In light of the pending presidential election results, I felt inspired to write today. Soon the confetti will fall and the music will play to ring in the much anticipated inauguration of our nation's next leader. Inevitably, some will be pleased while others will be dismayed by the result. Either way, one candidate will be elected while the other will likely feel neglected by voters as they prepare to concede.
Concession is never fun and yet a necessary part of life. The recent election coverage has reminded me we all have a daily choice to elect which emotion will govern our decisions. We can elect fear or we can elect faith. Either way, choosing one means conceding the other. There is no bipartisan agreement between these two parties. One will win, one will lose.
So which candidate will win, not only in our presidential race, but in our hearts? Will our internal ballot be filled with fear or faith? I can assure you, from experience, your creative gifts will always campaign for faith because faith is being sure of what we hope for. Faith requires moving forward with confidence even when we don't know exactly what the next step holds.
November 8th may be our nation's official Election Day, but make no mistake, every day is election day in the process of stepping into our gifts and using them to serve others. No matter what the presidential results are tomorrow, we each have the power to choose whether to move forward in fear or in faith today and every day hereafter.
More resources found on the Creative Habitat Facebook Page
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Ladies, it is time to get vulnerable...more vulnerable than I would like, however I have learned vulnerability is a MUST in any authentic creative process. First, here is a brief recap for those who are just reading this blog for the first time.
Like you, I am a busy mom trying to navigate the fast-paced swirl of modern day living with grace and ingenuity. This blog is my documentation of that navigation process. I post insights from my own journey in carving out creative time and space to refuel (and avoid burnout) so I can continue to pour into those I love more fully. I also share creative habits I am learning to practice to maintain work/life balance.
Finally, I post resources to help other busy moms discover their creative gifts and develop creative habits to refuel in daily living. Each blog post represents my creative habit of writing because writing refuels me and refueling through creativity is core to the Creative Habitat mission.
Now confession time. Despite my efforts to carve out creative time and space over the past few weeks, I have felt an inner sense of conflict. Current events (both national and international) as well as recent personal events have reminded me of the battle we all wage both internally and externally to claim joy amidst turmoil. With the weight of the world resting on our shoulders and tyranny of the urgent constantly vying for our energy, carving out time to create (just for the joy of it) can feel frivolous. The battle is real, and yet so is the need.
As I've contemplated my own experience with this battle, I've come to the conclusion, it is worth the fight. It is the creative act, after all, that brings light and beauty to a hurting world. Our creative gifts not only bless and refuel us as the creator, but have the potential to bless and refuel many who are on the receiving end.
Dear friends, I know the battle is real because I experience it daily, but please be reminded no matter how many internal or external issues you may be facing, your creative gifts are equally real. The world needs your light, so shine on!
Wishing you creative and refueling days ahead.
Check out the Creative Habitat Facebook Page where I will be posting weekly resources starting Monday, October 24th including:
*Blog photo from wallpapersus.com*
In an effort to create space for new creative habits to take root as I embrace this new chapter of full time motherhood and mompreneurship, my son and I escaped to Colorado Springs (where I grew up) for a two week quest in creative problem solving. We are starting Week 2 of this very important time of reprieve and regrouping before returning to San Diego where our "New Chapter" officially begins.
Points of exploration on this quest include:
1) Praying for energy to match a toddler's energy on a daily basis.
2) Planning a new weekly schedule that will meet the development needs of my son and allow me to carve out time to pursue my own creative habits.
3) Strategizing a way to "batch" weekly responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, etc.) so we can make the most of our quality time.
Most importantly, this time is dedicated to embracing courage in the quest for creative time and space, knowing life will always swirl with the to-do's of today and unknown priorities of tomorrow. To live fully, I must learn how to embrace the delicate balance of letting go and holding on...letting go of my desire to control and holding on to my desire to create. Both require intention and courage from which I believe true creative genius stems.
Elizabeth Gilbert, authour of popular novel, Eat, Pray, Love, recently published a book called, Big Magic where she discusses the creative genius hidden within each of us if we have the courage to live beyond fear. Given creativity is the pursuit and exploration of the unknown, one must overcome the implicit fear associated with such a daring act...to create original work with confidence!
