she crafts from clay and adorns with shells, copper and found objects. Elizabeth Collins' clay Mermaid

 

She and her equally talented friend, Chuck Hanes,  do their magic with clay, glaze, found objects and a very, very hot oven
here in this fabulous space. Elizabeth's studio

I was totally enamored with these precious little vases that Elizabeth made. Adding a magnet allows them to hang on a fridge. Gluing on a pin allows them to be a boutonnière base.  Aren’t they just gorgeous? Can’t you just imagine them filled with a small rose and baby’s breath, a fall leaf and pinecone or a pair of feathers and wildflowers and mounted upon the lapel of a groom and groomsmen? I can!
A few of Elizabeth's tiny clay vases - size reference: the little brown one is about the size of a quarter

I’ve mentioned before (here ) how much I like snails and slugs. When I saw Chuck post some of their clay snails on Facebook, I chimed in on the comment feed that I wanted one. They gave me a few (like this one that I painted), but I didn’t know that they are also creating mugs with the sweet creatures!

This beautiful little mug was a gift from Chuck and Elizabeth. To be honest, I am not sure which of the two of them created it. I think, on some of their ventures, their creations are a joint effort. And I’ve noticed that they do a “joint efforts” really well. They are both relaxed about most everything in life. Whatever they are doing, they give it a good “best shot,” but they don’t let their feathers get too ruffled if something goes awry. I really admire that balance. They make a very good team. Clay Snail MugI love the shape of this mug. It has just the right curves for your hand.

And that sweet little guy perched up on the edge? Well …  could he BE any cuter?
I’m pretty sure he’s in position to keep an eye on the beverage in the mug.
I LOVE HIM!

Clay Snail MugAnd while snapping these photos,
I even noticed that he has a kitty-cat silhouette!
Look at the reflection in the coffee inside the mug!!
That made me giggle! Clay Snail MugI‘m so thankful for little things
that bring great joy
like friendships that are easy,
hot coffee on a cool morning
and a mug with a snail made of clay.

What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Smock Protection

When I was in Goodwill recently, I came across two oversized women’s shirts that were the same style and cloth pattern, but different colors.  I loved the paisley and the fact that there were several different patterns on each garment. Look at that pretty floral tucked under the collar! What a sweet surprise! Multiple patterns - AND paisley! Yay!

And just LOOK at those pretty cuffs! *swoon*

Wonderful Liz Claiborne shirtsFor just a few dollars a piece, I knew I could use them for something.

Even if I cut them up and used them just for the fabric in some pieced together project, I knew they would make something wonderful. The fact that they were both very large was just an extra-fabric bonus.Liz Claiborne

Everything I own seems to be dabbled in paint. I have a little sliver of paint on every nightgown I own. My bathrobe has a spot of brown on the cuff. My favorite shorts have paint in several places. It gets everywhere …. even on things like my cutting/sewing board … which is not a good thing. One smear was enough for me to make some more intentional decisions about how close I allow paint to be to things that are special, antique or sentimental. Paint Splatters

And when my favorite dress ended up with a splash?  I remembered elementary school. Paint gets every.where

Do you remember when you were a child and you were asked to take one of your dad’s old dress shirts to school to protect your clothing from paint during art? (Those were the days when art was still valued and incorporated into school days.) As I urgently scrubbed brown paint off the front of my favorite dress, I thought about those two Liz Claiborne shirts and decided I needed to make a smock.

Since my sewing machine is now in an easy-to-get-to spot,My sewing space ...

I quickly cut apart the shirts and rearranged parts so that the two large shirts became one oversized smock that will easily cover almost every gown and always cover all short-sleeved shirts and shorts. I used the cuffs to add a little interest creating a false empire bodice at the waist. I cut off the sleeves and opened them up. They were used with the body of the green shirt to create the skirt at the bottom of the smock. The placket of the green shirt was added at the bottom of the placket of the coral shirt to give a continuous opening down the front of the smock.  My oversized smock/dress

I’ll have to admit that my youngest walked in from school and said, “Uhm….. you know you’re not allowed to wear that to the mall, right?” But, around the house to keep me from splashing paint on every article of clothing that own? That is acceptable.

