Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Because it calls me

If I can, I try to make a pilgrimage to my dad's grave about once a year or so. (You can see a video of last year's pilgrimage here.) For the past month, I've been feeling a real longing to make the trek across the prairie, so I did it yesterday.Those of you who knew him will understand why I could only bring a raucous bouquet of wild flowers in a re-purposed bottle - Dad would have it no other way.

To read a little more about the journey I took, you can read about it at my other site.

As a bonus shot, here's a sunflower field I just couldn't resist photographing along the way. Did you know that, even on an overcast day like yesterday, the sunflowers still turn their faces toward the sun? Wish I could remember to do the same.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A good, good day

This week certainly had its emotional ups and downs, but thankfully it ended on an "up" (in more ways than one). Today was a really good day. I spoke in church and, the truth is, though it's a lot of work and usually comes with some stress, I really do enjoy doing public speaking.

After church, because we were the only ones around and I wasn't in the mood to cook, Maddy and I went on a little lunch date.

And then after lunch, we had to head out to the other end of the city to watch soccer. Julie's team made it into the championship game for the tournament they were in, and they WON in a dramatic, exciting game (against a strong team that beat them 3-0 just the day before).

In the evening, because it was one of the most beautiful days we've had all summer, Marcel and I headed to the Forks with my sister and his brother (who happen to be married to each other) to enjoy drinks on a patio while our children all hung out together at their house.

Add all of that fun to some of the really wonderful, vulnerable, refreshing conversations I've been having with some people (in person and online) and it all ended up being quite a fulfilling, inspiring week after all was said and done. No, not all of the issues from my last post have been worked out, but a different perspective certainly is a good thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm trying, okay?

Some days you win, other days the most you can hope to do is try. Today, trying will have to be enough.

I’m trying…
- To not let this seriously disappointing weather get me down.
- To forgive myself for not getting much exercise while my bike sits in the garage on these wet miserable mornings.
- To have enough energy to be a good (or at least “present”) mom and wife.
- To remember that sometimes the timing isn’t right and the best thing to do is wait.
- To understand the strange dream that seemed to be trying to tell me something the other night.
- To not let this dark cloud evolve into a full-fledged depression.
- To not be jealous of all the people who are getting together for fun, creative, refreshing retreats, workshops, etc.
- To put some energy into the things I used to be passionate about (at least those things that are important at my day job).
- To not get too discouraged about some of the challenges I have at work.
- To find some time for the creative things that give me energy, like painting, writing, photography, working on my new site/business.
- To believe that some day I will have more time for the creative things that give me energy.
- To not fall into the trap of believing numbers of visitors/comments = amount of value.
- To be grateful for the compassion and understanding of friends and family.

The other day (a particularly discouraging day for a variety of reasons), I visited my son’s grave and as I stood at the grave, I made a commitment to his memory that I would continue to follow my calling despite the many things that feel discouraging right now. For you, Matthew, I will carry on.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What's left of summer

In some respects it's been an amazing summer (creating my studio, launching my website, going on a road trip with my family), but in other ways it's been sadly disappointing (not enough beach days, way too much crappy weather). Either way, it is slipping away WAY too quickly.

There are still a few things I want to get out of this summer:
1. Visit my dad's grave again. (It's a 2 hour drive - not exactly something I can do on a whim.)
2. Sit around a campfire with people I enjoy at least one more time.
3. Go on a few more bike rides with my family.
4. Have more drinks on a patio with some interesting friends who make me laugh.
5. Wandering. Lots more wandering. Preferably with a camera in my hands.

That's about it. I think it's a pretty good sign that I'm feeling quite content if my list is that short. Now if only it would stop raining so I could do all of these things!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What doors do you wish to open?

I’m feeling a little vulnerable today – a little over-tired from tossing and turning (and not enough sleeping) last night, and a little discouraged about not being able to move into the next phase of my life as quickly as I’d like to (yes, I’m back at work and the stack of papers in my in-box just doesn't have the same ability to excite my passions that it once did) – so when I first saw Jamie Ridler’s question for wishcasting Wednesday, I closed the link and tried to ignore it. “I’m just going to have to be satisfied with closed doors for now,” I thought.

But the truth is, I’m not satisfied. True to my nature, I want to rush headlong into the next adventure and I don’t want to WAIT. ANY. MORE! The door that flung itself open when the idea for my new site plopped into my lap is calling me to run through it with wild abandon… but I’m still stuck at the doorway. I can only go part way through the door until… well, until various things align and the timing is right for me to take the next big bold step.

I am not a patient person. I want stuff and I want it NOW! I know, I know… I have preached the value of waiting and being still and surrendering to the timing of the “god of my understanding”, BUT… (stomps her foot on the floor like a 3 year old) I don’t WANNA wait!

