Make Room for the New

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! 
Mark Twain

Spring has come, and the sunshine reveals the dust that has been gathering all winter long. If too much dust has settled on your things, there’s probably dust settling on your life as well. If your living space is feeling cluttered and confined, it’s time to move, clean, and clear out to make room for something new. 

One particularly effective way to make your life simpler is to clear your living space of clutter, creating an atmosphere of peaceful calm instead of chaos and disorder. As you clean and clear, decide what you want to keep and where you want to keep it. Release those things that no longer serve you. 

Simple surroundings take advantage of clean lines and natural beauty. Instead of a welter of small knicknacks, consider replacing them with an elegant bonsai plant or a single treasured antique artistically displayed. Timeless simplicity soothes the spirit, creating an oasis of calm in a busy life. 

This holds true not only for your external home, but also for the inner heart. As you sort and rearrange furnishings, you can do the same with your thoughts. Do a little housekeeping of the soul. Sweep out old prejudices and throw open the windows of your mind to receive the fresh breezes of the new things God wants to bring into your life. 

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what. 
John Galsworthy

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm. 
John Muir

The deep roots never doubt spring will come. 
Marty Rubin

I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. 
Pablo Neruda 

Right now I’m in the midst of sorting and cleaning and creating something new. I’m working on an upgraded website with more bells and whistles. I have also been out taking photos. Spring comes and goes so fast in Nashville that you have to catch it before it passes. I include a gorgeous photo of the fragrant Star Magnolia, which comes in early spring and can be especially fleeting if a cold snap happens. I made it out to Cheekwood just in time to see the magnolias in magnificent perfect jewel-like bloom. Three days later they were all toast, thanks to another cold front coming down from the north. Now the tender spring flowers have passed and we’re moving into warmer temperatures. My photos will remind me of those perfect spring days when magnolia, tulip, daffodil, cherry, apple, and other spring blossoms emerged after a long cold winter. 

I recently started writing columns on Linked In that help you treat work as spiritual practice. Here is the link to my posts.

I also just added a Facebook Author page. Come and “like” me and enjoy this new way to connect.

More good things are in the works. It’s good to be back writing this blog again.

Give Yourself a Spring Bouquet

Crabapple Spring Returns 

Crabapple Spring Returns 

The earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is something so delightfully enchanting about treating yourself to fresh flowers. They are not “useful” in a utilitarian sense, but they feed the soul’s desire for beauty and bounty. The unfolding of a rose is a miracle, a living reminder that the life force unfolds from within. Lilies are fragrant, filling the room with sensuous sweetness. Sunflowers are the symbols of high summer and phototropic joy, like sunny smiling faces. Dogwood white against forest brown, deep blue dwarf larkspur, and tiny pink and yellow spring wildflowers make the earth new again as the season of growth begins after a long cold winter. The fierce red “I AM” of a tulip, the tender petal pink of a rosebud, or clouds of white crabapple blossoms at their peak of perfection remind me that life is ever new, every lovely, and ever surprising.

One way to give yourself the gift of a lasting bouquet is to take pictures. Petals fall and seasons change, but the beauty lives on long after the flower has gone to compost. I love to take pictures of flowers, capturing a moment as they bask in the light. A spray of plum blossoms caught in setting sun and reflecting the light as if they are living lamps, or the shadowed petals of an unfolding rose that creates a geometry of grace—every photo is a different expression of floral grace. I prefer capturing the blossoms in natural light, and have learned to look for nature’s “spotlight” for each scene. 

Much depends on the camera as well as the lighting. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to capture a bit of lasting beauty. I still use my old Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot camera, and because I have used it for so many years, I have learned its ways more deeply. I have learned more of the ways of flowers from it. One day soon I will be investing in cameras with more bells and whistles, but something tells me that I will want to keep my old camera available, even if it is held together with masking tape (actually, it IS held together with masking tape, as the battery compartment no longer stays closed on its own, thanks to the camera being dropped once or twice). That old camera is a friend, another eye that helps me see what I would otherwise miss. Almost every photo on my website has been taken on my trusty little digital camera. I revel in the bouquets the camera and I create together. 

Timing is a big factor. Capturing the peak of the blossom or the perfect lighting is an essential part of the magic. I have a sunset view and at certain times of year the light of the lowering sun comes through the kitchen door and creates a space of light on my counter. I provide a background with a few simple props and place the opening rose in front of the complementary backdrop. Then I just chase the light as the sunset evolves. At other times of year my den skylight sends light down from on high, and my flowers bask in its spotlight for a few minutes of staged beauty. 

