Tag Archives: photography

Single Mom’s Wanderlust: A State of Mind

As many of you may know, I used to live in London and traveled quite a bit. I moved back to California in the summer of 2008, when 7 months pregnant. Southern California is a great place to be when you’re sleep deprived and in need of sunshine and fresh air. But lately, I find myself starting to get that twitchy foot. The itch that, in the past, would make want to purchase a last minute rail ticket for a weekend excursion to somewhere in Europe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss my old life at all. I really do believe that I was supposed to go through this mess: this divorce, this single motherhood thing and that it’s all part of a plan. It’s forcing me to grow and realize my inner strength and  I have embraced that better things are yet to come. BUT, that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes need to GET AWAY.

Now that I’m regularly sleeping through the night, (isn’t it marvelous when your child finally lets you??) I’m feeling the urge to hit the open road. I crave getting into my car and driving for long periods at a time with no real destination. I recall reading Ann Tyler’s book Ladder of Years where the main character, a 40-year-old mom, took a walk and just kept walking until she moved to another town altogether. I loved it. (Although I adore all of Ann Tyler’s books.)

Don’t worry, ya’ll. I’m not about to do that. But I realize that I need vistas. I need to explore. It’s always been a part of my DNA. My Ex hated that I rarely planned or structured our trips beyond arranging a house swap or renting a flat or house somewhere. I liked to meander and discover things—to sit at cafes and people watch or talk with a chatty local and get the low-down on where to go that evening. I miss spontaneity. In college, I’d take off and drive from Georgia to Maine with no set stopping places in between. I’d stop where it felt good to do so. I naturally gravitated to journalism as I liked the constant change of scenery or new voices. As a child, I wandered in the woods and horse trails. I love discovering by happenstance. With that said, I’m literally and financially too grounded to take off as a single mom of two kiddos.

But I’m realizing that I can still get a little bit of that flight feeling by opening my eyes wider and exploring closer to home. By being present and taking in my surroundings or taking short excursions with the boys, we can explore. So, I’m rarely without my camera these days. I’m far from a photographer, (and none of my pictures were taken with special lenses or have been touched up in some way) but I find that shooting pictures of the beauty that surrounds me in Southern California reminds me there are things to discover in my own backyard. It helps ease that yearning for an excursion I can’t have right now.

There will be days ahead for faraway travel. But for now, I’m going to keep drinking in my sun-kissed part of the world. When I take pictures and look at them later, I’ll remember to thank God for second chances at a new life. I am grateful to stay put at the moment. I am grateful to have the time to create and discover what beauty surrounds and lies within.

Spring Resolutions

Photo by Chaz James

Easter, like Spring in general, is a time I find myself reflecting on what’s important in my life. Christians obviously are celebrating Christ‘s rebirth; his sacrifice; his transformation; his rising. Clearly, being a Christian isn’t a prerequisite for contemplating your own potential for change and renewal. We really have these opportunities every day don’t we? But at this time of year, especially, I take stock. I find myself asking if I am living each day with the intentions and goals that I hold dear? Sure, I have big aspirations: such as growing this blog and working on another book. But I find the day-to-day goals to live in truth and kindness to be more important to those I love most. Do my boys feel loved unconditionally? Am I in balance as a single mom: juggling life, work, relationships, health, etc.?? Can I manage my three-year-old’s insane, daily temper tantrums with grace and a cool head? Is it possible to navigate divorce proceedings and negotiations with fairness and calm? And, more importantly, can I focus on love, gratitude and light—while letting go of my ego, bitterness and disappointments?

One the best ways to achieve these goals is to try to live in the moment and more consciously. Taking time to appreciate what is beautiful and inspirational is crucial—especially for sleep-deprived, struggling single parents. So, for you, (and for me) I am posting some recent photos that I took when on drives in Southern California. To get my little guy to nap, I still drive. I put on my favorite tunes, grab a mocha, and drive to somewhere with a vista. The views soothe my soul. I am energized when I go to these places and by the time I arrive, my baby has slept and can then get out and wander around a bit. Life is good again. Well, life is good in general, don’t you think? Happy Spring my friends. And I hope you enjoy my favorite vistas. L. x

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens (All Rights Reserved). 

I took this picture when I was extremely sleep-deprived and a bit depressed last month. My youngest had not been sleeping well and had been fighting yet another chest infection and asthma. It had been raining with high winds for two days. We were cooped up all weekend. I put my three-year-old in his car seat and drove south to Palos Verdes. As I drove, the high winds started to calm a bit, the rain stopped, and the clouds lifted. Jamesy fell asleep and I pulled over to take this amazing picture looking north towards Santa Monica and Malibu. By the time I got back into the car, my spirits had lifted and I smiled looking at my angelic boy, who was still sleeping soundly.

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens (All Rights Reserved.)

