Sunday, May 31, 2015

500 Words. Day 9. Epic Road Trip

The open road beckons...

Never again will I type an entry for this challenge "experiment" while on my phone or while drinking. My mind was all over the place last night, and thinking about that entry makes me cringe. Also, typing on my phone was a pain in my ass. Never again.

This was what I had started writing yesterday while traveling to the wedding. I could not write anything coherent or worth typing out so this will do.

I'm trying to type this while on my way to a wedding. Sitting in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, on my laptop, with the windows cracked partly because there is a problem with the air conditioning. It’s a slightly hot 87º with the sky getting darker and darker as the clouds above seem to be threatening to split open and pour water on our heads.

As soon as I wrote that last sentence, the clouds delivered on that promise. Rolling up the windows and turning the emergency flashers on to signal a drastic decrease in speed due to the limited visibility in front of us while we drive through the deluge of rain drops. It feels as if you are in your own private ark sailing through the rain, patiently waiting to deliver yourself to the next dry spot of pavement. My thoughts are inconsistent and varied today, so my writing shall be as well.

What are some things that I want to share today?  I could go on and on about my love of the rain, or even the experience of driving through it, but I’m not really motivated to find those words right now. I could talk about  how when I was younger, my family moved around every three to four years, so I was constantly taking long road trips from one state to the next. I would play games with myself or my mom to pass the time, sometimes trying to find all 50 states license plates or the A-B-C game of looking out for words that started with letters of the alphabet. Sometimes I still play that game with others if I’m on a road trip, and we invariably always get caught on Q, X, Y, and Z.

As  I think back to those long road trips of my childhood, only one really stands out. When we moved to Alaska from Kentucky, we took two weeks to drive there, with a stop in Chicago to see my mom’s side of our family. I can’t remember the specific type of truck my dad had, all I remember was the beige brown color with gold specks in the paint. My father purchased a topper in the same color, and outfitted the back bed with foldable carpet covered bench seats. I spent so much time of our trip back there while my parents drove. That was my sacred space where I played Pokémon on my old school game boy, colored, and read as much as I could. Every night we would be in a new town where we would either camp outside of sleep in a hotel room. It was always an adventure, every evening something new and exciting. Some days were packed with amazing sights: Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, Bison next to the car in Yellowstone, Old Ghost towns, The bluest lake ever in Canada, Chief Mountain, Olympic stadiums, a field of prairie dogs.

I really wish I could remember the exact route we took, because I would love to recreate this trip today. Being able to see the touristy sights, the nature, the unique culture and community of the states with a renewed sense of awe. Maybe it’s time to start planning the epic road trip of my thirties.

**Thanks to Kale & Cigarettes for this "not a challenge" experiment.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

500 Words. Day 8. Random thoughts and a wedding

Sitting around a fire pit after our friends wedding. I'm slightly inebriated and warm from the heat rolling off the enclosed fire. Weddings are so much fun. Also, tear inducing. I started writing earlier while we were traveling to the wedding. It's only an hour from our house, but getting on the turnpike makes it feel like an adventure. The groom is talking about micro brews and beer on tap. I've had one to many vodka-blackberry ginger ales. I'm warm. I feel comfy. Also happy that my friend is committing her life to her best friend. 

Let's talk about my view of marriage. I probably should not be typing this out right now. But I'm on my phone, hanging out with friends, wondering about the institution of marriage. Every time  I'm a guest at a wedding, I tear up when the bride walks down the aisle. She always looks so happy, hopeful, ready to explore life with her partner. 

But what about smores? As I was writing this, the sticks were introduced, square marshmallows brought out, more wood introduced to the fire. How do you heat your marshmallow? Right over the fire, until the marshmallow is burnt and bungled, charred, almost black? Or are you more of a turn it slowly in the coals on the side of the fire? Slowly build a golden brown crisp outside, while the inside is gooey, warm, and melted?  

I really believe that the way your roast a marshmallow tells a lot about your personality. I could get into it more in depth, but my brain is fuzzy, and I'm enjoying the heat from the fire. 

I'm a bit upset because I started writing something about driving in the rain while we were driving here, but I wasn't connected to wifi, or even my hotspot, and by the time we got to the hotel I needed to rush to get ready. 

So this is what happens. Disconnection, and random thoughts that can't be finished. My brain is sleepy, lulled by the flames, warmed by the silly banter about marshmallows. Wishing I could stay by the fire all night, knowing that the minutes tick by and this experience or connecting with strangers made friends will come to an end.

