Lens-Artists Challenge: One Single Flower

Lens-Artists Challenge #101: One Single Flower

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: One Single Flower

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #100: Pause (...long enough to quiet the noise…)

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purple iris

I find this to be a congruous set of challenges happening in the same week. In particular, V.J.’s subtext to the topic of Pause…about quieting the noise. There has been way too much noise for me lately – on a personal level – more than I can often handle and process like I did “before.” To focus during the day. To sleep at night.

At the same time, I recognize the need for information, education – and change. All the noise urgently and justifiably vies for our collective public attention simultaneously. Ignited by fear. Anger. Not being heard. Not being properly informed.

I have no answers for any of this. I am just one single person among millions who are worried, tired and anxious. Many have more concerns than I do. Many have less.

raindrop flower

Let’s try to get out of our own heads and pause. Take time to listen and hear and read what others have to say. With open minds. Whether it be the scientists with news about the pandemic and what to do next. Or our fellow citizens protesting for justice and racial equality. Or even the politicians who will shape policy – one way or the other. Let’s reflect. Reach within for empathy. And…again…listen.

And…make a commitment to get out and vote when the time comes.

What does this have to do with One Single Flower?

A mass of flowers draws my attention briefly. After a while they blend in together. In the relative quiet of the walking path.

But the single flower…the one tiny flower among many? That’s what stops me.

yellow flower

The one all alone “out standing in its field” as if to say Look at me! I’m important too!

lone daisy

The one single flower…making itself known.

 

Pause to Listen

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #77: Pause

As the world bustles, and we rush to meet deadlines, check off to-do lists, and fulfill those party invites, find a moment to pause, look, and listen. Share a photograph, thought, or inspiration.

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It’s been a busy week. Next week – with Christmas in the middle – will be even busier.

However, I realized the need to…pause…in my usual December madness of holiday planning, shopping, wrapping, card writing – and all that leads up to the 25th.

This past Tuesday I flew to Washington DC to attend my daughter’s commencement ceremony at the Univ. of Maryland College of Education. Where she received a doctoral degree in Education Policy. How could I not go? Even if it was the week before Christmas. She worked extremely hard and I am so happy for her. Oh…and proud too.

Traveling is one of my least favorite activities as I’ve gotten older…especially in winter weather. So imagine my rising anxiety level on Tuesday with the snow falling at a steady clip as I rode the bus to the airport. No surprise when I found out (after boarding) that the plane was delayed.

I sat and waited….with a look out the window.

plane snow
First look

Two hours passed.

rain plane
Two hours later

All the while hoping the flight wouldn’t be cancelled.

rain plane window

My only choice…trapped in row 14 for 4 hours…was to pause, look and listen…

…but mostly to think…about the ceremony I would attend the following day, along with my son-in-law and grandson.

This would be the last of many graduations I’d attended for the little girl who grew up so fine and fast. Who loved school and learning from the age of 3. Passionate and driven by a desire to make this a better world for everyone. Not just for people like her…who are blessed with opportunity and privilege.

She was also the commencement student speaker.
I told my grandson, snuggled in my lap…Mama will be making a speech!
Why? he asked.
Because she has important things to say! I answered.

speech

She proposed a different approach for those graduates entering their postgraduate lives – the flip side of talking and sharing their voices…

….Pause. Close your mouth, calm your mind, allow for silence. Cultivate humility. Acknowledge the limits of your education and engage in the practice that scholars and advocates call “radical listening.” Community organizer and activist Chanel Lewis describes radical listening as “intentionally quieting your internal voice and judgments thereby offering your full mental space to the speaker and suspending what you presume to know about someone and their experience in our shared society.”…Radical listening, I argue, is a crucial skill to help move our world toward greater justice….
Dr. Kristin Sinclair

This is just a snippet of her three minute speech, but it caught my attention.

Pause.

You don’t hear that advice very often.
Usually it’s…Speak Up. Talk. Be heard.

Pause and listen…listen without judgment.

Perhaps that is radical.

But I like it.

It gave me much to think about on the plane the next day…before returning home to my holiday to-do list.

plane sun
Flying back home