What Do You See?

What do you see in the photo below? (This is not a trick question.)


When I asked two people that question, both said, “Two trees.” One added, “One with pink leaves, one with white leaves,” for extra credit points, I guess.

Now look.


It is one tree, or at least two that became so interrelated as saplings, that they are now one tree. Changes your perspective a bit, doesn’t it?

You’re probably waiting for me to correlate this image with diversity—the fact that we’re all different, yet we’re part of the same “tree”—humanity (humani-tree, I guess). When I began this post, I thought I was going to do that. But something else more obvious struck me: I walked by that same tree year after year, and never noticed that what I thought was one tree is really two until last week.

Observant much? Yep. That’s me. But sometimes, I get smacked in the face with something that’s always been there, waiting for me to finally take notice. Like a beautiful sunrise or a sunset I’ve been too busy to stop and admire.

Life surprises us in delightful ways, occasionally. Which is good, because lately, I’ve had enough of the bad surprises, like when I learned that a teen I know has to deal with cancer yet again—this time a much more aggressive phase, or when I heard of the sudden death of a friend’s mom. And there were other surprises that sent me reeling in the last few weeks. Even writing has been frustrating.

The blows we take in life can change our perspective too—toward the good or the bad. The choice is ours, of course. Unfortunately, I haven’t always chosen a good perspective. I struggled with that recently. Lately, I’ve felt like cracked clay. But breath-catching moments, like when I finally noticed the tree above, also are soul-sculpting moments. What do I mean by that? Moments when I feel my soul expand like clay taking shape on a potter’s wheel. In those moments, I’m reminded that beauty still exists in the world. And good surprises.


So, yeah, in the midst of a sobering week, I celebrated the fact that this tree surprised me. I also celebrated my birthday last week. Because I posted an author interview (and arranged for others), I didn’t post my usual birthday giveaway. But rest assured—there will be surprise giveaways in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of craft projects I’ve been working on in my spare time to unwind after a hard week—making doll furniture and crocheting friendly looking dragons (a change from the T-Rexes I had to crochet for a kid’s party weeks ago; patterns for fiercer looking dragons are not free, however). To make the doll sofa (it is about 7″ wide and 5″ tall), I watched a tutorial on a great YouTube channel—My Froggy Stuff. The sofa was made out of cardboard and a fabric remnant that I paid $1.49 for at Michaels. The pillows were made out of felt (39 cents at Michaels). The dragon came from a pattern that can be found here.

Couch    012

How have you been surprised in a good way lately?

Clay on the wheel image from somewhere on Pinterest. Other photos by L. Marie.

34 thoughts on “What Do You See?

  1. I’m sure I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some point. Though it’s hard to remember because this year has been a real pain. One headache after another, blah, blah, blah. Totally off topic, but it makes me wonder if there’s a global karma/positivity pool for mankind. If the species gets too negative then things start going south until people become more positive. We tend to feed off our surroundings in an emotional sense, but I’m starting to wonder if there’s more than that. Only because nearly everyone I know is having a bad year in some fashion. Like I said, totally off topic.

    • I’m sorry you’ve had such a hard year, Charles. You’re one of the hardest working authors I know. I really hope (and pray) things turn around for you.

      It has been challenging in many ways. I also know so many people who have had it rough. Still, I hope that things will turn around.

  2. What a beautiful tree, L. Marie. Is that near your home? Lately I’ve been surprised by our unusually warm weather. It’s felt more like summer. I hope you had a great birthday!

    • It was bittersweet, Jill. My friend’s mom died on my birthday. (It was my friend’s birthday also.) But I had a great meal at the home of some friends.

      Yes, the tree is right outside the tenants’ parking lot. I pass it every day to get to my parking space. Which is why my lack of attention is doubly sad.

  3. Happy Birthday!
    Just this morning I was surprised – by the sun. 🙂 It is streaming through windows, that need to be washed, and shining in my face as I write. I must admit that I was surprised by a lovely dinner yesterday. She is always a good hostess and cook, but, she had other family. The surprise was that there were no “discussions” that turned dicey. 🙂

    • Thank you! I also was surprised by the sun, Penny. It’s sad that the sun has become such a surprise guest lately.
      Glad you had a good dinner with a discussion that could cause indigestion. 🙂

  4. I’m always amazed how I can drive past the same thing many times and then suddenly see something I never noticed before.

    Sorry you’ve had some sad surprises recently and sorry for those who’re suffering them. Here’s hoping some more pleasant ones come your way soon.

    • Thanks, Carrie. Looking forward to some pleasant surprises. 🙂 I’ve driven by buildings that have been torn down, only to suddenly notice their absence months later.

  5. Happy birthday! 😀

    Hmm… I’m deeply unobservant about the natural world so rarely get surprises that way. Mostly my good surprises come from people – an old friend getting in touch, a lovely phonecall or e-mail, or even just a chat with a stranger in a supermarket – or from the pages of a book, blowing me unexpectedly away.

    • I appreciate those too! 🙂 I heard from a few college friends last week, which was nice. So I’m with you there about nature. It’s just that the tree was planted very close to my parking space. So really, I don’t have an excuse. 🙂

  6. Happy belated b-day…looks like that tree was celebrating it by surprising you with its double-color blossoms.
    My family has an expression for what you’re describing: Agrodolce Vita – the bittersweet life.
    I wish for you and those special to you a time of restoration, healing and peace.

    ps-the things you make for your little ‘kingdom world’ are too precious!

    • Thank you, Laura. Agrodolce Vita–I’ll have to write that one down. Thank you for that wish.

      It’s fun. 🙂 I finally have a use for all of the cardboard boxes laying around. 😀

  7. I hope you enjoyed your birthday celebrations! I walk by things everyday and never seem to notice them, and when I ask someone, “Is that new?” they say, “It’s been there for a year (or more)” Anyway, that’s a nice looking tree, in full bloom.

    • That’s definitely me, Lyn. I went to a coffee place the other day, assuming it had been there only six months or so. It had been there two years!

  8. Happy birthday. I hope you got or plan to get your favorite flavor of ice cream.

    Lots of hugs. I’m sorry so much unpleasantness has been happening around you lately. I hope your teen friend will kick the cancer and keep it down this time, and peace to your friend and her family.

    • Thanks, ReGi. They could use the peace!
      I plan to get some ice cream when I celebrate with friends. I have so many favorite flavors. Love Ben & Jerry’s Everything but ice cream, which has loads of chocolate. 🙂

  9. Happy belated birthday, Linda, although I saw in the comments it was a sad birthday. I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss. I love this: “Moments when I feel my soul expand like clay taking shape on a potter’s wheel. In those moments, I’m reminded that beauty still exists in the world. And good surprises.” I try to grab those moments when I take walks during my workday. Almost always something will surprise me, whether it’s my eye catching the tiny periscoped head of a Southern Black Racer (no worries, it was a young guy and quite shy) or finding a friendly yellow cat allowing me to pet it and then move on. I haven’t had any of the surprises like you had with the tree (and, oh, that’s a good one), but the little things, the life (lives) that go on without me are always reassuring to find. I hope you and your friends get a break from all the sadness. ((Hugs))

    • I probably would have shrieked and jumped at the sight of that snake, Marie. But as you said, it was a surprise. 🙂 Aww. The yellow cat sounds very cute. It is nice to have those pleasant surprises. 🙂
      Thanks for the cyber hug! Back at ya. {{You}}

  10. Wonderful post – And one I strongly relate to – the blows in our lives strongly influence who we become. It’s up to us to make the choice to use those blows and grow from them….to be as beautiful as your multicolored tree…..

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