Swimming the English Channel

By the time we’ve survived adolescence and are well into our journey through adulthood, we have developed ideas and philosophies about, well, everything. We typically have a system of beliefs in place. A set of standards and guidelines that help us navigate through life with some ideas of what to expect of people, and more importantly, what we expect of ourselves. Some people have this system more fleshed out than others. Some peoples systems are more rigid than others, but we all have these systems.

The sort of crazy thing about life, is that you can have systems that don’t get tested for awhile.  Like any sort of emergency protocol, you might not know how effective it is until it is put to the test.  The ones whose systems are frail, can be easily rattled by the curveballs that life throws. The ones whose systems are ineffective, can be easily shocked by the failed outcomes.

One such system is: How to lose someone. It’s a system that needs to be in place, because we all WILL lose someone. Even if we manage through all our relationships completely unscathed, and never have to end a relationship, we WILL lose someone to that tricky little inevitability…. death.  I had a loosely defined system in place for such a thing, but a lot of that system hinged on the naïve ideology of wishful thinking, and avoidance. Until life threw me a curveball.

I had a friend commit suicide. It’s taken me a while to even call it that. For quite a while I’d say he “checked out early”. My system wasn’t really equipped to handle it. But handling it, getting through it, forced me to build a new, much stronger, much more practical system.

I’d lost grandparents when I was young, and in many ways have been plagued by the fear of losing anyone close to me. His death, in that manner, was a curveball. In my mind my first real loss would be some expected death of someone very old and frail. I’d be able to attend their funeral, and mourn the way people mourn.

Everything about this friendship, and the end of his life, was not normal. It’s a story for another day. But I had no funeral to attend, and since we didn’t share the same social or familial circles, I mourned alone. And this is where my system starts to form.

I think mourning a loss is like swimming the English Channel. I saw a story about the first woman who took on the task and saw footage of the feat. She swam it alone… In the sense that no one else moved her body. No one else propelled her through the water. No one made her body move, or her mind stay focused. But she was surrounded. There were people in boats watching her every move. There to swoop down should her body give out. It was her race to win, her mountain to climb, no one could do it for her, no one could complete the task for her…. But no one would let her drown.

In the almost 3 years since my friend died, I have many times felt like I was swimming that Channel. There have been many times that I couldn’t see any boats around me, making sure I wouldn’t drown. This experience, has set my system. Which is a pretty good (albeit painful) way to set your systems…. experience something you aren’t prepared for, then determine how you could have been prepared, and how you might prepare others.

Anytime someone I know experiences a loss, I see it differently. I ache in a different way. And I now believe that the role of the outsiders is to be like the people on the boats…. keeping watch… knowing you can’t swim it for them, but ready, to swoop down. This can be done in a variety of ways. The simplest are pretty obvious. Tell them you’re sorry for their loss. Send a card. Let them know you are there, even if you don’t know what that means. Let them know that someone is keeping an eye on them as they go through something that is so terribly painful, difficult, and lonely. Go to funerals. Not just to pay respect to the dead… but to support the living… the ones who lost someone dear to them. Reach out… in anyway you can. Check in on people… even months later… when life is back to normal, but they are quietly and secretly still swimming towards the shore. Be in the boat. Keep an eye out. Let them know that even though they swim it alone… They aren’t alone. We’re in it together.

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Enhance, Soften, Slim

I am a professional photographer, focusing primarily on weddings and portraits (of families, pregnant mamas, newborns, etc.). http://www.sarahclausonphotograpahy.com

I’m in my 9th year of business and I really do love what I do. Like anything, there are certain aspects of my craft that I try to develop, advance, explore and better. There are also a few aspects that I try to hold true to. Over the years, I’ve unintentionally developed a bit of a philosophy of photography, and although it isn’t fleshed out in any hard format, I try to stay true to it.

