Just Get in the Car and Drive


I need the sea.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

I haven’t been to the beach at all this summer.  With gas prices, it is just not in the books for us to spend that much money to go to the beach for a day.  I wish I lived closer.

The open spaces of the West provide that clarity and calm.  I need wide open spaces.

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I am  not much a water person, as far as swimming goes.  I am not a strong swimmer.  As long as I have a floatie, I am fine to bob in the water, but much of the time I spend close to shore and frog swim, otherwise known as the breast stroke.

Safely swimming with my floatie

I took swim lessons as a child and remember diving into the frigid water early mornings.  I remember complaining how cold the water was and my mom came to swim classes with me.

I spoke to my mom recently and she was totally with it.  It is strange to see her in person, as she is confined to her wheelchair and bed. But on the phone, I imagine her animated and full of physical movement.

My parents were very spontaneous when I was a child.  We often ended up hoping into our RV and taking off on weekends without a moment’s notice.  As far as I can remember my parents didn’t worry about logistics; they just went.  They both were free spirits.  But then again, my mom probably had everything already figured out in her head how to pull off last-minute trips.

Now that I am a mother, I stress about just getting showered, dressed and out the door. Sippy cups have to be packed, diapers and wipes, and of course snacks.  Nobody wants to be in the car with a hungry toddler.

I am thinking about a last minute trip to the beach. What would that involve?  Would it be better to just get in the car and drive, as my parents often did? We’d pick up supplies when necessary. For my parents, coffee and cigarettes were (my parents were both chain smokers) the only necessary items.  My parents took us to parks every weekend, where we could play and they could talk.

This short little post is all I can crank out today.  I am having writer’s block a little.  I am just so busy, as is the rest of America.  But I feel that I am getting ready to harvest the summer crop of thoughts and ideas that have been growing.

I recently wrote a grant through my local arts council to help fund a research trip to Chicago for a book project I am working on.  I grew up in Chicago (ages 0 – 15) so Chicago is my home too.  We moved to Cheyenne when I was 15.

The book project I am working on is called The Community Kitchen: Women in the Kitchen and History in the Making.  I am very excited about this project.  You can click on the link to learn about its history and my connection to it.  My graduate school adviser wrote me a letter of reference for the grant.  I was floored by what he said about my writing ability and the potential of this project.  I have a hard time believing in myself sometimes.  OK — I will freaking admit it, I am insecure.  But I read this quote (courtesy of the Book Doctors) and it struck a chord with me and also made me feel better.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”
― Bertrand Russell

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”

 Robert Hughes 

I must be a great artist because I doubt myself way too much.  The thing is, I know I am meant to be an author and to teach others to write. Actually, I think my true duty as a teacher is to inspire others to write and to inspire them to share their story.  I believe everyone has a story.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

memomuse in the White Mountains

Well, I better close up this post and get to my own writing.  You too!  If you are looking for inspirational quotes, check out this facebook  page, https://www.facebook.com/TheBookDoctors.  Trust me.

Anyway,  hope you have time to be spontaneous and go off on an adventure.  I think I will be spontaneous and write and not worry where I am going.  No maps, no GPS, no sippy cups, no snacks. Just do as my parents did and just get in the car with the essentials–in my case, gas in the tank. And just drive…

Or perhaps, I should learn from my son and go off the pavement and onto the unknown road…

My son creating his own path and going off the paved road.

memomuse on top of the world. This photo is from my honeymoon in Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Forest. Those are the Grand Teton Mountains and Lake Jenny behind me.

Remember–whatever road you are on–Journal Your Journey

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.
Journal Your Journey

And wherever you are–make some wishes.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.
Wishes can fuel an empty gas tank.

Mr. Roger’s “Garden of Your Mind”


Did you you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?  You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.  It’s good to be curious about many things.  You can think about things and make-believe, all you have to do is think and they’ll grow.

Imagine every person that you see is somewhat different from every other person in the world.  Some can do somethings, some can do others.  Did you ever think about the many things you learned to do?  Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind.  You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.  It’s good to be curios about many things. 

Mr. Rogers fostered creativity, imagination, tolerance, and acceptance.  He truly was magical.

His advice:  All you have to do is think about things and they’ll grow.  That’s true.  The mind grows when it is curious and open.

I love this video.  It makes me think about the make-believe world my sister and I invented when we were kids.  As kids growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s, we were brought up on Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street.  I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons, but I can’t tell you what cartoons I watched.  In regards to cereal, they were like fruit loops, no mental nutrition, but I remember vividly watching Mr. Rogers tie his shoes, check the mail, talk with neighbors, and look me directly in the eyes and tell me to be curious.

His calm demeanor was comforting and watching him check his closet for his sweater was always a treat.  I enjoyed the train and puppet shows, but what Mr. Rogers did for me, was teach me to grow things in the garden of my mind.  I have a rain forest of thoughts, ideas, and creativity.

I think the biggest problem with education is the multiple choice standardized tests that are sending children a direct message: there are only four possible answers.  I have always thought that choice e should be available — for explore the possibilities.  I get the whole standardized testing thing; I was a teacher for 15 years (teaching public school across the spectrum — special education with students with emotional, physical, and learning disabilities; teaching at a residential treatment center for ages 10 – 17 ; elementary age students; middle school Language Arts and two years substitute teaching).

The most beautiful thing  a teacher gets to experience is when a child lights up from their own curiosity and seeks the answers.  I believe it is in seeking the answer where we find the truth and it is never something that can be broken down to a, b, c, or d.

e for explore…

My son, Benjamin — exploring in the garden of his growing mind.

“The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”
Fred Rogers

The most important thing we can teach young growing minds is they be should curious.  I am not saying that teachers are not doing this, but the focus in on the test.  And that is a shame, because real learning happens outside a classroom, when a child wonders and is so curious about something — they ask, seek, find more information about it.  It grows.

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So, I choose e. for explore.  The children of the next generation are inheriting a great many problems that will need imagination, creativity, and innovation to solve these problems.  The one subject that builds critical thinking, imagination, and creativity is Art;  it is getting cut from many public education budgets.  Contact your representatives, local superintendent, and political leaders and write letters demanding it be kept.  Did you know the brain uses 80% of its capabilities when it is involved in the creative process (like creating art)?  Don’t ask Art be kept — demand it.

We want a future of children seeking choice e for explore.

A great book that looks at this is Daniel Pink’s, A Whole New Mind.  The subtitle of the book is Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.  Check it out.

I’ll end this post with some quotes from Mr. Roger’s book, You Are Special.

Often the creative urge, once we express it, brings real relief in whatever form it takes. We have an inner sense that we can make what is into what we feel could and should be.

Imagining something may be the first step in making it happen, but it takes real time and real efforts of real people to learn things, make things, turn thoughts into deeds or visions into inventions.

“Imagination and creativity is the caterpillar and innovation is the butterfly.” – memomuse

Visit the Fred Rogers Center to find out more about this remarkable man and how his message and innovation work is still being used to change the world.

How did Mr. Roger’s inspire you?

Monday Museletter May 7 (Rejection Sucks)


Rejection Sucks

Not only does rejection suck in seventh grade, but it sucks in my thirties,  I got rejected by an agent for a gift book (The Original Journal).  The bright side is I am sending out queries and my proposal for the book.  The bad news is I got a rejection email from an agent.  Simple and to the point: “Hi Megan. I’m afraid this doesn’t feel like a match for me, but thank you so much for the look, I appreciate it.”  The bright side — I worked really hard on the query letter and now I have a finished query letter to send to a whole bunch of other agents.  The bad news — I have to most likely go through rejection again.

If you are interested in learning more about the book, you can go to the website at The Original Journal or the Facebook page.

I have never been a fan of rejection. Who is, really?  Anyway, it’s part of the process and this is just part of the process — the sucky part of the process, but I am moving forward.

Perspective

I host brain tumor patient profiles on my blog on Thursdays.  I do not have a brain tumor, but my mother has two.  You can read more about this project here. Anyway, reading these stories has given me perspective that the things I complain about are ridiculous.  Life is a beautiful thing.  And I should be thankful for each second I have.  I have a beautiful family and really, that is all that matters.  I have my health and I take that for granted, which I am learning not to.  I know life is about balance, but the most important thing (for me) is family.  I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful son, who fills me with wonder and love (and frustration — he is a toddler after all).  I am trying to enjoy the little things more.  I was sitting on the front porch at my in-laws house, after our Sunday dinnerl last night, and Ben and I were eating ice cream.  Sitting side by side, it was one of those magic moments.  Then fifteen minutes later, he was having a meltdown because he couldn’t play “Car.”  Such is life.

Writing

It’s time to dig deep and write the memoir.  I am dragging my feet on this project.  But I have the stories and the layers, I just need to start.  The first 11 pages are done.

I have a really good writer friend, Debra Elramey, who writes at Pure and Simple, and if I ever preface our conversation with, “This is a really good story.”  She’ll say, “Write it down.  Don’t waste it.”  Then she’ll tell me, “You can tell me the story after you write it.”  She always encourages me to write what I know and see in my life.  Her encouragement is constant and simple.  I think I tend to complicate things to avoid doing them.  Example — writing my memoir.

Anyway, it’s time to buckle down.  I need to follow Anne Lamott’s advice too — take it Bird by Bird.

Anne signed my journal (The Original Journal project).  I was the last person to leave the bookstore.  I gave her my journal and told her the three principles of the project:

1. There is a Front Door, rated PG-13

2. There is a Back Door, Not Yet Rated

3. There are no rules.

I left the journal on the table, peering over at her, in admiration and a smidge of stalker writer love.  A single brown dread, lose from her pink and white headband, dangled near her shoulder as she wrote, she looked up and the turned to her right towards the book store owner, “Is that everyone?  I am bushed. ”  She smiled and gave me back the journal.  Her signature was simple and accurate:

Bird by Bird is good advice writer to writer – Anne Lamott signed this in my journal

My friend, Debra, who I mentioned above, called me at 4 pm and said Anne would be reading at 7 pm at Quail Ridge Books.  Debra could not make it, but wanted a local writer to represent our small town.  I was on it.  I was on the phone with my husband to watch our son, and out the door at 6 pm.  I stalked a little to get my books signed (Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, and Imperfect Birds).

I lingered here and I lingered there before the reading, to get closer to Anne. I inched forward, I side-wiggled through crowded rows of knees smooshed up against chairs.  But alas, I found my open river current, and jumped in.  The flow of the current opened up to a half-moon space where Anne stood.  I was four deep in line and I said to the woman in front of me, “I feel like I am stalking Anne.”  She replied, “We’re all stalking Anne.”  Another cheerful Anne Lamott fan, saw my camera and exclaimed, “Do you want me to take your picture with Anne?”  I was like, “Yes, please.!”  Then we giggled and chatted about our excitement.

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This is a photo of Anne and me at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, as well as, our happy Anne Lamott stalking crew.  The other photo, I think I freaked Anne out because I told her I was going to put my arm around her.

Beginners

This video is of Ira Glass speaking directly to you. Speaking directly to me.  Speaking to all artists and creatives!  Great inspiration.  I have also included the quote below from the first half of this video.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
― Ira Glass

This is a good way to end the Monday Museletter.  Enjoy your week.

Keep creating.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse