Home Is Where The Story Begins

It feels good to be writing again!  I have not posted in 28 days.  I just counted, and the number actually surprised me!  I started blogging at the end of November, and since then, I have always posted at least once a week, and often more.  Most months, 2 or 3 posts a week was the norm.

Back in November, as I was just starting this blog, I created the image below for my landing page (with the help of my 11 year old son).  It was a fun little project, completed on a big piece of paper early one afternoon, but I wound up not using it.  So today, as I ‘begin again’, I thought would be a good time to share it.

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The other thing that has surprised me is how hard it is to start writing again.  When I was writing all of the time, sitting down to prepare another blog post came quite easily.  Having broken the momentum, though, it’s kind of awkward to begin again.  You know when you hear your own voice on a recording and think, “I sound like that?”  Writing for the first time in a while gives me a similar sensation.

So all this has got me thinking a bit about why I haven’t posted, and how staying at home, and leaving on a trip both play a part in the creative process.

On staying…

We can do simple things at home to create the environment we need. We can surround ourselves with books and quotes, images that inspire, and keepsakes that we love.  We can change the colours in our office, or get a brighter lightbulb for the desk.

In the famous words of Franz Kafka, “It isn’t necessary that you leave home.  Sit at your desk and listen.  Don’t even listen, just wait.  Don’t wait, be still and alone.  The whole world will offer itself to you.”

There is a value in knowing how to stay, especially in today’s world, which is constantly in motion.  Staying teaches us how to change our perspective so that familiarity does not become stale; to see the old through new eyes.   This requires and cultivates a certain creativity and ability to appreciate everyday moments.

On Going…

Still, it is invigorating to change our environment entirely every now and then, and go somewhere different.  Distance is the quickest prescription to refreshing and reviving our spirits, helping us see things in a new way.

The last 28 days for me have included some travel.  Nothing too exotic – we drove west through a couple of provinces to see the mountains (that’s where I took the first  picture of the sign) and visit family.  I haven’t been to the mountains for years, though, so I was excited about it, and I always love to see our families.  The 28 days also included a short period of intense work, as well as hosting out of town guests in our home.  Each of those 28 days was rich and meaningful. There were amusing moments, light with humour and laughter.  Other moments stirred thoughts about life, the passage of time, and even the meaning of bizarre coincidences (more on that soon).

I took this photograph from the passenger's window as we drove through Saskatchewan, "The land of the living sky".
I took this photograph from the passenger’s window as we drove through Saskatchewan, “The land of the living sky”.

In tandem…

It is only now that I am home again that I am ready to reflect on these experiences through writing.  In many ways, home is where I make meaning of the adventures that happen outside its doors.

Home is the firm base from where we can launch into our adventures, and home is often where the story is ready to be told after our return.  And whatever home might mean, and whether the story is a sad or joyful one – in so many ways, the story really does begin at home.

 

Time to Paint

Post by Carina Spring.

It’s been a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. Aside from lots of time with my family, and a delicious supper prepared by my husband and son, Saturday also included plenty of time for creative work.

This Saturday I decided to paint.  What a treat!  I would like to do that more often.

I love the beginnings of paintings, so full of potential.

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There are points in the life of a painting, especially one that is largely developed from the imagination, when you have to decide whether to stop or continue. Is it finished?

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With this painting, I decided to continue. Maybe I should have called it done at the stage illustrated in the second photo (above), because I really liked how it looked and kind of miss it now.

Somehow, though, it didn’t feel finished, so I continued. I suppose that is part of the learning.

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The third picture above is where I stopped painting.   I am not satisfied with it yet, so I know it’s not finished.  It’s time to step back and get a bit of distance from it in order to understand what it needs next.

How I would love to paint every day! Knowing that I would be painting again the next day would help me approach each painting as an experiment- an evolving part of a larger process.

But painting is a very consuming activity, so it is challenging to do when one has a career.  It takes focus and energy that I also need to devote to other aspects of my life. It is even harder when one feels pulled toward various creative outlets: I long to write, and blog, and draw and paint.  I don’t want to – or perhaps just can’t –  choose between these forms of expression.

As I reflect on the past year, I am somewhat encouraged. I have completed several larger drawings, and quite a few small, fun paintings. Little by little, I am finding ways of making visual art a satisfying part of my life.

It takes so much patience, though!!

About the painting…

Images of birds often find their way into my art, and I am sure that is due to childhood experiences that imprinted themselves into the stories that weave through the tapestry of my life.

This painting was loosely inspired by a photograph from a book, as a starting point, but was mostly developed through my imagination.

Though I prefer oils, I worked in acrylics in order to avoid the fumes.

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What a great weekend!  Today is Mother’s Day and is also my aunt’s birthday, so we invited my mom, aunt, and cousin over for lunch. My husband made quiches, and we all relaxed and enjoyed a few hours together.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My Personal Guide to Making Blogging A Worthwhile Pastime ~ Revisited

Post by Carina Spring. 

I have decided to delete the post that originally occupied this space.

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In it, I focused a lot on some vague doubts that had been stirring in the back of my mind.  I am glad I wrote about them and shared them.

In the end, though, they are inconsequential doubts, and my post gave them too much attention and power.

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Now, I feel a sense of freedom letting that post go.

The post also included a list of ideas to help keep blogging feeling like a worthwhile pastime. I may revisit some of those ideas in future posts.

For now, though, it is enough to say that the same truth that makes most creative activities worthwhile also makes blogging worthwhile:

Focus on the doing, the during, the now.

Let go.

And have some fun.

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I’ve kept the comments that responded to the original post. They offer excellent advice, and kindly captured and reflected what matters most. Thanks!

Something I Could Not Resist

Post by Carina Spring.

Image: Redfish Lake Idaho Morning Fog by Charles Knowles, Courtesy of Flickr, CC

Background ~ Inspiration for Today’s Post:

Why don’t I just give up? That was the title of Monday’s post at The Creativity Cauldron. Essentially, the post was about how we sometimes decide to give up “working on a particular creative vent only to return to it.”  In her post, Bekki Hill was wondering why she kept going back to writing a novel, even though she had decided not to work on it this year. She left us with some thought-provoking questions: Have you a similar problem with a different type of creativity? Do you have a theory about why I can’t give up?

The interesting coincidence was that the previous Saturday evening, I had been discussing this very same idea with a woman at a dinner party. We really connected and wound up sharing stories about our creative journeys so far. This woman is a talented singer, and lately had been feeling a strong desire to write. She wasn’t quite sure how to get started, or why she wanted to do it, but the pressing fact was that the desire kept coming back.

The Big Decision:

Years ago, I went through a lenthy period in my life when I was having a hard time doing creative work. I was too busy, and when I actually had the time, I didn’t have the energy.  Top it off with a pretty strong inner critic, and I just couldn’t make creativity a regular, satisfying part of my life. Sure, I would draw or paint occasionally, but the ideas and the ache to create were always present in the back of my mind.  Frustrated by the conflict between my desire to make art, and the inability to get to it, I decided to quit. I was not going to draw, or make any kind of art anymore. I would abandon the whole thing, quietly freeing myself from this problem; I would lead a life without that constant urge to create. Of course, that did not happen. I continued to have that longing in my heart, and the ideas continued to come.

Like A Fog Horn…

One day, I was watching a documentary called Man on Wire, about Philippe Petit and his epic walk on wire across the Twin Towers. I’ve mentioned it before in a previous post, and also linked it to his beautiful Ted Talk. Anyhow, at the time I watched the documentary, I copied some of the most memorable words into my diary.

This was one of the quotes, although to really appreciate it, you should hear it said with his musical French accent:

The only way to become an artist is having no choice,

to be called…                                         

So being called is something beautiful…

First, it’s like a song, like a fog horn… Someone or something calls,

but it is also a provision of faith, and vocation calling…

 

Nadine Schaeffer Cloudforest Flickr CC
Nadine Schaeffer Cloudforest Flickr CC

A couple of days later, in my next diary entry, I realized something:

“This is the hardest thing, in some ways, days like this. Days when you are tired… You feel a bit blue, and routine calls forcefully, rather than the beautiful horn of your vocation. And you wonder, do I even have any talent? Why should I bother? Who am I kidding? When will I ever have time? … It is in these moments when one feels discouraged. Yet, why do I keep dreaming, and thinking, and longing to create? I think that is the fog horn. That part of you that is aching and wishing to be expressed, sometimes more loudly than others…”

In other words, that fact that we keep going back to a certain creative outlet, that inability to abandon it, that is the calling of a vocation.

Letting Go of Resistance …

Philippe Petit reflected, “Something I could not resist, and did not make any effort to resist called me up on that wire.”

In our busy lives, we sometimes put off doing things that we really need to do for ourselves.  That’s life.   One shouldn’t feel guilty about it because there are times when we have important responsibilities, and it is necessary and good for those priorities to guide our time. I don’t want to make it sound like it was a bad period in my life, either. I was happy for other reasons, and I did not resent the choices I needed to make. Still, I knew something was missing.

Eventually, the problem for me was that resisting who I was, resisting what I really needed to be doing, was becoming a habit of thought. Everything else was always the priority.

I have entered a different stage in my life. These days, I work part-time, and although my career still keeps me busy, I have more time to devote to my creative outlets. The wonderful thing is that now I am ready, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I still have a long way to go.  I am still learning, and little by little incorporating creative outlets into my life.

In the end, it is Rudyard Kipling’s words that have often come to mind:

Do the things you really want to do if you possibly can. Don’t wait for circumstances to be exactly right. You’ll find that they never are.”

 

St.Joseph and Benton Harbor Lighthouses - Russell Sekeet, Flickr CC
St.Joseph and Benton Harbor Lighthouses – Russell Sekeet, Flickr CC

Where Do You Like To Do Your Creative Work?

My son and I both have this week off, and it has been a wonderful holiday so far! We have relaxed, and taken some great walks in the beautiful weather. My son spent Saturday with grandma, so my husband and I even had time for a lovely date. And even though time is going fast and it’s already Wednesday, we have made plenty of time for creative work up to this point.

Question, by Graur Codrin, from Freedidigtalfotos.net.

My son has been practicing his drawing skills and working on a small comic strip.  So, busy with all this creative work, we started to think about how different people have different ways of working.

Where do you like to do your creative work? (Writing, drawing… whatever you prefer to do.) Is there a place where you feel your creative juices flow most naturally?

How Some Famous Authors Found Their Flow.

It is fascinating how creative types work best under different conditions, and using different rituals. Here are a few famous examples of how some authors have found their flow:

vintage-typewriter-Witthaya Phonsawatfdp2

Laying Down: Maya Angelou (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) would rent a hotel room for several months at a time. She would ask the staff to remove all visual stimuli from the walls. Then, she would spend about 5 or 6 hours each morning in the hotel room, writing on the bed while leaning on her elbow.

Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) has called himself a “horizontal author”, finding his muse while laying on a couch or a bed.

Standing up:  Apparently, Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man And The Sea standing up! He would wake up at dawn and pour out his thoughts, standing over his typewriter until noon. Then, he would head to the bar!

Out and about: J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) loves to wonder into a cafe with her notebook and write blissfully, seeing where it will take her.

Creative people tend to have their unique preferences!  Some people love to lay down, others sit at a table, or a desk.  Some people like their space cluttered, others like it clear and sparse.  Some like to work in a dark space, others like a bright work area.  Some like a quiet space, others like a lot of action and activity around them.

How About The Humble Hobby Artists Around This House?

A drawing of a small bedroom.

How do we like to work around here?  Well, my son loves to draw (and sometimes write) in the late evening, right before bedtime. He lies down comfortably on the rug on his bedroom floor, and turns on his work lamp. Aside from that light source, he likes the room dark as he gets his ideas down on paper.

