Friday, December 03, 2010

dance with your dog

This post is really long but it's worth the read I think ;)

I was recently on a trip that included a visit to North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.  Before that, I was at sleep-away camp with my daughter as one of the chaperones.  Before that, I was in Cancun with my wonderful hubby for five days.  For some people, all of this coming and going might sound exciting.  For me, I feel glad to be home.  Please don't get me wrong -- I loved each trip for the things that made that trip special.  The week in Cancun was almost a second honeymoon for us and we had a fabulous time.  Camping with my daughter was so great since I could see and hear and enjoy all of the same things she was getting to do instead of just hearing about it later.  Our visit to NC and TN was about family and a 75th birthday, a farewell to the town where my husband grew up, and a reunion of sorts.  ALL of the cousins on my husband's side of the family got to hang out, we had two "Thanksgivings".  We had a lot of fun!  Now that we are home, I realize that an entire month has gone by and I haven't even picked up a paint brush (except for the little kit of watercolor pencils and sketchbook I took to Cancun).  I'm having to reacquaint myself with, well myself.  I see paintings I did last year and I remember the enthusiasm and raw energy I had for the process.  I would get lost in it, and then look at the clock and realize 3 hours had gone by in a blink.  Now, a month has gone by in a blink and I've had NO TIME TO PAINT.  Isn't that so weird? 

Now, I tend to be a pessimistic type of person.  I really have to force myself to see the positive in things.  The older I get, the easier it gets to do that.  So, I'm asking myself to look at all the experiences I've had recently and really focus on the fun, the smiles, the hugs, the visiting, the laughter, the sights, the smells, the food, the music, the uniqueness of each situation.  I get hung up sometimes on the preparation like packing for 4 (hubby packs himself), the kenneling of the dog, the care of the other pets, the stress of the airport, how the beds will be different or uncomfortable, how are the kids going to behave, do I have cold medicine with me, what if I get sick from the change of food and water, what if I lose my glasses, what if the plane blows you see how my mind works here?  It makes it VERY difficult to simply enjoy the moment that I'm in. 

So, I'm writing this post to share with you an "A Ha" moment I had during an outing in Tennessee.  I had been anxious and nervous and tired from travelling so much.  One of the nights my husband and his family had planned for us to go to a place called "The Carter Fold".  (visit the's interesting)  It's a famous little shack in the middle of nowhere Virginia (very close to the Tennessee border) that locals flock to on Saturday nights to listen to live blue grass music.  Johnny Cash played there many times -- remember his wife's name?  June Carter?  It's famous in it's own hillbilly way.  Anyway, it's not your average teenager's place of choice to hang out and not really a safe place for toddlers to be, considering the stadium seating (which replaced the old telephone poles covered with carpet squares that I sat on during my first visit years ago).  Since we had children with us ranging in age from 17 to 3, it was quite a gaggle to keep up with and it was clear they didn't really want to be there.  The toddlers actually did have a blast trying to dance and getting popcorn from the concession stand.  However, they were anxious after the first hour or so.  In the meantime, I danced with my husband (not well) and we "clogged" as is the tradition there.  So much so is this tradition that people who frequent the Carter Fold often wear special clogging shoes.  They are like tap shoes with metal on the bottom.  You could hear some folks climbing the stairs to get back to their seats with their "click clacking".  Stay with me here....I'm leading up to my a ha moment.  What amazed me and inspired me so much was just how enthusiastically some of these folks clogged.  One lady moved her legs and feet so fast, you'd think they somehow weren't attached -- especially since she was at least 70 years old!!  I was sitting there watching over the heads of our disappointed pre-teen and teen girls in sheer amazement of these elderly cloggers.  Some of them were VERY elderly but they were out there...cutting a rug with their wife or husband.  One lady was dancing with her dog -- I mean, in her arms like a person.  She didn't have a care in the world other than the music and her canine friend.  Again, I was amazed.  So many things were running through my head.  Like, these folks LOVE what they are doing and it's not weird or corny or out of the ordinary for them.  It's just part of them.  It's like a subculture -- Carter Fold groupies.  They were accepting of any person who wanted to try to dance or get closer to the stage and clap along to the band's music.  While I don't necessarily listen to this type of music, I really enjoyed myself tremendously.  I wasn't thinking about anything else...  Just enjoying the scenery, you know? 

So what is this A-Ha you might be asking?  Well, here's the best way for me to explain it....and relate it to my art and my life in general.  I saw people who were in their element, doing their thing without a care in the world.  The lady with the dog was hilariously unaffected by any looks she might have gotten (which mostly came from us I think).  I so admired her for being herself and doing her thing.  I had been feeling like I was withering as an artist (being away from my studio so much) and then I saw her dancing with that dog.  It's so weird but it made me realize that as artists, we must not always think that we have to be producing work to feel creative or energized.  We can gather bits of inspiration in our off times when other areas of our life need attention more than our artistic selves.  In fact, we must be gatherers of inspiration and experience so when we do have time to produce work, the work will have substance.  It's not to say everything in your life has to somehow relate to or find it's way back to your art.  Maybe you'll be inspired by something that will allow you more patience with your children or make you spend extra time with your pet or hug your mate a little longer or cook an amazing meal including dessert for a change.  Maybe you'll find a little something when you thought you wouldn't.  And if you are really struggling with inspiration or living in the moment, dance with your dog (or your cat, or your guinea pig or your python!).  It should get you moving in the right direction!  (Of course, Bluegrass music is optional!)


  1. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Megan, I feel so normal reading your blog. There is high expectations when a person travels. The packing, the meltdowns, the waiting, the unknown. Your clogging experience and feeling everyone there was connected! Thanks for your blog!

  2. Loved this post as I too am learning to live in the moment. I have learned so much this past year about myself and the world I live in. Now if I can just get a moment to sit down and blog about it!

  3. Great insight Megan, enjoyed very much. And needed the message as well.

  4. Thank you Megan for the post. I agree and it is never to late to learn.

  5. Good post Megan and I agree! We sometimes need to just experience life and not worry about what others think.

  6. What a great story and "a-ha" moment! It is a beautiful thing to be purely the moment (no matter what it is)...enjoying life & not being affected by other people. Thanks for sharing Megan!

  7. I'd dance with my cat if he wasn't so lazy ;o)
    Great post!

  8. Thank you for sharing your lightbulb, aha moment. It is wonderful that you continue to expose your children to events where their interest is not the foremost concern. My children are in their 20's and now remind us about how they can't believe they had such funky attitudes when we took them somewhere outside their interests. Now they look back and those are some of their fondest memories. Go figure! So, hang in there. Years later, you will laugh about this, but you will always have the visual of dancing with a dog. It may even crop up in your art at some point.

    One more comment...Last night I went to see Burlesque. It was not the movie I would have chosen, but I wanted the company of the others. When I left my seat, I instantly started to dance down the steps. Yep, it looked foolish to others, but my soul felt like my feet and hands needed to move. I love being inspired like that- where an unnamed interior force moves my body. Sometimes it works like that in art too.

    Thanks for sharing this post. It reminded me about the sheer joy that can come from being in the moment.

  9. Megan,

    Love your take on why we must be gatherers of inspiration and experiences - we are, after all, still the species of hunters and gatherers!



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