I don't know what else to write, and I think I may end up a hundred words short, but I  committed to writing something. It doesn't matter how bad or disjointed it may be. I'm hitting publish, letting you in to what my mind is focused on in this present moment. Maybe I'll dive deeper into my thoughts in marriage or smores making tomorrow, but it's only a slight possibility. The odds are not in your favor. 

It's time for me to sign off, but publish, enjoy the warmth, and then head to the hotel to fall asleep on a king bed with down feather pillows. 482 words. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

500 Words. Day 7. Waves over tornadoes.

The ocean of my dreams.

Before I heard the rain, I knew it was raining. I looked out my window, and noticed that the leaves on the tree in front of my house were dancing. In no particular order, leaves would take their turns bobbing up and down, jumping back and forth, swaying side to side. Slowly at first, gently picking the pace, as if they could feel the rhythm I could not hear. Now I could. The rain drops came fast and hard, landing on the roof, hitting the window frame with a metallic ping. I thought there was hail, but no. Just the ting ting ting of rain drops falling into my window. I love the sound the rain makes against roofs. Whether they are wooden, metal, or some other material that is keeping my head dry. The reverberation of the continued downfall sounds like music to my ears. It's comforting. If the symphony of thunder and lighting join in, even better.

My power just went out, but only for a moment. I heard speakers turn off, the hum of the A/C quit unexpectedly, some random whirring sound from something on the first floor that uses power to work signifying its powering down. When you notice the quiet stillness of a house with no power, set against a backdrop of gentle rain and random thunder,  it's a little unsettling. To me at least.

I have a fear of weather. Specifically tornadoes. I've never encountered one in my life, but the fear is there. Maybe it stems from my subconscious. A few years ago, I started realizing that I have recurring dreams about tornadoes whenever I feel like my life is about to become tumultuous. Being able to remember your dreams in vivid detail can be a blessing or a not so great habit, depending on the situation. In an introspective sense, when you are trying to make sense of life, it really can be used to ones advantage.

Anyways, back to tornadoes and dreams. These dreams. They started out as me viewing tornadoes from far away, as if I was witness to some catastrophic doomsday weather related movie. Standing on the apex of a mountain, overlooking a city or vast expanse of land, I would see three or four tornadoes touching down at various points. As my twenties progressed, the dreams did as well. The tornadoes would come closer and closer to me with each subsequent dream, until finally the last several involved me being in building as the tornadoes passed overheard or around me.

If you believe that your dreams have meaning, and you decided to look up tornadoes you find "emotional upheaval, destructive behavior, sudden change, blowing the cover off/revealing hidden aspects". Pretty hefty stuff right there.

I can relate. My twenties were definitely times of emotional upheaval, change, and shining light on the darker aspects of myself. All a part of the journey to connect with who I really am emotionally, spiritually, physically.

Maybe that is why, in the first year of my thirties, I find myself having dreams of ocean waves instead of tornadoes.

**Still going with this fun experiment with Kale & Cigarettes

Thursday, May 28, 2015

500 Words. Day 6. The hurt feels so good.

Keep your heart open and shine your love into the world

"I hurt you pretty good last time. Do you want the same today?"

Normally when one hears those words, the immediate gut reaction is "No!" Who in their right mind wants to get hurt? When you are talking with your massage therapist who does a number on you involving neuromuscular, myofascial release, and probably some magic, you readily purr "yes, please. The hurt feels soooooo good."

I chose not to go with the hurt today. My body and spirit were feeling more relaxation and floating, then working through layers of pent up emotion laying dormant in my neck. There is always next session for that.

But wait, why do we readily accept and move towards pain in a therapeutic setting, yet we run from the pain of heartbreak, rejection, expectations unrealized? Are they not both situations where the discomfort can be a tool for opening up, healing, moving forward?

I find myself becoming very self-aware and introspective while my therapist is manipulating my neck in such a way that I feel that my head may very well turn completely around as if I'm starting in The Exorcist. Falling into myself, I can't help but get caught up in the feelings that surface and break free while experiencing this work. I welcome the rush of sensations as pent up repressed feelings such as anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment become realized. The crying, if it happens, is cathartic and reminds me of a dam breaking loose.

Crying after heartbreak or rejection can feel just as cleansing. But what about the awareness of discomfort, and anger? We run from that, we want to pretend those feelings don't exist. Our spirit animal becomes the Ostrich who sticks their head in the sand. Why do we not want be confronted with the pain, and give ourselves the opportunity to become more intimate with our desires. This is the space that growth occurs. Where the setting of boundaries starts to materialize. Where we being to experience communion with self, physical and spiritual.

