Vanity Muse

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This is my vanity.  It sits in a room that is empty.  This room was the original “courting room.”  Our house was built in 1880 and is a national historic home on the national registry. It has bay windows and a fireplace.  I imagine all the people who fell in love in this room, holding hands on Victorian couches.  I imagine people that were bored by mismatched socks of the heart.  Mostly, I imagine yesterday and the years that followed, taking us here in this present moment.

For now, it is a big sunlit room that I use as a reminder how full a room can be when it is empty.  Eventually, I would like to make this my writing room, but I don’t want to clutter it with books or desks.  It serves me better as an empty room I can retreat to when life’s clutter overwhlems me.  I set up the typewriters to use in a photo shoot for my author bio photo.  I still need to order those photos.  I love the yellow color and the sheer white curtains.  The room sits on the West side and the light is most dramatic in late afternoon.

“Foggy Woods” © Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved

“The theoretician believes in logic and believes that he despises dreams, intuition, and poetry.  He does not recognize that these three fairies have only disguised themselves in order to dazzle him…. He does not know that he owes his greatest discoveries to them.”  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944, translated from French by Norah Purcell

The photo of the woods is from the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.  It was taken in the summer of 2007.  I was happy, but I was also sad as I thought I would never have a child of my own.  I had recently been diagnosed with a uterus septum and had surgery to correct it.  Now, I can see this was just one road that led me to my son. I do love this photo artistically

“Eagle Eye” © Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved

“When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.” ~ Lewis Carroll

The photo of the eagle is from our 2007 trip to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.  This eagle made me very sad.  He seemed sad too, but he was injured and the park was trying to rehabilitate him.

“Blue Ridge Sunset” © Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and science.  He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”  ~Albert Einstein

Sunset in the mountains of North Carolina.  I am a mountain woman.  I feel so alive when surrounded by the beauty of nature, specifically mountains.  If you add a  mountain stream, lake or river — well, I could gaze all day.

“What do you see?” © Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved

“To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”  ~ George Kneller

This photo is actually taken in Tennessee. We rented a boat and went boating on this lake.  I like this photo because of the cloud and angle.  I see a figure in the cloud.  What do you see?

“The Shore” © Megan Oteri
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“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores. ”  ~ William Shakespeare

“Wyoming Muse” © Megan Oteri
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Wyoming is my muse.  I carry her everywhere I go.  Forever West.

The two photo above, “The Shore” and “Wyoming Muse”
were taken at Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Forest.

“Home” © Megan Oteri
Feel free to share, but please keep watermark.

North Carolina is home now.  I am very happy here.  I recognize–most importantly–that home is in the mind–it the chambers and pockets of the heart.  The two are connected by our imagination, emotions, and ability to roam. We are all nomads at heart.

1. A member of a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land.
2. A person with no fixed residence who roams about; a wanderer.
 “Not all those who wander are lost.”   J. R. R. Tolkien

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?