bananas

I knew it was not going to be my best race. Diane really wanted to do this 5K with a buddy though, and how could I say no? I laced up and tried to get my head in the game. 

Just like that, we were off. After the initial rush of the start, Diane pointed out a runner ahead of us, and we silently agreed to overtake them. Once that was done, she picked another one.

Before I knew it, we could see the finish line ahead at the top of a rise. We knew what we had to do. Diane and I had a longstanding pact that we must pick up our pace for any hill. We grimly glanced at each other, then laid on the coal.

Breathless, we sailed across the finish line. Panting and sweating, we gratefully grabbed the bottles of water held out to us. As we walked off the race, we each snagged a banana, too.

Finally, we tumbled down onto the cool grass in the shade of a big tree. We looked at each other with goofy smiles. 

Diane held her banana up in the air.

“To your best personal time ever!” she proclaimed.

I held my banana up, too. “And to yours!” 

We clinked our bananas together in happy celebration.

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Many thanks to Eugi’s Causerie for another great prompt!

at the artist’s cottage, a drabble

Courtesy of Eugi’s Causerie

His cottage looked out to the waves and the sky. Paints, brushes, and canvasses in varying states of completion filled the space. His lonely time on the bluff fueled creative landscapes highly prized by art lovers. 

Then one day, the woman with the black hair knocked on his door. Now, he lay idle, his fingers mingled loosely in those raven strands, inspiration long evaporated in a haze of romance.

“Today, my love? Please, pick up your brush again,” she coaxed.

He knew he was done with landscapes. 

He stared into her sapphire eyes. New inspiration flickered.

“Yes, today,” he smiled.

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Thank you to Eugi’s Causerie for the prompt, “mingle,” and the accompanying photo.

a work of art, in progress

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Out roaming the local trails, I came upon the bit of graffiti pictured above. I couldn’t help but appreciate the intent, despite the misspelling: “Live your life like a peice [sic] of art.”

Still, it somehow missed the mark, and it was bothering me.

I realized that the graffitist’s use of the expression “piece of art” suggested to me something complete and static, something to stand back and gaze at. It evoked a painting on a wall, or perhaps a sculpture resting, unmovable, on a pedestal. Everything over and done with, you know. The expression does not reflect on the journey.

The phrase “work of art,” however, draws to mind various stages of completion or even incompletion. It suggests a process. It hints at the messiness and energy of art and other creativity. It implies the endeavor itself.

As I walked along, I realized there was an even better phrase to apply: “work of art, in progress.” Here, we have all the possibilities in the world available to us. This work of art could turn out to be anything – depending on our intent and our dedication to the effort.

I can be satisfied with that:

“Live your life like a work of art, in progress.”

I think that describes things pretty well, actually. It honors our aspirations and inspirations, creativity, the necessary problem-solving, the nitty-gritty work, muscle, tools, education, intention, insecurity, and hope. It implies deliberation, intention.

I do think, however, that plenty of folks actually do live their lives rather according to the initial maxim’s unintended advice: “Live your life like a piece of art.” I think plenty of people attempt to live in a way that looks right, perhaps, more than it feels right. I think most of us do it at least for some portion of our lives, and others for all of their lives.

I prefer to carry on in the studio, if you will, where there is paint spilled on the floor, and dirty brushes, and perhaps some swearing. It is, at least, my hope.

Despite my nitpicking, kudos to the graffitist who had the guts to put this thing out there. I’m ashamed to say I wouldn’t do it. I love someone brave enough to break the rules to make us think, purposefully. So a misspelling, who cares?

“Live your life like a work of art, in progress.”

the binder

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Somewhere along the line, I started to keep a slim binder with a select few items in it. On the front of the binder, it says, “you are entirely up to you.”

I look at this binder fairly frequently. Sometimes, if I am feeling down or lacking focus, just leafing through it somehow centers me. It gives me a little positive push.

On the first page on the inside, there is a bunch of scribbling on some somewhat wrinkled paper. Buried in all that are the words, “If you feel like something’s missing, it’s probably you.” I believe the quote is attributable to Robert Holden. At some point in time, my scribbled page mattered enough to me that it became the anchoring of my binder.

Indeed, that is what the binder is about – reminding me who I am.

Following that are a few pages holding small pieces of creative work that I made, and the occasional doodled remark, like, “MAKE. Make anything.” These pages are very important to me. When I need to remind myself who I am, they help me in a calm, happy way.

The binder also holds the personal mission statement I carefully crafted some years ago.

Last, but not least, I have just a few pages with quotes or text that serve to remind me who I am and inspire me to be all that.

Periodically, things get taken out of this binder, when they are no longer really useful. Occasionally, things get added.

Utsav Raj shared his poem, “Travel Bird,” yesterday on his site, My Spirals. I knew when I read it that I just wanted it around.

Reading it reminded me of how to be alive: to soak life in, to be awake for it, to see it, to feel it, to be it.

It’s so easy for me to be focused on the minutiae, distracted by this or that thread of meaningless occupation, obligation, routine, troubles – stuff that literally just takes up time. I’d rather be alive for my life.

Feeling, doing, seeing, breathing not just to exist, I want to be the pulse in the universe that in my heart of hearts I know I am. I want to explore the edges, stretch them further out, find out what’s out there and in there, and feel it all. I think we all do.

Anyway, rather than me just rambling on, perhaps read “Travel Bird,” which says it better than I can.

And now that it’s in my special binder, I’ll read it from time to time, and be reminded. Thank you, Utsav.

❤️ for creative community

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Friends, I wish you a Happy New Year! I would also like to express my gratitude to you for reading my blog, liking, following, for your comments, and for being my creative community.

I am grateful every day for the WordPress community. When I decided some months back to make blogging a regular sort of practice, I did not realize all that I would find. A few of the things I have discovered:

Inspiration: I am inspired by so many others here. I appreciate the glimpses I receive into other folks’ thoughts and experiences all around the world. I love the fearlessness and the honesty with which so many of you write, and on very meaningful topics. You open doors in my mind and my heart that hold many possibilities. You so often inspire me with your determination and courage, too.

Connection: I love the sense of creative connection I feel in this online community of writers and thinkers and doers and adventurers and life explorers. I appreciate the wonderful diversity of minds and experience here, and I love that I can be part of the gang. When you like one of my posts or comment, I recognize that happy moment of connecting.

Laughter: I cannot tell you how many times my fellow bloggers have made me laugh or smile with their stories or photos. That always makes for a better day.

Encouragement: I am truly encouraged by your likes and follows and comments, but I am even more encouraged by your examples. I see so many of my blogging companions actively committed to their paths, and exploring life in their unique ways, and it emboldens me on my own journey.

Insight: Not a day goes by that I don’t read something that helps me somehow or broadens my understanding. Perusing my WP Reader is a moment to which I look forward. It’s always an enriching experience.

Discipline: My own blogging is a practice. I am learning many things from it. Part of the purpose is discipline. It makes me look at things differently. It makes me think with purpose, explore ideas, be more observant, stop and take a photo. Knowing that someone out there will read what I put together infuses the practice with meaning and intent.

So, so much for which to be grateful!  Thank you, dear readers and friends! I wish you Wonder, Love, and Joy in 2019!

journeys

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geese
I hear them
coming over the tops of trees
I begin to see them
the long, trailing vee
so high
wings waving
over the silent snow
I lift my hand toward them
I wish you well, wise ones

more come, another vee follows
and then another
wave after wave
my breath is in the air
the sky fills with hundreds of geese
my heart breaks to watch them leaving
I yet standing
now with my hand on my heart
awed and bereft
all the while knowing

I fly with you
I watch for you
I will lift my hand and
welcome you back home

cogs in the machine

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Just watching things happen in the world is really not enough.

We are flooded with information day after day after day. It is fruitless to allow ourselves to be simply overpowered by the sheer relentless, unceasing bulk of it, and do nothing.

What’s the point of having this immense access to information via all of our handy devices, if we don’t use the information to grow our actual knowledge and to be empowered by it? It says something about our educational system that we fail to think critically, and respond accordingly, with ample information in hand.

Every day, it seems, we are hit in the face yet again by some ridiculously egregious statement or falsehood or act or failure to act by many people who were elected to “serve” the public. There is such a preponderance of this type of thing, that we don’t even flinch anymore. We barely even notice it. Our eyes scan the latest revulsion and we don’t react.

We are better than this. We, the people, are better than this. It’s really time to recognize our state of learned helplessness and get over it.

The people I come across in daily life actually do care.

They actually are concerned about the environment and the fate our planet.

They really do care that children are being held by our government, and some of them, now, we find out, dying in “detention” or abused. People actually do recoil at the notion of children suffering and dying under bombings from which someone profits.

Folks don’t like the extensive and intrusive scrutiny of their daily lives, nor do they appreciate the massive system of criminalization and incarceration that looms over us.

People really do care about their ability to access to health care.

Everyone sees the ridiculousness of shutting our government down in order to have a hissy fit over an issue on which all parties have failed to find consensus or wisdom or responsibility or empathy – operative word there, failed.

The average Joe cares about an economy that doesn’t work for them, they just work for it. Or they don’t. People care very much about their ability to find meaningful work that pays enough to cover the ever-rising cost of living a life.

Even folks doing reasonably well actually do care about all this stuff, because we’re people, and at heart, we care about other people. And we know that a community where everyone is basically okay, not just some people, makes for a better community.

Really, just pick a topic. Our elected “servants” fail us daily, demonstrably and extravagantly and offensively. It is not enough to simply observe it. These people are paid by us to do a job. Anyone else would have been canned long ago, summarily and without a look back.

We are people: unique and wonderful and creative and compassionate. We are the fuel that runs the engine. And one has to wonder why we sit quietly under a hand that suppresses the very best in us.

sparkles

veru12_24_18So here we have arrived at Christmas Eve. Whatever form the holidays take, whatever it means to you, I wish you joy, and wonder, and love.

