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seeing the small: how to look for the little things

Thelittlethings()


Over the weekend I checked out an art exhibit featuring miniature art. All of the paintings and sculptures were miniature -- no bigger than my hand -- and they were beautiful. They were also quite impressive. How people can paint such tiny, tiny canvases is beyond me. As a walked through the exhibit, surprised by the details and inspired by those who painted them, I began to think about the little things in life that often go unnoticed. Should one of those beautiful paintings be placed in a typical art gallery, it might go unnoticed, dwarfed by the scale of the typical paintings hanging beside it.

Likewise, surrounded by all of the big things in life, the tiny things around us often go unnoticed. For the past 28 days I've been snapping photos of the world around me for the Positively Present 30 Day Photo Challenge. Most of the photos I took were of the big things -- the obvious ins and outs of daily life -- and it felt good to be noticing things. In the rush of every day, it felt good to be paying attention to something, anything. 

But after seeing that exhibit this weekend, I realize that I'm still missing out on some of the best things in life: the little things. How often do I look down to see what's on the ground? How often to I look closely at something I love -- a book, a painting, a person -- and really see the little things in it? The soft pages of a book, the brush strokes on canvas, the curve of a loved one's eyelashes? Not often enough, I'd say. 

Life is short and I don't want to miss out on any of it. So I'm going to commit to looking at the little things in life -- both through the lens of my camera and through my unfiltered eyes. I'm going to commit to looking for the tiny changes, the small details, the little ways the world is shaped by almost imperceptible elements. But I know it's going to take some practice. Being present is tough enough and looking for the little details will kick the difficulty level up a notch. Here are some of the ways I'm going to learn to look for the little things: 

 

25 Ways to Look for the Little Things


1. Study the lines on the face of someone you love.

2. Watch the sidewalk when you walk.

3. Look closely at the cover of your favorite book.

4. Examine the brush strokes on a painting. 

5. Check out the background of a photo. 

6. Pick up a fallen leaf and study its color and shape. 

7. Pause your favorite scene in a movie and look closer. 

8. Look at the details on the font of your favorite website. 

9. Seek out one little thing you love about your home. 

10. Study your face in the mirror (positively please!). 

11. Find a pattern you like and look at the details. 

12. Compare two versions of your favorite color. 

13. Look at the various colors in a clouded sky (it's not just gray!). 

14. Check out the design of a box (cereal, moving, etc.).

15. Study the patterns raindrops make on your window. 

16. Watch the way snowflakes land on a hard surface. 

17. Check out the people on the sidelines during a big game. 

18. Look up and see what's above you right now. 

19. Find out the years on the coins in your pocket / purse. 

20. Contemplate the color on the walls you pass. 

21. Study the shape of your favorite number. 

22. Print out a quote you love and memorize the words. 

23. Look at shadows cast at various times of the day. 

24. Watch the way your hands move when you're typing. 

25. Study the way lamps light up a room. 

 

Those are just a few suggestions to get me started. Like most things, I think the more I practice looking for the little things, the easier it will get. Just like being present in a general sense, being present to the little things in life is a great way to live a more positive life. Focusing on what's all around you -- what's happening in this moment -- allows us to live our lives more fully without worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Don't forget to look for the little things. After all, it's all of those little things that add up to the big picture of your life. 

 


Participating in the 30 Day Photo Challenge?

I'm going to be wrapping up my 30 days this week,
but feel free to join the Photo Challenge any time!
You can check out the Positively Present photos on Flickr,
join the Positively Present Photo Challenge Flickr group,
and share your photos on Twitter or Instagram using #PPphoto

 


words to live by: shake it out

Shake it off()


Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It's a final mess but it's left me so empty
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Well what the hell I'm gonna let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Florence + the Machine
"Shake It Out"

 

 

Watch the video here. "Words To Live By" is a segment on Positively Present that features my favorite quote or lyrics from the week. Every Sunday I post a quote or lyrics that have inspired me with the hope that they'll inspire you too. Comments will be closed on these posts, but feel free to tweet the post if you enjoy it or contact me via Twitter.  

 

Participating in the 30 Day Photo Challenge?

Check out the Positively Present photos on Flickr.
Join the Positively Present Photo Challenge Flickr group
Share your photos on Twitter or Instagram using #PPphoto

 


happy thanksgiving + gratitude photo challenge update


Photochallenge


 

For those of you living in the good ol' U.S. of A., today is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you celebrating in the U.S. -- and a happy day of gratitude to all of you around the world! Over the past 24 days I've been celebrating gratitude in my own small way -- by participating in the Positively Present Photo Challenge and pausing on a daily basis to appreciate some of the things I'm thankful for in my life. Not only have I been able to celebrate the things that I'm thankful for, but, through the Flickr group I created, I've been able to see what others are grateful for in their lives. Seeing the photos of others has made me even more appreciative of all there is to be thankful for in this life.

