Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reflections through Picasso

How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror?  I mean REALLY looked - not just the casual look while washing your hands or brushing your teeth.  Maybe you noticed the crooked eyebrow or that random hair that isn't in the right place.  Maybe you noticed the huge zit popping up in the middle of your forehead.  And maybe, just maybe, you noticed that you were starting to show the signs of aging that all of us dread.

Last year on my birthday, I noticed that I had started to get age spots underneath my eyes.  For a 30th birthday, this was not a present I wanted.  This year, I noticed that I no longer had the features of my youth.  But, I wondered what else does a mirror reflect.  Can we really look into our own eyes and see our soul peering back at us?  Can we see all of the mistakes and regrets written in every little line or wrinkle?  Can we see the aura that constantly surrounds us or the reflection of light that each of us disburse?  What would we see if we were looking at ourselves from a different perspective?

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I tend to be very realistic (verging on pessimistic) and straight-forward.  I try to look at every situation from a variety of perspectives, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the option which has the greatest good for the most people (like a true Utilitarian).  Today, while surfing the Milliande website, I saw a link to an art site called Picasso Head at  This wonderful little application allows a person to create a portrait of themselves in the style of the most famous Cubist that ever lived, Mr. Pablo Picasso.  For the first time in my life, I stepped outside the normal portrait of myself.  And although this little sketch took less than 10 minutes to create, it compelled me to look inside myself to see what I reflect to other people.  My mother sees me as a ray of Sunshine that brightens her day and warmly loves her.  My sister sees me as an overstressed, underpaid nerd.  My grandfather sees me as an enlightened student and teacher.  My friends see me as an honest and devoted companion.  Never once have I stopped to think what I see myself as being.

This little attempt at art and entertainment has deepened into an exercise of self-exploration.  It doesn't matter how much makeup, lotion, hair dye, or toothpaste I use in the great scheme of things.  It doesn't even matter what other people see me as.  I need to see what image I would like to portray to myself.  A plethora of titles run through my head beginning with artist and ending with zealot.  Now, I only need to fill in the rest of the alphabet.  Until then, I will take the lesson that I have learned from Picasso and try to see myself in a new light each day.  I challenge you to play on the website yourself and step in front of your own mirror.  Are you the light or are you the reflection?  Only you can decide.

Let the Sunshine In by Melissa Travis

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Only the Lonely

Recently, I have found myself in quite a pickle.  I don't have a social life, and I can count the number of friends that I have on one hand.  I sit in my cave under the covers waiting, wanting, wishing for someone, anyone to call.  How did I get to this point?  Where did it all go wrong?

Usually, once a day or so, I get that coveted phone call.  My sole experience with living, breathing, emoting people.  Mind you, I really enjoy blogging and doing all of my art projects, but it doesn't get the job done anymore.  Lately I have noticed that my one communication with the outside world always involves doing something for someone else with all the trappings that come with friends and family.  Babysit my kid, shop for groceries, do the dishes, give me money, help my kid, run an errand, pick the kid up from school, shop for more groceries, etc. seem to be the only things that I hear.  I am tired of playing the doormat, but I don't have the testicles to actually do something about it.

My situation often reminds me of a song in the musical Chicago that sums up my situation perfectly.  It is called "Mr. Cellophane."  I often feel that I am made up of a transparent material that only comes out of the kitchen drawer when you can't find the lid to your favorite piece of Tupperware.  Nobody really wants to use cellophane; it is just convenient.  And when the piece of crumpled plastic no longer serves its purpose, it goes directly in the trash.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200. 

The saddest part about being virtually invisible is the constant ruminating that keep the brain running in circles, the constant hope that someone will call because they want to and not because they have to, and the constant heartache that comes when I realize that the situation is never going to change.  I am tired of playing the role of doormat in my own production of my life.  I am ready for change but my world may not be ready for it.  I think that the world will be greatly surprised when I gather my strength and shake off the cellophane garb that renders me virtually invisible.  All I can do is pray that I am seen for exactly what I am instead of what I can do for others.

Chicago -"Mr. Cellophane"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seizing the Day

Over the past eight years, much of my life has been spent in a 10'x12' box/ bedroom of some sort.  I don't know if this is because my body is physically sick or rather because my spirit has been wounded.  Sometimes, I felt like a bird whose wings had been clipped, with mind intact but body completely broken.  I was meant to soar on the wings of eagles, not to be afraid to drive my car, face my friends, or go to the park alone.  However, someone or something decided that I was not able to live my life as a regular human being, partaking in all the little details that make life worth living.  In retrospect, I think that it was I who made that decision.

Now that I have two little ones in my life, I realized how unhealthy I had truly become, not just in body but in spirit as well.  I had to get outside.  I had to breathe fresh air.  I had to socialize.  And perhaps most of all, I had to seize the day.  "Carpe Diem" is a Latin phrase that has been thrown around in so many circumstances over time that it has almost become trite.  But that is exactly what I needed to do.  I needed to take as much care of my spirit, emotion, and mental well-being as I had my physical well-being.  I, indeed, needed a rebirth or renaissance of sorts.  The major question was where to start.

Just like with anything lost, the best place to find ones'  self is where you left it last.  Where was I last happy?  When was I last happy?  When was the last time I had actually lived life?  My mind immediately took me to the year I taught Latin.  I knew that teaching would make a difference in my life and hopefully in the lives that I touched.  I laughed, cried, played, danced, and lived as much life as my failing body would let me.  That is where I needed to start life again.  So, after weighing the pros and cons of my situation, the pros certainly outweighed the cons and I applied for a teaching position at a local middle school.  As of now, I don't know if I have the job, but I have realized that that doesn't matter much at all.  I have taken the first major step in seizing the day, or rather life by the horns.  If I get the job, then I will be elated.  If not, then I will be in no worse shape than when I started.  However, I have recognized the importance of living life to the fullest.   I seriously doubt that my life will ever be ordinary, so as I see it now, my only other option is extraordinary.

Dead Poet's Society - "Carpe Diem" scene