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.