Daily Journal of Things

white-pen

In reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to 2016, I’m going to experiment with this idea of writing 1-2 sentences each day to summarize how the day went or something I ruminated on during the day. This is in part inspired by this Thought Catalog article and also by my need to stay disciplined with writing consistently.

January

1- It truly is the simple things in life that make me the happiest. It’s watching the sun set from the back of a fuzzy horse, the warm embrace of my husband (still feels so strange to use that term!) when we’re cuddling, or the look of pure, unfiltered joy in our dogs’ eyes from the moment we wake until it’s time for sleep.

2-  We’ve been considering a cross-country move to a city we’ve never visited that would demand a lot of time, energy, and resources. While I am excited by the prospect of adventure and new landscapes, not-so-deep down I also know that it doesn’t really matter whether it pans out. I’m happy wherever I’m with you.

3- Two of the hardest things are understanding when to ask for help and accepting that it’s okay to open up to people and not bottle everything up inside. If there was a Venn diagram depicting the things that I share with the world and the things I keep private, the overlap at the center would be almost nonexistent.

4- Do something that scares you. Your comfort zone is actually not all that comfortable and can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction.

5- Dog training classes are hard. He who wields the tastiest treats wields the power.

6- I’m finding that as I get older, it’s easier and easier to let stuff roll off my back. I struggle with taking things too personally, because I care intensely and am an emotional person. Also, I highly recommend taking the Myers-Briggs personality type test and doing some exploratory reading. This INFP has found it extremely insightful.

7- It’s difficult to strike a balance between being financially responsible and choosing to pursue the avenues in life that fulfill you emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes those pursuits fall on the same path, but all too often they don’t.

8- It does bother me when people make promises they can’t keep. I would rather be promised nothing and then be gleefully caught off guard with a wondrous surprise than be filled with ever-increasing expectations that deflate at a moment’s notice.

9- Focus on quality vs. quantity when improving your happiness. If we’re talking food, that means a handmade whiskey chocolate sea salt caramel milkshake over a box of Kraft mac & cheese.

10- Making budgets is not sexy in any way, but I find the process extremely calming and almost therapeutic. Were I a more outgoing personality, I think I would be a financial advisor. What will you be when you grow up?

11- Mondays are tricky. Once Sunday rolls around, you’re dreading the start of the new week. But once it’s arrived and there’s no escaping, there’s this rush of emotion that floods your brain with the knowledge that there is a whole week of possibilities lying ahead of you.

12- Pop country music, movies with manufactured perfect endings, and fast food are all junk strategically designed to make you feel a cheap sort of happiness. But it’s the struggle and imperfections that make life worth living and help you feel alive. If we start stripping ourselves of that experience, I don’t think we’ll be building an innovative, understanding society anymore.

Blizzard

167H
Our house sat on 10 acres at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains which proved to be the optimal location for one fateful year when over three feet of snow uncharacteristically blanketed the Shenandoah Valley. It was a Saturday afternoon in January, and I was keeping myself occupied playing my favorite game of “Native Americans” by building a wigwam of sticks and pretending to cook using primitive clay (i.e. mud) pottery. This was, of course, before my world contained the notions of racism, discrimination, or cultural appropriation. As a gust of wind picked up and swirled threateningly, I tucked my chin closer to the top of my jacket and pinned my arms tightly by my side.

And then the first snowflakes fell. My eyes lit up the way that our Christmas tree had sparkled and shined before Dad unceremoniously threw it in to the brush pile on December 26th. I tilted my head back and stood with my mouth agape, letting the perfect snowflakes fall tenderly on my tongue like I had seen in the movies. But I preferred to study them as they fell on my hair and became ensnared in the blonde strands that hung down to my shoulders. Although simple stick figures were the apex of my artistic abilities, I imagined myself drawing each snowflake with flawless realism, each snowflake immortalized and unique.

When the cold became unbearable as bygone snowflakes melted and streaked down underneath my clothes and the biting wind ripped through the defenses of my jacket, I retreated inside. Together with my parents, we watched the news on television and, with varied emotions, heard the newscaster confirm the worst: we were in for a blizzard.

By the next afternoon, snow blanketed our fields. You could barely see the tops of the fence posts because of the massive snow drifts. I learned that one could swim in snow and that it was far more exhausting than swimming in any pool. It was exhilarating to see how drastically the landscape had transformed in just 24 hours. You almost wanted sunglasses to escape the blinding light of the sun teasingly reflecting into your eyes without providing any of the radiant energy to your body.

When I tired of paddling through the snow that at times stood higher than the top of my head, I retreated to the back porch. Mom had shoveled a pathway to the back door that looked like a frozen tunnel beckoning you into a faraway land. I saw her face emerge on the other side of the sliding glass doors, bundled in her favorite purple scarf and matching knit hat, clutching two pairs of skis excavated from the basement.

“Let’s get out of here and check out the neighborhood, huh?” The smile she wore on her face looked strange, but I was too excited by the proposed adventure to notice.

We set out together, feet strapped to our white skis, gliding down the driveway and across the powdery lanes, formerly gravel roads. We were in a pristine winter paradise that seemed to muffle all other sounds, allowing only our laughter to reverberate off the snow-capped pines. I wasn’t sure that I had ever felt so happy, so completely filled with glee and wonder. We finally trekked back to the house, stopping only to greet our golden retriever, Misty, who wiggled her butt in concentric circles around us as we waded over to the front porch.

We banged our feet against the brick exterior of the house to dislodge the tightly packed snow from the bottoms of our feet. The pieces of snow fell in small formations, mirror images of the pattern stamped into the soles of our boots. They would win no beauty contests against the snowflakes. Mom twisted the knob on the front door and pushed it open, allowing the warmth from the heated indoor to tantalize us inside, as if we needed coaxing. As I stepped inside and began to shed my jacket by first pulling at the right sleeve, I looked up the flight of stairs and stood jaw-dropped in horror.

Staring back at me, gripping the top of the banister, was a bare-faced middle-aged man in a black leather jacket and jeans. I shrieked. Tears rolled down my face. I was inconsolable. The stranger approached me gingerly down the steps but that only made my screams worse and more frantic. Finally, with the man standing before me and my head buried in the folds of Mom’s jacket, wishing I could burrow my whole self into another land à la Chronicles of Narnia and the magical wardrobe, Mom dryly uttered, “Honey, it’s your Dad. He just shaved his mustache.”

I had never seen him this way. Why he did have to go and change the only face I had ever registered as “Dad”? He should have known it would scare me. I had been plagued by nightmares for weeks after watching a seemingly benign educational film in school about not talking to strangers. His plain face accentuated the round, fatty cheeks that I too had inherited. Wouldn’t he get cold now? Why not wait until summer?

I learned much later that my parents had decided to divorce the day before the snowstorm and then were unsympathetically trapped together for nearly a week of an impossibly awkward, draining game of Pretend Everything Is Normal. With the noted exception of my dad’s lost mustache, which he felt was symbolic of a new start for him. And I grew to understood this game quite well to the point where I became a champion player in my own right.

Sunkissed

The last day of summer. The sun was creeping behind the mountains leaving a wake of pink tendrils setting the entire valley aglow. She bent down and kissed the smooth neck of her mare, basking in the moment’s magical energy. Tomorrow would bear a new routine, new people, and nothing would ever be exactly as it was before. She pondered how life must be as a horse, with every day essentially the same as the last. This must be growing up, she thought. When you make peace with that knot in the pit of your stomach before a big change.

Written for the 100 Word Challenge. This week’s theme was the word “smooth.”

Flaxen Beauty

Flax  in Kivik
Flax in Kivik – Susanne Nilsson on Flickr

A waterfall of hair fell past her rump, and the silky strands were the color of the flax seeds I ground and fed to Pa’s workhorses every morning. While that may not seem romantic, the horses sure enjoyed meal time. And I loved watching her move.

I was convinced I had no chance with her. Her parents were Pentecostal and, although I’m not sure what that means, those folks kept to themselves. But I walked past her house every day after school, and one afternoon she was perched up on the fence staring at me. A bluebird couldn’t be prettier.

Written for the 100 Word Challenge. This week’s theme was the word “perched.”

100 Words Writing Challenge

days 9 and 10 of 30 day challenge – survived the ides of february

At this point, I’m trying to power through this 30 day challenge of writing prompts, because I’m finding a lot of these prompts uninspiring. It might just be that I’m stressed with work and lacking a lot of creative energy though. But I should have more spare time soon.

I’m going to continue playing with haikus because a) haikus are undeniably fun, and b) haikus don’t take as much time. I still need to time to finish up my load of library books before they’re due. Yes, I still read physical books from the library, and I don’t own a tablet or e-reader.

Day 9 —What was your favorite childhood toy?

*****

Lite-Brite, thank you for

making me feel creative.

Art of the future.

 

Day 10 —What do you want to be remembered for?

*****

A certain softness.

Feet always finding the ground.

Love, laughs, and triumph.

days 7 and 8 of 30 day challenge – haiku-na matata

I’m finding that this challenge is far more time consuming than I thought. Or maybe it’s that everything else in my life is gobbling up all of my time. Ugh, why am I so lazy? I decided to have some fun with the writing prompts and make haikus. Tomorrow I’ll take this more seriously and find a way to conjure up at least 300 or so words.

 

Day 7 —What sets you apart from the crowd?

*****

Sweaty palms. Dad’s tie.

She glides over. You glance down.

Two left feet. For real.

 

Day 8 —Tell your life story from someone else’s point of view.

*****

Shyly resilient,

But a sheep in wolf’s clothing,

She falls but still climbs.