Big Magic is the novel I felt lead to read during this two week hiatus in Colorado. Ironically when I found it during a recent Barnes and Noble date with my son, he grabbed my hand and walked me directly to the Dr. Seuss section. There before us were many examples of one man's creative genius on display. Surely it took courage to write each of those colorful, silly books! Surely Dr. Seuss overcame some level of fear to dare to write books with made up words when he originally intended to get his Ph.D in English Literature. Imagine if he had not chosen to live creatively beyond fear?
I have only just begun reading Big Magic, but it's no surprise the first chapter is titled, "Courage" because courage is the first step in any creative endeavor. The author recounts a profound quote by the late poet and English Professor, Jack Gilbert, who once asked one of his students, "Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say "Yes" (Gilbert, Big Magic, pg.7).
This is a question we all must ask ourselves when we are on the brink of uncovering our Creative Genius. Fortunatley, creative geniuses like Dr. Seuss answered, "Yes!"
Wishing you courage in your creative quest as I embrace courage in mine, admitting each Creative Habitat blog post is just that, a courageous step towards creative living without fear!
Check Out Elizabeth Gilbert's "Your Elusive Creative Genius" TED Talk on the Creative Habitat Creative Leaders link found HERE.
Little did I know the day I first became aware this life of mine was growing with a little life to share.
That time would shape us both with each new passing day and teach us how to view life in a new and special way.
Little did I know my heart could love so much as I held you in my arms and knew you at first touch. Sweetly breaking me of previously held fears, smiling down on you while holding back joy-filled tears.
Little did I know our days and nights would merge turning sleeping into waking with both starting to converge. Not knowing how I'd make it from day to night to day, yet, somehow through the exhaustion we always found our way.
Little did I know how that gummy grin could tease and how those pretzeled little legs could bring me to me knees. Praising God above for my precious gift while strapping on my baby carrier and giving you a lift.
Little did I know how many supplies you would require to keep you fed and dry which became my main desire. Through it all I learned a helpful hint or two about how to improvise and still take care of you.
Little did I know how my plans would change on a dime when you needed a diaper change or decided it was nap time. With your help I've learned how to relax and chill...and always be prepared for the next spill!
So on this Mother's Day, I just want to share all the many ways you've taught me how to care. Nose to nose and cheek to cheek, I cherish you from week to week. And this I know is true as I watch you grow...before I met you, little did I know.
Fear is a powerful deterrent from becoming the very best version of ourselves.
I should know, I'm actually an expert in the area of fear and worst case scenario syndrome. Fear + Imagination can break a spirit before it even has a chance to soar.
Overcoming fear is a daily battle and victory for me. In fact, each blog post and effort I make to develop Creative Habitat is a conscious act to defy fear and its squelching agenda against the Creative Habitat vision I believe I've been blessed to share.
I do not intend on focusing much more of my precious energy on this force of deception because the creative act is far stronger and much more powerful. However, I must address fear...because it addresses me every day.
Sometimes it slaps me in the face, other times it subtly takes the seat behind me, but make no mistake...Fear and I go way back. Fortunately, Fear is cowardly and I am brave. So Fear can take that back seat, and I will gladly drive knowing what's behind me is nothing compared to what is ahead.
Let your light shine ladies. Look fear in the eyes, acknowledge its presence, and gracefully turn your gaze upwards knowing the ultimate Creator is on your side!
Wishing you victorious creativity in the days to come.
My car was broken into yesterday in broad daylight and the thief stole my purse (which had my wallet and cell phone) out of my trunk. Needless to say, the last 24 hours have been a nightmare trying to "reset" my life, not to mention feeling violated. As usual, I turned to my creative habit of writing to cope. I wrote the following poem on the back of a envelope while I waited on the curbside for the police to arrive. It is dedicated to my perpetrator.
Heart in knots.
Where's the thief?
Who broke the lock?
Caught off guard.
Not too far,
Timing was right.
Broke the window.
Picked a fight.
Left the scene.
Left a mess.
Carried out a scheme,
I, now, must address.
Stole it all.
I take the fall.
Endure the sting.
Yet through the storm,
I claim God's grace.
And though I'm torn,
I seek His face.
Knowing what's been lost
can be restored.
Trusting God's promises.
Blessed and Assured.
While the thief comes to steal and destroy,
He CANNOT steal my faith, my hope, and my joy.
While my thief was an actual robber, I was reminded that every woman deals with a "thief" trying to steal her joy. Next time you are confronted by your "thief," I encourage you to retreat to your creative habitat and claim this truth...no one can rob you of your joy! NO ONE. Keep the faith ladies, God is bigger still.
Imagine sauntering your way through life and looking back only to find you haven't moved too far?
Not to put a damper on routine and consistency...there is definitely a need for both, but there is also a need to leap every once in a while.
I'm not talking about leaping between rocks in a pond but more of a bungee leap...where the stakes are high and the rush is real! The kind of leap that makes you question everything and regret nothing! The kind of leap that you don't need to look back on because you are too focused enjoying the moment.
This is the kind of leap that will change you, change those around you, and shape your destiny. This is the kind of leap that makes life worth living. This is the kind of leap I challenge you to today, Leap Day 2016!
Is there a leap of faith you need to take? Is there a risk you need to embrace in order to make more creative time and space in daily living? Do you have a vision that will not subside nomatter how hard you try to ignore it?
What do you need to leap in to today to change tomorrow?
Well...what are you waiting for?
Take a leap!
The bungee cord of life is more forgiving than you think.
Renewal is a consistent theme in Southeast Asian culture. From store fronts to prayer beads to cultural dances, hope for renewal speaks loud and clear in this region. Take the Cambodian Khmer Apsara dance for example.
Thumbs and middle fingers pinched, wrists twisted outward and palms raised to the heavens. This mudra (hand gesture) represents blessing the new seed before planting and renewing the land. The dance ends with a single lotus flower placed in the hair of the Apsara Mera, the lead dancer, symbolizing purity of heart and renewal of spirit.
The lotus flower is thought to be free of impurities and a symbol of rebirth, thus, explaining its prevalence in a country still seeking both renewal and restoration. The muddy roots represent our messy lives and the lotus flower rising above the mud to bloom, clean and fragrant represents human's desire to break free of suffering and embrace a new future. The hope of a new future is evident in eyes of the Cambodian people who continue to deal with the fragmented pieces history left behind.
While many know Cambodia's devastating story, few have taken action to play a part in their next chapter. Dr. Beat Richner, "Beatocello" is one such character who has dedicated his life to renewal for Cambodia's children. Dr. Richner is a suisse pediatrician and cello player who weaves both his profession and creative habit of playing the cello together to serve Cambodian families.
In 1992, he moved from Switzerland to Cambodia to help rebuild and manage the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital where he volunteered with the Red Cross just before the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge. He was forced to return home to avoid possible retaliation and death. Since his return to Cambodia, he and his team have provided free healthcare for millions of Cambodian children. He also holds cello concerts for tourists as fundraisers for the clinic. His clinic, or "creative habitat," now attracts lines and lines of moms and kids waiting for their "Beatocello" check up as shown on the YouTube video on the homepage of his website:
(Watch until the end...Astounding!!!)
Seeing Dr. Richner's vision of hope in the face of such adversity is truly touching and inspiring. Imagine how many people would miss his creative habit if he had not followed his intuition and returned to a war torn land to rebuild this children's hospital. Generations are being changed because he planted a seed of creativity creating a lotus effect of renewal.
What creative habit do you feel called to develop? What lotus effect will transpire as a result?
Now is the time to plant your seed, share your harvest, and renew the spirit within. Generations may follow!
Always keep your wits about you and learn how to function in an ever changing environment. This was one of my life lessons from diving as discussed in my previous post, although a recent experience tells me I still have a lot to learn.
While boarding a flight to Doha, Qatar, I felt a sense of unease. Given this was my first travel experience in the Middle East, I experienced my American lens in a new way. I found myself looking down in an effort to shield my face to somehow blend with the women around me wearing burqua head coverings. This experience was eye opening as I caught a shrouded glance from a woman across the way.
How can society widely accept one woman as "naked" as me yet expect head to toe coverage for another woman on the same plane? I felt a sense of both freedom and guilt as I took my seat.
While contemplating our cultural differences, a man quickly stowed his bag in the overhead compartment and sat down next to me. I felt my heartbeat quicken as he fidgeted to plug in his phone, put on his sunglasses, and began texting in Arabic while pulling nervously at his beard. In this moment, CNN media clips began infiltrating my mind and gripping me with fear.
