Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Week of Happy Things

This was a week of very happy things, making me regret not having posted more often. Honestly I have no good excuse for not posting more often, considering my homework load was particularly light this week, but I still probably only averaged seven hours of sleep every night. I got distracted somewhere, I suppose, perhaps with all the happy things going on around me! But it would seem quite silly to write a post about my regret for not posting more this week about my week of happy things, because who says I can't just share all my happy things in one post? Snippets of happy things combined into one big happy post?? Little vignettes, my favorite type of writing style: short and poetic and vivid and to the point, perfect for capturing little moments. (Although these are nowhere near polished, so please excuse their lack of poetic quality. I suppose they're more like little rambles of happy things.) If you're interested, Sandra Cisneros has beautiful vignettes in her book, "House on Mango Street." I still find myself returning to her book whenever I'm in need of inspiration.


Happy Vignette #1: Pick Up the Heart

The sky is ocean and the ocean is sky. At this time of day, the horizon line blurs so it is just one big canvas. The air is cool but there's a warm breeze blowing off the water. It's probably not much colder there than it is out here. Everything is at equilibrium, serenity, peace. Everything is at a standstill. The ocean is like one big sheet of Plexi glass, the clouds hover in a blue/gray mass but do only that. It's like running through a still life, a television show on pause.

As I run, I watch my step, avoid tripping over the jagged rocks, when I see a heart rock, stretched from the sides with long wings and a squat torso. But by the time it has registered in my head it is a heart rock I am already past and too stubborn or non-caring to turn back. Immediately I scold myself. "Why'd you do that?! That was the perfect heart rock!" Whatever. It's not the end of the world. But then, less than a minute later, I stumble upon another heart rock; bigger, better, screaming louder to be picked. This one's full and hearty, like a big bowl of homemade oatmeal. Again, I run past. But no...back up. I force myself to turn around. This is a sign, almost as if saying, "You didn't take the first one. Here's your second chance." A second chance at love. A second chance to live in the moment. Because what reason is there not for me to turn around and get the rock? So I run back. At first I think it's too big to carry, but Mom and Michael say we'll manage. We do. We take turns carrying it all the way home, spreading and sharing and passing along the love.

Happy Vignette #2: The Little Fishies That Could
Paddle, paddle. Swim, swim. Don't give up! You're almost there! "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, that's what you do is swim, swim," Dorey's words of encouragement come back to me from a favorite childhood movie, "Finding Nemo." What a smart little fish, Dorey is! Despite her poor memory and sometimes harmful naiveness, she never loses hope. No matter what predator she and Marlin ran into, no matter where the current took them, she just kept swimming. Swimming through life. 

As I watch the little herrings struggle up the ladder––the final leg of their journey––I am reminded of this song. Herring (also known as alewives) are one of the most abundant fishes in the world. Every year between April and May, the herring make their journey from the ocean to freshwater ponds and brooks to spawn, a sure sign of spring on the Cape. Their migrations are called a herring run, and assisting them in the final portion of their journey are ladders built at Stony Brook in Brewster, MA. (To read more about them, click on this link.)

After a week of 80º weather, the sun decided to take a break last weekend, so Sunday was cloudy and sleepy. But if you looked hard enough, you could see the little herring flapping their fins, swimming with all odds against them, and finally, when confidence was high enough, making the leap to the next level. Then they would swim to a corner to catch their breath, where they would rest awhile, building their anticipation. I couldn't help cheering for them every time one made a leap, and crying for them (not literally) when one would miss the jump and slide back down the levels like Chutes & Ladders. I also couldn't help feeling a bit angry at the seagulls who selfishly circled the perimeter of the brook, waiting to swoop for an easy meal. Other seagulls were so fat they couldn't even fly, so they perched on a nearby bench, eyes wide with greed. But to think these little fish had come all this way was admirable, and thinking of them swimming up that ladder made me think about the hardest workout I've ever done, and agree this journey was probably harder.

