Today, on my walk I encountered two women. Wearing a pink, Live Generously t-shirt, an older woman ignored my friendly hello for the fifth day in a row. The second woman, younger, walking two labs—one brown, one yellow turned away when I said good morning. I will keep trying.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
Moving thousands of miles away from the security of family and friends, settling or cultivating unfamiliar land and trying to create something out of nothing is what many of our ancestors did in order to create a new life for themselves and their families.
- PIONEER noun: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area
- HOMESTEADER noun: someone who acquires or occupies territory as a homestead
I believe my heart and mind are new territories meant to be explored continually—expectations managed as circumstances dictate. I’m a pioneer on my very own emotional homestead, granted the privilege to manage exactly as I choose.
Excerpt from The Homestead Act of 1862
“Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear…”
“The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirements.”https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=31
Last night we had a wild storm—tornado warnings, wind, heaving rain, lightning and thunder. I’ve always loved storms. After it passed, the neighborhood was eerily quiet. My daughter, Willa and I stayed up until things settled down.
I get up really early, always have. I don’t like to get up in the 4s…however, anything after 5:00 works for me. I fed our cat, Karen, headed out to get a coffee at Dunkin’ & listen to my book, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert—sooooo good, and survey the storm damage. We only had leaves covering our deck and a few small branches here and there, nothing major to report.
I ended up at the bottom of the hill at Town Neck Beach. I was the only one in the parking lot at 5:25am…rare actually. Another car pulled up, a man got out and walked onto the beach in the rain. There was just something about him that I found quite intriquing. He didn’t seem sad, but clearly he was in a thoughtful mood. A fisherman wondering about his day perhaps? A visitor seeing his long-planned day at the beach with his young kids thwarted? Or perhaps just a guy on his way to work who likes storms as much as I do.
He took pictures of the stone sculpture that somehow survived the storm. I can’t imagine that someone built it in the dark between 11pm and 5am. It’s design is structurally mighty impressive. Damn.
I waited for him to get into his car, then I got out to get a shot of the sculpture as well. Walking the beach I found myself looking out at the exact spot a friend’s ashes were scattered a few years ago in one of the most sorrowful and stunning moments I’ve ever witnessed in my 52.8 years.
The beach reflected the generous spirit and remarkably unique inner wildness of her this morning. I know she would’ve loved the images in this post and be grateful that I didn’t mention her by name. That was simply not her style.
I just finished reading Main Street for the third time. First, I was 20 (college), then 25 (just married) and last week at the uniquely tender and remarkably nostalgic age of fifty-two.
Lewis’ character, Carol helped me understand both why I had to leave South Dakota and why the prairie is so doggedly a part of my identity (and my art)…even though I left nearly three decades ago.
“The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.”
― Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
I woke up with a different sort of clarity than I’ve had for a while. I thought it was worth memorializing. I slept well. My energy is different. I love rainy days. I’m spending the afternoon with my daughter. I’m traveling to South Dakota to visit my family on Saturday. It’s spring. It’s trivia night at our social club. I’m alive and that simply on its own is something to be truly grateful for.
Excerpt from James Comey’s New York Times Op Ed: “You can’t say this out loud — maybe not even to your family — but in a time of emergency, with the nation led by a deeply unethical person, this will be your contribution, your personal sacrifice for America.”
It’s a curious process to see where the mind goes first thing in the morning.
This bouquet from a friend was so lovely when she dropped it off ten days ago or so. I have to admit something that perhaps won’t surprise you. I actually enjoy flowers even more when they start to turn a tiny bit brown, curl on the edges and drop a few pedals.
I know many of you won’t understand this, that’s OK. I promise I won’t send you a decaying bouquet. Although one time, while a student at the University of Wyoming a boyfriend in South Dakota sent me a red rose in the mail. It was almost black, shriveled and curled when it arrived. I still found it oddly beautiful.
When I no longer have to trim the stems of a bouquet, check the water or pinch the drooping leaves, I feel some odd sense of relief. The flowers, no longer expected to be perfect, are free to naturally fade and droop. And I get to enjoy the inevitable state of fading beauty, often leaving the pedals wherever they fall.
I don’t excel at sleeping. I really never have, but now in middle age, my sleep is interrupted constantly. I’ve decided to not fight it, embrace my natural rhythms and see how the universe wants me to use my extra waking time. Last night was no exception.
I went to sleep around 10:30 and was wide awake at 2:50. Our cat, Karen was sleeping soundly next to me. My husband is gone and I don’t mind waking up Karen, so I felt free to roam. I got up to pee and I noticed that all of the windows were covered with the soft, haze of humidity.
The whole world seems to be trapped in heat and haze right now.
I wondered how I could photograph Cape Cod’s humidity in the middle of the night without leaving my bedroom. I took a few shots. The camera wasn’t capturing what I could see. I decided that wasn’t the inspiration I was searching for, not at all what the universe wanted me to do in the middle of the night on August 9th.
I decided to get back into bed and listen to a guided mediation on the INSIGHT app, which I highly recommend. I have a favorite voice, Sarah Blondin who guides me with her Live Awake series. I consider her a very close friend. Sarah’s voice and words have provided so much, well, insight and spark since I downloaded the app in January.
This morning at 3:10am I chose Life is Kind. Here is the start to her meditation.
“Though we are strangers, we are kindred in spirit. There’s no difference between us. We are the same.
We are here in the name of our hearts, in the name of opening, in the name of unstitching what has overtime grown closed within. We are each here in the name of reuniting with our soft centers. It is the place we are most alive, most accepted, most whole.
It is where we seek refuge from the from the weight of the world.”
I fell back asleep shortly after these lines and had a remarkable, beautiful and kind dream.
I’ll share that dream with you tomorrow.
listening to my AUTHENTIC SELF even when my SOCIAL SELF is screaming at me to act in accordance with societal expectations and not listen to my inner voice.
AUTHENTIC SELF: who I am at my core, the true substance of what makes me uniquely me, how I desire to live in my heart and soul, who I am when no one is watching
SOCIAL SELF: who I am in relation to others, more protected and very concerned about how others see me, often scanning for what’s appropriate in any given situation, ego
When my authentic self and social self are out of whack, things get pretty weird and I can feel like a fraud. I don’t want to feel like a fraud.
However, now that I’ve identified what courage is for me, I’m noticing which voice I’m listening to much more quickly. I think simply noticing is a great first step.
Today I closed the door for the last time on my much-loved studio of 15+ years. It’s empty. My work is now in storage. This is the end of one era and the start of another.
I keep thinking about something my husband, Jeff told me a few years ago.
- The last painting in my studio.
- My paint covered work shirt.
- A layered image of me and the empty studio.