Monthly Archives: May 2012

Waiting for Beauty in the Creating Process

A few weeks ago, a crew of strong, thick-armed men wrapped their hands tight around bushes and yanked the roots of overgrown bushes and weeds from the soil in our front yard, leaving the Earth freshly tilled and ready for the beauty I’ve been dreaming of:

wild purple cone flowers

tall, billowing prairie grasses

lush, thick-leafed bushes with tiny budding white flowers

I waited for the beauty of color to drip from the black, barren dirt for a week.

And on the day our seedlings were planted it didn’t come like I had hoped.

Our plants drooped, some leaves withering into brown despite the watering, the sunning,  the weeding.

A week, almost two passed and I’d found myself still waiting on the beauty for which I’d hoped despite so much care, so much babying and so much attention.

Finally, yesterday, I stomped out into the front yard of floundering plants, standing in the front beds all but cursing the very ground while quickly, rigidly cutting off the trampled bush branches and the dried yellow leaves.

I left the front yard in a huff, dragging my little ones’ feet away from the delicate beds, abandoning my efforts and wondering if I’d been too harsh in my pruning and all but destroyed any hope of the beauty I’d envisioned.

A few hours later, in the glow of sunset before I went to bed, I peaked out at the front beds to look at the damage I might have provoked from my ruthless hacking away of branches and leaves and stems.

And there, to my shock, was some of the beauty I’d been long seeking: greener leaves standing tall and grasses perked up toward the horizon.

Still a long way to go, but not nearly as far.

As I stepped back and looked at the garden beds, my thoughts immediately drifted to writing and creating.

How often do we expect beauty to grow in our creative endeavors by trying to make everything perfect the moment it’s been planted?

Sometimes ideas need to take root.

Sometimes branches need to be trimmed.

Sometimes inklings of imagination need to be saturated with thought-water and sunlight.

Sometimes while we’re waiting on beauty to emerge as we baby words or thoughts and gently bathe them without really pruning, we never get that fully alive-and-leaning-into-the sunlight-while-standing-tall blossom.

As writers and creators often we neglect the hard work of editing and really pruning the words we’ve written, editing and tweaking the pictures we’ve captured or painted.

So while, yes, we need a season of gentle babying to help establish those words, those pictures, those ideas in the soil of life, we also need a season of steadied, focused pruning, too, to bring our creativity into its full state of beauty.

Let’s not just plant and hope and wait for the beauty, friends.

Let’s prune, too.

{Perhaps, you should join one of our Writing Circles and let the pruning begin?}


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Create: Making Your Own Creative Oasis

This post is sponsored by Sparefoot, a storage finder, dedicated to helping people declutter their lives by finding storage in Chicago and beyond.

There is nothing that zaps my desire to create like a house that looks like this:

Mess

My brain just cannot get beyond the mess {which is normally cleaned up before the boys go to bed, but holy crabbiness, batman!} and let the creativity flow when I’m knee high in toys and general clutter that’s been scattered around the house by the boys.

As time is often not a luxury when it comes to engaging in creation, I’ve more than once decided I’ve needed to make a creative watering well of sorts amid my cluttered, tumbleweeded desert of a home.

When I need this kind of haven, I pick one small space, give myself 15 minutes and transform the dining room {or any room!} into a tidy and inspiring Creative Oasis by focusing on making just a few improvements to the senses for no cost and with little planning in little time: Sights, sounds and smells

1. Sights

-Clear Clutter

After clearing the clutter from my chosen space, I focus on bringing beauty to the space.

– Beautify

I do things like switch out the dirty table cloth, clothed my temporary desk with striped colors and retrieve dried bouquets from the garden, placing the flowers in a vase as avisually appealing centerpiece.
-Stage Lighting
The dining room light isn’t too harsh, but I dim the chandelier and instead turn upthe tiny lights laced into decoration above the hutch so as to soften the ambiance.
2. Sounds

Though I often crave the quiet only night brings, I know I’m inspired by song and lyric, so I tune into Pandora {free Internet radio in your chosen genre} for the deep lyrical melodies of Mumford and Sons, Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens. I often open the windows, too; this time it was the one next to the table, too, so as to soak in sounds of the crickets chirping.

3. Smells

A fresh lemongrass Thai candle not only enhances the smell in the air, but it also provides a bit more soft lighting.

To top it off, I often brew a sweet smelling coconut tea at the table and let the smells waft into the air as I clear the rest of the clutter from the table and hutch.

After my allotted 15 minutes pass, I look around {took a few pictures} and breath in the clarity and beauty of a freshly designed Creative Oasis.

Create

My creations always turn out so awesomely, too, when I spend time in making an oasis for myself!

Next up? Creating a permanent creativity oasis after clearing some more unneeded and unused clutter from our house, which seems daunting, but it’s so worth it because shouldn’t we all have some sort of small space, even if it’s just a corner, where we can think and feel and let inspiration have room to expand and take shape?

This post is sponsored by Sparefoot, a storage finder, dedicated to helping people declutter their lives and homes by finding storage in Chicago and beyond. Perhaps in designing a creative oasis, a storage space might be useful and a storage finder might be just as helpful.

Reading Circles – The Giver {Conclusion}

This book, for me, is one of those books where I stared at the last page, absorbing the final words, totally satisfied with the ride and yet unwilling to disembark. How about you? Did you enjoy it?

What stood out to you as some of the story’s more powerful messages and themes?

I think there’s a lot in this book to read and hold on to, but for me, one of the most striking themes was loss of innocence: the disillusionment, the almost physically painful crisis of faith & identity, and the resultant growth into strength. It’s the space wherein people grow from child into adult, and where character is built.

How did you read the ending? The interesting thing to me was I read the ending as being a very spiritual one (Perhaps because he’s carrying the babe, Gabriel, and moving towards warmth, music, and light? And both names invoke the names of prophets?) and so I thought Jonas died in the end. I was actually surprised to learn that while Lowry intentionally left the ending ambiguous, she never thought that people would believe Jonas had died, because it had such a sense of optimism. I read the optimism, but simply thought of it as a beautiful ascension into heaven! Death, for me, is not always a wholly sad ending.

Did you know that The Giver, while earning much literary acclaim and has been used often in classrooms, incurred the ire of many parents, who thought it “encourages euthanasia and undermines motherhood, among other things”? I had to laugh because, if anything, I think it does the exact opposite. Euthanasia is precisely what is most horrific in the book and inspires Jonas to leave his community. And for me, one of the most heartbreaking moments is when Jonas asks his parents if they love him, and they’re like “What do you mean ‘love’? Do you mean do we like you?” If anything, that moment shows how sad it would be to not have a natural mother-child bond. What do you think?

I discovered these interesting tidbits – and more! – from reading an interview with Lois Lowry. I’ve recently gotten into the habit of looking up interviews with the author when I come across an author I truly appreciate. I don’t know why I never thought of it before, but it’s now become such a valuable resource to my own writing! I’ve learned so much from hearing about other author’s processes: how they get their ideas, how they develop them, and what it is that drives them towards particular projects.

So, for your reading enjoyment, I’ll share with you my favorite interview with Lois Lowry. Enjoy! And have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend!