Beyond the Garden Gate Photography In Review

2018 Review through the Lens: D6-D13

”When we build, let us think that we build forever.”

-John Ruskin

Boy…has this been a week. I don’t know if any of you feel like this right now, but it’s hard for me to tell if I’m coming or going. Every day has been packed, and this season always seems to culminate in a conundrum of my kids going off the rails coupled with the heightened anxiety of “getting everything done” and, oh yeah, I almost forgot, a little joy splashed on top.

As I’ve not been able to find any time to write over the past week, I’ve kind-of fallen behind on my December Photo Challenge. As someone who finds accomplishment and productivity comforting, I was feeling a little down about that. But I’m also that same someone who loves to pull the long thorn out of my side, punch a hole in the blunt end and, from that, create a needle to thread for use in a more purposeful way. So my slack over the past few days, I decided, has actually given rise to the opportunity to share some favorite photos that I was struggling with as I went back through my files.

Remember my spider from D2 of the Photo Challenge? Well, on that same lake trip I photographed this diligent little Titmouse, feverishly working to build a nest down inside one of the posts of our dock. This little bird literally worked on his project for hours, flying away and gathering items (from who knows where), returning back again and again to dive down into the hole. It was one of my favorite captures of the year, but I just couldn’t decide which single shot photo to post. Problem solved. Now I GET to post all 8 of my favorites so that you can see his entire process. Thorn…meet needle.

It got me to thinking, too. That’s what I’ve been doing this past week. That’s what we’re all doing…every week, every day, every minute, in almost everything that we do. If you are purposeful in life, you are building (just like my little friend here). When I meet with my son’s teacher about working to correct a behavior issue and we follow through with a plan, I’m building…building in him. When I teach my toddler how to peel the slices on an orange or top a pizza for the first time, I’m building…building in her. When I counsel someone who is struggling in a relationship, or I give someone a gift just to say “thank you,” or I pay for the person’s coffee in line behind me, or I take time to have lunch with my husband and just talk, or I volunteer teaching kids how to grow something in a garden, or I approach my clients with thoughtful advice, I’m building…building in all of them.

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about how the reality is that 90% of my life isn’t even about me. That’s how we get off in the weeds as human beings. We live lives consumed with the lie that life is really about “us.” It’s not. It’s about the sticks and the twigs and the shreds of paper and the bits of fluff that we desposit here and there, along with the string that somehow ties something together within someone else. It’s when you begin to view yourself for the builder that you are, that you truly begin to live.

So press onward, my builder friends. Just keeping flying and collecting and depositing in the places and in the people that need you most. For, after all, life itself first begins with the nest.

All the best,

A. J.

All Content Photos by Amanda J. Schulz

[Check out Day 5 of the December Photo Challenge here.]

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