Solitude.

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There is an art to solitude and quiet.

It’s easy to fill up whatever free time I have with little nothings that feel like somethings. But the sum of zeroes is zero, and when all is said and done I have shortchanged myself by doing many nothings than by doing no things.

I’m trying to get better at this. I have a feeling my productive time will be more productive if my quiet time is quieter.

But, even if it’s not, I will have improved my life and my self by merely inching toward the mastery of occasional solitude.

The Vast Unknown.

ocean

 

When life seems uncertain, I ball up my fists and shut my eyes tight against it.

When life seems uncertain, I dig in my heels.

When life seems uncertain, I hide under the covers.

Don’t worry. I’ll get it one day. And that will be the day I can say “Life is always uncertain” and still keep a smile on my face.

Laws of Nature.

Occasionally I come upon words I wrote in years past (usually while bludgeoning my way through writer’s block) and they still ring true within me. Probably because people don’t change very much, really. This still rings. Its sounds rather depressive, but it’s just thoughts. Thoughts are roller coasters that plunge and soar and everything in between, all in a moment’s time. Writing them down just makes them seem more serious because then they’re words on a page, black and white, taking up space – no longer tucked away inside tidy, well-groomed heads. (Or maybe not well-groomed, if you’re me and it’s an in-between day when I don’t wash my hair.)

 

I find myself at odds with those things that cannot be escaped: this spinning world, some kind of falling fruit prove the grave truth that I am, as I have always suspected, earth-bound.

And not a sky full of suns can hold my upward gaze as long as there is down to fall – as long, that is, as time.

If only I can find something just to keep my head up, well then perhaps I’ll fly, though I am but dragging arms and legs, heavy skin, bones, blood and sinking heart.

 

My Treasures.

ImageI’ve been collecting treasures for several years. I’m not referring to physical treasures. (Though I do that too. I call it “collecting.” Some other people call it “shopping.” And my husband calls it “WHY DO WE NEED MORE BOWLS??” because I really like bowls.)

The treasures I’m talking about are the small comforts that bring me peace and inspiration in both my daily life and in those times I’m seek something “other” – something beyond my normal.

In my early 20s, I was too chaotic to notice what brought me peace. I was a whirlwind of naiveté and narcissism – I thought nothing and everything was about me, all at the same time. I loved and hated myself and others, ever not knowing how I really felt or thought. I was distracted by how much I thought I knew to really learn the things I needed to know. And my eyes were too full of stars and tears (many of my own making) to see anything, even what was right in front of me or inside of me.

I am slow to learn these things. So beautifully, painfully slow. And when I finally learn something, I learn it good. The things in me are rooted deep – both the good and the bad.

Over the past several years I have spent time tending to those roots. Weeding out the bad so the good can flourish. Sometimes they are so intertwined, the good and the bad, so entangled that it seems they cannot live without each other. But that’s all part of it. Replacing the bad with good so the good can become even better, freed from the chokehold of rot and death. It takes a lifetime and more.

I am at my weakest when I am “overwhelmed” and I am easily overwhelmed. That is when everything bad inside me becomes stronger and takes over. But I have learned that there are things I can do to help myself when I feel that way, things that will ease the internal pressure. Even in this, though, there is a struggle for good. There are wise things and unwise things I can do to relieve this pressure. The unwise things starve and malnourish the parts of me I most want to grow, while easing the pain of the “bad” enough that I feel the shifty goodness of pleasure for a few hours at a time.

It is exhausting, my friends. Pain with shocking jolts of pleasure. There is no steadiness, no peace in that.

The wise things are slow and strong. They are not so much pleasurable as they are just plain pleasant once my mind is calm enough to accept them.

1. Beauty. Nothing – absolutely nothing – is as calming to me as being near the ocean.

2. Giving. Thinking about someone that is not myself brings me perspective.

3. Creating. This can be a thinking outward or an expression of what is inside.

4. Walking. When I’m overwhelmed, my mind is immobilized. Moving my body can help me shake my thoughts free.

5. Talking. Verbalizing what I’m feeling takes away the secret power of my thoughts.

6. Quiet. The most difficult of all. Sitting with my own thoughts and overcoming them with stillness. It is a kind of mastery. This is usually my last resort but should be my first.

These are my treasures. I still don’t understand them as well as I should, and maybe there are even more to be discovered. But this is what I have now and what I will cherish with all my heart.

Projecting.

Hello Internet Land!

For the last 100 years, I have been trying to get my act together enough to send out holiday cards. Maybe you think I mean Christmas cards, but I don’t. I mean Halloween cards. You know,  the best holiday of life.

What does sending out Halloween cards entail? One would think “not much.” Easy. But no, because of the part where it involves planning and then doing stuff. Basic life skills.

NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

(Mmm, tea.)

(Tea is definitely my cup of tea.)

I tend to avoid doing things because of indecision and a strange, immobilizing perfectionism. I don’t know what I want to do forever until I die (that’s a really hard thing to know, guys), so here’s a brilliant plan: I just won’t do anything!

Sometimes I look around and I see all these people who are apparently “happy” and “doing things they love” and I’m like, how in the f*@% did you do that?! And it seems really complicated and hard and unattainable.

But then I think maybe it’s because they just made the Halloween cards they’d always thought about making. And after that, they did another cool thing. And they kept doing cool things until they found the thing they love the most. The thing they couldn’t stop doing.

Maybe?

Personal Style Blogs & My Thoughts About Them.

So here’s the lowdown, people: I read a lot of blogs. Roughly a million. Roughly, I said.

I read blogs on a variety of subjects, ranging from writerly blogs to DIY to cooking to fashion and personal style. All of them are my favorite. I love the blogs. I really enjoy exploring personal aesthetics, so I find myself especially drawn to personal style/outfit type blogs. The creativity that can be infused into the simple act of dressing oneself is fascinating.

But, you know, every up has its down. Style blogs have a lot of ups for me, but they also have some downs.

For one. ATTENTION style bloggers, your feet are not the center of the universe. Stop looking down at them in all of your pictures. I know it’s got to be hard to come up with interesting poses day after day. But still.

“Up here, Michael. Up here.”

Is there a bug crawling out of your shoe? Did you step in gum? Have you suddenly discovered a freak sixth toe? No? Then stop it right now. It wouldn’t be so bad if everyone wasn’t doing it, but everyone is doing it. It looks so damn contrived. In a magazine? Ok. I give it a pass because of the part where it’s a magazine. But if this is your “real life” style blog then it’s kind of like we’re hanging out in real life and I say “Hey, cute outfit!” and you just stand there looking down at your feet. Not ok.

Also, the foot-stare combined with the Mona Lisa half-smile. That has to go. Your shoes did not just whisper something wry to you. You may not smile at your shoes that way in public. Sometimes I too have the urge to smile at my shoes. But, privately; inside my house. Follow my lead.

All of that aside, the thing that really makes my skin crawl is how overly branded some style bloggers are. It’s Tory Burch this, J. Crew that (good god, the J. Crew). I like J. Crew and I am by no means opposed to brands, but it feels devoid of creativity. You saw it in a J. Crew catalog and then you wore it. I may love the look, but I’m left wondering where the personal style came in. I look at those pictures and all I see is $$$ and plug-and-play trends, and I’m left feeling like I’m looking at yet another advertisement.

That being said, there are loads of great style blogs out there that may or may not succumb to these pitfalls. Besides which, given the choice between reading blogs that sometimes annoy me and no blogs at all, I CHOOSE BLOGS ALWAYS BLOGS.