Because I take a LOT of photographs, and because I edit a LOT of photographs, I have kept a somewhat casual and cool relationship with my cell phone camera. Don’t get me wrong… I love the thing, and I take a LOT of pics with it. But there is definitely a distinction. Often times, I have to remind myself that I do NOT have to photograph everything. I used to struggle with that, especially after having children, but having a camera on my phone made it easier to leave the real camera at home.  I can still capture a quick moment, but I’m not tethered to my camera, which, since I use it so much professionally, can cause me to switch into a slightly different mode of being. It also provides a little break, which makes taking photographs professionally remain fresh, and when I do break out the big guns for personal reasons, it is with true pleasure and doesn’t feel like work.

I stand by my work. Both the interactions with my lovely subjects and the photographs we create. However… when it comes to that little camera on my phone, I take pride in being an amateur. I am amused by the lack of effort I put into it. So, I never once used an app to put on a retro filter, or make a split shot or collage, or add a funny text to the image. Never. Until last week.

I updated my phone (should have done that FOREVER ago!) and stumbled upon a “selfie app”. I downloaded the app and took to snapping photos of my own face (isn’t it funny that we do this??). Then came the edits. Three swipes of the screen and I found a fun filter. I then, with one swipe each, managed to: Enlarge my eyes, enhance my eyes, get rid of wrinkles, widen my smile, SLIM my entire face, and whiten my teeth.

It made me sick. It also made a LOT of sense. All those beautiful selfies I see on social media… how many of them are counterfeit?? How many of my clients, especially young ones, are expecting to see these kind of results from my finished work??

The answer is no… I will not do it! Part of my philosophy of photography, especially portrait photography, is that I capture who you ARE… not who you could be… not who you think people want to see. Let me be clear… I have my insecurities like all of us, I know which side of mine I prefer… I want you to look your BEST. I know what it’s like to have some trouble areas and not want those to be as visible… But I will not be enlarging your eyes, or whitening your teeth, or shaving half of your face off. There are obviously exceptions to these rules that can be tastefully done in the right situations. A headshot that is going to be used for publicity, is a great time to soften a few wrinkles and cover up a blemish. A mama playing with her kids… not so much.

Making beautiful photographs of people and their lives is a privilege, but one of the true pleasures of my job is the time spent AT the shoot… Looking at people, and SEEING them. Seeing them the way their children see them. Seeing a dad glance at his daughter in a wedding gown. Imagining the way a husband and wife looked at each other when they fell in love. And trying to capture that.

The people who love you… they see you from all angles. They see you when you’re tired and it shows, they see you when you laugh so hard that your silver fillings are on display, They see you with wet hair and no makeup, They see your smile lines, your pudgy parts, and your gray hairs. And at times, they see you when you feel beautiful, with the light hitting you just right, your posture at its best, your good side showing, and your smile genuine and true. My job is to set that last stage… but my purpose and my passion is to see you, and capture you beautifully. As you are.

Selfies and not-so-self-ies

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Crappy camera pics of nice moments:

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The Boxing Gloves

(A short story written 8 years ago about a 9 year old girl and a 10 year old boy)

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed when she snapped out of it.  The pastor was already giving the benediction. When did her mind wander off? She remembered the intro and the first point…had it been 5 minutes?  15?  These little trips down memory lane always came at the most random and inopportune times.  This wasn’t what church was for…but that’s what she did. That’s how she was…Too sensible to be truly reckless and too untamed to be devout.

A lot can be learned about a person when you walk into their house.  It’s true for the house of worship and the devil’s den.  Anna was thinking back to the house of David Green, the first boy she loved.  She was just in the 3rd grade and he was in the 4th. He was so big, so old…and yet he was just a 10 year old….  There was an allure about him that she certainly didn’t recognize at the time as allure… but there are things that transcend time and gender and David Green’s allure was one of these things.

The invitation alone was so thrilling. He knew who she was after all, and not only that, he invited her to his house.  What an adventure, to walk into the home of the boy you love.  Things were tidy, not as tidy as her house, but tidy.  The snacks were different… she never ate fruit roll ups, what a treat.  He had toys made for boys that seemed so foreign, but so attractive.  Boxing gloves…. “I have to try those on!” she thought.  She wondered how hard of a punch she could throw.  She wanted to try those gloves on so bad but somehow knew that wasn’t acceptable…besides, she didn’t want to be his boxing mate…she wanted to be something else, she just didn’t know what.

