Thursday, November 28, 2013

River Bliss Gifts

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your day has been filled with blessings. After my dad's close call back in February when he suffered a heart attack, and with my mom not feeling up to par lately, what I'm most grateful for today is having both of my parents around this holiday season - even though I wasn't able to see them today.

The logistics involved in celebrating holidays with different groups of relatives are often challenging, but the truth is that we are blessed to have so many loved ones to coordinate visits with on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Often, we have two separate family get-togethers on Thanksgiving day: breakfast or brunch with my husband and teenagers

Stuffed squash, apple crisp, grilled polenta, quiche, and pomegranate seeds

...and dinner with my parents or in-laws. This year, I finally discovered that preparing and cooking everything a day ahead of time makes for a much more relaxed holiday!

The passage of Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and it looks like I'm going to have to brave the crowds tomorrow in order to buy some mailers because my calendar order arrived yesterday! How exciting!


I am thrilled with the professional quality; the printing company I used did a great job. I am selling them for $20 plus $6 shipping ($1.50 for each additional calendar). This is a 13-month (Jan. 2014 through Jan. 2015) calendar that features one full-page, fine art nature photograph per month. It was a challenge to narrow down all the possibilities and select one photo per month, but I made the selections based on the scenes that really stopped me in my tracks and transported me to a place of awe. There are sunrise river landscapes, sunlit flowers, closeups of tinier wonders, and a waterfall. The bottom page of each two-page monthly spread contains American and some Canadian and multicultural holidays, full moons and new moons, and an inspirational (non-religious) quote at the bottom along with at least one small image. Here are a couple examples:



 The calendar is printed professionally on extra heavy premium paper. Dimensions are 8.5"x11" (closed) or 17"x11" (open), and the binding is saddle-stitched.

A few people have mentioned to me in the past week that they weren't sure how to buy my calendar, so I thought it would be useful to elaborate. There are a few options:

1) You can order through my Etsy shop.
2) I can generate a PayPal invoice. Just send an email to me at riverblissed@gmail.com indicating your PayPal email address and how many calendars you'd like.

3) I can accept checks (made out to River Bliss Photography) from people I know personally.

Small Business Saturday is coming up, and I'd love for you to consider purchasing a calendar or print from me. All orders are received with a grateful heart and processed with tender loving care.

In addition to calendars, I also offer photo prints in a variety of sizes and note card sets. I have many photo prints available in my Etsy shop; however, you also can order any print from my Flickr photostream via the same options listed above. (Note: All prints have text removed.)

To purchase prints via PayPal, send me an email indicating the name and location (i.e. Flickr or Etsy) of the photo in which you're interested and the size print you'd like (11"x14", 8"x10", 5"x7", 4"x6", note cards).

If you would like to go through Etsy, all of the prints in my shop are listed as 8"x10". However, if you would like to order a different size, just click on the item, and in the "item details" description, there are links for the different size options. I'm listing the links here, as well:

If you'd like to order one of my Flickr images via Etsy, simply click on the link (above) corresponding to the size you'd like, and indicate the name of the photo in the "Message to Seller" box during the checkout process - and also that you saw it on Flickr.

I use a professional lab that offers beautiful lustre and stunning metallic finishes, and I would be truly honored with your business.

Happy holiday season!

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

An Authentic Life

I just came across an article about the five most common regrets of the dying, written by a former palliative care nurse. The article really puts life into perspective. Click HERE to read it.

Doing hospice work back in my twenties was perhaps the most important educational experience I've ever had. Dying persons - even those with whom I only had one visit - have been among my greatest teachers, and the article explains why. The obvious theme of the article is the value of living an authentic life and realizing that, despite circumstances, we can choose either to be true to our authentic self or to do what others pressure us to do. It is our choice.

