Brunswick by the Sea: My Photographic Challenge

Brunswick by the Sea: My Photographic Challenge

Ah… Brunswick by the Sea, it had to have been the most challenging, most difficult painting to photograph, and one which after numerous attempts under different lighting situations, I have been unsuccessful in capturing just right.

The glare, the greens and yellows against… beside… the blacks. Just. Never. Quite. Right.

Down to my last three provinces, and after many months, long past my goal of completing the Canada Legacy Series by September, suddenly, with the new year, some forward movement and success in my artistic endeavours.

Writing, having become a desperate need, took over all my thoughts and took up all the space in my heart for expression for a good portion of 2017. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but honestly, I wondered if my ability and desire to paint had left me, in the empty, perhaps for good.

But this series haunted me. I was so close to finishing the first and most effort and time consuming phase. A part of me was so close to saying it was done, there was nothing left in me to give, to bring… to painting. But, this so close, wouldn’t let it go. Wouldn’t let me go.

It was the longest and hardest artist block I had experienced to date. Despite wanting, longing, needing to write, I often found myself unable to do either.

I’ve disappeared into something, out of sight, away from social media. That’s my way, when there’s nothing coming from inside, I need the abyss, the quiet, the away from everything. I’ve been that way since I was a young girl. When there’s too much stimulation, too much noise, too much of just about everything, including what I love, a tension builds inside that replaces everything and blinds me… and binds me.

When there’s too much, and my too much doesn’t take a lot to get there, my throat aches with the empty. I literally and physically have no words that my vocal chords can produce, not even in whispers. Everything inside me is simply empty, my breath heavy, my body weighted down.  My heart and my soul just wants to be held… in the stillness… in the arms of God… in the arms of my beloved.

This is my greatest life challenge, when the living of and in the world becomes too loud. This is my darkness.

Somehow, in the midst of all this empty, there is a swirling of creation, of life becoming something new, yet again. My last three paintings come out of this nothing, and my book idea redefines itself, a vision emerging within a new form.

Movement begins out of the void. I may find it challenging to be in the world, right now… still…  but creation itself stirs and this has to be where I am.

In the midst of winter, darkness, emptiness, love is deeply alive, even and maybe most especially because it breathes into existence in this place. There is a holiness here.

In the home stretch, long in the coming…Brunswick by the Sea emerges out of this desert.

Once Upon a Time…

Once Upon a Time…

What is the word upon my soul,

the pen

the colour

the brushstroke

that begs everything to come alive

with the beating of my heart,

the blood coursing through my veins,

the in and out of breath,

that was shallow… lifeless

before You called me,

before You spoke my name.

 

I turn the pages of my past

and I see brokenness,

in the midst of hellfire

tender hearts cry out,

the eyes say it all.

 

What is the story that wants

to be written.

With arms stretched out,

my head slumps down…

What voice beckons

to be heard.

 

Can I take what’s hard to examine

and make beauty of it.

Will I see You

there beside me

through it all.

 

Through Your eyes

will I see.

Through Your ears

will I hear.

Through Your heart

will I feel.

 

Promise me You’ll not let me

wander.

Promise me You’ll not let me

waste, while and whither

life away,

always learning and never knowing

You.

 

What needs to be asked.

What needs to be seen.

What needs to be heard

in the word upon my soul.

There are several ways to write a memoir. Perhaps the easiest is to just sit down and write about whatever memories come up, then sift through and see what theme or patterns would become apparent.

I’ve been sifting and sorting through the recesses of my mind, and I became determined (maybe obsessed is a better description) with having just one word that would claim me. In a Life Worthy of One Simple Word I explore this notion.

My one word did indeed demand my attention… the theme that will inform and guide me in my memoir writing process… I’m not ready to divulge it just yet, but it stands as the working title of my book.

Now, as I’ve sat down to begin the actual writing… yes, I could simply begin, but before I do… before I get in too deep… new questions arise. Questions that will impact everything.

In what voice shall I write? From which perspective?

I don’t just want to blather on about things that happened. That’s for journaling. I want it to be exploratory, informative and interesting to write and to read.

Maybe I’m procrastinating. Maybe I’m making it harder than it needs to be. But, then again maybe the story has a mind of its own and its working to get my attention, so that I don’t get in the way and muddle it up.

