Tag Archives: Noticing

What is the Geography of Now?

What is GON

Registration opened today for the Geography of Now.

This six-week eCourse begins on Monday 11th of May. There are 25 spaces available in the class.

In the end-of-course survey, I ask participants to define what this course is. The responses to this question have made me giddy with joy and, more importantly, I believe these insights may help you if you are thinking about taking the course.

The Geography of Now is…

“An amazing 6-week online course where you get an email Monday to Friday with a short discussion and an assignment to photograph things, write about them, think about them and become more aware of your surroundings.” ~ Mary Wallace

“The yoga of creativity.” ~ Cheri Rauser

“A safe and thorough exploration in gradual, thoughtful, do-able exercises to stretch and explore different themes in writing about self, other, present moment, photographs, beauty, aspiration and play. A very well organised, fun journey of self exploration and online community support. Hats off to Monna for her beautiful design, and effervescent vigilance with our March 2015 group. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.” ~ Jenna McAsey

“The Geography of Now is a course in daily reflection and mindfulness. It helped me to look at my local area with new eyes – kinder and more adventurous.” ~ Anita Wadsworth

You can learn more about the course and register here.

I love this course; it’s the online class I’ve always wanted to take!

 

Geography of Now starts March 9th

GONStarts9March

To be at home
where you are,
to notice,
to photograph,
to write,
to feel grateful.
To fall back in love
with your life.

That’s the Geography of Now.

The course starts on Monday March 9th.

Learn more here.
 

Geography of Now: The Scholarship

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 AM

The Geography of Now begins on Monday January 19th and I thought it would be cool to offer a free scholarship for the course.

If you know someone who would benefit from this scholarship, email me at monnamcd@gmail. Please write me a paragraph explaining the reasons why your friend or family member would appreciate this creative opportunity. Please include their name and email address. Please note that you must nominate someone else and, in order for your nominee to really participate in the course, she/he needs to be a Facebook user.

Deadline
Nominations are due by midnight EST (Ottawa and New York City time) on Monday 12 January. I’ll announce the name of the scholarship winner on my site on Wednesday 14 January.

Here is the trailer and here are all the lovely details of the course.
 
 

The Fresh Prince of Motomachi

motomachi

This street
outside Motomachi Station
in Yokohama,
this is one of my favourite spots on earth.
{Sometimes I exaggerate
but this time I’m not.}

I did not take photos
of the moments that follow
{Sometimes I just want
to live inside a moment
free of iPhones and Instagram}
so you’ll have to imagine
that you were here
with me.

There’s this young guy
in a sleek black suit,
tapered trousers
and a super-cool hair cut.
J-pop style.

He’s riding a bike
and there’s a white plastic kid’s seat
on the back.

As he passes,
stylish black blur,
I wonder if
he feels less cool
now that the kid’s arrived
like he’s lost
his Fresh Prince mojo.

Then I imagine
his kid
who is probably adorable
{because Japanese kids
are the most gorgeous kids
in the world}
and I assume his kid is well-loved.

Then I’m thinking
about how happy
this guy must be
to be that kid’s father
and how he became an adult
the day that kid was born

and how
when we moved to Japan,
a few months after the triple disasters,
people were having pets,
fur babies,
not children
and pushing them in prams.

We wondered
where the children were.
A society without babies
is the stuff of science fiction.
The end of the world
as we know it.

And then a small white truck
scoots by,
turns right at the corner
and climbs the hill
carrying a cyprus tree
and a thousand white orchids.
A wedding
in the back
of a pick-up truck.

Joy
{if you’re watching}
is everywhere.

Launch: Geography of Now eCourse

Yokohama GON {Yamashita Park, Yokohama Japan}

Most of us find it pretty easy to admire the greenness of the grass elsewhere. We tell ourselves pretty little stories about how perfect our lives would be if only we lived in another house or neighbourhood or country… if we had different or better stuff. The truth is that we already have everything we need to have a good life.

Exactly where we are.

I’ve always been attracted to place. When I was in grad school, I travelled by bus to Toronto to visit a friend. My heart had been recently broken and my friend was a generous and comforting sort so I accepted his invitation to stay for a while.

So I’m on this Greyhound bus and it’s night-time and the streets of Toronto are much better lit than those of Kingston, where I was living at the time, and I can see a couple standing under a streetlight talking and smoking. Although I don’t smoke, I admire the grace with which the woman reaches over and lights the man’s cigarette with her lighter. With just one hand. The glowing red end of his cigarette moves like drunken fireflies. And I’m wearing headphones and listening to some seriously sad-ass, broken-hearted love songs and I feel so affected by the scenes I witness as we drive through Toronto that I pull out my journal and start writing a poem. I still have it.

And the thing is, I did not have a particularly strong attachment to Toronto. I’m from Ottawa and grew up hearing Toronto referred to as, “That EVIL city.” (Totally true story.)

But that night, on the bus, I let myself feel connected to the people of the city and to the city itself.

Since I began blogging in 2006, much of my writing has been an attempt to describe my connection with the places I have lived. Cali, Colombia. Monterrey, Mexico. Barcelona, Spain. Bangkok, Thailand. Yokohama, Japan.

