Tuesday, February 28, 2006


-27C this morning. Bitter cold but sunny. While rushing around getting ready to leave for work, I spotted this magnificent fellow at the bird feeder munching on sunflower seeds. I had to stop for a moment and admire him, so puffed up, his striking red feathers showcased against the clear, cold sky. Could I manage to sneak a picture, move the lace curtains without startling him? This is my attempt at catching that moment. A moment of "breathing in" - caught between morning silence and mindless busyness. * o

Some good news on the writing front

I received word this weekend that my poem, Spring Frost, will be published in the True Words section of the Story Circle Journal March issue.

The journal is published by the Story Circle Network, a website for "women with stories to tell". Lots of helpful resources available there for women writers. * o

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hangin' Out - Sunday Morning

Charlie and Salem. Don't be fooled by kitty's rather relaxed appearance - it's an ideal spot to rule the couch and keep the slobbering dog on his toes. * o

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Creative Call - Week 6 - Breathing Out

Creative is a journey, and I believe a partnership with our creator.

This week's chapter focused on becoming servants to the work. Learning to recognize our artist work as being both worth our time and our efforts. Learning to "show up to the work" and roll up our sleeves and do it.

And learning that as we start attending to the work, a thousand interruptions will show up to block our way. The kids need something, there is a meeting to go to, housework to be done, the list seems endless.

Earlier this week, I wrote that maybe the secret to happiness was discovering God's hand in the myriad interruptions of our lives. Now I think that the real secret is knowing which interruptions are God's and which ones are trying to keep us from our nurturing, creative relationship with God.

I'm frustrated this week because it seems that the more I try to "give up" so that I have time to create, the more seems to come my way in requests for my time and talents. I don't really want more to do, but in saying no, would I be missing a direction God wants to use me in? How do people sift through this stuff?

So as I muddle through this, Janice Elsheimer on page 101 of Creative Call reminds me: "God is in control, and every time you hear the critic telling you that you are wasting your time or being self-centered, you need to turn that message over to the Lord in prayer and rebuke the critic in the name of Jesus. You are fighting for your creative life here, and God is on your side."

A bit dramatic perhaps, but I know how angry and resentful I get when I don't nurture that creative side and God certainly doesn't need an angry and resentful servant. * o

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Life Interruped

Came across this quote today:

My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work. - Henri Nouwen

Could this be the secret to being satisfied with where you are at the moment? Recognizing God's hand in the myriad interruptions that make up our lives. Going with the flow. Paying attention and creating - in the moment. Simple serendipity. * o

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Creative Call - Week 5 - Just Breathe

"What you focus on expands" - pg 85, Creative Call

I found it ironic that this week's chapter focused on taking time to nurture your creative spirit. It's been a hell of a hectic week -busy, stressful and not a lot of time for "nurture". The more I read about it, the less of it I did!

A couple of discoveries while working through the exercises this week:

- I don't spend enough time with things that inspire me.
- What inspires me - nature, poetry, good music, good worship, artwork - is special because it opens up the heart somehow. I "feel" it - it's more emotion than intellect or knowledge. Example: singing at the top of my lungs to especially good lyrics opens a channel for the creative energy to flow. It makes me step outside myself and allow something deeper to move in and through me.

In my case, that "something deeper" is the Holy Spirit. On page 76 of the Creative Call, this sentence caught and held me for awhile: "When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, we are changed, and our art manifests that change."

I've played with writing on and off for years, and journaled about writing for years, but its only been in the last few years that this writing thing has actually blossomed and begun to take off. This has been alongside a spiritual growth and renewal in my life. Christianity has become very real and meaningful to me, and through welcoming the Holy Spirit into my life, I've seen changes in my artistic expression manifest themselves. Things are different now because of this partnership, this awareness of co-creation.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit and fill my heart, my soul and my mind. Fill me with your love and enlightenment. Fill me with courage to pick up my pen and allow the words to flow. I give myself as your servant, a channel through which your love and wisdom can flow. May my words always be to your glory. Amen.
* o

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Creative Call - Week 4 - Forgiveness

encourage: to inspire with courage or confidence, to stimulate as by approval, to promote, foster.

This week's journey through Creative Call has focused on forgiveness. Forgiving those who discouraged our dreams, forgiving ourselves for not being able to achieve what we once dreamt we would. Part of the exercise was to list those who discouraged our dreams. I really couldn't come up with a very long list. Sure, I had a couple of teachers along the way who were negative and reveled in humiliation and criticism, and yes, I occasionally got teased and laughed at by classmates, but I don't recall being specifically told I could not do something. I am recognizing that my biggest "discourager" was me. Me and Fear. Fear of trying, fear of failing, fear of being laughed at. Just plain fear.

Here's what I wrote in my daybook:

"As a child I dreamed I could write, act, and sing. I could express myself without fear. As I grew I became self-conscious, afraid to express myself, afraid of criticism and not being liked. I hid myself in safe outlets - a safe job that I could do well - because I was afraid to try, afraid to fail. Now I realize, creativity does not mean I must become the next best-selling author, but, rather I must dance with God in freedom and joy and release that joy in the ink on the page. Not for the world to judge but a love letter, a soul's journey, a prayer."

I am also looking at what areas in my life am I being an encourager to someone else. Do my words lift up or tear down? Have I discouraged someone in their dream? It's been a tough week, as I've watched myself stick my foot in my mouth several times and have regretted speaking words that were not encouraging at all.

A Prayer of Contrition

Father, I am sorry that I have let dreams die, not trusting that you would provide all that I needed - the spark, the words, the means to express myself. I'm sorry I thought I had to do it all on my own and forgot that it was a partnership between you and I. I resolve to seek your vision for my life and do my part to achieve that vision. I resolve also to encourage others around me, to use the words you give me to lift others up and to be on guard in areas where I might be tempted to tear them down. Amen. * o

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Like Wine for Chocolate

I occasionally like a glass of wine with a meal, but am by no means a connoisseur of fine wines, so every trip to the LCBO to purchase wine is an adventure.

I could spend literally hours just reading the wine labels. Not just because I can't remember if it's "white meat - white wine" or what goes with moose burger, but they are so poetic and, well, exotic. I can't decide between the one that promises "earthy tones with soft ripe sweetness" or the one that says it's "soft and velvety with cocoa-dusted berry flavours" made "exclusively for me". Are these wine labels or ads for E-harmony?

And, if seducing me isn't enough, they also make me hungry. There's the wine that I should "savour alongside wine-braised chicken with tomatoes and green olives" or the slightly less adventurous one that is perfect with "grilled meats, spicy salami pizza or lasagna". I am however, staying away from the one that claims to be a combination of "red cherry, anise, leather and tobacco" (leather and tobacco???) Forget the romantic name, they might just as well have labeled it "Grandma's Purse".

After being wooed by several suitors (err..wine labels), I chose an Australian Shiraz. I was won over by the image of "sweeping alluvial plains, rich sun-drenched vineyards and leaping kangaroos" as well as its promise of "berry and vanilla oak aromas." Anything to escape the mid-February blahs!

Oh, and the back page of the winter "Food and Drink" magazine claims that chocolate is the "new wine - intense, fragrant and complex." Mmmm, can you say decadent? Pretty soon the wine label writers will be writing up the instant hot chocolate labels and I'll be spending hours in the grocery store aisle trying to decide between "dark and devilish, with just a hint of mint" or "light and creamy with a fragrant bouquet of cocoa bean and vanilla". * o

Sunday, February 05, 2006

13 going on 30

My baby is 13 today. I now officially live in house of two teenage boys. I'm an estrogen speck swimming in a sea of testosterone, desperately trying to stay afloat!

As I was bestowing birthday blessings on my fine young son this morning, his baby blue eyes peeked out from amid a mass of curly-gone-wild blonde bangs and he informed me that since he was now thirteen, we could no longer tease him about "PG-13" movies. Holding his face between my hands, I said "you're my PG-13". A frown creased his brow, and he quickly retorted he wasn't "PG". "You might be thirteen", I kissed the top of his head, "but you still need parental guidance". * o

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Prayer for My Artist Self

Help me to understand my creative self as a gift from you. Help me to find the time and discipline to practice my writing, to draw from your inspiration and not to lean on my own. Give me the courage to put my writing out there, for your Glory. Give me strength to face rejection and perserverance to keep on going. Creativity is joy, help me work in that joy. Amen. * o