Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tales of the Hapless, Nervous Photographer

I was chatting on Facebook the other night with a friend and she said this about faith. I liked it a lot and asked if would be okay for me to use it in one of my “thangs” when the proper photograph presented itself. She said it was fine with her and I began to think of what photo I might use. This is a boat (a pirogue, actually) she and I have often noticed on one of the local bayous. It is in sort of an out of the way spot and most people would not notice it. But we noticed and often said we wanted to get a picture of it before it disappears. They are doing construction on a small bridge in that area and I don’t know if the person who owns the boat will be able to keep their boat their much longer. I decided I wanted a photo of that boat for this “thang.”

As it is, the land around where the boat is tied is messy from the construction and the dirt they have brought in. And I am such a nervous photographer when it comes to getting pictures like this (I know, I just need to get over myself! No one is concerned about that crazy lady down there in the red shirt taking pictures!). I had to park on a short cement drive very close to the road. Then I had to get out of the car and walk a little ways to get closer to the boat. The grass needed mowing and it was still a little wet from recent rains. I was wearing flip flops in high grass near water. That is not real smart. There could have been snakes in the grass!

As I was maneuvering my way through the grass and trying to figure out my best plan to get to the boat, I was trying to get my lens cap off my camera. I also had my cell phone in my hand. The camera strap was around my neck (I’m not that dumb!) but I dropped the lens cap in the grass. I looked and looked for it but could not find it. I was so self-conscious because I figured people driving by on the road and could see me (with my butt up in the air) looking for something in the grass. And of course I had on the brightest reddest shirt I owned (note to self: buy some camouflage t-shirts).

Finally I decided getting the picture was more important than finding the lens cap so I moved from the high grass onto what I thought was firm ground. It looked like packed sand. But as I took a few steps more and more of it started sticking to my flip flops and I started to slip and slide a bit. Then I started to sink. I moved over to a grassy spot that looked solid but it was also sinking (and then I said to myself, “oh, self, you should have told someone where you were going this fine morning that might also be your last morning”). I had to move further away to get to more grass like the tall grass I had started in and then I had to step over some black mesh to get closer to the edge of the bayou, where it was easier to walk. 

I took my pictures and fiddled around a little while. I usually get into a zone when I am taking pictures and I forget all about being self-conscious. When I finished I went back to the spot where I dropped my lens cap and looked again for it but did not find it. I came back home and worked a bit with the photos I’d gotten and this is what I did. Then I took myself to Best Buy and bought me another lens cap. Because I would have just died if I had not been able to replace that thing this very day.

Truth is I am standing on wobbly ground right now (sometimes it doesn’t seem like I ever get very far from it). I told this same friend sometimes I think being “on the edge” is supposed to be my place of service, the place where I let my little light shine. But it’s not shining too brightly at this present moment. This is a temporary thing. I know it will pass. But in the meantime, I sort of wish I had me a little red-trimmed row boat to paddle around in.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Whole Hearted Living (Brené Brown)

"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It's about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging."  Brené Brown
I mentioned in a post on July 17th that I was taking an online class that would likely “drag up a bunch of stuff for me to deal with”. Well, it’s hard to believe but that class is ending now and I have a few things to say about the experience.

First, let me tell you what I told a dear friend about this class:
"She (Brené Brown) has these "badges" on her blog that are for putting on your own blog. One says "I choose authenticity" and the other says "I choose to live and love with my whole heart." That's what the course is theoretically leading up to. I will make a little progress but I will never be able to choose authenticity or to live and love with my whole heart. Never. I can't let go like that." --Me
For a long while now, I have just been trying to work on accepting the “fact” that I am just hopelessly broken and can only go so far in my personal growth. I considered the idea of worthiness and living and loving with my whole heart as being totally out of my reach because of that “brokenness.” 

For a long while now, I have also lived with a very guarded heart. I feel like I’ve kept it fairly well hidden, that I was good at pretending and playing along at being open, but when it was just me, myself and I, I knew the truth, and that truth was (and still is, to some degree), I will only let people so far into my heart. I am very protective of me. And all the vulnerability stuff she talks about? Don’t even get me started on that! I HATE vulnerability! But there were some things I heard in this class that meant a great deal to me. One of the things I heard was that you can’t have community without vulnerability. And I know that I desire a sense of community so I guess I am going to take some risks. (And of course, the very safe and protective part of me is saying, “Remember, she said to tell your story to people who have earned the right to hear it, in relationships that can bear the weight of the story.” So yes, I will still be somewhat guarded, I suppose, but I will also be more mindful about paying attention to the possibilities of connection and less worried about self-protection. And now that other part of me is also saying, “Remember, she said you won’t do this perfectly.” Now THAT’S a more helpful reminder, Miss Safe and Protective part of me!)

I was not always this way and I have my suspicions as to why I became this way. I think part of it has to do with one of my first great sorrows (see quote in the photo below). I may write more about that sorrow one of these days. At the very least, I will spend some time in my journal trying to pull apart the threads. Maybe healing will come in that area of pain. I’d sure like that.

