Today’s first has been on my list since the beginning of the year. Armed with chalk, I wanted to walk through my neighborhood and draw hearts on sidewalks, and add a few encouraging words within the heart. I was inspired by the hearts of hope that appeared after the 2011 tornado. Children and youth from other cities, and unfortunately, I don’t remember where they came from, planted colorful wooden hearts on stakes throughout the tornado zone, with words of hope on them. Every intersection sprouted these reminders that hope was not lost. Three and a half years later, most of those hand printed messages are gone.
The inspiration for using sidewalk chalk comes from my grandchildren, who love creating works of art on their driveway. The chalk drawings are colorful and creative and wash away with the next rain, leaving, literally, a clean slate for the next masterpiece.
Today was a beautiful fall day, with mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine. I decided to tuck a box of chalk into my pocket and set out to wander my neighborhood. I wanted to look at the newest houses being built and allow myself to be led to the right spots to draw a chalk heart. I was half a block from home when I happened to turn around. Like the Pied Piper, I was leading a small herd of cats. They all stopped when I stopped. This wouldn’t do! I didn’t want to risk any of them crossing the street with me and getting hit by a car.
Back to the house we all went, with me cajoling, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty….”. They didn’t want to go inside….it was too nice out. Plan B. I grabbed car keys and purse and drove four blocks away and parked the car. Free now from concerns about the cats, I roamed the neighborhood, looking at all the new construction still going on. I stood at a high vantage point and studied the massive new high school that is in the final phase of completion. I walked down streets that were once so familiar that I could, and did, walk them in the dark without a stumble. I knew where every cracked sidewalk was, where every gnarly tree root poked through the ground and every house where small children were likely to leave a bicycle sprawled on the sidewalk. That’s all gone now…..the sidewalks, the trees, the houses where children played. It is no longer so bare though, as block by block, the neighborhood is filling in again. It’s the same neighborhood….and yet it’s all new.
As I walked and looked and remembered, I stopped where I felt drawn to, and drew a simple heart outline with a piece of colored chalk. Inside the heart, I wrote various short sayings, all focusing on the word BE. BE LOVE. BE YOURSELF, ALWAYS. BE STRONG. BE HERE NOW. I drew butterflies and dragonflies too. It was a peaceful, meditative exercise. And it sounds easy enough.
When I visited my grandson, Dayan, later in the afternoon, I told him what my first was for the day. Wise soul that he is, he said quietly, “I know that pushed you out of your comfort zone.” And he is right. The “good girl” in me protested as I drew hearts. She said I shouldn’t write on public property. She said what if someone sees you and asks you to stop? She worried what if the rain doesn’t wash it away? I had to tell that pesky good girl that it was okay, what I was doing….and to beat it! Thankfully, she didn’t linger. She went to pout with her twin, the “perfectionist”. I laughed, and drew another heart.