A View From My Heart: Sunrise and Snow Cones

 

 

On a trip to Virginia Beach last December, I got up early and watched the sun rise.

sunrise virginia beach

I still think about how cool it was to sit on the dark beach and watch the sun peek above the horizon.

So when the hub and I went to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach last weekend

back bay national wildlife refuge

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

I realized I had the opportunity to see the sunrise at the beach again.

So I set my alarm, but when I woke up there was no yellow streaked sky. No fiery sun.

Just a whole lot of clouds.

And I was puzzled.

Sure I’ve seen lots of overcast days, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me that there could be clouds blocking the horizon at sunrise.

I don’t know why. Maybe because it was so spectacular last December, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

But there it was, a hazy, muted sky.

It was just different. And for a moment, kind of empty without the sun all up in my face.

And as I stood there I started to identify with that bit of emptiness, that difference.

Some days it’s really strange  to realize that in one year both of my kids left for school (the con of having 2 kids fifteen months apart), but then it’s not so strange, because while it’s oh so bittersweet to move on from that really great part of my life,

there’s still so much life as usual,

the work and the fun

and I’m learning a new routine, a new focus

and climbing mountains with my husband

humpback rock view_opt

 My view from Humpback Rock in the Blue Ridge mountains

And finding my heart can be in more than one place

fossil beach york river state park_opt

Fossil Beach at York River State Park 

And planning visits to see our kids in NYC and Colonial Williamsburg

family hike

And getting to see things from their point of view

And tasting new and surprising things

sno to go snowcones_opt

Snow cone + soft serve = Sno To G0 (in Williamsburg, VA)

(and realizing that in some situations you can eat the yellow snow.)

But most of all, I’m seeing that a different sunrise, can still be a pretty awesome view.

hazy sunrise virginia beach

A hazy, beautiful Virginia Beach morning

What view are you enjoying?

Happy Friday!

 

The State Fair: Things That Make You Go WHEE!

 

swings state fair VA_opt

 

Ferris wheel state fair_opt

 

flower Ferris wheel_opt

 No WHEE! here. Mum’s the word. 

 

jump state fair_optmodel horse state fair_opt

 Could not believe how close this um, real live*, horse let me get. WHEE!

 State fair foods_opt

No need to shell out big bucks on a trip to Europe–you can find it all here. WHEE!

Plus Twinx.

Twinkie + Twix + Bacon = ?????  Eat at own risk: WHEE?

BMX bike acrobatics_opt

 I’m pretty sure we used to do this in gym class.**

wind puppet_opt

 WHEE! 

What’s your favorite thing at the fair? Would you try a Twinx?

 

Happy first day of October!

*Not real. But a model horse, for sure.

** Okay so I was thinking about Dodge Ball. Far scarier.

Historic Weekends, an Empty Nest (and Overripe Bananas)

Last weekend was historic.

silly selfies Coleen Patrick_opt

 

We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (w/ silly selfies, because that’s how we roll)…

on the very same day that we took our youngest child to college.

*sigh*

Thomas Jefferson statue Williamsburg_opt

But seriously, we couldn’t be more proud.

He’s studying at Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater.

(Although, apparently, it’s cooler to mention alumnus, Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show)

This part wasn’t easy though. 

college goodbye empty nest_opt

We knew it wouldn’t be, having done the goodbye thing with our daughter only 364 days before.

*sigh*

untethered colonial williamsburg_opt

This pic sums up the strange mix of emptiness and freedom

I think we all felt (not that anyone is a horse in this scenario).

But the whole leaving my youngest at college didn’t really hit me until the middle of the weekend,

at 3am to be exact,

I sat up in bed, in the middle of a the dark hotel room

startled from a dream where I was in a room with doors

running around trying to lock them.

Unsettling.

(Before you think my dreams are visionary, let me add that there was also a gecko in an envelope in there somewhere.)

The next day, after one more round of parent orientation, we stopped at a park

and rented a jon boat.

Hub fished.

I read.

oar boat drifting _opt

We drifted for a couple of hours.

Wrapped up in beginnings and endings

tangled roots growing toward sun_opt

we let our emotions untangle a bit. 

chain heart drifting on boat_opt

And then we headed home. Just the two of us.

*sigh*

But home comforted

colonial shops williamsburg_opt

and reminded us there’s so much more ahead

(and that the bananas on the kitchen counter were going to keep on ripening no matter what)

homemade banana bread care packages

Which was perfect for baking some banana bread for care packages. 🙂

 

What’s your favorite thing to put in a care package (or to receive)? Anything historic happening in your neck of the woods?

Happy Friday!