Yet humans constantly suppress and push down, never giving their feelings the ability to be realized. This is how pain and discomfort is manifested in the body. Your glorious body is trying to tell you that you are hurting emotionally when pain arises and stays for an extended period of time.

When we open ourselves to love, while we live with an open heart, I believe that on some subconscious level we know the uncertainty involved. There is a risk of pain and hurt, but it is only in the beginning of such affairs that we accept it. If the end ever does occur, we can not fathom or justify the distress. Why not? Knowing that there is a possibility, why would you not welcome the other, the shadow side, of the "happy feelings"?

Only in those moments when we are open to both the light and dark side of our emotions can we sit with them and be open and perceptive to what we are to learn. If we can remain open and vulnerable, allowing ourselves to really feel all of the feelings, I believe this is where the true magic happens.

*musings courtesy of the Kale & Cigarettes "not a challenge" experiment

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

500 Words. Day 5. Fuzzy Brain trying to paint.

This painting right here. I may title it "Headache"

Blah blah fucking blah. That's all I really feel like writing right now. After a 7 hour shift a work, a drink at the bar, and an emotional fight with a painting that I will always lose, I'm giving up to write. And that sentence is all I have. Blah blah fucking blah. That's all I hear when I think about writing right now. Thanks a lot vodka. My brain is fuzzy, and it's all your fault.

Maybe I can shut my brain off and allow myself to get lulled into a sense of softness by the clicking of the keys as my fingers fly across the keyboard. When I'm not really trying, I type pretty fast. Don't ask about my WPM score or anything like that, I don't know. cough cough 73 cough cough. Oh, I'm sorry. I had something in my throat. 

This is about the time that I start getting in my way and paying too much attention to the words that are being typed. My inner editor is having a fucking field day, going back and reading and thinking "you should say this instead of that, retype that sentence, add this sentiment." Get off my back Marge.  I didn't even have an entire drink, and my brain is fuzzy. Give me a freakin' break. Yeah, I just realized I'm having a one-sided conversation with myself. No one else is home, so it's either myself or the cats and they aren't around. 

Back to this painting. Hello beginners mind. I remember a quote or a video or some piece of motivation that circulates social media every few months about motivation and how we want to create something but we are so far from the finished product. Or something like that. My rendition of this piece is not even close to what it's actually about, so please don't take my word for it. Look it up. I think it's by Ira Glass.** My brain is too fuzzy to help you today. Sorry, not sorry.  

That is where I am though. I want this painting to be something specific, and every time I sit with it I can feel it, but when I put the brush to canvas it doesn't do what I want it to do. I can't make it look like what I want it to, and that fucking kills me. I keep giving this specific painting the side eye around my monitor, as if it can actually feel my disdain towards my talent. Trying to paint abstracts is taking me so far out of my comfort zone that I almost can't see the horizon anymore. I'm cool with that. I kind of like it here. It feels strangely exciting. Even though I'm struggling with my perceived lack of talent, I'm enjoying the getting my hands messy part of it. Now let's see how this works with writing. Can I let go of the edge, swim out past the markers signaling the transition from shallow to deep, and trust that I can keep my head above the water?

**It's Ira Glass talking about storytelling. I needed to look it up, my brain wouldn't shut up.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

*I'm doing this 500 Words/30 Day experiement because of Kale & Cigarettes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

500 Words. Day 4. Don't waste your time reading.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with today's entry.

This should actually be my day 5 entry, but Memorial Day happened. I decided yesterday that if I didn't write I wasn't going to be upset. I didn't want to come up with excuses for my non action if it occurred because I had so many other things to do. Clean the house, make sangria, go shopping for meat to grill. I know how I work. It takes me a long time to do most things. I get distracted,  I look at my phone, change the music station on Spotify, eat something, check Facebook, play games, clean a bit. What would probably take a "normal" person an hour to do, takes me two. I procrastinate, a lot. I've been that way my entire life. At least I'm coming to accept that about myself. It only took me 30 years.

Which I wonder about. This accepting of myself, is it really defeat? Am I giving up on any notion of improvement, or am I being down right lazy? Or is it that I am finally recognizing a facet of myself that makes me unique? I like that one. I'm going to believe that my procrastination makes me unique.

This is a rough entry today. I really have nothing to say. It's only day 4/5 and I'm already worried that I'm losing steam. There go my lofty ambitions of writing witty stories for the next 30 days. Always getting my hopes up. Thanks Kathleen. I guess I can write utter nonsense one day and allow it to count. I am writing today, and that is something major! I don't want to count my words yet to see how much further I have to go, so I'm not going to.

