Today is March 19th, 2020. It’s the first day of spring. Do people remember what Spring is? It’s the wakening of a sleepy world, one that has no memory of anything that has transpired over the last few months, even over the past few days.
I always look forward to spring. After being cocooned by cold and snow, and the depression that penetrates down to the soul. Spring is what helps awaken the seed of expression in me.
I do have moments of poetic inspiration, but it’s usually spring that refreshes the soul, dusts off the muse, and helps me remember amazing creation in nature and birth, and the simple marvels of science in how the world works.
My heart is having trouble right now. I have this strange feeling that rest right behind my ribs that feels that any moment it might ignite or completely wither. I can’t feed it too much and it can’t starve. I’m sure that several of you know this feeling. It’s not quick panic, it’s not anxiety, it’s just an anxious unsettling. And when I don’t have something to focus on, all I feel is the pressure.
Part of the reason I thought of writing this post is to help me change focus. Spring is a perfect thing to focus on. But more than that, I think that slowing the pace of life is a huge lesson to all of us that live high energy lives.
I’m considering a list of things that I forgot how much I love, not just about spring, but about living and breathing in general. In reflecting, it’s helping ease the terrible monster I feel inside.
Sidewalk Chalk Art
I grew up with not much money but a lot of imagination. I never had sidewalk chalk when I was younger. What we had (my friends and sister) were pieces of drywall. Remember how cool that was? Drywall? That was one of our favorite parts of when someone built a new room or did some remodeling. When we found some old drywall, a world of magic appeared before us.
For the past few Easters, sidewalk chalk was something I loved giving my girls, because of the magical experiences I felt when I was younger.
Sidewalk chalk is a great way to express yourself to others and a beautiful way to enjoy the sunshine. It reconnects the seeds of youth. When I get chalk in my hand, I’m all the sudden practicing my bubble lettering that I scrawled on my notebooks in junior high. I draw hopscotch courts and person outlines, and every color of daisy I can. It’s an expression of self that is juvenile and young. Rainbows and clouds graffiti on the ground that washes away with the rain. It’s a wonderful feeling that comes with drawing with chalk on the ground.
I’m the worst domestic. I’m not very creative when it comes to cooking. I have very little imagination for it. But there is something very enchanting about baking, something that feeds me again from my youth.
My mother would make bread when I was younger. My young, formative years were spent in an unusual situation. I’ve posted about this before, but I lived for seven years of my life in a converted dairy barn in a small country town.
Living in a large family with very little money, my mother did extraordinary things to make it feel like we were always wealthy. She masked our situation when I was young, and not until I was an adult could I truly get perspective of our reality.
The simple act of baking bread reminds me of growing up an being small. Snitching dough with the pinch of my fingers. The warm smell spreading throughout our home. I loved her bread. It wasn’t a particular difficult recipe, but it was the act of making it that made it so special. And as I said, I’m not very domestic and have not carried on this tradition, but in the time of reflection, this was something I wanted to do for my family – a service I felt was important to imbue the difficult memories with something courageous their mother tried, much like my mother.
Connect Four and Sorry!
Bet you didn’t know that I am UNBEATABLE at Connect Four. My sister had the game when we were in the tween years, and often times we would just play and play. My sister is two years younger and has always been competitive with me, though she never admitted it. In playing, we both learned several strategies that have sharpened my skills and helped me predict my competitors next move.
I was given a wooden Connect Four game for my birthday last year and decided in this downtime to play my girls until I lost. We have postponed our matches because of online school, but it is still going strong.
And if you’ve never played Sorry! with me, it is QUITE the experience. I call myself sore winner. I’m funny, sarcastic, a bad sport, a loud mouth, never a cheerleader, always the one to kill the one that wronged me… and HARDLY EVER WIN. But when I do, I make it the most memorable experience of Sorry! EVER!
Another time in my childhood, I played my sister Sorry! until I won…. FOURTEEN GAMES LATER I finally won. FOURTEEN GAMES?? What is wrong with me? I love this game, that’s what’s wrong. I will drop anything to play.