I added a hook to a nook in bedroom. The hope is that I will see the smock hanging there and be encouraged to put it on more often.

My bedroom corner

This project took me an hour or so and will save so many articles of clothing from being demoted to “paint clothes.” It’s really a small thing, but it is another way that made time to do something creative. It feeds my soul and makes my life richer. And this particular project will prompt me to paint even more!

As the weekend approaches, I encourage you to carve out some time for yourself. Do something that makes your life richer. Nourish your soul with something enjoyable to give you energy for the week that will begin on Monday. This weekend, I’ll be camping deep in the woods. And this weekend, the woods should be beautiful! This will be the first time I’ve been inside a tent or on a trail in over two and a half years. It’s been way too long. I think my heart might just break wide open with joy! And, to be honest, I fear that I may not sleep well tonight because I am going to be so excited about tomorrow. What a splendid fear to anticipate.

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

Transfer of Weight

So, this was yesterday morning. Rain was imminent.

Augusta Rain

We haven’t seen much rain of late.
And I knew that a “quick fix” on my roof for a very small hole …
had recently been removed by wind.
So, I knew I had to get up on the roof
before the heavens opened and the world was drenched.  

A hole in my roofI’m really not afraid of heights.
But, there is something about being on a slanted surface
15-20 feet above the ground
walking on pine needles, sticks and Sweet Gum balls
with no rail
that leaves me nervous. On my roof againBut, if I don’t get up there … who will?
James is a big help from time to time, but
I’ve said before … I don’t think it’s his sole responsibility
to care for everything “manly” or “dangerous” that needs to be done
to keep this house healthy. This is my house and the responsibility is mine. A long way downSo, I brave this aluminum scaffold
leaving stable, steady ground
and move to a slanted, higher surface.

And my heart races.

Here’s the thing: I can fairly easily get up onto the roof.
My struggle is coming back down.

I can step backwards towards the edge of the roof.
I can flip my leg over the ladder.
But, the hard part is

t.r.a.n.s.f.e.r.r.i.n.g my weight from the roof to the ladder rung. 

Transfer weight from the roof to the ladder rung

As I stood there yesterday in the morning cool with clouds overhead and impending rain, I shifted my weight from the roof to the rung, back to the roof, back to the rung. I just couldn’t commit to transferring all of my weight onto the ladder.
God reminded my heart that this is a trust issue.
This is a physical snapshot of my spiritual photo album.
This is the tug-of-war of life.
Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

But, Lord! The ladder could tip!
The roof is high!
The fall would be hard!
I can’t afford to break a leg or shoulder!

In the end, I decided the only way I could safely get down was if I knew the ladder was braced.
So, I did this …
several times ….Calling Glory for help!

… and she didn’t answer.

Then I decided to use the broom handle as a tool. I began banging on the sliding glass door to The Party Room where Glory was sleeping. After some persistence, she woke up and came out to help me.

She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t impatient. She understood. And she stood there for the few minutes that it took me to move to the edge of the roof, flip my leg over that tall, aluminum ladder, transfer my weight from roof-to-rung and work my way down to the ground.

I thought about the difference it made
with her standing there holding that ladder still …
bracing it on the edge of the roof so it wouldn’t tip to the right
or fall to the left
taking me down like a rag-doll with it.
Her presence … her bracing … her steadying  .. made all the difference
for my insecure feet … my trembling soul.

And that was the reminder for me.
God is there. He braces the ladder. He steadies the scaffold.
He says, “transfer your weight from the scary place up high
that has no rail and is scattered with slippery fodder
to the ladder that will guide you back to solid ground.”

Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”  I know that I can trust Him. He won’t save me from every harm, but He will calm my soul as I walk. He won’t keep me from every calamity, but He will steady me as I travel. He will brace the ladder that is life. He can be trusted.

He reminded me yesterday morning to transfer my weight … and trust.

 

Makes Me Happy Monday : Kleenex Box

Years ago, I made a fun kleenex box cover for Glory’s funky, bright room.

