Creativity

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. Joseph Chilton Pearce

I don’t know where I received the message but as a child, the message I understood was that Art was frivolous. That working a job in business, was acceptable but creativity was something that foolish people persued.

As a child I devoured books. It didn’t matter if it was fiction or classic literature or encyclopedias. I dreamed of being an author. But I was terrified that if I ever said that dream out loud that I would be mocked or shamed for wanting to do something so silly.

I would hear music and songs and feel like I needed to move; that my body needed to express the sounds and feelings in movement. I wanted to write lyrics and dreamed of standing in front of crowds of thousands singing with all of my heart. But again, I was scared that if I tried, I might fail or worse, look foolish.

I saw art, paintings and sculptures, and my hands itched to create beauty but fear held me back from even trying, “because I might get it wrong, or not do it right.

Somewhere along the way (and with an immense amount of therapy), the longing and desire to create, overwhelmed the fear. I have begun to accept the child inside of me who wanted to explode with creativity. I’m not a trained artist but I am creative. I live and breathe creativity. It’s like air to me. Without it, I feel like I’m strangling.

I feel like I’m finally starting to live authentically, as who I was created to be. I’m messy. I’m sensitive. I’d rather create something beautiful, different or weird than do just about anything else . I see beauty everywhere. I want to add more beauty to the world. I’m happiest when I’m creating. I want to inspire creativity. I want to encourage others to not be scared to just try; or to just do it, in spite of being scared. I want to encourage others that you can’t do art wrong. You can’t create beauty in a wrong way. You may see my art as mess and I may see it as beauty. We might both be right, and that’s okay.

Once, I started to let go of the fear of doing it wrong, the most amazing thing happened……i started to see beauty and creativity everywhere. I’m so aware that the things we do, create beauty…..and yet, I’m not so sure that people see it that way.

The programmer, the code he creates and what he can create with that code, is beautiful.

The teacher, who invests in the future, our children….they are creating beauty in and for our world.

The plumber or electrician, the way they can run pipes or wire and have pieces of equipment sing to each other….it’s beautiful.

Accountants create beauty within lines and spreadsheets and with money and it’s beautiful.

Librarians create order out of thousands of pieces of literature and they promote wonder and fantasy and knowledge with access to literature. That’s incredible.

A boss creates an intricate dance between employees. They can create a culture of respect and responsibility…….that’s amazing.

A mom literally creates human beings and then has the opportunity to mould and guide those beings into beauty …..that’s a fantastically beautiful thing.

The cashier who can Tetris a bag of groceries in the most incredible way AND communicate love and acceptance to the people they come in contact with……that’s art and it’s beautiful.

We, humans…..I believe we were created to create, to bring beauty into the world; and everything we do can be beautiful.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t ugliness in the world, because there is……but we have the privilege and opportunity to bring beauty and light into the world, in whatever way we are passionate about…..and that’s amazing. My hearts cry is to create more beauty around me, to tip the scales and drown out the darkness.

We don’t all have to do it the same, nor should we. The diversity itself is beautiful.

I’m so very grateful for art and creativity and for the ability to contribute beauty into the world.

Have you ever considered that what you do brings beauty into the world? I’d love to hear how you create beauty.

Perspective

Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. Joshua J. Marine

We’ve had a fair number of challenges in our lives. Enough that, I had to make a choice. I could allow the sorrow and despair to crush me. I could surrender to the devastation and lose myself…….or I could choose to live and see the light regardless of what was happening around me.

I think this is one of the reasons that I resonate so strongly with Leonid Afremov’s paintings. There is such depth and even darkness within the paintings but there is light everywhere; and it’s glorious. It glows from within the scenes.

That’s what I want my life to be. Regardless of how dark a time is, I want the light to shine. I want to glow brightly whatever the scene around me is. I want to see the light shining and reflecting in the darkness. I want to BE a light shining and reflecting in the darkness.

It’s easy to see the light when it’s bright, but I choose to look for the light when it’s darkest out.

I refuse to allow hard times to define me. I don’t like to ask “Why me?” More often, you’ll hear me ask, “Why Not Me?” There are no guarantees in this world in regards to hardship and trouble. Life is not fair.

One benefit of looking for the light is that you find the good that comes from every situation.

