Day 26: The hot pink balloon theory. A.k.a random act of weirdness.

Who’s that woman running down the beach dressed all in black and carrying hot pink balloons? And…um, why?

(Insert awkward, pregnant pause here.)

Okay, it was me.

I went on a run the other day during a gloomy post-rain afternoon. The ocean churning just enough for a lone surfer waiting to pick his battle. The clouds layered in all kinds of moodiness before me. It was the best I’d felt all day…functioning on four hours of sleep.2015-03-27 13.41.09

So I’m plodding along in wet sand. Feet sinking and lifting with the same attitude as the testy sky. And there in the sea foam, a bouquet of hot pink balloons bobs in and out. I’m fixated on its screaming loud spots of color so rudely dotting my perfect stormy scene.

I run past it.2015-03-27 14.12.30

I look back. (Why are there a bunch of hot pink balloons floating to and from the shore?)

Two seconds of its story start to unfold in my head and I turn on my heels to go get them.2015-03-27 14.12.29

I started to think about their journey. And the ocean all littered with plastic and rubber underneath all the tonnage of water. I remembered the documentary I once watched showing all the trash that ends up in the mouths of sea birds or on specks of faraway islands that should be pristine in their remoteness but instead become dumps for orphan trash. I can’t leave them there. It’s not their fault they landed here without a purpose. Without a party. Without a little girl’s hand.

I pick up the bouquet of eight under-inflated balloons and finish my run searching the waves for the lone surfer I passed earlier and the tangle of lobster trap wire that marks where I should exit the beach to find my car.

2015-03-27 13.45.17I’m feeling like I did my good deed. I picked up random hot pink litter. I carried it like the complete antithesis of the Olympic torch. I don’t live here. I don’t know anyone. For all they know, I’m launching my balloon delivery business on a literal shoestring…  Because lonely surfer boys need a little cheering up.

I stop to think where to toss the balloons. Where to end their sad journey. Why I’m still clumsily carrying them half-inflated like this. I kneel down to pop each one with the edge of a broken clam shell. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop… They shrivel. And I wonder, why didn’t I do this the second I picked them up? Instead of prancing down the beach (because hot pink balloons conjure prancing) in the final stretch of my heroic (in a cartoon way) last mile.

2015-03-27 14.20.04 Back at the parking lot, the lone surfer is sitting in the flatbed of his truck. I jog into frame, pitiful wilted rubber bouquet in hand. Yep, there’s no way in hell this turns into a boy meets girl scene. I walk with a purpose to my car, toss in the limp hot pink latex and drive off into the fog. Mist–let’s say mist–it sounds more romantic.

It’s a random act of weirdness, I know. But I do have a point to the story. What if we all follow such a random flight? Land nowhere near what we think is the place of our purpose? Like lost or let-go balloons, what if we sail on a feisty or fickle wind only to deposit our destiny in the hands of a passerby?

I say to myself today, weeks into my me-time experiment, I am at the mercy of the moment. The one I cannot plan. The one I cannot hold. I’m in it and then it leaves me. And then the next one follows. And again, I move only as much as it lets me. I have my will and my power. Mighty enough to require two separate, independent words. But I’m learning, and I’m trusting, that I can’t sway which way the wind blows. All I can do is thrust myself into the atmosphere and hope to get caught up in a swell… of goodness or, at minimum, cartoon heroism.

Those balloons washed up like an accidental Photoshop error. Cut and pasted at the wrong place at the wrong time. Out of their element. But haven’t we all been there?

And in those instances, don’t we rely on the randomness of the world to nudge us back to a place where we belong? That’s the best we can hope for, right? The strangest encounters, the absurdity of life, working out its own kinks like a hot pink alert that beckons some Joe/Jane Schmoe to upright the wrong. Can’t we trust that when things go awry, our failings stick out just like bright sore thumbs alerting the universe to auto-correct the scenery? I think so. I think pink–and hot pink, at that–is a little hard to ignore.

Day 24: Same as I ever was.

The “un-plan” for my 30 days of me time was to carve out space to do the things I’ve neglected for too long. Turns out I filled my time with the familiar, only with more freedom. Isn’t that interesting? Finding your lost love and discovering it’s the same as it always was. Only you were different.

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 12.54.27 PMI’ve been writing professionally (in advertising and promotions) for umpteen years (maybe even 20 but at some point you have to stop counting.) Though I still get a charge out of the process, like everything, it can get rote.  So I took this break to teach myself that I could take what I loved, but grown weary of, and pivot. I wanted to see if a time-out could help me refresh and re-direct new energy into something more fulfilling. I’ve been thinking about ways to take my passion and skills to different outlets–and writing this silly blog has been a tiny part of my test.

The result? Same as it ever was. It’s a love-hate relationship. This, always-on-thought-to-paper process. But I’m lollygagging in the love section. What’s different is I’m not doing this on the clock, for a commercial brand or for my résumé. I like the craft. I like the performance without the spotlight. I like the kneading and rolling and shaping. Continue reading

Day 13: Zen and the Art of Running in the Zone

From what little I’ve read, there are all kinds of postures for meditation. You can be sitting, standing, walking and lying down. But what about running? I think there’s a case for meditation with a kick… Who’s with me on this?

2015-03-11 18.20.07-1I ran five miles yesterday, focused on the sound of my breath. Just like you should in meditation. Inhale. Exhale. With a little extra huff thanks (or no thanks) to the cold I underestimated. Running in this Farmcoast, as they call it, there is way too much beauty to ignore. So my eyes may’ve wandered a bit. But overall, my attention stayed close, one foot, one breath–following the other.

If noticing what’s only in the now and what you’re feeling in the moment is meditative, I’d say running fits that mold. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Sometimes in forced staccato. I could hear the wind and the whizz of the cars. And I was all too aware of the way my head felt without my running cap (having failed to judge what 36 degrees was like since the warmup not a day before.) I also tuned into that slight pain that tends to happen in my knees. Now that (ahem) age and years of wear and tear are taking their toll. I felt my right hamstring tighten like it does lately. And knew when to change my stride to shake it out. I was right there–in every step, as I heel-toed the asphalt, aligned in body, mind and spirit…

Kind of a lot of heft to put on a pair of sneakers, no?

Continue reading

Day 11: When all else fails, make a list.

I have done a lot of thinking and not a lot of doing since I’ve been here. But if you consider that most of life is made real in your mind, I guess that’s okay. So, what am I learning? What are my lessons to share? Here are a few observations, 11 to mark the day:

  1. Running to the sound of your footsteps and your breath can be more invigorating than any song on your iTunes.
  2. Watching the sun go down and the north start appear is a habit that’s possible to form in only 10 days.
  3. You do not have to travel far to escape. In fact, you don’t have to leave the house.
  4. You are who you are no matter where you are.
  5. Don’t be afraid of mussing a blank canvas. I am guilty. ‘Cause once I start, I’m committed to a vision. I admit, this is a personal problem. (Insert emoticon of choice here.)
  6. It is way too hard to not end the day with a nice glass of wine. Or two.
  7. Nature is very healing. I never tire of the Farmcoast views. I can see how Monet painted Giverny on end. The light changing in an open sky is a dance that never ends.
  8. There is never enough time. Period. I have no commute, no schedule, no social and professional commitments. I have yet to muss a canvas, get lost on a long run, read a chapter uninterrupted and write a focused blog post. (This is the 5th time I’ve restarted tonight because, yes, I’ve been thinking more than doing.)
  9. Listen to what you need. Happiness lies there.
  10. Notice all life’s details. Amazing things rise up when you’re paying full attention.
  11. Embrace what’s before you. It won’t be there long.2015-03-11 18.36.48