Beauty and Writing

 

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See those flowers? I bought them for myself. That’s an important part of the story.

You should have seen me the morning I was carrying those sunflowers on my arms, their heads bending down to graze my elbow, the rough stalks scratching my skin.

I was holding onto them like a newborn baby, my heart pounding.

The morning sun broke out in splinters. A young man walking toward me said in mock surprise, “For me?” I giggled. No, silly. They are for me, I whispered in my head.

You can buy yourself flowers–every single day if you like. There are no rules against it.

You don’t have to wait for boys (or girls) to buy you flowers.

You don’t have to wait for special occasions. Any day will do.

Who knew?

Not me.

I wish I could run back to the younger version of myself–the one in middle school, who waited for boys to buy her pink carnation flowers wrapped in plastic on Valentine’s Day–and tell her this:

You don’t have to wait to invite beauty into your life.

Even money can’t stand in the way of beauty.

I have been broke more times in my life than I can count on my fingers. In spite of this (or because of this), I have learned to invite beauty into my life in creative ways.

A few stories:

When I went for a walk one day, my eyes took in the clusters of wildflowers dotting the side of a bike path, beauty scattered so haphazardly. Who knew tiger lilies grew on the side of a road? That afternoon, I made myself a bouquet of flowers; my fingers tugging at stalks of Queen Anne’s lace, a few dusty-pink cone flowers, tiger lilies that opened up like yawns, tiny purple flowers whose name I do not know (forgive me, you were beautiful).

I remember another walk, this time with my sister. We had noticed neat bundles of frangipani tree branches left on the sidewalk for the next day’s garbage collection. We were on our way to a bakery, so all we could do was marvel at the sight of the gnarled branches—their bare limbs spiraling upward, twisting and turning to reach fuzzy, cream-colored bulbs.

Stunned by their beauty, my sister and I vowed to return to rescue a few shoots.

On our way back home, we searched for our treasured item: frangipani branches. What was easy to locate in broad daylight was nearly impossible to track down in poorly lit-streets in the evening. When we did find the bundle, still untouched, I felt thrilled.

My sister and I rummaged through the pile to find three beautiful shoots to our liking, and victoriously marched our way back home. My sister dipped her brush into pots of acrylic paint, and colored the branches in hues of magenta, lemon-green, mustard, white and indigo. I gasped when I saw the branches again.

Beauty, beauty, beauty.

You don’t have to wait to invite beauty into your life. 

You can begin this very moment.

Lean close to the lone gardenia on a bush. Rub the leathery skin of a sage plant. Turn your face upward to watch the silk flowers releasing themselves from the clutch of a tree branch and slowly descending from the sky to kiss the earth.

Roam the world for beauty.

Notice the berries splatter to the ground, staining it purple. Watch the shimmering lake, the moon hanging low on the horizon. Follow the bent legs of dragonflies resting on grass, their gossamer wings lapping up the sun’s rays, moments before their flight.

Invite beauty into your life.

Once beauty arrives, remember this: don’t hold on to it so tightly. Don’t try to possess it. Let it dance, and fade away in its own time.

Let yourself dance with beauty, too.

Carry the details of your dance to your notebook and write about it.

Then, let it go.

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Writing Prompt #2: Bottling A Feeling…

Have you ever had a moment that was so joyful that you found yourself whispering, “I wish I could bottle this feeling…”?

Perhaps you remember feeling angry, guilty, nostalgic or ashamed; and bottling those emotions within the contour of your body.

Imagine that you were asked to bottle an emotion or a series of moments.  What shape will your container be? What thoughts or emotions will it hold?

Will you keep a jar of happy thoughts? Or a jar of secrets? Or something altogether different?

Go ahead: Pick a jar. On slips of paper, write out the details you carried on your skin from the day. Place them inside the jar.

Bottle the smell of brown rice boiling on a stove top, the sight of the lazy sun resting on your knees, or the slithering snakes dancing in the shadow of a bamboo garden. Bottle the sight of mustard seeds sinking to the bottom of a pickle jar or the tired eyes of your mother holding you in her gaze. Bottle the sound of rain hissing on the asphalt on a hot summer day, crackling thunder that kept you company at night.

Let the details pickle for an extended period of time. Read them when you (and the details) are ready.

 

 

Chaos and Writing

Last year, I turned my life upside down.

It was my year of the Saturn Return, complete with major upheavals, epiphanies and chaos.

During that year, I quit my job, broke my apartment lease, launched my business, ran a fundraising campaign, traipsed through the Southwest on a solo three-week trip, surrendered myself to a 10-day silent meditation retreat, published my short story, and began healing my broken relationship with my family.

Phew.

In July 2015, I packed up my belongings into cardboard boxes and left them at my friend’s basement. By July 2016, I had lived in fifteen different homes, carrying my red suitcase and a tote bag wherever I went.

Can you feel the chaos? Continue reading