Stuff I Like: Yeats and that magical love stuff

I believe that you and I were

Cut from the same cloth

The same piece of fabric filled with stars

And Time’s just been biding herself

To see God stitch us back together.”

I’m taking a micro-break from my frenzied novel-writing adventure this month to share this little tidbit with you all.

This blog is (theoretically) all about “reframing wonder” into our everyday framework, and being able to appreciate the magic of the little things in our sometimes mundane grown-upness. The most powerful magic to me will always be love, simply because I have never seen a force operate with so much power.

You are free to interpret that how you wish, but I will tell you that for me, I see this magical love stuff in its most amazing form when it comes from God, who pours out His love extravagantly upon his people, who have done nothing to deserve it. I believe this love is transformative; I have seen it change people’s lives – it has changed mine completely.

When we love others, we get to experience that transformative power, and there is nothing like it in the universe. I think this is part of the reason (especially in our modern culture, but it’s been seen over and over throughout history) that we spend so much time dreaming about love, chasing after love, making it into this ideal that we can’t get enough of in our stories.

For centuries, poets and artists have been seeking to capture the essence of love in their work. As I currently find myself in the middle of writing someone else’s love story in novel form for NaNoWriMo, and as this post is brought to you by one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats, I thought I would share a poem of his that struck me from the first moment my college literature professor recited it during a lecture. I found it in a collection of Yeats poems titled, “A Poet to His Beloved.” Even in the titles of things we can’t get away from the stuff. I think it’s worth considering, wondering at, and pursuing.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

                                                               – W.B. Yeats

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Tuesdays in Autumn

One month ago, on September 16, I was in a van on my way to the Boston airport after an incredible week at Squam Art Workshops (which I blogged about here and here).

Now, on October 16, it is a Tuesday afternoon, and I am working away in front of my laptop. Life seems disastrously less exciting after experiencing an adventure, but for me I am trying to reframe those feelings of longing into a fueled desire to continue on my creative path.

It’s Autumn now in the Pacific Northwest, which can bring about even more feelings of despair and discouragement, simply because of the potential dreariness of the days. However, we were gifted with a few extra weeks of yummy sunshine and cloudless skies, so I’m hoping I can hold onto the memory of being warm and dry long enough to propel me into Winter with sufficient hope to get me through to Spring. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually like Autumn and Winter quite a lot, what with all the pumpkin patches and scarves, family goodness and holidays that accompany the weather shift, but the dark days can wear on a person – particularly an emotional creative-type like me who can be affected by the smallest of things. I recognize this, I own it, and I am working on it. My goal this year is to channel those emotions toward creative outlets rather than giving in to depression.

So, with that little confession out of the way, I look forward to November and the reemergence of NaNoWriMo, in which I will harness those cloud-filled skies and fill my days with an abundance of coffee and imagination in order to undertake the writing of a novel – yes, an entire novel – in just 30 short days.

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m okay with that. I have tried it once before and failed miserably, and yet I am still excited to try again, with hope for a much more positive outcome this time around. And as you may know, crazy people love to hang out with other crazy people, so if anyone would care to join me in this adventure, I would adore the company!

What are you planning to do to channel your creativity in the Autumn and Winter seasons? I’d love to hear about it.

Enjoying the crisp days ahead,

xo, me

Things Take Time

We live in such a “microwave” culture that I sometimes wonder how we ever got by before instant gratification took over everything in our lives. When I was a child, things moved more slowly. I remember this, and I remember the wonder as technology and modernity progressed and things suddenly starting showing up at our fingertips in the blink of an eye. Where did this magic come from, I marveled as I sat down at our first Apple computer and sent an email. And we were progressive for having that in our home when we did – it was one of the perks of being raised by a computer nerd when the species was only just evolving. I loved (and still love) being the child of a techie, and in turn becoming a bit of one myself. And I can’t help but love all of the things that technology gives to us – there are so many benefits that come from being instantly gratified when we want something: information, connections with people across the country and around the globe, sharing a plethora of delights, etc.

But there comes a point, and this is where I am today, where you have to stop and wonder what happened to our sense of calm and just letting things unfold naturally? Nobody these days, it seems, is willing to wait and let processes occur organically. Because we’ve become so conditioned to wanting something and having it appear on our screens or phones instantly (or at the very most two days later via express shipping to our doorsteps), waiting for things to unfold languidly and beautifully is almost as absurd a request as asking to elect both major presidential candidates and making them work together (and that will be my only political commentary here folks!).

I’m in the process of developing a business. While this isn’t the time or place to divulge more on the specifics of that project, the fact that I am working on this is what sparked this post. I get so excited about it at times that I just want to jump forward and have everything going, yet at the same time the project is still so undefined and just starting to grow and develop. I have to remind myself that this part of the process is just as important and beautiful as the part in the future when everything is working. You can’t send your infant straight to college. She won’t flourish if she’s not prepared. Just as children need time to grow, so do other things.

Things take time. Well, good things take time. And while it’s nice sometimes to have our whims dropped in our laps instantly, often whatever it is we want isn’t really as satisfying when it’s handed to us as opposed to when we have to go through the struggle of waiting. “Patience produces character.” (Romans 5:4 NCV) I want to be a person of patience and character, producing good work, not by pushing but by persevering.

