Sunday, May 15, 2016

Little things

Knitted Shawl that I made this winter.

This week, my little family and I went to see a wonderfully enchanting play called Miniscule by Dominique Leroux ( ).  It's about a miniature little girl sometimes made of yarn, sometimes made of paper, and it was enthralling.  Multidisciplinary and full of unique touches, the children loved it and intuitively understood what the artist was trying to say.  I thought it was lovely and only now, a while later, am I able to register why it touched me so much.

While the puppeteer/actress was describing the adventure she went on with her miniature friend, she described the fear and apprehension they felt.  With courage they went beyond what they knew and followed the road map found in their yarn creations.  When she projected the knitted piece of white yarn on the screen and I saw the detail within it more clearly, I had to catch my breath.

My eyes filled with tears.I don't know what's going on with me lately, but my artistic side has taken over and seems to be guiding me along quite strongly.  Not coincidentally, I've also started praying every morning and studying the Bible more seriously.  The more I pray, the more I read scripture, the more I feel I need to create things with my hands.

I feel tears welling up before a beautiful ball of yarn, gratitude that I can paint and draw and collage; I feel open and alive when I enter an art supply store; when I see stationary, I could sing (but you don't want me to, no talent there!!).

These things call to me.
They draw me close.

They bring me closer to myself and I feel my soul's contentment when I fulfill this part of my soul's journey here on earth.  God has put these small things on my heart and I can't help but do them--cut, paint, draw, glue, knit...sometimes separately, sometimes all together!

Could this be what the play was about?  We find our way through the small things that we do each day.  St. Therese of Lisieux would probably agree, maybe Mother Theresa too.  I think she once said that we should do 'small things with Great Love'.  This I knew to be true in the many things I do for my children and family--when I wash a baby, mop the floor, make some soup, I am serving God's purpose for me on this earth as long as I do these things with love.  When I do these things with love, I can feel that this true in a very real way.

It's funny how that can be true with objects and activities too, provided they aren't hurtful or damaging in some way to our souls or otherwise.

I feel drawn to things quite strongly sometimes. When I listen to my deepest self, I can feel like God has sent me the desire to knit and draw and create.

I suppose if He can speak to us through people (in their kindness, in their wisdom, in their actions), He can speak to us through His creation as well.

Lately, He's been sending me to the art store, the yarn aisle and the recycling bin for bits of colorful paper to cut up and paste.  He's sending me winks and nudges when I work with my hands, when I fiddle, paint, paste, and 'smush' around pastels to get a perfect angel face painted.

He's given me talent and when I use it, I know I am doing His work.  For now, and maybe forever, it is only in small ways, but even in the scarf I knit for my husband, the Mother's Day cards I made for special women in my life and the crochet creations I hand out here and there, I know I am doing what I am created to do.  

So, even though the song you sing may only be for one other person, if you sing it with the knowledge that you are using the gifts God has given you, it is a very fulfilling experience, indeed. 

Watching the play about the importance of  small things, reminded me that we participate in the world even in these little ways, adding our talents to the world.

How is God inspiring you lately?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Finding Balance

Ever try to find time to pray and although you have the best intentions, you end up either not praying at all or having to squeeze in ten or so Hail Mary's and an Our Father before collapsing under the weight of exhaustion after a long day?

We all know by now that quiet time with the self, communion with God and a little bit of silence in the midst of a very busy day is a remedy for many modern ailments.  The trick is, how do we 'make the time' to do this?

I was inspired to make some changes by people I knew who spent time every morning in Meditation. I wasn't going to Meditate in the way a Buddhist would, but I saw the benefits this quiet time had on their lives.  I set up my own meditation times by deciding to pray more deliberately.  I wasn't going to 'empty my mind', instead I was going to fill it with Christ by saying a Rosary, going through a Chaplet etc.

I struggled to make time and even set up a prayer schedule with the intent of praying at specific times during the day, no matter what.  My main goal was to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 pm and ask for God's mercy because, selfishly, I knew that I needed it. 