Sigh. Deep breath. Here I am, though, trying to make the best of it. In the meantime, while I only have a minimal amount of time to work on my big dream, I’m going to keep hoping, and dreaming, and planning, and throwing little fish hooks into the big blue ocean hoping to score a keeper. (Mixing metaphors again - I know, I KNOW!)

And when it comes to open doors, I’ve got a whole “mondo beyondo” list of things I’d like to see happen in the coming year (or so):
- Talk on the radio some more. Loved it! And maybe TV too.
- Speak at some conferences, retreats, etc. about “What are you giving away
- Start doing “Giveaway parties” and have the idea catch fire
- Host a workshop and/or retreat (or two or three...)
- Write regular articles for a magazine – maybe a column?

And a couple of REALLY big ones:
- Get a book contract and an agent and some time to write the book version of “What are you giving away”
- Go to Africa again and gather some stories of people epitomizing the philosophy of “What are you giving away”

I could go on, but that’s definitely enough honesty for now. It feels a little scary to admit these things, but – what the heck? If you don’t put stuff out there, how can people support your dreams?
Note: It's been a little quiet in here lately. Ever since I launched the new site, comments have all but dried up. I appreciate all the support over at the new space, but (for now anyway) this will continue to be where I do more personal blogging, so please continue to leave some comment love here too!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

End of the week - a wrap up

Just a few random things as the week draws to a close (or the next week opens, depending on where you place Sunday).

- It's been a lovely, happy week, full of excitement over the new site, partying with friends, and relaxing vacation time with the family.
- I go back to work tomorrow. Vacation is over too soon. Sigh.
- Marcel and I just got back from a brief time away. We celebrated our 16th anniversary at a lakeside hotel with a glorious view of Lake of the Woods (in Kenora). The weather was disappointing (and resulted in the cancellation of our planned dinner cruise), but it was still SO nice to get away with my best friend and lover for a couple of days.
- I really enjoyed being on the radio yesterday. It may sound narcissistic, but the truth is, I really get energy from public speaking, media interviews, etc. I hope to do more of that in connection with my new site.
- I feel very blessed by the encouragement I've received this week. I think the new site is touching people in the right way, and that makes me very, very happy.
- Just now, Maddy was working on a craft project on the floor by my feet, and she said "Why don't they make scissors for the feet so the hands don't have to do all the work?"
- My mom comes home from Europe this week. I haven't seen her in over 3 months.
- The girls and I went to see Julie and Julia and I LOVED IT! There was so much good about it - great character development, great portrayal of the struggles of 2 women trying to believe in themselves, and one of my favourite things - two really lovely supportive marriages that seem altogether too rare in Hollywood's depiction of marriage.
- I'm going to really, really miss my mornings in my studio.
- I have to go to bed now. Good night.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Radio interview

In case you're interested, you can hear me talking about my new website this morning (Saturday) at 10:30 a.m. CST, or you can catch the podcast later. www.fm1071.com/getreal

I'm the "Get Real Girl" of the week, otherwise known as the "Giveaway Goddess". Blush.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sharing stories

Yesterday was incredible. It was just what I dreamed of for the launch of my new site and more. In the morning I wrote a list of things I wanted to get out of the day, and when I checked the list, I realized that every one of those wishes had been fulfilled. And some of them were pretty big wishes – like wanting to be invited to write or speak about my site somewhere soon (I’ll be on the radio in Minneapolis on Saturday morning!). It’s all so exciting and humbling.

The launch party was truly amazing. Not as many people showed up as I’d hoped (a number of people canceled at the last minute), but in the end I think it was probably just the right number for what ended up transpiring.

During part of the evening, we had a sharing circle in which I passed around a talking stick (which is actually the leadership stick I picked up in Kenya) and people were asked to share something about their emerging gifts, their struggles with sharing those gifts, or whatever was on their minds. Well, I was really blown away with what emerged. I didn’t know how it would go, because most of the women in the room were strangers to each other, but each woman approached the conversation with openness, honesty, and vulnerability and every one of them shared some piece of wisdom that I will carry with me and reflect on again and again.

This morning, I wrote some notes about the conversation because I want to remember it for a long, long time (and, as a result, I will be writing something about story-sharing for the new site). After writing down a bit of what each person shared, I sat back in my chair feeling rather tingly with excitement. I am SO honoured that these incredible women trusted the rest of us enough to share the gift of their personal story.

Then I opened my email and found my first submission for the “reflect” section of the new site (thanks Andrea!) and once again, I was blown away by the honesty and vulnerability that was shared.

I’m feeling so lucky that, in the hosting of my new site, I will be the recipient of many personal stories. What incredible gifts they are!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

New site launched! C'mon over and say hello!

It's official - the new site is up and running! I am SO excited!

Please, please go on over and visit (and bookmark it for future visits!) and be sure to leave a friendly comment. This site is like a new baby for me, and you KNOW that if you'd visit me after having a baby you'd pat it on the head and say what a pretty baby it is whether or not you meant it. (There's an art giveaway, so if you comment, you could win!)

