Monday, September 24, 2012

Joy Dare Monday: small things

Small things can be so precious. This week there was a lot of small things noticed. As well, I celebrated some things that didn't happen (I didn't spill paint!) to how I felt in a particular moment.

821. chair yoga
822. laughing
823. creating
824. not spilling paint on carpet
825. surprised that I missed a day of writing down gifts
826. smell of ginger on a summer evening
827. ants! #^$#%# ants!
828. white chocolate frappe
829. white skirt
830. white vinegar
831. Heart Light affirmations
832. lisianthus

833. tired pup

834. dog wriggling into a forbidden (to dogs) room on his back
835. catching a breath of a cool still morning
836. choir
837. fixing a mixed media piece -- waking up and knowing how
838. dog scattering weed seeds with his head

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Joy Dare Monday: finding gifts during a hot week...

A week of record  hot temperatures here has made looking for gifts a little harder. It's difficult to get up the energy to look (or do anything, really).

800. carpenter bee
801. public transit woes
802. cool cloudy morning
803. not getting a chair at seniors yoga (I am not a senior!)
804. the space between breaths
805. dragonfly
806. For Ann, for Liz, for Jennifer and Jennifer: speaking to me (via their blogs) of story and not waiting for all the pieces
807. cooking breakfast with a friend
808. chat with Chris
809. being a choir robe mannequin
810. overcast  but sweaty
811. spicy chicken wings
812. cool air in the morning
813. lisianthus rebloomed

a bit wilty from the heat. More buds on it though!
814. red flock all over white shirt
815. early morning ant swarm in bathroom
816. chanting

817. man-cold (link to YouTube video of Brit TV skit. Trust me. Hilarious.)

818. cleaning up my art room
819. dog's big eyes looking up at me
820. updated computer doesn't like linqto chat room any more (thank goodness I still have my old laptop so I could join in the chat!)

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Happy Distraction... a new journal

I had planned today to create this journal. The morning was a bit of an emotional roller coaster after a night of little to no sleep. I also had a couple of church tasks to do ...

And then I thought to myself: making this journal will make you feel better.

And it did.


It started out looking like this (on the bottom):

And here's the end result:

 The cover was a bit too threadbare (don't you love how worn and beaten-up it is?) So I ran some beaded ribbon down the side where it was the worst (you can still see a wee gap on the left), and there's some seam binding I'd picked up from somewhere that was just the right color ...

I used some red flocked paper for the end papers (and my white shirt is all over it.)

And re-used some of the album frames, which I filled with vintage wallpaper as a base. I'm finally using the good stuff that I treasure.

The other pages are watercolor paper, and this is going to be my art journal for the next four weeks as I embark on the Chickadee Studio Sessions.

Edited to add: oops! I forgot to say that I used one of the techniques taught by Mary Ann Moss in her Full Tilt Boogie class.

When you roll out of the wrong side of the bed what do you do to "reboot"?

(Editing to add again: I just realized I could add this to Claudia's "A Favorite Thing" blog party!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Three Steps to Telling My Story

Step One

It started out as three words during a meditation while on retreat in October 2011. We'd been asked to either reflect on what our calling in life might be -- or to reflect on what it is, if we had one. At the time, I fell into the latter category.

"Tell your story." Those were the words, coming after I'd stopped writing fiction and had even finished mourning that the fiction I'd been writing since the age of eight was no longer for me.

I fought those words, not sure they came from God at all. (His other message that week was: "Be present.") Was it ego that wanted me back writing? I groaned at the thought of telling my story. The amount of vulnerability it would take. I really wasn't sure I wanted to go there.

I went for a walk, and argued with God. I knelt in the chapel and argued with God. It was a day and a half of wrestling until I was able to have a spiritual direction session.

I was given the wisdom that I didn't have to spill all my guts in order to make an impact on someone who needed to hear God loved them.

I came home, shared with my boss (and priest), and we thought it might be telling my story could be part of my job at Good Sam ...

Nevertheless, I took December off from blogging to work out what it was I wanted this blog to be, and relaunched it with the idea of telling parts of my story, my daily walk in journeying with God.

