A journey towards greater faith and creativity

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Be Still and Know

Be Still

Not something I’ve ever been good at, although I’ve gotten somewhat better in recent years.

Overwhelm, confusion, discombobulation

These things I know far too well and I know they serve to make life and decision making harder instead of easier. They sap my energy and cause me to throw my hands up in the air and try to quit.

Because in the overwhelm and confusion and all the crap those dredge up (fear, doubt, struggle) it’s hard to know what to do. I find too many decisions made under these conditions don’t turn out well. Because when I feel like I’m drowning in all this, I start looking for answers externally. And there are all kinds of answers thrown out there. Everyone has a solution to my problems. The problem is, those are their solutions.

It’s in the Stillness

Because when I grow still, when I seek quiet reflection time, I’m reminded that the answers I seek, the solutions I need, aren’t out there at all. All those external solutions aren’t for me. The answers to all the most important questions are inside and it’s only in the Stillness I have the ability to hear them clearly.

Be Still and Know

Sit and breathe and look inside. Sit and breathe and ask all the questions. Sit and breathe and Know the answers aren’t out in the world at all. They’re right there, inside you, waiting for you to stop and sit and breathe and ask.

This is where you learn what’s True for you.

This is where you will find all the Love you could ever need.

This is where you Know what you need to move forward.

And it will be scary and hard and you will want to quit and you won’t want to see or hear or feel. And you will be strongly tempted to give in to all the distractions around you. And then, if you remain still, it will get easier and life will flow far better. The flows will carry you higher and farther. The ebbs won’t freak you out as badly. And all the things you desperately long for will seem less impossible… maybe even feel more real, more achievable.

And you will find it easier to Be Still.

And all those external solutions which aren’t really for you anyway won’t seem nearly so appealing.

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End of Summer

It’s just past the middle of August and it’s already feeling like autumn here. There are even yellow leaves all over the ground. Bonus, it’s nice and cool at night.

This is a pleasant change from too hot, too dry, and thoroughly smoked. That’s what most of the summer here has been like, especially in the wake of the wildfires still plaguing my home province. There are still people out of their homes and out of work. Still people who need places to stay. Undoubtedly many of them wondering how they will manage the transition to back to school when they’re so far from home and may not have a home to return to.

It’s weird to go online, especially on Facebook, and see people posting first day of school pictures already. It isn’t anywhere near September yet. The first official day of school here is September sixth. Children here get a bit over two months break. I don’t understand what anyone thinks there is to gain by shortening that time.

My daughter is back home after three weeks (ish) with her grandparents. I still have nearly three weeks (maybe more depending what I hear from her school) before she needs to be ready to go back to school. In the meantime, she’s already started one of her extracurricular classes and should be registered for the other next week.

The Hard Part

Writing isn’t really the hardest part of what I do. I’ve been writing since the primary grades. While writer’s block is very real (despite the claims of those who have obviously never had to deal with it), I’m having less trouble with it than I used to. Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo are wonderful tools for helping me finish manuscripts, although I have finished novels without them. In a good year, I can complete four or more first drafts. (I think I’m at three so far this year, with five months and Nanowrimo to go.)

Editing and rewriting don’t really bother me. Provided I’ve let the first draft sit for a few months/years. I absolutely cannot finish a first draft and then immediately dive into revision work. I will HATE the piece by the end of the second draft (no matter how good/bad it actually is) and never really be happy with the end result. This is also the stage where it would be helpful to have different/more beta readers.

Publishing prep can be kind of fun, depending what I’m doing. Certainly the formatting and proofing stages, with all the little steps to producing a professional looking product are something I enjoy. It helps that I have a checklist which is essentially the same no matter what’s in the works. Although cover design can be frustrating and I too often fall back on Createspace’s extremely limited library of stock images. There’s a joy in getting the cover looking good along with all the inside stuff.

The real hard part is the marketing. The appealing to people to read the published work. The trying to convince them to post ratings and reviews of what they read. I wish I could afford to pay someone to do all that stuff for me. I find it energy sucking… energy I would much prefer to put into any of the three steps listed above.

Family Things

I didn’t post last week because I spent last Thursday on the road, doing the approximately ten hour drive required to get from home to the Okanagan. Because, last Saturday, there was a party to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. And because it’s been nearly two years since I was last able to see most of that side of my family. Fortunately, the wildfires plaguing British Columbia this year weren’t an issue along the route we took.

Being down there, seeing family I haven’t seen in a while, learning things I never knew about my family’s history, visiting with family and old family friends… I wish I had more opportunity than it feels like I have now. I hate living so far away from them. Most of them don’t text or Skype. Telephone is hard for me, for several reasons. If we could see any clear way to do so, we would happily move closer to them.

When I was growing up, family and family history were all around me. Vacations were used to visit relatives and attend family reunions. Family stories were brought up all the time. I wish I could remember more of the stories I have heard. I wish I could’ve heard more from the people these things happened to. I’ve lost four of the six grandparents I knew as a child. The other two are into their 80s and not in the best of health, which was partly why the summer celebration of an anniversary which actually falls between Christmas and New Years.

Heritage is such a huge part of personal identity. Family and family history often serve as a tether… a place to go back to when life gets too overwhelming. It’s what we build on, whether better or worse, when we create our own lives and stories. It influences our perception of ourselves. It influences how we relate to all kinds of aspects of our lives.

I watch my daughter grow and learn and I wonder what she’s learning about the meaning and history of family. She’s grown up surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles (biological and named) and she’s hearing some of the stories, whether she understands them now or not. I think about what I would like her to learn, how to pass values to her, what she will think of it all once she’s old enough to seriously consider what she thinks of it all.

