17 April 2014

O is for Ophelia: Three Cheers for Art! And Pictures!

“When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
(Ophelia)”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


L
ucky readers.

You get three days of picturesque posts because your fearless writer has holiday brain. And if I’m really being honest, Black Dagger vampire brain.

Both are akin to senioritis or the summer’s-coming-shakes: they render the victim unable to form coherent thoughts other than:

“Ahh, a three day weekend!  Sleeeeeping in!”

and

“OMG!  That character did NOT just die!  What the heck, J.M.!?!  Must buy next book in series!  Arghhhhhhh!”

And now back to our regularly scheduled Alphabet post:

O is for Ophelia
A couple of years ago, I highlighted Waterhouse’s painting of Ophelia.  Today, I give you Alexandre Cabanel’s rendition:

Ophelia, A. Cabanel

Cabanel was a 19th century French painter, who first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1844, which my fellow PRB lovers out there, was four years before the Brotherhood came together in England.

And this weekend, I am going to imitate Ophelia's watery pose, but in a bathtub, surrounded by bubbles, candles, and a nice tumbler of scotch.  

And if I'm really lucky, vampires.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Beauty – it comes in all forms.  Art…and in knowing when to take things easy. 

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16 April 2014

N is for Noticing: Sleepwalking Through Life

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
~ R. D. Laing

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


D
ear God, what is that thing!?”

This phrase echoed in my perfect ears this morning as I walked through the lobby on my way to a meeting.

A little embarrassing to admit that I’ve been working in this building for close to four years and never noticed the huge model plane hanging from the lobby ceiling.  Until today.

Seriously, it’s a model plane but you could put a small dog or toddler in there and watch them fly away.  I know I’m not tall, but even I should have seen a mid-size replica of the brain child of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Which led me to wonder: what else escapes my notice in the course of a day?

N is for Noticing
Sherlock (the BBC-BC version but of course) once told John: “As ever John, you see but do not observe.”  A way of living that sadly, most of us could cop to.  We look at things, people, places, but do we ever truly see them?  Notice them?

Or do we rather drift past them, always on the way to somewhere else?  Focused on something else?

The dictionary defines notice in three ways: 
noun1.       attention; observation.
synonyms:          attention, observation, awareness, consciousness, perception; More2.      notification or warning of something, esp. to allow preparations to be made.
synonyms:          notification, warning, advance warning, announcementverb1.       become aware of.
synonyms: observe, perceive, note, see, discern, detect, spot, distinguish, mark, remark 
All three involve time and focus.  Attention, observation, awareness, discerning ~ these are not things you can do in a rush.  And if we’re living our daily lives like this, they can’t be very fulfilling.

Life should not be lived on auto-pilot.  I understand that some tasks are best done out of habit.  But if we sleepwalk through our days, we are missing out on so much. 
 
Image credit: Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Parents seem to lament this attitude the most ~ that they blink and their two year old is now sweet sixteen and going to her first dance.  Junior is heading out the door on his first tour of duty. 

And you wonder: where did the time go?

When you should be wondering: what the heck am I doing every day?  And how can I be more present to those around me?  What beauty out there am I not noticing?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Take some time tomorrow to really notice what is going on around you.  Then come back and tell us what you had been missing all this time.

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15 April 2014

M is for Meatless: How Your Dinner Can Benefit from My Laziness

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
~ Holy Bible: King James Version

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


I
t’s rainy, it’s cold, it’s miserable, and my brain was all used up in endless meetings today. 

I’ve got nothing left over for y’all.

Maybe I should do an M is for Monstrous Meetings post.  Or perhaps, a post on The Murder of Stupid People.

Instead, I’ll have a little moxie, make a sad little mou, and give you instead, a Meatless recipes post from Lent 2012.

Because even I forget what I've written sometimes.

M is for Meatless
And hey, it’s still technically Lent for those of you who are observing it.  Although I will warn you, these recipes follow more the letter of the law then the spirit. Wink, wink.


Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

And this mental block after a good sleep last night?!  What the heck!?  I need to eat more spinach.

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14 April 2014

L is for Love Equals Listening (And Lilacs)

It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness.
We have no scar to show for happiness.
We learn so little from peace.
~ Chuck Palahniuk

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


T
oday I wanted desperately to be lazy.  This is what comes of a three day weekend.

Laziness and procrastination and a “I don’ wanna” attitude.

Are we there yet?  No?  Sigh.  How many more letters to go in this thing!?

I was going to just start writing about lazy days and summer.  But apparently Mother Nature may have the last laugh ~ again.  Might get snow ~ light, mind you, but still ~ tomorrow evening.  And that thought brought me right back to my original idea for this post: lilacs and the rewards of listening.

L is for Listening
We all notice the people who remember us:  the gift that is just what we wanted.  The dish that was made with our dietary restrictions, allergies, and intolerances in mind.  The words of encouragement that were said at the moment we needed to hear them.

It’s not terribly difficult to be that person.  I always listen when one of my friends says they like or want something, but I am super forgetful and so learned to write things down in my address book.  Favorite colour.  Favourite store.  Favorite food.  Love languages.  Personality types.

Shhh, don’t tell them I do that.  They think I’m magically gifted in remembering these things.  Google Contacts, how I love thee.

Lilacs, Easter 2011
Image credit: Mikaela D'Eigh
My father is not that type of person.  It’s just not his personality.  And that’s okay.  He provided a roof, a table, and food on it.  A grade-A education and the freedom to pursue it to the highest degree I wanted.

He is the stereotypical Eastern European: few words but many actions.

But one day, he listened.  And one day, he touched my heart like no one had before and only a couple of dear friends have been able to since. 

L is for Lilacs
About two months before the end of my sophomore year of college and a beautiful Spring day ~ the kind that doesn't come very often in Virginia: cool breezes and temperatures not yet in the humidifying eighties.  My parents and sibs were coming to visit and take some of my stuff back home that I didn't need.

On a phone call in the previous weeks, I had lamented that I would miss seeing the lilacs back home ~ they are notoriously short lived down here.  Imagine my surprise ~ and delight ~ when my father walked in carrying an armful of lilac blooms.

All so I wouldn’t miss seeing them that year.

L is for Love
It’s only been in recent years that my father has taken to saying “I love you.”  Something about reaching your late eighties and nineties is mellowing.  And it’s been healing ~ for both of us.

I love words.  They have power.  They have meaning.  They have life.  But I learned very early on that love doesn’t always use words.  Love speaks in actions too.  You just have to look for it.  And hold the memory close.

As for me, I’ll may eventually forget the particulars.  But I’ll never forget the time that Love listened, and brought me lilacs.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Darn allergies.  Acting up in the office again!  Ahem ~ so, what love language do you speak?  Do you know your loved ones’ love language?  Ask ~ you just might be surprised at their answers.

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12 April 2014

K is for Kodiak: Is the Adventure Worth the Risk?

We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.
We can never have enough of nature.
~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


Y
ou aren’t really surprised by today’s word, are you? 

You know me so well already!

Obviously, I can’t wait to go (4 months, 18 days!), but since I haven’t actually been on the Island yet, I’ll make this a wordless ~ or very nearly ~ post today.





K is for Kodiak, Alaska
My mother is convinced I will go off to the wilderness and return half-digested by a grizzly.  I won’t lie, this is actually in the realm of possibility.  A small one, but still possible.  But I know I cannot NOT go back to Alaska.  It is a Siren of old, calling to me, in turn cajoling, seducing, and begging for me to return.

I feel lost without the shelter of her majestic mountains.  I feel restless without the burn of her crisp, tight air.  But shut my ears to her song, I cannot.  It plays in my brain constantly, morning, noon, and night.


John Muir would understand.  As would Everett Ruess, Chris McCandless, and countless others who have sought the peace of the wild.  It’s not so uncharted and untouched as it was in Muir’s day, but it is still pristine.  And I pray we can keep it that way for another few centuries.