For those who are sad or lonely or depressed, I am talking to you, especially. I know joy, and wonder, and love are still possible for you, whether you believe it in this moment or not.

It is my hope that the spirit of this season moves each of us toward real peace on earth and good will among all.

Hugs to all. Jingle bells and all that. 🙂

finding serenity

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Once again, CalmKate has gone and made me very thoughtful about things. Her Friday Foto Fun prompt topic is “Serenity.”  She asks us to seek out a photo that represents what serenity means to us. Her own photo shows a warm, inviting beach with “surf, sand, sky, and scrubs.”  Beautiful!

Serenity to me is peacefulness. The feeling of safety is key to my serenity. I went for many years never feeling safe – and it’s a hard habit to break. Nevertheless, I am able to feel safe now in certain places if conditions are right.

For example, the early morning hours, still dark, are a special time to me. At that time, usually around 5 a.m., I am awake, alert, calm, centered – usually, anyway. I’ll go get a cup of coffee, and head back to bed, where I sit quietly in the dark, just being. My friend, the cat, knows this routine and shares it with me. He curls up and nestles in to keep me warm, exuding a feeling of peace and safety as he softly purrs his joy. That’s serenity.

Serenity often also comes to me while walking in natural spaces. The silence of a forest is like breathing. The trees themselves are entities, wise angels along the way, friends. Mountain paths, too, are places of serenity. The sky, the birds, squirrels, wind – it all speaks peace to me.

A small pond also sets the stage for serenity. The evidence that it is home in the truest sense for any number of inhabitants – fish, frogs, insects, birds, turtles, beaver, muskrats, snakes – makes it an intimate visit with friends. It is a quiet pause in my own activities, while I sit at their table, so to speak, and quietly watch them doing their thing in the water, among the trees, the grasses, and reeds. That, that is serenity. I used to have a pond I loved, and it was a truly special place for such a feeling.

Another moment of serenity is when I am hand sewing without distraction. The methodical rhythm of blanket-stitching my penny rugs is serenity. I love the tactile experience, feeling the fabric, using my hands. I love seeing the colors of the fabrics. I love the focus, the intention of the piece. I can’t do it just anywhere, but the places where I can, I find serenity.

Oddly enough, small, general aviation airports are also often places of serenity for me if I can experience them undisturbed and alone. I like to just watch the runways, the windsock, the comings and goings of the small planes. I always feel a tremendous sense of possibility during these periods of quiet observation. I used to be a regular at one airport where I often retreated during a stressful time. I frequently just sat in my car and watched, but they also thoughtfully provided a few nice benches where folks like me could perch.

Art galleries, too, are usually places of serenity. Surrounded by all that quiet creativity, just soaking it in, is usually a peaceful, calming experience – although, not always. Some artists bring an energy to their work that disturbs a space, and I am sure it is meant to be that way.

A garden is a place of peace and joy, too. Walk into the garden, and everything else falls away. Like the pond, a garden has a life of its own. There, I become a quiet witness to life unfolding in the most beautiful, astonishing ways.

Once again, I am grateful for this prompt. It has brought to mind so many ideas, so many possibilities for what works. It’s so easy to feel distracted, unsettled, as we go with the flow of doing what we must. But this little reverie of mine shows me how easy it is to escape all that, too. There are many opportunities to find a moment of serenity.

solstice

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So, it turns out tomorrow is not only the Winter Solstice, it’s also the time of a full moon – the Long Night Moon – as well a meteor shower (Ursid). Ok, that’s pretty cool. Seems like there ought to be some kind of celebration (oh, wait, I guess folks already thought of that, hehe).

The Winter Solstice is kinda funny because it marks the official beginning of winter, but it also marks the shortest day of the year – the beginning of the days becoming longer. Woohoo! I am all for that!

Seems like everything else is going 90 miles an hour around me, with ‘holiday’ preparations and entertainment. Maybe the solstice can just be a time out. A moment just to be calm and peaceful, to notice the stars and the moon. A moment to appreciate the incredible beauty of what’s already been given to us, instead of worrying about the giving and getting of our consuming consumer lives.

Nearby where I live, there’s one of those wild light displays with every kind of holiday character imaginable – from a lit up creche to snowmen, penguins, Disney characters, Peanuts, and more. During the day, half of it sits deflated under tarps. It’s actually kind of a mess. I wish I could say it makes me smile, but it does not – either during the day or at night. I’m sure the folks who put all that effort into it mean well, but it’s misplaced.

Let’s look at the moon and the stars instead. Notice the birds on the wing. Listen to the wind in the trees. In the context of our exquisite universe, let’s ponder those we love, or share the moment with them.  The awesomeness of our universe shows us so plainly that love itself remains the truly treasured gift in our lives.

It’s beyond amazing, the gifts we’ve been given. Who needs to go shopping? Let’s just pause and be astonished by what we have.