Thursday, January 30, 2014

Something Magical

Jane took this picture today. I didn't know she was taking it. I guess she just had my phone and started snapping away. I was in the middle of changing Tommy and decided to give his sweet face a kiss. Talk about perfect timing.

We live in a day of photoshopping and cropping. In social media we do the same to our lives, putting forth the image that we want other's to see.

But out of all the beautiful and digitally edited photos I've had with my babies, I think this one's my favorite.

My clothes aren't anything special. There's a pile of laundry on the couch, a half-eaten apple on the ground. Some discarded toys, a dirty diaper, wet clothes and socks. And yet in the middle of all of that...something magical. And wonderful.

We may complain about the hard days. The never ending messes. The long to-do list. But this is what it's all about. This picture right here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

For the joy of it

When was the last time you did something just for the joy of it?

This is a question I've thought about a lot lately. I just put the finishing touches on the last chapter of my novel. That makes three intense rounds of revision. And I still have to go back and overhaul the beginning. Again. It's hundreds of hours of work. My chances of getting published are slim to none. But I keep working.

Which has led me to ponder, is it worth it?

If my story never leaves the confines of my computer, is it worth all the effort and love I've put into it?

We live in a world where, for some reason, something is only considered worthwhile if it will make money, or bring you fame. If you can be successful at it. And to be successful means other people need to think you're good at it too.

And if other people don't like it, if your work doesn't measure up with what's out there, we have bought into this notion that we must not be "good" at it and stop trying.

My daughter is an artist. She sits at my table and draws, paints, colors, and cuts for hours on end. If she goes a day without doing some form of art, she will often complain at bedtime. "Oh, I didn't do any art today!" It's an important part of her day. She feels she is missing something without it.

I've read a few things about children who are gifted at art. I discovered two different patterns. Some children are just naturally gifted to create art. They seem to be able to see and translate their vision on paper much easier than their peers. And then there is the second group of gifted children. Those who LOVE art and do it extensively. Their technique doesn't start off any better than their peers, but through hours of practice they eventually get better and better and pass up those around them in technique.

Thus, most people who are "good" at art, aren't that way because they are born with a drawing ability, but because they are born with a passion.

We are all born with a passion. Maybe not born. My passions have definitely changed throughout the years. This is normal and good. But we are all born with a drive to create. To make something out of nothing, to bring order to chaos, and beauty to life.

Each of us has something that when we do it, we feel renewed, energized, alive. But many of us have left that passion. Perhaps you were told you weren't good at it, either by yourself or someone else. Maybe you stopped when you were told "You can't make a living doing that." Maybe you didn't continue when you saw everyone who was better at it than you and figured, "What's the point?"

But why do we have to make money or "win" or be "successful" with something in order to enjoy it and pursue it? Why don't we allow ourselves to do things for the pure joy of doing them?

In our society of technology, instant gratification, longer work hours, intrusive entertainment, less quiet time, and more demands, many of use go days, weeks, months, years, without making "art." And we are losing ourselves and sacrificing a rich, inner life because of it.

Art comes in so many shapes and forms. I'm not going to list them here, but think back to when you were a child, or a teenager, or some
time when you LOVED something but stopped for some reason. I challenge you to pick it back up and do it again.

Yes, you might be terrible at it. But are you having fun? Does it bring you joy? That is the true measure of your success.

We've all heard the quote from Picasso, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

Go back and find that artist inside you. Don't let another day go by without doing your art. Dance, sing, draw, write, garden, cook, build, film, act. There are opportunities all around you. And if there aren't, make them!

I may never publish a novel. But I will still write them. With each revision pass I improve. Every day my imagination broadens. My hands are busy, my heart is alive. And so yes, every word has been worth it. I have created something I am proud of. Something I love. Even if nobody else does.

I am an artist.

You are an artist.

I promise.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Praying for Rain

This is my first year as a resident of California. I've visited several times the last seven years. But now I live here. Right in the heart of central California. I can't go anywhere, not even down the street without passing an orchard or farm of some kind. Food is everywhere here. It truly is the land of plenty.

But today it was 70 and sunny. Which sounds great, and we made the most of it. But the nice weather is overshadowed by an uneasiness.

Where is the rain?

My husband and his family have lived in California most of their lives, and they tell me, December and January it rains. Some people get snow for Christmas. We get rain. Lots and lots of rain.

In the last three months, I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained. And some of those were quite light.

Where is the fog?

I have spent several Christmases in California. Winter mornings here are accompanied by a thick and chilly fog.

I have seen slight fog twice this winter.

Today I met a family who had been evacuated from their home in Glendora. They may get to go back at the end of the week, where they will get to deal with airing the smoke out of all their belongings.

The snow pack in the Sierras is at 17% of what is normal.

What I'm trying to say is that it's dry. And for a place that relies on agriculture so heavily, it is scary.

We are all praying for rain and snow. In two weeks, on February 2nd, all the members of the LDS church in the area will spend 24 hours fasting for rain. We're already praying, praying, and praying some more.

I'm asking you to join us. Because this isn't just a problem for California. If you eat, it's a problem for you too.