Well, it worked out a couple of times and then I quickly realized that young children and specific prayers at specific times didn't mix very well.  Apart from saying a prayer before meals, the other 'times' that I had set up didn't work well because some one or something always drew me away with legitimate requests.  I tried breaking up the times into short bursts of ten or so minutes instead of my 30 minute prayer time.  Even mornings became difficult as my nights weren't always restful and therefore my mornings weren't always as planned.  The children would wake up a different times depending on weather and school schedules.  Throw in Daylight Savings time and changing the time back again and I had a real problem.  Fast forward several months of frustrating and mostly failed attempts.

I realized, finally (I'm stubborn sometimes), that my plans didn't work...

I felt the dryness of my prayers when I did manage them because I was disappointed with myself and frustrated with my family for taking me away from what I wanted to be doing.  Then I realized the absurdity of this and I let go.

I let go of expectations from my prayer time.  I let go of specific prayer times all together.  I let go of boxes and schedules and I looked at the time I already had.

I began by appreciating the time that I had and I tried to use it more wisely.

I began to say Novena prayers before reading my other emails (I have the prayers sent to me via a website called Pray More Novenas).  I also started praying while doing my daily tasks.

Hail Mary's while putting away the kids' winter hats.  The Jesus Prayer while washing dishes.  Quick exclamations and calls for help to my favourite saints when my patience is wearing thin.

In short, I kept it simple and I've been feeling the benefits of this more realistic prayer 'schedule' ever since.  

Do I still want to sit quietly with the Bible and read?  Say an entire Rosary without falling asleep? Say a Litany or two in the morning?  Yes!!   These are all goals, but I'm working toward them and I'm not putting pressure on myself now because I just can't seem to do it.  I do what I can and I guess that's what I needed to learn. God doesn't ask for more than we can do.  He asks us to do what we can do without comparing ourselves to others.

How's your prayer life?  What are your struggles?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

And so it begins...again

Here I am again dear friends.

It has been a long absence.  In 18 months (give or take) all manner of things can change and grow...two babies, for example.  Alas, I have not given birth twice in this time spent away from this little corner of the internet.

I have, instead, given birth to myself.  Such is the case when one is confronted with the truth of our human limitations.  We can't always push through, get it done, pull up our own boot straps.  Sometimes God helps those that help themselves, and I have most certainly felt that divine push on occasion.  Sometimes though, God helps those that ask for  help, those that take time to heal, those that pray more than they do.  God helps us be still when we need to.

The long and the short of it is that the thyroid is a very important part of the body and when it doesn't cooperate, it takes a long time to set things right.  I am now happy to feel better and happy to say that I prayed more than I accomplished this year, and in that I was very successful.  Now that I have the energy to sit and write.  To look at a screen.  To think without crying from exhaustion.  I am here.

It's spring.  A time for renewal, as they say, but also of a refreshed spirit.  It has occurred to me in these months spent more quietly that when I feel this new burst of energy, I need not spend it all at once.  So, I encourage all of you, and I put myself at the top of the list, to sit and breath and enjoy the stirrings in the soul that awaken when we finally see some green grass, some red-breasted robins and some yellow daffodils.

This season of renewal, I will sit and enjoy it (while I run around picking up toys, doing laundry and cooking, but you know what I mean).  I will let it stir me within and I will purposely not do anything about it.  This, so that I may enjoy it more, but also so I can learn to listen to those stirrings all the better.

Who knows, they may guide me somewhere new.

Let me know what you're doing this spring.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Change is good. Ride the wave...slowly

Well, as with every's starting soon (First Sunday of Advent is Dec. 1, 2013), I seem to find that change comes.  I feel courageous at this time, so I also make more daring choices, accept new challenges and look forward instead of backward.  I think it's the Old Testament readings that get my mind going in the right direction--looking back in order to focus on the future and sit in the present more joyfully.  The book of Isaiah really brings this aspect home to me.

Having said that, however, I have to say that many coincidences--or "God-incidences"--also seem to be pushing me forward.  Since this has happened pretty consistently during every Advent season since I started following the liturgical calendar more strictly and, importantly, more prayerfully, I can conclude that something more is at work than my simple mind and heart.