Remember that insecure mom-energy that comes when you're really excited but freaked out about having to bring home a brand new baby and you really don't know if you'll remember to feed it at the right time, or know when to change its diaper, and you're pretty sure you'll end up dropping it on its head one day? Yeah, that's a bit how I feel today.

I'm thrilled and I really feel like this is what I've been preparing for all these years, but at the same time I worry whether I'll have the time or skills to really do this dream justice. In the end, though, I'm willing to give it my best shot, and the rest is up to the giver of all good dreams.

Remember my commitment to fearlessness? Well, I feel like I've just jumped out of that plane again!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

One step closer

It's official... I'm launching my new site on Thursday! (Keeping my fingers crossed that there are no snags, now that I've said it out loud.)

I am so excited! (And a little bit nervous.) This feels like the coming together of so many dreams, so much of my own giftedness, and so many of the ideas, values, and bits of wisdom I've picked up over the years.

It's been an incredible couple of weeks preparing for this. My creative juices have been working overtime in my lovely little studio. (Sometimes even late at night when I've woken up with a great idea.) I've spent every morning here and it's been so much fun, that I haven't minded sacrificing my normal sleeping-in routine of holidays. I've connected with some amazing people, I've gotten several beautiful pieces of art to surround me with inspiration, and I have felt so loved and encouraged every step of the way. It's gone so well, in fact, that those little internal gremlins that like to cast shadows on hope have been warning me that I should be prepared for "the other shoe to fall". Perhaps failure really IS lurking just around the corner, but for now I'm going to believe that only success lies ahead for this little labour of love.

In celebration of the big launch, I've decided to throw a party, despite the fact that my house is in a sad state of disrepair and messiness. I'm just going to believe that anyone who believes in my little dream enough to come celebrate with me won't be looking into the corners for dust mites or cobwebs (or broken toys, or last week's laundry, or the camping equipment that hasn't been put away yet, or... the list goes on and on).

If you happen to live close enough to my house (in Winnipeg, Manitoba) and want to come to the party, I'd be delighted to have you here. Leave a comment with your contact info and I'll send you an invitation. (Sorry guys, this one's for women only.)

One last thing... I just feel like I should say a great big THANK YOU to you my faithful blog readers. You have all been such a source of encouragement and support to me that you've helped me believe that I really can do this.

Who knew - when I started this fearless journey at the beginning of the year - that I would end up here? Be careful what you wish for!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dreams taking flight (and other thoughts)

My friend Yvonne, a gifted textile artist, handed me the piece of art you see below and said "I made this for your studio". I think my jaw dropped open. It is so beautiful and SO perfect! And it just makes me feel so loved and encouraged! (Just like all the other pieces I've received.)

As I sat there staring it, I thought "it looks like my dreams taking flight". A moment later, Yvonne said "it's called 'dreams taking flight' and I thought it was perfect for what you're working on." Oh yes, it's perfect! The photo doesn't really do it justice. Yvonne hand-died all of the colourful bits of fabric. She truly is amazing and should be doing this for a living, don't you think?

Remember the generous stranger who poured coffee on my Wreck this Journal, at the encouragement of my friend Jo-Anne? Well... this is a delightful story... she left a comment on my blog! Turns out she's a friend of my cousin Bev who's been following me on Twitter and came across the video. She says she loved being part of it! (I'm so glad she's not annoyed with me for posting the video of her online!) Now I want to meet her again to thank her - I had a feeling when she joined the fun that she was a kindred spirit.

My decoupaged desk looks lovely! I'm quite fond of it and I've started to cast my eye on other flat surfaces in the house that might be decoupage-worthy. Marcel asked me to paint a dresser for him this week, and he gave me that suspicious look when I said "don't you think plain white is a little boring?"

Things are going remarkably well for my new website. If all goes as planned, I think I'll be ready to launch it on Thursday. I've always had it in my mind that I'd launch by September, but since I'm ahead of schedule, I thought it would be fun to launch it while I'm still on vacation.

I'm so excited about the launch that I'm contemplating throwing a big party for all of the locally-based friends, family, and blog-readers that might be interested on Thursday night. The only problem is that I've concentrated so much of my energy on the creative stuff, that I'm not sure I can get my house looking presentable enough for a party. Stay tuned if you live close by - I'll keep you posted.

When I emerged from my studio one morning last night, I found the girls and Marcel all outside tearing the badly neglected, rotting deck apart. There's something about seeing my girls with work gloves on, with hammers and power tools in hand, that just makes me smile.


And speaking of my girls, they all have some colourful, funky new footwear for back to school.

And I leave you with this picture, taken this morning on a lovely photo walk by the river.

(There really is no way to properly line photos up with words on blogger!)