I bought two 18x24 canvases yesterday. They are staring at me from across the room. If I tilt my head one way, they beckon with an excitement of possibility. If I cock my head the other way then they are imposing, unnerving, stark. I'm thrilled that I'm exploring the world of abstracts, but I'm already getting in my own way. I really can't understand why I am not ok with being a beginner. I start many projects, trying out new activities and then I quit them just as quickly as I started. So. Fucking. Frustrating. Oh hey, here's a part of my procrastination habit that I don't find endearing or unique. I want to be good at something, but I'm scared that I will totally suck. So I play for a bit, and then walk away.

I really am amazed at the meandering that occurs when I write. There are no clearly marked paths, no straight lines, but there are plenty of zigs and zags, hairpin turns, steep inclines and descents. This is a side to my writing that I can work on over the next month. Focus and direction.

I really hope no one reads this. That is the only sentiment running through my mind. This has been a waste of time. Extremely boring entry today.

*Trodding along in the 500 Words/30 Days "not a challenge" with Kale & Cigarettes.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

500 Words. Day 3. Telling stories with paint.

No name, created this morning be me

I wanted to try to tell a story today, but I don't know which story I would tell. Plus my hands are messy with paint.

I painted this morning, and I painted yesterday. I sat on my floor, swirled paint around on a paper plate, and smeared paint on a canvas. I browsed Pinterest for inspiration, because I am really drawn to abstracts at the moment and I wanted to try using gold leaf. This now makes me wonder why I can't just get down and dirty with a canvas without first looking for something to base it off of. Honestly, the finished product NEVER looks like what I'm basing it off of, but I would love to have these ideas swirling around in my head, clamoring to be created and shared with the world. Will that happen if I continue to show up and get my hands messy with paint?

We are hosting a party tomorrow for Memorial day. The obligatory BBQ and hanging out in the backyard while drinking and shortened work day type of shindig. I should be cleaning the house, doing yard work, and then going to the store for meat to grill, but priorities. Painting and writing come first. Even before I shower. That's when I know that creativity has me by the hand, and is pulling me along while promising me an adventure. 

I am struggling to write today. I want to tell you about my day and the things I have planned. Will that sound trite? It seems boring to me. That's why I struggle with journaling, and I also used to struggle with therapy. I simply wanted to recount my days, my experiences. I wanted the opportunity to share the things I would do differently if I had a do over. I've slowly gotten out of that rut with journaling, but I haven't seen my therapist in over a year. It simply feels like too much work to call her and schedule and go through the niceties of catching up. Plus, I don't feel as if I'm in the dark spaces and places that I used to visit regularly back then. The beauty of my relationship with my therapist is that it has helped me realize that I can recognize when I'm headed in those places, and reach out if I need to.  

Well, that took a different turn than I expected. Is this how the next 30 days is going to play out? I'll sit down with the intention of writing about painting and my inability to tell a story, and then take a dive deeper into my thoughts and come face to face with pieces of myself that I don't pay attention to on a daily basis? If so, will anyone still be here to read my words in 30 27 days? Is anyone here now? 

Which now makes me question why I'm doing this. Am I doing this so that people have something to read, or am I doing this for myself so I can become more intimately acquainted with writing? Maybe it's a little bit of both. There is some part of me that is craving connection and attention, and that is why I blog, and share my paintings with friends. Even the funky ones that I don't particularly care for.   There is a part of me, big or small, that wants affirmation and confirmation that what I'm doing is alright and not downright terrible. Hello, human condition. Welcome to my blog.

The funkiest flower I've ever picked. Created by me

*I'm still taking part in this not challenge! 500 Days/30 Words via Kale & Cigarettes

Saturday, May 23, 2015

500 Words. Day 2. I will wait.

not my picture, but it reminds me of waiting.

I've been listening to Mumford and Sons a lot lately. There is something about their lyrics, and the notes and melodies of the banjo. I don't even pretend to know much about music, I simply listen to the music that reverberates in my heart and make me shiver.

I wrote once:

"There are never any regrets. I don't live in the past. 
Tomorrow is never promised. I don't look to the future. 
I live in the moment. Today is all I have. 
I can find my moment in the lyric of a song, the lens of my camera, or the stroke of a pen." 

