One For The Road

More than anything else, I love to make people smile. While I think that it can be a good thing, I also think that it makes me try a little too hard at times, that it makes me occasionally forget to take care of myself, because I’m trying so hard to take care of the people I love instead. 

This art journal that I made for my friend is one such labor of love. I put a lot of myself into it, and I poured in so much love and light. I want my friend to be able to open it at any page and feel like I’m right there smiling and supporting him on his journey. This art journal is his “one for the road”…

I find creative journals inspiring. I like to look at pictures of other people’s journals, whether they are art journals or bullet journals or poetry journals. The type of journal doesn’t matter to me. I find that they all make me feel sparks of inspiration, that they all make me want to create something of my own. 

I am not very good at sharing my creations, my poems or my artwork. Years ago, I was more open, and I got too much unwelcome attention, and it’s made me fear being open again. I love my privacy more than most people, I guess. I don’t chase after fame or attention, and I rarely post on social media. I’m a quiet soul, private and withdrawn, a bit hermit-like, if I’m honest. 

Also, it seems like so few people truly want to know someone else deeply. It has become a shallow culture, filled with too much surface level talk and too little depth and passion. I crave depth. I crave long and drawn conversations about life and pain and passion. I want to know what makes a person keep going when they’ve been down to rock bottom, and I want to know what sparks their soul into flames. 

Someday, maybe, I will be brave enough to be honest and open and vulnerable again. For now, here are several photos of the art journal I made for my friend’s birthday. A bit of magic in a muggle world. 💕

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Satchel Dump

• A satchel dump, a purse dump, a backpack or a duffel dump are all names for dumping it all out on the table. No filter. No sorting. Just a jumble of randomness that represents bits and pieces of who I am.

• I have a tendency to start things and not finish them, to have grand ideas and big dreams, but to not follow through. This year, I am changing that. I’m setting goals and meeting them. Okay, okay… if I’m honest, I’ve only just almost met my first big goal, but at least I’m trying and making progress, and I’m not giving up.

• My friend’s birthday is on the 11th, and I wanted to do something special for him, so I decided to give him the best thing I could think up: his very own homemade art journal. I bought one of the black Dylusion journals at the store and began painting and sketching and collaging in it. I’ve been working on it for three months now, and I think I will finish the last page in the journal later today. I am so, so proud of myself. I feel buoyant, like I finally have the strength and determination to the tackle the things in life that are most important to me. I know he will read the words and look at the collaging and feel so much love crash over him, because that art journal is nothing if not full of love. ❤️

Another Chance At Life

I’ve been silent, focusing on the physical me instead of the spiritual. I’ve been eating edamame, oatmeal, raw pumpkin seeds, chopped dates, yogurt and all sorts of other things to help make my body more healthy. I have neglected the part of me that sighs when the leaves fall from the trees in autumn, neglected the part of me that craves connection and meaning. There must be a way for me to find balance. It’s a struggle for me. For years, I’ve tended to do well in one area while failing in the other areas. What will it take before I can balance the things that matter to me? How is it that I’ve grown so lopsided?

This is October, my favorite month, the time of the year that makes me feel like change is coming, change for the better, a chance at a newer and brighter life. October feels like a time when the slate’s wiped clean and I get another chance at life. With each gust of wind, more leaves fall from the trees, and I feel like the changes are going to make a difference this time, this time I will turn the page and start a new chapter in my life. This time, it won’t just be more of the same.

 

My Small Life

One of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail. I’ve written about it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m obsessed with writing letters, with connecting with someone through the written word. I wrote a friend of mine the other day, and I quoted that movie. These lines in particular seem to describe me too:

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

This is me too. I’m cloistered, withdrawn. I have difficulty connecting with people in person. I suppose that writing letters is a way for me to communicate that is not quite so scary as communicating in person, and there is always time to allow an idea to percolate before having to share it. Sometimes I wish I lived a grander life, an exciting life, but I don’t.

I shop at little farm stands. The librarians know me by name. I know the one lane bridges on tiny country roads. I walk alongside the corn fields and pick wildflowers. I like baking pies. I know all these things about myself, but sometimes I still wonder who I am. I feel like the me that’s deep inside is the me that matters, and I can’t quite get her to come out of hiding.

