Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inhaling Goodbye

Sometimes reaching the end of an adventure lets you realize that it really is more of a beginning than an ending, even though you have to close a door.

If I am honest with myself, my heart really wasn’t in this adventure from about February on.  

I had such grand plans when I started just over a year ago on my 44th birthday... of turning my life and maybe even the world upside down with a quest to add more creativity to my daily life.

I loved the format, the idea and the theme... but as I wrestled with my own personal issues after my father died, Nick’s mother fell ill and some other upheavals which shall remain private, I felt as if I was failing at so many things, especially this blog.

I do know that trying to practice Creativity daily kept me sane.

I discovered that sometimes you do need to plan instead of just boldly leaping into something and ending up with a bit of a belly flop.

I know that I will come back to this idea someday, perhaps after I have played a bit more.

For now, however, it is time to take a very deep breath and say goodbye to this blog.

THANK YOU for all the fun along the way!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Being Creative in Prayer...

If I learned nothing else over the past 15 weeks of family chaos, trials, tribulations and joys, it is that I need to focus when I pray.  I have one of those brains that is more like a habitrail than a hamster wheel.  My worries and prayers run off on all kinds of tangents, twists and turns until it forms some mobius loop of angst in my soul and functioning becomes difficult.

We don’t have rosaries or worry beads in the United Church Tradition, but as I began to look at how many cultures use beads or stones to help focus for meditation and prayer, this little idea began to grow in the back of my mind.

What if I could create some anchors to help me keep on track as I prayed?  What if I could break the basic things I tend to pray about on a regular basis into categories that would repeat in a cycle which I could separate with special beads.

So... I’ve begun to explore the idea, making little shapes out of Fimo.  I will have to rummage through my stash of special beads or have an excuse to visit beading places!

I’m not quite sure where this will lead yet, but exploring the Spiritual side of my Creativity is just another fun part of this adventure.

INHALE:   Faith is something that we may grow up with, we may change how we experience, we may question or we may finally make our own instead of just accepting the beliefs of our parents.  It is something that many of us use as a foundation on which to base our value system, our outlook on the world and even our hopes for the future.  Above all, it is something intensely personal, even if it is celebrated in community.  Thinking about where we fit in relationship to the world, the cosmos and all things eternal puts us in great company.  Many of the most creative people in our history have explored this side of their lives.

EXHALE:  Whatever faith you celebrate, or even if you are still asking yourself questions about what you believe, think about how you could practice that more creatively.  Could you make a quiet, inviting space somewhere in your house?  Could you make a candle to light during your devotional time?  Keep a prayer or gratitude journal?  The possibilities are almost as the Universe in which we live.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Using Creativity To Make A Difference...

Sometimes, life events and disasters happen that make us feel completely overwhelmed. It is much easier, we tell ourselves, to hide from reality than to face something seemingly hopeless face on.

But Creativity whispers to our hearts that anything is possible, as long as we try.

Illustrator Kelly Light has found an incredibly Creative way to deal with the Gulf Oil DIsaster.  Artists from all over the world are donating tiny original paintings, drawings or digital prints to be sold to anyone who makes a $10.00 donation to two organizations helping to tackle this disaster. "Swan Song" (shown above) and "What Greed Can Do" (below) are two of the images that I will be sending in to Kelly for this cause.

INHALE:  Never give up hope.  Something beautiful or creative can come from almost any disaster or tragedy if we keep looking for possibilities.  Just look at the infinite variety of how different artists of all ages and walks of life have felt moved to contribute.  It may almost take your breath away!

EXHALE:  If you can draw, paint or doodle, consider creating a piece of artwork for this worthy cause.  If you prefer to appreciate art rather than create it yourself, browse through this blog and keep an eye out for an image that appeals to you.  Follow the blog, spread the word and make a difference.  The card I bought arrived in the mail a few days ago and now graces the wall of my office.  Remember that you can always use your Creativity to make the world a better and more beautiful place.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The thing about taking on an ambitious project and doing it in front of the world is that when you fail, you fail spectacularly.  It sometimes makes picking up the pieces more difficult.

