Here you go:

December Light

December 1st, 2011

Happy December! By the hardest, I’ve been holding myself back from thinking about December for a while — from thinking about the Christmas holidays. It IS hard. And not necessarily because the excitement is overwhelming, but because the busy-ness and preparations and schedule can be overwhelming. And because all the hullabaloo the holiday brings tends to encroach on my rest and my peace of mind sometimes.

Just before Thanksgiving, I was in the local Wal-Mart picking up items for Bug’s 5-year-old birthday party. I wanted to get a few extra gift items for him and also some “big brother” and “big sister” gifts for the other two. I think that’s when the impending holiday season hit me — right about the time I turned onto the toy aisle. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement, for sure. My mind immediately went into overload with the number of options for Christmas presents. I flittered from one item to the next thinking how one would love this or one would love that. My brain filled up with a low-grade panic because I didn’t yet have a “plan” for getting Christmas presents or doing teacher gifts or baking goodies or putting up decorations. I had to shake my head at myself right there on aisle 17. I had to tell myself to snap out of it and focus on the birthday at hand.

That’s when I decided that I wanted Christmas to be different this year. Sometimes I over-plan or over-work or over-schedule myself right into a serious case of Bah Humbug or at the least a case of wanting a long winter’s nap during this season. Sadly, there have been times when it made me happy to see the festivities come to an end.

With changes and challenges and the plethora that comes with mommyhood and designerhood, I found myself perhaps dreading the holiday season. But, here’s the thing. I’m a celebration-junkie. I like to celebrate. I like to create and enjoy traditions that celebrate and elevate the simple splendor of everyday life — and especially the simple splendors of a Christmas Christ child on a bed of hay. I don’t want that spirit to be dampened in my heart, in my home, in my life. I don’t want Christmas to get so lost in a sea of preparations that I miss the opportunity to see it, much less celebrate it.

The true celebration of Christmas has the uncanny ability to bring a unique light to the winter of life. From a miraculous child and astonished herdsmen to questioning sages and a guiding star, the story of Christmas can bring clarity from it’s sheer simplicity and humility. This month so often sheds light, a pure and clear light. One that opens up our eyes of wonder. The wonder that makes us step outside our tired thinking to believe in possibilities. The wonder that makes us curious. The wonder that gives us courage to follow the light set before us. The wonder that makes us seek our own light found in the unlikeliest of places.

So, I’m starting this December with my guard up. So that I can keep my heart open to the season’s light. I’m guarding my time so that I can choose to focus on the best things and activities and people. I want my children to know this celebration, not just their busy and frazzled mommy. I want them to see this light and wonder for themselves. And I want to see the light myself. And wonder.

I hope YOUR days, this December are “merry and bright.” Feel free to click and download this month’s desktop wallpaper calendar or iPhone/iPad wallpapers. I’m also beginning a 25 Days of Light posting series over at my Plop! blog to share photos of Christmas light. Feel free to click by!

 

 

© Haley Montgomery

November Bounty

November 3rd, 2011

Happy November! It seems almost impossible that 2011 is almost over, but here we are. Last weekend my kids and I visited our family farm and enjoyed some time exploring outdoors. As we were gathering leaves and rocks and other treasures, I was observing the light and the colors. Fall is a random time in the South. It’s random in that you never know exactly when it’s going to hit and what response Nature might make. The typical Fall colors and signature blue sky spread themselves along the landscape from late September well into January sometimes. For this trip, I was noticing the clarity of the colors. The blue sky was astonishingly blue at times. The greens were still quite vibrant in places. The yellows and reds and oranges were popping out in their appropriate tree species with a punch. I sometimes assume November will offer only the most sluggish of colors that are soon muddied out by an overwelming gray/brown neutral. Not so, as we begin the month this year! Even my own yard is ablaze with deep hues. Clear hues.

Clarity. It can be hard to come by sometimes — in colors and in living. As November has brought it’s clear hues this year, I’m also wondering what I’m willing to let it bring for my clarity of spirit. This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving. We focus on the blessings we find in the privilege of living. The bounty.

Bounty is clarifying. Taking the time to recognize the bounty around me pushes aside muddy thinking and muddy priorities. It focuses my attention on what matters. It keeps the main things (and people) in clearer focus. Bounty refuses to allow itself to be governed by regrets or have-nots. It requires that I see a full plate. It flies in the face of all the distractions that come with that battle in my mind. Am I really making progress? Am I really speaking? Am I really moving? Am I really living? Moving my attention to the bounty of each day and each experience helps me live that day and that experience will a full focus and a full heart. That’s my goal this November, and that’s the inspiration for this month’s wallpaper art. Enjoy for your desktop, iphone or ipad!

© Haley Montgomery

Hope Rises

September 11th, 2011

Courage remembered.
Faith undaunted.
Future alive.
Freedom flourishing.