He had bunk beds, which seemed odd since he didn’t share a room with anyone else.  But my how bunk beds were so exciting.  She wished they could build a fort, but was nervous to assert herself.  This was probably one of her first recollections of being aware that she was a girl…and he was a boy…and was a bit unsettled by how it made her feel.  They tinkered around for a while…playing together, but separately.  He’d reach inside a box and pull out some noteworthy object…a baseball glove…garbage pail kid cards…silly putty… He’d fiddle with it a moment and then begin to explain the object’s importance…or rather the importance he gained by possessing the object.  Her interest was initially sincere, but she found herself exaggerating her awe at such ordinary things.  And at that moment her feelings changed—  She wiped the smile off of her face, and reached for the boxing gloves.

“Bet I can hit you harder than you can hit me” she said.  He didn’t seem too interested in the challenge, but accepted nonetheless.

“You go first” she insisted.  This was merely a strategic move.  She knew she could out punch him, she just wanted to test his strength.  Her confidence was quite staunch, which is why the sting of the glove hitting her stomach and reaching for her insides came as a shock.  She didn’t think he’d hit that hard.  Certainly not in the stomach…and she especially did not expect the pain.

Her glove came off as she sighed and said, “This was stupid…I don’t want to hurt you…besides, I gotta get home”. She managed the strength to get out of the bedroom before the tears started to roll.  Fortunately she encountered no one as she fled the house. And as she ran for home, with both arms wrapped around her throbbing stomach, she felt a defeat that she could not bear… and so began her understanding of girlhood.

The Pastor finished the benediction and everyone began milling for the door.  She always felt sad when she missed church, but this was the part where she ALWAYS thought, “Was this worth getting out of bed?”

It was worth avoiding the sadness. That was always her answer.  Even she was disappointed in what her faith had become, but she saw it like any long term relationship… full of dry spells and sprinkled with romance.  In a sense, this is what life had become for her— sensibility with the occasional abandon, a balanced life in which her choices were tempered by the fear of regret.

Regrets like failing to give David Green a punch to the stomach that he’d never forget.

Riding The Wave

PREFACE: I am not a surfer. But I live with one. Let me repeat that again… I am NOT a surfer. This analogy will have holes, because I am speaking, not as a card carrying member… not from personal experience… but as a very close observer. I am not in the band… but I have backstage passes. Over a decade ago I gave it a fair try, when we were dating, but that fizzled. (The surfing fizzled, not the relationship).

My writing, both musical and literary, is like surfing. It comes in waves, it comes in sets. It’s mostly about timing, but also about discipline, commitment, and availability.

When surfing, you paddle out, and you wait.  The waves come in sets, so you wait for the set. And then even within the set, you wait for the right wave. Catching the wave, can look pretty easy, but takes a lot of practice. However, even with all your effort, lets face it…. the wave does the work. It pushes you, carries you.Your skill and your commitment and your luck… your passion and your personality and your style, will determine how beautifully you ride that wave.

I think the real work comes beforehand… A good surfer is ready for good surf. They check everyday. And when it’s up, they find a way to get out there. Full time job? Take your board to work and surf on your lunch break. Frigid waters? Invest in a wet suit. A surfer is ready for waves. And a good, passionate, surfer will take what they can get. And that’s when you get good… when you surf the less than ideal waves.

My waves of creativity can come out of nowhere, often times there are long stretches of flat days between the swells. When the waves come, I try to drop what I’m doing and make myself available to the moment.  I want to write the way my husband surfs. He’s ready. And when it’s flat, he still exercises his inner surfer… he still wants to get in the water… And he will take what he can get.  He keeps his eyes on the water… He jumps in, even when there isn’t a wave in sight.

My favorite songs are the one’s that came on the crest of a big, perfect, barrel of a wave…. warm water, sunny day…. perfect surf.  Only problem is that sometimes, I only get half of a song out of the wave. And that’s what I’ve been working on lately…. staying in the water even when the wave passes. Finishing the song. I’ve tried to wait until the next wave to finish the song, but it rarely works. Each wave has its own unique line, its own purpose.

Another factor is motherhood/life. I have one day a week where both kids are out of the house. I’m not sure why, but the waves don’t seem to line up with my schedule.  But lately, I still schedule time in the water.  When I have the house to myself and no distractions, even if there isn’t a wave in sight, I need to get in the water. I need to take out that guitar. I need to grab a pen. Unlike a surfer, I have the potential to actually summons the waves, and that takes practice. You can’t do it from the shore… You have to be in the water, on the board, water all around.  Hopefully if I keep this up, I’ll be ready for the epic swell. Or maybe even create a rogue wave all my own.

(This is what songwriting looks like at my house)

War Tide

I was eating lunch at my favorite little Thai place, where the tables are fairly crowded and the dining room is fairly small, and I heard a diner trying to get another diner’s attention.  “Hey big guy…”, he began with a volume that was loud enough to get my attention, but it was vague enough that whichever “big guy” he was referring to, didn’t notice.  I scanned the room… mostly men, likely on lunch break, likely from the base. He said it a second time, “Hey big guy!”.  Easily distracted, I tuned out my lunch date and was determined to figure out which guy in this room was “Big Guy”.  There was a third attempt, and then he finally changed his approach…. On his fourth try he added…. “War Eagle”.  Ah…. I was correct…. “Big Guy”… was the man sitting across from us with an Auburn lanyard around his neck holding his name badge.

The “War Eagle” got his attention. He glanced up from his pad thai and the two exchanged smiles and nods and he replied “War Eagle”.

All of this, brought about, by a thin piece of fabric with blue and whatever other color lets you know that you’re an Auburn fan.  These two men, two strangers, were bound by their allegiance to the tigers or the eagle or the war… or whatever else it is that this university identifies with.  It could have been any team… well there are a handful that our demographic here in the south seem to really rally around. And boy do we rally around them.

These two men, based simply off of their mutual love of the Auburn Tigers, were bonded. Complete strangers, but brothers in a secret society who’s handshake is “War Eagle”.  That little mantra says “you are one of US”.

So, another thing going on in this little dive is the news.  On two screens. Both showing footage of a man in a choke hold, falling to the ground.  The caption at the bottom of the screen reading “I can’t breathe”. The week before when we were enjoying our red curry, the screens were showing footage of a mother, standing on a car as she heard the news from a courtroom regarding her dead son. Both headlines highlight race relations in our country. Both headlines highlight police/civilian relations in our country.  Both headlines reek of “Us against them”.

I have a hard time with these topics… Scratch that… The topics themselves are pretty easy, especially if you are a lover of fairness, respect, kindness, etc. It’s the incidences that serve as an eruption for these topics to surface that I have a hard time with.  Most times, I believe they are just that. Opportunities for the pain, tension and brokenness of a people to rise to the surface.  It isn’t always fair, it isn’t always as it seems. The guilty aren’t always guilty, the innocent aren’t always innocent, and we often times don’t know who is who.  But these indicators are like flares going off in the night.  They scream: Warning!!! They remind us, that while very civilized and advanced, we often times maintain an “Us and against them” mentality, that will forever keep us from dealing with the tides of social pains beneath our surface.

The thing that perplexes and breaks my heart is that we are capable of identifying with a stranger because he wears our team’s color, but we can’t identify with whoever we deem as “them”.  What on earth would happen, if we saw our team’s colors on every individual? If we glanced into another’s eyes and could somehow engage in a secret handshake that says, “You are one of US”.  What would happen if our secret societies and our lines of allegiance were broadened… beyond Auburn Tigers, beyond race, beyond nationality, beyond gender, beyond age, beyond sexual orientation, beyond political/social/religious affiliation, beyond status, etc. etc. ?  What if we saw others as one of “US”? Perhaps its just unbridled optimism, but I think it would bring about a well needed change… even if only within the heart.