Happy Vignette #3: A New Recipe

Okay, so this recipe isn't ingenious. I didn't even have to turn on the stove or mix something in a blender. It simply combines all of my favorite foods in a nutritious and utterly delicious snack that is perfect for a post-workout, pre-workout, mood-booster, any time snack! There's no complicated directions or ingredients, and substitutions are welcome and highly recommended. During play rehearsal week I was eating and drinking honey like my body was made of it because it's supposed to be good for the vocal cords. So, to give myself an extra dose of honey, one morning I decided to squirt a little honey on my toasted English muffin with peanut butter. The honey melted like ice cream under hot fudge on the warm peanut butter, becoming runny and dripping over the edges (so this is a bit messy!) But, for those of you who have been following my weekly "Did you notice..." updates and who read my post about oatmeal, you know I love texture in my food. The crunch of granola in oatmeal, the hot and cold of a warm brownie with ice cream, you name it! I also love the presentation of food. One time I ordered French Toast at a restaurant and it was just four slices of yellow bread (cooked of course) on a plate; no strawberry, no whipped cream, no accessories. It had quite a bland personality. Anyways, the other night I was making myself my new peanut butter and honey English muffin obsession and I decided to slice up a banana on top (I used three slices on each), and for that extra crunch, a few almonds. And now I have a new obsession. The carbs from the English muffin, the potassium from the banana, the protein from the peanut butter, the sugar from the honey, and the fat from the can't get better than that! I guess I could call this "invention" "Megan's Obsession." I encourage you to try some of your own variations with your own foods...maybe Nutella and honey? Nutella and jam? A different fruit? Pick your favorite foods and give it a whirl! I would love to hear what you come up with.

Happy Vignette #4: Fifteen

This week, I am the girl in Taylor Swift's song "Fifteen." Dancing around my room, lost in giddiness (I think my character from Pirates of Penzance might be rubbing off on me). When I first turned fifteen, I didn't feel any different from fourteen. My friend told me fifteen was going to be my year. I laughed, hoping she was right, hoping that something interesting would happen! But I wasn't getting my hopes up. Now, something is finally happening! All week I've been adding to my playlist, picking songs to fit my mood and listening to them on repeat. What I love about music is how a song can perfectly sum up everything you're feeling. It's almost as if the song was written for you! And when you have someone in mind when listening to a song, it makes it all the better.


What makes you happy? Do you like re-watching your favorite childhood movies? What's your comfort food? Do you collect anything? I would love to hear your stories, and as always thank you to those who participate in "Did you notice..." and to all those who comment. I love hearing from you! And of course, thank you to all of you who stop by and read. It's exciting for me to think who might be seeing this; it's exciting to have an audience! I hope your week is very happy and inspiring.

Sweet & Happy Dreams,

Megan ;)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Change of Pace
Giggle, swish, skip, swoon, exaggerate, sigh, flirt, smile. Dainty, light, airy, ditzy, big, sweet, adoring, British. For the past four months, these have been the main words in my vocabulary. My life as a Stanley daughter: Giggle like a schoolgirl, trail behind every boy you see like a lovesick puppy. Twirl your hair around your finger, bat your eyes. Flash an innocent smile. Exaggerate every motion. Make everything big (close to obnoxious...scratch that. You are obnoxious.) If you think it can be bigger, it can be bigger. Keep your voice light and airy, balance with your sisters. Love your sisters (at least pretend like you do, except when no one's looking and then break out into a brawl but if you're caught, just smile.) Love your Papa. Speak like a British girl. Everything is beautiful and oh so exciting. Skip everywhere you go. And whenever in doubt, swish. Swish, swish, swish. 

For the past four months, all I knew was curls and pretty pouffy dresses and flowers and boys and bows and stockings and Papa and the ocean and a field dotted with daises unnumbered and pirates. Way to turn that around, huh? Pirates! Like I explained last week, for the past four months, we have been working on "Pirates of Penzance," a musical by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. My character, one of the Stanley daughters, was obnoxious and ditzy and love-crazy over every boy she saw, because until they see Frederic (the lead in the play) they have never seen a man other than their Papa and therefore are quite inexperienced about how to get their attention. It was quite a different role, but one that I fell in love with. How could I not? A pretty dress? Curly hair? Swooning and obnoxious smiling and giggling? It was impossible to come out of rehearsal in a bad mood!

But as my post last week explained, last weekend we gave it our all as we performed the songs and dance numbers and lines we had practiced for the last time. For me, this was the last time I would be standing on a stage until next fall, because track started Monday and that has always taken priority in the spring. But being at track just didn't feel right Monday. I was still on the thrill of the performance and to go from such a high-energy and fun environment to a track, which can be filled with intensity and the pressure to go fast, can be quite a downfall. I just couldn't get into my rhythm; I kept missing the play, missing the people. Missing the spontaneous singing of the cast and corny theatre jokes and stage makeup and the ability to go somewhere and be someone I'm not. On the track, I'm known for being fast, so whenever I step on the track I feel this obligation to live up to that. Hence, my love/hate relationship with it.

I'm the type of person who puts a lot of pressure on myself. It's hard for me to do something less than 100%, and often times I get burnt out. Does anyone ever feel that? Get burnt out even doing something they love? This season, I need to find my pace. A pace where I can have fun, be fit, and if fast happens to come, then so be it. But I need to get rid of any pre-conceived visions of me with running; of how other people identify me with running. It's not worth it if I go to practice every day dreading it. No one should put that much time and effort into something they don't love. Life's too short.

This week, with the rapid change in pace, I've been trying to take it easy. Drink lots of tea, sleep, read, and catch up on the things that I love (like writing :) ). Next week hopefully I'll get back into a rhythm and get into my zone, find my lane. Whatever it is you do, I hope you love it. Of course there will be days when you don't, but if the bad days start to outnumber the good, you might want to rethink if it's really the best use of your time. Or change your approach. You may just be putting too much pressure on yourself, and sometimes a change of perspective or taking a break can make a huge difference. As they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Most likely, if you take a step back and don't think so much, success or happiness or speed or whatever it may be will come without you even consciously trying! And hopefully, you'll be happier.

Sweet Dreams,

Megan ;)

P.S. "Did you notice?" is updated. As always, thanks to all those who participate! It's so fun reading what you find!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


In a pretty pouffy petticoat I skip and spin and try not to trip.
I sing my notes high...whoops! Not that high!
Smile! Smile! Stretch it a mile!
Keep on beat, don't shuffle your feet
Again, again! Let's run it again!
Slow down, it's your turn now
Take your time and enjoy the bow. 

This week has been a stressful yet very exciting week because tomorrow night is the opening night of our high school musical, Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance!" Everyone's been working so hard and the show's really coming together. Even though dress rehearsal week is always stressful because we don't get home until 8 o'clock every night, meaning I don't get to really start my homework until then and also meaning I've probably been going on an average of six hours of sleep every night this week, I know as soon as I step on that stage tomorrow night and see a live audience, as soon as I step under that spotlight in my pretty pretty dress we rented that makes me feel like a princess and turns on the five-year-old instincts in me to twirl until I topple, it will all be worth it. When we all hold hands and take our bow as our family and friends cheer, I know all the stress and exhaustion I have felt all week will be replaced with the utmost adrenaline that keeps me up late into the night. To power me through the week, I've fueled myself with my favorite foods (purple cow ice cream with a brownie counts as fuel, right?). When you're stressed or have a lot on your plate, how do you keep yourself going and organized? A lot of the stress I think I create for myself. Somehow I always seem to take twice as long on my homework as I need to, often times because it's a lot easier than I make it out to be. I certainly could use a lesson or two about time management, and take a page out of how to "work smarter, not harder." Yet in all the insanity, I am happy to report that I have not forgotten to notice. Actually, it was pretty impossible not to notice in a week like this week with so much going on! After this weekend the play will be over and I will be taking off with track! Pretty soon I'll have a post saying "On your mark...set...go!" I hope you all had a fabulous week. It was beautiful weather around here; hard to believe it was winter!

Sweet Dreams,

Megan ;)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What I've Noticed
Sometimes, either when I'm feeling especially inspired or particularly uninspired (especially inspired today), I like to go back and read through my weekly noticings (and as I'm typing, SpellCheck once again has brought to my attention my tendency to make up words). As I was scrolling through my reflections, I noticed that each week, they tend to have a common theme. The week of Valentine's day was filled with heart-shaped pancakes and perfect curls and a cupcake so sweet I have to close my eyes to enjoy it. Last week with the snowstorm made for noticing all things warm and comforting: an almond's crunch in my oatmeal, hot soup on my tongue, ginger tea tingling my nose. It's fun reading back on them, because it brings me back to those weeks as I remember where I was at, how I was feeling, why I noticed the things I noticed. Some weeks my eyes are strong, but other weeks they are blinded by the overpowering excitement of my nose or ears.