Goodness, I haven’t said anything about what this is really all about! It’s really about SHAME and how people experience shame in their lives and how nobody wants to talk about it. The very same friend who I told I would never be able to choose to live and love with my whole heart was the first to gently point out that some of the things I said and believed about myself come from a place of shame (give credit where credit is due, he is not a “normal” everyday friend, he is a therapist, so he knows about these things!). So when I heard Brené’s talk on shame and vulnerability, believe me, my ears perked up and, give me credit where credit is due, I KNEW she was talking about stuff I desperately needed to hear. 

So, today, I have added the dadgum badges. They will remind me of the life I hope to live, of the person I’d like to be. We were asked early in the class which things we might take on our journey into this new experience and which things we would leave behind. Two of the things I said I’d leave behind were the lock that goes on my heart and the shield that covers my heart. Lord knows, that shield is heavy and as I’ve said before, “a locked heart is a useless heart”.

"When we start engaging with the world from a place of worthiness, the opposite of shame, from a place of “I am enough”, we walk into our power, we walk into our gifts, we walk into possibility, we walk into love and belonging, not only the ability to give it but to receive it, to let ourselves be seen and known and I think that’s what it’s all about." Brené Brown
Lord, I surely do hope so. May it go straight from Brené’s mouth to your ear.    : )

(If any of this resonates with you, or if you just want more information, here is the link to the TED talk that first got my attention, She also has many talks on YouTube. She is an engaging and funny speaker. Also, here is the link to her website, I would put a link to the course but I did not see one. Maybe she will offer it again sometime. The course is called "Ordinary Courage".)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fictional Shopping Trip

Okay, so this is not the kind of writing I usually do here. This is in response to a prompt that has us sending our character out shopping so we can learn a little more about them. This is nowhere near fully developed and it's really kind of silly. But here it is.

When she first heard the news, Lydia went out and bought Diane one of those pretty atomizer bottles of lilac scented whoop-ass. Nah, it wasn’t really gonna do a dad-burn thing. It was more along the lines of that “Monster Spray” they used to sell for kids to spray up under their beds and in their closets to keep the monsters at bay.  It didn’t have any magic ingredients, at least not any Lydia knew of, only purified water, a little lilac oil scent and a whole lotta hope. Lord knows, she was going to need something to give herself a little backbone. 

As long as she was already in the store, she went ahead and picked up a bag of “Believe in Yourself” lavender bath salts. She figured that would come in handy ‘bout bedtime when the doubts started circling and sleep appeared to have run screaming for the woods. Diane never did care for being alone come night time. She figured the lavender scent would help her sleep. Well, that and the several many bottles of muscadine wine she’d picked up last week on a side trip to Mississippi, strictly for medicinal purposes, you understand. 

And for purely aesthetical reasons, she stopped off at the Golden Dirt Garden Center and picked up three red geraniums potted in terra cotta pots. They would look right nice sitting there at the edge of the porch. One thing Diane had been adamant about bringing with her was the rocking chair. She could sit there in the mornings and sip her coffee and watch the geraniums grow.
She knew there’d be plenty of other practical needs along the way and she figured there’d be time enough to worry about those other things tomorrow. 

It was such a cute little place, Lydia was almost jealous.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Shelling Peas on the Porch at Dusk

"In many Eastern traditions, the world of nature is considered to be maya, or illusion, while in other Eastern and Global South traditions, nature is mother. Western tradition has often teetered between the assertion that nature is God’s good creation and that it has been “frustrated” by human sin. In more recent times, the world around us has been regarded as the expression of random selection and chance. Explore some aspect of nature (as in the non-human world) and write a short piece (fiction, poem, mini-essay) in which your descriptions reflect and reveal your philosophical understanding of nature..."without actually stating directly what your philosophical position is."

I've thought and thought and could not come up with a new piece of writing for this prompt. I feel like I am cheating in a way, because this is a poem I wrote back in 2002. But on the other hand, if I'd keep my own mouth shut, no one would know that I was "cheating" because I have not shared much of my poetry on this blog!

I am not sure I have met the qualifications of the prompt with this poem, but it is one of the things I thought of as I thought about the prompt. I've written about some aspect of nature, that much I do believe. And maybe, in some ways, my philosophical understanding of nature is revealed. SOMETHING is being revealed, that is for sure (perhaps my poet self?).

Shelling Peas On The Porch At Dusk

Dusky dark, being neither day nor night,
disturbs the child. The breeze holds
its breath and waits for dark to fall,
smothering them in pitch. The grown-ups
shell their peas with quiet abandon.

The symphony of crickets magnifies.
No other noise, save soft voices
of the old folks, telling stories of times passed
and perhaps, the screaming woman
sound of a peacock deep in the woods.

The woman swings on an empty porch
and remembers the little girl who shelled
her peas and listened to these simple sounds.

In the distance a lone coyote wails.