Category Archives: creativity

1/13/17

Much has been going on these first two weeks of the new year. And thankfully, most of the happenings and thought-producers have been good (positive).  But, too many of these at the same time means that my mind is everywhere – leaving me feeling distracted, unable to focus or feel productive, and sometimes anxious.

Quick snapshot into my brain:

  • I finally admitted that although the church I’m going to currently is awesome, it may not be the best fit for me. This means searching for a new place to break bread, to be in community, to worship.
  • My work environment isn’t always healthy…and I’m still learning how to work and love there well.
  • Looking for ways/time to be creative this year – painting?, drawing, collage-ing and writing more often
  • Still having conversations and reading about race in America (check out 13th on Netflix)
  • As somebody who travels, understanding community in a local and virtual sense.
  • Asking what it means to be healthy and how I can implement that in my life
  • Have an interesting offer or two on the table for future creative projects and / or travel to consider
  • Continuing to understand what it means to be a life-long learner and reader – finding books to read, discussions to have, ways to experience / live out my faith
  • Trying? to learn Spanish
  • And, as always, trying to better understand my passions / giftings

Even typing it out caused me some stress.

But, my friend reminded me this afternoon, that it’s important to keep moving forward. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow you…. in order for them to follow, YOU need to be moving!” She’s right. While this may be overwhelming at times, it means I’m still thinking and not being stagnant.

And then this evening another friend reminded me  – You are okay.

  • I am okay where I am
  • It’s okay to have feelings
  • It’s okay to need to slow down and breathe
  • It’s okay to be confused
  • It’s okay to want something different
  • I am okay the way I am

So.

Breathe.

You are okay.

You are okay.

Breathe.

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Conjunctions 12/21

Earlier this semester, one of the fourth grade teachers at my school was explaining conjunctions to her class. When talking about “but,” she shared that it was a twist in the sentence. If the sentence starts positive, it ends negative. If the sentence starts with a sad face, it ends with a happy face.  This may be simplistic, but it works for getting the concept.

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After some conversations, I’m brought to the conjunctions that are going on in my life.  Or have been going on this semester.

My church is spirit-filled and engaged with the community and takes time to celebrate and pray on Sunday mornings, BUT I still don’t feel connected or known.

The last two weeks of school was spent primarily on testing, yes the fill-in-the-correct-bubble testing, BUT I still want kids to learn and enjoy learning…not just become robots who can take a test.

Houston has amazing cultural, food, art, music diversity, BUT it’s also super huge and easy for me to feel lost or insignificant, BUT there are tons of festivals and the arts are celebrated all the time in this city.

I know the importance of community, but I’m struggling to reach out, but people both in Houston and further away have reached out to me, but sometimes I respond with half-truths because I don’t feel like being vulnerable in the moment, but I know the vulnerability is a good thing…..

The idea of a hometown sounds great, BUT so does continuing to wander and explore.

 

And as I’ve been reading in Genesis, I’m reminded of my place as a wanderer. A sojourner. A person from the wilderness, called to a life of following. (more on that some other time).

 

For now, I’m trying to understand conjunctions. Understand that dualities may, probably ARE, a reality to life.  There may not be many times that I can feel 100% sure.  At least my own tendency is to see possibilities in people, places – to assume the best and expect an adventure with any forward motion – which is both terrifying and exciting.

Art Festival – Nov 20

This weekend was Via Colori – a street art festival in downtown Houston.  Lots of chalk, good people, good, food, good, music and chalk. Saturday I volunteered – doing a very small part in helping this huge production  happen. For a small taste of what I enjoyed on the second day of the festival…..

Also there was music..

The Gents and Kronika.

And all of it was good, fall, creative fun. PLUS it was all to benefit The Center for Hearing and Speech.  That’s right – awesome art for a cause!!

Also, for the four people who read this blog, be looking forward to some more thoughts on art and creativity in the near future.

