Let’s Party!


            It’s my birthday month!

            For the month of February, 2013, we’ll be helping others celebrate their birthdays!  More specifically, if you have (or know of) a child who recently celebrated their first birthday, or will soon be celebrating their first birthday, we will be running a limited-time promotional for First Year Celebration sessions.


            To be eligible for the promotional, the child’s first birthday needs to be between January 1, 2013, and May 31, 2013, and the portrait session will need to be scheduled and completed by April 30, 2013.


            The “My First Birthday!” option includes an approximate two-hour in-studio portrait session (about an hour for the “I’m 1!” session, and an hour for the “Trash The Cake” session).  The smash cake is included, as are use of available studio props.  You are also welcome to bring your own props and accessories.  There is no additional charge for the pre-session consultation to discuss set and session concept ideas, or for the Premiere Session – this is a viewing and ordering session held at our studio approximately one to two weeks following the portrait session.  You are encouraged to invite anyone who may be interested in viewing the images and purchasing portraits from the session.  Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided.  In preparation for your Premiere Session, we will choose the best images from the session to edit and prepare a session portfolio and custom-designed slideshow set to music.  The session retainer for this option is 175.00.  Once the portrait session is complete, the session retainer will become a studio product credit that can be applied towards a qualifying product purchase that totals at least 500.00 before the product credit is applied.


          You can also choose to do either the “I’m 1!” or “Trash The Cake” one-hour in-studio session for 100.00.  This option choice includes the same items and services as our most popular full session First Year Celebration experience, with the ability to choose a shorter session.  Once the portrait session is complete, the 100.00 session retainer will become a studio product credit that can be applied towards a qualifying product purchase that totals at least 250.00 before the product credit is applied.


          Normally, any product purchase investment is separate from the session retainer.  However, to spread a little celebration cheer, we’re allowing you to use it as a product credit for a limited time only.


            To find out more about what we do and what your ALP experience will be like, click here:  http://www.alpinc.biz/about-the-alp-experience.html.


New set design options are also in the works – be one of the first to try them out!


This makes a great birthday gift for a special little one in your life and is one of our most fun-filled milestone celebration sessions.


You have two weeks to get in on this special – schedule your session soon to lock in your desired date.  Email us at katrina@artisticlifephotography.com, or call us at 704-986-0341 to reserve your date.  Session retainer required at time of scheduling and will be credited to your qualifying product purchase at the Premiere viewing and ordering session.


2013 … Are You Ready???

Our Wish For You - Teal-Mocha

 If  2013 is anything like 2012 has been, we’d all better pull the lap bar down a little more snug and get ready for another crazy ride!

From man-made tragedies, such as the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsizing off of the Italian coast, to natural disasters, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City, NJ, causing at least 100 deaths and an estimated $30 billion in damages – local and world wide events have commanded top headlines.

England hosted this year’s Summer Olympic Games for the third time in history; the only city to have done so on as many occasions. The US brought home a total of 104 medals, including 3 gold in gymnastics and 16 gold in swimming.  England also made headlines in other areas this year, too, including Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Additionally, the world reacted with joy at the news of the pending birth of a new royal baby when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was hospitalized for a severe case of morning sickness.

 Our hearts have broken, and our heads have bowed in prayer over many heartbreaking stories throughout the year, including the Nevada wildfire where more than 10,000 people were forced to evacuate when a fast-moving brush fire broke out near Reno, NV, leaving one person dead and at least 26 homes destroyed.

In March, tornadoes ripped through 17 states in the South and Midwest, causing at least 27 deaths and injuring hundreds.

In April, One Goh, a 43-year-old former student at Oikos University, a Christian school in Oakland, Calif., opened fire on the campus, killing seven people and wounding several others.

Twelve people were killed and 58 others were wounded in a Colorado theater shooting in July when a gunman opened fire in a crowded theater in a Denver suburb during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. James Holmes, 24, was arrested in a parking lot behind the theater and arraigned by Colorado prosecutors and charged with 142 counts, including first degree murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives.

 On December 14th, in what was likely the most senseless and stunning tragedy, Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newton, CT, and killed 26 people.  The victims included 20 children between the ages of six and seven.

However, even as heavy-hearted as some of these stories are, you can also find good in almost anything.  Most recently, Newtown’s police offers, who had been working around the clock monitoring traffic, patrolling funerals and investigating the crime scene, were blessed by other Connecticut police officers from nearby communities who volunteered to work so that the mourning town’s officers could relax on the Christmas holiday and spend time with their own families and loved ones.  Those who volunteered to work also offered to donate any money they made Tuesday to Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.

Also, as tragic as the Sandy Hook Elementary School events were, they could have been even worse.  Victoria Soto, one of the teachers at the school, hid her first graders in cabinets and closets after hearing the gunfire.  When the shooter came to her classroom, she told him that her students were in the gym.  Even though he gunned her down before moving on, she saved the lives of all of her students.  I have no doubt that even as many parents’ hearts are breaking, many others are saying prayers of thanks.

Amidst all the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, “Secret Santa”, a wealthy philanthropist from Kansas City, MO, traveled to Staten Island, one of the hardest hit areas by the superstorm, to bless others by handing out $100 bills to random strangers.  One by one, this anonymous businessman lifted holiday spirits and brought hope and tears of happiness to many who had lost so much.  One lady, who didn’t even want to celebrate Christmas after her home was destroyed in the storm, encountered the mysterious Secret Santa in a thrift shop and was given $300.  “It just changed everything,” she said.

 We also look back on 2012 and pause to think of some of the people who have slipped from this world to another … Etta James (1-25-12), Whitney Houston (2-11-12), Davy Jones (2-29-12), Dick Clark (4-18-12), Donna Summer (5-17-12), Andy Griffith (7-3-12), Marvin Hamlisch (8-6-12), Larry Hagman (11-25-12), Dave Brubeck (12-5-12), and Jack Klugman (12-24-12), just to remember a few.  Many of my friends and family have also said goodbye to loved ones, closing chapters in books that will never make the headlines of any local or national news stories, but that doesn’t mean they will be missed any less.

 2012 found Calvin and I with our share of trials and blessings, too … luckily, there were more of the latter.

 We celebrated our 8-year anniversary in November.  Below is a picture that was taken at the chapel on our wedding day in 2004 .  .  .

Happy Anniversary

.  .  . and I am thankful to say that, after being diagnosed with throat cancer two weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, he has remained cancer-free since completing his radiation treatments.  That’s not to say he doesn’t still have obstacles and frustrations from the after-effects of the radiation, but I’m so very thankful that he’s here to ring in 2013 with me!


This past year also found us working together in the kitchen to nourish our bodies, as well as our hearts.  While neither of us can claim the title of “chef”, we certainly haven’t gone hungry, either.

Calvin loves Key Lime Pie, so I modified a recipe earlier this year and came up with a Key Lime “Pie” Cupcake.


Another thing we experimented with was a Chicken Pot Pie recipe … on a whim we decided to replace the carrots with sweet potatoes.  Winner!!


Calvin also modified his homemade whole wheat bread recipe.  While it was already a good, crusty, artisan-style recipe, he changed up a few things and has now come up with a not-quite-as-crusty, and much more moist bread recipe.  Great for dipping in a mix of olive oil, Italian Seasonings, basil and minced garlic.

Calvins Wheat Bread

I cannot overlook mentioning the great clients we’ve had at the photography studio this year!  High School and College Seniors … BELOVED sessions … moms-to-be … newborns … pets … First Year Celebrations … weddings … so much fun!  But I also enjoyed doing some shooting “just for me”.

These crocus were among some of the first spring blooms that peeked up through the soil …


I was also surprised at how beautiful a simple mustard bloom can be …


I found these gorgeous beauties in the Albemarle Downtown area late spring while on a photo walk with some fellow local photographers …


While I was simply out walking around our yard, testing some of our lenses, photographing some of the scattered wildflowers, I came across a couple of Queen Anne’s Lace flowers that appeared to be wrapped in an embrace in a world all their own.  Yes, it is indeed some of those unexpected glimpses that hold those “Wow!” moments for me …


And I’m always fascinated by the butterflies as they flutter around, collecting nectar and dancing on the breeze.  The images I have are too numerous to include them all here, but these are a couple of my favorites from this year …


And how could I not include a Monarch …


So, now we look forward to 2013 … with a lot of uncertainty and even more hope.

As thousands across the nation ring in the New Year in Time’s Square and other various parties and events, Calvin and I will be celebrating quietly, but joyfully – likely with a toast at midnight (if we can stay up that late).   The New Year will, without a doubt, bring a lot of changes for both of us … I will be starting classes the second week in January (yes, I’m actually going back to school!), and we’ll be trying to balance our personal lives with our work/school responsibilities, along with the photography studio.  I am so thankful to be blessed to have Calvin by my side as we walk together into the New Year.

Several changes will be coming for the photography studio, too.  We’ve already started re-working the website and the blog, and we’ll be doing a complete re-do of the front window at the studio as well as updating our pricing and adding even more items to an already-great product line.  Below are some images showing the gallery wraps we’ll be offering, along with the Certificate of Authenticity and Care Card for each fine art wall portrait purchased.

Product-Gallery Wrap

As I close this post and get ready to celebrate the evening – reflecting upon memories past, and looking forward to new ones yet to be made, I want to extend an old Irish Blessing to you and yours:

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!


Happy New Year! 

Let’s Do This!!


They're Family, Too!!!

So . . .  you took care of everyone on your Christmas list on Black Friday, right?   Children? Check.  Parents? Check.  Co-workers? Check.  Spouse? Check.  But wait . . . what about your furry babies??  What?!?!  They’re family, too!!  No, really!  Think about it . . . who greets you with exuberance when you walk through the door?  Who keeps you company on walks?  Who makes you smile when it’s the last thing you feel like doing?  And they weren’t on your list?!?!?  O.o

 Well, there’s still time!  Do something extra-special for your four-legged family members!  Whether you have an energy-filled little furr-ball, a gentle giant who loves napping, or a sweet soul somewhere in between, schedule an ALP Pawprints pet portrait session . . . they get to enjoy being the center of attention for a while, and you get some great keepsakes of your loyal friend!

 If you call or email us this week and schedule an ALP Pawprints pet portrait session for January or February, 2013, you will receive ½ off of your session retainer (normally $150.00;  available for a limited time only for $75.00), you will lock in 2012 pricing for this session, and you will receive one complimentary high-resolution digital file with printing release when you purchase a fine art gallery wrap canvas wall portrait 16×20 or larger from this session.  That alone is a $150.00 value!

 These Cyber Monday pet portrait sessions are going to be limited to a total of ten (10) available sessions . . . five (5) to be scheduled in January, and five (5) to be scheduled in February.  Your choice of in-studio setting or on-location (no extra mileage charges for travel within StanlyCounty), weather permitting.  ALP Pawprints is not limited to just dogs and cats . . . as long as your pet doesn’t have fangs, venom or scales.

 The session retainer is due at the time you schedule the appointment to hold your requested date and time.  The session retainer is non-refundable in the event of cancellation by client, but the session may be rescheduled, when possible, during January or February, 2013.  The session retainer covers photographers’ time and talent in capturing the images and preparing them for presentation, a welcome packet for your pet including treats and emergency notification cards and stickers, and a Premiere Party approximately a week to two weeks after the session for you and any guests you invite to view the images from the session and place your order.  Light hors d’oeuvres will also be provided for the Premiere Party.

This offer will only be valid for this week, or until the ten sessions have been filled, whichever comes first.  To schedule your session, give us a call at 704-986-0341, email me at katrina@artisticlifephotography.com, or go to www.alpinc.com and send us a message and we’ll contact you.


           Update Your Profile Picture


In an effort to raise awareness of what the Albemarle Downtown businesses have to offer residents and visitors to our area, the businesses have been participating in a monthly promotional called “Shop Albemarle Downtown First Saturdays”.  As the name indicates, the monthly promotional is usually held the first Saturday of each month.

September is a little different, though . . .in conjunction with the Annual Community-Wide Yard Sale at Christ Episcopal Church, located at 428 Pee Dee Avenue, Albemarle, North Carolina, participating Downtown businesses will be having sidewalk sales and various specials.

Artistic Life Photography, Inc., will be open and participating in this event with a “Help Us Clean Out The Studio” sidewalk sale.  We will have tables outside the studio that will have some of our older studio décor and prop items, as well as some of the smaller, framed print products previously on display (we are making room for fresh faces and new products!).  And while we’ll have lots of deals for the sidewalk sale, we’ll be having fun on the inside, too!  If you are a high school or college student, call or email now to reserve your spot for a mini Facebook Profile picture upgrade.  There is no charge for the mini session and you are under no obligation to purchase anything.  You will need to come dressed and ready, and your mini session will last approximately five to ten minutes.  You are welcome to bring friends – we’ll be glad to get some group images as well as individuals.  We’ll also have light snacks for you to enjoy, some limited-time session specials, and even a few give-aways while you visit us at the studio. The images will be placed online for viewing (you will receive information the day of your mini session about how to access the images), and once you let us know which image is your favorite, we will email you a lo-res, watermarked social media image for you to use online.  Nope, no strings.  No pressure.  Nada.   Nothing.  Seriously.  But if you like what you see when you visit us, just remember where we’re located.

While you’re Downtown, visit the other local businesses for sales and specials at each participating location, go to the Farmer’s Market for some fresh goodies, and don’t forget the Annual Community Wide Yard Sale at Christ Episcopal Church.  FYI – if you’re interested in reserving a free spot at the Yard Sale (Yes, Free! – you just have to provide your own table), call the church office at 704-982-1428 to reserve your space.


“True love stories never have endings.”

-Richard Bach-

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we are looking forward to hearing the best true love story you’ve got!

Perhaps you know a couple who has faced adversity, a life-altering illness, or a personal tragedy together;  perhaps there is a couple in your church who encourage, guide and inspire other couples;  or perhaps it’s the committed relationship that you, yourself, are invested in.  Whatever the love story may be – battles won, obstacles overcome, other hearts encouraged – we want to hear it.

BeginningTuesday, February 14, 2012, and going throughWednesday, February 29, 2012, we will be accepting true love stories of committed relationships.  Whether someone’s been married fifty years, five years, one year, or engaged for five months, they’re eligible to be entered into our BELOVED contest.

All entries will be read and reviewed and, depending on the number of entries, a winner will be announced the first week in March.  The winner will receive a complimentary BELOVED Session scheduled for Spring 2012, a custom-designed DVD slideshow set to music showcasing the best images from their session, and $100.00 in studio product credit.  This is a total portrait package valued at $650.00.

Entries may be emailed to:  katrina@artisticlifephotography.com, or mailed via US Postal Service to:  Artistic Life Photography, Inc.,PO Box 1036,Albemarle,NC 28002.  Entries will be accepted up to, or must be postmarked by,February 29, 2012.  Pictures or digital images of the couple submitted along with written entries are appreciated, but are not necessary to be eligible to win the complimentary BELOVED Session and accompanying products.  Recipients must be at least 21 years of age, US citizens, and be willing to travel toStanly County,North Carolina, for their session.

For more information about our BELOVED Sessions and to see sample images, click on the following links:

BELOVED … The Sessions … What Extraordinary Love Looks Like:


BELOVED … The Concept And My Little Wooden Box


Thank you in advance for taking the time to honor someone and enter a love story into the BELOVED contest, and thank you for recognizing the beauty of committed and inspiring love that so often gets overlooked.

As an additional thank you, the name of those people who have submitted a love story will be eligible to win $100.00 ALP Studio Credit that can be applied towards a portrait session of your choosing, or used as a product credit towards your order with us.  You may enter multiple love stories as long as each story is about a different couple.  Your name will be entered in the drawing based on the number of submissions up to five (1 love story = 1 entry, 2 love stories  = 2 entries, etc.).

When submitting your entries be sure to include:  your name, your mailing address, your phone number(s) [we have to have some way to contact you in the event your name is chosen as a winner!] and the best time to call, your email, and if different, the couple’s names, their mailing address, their phone number(s) and their email.  You and the couple will only be contacted if your entry is chosen as a winner.

Be assured, too, that we respect our clients’ privacy – we do not share, sell or distribute your names or information to any other business, individual, or entity.

Finally, try to keep the stories to one or two pages since we will be reading through each of the entries.  However, make sure you convey what is special about the couple, how the couple inspires you, any obstacles they may have faced and how they came through it together.  Tell us why they (or you) truly deserve a BELOVED Session to honor their relationship and their love story.

“Love must be as much a light,

as it is a flame.”

-Henry David Thoreau-

BELOVED … The Sessions … What Extraordinary Love Looks Like


What Extraordinary Love Looks Like


Portrait experiences for couples in love

Love is the opening of the heart …

the welcoming of your beloved.

BELOVED is an invitation to couples to experience the richness within their relationship.

Based on the vision of Jesh de Rox, BELOVED sessions are a remembrance of what is important – they are a celebration of love.

"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years." -Simone Signoret

BELOVED is “…inviting a space between people where the walls dissolve, the connections between them surge, and the truth we most often keep under close guard is instead given freely.”  – Jesh de Rox

Beloved is a remembrance of what is important. A celebration of love.

BELOVED is … seeing each other perfectly and discovering, or rediscovering, the love that exists.

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." -Zora Neale Hurston

BELOVED is … digging deep internally;  reaching a real experience that is filled with serious, honest emotion.

"The quiet mutual gaze of a trusting husband and wife is like the first moment of rest or refuge from a great weariness or a great danger." -George Eliot

BELOVED is … intended to put the couple in a moment of true emotion and personal exploration.

"When your heart speaks, take good notes." -Judith Campbell

BELOVED is … powerful.  Some sessions may be light and joyful, while others may be intense and deep.  You may walk away from your session feeling refreshed and carefree, or you may feel more connected and deeply rooted in your love and your relationship. And some sessions may experience all of these things.

"You can as easily love without trusting as you can hug without embracing." -Robert Brault

BELOVED is … experiential photography that leads you on a journey of discovery … of yourself … of your loved one … of your relationship.

Love is the opening of the heart ... the welcoming of your beloved.

The vision for the BELOVED movement:  “BELOVED is the belief that as photographers we have the ability to touch the world one relationship at a time.  Instead of reflecting the surface, we become an invitation to those we work with to experience the richness within them.  BELOVED is a remembrance of what’s most important and a celebration of love.” – Jesh de Rox

Whether you are dating, engaged, have been married five days or 50 years … whatever the situation, you are in love, and we would like to help you celebrate that love.  Couples often feel guarded and offer strained smiles at first, but we love that moment of complete openness when clients relax into the session, let their guards down and let us capture their hearts and souls – the true essence of their relationship – when they open their eyes and see the person for the unique beauty they possess.

“Love isn’t finding a perfect person.

