A thousand small ways

My neighbor's miniature hyacinths add a spot of beauty to my walk, March 2013

My neighbor’s miniature hyacinths add a spot of beauty to my walk, March 2013

“When we are willing to be open-minded, art and beauty come flooding into us in a thousand small ways.” Julia Cameron

I tend to think of open-mindedness as a trait useful primarily to our rational minds, vital to the examination of ideas, cultures and opposing viewpoints.  Yet there are many ways our minds can be open rather than closed.  Often we are convinced that we know almost everything about a person, a place, an animal, or even an inanimate object such as a machine.  We fail to notice the full picture because our familiarity tells us our full attention is no longer required.  Without realizing it, we can close our minds to full awareness.

But living things change; places change; even objects such as computers and electronic devices are likely to have yet-unexplored possibilities.  If we can learn to see the familiar as if it were new, our minds would open up to all that is fresh, unexplored, unknown and intriguing.

Whenever I find myself wishing for a new camera, or vacation destination, or new activity or connection, I ask myself: do I have room for something new right now, or do I still need to fully discover what I already have?  It’s wonderful to explore and try new things.  However, it’s possible to run so quickly from one new thing to another, that we never fully appreciate what we are already doing.

Most days, my walks (whether 2 miles or 5) are along the same roads with exactly the same paths I’ve traveled dozens of times before.  It’s easy to pay almost no attention to what I pass, especially while listening to a book on tape.  But sometimes– especially when I take my camera– I see things I haven’t noticed before.  No two walks are ever exactly the same.  I pass different people, see different dogs walking their owners, and chat with different children who stop to pet Pasha.  The vegetation changes; new flowers bloom; homeowners decorate their lawns and porches with seasonal touches that add color.  All these are examples of easily overlooked beauty that is ours for the taking.

I hope today you will open your eyes, mind and heart to discover those things that are so small or familiar we might miss them.  Remember that no two days are exactly alike.  What unique joys will be yours today, and today alone?


  1. amen. “Afoot and light-hearted I take the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The Long brown path before me leading wherever i choose.” – Walt Whitman’s
    Song of Open Road. Reminds me, as you did also, dear Julia, no matter our circumstances we are ‘free to choose’ the ‘open road’ and stop to re-examine that which was there all along. JOYfilled day to you & yours.

    • Kate would you believe I’m totally unfamiliar with that poem? I’ll have to go back and read it sometime, that’s a lovely quote. “That which was there all along” is basically the theme to one of my very favorite movies, “The Wizard of Oz.” So easy for us to miss what is right under our noses. Thanks for being here and sharing that lovely verse! I am keeping you and your family in prayers.

  2. Thank you for this. It has been really hard for me just lately to see the different or beautiful in each new day. I find my heart yearning for something new. I visit from a friend, a call from the kids. Almost anything!!! I will try to give each day a chance, to see a new flower or find something to enjoy just for that moment. Keeping you in my prayers always.

    • Amy, so glad we were able to get together for tea and scones today! That was the obviously beautiful part of today for me. Plus the sunny weather…maybe spring is almost here? On Monday I will ask you to update me on one lovely thing each day you saw on Saturday and Sunday! Don’t worry about something new, I am sure there are many adventures just down the road. If there aren’t, we’ll make some. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

      • Yes it was the best part of my day. Home to housework ugh!! Thank you very much. Oh and Aaron said he would be happy to feature in your blog someday. Have great weekend. Love you all.

        • Thanks Amy! We will have to do this more often (which is what we always say :-))!! Happy weekend!!

  3. Sheila

    Julia, another Friday morning as we anticipate a good weekend of “who knows what” but it will surely be fine. How about y’all? Bill just announced that we’re going to ride over to our lab to put in an apperance, as a morale booster, since it’s been 10 days. I wonder if he’s thinking of the employees OR us. Maybe our absence will make everyone more appreciative. You captured the beauty with your photo. Thoughts crossing the miles,

    • Sheila, Bill probably knows a visit might be good for everyone. I know Jeff would be antsy wanting to get back if he were in Bill’s situation. I love that idea of a weekend of “who knows what” — is that a description of life lately or what??!! I keep hoping and believing that “it will surely be fine” as you say. Meanwhile taking it one day at a time. I am keeping you and Bill in prayers and hope you have a lovely weekend!

  4. I had such a good day and didn’t even leave the house. All my housework was done. I caught up on email this morning then crafted all afternoon, then my husband took me out for supper. I do notice my surroundings more when I’m carrying a camera. It’s a good prompt to stop, look and assess. Having a dog is just the best way to meet people isn’t it. Everyone loved Buddy so much, we were always being invited for coffee or a beer…..LOL somethings those walks took all day.

    • Yes, I have come to believe that dogs do more to bring neighborhoods together nowadays than anything I can think of. When I think about the neighbors I know, almost all of them are people I chat with while we are all walking dogs. The day you described sounds ideal. My day yesterday was fun too. A good friend came to have tea and we spend the morning oohing and ahhing over your beautiful crafts! So much fun to have someone with me who is just as blown away by your talent as I am! 🙂

      • OMGosh you’re too sweet, thank you Julia and for sharing my crafts with your friend (blowing kisses) x
        It’s so fun to have someone to hang with. A lot of my girl friends are still working but if I’m organized, I can catch them on a day off. My Aunty and I get together pretty often. It’ll be nicer when summer arrives and we can just go picnic somewheres in the sunshine or Mr B and I enjoy golf…..not long now, I hope 😀

        • Yes, I hope that you have some nice picnic/golf weather very soon. It’s hot here again today. The nice thing about you living up in Canada where it’s so cold is that you have plenty of time to create the beautiful things so many of us enjoy! But now that I have my own Boomdee-box you can take a break :-). I won’t be able to use any of the beautiful things inside until I show it to almost everybody I know first.

          • xo <3, you're so cute. I have already gone on to another project that I'm taking to California with me. A friend of Alys's joined the Craft It Forward and so I actually get to hand deliver….can't wait. Thanks so much for all your nice compliments, I'm so glad it went to you xoK

            • That sounds like fun! Maybe next time you can hand deliver out here on the east coast! Just got back from seeing the cherry blossoms in DC at their peak bloom time – AMAZING! so we will have to plan it for springtime. 🙂

              • I’m so happy for you to have been able to be there, that’s wonderful Julia. I hope you’ll share a photo on your blog! It would really be a dream to be able to see them, I would love to take you up on that in the future :D….Look out, I’m retired HA!

                • Well we’ll just have to start planning! Seriously, there are so many things to see and do around here. Yesterday it was HOT so I took an hour or so in the Smithsonian museums – American History and Natural History. They had an amazing display of orchids from Latin America; unfortunately it is only temporary but it was fabulous, I will probably post some photos of it here too.

                  • No doubt! You are in a fantastic part of the country 😀 I would just love to visit either of those museums, how amazing to be so close. I’ll watch for the photos and I hope you don’t melt in the heat.

                    • I’m staying mostly indoors today until after about 5 pm!

  5. Rene

    Fantastic post & beautiful photo accompanying it Julia! I resolve to fully discover what I have this year!

    • Thank you Rene! I’m so glad you like the post. Thanks for being here!


  1. So great a sweetness | Defeat Despair

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