Ten Things That Made Me Grateful This Year (Photo Essay)


1. My Loving Family

LilBit, Anthony, Willow, Liz, and David

2. The Women’s March in Washington, DC, January 2017

Street sign and pink hats say it all










3. Bluebirds with Five Healthy Nestlings

Bluebird Boy guarding

…the nestlings ready to fledge










4. Raising and Releasing 16 Monarch Butterflies

Leaving Elaine’s nursery to join the migration

Monarch Caterpillar










5. Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere

Dames Rockets &Poppies

6. The Vegetable Garden

Willow in the Garden

7. Seneca Lake









8. Winning First Place in the Jung in the Heartland Writing Competition, “Memories, Dreams, Sensualities”


9. Watching the Cycles of the Moon









10. The Beauty of the Earth


It’s been a challenging year for most of us. What brought you sweet comfort during the hardest times? I’m grateful for those who take time to read my blog and stay connected. (I could have added much more about friends, hospice work, and writing, but kept it simple with few words.)

Have a Peaceful and Joyful New Year 2018



  1. What a lovely post. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thank you, Lydia. There are so many things to be ungrateful for this year. I needed to remind myself of life’s goodness with a positive visual antidote.

  2. Definitely one of my rougher years. But the support, from so many friends, made it doable. Gratitude pops when I look back at 2017. Wishing you all the best in 2018 Elaine.

    • Yes, you’ve been through it this year, Barb. I have, too, with my mother-in-law and my own health issues and the never ending mess of politics and the environment. I’m glad you had the support you desperately needed because it’s easy to feel ourselves all alone when we’re in a helpless place. I know you’ll keep passing that support along.

  3. What a beautiful way to end the year, Elaine. Great memories captured and shared. I wish you a beautiful new year with lots of love and strength and inspiration. And peace. Lots of peace. Thank you for being out there, being an inspiration to me.

    • Thank you, dear Robin. It was good to go through all my photos from 2017 and see all the sweetness there. I also have good friends and sweet support. I hope you’re enduring the cold and getting outside. Neither Willow or I are enthusiastic about staying out long, but once I’m in the woods, it’s beautiful.

  4. You have covered all the bases, Elaine: body, soul and spirit; beauty of the earth, flora and fauna. But you put family at the top of the list, which also has brought me comfort (and a little chafing as well) this year.

    I am grateful for our connection here, and as you say so well, though “we come from different worlds we meet in the heart.” Peace and joy to you in the new year, dear one! Happy for your friendship and proud of your accomplishments this year. 🙂

    • Marian, I thought of so many other things I could include, but chose to go with photos that drew me. No interesting photos available of me on meditation cushions or reading poetry. I didn’t include that Vic’s mom was admitted as a hospice patient in December and that comes with lots of caregiver support. (One reason I’m not making a deal of it is that she’s gotten stronger since being admitted a few weeks ago–which doesn’t surprise me a bit.) I just spent half an hour weeping in a phone conversation with a hospice social worker expressing how weary and drained I am by caregiving. You know so well how it drains our tanks. Thank you for your presence in my life, Marian. You’re a gift. Have a blessed New Year.

      • Typically, the patient rallies and blooms bright before the end. That was our experience with Aunt Ruthie. But the end does come eventually. I do understand: You think you can’t endure but you will. Big relief awaits in 2018, my prediction.

        Prayers ascend and hugs encircle as you read this, Elaine.

        • Thanks you, Marian. So much of this is about letting what is sacred rest in Sacred Hands. Thank you for your hugs and prayers. I’ve had a stomach virus, so haven’t seen my mother-in-law for five days. The break was good. Also had a helpful conversation with a hospice social worker–with lots of tears. They’ve heard it all and been through it all.

  5. Such lovely photographs Elaine! Lovely to see them gathered here in one post! You ask an important question – what brought you sweet comfort during a trying year. It’s the sort of question that demands serious reflection, at least for me it does. The things I usually take for granted are not really to be taken for granted – eg seeing my sons and daughter-in-law on various occasions, driving alone through the Karoo, seeing my sister in November in Cape Town, sunrises, sunsets, Susan E Schwartz and my book being published, being in relatively good health … and the change of ANC leadership in our country. And right now being down at the sea –

    • Susan, those are the very things that make life sweet in times when the social fabric is coming undone. I realized through going back over my year in photos that those every day things sustained me. And you see elephants and wild orchids! And the sun is strong in your world. I’m so glad you and Susan got your book ‘Aging and Becoming’ out to the world. It’s important for all of us to look at aging in a new and deeper way.

  6. Is there such a thing as a thriver. Now there is, because you thrive so much through the Nature Mother and then in gentle sharing you teach us the same. I am so grateful for your friendship!

    • Thriver is recognized as a word by google. I guess there’s such a thing. I feel like more of an endurer, but will try to change that focus to thriving. A more positive word and more positive place to stand. Thank you, Dennis. I wonder what word you use for yourself.