So, lately I've been carried forward by a force and energy that isn't wholly mine.  Does this always feel 'good', definitely not!  I get good pushes and 'bad' ones.  Two hospital stays in 10 days with sick kids, a freak accident involving my son's daycare and several other annoyances (including a persistent cough) are not pleasant pushes, but they do push hard on my perceived limitations.  I am asked in those difficult and exhausting times to find it within myself to continue, and to continue on the right track, on God's track, with grace and prayer.  I get pushed.  I get nudged.  I accept it, and I move forward more quickly.  That's when the courage to take risks kicks in and I can say yes more enthusiastically, I can come up with creative solutions, I can think outside my box because after dealing with life's bumps, I realize that I'm outside the box--I've outgrown it.

So, this Advent season will be about growth, I suspect.  It seems to be my soul's pattern.  Advent=change, for me.  How is it for you?

I'll keep you posted about the crafts I'll be working on with the kids, when my cough abates. Hack, Hack!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

fall and falling

It's fall and I'm back in business, as it were.

It is that time of year ...or so the old cliche goes.  Fall is my favourite and now that I've been home with my children for a few years, and I don't have the beginning of term jitters, which some teachers have, that would haunt me from early August to mid October (a not so usual reaction).  Jitters for a few days, yes, months of anxiety, no.  That is not the way to spend several months of the year.

So, now that I can soak in the fall colours without that stress, my mind seems freer to contemplate and enjoy what is around me.  Living my vocation more fully has brought me to SLOW down mentally, if not physically since toddlers move fast, real fast.  What to do with this mental SLOW DOWN?  I don't know.

Change is not easy--and I've already talked about my difficulties with it here--so I won't belabour the point further. Oddly enough, this time around I don't find it so difficult.  Scary because of the myriad unknowns, yes, but I feel an inner calm that I don't think I have ever experienced except for a couple of times in my life when I had made equally unexpected decisions, but nonetheless felt a complete inner calm.  A couple of other times, I remember feeling a pull toward something and that same inner stillness of pure calm.  I didn't do what my heart was calling me to do.  I didn't take the leap and I've regretted it ever since.

Discernment is messy business.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church has several entries about discernment and its importance (discernment of spirits, charisms etc.), so I won't attempt to outline the details of this process here.  What I'll stick to is a meditation on how the process is working in my heart of late.

To me, discernment means thinking about where we want our life to go, measuring that up against what our feeble minds think God wants for us, and then making the necessary outward changes to match the inner changes that we've made.  Prayer helps, friends and listening ears help, taking action in small ways helps, but at a certain just have to do 'it'.

Whatever that 'it' is, it might even seem small to others, but for the person making the change there is always that one action or decision that in retrospect (and sometimes even in the present moment) was the 'can't turn back now' moment.

Am I ready in my own life to do that?  Don't know.  Which, of course, means no.

But that's okay, too.  I'll get there.

For now, the trees are a beautiful shade of orange and I'll stick with enjoying that fully until the leaves fall to the snowy, frosty ground.  When that happens, I'll know it's time to think about what lies ahead.

Happy Fall.  Check the blog for more regular entries as the cold weather and writing seem to go hand in hand.  I'll try for a once a week entry, at least.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer musings

Summer is here and the weather is humid and warm, but after the blustery winter we've had, I'm not complaining about any of it, not even the smog.  Not even the excessive rain.  No, not even the extra mosquitos and other critters.  I am happy to leave my house without a sweater, and nothing much else matters.

This blissful oblivion, and willed good mood, got me to thinking....what kind of a person would I have been or would I become, if I lived in a different climate, where this 'summer weather thing' is a year round phenomenon.  Don't get me wrong, the four seasons are great and all, but really I could live with seeing spring in a picture and hearing about winter from a friend.  What I need and want is summer.

I have come to the distinct conclusion that I would have a very different outlook on my days and on my life if I lived in a climate that better suited my temperament.

