THE ORIGIN OF 330 DAYS OF SUNSHINE

This photo project started one sunny October day in 2011 when the sky was azure and the leaves were brilliant gold. Knowing that the dark days of winter were approaching and knowing that my mother lived in a state that gets 45 inches or so (sometimes more) a year, with gray, gloomy winters, I decided to start documenting the lovely sunshine of New Mexico daily. I would post a sunshine photo to Facebook each day and place it on her timeline so that every day she could look at it on her new iPad. (Yes, at 78, she got an iPad and was dutifully acquiring the skills to access email, apps, social media and games.)

But the project quickly became something more. Each day, I had to find the sun. That meant looking at the world in a whole new way. It meant treasuring each ray of light, even as Halloween came, daylight saving time ended and the leaves tumbled from the trees.

All through the winter, I found I was seeking the light — and finding it in the most unexpected ways. Finding light as the earth turns to the darkest day of the year — Winter Solstice, my birthday — became a practice in gratitude. It became a practice in seeking positivity, turning away from negativity.

Each day, my quest for light took me to new places. It taught me new ways to make meditation a habit. It taught me a new discipline of the mind. We have a tendency to dwell on the negative — and to start to believe our negativity is the truth. Seeking a sunshine photo every day taught me that I was ignoring many of the magnificent everyday moments that were unfolding right before my eyes. I’ve worked at the same place for 20 years, and many of my photos are taken within a few steps of my day job. I’ve been walking past these trees, flowers, sculptures, parks and buildings for two decades — not noticing the beauty.

I also noticed that just when the project would seem to falter, the light would change, the season would shift, ever so slightly, and new signs of life would emerge.

So, there you have it. It began as a gift to my mother. I became something more. A gift to myself. And to 500 or so Facebook friends who get a daily dose of sunshine.

By the way, why 330? That’s because in Albuquerque, the average year has 330 days of sunshine.

I’ve been taking the photos, rain or shine, blue sky or gray. We’ll see if we end up with 330 by the end of the year.

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