Step Two

I left my job at the end of June, having held the tension of being both employee and parishioner (church member) for too long. In discerning whether or not this was the right thing to do, or just a sign I needed a break/perspective readjustment, re-opened the opportunity to live into the call of last October more fully. To figure out what exactly God meant by telling my story.

And so, I've been discerning, and keeping myself busy. A little too busy, but I've worked out the balance of that now, I think.

God speaks through other people and I've been encouraged by words I have read online, many of those posts ending up in my God's Love Stories series.

One of these was Jennifer Fulwiler's post on St. Francis. It was a re-post from two years ago, long before I started reading her blog.

While St. Francis was praying, he got the message: "Rebuild my church." St. Francis took him literally and rebuilt the church he was praying in .... but it turned out that God wanted him to reform the church -- and thus the Franciscan order came to be.

Maybe this is why I have an affinity for that St. Francis statue at the retreat house...

Perhaps all I need to do was start writing down my story and the rest of it would come later.

I shared this with my spiritual director and I honestly don't remember the result of that conversation.

Still, I delayed.

Step Three

By the time of the Labor Day long weekend, I began to feel like I wasn't hearing God at all. I had nothing for this blog except for two pre-written posts. Perhaps I was influenced by Christianne's Dark Night of the Soul series, or perhaps it was the mini-vacation and falling out of the routine of prayer...

I received a phone call. Could I come back in for another test? I was scheduled for two days later.

I prayed. This wasn't the first time I'd had to get further tests (and I hope you don't mind, but I don't want to get into the specifics.) At the time of initially writing this, I hadn't gone back in yet.

The idea came to me during the day of being kind to myself and steering clear of obsessive worry over something which I have no control -- is this God's clue by four? (as of old, when I wasn't a very good listener.) Is God telling me to get going on what he has asked me to do?

Or am I now reacting out of fear? Fear of -- well, let's not go there because I'll just spiral into a mess -- but ultimately, fear of failing God?

I wrote this the day before the test. The plan is to hold off on posting it until I've gotten the results and spoken to my spiritual director.

As a Result...

It's Wednesday.

First, I'm fine.

Second, my spiritual director advised that we can never 100% know if we've discerned something from God, and the way to figure it out, is to test it.

I guess kind of like St. Francis collecting rocks to rebuild the church.

So I've decided to start writing it down, off-line, for now, and doing some other work to support this.

Liz Lamoreux wrote in her email newsletter which came in the mail today about being real and being seen as your real self. To tell the stories about yourself that you only tell to a few trusted friends.

I am almost tempted to go back up a few paragraphs and give you specifics as to what God used, but something is holding me back and I think it's worth exploring what that something is. It's not Commonwealth politeness (when we Commonwealers get very very British).

But this something is a hurdle to overcome if I am to tell my story.

There are many more steps to telling my story, it appears.

Have you ever struggled with a calling?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Joy Dare Monday...

My apologies -- this week the list contains a few items that I've chosen not to share. Health stuff is a little TMI for a blog so I'm just gonna leave that stuff out. I guess I've discovered the limit to how real I can be here.

780. fast transit into airport and thru security
781. coming home
782. online grocery order
783. [redacted]
784. bright orange sunset
785. new gloria (choir practice is back!)
786. [redacted]
787. coloring in
788. possible clue by four
789. starting to write
790. walking properly again (blisters healing)
791. [redacted]
792. remembering to make dinner in the slow cooker just in time
793. playing with paint
794. getting food bags ready
795. pizza
796. pink flowers

797. sweat dripping off my hair while in choir
798. respecting my sabbatical
799. ice cold ice block

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trying to Be...

Recently, I complained about how I'd replaced the busyness of paid work with the busyness of not-working. That all my schedule-making to make space for intentional listening for God's plan for me had kept me busy in the transitioning out, but not the transitioning in.

Have you ever felt that the time is gone before you'd even started what you hoped or planned to do?

One morning last week, I took a step back.

I have a number of "honey do" tasks still waiting my attention. I have gained proficiency with the caulking gun and sort-of-not-really with spackle paste in an effort to prove that I am still a productive member of society -- or at least this household.

