I’ve actually had fun attempting self-portraits in the past, and I still enjoy trying to draw myself from time to time. 

The urge most recently came about a few months ago when I decided to do a quick sketch from a photo to use instead of a photo of myself as my Avitar for a class I was taking. I liked how it turned out. 

This is a recent attempt that I decided to sketch because of two new things: my perm and new glasses. 

The glasses are inevitable. It was time, but the cost always hurts.

I’ve been wanting so much to come to the page, so I’m writing myself through it. I need to get back to my writing practice. Maybe I feel freer today because a class has ended, because the warm sunshine on my face as I walk to lunch energizes me, and because there is an end in sight to the busy season. 

It’s been at least 10 years since I last got a perm and I swore that I would not get another. I needed a change, a lift to my step. I plunged forward. The hair stylist, also owner of the salon, did a great job. She had done enough perms over the years, that I knew I was in good hands. 

Self-portraits have a tendency to reveal something we may have not noticed about ourselves in that moment that a regular photograph may not catch. Adding the color by mood and feeling adds another element. I love the process. 

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This morning I saw a woman kneeling down with her phone camera in hand, honing in on something in the crevices of one of those large metal grates that you often run into on the sidewalks. I tried to sneak a glance as I walked by. I think she was capturing some sort of greenery that was growing, unnoticed. 

It was nice seeing someone doing that. I know there are many others out there capturing these small moments, things that are hidden from us until we stop to look. I know I’m not the only one; and that’s why it’s nice to see someone else in action, as I might be on a day I’m leaning over some small beauty that’s growing through the cracks of the world. 

An autumn day gives way to the feeling of winter. In the air the scent of someone cozy next to a warm fire. 

I look out the window waiting for my lunch, taking in the orange and yellow leaves against a perfectly grey sky. 

Rain shall come soon to wash away the impurities, wipe the slate clean to begin anew. 


Sitting amongst the birch trees,
I listen to the day fade in and out, as I put markings down on the page, coax an image that is enough for me to recognize this moment, eager to continue marking the days–marking the pages with, not only words, but real images. 

I actually didn’t think we would have any view of the strip when we checked in. We were pleased with the view that we did have. It was relaxing to look out the window at Paris, Las Vegas, to see the dancing fountains of the Bellagio that are especially impressive at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

It was a great get-a-way. On our last day, walking back to our hotel through busy streets of people–some that had noticeably exceeded their alcohol limits–I felt ready to leave this bustling city.

Yet here I am, missing it already, planning our next trip in my mind.

**

Blinking lights and bustling streets,
this part of the city never sleeps. As the days run into weekend,
activity and people multiply before my eyes. Romantic lights
of the Bellagio tantalize. Lights and sound from every direction
rest upon my senses, pulling me in different directions. Nature far off in the background, still in sight, offering a reminder–a sense of grounding and perspective.

 

As I exit the library doors, outside
the majestic pines and quietness of the street wrap around me like a
warm embrace.

I have to stop and ask myself if the Universe is trying to send me a message. It’s an unexpected message…or do I even know what the message is?

It all started with an out of the blue exchange with a woman walking with her three children. I wasn’t even but a few feet away from her when she waved her hand toward me while saying something that I didn’t hear. I thought she was asking for directions and said, “excuse me?”

Waving her hand around my head area, she said, “you have a strong aura, my dear. Would you like a psychic reading?”  Then she waved her hand to where I had my fleece jacket tied around my waste. “You have a lot going on.” I looked down as if there would be something there, as though I would see all that she saw.

I told her that I was on my way to lunch and that I didn’t have time. I really just wanted to move on.

“No problem. Would you like one of my cards?”

My shoulders lifted into a shrug, about to say no; instead, I said, “sure, why not.”

She bent down to fetch her purse from the bottom of the stroller and pulled out a zippered pouch that seemed to contain a variety of different business cards. I thanked her and took the card.

As I edged my way between her daughters, one who had three woman entranced with her small bucket of pencils for sale, ooohing and ahhwing, I knew that I woudlnt’ be making the call to get my reading done.

Once at my lunch spot, I took the card out of my bag and looked at it wondering why she had chosen me at that moment in time to solicit her services.  I thought of the many times that I have had my tarot cards read, occasionally picking one out of the deck on my own for some guidance; I wondered if perhaps this was the Universe telling me that it was time to do some internal work. I don’t feel like it really, but maybe I’m not seeing clearly. Maybe something inside of my soul is leaking out clues that are being mirrored back to me in some way.

When I was done with lunch, I walked back in the opposite direction. When I came about half-way around the block, a teenage boy asked if he could borrow a quarter. He clearly needed it for the parking meter that he was next to when he asked.

“A quarter. Yes, I think I do have one.” I rummaged in my bad, handed him a quarter, and off I went.