How do I tell my daughter what my life has been like and how it influences the way I’m raising her?

How do I tell my daughter all the things I would like her to know about family and life and her options for the future?

What will my legacy to my daughter be?

Smoke in the Air

For nearly a week now, we’ve had heavy smoke in the air. There are fires to the east, south, and west of where I live. The province has declared a state of emergency as multiple towns are evacuated and thousands of people displaced. While smoky air makes for spectacularly colourful sunsets, it isn’t good for anything else. Certainly not for air quality and anyone who has breathing trouble.

I can’t imagine having to leave my home and know it might not be there when I get back. People are losing their homes… I’ve seen news footage of what appears to be an entire community burnt to the ground. They’re out of work, staying in temporary shelters of all kinds, dependent on the charity of others as they wait to hear when they can go back and see what’s left of their lives.

On the flip side, all kinds of people and organizations are stepping up to help. To work in the fire zones, trying to contain and extinguish the fires. To offer assistance to those in need of it. To open their homes to strangers in need of a place to stay. To gather resources to help rebuild what has been burnt to the ground. I love how situations like this bring out a kinder side of humanity.

I have extended family who live in the affected area. Some of them I’ve seen Facebook posts from and know the people, at least, are okay. Some I haven’t seen anything from and can’t help being concerned for. Undoubtedly there’s someone in the family who has heard, but I’m often out of the loop on family news (on that side especially) unless it crosses my Facebook feed.

Although the last couple days have been overcast, with just a touch of rain, the whole province desperately needs a few days of steady rain. Lightning is one of the major causes of wildfires and not something we need right now.  A steady downpour would be much more helpful. (And to think only a couple months ago some of these communities were struggling with flooding and too much water.)

And I have one very selfish reason for wanting these fires out and the highways reopened. I want to make it to the party for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary, which is going to mean either travel through what are currently fire zones or a long detour around on roads I’m not nearly as familiar with.

This Side of Fear

I dread putting anything out where other people can see/read/react to it. I really do.

I know there are a million thoughts and opinions on the subject out there. People’s experiences. Ways to get over it. Ways to work around it.

None of that makes it any easier for me. And, if I let myself stop and think about it, it’s exhausting.

And yet I keep trying to work on my business. I keep coming back to this blog. I keep putting things out there. I probably always will.

Last Day of School

It’s my daughter’s last day of grade one.

I have two whole months where I don’t have to deal with her school.

After we attend an anniversary party for my grandparents’ 60th, I have two weeks-ish where my daughter is at my parents’. I’m looking forward to those weeks and I know they’re going to pass way, way too fast.

In the meantime, our local library has a summer reading program for kids. The church often runs some kind of summer program, since Sunday school is only during the school year. There are other kids living close by she can go out and play with.

Easing Into Things

Yes, I do know there is a gap of about a year and a half between posts on this blog.

Yes, I have been more or less in hiding.

Yes, I am slowly attempting to ease back into a number of things. It’s a very slow process as the stuff in my life shifts and then shifts again.

I’m having to relearn, yet again, how to live some way other than constantly lost in my own head. It’s hard habit to break. It’s such an old habit, so deeply ingrained.

I grew up lost in my own head. I think I was trying to survive. Except somewhere in trying to survive, I never really learned how to live. And only now, in my thirties, am I trying to figure out how to really live instead of merely survive. Too many days I wonder if it’s even possible now.

And yet I know women far older than I am are walking the same path, unlearning the same lessons so they can learn new ones.

How to live in the light instead of someone’s shadow. How to find a voice so long ago silenced. How to stand alone. How to really truly Love. How to be a whole human being. How to live out all these things so our daughters learn them early.

A Handful of Clover

This morning, before I took her to school, my daughter brought me a handful of clover blossoms from our backyard, where she had been playing for the few minutes before we had to leave. As you can see from the picture above, I found a pretty little vase and put them in water. Hopefully they will last a few days. They smell so wonderfully sweet.

Feels Like Summer

I know it’s still early June, but when the weather hits 30 degrees Celsius or more and the sky is clear and blue and sunny, it feels very much like summer. Too hot. Especially for a place deemed to be far enough north to render AC ‘unnecessary’ by building code authorities and utilities companies.

I don’t like (and I know I’m not alone in this) temperature extremes. I don’t deal with too hot any better than too cold. I wish it could be either spring or autumn, when the temperatures are nicer and the trees pretty colours.

Being summer and rapidly approaching the Summer Solstice also means much longer days than nights. I think right now sunset is about the time my husband goes to work, around nine thirty or quarter to ten. Dawn is somewhere between five and six in the morning, if not earlier. I remember reading someone’s blog post or email about how they were planning to start going to bed at sunset and get up at sunrise. And I remember thinking about what utter insanity it would be to attempt that here. In the summer, it would mean far less than eight hours of sleep at nights. In the winter, it would mean only being up and active maybe eight hours of the day.

For the moment, it means my daughter, who is still in elementary school until nearly the end of the month, doesn’t want to come inside in time to get ready for bed. It’s still ‘daytime’, even though if she doesn’t come in and get to bed, she won’t wake up in time to get to school in the morning. Or, worse, will be too tired to get through her school day without the school having to call me to pick her up early. (It happens. Oh, the joys of having a child deemed ‘special needs’.)

I’m grateful for the pole fan given to us by neighbours moving out just down the row. It keeps the living room liveable. There’s a second fan in my bedroom which makes it sort of possible to sleep in there if I’ve had a bath or shower immediately before going to bed. I think my husband is lucky in a way… he gets to go to bed after the bedroom has cooled down as much as it’s likely to.

Now to figure out how to feed us all without cooking not just the food, but myself and the house as well.