This is a picture I took after driving to Malibu one Sunday last month to get my youngest to nap. William and I chatted, sang songs and then decided to go to a different canyon in north Malibu than we normally do. After we arrived, Jamesy was refreshed from his nap and we had a fun hike in the bizarre heat. It had risen to 90 degrees, so we kept close to the trees for shade. I took several pictures of the boys, and then looked up and was fascinated by the simple beauty of the old trees. Their elegant, wise, arthritic branches seemed to say to me: “Keep reaching. Keep going. Keep striving to find the light.”

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens (All Rights Reserved.)

Driving back from Santa Barbara last February, I felt compelled to pull to this exact spot on the side of the highway. With the boys still snapped in the car, I pulled to a safe spot on the side of the road and stepped out, taking a picture of this view. Once I got home and uploaded the picture, I noticed the cross on the hill overlooking the Pacific. It made me think that this was a very special location for some family who may have lost someone. Or perhaps someone wanted to be buried here or remembered here. We all find our own places of worship don’t we? There really are little slices of Heaven on Earth—if we open our eyes to them.

Wide Open Spaces for the Holidays

 

I originally posted this last Thanksgiving when I packed up the boys and hit the road—in my attempt to make the most of our solo Thanksgiving. This year, although we are staying home and having the Turkey Day with friends, I found myself gravitating to the countryside. I took my youngest, who is fighting a nasty cold, up to visit the horses in Palos Verdes. After screaming for almost an hour, he instantly calmed down when seeing the horses.

“Why are they so sad, mommy?” he asked when looking into one’s big eyes.

“They’re just soulful.” I replied.

“Yup. Sushful.”

But you know what? He was calm for the rest of the afternoon.

Kids really do need wide open spaces and soulful faces.

I hope you enjoy this post.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

L. x

**

It takes the shape of a place out west 

But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed 

~ Dixie Chicks 

This Thanksgiving weekend I packed up my boys and headed North toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I needed to get out of this town. I needed to breathe. I needed a vista. I needed to distract and cheer up my children. I needed to run far away from the insanity of my life and recent disappointments. So when my oldest did a report for school about a small cowboy and ranching town in the shadow of Mount Whitney, I got the idea. Why should we stay in LA where we have no family? Why should we be alone during the holidays just because I’m on a small budget and can’t travel back East?

As my son researched Lone Pine for his report, I realized that we had actually driven past it a few times on our way to Mammoth. My soon-to-be Ex skis, and we were always in a hurry to get to Mammoth for that reason. Before my son’s report, I didn’t know that 400 movies had been filmed in the area, mostly westerns, but also parts of Gladiator and Iron Man. The majestic beauty of the Sierras amongst miles of ranch land is an amazing backdrop for movies. We had driven through the small Indian reservations and the towns of Lone Pine and Bishop, but never stopped along the way before. Who knew there was so much to discover that is virtually free to visit? This time I stopped along the highway with the boys and we explored the historic fish hatchery;  Manzanar museum where Japanese-Americans were held as prisoners during WW 11; the adorable Beverly and Jim Rogers Lone Pine Museum of Film History; and the Laws Railroad Museum.

This trip was all about slowing down (which is mandatory when traveling with a three-year-old!) and getting off the beaten path. We didn’t stay at a fancy ski resort, but at a modest motel with a breath-taking view. We walked through town and talked with the locals at the drug store, mexican restaurant and Subway where we discussed various topics from Elvis verses Justin Bieber, to teenagers today, to crazy temper tantrums—as my three-year-old showed off his tantrum antics in all places! My only big splurge was riding boots and a horse riding lesson for my oldest. Before I left, I called the chamber of commerce for horse back riding referrals. They directed me to a horse trainer in Bishop who is well-known for training champion jumpers. She was kind enough to give my son a lesson. In fact, the three of us visited the Millpond Equestrian Center in Owens Valley north of Bishop twice to feed and chat with the horses (and dogs and one precocious kitten!).

The one-hour drive from Lone Pine to Bishop, that we did twice, was my favorite. The views are nothing short of spectacular. The youngest napped as William and I sang songs and I breathed in the beauty of the white-capped mountains bathed in fields of gold. As I looked ahead, or in my rear-view mirror, I began thinking of the power of letting go. There is power in not engaging in crazy behavior by others (if any of you have experienced that!) and saying no by moving forward and away from it. Most importantly, there is power in seeking honesty and beauty wherever you can find it.

During my drives I often thought of my lovely, new friends—all single moms who are struggling so much right now. I so wish that you all could have taken a similar trip. There’s something about wide open spaces. It not only lets you breathe deeply, but somehow it helps you expand. I could feel myself trusting the Universe again. I could actually feel hope start to fill my lungs by the second day I was away. Pictures tell a story so much better than I ever could. Here’s my journey. I left Los Angeles blue, confused and with a heavy heart from recent hurts. As I rose in altitude, so did my spirits. Who knew there were so many lessons to be learned on the road?

Extreme pressure is transforming. Hang on. You’ll rise above all of this.

Elk, or Reindeer Crossing? Magic, wonder and mystery may still cross your path.

Kindness heals. Your children know kind souls when they meet them.
Face whatever comes toward you, but don’t forget the bigger picture and the better focus for your life.
Try new things. (And keep your chin up when you do!)
Get off the beaten path. Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own.