Are You Sure?

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There are days where I question the choices I’ve made. Truth be told, days like this are becoming more frequent. It’s like every element of my life is playing a little game with me called, “Are you sure?”

Honestly, I don’t know.

Perhaps, its a mid-life crisis attacking a bit early. Or maybe, I am just ready for a change. Admittedly, I am a creature of habit. My very organized self likes a schedule and gets a little thrill when everything works out as planned. This aspect of my personality was a mild quirk when I was younger, but after 14 years of teaching, it’s become a full-blown neurosis. I’m starting to realize this is making life a lot less fun.

Although, this feeling of “life doubt” could also be tied to what I consider a noticeably missing piece of my existence. Travel. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I traveled extensively overseas. I saved and planned for it, because it was such an important part of my life. However, the last three years have been tough. Between budgets constraints and family concerns, I haven’t really gone anywhere. The fact that my bucket list has largely gone ignored is starting to bug me.

Then, there’s the undeniable fact that I’m tired. Exhausted, actually. Working 10-12 hours a day at a job that is getting increasingly more stressful and frustrating is starting to wear me down. As much as I love the art of teaching, it’s getting difficult to love where I work. I don’t know if it’s just one of those challenging years or if I’m reaching a point of total burn out. Thankfully, my students aren’t picking up my general feeling of frustration (I know this because they constantly tell me they like how positive it is in my classroom). At the same time, I am perusing job postings for possibilities that lie beyond my current station.

With all of this going on in my head, it’s surprising to me that I remain a total optimist. A little funk never wiped the smile off my face and it probably never will.

My family and my writing keep my fire burning. As my novel reaches the final stages of becoming a polished piece of work, I find myself excited to take the next steps. When it comes to the game of “Are you sure?,” this is the one thing where I know the answer is a definite “Yes!”

After a crappy day at work, I love escaping into my dreamworld where my novel finds its way into print. I can wander into lines of poetry and fuss over plot holes while drinking my Muse Juice (Cafe Mocha). When all else fails, there is the beautiful dream of being able to write (and maybe knit a little) all day long. Lucky for me, my husband and furkids are cool with joining me on this journey.

Of course, the game of “Are you sure?” has the added bonus of motivating real change. Besides reconsidering my job situation, there have also been a number of discussions regarding a change of location. We’re thinking the Pacific Northwest might be a nice change of scenery within the next few years. A road trip to scope it out is in the planning stages. Am I sure about moving? Not really, but I’m excited to explore the possibility of something new.

Aside from considering major life changes, I’ve started stuffing money aside for a trip to Amsterdam. My bucket list is in dire need of a check mark and my soul craves the touch of a new experience.

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c.b.w. 2014

Unknown Path

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Photo and words by: c.b.w. 2013

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One never knows what’s around the bend, but if it were up to me, I’d travel down that barely there dirt path. It wonders beyond the easy curve and dares the traveler to see beyond the stones that block free will. Roots lay traps, while trees mark the way. Follow where courage leads and you will know freedom.

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c.b.w. 2013

Dreaming Out Loud

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Masked and poised,
waiting for change

Human Statue Busker, Covent Garden Environs, London, c.b.w.

Poetic voices,
outrun the silence

The Ryan O'Reilly Band near Portobello Rd, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

Carving the past
into something new

Sand Sculptor along the Thames River, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

Saving gray
from blank stares

Chalk Artist on the South Bank, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

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c.b. 2012

Musings on Van Gogh

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I am seeking, I am stirring, I am in it with all my heart.

– Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

One day I hope to see “Starry Night” in person rather than on a computer screen or in an art book.  It’s my favorite of Van Gogh’s works as there is something dreamlike and magical about his view of the night sky.   I’ve been fortunate to see some of his other works in a few museums throughout my travels, but “Starry Night” remains on my bucket list.

The National Gallery in London has a beautiful collection of Van Gogh paintings and I make it a point to visit them whenever I wander into Trafalgar Square.  The first time I saw “Sunflowers” in person, I literally forgot how to breathe. I’d seen postcards and images in books, but nothing compares to personally witnessing the broad brushstrokes that define his unique style.  The paint jumps up from the canvas and gives even the most ordinary objects incredible flare.   I’ve spent hours staring at his paintings as they evoke powerful emotions and inspire fascinating trains of thought.

Van Gogh lead an interesting life filled with bouts of illness and insanity, but no one can deny he lived with passion.  Something beautiful lived inside of him and it came out of his paintbrush, with purpose and chaos. Perhaps it was his way of sorting out the mess in his head, where everything splintered between reality and imagination.  Somehow the two sides of him collide in erratic mosaics in bold colors.  Each stroke is a mad dash that makes no sense, but when it connects to the rest, a cascade of wonder fills the canvas.

Call it insanity, creativity, passion, or art, Van Gogh showed the world what it means to live out loud and in color.  We may sometimes be broken, weak, and fractured, but we are beautiful when all the pieces come together.  Van Gogh chose to seek when nothing made sense. He stirred when everyone told him to stay still.  He was in it with all his heart, even when it hurt.  We should all be so bold.

Van Gogh's "Wheat Field With Cypresses" re-imagined with live greenery. National Gallery, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

I’ve posted this image before, but its still one of the more interesting things I saw in London last summer.  Outside the National Gallery, a wall of live greenery created a garden representation of “Wheat Field With Cypresses.” It’s fun to compare it to the actual painting:

Wheat Field With Cypresses by Vincent Van Gogh

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c.b. 2012