Growing through concrete

Yesterday I drove to Chicago and back to see a friend. I drove through the usual mess of road construction and major traffic snarls. The closer I got to the Loop, the more bogged down the traffic got.  As I sat (at a standstill) I glanced at the cement median. Along several cracks in the concrete, I noticed grass and wild flowers growing. Not just growing — thriving.

I considered taking a photo but I couldn’t reach my camera safely. (So I found some similar photos on Flickr. See gallery below.)

I thought about how sometimes we feel like those weeds and flowers. Hanging on by a few fragile roots, in the middle of a hot unforgiving place, with just a tiny fragment of space, little or no resources — but still finding a way to not only survive but to actually bloom.

That trite saying “bloom where you are planted” has truth. I’ve had to move more times than I have wanted. Each time, the process of leave-taking then starting over commences: the good-byes, the leave-taking, then being the outsider, mustering the bravada to carry on, and finally searching for the new “normal.”

I got my first teaching job in the summer of 1985. It was in a tiny town just east of Urbana, IL. The band room was surrounded by a tar and chip parking lot. As I prepared for the first marching band rehearsals, I was pleasantly surprised to see some lovely pink lilies pop up out of the tiny seam between the building and the pavement. My mom told me they were Resurrection Lilies. I later discovered other names for them:  Magic Lilies, Surprise Lilies, Naked Ladies, lycorissquamigera, and Amaryllidaceae.

They pop up out of no where (or seem to), bloom and then whither away all in a week or so. Each year I taught there (four, to be exact), I looked forward to seeing those lilies.

Beauty finds a way. Life finds a way. Always.

 

Then today, I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook wall.

From Word Porn
From Word Porn

 

Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Quote from Tupac Shakur, photo by TTQ CC 4.0
Advertisements

Top Ten: Interesting and Inspiring Finds

I want to share some of my
very favorite websites and pages with you!

1.  That Tree: This project started in the area of my old hometown! Mark Hirsch took a photograph of an old oak tree every day for a year and posted the photos on his Facebook page.  The beauty and artistry (and his perseverance) attracted a wider and wider audience as the year progressed.  The project is now internationally famous.  He has published a beautiful book and has done many national interviews.  He continues to post photos of That Tree frequently, but not every day now.

People gather for the group pic.  photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
People gather for the group pic. photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

(Note:  I am actually IN the book!  I was one of the people who gathered in the field on that cold, snowy day last March to celebrate the final day of the year of photographs.  We are all in the book with That Tree.)

2.  Historical Pics:  This site has off-beat photographs of historic events, people, and random things galore.  For instance:

Louis Armstrong plays for his wife in Giza, 1961.

3.  Holstee: “Holstee exists to encourage mindful living. We hope to change the way people look at life by designing unique products and sharing meaningful experiences.”  This is the blurb from their website.  The company is cooler than this blurb sounds.  They have some great free inspirational downloads.

This is your LIFE. Holstee Manisfesto. A longer version of this is printed as a poster and notecards.

4.  Brain Pickings:  This site has a continual stream of quirky, artistic, off-the-beaten-path, intelligent, and inspiring articles and illustrations.  One of my recent favorites is a list of New Year’s resolutions from people like Woody Guthrie and Marilyn Monroe! Read it here.  Take some time to browse their archives, though, if you can.  Enjoy!

5.  Do you know about Humans of New York?  This link takes you to the Facebook page, where a photo is posted every day with a short quote or conversation.  I find it incredibly moving.  I got the book as a Christmas gift and just love it!

6.  Colossal: The tag line says “art and visual culture.”  Their blurb says this:  Each week you’ll find 15-25 posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art. Colossal is also a great place to learn about the intersection of art and science as well as the beauty of the natural world. There are frequently posts about things far out in left field, but generally Colossal is a reminder that in this digital age there are still countless people making incredible work with their bare hands.

You’ll see things like this:

Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida: Minimiam, via Colossal

and this:

Martin Hill and Philippa Jones: via Colossal

GORGEOUS and so beautiful!

7.  Another site I can spend quite a while browsing in is:
Laughing Squid. Their website “about” blurb:  Based in New York City, Laughing Squid is a blog featuring compelling art, culture & technology as well as a cloud-based web hosting company with a focus on WordPress hosting. For more info see our FAQ and Wikipedia.

Here are a few very memorable examples of the odd-ball kind of things you’ll find at Laughing Squid.

8. Letters of Note:  This site publishes letters written by various famous and not-so-famous people.  It is intriguing, amazing, engaging, humorous, and full of information.

“In our age of email and texts, letter-writing seems set for extinction. But millions have been flocking to a website to pore over the correspondence collected by blogger Sean Usher.”

Click here for a wonderful example of historic correspondence Letters of Note highlights. (This links to a series of letters between Ford Motor Company and poet Marianne Moore as they discuss various car names).  Here is a link to the Letters of Note “best of 2013” list.  This one is from a Dallas hospital administrator in 1963.  Letters of Note recently published a book as well.

9.  Noisetrade: This site has gobs of free music.  Tag line:  Free music from thousands of artists who would like to meet you. You can sample, listen online and request a download code.  If you like what you hear, you have several opportunities to leave tips for the artists. I have found this a great avenue for discovering new music to get me out of my listening ruts. There is a limit to the number of downloads per day (something like 8 or 10? not very limiting really).

You can get this album free (and choose from thousands more!) at Noisetrade.com

10.  Word Porn:  I love obscure and interesting words.  This site has many that I never heard of or even imagined existed!

I’d love to hear about some of YOUR favorite places to browse around on the web.  Please share!