That’s The Thing About Distance

This bridge in Central Park is pretty from a distance and looks especially nice in this setting. Get a little closer and you’ll notice some interesting details. Here’s a better look.

And another.

From a distance it just looks like a pretty white bridge. Come a little closer and you’ll see it’s intricacies. The patina is nice too. It is weathered and a little flawed. It’s the wear and all those small bits of detail that make the bridge truly interesting and beautiful.

That’s the thing about judging from afar. You don’t know what you don’t know and the most impressive qualities are often only found up close. The most interesting parts of character are often the worn and flawed parts.

That’s true of pretty white bridges and of people too. Distance can be deceiving. The next time you decide to judge, you might get in for a closer look. You might like the subject matter less or you may find it has a certain je ne sais quoi!

St. Joseph Church of Aztec

Before leaving Aztec, New Mexico, we circled back to a church at the edge of town that I had admired on the way in.

St. Joseph Church was built in 1946 and is positively charming. It’s cheerful and brightly decorated with beautiful pots of flowers.

I was just snapping a couple of cell phone pictures when a sedan stopped in the street and blew the horn.

The elderly driver of this car rolled down the window to ask if I was ok. I told her that I just liked the church and she thanked me. She attends this church and told me about how beautiful it is inside. She invited me to attend a service someday and shared stories about the kindness shown to her by the congregation during recent times of trouble.

She shared about her upcoming visit with her son who nearly died of Covid and about her boyfriend who recently passed away.

She was delightful and I was touched by her concern.

I shared with her a little about the road trip I was on with my friend and she asked about Ohio. She wished us a safe journey and promised to pray for our safe return to our respective homes.

Later I learned that her beautiful church has been vandalized a few times in the last year. I imagine she was actually concerned about her house of worship and the intentions of a stranger. You can read a story about the vandalism here.

It’s ridiculous that this is a worry but I’m always glad for those good Samaritans who keep their eyes peeled for potential trouble. The world could use more people like that.

People Are Like Hydrangeas

This hydrangea was a gift from a friend’s yard many years ago. I had it for well over a decade before it bloomed and had all but given up on ever seeing it produce a flower.

The first year it bloomed it was blue and produced just a handful of flowers. The next year, I noticed some lavender beginning to develop. This year, it’s larger and loaded with varying shades of blues, lavenders and pinks.

It’s beautiful.

I like to think that humans are a little like this late blooming hydrangea. We may take a while to get comfortable enough to show our personality. Then, with each passing year, we add to our knowledge, skills and interests, causing our personality to blossom in new and colorful ways that are often quite unexpected.

The best people are the ones who are willing to learn, to try new things and to adapt. They’re the ones with a little color to their personalities and some happy surprises.

Confessions of a People Watcher

Hi, my name is Brandi and I’m a people watcher.

I’m not always good at engaging with people I know but I love to sit back and watch strangers. Festivals and other public events are especially ripe for observing other humans in action and the hot air balloon festival I attended this summer didn’t disappoint.

Here are a few random observations from this day.

Few people bother to carry around cameras these days but those who do always have nice cameras and are pretty intense about what they’re doing. I rely on my phone for walking around pictures and sometimes for photos when there’s weird light because my technique isn’t so great. Taking out my dslr is a real treat. Check out this fellow working with his camera!

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Modern fashion often leaves ladies with interesting tan lines. Strappy tops, keyholes and cold shoulder tops probably shouldn’t be worn in harsh sun unless you’re hoping for interesting patterns on your skin. I saw this girl later and she was starting to burn so she probably ending up with a criss crossy tan!

But if she’s happy, I’m happy! And it wasn’t just her. I saw several women with a similar top. Maybe I’m just behind in the times and it’s a thing! I may need one of my younger, cooler friends to weigh in on this matter.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (1)

Men are taking a much more hands on approach to parenting than ever before. I’ve been noticing more and more men taking responsibility for feeding and taking care of their kids, even when mom is close by.

At this event, there were a ton of men who appeared to be alone with their kids – whether they’re single dads or just taking their kids out for the day, I couldn’t tell you but it was refreshing to see. It’s especially nice to see guys wiping a wee child’s dirty hands without looking to his wife for help. Nice job fellas!!

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On a related note, that last photo illustrates part of the reason why I love being in and near cities. Coming from a rural area, almost everyone looks like me. Pale. We’re pale. And it feels like the bulk of the people here all think alike, worship the same and well, you get the idea.

Get closer to one of Ohio’s cities (or even just go to a college town like nearby Athens) and you’ll find people of all nationalities. You hear lots of accents and languages and see different styles of dress. This makes my heart happy and it was thrilling to find so much diversity at this event. 

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People are way too wrapped up in their technology and other distractions. We already know this but I was surprised how many people were talking, texting and taking selfies – too distracted to notice the hot air balloons. The balloons were available for viewing for about a minute after we had all waited for hours to see them so I hate to think about how many folks missed the excitement.

It’s like we’re so hypnotized by the little machines in our pockets that we’ve completely lost interest in what’s actually happening in real life and all around us.

Note: in the picture above – I don’t think there was a balloon in their background. Just a picture of a cute couple.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (159)Finally, these little girls appeared to be strangers but that didn’t stop them from dancing and having a good time together. Kids know. They know that it’s a good idea to be nice to others – even if they’re not exactly like us!

People watching is the best. Are you a people watcher? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen lately? I love a good story!

Life Is Too Short

Last week I read something that suggested we are the sum of the people who we spend most of our time with. This idea has stuck with me.

I am very selective about who I allow into my life and who gets to stay. If you gossip, cut others down, make me feel bad or simply drain my energy, you won’t likely make the cut.

Life is too short to give influence to people who we know are bad for us.

Most of my close relationships unfold via text these days. Not by choice but because of geographic distances. Without technology we would likely lose touch despite the fact these are people who add to my life, who make me happy and who make me laugh.

In my daily life, there’s a core group of people who I see and who, for the most part, offer positive influences that I think help me to be a better person.

Whether they are present by text or in real life, I’m grateful for them all. If it’s true that I am the sum of these people, I’m okay with that equation.

Who do you spend your time with? Do they add to your life or tear you down? Do you feel comfortable being yourself or are you holding back or pretending to be something you aren’t?

It may be time to do some soul searching and to start making tough choices about the people in your life. Remember, there’s enough negativity in the world without inviting more into your day.