Ok, fine. Two small moments of time that somehow seemed related to each other in my mind, but nothing to make a really big fuss about.

But then yesterday I received a phone call from an unknown number. When I listened to the voice message it was a pastor that was randomly calling–who knows how he found my number–I don’t actually go to church on a regular basis. His message said something along the lines that he was calling me to invite me to his congregation and that if I would like him to pray for me or someone I know, call or text him.

With these three coincidences within the week, I must admit, they’ve made me wonder…

The first time that I visited Las Vegas I was somewhere in my twenties. It was with a good friend, whose mom was nice enough to pay for all expenses. It was a family affair. The three of us shared a room at the Mirage. I remembered that hotel for it’s tropical feel; at least there was a bit of nature in this very built up, over-the-top destination.

My memory is fuzzy of how I actually felt, what my feelings were in response to all of the “noise” but my sense is that, at times, it was overwhelming. As a person who appreciates her solitude, it was the sort of place that went against my natural disposition. For years I convinced myself that Las Vegas was not for me and that I wouldn’t visit again.

I believe that I did end up there a second time with the same family in the same hotel and that this time, the flashy city did began to grow on me.

Fast-forward roughly twenty years and its one of the destinations that hubby and I would venture to for a short getaway.  He is an extrovert through and through and I think because of him I try to find places that he’ll be able to enjoy and that I’ll be able to explore and revisit. Because of him, the layers of my introvertedness are beginning to peel away to reveal more tolerance and more enjoyment of my extroverted side.

I still enjoy my quiet time, but I’m able to feed off of noise a lot better and am able to find the quiet within the chaos.

We’ll be visiting the Las Vegas Strip again soon to take in the glitz. I love walking through the gorgeous hotels, admiring the architecture, people watching, catching a few shows, and being right in the middle of all of the action.

One of my favorite parts is planning the trip, researching the different restaurants, and trying to get a feel ahead of time for potential places to eat and things to do.

I know that there’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip, but I have grown a great fondness for this piece of Las Vegas set against its beautiful desert landscape.

 

So far the one-word, five minute writing prompts are working for me. Sometimes I don’t have a lot to write in my notebook with this one word, but always it brings me somewhere-eventually; sometimes, I write past the five minute mark. I’ve always appreciated Julia Cameron’s insistence on writing “morning pages.” I can’t say that I’ve been diligent in following through, but I do realize their place and importance in keeping the writing hand and creative mind moving. I like to think of these one word daily prompts as an alternative. It’s a bite size that fits perfectly and is a nice way to get the day started if you need a gentle nudge. 

Magnetic poetry words have also been helpful and I keep keep them tucked away in case I’m in need of further nudging. 

I settled on using Google Docs to record my daily prompts. It’s great that I can login from anywhere and also use the App across my devices. Then I don’t have to worry about collecting yet another paper journal! And there’s consistency in knowing where to go and not trying to remember which journal had what. 

Before I know it, five minutes, turned to, ten; once it reached my journal blog, an hour has passed…a quick, enjoyable hour that really does feel like five minutes. 

Smudged: Today’s word is from the writing prompt book I mentioned in a previous post. Below is the direction that my fingers tapped it out.


She erased the drawing but in her haste, she left a giant smudge on the page. The more she looked at it, she thought she heard a faint voice coming from the page, from the smudge itself. She put her ear down toward the smudge; the voice was clearly talking to her.

“Why did it take you so long?”

She brought her head back up to see if the smudge had taken shape. She heard it. Or was she mad? Had she been sitting with her pencils and erasers far too long?

She decided to respond to the smudge but instead of talking aloud, she started to write words at the bottom of her drawing, and then she began drawing ferociously; she didn’t think about it any longer, she was becoming at one with the drawing before her.

As the drawing began to take shape, the smudge had become a beautiful table outside a cafe somewhere far away along cobblestoned streets, a day filled with sun and people zigging and zagging through the market admiring the handcrafted goods.

The artist sat with her sketchbook at the table, recording the happenings, soaking in the sights, happy to be alive.

When I first learned of this book a few years ago, I never would have expected what I found within its pages. I appreciate snails, but I never imagined that I would want to keep reading of the companionship that one humble snail would offer to its newfound keeper and continue learning more. The writing is beautiful in an understated way. The descriptions of the author’s country home and nature transport, and the details allow the reader into this intimate space.

I never feel Elisabeth Tova Bailey feels sorry for herself in a way that takes away from her story or journey. I feel a kinship with her and her snail who becomes the shining star in this memoir because of her strange, debilitating illness, that comes upon her suddenly when she’s on her way from her travels to home.

I love that each chapter is headed by a haiku or quote that ties in nicely to each chapter. It’s true, this small book does indeed feel like a “delicate meditation on the meaning of life.”

A gentle and beautiful read that I’m happy to have stumbled upon.