It’s seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”

~Sam Keen~

 If you are interested in scheduling a BELOVED session with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We would love to help you tell your love story.  Please keep in mind, this is not your “typical photo session” – you will need to plan to spend at least two to three hours of time for the session itself.  Also, children and pets are wonderful, but we recommend scheduling a family session at a later time to incorporate them in your images as this can be an intense session.  We want you to be able to focus wholly and completely on each other to get the most out of your session.  We will walk beside you on a journey through smiles, laughter and tears in your relationship as we capture those moments in priceless images for you to enjoy in years to come.

"Trust is letting go of needing to know all the details before you open your heart." -Author Unknown

So, just who is this session suited for?  If you are in a committed relationship, this may be the perfect session for you.  Are you recently engaged?  This would make a great session for your engagement portraits – and we can even design a unique, custom signature book to use at your reception.  Are you recently married or celebrating a one-year anniversary?  What better way to extend the honeymoon than with a BELOVED session?  Perhaps your marriage is a few more years down the path in its journey … rekindle the romance with this intimate session.  Maybe you’re even in the process of putting your relationship back together and recommitting yourselves to continue your journey … a BELOVED session may help you revisit the things in your mate that you fell in love with in the beginning, or it may help tear down the walls that are built when a soul feels wounded.  And just maybe you’re approaching a 25th or 50th anniversary (or something in between) … by all means you deserve to celebrate the love that has stood the test of time and been an inspiration to others around you!  But whatever the situation, don’t wait to schedule your session … find a reason to celebrate now!  Even if you aren’t engaged or married, but you are in a committed relationship, this could still be a great session for you!

We would love to talk with you.  Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation to get more details about the BELOVED sessions, to find out if this is something you’d be interested in and dedicated to, and to schedule your session.  We will help you decide the perfect location(s) and can assist you in wardrobe selection if needed.

“It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence

that we can finally hear the whispers of truths

that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking

on the doorsteps of our hearts.”

~K.T. Jong~


Portrait experiences for couples in love

BELOVED … The Concept And My Little Wooden Box



The Surprise in the Little Wooden Box


“God hides things by putting them all around us.”

~Author Unknown ~

Such was the experience I had recently in my own front yard.  I never cease to be amazed at how God can shape and reshape our thought process, and how ordinary days get presented to us wrapped in the most colorful ribbons when we think we’re only opening up an ordinary paper bag.

The early part of last year I started out on a brief photo session hoping to find an adequately spring-ish spot or two to showcase a new treasure I’d received – my BELOVED Field Guide . . . a simply elegant box with the words artfully etched into the lid and tied up neatly with a raffia bow.  I’m thinking, “Okay, I need something green and flowery and exquisite to be a suitable background for the little gems held within this wooden box”.  I had just read every word printed on every card inside my newly acquired “treasure box”, and I could hardly wait to find the “appropriate” setting to convey the beauty and joy, the excitement and inspiration, and even the tears of understanding that were tucked into a seemingly simple little wooden box.

So I set out on a little personal photo assignment to find the “perfect” spot.  Thinking I would find something green and in celebratory bloom, I found my pansies that had bravely lasted through winter.  “Hmmm, these will work for a start”, I thought to myself as I worked with this spot and then with that angle to find the “right” light and the “right” bloom.

The beauty of love ...

A few minutes later I walked to the flower bed at the base of the pecan tree where the crocus were beginning to bloom.  Again, I’d work with the changing light and the breeze toppling over the box to find just the right vantage point.

The newness of love ...

After exhausting that location, I stood up and looked around to survey the front yard . . . the Bradford Pear trees were just starting to bud but weren’t yet blooming . . . the rose bushes were starting to yield just the first bits of tender, green leaves . . . and the oak trees were still quite bare.  What to do?  What to do?

The light would not be too long from fading, and I wanted to try to get a few more images.  I walked over to one of the oak trees and circled around it slowly, noticing the textures of the aged bark and lichen along with the lightfall.  I sat the box down, cradled on a tree root, and snapped a few images.  I adjusted my angle and position and snapped a few more.  Then, just as I was about to call it a wrap to head back in the house to see what I had, it was almost as if something spoke to me and said, “Love isn’t always sweet-scented flowers in full bloom . . . loves goes through many stages – just like this tree.  Through years and years of growing and weathering the seasons and the storms, this tree has reached upwards of 30 or 40 feet, and the expanse of its roots are at least that deep.  True love weathers many seasons as well, and often survives a myriad of storms – if nurtured properly, the roots of that relationship will take hold and create a nourishing foundation for that relationship, much like the tree, that goes deeper than we can see with the human eye”.  I stood there for a few moments, letting that thought sink into my soul, thinking over the other things I had noticed in the yard.

“While the beginning of a journey together certainly deserves celebration, as the

journey continues, each additional step is an achievement worth celebrating –

just as much, if not more.”

~Jesh de Rox -“The Dream”/BELOVED Field Guide~

The strength, endurance and depth of love ...

Then I remembered the rose bush, just starting to send out its first tender leaves…

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns;

I am thankful that thorns have roses.”

~Alphonse Karr~

Again I did my little “photography tango” … walking to one side of the bush and then the other … bending down to my knees and stretching up onto my tip-toes.  I’d lay the box gently upon one branch and then try another, careful not to damage the bush or any of its tender, new growth.  As I snapped a few images at my “new” location, I pondered how much relationships can be like rose bushes – love, at its best, can rival the beauty of any rose in its full-bloom glory;  but there are occasional “thorns” that have to be dealt with, too.  The thorns may come in a variety of obstacles, but the successful relationships thrive on the gratitude of being thankful that the thorn bush has roses, rather than dwelling on the presence of the thorns.

Rejoicing because the thorn bushes have roses

The Bradford Pear trees were my next stop.  Just barely beginning to bud, they held the promise of the coming spring.  The pear blossom has long been a symbol of hope and of lasting friendship since the Victorian era.  At weddings, it symbolizes generosity and hope for the new life of a marrying couple.  In English poetry, the pear blossom is a delicate or fragile strength.  “Hope” … “friendship” … “generosity” … “delicate” … “fragile” … “strength” …  a loving, growing relationship is the embodiment of each of these things.  The budding pear blossoms would be yet another “perfect” setting for my new “treasure box”.

The promise of love ...

Just before shutting the camera off, I walked back to the oak tree where my small journey of “discovery” began.  I had already been given so much in just a matter of a few minutes, but yet I selfishly wanted just one more image … a parting moment to relish in my thoughts … one more chance for that voice to speak to me … and I got it.  I placed the little wooden box at the base of the tree again, in a slightly different location of one of its branching roots.  I adjusted … I moved the box … I stood up … I bent down … and had almost just the right set up.  Almost.  This one little dried leaf stood in the way.  So I moved it.  Then I noticed the edge of a small piece of bark … I had just reached out to move it, too, and I stopped in mid-movement.  I pulled my hand back and put it on my camera.  For a moment, the thought came to me that relationships aren’t perfect.  People in relationships aren’t perfect.  However, two people in a loving relationship, supporting each other through the buds and the thorns and the storms, rejoicing in it’s moments of full-bloom glory, and standing strong against the winds of time … that’s true beauty … even with its imperfections.  Why did I feel compelled to make this last scene pristine and “perfect”?  Most of our lives are far from pristine, and it’s the couple who can look past those imperfections and find beauty in the unrehearsed, unpretentious “naturalness” of their lives and their love that will also stand the test of time and find beauty in less-than-perfect surroundings.

Love ... unrehearsed, unpretentious


 In these moments of life,

may our eyes be blessed to see

with depth what matters most.

May our hearts to discover love

be stronger than our fears.

May we be compassionate with ourselves

and those around us, remembering we are

all in stages of growth.

~Jesh de Rox~

BELOVED Field Guide