This led me think about other ways I could imagine a new life, a different life.  Not fundamentally different, I love my husband and children and want to spend all my time with them, but different in the superficial, yet also important ways.  What if the house I lived in was different, maybe better suited to me?  What if my job better fit my temperament?  Without getting into a spiral of what if's leading nowhere...I found this exercise to be quite refreshing since it reminded me of what my daughter has been doing a lot of in her imagination.

The imagination is a great thing when channelled well.  It can lead us out of darkness and it can send us, if we're not careful, right to the depths of despair.  Prayer and a conscious desire to think upward and outward tends to work for me.  It helps me get my imagination in tune with my best self.  Then it becomes a tool for renewal.

So, for the next little while, that's where I'll be...daydreaming in the hot summer sun.  You can join me for a unicorn ride later, for now I'm picturing what I look and feel like in my 'new' digs.

P.S. Here's the long awaited result of the St. Francis craft.  It was a resounding success and still hangs in my office.  Don't mind the plastic can decorate your hangers with some nice ribbon.  My kids wanted to focus on the animals and the drawing, which is why I consider this a good one.  It got them to think and do,and that's more important than the result....and isn't that what my thoughts about the imagination are all about anyway: the idea that to imagine something else means we can try new things to get there or somewhere else, but the process of imagining it is the first step and the most important one because who knows where it will lead.
St. Francis, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer sprung right over spring

So, spring in my part of the world decided it wanted no part of us this year.  We went from snowstorms to summer weather in two weeks.

This made for a rougher than usual transition from one season to the next as I ended up packing away winter and spring coats/boots and shoes at the same time. Then, out came all the summer gear.  Its been busy and its got me we always need to take every step and plod slowly through the expected paths in life?  Can we, as the erratic weather proves, sometimes just skip a step or two and still make it to the same destination?

I am a plotter and a planner.  I have brainstorming worksheets for everything, and I am a compulsive list-maker.  I think that these ways of organizing my thoughts and planning out my life give me some measure of control.  I think they have brought me success and prosperity.  Are these assumptions true?  Hardly. Partly.

While planning and working things out on paper help me clear my mind and plot out some eventual possibilities/outcomes/results of my decisions, these scribble sessions hardly constitute magic weapons.  I have come to see and know in my heart that writing a list helps organize my mind, but it doesn't give me the tools to take advantage of what life has to offer.

Sometimes, we need to throw out the list.  Make it in order to clear our minds and hearts, for sure, but then throw it out.  Wilfully, chuck it.  Dump it.  Try something new.  Life gives us ways of finding our way if we are paying attention and listening to our hearts and the Spirit that moves within us.  Through prayer and reflection we come to truth.  Truths about ourselves and the world around us; I really believe that.  The planning helps us make dreams into reality, but sometimes (not always) but sometimes, we need to drop the list out the window and watch it fall to the ground.

It is of this world, and our dreams and the possibilities that God has in store for us are not.  They can't be contained in a list and if we become slaves to the list, to the plan, to the plotted trajectory, we lose out on all the wonderful and edifying stuff along the way, down the 'other' path, on the other road.  That stuff is sometimes on the road we didn't take, even though we wanted to, because it wasn't on the list.  The really good stuff--even the painful experiences--are to be found, mostly, in unexpected places.

People don't often pass on to the other world on a schedule, but when they do, boy do we grow.

Children don't come, usually, exactly when we plan for them.  And yet, what teachers they are when they do arrive.  They are masters at leaving by routine while simultaneously throwing out the plan, changing the list, making every moment a new path.

Cars don't break down on schedule and emergencies are unexpected...that's why they are emergencies.

Taken in this way, life's hardships and joys--the things that make us who we are--are usually (in the mundane flat tires and the extraordinary experiences of birth and death) list busters.

So, while spring decided to take a break this year, so have I decided to take a break from my list.  My list is on hiatus.  I am navigating by starlight and moonbeams.  I am paying attention to what is, not what I thought would be.  My list is there, it will get written and re-written, but for now once its on paper, I'm not paying attention to it....not much, anyway.

P.S.  I've been crafting with the next and ideas to share.