Posted by: mew | August 14, 2009


One reason I’m thrilled to have finally taken the plunge and signed up for a blog is that I can now participate in blog challenges.  Of course, many of these challenges can be done by those without weblogs — but that didn’t stop me from using this as an excuse to procrastinate and not do them.  “Once I have a blog,” I kept telling myself.

Well, now it’s no longer an excuse.

In fact, as I was signing up for my new wordpress address, I promised myself that I would immediately make a trip over to Brandi Reynolds’ site and join her army.  Brandi has called for a Joy Rebellion and is actively recruiting fellow rebels to participate in mission assignments that she posts every Monday.  I was so excited to finally be an active rebel instead of just a lurking wannabe.


And then I got to her blog.  I stared at this week’s mission in patent disbelief.  She has got to be kidding, I thought, and then I reread the entry and scowled at God/the Universe/the Divine, because it was pretty clear Brandi was not kidding.

Hearts.  She wanted us to go out into our cities and towns and parks and houses and search for hearts.


DSC04532Just great, I grumbled.  My very first mission turns out to be something I hate.  Well, not exactly hate.  Disdain might be a better word.  I grew up a naive, sheltered, card-carrying idealist, and then the cognitive dissonance got to me, and I became downright cynical.  (Or at least, cynicism became one of the main presenting aspects of my ego.)

Hearts are for naive, sheltered, card-carrying idealists.  Silly, sentimental ones at that.  Not for grown-up, not-gonna-get-fooled-again, clever moi.  Well, maybe black hearts.  Black hearts that have been rained on, so they look like they’ve been crying.

Yet I’d promised myself to do the mission.  My first mission.  Yes, no one would know if I backed out and waited until next week.  No one but me, that is.  And that was enough to make me grab the digital camera and trudge out to the backyard in a huff.  I would do it.  Grudgingly, yes.  But I would do the assignment.  And I knew just how I could get it over with quickly.

I’d been taking lots of pictures, for pure pleasure and for my other blog, of my kitchen garden lately, and by now was well acquainted with my morning glories.  Ipomoea tricolor, the pretty flowering vine whose blooms open in the morning and are dead by the time the sun is directly overhead, conveniently has heart-shaped leaves.  Very heart-shaped leaves.  DSC04347I snapped about 20 different shots of the leaves, thinking of clever cutlines for them as I did so, e.g. “bleeding heart,”  “straying heart,” “purple heart,” and then went to go pick F. up from the bus station downtown.

“Well, that’s kind of cheating,” F. said when I showed him my clever little shots.

“But they’re perfect hearts,” I protested.  “There’s nothing wrong with them.”

F. seemed to think the point of the challenge was to, um, challenge yourself, to go out on a mission and search for hearts you didn’t know were there.  While I sat in chagrined and grumpy silence, he offered to help me hunt.

He is so chivalrous.

And also the most observant person I know.  He can nearly always find four-leaf clovers.  When we were first dating, he used to amaze me with his discoveries  — and a lucky clover found on his lunch break and pressed flat in a physics book never fails to charm me, even now.  Last week he brought home three of those and a rare, mutant five-leaf clover and tumbled them out of his wallet into my lap, as if to say “nothing to it,” although with that adorable little-boy grin that told me he loved my over-the-top reaction.  (And don’t ask me why the cynic thinks hearts are cheesy and off limits, but four-leaf clovers are still acceptable.  I don’t get it, either.)

Anyway, I couldn’t get out of properly doing the mission with him offering to help me.  (Insert roll of eyes here.)  There are questions of honor here.  With the camera slung over my wrist, muttering, “Cheating, ha!” under my breath, I set out to look for hearts in the woods.  F.  set out, too, wisely choosing to go a different direction so he didn’t have to suffer my mood.  And here’s where it gets weird.  F. met up with me later and told me he found not a single heart shape (“but lots of phalluses”) during his search.

I found them everywhere.

DSC04489Not only that.  As I was way back behind the house, getting bitten and scratched and trying to avoid stepping in the poison ivy, having been not that prepared to go deep into the woods, I met my neighbor.  One of my goals since moving here has been to get to know my neighbors and develop a sense of that old-fashioned community I really long for.  I’m very shy.  My nearest neighbors scare me (always having loud fights in the driveway), and so I’ve managed to get to know exactly one neighbor, Pam.  We cat-sit for each other occasionally and exchange thank you notes and little gifts, and she gets extra garden produce.  Well, now I know another neighbor, Francis, who grows the most beautiful roses — all from walking a path through the woods for a blog challenge.

Thanks, Brandi.

The crazy thing was, I couldn’t stop seeing hearts.  All that night, they kept popping up everywhere.  (Brandi said part of the point of this mission was to recognize that what we focus on expands.  I knew this on an intellectual level.  But let me highly recommend this exercise as a proof positive.  You will feel it on a visceral level — and I mean in your very body, you will know it when you keep looking up, even the next morning, and keep seeing hearts. Even when you don’t even like hearts.)

As I came into the kitchen with some herbs for dinner, they dropped out of my hand onto the dishtowel *almost* in a heart shape.  I tweaked them and ran to get the camera.  DSC04529While I was headed to the fridge, I looked down to see a spot of red mud that had come off F.’s shoe in exactly the shape of a heart.  I ran to get the camera.  Then I flipped over a quadrant of red bell pepper on the cutting board to see — but you’ve already filled in the rest of this sentence.

“You are obsessed,” F. said in alarm as I ran past to grab the camera.

I kept the camera with me after a while.  A wise decision, because the night had one more amazing find in store.  As I stood snapping and stringing the beans into a pot of cold water, I looked down and gasped.  It was too perfect.  A little heart shape, looking up at me from the broken end of a Louisiana purple-podded pole bean.  I was irresistibly reminded of why Rob Brezsny calls God “The Booming Ha Ha.”

My own cynical heart melted, and I laughed out loud.

DSC04524(If you’d like to see more photos of my discoveries, go here and here.)



  1. […] you’d like to read about my experiences (and see more pictures), you can check out my debriefing post on my other blog. […]

  2. […] When you know how to look… Some photographs from my first mission as a Joy Rebel.  To read more about my experiences, you can read my debriefing. […]

  3. I lovelovelove what you wrote. A) because you are a wonderful writer and B) because I totally know where you are coming from. Why do you think I started the rebellion? Because I was tired of the underlying message that to be cool and grown up and knowledgeable, I also had to be cynical and world-weary and over it. Screw that-that mindset made me freaking miserable. You and me, girl, we’re coming from the same place.

    Thank you for sharing your story and found hearts with us. And your man is hysterical-phalluses…LOL.

  4. Thank you for the feedback and the kind words, Brandi. I can totally see where you’re coming from, which is why the joy rebellion attracted me in the first place. I highly recommend it to anybody! (But hearts definitely stretched some boundaries, LOL.)

    Yeah, F. is pretty darn fantastic. I love his sense of humor, too 🙂

  5. […] fact, in her newest post she gave me a shout-out for last week’s mission Debriefing.  (I’m blushing — and thrilled all the way to the tips of my baby-blogger toes.)  It […]

  6. i am so glad the universe helped you to reinvent your naive idealistic heartseeing self! i love your blog!!!

  7. […] will think of something, dammit.  Brandi even gave me a mention on her blog as a result of my last Debriefing.  I must outdo myself.  I must perform even better, always better, cleverer, quicker, etc.  […]

  8. […] picture.  It was taken a few weeks ago during a Joy Rebel mission that I really enjoyed.  (My debriefing on that mission turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts ever.  Maybe I peaked early?  […]

  9. […] the post.  Since then, I’ve been seeing spirals literally everywhere.  (Reminds me of this experience, only I didn’t set out on a specific quest to locate the spirals.  Or maybe I did, without […]

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