Just over 9 months ago, I began what I thought would be a fairly simple adventure... take one year of my life to explore how to add more creativity to each day...a 365 day adventure.

The funny thing about thinking of each day as including an INHALE and EXHALE activity was that somewhere along the line as our lives got more and more stressful, I wasn’t just gasping for air, I literally forgot how to breathe.

Stress makes you do funny things. 

I would wake gasping from a dream of being smothered with my heart racing and then be unable to get back to sleep.

I found myself getting lost in simple, mindless things like watching odd TV shows or playing Farmville on Facebook after a long day of substitute teaching instead of picking up a pencil to sketch or a needle to stitch.

So to those who were waiting for me to offer some guidance along the way in this adventure, I apologize for the huge gap in this blog.

I didn’t even journal through this stretch of darkness, which is really odd for me.  It was as if I wanted to have no proof of this dark time and my black thoughts anywhere.

While I went out and smiled when I was teaching, meeting with clients or doing Zoomba classes, at home I curled up, hid and just tried to keep my lungs working, even as my mother-in-law had to have a whole section of hers removed. Nick and I were each trying to comfort the other when we didn’t feel strong ourselves, hoping to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.  I am sure they saw through some of our cracks.

After a very long stretch, almost 15 weeks, my mother-in-law is home from the hospital, weak but on the mend.  Nick is wrapping up a school year that is ending with chaos and uncertainty as his school gets downsized to move students to a new school as boundaries get redrawn.  The girls are ending up their year on a high note with Erin earning a spot on Team NB for volleyball, the elite provincial team along with an academic award for Grade 9.  Bethany’s awards ceremony is this week and she is hopeful about her marks earning her some recognition as well.

As for me, I have spent enough time in the quiet to realize that INHALING CREATIVITY could never be a single year’s adventure.  It is going to take me quite a few years to put together a daily creativity adventure to follow or share.  I am starting to feel as if this is not just something to try for a year, but rather a way to live and keep breathing on a daily basis for the rest of my life.

Through all this chaos, I still found myself doodling, rummaging for wool, staring at floor tile patterns or looking for shapes in clouds.  I even found heart shapes in watermelons and bits of discarded plastic.

Maybe this isn’t anything I can turn off.  

Maybe choosing Inhalations and Exhalations was the right image after all.

It’s time to take a deep breath and begin again.

Join me tomorrow for the first new breath of this adventure.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Creativity in Theatre...

Tonight, our family went to see the production of CATS at Erin’s high school, Harrison Trimble .  For the past few weeks, Erin and I have helped paint two young men in their leotards and part of the set.  We’ve had glimpses of the many hands that go into such a big production behind the scenes, but tonight, we got to see everything come together for the Friday night show.

I was blown away!

From the amazing set to the fabulous choreography put together by one of the Grade 12 students for the entire show, I felt a warm glow of pride swell to a tidal wave of astonishment as the night unfolded.

Kids that I have seen in a classroom setting as a substitute teacher astounded me with their acting, singing and dancing prowess on the stage.  If I found it incredible to see them shine, how much more pride and wonder did their regular teachers feel, especially those who have known these students since they were the age Erin is now in Grade 9?

One of the most amazing thing about turning Creativity loose among young people is that they haven’t lost their ability to dream big, to shoot for the stars and to take on something that a group of adults might think was impossible.

Thank you, all of you CATS, for reminding me how much fun it is to watch a dream take flight!

INHALE:  What have you wanted to be a part of but held yourself back?  What dream have you tucked away on a shelf as impossible or unattainable?  In a world that places so much emphasis on “all or nothing”, perhaps we need to learn how to take those forgotten dreams down, dust them off a bit and see if there isn’t a way to turn them loose on a world that could use more wonder in it...

EXHALE:  Make plans to put one of those dreams into action by taking baby steps.  If you love to sing, is there a choir or group that you could get involved with?  If you dreamed of being an artist, is there an evening course that you could dabble in rather than jumping right to a gallery show?  This is the time of year when brochures come out for summer camps and programs, so start taking a look at the possibilities and remember that when you shoot for the stars, you might just land on the moon.

Tonight it was a Jellicle moon. Bravo cast and crew at HTHS!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Creativity in Prayer...

When your child is hurt, even if it is minor, you become VERY creative in your prayers.

“Please spare my child this pain...”

“Please let it be me instead...”

“Please help me make her see that she has more than one dream and more than one option in life...”

I feel selfish wrestling with this when there are parents tonight out there watching their children starve to death slowly... parents who are sitting by a hospital bed wondering if they have to say goodbye tonight or not... parents who do not know where their children are tonight.

This is just a wrenched knee and preventative medicine for an overeager athlete who thought she was a bit more indestructible than she proved to be.

But as she cried last night in Emergency, fearing suddenly that her dreams of a volleyball career or University scholarship (I must point out that she is only in Grade 9 but comes from two type A personality parents) were shattered, I wanted to do or promise anything to just be able to make it better.

When we came home and I got her to bed, creeping in to my own bed later after getting my work done, I was very creative with my prayers every time those dark fingers of fear curled their way around my heart. 

I thought about pointing out all her other gifts to her.  

I thought about the “wherever God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window” line.

I prayed pink clouds of healing surrounding her and her knee in the night.

I remembered the most important lesson that I have been learning along this journey.

Just breathe.  Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

INHALE: Sometimes we are most creative without holding anything in our hands.  No crafting supplies, no paintbrush, no pen.  Sometimes we are most Creative with the stirrings of our souls and our dreams, our prayers and our wishes, our plans and our possibilities.  As long as we remember that we always have choices and that there are always new options we might not have thought about, the curve balls that life tends to throw at us won’t be so bad.  That is SO much easier to type than to live out!

EXHALE:  Pick one worry in your life right now that feels overwhelming.  When you lie there trying to fall asleep or take a moment for yourself to journal, explore all the possibilities in your head.  What would be the worst thing that could happen?  How could you cope with that?  What might be a solution that you’ve overlooked as being too “out of the box”?  What have you got to lose?  Erin was given the choice to rest her knee now and see if it heals or know that she will miss out playing in the Easterns in 28 days.  Sometimes waiting and healing is all we can do.  Be Creative in your prayers and in how you face your fears!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eggstremly Enjoyable...

My fingers now have several layers of paint that will be difficult to explain tomorrow morning at church.

Friday after church, Erin and I went over to her high school to help paint two young men in their unitards for the upcoming CATS musical.

This morning, we sat down as a family to dye our Easter eggs.  For Erin’s friend, Holly, who had slept over the night before, this was a first.  She had never dyed eggs before so we introduced her to just how many colours a family of artists need to prepare for this eggstravaganza.

We showed her how to use a white crayon to do wax resist patterns and she proved that creativity lives within us all as she made her very first Easter egg ever.

Bethany thought this one of hers was worth showing off...

and Erin liked how this egg of hers turned out.

I always take the longest to do my eggs because I keep trying to get as many colours and as much detail as possible on each egg.  For me, it isn’t about how fast I get them done but how much fun I have as I play with the possibilities.  This one was really neat with several layers of wax crayons over the different colours.

My favourite egg cracked when I dropped it from just a few inches above the table as it slipped from my hands... a reminder of how fragile egg painting can be, even when working with hard-boiled eggs. in the end, it is worth all the work!

Tonight,  I helped my best friend spray paint pieces of styrofoam to turn into a fence on the CATS set and added yet another layer of paint to my fingers and no doubt sacrificed a few brain cells to the fumes...but it was enjoyable.

INHALE:  How we celebrate the special occasions in our lives gives us endless opportunities for creativity if we just look for them, give ourselves time to savour it and experience it, ultimately making it part of the celebration itself.

EXHALE:  Whatever way in which you celebrate the turning of the seasons, Easter or Passover, find a moment to make something, cook something, plant something or share something with those you love.  If you have never played with crayons on hard-boiled eggs, buy some kits when they come on sale in the next few days and sit down to play.  You may get messy, but you may also discover that the child within you is not as buried as you thought.