Wreck This Journal: Two Roads

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Throughout Wreck This Journal there are a number of blank pages that serve as spaces for random creativity. While working on a collage for another project, I came across some advertisements in a magazine that inspired my muse to fill one of those pages.

Give me a dirt road and I shall happily travel.

The tree root backdrop came from a National Geographic Traveler, while the letters on this page came from an ad for a car (I think). I simply cut out and rearranged the letters until I got a phrase that made sense.  Then, I finished the thought along the right edge.  I must have had Robert Frost on the brain when I filled this page as it alludes to one of my favorite quotes:

Two roads diverge in a wood and I –

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference

Recently, I met with a friend who asked me an interesting question about how I came to be confident in who I am (including the weirdness).  Her question took me by surprise and I wasn’t sure how to answer it until I came across the above page in my journal.

The truth is I’ve never considered myself to be an overtly confident person, but rather accepting and content with who I am. I’ve always been a little different and I’ve always embraced the idea of walking a different path.  Even as a child, I knew I didn’t want to blend into the group.  I can distinctly remember thinking how boring it would be if everyone was the same. Perhaps, my “confidence” stems from never being afraid of exploring the unpaved path or one which has no footprints.  After all, the grandest adventures come from daring to go where no one has gone before, (Star Trek wisdom rocks).

Of course, spending a large part of my childhood in the depths of the Northwoods also might have something to do with my attraction to unpaved roads.

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Stay inspired!

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Don’t forget to cast your vote in Poetry Poll #1. So far, “Force of Nature” has the lead, while “The Guardians” is in second.  Thanks so much for your participation!

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c.b.w. 2012

The War Within

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The joust begins
spirits beware
Cracked pavement
eroding shores
The light cowers
where dark prevails
Crumbling towers
broken stones
Sorrow clings
where joy flees

The remains of St. Dunstan-in-the-East, London, c.b.w.

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c.b.w. 2012

The Don’t List

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Being an organized person, I have a number of to-do lists floating around my life.  One by one, I draw a line through each task as its completed – I love the feeling of marking something off the list! While I love the idea of tracking all the “do’s” in my life, I was recently reminded that the “don’ts” are just as important.

A prompt in my writer’s group put forth the idea of making a don’t list.  At first, this seems like a very negative list to make, but its really an opportunity to be positive and consider new possibilities. My don’t list became an itemization of uplifting reminders (and a little bit of humor).

Don’t . . .

. . . give up

. . . give in

. . . be mean

. . .  be negative

. . . be too hard on yourself

. . . listen to your inner critic

. . . stop writing

. . . forget to laugh

. . . get in a snit over stupid stuff

. . . lose a sense of wonder

. . . eat pink jelly beans. They are always gross.

. . . take gossip seriously

. . . limit creativity

. . . let a number define you

. . . leave dishes in the sink

. . . trust GPS completely

. . . buy anything unless you know exactly where it’s going to go

. . . live beyond your means

. . . try to train a cat (unless you want to see an “are you kidding me” face)

. . . leave a mess

. . . eat food that has ingredients you can’t pronounce

. . . listen when someone says, “you can’t”

. . . let go of your inner child

. . . stop traveling

. . . pass up a custard filled doughnut (no matter what diet you’re on)

. . . park your car like an idiot

. . . believe everything you hear

. . . put a book down

. . . forget your dreams

. . . complain about the weather.  It is what it is.

. . . buy shoes if they hurt your feet

. . . throw out what can be reused, recycled, or upcycled

. . . try to be something you’re not

. . . leave chocolate out in the open at work.  Keep a stash that no one can find.

. . . show up late

. . . forsake the little things that matter most

. . . let a day go by without being grateful for something

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What’s on your don’t list?

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c.b.w. 2012

The Story Behind “A Bridge Crossed”

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Every Sunday for the last few months, I’ve posted a photograph and lines of poetry (or musings) inspired by my  journey to London.  Sundays in London has been a cathartic experience as it has slowly lead me to a deeper understanding of why I was so driven to spend an extended period of time in a place so far from home.  My journal is filled with meandering thoughts fraught with both epiphanies and questions, while my pictures captured every nook and cranny of my surroundings, but nothing fit together for a definitive answer.  The experience as a whole was life-altering, though I could not decipher how and why.  All I knew was something deep inside of me had indelibly changed, (See Finding True North).

The lines I wrote for A Bridge Crossed began in London, but only in small fragments.  At the time, I didn’t have enough understanding to give my disjointed words a voice.  The finished poem is representative of the answer I’ve been seeking for the better part of a year.  After much contemplation and creative wandering, I know why I went to London.

Almost immediately after my return, I kept thinking, “I learned I was a lot stronger than I thought.” The only thing I couldn’t figure out what was why this mattered so much.  I already knew I was a strong person, so I let the idea sit and expand until it chose to tell me more.

Ultimately, the answer hit me in one big swoop, damn near knocking me out of my seat.  I still don’t know what triggered the thought, but I’m not one to question inspiration.  What matters is that I have my answer.  London showed me how strong I have to be to reach my dreams.  Despite being in a place  I loved, I was alone, overwhelmed, disoriented, and completely out of my element.  And there was no one to run to except myself.  I eventually found my groove and embraced every sensation, but this was a hard path to find.

Writing feels much the same way as isolating yourself in a foreign place.  Along with all of the above, there is rejection (and a lot of it), frustration, fear, and doubt.  A list like this puts a serious dent in strength and determination, sometimes to the point of giving up.  Courage doesn’t come free and strength comes at a price.  I have to be willing to endure everything that tries to knock me down.  I must remain standing no matter how difficult or demoralizing it gets.  As London showed me, being stronger than the impediment has an immense payoff for through the heavy fog there is the realization of a dream.

There is a difference between understanding what it means to be strong and knowing from experience what it is to be strong.  I can do anything and I can take a few punches, too.  Some may call me crazy for learning this lesson halfway around the world, but I honestly can think of no better place.  London got under skin from the very first moment I saw it and has never let go.  I hope it never does.

Houses of Parliament, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

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c.b. 2012

A Bridge Crossed

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There it stays
unrealized,
out of use
‘Til luck runs dry
breaking the crutch

Unaided and alone
the power within
hears the call
The unknown rises,
bolsters a will

A new release
fills empty holes
Far less timid
than before
a fortnight

St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge as seen through a window at the Tate Modern, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

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c.b. 2012