Best of all is chasing the light and beauty outdoors. I go to local parks, botanical gardens, or a favorite lake in blossom time, and the magic unfolds under the ever-changing weather conditions. It’s such a joy to capture the perfection of spring blossom. I have learned to love the light as it dances with the flowers, caressing them with passing splendor. Light makes love with the earth, bathing it in beauty, coaxing the plants and flowers into being. The clouds and shadows reveal and hide; the early morning or waning afternoon casts a subtle glow that full noon is too harsh to reveal. Sunlight through the petals reveal secrets of the flower, offering a sense of another world more luminous and whole, more perfect in its glowing beauty than earth can fully bear. 

Spring comes and goes fast in the South, as a warm day can open everything so quickly, and send it past its peak even more swiftly. Pacific Northwest spring blossoms linger in the grey coolness, but the southern sun can shorten the bloom time with a few days of unexpected heat. If I come upon a scene of peak blossom and glorious light, I take as many pictures as I can. I must capture the moment because it will not come again. Every year it’s different: same tree, same location, same spring blossom—yet never the same, and the photos are always different, day-to-day, season to season, moment by moment. Just like life: you can never repeat the moment, so keep your eyes wide open and your heart ready to receive. One day the cherry blossom is white. Two days later, it has deepened to pink. One day the crabapple buds are pink and red with promise, two days later they are a blanket of open white blossoms covering the tree. Two more days and they are petals falling and gone, swept away by the wind as a thunderstorm rushes in with a cleansing cold front. 

The most artfully luminous photos become icons for me. One or two photos from a session will stand out because of a bit of light and form captured in random perfection. They represent something more than just the flower itself. It is as if there are more dimensions reflected in their beauty. As I have grown in my artistry, I have found certain ways of looking at the composition of flower and light to create something much more than a mere snapshot of something pretty. The photo itself is like a flower opening my eyes to another layer of beauty and meaning. For me, contemplating flowers has become a way of contemplating the mystery of life. 

Whether I take a series of rose photos in afternoon’s fading light or go hunting at my favorite spring haunts for blossoms in the peak of their perfection, I go with an open heart as well as an open eye. Give yourself the gift of fragrant blossom and allow it to remind you of the inner dimension of the soul. A digital work of photo art, a painting that expresses your creative response to beauty, or just a lovely flower to scent your day and bringing beauty to your home; all of these remind you that eternity is calling to you through the lattices and windows of time and space. A big bouquet, a single rose, or wildflowers gathered from the side of the road—say it with flowers and take joy in nature’s sweet pleasures.

• Stop at a flower stand and pick your favorite bouquet. Now buy it and take it home and enjoy it. Or take your digital camera and go for a ramble in fields, forest, or garden. Take delight in the floral bounty that is always blooming for you. 

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance.
John Ruskin

Once or twice I have been asked what the peacock is “good for”—a question which gets no answer from me because it deserves none.
Flannery O’Connor

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers. 

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

Beauty is reality seen with the eyes of love.
Evelyn Underhill

I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
George Washington Carver

Spring—an experience in immortality.
Henry David Thoreau

Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.
Ellis Peters

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime.
Martin Luther

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light.
The glory and freshness of a dream.
William Wordsworth

In the garden mystery glows
the secret is hidden in the rose.
Farid ud-Din Attar

We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being. Each of these has a creative power and a vision far beyond any rational thought or cultural creation of which we are capable.
Thomas Berry

We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through the fabric of illusion.
Ansel Adams

Cherry Blossoms
Setting aside my worldly affairs,
On the cherry-bloom I will gaze,
Every day till it withers; for
The flowers will last so few days.
Moto-Ori Norinaga

Nature never makes haste; her systems revolve at an even pace. The buds swell imperceptibly, without hurry or confusion, as though the short spring days were an eternity. Why, then, should man hasten as if anything less than eternity were allotted for the least deed.
Henry David Thoreau 


  1. March 19, 2013 11:21 AM CDT

    A friend wrote me a card with wise words encouraging me not to stay tight in the bud but to risk blossoming (Anais Nin) and serendipitously I find your book, The Art of Simplicity, leading me to your blog and all these beautiful blossoms. I am inspired, thank you so much, Candy.

