Freeze-Frame Happy Moments and Save them for Later

Lillie and Ian

Lillie and Ian

We all love taking photos of important events and celebrations in our lives. Pictures are great, but good memories are better. Here’s how to stay focused and save those special moments even when you don’t have a camera.

Say you’re out for a run, or a walk and you see a spectacular sunset. Stop! Take the time to observe what you see. Use all of your senses. Smell the air. Remember the location. Frame the picture either in your mind or by using your hands. File your personal snapshot away and pull it out later when you need a pick me up.

Daughter Pam (Grandma)

Daughter Pam (Grandma) and Truly Notice picnic outdoors with all!

A visual frame adds a second level of memory to your image. The scent and sounds around you provide a third. By the time you continue your walk, this virtual photograph will be imprinted on your mind. Why is this important? Because the greater the quantity of peaceful images and joyful experiences you can tuck into your brain, the more inner material you’ll have to draw upon when life seems bleak and unbearable.

Ask a prisoner of war or a hostage victim how they were able to endure, and they’ll tell you it was the images they were able to bring to the surface of their minds and focus upon. It wasn’t the menagerie of fun that filtered past them online or the colorful games that flitted beneath their fingertips. It was actual real-life-experiences that were embedded in their very heart and soul.

Adrienne, my oldest granddaughter

Adrienne, my oldest granddaughter

On our recent vacation we took numerous photographs of spectacular scenes and prominent places that we can enjoy again and again when we take out our photos or look for them online. But the images that remain in my head will be there forever:

  • The hugs from my granddaughters and grandsons telling me how glad they were that I came out for a visit;
  • The tears in my daughter’s eyes when it came time to say goodbye;
  • My son-in-law’s patience taking us from place to place;
  • Seeing each grandchild and great-grand-child up close and savoring each hug.
  • Being there for one of them in the ICU when she had a near-death sweep that made life seem so fragile;
  • Watching the interactions of parents and children, of grandparents and grandchildren, of lively cousins running and giggling in circles around us and then getting together for an old-fashioned ball game in the cul-de-sac.
Kayla, my oldest "great!!!!" She was in ICU, but is okay now.

Kayla, my oldest “great!!!!” She was in ICU, but is okay now.

These are the kinds of images you savor; the ones you never want to forget that warm your heart long after life has gotten back to normal.

Do I remember what kind of cars my family drives or how clean and neat their houses were? Do I recall what we ate on a given night? Absolutely not! But I do remember each smile, each face, and each sincere hug.

Am I glad I took photographs? Of course; but I also freeze-framed each beloved one in my mind’s eye, complete with my own frame that helps to emphasize how precious each once is to my heart.

Chris and his dad.

Chris and his dad, Andy.

It isn’t distance, prison, lack of freedom or old age that is our enemy, but forgetfulness. God bless those who have Alzheimer’s disease! The worst thing to happen to us would be an inability to remember who we are or to have nothing to fall back on when we’re alone.

“The Road Less Traveled” is Sometimes the only Way

"Looking Outward" 3-D painting in an actual window frame

“Looking Outward” 3-D painting in an actual window frame

My life has taken such twists and turns, I scarcely recognize it. Events and circumstances have turned out differently than I expected. I made choices that changed the direction I was going, the people I interacted with, and caused a complete 1-80 transition from my familial and spiritual beginnings.

I once had visions of me herding a bunch of “grands” and living near my own children so that I could enjoy the fruits of motherhood. As it is, my six children and their children are scattered to the far winds. They rarely if never take vacations where I live. I manage a few trips, but because of their numbers it’s usually only once every three years or more that I see any one of them.

"Day Dreams" 11 x 14 oil on canvas

“Day Dreams” 11 x 14 oil on canvas

They inherited my aversion to telephones, so we don’t talk as often as we should. But thank goodness for Facebook and email or I’d never learn a thing about who they are and what they do.

One of my children hasn’t spoken to me since he left to live with his father at age 15. I expected that he’d get over it in time, but he hasn’t. He now has two children (one I only heard about from his sister). I saw the first one when she was only one years of age, and then again at three. Now she’s somewhere between eight and ten years of age, and she doesn’t even know me.

I’ve traveled long and far. My journey has been difficult and painful. The peace I’ve found along the way has been hard-won. The missing pieces in my life leave a large hole that only my children can fill.


“Through her Eyes” sketch of live sitter

When I titled my blog “Artwork and Musings from my Dancing Heart,” I truly meant that because down deep inside, I’m an optimist. But in the normal course of living, for all of us, there is a wearing down, day after day, and it’s bound to have an effect.

In my first marriage, whenever I was “up” my husband was “down” looking sad and morose. When he could ignore me or bully me into a corner that’s when he’d feel the control he needed to breakout into a smile and dance around with pleasure. For some strange reason, my playfulness and laughter was his nemesis.

If I was happy that meant I had something over on him. Perhaps I’d spent too much money. Maybe I wasn’t burdened down with the cooking and the cleaning for our large family. If it was too easy for me, then I probably wasn’t doing my job. For whatever reason, we were never on the same plane of joy or the same wave length.


“Moody Blues” mixed media on canvas

Today our pathways seldom cross. When they do it’s usually for a wedding or special occasion. Then he’s on his best behavior. He smiles and interacts with the children in a demonstrative way I never saw when we were together. His current wife and he seem to have “the perfect” relationship.

But when the festivities are over his facade dissolves into the sad and empty expression that I remember. It doesn’t reveal itself too often. The smiley face is the mask he wears to deal with the world. I hurt for him. I would love to see peace and contentment spread over his face as a permanent fixture not just when other people are present.

"Namesake" acrylic on canvas

“Namesake” acrylic on canvas

We all wear masks at times to hide the humanity we’re ashamed to show to those we don’t know. It’s important to have a close confidante you feel comfortable with so you can vent some of that anger and resentment. My release came from an art teacher and her weekly class. When I was involved completely in painting, I was in another sphere; free, alive and soaring. I forgot about my problems. My deep sadness slunk into the shadows, and the weight lifted from my shoulders.

Today I don’t regret that twisted rocky path I traveled on to get from there to here. Sure the sadness lingers, memory doesn’t wipe the slate clean. My journey has brought me to a place of confidence and well-being that was not possible in my former life. I took the path “less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20

By Robert Frost