I vote that we spend more of our days operating on “Island Time.” I want to enjoy the peace that comes from allowing things to unfold – naturally, organically, in their own time. Rushing the process often leads to messes we have to clean up later, and frankly, I’d rather enjoy my moments instead of doing unnecessary mopping.

xo, me

 

Squam Musings: Part Deux

One of my favorite moments that came out of attending the Squam Art Workshops last week in New Hampshire actually occurred while I was on my way home. On the plane from Boston back to Portland, Oregon, I sat by to two young men who were on their way home after running a half-marathon in Boston. The one sitting next to me asked (while I was reading the article on Squam in Taproot, ironically) if I had been on vacation or visiting friends in Boston, and I told him that, no, I had actually been attending an art workshop in New Hampshire. He looked surprised (or maybe intrigued?) and asked, “Oh, so are you an artist then?” And for the first time in my own recollection, I replied with a smile, “Yes, I am an artist.” And it felt really great to say it out loud, to a total stranger, and feel validated in that realization.

I am an artist.

The following is a little poem I wrote on the last morning while sitting in our screened-in porch and watching the sunlight sparkle on the lake. Below are some more photos from my journey. Enjoy!

Squam is…

this quirky little kingdom that is nothing like the real world,

                                                     yet how we wish the real world were more often.

perfect in its imperfection

a place of rest and acceptance

the lost hoping to be found

the found wanting to get lost

a lake filled with hope and untapped potential

the discovery of self

the start of a journey

the end of wishing you could…

                                 …and finally doing.

16 September 2012

My hope is that you will all one day find a place like this, where you can settle in and feel free to be yourself – as you were created, in all the ways that make you unique.

xo, me

The Wonder of Discovery: Squam Part One

“We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted it to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” – Donald Miller

I’m perpetually good at categorizing myself with really crippling words. I tell myself that I’m not adventurous. That I’m not brave. That I’m not an artist. I like to hide behind the comfort of the safe little life I’ve been creating for myself, but I’m realizing that I’m tired of telling myself about the things I am not (which are false, by the way), and I’m terrified of the thought that I really might be creating a small life. So I’m doing something about it.

Last week, I took Don’s advice and I left. I packed my bags and I flew across the country to spend five days in the woods of New Hampshire at Squam Art Workshops

Not knowing a soul, I took a step of faith and ran from my comfort zone into a world completely unlike my boxed, neat little existence. And yet, in a way, it wasn’t so unlike me. I take more risks than I realize, though I tell myself and others that I’m not much of a risk-taker. Regardless of the stories I tell myself (true or otherwise), there I was on the other side of the country with a large group of strangers, and as I was trying not to panic, I recalled this advice: “Strangers are merely friends you haven’t met yet.”

And goodness, how true that was this week! In a manner typical to the strange things that tend to happen in my life, I found upon arrival that I had been switched to a different cabin. And although I’m sad that I didn’t get to interact with the ladies in my original cabin, I know that I ended up in Brae Cove for a reason. I have heard that Elizabeth has a gift for putting people together, and I can attest to the truth of this. The women who I am happy to now call friends were instrumental in making my time at Squam exactly what it needed to be. They brought such kindness, openness, and encouragement not only to me but to one another. And for being a group of returning friends, I was blessed that they welcomed me into their group without hesitation. Nicola, Stacee, Lily, Liz, Lisa, Karen, Kerry, Sharyn, Maureen, and Donna, I am so glad to have shared this experience with you!

Aside from meeting so many lovelies, I took fantastic classes as well – Cupcakes (baking and food styling/photography) with Helene Dujardin, and Pages and Paint (mixed media painting/collage and journaling) with Sarah Ahearn. Both women are brilliant and so lovely, as artists and as teachers. I made delicious cupcakes from scratch and received insight from Helene on how to improve my photography and play with a new photography genre.

Ready for cupcakes!

Helene and Calley

Testing my new skills

Having never really painted, I was stretched wonderfully in Sarah’s class and have a new desire to further explore this medium. 

Sarah and Kelley on the dock during Pages and Paint

My (almost) finished piece.

And on Saturday, I had the opportunity to take a No-Stress Storytelling workshop with Camille DeAngelis, who is a dear. She provided us with tools and inspiration and let us go explore. It was fantastic to take the time to be inspired and let things go with my writing, and I’m now preparing to participate in NaNoWriMo again in November.

My inspirations.

I have many more thoughts to process about Squam, so I will save those for another post, along with more pictures.

xo, me

August Afternoon

Something struck me this afternoon while I was working, and I just needed to get. outside. So I grabbed my trusty Canon and went to the backyard to see what I might see through my camera lens and hopefully soak up some of that summer sun and delicious light.

May your afternoon be a breath of fresh air and a splash of color. : )

Fighting Perfectionism

I am a perfectionist.

There, I’ve admitted it. It’s kind of freeing, in a way, to just let those words float there and be able to look at them and realize the absurdity of my reality. Why do we stretch for perfection in a world where it cannot ever be fully achieved? For some, it is an encouragement; a reason to keep pushing, pursuing a path of the best outcome possible.

But for me, my perfectionism is crippling much more than it is empowering. If I don’t believe that I can complete something in a manner that matches my ridiculous standards, I am likely to give up on it quickly and pretend that I never started it in the first place, or worse, I won’t ever begin at all. The first response is bad because it is deceitful, both to myself and others. The second is terrible because I’m stopping myself from living life to the full and growing in the process of making mistakes.

So, my current challenge to myself is to let myself make those mistakes, to not be perfect, and to let people know that I’m failing at things and that it’s okay. I’m putting my pride on the shelf. And I’m going to make some messes. And I hope that I’ll learn something excellent from them.

And if I start getting overwhelmed with my compulsive need to get things “just so” immediately, this guy will help remind me not to take life so seriously.

 

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – JK Rowling, 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech