Friday, September 30, 2011

A Purple What?

A purple gallinule is a water bird I had never heard of before this week. They live in marshes and wetlands of Florida, Central America and Brazil and walk on top of lily pads and other floating plants. They can also be found clambering around in dense shrubbery. They use their long toes to tiptoe across the top of vegetation and don’t really care if they look like a chicken doing it. It is not that they can’t swim, because they can and they do. They swim like a duck, run like a chicken and sport amazing colors. Blue, green and teal feathers accentuate their wings and backs. The head, neck and belly are covered with deep purple plumage.

Photo by Blair Wainman with permission,
Colombia 2006.
So why am I telling you about the purple gallinule? I spent three (count them three!) weeks searching for a suitable title for this blog. Something, anything, that would resonate with me. When push came to shove and the delivery deadline dropped, the purple gallinule won the high honor. Am I trying just a little too hard? Absolutely. Am I taking this just a little too seriously? Perhaps. But I do like the purple gallinule, now that I am getting to know her.

Complex and mysterious, purple is a special color combining both warm reds and cool blues. Purple is associated with royalty and with spirituality. Purples in nature are represented with delicate and precious blooms: violets, irises, orchids, lilacs and lavender. Purple stands out. My favorite colors have always been the soothing greens of trees and meadows, the crisp blues of a clear sky. But more so than ever before I am leaning towards the brighter shades of bold colors rather than the peaceful shades that blend into the background.

Photo by John Schwarz with permission, Florida 2006. 
The purple gallinule spends her time on the surface of the water, only diving deep underwater for the occasional tasty treat. Her long toes allow her to run across the surface of the water without sinking. I can almost hear my husband half-joking that I must believe I can walk on water. Well, I do have really long toes. But mostly, I am expecting that my writing will likely resemble a chicken running around whether on water or not, at least for now. But the more I dive deep into the water, the better a writer I will be.

Purple signifies empowerment to me, specifically empowerment of ideas and ideals. The gallinule is a reminder to just do it, even if I look like a fool. I am currently both a student and a teacher, so I am learning every day. Today we learned about the purple gallinule. Class dismissed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jumping In

This day was inevitable. For years I have been pale and scared, peering out from the woods near the sandy shoreline, fully covered complete with sunglasses and a hat. Sooner or later, I knew, I was going to have to get closer to the water. I looked forward to abandoning the cold fears and just writing, one word after another. Well, really I look forward to having the confidence, having the clear thoughts, having something meaningful to say.  Getting started comes down to deadlines – internal and external. It is time to sink or swim.

Just over a decade ago I worked for an international arm of a Fortune 20 technology corporation. Managing the hardware specifications of desktop and laptop computers for twelve markets spanning South and Central America, I was entrenched in new technologies months before they hit the retail markets. And I loved my job. With the birth of my second child, my young family needed me more. Fast-forward eleven years and I am woefully out of date on the technology front. These days I am entrenched in the family life, complete with carpool schedules, soccer practices, and volunteering at their various schools. I have avoided blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds; I balked at finding the time for even Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Last fall I accepted a part-time position teaching Computer Technology at my daughter’s middle school. When a fifth-grade student developed a website on his own, it was clear I had some catching up to do – and fast.

Returning to a corporate environment felt like ignoring the last ten years of my life, as if staying home with my children was nothing more than an embarrassing gap on the résumé. So, in January I began graduate classes in the Professional Writing program at Towson University. Writing provides the opportunity to incorporate all of the phases of my life and move forward. I thrive on the deadlines, discussions and readings. I have not even dared to write for myself, so writing for public consumption is terrifying. I have still only shared my work in class or with professors, as required.

This brings me to this blog, actually, this blog assignment. This day is inevitable. I am standing on the sand with my shoes kicked off, pants rolled up and toe pointing towards the water. It is time to step into the water.