Sorry! is my favorite game, and now is a perfect time to play me. My sister has an auto-immune disease and we are not allowed to visit, so the best way to play games with her is online. I love that we found Sorry! and Boggle and Punch Drunk Scrabble (the best way to play Scrabble is at 1 in the morning). If you can’t physically play with someone, this might be the best way to enjoy each other during this time.
Blanket Forts and Trampolines
When all things started to fall apart on Friday, I knew very quickly that I needed to think outside the box when trying to keep kids and myself entertained. The first thing I wanted to do was set up a TV in our front room with retrogaming consoles and then build a blanket fort. My attempt at the blanket fort was dismal when you have a curious cat. It lasted long enough to appreciate the mysterious world that’s under a blanket fort, and also that I don’t need to live in one.
Yesterday, after a very difficult day, (oh… did I mention with all the social distancing and hoarding, we had a 5.7 earthquake?) I made a quick decision to pick up an trampoline a person was selling super cheap in my neighborhood.
Me and my girls set it up, springs and all, and don’t even care that the tramp itself is upside-down. I’ve always wanted a tramp ever since I was a teen. We never had one, but my neighbor had one, and we invented lots of games, one we called Ghost where we had to act out something and be judged, and I was rather good at that game.
My husband has been against a tramp for years. He did grow up with one and just didn’t think we needed it. We have mature trees and spent years climbing and swinging. But now the girls are teens and their imagination in suffering. I have to get them outside.
School being canceled has made my kids very depressed, bored, grumpy, constantly hungry, and the earthquake was icing on the cake. I went and grabbed the trampoline on my way home from work without even asking permission, and the girls are thrilled.
Trampolines let you fly. The weightless bounce is exhilarating. You feel the sky and are transported to a weightless world. And you know when you’ve returned to earth, because you feel gravity for the first time.
These two things center my spirit. They are just little and brought back threads of youth. Showing my silly side to my kids is important to me. My relationship with them is important. My trust and openness with them starts with their relationship with me. I’ve never been super strict, I’ve always been silly and willing to play. Be open to show that silly side.
As much as I love reading, I can’t concentrate on it. My brain is skimming over details and missing so much. I’m trying to finish The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow and I don’t think it’s fair to the book. I love the way it’s written, but have lost my appetite for it right now. I still want to read, so I’ve decided to reread books that I know and want to experience again. Books that I’ve been far removed from for years, foundations to my writing, and something to help distract my mind. I’ve selected three books:
- The Princess Bride – William Goldman
- Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
- The Sword of Shannara – Terry Brooks
These three books I own but forgot about.
The Princess Bride I read in high school, mostly because I loved the movie, which is a good adaptation, however, the book is so well put together that it changed my idea of how literature can be presented to an audience.
Anne of Green Gables I also started reading because of the movie, or series, but it was the first book I finished on my own – that was in ninth grade. It’s so quirky and funny, and about a girl that I identified with.
My mother read Sword of Shannara to me when I was super young. I have very fond memories of laying on her bed with my head hanging off the edge, looking at the world upside-down, worrying about Shea when he fell off the cliff away from his brother. You all remember that part? It was the worst! I read it on my own my first winter in Logan after I was married and felt very isolated and friendless. That book brought great comfort and companionship. Sword is fundamental in my fantasy writing and it will feel really good to remember the beginning of the journey.
We’re All In This Together
I feel almost like a specter in my own life, floating in my body and walking in my clothing. I see a purple sky and wonder how it turned purple. We all have this strange feeling in our chests. Everyone is feeling it. We are not alone. This is one of those life-defining moments where trajectories are formed and changed. It’s important to bring out the memories is a good way, try to enrich the lives around you, because they are forming serious memories right now. Each day is different and ever-changing, but don’t be afraid and don’t fight your anxiety. It’s okay to feel things, it’s important to know emotion and understand it.
Take this time to find in yourself strength you don’t know is there, but it is. The sun is still there and it will still be there tomorrow. Find the memories that have defined your life and share them. You are important to those who love you, so bring out the memories you want to craft for them. It’s a beautiful, but unclear time. But for once, the whole world is experiencing this feeling together. We aren’t alone. We are all in this together. Hang in there!