Day 20

Day 20 – A picture of somewhere you’d love to travel.

C’mon, didn’t I just say I wanted to go to Machu Picchu? I guess I should have read ahead carefully, huh? I’ve already had a trip of a lifetime to Alaska with my family, anything else is just wishful thinking….

So. Somewhere I’d love to travel.I’d like to see the Galapagos Islands. There’s a cruise from Ecuador that has day excursions to the islands. It’s a little nerdy, but I’d totally love to go with a tour and get the whole immersion.

Red Square has always intrigued me.

I want to go diving at the Great Barrier Reef (oh yeah, Leonie!)

I’d also love to go on an African safari — to shoot film, not animals.

I wanna see the Great Wall of China.

Sitting on a beach in Tahiti sounds heavenly right now.

And I’ve wished I could totally disconnect for a month and walk the Camino de Santiago. (okay so maybe this one has an element of reality to it).

But those are just places and who wants to go on those kinds of adventures alone? Maybe I could put a sign up sheet here. Y’all just sign up for the trip you want to take with me 🙂

In the meantime, I think I can be quite content sitting on porches and spending time with friends. That’s much better than a postcard from an exotic place.

Day 18

Day 18 – A picture of your biggest insecurity.

Seriously, 30-Day Meme-thingy? Because I haven’t worn my heart on my sleeve enough for you this week?

Okay. Okay. There it is. The only thing that terrifies me more than those empty pages is filling them and hitting the “publish” button.

Be kind. And go give a blogger some encouragement. There’s a growing list of bloggers at Sean’s Catholic Roundup, or you could follow one of my links on the right. Share some love.

Day 17

Day 17 – A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

This is part of one of my bookshelves. I have two in the office I share with my husband, and these two rows are directly behind me and at eye level. On the one hand, it made for an easy picture because all I had to do was point and shoot, but on the other hand it was an exercise in selectivity. Did I really want to reveal what is on my bookshelf? Is there anything in there at the moment that might be a little scandalous? There is. I might point it out. I might let it slide…we’ll see how I’m feeling a few sentences from now.

The challenge in today’s picture is to find something that has had a huge impact on me recently. You can see it in the first shelf piled on top of some books. It’s a black book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and it has had a tremendous impact on me. In fact, those two shelves are indicative of the scope of that impact.

I’ve been struggling with several things related to my creativity and spiritual life for several years. I hit a desert of sorts, where everything seemed to be drying up.  I went through the motions of prayer and writing, but really, it was empty. Somehow those expressions which had once been so free were soulless.

It was beyond writer’s block because it affected my expression in my faith as well. In a nutshell, I lost my joy in those activities. Somewhere along the line I stopped smiling, too. It makes me sad just to think of that. If you take a peek to the left, you’ll see I read Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. Because I am a professor of literature, I can intellectualize anything. The problem is not that — it’s in believing.  Poke around and look at some of the other titles. To say I have an eclectic collection of books on those two shelves is a bit of an understatement.

Did you see the scandalous book? You wouldn’t have recognized it as scandalous. It’s Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth, written at a time of great anger and cynicism toward God. Thankfully, I was spared that attitude, but the abundance of religious titles here is probably an indication of my thirst for something…shoot…anything that would snap me out of my doldrums.

Cameron’s book did it. I should point out that it wasn’t only the book, but it served as a catalyst, the kick in the butt…the discipline to get me moving again in search of the joy. With that book I started journaling again. It’s accidental, but you can see the book resting on top of some very old journals, and on the shelf below a recently filled one. You can also see that I have not one, but three Bibles that I actually read and meditate upon.

There’s some other stuff on that shelf —  a novel I wrote a few years ago. Some light reading. A bunch of literature stuff for work. The Hobbit (the gold book on the right). Some essays about Cuba in Spanish.

What you can’t see is my smile, but I’m wearing it as I write. You can’t see my joy, but it’s on the pages of that leather journal.  You can’t see the WIP (work in progress that I started and hack away at a little bit at a time) but I’ll share it with you soon.