Cancer is not good! My 13 year old daughter being diagnosed with Leukemia is not good. The 2.5 years of treatment is not good. The side effects of the chemo are not good. The long term physical, and emotional effects are not good.

But there is good! Having community surround you and carry you, is good. Realizing that you are stronger than you ever thought possible, mentally and emotionally, is good. Learning a deeper level of compassion and understanding for the suffering of others, is good.

I wish we never had cancer touch our family, but I WILL find the good things that came from that experience. I will hold onto those things, tightly. I will learn and grow from that experience.

I will stare at cancer, defiantly, and proclaim that it didn’t win. It didn’t destroy me. It didn’t crush me and if anything, I grew stronger.

I’ll be honest, it almost did destroy me. BUT…….it didn’t!

I choose to live a life filled with gratitude regardless of the circumstances that come along.

One thing that I am SO grateful for is life. Life is a gift. Knowing firsthand, the fragility of life and the reality of death puts perspective on EVERYTHING. My daughter could be dead, but she’s alive. That’s incredible. So what, that my car broke down or I’m having a bad hair day, or I’m late for an appointment or I’m 10 pounds heavier than I’d like to be……compared to life and death….it’s all frivolous. The reality of that perspective is a HUGE gift. Something I will forever be grateful for.

I’d love to hear what your grateful for.

ps. it doesn’t have to be as heavy as this post is. Gratitude is gratitude!

Denial….

I don’t even want to write this post. Not because I’m not grateful, because I’m immensely grateful for this incredible woman. But, I’ve spent the last 2-3 months in denial.

This has been a tough one for me and if I’m being honest, I’m not fully accepting or allowing myself to feel the full impact of this loss because I don’t feel that I have the emotional resources to do so.

We met Victoria a number of years ago at church. She was recommended to us as a possible College and Career age, young woman who may be available to do some care giving and respite for our family.

I don’t really even remember the beginning. Life was a bit of a blur and we were just coming out of the “cancer years”. She came and cared for our kids weekly for 4 or 5 years. I don’t remember exactly, but it was a significant portion of my kids lives.

It’s been an absolute honor to watch her grow up, get married, graduate college, work, and go back to school. We knew our time with her was limited, only because life moves forward. In fact, we were gifted 2 more years than I was expecting. Not that I had a specific time frame but I had thought that life was going to move her on and somehow she stayed with us. It was an absolute gift that I will cherish forever.

Victoria loved and accepted our children, not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are. That was a gift that I will forever be grateful for. She came into our family weekly, for years and loved on my kids, and in turn, on us. She accepted the hard days with grace, mercy and compassion. She loved my kids through meltdowns, food challenges, weird sleeping arrangements, situations where they were stuck or just plain rude. She challenged them to be their best selves and loved them no matter what.

It was an absolute gift to have that love and acceptance. For us as parents to know that we could walk away from the chaos for 4 hours once a week and know that our kids were loved, safe, understood and so well cared for, was an absolute treasure.

I am SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to have had your help, love and support for all the years that we did. There were weeks and months where you were our lifeline; and the only rest we had in a very chaotic and difficult time. Knowing that we had that 4 hours off, kept us going, during the worst of times.

There is no way I can fully explain the depth of my gratitude but know that you are SO APPRECIATED and that I will be forever grateful for the time you’ve invested into my kids and our family. I’m so excited to see where life takes you and what adventures you have coming next.

Thank You for all you gave into our lives, each and every one of us. Truly!

ps. The boys talk about you all the time. You truly are missed and loved!

pps. Victoria was our respite worker and she worked for us for a number of years. She is finishing her Master’s while working full time and something had to give. I don’t begrudge her this, at all…….well maybe selfishly. Ha! Not really! It’s life and we were gifted so many incredible years! The depth of my denial and sadness are only relative to how special she was to all of us, and that was VERY special!

Misery and Gratitude

Misery and gratitude cannot exist in the same space.”  ~ Sharolynn Braegger

Well, I’m writing this post on Sunday morning at 1:30am.

I am truly grateful that insomnia is not something I deal with on a regular basis. Although, I’ve mentioned that I’m not a super fan of mornings, it’s not because I stay up all night. I make a solid effort to get to sleep by 11pm, so that mornings are just slightly less horrific.

I’ve not seen 1:30am in a while; and I’m good with that.