It's ironic considering last week was all about winter, but this week my reflections have a warmth about them: a pep, a an extra zing, for this morning I was woken not by my harsh and demanding alarm, but by the excited and welcoming call of birds. "Chop, chop, chop!" they chirp. "The time for rest is over, spring is here!"It's a little early for spring, but who says we can't celebrate early? I jump out of bed to get a closer view and see the snow has melted and with it the clouds, and just by the relaxed sway of the magnolia tree I can tell it is a warm breeze. "Hello! Hello!" the birds chatter. "Did you have a nice rest?" They greet old friends and open their beaks and sound more like frogs at first, croaking out the first notes until they finally warm up. Can you blame me for wanting to sing along?

Part of me feels guilty for posting about something so cliché, so unoriginal, something that anyone can notice and you can probably find reflections about anywhere but then I got to thinking: there's a reason why a subject like such has become cliché. It has been so long since I've heard voices in the morning. Winter mornings, while I love them so when I'm cozy on the couch with a good book, can be so lonely. But spring mornings are alive and the birds are hungry, and it won't be long now before Mama Robin comes hopping along playing Whack-A-Mole as she gathers worms for her babies. And winter, please forgive me for picking on you, for you bring your own inspirations to write about, but with the flowers so much more blooms! Everything's alive and jumping to be the subject of poems and paintings and photographs because they are in their prime. In the winter flowers hide their faces and shrink away from our eyes. Everything sleeps, for winter is the time for rest and recuperation, but spring comes along and it's "Chop, chop, chop! So much to do!" So with that in mind, I rolled up my jeans, picked out my brightest tank-top to go with my cardigan, and hummed along with the birds as I prepared for the day.

With spring just around the corner, there's so much to notice. I encourage you to take this time to take a walk, go for a run, read outside, whatever it may be you love to do, do it outside! And if you get the chance, let me know what you find! I've loved reading the comments about what you've been noticing every week.

Sweet (Almost-Spring) Dreams,

Megan ;)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Into the Wardrobe
When I woke up to a white-frosted world this morning, I knew my skis were in for a treat. All winter they had been waiting, waiting for snow to fall so they could revisit Narnia, because every time I step in the woods in winter, I can't help but feel like I, too, am but a character of C.S. Lewis's imagination. 

I part the branches and brambles and frozen flower buds that had been tricked into early bloom, and it is like I had stepped into the wardrobe. Behind me lay a world so ordinary, where animals don't talk and trees go bare in the winter. But here, here the trees are dressed to the nines in their finest furs, wearing them as they see best flatter their curves. White fox scarves wrapped tightly around their necks and rabbit fur gloves that stretch up to their shoulders. The women curtsy and the men tip their hats, sometimes a little too generously as they fall and land on my head.  

I pull down my neck warmer to let the cool air bite my chin and my nose breath the fresh air, not the hot air circulating in my jacket. Snow perches on my eyelashes and I roll my eyes to see their different shapes but they melt and drip in my eyes before I have the chance. Snow puffs around my ankles like powdered sugar. My cheeks flush rosy-red like Santa Claus. 

I follow the animal tracks and who knows, perhaps they will lead me to a beaver's den, or a faun's home. Oh I hope a faun's home! Where I can warm my frozen hands on a hot mug of tea and dry my boots by the fire as he plays me a Narnia lullaby. He will be ever so hospitable and welcoming, but really I must be getting home, it is getting late, dark. And it is just my imagination, or was that the howl of wolves, pursuing me for the White Witch? I must move fast, lest I risk running into the hands of the White Witch.  I can't wait to bring the others back, though! Show them the wonders of a snowy wood, show them what lay beyond the wardrobe. 

How do you enjoy the snow? Do you admire up close or from afar? I have to say it's been quite a winter in my area...snow in October, nothing November-February, and again the first day of March. It was the perfect opportunity to stay in my PJ's all day and curl up with a hot cup of soup for lunch. After all day of staying inside, though, I couldn't resist; I had to visit Narnia just once before it melted back into the everyday. (And it gave me lots to notice ;) )

Sweet Winter Dreams,

Megan ;)