beauty

What’s with the Glitter?

 

My co-worker asked me today, “Katie, what’s with the glitter on your face?”

Glitter?

Ha – I guess my eyeshadow smudged. I often forget when I’m wearing eye makeup and it smears all over my face as I vigorously rub my eyes.

“Mondays call for a little magic,” I said. Co-worker laughed.

All days call for a little magic. The magic found in tasty, hot apple crisp coming out of the oven and sharing Sunday dinner with family. Magic in the comfort a puppy gives as she rests her paw on your arm as she sleeps. Magic in the ability to drive home safely, pick out and pay for fresh food, drink fresh water that comes out of my own sink.

Magic in the glinting ache of waking up on Saturday and wishing so badly I could eat breakfast with my dad. I entertained the idea of going by myself, to that diner, and sitting at the food counter. Magic in watching the grumpy men turn bread to toast on a conveyor belt.

I couldn’t do it.

Not strong enough – too afraid I’d dissolve into tears spinning on that swiveling stool. I can’t go have breakfast with dad – without dad.

You know what I mean?

I’ve got this vision that someday, when I’m a famous writer, I’ll sit on a swivel stool, sipping coffee in diners across the country and write to him, recording our stories or capturing new versions of me in ink. The crabby waitress will ask if I’m expecting someone because you know, the stool next to me is empty – with perhaps a jean jacket saving his spot – and I’ll have two mugs of coffee. One for me, one for him.

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‘Nope’, I’ll say, ‘I’m just having breakfast with my dad.’

The waitress won’t get it.

Unless she’s lost someone too. Then maybe, just maybe, she’ll fill up the cup and smile. Glitter mixing in with her bright blue eye shadow, like I used to wear in junior high.

Someday.

I couldn’t do it. So I invited my mom to breakfast, and we went to the diner – stalking other eaters like vultures so they would give up their spots at the counters. We sat on wooden stools, sipped coffee in those heavy, ceramic diner mugs, and swallowed down the  glinting aches of memory and longing with an orange juice chaser.

As I drove home, missing him, Here Comes the Sun came on the radio. Our song. Hi Daddy – I say, whenever I hear that song on the radio.

Sunlight dancing on my windshield. Glitter.

The beautiful thing about art – sometimes others speak exactly what you are thinking in their own medium. This song below captures all my questions I have about grief  – talking to those gone – where do we put our love?

 

Feeling connected through another artists’ thoughts, songs, aches.

Magic.

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To-Do or Ta-Da

Do you ever schedule time on your calendar to watch your favorite t.v. show? As of 1:16 pm on Saturday (now people, that’s right now) I’m two weeks behind on This is Us, a week behind on Grey’s Anatomy, and APPARENTLY a full season behind on Stranger Things.

I want to sit down and catch up on t.v. but then I think, well that’s lazy isn’t it when you’ve got a to-do list a mile long.

But what if watching This is Us is on my to-do list? Then I’m not lazy. Then I’m productive. So ha.

I saw on LinkedIn the other day that Gretchen Rubin was encouraging us to write “Ta-Da Lists” rather than “To-Do Lists.” Here’s her podcast. Well this is a fun idea, isn’t it? Let’s write down all the things we have accomplished. In all honestly, listening to the full podcast is on my “To-Do List” because podcasts are 40 minutes long. I like the shift in language though. I’d love to scream Ta-Da! I’ve gotten all of these things done.

For now, here is my to-do list:

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I’m sure you all have similar things on your lists, because they are reflections of lives being lived.  I know mindfulness is positive, but our culture tells us it is not sexy to have a piece of lined paper that just says “Be.” Being – that’s all I’m doing. Being. I can stay in that space for approximately three minutes before the urge to do kicks back in.

All that to say my brain feels full and the pursuit of beauty feels a little squelched by my pretty lined notebook paper with pencil notes in cascading order.

Maybe there is beauty in making lists, in sitting at a computer, in getting caught up.

Maybe there is beauty in adding fun, rest, and indulgence to the list.

Maybe there is beauty in watching This is Us.

Damn. It’s the best show on t.v. right now.

Maybe there is beauty in laughing at my own neurotic tendencies to push and push to get things done.

I watched a webinar at work this week for a new product they are pushing called Getting Things Done. A bajillion dollar industry to help people stay focused and organized. In it, the presenter told me that most people have a capacity to remember 7 (+ or – 2) things they have to accomplish at any one time. Any more than that threshold, and our brains dump it to the back.

That’s why I write things down. I’m sure though, since my list is longer than seven items, that I’m probably forgetting something.

In other news, I’m beginning to think about a creative project with grief. I’d like to connect with delightful illustrators who would be willing to help me bring my little grief gremlin idea to life. If you know of someone who is taking on new work, I’d like to chat with you! Bonus points if the artist, too, has experienced significant loss.

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No, that sounds bad – I just think an artist will understand my spark a bit more if they’ve had grief gnaw at their heart too. Please send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com and I can explain my hope and vision for the project.

Now. Back to my list.

 

 

 

 

So I…

This week was a heavy one. I’ve been thinking  about grief, and loss, and recovery, as these things seem to be themes in my life right now. I feel I make progress, then wham, terror on the national news breaks and I can’t help but think hundreds of others have now been pushed under the deep waves of grief. I’m enjoying community in my small group when a young teacher shares that her student lost her mom to suicide this week. I get pushed back under. I can’t watch CNN anymore, and I’m kinda nervous about my access to birth control, let alone how we would afford to have a baby on our perpetual IN 5 YEARS plan. GAH! Things can seem bleak. So I write.

Every single time I click the blue Publish button on WordPress my stomach lurches. Will people judge this process I’ve chosen to be so public about? Will people care? Do I turn others off because I should just be done already?

I dwell in that black space for a minute or two, and then I say screw it. I’ve got things to say, and I think there are people to read and hear those thoughts on this imperfect, beautiful mess we live in called life.

So I keep going.

I came across this image yesterday from Brian Andreas. I didn’t know he had a story called Beautiful Things. Just like me.

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The small print brought me to tears, right there in the tiny art gallery. “This is my purpose”, a little heart voice whispered, “and it may never be my 9-5 job, or make me very much money, but it matters, this pursuit of beautiful things.”

This is how worlds change.

So I whisper into the internet. I share my voice. Although, I’m starting to yell a bit more too.

Here are a few of my recent guest posts that kind, caring, hopeful people have chosen to allow me to share.

Cara Meredith’s Author Tuesday Post

www.52beautifulthings.com

This Glorious Life The Photo I’m Thankful For

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These beautiful things matter more now than they did a week ago, a month, or even five years.

So I wait. And connect with other people who think things could possibly, maybe get better, are better if we look for the good.

I also watch these videos, and listen, and find healing things to laugh about. I make pumpkin bread from a box, and I hug my husband tight.

What do you do?

 

 

ps. I have a VERY exciting announcement that goes live on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

On Seeing People

I walked to lunch today. A welcomed break in the middle of the day in one of my favorite towns. The noon hour buzzing with people, cars, sunshine streaming. It was hot, sweat glistened, and I found myself watching my shadow as I walked. Pony tail bobbing, thinking to myself, “I feel happy today.”

I’m recognizing, more and more, the return of happiness. I welcome it home.

As I turned the corner, I heard a small tinkling of ukulele music.  I stopped staring at my shadow and instead looked up. A larger gentleman was sitting on a bench. Wearing ragged clothes, hikers backpack full of belongings next to him,  he plucked away at the tiny instrument. A sign sat at his feet that said, “Just traveling on a prayer.” Aren’t we all?

I’ve had many a day I felt that was all that was bringing me through til night. A prayer.

I walked past and went into the sandwich shop chain. I paid eight dollars for my subpar sandwich and tucked the change in my pocket. Exit the restaurant, place sunglasses on head. Pivot back towards work.

I took a few steps and I noticed the music had stopped. I glanced down the block and saw the gentleman had placed the instrument to his side. His head was in his hands, a grubby bandana crumpling over his face, covering his eyes.

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I bent down, and set a dollar into his large mug.

“Thanks for your music” I said and started to walk on by.

The gentleman picked up his head and smiled, breathing a sigh of relief.

“You are the first to donate all day. I was beginning to doubt myself. ”

“Nothing to doubt,” I said, “thanks for the gift. Your music is lovely.”

He kept talking and I wished him a good day.

The pony tail in my shadow had found a reason to bounce. I felt a new swing in my step, fueled by feelings of thanks for my gift of seeing.

I’ve been given the gift of seeing – of noticing things others prefer to ignore. It can be a pain and sometimes I want to squash what this spirit in me reveals, to dismiss the urge to lean in to those sitting and playing on street corners. Yet, my gift shows up again and again tugging my heart like an impatient child pulling on a parent’s arm. She tells me to whisper hello, and transfer feelings of hope in the form of eye contact and simple words.

Today I chose to recognize talent, made a connection, shared resources, even if small. My choice was met with acceptance and affirmation. It felt like he really needed my words.

We all want to be seen and appreciated for our talents. Plus, I love the ukulele.

I hope others spared a dollar or two for his beautiful talent.

Where can you improve in seeing others? How can you share your resources? What can you say thank you for?

How can you interact while we all travel on a prayer? Can it be beautiful if we choose to appreciate one another?

Well There You Have It!

I took a personality test today. In fifteen minutes I answered a series of questions and the tiny, little analyzer internet minions spit out pure truth.

When looking at Personal Motivators, “Aesthetic” was my highest score.

The test said:

  • Katie enjoys the beauty of her surroundings and would like others to share
    her passion.
  • She will enjoy the more traditional form of beauty as compared to the
    abstract.
  • She is in tune with her inner feelings and likes surroundings that compliment these feelings.
  • Katie seeks self-realization and fulfillment.
  • Katie needs a sense of harmony and balance in her surroundings and relationships.
  • Being recognized for creativity is the highest form of achievement for her.
  • Katie is interested in studying and appreciating the totality of a situation.
  • Creativity is only limited by external, not internal boundaries.

How do they do it? Completely GET you after a series of 12 questions! I am amazed and delighted that this analysis confirms what I sometimes deny to be true about myself.

These truths have trickled into my internet space and affirmed, yet again, that I believe in the pursuit of beauty. I believe in it ever so much!

Writing about feelings and surroundings and harmony and balance makes sense because these building blocks make up my core. I believe that creativity is worth achieving and equals accomplishment. The pursuit of beautiful things being more important to me than money or fast cars or fancy jewelry (although if this blog brings me money or fancy jewelry I wouldn’t say no.) I believe in being honest about feelings – fear, doubt, happiness, joy, confusion, grief. Bring them all on!

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Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

 

So I raise my arms in praise to the Universe for sending a confirming message that I’m on the right track. In writing, in the pursuit of beauty, in the privilege it is to just be myself.

Let’s keep at it eh?

On Doubts

Oh yes, I have them too. Big, fat, ugly, warty doubts that sit on my heart and squash my finger’s desire to type. Little wispy doubts that wear tutus and dance among my strands of hair, swinging along and whispering as they pass by my ears. “You shouldn’t write” they say. “Your stories, your truths – they are going to keep you from getting a job, or make your friends run the other direction. Give it up, no one tends to give a damn.”

I wonder, almost daily, if it is worth being vulnerable on the internet. I doubt the sharing of my tears, my heart, my hopes and my grief on this space. I filter my failures and minimize my successes.

And then, beautiful people like Anne Lamott give a Ted Talk and post on Facebook and I remember, once again, that I’ve got to. I’ve got to write.