And you can’t see my restored faith.  Or maybe you can.

Day 15

Day 15 – A picture of something you want to do before you die.

I want to see Machu Picchu and climb to the top. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be carried up in a litter. Or not.

Day 14

Day 14 – A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.

Well, duh. Again. We’ve been friends for 33 years. Whoa. That’s a long time. I only have one friend that’s been around longer than that.

In 33 years, I bet we’ve seen hundreds of movies. Or if you know about John’s movie watching habits, we’ve seen the same movies hundreds of times, LOL.

I’ve had gallons and gallons of sips from his drinks, cuz, you know, they taste better and I really didn’t want a whole soda anyway.

We’ve driven thousands and thousands of miles on random road trips to nowhere, or somewhere, or anywhere.

We’ve raised three kids.

We’ve gone to work. Gone to church. Gone bananas. Gone fishing.

Owned two houses. Thirteen cars. Fifteen cell phones. Seven hundred and forty-two DVDs. And a worn out Scrabble board.

We’ve paid bills, ignored bills, run from bills, and known some Bills.

We’ve fought. Made up. Fought some more. Made up again. Laughed. Cried. Prayed. Complained. Dreamt. Whined. Celebrated. Mourned. And made love. A lot.

Yep. That about covers it.

Day 13

Day 13 – A picture of your favorite band or artist.

That’s a tough one! How can I pick a favorite artist? It’s like asking me to pick a favorite book. Oh, wait, that one’s coming up soon.

I noted once that if my life had a soundtrack, it would probably feature Elton John quite a bit. The first record I ever bought with some hard-earned baby-sitting money was an Elton John 45 — Crocodile Rock.

The first concert I ever attended was Elton John. When John and I got married and merged our LP collections, guess which albums were doubles? Yep, Elton John. It seems like he was constantly redefining himself and catching on with a new audience, but he never really faded off my radar. I loved the tour with Billy Joel and I think that went on for years, right? Then, I had kids and there he was working with The Lion King.

To say that he has been present in my life is not the same as favorite artist, though, and it’s bugging me a little that I can’t commit. I went to iTunes to check out play counts, and Twila Paris wins hands down, but that’s kind of skewed…that has everything to do with a particular CD I got and how and when I happen to listen to music from my mac, so…not really accurate, either.

The PC laptop is kind of the same thing … Santana wins there. The CD in my car has Michael Buble, but that’s because I threw my CD case in a box in the garage when my car was wrecked and I haven’t retrieved it (I know, that was last summer).

My car radio is tuned to the country station, and George Strait, Martina McBride, and Rascal Flatts will always be played at full volume. But so will Jason Mraz. And my mp3 players tells a different tale, in Spanish. If I hit the “most played” setting I get Celia Cruz.

Eclectic, eh?

Weezer, then, of all bands, captures the theme. You weren’t expecting that, were you?  Follow the link to YouTube…enjoy it and see if you catch all the references, oh, and look for a little Rick Roll in there.

Day 12

Day 12 – A picture of something you love.

I know I went on and on about not being attached to things in Day 07, and I haven’t changed my mind. But I do love this rosary. In fact, I wrote about it at Sarah Reinhard’s blog in a guest post last year.

It currently keeps me company in my car, wrapped around the rearview mirror. I usually take it with me when I travel or if I find myself with the opportunity to take a quiet walk. Maybe I pray with it, maybe I don’t, but its weight in my pocket is a comforting reminder of greater things.

Here’s an excerpt from Sarah’s blog that explains how I got the rosary after an evening of knot-making:

Surprised at my admiration of her efforts after being silly the whole evening, Linda pulled out a beautiful crucifix that would have been too large for the standard rosaries we made, affixed it to the rosary,  and presented me with the lovely gift – not just of a sacramental, but of the embodiment of a friendship that gives freely with no strings attached. It is certainly modeled after a greater Love.

Read the rest here.