Whether I am travelling or staying put, I like to make myself at home. I like to unpack, nest, and get well acquainted with my surroundings. In my daily life in Japan I don’t wander very far from home but the ten blocks that surround our apartment have become my my playground, my entire world. I am ridiculously in love with our little corner of Yokohama.

About six months after we moved to Japan, I started writing some of my blog posts in free verse which I came to call “skinny prose”. I like the way that the short lines and the musicality convey my feelings better than paragraphing it.

And I adopted Instagram as my way of photographically documenting the places I loved.

These little skinny prose pieces and the photos that accompany them help me work out my feelings about where I live. They help me understand this relationship to a country that is on the other side of the planet from where I grew up… and they help me feel securely attached to my new home.

The posts I write about place are contemplations. And little prayers of thanks.

I want that for other people.

And I know that it’s hard to imagine taking the time to slow down and notice what’s happening in your own neighbourhood. We are busy folks. We have long lists of things to do and people who depend on us.

I get that. {Me too.}

But take a walk with me. Look over there. Who has painted their mailbox purple… and why? One of your neighbours has a new pug that sits on the back of an emerald green velvet sofa and waves at you through the living room window. (At least it looks like it’s waving.) There’s a new restaurant opening in the space where you used to rent videos. You take a moment to admire the pink roses that grow for a few short weeks in the lot beside the grocery store and you wonder how they got there and who tends them.

This is your corner of the world. These are your people.

The Geography of Now is about this. It’s about waving back to that pug. It’s about eating at that new restaurant and telling your friends about how amazing their grilled cheese sandwich was. It’s about being curious while staying out of judgement.

The Geography of Now is about…

SEEING
Observe the place where you live through a new kind of lens. See with a more relaxed and compassionate perspective.

PHOTOGRAPHY
Document what you see through photographs taken with a simple point and shoot camera or with your phone. Click.

WRITING
Record some words. Express how a particular image made you feel… or the memory it awakens like some ancient sleeping giant in your mind.

NOTICING + GRATITUDE
Notice the details of your life (like really, really noticing… not just noticing that you are out of milk) and feel grateful for the places and people that surround you. Those that love you and help define you.

BEING BRAVE + VULNERABLE
It may have been a long time since you wrote something creative and you might feel frightened. You’ll need to summon your courage.

I’m inviting you to take this leap with me.

THE DETAILS:

Start date: Monday, 15 September

Duration: The course will run for six weeks, from Monday 15 September until Friday 24 October. Please note that messages will arrive on weekdays only.

Format: You will receive a message in your inbox every day. The daily message will include a reflection as well as a photography/noticing/writing/gratitude prompt.

How much time you will need a day: 20-30 minutes although you may choose to spend less time… or more. It’s completely up to you.

What you will need for the course:

  • Computer with internet (for accessing the course and downloading your photos)
  • Point and shoot camera or cell phone camera
  • Journal and pen (I like one small enough that I can carry it with me at all times)
  • Facebook account. Note: we will share some of our work with each other in a private Facebook group. This means that no one who is not enrolled in the course will be able to see your photos, your writing or your comments.

Topics:

  • Knowing yourself
  • Photography
  • Noticing
  • Writing Skinny Prose
  • Gratitude
  • A final project of your choosing

Cost: 50 Canadian Dollars

Payment: You will be using Pay Pal to purchase this course. Please not that you do not have to have a PayPal account as you can pay with a credit card.

Refund policy: This is a non-refundable investment in yourself, your photography and your writing.

A note about receiving my messages:
The Geography of Now course and my newsletters are sent by me via Mad Mimi. If you have never received an email from me before, the message may end up in your Spam folder. You can resolve this by making me (monnamcd at gmail dot com) a contact in your email or checking your spam folder. Thanks!

Registration is now open here.

The Noticers

i
We are observers
DP and I.

ii
I’m a noticer of emotions,
the clouds that pass over a person’s face
when remembering
a small slight,
some words left unsaid
or too many words
expressed in anger.

I notice shifts in relationships
the small sea changes
of our love-comings and goings

I notice when people are lying.

I love the way
the homes of our friends say,
“This is who we are
and what we love
and how we choose to live.”

I am a sucker for beauty
in all of its forms
and also for kindness.
{Are they not often the same thing?}

iii
We both love people-watching.

In a square in Barcelona
children play football
with their grandfathers
and the friends of your parents
become your family.

At school
we notice which kids are artistic
and which ones have big hearts
and which ones need to be encouraged
more often.

We notice
each other,
what the other
wants and needs
which is no small thing
after all these years.

iv
DP is a very special noticer.

He sees tail-fins of whales
in the Atlantic
where I see only waves.

He always spots
immediately
the item for which I’ve been searching
in a grocery store.

He detects patterns
where I see chaos.

He sees poetry and math
as partners.

He sees the structure of stories
as clearly as I see metaphor.

He notices people’s agendas
and he knows
in his bones
whom we should trust.

Now,
at the Red House
in Newfoundland,
he notices the small shifts
in the diamond sea,
the mackerel sky
and the fog that rolls in
like ghosts.

His photos are proof
of his noticing.
He sees life
unfolding
and captures
slight changes,
tumultuous beauty
instinctively,
the way my father tells a joke.

With his lenses
he captures the world
like stars caught
behind clouds on a clear night
in Newfoundland.

{These photos of Pouch Cove, Newfoundland were taken in July 2012 by DP who used a Canon 7D.}