11 observations of the actual world

This week I take the last of my finals and officially finish my first year of midwifery school. I have learned one million new things, mostly about myself. For instance...

I don't handle stress as well as I would have guessed.

I'm not a stressor by nature, maybe even the opposite. But I've never been subjected to so many demands for such a prolonged period, and my whole body has been like, whoa. Kind of like when you're mowing the lawn and you suddenly hit a patch of really deep, thick grass and the blades slow way down and make that sound...you know? The one that says tooooo much... tooooooo fast... about...to...cut...the..engine..                                                           (can you guess what I've been doing all summer?)

I've been feeling so distracted. I started to notice it when I started to lose things. My phone, my keys, that paper I swore I left right on the counter that somehow made its way upstairs. Then Stella started in with the, mom watch this! mom, watch! mom, are you watching? mom, don't look away, ok?  And I came-to during one of these episodes and realized, MY FOUR YEAR OLD KID IS BEGGING ME TO KEEP MY EYES ON HER FOR 1 MINUTE. Why do I feel like I don't have time for this? Why do I feel like I need to clean something? Or email someone?  

With so much going on I have somehow lost the ability to pay attention. To live in the actual world. The one where we see things and feel things and are aware of what we are seeing and feeling. I was listening to this interview of Marie Howe on one of my drives to school and was struck by the homework she gives to her creative writing students: every day write down a few observations of the actual world. A tool to get back to your senses. To document things with no metaphor, no abstractions, no interpretations or judgement.

I decided to try it out this month.

 A white sun moving in a yellow sky.

A white sun moving in a yellow sky.

 Early light coming in through two partially-open barn windows.

Early light coming in through two partially-open barn windows.

 Clyde in stall 1, flicking his ears from the sides to the front and back again.

Clyde in stall 1, flicking his ears from the sides to the front and back again.

 A whirring tin fan blowing hot air.

A whirring tin fan blowing hot air.

 Fading hoof prints in the riding arena after a night of rain.

Fading hoof prints in the riding arena after a night of rain.

 Dew dripping off of a stringy, brown mane.

Dew dripping off of a stringy, brown mane.

 Maggie at 19 months, sitting in my grandmother's chair, in the tree house, in the rain.

Maggie at 19 months, sitting in my grandmother's chair, in the tree house, in the rain.

 Stella standing in the barn window calling out shapes she sees in the clouds. (including "the hot air balloon from the wizard of oz!")

Stella standing in the barn window calling out shapes she sees in the clouds. (including "the hot air balloon from the wizard of oz!")

 Fresh eggs. Stinky and warm. 

Fresh eggs. Stinky and warm. 

 My girls running with long, black shadows. Shrieking.

My girls running with long, black shadows. Shrieking.

 A lone tree in the neighbor's pasture surrounded by mounds of thick, carpeted grass.

A lone tree in the neighbor's pasture surrounded by mounds of thick, carpeted grass.

It's helping, you guys. You should try it. 

This entry is part of an "11 on 11" series I'm participating in with some photographers whose work inspires me: Sara Kaleho (MN)Sanna Lee (MN)Marie Sant (UT)Kelly Sweda (CA), and Brandi Tejeda (CO. We all post 11 photos on the 11th of each month, just for fun. 

We link to each other to create a blog circle. You can follow along by checking out Kelly's post.