I think sometimes we forget to soften into quiet moments, or even to create space for our minds and our hearts to listen to the gentle whispers of our soul.

We’re so anxious to move forward, to take steps, to be actively doing something. Our worlds so noisy, so busy, so demanding with doingness. What happened to being and feeling the presence of the moment?

My day had been planned. The photos would come out and it would all be revealed. Then I would be able to dive in and write.

The photos did come out. Memories and feelings swamped me. My head did indeed slump down in empathy. My cheek resting on an old beat up album, and I asked the questions.

I waited. I listened. I waited some more. I reflected on my artworks… on the photos… on a notebook I purchased specifically for times I would need to write, pen to paper, ideas or thoughts for the book.

Some things need to percolate.

I have a fascination with notebooks. Maybe all writers do. I love mine to find me and not let me walk away.

Sorry honey, the dollar store kind, they’re the ones thrown in the compartment in the car, when I need something I can scribble on and tear out. But, to write with, really write with… we need to have a relationship.

I love to love how they feel in my hands. How does the cover feel and what does it say, if anything? What about the design? The line spacing… it needs to be just right. Not too squished together and not too far apart… just right that I don’t feel restrictive, but not wasteful either.

My most recent purchase, the one specifically for my memoir is a simple black leather notebook. It has a strap to wrap around it. It makes me feel like a writer with a purpose. And, embossed in silver on the cover is the phrase,

‘Once upon a time…’

Hmmm… Once upon a time… long long ago…

I don’t know why, but it invites me to open my mind… to possibilities.

Writing is a way for me to lean in close… to listen and explore the world God created inside me.

I’m well into reading the Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt and there is one line (just one line in the whole book) that I have highlighted on page 202.

“It’s lovely to know the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.”

I stopped. I smiled. I nodded… yes, indeed.

35 Quotes to Reinvigorate Your Writing Life

35 Quotes to Reinvigorate Your Writing Life

Ahh… writers we have a love of words. They take us on a journey into untold worlds, they fuel our imaginations, they lift us up and make us swoon with desire… that we may be able to write to make others stop everything even if only for a moment. To stop everything and be wholly in the universe of letters we string together… to touch some part of people’s hearts wounded, or aching, or yearning for that moment to be fully present and lost in a dream of what could be all at the same time.

Maybe even just for a chuckle, a smile, a subtle lift at the corners of the mouth and a brief twinkle in the eyes. A sigh, an aha, a respite. A moment when everything shifts into a new perspective. Sweetness. A whisper in the dark. The ground beneath moves. Passion invigorating movement. Stillness.

Writers love to invent, weave, dream, communicate. We write because we need to. It’s something we must do, because not to is death to our soul. But occasionally our muse slips away, and we find our inspiration waning, our mind’s sleepy and lethargic. During times like this a collection of inspirational quotes from other writers who’ve gone before us, who’ve likely experienced the emptiness too could be just the thing we need to get our juices flowing again.

Here are some of my favourite quotes about writing to help put the pen back in your hand, or fingers to the keyboard with renewed passion.

 

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”

—James Michener

 

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

—Anaïs Nin

 

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

—William Wordsworth

 

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

—Franz Kafka

 

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

 

“A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

—Maya Angelou

 

“If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

—Toni Morrison

 

“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”

—Catherine Drinker Bowen

 

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”

—Agatha Christie

 

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

—Anne Frank

 

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

—Maya Angelou

 

“If a story is in you, it has to come out.”

—William Faulkner

 

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”

—Ray Bradbury

 

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

—Stephen King

 

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

―Louis L’Amour

 

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worse enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

—Sylvia Plath

 

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

—Natalie Goldberg

 

“That’s the thing about books, they let you travel without moving your feet.”

—Jhumpa Lahiri

 

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

—Kurt Vonnegut

 

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I am afraid of.”

—Joss Whedon

 

“If it’s still in your mind it is worth taking the risk.”

—Paulo Coelho

 

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”

—Anaïs Nin

 

“If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.”

—Margaret Atwood

 

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

—Cyril Connolley

 

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”

—William Faulkner

 

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

—Pearl S. Buck

 

“You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.”

—Truman Capote

 

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

—Joan Didion

 

“There is no denying the wild horse in us.”

—Virginia Woolf

 

“No need to force yourself to do something the “right way” if it’s not your right way. Your job is to honor your process.”

