Author: Monna McDiarmid

My blogs: http://monnamcdiarmid.com/

The Sunday List. {23}

Blossoms3
{The end of the cherry blossom season at Naka-Meguro in Tokyo.}

There are these strange, surreal times when life throws you so many new ideas that you feel like you’re trapped in a batting cage, held hostage by a possessed pitching machine spewing baseballs at ever-increasing speeds. My automatic thinking machine is stuck on launch + fast.

There are worse things. {Creatively speaking.}

Here are some things I am learning + reading + doing ~ that I recommend with my whole heart:

  1. B-School with Marie Forleo.
    Over the last couple of years, I’ve thought a lot (and talked a little bit) about starting my own business and now I am actually learning how. I’m making some changes to my website and developing an online course called the Geography of Now that I will launch in the fall.

  2. Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: A 6 Week eCourse.
    There is lots of art-making involved but Brene breaks it down so it feels yummy and not one bit scary.

  3. Treasure Hunt: Collecting Colours with Andrea Scher.
    This is a fun creative practice for people wanting to take more photographs and push themselves with some great creative prompts.

  4. Sarah Selecky’s Little Bird Writing Contest here. Contest opens 1 May 2014.

  5. The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You ~ by Elaine Aron, Ph.D.
    Here is a quick quiz if you think this might be you.

What gorgeous-ness are you reading, doing, thinking or creating right now? I’d love to hear about it.

The Geography of Now {An Online Course}

bus stop

i
A calmly golden morning
at my bus stop.
A Tuesday.
A man reads his book
as if sitting in his own
living room.

This is the Japan I love best,
the Japan that few outside the country
talk or write about.

There are certain places in Japan
that get love
out of proportion.
Shibuya Crossing
where thousands traverse
each minute.
Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion
the house Zeus would have chosen
had he been Japanese.

Those are the rock stars.

Myself,
I’ve always been a fan of the poets.

I love the secret corners
of Japan
where proud home
and business owners
grow red geraniums.
I love to watch conveyor belts
at sushi bars,
ballet for raw fish,
as small pastel coloured plates
shuttle by
on repeat
and try and try to earn my love.
hello, hello, hello.
I love that even the line
in the grocery store
is a study in restraint
and courtesy.

The Japan of the gloriously mundane,
this is my Geography of Now.

As a woman living outside her country,
my acts of observing and recording
help me
occupy
this particular time and place.

Although I am an outsider in Japan,
gaijin,
I still belong here
in my own way,
in a manner that is entirely my own.

This is my Japan.

ii
I’m in a state of wondering.

I’ve been wondering
if others feel affected
and enchanted
by their Geography of Now?

And I’ve been wondering
if others
{YOU, actually}
might wish to explore
this form I use,
this pairing of photos
with words
{skinny prose, I call it}
to create a record
of your neighbourhood + home
for yourself,
family + friends
and those you don’t yet know.
A chronicle of who you are
and who you are becoming.

I’ve been wondering
if you would like to join me
in an online course
on the Geography of Now,
a small adventure
with low risk photography
accompanied by
skinny
prose.

It’s true… I have not yet
worked out all the details,
the widgets and squidgets and such,
but what I know for sure
is that the course will be fun
and affordable
and make us feel more connected
both to where and who we are.

So I’m releasing this idea
into the universe.
A red balloon.

Please leave me a comment,
a little love note,
if you might like to join me.

Thank you very much.
{Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.}

intersection of fresh and start

perspective

A few days ago
I changed up my routine
ever so sightly.
{I didn’t even mean to.}

Sometimes,
the very best things
happen that way.

I left our apartment earlier
than normal
(but not by much)
to buy a special coffee
for a friend
who’d had a very big week
at school.

Instead of heading straight for the sidewalk
beneath the highway overpass
{a spot I romantically call the canal}
I turned right and crossed the street.

Standing at that corner,
the intersection of fresh and start,
I looked back at the place where
I normally wait for the light
to turn green.

The new side of the street felt calm.
Gravity seemed slightly less efficient.
Even the sun shone differently.

An angel sat on my shoulder and said,
“This is gonna be an awesome day.”
{Angels are not overly concerned
with your ideas about proper grammar.}

Later that morning
I saw a group of four high school boys
in navy jackets and grey trousers
on their way to school.
Three of them
crashed and bashed
into each other.
The boy at the back walked more slowly.
With trousers six inches too short,
he displayed his white sports socks with pride.
As he passed me, he smiled.

I wondered if he {too}
had crossed the street
just to see the world
from the other side

and what his angel said.

When a place becomes home

japan family
A friend of ours noted
that this path
through America-yama Park
and up the hill
by the Foreigners Cemetery,
is the bit of Yokohama
I’ve photographed
most frequently.

She said she wished
she’d done the same
in Bangkok
where they’ve lived
for years.

This path,
my favourite part of Yokohama,
is my walk to school
and home.

I know the afternoon light
on this path
at 4:37
and 5:03
and 6:12.
I’m acquainted with
all its disparate goldens,
have memorized the lengths
of shadows cast
by trees
and tombstones.

I wear this path
on the inside.

In Autumn
we decided to stay
in Japan
another year
and then for more…
for as many as we can.

A declaration
of place-love
as fierce
as we’ve felt.

Unexpectedly
my relationship
with this path
began to shift.

For thirty months
this path
has been inhabited
by changing seasons
of fairy-people
and magic.
On my way home
I would think
“We’re so lucky.
We’re so lucky.”

Now I think,
“Home.”

Although my heart doesn’t leap
every day,
I am happy,
happy that we found
each other
at last.

Rue Cler Short Stories: 10

girlsFive years
of joy
in red skinny jeans,
a perfect navy cardigan
{not too warm + not too cold}
and blue all-stars
for her flying feet.

Brown bobbed hair
frames her fierce face.
Bangs are restrained
with a tiny barrette.

Chin out.

Under her right eye
a small cut
or birthmark
marks its territory.
Makes her look
ready for battle.

She runs into the street
beside the cafe
spins
and spins
again.
Arms in the air.

Not a ballerina,
this one,
much stormier.
Resolute.
Joan of Arc.

She looks at me.
Knows she has an audience
which she likes
but does not need.

The red skinny jean girl
is joined
on the street
by blonde pigtail girl
in a pink shirt
and layered skirt.
She swishes her skirt,
very small
flamenco dancer.

For a few moments,
they spin together
in the centre
of the street
which is
for them
exactly the same
as spinning
at the centre
of everything.