Archive | Selfie (Issue #9)

Sunday Salon: Comfort Care

Sunday mornings come quietly here at our little house, especially in this frigid Midwestern winter. We start a fire, settle in with our coffee and a book or newspaper, munch on some toast and honey from our local bakery. As the morning progresses, we might brew another pot of coffee, put some music on the CD player. I might finish one book and pick up another; my husband might move into the den and catch the latest replays from Saturdays soccer matches.

Sundays haven’t always been this way. For many years, we were very active in our church music programs, and would hustle out of bed on Sundays just as we did on other weekdays, needing to be there prior to service time to rehearse. After worship, we often went out for brunch with friends, arriving home mid-afternoon. This was all quite lovely, of course, but it often made Sunday mornings feel frantic. So perhaps this was one reason we’ve fallen away from regular church attendance. With age has come a sense of needing to choose those activities that serve us best, that provide comfort and care, rather than the sense of one more obligation to fulfill.

Until the last few years, the idea of self-care was foreign to me. By nature and nurture I am a caring person, born with a deep sense of responsibility and need to be loved, but also trained in the Golden Rule. The top priority for most of my adult live has been caring for others – my husband, my child, my grandparents and parents, my dogs, my friends and jobs and volunteer work. While I never begrudged any of that, it kept me in a perpetual state of agitation and anxiety, trying to juggle everyone’s needs. There were many times when I felt out of sorts, or even physically sick, without really knowing why.

My Self became lost in the mix of caring for everyone and everything else.

As the years have passed, many of those obligations have disappeared quite naturally, with no intervention or intention on my part. My son grew up and moved away, all of our relatives have died, and last year we lost both of our precious dogs within five months of each other. I’ve retired from all my jobs and narrowed down my volunteer work to one or two activities. Life is simpler, and it’s easier to make those choices I mentioned before – the ones that provide comfort and care.

Of course comfort care for me is heavily weighted toward enjoying a creative life. It means books and music. It means enjoying lovely scented body creams and fresh home cooked food. It means a soft blanket to wrap around my shoulders on chilly mornings. It means looking for beautiful moments in the day – watching the sunrise from my favorite window, hearing a friend laugh, cuddling on the couch with my husband.

In actuality, most of my mornings look a lot like that idyllic Sunday morning I described in the first paragraph. Hot coffee in my favorite cup, an hour of two of reading a good book.

I came across this quotation and it spoke volumes to me: “You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy.  For now, take time for you. It’s time to replenish.”

It’s a relief to give myself this “permission” – to take care, to replenish the needs of my own body and soul for a change. It’s been a long time coming, but now it’s here.  And it’s really comforting.

How about you? What are some ways you provide your own comfort care?

About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her (newly-retired!) husband. She is the author of Life in General, and Life Goes On, collections of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Mockingbird by John Grey

Sure I know it’s a forged song
but that doesn’t stop me listening.

It’s a snatch of titmouse, a little ambulance,
some Sinatra through a window,
and the opening bars of Fur Elise.

That’s not a bird singing
from the chimney-top
but the world’s first sampler.

Like me,
it has no tune of its own,
must borrow, steal,
and hope the mishmash
is unrecognizable to its source.

Out of bed I get,
drink coffee as the commercials say,
kiss my wife on my cheek
as my father did my mother before me.
I shower for no reason
other than I always do.
I wear what my job demands.

Off I go into the world,
whistling something
I must have heard
somebody hear somewhere.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

All That is to Come by Christine Mason Miller

In three weeks time, I’ll be on the other side of the planet—traveling through India with three companions, my second visit to that part of the world. Just like the first time I went there, I don’t know what to expect and I’m excited for a new adventure. Even though we’re headed to many of the same places I visited before, four years have passed since that trip. During that time, I’ve written a book, moved across country and turned fifty. The world has changed and so have I, so I’m not heading to Delhi assuming I’ll love India the same way I did last time.

Who’s to say how well I’ll be able to handle the colorful chaos that is India this time around? Who’s to say I won’t love it more?

I traveled with my friend Barb on 2014 visit, and we went to Ranthambore National Park, a wildlife preserve in Rajasthan best known for its tiger population. As we both got situated with the guided jeep tour our first morning there, we were told not to get our hopes up with regard to seeing a tiger. None had been spotted for days, so expectations were tempered right away.

Over the next few hours, we were driven all over the park, observing sambar deer, monkeys and all kinds of birds. While we weren’t finding any tigers, it was fascinating to watch our guides try to track them. After pulling up near the edge of a dramatic vista and turning the engine off, they listened for the telltale signs of smaller animals’ sounds and movements that might signal the presence of a predator. Sure enough, there seemed to be a bit of commotion, and the guides immediately headed in a new direction. After checking in with another guide down the road, following tracks and taking a few more detours, it eventually came time to wrap up our tour with nary a tiger in sight.

On the route back to the entrance of the park, ours was the only jeep in sight that morning, and it was a small one compared to the twenty-person caravans we saw on our way in. All the other vehicles that had entered the park the same time we did at the beginning of the day were in search of tigers in other areas, so our small band of less than a dozen tourists had the road in front of us all to ourselves.

We’d passed a small body of water on our way into the park, and stopped on our return to see if we might spot a crocodile. While scanning the shoreline, something unexpected came into view, and once my brain caught up with my eyes, I realized what I was looking at: a full grown tiger, walking straight toward us, eyes locked, it seemed, on mine. My eyes went wide, my jaw dropped, and I immediately started crying. Even the guides were freaking out, exclaiming, “THIS is magic moment!” with a hand raised in the air as if in an exalted prayer. Looking at him with tearful eyes, I knew, body and soul, he was right. This was a magic moment.

