Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Getting Grounded

This photo was taken by my youngest daughter for a 4-H contest. Looks like she has a pretty good eye already!

The final task in the book, Walking in This World, asks you to list the things that make you feel grounded. Julia Cameron says that the regular use of this tool is one of the most confirming rituals possible in a creative life and helps to put a sense of grounded celebration into our creative life. It does this because it emphasizes life itself.

The book goes on to say, "While we may "live for our work," our life is, and must be, larger than our work. By allowing the dailiness of life to step forward again, our work feels not only good, but better, when we place it within the comforting confines of our ongoing routines and relationships.

My list of things that make me feel grounded:

1. Reading a novel that I can really get into
2. Gardening...mostly weeding
3. Vacuuming
4. A long, hot bath
5. De-cluttering
6. Reading the Psalms
7. Driving slowly down a dirt road
8. Ironing my husband's shirts
9. Slowly washing dishes while I daydream out the window
10. A slow, long walk

It's interesting to note that most of the things on my list are done slowly and most require no thought process while doing them. What things do you do to help you feel grounded?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Difference Between Enough and Excess

From the book From Clutter to Clarity by Nancy Twigg: Our Father's desire is for us to revel in the freedom and simplicity of enough (see Matthew 6:19-21 and I Timothy 6:6-8. To do that, we must trust his provision and learn the difference between enough and excess. We need to throw off 'everything that hinders'. The mind-set of wanting more is a hindrance because it lures us to step out of the safety and security of trusting God's provision and into the oppression of overload.

Simplicity Defined-Finally!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who was executed by the Nazis for taking a stand against Hitler's regime. He wrote, "To be simple is to fix one's eyes solely on the simple truth of God at a time when all concepts are being confused, distorted, and turned upside down."

Now I can quit wondering what it means to be 'simple'.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Walking in Christ's Steps

More gleanings from Margins by Richard A. Swenson: "If God were our appointment secretary, would He schedule us for every minute of every day? Well-meaning Christians might differ in their answers, but by now it must be obvious that I think the answer would be no. Many arguments could be made in defense of my answer, but perhaps the strongest is the lifestyle that Christ Himself chose. Time urgency was not only absent, it was conspicuously absent. And I doubt its absence had to do with cultural context.

Christ's teaching, His healing, His serving, and His loving were usually spontaneous. The person standing in front of Him was the opportunity He accepted. If He chose spontaneous living, isn't that a signal to us? Overloaded schedules are not the way to walk In His Steps."

Create Something Today

"The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up." May Sarton

Friday, April 15, 2011

Information Overload

I'm reading this wonderfully informative book called Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. He not only tells us how busy our century is, he tells us why and how to fix it. It's been a real eye-opener for me.

Here's a section from the chapter called The Pain of Overload: Ninety-nine percent of American homes have television, with the average set turned on fifty-five hours a week. Televised news is 24/7. We buy more books per capita than ever before and can choose from 63,000 new titles every year. How does one read a three-and-one-half-inch thick Sunday paper?

A single edition of the New York Times contains more information than a seventeenth-century Britisher would encounter in a lifetime. If I read two health articles every day, next year I would be eight centuries behind in my reading. We are buried by data on a daily basis.

Astonishing, isn't it? Instead of feeling frustrated, I actually feel freer, because there's no way anyone could read every new book that's printed each year. I've actually felt panicky before because I wanted to and knew I couldn't.

So I'm just going to read at my own pace, enjoy what I'm reading or put it down, relax, and enjoy life. The part about how much a seventeenth-century Britisher read in a lifetime kind of puts it in perspective, doesn't it? There will definitely be more quotes from this book.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Typical Morning in the Country

Five things I saw when I walked out on the side porch at dawn this morning. I'm blessed to live in the country!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Decluttering-The Saga Continues

"I want to start this next phase of my life with only the things that make me happy and don't require constant upkeep on my part." From the book From Clutter to Clarity by Nancy Twigg.

I keep throwing things out and giving other things away in my constant effort to declutter. I'm seeing lots of progress, but there's so far to go. Where does all this stuff come from?!? I've stopped buying everything but groceries, a few summer clothes, and the occasional book. It's like the house manufacturers excess junk while we sleep. I'm getting ruthless. Lots of stuff that used to mean something to me, I really don't care about anymore. That's freeing, but I need to be freer. At least I don't feel like I'm drowning in stuff. It is getting better.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

God's Grace

"In God there are no more good days or bad days for you, just days of grace. Some days there is grace to enjoy, and some days there is grace to endure."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Advantages of Aging

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." Madeleine L'Engle

It's true that we accumulate decades like charms on a bracelet and can remember where we were and what we were doing and how we felt. Hopefully all the experiences will make us wise. I want to be a wisewoman. Not just a woman who is wise but a Wisewoman. It sounds more romantic anyway!

I love reading L'Engle's non-fiction. If you've never read her, try her. She also writes sci-fi, but I'm not into that AT ALL.

Balance Defined

This is our latest family photo taken last Sunday when our new daughter-in-law's Assyrian family came for a visit. Unfortunately, our son-in-law is missing, because he was taking the photo.

If we do not limit our inflow, we become swamped by the life demands of others. If we practice too much solitude, we risk being flooded by stagnation and a moody narcissism as our life and our art become emptied of all but the big question "How am I doing?" What we are after is a balance, enough containment and autonomy to make our art, enough involvement and immersion in community to have someone and something to make art for. Taken from Walking in this World by Julia Cameron.

I've swung too far wide in both directions in the past. It's easier for me to now recognize when I get out of balance. If I stay home too much, I get slightly depressed and too inward-focused. If I stay away from home too much, I get grouchy because I'm not doing my work at home and also not being creative.

So I try to stay home as much as a twelve-year-old's schedule will allow. I do need contact with the outside world 2-3 times a week for me to feel connected. Of course, I'm talking to my children and parents on the phone throughout the week. I also connect with friends by e-mail and Facebook. I also try to have lunch once a month with a friend, and I have bookgroup and art association once a month. I keep my four grandsons at least once a week. Add church fellowship and homeschool group once a week, and that's plenty of 'peopletime' for me in a week.

My problem is having enough solitude and long stretches of time to think and be creative. That's the lack right now. Until the summer, that's the way it'll have to be; unfortunately.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ireland Reading Challenge Coming Along Well

I'm doing well on the Ireland Reading Challenge so far. For January I read A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt; for February In The Company of Others by Jan Karon; in March it was The Luck of the Irish by Niall Williams and Christine Breen; and now I'm reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

I'm very much enjoying the challenge. Ireland is a place I hope to visit in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, I'm reading about it and watching travel videos from our library, and of course dreaming in green.