I very well may come back broken.  But dying doesn’t bother me ~ been there, done that.  Not having lived….now that is a true tragedy.  I'd rather die having had a grand adventure. Is it worth the risk?  

Heck, yeah.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Does nature call to you?  Do you listen?

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11 April 2014

J is for Journals: Remembering the Good Times

Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.
~ Will Self

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


R
emember what I said yesterday about writing ideas down? 

Forgot already, didn’t you?

That’s okay.  Me too.  And I wrote the darn thing.

Another thing that I forget and I know a lot of other people do too, are the good things that happen.

Moments that almost escape our notice ~ like a hummingbird flying just beyond our blind spot.  For some reason, it’s always the nasty, hurtful events or phrases that we remember.

That’s why it is important to capture those magic moments ~ so on our blue days we can remind ourselves “that all who wander are not lost.”  And that too shall pass.

Also, it may help us to remember clich├ęs to avoid.

J is for Journals and Journaling
When it comes to writing in my journal, I’m about average ~ I don’t write in it every day, but I do write in it about once a week.  I’m a mixed media journaler ~ I write by hand, I paste pictures, sayings, stickers, ticket stubs, and other memorabilia in my journal.  The memorabilia help give a frame to whatever I am going through that particular day, week, month, or year. 

In addition to my word of the year, which I have always written in my journal, I added book plates for each month, with a word, phrase, quote, or poem, that supports the word of the year. 

Perhaps April’s should be Remember, because I haven’t done it yet, although as per usual, I have copious ideas floating about in my easily distracted brain.
Journals don’t have to be in black and white
Some people journal with drawings, paintings, or sketches.  These journals are works of art and a window into the artist's soul.  Every time I see one, I wish I could paint or draw something other than stick men.

But then I think, I need lines to write on; drawings requires a blank page ~ literally.

A couple of years ago, I discovered a book that talked about writers and their journals.  It was good to discover that I was not alone in my sporadic journaling ways.  You can read the post here:

So write down all the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the breathtaking.  You may need to reminded of it sooner than you think.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Do you journal?  Why or why not?

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10 April 2014

I is for I forgot: Capturing Ideas in the Moment and Using A-Z for Writing Prompts

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


O
ut of sight, out of mind. Strike while the iron is hot.  Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do RIGHT NOW.

Okay, I fudged that last one just a wee bit.  But that’s how I roll.  Or how I should roll.

Because I would forget to go to the dunny if I didn’t have a built in reminder.

For instance, for this post, I had several great ideas and rock star lines.  But I didn’t immediately write them down.  Now, they’re just ~ poof ~ gone.

Nada.

No more.

I need a damn intern to help me keep track of all my to-dos and didn’ts, and don’ts, and darn-it-all-I-have-should-haves. Damn, that’s a lot of D's for an “I” day. (As opposed to a “me” day, which is something very different.)

I is for Instant
Maybe I have mild ADD.  Maybe I need a vacation (4 months, 20 days). Maybe I need to limit my time plugged in to the Matrix.  Whatever it is, the best option for me is to do Action A when I think of Action A.  But when that isn't feasible, I have to write it down.  Because if I don’t, I forget. 
Image credit: Sue Langley

And sometimes, even then, I don’t remember. 

The good thing about this issue of mine, is that I live in the moment by default.  The bad thing is that I’m so forgetful, that I think, “Oh, I’ll get to that tomorrow, I have to do X, Y, and Z today.”

And A, B, and C lie a-molderin’ in the grave of good intentions. 

Capturing Ideas on the Wing
This is hit-me-in-the-head evident with this blogging challenge.  I've already come up with ideas for C posts, D posts, even H posts (which gave me such heartburn).  I’m writing them down in a spreadsheet (because you know I’m an Excel nerd) for future posts.  

The flow of ideas has been so constant, that I’m considering an Alphabet post blogging calendar.  I may not post them in order, but the ideas are there for the writing.

Now, if only I can remember to look at the calendar….

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Are you an out of sight, out of minder?  To do lister?  What keeps you on track and on point?
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