Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Apology, An Announcement, And A Very Messy Story

First off, I must apologize for not posting last week. I got caught up in the end of the semester chaos and before I knew it Thursday had come and gone and I hadn't posted! It seems my past two weeks have been filled with nothing but homework, running, and maybe a few hours of sleep here and there. But I am happy to say the new semester has started and with it a chance to breathe and a little time to reflect and NOTICE.

I am pleased to announce that the "Did you notice..." page is now up and running! (You can click on it in the sidebar.) Every week I will be adding to the list a minimum of one thing I notice about each of the five senses. What I see, feel, smell, taste, and hear. In my weekly posts I will provide a link to bring you directly to the page, although at times I may post more frequently, so check back often! (If you become a member or follow, you will receive e-mail updates every time I post. I plan to do a post about following and becoming a member in the near future.)  And please, I really want this to be a collaborative experience...I am (and I'm sure everyone is) fascinated to see what fascinates you!

I'd like to finish my post off with a little story from art class today, because I think it's very apropos to the idea of reflecting on moments. We've been studying Impressionism, which captures those every day moments and exaggerates them through the use of color, lighting, and movement. So, we went outside to observe the scenes of winter and used oil and chalk pastels to depict a scene of our choosing. I chose two footprints on the snow-covered patio.

Claude MonetImpression, soleil levant(Impression, Sunrise), 1872, oil on canvas, Musée Marmottan
My brows furrowed in concentration. Turn the clipboard this way, that way. Yes, that's the angle I wanted. You would've thought I was in a warehouse with an electric saw. Chalk dust flew behind me like wood shavings, enclosing my body in a cloud as I scribbled away furiously. The chalk dust dried my throat and left me coughing. Down to the nub now, I tossed the chalk carelessly over my shoulder and simultaneously started scribbling away with a fresh piece in the other hand. Sweat dripped down my forehead, lingered in between my eyes for a moment to laugh at me, then slid down the bridge of my nose and off the tip. The icy breath of an early winter morning restricted the free-flow motion of my hands, making my strokes rigid and stiff.

I held the clipboard at arm's length to admire my masterpiece. Two white footprints in red snow...hmmm. Not really what I was going for. Then again, my subject had changed quite a bit as my eyes focused on the now red-tinged snow around my feet. My eyes dared to roam further. My hands were two very confused chameleons. I had a new red highlight. A new winter coat. And my pants had caught a bad case of the chicken pox. Funny...I resembled art more than the drawing did. Too bad I couldn't turn myself in for a grade. And to think I liked pastels just the other day. What didn't I draw a tree like everyone else?  "What did you do, roll in it?" my friend wisecracked. This is why I am a writer, not an artist.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Did You Notice?

Did you notice the moon tonight? Full in her evening gown but wrapped in a gray shawl, perhaps to protect herself from the frigid air that numbs my exposed face. Did you feel the snow today? When it ever so lightly and so politely landed on my nose and I went cross-eyed to see it--for it was the first of the season. It dropped in for a quick "hello" and then melted away on the tip of my nose and slipped down my coat as water. 

There are so many moments that pass us by without our knowledge because we are so caught up from getting to Point A to Point B, and then from Point B to Point C, and somewhere in the day we'll probably add a Point D to the never-ending list of things to do. But what about the moments when we sit back and just admire? For maybe we do notice these moments, but fail to give them the attention they deserve. After the holidays, I was talking to my dear childhood friend who was diagnosed with AML Leukemia, March 2011. After talking about what Santa brought us and exchanging stories from Christmas Eve, she told me about how her family drove to see the lights in the center of town. Mind you, these lights go up every year and we must have driven by them hundreds of times over all the years we lived here and never even blinked an eye, yet after all she's been through, it was such a highlight for her to be able to get out of the house and see something beautiful. I suppose I never considered the lights "beautiful"--nor can I say I would categorize carrots and cucumbers as "beautiful" either, which she was excited to finally eat--but I suppose when you're as sick as she was, everything even remotely beautiful magnifies. And what a wonderful thing to be able to say carrots and cucumbers are beautiful! So she said, "Honestly, I wouldn't trade what happened to me for anything. The people I've met, the lessons I've learned, is all because I was sick. It is why I am who I am today." It's like her entire world has been spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, all her senses amplified.

So I am posing a challenge to myself, and I invite my fellow crazy dreamers to do the same. Every week, I will add spice to my life and open my senses and write down one thing--or more if I feel especially inspired--I notice for each sense: see, hear, taste, smell, feel. At times I may expand on one sense if I am feeling especially especially inspired. But please, I ask you, my fellow crazy dreamers, to join me in this challenge and post your findings as a comment. Because what I may notice could be entirely different from what strikes you. And the way I notice could be entirely different from how you see it. It will be one big pot of inspiration!  I will keep track of these findings in a separate page in addition to my weekly posts. I will set up the page by next Thursday by the latest. Just keep your mind wide open, and you'll be surprised what you can find. Happy noticing!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Go With the Flow

I had waited to post until later tonight because I was anticipating on meeting up with some friends tonight at a hockey game, where hopefully I might run into a certain someone that my friend thought I might be interested in. Therefore, I was also anticipating perhaps some exciting story or embarrassing moment or some learning experience to come out of it. I was just about to go upstairs to curl my hair--which is a rare occasion so clearly I was expecting something--when my friend called to let me know that apparently not a lot of people were going to the hockey game and neither was that certain someone whom I might be interested in so, maybe we should cancel and try some other time. Bummer.
What to do when plans change? What to do when things don't go as expected? I find I often project my ideal world--my ideal evening, party, dance, etc.--but when does anything go exactly as planned? Often, this projection of perfection results in my disappointment. What I must learn to do is not go into everything with expectations. Just like shopping at Salvation Army. Go in there with no expectations and let myself be pleasantly surprised. Who knows what treasures could be hiding in between that tarp skirt and ugly Christmas sweater?  And if I don't find anything? Well, I wasn't expecting anything anyway. But a cute boy would be nice.

Sweet Dreams,

Megan ;)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year's Plunge

I had the pleasure of spending the first day of the new year at our house on the Cape. We couldn't have asked for a better day with temperatures in the low 50s, a clear blue sky, and the beach less than a mile away. So, we of course took the opportunity to run along the sand, but we also decided a little New Year's plunge was called for.

The first time we go in I am reluctant to plunge my bare and unprotected skin into the icy hands of a January Atlantic ocean. "Just run right in," Mom says as I stand shivering in my bathing suit. "Don't think." This is what I do, for it is exactly this type of hesitation that I don't want to bring to the new year. This year, this is what I must do. Run into life without second-guessing, eyes closed, arms above my head, ready to take the plunge. 

So the first time, I run in, dive under, and immediately run back out to the comfort of my warm clothes already turned right-side out and welcoming me home like a mother's loving arms. But, I did it to get it over with. I didn't even savor the moment underwater. No. This will not do.

Without speaking I turn around and dive back in, and for a moment I just sit there. Feel the icy water prick my skin and freeze my brain like too big a gulp of a milkshake. Then I am up again. I walk back to shore and already have my shorts on but still...something doesn't seem right. I should feel complete, refreshed. But I'm missing something. Part of me says, "Too late. It doesn't matter. No use." No. This year, there will be no, "too late." There will be no, "one time deal." I will try again and again until I get it right. So I strip off my shorts and head back to the water.

The third time I plunge, I am reborn. When I dive under the ripples, I let the cool water cleanse my body of all negative energies, all insecurities, regrets, feelings of remorse,  guilt, all woulda shoulda coulda's. I let it mend my scars and bruises and leave behind fresh and raw skin. I emerge. I flip my hair back and feel the sun warm my face. Complete, refreshed, reborn.

To top it off, as I head back to shore, I find a little heart rock nestled in the sand. White, pure, youthful, and full of promise.