I think I have learned the most from human beings who recently entered this world and from those who were about to depart - because at the beginning and end of a human lifetime, people tend to be most authentic. Babies are pure, unconditioned energy that reminds us of who we were before the world convinced us to be otherwise. Young children live in the moment with an innocence that is truly inspiring. They imagine, play, sing, dance, and create. Children are pure potentiality. Each one of them can be an artist or engineer, and perhaps the greatest joy I experience as a kindergarten teacher is witnessing when a child seems to be in his or her element and pointing out special skills, talents, and activities that bring the child deep satisfaction and joy. In other words, I love to notice what lights them up. Witnessing that spark is a responsibility we have to one another. (I watched a video in which children's picture book artist, Eric Carle, spoke of how his kindergarten teacher made a point of telling his parents about his artistic talent and encouraged them to support him in that direction.) Children love stories. And they notice things that older children and adults have learned to look past. Children have helped to awaken me to the wonder and astonishing beauty of the natural world, and I am so grateful for the presence of children in my life. I've heard it said that it's useful to remember what brought us great joy as a child, and to be sure to keep that alive in our life.

Dying persons are "real," too. They need to make peace with the reality of future being stripped away from them and learn to live in the moment. This requires loosening the noose of ego and moving through predictable stages in order to come to terms with the end of life as we know it. There is a limited amount of time for putting everything in order and for reflecting on and reconciling that which got swept under the rug for whatever reason during their healthier, more active years. At this time, people see The Big Picture.

In between childhood and preparing to die, we identify more with the world and often get caught up in various pursuits and activities that consume a great deal of our time, our days, our lives. So it's beneficial to retreat regularly from the hustle and bustle and spend some quiet, solitary moments listening to ourselves and noticing what arises in stillness. Spending time with children and old people is also good medicine, for they can reawaken us to what is ultimately most important.

We owe it to ourselves and to everyone around us to "keep it real." What better gift can we give the world than our authentic selves? Earlier in life, I had trouble determining who or what my "authentic self" was in the first place. I often confused it with worldly pursuits, such as a certain career or goal. No, no, no! Our authentic self goes far beyond any condition or detail we might try to pin on it. It is unconditioned and fluid and goes beyond concepts and words. But you know when you have expressed it because you feel truly alive, energized, and peaceful. At least that has been my experience.

For me, the telltale sign of not living authentically is when I feel disconnected from the people and life energy around me. This happens a lot now in the teaching profession as public school educators across the United States are required to deliver new curricula (tied tightly to third-party student assessments and teacher evaluations) that we often are learning as we go along. Scripted curriculum is not authentic teaching. Even when school districts give teachers permission to "adapt" curriculum, it is very difficult to do that the first time you teach it because you don't understand it well enough. It often takes a great deal of time and reflection to understand something well enough to adapt it. But I've noticed that when I put down the manual and allow my authentic self to drive instruction, magic happens. I feel more connected to my students, and they seem to be more engaged. And when I hear from parents that their children love going to school, I know that authentic instruction is taking place despite it all. Something real within me has connected with something real within them, and that connection is pulling us through. My yearly teacher evaluation score means nothing compared to the wonder and love of learning that I hope to instill in my students - for the connection between teacher, student, and curriculum is what ultimately matters most to me.

My "daily reflection" following my parent-teacher conferences last week is that, despite my concerns about the developmental appropriateness of the Common Core curriculum, to a large degree...


I don't mean only teachers and students in a classroom. This is true of any mentor relationship,  apprenticeship, or adult-child relationship. I think we often learn the most from who our teachers are. How they hold their instrument often speaks louder than the notes they play.