War Eagle.

Or…

(Roll Tide)

(*tomahawk chop*)

(*Gator chomp*)

She makes me feel young, she makes me feel old

untitled1I dusted off my original Nintendo Entertainment System, Blew the cartridge, pushed in that little power button, and selected 1 player.  “This is called Super Mario brothers”, I said, And I handed her the controller.  “This button on your left controls where you go, and you can press the B button to jump, and the A button to go fast… Just don’t bump into those turtle looking guys, and don’t fall into the holes. And careful of those angry flowers that come up out of the pipes. You’ll want to Hit your head against the flashing bricks, and try to find mushrooms, stars, and flowers… they help Mario win”.

Just 20 minutes later and she, well Mario, was sliding down the flag pole, level one complete.  She’s 5, which is how old I was when my brother brought that very same system home.  He was old… Very old… 14 to be exact… and he knew everything about everything….And I remember learning my left from my right, by looking at those controller cords. I was always the 2nd player, and my cord was on the right.  I wanted to beat him, I wanted to be better than him, but most of all, I was just glad he let me play.

imagesHis room was always smelly, and I loved it. To be invited in. His records on display… The airplane on Licensed to Ill always stood out. Almost as much as a nude Prince on the cover of Lovesexy.untitled

So, I’m watching her as she enters level two… The music is darker, the world is darker… and she loves it.  But she can’t finish this one… not by a long shot…. “Mama… just get the star for me”….  I hastily take over the controller, and I might as well have stepped into a time machine.  Back, Back, Back 29 years….No sleep til Brooklyn, Brass Monkey, and Slow and Low playing in my mind…. Only I’m on the left now, and I know all the shortcuts and the time warps. And I can’t tell if I feel very young, or very old.  And sure enough I run right into a turtle looking guy and die… And our heads jerk towards one another and we both laugh.  And the time machine has somehow turned into a mirror… and I’m looking at myself.  And for a split second I don’t feel young, or old, but immortal.  And in my mind I hear “Let it flow, let yourself go, slow and low, that is the tempo”.

 

“What am I touching??” A Turkey Tale

This isn’t the first time I’ve hosted our Thanksgiving dinner. This is not my first dance with a turkey. But let me be clear… I am no pro.  This is all very, very weird.  I mean, how can you get really good at something you only do ONCE a year? Truth be told, I don’t even really like turkey.  But this year, maybe my 3rd or 4th try, I’ve decided to put forth a little more effort.

I picked a small bird, just cooking for 5 adults and 2 kids. And I have to admit, I feel a little more connected with this turkey lurkey. I’ve decided to do some “night before” treatment of our little Tom. Apparently an overnight soak in buttermilk is a great option, and sounds pretty fail-proof to me.

I take him (or her) out of the packaging, and it begins. There are bags stuffed in all kinds of unseemly places, and before I know it, I’m holding it’s heart in my hands. It isn’t that a turkey heart is all that gross, or even that it weighs on my conscience in some manner… it’s just weird. There’s also this plastic bag shoved up there with some sort of juice for making gravy… again…. weird.

But as I’m feeling around, I find what feels like something that maybe shouldn’t stay in…. maybe it’s the neck? It’s hard, it’s cylindrical, it garners all kinds of “in the gutter” jokes, but it’s pretty fixed, and I can’t decide what to do with it….

Covered in raw turkey germs (I am NOT a germ-a-phobe, but I am pretty dang meticulous about raw poultry cross-contamination) I ask John to grab my phone, call my folks, and put it on speaker. He, very politely and diplomatically, says, “why don’t you just google it?”.

It really is a simple, and quick solution… one I go to ALL.THE.TIME. It  is a pretty amazing and valuable resource that we have at our fingertips. I’m not sure the technical name of my generation…. but I know that I’m on the cusp… I remember life before computers and internet. I had encyclopedias in my home. I wrote research papers in college by looking in actual books. But I’m young enough, to be pretty comfortable, and quite frankly reliant, on this fast access culture that is the new norm. I buy into it…. whether I philosophically like it or not… But cooking…. Cooking questions are my last stand.

