Tag Archives: art

what i noticed for nora: a mystery.

Dan and I have (finally) resumed our running routine. Three days a week, when Dax first stirs, we go get him, I nurse him while Dan changes into running clothes, then while I change Dan gets Dax ready, then we head out the door with the jogging stroller.

We’ve orchestrated this little routine because it leaves little room for complaining or excuse-making. If Dax is awake, so are we, so we might as well run.

At the end of our run yesterday, as we were coming back into our apartment complex, we ran past a few trees that we see everyday but I never really “noticed” until then. I made Dan stop.

“Give me my phone,” I said breathlessly.

“Why?”

“Because I have to [GASP] notice something for [GASP] Nora.”

Dan handed me my phone and I snapped a picture of these little beauties.

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In the picture, they look like oranges. But they’re not. Look at the size of the leaves for reference, and you’ll see that these tiny, orange fruits are no bigger than sweet peas. But they’re orange. And on a tree.

And I have no idea what they are

Since I haven’t lived here a full month year yet, I have never seen these things go through all the seasons. (By the way, in Naples, there are a grand total of TWO seasons: snowbird season — or just “season” — and off season.) It will be exciting to see them bloom and grow and ripen over the next few months to find out exactly what they are.

These little orange bulbs remind me of my own “season” of life. Like these tiny fruits, it is a mystery to me, currently in the very early stages of blossoming. I don’t know what it will turn out to be like once it’s ripe, or how long it will take to get there. All I know is that at this moment it is new and fresh and beautiful and intriguing and I’m eagerly awaiting the impending harvest.

 

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words to live by: franz kafka

Today’s WTLB is actually about writing (squeeee) but I think it can apply to most things. If you are passionate about anything — that is, if you have a soul — I think this quote should resonate with you.

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(Image Source)

 

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

– Franz Kafka

Have an intense, obsession-driven weekend.

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active listening: “crossroads” by sarah mac band.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s something voyeuristic about consuming art created by your friends. I never know how to really navigate it. It’s like you go over to their house while they’re on vacation and rummage through their memory boxes and try to fill in the blanks on your own. It’s beautiful, and raw, but also super sketchy. (Hey, many of you may feel the same when you read my blog! Like, isn’t it weird that you guys get insight into my life without actually hearing it come out of my mouth? Come on, admit it — how many of you stalkers have never actually met me but know my kid’s name? No judgement here, y’all! Just keepin’ it real.)

Anyway. Today’s active listening comes from a band which is comprised of three (sometimes four, when the need for violin or SLEIGH BELLS arises) of my friends. Because I’m creepy like that. This song, “Crossroads” on the album Static and Signals by Sarah Mac Band, has wrecked me since I first laid ears on it. (Don’t be a chump — drop some cash for the album here because OH JUST DO IT, IT’S WORTH IT, I SWEAR.)

Most of the lyrics speak to a younger me, a me that was, for lack of a better term, a hot f-ing mess. And while I’m not there anymore, there are elements of my hot f-ing mess of a past that have weaseled their way into my otherwise completely well-adjusted present and have reminded me of the “crossroads” from whence I came.

I was too young to consider such things as a healthy dose of caution and fear /

I was set on an adventure and how my life would change by things bound to happen there

Five years ago I was standing at a crossroads. I could go one way, a way of the familiar hot mess, or go somewhere completely different and just kind of see what would happen.

So I chose the adventure. I randomly moved to a foreign country.

Sadly, it was not, like the song later suggests, to “save souls for Jesus”. It was to, ultimately, enhance my academic career and, um, oh yeah, mendmyverybrokenheartBUTWHATEVERwedontgottatalkaboutthat.

I knew it wasn’t a financially sound decision; I had my college education paid for (for the most part) by scholarships and grants and would need to take out a butt-ton of loans in order to do it. But something deep within my soul screamed out, You have to do this! You have to go! Don’t ask why now — just go! You’ll know why later. 

I didn’t know it then, but packing “my shit” (a lyrical mention, both in the literal and figurative sense) and hauling my butt across an ocean for a time would end up being the best thing to ever happen to me. The girl I was before I left — heartbroken, reliant on others for validation, battling an eating disorder — died a quiet death on the stoop of 99 Great Russell Street in the heart of London. Her scent is still heavy in the dark tunnels of the tube, but she is but a distant and, thankfully, faded memory.

Fast forward to today: I have a perfectly full heart, a beautiful family, a steady job, a strong community… and all of these things are pretty solid. Pretty stagnant. I’m not really at a crossroads anymore. Rather, I’m on the freeway using cruise control. But others around me, others very close to me, are standing at their own respective crossroads.

New relationships.

New opportunities.

New jobs.

New locations. 

So much newness. So much uncertainty.

But if there is one thing I know, it’s that the refrain of the song is so true.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

Five years ago I intentionally chose to embark on a journey wrought with isolation and uncertainty. That, in and of itself, is beautiful. But it’s what I unintentionally chose that is even better.

Health.

Rebirth.

A fresh perspective.

Self-love.

And so, dear friends. I urge you to not be afraid of the crossroads at which you find yourself. I’m certain that, even if you don’t know it yet, the direction in which your heart tugs you will be the one that offers up the best possible scenario for you. Even if you don’t realize it until years later.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

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friday favorite: being a writer.

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“You write a lot, Lindsay Durrenberger,” a friend observed this morning.

It’s true. I do. I can’t help it, honestly. I have to. It’s how I process things. It’s how I understand things. I cannot fully experience something in my life until I have written it out in words, be it in a story or an email or a blog post or a journal entry. Without words, my days have no life. (Side note: today is still unfathomable.)

Before I started writing this post, I did a Google search for one of my favorite quotes about writing so that I could cite the person who first said it. But the only thing that was returned was a link to my Tumblr, where the simple phrase is plastered across the header. (Which is ironic, actually, because, as my followers can attest to, I rarely post original content there. I typically use it to reblog stupid/weird/inspiring things I find that other people have written/composed.)

Did I coin my favorite writing quote? That can’t be right, can it? At any rate, here it is:

“Why write? Because, quite simply, it isn’t there.”

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active listening: “shelter” by jars of clay.

A few of my blogger friends write about the songs that influence their lives on a daily basis, so I thought I’d give it a try today because this song has been the fragile thread holding me together for the better part of two weeks. I’ve written about this song before, but it tends to be my go-to tune to pour into my brain whenever I come into times of self-doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ve been violently thrust into the throes of these emotions lately, and so I’ve been trying to actively seek refuge in art to effectively surf these unrelenting waves of pain.

Monday, I believe, I pulled this song up on my iPhone, stuck my earbuds in, and pressed the “repeat” button and let myself fall into it.

When I got into my car, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary port and turned the volume all the way up and actually worshiped. Like, for really real worshiped. In my car. With my eyes closed (only at stop lights, of course) and hands raised.

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It’s now Thursday, and I’m still here in this space, running down my phone battery in the name of spiritual health.

The melody is simple, but I wouldn’t call it catchy. It’s not a song that, in my opinion, is easily “stuck” in your head. I think you have to intentionally put it there (as opposed to the likes of “Call Me Maybe”, for example) and I’ve been trying to do just that. The words are small, uncomplicated, and unobtrusive, but extremely powerful in times of defeat.

To all who are looking down / holding on to hearts still wounding
For those who have yet to find it / the places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you’re wearing / set aside the names that you’ve been given
May this place of rest / in the fold of your journey / bind you to hope / we will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other / we will live / we will live
And Your arms are all around us…

God has given us each other / and we will never walk alone

Whenever I discover a really great record, I listen to it to death. I remember when Plans by Death Cab for Cutie came out, I put the disc (what is this “disc” I speak of?) in my dashboard CD player and listened to it whenever I drove for the better part of eight months. The boy I was in love with at the time found this irritating.

“You always listen to the same songs,” he lamented. “You’re so boring.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m boring. But I’d like to think that, as a writer and a musician, I happen to understand the power of words and music and that I intentionally expose myself — albeit repeatedly — to the good stuff because good art has the ability to, if you let it, seep deep within your DNA. To become a part of you for the rest of your life. There are still pieces of Plans, for example, that, whenever I hear them, bring me back to that time when I was “boring”. With the opening riff of “Soul Meets Body” I can still feel the hot, sticky summer air flooding my Mazda 626 and I can still smell the mold in my tiny student apartment. I can remember what it felt like to know that my soul and my body were, in fact, different things and I can remember being in love and not exactly knowing why.

By listening to the simple, repetitive, beautiful words and music of “Shelter”, I can feel hugs from my husband and scruffy, hasn’t-shaved-in-a-few-days forehead kisses. I can see encouraging text messages from my pastor. I can feel a smile creep across my face at the sight of any one of my amazing friends. I can feel the warmth of God’s embrace. I can actually feel grace. I can feel this grace I read about and know that it is real.

Our tears aren’t ours alone / let them fall into the hands that hold us.

Let them! Let them! 

And Your arms are all around us / and we will never walk alone.

The last words of the song are “never walk alone”, not preceded by the “and we will” part.

To someone who is listening to that song for the first time, it may seem that it is one last mention of the very repetitive refrain. But to someone like me, who has listened to the song so many times that it is almost white noise  – someone “boring”, I guess — I see it as an intentional call to action by the lyricist.

Never walk alone.

Yes, God gives us a shelter. He gives us community in which to do life. But it is up to you to seek it out, to intentionally grab people in your life and boldly ask them to walk alongside you. Even when it is hard. Even when you are hard to love, you have GOT to let yourself be loved because, damnit, that’s what this grace thing is all about.

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tuesday tip — create.

The Thursday after I had my knee surgery, my good friend (and art therapist by trade) Suzanne wanted to entertain me and my mom, who was staying with me and taking care of me. So she came over with an easel, some canvasses, and a slew of paints and brushes. I’ve never painted anything for real before (whatever, paint-by-number totally counts) so this was definitely a stretch for me. My mom and Suzanne are both “real” artists (as opposed to me, a not-even-close-to-an-artist artist) so I was a bit scared to even attempt to paint. But, Suzanne set up a few on-hand items (a bourbon bottle and a wine glass, naturally) on my coffee table and, under her guidance, I started to create a “still life” painting. Shockingly, I actually didn’t fail. I wouldn’t so much say I “succeeded” or even “painted” but I did create something using paint.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: CREATE

I can’t even begin to describe how therapeutic and calming it was to sit down and create something that simply wasn’t there before. It may or may not have (read: may not have) looked like the still life I was trying to mimic, but my own hands put that thing together. By my movements, what started the day as a blank canvas ended the day a work of… creation (the term “art,” perhaps, may be a bit of a stretch.)

The thing about creation is this: everyone can do it. Everyone can be a creator.

Side note: I have a hard time saying anyone can be an artist, but most modern art has actually proven that yes, anyone can be an artist. I once saw an exhibit in a modern art museum that was a photograph of a woman shoving dollars and change into her vagina. I mean. If that’s considered art, well… I guess anyone can do it.

At any rate, whether you want to use the term “artist” or not, I believe we were all created in the image of our Creator, so it stands to reason that we can all create. And I think creation and art is a wonderful, tangible way to learn how to love yourself. In a world where PERFECTION and BEAUTY and FLAWLESSNESS all sit atop the highest of pedestals, it’s freeing to create something that’s unique, honest, and maybe even a little bit disorganized.

While my painting won’t ever hang in any art gallery ever, it will hang in my house. And it will always remind me that no matter how perfect society pressures me to be, true art isn’t ever really perfect. It’s a unique collection of colors. It’s a messy collection of different-sized brush strokes. It’s priceless and unlike anything else before it. And no one else could have created that painting. Even though Suzanne’s painting looked a lot more professional (and um, more like the wine glass and bourbon bottle in question) my painting was still exactly that: mine. Mine and mine alone.

So. I encourage you to create something. Maybe not a painting. Maybe a sketch. Maybe a sculpture. Maybe a sandcastle. Maybe write a song. Maybe take a photograph of something that matters to you. But at the end of it all, stand back and admire your work. Admire your art. Remember no one will ever create anything like that ever again and, similarly, nothing like you will be created ever again.

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