Earlier in life, playing piano was my whole world. I didn't pursue it professionally, though, because of stage fright and not being able to handle competition. I gave it up because it ended up being about how others would perceive me rather than the music I could offer to the world. But sometimes I'll sit down and play, and it's the best feeling. I recently had a dream in which I was sitting at the piano with my eyes closed playing what was in my heart, and it was the most natural thing in the world. The music was so beautiful. I loved that dream and woke up wanting to play more. In the dream, I was not playing to impress others but to express the authentic music springing from within. That is what I am talking about. Teaching, musical performance - it's all the same when it comes to authenticity. We must do our work in this world for the right reasons and be really honest with ourselves about whether the sacrifices we make in pursuit of our goals are worthwhile in the long run - or whether we are pursuing an illusory ideal. Are we overlooking what is ultimately most important? For when we are on our deathbeds letting go of worldly concerns and reconciling bigger questions and fears, we will realize how ultimately small and self-sabotaging our little fears and anxieties were - and will regret allowing them to sidetrack us from what was truly important.

For those of us living in the workaday world and feeling overwhelmed, I want to share some advice one of the wise women in my life offered recently. She insisted that no job deserves 100%; perhaps 60% is enough. Save 100% for spirit. Don't let the demands of the world encroach on your spiritual health and deplete your energy. Know where to put your boundaries, and save yourself by honoring them. We need to remember that we are so much more than any job we do and not allow our lives to be consumed by what we are paid to do - or by whether we will be rated as "effective" or "highly effective." Perhaps "effective" is good enough, especially when the criteria bypass completely your authentic reasons for being there. Achieving a healthy balance between "work" and "life" is critical if we are to end our lives unburdened by regret. If you have your heart set on a pay raise or promotion, it's useful to consider whether the sacrifices are ultimately worth the consequences in terms of time and energy available for the people and activities that are most meaningful to you.

I believe there is always a way to express our authentic selves. We might need to reframe the work we do in our daily life or erect boundaries around our life outside of "work" to allow energy to flow from our authentic wellsprings. Or it could be as simple as smiling at someone or following through on an impulse to perform an act of kindness. And, as I wrote above, it is also our duty to help others recognize their own authenticity when we see the telltale light in their eyes.

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The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a "custom print" in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears. 

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Canvases of Gratitude

I wonder: Will there ever come a time when there is nothing new to notice? Is it possible to look at the same basic scene and always find something new to appreciate? Nature has been surprising me lately as I am drawn to new sources of inspiration and artistic possibilities. The natural world is like a good story - perhaps a Sufi or Zen teaching tale - that you can hear repeatedly and each time connect with a new element or nuance that anchors your awareness and supports your evolution.

Sometimes I am deeply inspired by my photographer friends and mentors. In much the same way as a therapist or teacher offers an insight that opens up new doors of understanding and awareness, sometimes someone will share an image that opens my eyes to something I'd never noticed before. One example is colors of trees, sunrise, etc. reflected on the water. If you zoom in and focus only on the colors on the surface of the water - isolate them from their context - they look very much like a watercolor painting. I see them as a canvas. When paired with reflective thoughts, the images become the background for "daily reflections."


Frosty windows offer another canvas for possibilities. Instead of cursing the cold, take a closer look at the intricate frost patterns, and enter a whole new world where frost becomes enchanting.


Since my world will be painted with frost for the next several months, I might as well find something to love about it!

This is the way of gratitude. A grateful heart is a powerful antidote to apply when life gives us challenges. Training our mind to find goodness in the midst of the full catastrophe of life - to embrace what is - helps us to stay afloat. Gratitude is like a life raft. It changes everything.

The sun continues to set earlier every day, and usually by the time I get home from work it already has sunk behind the trees. So I have turned my attention to the sunset silhouettes of trees


...and silhouetted symmetry.


And of course, there's the moon.


A couple nights ago, I was caught off-guard when I glanced out the window and saw the breathtaking image of the moon rising over the river large, low, and orange. The sky already was much darker than in the picture above, and the long reflection of the low moon looked like a flame flickering on the water. I didn't go outside with my camera but just sat on the futon looking out the window and feeling such peace as the moon gradually floated higher, becoming smaller and brighter, and the reflection became shorter...until it was no more than a tiny, bright, dancing disk.

Nature is abundantly generous, and I believe there is no end to the blessings and inspiration it offers us, every day of the year. For not only is the natural world changing constantly, but we are, too.