It’s true, for some reason, I like getting cooking advice directly from my parents. I’m not sure if it’s because I intrinsically trust them with all things, or because deep down, I know that this is how life should be done… Passing things down, one generation to the next.  It really is precious… and I don’t want it to stop.  The “norm” that my kids will grow up with, it’ll be crazy. At 5 & 2 they are already so comfortable with technologies that as a kid, I wouldn’t have dreamed of. But tonight, they helped their Daddy stir the pumkin pie filling, and they tried to sabotage my phonecall with Oma and Opa, and hopefully one day, they’ll call me and ask me how on earth to hard boil an egg, or whether to use baking powder or soda, or what on earth do I do with these turkey parts???

Incidentally, the call to my parents resulted in a request for pictures of the “part” in question, which I texted (irony?). Here is said photo. You’re welcome, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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(And yes, I removed the neck, and we’ll use it for the gravy)

The Summer Ends

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Not all time is created equal. You sometimes find yourself in a moment, where you think… “This is it… This is one of those moments… All is well, all is right, cue the music”.  This particular “moment” for me was layered thick with meaning and tranquility. At the beach, watching John surf, like when we were dating. No kids to keep an eye on, no distraction or urge to connect with anything or anyone other than the music and the world around me. The birds begged me to take their picture, and I did, while keeping one eye on the waves and my dearest friend out in the water.

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We were classmates, beginning in 9th grade. We were in the same drama class, but never spoke. Our senior year we became friends, in that subtle, but sort of magical way.  I vividly remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to know him one day” and this thought came along with a distinct visual…. I could see myself sitting on the beach, watching him surf. Even though our friendship was bound to the classroom, I just knew something about him.

We lost touch after graduation, but bumped into each other from time to time. With each encounter I was reminded of that thought… that I’d know him one day. So finally, after one “random” encounter, 4 years after high school, we started hanging out. I watched him surf that summer. We were married 3 summers later. That was almost 10 summers ago.

As beautiful as I think our story is, there is something that I’ve learned, even just recently. It didn’t take long into our relationship for me to think, “It happened…. I know him… Just like I knew I would”. It was certainly true, but I look at how I know him now… how I am still getting to know him… How I spent years taking it for granted.

It’s like a song, or a poem, or a novel. You go back to it, and it has so much more meaning. Things you missed. Things you weren’t wise enough to notice. Beauty and pain and complexity that was lost on you that first time around. When I love a new song I will wear it out….. And then sometimes, we put it on the shelf.  Even the things we were certain we knew, we sometimes discover we didn’t, not like we thought we did. Sometimes the new discoveries are beautiful, some painful, but all are worthwhile…especially when the goal all along was to know it. All of it.

I sat on that beach… Feeling like the 22 year old that was falling in love with the boy that she somehow knew she would know… And I can say…. I love what I know, and I want to wear the song out.

Cue the music video… (made by me, from footage of above mentioned surf day, featuring “The summer ends” by American Football…. my current “wear it out” song)

 

*Admire with caution*

When I was younger I thought I’d be a missionary. I graduated from a Christian college with a degree in Christian Ministries/Missions. For some, this is common knowledge about me and for some, this is a surprise. But, it’s a part of my biography, one that I’ve wrestled with a bit. As the years have passed (was college really over a decade ago?) my views on this part of my life have changed and morphed, and will likely continue to do so. My time at Asbury college (Now Asbury University, I know because I get WAY too much alumni mail from them *see photo below*) provided me a lot of things, and it also was a very difficult few years. I took 2 friends away from those years. My dear roommate Missy, and Tim, a kindred. He’s now a pastor and posted something on Facebook this week that I keep thinking about…

*yes…. the above was just a preface…. we are about to get to the point*

Here’s what his status update said:

We become like the people we hang out with and admire. When this happens in the divine friendship, the Bible calls it “sanctification.”

