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Life Arts    H1'ed 5/3/20

Signs of Spring, Signs of Gratitude

Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser
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One advantage of living in a less temperate climate is that we have the opportunity to experience all four seasons. I admit that it doesn't always feel like an advantage. So, when spring hits, it's a biggie. I went to college in Southern California so I know what that's like. It's nice, don't get me wrong, but quite different. Ho hum, another nice day.

Here's what's what now in suburban Chicago, where I live. Several weeks ago, we had two days of snow. In a row! A few days after that, we had a violent hailstorm which spewed lots of scarily noisy hail the size of golf balls on steroids. For a sense of scale: the big paw on the right belongs to my adult son, Michael.

Hail in April, modeled by my son Michael and his sidekick, Emma
Hail in April, modeled by my son Michael and his sidekick, Emma
(Image by Dorothy Rosen)
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Now that it's sunny, people are flocking outside. A few Sundays ago, my original plan was to drive down to walk by the lake. When I got there, you would never have guessed there was a pandemic going on. Paths were clogged with rollerbladers, skateboarders, cyclists, joggers, walkers, picnickers, buggies, tricycles, the works. I chose to walk on the other, more residential side of the street to insure some social distancing and still be able to enjoy beautiful Lake Michigan. I sensed a huge communal sigh. The large numbers of those out and about were proof that, at least, winter is over and we can take advantage of that, even, or especially, now.

I am a long-time subscriber to the Law of Attraction. It says, essentially, that what you look for is what you find. The energy you give off is what you invite back to you, positive or negative, purposefully or inadvertently. That part is up to you. While that might be a tad too woo-woo for some, it has really proven to be true for me. For years, I have kept a gratitude journal. Every night at bedtime, I write down some of the things I'm grateful for. And because I save up this task until the end of the day, it's what I'm on the lookout for, all day long. And that gently guides my focus toward the positive side of things. Easy and effective.

my current good looking gratitude journal, bought at Classic Lines, an independent bookstore in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh
my current good looking gratitude journal, bought at Classic Lines, an independent bookstore in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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In that spirit, I embarked on my walk, not only to refresh my spirits but to see what's new in that neighborhood. What signs decorate lawns and sidewalks and front windows, what messages are folks trying to share these days? Afterward, I felt like a child returning from the beach, pockets bulging with shells. My phone was filled with the images of flowers and shrubs and trees erupting joyously into bloom. (I'm counting on you to use your imagination here.) As well as plenty of art and signage. Everywhere, people were reaching out to one another, being kind, connecting. This is what we're apt to miss, if we're in a hurry or not paying attention. So, just in case you haven't been paying attention, I've done the heavy lifting for you.

I just liked this one, inordinately
I just liked this one, inordinately
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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Last week, on the way to the doctor's office, I passed a few signs stuck in the parkway grass. As I drove on, I decided that I would backtrack later to capture the signs. They were all of a piece - two-sided, seemingly written by the same adult hand. To my surprise, there was a different message on each side, a total of six. All directed to those who make our lives possible: grocery workers, delivery workers, first responders, healthcare workers, transit employees, mail carriers. Attractively laid out with different colored markers, on heavy signs, built to last. Much thought clearly went into this project.

one of a series of six signs of thanks for essential workers
one of a series of six signs of thanks for essential workers
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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Highlights of my walks: There were virtually no political signs - almost none. In fact, when I finally saw one "I'm Ridin' with Biden," I was struck by how the political season had totally, momentarily slipped my mind.

Numerous thank-yous to essential workers. Many rainbows, hearts, rainbow hearts and variations on that theme. Simple, positive messages like "We can do this!" and "Hello!" in big letters.

I loved this bilingual sign: "Everything is going to be alright: Italian/English Andra tutto bene", along with an artistic rendering of a large bird. Is it a phoenix? If so, that would be particularly appropriate right about now.

Bilingual sign on Evanston window
Bilingual sign on Evanston window
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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This one reminded me of the Beatles and made me smile.

Doesn't this remind you of 'Come Together', that old Beatles song?
Doesn't this remind you of 'Come Together', that old Beatles song?
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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A hopeful sign that needs no words.

games just left behind? set out for later? imagine your own caption
games just left behind? set out for later? imagine your own caption
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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This is one of my faves.

'Take Courage' by Jenni Grover, an Evanston neighbor of mineof mine
'Take Courage' by Jenni Grover, an Evanston neighbor of mineof mine
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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The same sign, after lots of wind,with  Jenni Grover, its creator
The same sign, after lots of wind,with Jenni Grover, its creator
(Image by Joan Brunwasser)
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And this is the same sign after a number of windy days and some hard living. This is what we look like if and when we don't pull together. When we go solo, it's so much harder to find courage and hang on to it.

Take note. It's a sign!

***

Some of my more upbeat recent pieces:

Meet The Guy Behind the Surprise Quarantine Drive Up Show 4.21.20

Wouldn't You Have Loved To Have This Teacher?! 4.19.20

Chalking It Up to Changes, Connections and Coincidences 4.6.20

The Surprise Ending to My COVID-19 Birthday Blues 4.2.20

Alone but Together: Italians Singing Solos on Balconies and More 3.19.20

Beyond Surviving: How to Thrive in Challenging Times 3.17.20

 

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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