I went so far that morning as to retrieve tools from the garage for the next "honey do" task.

But something drew me to the back patio door. Ah, I remember what it was. I was a dog short, so I went looking for him.

Sure enough, he was under the tree sniffing away.

And I felt the soft breeze and thought, maybe I should just sit and be before getting to that task.

In making that choice, I saw the single strand of spider silk that stretched across the entire width of our small backyard.

I saw tiny footprints left by the skunk who lives under our back patio.

So I left the tools on the dining room table and collected another set: a cup of White Ginger Pear tea (with milk and sugar), my journal, my Joy Dare thanksgiving journal, a pen, a book and my camera.

That necessitated several trips: water set to boil, a camera battery dying ...

I journaled, reflecting on questions asked in the book I'm slowly working through: "The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom" by Christine Valters Paintner. I sipped my tea. I listened intentionally whilst doing lectio divina. I watched my dogs sun themselves and caught a brief glimpse of a white cabbage butterfly as it disappeared in foliage.

My dogs roamed, settled only for a minute, as if they'd taken on my anxiety of doing. One moved back and forth trying to find the perfect spot in the sun. The other went inside, came back out to me and went inside to bark at something happening out the front.

Yep, that sounds like a never-still, anxious to be doing something of worth, me.

I spent about half an hour out there, though it felt longer in a beautiful, watching-the-river-slide-by kind of way. (I don't have a view of a river from my backyard.)

As for the "honey do" list?

The tools stayed on the dining room table until the next day.

By the end of my intentionally-being-present session, I realized that I had an even more important "honey do" item: getting my hair cut before our anniversary weekend.

The balance is being kept in a less-regulated way: being faithful in prayer (even if it doesn't occur exactly at the "decreed" time); a little bit of art; a little bit of "honey do" and finally, listening intentionally: both to what is occupying and distracting me as well as creating space for God to put a word in.

How do you keep balance in your life?

Linking up with:

and Ann Voskamp's "Walk with Him Wednesdays".

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Joy Dare Monday:

757. pretty closing trope (sort of a refrain thingy at the end of Lauds)
758. art in the morning
759. mixing my own icon paint colors
760. choosing to stop and be on the back patio before the heat hit
761. and spotting a single spiderweb strand across the width of the backyard
762. and spotting clear skunk footprints on our patio deck
763. and, alas, running back and forth to find a functional camera to take pictures of the same
764. dogs sunning themselves while I read, and drink tea
765. smooth white ginger pear tea
766. a "Hairspray" worthy haircut and style (so I could see what to do when dressing up to go out or to church). Can I confess I sorta kinda liked it? (Although I'd never in a million years put that much work into my hair.)
767. a dress that fits (the last time I tried it on it was super-tight)
768. being able to sign up for new classes
769. dripping with sweat
770. airplane breakfast potatoes
771. 24k gold on building top

is it obvious it was my favorite building in Chicago?
772. blisters on blisters
773. Chicago flip flops

774. virgin martyrs painting
775. free chocolate cake
776. I should wear this dress more often

bad lighting -- and this is after I took off pantyhose and flip-flops!
777. a husband who loves me.
778. wind in the windy city
779. funny tour guide
780. fast transit into airport and through security
781. coming home

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

God's Love Stories ... for September

hibiscus @ the zoo
A short list this month. I'm sure as soon as this is published, I will find more. The theme this month seems to be living with compassion, whether it be talking to those who vehemently disagree with you, saving unwanted lives, and being kind to yourself.
  • this one missed last month's list by minutes. A story of a Chinese woman who rescued 30 babies from the trash, while making her living going through the trash; found via Ann Voskamp.
  • Have Lunch with Your Enemy by Jennifer Louden; found via Liz Lamoreaux's blog. Be sure to watch the TED video she links to at the end of her post: it contains guidelines for such conversations.
  • Emily at Chatting at the Sky posted this as one of her weekend blessings.
And lastly, if you're looking for a way to bring a creative practice (art, writing, photography, etc) into your life and need support cultivating that practice, check out Chickadee Road's Fall Studio Sessions. One of the leader is Liz Lamoreaux of Inner Excavation that helped me look at things in a new way. I signed up!