2013: Photos and Lessons

I've been terribly neglectful of my blogs for, well, years now. So when I saw that SmallBox was offering a Think Kit to help people establish a more regular blogging practice I said, "heck yes!" Today's post is a result of the first prompt for the project that runs the entire month of December 2013. Oh…the prompt? "Your Year in Photos."

I took a look through my iPhoto images from this past year. As I relived events represented by the (rarely great in terms of art) photos, I realized that I'd had lessons learned or at least reinforced. This might be the longest post I've ever done in terms of pixels or inches or whatever you want to use to measure, but hey, let's go month by month.

I did a Whole 30 (it's an eating thing) which means I was hyper focused on food – in a much different way than usual. I think a million other people must have been doing it too. For that I'm thankful because the support on the forums at Whole 9 Life was incredible. Usually I think of myself as a loner (or maybe a go-it-aloner).

Community doesn't erase our individuality. Community makes our individuality possible. 

The essence of Whole 30

Sweet bell beauties

The Whole 30 ended (hello regular bacon!) and I turned 46. (Seriously? How the heck?) For my birthday, we visited the Garfield Conservatory for a garden gnome show. We also celebrated Cameron's birthday with a now traditional cupcake sculpture contest. Garden gnomes and cupcake sculptures are admittedly silly things. And you know, that's okay.

Silly things make the world go 'round every bit as much as those serious, ponderous, austere things like politics and corporate governance.

Just one of dozens of gnomes in the Garfield Conservatory show

Cupcakes awaiting sculptors
We found a package of fake mustaches. Look, that's a big deal, okay? See February for why. Spring break meant that we became tourists in our own town with long strolls through the IMA and a visit to our friend Kristofer at the Inventorialist. Both the IMA and the Inventorialist house various cool objects. More importantly, those objects represent stories, some we know and some we get to piece together on our own.

Stories help us share the human experience and increase understanding.

I wish I knew what to write here.
One of a handful of Buddha statues at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

A pair of tiny terrariums lovingly crafted by Kristofer
Bowman and subsequently murdered by Nila Nealy;
currently reloaded with lovely dried Northwoods moss

Continuing Spring Break, we spent a day with books at Indy Reads Books, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library Central Library.

Curiosity and lifelong learning make the world better.

Kurt Vonnegut's Smith-Corona; Guests may type
a message that will later be tweeted by @kurtstypewriter.

Hours upon hours can be lost at the IMCPL Central Library.

Sarah and I walked halfway across the Ohio River to stand in line for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's public talk in Louisville, KY. We stayed the following day for his public teaching as well. He's such a gentle, wise, kind, warm human. I will always take a chance to be in his presence.

Compassion has the power to change the world.

Dalai Lama on stage for public teaching at Louisville's
YUM Center; HHDL is all the way at the bottom, wearing
his signature burgundy visor.

It was also a good month for taking the dogs for rides in the car.

We could learn a lot from our pets' love of simple pleasures.

Little do Luna and Rocky know they are on their way to the vet.

Instead of a big party for her birthday, my daughter just wanted to get out of town. Road trip! Destination: Historic Savannah, Georgia. Now I understand why General Sherman spared Savannah. The architecture and ancient live oaks make the city's historic area magical. We toured the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace to see how the founder of the Girl Scouts lived. And with the help of a book of self-guided walking tours we picked up at one of many adorable shops, we got a closer look at several of Savannah's sights, including the Colonial Park Cemetery. This cemetery in the heart of the historic area saw over 9,000 burials from the mid 1700s until the mid 1800s when it closed to further interments. During the Civil War soldiers who used the cemetery as an encampment vandalized graves and knocked down headstones. When the cemetery was restored, stones that couldn't be matched with graves were mounted to the cemetery's east wall. I felt a deep sense of reverence standing at that wall looking at the weatherworn stones.

History shows us who we can be.

Trees in one of Savannah's squares

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia

Detail of one of the lions at General Oglethorpe's feet in
Chippewa Square; this square is where Tom Hanks was shot
as Forest Gump sitting on the bench sharing stories
over his famous box of chocolates

Colonial Park Cemetery's east wall

More travel. This time we headed to central Minnesota, to Breezy Point where the Nealy family reunion was held. While there was a whole lot of people fun, I felt I'd been no closer to the sky in a long, long time. Mother Nature offered many great sky watching opportunities in July from Breezy Point to Indianapolis.

Nature herself is the greatest artist of all.

Clouds over Pelican Lake

Island in Pelican Lake

Swirl of clouds at Breezy Point

Sunrise in Indianapolis

Off again… This time just Steve and I ventured to Chicago for a business meeting. Chicago is well known for good restaurants. The best we had was Farmhouse Chicago. As strange as it may sound, the mashed potatoes were, um, lordy, I'm ready to go back.

Simple food is great food when it's prepared with quality ingredients and lots of care.

None of the food, including the potatoes, made it long
enough for the obligatory food photo.
Farmhouse Chicago

Summer gave way to autumn. The diminishing light edged my anxiety up a bit. I found solace in the beauty of nature and the stillness of my meditation cushion.

When we pay attention, we can feel the rhythms of our minds and bodies moving with the rhythms of nature.

A sycamore sacrifices a leaf for me

Seeking enlightenment


Having long neglected the exterior of our property, I took on a mini-project to beautify the front entry area. Mother Nature responded to my apparent need for her with a spectacular sunrise.

Beauty matters.
Grasses and cabbages and mums, oh my!
It's as if the sky were on fire.

Alexa chatted a bit with John Green, among other things the author of The Fault in Our Stars, as he signed a book for her at the JCC. He'd spoken to a sold out crowd that night, delighting old and young alike. Later that week, I went to my fourth annual weekend teaching on the beautiful Hanover College campus with Chongtul Rinpoche of Bon Shen Ling. This teaching was about using dreams to be awake. As you might imagine, talking about dreams all day for two days straight can make sleepy time interesting.

Openness to diverse perspectives builds empathy.

John Green signing An Abundance of Katherines

Lovingly appointed bowl of water on the altar at
Chongtul Rinpoche's teaching.

Here we are, December 1st. December has not yet revealed its images, experiences and lessons for me to learn or relearn.