Whenever I visit my parents’ house, I usually find myself pulling out my old scrap books and photo albums. I don’t go home so frequently, so I only do it every once and a great while!
I love looking through old pictures and remembering the specific experiences tied to them. Some memories feel so real it’s almost as if I could be living them again.
Now, I don’t long for the past, ever. I think this is because it feels like every year just keeps getting better and better.
But, it is fun to look back and see where I once was and remember the things I once did.
I do this from time to time with Instagram too. It’s sort of a virtual photo album, a collection of singular pictures that represent specific moments, which for some reason or another, meant something to me along my journey to where I am right now.
Most of my pictures are shots of nature, because I find myself so easily captivated by the world around me. Lots of them are blurry, and too many are probably of my feet, but it doesn’t matter to me.
Because they all hold special memories for me.
In addition to the photos themselves, I recently realized that I used my posts, at times, to express ideas or thoughts that needed expressing. And, as I got to thinking about this, I realized that if I didn’t recreate that content elsewhere, there’s a chance I could lose it all together one day (you know, if Instagram disappeared for some reason).
So, I thought that it would be fun to put some of my favorite posts here. Now.
I chose some of them for the content, for the words that flowed out of me and into the captions; and others, for the memories themselves. The photos might not be spectacular and the words might be insufficient, but the memories of what the photos represent move me in some way.
Quite a few of the images I selected are quotes, ones I probably chose at a particular time, because I needed to read the words as much as I wanted to share them.
The photos below are in chronological order, dating back to when I first started my Instagram account.
As you look below, you will see the photos with either the original caption (if this is the case, they will have quotation marks before the first word, and after the last word of the section); or, a little explanation of why I chose it.
I hope that by looking through this post, you might be inspired to dive into your own stream of memories, to see what lives in the images of your own personal virtual photo albums.
This was the first time I’d seen my sister in about two years. She moved to California when I moved to Boston, and we hadn’t been able to visit each other. She was in Boston for the night and I was so happy to see her.
I also have to admit that I feel guilt over this night, because I chose to sleep in my own apartment, by myself, rather than staying in her hotel room with her. What was I thinking???
This was when Germany won the world cup in 2014. I was so excited! I’d been in love with their fotboll (it makes me cringe to write soccer right now. I’m sorry. I have been out of the U.S. for too long!) team since the 2006 world cup. Portugal and Germany became my favorite teams during that tournament.
I can still see myself sitting on my futon in my first apartment in Boston, alone, totally overwhelmed with joy about this Germany win. I have one friend who loves them as much as I do!
This picture is from a trail race I did through the White Mountains in New Hampshire in 2014. It was supposed to be a half marathon, but I really think it was closer to 14 or 15 miles. Saying that my friend and I were unprepared for this race would be a severe understatement. I thought that maybe it would take me 2 hours (I added extra time to my normal race pace, because I figured the mountains would slow me down a bit.).
It took me 4.5 hours and I clung to the man in that picture. I would absolutely not let him get away from me, because I had no idea what I was doing, and the signage was almost non-existent, and I did not want to get lost! Oh, and not only was the race through the mountains, but it had rained the night before, so it was slippery too!
I will say, though, that I’ve never felt as alive, or as totally, wholly, completely in the present moment as during that race. It was the most mindful or hyper-aware of the present moment that I’d ever been, because I had to make sure I wouldn’t trip over anything! It was literally 4.5 hours of a moving meditation.
“This morning I witnessed a beauty that no camera or filter can do justice, that no words can capture. Rarely do I stop when I'm out for a run. Whether it feels good or bad, whether I feel like I'm flying or barely moving, I keep pushing forward. Today I stopped multiple times. Each time I tried to go again I had to stop and turn around. How could I not give this vision my full attention? How can you not look at something like this and feel more love, more hope and more connection to all of nature, to all of humanity? What a beautiful start to a Saturday.”
One summer, my parents visited me for a week in Boston. We drove up to Maine for a few days, and I took this photo of my dad and I in Kennebunkport. I loved Kennebunkport. And, I loved having that time with my parents too.
“Listening to Luciano Pavarotti while watching the sunrise is an otherworldly experience.”
“The only moment that really exists is the present moment. Everything else is but a shadow of a memory, or an imagined future we create in our minds. As each second passes, the one before it recedes from reality. The only experience we ever truly have, is the one that is happening right now.”
“Darkness cannot exist in the light. Hate and negativity cannot exist when you are living in a space of love and gratitude. Always choose the light.”
“Whenever I get home from a walk or a run, I stand silently outside the front door of my apartment building, soaking in the sounds around me--birds chirping, doors opening and closing, and cars driving down streets in the distance.
After a few long, deep breaths, I open my eyes, turn my face to the sky and audibly thank Mother Nature. It doesn't matter if the run felt good or bad, or whether there was sunshine or pouring rain. I am always thankful to have been able to be out there.”
“I used to be so competitive with my running. I had to go faster and run further. I had time goals to meet and distances to surpass.
Now I run because it makes me feel alive. I forget about the world outside of myself. I run to feel the vitality of nature and to feel energy course through me as fresh air revitalizes my soul. At some point, I cease even feeling my body anymore. I might as well be in silent meditation because the world around me slips away. I sense there are things happening around me – other runners, walkers, bikers, cars driving down the street, and the city skyline in the background somewhere, but I’m not paying attention to any of it. I am free, untethered. I run to feel the majesty, power and grace of the universe-within me and all around me. I run because it reminds me of everything that is good and right in the world. And, I run to feel the utter brilliance of simply experiencing this moment.”
“Fresh air; sunshine; listening to the silence between the sounds.”
“There is a freshness, a subtle grace in the gentle new light of the sunrise; and a warm, compassionate embrace in the dancing colors of the sunset.”
“Earlier this week I felt low and disoriented. I couldn't center myself or settle into my usual space of contentedness. No matter how hard I tried to focus on my breath and revel in the things I feel grateful for, I couldn't pull myself out of the low. The only moments that I truly felt calm and connected were when I was outside in nature—walking around the river, watching the sunrise, or sitting outside gazing at the leaves of branches blowing in the breeze. Nature soothes my mind. It always has. It is the only thing that I know will instantly make me feel lighter. Any tension or unease I feel coursing inside of me dissolves as I breathe in fresh air and immerse myself in the natural world. And for that, I am grateful.”
“There is a quiet comfort in the solitude of an early morning walk; communing with a silence inside, allowing thoughts to flow freely - wondering, contemplating, hypothesizing, or imagining. The world is still, and I am with me.”
Just a beautiful fall morning walk. I think it was the first time I could wear a sweater and it felt so lovely.
“I am humbled by poetry and the sunrise; by walks in the rain, and clouds floating along a bright blue sky; by the thought of infinity and the tenuous, transient nature of time; the fullness and sudden rush of deep laughter or great sorrow; by the gentle caress of the breeze and the forceful gust of a rainstorm wind; the dance of a bird's wings as it glides across the sky, and the surprising, but welcome, suspension of a knee-jerk reaction. I am moved and awed by the almost imperceptible moments of exquisiteness that live beyond the veil of normal attention.”
“We can never know in the moment how a decision we make will affect the course of our lives. We may sense a significance, a potential altering of the way we will one day move in the world, but we cannot fathom the fine details. It's only after time has played her game that we can look back and recognize, with precision, the exact moment that changed everything.”
“I find solace in silence, and comfort in solitude.”
“We only ever experience the world through our singular, personal perspective, and that experience is filtered through the lens of our past experiences, and our thoughts, beliefs, and ideas about how the world should be. It's important to remember that when we are viewing something as good or bad, exciting or disappointing, it is because of our mind's interpretation of the events—not necessarily the elements of the experience itself.”
