Miss Mary packed her bags today: a bleached swimsuit, 4 pairs of underwear, two camisoles, pajama cut-offs and a too short sundress. “I’m going on a trip.” she announced. “I don’t like skiing, I don’t like sledding, I don’t like all this dumb snow. I’m going somewhere with sunshine and summer.”

She’s not alone. Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to today is singing the winter blues. Storm after storm this week have cloaked the valley in gorgeous glistening white. But the sun is pouting, masked behind clouds and refusing to show it’s pretty face.

Utahns are trained to love snow from birth(obviously we were unsuccessful with Mary). We know our economy and water supply are dependent upon the fluffy stuff, but sometimes the January knowledge that we have months of sunless days ahead is too much to bear.

Both Erik and I suffer from winter depression, dancing a two step as we take turns with down days or hours. We’ve found that we have to be extremely gentle with each other. Like overflowing buckets slung over the water boy’s shoulders, even small bumps in the road spill short words and hot tears.

And so, when everyday stresses– stalled cars, horrific grocery bills, a wrestling match that punches a knee through the wall– aren’t handled with greatest diplomacy, we dole out forgiveness quickly and in generous doses.

I’m reminded of a story Ben heard in Sunday School– Allen was playing basketball against a harsh, physical team. One boy in particular seemed determined to start a fight– tossing insults and deliberately fouling opponents. Allen succumbed to the challenge, bloodied the boy’s nose and knocked him to the floor.

Later, Allen learned that the angry boy’s mother had died the day before.

Shamed, Allen cultivated a beautiful habit, “Every time I’m treated unfairly– cut off in traffic, swindled out of money or simply ignored– I create elaborate stories of the horrible events that might be taking place in that person’s life. I feel so sorry for them that my small hurts disappear.”

If I look carefully, I see pain and beauty in every face. Perhaps I’m finally ready to make a New Year’s resolution: to treat people gently, kindly, and scatter light even when clouds cover the sun.

The sun never came out during two attempted photo shoots, but I’m still dazzled by looking straight into joy.


January 25, 2009
January 30, 2009



  1. Brooke

    January 29, 2009

    i don’t think the sun always needs to come out to make something beautiful.

    and maybe it’s a little cheesy, but i do always think of a line from hymn 219 (i think it’s 219): “in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that they eye can’t see.”

    we all have a quiet heart. we need not wonder too much to know that everyone hurts a little.

    love you!


    January 29, 2009

    I love your photos celebrating the blessings of family!! YAY!!

    When we lived in a very rainy, super soggy state, I kept telling myself the sun is still doing it’s thing…just on the other side of the clouds LOL!

    Keep smiling cuz you have a bright smile 🙂

    Send my love to everybody.

  3. Linkous

    January 29, 2009

    I think you have found the right way to deal with disappointments of all kinds–you help and lift and give to everyone around you. Thank you for your amazing example, my friend. I want to be just like you!!!

  4. smart mama

    January 29, 2009

    great words- gentleness is often underused

  5. Brooke

    January 29, 2009

    it’s not 219. i think it’s the one after that.


  6. J.J.

    January 29, 2009

    Love the comment about the guy who creates the story- that’s something my dad has done that we have continued to do in our family- the kids really get into it but it almost universally comes back to their dog/cat/gerbil getting run over by a car or eaten by a wild animal.

  7. martha corinna

    January 29, 2009

    I know I say this all the time Michelle, but that was perfect. I am trying to form words and thoughts for a lesson on Sunday for the YW(we have some niceness and charity issues)and have been trying to come up with ideas on service and love. That story is perfect, something the girl’s would understand. It is sometimes hard to help an adult understand why people are unkind and how we should respond, let alone a teenager.

  8. Michelle

    January 29, 2009

    And the sun it out today! It’s glorious! Now I need another photo victim– I mean subject.

    Thanks for your kind comments. I always get nervous when I write something personal like this.

  9. Heather

    January 29, 2009

    This post was so inspiring! Every time I come to your blog, I am uplifted, that is why I keep coming back. I love your perspective on dealing with life’s bumps, and your photos inspire me to see the beauty in the everyday, and to be better at taking pictures. Your compliment on my pictures today really made my day, especially coming from such a talented photographer. Thanks for spreading some sunshine.

  10. Chelle

    January 29, 2009

    I really wish I’d written Brooke’s comment. Am I allowed to just say “ditto”?

    And also, that I simply adore you?


  11. Claudia

    January 29, 2009

    You already know how I feel about winter around these parts.

    From Sis. Hinckley’s Small & Simple Things: “‘We are here in mortality, and the only way to go is through; there isn’t any around!’ I would add, the only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”

    Your last picture reminded me of that. Thanks so much for sharing your heart. Love you too!

  12. Shannon

    January 30, 2009

    i agree with mary…and i want to go somewhere warm too. I hate the snow and constantly ask myself. Why do I live in Utah?

  13. Alyson (New England Living)

    January 30, 2009

    Those are beautiful shots! I’m one of those that often gets more creative in the winter, so I love it. I can understand others becoming sad though. The shorter days can be a bummer.

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