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Reminder/Update: 
My River Bliss Photography 2014 wall calendar is now available for purchase! You can either order through my Etsy shop or I can generate an invoice through PayPal. For PayPal, contact me at riverblissed@gmail.com with your email address and the number of calendars you would like. I spent many focused, joyful hours capturing the images, assembling the calendar, and selecting 14 of the most uplifting, inspiring photos from my collection for the cover and 13 monthly pages (January 2014 through January 2015).



I am very pleased with the quality and happy to be able to offer this calendar! Quantity is limited, and I am offering a special price of $20 per calendar (plus $6 shipping) for the rest of November. All orders are received with a grateful heart and will be packaged with love and care and sent from the riverside to your door.

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The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a "custom print" in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears. 

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Leaf Mandalas

A few weeks ago, an anonymous, kindhearted soul left a gift in our yard: A Land Art calendar featuring the environmental art of Robert Shilling. Amazing stuff! It was a lavish feast for my creative soul. My husband and I were both in awe...and inspired. A few of the pieces resonated deeply with me, and I decided to try to recreate something similar on my own. So I began collecting fallen leaves of different shapes and colors.

Fall is the time of year when you will find stacks of thick books around our house. I put freshly fallen leaves between the pages of the books and then stack the books on a hard surface for a week or more to press the leaves flat. After that treatment, they are ready for art projects, such as leaf lanterns and beeswax balloon lanterns, which I wrote about in previous posts.

This week, after removing all of the leaves from the books and returning the books to the bookcase, I felt inspired to create a leaf mandala (Sanskrit: "circle") on the living room floor. I put down a large piece of washi paper for a canvas, made a circle from a willow branch, and began arranging birch leaves around it.

And then I continued from there.


Then I created another, much larger circle from willow branches (which are wonderfully bendable) to define the mandala space. Only, my canvas was too small to contain it, so I had to figure out how to extend it.

Silks! Back when my children were in early and middle elementary school, I ordered a set of plain white, hemmed silk squares from Dharma Trading Company and spent a summer weekend dying them different colors. The Waldorf style silks have served many purposes over the years, from play silks to photography backdrops. They are among the most useful purchases I've ever made.

From there, I began arranging all of the materials I had gathered for the project into a frame around the large circle. It kept getting bigger and bigger, until...tah-dah! My fall mandala felt complete.


In the end, it was composed of pressed leaves, willow branches, hand-dyed silks, homegrown gourds, handmade felted acorns, acorn caps, hand-picked apples, firewood, and dried herbs from the garden. It's temporary like a sand mandala, for the apples will be cooked and eaten, the leaves will be used for leaf lanterns and other projects, the firewood will heat our home, etc. Creating it was a meditation on the gifts and transience of fall.

A couple times, I've had the pleasure of watching Tibetan Buddhist monks construct sand mandalas with unwavering concentration and precision. After a few days or weeks, the mandala would be dismantled and the colorful sand released into a body of water to spread spiritual blessings far and wide. For onlookers outside of the Tibetan tradition, at the most basic level a sand mandala might be experienced as a work of sacred art and a highly detailed meditation on impermanence.

A few years ago, I came across the gorgeous book, Natural Mandalas: 30 New Meditations to Help You Find Peace and Awareness in the Beauty of Nature by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma. Seeds of inspiration were planted as I explored the mandalas in the book. Last year, after revisiting the images in Natural Mandalas, I had the urge to make my first fall mandala. It was much simpler than this year's.


Back in my subbing days, I worked at a private school that had a puzzle table in the great room, and everyone in the school community was invited to work on it during free time. Remembering this got me thinking about the idea of a community mandala. You could put out materials for creating a mandala, and individuals could add to it as they saw fit, working out from the center.


A leaf mandala also could be created by children on a light table, to emphasize the translucent nature of leaves (that I love to capture through photography when the sun shines through at just the right angle). To make the leaves more durable, they could be laminated. This also could be achieved with pressed flowers, ferns, etc. for a spring or summer mandala.

Or you could create personal mandalas - either temporary ones like mine or more enduring works of art made by gluing pressed leaves and other collected natural objects on paper. Another variation is a leaf mandala suncatcher created by assembling leaves on the sticky side of a circle cut from clear, transparent contact paper. (Click HERE to see an example.)

The possibilities are endless!

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The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a "custom print" in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears. 

 © Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Trees and Geese and Letting Go

“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you.” –Peace Pilgrim

Here on the riverside, the dominant sound is of honking geese flying south in formation.


The dominant visual is of bare trees with a carpet of crunchy leaves on the ground below.


Fall foliage is stunning. But now the landscape is composed of bare trees and evergreens punctuated by an occasional burst of color from a deciduous tree that has not yet let go of its leaves.


Inspired by all this, there are two questions on my mind. The bare trees invite me to consider: What has outlived its usefulness in my life? The migrating geese inspire me to ask: Where is my highest wisdom calling me?

Fall is a time of letting go, creating space for new growth. In between releasing and rebirth/renewal, we here in the Northeast move inward for a time of resting and dreaming. But first, we must let go.


At the most basic level, I feel an irresistible urge to get rid of possessions. We live in a small, old house with virtually no usable storage space, so everything we own is out in the open. I’m tired of looking at the clutter that merely collects dust and traps energy. If something gives me joy or is still useful, it will stay. But let the great purge begin! Perhaps my closet and library are good places to start.

But I am contemplating letting go on other levels as well, especially letting go of outdated, limiting beliefs and sabotaging thoughts. Actually, that is a huge part of it - perhaps the most important part of all - for sometimes thoughts can be like prison guards keeping us locked in a cage and preventing us from moving forward.

Our materialistic culture values accumulation, getting and achieving more and more, expecting that our investments of money and time will pay off and provide us with a comfortable, "successful" life. But there is an art to letting go - releasing what has outlived its usefulness just as trees release their leaves when the time is right and birds migrate with changing seasons. We build houses with rocks that are perhaps put to better use as stepping stones.

Has the highest part of us moved on, following the flow of the living universe to new horizons - or is the self-centered personality restless like a discontented child? That seems to be the critical discernment. There are some situations in which some training and discipline could help us to make the most of our present life situation and lead a more fulfilled and joyful life. There are other situations that have lost their value with no reasonable expectation of bouncing back, and we need to make our peace and move on with gratitude for the experience.

Trees release their leaves when the time is right and are bare for a while. Their energy is drawn inward, and they enter a period of rest. In time, the next generation of leaves will manifest and collect energy from the sun. The rhythm repeats itself every year, inviting us to trust that letting go will result in rebirth and renewal, and to honor the in between period of rest that is necessary for our growth and cannot be rushed. During this time, we do not draw our energy from the outside world. We go within. It is quiet enough during the cold months to hear the still voice within - our deepest wisdom. Even if it looks like nothing is happening on the outside, a hidden transformation is taking place.


I believe that the highest in us (that some call the soul) goes where life energy flows and understands that challenging circumstances are valuable for the clarity they provide – and gives thanks for them, without harboring any grudges or regrets. For example, it’s okay if something in which you invested a lot of time and/or money loses its value. If you have derived your identity or self-worth from it, you learn that you are so much more than this one thing; your existence does not depend upon it. Praise and bless it as a stepping stone. Let it go, and move on if that is what you feel deeply called to do. When the time is right, you will know. The soul doesn’t care how much money or time you spent to get to this place where you are now. It grabs your hand and says, “Come on! There’s more yet to see.” It follows the flow of life. It is like a migratory bird acutely aware of the subtle signs heralding a new season. It knows when to leave and in what direction to travel.

Basically, I believe that great changes occur when love pulls you toward something rather than when you are motivated to move away from something that has lost its value. Recently, a friend pointed out that what we move toward might be an ideal or quality rather than a particular outcome. Perhaps we begin to focus on inner peace, freedom, or joy, and as we attune to that vibration, the details begin to take shape. It is a process that requires honesty, courage, and patience.

As Joseph Campbell stated:

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” 

I truly believe this to be true. Without making any drastic changes, simply take a step in joy, and notice what happens. In my experience, inner peace and joy draw synchronicity to us, and each step reveals new possibilities and small miracles.

Without even looking for them, I've recently come across some articles related to exciting discoveries about neuroplasticity - how the brain rewires itself constantly based on experience. The following links offer much hope regarding our ability to continue growing, improving, and reinventing ourselves as we age.

Why It's Important to Follow Your Bliss After 50

Why We're Hardwired for Midlife Reinvention

Midlife Crisis - or Power Surge?

The third link was especially powerful for me and brought to mind my participation in a women's group at a local retreat center more than a decade ago. At the time, I was in my mid-30s and was the youngest one in the group, and I was contemplating what to do for work after staying home with my children for a number of years, thinking it was too late for me to pursue a new career. I listened to women in their 50s and 60s talk about reinventing themselves as the article describes, and it helped me put things into perspective. I think what cut through my illusions more than anything else was their laughter when I voiced that I felt it was too late in life for me to switch gears and go back to grad school. It was delighted, authentic laughter filled with such compassion and wisdom. I learned from these women that it is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Letting go, as nature models so boldly to us at this time of year, is the first step.


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The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a "custom print" in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears. 

 © Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Through the Lens of Gratitude

This morning before opening my eyes - and while wearing an eye mask to block out the light in hopes of getting a little more sleep - I heard the sound my phone makes when I get an alert and opened my eyes to the most breathtaking sunrise colors I've seen in a long time! I jumped out of bed, raced downstairs, grabbed my camera, jumped into my shoes, and dashed to the dock so I could be surrounded by color - the color in the sky and the colors reflected on the water. The whole time, I whispered, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"


The funny thing is, it turns out my phone didn't actually make the sound in the first place; there were no alerts. And had I stayed in bed even a couple minutes longer, I wouldn't have experienced the colors at their peak. I just love the tangerine glow!

Truth is, I've been doing a lot of scurrying lately - because the colors of the rising and setting sun change so quickly, and I've happened upon some downright spectacular landscapes over the past few days.


The sunrises with the rising mist have certainly been worth getting up for, and I am grateful that - since switching the clocks back from Daylight Saving Time - the sun once again rises before I leave for work, with time to spare.


I'm also able to catch the sunset, usually during a late afternoon walk.


After snapping a few photos, I stand back and pause in awe with a big, grateful smile on my face. Cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg sums it up best:

"I celebrate life each day through the lens of gratitude." 

Speaking of Louie Schwartzberg and gratitude, I want you to know about a wonderfully inspiring, free meditation series, 21 Days of Gratitude, that just started yesterday. (Click on the title to view the link.) Two days into it the series presented by Schwartzberg and Mentors Channel, I am totally loving it. The images presented in the daily videos (which are less than 20 minutes long) are extraordinary and mesmerizing and inspire a deep sense of gratitude and awe. It's not too late to join and experience it for yourself. Louie Schwartzberg is my favorite cinematographer and a kindred spirit for sure. His work was featured in the recent Disneynature video, Wings of Life, and his time-lapse photography of flowers opening and closing is out of this world.

I also want to let you know that, in response to numerous requests, I created a River Bliss Photography 2014 wall calendar that is now available for purchase through my Etsy shop. I spent many focused, joyful hours creating it and selected 14 of the most uplifting, inspiring photos from my collection for the cover and 13 monthly pages (January 2014 through January 2015) so you can celebrate life along with me through my "lens of gratitude" each day.



