Category Archives: Writing

52 WEEKS PROJECT PART 6 // FRESH PINE

February 11, 2015

52 Weeks / Writing

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I started the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.

I put another log in the stove and latch the door. I’m crouched down in front of the hearth, watching. A spot on the glass is covered in black char from a recent flame. I make a mental note to clean the glass tomorrow, see the fire better. Orange embers glow below the fresh pine. Nothing.

I sit and stare for a while, feeling the warmth radiating from the stove. I know if the log doesn’t catch, the fire will die, the warm will grow cold. Is this how it happens in life?

Maybe the log is like my mother, who was once a painter. She made beautiful landscapes in oil, and some of them hang on my walls. Now her work collects dust in an upstairs closet; her paints sit crusty and dry in the attic.

Or maybe it just grows old and weary. An elderly woman I know ran marathons in her youth. Now she walks the neighborhood half-blind, poking everything with her cane.

I keep my focus on the burning embers, the orange breathing through the black. Staring won’t achieve anything, but the warmth sure is nice. Eventually I stand, unlatch the door once more and prod the log until it crosses the coals diagonally. I poke at the coals, replace the poker, close the door, latch the handle.

A few moments later, the log catches.

52 WEEKS PROJECT PART 5 // LOST DOG ON THE HIGHWAY

February 4, 2015

52 Weeks / Writing

VenturaCountyBoudoirPhotography-3

One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I started the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.

We were driving down the mountain in the dark when we spotted a dog wandering alongside the road. He was red-brown, some sort of boxer-mix, and he was jittery and scared. He peered at us through the windshield. We pulled over and got out of the car and called to him, me in my sweet animal-talk voice. We patted our legs, and whistled for him to come near. I crouched down to get on his level and show him I was friendly. He looked so lost and unsure. He hesitated for a moment, then promptly darted in the opposite direction–deep into a ravine in the mountainside.

Nate re-parked the car and pointed the headlights towards the mountain. The bright lights glowed into the foggy ravine. We walked as far as the light could reach, through mud and over rocks, sweetly calling to the dog. It was cold and late, and we worried for him. After a long while, we gave up. He was gone.

Fear of an uncertain future can stop us from doing great things. It can keep us clinging to the things that harm us. If you’ve ever known someone in an abusive relationship, you’ve probably seen this most clearly. But this fear manifests itself in other forms, too—in the way we cling to our possessions, the clutter in our homes, or a job we hate.

Sometimes a decision is really just a choice to keep clinging or to un-cling ourselves, to let go.

Letting go can mean different things. Sometimes it means taking deep breaths and releasing the thing that upsets you, allowing the small annoyance that crawls under your skin just to be in your life. You don’t have to fight with it, clinging to anger; you can let your desire for control just calmly fall away.

Other times letting go means releasing the hand of fear and jumping wildly off the bridge. This version of letting go comes with the trust, the knowledge, that you will land safely. You can choose joy, instead of fear, in the face of the unknown because you know you will be okay in the end.

A few days later we were driving down the mountain, this time in broad daylight. As we approached the ravine, we spotted the dog again, lingering on the opposite side of the road.

We pulled over.

52 WEEKS PROJECT PART 4 // THE DESERT

January 28, 2015

52 Weeks / Writing

ArizonaNewMexicoWeddingPhotography-1 One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I started the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.

Last week we filled our car with a few things—a bag of clothes, some food, a couple of pillows, toothbrushes. We loaded our pups into the back seat and drove straight to the Arizona desert. We had first dreamt of a desert road trip nearly a year ago now, but plans changed as they so often do, and we pushed the idea into the unforeseeable future. Last week we sat talking about our pushed-aside plans. I got out the calendar and poured over our upcoming year, carefully filled with our work and obligations. I searched for a blank space wide enough for a road trip, but couldn’t find one. And I realized that this month, right now, would be one of our last shots to hit the road and explore this year. Our decision to leave just a few days later churned my stomach, but if there’s one piece of advice that’s never lead me astray, it is this:

Do it now.

Our first night we stayed in Flagstaff, where a cold and sharp winter wind whipped at our skin as we explored downtown. We ate barbecue, ducked into a sweets shop, and sprinted to a nearby coffee shop to get out of the frigid evening air. Inside, we sipped on hot cocoa and admired pottery made by local artists—black and white and red bowls, miniature teacups.

The next morning we wended our way into New Mexico, where my jaw hung open as we drove past row after row of incredible mesas, red-rocked and flat. They rose out of the distance like proud statues presiding over the desert. The mesas were sun-faded, burnt red, with hints of pink and orange woven throughout the rock. That evening after checking into our hotel in Santa Fe, a barista at a local bookstore provided us with restaurant suggestions. We found delicious “Christmas-style” enchiladas (with spicy red & green chili sauce) at her favorite restaurant, and were served warm and fluffy, pillow-like sopapillas with local honey for dessert.

During our stay we perused shops filled with Native-American made goods—wool rugs in intricate patterns, woven blankets, jewelry. I bought a thin turquoise ring from a Native-American man with kind eyes and a soft face. I could have spent all day in the Georgia O’Keefe museum, admiring every brush stroke on each canvas, every desert landscape, every perfect petal. One evening we raced up the hill towards higher ground for the best view, and watched as the setting sun turned the mountains pink-purple-gray in one direction, and silhouetted them black against an orange sliver of sky in the other. I’ve never seen more gorgeous sunsets than the ones that grazed the desert mountains.

On the final and warmest day of our trip, we drove through miles of pine trees and finally parked alongside the craggy cliffs of the Grand Canyon, where it opened deep and wide below our feet.

Do it now has become a personal mantra of sorts. Have I ever leapt too soon, not fully prepared, by following this advice? Of course. But mostly I’ve learned that fear, so often, is merely a signpost that you are walking the right path. And sometimes that path will lead you to magnificent mesas in the desert, brilliant skies, wondrous canyons.