September 11, 2011

 

 

 

 

© Haley Montgomery

Summer Daze

June 16th, 2011

It’s Summer time, and I don’t have anything profound to say about that fact. Nope. Summer just seems to defy profundity and position itself squarely in the camp of carefree. And, I guess that IS a little profound. Sometimes in the thick of real life, carefree is very elusive.

Who can’t smile at gumballs? Aren’t they the the epitome of instant sweet-filled and quickly-fleeting summertime carefree moments? I took the photo in this month’s desktop wallpaper image one Sunday afternoon earlier this month. That day, I did just what I imagine I did as a child on a summer weekend afternoon. I gazed at the scrumptious offerings inside a window, but was too drawn by the possibilities of the moment to stop and go inside. Summer daze gone by — when the endless opportunities of free time were almost overwhelming. And the absence of time constraints almost made me dizzy with possibilities.

I love that feeling. And, even though my constraints are a little more rigid in this grown-up June and July, I hope I can still capture a touch of that daze. Just a touch of that carefree heart peeking in the window, but too busy with loving life to bother with dropping in the coin. Enjoy my personal glimpse of summer, and feel free to download to use in your own devices. *wink*

© Haley Montgomery

April: In Defense of Rain

April 1st, 2011

Rain is just downright misunderstood sometimes. It’s true. It gets a bad rap quite often. Somehow it gets lumped with Mondays as the ultimate of downers. It gets the criticism for too much or too little, and everyone has his own opinion of that sliding scale. It seems it’s never just right with rain. It perpetually takes a backseat to the all-loving sunshine. We have trouble understanding it sometimes. And we have trouble seeing it clearly–especially when it’s pouring.

For much of this week we got an early taste of April showers, or at least the threat of showers, and I’ll admit I was quite grumpy about it. When you’ve been basking in the glow of sunny, warm days, the sudden shift to partly drizzly doesn’t sit well. And, the random downpour is even less inspiring. The weather outside had decided similarities to my inner climate where I’ve been feeling the metaphorical downpour in several areas of my life as well. You know the feeling. When your already full hands get a few more organizational or emotional or even physical balls to carry. When you start to notice the leakage in the culverts holding your heart together in that sane and safe place you call your own peace of mind. It’s been one of those kinds of weeks for me.

Today I finally began to relax and pull my hands off the plugs in all those suddenly noticeable holes in my thinking. Oddly enough, this shift in attitude happened right about the time the sun started to reappear in the skies outside. It was at that moment I realized that I have grass.

Yep. The wayward plot that was filled with brownish dormancy just a few days before–the one I call my front lawn– had suddenly sprouted new and vibrant shades of green. It sprouted a seeming multitude of blades. And, it sprouted another multitude of those purple thingies I wove into necklaces as a child, that unknown vine invading a few shrubs and a very nice crop of dandelions. Yes, I have what may charitably be described as growth.

Now, lest this somehow turn into another rain-bashing exaltation of the power of sunshine, let me say this: Rain makes things grow. This week it rained. And just like that, I have grass now. Granted, I have weeds too, but it looks like the grass may still be winning. Regardless, the lawn is actually green, and I wholeheartedly attribute that fact to a few sporadic downpours and an annoying number of drizzles. Blade or vine, Bermuda or dandelion, green is good in my book.

Here’s the thing. The opportunity to see what’s growing is a good thing, even when it’s weeds doing the growing. A pouring rain–you know, the kind that really soaks the earth–sometimes moves the much-needed process of new growth along. It brings those shoots lying dormant just under the surface right out in the open. And, whether the produce is weeds or choice blooms, at least it shows us what seeds have been planted. It shows us what’s inadvertently taken root and what’s fortunately blossoming. Only then can we know what needs to be pruned or cultivated more carefully.

It’s the same with the things we train our lives to hold, with the plots of soul we till. Whatever really soaks us, good or bad–whether it’s the blessing of a busy work schedule or the tipping point in some level of frustration–that pouring shows us our limits. It shows us our possibilities. It shows us what we want. It shows us what we need. It shows us where we flourish. It shows us where we need to cut back. It shows us where we need to fertilize. It shows us where we’re already prolific.

I love the photo in this month’s desktop wallpaper. It reminds me of that odd shift in perspective that can happen with rain, with our view of the showers that seem to erode the banks of our soul’s delicate balance. It reminds me of that moment when you take just one small step back from the downpour and are suddenly able to see a glimpse of what was only a confusing pattern of droplets before.

I think I see green.

[Feel free to click and download one of these for your desktop, phone or iPad. Enjoy!]

© Haley Montgomery

    Wander Here

    Thank you for seven years of encouragement and sharing this story. You can find Haley's current essays and design work at smallpondgraphics.com

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