Deep breath, I thought. "You are in his environment, his culture...you have no right to judge," I kept telling myself. As the flight prepared for take off, he continued to text and receive texts. Wasn't his phone supposed to be on airplane mode? I questioned suspiciously. My legs began to tremble as the plane lifted into flight.
Shortly after reaching altitude, he began to chant a prayer while moving his body in a subtle but noticeable forward sway. My heart dropped in my chest as I considered the "What if." I began watching videos of my son (who is staying with his grandma in Colorado while we are on this globetrotting adventure) and thought to myself, "How could I leave my son?" "How could I be such an irresponsible mother"
"How could I..."
Wait. Hold that thought. How could I think the worst of this stranger just because his cultural norms were different than mine? How could I...
It's amazing how strong fear is when paired with imagination. I felt lead to share this "strange behavior" with the flight attendant as my due diligence and was pleasantly and shamefully surprised to find the only strange behavior was my own. The flight attendant tactfully made me aware of muslim prayer practices and assured me this man was acting normal. I can only imagine what he thought of me, the ignorant American frightened for no rational reason.
Once I gained further understanding and composure, I sat down and found myself praying as well. In hindsight, we were one in the same, representing two different cultures praying side by side, living out our creative habit of prayer in unison. I am truly grateful for this learning experience and a creative habit that can unite what society seeks to divide.
Life presents us with many opportunities to try new things. Sometimes we seek these opportunities, other times they seek us. Such was my recent encounter with diving.
Growing up in Colorado and living in the temperate San Diego climate has made me an outdoor enthusiast. Despite my love for nature and living 20 minutes from "Big Blue," diving has never been on my radar. I love running by the ocean, swimming in the ocean, and taking in the beautiful ocean sunsets, but diving...never had an interest.
Rewind about 7 months when diving first approached me in the form of a Groupon my husband purchased. "Guess whose going diving?" he asked me with glee? After 7 sleepless months, I was still trying to keep my head above water as a new mom, I figured he was joking.
He preceded to list off dates for our dive certification classes and began entering them in my phone. I stared at him in disbelief. Did he actually expect me to attend dive certification classes when I was drowning in exhaustion?
A few weeks later, I found myself in further disbelief as we sat in the back of a scuba shop listening to our instructor review buoyancy control while I rocked our son to sleep in his car seat. I'm pretty sure we are in the minority of people willing to 1) sign up for diving certification within the first year of parenthood and 2) bring our baby to class with us!
Our coursework transitioned to a full 8 hour day of enclosed pool diving (now I know what sardines feel like). This was followed by a "beach dive" (where you walk a quarter mile to the ocean in full dive gear (including tank) and brave the crashing waves upon entry. Mind you, visibility is not great in the freezing Southern California water and even in the clearest conditions, all you can see is some kelp and maybe a Garibaldi, if lucky. Sound like fun? I can assure you it was anything but!
In short, you must complete 4 open water dives before you are officially certified. I met every dive with resistance. After all, diving intruded on my life with no regard for my claustrophobia, fear of drowning, and overall lack of confidence breathing under water!
Ironically, when each dive day came, I found myself suiting up, ready to overcome my "fear mindset." One dive after the next, I began to feel more comfortable in my underwater skin. "Keep the end goal in mind," I kept telling myself thinking of the Southeast Asia trip my husband had planned.
Despite my initial trepidation, I am proud to say I now have my advanced diver certification and have swam alongside the sea turtles, tropical fish, sharks and sprawling rainbow coral in their creative habitat. While diving has been amazing (outside of my Southern California experience) the best part has been the transferable life lessons I have learned as a result. I plan to incorporate these life lessons as I move forward in the development of Creative Habitat.
1. Always have a partner for support (and to share the experience.).
2. Expect the best but be prepared for challenges.
3. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and be intentional about your next move.
4. Always keep your wits about you and learn how to function in an ever changing environment.
5. Get the best "gear" possible. Do not settle for less than the best.
6. Preserve energy! To maintain peak "buoyancy", do not carry extra weight, only what is necessary.
7. Sometimes you have to go with the flow.
8. Trust your intuition.
9. Keep your mask and vision clear!
10. Dive in with confidence, the adventure is worth it!
Next time life presents you with an opportunity to try something new or develop your creative gifts, I hope you will DIVE IN!