Tonight’s issue is that I had a Diet Coke without thinking about the caffeine. And seeing as I don’t have coffee or tea after 3pm……apparently the caffeine is doing its thing and I’m still awake.

I am extremely grateful that I don’t deal with regular ongoing Insomnia. I’m aware that some of you do. I’m really sorry about that. This sucks.

I am grateful for the quiet time, with no one asking anything of me. I’m ever so grateful that my bed is Oh! So! Comfortable! I’m grateful that this post will be scheduled to post tomorrow morning and I won’t have to even think about it.

I’m not really grateful that I’m still awake but I’m incredibly thankful that I don’t often have sleepless nights.

Tomorrow morning, when my littles are requiring my attention, I’ll also be VERY grateful for coffee.

What are you grateful for? I’d love to hear.

Laundry Will Always Be There For You

It’s never ending, isn’t it? I feel like I always have a mountain of laundry in some form….whether it’s dirty laundry to wash or clean laundry that needs to be folded.

It’s like that meme about laundry always being there for you. It will never let you down. Ha!

As I finished folding the laundry, I glanced over at the sock basket, which was full to overflowing. Ever so reluctantly, I pulled the basket up onto my folding table and started to match socks.

While I LOVE folding clothes, (I know, weird right? I just love making neat piles.) matching socks is not my favorite. Overflowing baskets are not my favorite either so, matching socks it is.

As I matched and sorted the socks, I kept asking myself how I could possibly be truly grateful for this.

While I have lots to be grateful for, I’m not promoting fake gratitude. I do want to be actually grateful for the things in my life and not just mouth empty words.

It’s true that I am grateful that we have enough socks for our whole family. I am also thankful that we have lots of easy to match socks; but honestly, neither of those really fill me with gratitude.

When it comes right down to it, I was truly grateful that the job was done. I’m also truly grateful that we have enough socks that, once the job is done, I don’t need to do it again for a while.

What are you grateful for, today? I’d love to hear.

Beginnings & Ice Cream

Well, here we are, day 1 of this Gratitude Challenge.

I’d love it if you would either leave a comment, here or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram…..however you found yourself here. Or even just leave a post on your own profiles, using the hashtag #marchtogratitude.

It’s going to be fun to see the posts on social media when you search, using the hashtag.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been a pretty negative person. For me, living a life of gratitude has been born out of my misery and complaining; and then my desire to not be a negative person. Usually, I will start complaining or moaning about something; and once I catch myself….then I look for something good in the situation.

For example, I hate mornings. That’s already been established. So when I came downstairs to start the morning “cat herding” this is what greeted me.

Cool Whip Container of Ice Cream

I could have got upset at my boys (that seems like a typical reaction to this scenario) but I’m constantly looking to “flip the script”.

My first thought was, “Ice Cream for breakfast, huh?!?”

My second thought was, “Take a picture of that, and send it to your sisters.”

Third thought was, “Well, Breakfast is taken care of.”

No upset, no anger, no disappointment. The bucket of ice cream is going to be gone sooner than I intended, but I wasn’t planning on having any so it really doesn’t affect me and when it’s gone…..it’s gone!

They got calories, dairy, and then they took all that sugar crazy to school. So, I’m good!

To wrap it up…….I’m grateful that my kids are independent enough to get their own breakfasts. I may need to talk a little more about appropriate food choices, but in the end, they ate with no complaining and I didn’t have to do anything. I got to drink my coffee that I was also SO VERY GRATEFUL FOR!

I’m calling it a win and moving forward with the day.

I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for today? Coffee? Sunshine? Family? A Job? What?

T minus One

So, If I’m honest, there probably will be no “typical” post for this Gratitude Challenge. You may get a picture with a description. You may get a long winded story or wonder of all wonders, I may actually plunk out some well thought out gratitude prose. Just come along for the journey and share……please share something you’re thankful or grateful for. That’s the fun, creating a community where we can encourage one another.

I sometimes get told that I look like I’ve got it all together. I have to try really hard to not screech at the people who say this, because it’s all just smoke and mirrors. I’m one of the biggest “Hot Mess” moms that you’ll ever come across.

Today, on the day before the Gratitude Challenge officially starts, I’m super grateful for lipstick, messy buns and sunglasses.

I’m not a morning person. Not! at! all! and most days, I crawl out of bed and attempt to wrangle children, feed and clothe them and get them to school before I get “THE CALL” that my child has been marked absent.

If I beat that call, I’m totally winning. Even if I don’t! Still winning!

But lipstick, messy buns and sunglasses make me feel like a million bucks, until I have to go inside the school, take my sunglasses off and then, inevitably someone asks me if I’m okay. Because the mom who picks my kids up later in the day, she has make up on and clean clothes. Early morning mom…..she has lipstick, sun glasses and yesterday’s clothes; and she ROCKS it.

See, it’s not all deep, heavy stuff like the last few days, BUT…..cultivating a mindset of gratitude will help to get you through those tough kinds of days, if they ever happen to you.

Are you ready for tomorrow? I hope so. I can’t wait to hear some of the things that You’re grateful or thankful for.


What if……

But what if I can’t do it everyday…….

So?

What does it matter? There is no right or wrong with gratitude. There is no failure. Imagine that, being a part of something where there is only success……

If you are thankful or grateful for one thing, you are winning!

If you are in a tough situation and you look for the light, you are winning!

If, even only once, you find the good within the bad, you are winning!

You can’t lose. I guarantee it

When you start to become aware that you are looking for the light, you can’t miss it. Picture a pitch black room, with no light. Now if someone, turns on a spotlight, will you see it. Yes! How about a flashlight? Yes! How about a match? Yes! If you are looking, you will see the light no matter how small!

Once you start to look, once you are aware that there is light, always…..you will find it and it transform your outlook on life. It’s crazy and awesome and mind blowing.

Imagine trudging through your day, at a job that’s difficult and thankless and just overall hard. If you focus on that, it all sucks. If you start to look for the light, it all changes. It’s not that it magically becomes easier but it changes. Your perspective changes. You see things that you may have missed or just might not have noticed and all of the sudden, it’s a little less horrid. The situation didn’t actually change. It’s still full of challenges, But your perspective changed and its amazing how much of a difference that makes.

June 27 2010

This is day that I left Jon and Geli at BC Children’s Hospital, and drove myself and my newborn home. I could not see any light, in this day. The next day I wrote this post, and while I was miserable and struggling, I was also so aware and thankful of the love and support we were receiving. Knowing that I had support of a community, helped to keep me going.

It wasn’t some “joy filled” thankfulness but it helped me to shift my focus from the immediacy and intensity of the moment and widen my gaze to include those who loved us. This brought an awareness of the love and kindness and encouragement that was available to us. That awareness helped to bolster my strength so I could keep putting one foot in front of the other. It helped our family to get through a very long 2.5 years of cancer treatment.

I’m excited to start this Gratitude Challenge on March 1st and just be more intentionally aware of the things that I have to be grateful for. Obviously, I’ve started already but I do hope you will join me in looking for the light and share how it impacts you.

Challenge, WHAT?

Did you read my last post and think it might be a good idea but then dismiss it because it might be too involved?

photo credit to
https://www.instagram.com/avi_acl

Here the deal…….it can be whatever you want it to be. You can write down “coffee” every day for the entire month if you’re really thankful for coffee. You can write a paragraph about why you’re so thankful for the rain here in the “Wet Coast” of BC. You can jot down 1 word, 1 sentence or even just take a picture and maybe if you’re feeling all sorts of crazy, you could add a description.

It’s an opportunity to be intentionally thankful. You can make it as easy or as involved, as you like. I guarantee you that I will do a bit of both. Some days, I might have more to say and there’s a good possibility that I double up on a day or two, because the day just gets away from me.

So, what am I hoping for, from you…….Everyday, come and leave a quick comment about something you are grateful for. If you’re on Instagram or twitter, use the hashtag #marchtogratitude, if you know how – but no pressure if you don’t…..because it’s not about that. It’s about seeing the beauty all around you. It’s about seeing the beauty even in the mundane, in the good times and the bad times, even in grief filled times.

I honestly believe that choosing to look for, and intentionally see the good, has helped me get through some really, REALLY tough situations. And it’s not like I’m all Pollyanna or Mary Poppins over here, I wallow! Oh man, do I wallow, and moan and complain and feel sorry for myself. I let myself feel all the feelings and then I pick myself us and look for the beauty. I search for the good. I look for things that shine however dimly within the darkness. I acknowledge that there is good and…..because I am looking for it, I find it.

Would you like an example of how this has worked in my life?

In January of 2005, I was pregnant with our 4th child. On January 23rd, he stopped moving and it was the worst day of my life, up to that point. It definitely ranks up there in my top 10 of worst day’s ever. I was far enough along in my pregnancy that I needed to deliver him. The day that he was born, January 24th, 2005, was such a dark and painful day. (That whole year after, was surreal.) I remember sitting at our kitchen table, that evening; and someone dropped off a meal, some cookies and a bottle of wine. I remember looking up at Jon through my tears, smiling and saying that I guessed it was a positive that I could have a glass of wine, now that I wasn’t pregnant.

Obviously, I’d take my child being alive over being able to have a glass of wine, ANY DAY. But even in my haze of grief, I was searching for something good.

As those dark days went on, I remember thinking to myself that Nathaniel’s life couldn’t be in vain, that his tiny, short life, needed to have value and worth. I knew it must but I couldn’t see beyond the pain and grief. When the haze finally cleared enough, I could see that, his legacy was one of compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and understanding. Without the personal loss, I wouldn’t have valued life as much as I currently do. I feel so deeply for people who suffer loss on any level and I seek to understand what they are going through. These are my lights within the darkness. The good things that have come from desolation and despair……and I have so many others. Maybe I’ll share some of them with you over the next month.

If you don’t have stories like this, be thankful. Be SO thankful for the good things….but know that there is good even within the “bad.”

It’s easy to go about our day’s, just making it through but every once in a while I like to be really intentional about my gratitude and I find that I get SO much out of it.

Would you join me? I’d love to walk this with you.

Living a Life of Gratitude

I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

(If I had a sound track of my life that would be the title song. Obviously I’d need to write it because it doesn’t exist, but that line would feature heavily, as it’s kind of what I do.)

You are an AMAZING Community of people…..Ya! YOU! And I love when I share about something that I’ve made or been thinking about and how you all encourage me and share your thoughts. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day, when I get a response from you.

Some of what I’ve been thinking about is Gratitude and how we, too often focus on the negative.

Oh, I’m late to school again.

Oh I have to make lunches.

Oh, My house is always messy.

I said this this morning as I frantically cleaned because we have a play date with a friend who has autism. My little friends (and even the not so little ones)…..I LOVE them to death. There is something so pure and innocent about their ability to speak the unfiltered truth . I want to live like this. I want to be a truth speaker, in love, but to not hide in ambiguity and half-truths. Oh, I’ve been on the receiving end of that spoken truth, MANY TIMES. I can’t tell you how many times, my boys have said, “Mom, I know you’re fat but I love how your tummy squishes when I snuggle you.”

Ooooof! They are actually complimenting me but too often we focus on the negative and miss the good parts. They love my squishy hugs and I love hugging them. Win/win!

As I was thinking about this, this morning, it hit me. We could have a month of gratitude. I mean, technically we should have a life of gratitude, but baby steps, people!

So, starting March 1st, I’d love to invite you to join me as I “Flip the script” and be thankful and live a (month) filled with Gratitude. It should be easy. (Famous last words, I know!) but we just need to find a minimum of 1 thing a day. Just find one thing every day that you can be thankful or grateful for. I’ll even suggest a list of easy cheat items that you can be thankful for, if it’s a really BAD DAY! HA!

I’ll be posting here, on my Facebook page and Instagram and I’d love it if you would join me in one of those spaces. There is such power and strength in community and I guarantee that you’ll be able to re-frame some things that happen in your life, over the month of March. I mean, come on! It’s Spring Break, we’re gonna need to dig deep and find things to be thankful for.

Comment below or on my Facebook page and let me know that you’ll be joining me.

****************

Now here’s where I’m gonna do a little shameless self promotion and I don’t want you to feel pressured AT ALL, by my next words….

BUT!!!!!

I do have some notebooks and journals listed on Amazon and I’ve found that when I have a place to list the things that I’m thankful for, it seems more meaningful and seems to “stick” better. You could use any journal or notebook or even just a piece of paper, but If you happened to love one of my journals, I htink that would be SO cool!

Here are a few to look at:

You Are Enough

I Choose Joy

My Gratitude Journal

You Make A Difference Everyday

Or you can see if there are other ones that you like better here!

Again, NO PRESSURE! You can use any note book!

Let me know if you’re in, I’m excited to start this and I hope you are too!