Imagine standing alone amidst the ancient marble walls of a church that has been standing alone on a florentine hill for over 1000 years. Now imagine visiting this church many times before with constant tourist chatter and photo flashes in the background. Surely one cannot find complete solitude in such a publicly known space...or so I thought.
I get goosebumps even now as I reflect on the moment God carved out time and space to meet alone with me in San Miniato church while studying abroad in Florence, Italy 8 years ago.
I was on my daily run and decided to challenge myself by running up the stairs leading to the San Miniato church entrance. I could feel the weight of gravity pushing down on me as I pushed forward towards "The gates of heaven" as inscribed on the front of the church. Little did I know, I would actually get a taste of heaven that day.
I knew something was different the moment I felt the heavy, oversized church door close behind me. The cold, dark marble interior was surprisingly inviting. Silence was my partner as I quietly progressed toward the back of the church before climbing another set of stairs towards a clerestory window beaming a sharp ray of light through the darkness.
As I reached the light, I stood reverently basking in its warmth, yet unsure of how to fully embrace the moment. Suddenly, without hesitation, I was brought to my knees. I kneeled in awe as the light penetrated my spirit and left me in a state of complete peace. I met my Creator that day and I will never forget the peace I experienced in my solitude.
I was reminded of this miraculous experience when my son rummaged through my drawer and pulled out a plastic bag with a San Miniato church pamphlet and candle inside as shown above. At first I thought nothing of it and took the bag from him to put it somewhere high, somewhere unreachable.
Tonight while cleaning up, I found that unreachable bag and it reminded me of the day God reached out to me, an unreachable person at times, and literally shed light in my darkness. This memory filled me with hope knowing God carves precious time to be with us if we carve out precious time to be with him.
I hope you are able to carve out your own San Miniato moment this week. The world needs your light.
Check out my first Creative Habitat interview with Owner and Artistic Director of Bowen-Hays School of the Arts as she describes her creative habitat and habits that fuel her creativity.
Interview can be seen HERE
WARNING: You may be inspired!!!
Currently, there is a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette and pair of half chewed up shoes accompanying me at my kitchen table. They are part of a smattering of odd end items that have somehow made their way to a space I've made multiple efforts to keep organized.
I'll just move to another room so I can focus, I naively think to myself. Within seconds, it becomes clear I need to learn how to focus amidst clutter. As I survey my options, I realize I'm not the only one who feels out of place. The bathroom trash can is on top of the entertainment center, the blow up pool with rainbow balls is the new centerpiece on the coffee table, and there are Trader Joe's bags strewn across the kitchen floor.
And it hits me...I trail in the wake of a toddler.
While I tried to pick up after each of my son's many "explorations" this morning, motherhood is teaching me the art of losing control.
Take the raspberry vinaigrette for example. After reaching the 20 minute threshold of "toddler grocery shopping patience", I decided to take my chances and keep shopping for a few more items. Somewhere between the frozen peas and peanut butter crackers, I could sense my son's patience beginning to wane
I pushed on...after all, I still needed the raspberry vinaigrette...or so it seemed.
Within seconds of entering the dressing aisle my son had practically maneuvered his way out of his seat and into the back of the cart to get the much anticipated peanut butter crackers.
Long story short, I left the store with an open box of crackers stashed in my purse (paid for) and a kiddo with peanut butter melted across his face. At least we prevented a public melt down for both of us.
As for the chewed up shoes, well, that is the result of having two 90 pound dogs who think every new toy, book, and pair of kid shoes is free game. Fortunately, they only chewed the Velcro and left the rest intact which would explain the yarn and needle also atop my kitchen table.
Full disclosure, I am an organized person learning how to navigate the messes of life with grace. Grace for the process and also grace for myself.
Creative Habitat is one of my saving graces as it provides an outlet to share my creative gift of writing and, hopefully, inspire other busy moms to carve out a little grace space in their own day.
Whatever your creative gift may be, may you learn how to focus amidst clutter and embrace the art of losing control! This post, after all, is a result of carving out creative space, clutter and all.
Life stretches and pulls us in many directions. Whether we are facing struggles or joys, life is always inviting us to enjoy the ride.
Certain moments in life lighten the heart and bring joy to even the weariest of souls. No matter what struggles may be clouding the horizon, one can't help but smile when a blanket turns into the best ride in town and squeals of joy echo throughout the house. These moments stretch the imagination to think about the world from a new perspective.
This weary soul is here to confess the first 17 months of motherhood and 7 years of marriage to a busy medical student/resident has stretched me in ways I didn't realize I could be stretched.
Just when I think I am stretched to the limit and ready to spring back into place, I feel the tug of life pulling in all directions again. A little time passes and I realize there is no "springing back" only growing forward.
So here I find myself, embracing my new form, trying to reconcile what once was and what now is.
I confess I am a woman stretched thin, but that just means I can cover more ground...similiar to this blanket my son is riding with glee.
Sometimes, we all just need a little bit of glee to stretch our creative muscles and develop our creative habits.
My child was napping soundly approximately 30 minutes ago.
He is now in my backseat speaking some dialect of baby gibberish I wish I understood because it sounds VERY dramatic. While I love his baby gibberish, let's rewind to said: nap...
This elusive nap was supposed to bridge us from point A, our home, to point B, a quaint La Jolla beach house my family rented for the weekend. This nap was supposed to allow us some uninteruppted time to reconnect and talk as adults before this nap was over...
As with many well thought out plans, this nap did not comply.
So I find myself waiting in a parking lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean...waiting.
Waiting for that nap to kick in.
Waiting for the frustration to melt away.
Waiting for energy to improvise.
And then I look up to find the vast ocean waiting for me.
Waiting for me to stop and simply observe.
Waiting for me to take in the peaceful serenity it freely offers.
Waiting for me to simply let go and be.
As I prepare to drive back to the beach house (with a, now, sleeping baby in the back) my heart feels fuller than when I left. The weight of frustration has been replaced by this blessed wait for rest...not only for my son, but for my spirit.
Resting in the waiting is a creative habit I hope to cultivate. It has certainly been freeing this afternoon.
Whatever you may be waiting for, may you too find rest as you wait.
Savor now. Now is your time. Now is when your creative gifts can influence those around you. Here is a truly inspirational story about a woman who learned how to savor the moment amidst true adversity and used her creative gift of writing to encourage others to SAVOR.
Let's carry her message forward by savoring the gift of now.
A safe space is something to be cherished and protected. Whether it is physical space, emotional space or creative space...a safe space allows for ultimate growth. A habitat provides the ideal conditions to ensure that growth is sustained.
I was reminded of the sustaining value of habitats this weekend after taking my son to the San Diego Zoo and running in Mission Trails, a protected wildlife reserve near my house. Both had many signs posted to remind passerbys to respect and protect the natural habitats and their inhabitants.
This got me thinking, why don't creative women have similar signs to remind others we need protected time and space to grow and nurture the creative visions within? Why do we let the busyness of 21st century living intrude on our creative habitat so often? Perhaps I'm speaking solely for myself but something tells me many women can relate.
Women, by nature are caregivers, or as some refer to us as caretakers, yet few women take more than they give. This caring nature is our beauty within outwardly manifesting itself through an encouraging word, a hug, or a sippy cup given at just the right time...you get the picture. I'm constantly amazed by women's ability to care so deeply for so many.
I love being a caregiver. It's what I was designed to do, yet I have also come to realize I can cannot continue to pour into others if I am running on empty myself. In order to sustain our caregiving nature, I believe we must protect the creative gifts we've been given so we can continue to give the best of us, not what is left of us.
Just as natural habitats require sustained protection, so too do creative habitats. If we want to develop our creative gifts in a protected space, we must first set boundaries and invite others to partner in our effort to respect and protect our creative time and space.
This shared respect and understanding may be all the sign we need!
Are you in need of protected time and space to develop your creative gifts? If so, who do you need to inform about your creative habitat and protecting the key inhabitant, you!