Contemplation, Creativity, and Companions by the Sea

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The first time I opened Gift from the Sea, I was pedaling barefoot on the exercise bike in the basement. It’s the story of this stage of my life, I’m circling my legs around in full stride only to realize I’m a hamster in a wheel. I stopped pedaling as Anne Morrow Lindbergh described my frenzied days in pointed poetic lines written half a century earlier. Continue reading

Chicken Soup for the Jealous Soul

Photo by Nate EmbryHow do you feel about secret recipes, that little pinch of special spice that only so-and-so knows to add to get the perfect combination of flavors? Food blogger and author Molly Wizenberg says the idea is ridiculous. “Recipes are by nature derivative: rare is the recipe that springs, fully formed, from thin air, without the influence, wisdom, or inspiration of other prior dishes,” she writes, “Recipes were made to be shared. That’s how they improve, how they change, how new ideas are formed and older ones made ripe.”

I think we can apply that to pretty much any creative pursuit, from cooking to writing to making music. Sometimes we’re guilty of keeping trade secrets trying desperately to make legends of ourselves and maybe that’s supposed to make us happy. But like the story of the Little Red Hen, if a person isn’t willing to lend a hand to see someone else’s idea come to fullness, they’re not going to reap the benefits when the bread is baked.

I remember one literary agent I chatted with said that at certain writing conferences he attended, even in casual conversation out at dinner, authors would zip their lips about their current projects so as not to leak any details that might give their fellow writers an advantage. It’s a lonely career when you see your contemporaries as competition.

Today, I’m looking at jealousy and the staleness it brings to the creative life. Come on over to my friend Charity’s place and try out my not-so-secret remedy, like a little Chicken Soup for the Jealous Soul.

{This post contains an affiliate link for Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, a book I “devoured” for my book club last summer. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, defraying some of the cost of running the blog. The book contains witty and moving stories based around some of Wizenberg’s favorite recipes. Enjoy!}

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We Are Poetry

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading several works-in-progress, offering little bits of free-time for writing proposals, editing prologues line-by-line, and helping writers dream in the right direction.

The novelist with her first draft, the photographer and her poignant captions, the memoirist with her hard days on paper, the children’s writer/illustrator with a fresh idea. As I sift through their work, an old verse comes to mind, the one that talks about how each of them is God’s poeima. But when I go to look up the verse, I barely get into the sentence before I’m held in place by the smallest word. If only I had the flourescent yellow highlighter from my college days, that one word would be glowing…we. Continue reading

The Chain Reaction of Art in 3-D {A Less Digital Life…Day 30}

I think we all know the feeling–we go searching Pinterest for inspiration, maybe a new look for the mantle this season, and we end up coming across a pair of slouchy knee-high tan boots that make us want to go shopping, a must-try pumpkin bread recipe and a tutorial on how to make felted soap. There are a dozen or a hundred things we could be attempting, but we feel exhausted just trying to make a decision. When we do pick a project, we often end up copycatting what we find rather than letting our true art out into the world.

When creative work comes in bulk disconnected from its creator, when we see the results of someone’s labor without considering the labor itself, when we compare our own unadorned lives with all of the accessories on the screen, we find ourselves stuck in place like a feed that keeps recycling the same images again and again. That’s the Pinterest Effect.

Today, my friend Jessica is sharing about a whole different effect, one that helped her to stop pilfering away her moments pining over what she saw on Pinterest to find a better way of living. In my early days with baby Gracia, Jessica blessed me with a meal and good conversation. We took some time to swap stories about family and previous churches. When I mentioned the name of my good friend who leads worship at Jessica’s parents’ church, she sat up straight and told me how that very friend had taught her the true meaning of inspiration, unknowingly helping her to move from being a spectator to becoming a real artist. Here is her story…

As a tired and strung-out mom of two little ones, I recently I took a counter-intuitive leap, a step towards doing something that would require lots of time, effort, and energy…very limited commodities during this stage of life. I felt compelled to step off the sidelines and start actively and intentionally pursue my gifts. Continue reading

Media Manifesto {A Less Digital Life…Day 10}

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The square on my calendar seemed familiar, as if I had some kind of big appointment slated for the day. September 26. But nothing showed under the date.

I got right to cleaning my office that morning, cramming for company the next day. And in a stack, more like a pile, of magazines and lists and school papers, I stumbled upon a paper-clipped collection of stories that I had read at a funeral two years earlier. Continue reading