Author Archives: Monna McDiarmid

My blogs: http://monnamcdiarmid.com/

Inspiration Instead

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{Unboxing a painting by Ruth Shively}

It’s the first week of February and, in Yokohama, it’s finally winter. The days are short and the news from America seems more reality tv than reality. It’s easy to become cynical but the truth is that the pay off isn’t good.

I’m choosing, instead, to be inspired by and grateful for:
*When We Were Young from Adele’s album 25
*Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye
*The kindness of Scottish taxi drivers {also Scottish shortbread}
*Ruth Shively’s paintings which you can see on Facebook and on her website
*High School students who ask for help for their friends
*This photograph taken by Jessie Voigts
*Snow days
*The way that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to Canadians when they speak
*Cashmere sweaters and scarves
*Lisa Hsia’s writing about her pregnancy
*The gorgeous love that a young friend has fallen into
*Scrivener ~ an amazing tool for writers
*Downton Abbey. {I’m know I’m late to this party… but wow!}
*The noticing poetry of Samantha Reynolds
*Ramen
*Cynthia Erivo’s performance in The Colour Purple on Broadway

What’s been saving you lately?
 

Noticing Poetry with Naomi Shihab Nye

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Poet and joyful person Naomi Shihab Nye visited our school this week and asked students two questions that I can’t stop thinking about:
*Do you ever feel like you are living inside a poem?
*Do you have access to the poetry channel in your mind?

Yes. Yes I do.

 

Your life as a house

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*This post was first published in The Sunday Reader.
**Soundtrack for this post: Ólafur Arnalds’ Living Room Songs and Adele’s 25.

We humans believe many things about ourselves that are not true or useful.

Round women, in particular, and women who perceive themselves to be round, are in terrible danger of creating for ourselves a too-small life. We apologize for ourselves, we slouch to take up less space and we embark on fewer physical adventures for fear of what other people might think about how we look as we cycle/swim/hike. Where our heart yearns for colour, polka dots and pink tulle skirts, we choose black. There are many photographs of our children but we’re not in them. We may even begin to believe, to give into, the story about fat people being lazy, unsuccessful and stupid OR we may work like crazy to demonstrate the ways in which we are not those things… and become workaholics and perfectionists instead. We say yes when we should say no. For me, the most damaging of all is the idea that we are not in the same “league” as the wonderful man or woman we might love, the toxic notion that somehow we are not good enough for a multitude of lovely life-things.

This silliness is a construction. I will repeat. It is all made up.

If we round women examine our own life as a house, many of us will see ~ upon VERY close inspection ~ that our dwelling (not our physical body but the way we’ve been living) is not structurally sound. This house will not hold the life we want. And once we’ve seen that truth, we can’t not see it. We’ll know, in our very bones, that we need to make changes in our lives but the way we proceed can’t be prescribed; the way forward will depend on our personality, our support network and our unique perspective on life. Some of us may feel crazy with anger about the condition of our home. We may want to burn the damned thing to the ground and have a bulldozer remove all evidence that particular house ever existed. Those wise souls who have, for some time, been aware that their house is no longer adequate may opt for a gentler dismantling and a recycling of materials in the building of their new home. The windows, for example, might be used in the construction of an arboretum, a warm peaceful place to grow orchids, drink tea and read novels. Perhaps some women will build their new house up around the old one which will live on as a storage space or a museum. The speed and method of construction is ours to decide but the important + challenging + magical bit lies in the recognition and understanding of the ways in which our current life-house does not meet our needs. When we see our house as it really is, we can mourn what’s been lost and begin to create a glorious new dwelling.

Yes. That’s it exactly. Glorious.

I’m working on a new project about life design for round women (and women who think of themselves as round). I’m not yet sure if it’s a book or a course but I know that I’ve been waiting a long time to write this, to share these thoughts, to encourage my fellow round women to get out into the vast beautiful world and LIVE the life you were made for, the one you desire with all your heart. This is not a small thing… to leave your old house after years of living there. Especially if you believed the only way you’d have a right to ask for something better was if you were thin.

Finally, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this project. You are invited to share your story with me… and/or tell me what you’d like me to include in this book/course. Please email me or leave a comment below. Thanks ever so much!
 

Small boat, big sea

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I think a lot about this small boat which
I saw from a much bigger boat filled with
come-from-aways as we raced alongside
a 90,000 pound humpback she-whale.
I think of the boats, the whale, the divine
precariousness of everything, how
there’s no sweeter way to live than to live.
And I miss St. John’s Newfoundland and my
murmuration of lovely writing souls.
This rugged rock attached to nothing felt
like home and when I find a home-place I
create a mirror space inside my heart
so I can return by closing my eyes
and clicking my red ruby heels three times.
 

Noticing ~ Central Park

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We visit New York City at least once a year and sometimes twice which is a pretty big deal since we live in Japan. For us, it is the centre of Everything. We go to plays and musicals, we have delicious meals, we meet up with friends who go to school or work in the city and other international-educator-kindred-spirits who still have family there. Oh, and we shop! We also walk more in New York than we do anywhere else. In New York, twenty blocks feels like just up the street.
 
I took this photograph in Central Park on the 29th of December. That was the day we were scheduled to fly home but Winter finally arrived in Canada, specifically Toronto, so we pushed our flight back a day to miss the storm. We spent our “bonus day” eating French Onion soup, browsing in a book store and walking in Central Park.
 
I love that some things still feel like magic. After all these years.
 

What love does

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Love pays attention when you say you’re feeling nervous about 20 hours in the air and a tight layover.
Love does not diminish your concerns or try to cheer you up.
Love asks if you’d like him to come to the airport. A taxi and a bus ride to Haneda and then the return trip for him at ten o’clock at night. You say no. “It’s too much, love.” The truth is that you want love’s company in the back seat of that dark taxi.
Love lifts your suitcase, which already weighs 19 kilos, into the trunk.
Love reaches for your hand.
Love stands with you in line at the airport, holds your coat while you check in, reminds you to take out your residency card.
Love looks back after he’s left you at Security.
Love looks back and waves even though love doesn’t normally look back.
Love still surprises you.