—Andi Cumbo Floyd

 

“Give me books, fruit, French wine, fine weather and a little music.”

—John Keats

 

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

―Beatrix Potter

 

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things.”

—Anne Lamott

 

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

– Ernest Hermingway

 

Do you have any favourites you’d like to add? Please comment and share!

Kiernan

A Life Worthy of One Simple Word

A Life Worthy of One Simple Word

In a world of words, I want just one.

Just one that jumps out and claims me.

One that tells a story within a story. One that speaks to the deepest darkest depths… of the heart of this writer’s life… the word that makes sense of the wild and crazy journey I’ve been on.

The word that has compelled me, sent me out into the world to find its meaning, because it existed inside of me before I understood it… and then went into hiding, but always… always it was there.

A word that has taunted me to seek it in the daily grind, in the excruciating pain that consumed me, and in the beauty of fleeting moments that I believed were sacred… but, discovered haunting loneliness instead.

Through ugly loves, choices of spirals that were misguided and flawed, because I believed in the lies that were not real, but acted against everything that on some level I knew was right.

Through beautiful loves too… loves that have given me hope in the seeking of a sustaining truth.

A word that sums it all up and turns it all upside down… inside out… makes it all right in the soul… in the breath… in the wings that hover and protect.

In the loving eye that has always kept me in sight… in the uttering of the word… in the qualities of holy… of the holiest of holies whispering.

In the gentlest of breath uttered by my ear and fluttering along my cheek that it makes me quiver.

A waft of it swirling up into my mind, down into the ventricles of living life pulsing with particles expanding… drawing me somewhere closer to the only known that matters.

There is a book, a second book. A memoir. It’s waiting for me to write it. It’s preparing me. I’m sifting through moments to explore it, to investigate what wants to be rescued, inviting the theme that wants to be revealed.

A word has moved ever so gently in… and onto a Post-it Note where I can gaze upon it, and give it space to shape its essence.

I was visiting my parents this week. It was a good day, a good visit. I brought out their tin of photographs and let their memories come alive. I had mum write names on the back of the old tattered black and white photos.

I listened to tales of long long ago. Eager and attentive to catch glimpses of parts of them I never saw, never knew. Maybe I would learn something that would help in the making of sense.

Then my breath caught and my eyes wettened, not quite spilling over, but close. There in the listening grew a certain amount of anxiety in me, maybe even panic.

Their recollections… their memories… their sagas would soon be lost. Where would they go? What tales would I remember, or not remember, because so often in the grasping to hold near what is dear, it slips away.

Where do all of our lives… just us ordinary folks… the memories of them… where do they go? Generation after generation?

Does it matter? I don’t know.

But, I began to comprehend that there was so much that I didn’t yet know about them. At 92 and 88 time is running out for me to find out.

Short catching breaths.

What happens if our family tree dies off? Who will remember? So many precious moments… where do they go? What meaning do they have… in their having once been… and then no more?

Maybe I should make time for more visits. Maybe I should write these recollections down… capture them somehow. So much to be grateful for that I have been blind to all my life.

Where we hurt. Our trials, our suffering, our rage, our injustices.

What if they are meant to be our gift and our strength. If only we look up and see through the eyes of God’s love. We might see something altogether different.

In a world of words, I want just one. No flashy subtitles. Just one word.

Maybe… because…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

~ John 1:1

This one sentence, it speaks to me daily. It informs me in ways I do not understand yet. Somehow, I feel it defines my life, or the life that I am in the unfolding.

The Word… the word… it gives itself to me. It chases me. It’s so good to me. It presents itself as a mountain to climb and a living water to swim in. It creates me alive.

In a world of words, I want just one. May it be so.

I wonder… if you had a word that told your story, what would it be?

In abiding love,

Kiernan

A letter to my younger self

A letter to my younger self

Dear little one,

The world is going to try to tell you so many things about yourself, so many things it doesn’t know anything about. It’s going to try to mold you, to think certain things are important, and it’s going to make you feel like you must conform to belong.

I want for you to know who you are, who you really are. That something that you feel inside you… it’s God’s presence and he will never fail you if you listen to him.

He knew everything about you before you were even born, because you were first a thought in his great almighty mind and then he created you with a plan to live a life in his name, as a reflection of his glory. He knew what he had in mind when he knitted you together in the dark womb of your mother.