  7. Thank you for warming my heart with the beautiful postings!


  8. I enjoyed the photos. Oviously I am very interested in your part of the world now. It has been so good to meet you and look forward to hearing more.

    • Stephanie, thanks for visiting my blog and taking time to comment. I didn’t share much of the natural landscape around here–the waterfalls and gorges leading to these deep long Finger Lakes are magnificent. The first photo was taken in North Carolina, but it looks a lot like the autumn forest here. During this cold snap, it must be frigid near the Canadian border where your son lives. Some areas are seeing lots of snow from Great Lakes moisture but I only have a few inches.

  9. Dear Elaine, It’s so true that “a picture is (really) worth a thousand words!” for each of your wonderful photographs shown here (and over many years I hasten to add) brings more and more of your unique Self to life and light. Immediately, they take me on many journeys, and back to many moments this year as a reader of your amazing blog. Together and all at the same time!

    I love the question you pose, “what brought you sweet comfort in the hardest times? For myself, the answer lies somewhere in the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. Somehow it always works out that way, even when the only person we’re left with is ourselves. I really love the family shot! That rich, soulful back (plainly!) story of your life.

    Oh the joys of being a poet, married to a photographer! Together we find divine inspiration in the other. I love words and images, and in pure synchronicity, Mother Christmas knew this too when she gifted me two books on the subject! I hope to move more into this area of study in the New Year. Thank you for being you and all that you do! Blessings, Deborah.

    • New Year’s Blessings to you, Deborah. Those three lead the way into life as I fall behind to capture a photo of their strong forward strides. My son David was giving us a tour of a beautiful city park in his area. We had two of the four family dogs with us, running joyfully in the open spaces of what was once a golf course. They get a little grumpy when I make them pose too much, so no posing here.

      I understand the joy of being married to a photographer because Vic was a capturer of images. In India, the children called him “Ca-ma-ra-man” with lovely rolling rs. I took photos, too, but with a less professional camera. Low tech is still my style, but low tech digital cameras have gotten much better in the last ten years. I know whatever you chose to do will be creative, soul inspired, and illuminating. I hope a second book of poems will come soon. Maybe with photographs? Sending you Love, Light, and Peace.

  10. Ahh! Not one, not two, nor three but four family dogs, that warms my heart so much! Do they get to play together I wonder?! Oh I hope so, if that’s even logistically possible! That was a lovely story with Vic (aptly) named as “Ca-ma-ra-man.” Thank you always Elaine for the kindness and compassion of your heart! x

    • I have one dog. My son David has three. David and his wife live in North Carolina, so Willow sees them three or four times a year. They’re all coming in two weeks. The dogs get along very well. Usually the humans do, too.

  11. Beautiful gratitude Elaine. Congrats again for winning the Jung award, that is huge!!! Nature is a gift to us with beautiful moons and sunsets, family is everything, and loveeeeeeee your hat. Stay strong my friend and keep on with all you’re doing to contribute to goodness. Wishing you a beautiful New Year filled with love, hope, peace and good health. <3

    • Thank you, Debby. Happy New Year. Lots to juggle here with my health and my mother-in-law now on hospice care but maybe only temporarily. She gets stronger again as I wilt. I think you understand.

      • I hear you loud and clear Elaine. Stay strong my friend, you’re doing a wonderful job of dancing. 🙂

  12. Such beautiful “moments”, already turnt into “memories” (I have always love to think how Time changes us… and changes the way we define things, as time goes by!)… How nice that you were able to take photographs of them….
    I have just clicked on the Sekhmet link… I am loving that Eyptian goddess (A warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing), not to mention how much I like cats.
    Special congratulations on winning First Place in the Jung in the Heartland Writing Competition, “Memories, Dreams, Sensualities”… You are an admirable woman, dear Elaine. Sending love & best wishes <3

    • Aquileana, after my husband’s death, I took up photography because I needed to focus on finding beauty in everyday life. It was an antidote to grief and good medicine. It still is. I usually have my camera with slung over my shoulder.

      My mythology class studied Egyptian goddesses with a focus on Nut and the Twelve Hours of the Night. We used a text by Alison Roberts called My Heart My Mother. What powerful images we found in this work and how amazing to think of the sky as a Goddess. Sekhmet figures strongly in those Egyptian myths. We’ve taken a few trips to New York City to view the Egyptian collections there. They have so many statues of Sekhmet. I had my camera, of course.

  13. Thank you for this, Elaine….I came here to your blog from the Gratefulness website and I plan to explore your site, I think I have much to learn from you…bless you, Namaste…

    • Sandy, thanks for exploring my blog and commenting so I know you were here–and how you got here. I loved writing a second piece for Gratefulness and I’m working on a third about a poem that helped me through the hardest months of grief. I bow to you, hands over heart, and mirror your blessings.

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