Things I Like About Myself

*  I have great taste in music. 
*  I make awesome instrumental playlists. 
*  I'm a good cook. 
*  I'm a great mommy. 
*  I'm loyal. 

*  I'm trustworthy. 
*  I'm kind. 
*  I have a big heart. 
*  I'm creative. 
*  I make nice jewelry. 

*  I love my poetry. 
*  I love how passionate I am. 
*  I also love how deeply I feel. 
*  I remember little kindnesses. 
*  I have pretty hair. 

*  I love fiercely. 
*  I'm compassionate. 
*  I have good taste in plants. 
*  My eyes are a nice shade of blue. 
*  I have freckles on my shoulders.

a person of letters

Today is a slouchy sort of day, the type of day when the heat slumps over on you like a drunk person who falls asleep next to you on a train. Not that I’ve ever had a drunk person fall asleep on my shoulder. But somewhere, years ago, someone did fall asleep on me, and I imagine the heat to feel something like that weight and also the caution with which I sat still so as not to wake him.

I’m reading more lately, learning words like outsize and tumid, words that are large and swollen, words you can use to describe a sex scene if you want to put a literary spin on it. I read as a sort of shield, a way of lying to myself that I’m actually working on my writing by seeing what other people have written. I tell myself that I’m contributing to society by reading books, by slowly eating my way through them the way I’d want someone to devour something, anything, that I wrote.

I write here because I don’t have anyone to write letters to. If I could have any little thing right now, I think I would choose to have someone with whom to exchange letters, someone with whom I could exchange book reviews and scraps of poetry, postcards and drafts of short stories. I fantasize that I will miraculously turn into a person of letters (whatever that means) simply by writing this nonexistent writer friend of mine over and over again for decades on end. In my mind, this person is someone whose brilliance is underestimated, someone whose work I would read with delight, exclaiming over all the sections in which I could see myself.

It’s silly, isn’t it? To wish for someone to write letters to when no one writes letters anymore. We blog. We text. We email every now and then when we can’t get away with sending a series of texts. But we hardly ever, practically never, get out a piece of paper and a pen and sit down and write someone a letter. It used to be that I could recognize my friends’ handwriting. Now I rarely know what any of their handwriting looks like. If I close my eyes, I can still recall Amy’s bubbly letters, Christina’s blocky text, Ethan’s messy script. I’m not in touch with any of them anymore, but I still remember the way their writing looked on a page.

When I hold a pen now, my hand cramps up. I have been unused to writing by hand, everything being letters on a screen. But on this humid day, I want nothing more than to go down to the end of the driveway and look into my box and find a letter from a friend. I want to curl up in front of the air conditioner with a glass of sweet tea and savour each paragraph that my friend wrote. Alas, no friends of mine write letters. The box, when I checked it, was full of junk mail and magazines, and I remain very much not a lady of letters.

Still Me

During the week, I am almost free, close to unencumbered, a lighter version of myself. Then the weekend comes around and H comes back from work, and it’s like I’m under a guillotine, waiting for my head to be lopped off. There are drastic changes in me from someone who is mostly happy to someone who is mostly panicked and on edge. The see-sawing back and forth between being okay and being so far from okay is driving me insane.

I want to be permanently free. I want to be free of him, free to be myself, to dance in the rain like I did once all those years ago. Naked, bare feet digging into the sand. I want to be free to learn again, to sharpen my mind and to wake up from this intellectual and emotional slumber. I’ve spent too many years pretending to be okay, spent too many years lying to everyone I love about who and how I am.

I come here because I am a coward, because it’s easier to put things down in words when no one you know will judge you for saying that you’re miserable in your marriage, that your life’s become a sham, a sad shadow of what it once was and of what it will be. Because that’s just it: I know that this isn’t the end for me. A friend of mine told me recently that, although this section of my life is ending, it doesn’t mean that my life itself is ending. This is just the beginning of a new chapter.

Who will I be in my next chapter? Still me, but more compassionate. Still me, but kinder. Still me, but without the ceaseless challenges of trying to please everyone in my life. Still me, but more spiritual. Still me, but writing and submitting my works for publication. See? Still me, just a more vibrant, more alive me. Hopefully also still me, but a better cook. I say it partly in jest, but I would like to eat better in the next chapter of my life.