The Art of Living Happy

The Art of Living Happy

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

I recently heard this notion that keeping oneself busy meeting friends for coffee, movies, or dinner dates, and shopping, or all the myriad ways we fill our time, may just be a form of distraction keeping us creatives from making our art – that which our soul yearns for us to create, and the world needs.

For the past couple of years I felt like I was living in limbo. I had this intense desire to write, but the words were often stuck inside, all bottled up.

During this time I became aware I had a constant low-grade anxiety (okay maybe more than low-grade). Truthfully, this awareness came when I began to take medicine to manage spinal stenosis and arthritis pain. The realization hit when the immediate benefit was a lack of anxiety. I felt easier in my body. It took the ease of it, the missing of it, to make me see.

This anxiety had become a constant, perhaps throughout my life. I’ve certainly beat myself up enough, certainly put a great deal of pressure on myself, certainly felt not enough in so many ways.

This past several weeks words have begun to flow in the form of poetry. In my last post I wrote about how it feels like I’ve come home – to myself – in writing poetry.

It’s been a release, a transcendent experience, and one of finding a measure of wholeness. In fact, it’s become so therapeutic I decided to experiment to see if the anxiety and pain would flare up if I reduced my medication.

I’m doing a slow, gradual withdrawal so that I can closely monitor things, and so far writing poetry has been winning as a pain and anxiety replacement – for me. (Of course, I can’t recommend it to anyone else.) Yes, even with all our lives being upended and we now live in a surreal world, with the coronavirus pandemic threatening every aspect of life, health, and livelihoods – writing poetry continues to be a cathartic healing experience.

Mind you, at the forefront of all this is being aware my faith in God is being tested, as is the case for all of us.

How much do we trust him?

How strong is our faith?

A book I am currently reading (very slowly for a deep integration) is The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World, by Alli Worthington. I think there couldn’t be a more perfect time to read a book such as this.

Is it possible to be happy in these current uncertain times, when our ways of living are being uprooted?

I’ve spent several days mulling over and meditating upon what the author proposes just in the first chapter titled Happy Roots. She tells us that if we can live, with our happiness rooted deeply in God, then the temporary trials of the day will not throw us off.

… true happiness comes only from Him. It does not come through our material possessions, our relationships, or our circumstances.

~ Alli Worthington, The Year of Living Happy

Oh wow. How had I not understood it in this way before?!

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,

   whose trust is in the LORD.

He is like a tree planted by water,

   that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

   for its leaves remain green,

and it does not cease to bear fruit.

~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

It will soon be three years since I became a Christian, but I had lacked that insight. Over the years of my creative life (and life in general) I’ve had many successes and many failures, and upon reflection both aspects left me feeling something was missing and not quite right. Most important to note are how the successes made me feel. My accomplishments should have made me happy, right? The relationship with my wonderful loving husband should make me happy, right? Sometimes they did, but that kind of happiness is fleeting. It lasts only a moment. It’s not a day-in, day-out kind of happiness.

Pondering the idea that God should be the source of my happiness is illuminating, and a little confusing. I mean, how does that work?

I’m trying to take it in. I suppose this is not a matter of trying, but of letting the Almighty integrate this into my inner self.

I have to admit though, it is creating a lightness within, and despite also having been terribly sick with a cold and self-isolating, I am waking more now with a growing hope, a growing happiness that is not dependent on how I’m physically feeling, what I’m doing, or what I have.

It makes me wonder, is it possible to live each day, to write it on our heart that every day is the best day in the year, as Mr. Ralph Waldo Emmerson tells us? I can only speak for me, without God, without hope, without faith – it’s not.

Writing poetry is healing, it is transcendent, but without my believing in God, it’s not inspired.

Here’s a little excerpt from my poem titled The Calling Forth Garden

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 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

Live the story you want to tell…

Live the story you want to tell…

“The Buddha and Jesus taught exactly the same thing: you create a beautiful life by creating fertile conditions, not by asking for anything. In my own words, what I hear them saying is this: You can have anything you want – why, you can have things you don’t know you want – but not by focusing on them. Instead put your undivided attention on your connection with the vibrant presence of the Divine within, and your life will change.”

Website

~ Janet Conner

Author, The Lotus and the Lily

Last year I completed Janet Conner’s 30-Day Soul Writing Program in the Lotus and the Lily and it was so very powerful and life affirming. It brought home to me a depth and focus that has carried me through this year.

This is the basis of it:

There are thirty experiences, one each day. The first twenty-eight are divided into four week-long explorations:

Week 1 Prepare – step into your natural spiritual power, set your intention, and create your own ritual and prayer

Week 2: Look Back – uncover all the gifts in the life you’ve created to date

Week 3: Create Space – make room for the new by releasing and forgiving the old

Week 4: Look forward – identify what you want in alignment with your soul’s desires

After twenty-eight days of rich exploration, you will spend Day 29 setting up your Soul Day. And then, on Day 30, you will give yourself something precious – a day alone with your soul.”

~ Janet Conner, The Lotus and the Lily

What it helped me do was get out of my head and my ‘thoughts’ of my life and life’s work, and helped me to receive a wonderful vision of what I am creating through my art and writing.

And, because I had this foundation as my North Star, I’ve been able, in a more focused and intentional way, to take the next real steps in creating a body of work that comes from a calling that serves something greater than me.

I sat down with her book this week to decide if I would do the full program once again this year, to close out the year and refocus for 2017.

Three pages in and that was it… decision made.

In particular, the aha moment that sunk in was that it’s not really the thing we want, it’s the feeling behind it that we crave. And, that when we live in alignment with that feeling, which has nothing to do with resisting life, but instead understand that how we live, whether from fearful or loving thoughts and beliefs creates the conditions of our lives, then we can consciously choose love over fear, in every moment.

And, that when we live with love as our core driving force, the conditions of our life will organically become that of Beauty. Every moment dictates the next. Am I expressing love or fear? Am I living love or fear? Am I reacting with love or fear?  The more we can move into living and being love with every opportunity that comes our way… the more Beauty we experience.

So, off I went to search for a beautiful journal to inspire me and this is the one that seemed to seemed to have something to say to me. It is the one that wanted to be a part of my intention setting for 2017…

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Here’s to living from the heart and soul… and, living the story you want to tell…

Kiernan

xo