Every day when I post my daily photo and check out the photos of others, I feel grateful. I feel grateful for a community of people who also want to be more present, more thankful. I feel grateful for things both big and small that I am lucky to have in life. From leaves and books to nature and animals, there are so many, many things to be thankful for.

Above you'll see some of the things I'm thankful for -- the 24 photos I've taken so far this month -- and below you'll find their corresponding categories (just in case they aren't all that obvious). To see the full size photos, check out the Positively Present Flickr page.


Day 1: Favorite Food.
Even though I have quite a few favorite foods, I went with one of my go-to snacks -- Rainbow Goldfish. I also recently discovered Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish, which are pretty darn amazing.

Day 2: Smile. Okay, this isn't technically a smile, but it's a dog smile, which is even better in my book. When I spotted this happy pup online, I just had to snap a photo and share it.

Day 3: Happiness. My cousin sent me this necklace for my birthday and I love it. Every time I wear it I feel happy and I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have a cousin like her.

Day 4: Leaves. I snapped this photo while I was out walking Bella. Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I'm particularly thankful for the beautiful colors that paint the trees every fall.

Day 5: Morning Sky. The morning sky can have so many different looks to it -- fiery fuschia, pale gray, or a shocking blue. On this day, I was grateful to capture the sun peaking out through the clouds.

Day 6: Books. One of my favorite things in the world is being right in the middle of a book so good you never want it to end, which is right where I was when I shot this photo.

Day 7: Something Funny. Though you don't get the full effect in this photo, whenever Bella wants a treat, attention, etc. she does a silly little begging dance that cracks me up every time.

Day 8: Favorite Color. You may have realized that orange is my all-time favorite color, but just to confirm that fact, I've shared a photo of my bright orange couch, complete with adorable pup.

Day 9: Inspiring Person. I'm constantly finding inspiration in other people and, on the day I took this photo, I was feeling extremely inspired by Florence's "Shake It Out."

Day 10: Nature. This is a shot of the view from my balcony with a tilt-shift effect applied so it looks like it's much farther away than it is. I'm so thankful for this little quite nook outside my window.

Day 11: Something Old. When I was born, my grandmother knitted a blanket that I proceeded to take with me pretty much everywhere. As a kid I couldn't live without my Blankey.

Day 12: Hands. A while ago I found this photograph in a magazine and loved it. Something about the colors, the creativity, drew me to it and it seemed like a great hands photo.

Day 13: Written Word. I love writing. Whether online or on paper, writing is one of things in life I'm truly thankful for -- which is why this photo seemed perfect for this day's pic.

Day 14: Movement. Driving is something I do daily and something I often take for granted. I'm so fortunate to have a contraption that takes me so quickly from point A to point B.

Day 15: Technology. Anything Apple has made -- my iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac computer -- is pretty much amazing. I don't know exactly how it all works, but I love it and am grateful for it!

Day 16: Animals. This odd little photo was taken at my local Nordstrom, where I've been enjoying this painting for years. Every time I see it, I smile at artistic Nipper the squirrel.

Day 17: Memories. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in this house. A lot of memories were made there, which is why I went out of my way to snap a photo of it for this challenge.

Day 18: Something New. Shipped all the way from Australia, I recently received my new 2012 planner and I couldn't be more excited about it -- and about planning for 2012. See how cute it is?

Day 19: Best Friend. I couldn't narrow it down to just one best friend for this photo. In this pic, you'll see two of my best friends, my boyfriend and my Bella, cozying up to one another on the couch.

Day 20: Seasonal. As mentioned on Day 4, autumn is my favorite time of the year, primarily due to the wonderful array of colors suddenly brightening everything around me.

Day 21: Where You Sleep. While this might look like where Bella slept, it's actually a photo of my pillow. Most mornings she crawls up on it and snuggles in once I've stumbled out of bed.

Day 22: Clothing. I purchased this t-shirt years ago and have always been inspired by its saying, a phrase I've altered slightly and used myself here: Happily Ever After Now

Day 23: In Your Closet. This is a photo of my color-coordinated closet. Seeing a rainbow of colors when I go in to pick out my outfits always puts a smile on my face (even when I'm not sure what to wear!).

Day 24: Gratitude. Though I don't remind myself as often as I should, there is so much to be grateful for in my life. This photo is a reminder to be thankful for every single moment.

 

For those of you who have been participating in the photo challenge, I hope you've been getting as much out of it has I have. It's been such a wonderful reminder for me to stay present, to stay thankful. For those of you who haven't been taking part in the challenge, it's never too late to join in! (Learn more here.) And whether you're taking photos of the things in your life that you are thankful for or not, remember to pause to day and be grateful for all the wonderful, amazing things you have in your life.

 

Participating in the 30 Day Photo Challenge?

Check out the Positively Present photos on Flickr.
Join the Positively Present Photo Challenge Flickr group
Share your photos on Twitter or Instagram using #PPphoto