You know those times when you feel your precious little heart pulsing for something you can’t see, so much so, that you almost ache in the wanting to know it, in the feelings that grow so big that you think you’re going to cry in the longing beauty of it? Those… right there will tell you more about yourself and who you are and how to live in the world than anyone else can.

Because it’s such a big part of who you are, it’s going to make you feel so different from other people. But, it’s how God made you, it’s this that you must listen to. Know yourself, know your heart and your mind.

Write about it. You were born to write about it… and to share the fruits of what God communicates through your feelings and thoughts when you write. The aching yearning beauty of what you feel and what you hear when you listen. There are so many people who are suffering in the world and they too ache to be uplifted, to feel the presence of God reaching out to them… to be encouraged to find their own truth. This is a gift God has given to you, so enjoy it fully… share it fully… with all your heart… and do it boldly.

Write because you want to… write because you need to… because it’s such a big part of what makes you come alive…  because writing is how you explore your thoughts and ideas in a way that gets to the real you, and don’t give up even if you experience disappointment… even if it seems like you are failing at it… or even if no one reads it… keep at it. Write, write, write because gifts need to be refined, they need practice to be developed and to get better and better with time.

Do this and you will please God and you will please yourself. The most important things that you can do are those that are pleasing to God; be the truth that he created in you, be love, be kindness, be forgiveness, be faithful and be these things with your whole heart and soul and mind, in the way that is unique to you… your own special way.

If you listen to the ways of others over what you know to be true to yourself, you’ll never feel good enough, you’ll never know who you really are and all that God had in mind for you. You’ll be pulled in different directions and you’ll lose sight of what it is to be loved. Without God as your source of strength you’ll never feel right in yourself or in the world.

But you know what, precious? Even if you falter, even if you forget… or even if you lose your way, God is always with you and he will find a way to bring you back into his loving arms. Know that you are his… know that you are loved by him… always and forever.

With abiding love,

Kiernan

Ah… there’s probably so many pieces of advice we could give ourselves, this is one little bit that’s been encouraging me to revive my love of writing for a couple of years now. I’m so guilty of having given it up because I felt disappointed that life didn’t hand me all that I hoped for in my first years of writing. What about you? What would you write to your younger self or your kids?

Please leave a comment – I love hearing from people! If you like this post please share.

My 40 days and nights of wandering and wondering

My 40 days and nights of wandering and wondering

I’ve wandered the desert for my forty days and forty nights. It seemed like a breeze for the most part. Then again, I had no idea what to expect.

Maybe some big epiphanies… Maybe I would feel closer to God than ever before… Maybe God would work more miracles in my life… Maybe He would establish my plans…

It turned out to be a subtle changing or growing, with some steps backward and needing correction. One that I am just now beginning to see how it was at work. One that I was blind to in the process.

It’s been a time to discover and explore my own walk with God.

A few times I felt like I was drifting, then I realized I needed to put on the suit of armour and reignite my own personal fervour to the Word, the scriptures, the Holiest of Holy Books.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

~ Ephesians 6:14-17

I was in the midst of redesigning my website, trying to figure out how to tie together my art and the new emphasis on writing to uplift aching lonely hearts and encourage others to stay the course. All the while, I felt a pressure building inside to get my Canada Series of paintings completed. Only four more to go, I need to get them done, right?

Let me back up for just a minute. Painting the series of Canada paintings had been such an intriguing and interesting experience. I was learning so much about Canada, but in the midst of these paintings I was called by God, by Jesus into his fold. Painting started to dry up inside me, and my first passion of writing reignited… in a big way. It burned brighter and brighter. It burned inside me in a powerful way.

God wanted me to write. That’s what I knew.

As He worked in me, breaking me open here and here and here, I reviewed my intentions behind the Canada Series and realized that I needed to shift my approach from focusing on the spirit of the lands and its native peoples, to giving the glory to its rightful owner; God the creator of everything.

Yet I still struggled to get to the canvas. I still struggled at the canvas.

I prayed and prayed to understand His plans for me, while still pressing forward.

I had the opportunity to visit Nova Scotia at the beginning of August, and get back in touch with my childhood, and my father’s roots. It was such a lovely visit and I felt certain it would inspire me to paint the Nova Scotia piece. But, in my return it still hasn’t happened. I’ve spent countless frustrating hours trying to paint.

Mess upon mess upon mess… scraping back and beginning again… and again… and again.

