Isn’t this beautiful?

The sign of a vacation – pictures of the most common daily occurances elevated to art, with predictable conversations of it’s magnificence, why we don’t do this more often, there’s never enough time, next time, one day, some day, if…the excuses lasting as long as the vacation, then back to “real life” and it’s all forgotten. 

So here’s an “aahhh” for a Monday morning to get us going.  That’s all.

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April 5, 2010 at 10:12 am Leave a comment

Found Things – Writing Prompt

Oh, it’s been too long, dear friends, and what jarred me out of my slump?  A quick dash this morning to the community dumpster with my little bag of refuse, I slid open the door and there was a crate of partially drunk bottles of liquor, ranging from Meyers Rum to a 15 year old bottle of scotch.  The crate was stamped with an exotic distillery name from a hot country, the bottles were a little dusty, with one upside down in the little space that was left.   What a find!  But what to do?  Cave in to dumpster diving, leave be, pour them out and recycle the bottles…some many options.  My head was spinning!

What it really did was get me thinking about my old writing circles, how the prompts we were given would stir up all kinds of stories, and the pleasure of listening to each woman’s version or experience.  There was always magic there, stories that seemed to flow together with a common theme over and above the prompt in front of us, the heads nodding in agreement, “yes, me too,” the circle becoming more intimate with each story. 

The writing circles were also we played with Found Things, after reading about this latest trend in the NY Times.  We all had fun gathering, hunting, and trying to catagorize our own Found Things.  I considered myself an expert, having been a long-time admirer of Pippi Longstocking and her adventures in Thing-Finding with her demure, sheltered neighbor children, Peter and Anika.   I was much more like Anika than I cared to admit (read: no fun), so studied hard to be Pippi Longstocking.  I have succeeded somewhat.

So now I offer up this Found Thing, this crate of liquor left as an offering in a dumpster, from someone who had to throw it away, but still saw value in it, we can see who will take it or not, or what other options anyone can come up with.  Share some of your stories with me, but keep them short. 

Thanks for playing.

 

April 1, 2010 at 5:08 am 4 comments

Creek Watch, Day 3

Day 3 of  Creek Watch, of seeing it anew,  my struggles with getting thoughts to paper, my mind swirling with ideas as I cross again and again, Cascadilla Creek.  Six years and what have I seen?  How can I feel like this is the first time I’ve noticed it?  Probably five of those years are lost, invisible impressions that flit in and out of my mind, quick as my crossings.  Some events jump out at me, like the carp spawning, stacks of fish churning in the shallow water, huge females dwarfing the eager and abundant males.  They gather slowly, their numbers growing, sometimes hiding under the bridges, sometimes in the bright daylight, spanning the width of the creek.  And then one day they’re just gone.  I watch for the young, but I never see them.

Then there’s my returning duck couple who make a nest and have a few bobbing young every year, their nest disappearing in a spring flood, later their little family cuddled cozily on a sunny rock.  Summertime blackbirds with yellow eyes sit on the rocks, dipping their beaks and tossing back the cool water.  They clamor for the mulberries that shade the creek next to the Buddhist temple. 

Another day in the summer when all life seemed tucked away, the only living things I saw in the water were a snake, a rat and a crawfish, each reminding me of how cruel hemming in a creek in with cement banks can be. 

I’ve watched the water turn into a slurry of creek soup, slushy globs of soft ice that look like fat, the rocks, sticks, and society’s trash simmering underneath.  Watching the sinuous, liquid ice floes form and change, is like visiting the aquarium and identifying the different fish, dolphins and penguins that grab out attention.  It’s water cloud watching, the steam from my own breathing adding to the circle of water and air.

I vow to never not notice the creek again, thankful for the reminder of how fast life can go by.   I know though, that I will forget, lost in my head, thoughts of good days or bad days at work, what’s for dinner, happy in the warm evening air, and then I will be brought up short by the cool, damp air held by the creek and it’s memory of winter.

March 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Writing Jesus’s Name in the Dust

“I just love writing Jesus’s name in the dust,”  an acquaintance quoted her now ex-mother-in-law saying as they finished up a tour of the new home and life she and her partner had begun back in home territory after being gone for years and years.  I shared my story of a business guest noting after dinner, that “dusting isn’t really that important is it?”   My story was at least free of any lifestyle commentary, but we still laughed at the veiled disapproval and passive aggressive stance of “but I was really agreeing with you.”  I think not.

So here I am dusting someone else’s house and tempted by the light felted canvas on each surface, wanting to add a heart or smiley face or my name, tempted by that virgin space as cave dwellers, tree carvers, wet sidewalk signers and graffiti artists have been for ages.  Even my cat turned into a billboard, her pure white sides calling for decoration.  So one Christmas to amuse the kids – what was I thinking – I outlined a green Christmas tree on her side with washable, non-toxic marker (no animals were hurt in this process, only embarrassed).  Of course the kids shrieked in glee, but I had not thought through the consequences, that it opened the door of what next.  There was a year or so that Snowball sported many the seasonal symbol, but the fun stopped when both pre-teen and cat had hot pink hair.  Everyone got a bath then and the line was drawn.  No more decorating the cat.  But express ourselves we must,  and spray bottles and food color were purchased and the snowy yard turned into a 4-color diorama of sharks and waves and snow swimmers.  It was great.

So here’s to all those artists big and small, to expressing ourselves and encouraging others to let it out.  It makes me feel like Peter Pan, hands on hips ready to crow, “I did that!”  The expansive freedom of seeing a thought or idea come to life is so exhilarating, it becomes the definition of life itself, and I can’t wait for what’s next.

March 6, 2010 at 10:54 am 4 comments

Color Me Winter

Sitting here in the light of the pre-dawn morning, only the contrast of black ink on white paper is visible.  The snow and air are blue and there is a waning moon with frosty edges just touching the trees.  This has been a rare sighting this winter.  Last night’s orange and purple sunset was enough to make me stop my car mid-road and take a picture. 

Our southern cousin La Nina brought us weeks of snow showers with only the occasional day of sunshine, so I have missed the blinding sparkle of sun on snow, and the purple and blue shadowed snow at sunset. 

Thank goodness for the artists who can see the green in the sky as the blue of the day gives way to the yellow and orange in the evening.  They know snow is a superior canvas as any bought in an art shop, with its ridges and valleys, its sheen, its angles, the light bouncing from each individual crystal.

The sun is up now, the birds are attacking the feeder and work beckons.  While I have diligently hung on to taking Snow Days since Kindergarten, I may need to rethink this and consider taking Sun Days, too.   But not today.

March 4, 2010 at 7:34 am Leave a comment

Tea Bag Wisdom

From my Yogi Tea bag tag: 

To learn, read

To know, write

To master, teach.

I am so glad to be back to writing, even if it becomes hard or tedious or another full-time job.  I am almost hoping that my current job comes to a screeching halt so I really have to find something else to do, but then, the last time I wished long and hard, bemoaning the gently used condition of my car bumpers, I got new ones, thanks to a narrow road and a small bus.  I want writing to be my real job like Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy.  He got his wish and a book and movie out of it!

The trouble is, I like to be comfortable so I can leisurely do things like walk through the snowy woods, sit in the magic circle I created and listen to the wind and creaking of the trees, or watch the birds take turns at the suet feeder as the cat chatters at them.  It’s hard to let go of a safety net and fly off into worlds unknown.  I know, though, that it often takes a little fear and some bold leaps to really get to those places of inspiration.  Being in charge of that motivation is a little harder than when life just surprises me and I have to react.  I have confidence in my ability to think quickly.  In taking risks and leaps of faith I need a little more practice.

A little afraid? Well let’s see if you can…try just a little .  Little Fear = Great Accomplishments.

 Little Fear:  I’ll look stupid.

Great Accomplishment:  Comfortable with, and able to laugh at myself.

 Little Fear:  I’ll get it wrong.

Great Accomplishment:  I’ll have something in common with Edison.

 LF:  I won’t amount to anything.

GA: I am already someone, I have persevered.

 LF: It doesn’t matter.

GA:  I haven’t asked enough people.  Talk to people to whom I’ve made a difference  and see what they say.

 LF:  No, really, I’ll look stupid

GA:  Who cares?  What ego-god is looking down on me, holding up a score card on each of my acts while off-camera statisticians work out my ranking at the end of the day?  “She started out strong on Monday with a 2, but by Tuesday when everyone else made it to work but she took a snow day, she bolted up to an 8 on the Stupid Meter.”  Who cares?  Did I have a good day?  Yes.  Am I refreshed and accomplished a lot at work the next day?  Yes.  So what’s so bad about that?

So maybe it’s time to take my very good advice – thank you Alice in Wonderland – and listen to a wiser being than that critic in my head who seems to only want to caution me and make sure that each failure is met with an “I told you so.”  I think not.

February 25, 2010 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

Paying Attention

I’ve heard the Universe gives you lots of chances to practice what you’ve learned, or at least could have learned if you were paying attention. That’s the unstated test – were you paying attention?  Happily I was, because I got my test just 3 hours later.  I give myself an A for noticing, but execution was a B- at best. 

I had attended a coaching session earlier in the afternoon and an issue the presenter focussed on was getting through a tough situation.   A quick 4-parter, even I could remember it.  Mostly. 

1. Breathe

2 Acknowledge your feelings

3 Ground yourself in the present moment

4 Make peace with the situation or accept to do something about it another time

All good and I bet it even works better when I get all the steps in, but for now, I am happy to recognize that I am stressed and that I can do something about it. 

It’s winter in Upstate NY, so of course it’s  snowing  just as everyone is trying to get home, roads are untreated and slick and traffic lined up like a parade.  I skid past my turn, turn around for a second go and slide again.  I am not a happy winter driver, except during Camelot winter, when the ground is sparkling white with snow and the roads are dry.   As I am creeping along to errands I don’t want to go on, my mind is racing towards my daughter commuting over the poor roads, the company that may beat me to my house, the bed to be remade, the cat hair clinging to the sofa, and yes, that I am stressed, angry, afraid, and that I just learned what to do about it. 

I would like to add Recognition to that previous list, because I know it would be a relief  just to scream at someone, go home, and be mad about the weather.  Trouble is, I would not like myself.  So let’s hear it for Recognition, knowing – paying attention – that emotions are high and that there is a better choice than just reacting in a pre-programmed way.

So, I started Breathing.  Simple, you say?  No.  Unconscious?  Yes.  My shoulders are hunched, my body is tight, and I’m not processing what’s going on right now, only a multitude of possibilities that probably won’t happen.  Just taking a breath and loosening up created space for productive thinking to enter my brain. It worked so well I tried it again.  Feeling better, I tried another step, Be Present, focus on what’s in front of you.  I’m in my car, it’s snowing, there are lots of other cars, check my speed, my brakes…okay…I’m feeling in control, the screaming urges are leaving and I know what I’ll need to do should an emergency arise.  I am all of a sudden a competent driver and I only did two out of four tasks!

Sitting in my warm office now, I can now accept the situation and check off #4, and I might even remember to do this whole exercise before I start driving in ugly weather again.  I look forward to the time when this whole process is automatic and that practice sessions come farther and farther apart.  I may still mix up the order or skip a step, but it will still work and I will be proud of myself.  I think I’ll put that as #5.  Give credit when it’s due, especially to yourself.

February 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

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