measuring time

I’ve been measuring time in flowers. Watching spring unfold petal by petal. Open. Warm. (Sometimes.)

After the dormancy of a long, difficult winter, the beauty is there for the noticing in real time. The first unfurl of a leaf, a sudden bright shock of forsythia by the side of a salty, winter sand-covered road, and just now the peonies by the front porch, plump and ready to burst.

Life cycles, of course. Even within a season. Memories attach to events and flowers mark places along a continuum. I wonder if I’ll ever again see an early crocus in bloom without remembering a friend, lost too soon this spring. Or breathe another lilac perfumed breeze without remembering Mother’s Day. In the spaces between, I’m mentally tracking time in tulips and daffodils, following spring’s slow but steady march until summer comes.

Hope follows despair as bloom follows an empty landscape.

Summer’s about ready to take her turn, and just today I discovered wild daisies! Already. Almost before I was ready. The iris in front of that yellow house down the street is in bloom. Those iris always bloom the week before the last day of school. Another flower on the timeline and a consistency I can count on.

The point is, I suppose, is to know where you are at all times. More aware. More present. Equally intentional and spontaneous. There are flowers to count time by and tides rolling in on schedule. Places to go. Things to do. People to meet. I’m always optimistic at the crest of a new season. More ready to begin again, make good on promises to myself I may have broken in seasons past, itchy to explore all my life has to offer.

Lots to do … before the sunflowers rise.

happy

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The green pepper I diced this afternoon for our Labor Day potato salad was just picked and still warm from the sun shining on our little garden out back. Just hours earlier, we were riding cresting wave after wave, collecting sun-bleached shells, feeling a little like eight-year-olds, and caring not one bit.

Happy.

The passage of time is guaranteed and one for-certain constant in this ever-changing world. Cycle follows cycle as seasons turns from one to the next. Tides rise and fall, always reaching and retreating, pulling, pushing, and steady.  I followed the flight of two Monarch butterflies across the sand today, wishing them well on their migration journey and thanking them for stopping for just a moment on mine.

One of these days soon, the green will go and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen will fade. But maybe the joy’s in the noticing what’s now. And just now, the sun’s setting almost down below the treetops, warming our garden for a few minutes more.

A few minutes more.

I may not be ready to replace the shells I’ve collected this summer with pots of mums on the stoop. But there’s that potato salad for dinner, corn on the cob fresh from the farm, and the lushest garden tomatoes to savor as their juice drips down my chin.

And I’m happy.

Here and now.

 

just do

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Nike got it right.

Just Do It.

Brilliance in only three, one-syllable words.

I spend so many days busily living the norm. Whatever the time of year, days have a certain flow and rhythm, regular and habitual tasks, and the occasional moment of spontaneity where life feels a little more fun and free.

There’s also an on-going and ever evolving list playing on repeat reel in my mind. To-dos, yes, but also want-to-dos. Should dos. Wish I coulds. And someday whens.

Here’s where Just Do It must’ve been born. Maybe we all have such a list playing like background music in our private thoughts. And instead of just thinking and dreaming and planning and wishing and waiting and … hoping … we should just do it already.

Whatever it is.

As of this morning:

  • write every day
  • open an Etsy shop
  • ride my bike to work
  • morning yoga
  • make a salad
  • make do
  • sit with it
  • invest in photography lighting and a new tripod
  • (see make do)
  • save
  • mend that missing button
  • floss
  • take a pottery lesson
  • experiment with photographing people (kids especially!)
  • experiment with minimalism in photography
  • walk the beach
  • put down my phone
  • finish that book
  • train for another marathon (or half … or 5K)
  • walk after dinner
  • climb a mountain

Whatever shall I do today?

 

dream on

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What do you do when you don’t know if you can … but feel you must?

How do you cope with self-doubt?

How do you push past feeling self-serving to feeling self-deserving?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions all summer long. Delighted with more time and opportunity, I’ve been able to nourish my creative soul more often. I savor each and every moment spent with my keyboard and camera.

But is that enough?