    - beth hunt

The Return of Spring

Apple Blossom Time 

Apple Blossom Time 

Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places.
Henry Beston

Though it is still winter, signs of spring are starting to appear here in Middle Tennessee. I was walking at the lake the other day and saw daffodils already out. It's way too early, as we can have hard frosts into March. But so lovely to see the bright yellow against the sere brown landscape. I look at photos of apple blossoms taken last spring, and their beauty lifts my heart on gloomy winter days. 

I feel I have been in a long winter; a quiet but intense time of going within. I have missed blogging and connecting with you, dear reader. But a full time day job and continuing work on my new e-book, The Tranquil Heart: Inspired Choices for Challenging Times, have been the fierce focus through fall and winter months. More festive plans are afoot now as I prepare my finished book for publication and move on from my last assignment at a day job into a season of full time writing. I will be sharing more in the coming weeks about the rebirth of my writing career. 

Today I want to express my gratitude for all who have commented or sent me messages of encouragement or reviewed my books on the many websites where they are available. I read your comments and take them to heart, and they have an influence on what I write and how I present it. I have been in an intense place the last few months, so thank you for your patience with my slow response to your letters and emails. I honor every person who cares enough to communicate, and will try to be more available now that my life is moving from winter into spring. I think we all, as a collective, found 2012 to be a challenging year. So many friends have experienced big transitions and unexpected changes in these times, as I have. I know my own spiritual life has deepened in the process, and I am excited about the new things I have to share with you, beginning with my upcoming e-book, The Tranquil Heart. More announcements will be forthcoming. Until then, I want to encourage you to make choices that will help you cope when things get intense in your life.

If you’ve been closeted indoors too long, your thoughts get as stuffy as the closed rooms you’ve been living in. It’s time to get out and let the wind blow through your hair, the sun shine on your face, and the fresh air invigorate your attitude. 

Escape to the wild places to renew your spirit. Let the wind blow through your hair and whisper secrets of wild freedom to your heart. Enjoy being away from all man-made structures and in the midst of nature’s beauty. You’ll return to your daily life with a wider—and wilder—perspective. 

Mountains, deserts, seashores, green fields, gardens—find a little bit of earth and spend some time on it, staring at the clouds, digging in the dirt, smelling the flowers, and just being with green and growing things out under the wide bowl of arching sky. Rejoice in nature and let it remind you that life is larger and airier and freer than the enclosed world you’ve been immured in. 

Watch a squirrel scrambling through leaves, intent on her business. Listen to the returning birds sing their songs of joy. Enjoy the picture of a baby animal kicking up its heels in the spring sunshine. Look at the tight knobby buds just beginning to swell. Watch for the signs of returning spring, and make room for spring in your soul. 

Remember that life is rich and full and mysterious. Nature shares secrets of renewal with those who will take time to listen to her. Seek out the wild places—mountain, forest, untamed shore, winding riverfront, vast desert—the primal creation that shimmers with living glory and reminds you that this is a very large and beautiful world. And in your own backyard, the changing seasons remind you that even the coldest winter will finally give way to spring. 

Climb the mountains and get good tidings. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
John Muir

Spring flowers, autumn moon,
Summer breeze, winter snow—
When the mind is free from unnecessary thoughts,
Every season is just perfect!

If spring came but once a century instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change. 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet drink and botanical medicines.
Henry David Thoreau

Earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spring Beauty

Rainwashed Crabapple 

Rainwashed Crabapple 

I have been out in Nashville spring, taking photos of the beauty budding and blossoming around me. This is a crabapple in bloom, caught right after a thunderstorm. Perfection.

Healing Beauty

Let beauty
be its own
healing magic.
Do not play small.
Do not stunt your own growth.
Be fruitful.
Fulfill your own destiny.
This is not a race
or a battle.
This is a garden
and each must grow, 
and produce fruit
in its own way
and its own time.
Let beauty
in you.

The human mind and heart are a mystery...
Psalm 64:7

Earth with her thousand voices praises God.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with plenty.
Psalm 65:10

Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.

The art just wants to be made
It pushes through the vehicle
(the person) into manifest form.
Vicki Noble

Art is the increasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers—and never succeeding.
Marc Chagall

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

The amen of nature is always a flower.
Oliver Wendell Holmes


  1. April 8, 2011 10:41 AM CDT

    Love your header! My writing coach told me yesterday that you'd been very busy (which I knew you had) and now I see!

    - Leisa Hammett