Honestly, I am in the midst of feeling like I’ve forgotten how to paint. My honey might wince at my admitting this, but I’m okay with it right now, though I wasn’t in the trying.

All the while, new Words began to speak to me…

Draw me near, LORD.

I walked and I prayed.

Draw me near, LORD.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

~ Hebrews 10:22

Words come alive in the seeking of God.

I’ve longed for this living. All my life.

But it wasn’t the worldly way. I didn’t fit in and oh did I try to fit in, even when it was impossible… I tried…. Conforming to the acceptable sent me into oblivion, the darkness, the emptiness of the trying.

There’s been circles and circles of change… interconnecting change taking place in the midst of God’s refining me.

Another all the while I will add… the topic of the Meyers Brigg’s personality testing coming up in conversations in our household… again and again. I took it… again, sure it would be different than the last number of times from years ago. It wasn’t.

I’m an INFJ and when I read it through a few times, it blew me away with its accuracy. I’d forgotten. It explained this pressing need that I felt to advocate… for God, why certain things haven’t worked out, and what’s been missing in my life and works. Oh, I think I can write a whole other post on this topic alone.

It’s the rarest of personality types – only 1-2% of the population are INFJ’s.

We are the advocates, the counselors, the spiritual teachers, and a great many of us are called to write.

INFJ Strengths include:

“Creative – combining a vivid imagination with a strong sense of compassion, Advocates use their creativity to resolve not technical challenges, but human ones. They enjoy finding the perfect solution for someone they care about, a strength that makes them excellent counselors and advisors.

Insightful – seeing through dishonesty and disingenuous motives, Advocates step past manipulation and sales tactics and into a more honest discussion. Advocates see how people and events are connected, and are able to use that insight to get to the heart of the matter.

Inspiring and Convincing – speaking in human terms, not technical, Advocates have a fluid, inspiration writing style that appeals to the inner idealist in their audience. Advocates can even be astonishingly good orators, speaking with warmth and passion about causes that matter to them.

Decisive – their creativity, insight and inspiration are able to have a real impact on the world, as Advocates are able to follow through on their ideas with conviction, willpower, and the planning necessary to see complex projects through to the end.

Determined and Passionate – when Advocates come to believe that something is important, they pursue that goal with a conviction and energy that can catch even their friends and loved ones off guard – Advocates will rock the boat if they have to. Not everyone will appreciate their passion, but fighting for their chosen cause is an inseparable part of Advocates’ personality.

Altruistic – these strengths are used for good. Advocates have strong beliefs, and they strive to follow them – not to advance themselves, but to advance ideas they truly believe will make the world a better place.”

~ Joseph Chris

With all these changes in my life this year, taking stock has been naturally essential, and seeing myself in the INFJ descriptions has made me realize the cause, passion, and connections (feeling like I am making a difference in people’s lives and in the world) that was missing… that which I can be… that which I must be.

It not only aligned with what I knew God was asking of me, it made me realize how compelled I was to act on it.

Now, back to my unsuccessful attempts to paint… it saddened me… it frustrated me… and I felt pressure.

These feelings did not feel of The Light, The Way or the Truth.

Draw me near, LORD. You’re all I need.

Somehow my plea, led me to Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Again. Again. Again.

I let the Words work.

I began to learn to say YES and AMEN to God’s promises.

Here’s what I do know… from yesterday to today…

God wants me to write.

I have a story to tell… quite an unusual one. I’m going to write a book about it… I’ll share bits here and there in the writing of it.

I also know this…

My story has brought me to a place of leaning more and more into my voice in the written word… my poetic artist’s voice. It’s quirky. It’s not grammatically correct, but perfectly expresses the words in my innermost being and my great love for a deep relationship with God. I’m told it uplifts and it inspires, and it offers some teaching.

So, I’ll write about how love can break us open here on this blog. I’ll write to create a refuge for soulful living… to help fill the empty aching place inside, for me, for you, and for those who aren’t even aware it’s there. I’ll be real too, because life is not all peaches and cream and therein lies our humanity; our compassion in suffering, mercy and grace.

I need to write. I’ll write even if no one reads it, but if you do and it speaks to you somehow, please let me know… write a comment, share it… help me spread the word and the love.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation

of my heart

be pleasing in your sight,

LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

~ Psalm 19:14

In love and faith,

Kiernan