I’m not sure.

Is the creative act itself enough to satisfy, or is it in the sharing of the end result?

Do I dare? Will anyone care?

What role does audience play in any creation? In any creative’s growth?

I’m tiptoeing along this path, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of special friends and a husband who supports my every breath and dream.

And there’s a few other acquaintances whose inspiration and pep talks I keep within arm’s reach — maybe they’ll be of use to you if you’re in the midst of your own creative identity crisis:

Elise Blaha Cripe: fearless creator of Get to Work Book and so much more! Find big bunches of motivation by following her @elisejoy on Instagram or her website here.  Her Get to Work Book is a no-nonsense, plain-and-simple, get-it-down and you’ll get-it-done planner I’ve found to be oh-so-helpful. Elise experiments, explores, tries, fails, and tries again — a fun loving and living example of growth mindset. I find her incredibly inspiring.

Elle Luna: artist, co-leader of #The100DayProject, and creative author of The Crossroads of Should and Must. 

Elizabeth Gilbert:  author of Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear

Brene Brown: author of Daring Greatly

and finally, the classic Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck.

How can I possibly live past the hypocrisy of encouraging my children, my students, and family and friends to follow their dreams … if I’m not willing to walk the talk and follow my own?

Dream on, friends.

 

 

once seated, I will write

when you sit to write there’s no telling which way your thoughts will go or how far your words will travel

dead ends

curves

unexpected detours

rest stops

roadside attractions

the cursor blinks. waits. encourages. believes.

all the time in the world. ready to listen to me and my ideas

or my silence

but it all starts with the simple act of sitting

sitting down (anywhere)

to write

(I know and use all the excuses for not sitting.)

however,

once seated, I can’t help but get started

once seated, I’m willing to wait myself out

once seated, I will write

-eventually-

what I didn’t know I knew (thank you, Don Murray)

(please … no harm in walking the house. pausing for a load of laundry. or coffee. some nourishment)

but I return to the chair

and write

stubborn

petulant

(pretending?)

proud

 

hello

I found a penny on the floor this morning. Heads up. 2016. A shiny circle of copper peeking out from under the dryer in the laundry room. Of course I picked it up.  Of course I checked to see if heads were up or tails, as if that one small cent held the fortune to whatever might come next in my life. I may pass it along to someone else in need of a lucky penny, or I may keep it awhile, right here on my desk, evidence that fortune can be found anywhere – even under a dryer.

Hello.

I’ve missed you. And I’ve missed me …. writing to you. The collective you. My vision or version of audience, whoever you may be and however – if ever – you arrive here.

And though I’ve not been writing, please know of the many times I’ve thought about doing so. No explanation for my absence feels adequate or entirely accurate except to say that I’ve been in transition. Neither here, nor there, but somewhere in between, and I’m finally able to slow a bit — enough so as to hear myself think — and write those words down.  I can feel them. Right there. On the tips of my fingers.

Maybe it’s time to begin another hopeful year.

 

in the company of children

 

DSC_0416Hope’s been a little hard to find lately.

Truthfully, I’m not sure where to look most days.

Life’s been a little too.

Too much to process.

Too much to feel.

Too much to cope with.

I am the sum of my emotions, reactions, and responses to what I see, hear, and feel around me. Preoccupied one minute and a bit absent-minded the next. Sometimes articulate and then just as quickly in tears and tongue-tied.  I am a confluence of emotions merging one on another and into the next. I am world wary, poorly sleeping, and fiercely protective – making a focused effort to somehow manage and make right my own corner of a world I find increasingly difficult to live in or understand.

If not hope exactly, there’s some sort of solace found within the four walls of my classroom and in the company of children. Together, we enjoy simple things: a good book, card games, coloring, cookies … laughter. There’s renewal to be found – however fleeting – in the routine of our days and in the discovery of new ways to learn. To understand. To grow.

And there’s gratitude among us for each other.

Just there by the window is a blooming pot of bright, red geraniums: summer’s promise that warmth will one day return, and maybe along with it – some hope.