Tissues w/a flair & zebra print

I’ve looked for a wooden box cover for the long, rectangle style of tissue box
that I prefer for my bedroom,  but have not found one.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided I would make a cover for my own kleenex box
with fabric!

I LOVE mixing fabric patterns so I just pulled out six different patterns
in the autumn colors that fill my storage shelves
and I cut squares and rectangles, piecing together as I went.
I made sure to leave the selvage showing on several sides.
I love the rough, selvage edges
that reveal the threads that form the pattern and body of fabric.

I adore the way this little box cover turned out
and that it cost me very little time or money to put together. Kleenex box cover

I know it’s small … but all the little things add up to big things.
And when you’re looking for joy in the small stuff, you find great joy all day long.

So, this morning, my newly-crafted, fabric kleenex box cover brings me joy …
joy that will follow me through chilly winters that could possibly involve a cold
and sniffly springs dusted with pollen.
How about you? What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

 

Sewing Space & Chest ReVamp

Some time ago, I moved my sewing machine from the corner where it was tucked in my art space to my dining room.My sewing space ...

I use my dining table as a work surface when I sew curtains and work on other large projects. Running back and forth from the sewing machine in the art space to the dining table to the kitchen where I had my ironing board set up just seemed to waste SO much time. So, I brought everything together into one area.  The natural light from the window just makes this perfect and the hardwood floor makes a dropped pin *ping* so I can quickly retrieve it … rather than searching through carpet to save myself from impaling my foot. I LOVE this set up.

I needed a small chest of drawers to store thread, scissors and notions so I brought in a little cabinet that Glory left behind when she moved. It was painted this fresh, neon green that went well in her room. (You can see more of her old room here.) It matched her accent wall. But, it clashed loudly with everything in the rest of the house.My sewing nook

So, I layered color-upon-color to take it from her Vibrant, Funky Teen style
to my Natural, Relaxed Outside-comes-Inside style.

I used a medium brown base layer, the same ivory as my walls as a second layer and lastly, a soft dry-brush layer of medium brown on top. It turned out just the way I envisioned it and it fits so comfortably in my house.

Years ago, when I painted it bright green for Glory, I spray painted the handles silver. Using a fine sandpaper, I lightly sanded some of that silver away revealing the brass underneath. This rough-and-tumble style goes well with the rest of the chest and fits perfectly with the rest of my furniture.

And last, I tucked patterned paper away on the sides of the drawers as a peek-a-boo surprise when you open the drawers.

Roughed up handlesAt .25-.59 a piece when purchased on sale, the paper was just a few dollars total. I have plenty of paper and oodles of scraps  and the paint was just left over from other other projects … so I didn’t actually have to spend any money to complete this project. Decoupaged drawer edges

So, here is a before and after.Before and After Sewing Cabinet

I love the way the space looks now.My sewing space - a easy triangle of activity

I love how it feels. And I appreciate that I can sew in a place that is bright with everything close at hand.

Yes. Those are bird feathers on the floor beside the bird cage. And I didn't edit them out ... because real life is rarely neat and tidy to view.

The best part about space may be that
I can put away the ironing board, cover my machine
and you’d never know area is used as anything other than a dining room.My dining room

This was a quick Saturday project. Creativity feeds my soul and gives me energy. What do you enjoy? Can you find a way to work that into your weekend? Can you find a project or activity that would soothe you and bring you joy? Figure out what boosts your spirit and make a way to do some of that this weekend.

You know, it’s not a selfish thing? When you feed your spirit, you’re loving yourself and strengthening your being. And when you’re a stronger, more emotionally happy person, you bless those around you. I hope you can find a way to make time for something beautiful this weekend or some time during this next week.

Blessings & peace to you, friends.

 

- #SorryNotSorry

I’m getting better at this. *claps in support of self*

Let me offer a little back ground on the setting:

Glory’s first experience of living on her own was that of living with two sisters, Bethany and Brittany.  I told the story here in July of 2010.

Glory and Bethany worked together at a local seafood house for quite some time. With cinder block walls, cement floors and messages covering every spot of picnic table or wall that the building has to offer, the place is a dive. And it’s amazing. The cooks begin the morning peeling fresh potatoes for a day of frying. They serve all sorts of boiled or fried seafood and don’t even have a single real serving dish on the premises. A pound of crab legs is served on a plastic lid of a 5-gallon bucket. Food is served on paper plates. Paper towels are on the picnic tables and used for cleaning spills and wiping butter-dripped fingers. Beverages are served in clear solo cups.  The price is low, the food comes fast and “beyond casual,” the business tagline, is the most appropriately fitting restaurant tagline in our town.Snapchat from Glory when she ran into Bethany at Target

Bethany and Glory forged a friendship in the crazy that is Rhinehart’s type of every-day-busy. While the room-mate arrangement dissolved as the girls went in different directions, their friendship still remains strong. And of all the places that Bethany could be moving after her marriage, her new husband has landed a job in Dallas – the same city where Glory now resides. Nosalik Wedding

Sometime over the last year or two, Bethany fell for an awesome guy named Josh. Bethany is a softball-playing, blanket-fort-and-color-crayon kind of girl. Glory affectionately calls Bethany her “Five-year-old-best-friend.” The girls saw themselves in the movie Despicable Me so I gave them crayons and coloring books for Christmas this past year.  For the bachelorette party, the girls planned a laser tag outing. Bethany is about as casual and laid back as a girl can be. Glory tells me that Josh is a male version of Bethany. They are well-suited for each other.

So, the fifteen hour distance that is now theirs since Glory has moved to Texas made no difference when it came time for a wedding. I picked up Glory at the airport at 11:00am and we drove the hour to a little country church in Sharon, Georgia for the 2:00pm ceremony.

Sweet little cowboy boots on the flower girl

The church is nestled in a covering of elderly trees.
Mushrooms in dozens of different varieties speckled the church grounds.
I was thoroughly enthralled. MushroomWe got there early enough that I began snapping photos
as I meandered inside.
Wooden planks floored the building and leaded panes of glass filled the sashes.

And that little flower girl? Her dress wasn’t decorated with flowers ….
her sweet tulle skirt was f.i.l.l.e.d with them!

Flower girl

Before we even sat down, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

At some point …. just  before this happened ….Josh, Bethany and Glory
Glory teasingly … and seriously told me, “You need to calm down.”
Keep in mind, NOBODY else would have thought anything about my behavior.
I wasn’t loud. I didn’t have out my big camera. I wasn’t even crying.
But, she knew I was moved.
In that split second  …
I did that thing that I do.
I felt myself stuff my emotions …. forcefully smash them down and try to be “small.”
I felt the “click” inside that said, “Be small. Make yourself invisible.”
“I’m sorry, ” I said ….
and I remembered this Pantene video
(that, yes, it still makes me cry every time I watch it):

Just as quickly as I said, “I’m sorry,”
I turned back to her and gave her that ruffled-brow look and said,
“No I’m not. I’m not sorry.”
And I think she knew …. it was a good thing …
and a very small, itsy-tiny little …. HUMONGOUS thing!

I love Danielle Laporte’s TruthBomb

“You will always be too much for someone. Be yourself anyway. “

I’ve spent a good bit of my life with people who have smaller, more timid personalities.
They don’t want to be noticed and they don’t want to be singled out.
They were people-pleasers who didn’t want to be “different” from others.

Trying to fit in … to be like others … to NOT be different
is counterintuitive to every person who walks on this earth.
We are all individuals. We are unique and intricately original.
I’ve wasted much too much time and energy trying to keep the person beside me
comfortable
while he or she also worked really hard to be invisible …
and it is exhausting.

In my heart of hearts … I just want to be me.
Each day, I see a little more clearly
the ways that I have learned to hide, stuff and smother my originality.
And each day, I become a little more brave to be  …. myself.

Right after my exchange with Glory, Bethany’s dad walked her down the aisle
and we watched Josh and Bethany make the vow of a lifetime.

Bethany, Josh and Glory

And in that cool afternoon
both Bethany and I
moved one step closer
to a new life. IMG_4415

What areas do you struggle?
Do you try to “be small” to please those around you?
Do you catch yourself saying “I’m sorry?”
What changes are you making to reclaim that part of you that you have lost?
Mushroom

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