Upon reading these words, I can immediately remember that girl who thought those words, I can feel her assuredness, her confidence, her desire to live in the present and feel everything to the fullest. I wonder at times where has she gone, and then I come back to myself. Time and time again. I have never left, but I have grown up, grown wiser. I have experienced joy and heartache. Anger and ignorance. Pure happiness and conviction. Love, dismay, sadness, compassion, strength. All of these things and more. The layers have piled up around me, and sometimes I can feel the subtle nudges of something underneath all of this.

I remember one day at yoga teacher training, we attended a sound healing workshop. This was right in the middle of our three week immersion, and I was in the process of shedding some old ideas and perceptions. I felt raw with emotion that I had tried for so long to hide and suppress, exposed and vulnerable. I have trouble standing there feeling like I'm open and everyone can see my insides. It's incredibly uncomfortable. I was nervous because I had no idea how to navigate this terrain, afraid of what I may see or feel. I'm trying not to edit any of this and I can feel that same feeling now as I type. The feeling of being seen, being vulnerable. 

I have so many feelings to describe the sound healing workshop, but I simply can't write about it. Not right now. What I want to talk about is the feeling afterwards. The feeling of being connected to the sound, the vibrations. Feeling the connection in both my physical and spiritual body. Feeling so open, so free, so connected to all parts of me. Which meant that I felt connected to everything and everyone else around me. I was floating, flying high. I walked across the street to get food, and I still to this day think that I didn't step one foot on the ground. My smile was so wide, and so bright. My heart was so open, so loving. I simply wanted to love.

I still want to love. Openly, freely. Without worry of how others will perceive me. I want to share my love and hold space in my heart for everyone in my life. I am reminded of this when I listen to music and feel it in my body. How I emotionally respond to lyrics such as:

"Now I'll be bold, as well as strong, and use my head along side my heart." 

I desire to reconnect with that girl, who I still am, who lives for the present. I plan on finding my moments, all of them. In the lyrics, in the pictures, in the words that spill out on to the page or the screen. I will wait in all of these moments, to be fully present, for anyone else to join me. If they don't I will still wait. For the next moment.

*a 500 words/30 days experience along with Kale & Cigarettes

Friday, May 22, 2015

500 Words. Day 1. Where am I going with this?

Finding beauty in the broken tree on the path

To have yourself shaken awake by the actions of others is unsettling. To realize that you have been sleep walking, living life in a dazed, half-awake, half-asleep state can be shocking. It takes a few moments to assimilate, to recognize, that you are safe in your surroundings. The ground may feel unsteady, your feet may feel shaky, but if you breathe, then you start to re-connect to yourself and feel life.

May has been a roller coaster of a month. Warm weather, cold weather, frost advisories. Friends made, friends lost, uncertainty surrounding decisions about jobs. The only place that I seem to find myself is on the pages of my journal, or on the paths in the park. To hear the crunching of the rocks, and twigs underfoot, feeling the sunlight as it streams through the trees to gently touch my face, to hear the birds serenading anyone who cares enough to stop for a moment and listen. This is how I remember that I am a part of all of this. The beauty of nature is the same beauty that is my heart and soul.

I get lost in the words of romantic poets, wishing that those words are whispered to me in the dark. I find myself imagining that someone thinks of me randomly and has an urge to send me words that stand out to them, that remind them of me.

My heart and soul ache for the freedom of birds, being able to fly whenever they feel like it. Random musings that keep me grounded throughout my day. Birds, poets, being made of the same stardust that makes up everyone else and every other thing surrounding me.

Is that why, when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw someone share a blog post created by someone I don't know, I was drawn to read it because I noticed they had committed to write 500 words a day for 30 days?

What is it about the page, the words, the stories that swirl around in my mind that simultaneously draw me in and push me away? Is it that I have always wanted to write, ever since I was in third grade and wrote a story about a carousel horse on a shelf? Is it the knowing that I will uncover and expose myself while recording the thoughts, dreams, whispers that pour forth from my being?

Whatever it is, and similar to my journey with yoga, I am feeling that familiar pull. "All I want to do is write." When I softly speak those words, low enough that I wonder if I even thought them, then I know that it is time to turn on this path and see where it takes me. I will step gently, and slowly, taking in the sights an sounds all around me, filling myself up and at the same time emptying myself of everything.

I guess that means I'm going to "experiment" with this writing 500 words for 30 days thing*.

On day one I catch myself wondering what will happen over the next 30 days, but that is not what I am here to do. I am here to write, to allow my spirit to sing through the taps and clicks as my fingers fly over the keyboard.

*I'm participating in a 500 words for 30 days "not a challenge" put forth by Kale and Cigarettes.