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So today, my beautiful thing is Anne Lamott’s reminder that she shared. Take that world, I’m going to continue telling my story.  I don’t want to feel like hell.

I personally like #6 on her list. Take heed world, take heed.

The Beauty of Everyday Adventure – Guest Post by Joey Holmes

I love when other writers approach me with beautiful ideas to share. When Joey emailed from Europe and asked if she could write something on the adventures we create in our daily lives, I jumped at the chance to see what she had to say.

Read along and start adventuring. Bonus points if you guess which of her suggestions I am going to do in the next few weeks!

Author: Joey Holmes

Her Website: www.coolofthewild.com

“In every walk with nature, one receives much more than he seeks.” – John Muir


I often question why being outdoors is such an important thing to me. Maybe being born in December and being cooped up inside for the first 6 months of my life has something to do with it. Or perhaps it was that, when the weather permitted, my mum would be outside with me on every given opportunity. But whatever the reason, there is something about getting outside and embarking on adventures, no matter their size or ambition, that lights a spark in me.

Recently I have started to take note of the things I say when I’m outside adventuring, and the way I feel or react to my situation. And on reflection I’ve come to realize just how important it is for me to be surrounded by the beauty of nature: an ancient woodland, a colorful bug, a stunning view, the dying light at sunset. These small, seemingly insignificant things are what drive me to get outside as much as possible and to open my eyes to the beauty that is out there.

Last year I challenged myself to cycle 70 miles across Wales, sleep on the beach and cycle back again. I loved the physical and mental challenge and the feeling of independence and strength that it gave me. But I was on a schedule to get from A to B before the sun went down, and I found it really frustrating that I couldn’t take the time to stop and enjoy the waterfall, or to lie down for half an hour to listen to the silence and take in the sense of freedom that my adventure presented. So I promised myself that, moving forward, I would always try to allow for that time of reflection and appreciation of what amazing things nature offers me on my adventures.

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This got me thinking about how adventure is so different for everyone. Stepping out of ones comfort zone and embarking on something new, unusual and exciting can be all sorts of things, and doesn’t have to be grand or significantly life changing. Anything from cooking your dinner on a hill after work, to spending weeks at a time exploring far-flung corners of the earth. Regardless of the scale, seeking out adventure always uncovers beauty in one form or another: in your surroundings, in the actions of your fellow adventurers, or in the feeling, emotions and thoughts within you.

With modern life getting busier and more hectic every day, it’s easy not to make the effort to get out adventuring. And even easier to forget to appreciate all that beauty when adventures do happen. So for a little inspiration on how to get some adventure into everyday life, here are a few simple things to try each week:

Dining out

  • Cycle to work instead of your usual mode of transport
  • Cook your dinner on a campfire – even if it’s in the backyard!
  • Take a walk along a river at sunrise
  • Climb a tree in the park
  • Have a sunset picnic at a place with a stunning view
  • Take a night hike
  • Go for a swim before work at your nearest wild swimming spot
  • Take a run to your nearest park on your lunch break
  • Climb a hill and do some yoga at the top
  • Build a den and read your book in it – even if it’s inside
  • Take your camp stove to work and make your own coffee in the park at lunchtime
  • Hang your hammock in the park after work and enjoy listening to noise of the city

Planning and then embarking upon mini-adventures is a great first step to getting out more. But to truly reap the benefits of all that adventure has to offer, I believe that it’s essential to take the time to sit back and pause. To really breath in all the elements of the beauty that is uncovered through seeking out the unusual, daring and exciting.

So whatever adventure is to you, make sure you do it with open eyes, arms, ears, mind, heart and nostrils(!), to fully absorb all that beauty that’s yours for the taking.

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Joey Holmes

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, or hitting the trail in her running shoes .

You can connect with her here:

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If you are interested in contributing to 52 Beautiful things, send an email to 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com.