(music on the stereo is from the figure 8 album by elliott smith)
vlogity vlog … no idea why its out of sync – sorry if its annoying, xo
when i went to squam last year i was incredibly excited to meet that beautiful woman on the left, my friend leonie. in fact if truth be known, a few of us spent the night at a beautiful restored mill turned inn in new hampshire the night before squam and talked about who we were most excited to meet. i blushingly admited my girl crush was leonie and just between you and me, she totally lived up to all my expectations,
i mean, hello !!
and then there is the woman on the right. going into squam, i didn’t really know much about her at all so it is a complete mystery to me why i signed up for not just one but two classes that she was teaching. and now i wonder how on earth did i blog for this long without becoming a faithful reader / fan / stalker of the amazing jen lee?
almost two decades ago i fell madly head over heels in crush over natalie goldberg and i devoured writing down the bones (among others) and wrote heaps of poetic prose in mad rushes in pink paged notebooks with purple free flowing pens. well over a decade ago, i read a travel book by henry shukman called savage pilgrims: on the road to sante fe and i fell madly head over heels in love with new mexico and when he got to the part about meeting natalie goldberg, i nearly lost my mind. seriously. incidently, though this book is out of print, it really is quite brilliantly engaging, his prose is incredible and i have since re-read it more times than i care to admit.
what is my point? did i have a point? am i really going to compare jen lee to natalie goldberg. why yes i am. because she lit a fire under my butt that hasn’t been lit since back when i was reading natalie goldberg.
at squam i purchased, take me with you, a journal for the journey and then when i got home, i promptly put it on a shelf with the stack of half finished journals and did my best to forget about it. i did not, however, forget about jen and the impression she made on me as i started seriously thinking about writing again and storytelling and faithfully stalked her blog. and then she did it, she started, journey together in january. um. of course i was so in. over the holidays i organized my studio, i created a beautiful space to write, i painted. i painted a lot. i took photographs. i stayed silent on my blogs as i do every december. i stayed silent in my journals. i don’t actually believe i wrote anything anywhere (other than a splattering of facebook and twitter updates) in december. and then i watched part one in the journey. AND. I. HAVEN’T. STOPPED. WRITING!
It all feels very powerful and insanely private. but then a few nights ago i was talking to a dear friend on the phone and i suddenly found myself reading to her the first batch of words that i have journeled privately in a very long time. the words i wrote based on a prompt jen gave us. and it felt good. i was thinking i would share them here but please remember, they were written with the thought that no one would witness them and they are raw and unedited but its real and honest and me. rather than subject you to actually having to read my childish scrawl (though i thought about scanning them), i thought i would read them to you …
and a brief hello … very brief because as i was recording, my battery died so it cuts off rather abrubtly ;-)
sometimes the world is so beautiful, i have no words …
and so i just smile in the sunshine, squint my eyes and let the diamonds of light fill my heart.
i am quite enamoured with the ‘long photograph’. this one was taken while zipping down the highway in saskatchewan, an 8 hour drive from moosejaw to edmonton and my trusty rusty point and shoot.
last night i got home and as i kissed my husband and headed off to change into my swimsuit, i stopped and hung it back on the rail and went back to the living room. unsettled. the wind smelled crisp through the open window floating in and carressing my thoughts as i wondered, pizza or swimming, knowing that i would likely do both. i got back up, the wind at my back and headed back to grasp my swimsuit and again was compelled to hang it back up. what on earth was wrong with me?
i sat back down on the loveseat and watched as the calm of the soft breeze started whipping the giant elm trees that stood at attention along my street into a loud frenzy. it happened so quickly and i was in awe at the sway of leaves singing loudly in their rustle as they were joined in a clamouring wave of rain and thunderous skies. i watched as tiny bits of hail crackled down and in that instant i felt more alive than i have felt all week. impulsively, i grabbed one of the cloth grocery bags by the door and ran out into the rain and hail, my skirt ends dampening even as it whipped around my legs. i drove steadily to the market and wandered through the vegetables in awe, noticing the crisp fresh scent of real food.
the past few weeks have found us not eating at home, instead grabbing what we can when we can as we go. i haven’t actually used my kitchen since before i left for saskatchewan and as i walked through looking at food, i found myself craving real food, food chopped and cooked and made at home. i could have anything i wanted and so i grabbed all the organic yummy goodness i could fit into my little basket as well as splurging on some organic freerange chicken breasts.
i chopped and spiced and spent about thirty minutes in my kitchen creating a yummy chicken vegetable soup, some foccacia bread with cheese and jalepenos and a small bowl of fresh raspberries. as i chopped and cooked, i realized that i missed this small ritual of creating nourishment for myself and my family. this simple act of cooking. this moment where it all came together in my mind, a meditation of sorts, a slowing down.
i realized that the lines blurr when we go to fast and we miss out on the details. the blurr is beautiful but i also need the details. the balance. i need more balance in my life. i need to slow down and breathe.
i was 23 and in university on a large campus and i had a class in a building on one end of the campus and when it ended, i had less than 15 minutes to get to my drama class on the other end of campus. in order to get there i had to go through a long mall filled with a crowd of hungry people. i would invariable end up running into my drama class, red faced and sweaty and stressed completely out. my professor always started the class with us laying in the dark going through relaxation exercises but i was often to strung to really let go and move into full relaxation. he told me that if i slowed down, calmly walked with purpose, i would get there faster without all the fuss. i thought he was crazy. well, it turns out he was crazy and ended up completely losing it a few years later. however, with regards to this, he was spot on. spot on. i tried it. i walked slowely but with purpose, calm and breathed easy and i ended up getting to class early, calm and not the least bit out of breathe or sweaty.
when i was young, i was a competative swimmer and people would always comment on how slow and graceful i looked in the water. i always looked like i was going slow but the reality was that i was speeding through the water. it was my secret weapon, people would underestimate me until the race when i would walk away with the gold. my mom told me people were always amazed by the seemingly slow girl who was going the fastest. it was all about the power and there is more power in slower movements.
its a good lesson that i seem destined to relearn over and over and over again. move slow but with purpose and everything is as it should be and i find the calm in the centre of myself. the lines blurr when i move to fast and i lose the details of myself in the lines of the world.
so i am breathing and slowing down. it feels good and i know that i will meet all my deadlines because i am already getting more done. there is power in living slower. real strong positive power.