Liv Lane launched a website on a rainbow and found a virtual pot of gold in photographs of everyday beauty.
Life is beautiful for Liv Lane. A rainbow made her realize that. A website helped her share it with the world.
It all started last year in early October, when the Shorewood writer and radio host was stopped at a traffic light in Minneapolis. She was in the midst of a stressful time in her life and, in fact, had just left her therapist's office. She looked up, and there it was -- a brilliant rainbow.
"You couldn't miss it, I thought," she recalled. "But I looked to see if other people who were sitting in their cars were noticing it, and nobody did. They were talking on their cell phones; they were putting on makeup; they were talking to their kids in the back seat. And I thought to myself, 'I wish I had a camera so I could take a picture of this rainbow and show it to people who are missing it.'"
Then she thought: "I wonder how many times I've missed rainbows like that or other beautiful sightings because I've been too preoccupied with other stuff."
So she decided that for the next year, starting on Oct. 11, her 32nd birthday, she would take a picture of something beautiful each day -- just for herself. The original plan was to put the images in a photo album, but she couldn't find one with 365 picture slots.
A friend suggested that Lane post the photos online. After some tinkering and some Web tips from her husband, Brad, One Year of Beauty (www.oneyearof beauty.com) debuted.
Each day, she posted one photo of found beauty along with descriptive and inspirational prose. The first image showed a snowflake nestled among green grass and yellow flowers.
Others offered more abstract beauty, such as her son, Ryder, now 4, riding a tricycle outside in December or a stack of chipped china plates handed down by her grandmother.
One serendipitous photo turned out to be One Year of Beauty's most popular. Lane took a picture of melting ice on her porch in mid-March. When she looked at the actual image, she saw what looked like an ice angel; so did everyone else.
"It still takes my breath away when I see it," she said.
Lane's photos aren't perfect. She's the first to admit that she's not a professional photographer.
"In some odd way, that's made it more authentic for people," she said. "It resonates more because you can tell that it is just an average beautiful sighting during someone's day."
One Year of Beauty has gained a following among those who have discovered it through links from other sites, forwarded e-mails and occasional coverage by the Star Tribune and other media. In e-mails, some people have told Lane that they were struggling in their lives and that her website helped them get through the day.
"I was shocked. The e-mail I would get from people would sometimes bring me to tears," she said.
"That certainly was not what I expected or intended with this project. I wanted to do it to help me get through my own days. To know that it helped others to see a little beauty in their own lives was the icing on the cake."
As the one-year anniversary of One Year of Beauty approached, Lane said she realized that she couldn't stop, that her life had been transformed by the experience of creating the site and interacting with the people it also affected. So she left the corporate world in June after about 10 years at General Mills to devote herself full-time to her new venture, Choosing Beauty (www.choosingbeauty.com). (She continues to appear on FM 107 radio as one of the "Get Real Girls" and to do freelance writing.)
"My goal is to create materials, to write one or more books, to share with groups that there's beauty in every day," Lane explained. "It's really the first step you can take in making your life better. It's something every single person can do. When you focus on the good stuff, the good stuff multiplies."
She just started working on a manuscript and hopes to finish the book early next year, although there's no publisher yet.
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