Me? When writing, I like to sit comfortably on the couch or, my favourite place to write, on my bed.  I like the room bright with warm light.  Normally, I do my visual art in the studio, but sometimes I even like to sketch while in  bed. In fact, that is where I did the quick sketch featured above. (It is not based on any of the rooms in our house, but rather on the idea of small spaces, which kind of fascinate me). Anyhow, this is all very amusing to my spouse, an early bird who jumps out of bed as soon as he opens his eyes!

Where do you like to work? We’d love to hear about it.

 

Image Credits:

The first image is by saphatthachat, the second image is by Graur Codrin, and the third image is by Witthaya Phonsawat.  All of three images are courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

 

The Shapes in Our Clouds

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

~Pablo Picasso

I was over at thecreativitycauldron.com for Wordless Wednesday.  There was a simple snapshot of a landscape with a caption that read, “May I never get too old to enjoy finding pictures in the clouds.”

Using it as a prompt, I did a quick, child-like drawing with a few colour markers. As the blue that I used for the sky intuitively found it’s way to the land, I thought, “and may those pictures we see in the clouds add colour and wonder to our everyday life.”

 

In 15 Minutes

Post by Carina Spring.

What do you really want to do?  What activity really taps into who you are?  It’s odd how, sometimes, that is the activity we most resist, and can’t seem to find time to do.

I struggle with making time to draw.  It shouldn’t be that big a deal or that hard to do, but, lately, I always seem to have a good reason why I can’t get to it. So today, when I got home from work, I set my timer to 15 minutes, opened a book, and simply started to draw. I tend to draw from my imagination, but I thought I would benefit from some old-school representational drawing practice.

I took a snap-shot of my 15 minute drawing using my cell-phone camera (see above – graphite pencil – no editing). The drawing is unfinished, and I will leave it that way.  My goal today was not to create a perfect drawing, but rather to start drawing again, to develop the core skills.

What about you?  What would you like to set a 15 minute timer for today?

 

Philippe Petite and an Inspirational TED Talk.

“I had to make a decision to shift my weight from the foot anchored to the building to the foot anchored on the wire.”

The quote above is from a film I watched a few years ago, called “Man on Wire.” It is a documentary that shares the story of the incredibly talented Philippe Petit, and his breath-taking tight-rope walk across the Twin Towers. I love the above words because, in some ways, they symbolize what we all do when we take a chance, when we put ourselves out there, when we try something new.  We may not be risking our life, but we still must make a decision to step forward from the safe into the unkown.

I found the documentary fascinating – the true story of a man following with courage his unusual vocation.  Today, I want to share one of my favourite TED talks.  Philippe Petit sums up his creative life in 20 minutes.  It is really worth a listen.  Inspirational and so entertaining!

The above image is by Vlado, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Enjoy!

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 Comfort ~ Inspiration ~ Ideas

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How to Find Your Way Home Through Your Vocation

“Success, Failure, and The Drive To Keep Creating”

– The title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk

I want to share the following TED Talk that I heard recently. In it, Elizabeth Gilbert explores a wonderful definition of the word  home; the idea of your vocation as your “home”. She tells how, in the face of both failure and success, she was able to restore herself by dedicating herself to her truest vocation – writing.

A Good Reason to Do What You Love

Some people might not have that  desire to focus on a single vocation.  Still, the wisdom of Elizabeth’s words can be extended to offer this advice:

If we ever feel lost, we can find our way back home through the things and activities that give our lives the most meaning

There have been long periods in my life when I was not doing creative work regularly, for a number of reasons, including being too busy working on my career.  In those times, I would often focus on walking (sometimes running) and connecting with nature, reading, writing in my journal, and focusing on causes about which I feel passionate.  Spending time with family, and getting advice from them, was also a big help. These activities were meaningful to me and helped me to find answers to the questions or challenges I faced. In many ways, those meaningful activities probably brought me back to my creative endeavours.

What activities help you release stress and refocus your energies?

By the way, I have never read Eat, Pray, Love, or any of Gilbert’s work, but I am now adding her to my list of author’s whose work I should check out.

Thanks for visiting homehurrah.com, and I look forward to sharing my next post with you!