I know people see wild animals all the time, all over the world. Whether on a jeep tour similar to ours, a safari in Africa or a fishing trip in Alaska, I’ve heard countless stories of encounters with creatures big and small in their native habitat. Seeing an animal in the wild isn’t terribly unique or even difficult. But for whatever reason, on that particular day, the rush of excitement upon seeing the tiger poured through me like a meteor shower—all stars and light and, yes, magic.

As the tiger walked toward us, our driver backed up and pulled up to a small hill just off the road. For a blissful ten minutes or so, we had front row seats to the tiger’s quiet meanderings. We watched him walk toward the water and sprawl out on the ground before offering us a big, gaping yawn, perhaps to let us know our presence in his home couldn’t possibly bore him more. We were guests in his domain, so we all sat quietly and watched him, the most audible sounds being the click-click-click of all the cameras. After taking a few photos myself, I set mine down, wanting to watch him with my own eyes for as long as possible rather than through a viewfinder. When I turned around to look at Barb, sitting behind me, I saw she had been crying too.

We cried quite a few times on that trip—at the sight of other animals, at the kindness of strangers, out of exhaustion and overwhelm. We laughed and sobbed and whooped and prayed, letting all the emotions flow through us day by day, moment by moment. In order to fully experience all the beauty and wonder India had to offer, we had to be open to all of its challenges too—the poverty, the crowds, the constant noise and movement. We came home filled in ways we hadn’t expected, having been pushed far out of our comfort zones and given gifts we didn’t see coming, like the tiger that emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, right in front of our jeep on that cold, misty morning in Ranthambore.

I am returning to India in a few weeks with Barb again, along with two other first-time visitors. While we aren’t visiting Ranthambore this time, there are, no doubt, many magic moments ahead of us. I don’t know what they will look or feel like and am not going to try to predict where they’ll happen, but I know they’re there—waiting for us all like unopened, beautifully wrapped presents. As I prepare for the journey ahead, I’m already saying thank you for everything that is to come.

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

Christine Mason Miller is an author and artist who has been inspiring others to create a meaningful life since 1995.

Follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

Welcome to Issue #9: Selfie

Is our culture’s obsession with The Selfie causing a generation of narcissists? Or is it simply the modern-day sign that we humans have always desired looking ourselves in the eye?

If you look at photographs from beginning of photography, you’ll see taking photos of oneself has often been a subject of choice. And what about the self-portraits of artists through the ages? What about the writers who publish their journals ala May Sarton? Is The Memoir a Selfie? Why are we called to explore our own story in a variety of ways and mediums?

How does self-portraiture open our eyes to our beauty and our flaws? Is all the “navel-gazing” of self-help and self-discovery and good old therapy pure silliness or a truly valuable way to grow as a human? How does it heal us?

How does exploring who we are at heart open us to creating from a space of realness and vulnerability? How does the brave task of self-refection and self-evaluation allow us to grow as creative beings as well as human beings? Does diving into self-exploration make us better makers, partners, parents, and lovers?

Is self-care selfish? Is self-care critical to being healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally? How does caring for ourselves – or letting self-care fall to the wayside – impact us as makers?

What happens when we completely re-invent ourselves? What is the path to destroy old versions of ourselves and emerge from the fire like a Phoenix? What does that do for us as artists, writers, and makers?

Is the desire to understand who we are and how we tick at the heart of everything we create?

“I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity—to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.”
― Edith Wharton

Welcome to the first issue of 2018 – Issue #9: Selfie.

When we were choosing themes for Modern Creative Life, I thought that choosing “Selfie” was just the right subject to dive into as we enter 2018 and kick off our third year. In what ways can all sides of the “self-ie” allows us to connect with our art, meet our deepest needs for creation, and honor our love of beauty?

What does it mean to examine one’s self? Can self-portraits – and all versions of that such as memoir, personal essays, and such – heal us and help us grow as creatives? How do we make the space for blank canvases and blank pages if we ignore our need to create? Can we expect to fill those pages and canvases with our creations if we dive deeper into who we are?

Part of living a creative life is the understanding that we must refill our own wells in some way on a regular basis, otherwise, we find ourselves resentful of our own lives. Without the time or space to pursue our creative ways, we will burn out. Our souls demand that we uphold the responsibility of using our gifts. So how does looking at ourselves help us or hurt us?

This what we are exploring in this issue.

In this issue, you’ll get a peek into the daily lives of other creative folk in our Studio Tours and Typical Tuesday series, and meet people walking fascinating creative pathways in Conversations Over Coffee. With photos and fiction, poetry and essays, as well as all kind of enlightenment, help each of us find a deeper understanding into all the ways in which you create.

As always our mission at Modern Creative Life is to honor the pursuit and practice of joyful creativity. We believe that the creative arts enrich our everyday living, enhance our environment, create lasting connections, and sustain our souls. Please join us as we look to other creatives for ways in which they nurture and tend their own creative life so that they regularly find their process – and lives – feeling nourished instead of parched.

As we share the stories of other makers, use their experiences to illuminate your path into your own Modern Creative Life.

What stories might you have to share with the world? Share your self-e tales with us! Don’t be afraid for a deep dive into all sides of self as a way to not just share your story, but serve as an example or others to learn from and get a sense of permission to take time to restore their own hearts and minds.  We are open to single contributions as well as new regular contributors. Email us at moderncreativelife@gmail.com.

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