The Strength that Lies Beneath

At some point during the car trips of my childhood, my sister (the one who’s closest to me in age), would invariably stop to point out the creepiest, oldest, abandoned house on the side of the road and say,

 

There’s your dream house.

old barn_opt
I’d wrinkle my nose. We’d laugh. Then resume singing, You’re a Grand Old Flag or the oh so monotonous, Five Hundred Miles, until inevitably I’d poke her in the ribs and say,

Look! It’s your future home.

old barn 2_opt

It was a funny dig. A kinda two steps forward, two steps back exchange. The sisterly cha cha that we danced many times over the years we lived together.

Today, I still look for those houses. Still smile.

Sometimes I think it’s strange to smile at something so dilapidated.

So abandoned.

This week, after hearing how Robin Williams died, I found myself flipping through old journals, looking for the poem I wrote when I was 18. The one where I tried to understand why my sister had attempted suicide (the first time).

It’s an angry poem.

Why did you try to steal the time when we were little?

Now I’m almost embarrassed at my anger. Did I have any compassion? I hug you anyway.

I’m nervous talking/blogging about this subject. I feel it’s not my story to tell. My sister and I haven’t talked about this. Not now, not ever, that I remember. We (as a family) just didn’t. Even though all of us struggled with our own darkness.

On the other hand, I’ve made it a point to talk about depression and suicide with my children. I’ve even probably gone a bit overboard at times, carting my thirteen year old daughter off to a therapist when she dramatically screamed, I hate you, I want to die.

Hey she was my first teenager…and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Depression can be dangerous. It’s dark, often hidden. Oh and how it thrives in those secluded corners.

Depression I understand. That’s part of my story too. But it’s hard to talk about.

It’s a disease. There shouldn’t be shame attached to something that happens with our brain chemistry. Hey, did anyone shun me when I blew up the sulfur in chem lab my junior year? No, it was a mistake. Even the intimidating Sister Dolores didn’t yell at me.

It sucks to feel your lightness abandoning you. And it feels even worse when you think that because it’s in your thoughts, you ought to be responsible for pushing that darkness out.

Ask for help.

My sister and I may have joked about those dilapidated, abandoned houses. But maybe now I smile because I see them as hope. There’s a strength that lies beneath.

And they’re still standing.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

xo

.

Climb Every Mountain with Courage (and Cookies)

 dreams thoreau_opt

Three years ago today I crossed the bridge from blog reader to blogger.

 

covered bridge between Vermont and New Hampshire

Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, Vermont (and New Hampshire)

 

I was scared, but I had a plan when I published my first post, There’s No Place Like the Prairie.

I wanted to create my author-ly space here on the internet (aka author platform),

A place to hang my quirky creative brand hat

not that I could define it at the time

baby Coleen Patrick bonnet_opt

Mini me wearing one of my first quirky hats 

 

Oh and I didn’t have expectations

or, if I did, I didn’t know what publishing my thoughts, my books, my photos (hey an audience that doesn’t require a family room and a slide projector!) would actually feel like.

Some of my 1,095 Hey I’m a writer! days were pretty awesome

flower garden Trapp lodge_opt

Flower garden at Trapp Family Lodge (the family that inspired The Sound of Music!!)

Stowe, Vermont 

droopy flower rain_opt

Others, kinda droopy. Seriously.

 

I like how Kate over at 4amwriter summed up the droop-tastic feeling:

“The bottom line, I discovered recently, was that I never told myself what I would do when I got rejections. I knew I’d get them. What I didn’t know is that they’d lay me out flat. And because I didn’t set myself a specific battle plan, it was easy to turn tail and run.” ~4amwriter

 

Enter courage (well, after some tears, some dessert, and a perusal of the classifieds).

Trapp Lodge Vermont_opt

The Trapp Family lodge in Stowe, Vermont makes an impressive first impression.

 

Okay, so courage doesn’t always make a dramatic entrance. Some days courage is one word, one tiny doodle, one smile.

And some days it’s just not quitting.

The creative life needs courage.

Our heads are not just in the clouds, we’re weaving fluffy, silver lined couture garments.

Right?

Yeah. Vulnerability is NOT EASY.

In fact, the image from my blog that has been pinned the most is this one:

pinterest courage quote

 

Oh and my mom’s cream cheese cookie recipe is not trailing far behind.

Some of you may have guessed barns.

red barn Stowe Vermont_opt

Barn nestled on mountain overlooking the village of Stowe.

By the way, thanks to Clay Watkins for tweeting me about his own barn finds!

 

But I’ll take courage and cookies (and supportive friends like YOU).

They’re great companions for climbing mountains.

 

Stowe Vermont mountains_opt

Even if you can’t quite make out the mountain. Yet.

 

Climb every mountain, 
Ford every stream, 
Follow every rainbow, 
‘Till you find your dream.

~Rodgers & Hammerstein, The Sound of Music

 

How are you mustering courage, or climbing mountains? Or just tell me your thoughts on cookies. I’d love to know.

Happy Weekend!

 Coleen xo

 

Summer at a Snail’s Pace

Snails Crabtree Falls

Meet my new guru!