My Christian, and specifically Wesleyan, education likes to be reminded of terms like “sanctification”. But really, I just couldn’t get past the first line. It is just SO true, and has certainly been true for me. We absolutely take on the traits and values of those we dedicate our time and admiration to. I am usually pretty trustworthy and positive, but this is an area where some skepticism and due diligence is critical.  You can like a person, love a person, think that person is awesome-sauce…. admire their socks off… but would you want to be like them? More importantly, Do you even really know them? And a layer beyond that… Do they know themselves? The object of your admiration is on a journey, and you may be okay with where they are now… but you don’t yet know where they are truly headed. They may not know either. And often times we don’t know what baggage they carry, what brokenness they harbor, and where their story ends.

“Admire with caution” should be written on people’s foreheads. I believe that. Except maybe the divine…. maybe the divine’s forehead can just say, “go ahead, admire away”. I’ll let the Tims of the world figure that one out. Until then, I plan on being a little more selective with my time and admiration.

(Now I’m just trying to imagine what the forehead of the divine might look like…)

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**This arrived in the mail TODAY!**

 

 

Blame it on the rain

I can’t exactly blame it on the rain, but I can blame it on 3 of my dear and talented friends who keep a blog, which has inspired me to start one. If you are reading this, and you think you might be one of those 3 dear friends… Well, you probably are.

There is certainly a bit of apprehension, just for fear of seeming…. *fill in the blank*… But at the end of the day I’m learning a few things about myself:

  1. I like ideas and words
  2. I like organizing them and then attempting to express/illustrate them
  3. I need motivation
  4. Sharing is motivating

Elaboration on #4. “Sharing is motivating”. I love need to create.

The first time I went to a poetry open mic, I thought “I’m not exactly a poet, so why would I read…and…If I were to read, wouldn’t that be terribly narcissistic?”. I can’t speak to the motivations of others, but for me, it seemed like sharing my “poetry” would mean that I either think I’m good enough to be heard (didn’t think that), or that I simply needed to be heard (ugh, who wants to be that girl?). What I’ve since learned is simple. Sharing can be good. Good for me, good for you, good for that guy sitting over there. Just good.  And most importantly…. Sharing is motivating.  I went on to become the host of Niceville’s Say The Word poetry open mic night, and let me tell you…. I have a LOT more finished poetry. I don’t share because I think I’m good, or because I need to be heard, I share because otherwise, I would write a lot less, and what I did write, wouldn’t get finished.

https://www.facebook.com/saythewordpoetry

(You are cordially invited to check us out!)

This translates to music as well.  Signing up to play a small set at a coffee shop FORCES me tidy up my songs and make them better.  It even translates to my running.  When I am NOT feeling it and dragging along… I opt to run along John Sims parkway…. An audience, as unaware or uninterested as they may be, is motivating.

I’ve also learned a few things about humanity in general (at least the version of it I’ve been exposed to):

  1. Each life is lived individually, but the collective has a pretty major impact on the individuals
  2. I REALLY need to focus on how I navigate MY ship, but have no doubt… My ship can create a wake that can affect all in its path… good or bad.
  3. The beacon of light that keeps the ship on course HAS to come from within… we can’t be the beacon for someone else, but we can encourage others to find theirs.

So, along with being a motivator for me to organize/express some of my thoughts and ideas, I sort of want this to be an outward expression of an inner journey. Finding, and intensifying my own inward beacon of light. Disguised, of course, in ramblings about life, music, words, work, and this overall thing called the human experience.

Disclaimers:

  • If you are a grammar buff…. buckle up… it’s gonna be a bumpy ride
  • Sometimes, when trying to be brutally honest or even just funny, one can run the risk of coming across pretentious or exclusitory… I’m going to try VERY hard not to do that…. I am a recovering “Reverse Snob”, so hang with me. That being said…. I am compiling a list of prerequisites to even reading this blog… expect things like “has a base level appreciation for Prince”.
  • If you don’t like made up words, you might not like this blog. See above *exclusitory* (I mean, that sounds like a word, right?)

Enjoy!!