I am so happy to be able to offer this calendar! Quantity is limited, and the introductory, pre-order offer of $20 per calendar is good through November. On December 1st, the price will go up to $25. All orders are received with a grateful heart and will be packaged with love and care and sent from the riverside to your door.

You can order the River Bliss calendar by clicking HERE.

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The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a "custom print" in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears. 

 © Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Daily Miracles

"Give us our daily miracle. And forgive us if we are not always capable of recognizing it." -Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra

Do you realize how close you are to a miracle?

I truly believe that every day offers us a miracle, a magic moment that changes everything, awakens us, and offers new possibilities.


Paulo Coelho writes a lot about such moments, and in Manuscript Found in Accra, he defines a miracle as "...something that suddenly fills our hearts with Love."

I search for miracles every day. They are easy to miss. But missing them doesn't mean they never happened.


Perhaps the miracle was to be found in the impulse ignored to turn in a certain direction or to strike up a conversation with a certain person. Perhaps we were too tired, in too much of a hurry, or preoccupied with our own thoughts and dramas.

Do you remember the 3D stereogram images that were popular about 20 years ago? You stare at the two-dimensional, patterned image with the right focus and all of a sudden enter into a three-dimensional image that, until then, was impossible to perceive. That's how it can be with magic moments. With a little practice, you might just find your heart steeped in gratitude most of the time. With gratitude, beauty (love) is more inclined to reveal itself, and you can find it just about anywhere.

On a rainy day, the miracle might be found in the rippled puddle that you normally would pass by without taking notice. That's where I found it today, during the short walk to my car at the end of the work day.

Sometimes you will discover it if you turn around and look behind you, crouch down close to the ground, slow down, step off the trail, take in the details of a single thing, or listen wholeheartedly to the person next to you.

If you tune in to the miracle channel, you will find them everywhere and be transformed. At least that's been my experience.


Yesterday morning was dark and dreary. By the time I arrived at work, there wasn't so much as a hint of the sun, which has been rising a little later every morning. Witnessing the sunrise makes a substantial difference in the quality of my day. Filling with light first thing in the morning is a powerful way to start a day (although when the sun doesn't shine, we can go within and make our own light). By the time I got home from work, however, the sun was shining, and I took a walk with my husband. As we walked, I stopped to photograph landscapes and trees I'd photographed numerous times before. I stopped yet again, knowing they are always a little different.


After snapping a few shots, I commented to my husband that I still hadn't encountered the magic moment of the day. But I knew I would. And I did. I'm a sucker for sunlit leaves, and the auburn-toned oak leaves seemed to be on fire with grace around a birch tree. It was their moment to shine, and I got to witness it.


Sometimes I feel called by a tree or flower, and when I approach it, it gives me an offering. I feel its energy and my interconnection with it. I might look at it from different angles, until love bursts through.


Sometimes one leaf playing with sunlight at just the right angle can make all the difference in the world if it speaks to your soul. I waited for 15 minutes for the sun to emerge from behind the clouds in order to capture the image below, which had revealed itself briefly moments before the clouds covered the sun.


Over the weekend, I watched part of Eckhart Tolle's June 2012 retreat at Omega Institute and was struck by something he said about when he lived in London after going through a profound shift in consciousness. After the shift, he felt so peaceful and perceived everything around him as so lovely, though he didn't know why. A Zen monk told him that, "Zen is really about the cessation of the thinking mind," and it occurred to Eckhart that since the shift, he hadn't been thinking as much; there were "vast spaces of no thought, of just perception." When Eckhart was finding the world so intensely beautiful, he was not thinking. He was liberated from the tyranny of thought.

That is something I can really relate to these days. When I go outside, I can't help but be amazed and astonished at the beauty in the natural world. It is everywhere!


Even walking from my car to my classroom in the morning, I am dazzled by leaves and berries clinging to trees, reflections in puddles, birds in flight. Every little thing seems to be filled with incredible energy and beauty. It feels so peaceful and good. And during those moments, there is an absence of thought. Love enters in.

I live for those moments.

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