“Do what moves you. Watch the sunrise. Meditate. Nap. Run, walk or bike around the park. Play with your kids. Dance uninhibitedly alone in your room. Smile at a stranger. Better yet, say good morning. Write. Read. Paint. Binge-watch TV for no other reason than it gives you great pleasure. Do it without guilt. Laugh until you cry. Be sarcastic but not mean. Revel in the beauty of a sunset. Talk to your parents on the phone, and listen to what they have to say. Go to a movie. Watch a Broadway show or go to the ballet. Dance while you’re waiting at a stoplight simply because the song you’re listening to makes your heart sing. Be kind. Be giving. Look for reasons to be grateful. Lie on the floor listening to opera. Go to a baseball game. Stay home and do nothing all day. Practice yoga. Meditate. Journal. Cry. Help someone cross the street. Hold the door open for someone you don’t know. Eat good food. Read books that make you feel inspired. Dream. Visualize. Go for the life you want to live. Tell someone she looks beautiful or you like her hair or shoes or dress. Donate clothes you don’t wear. Buy a meal for a homeless person, without telling anyone about it. Lie in the park on a summer day just watching the clouds pass across the sky. Run in the rain. Marvel at the small things. Listen to the birds chirp in the early morning. Wake up before the sun. Give yourself a day to sleep in. Do what you want to do. Stop doing what you don’t like. Watch young children living in constant amazement at the wonders of the world around them. Cuddle with a dog. Take a hot shower and wash your hair just because it feels good. Travel. Sing. Stretch. Live in the present moment. Be. Smell the cologne of a man as he passes you on the street. Say thank you. Accept a compliment without deflecting. Give compliments freely. Meditate. Spend time with friends. Spend time alone. Cook. Sleep. Take a vacation day. Rest when you’re sick. Laugh unabashedly when something moves you. Get lost in a space untethered to time. Feel. Breathe. Live. Smile. Experience life as you’re living it. Just be alive.”
“Life doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it. Smile. Breathe. Do what feels good. Let go of what doesn't. Do more of what you love. Look for things to be grateful for. Find a way to move through difficulties with grace and ease, if only by being present in experiencing the emotions flowing through you. Allow yourself space to simply exist.”
I went to see the Phantom of the Opera THREE times when they came to Boston last year! I.Just.Could.Not.Stop.
My parents took my sister and I when we really really young (I might have been five years old at the time), and even though I’d slept through most of it…I still managed to bawl at the end (I just really thought Christine should have ended up with the Phantom!).
And yes, I cried all three times as an adult too.
“I want to revel in wonder and bask in imagination. I want to see without judgement, and act without analysis or hesitation. I just want to feel inspired, in awe, entranced; utterly mesmerized by this thing we call life.”
“I am fueled by an energy far greater than the limitations of my physical body.
Part way through my run this morning I felt weak, like I desperately needed water, which was weird because I drank plenty of water before I left. I almost stopped running to walk, which is something I never do (if I'm running, I run!). As I willed my legs forward, what started as a faint, inaudible, unintelligible whisper, became a resounding, cogent force. Those words became a mantra I repeated to myself over and over, somehow propelling me forward with lightness and ease. As I ran, the world around me drifted away. I forgot about everything outside of each step, each breath, each word. Life never ceases to amaze me. We have a strength far greater than we can imagine buried inside, and we can't force it to emerge. We just have to recognize it and welcome it when it does.
Also, I definitely did not run in these shoes. I just like this picture.”
“Art...and music, and sunsets, and the theatre, and time spent in nature, and....”
“I love the changing seasons. I love feeling the heat of the summer sun on my skin, being able to walk outside without adding layer upon layer. I love the colors and crispness of fall. I love the smell of the cold, and the invigorating whip of the winter wind. I love the vivacity of spring, with its beautifully blooming flowers, and the joyful energy of people bursting out of their homes to soak in the return of that first warm, sunny day. I love Mother Nature. I love it all.”
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. In December. Enough said.
“I don’t remember where I read this or who said it, but I love everything about this quote. We cling, grasp, and attach ourselves to so many things, people, ideas, circumstances, and beliefs. When we begin to let go and flow with the natural, inevitable changes of life, everything begins to feel easier, lighter, and more effortless.”
Paris. Several months ago, I went to Paris with my mom and I fell in love with the city. And the coffee. Yes, most definitely, absolutely the coffee.
Another of Paris, because…it’s Paris. When I close my eyes, I can actually still feel as if I am walking down those streets….
“One of my favorite quotes and something that always makes me feel at ease. When we know what we want in life, there is such a tendency to want to force, manipulate, and control our way to our desired results. But that never really works, and it certainly doesn’t feel good. It just causes lots of unnecessary stress and tension. If we can, instead, find a way to hold that vision gently, while surrendering, and allowing for the possibility that we don’t need to work out every minute detail, everything about life feels a bit lighter. And somehow, everything that we want seems to make it’s way to us in a surprisingly effortless way.”
“I threw a fit today like I was seven years old...at most. I just couldn’t stop myself, even though there was a part of me watching the craziness in total confusion. How could I possibly be behaving like this with having practiced mindfulness for so many years?! Well, it happens. That’s why we call it a practice. With mindfulness there is no end goal that we will meet and finally have it all figured out. There will always be new things to learn, new layers to unfold. It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s also what sometimes make us question ourselves. It’s all ok. It’s all good. It’s all progress. Every time we choose to pay attention is movement in the right direction.”
“This morning as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw a post on @thegoodquote with the question, “If you could sit on this bench and chat for one hour with anyone, past or present, who would it be?”
I quickly scanned my mind searching for someone famous, inspiring, or revolutionary, but my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anyone. Then, suddenly I knew who I would choose: my grandpa.
My father’s father died when I was four years old and while I don’t have many specific memories—two of the most vivid ones I do have are when he yelled at me after I spilled laundry detergent all over the floor and the night I found out he died—I have this overwhelming knowing inside of me that he was my favorite person who ever existed. And that I loved him more than I will ever love anyone.
We don’t have to know why we feel what we feel and we don’t need specific memories to explain it. We don’t have to analyze it or question it. Sometimes we just know something, because we feel it.”
“This morning while I was meditating, I realized that I wasn’t breathing. I mean, of course I was breathing, but it was so shallow it was almost nonexistent. I also noticed that my thoughts were bouncing all over the place—mostly to all of the things I want to do today.
It wasn’t until I intentionally deepened my breath that I noticed the energy quell a bit. The noise of the outside world, and even my own inner world of my thinking mind, faded to the background of my experience. I still heard the birds outside my window and felt my thoughts dancing somewhere inside of me, but mostly, it was just me and my breath. I was just breathing.”
“How do you feed your spirit? What do you do to nurture your soul? What energizes you? What makes you feel alive, inspired, and free?
For me, it’s nature, sunshine, and movement. It’s fresh air, meditation, and good music. It’s writing and candles and diving into waves in the ocean. It’s quiet time first thing in the morning, sitting in silence as I ground myself, center myself, and balance myself—intentionally preparing myself for the day ahead.
Life is beautiful and we can spend more of our time in love with the process of living it. We just have to allow ourselves to do the things that bring us joy and feelings of peace.”
“Not yoga. Not really.
Arm balances and inversions aren’t yoga, at least not in themselves. Yoga is the intention that lies behind the poses, the energy that resides beneath the movements. It’s the tuning inward—connecting to the deeper space within ourselves. Yoga was when I decided to walk instead of run halfway through my loop earlier this morning, because I realized my legs were tired. Yoga was soaking in every last moment of being with my dad before he had to leave today—being fully present here with him. Yoga will happen several hours from now, when I step onto my mat and move and breathe in whatever ways feel right to me in the moment.
Sometimes my yoga practice includes arm balances and inversions, but more often it does not. More often, it’s just moving and breathing in soft, simple ways that feel good.”
“Some of the things I love...
* Early Mornings⠀
* Nature, fresh air, and long walks⠀
* Traveling and exploring new cultures⠀
* Long naps⠀
* Rainy days and sunshine⠀
* My family
* Wearing big cozy sweaters⠀
* Invigorating walks in the snow (there’s just something about that cold air that is so energizing!)⠀
* Chocolate...but not too much⠀
* Learning new things—ideas, concepts, ways of looking at, and experiencing, the world...⠀
* Those first few sips of coffee...⠀
* How luxurious my body feels after yoga or a deep stretch
* Binge-watching good tv shows⠀
* That point in fall when the temperatures drop, the leaves change color, and the air feels crisp and clean⠀
* Books I can’t put down
* Laughing really hard...even if it’s at my own expense⠀
* Seeing the joy that fills babies and young children⠀
What are some of the things you love?”
1. Do you ever look through your old social media posts? If so, what do you think about when you do it?
2. Do any of your memories feel as real as your current experiences?
3. If you could go back to the past and relive any of your memories, would you?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts!