the calm serene

Late spring, before the summer vacationers, when the sun warms the sand and skin just enough to barefoot walk the beach at near sunset. I’d say it’s my favorite time of year, but if you’ve read any of my posts over the years, you know how fickle I am. Every season, when I’m in it, is my favorite on Lake Michigan.

The giant, blooming lilac bush between our cottage and the neighbor’s is humming with life, bumblebees loud as tiny drones busy collecting pollen, honey bees, too, and yesterday an early monarch. Oh how I love the sounds and the smells coming from this bush! I could watch this microcosm all day.

Right now there are wildfires in Canada, and so the sunrises and sunsets create an odd haze, orange creamsicle orb rising behind the cottage and fading into the haze well before it reaches the horizon over the lake. Even the sliver, waxing moon and Venus are a soft, hazy orange.

The beach was quiet last night as we walked until we heard—well before we saw—this low-flying flock heading north over the lake. We stopped to watch and listen, falling quiet to fully take in the language of the geese. Are they shouting directions at each other? Comments, like in a group of cyclists where leaders point out road scrabble, bumps, holes? Is it encouragement, I wonder?

And then it was quiet again.

I finished a roll of film after work yesterday, something I think I’ve only done twice in the past several years, using busyness and lack of inspiration as excuses. I brought cameras with me, too; I have a dozen or more rolls of film just humming with potential. The world is heavy and beautiful, but hasn’t it always been heavy and beautiful? Isn’t there a defiance in celebrating the beauty in the midst of the heaviness? I might try that on for a bit.

itching for change

Does anyone else feel like this right now? I feel so itchy. I want a change of some sort. I’m at the start of a new term, and classwork isn’t heavy yet. It’s spring—a weird in-between that currently is bringing greenery but not enough sun and warmth. It’s raining and grey, and I want to be outside. Work is busy, of course, but not hectic. Is it weird that I kind of like hectic? I love a long to-do list, even when I can’t tick everything off. Maybe especially when I can’t tick everything off.

I’m trying to be more mindful of money and stuff, what I do and don’t do with those things, how I respond to stressors by using those things. Wanting change makes me want to buy something to make it all feel better. “I need a new set of paints!” I tell myself, when the paints I have are sitting on my non-work desk, waiting for me to use them. “That handmade paper will make my painting so much better!” my brain shouts, when I’ve got a box of paper waiting to be used. “I need a new book!” when I’ve already got multiple books in progress. Oh, and I start perusing the internet for cameras that I don’t need (I’m barely using the ones I have). Art supplies. Online classes. A new hobby. Clothes. A haircut.

I don’t love that I look to outside sources to fill these holes, but I do, and I don’t think I’m alone. I think it stems from my youth, when money was so tight and those little extras were rare (but always celebrated and appreciated). I sometimes feel like I deserve them now, these little treats. But amassing more stuff while not using what I have? That’s not what I want. I used to marvel at people who said they felt bored. But, here I am, bored with my very existence and wanting change.

Last summer, in a small burst of creativity, I used a bunch of Cokin filters with a roll of color film, mostly taking photos on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Bold color filters and a super-speed filter (a chunky prism-looking thing that distorts half the frame, evoking movement). I love the muted colors in this image and the bright line created by the sun.

What I can do, I think, to appease this itch and make use of this weird energy:

  • Read the books I have
  • Make art with the supplies I have (I do not need more!)
  • Unsubscribe from emails to retailers that keep offering discounts on things I don’t need (I can always resubscribe later)
  • Use the cameras and film I have (and experiment more with the filters I have, because… fun)
  • Write a list every day and put the little, non-work things on it (make one postcard, read one poem or chapter, do this one self-care thing, etc.)
  • Declutter and offer things I’m not using to others who want or need them
  • Explore this feeling in writing (hello, ignored blog)
  • Cook more (and no, I don’t need any new pans or baking dishes or serving bowls thankyouverymuch)

These things sound fair, and doable, and smart if I do say so myself. And, since I drafted this post early yesterday, I even took a lunchtime paint break and made myself bookmarks for my class reading. I also used my favorite dutch oven, a pretty green Staub, to cook dinner—a one-pot cheesy lemon-ricotta pasta dish my daughter turned me on to.

So, do you feel like this right now, too? Are you exploring or ignoring that feeling? What are you doing to work with it?