 

 Virginia waterfall hikes

We met last weekend at Crabtree Falls in George Washington National Forest.

 

Just in time, because tomorrow marks the summer solstice here in the Northern hemisphere.

For me, June has always meant it’s time to slow down a bit. Maybe because the majority of my years have been defined by school and summer break. I realized today, that there’s only been a handful of summers that were not sandwiched between school years (either for me or my kids).

Anyway, it’s summer, and I’m back in snail mode.

snail cllose up photo macro

 

Snail mode is not really a physical pace (although it can be). Here it’s more of a mind-set.

 

brain out to lunch tweet

 

I’m going to be less concerned with the overwhelming, the never-ending measuring stick, and more in tune with

family

nature

road trips

reading

summer book crush Collage

The Art of Chasing Normal and dozens of great reads are only .99 this weekend! Just click on the image to get to the Summer Book Crush site. 

 

snail reading doodle

doodling

joy

intuition

Oh and forget perfectionism. I’ve got more important passengers.

watermelon passenger

So yummy pretty.

 

And I’m taking a deep breath of gratitude for where I am right now.

snail macro photo

What does summer (or the change of seasons) mean to you?

Happy Weekend!

 

 

 

 

Photo Essay: The Time Machine on My Front Porch

love who you are owl drawing

kindergarten and first grade G

 first day school photography

first day of school photography ideas

 

photography ideas first day of school

first day of school photography idea

school photography ideas

first day school photography ideas

K through senior photography ideas

 

For more proof of my porch time machine, check out my daughter in last year’s post: The Quickening: From Baby to High School Graduate in Sixty Seconds.

happy graduation

Now I’ve got two happy graduates. 🙂

What’s your best advice for graduates?

Happy Monday!

 

 
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Just A Little More Time Please

For the last few months I’ve been working on a project that I really want to finish.

I’m frustrated with myself, because I was supposed to be done in March.

i love to draw

Back to the drawing board.

Oh, I’ve got a bunch of excuses reasons why I’m not done. For one, this project is pushing at the limits of my technological skills.

I took a Photoshop class this spring, but I still have some boundary stretching to do in the tech department.

 

photoshop learning fun

A Grand Illusion

I’d say, don’t try this at home, but you can if you’ve got Photoshop!

Anyway, I’m not done. But all around me things are finishing.

Today was my baby’s son’s last day of high school. It was also my last official day as a parent volunteer at his school.

high school mascot dragon

I sold school t-shirts, but they never made me wear the dragon costume. 🙂

Two days ago I made the 4,449th cheese sandwich (approximately) to go in my kid’s lunch box.

For the last time.

Because a Lunch Box Provided By Your Mom is not one of the choices for his college meal plan (I checked).

For the last nine months, there’s been his last cross country meet, last all district (and this year all state) chorus concerts, last music awards picnic, last piano lesson and recital, last prom, and lots of senior events that continue the You’re Finished theme.

But I’m not finished.

Not yet.

I just need a little more time.

 

Are you checking stuff off your To Do List? Tell me, I’d love some inspiration. Or a hug. Or a donut. And speaking of donuts…

donuts in richmond VA

Happy National Donut Day!!

xo

 

 

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Brave as a Dancing Chicken

braver stronger smarter_opt

 

Sometimes I’m a chicken.

In college, I actually narrowed down my choice of majors to those that didn’t require public speaking 101.

Bawk.

 

quaker steak chicken mascot

 

 

That chicken with the big grin is my 14 year old nephew. In public, he’s mostly a quiet kid.

But it’s interesting what happens when you put a quiet kid in a chicken suit.

 

 

Braver than he thinks? Maybe.

I could’ve used a chicken suit a couple of weeks ago when I spoke on a panel about the creative life during an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) event.

At least just to start out. 🙂

 

 writer's panel SCBWI_opt

Because I was having an out of body experience nervous. I can’t really remember anything I said, but hey, I did it.

(I’m pretty sure I spoke from the heart , it was practically in my throat anyway).

I was also nervous about the authors fair and book signing. But that turned out to be fun.

 

meeting authors

 

I met national book award winner, Kathryn Erskine. She’s super sweet. She signed a book for me and then even came over to my table and bought one of my books!!

 

book  fair_opt (I just realized I picked a table next to the fire alarm. Panic much?)

 

The book fair wasn’t so scary. Writers (and readers) may be a quiet bunch, but everyone was friendly.

 local-authors-fair_opt

Sharon Rainey, Richard L. Towers, Nancy Hannan

 

I chatted with authors. I signed some books. I’m pretty sure I didn’t squawk or bawk once.

I’m braver than I thought.

Even without a chicken costume.

 

How are you feeling brave (or strong, or smart) this week? Would you have more courage dressed in a chicken suit? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know!

Happy Monday!