 

November 17 (yet)

Music by Sia or Shawn McDonald

The blog posts by Your Other Brothers

The BlackLivesMatter movement

X-Men First Class

At first (or even fifth) glance, these things have nothing in common.  And maybe that’s true for most people.  But for me, they have something deeply in common.

In each of these, I see meaningful, authentic dreams being lived out.  Creatively, actively sharing stories, songs, lives that need to be shared.  Not caring about the political correctness, the “right” way to share these stories – just knowing, caring, believing that they are worth sharing, worth dreaming, worth fighting for.

Recently I’ve been realizing that while I can notice this around me, I still haven’t figured it out (or even a starting point) within me.  I don’t know what story needs to be told. Or how I would go about telling it.  Or what dreams are stirring in my head and heart.

There is more to say – I can feel it. But I cannot put words to it.

yet.

practices

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One of my friends is currently doing his yearly campaign leading up to Thanksgiving – #warongrumbling.  For forty days he (and others who choose to join him & his family) posts something specific he is thankful for that day.

I am trying to join this year – but don’t always get onto social media – or remember some days.  But there is something about this practice. Verbalizing our thankfulness or writing our gratitude down can solidify it – making more of a practice of finding the good in each day, in each moment.

This is a practice that was suggested to me during Mission Year by my city director.  And I would do it for awhile, notice my attitude shift, and slowly stop doing it. As I lost my perspective, eventually I would find myself frustrated, more likely to grumble, until I remembered (or somebody reminded me) the practice of daily thankfulness.

[Just last week my roommate noted that during the year he could tell if I had been writing my thankfulness list or not]

How easy it is to lose focus.  To get so distracted by some person or situation that is drawing energy that we miss out on the good.  There are moments of growth and beauty happening every day.  I know that when I slow down and focus and listen, it isn’t that difficult to see God. But taking the step to stop, to slow down, to be mindful is not always easy.

What would my life look like if I consistently practiced gratitude? How would it impact my attitude?  How might it impact the people around me?

 

[photo credit – Kelly Hudgins]

little Moments.

How easily I forget my place.

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Earlier this morning I read a blog post about finding beauty in the mundane. So when this photo came up in my list for Five Minute Fridays (or Saturdays), I was drawn back to this idea.

It is very easy for me to get stuck in my routines.  Wake up, eat breakfast, drive the same route to work, follow my schedule at school, tell kids not to run/yell in the hallways, take the metro buses home, make some dinner, check social media/news (if I’m lucky, journal) and get ready for bed.  There’s not anything wrong with the routine, in fact it can be helpful/healthy.

The issue is getting stuck in this routine.

There are little moments that I miss if I’m not paying attention. In the midst of my routine, do I notice (and appreciate, give thanks for):

  • the sunrise as I wait for school to start
  • the downtown skyline on my drive to work
  • the students who give me a high five
  • teachers and students who need some encouragement
  • teachers who give me encouragement
  • an honest question about my day
  • the perfect song playing

Moments happen all the time.  They are waiting if we notice and join them.  May I (we?) be ever more aware and willing to be part of the moments.

Photo courtesy of Becca Grenell

The Stars

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Darkness.  Night. All-enveloping in a way that produces both fear… and peace.

Some of my most peaceful, happy moments have occurred while looking at stars.  I think back to college and the trip to middle-of-nowhere Missouri and being shocked at how many stars you could see when there was little to no light pollution.  Or of my two summers on staff at Youthfront Camp West – the occasional night watch, or evenings on the weekends talking to other staff and just enjoying the view from the field or the waterslide tower.  I think of Youth Encounter trainings at Luther Dell – middle-of-nowhere Minnesota, and again being surprised and awed by the stars. And again, staying up late, under the stars talking about life.  I remember moments in my overseas travels and being comforted that the friends and family that I was missing were still present as I looked at the stars, knowing that they would be seeing the same stars.

Most recently, the stars were brought to my attention at the reception of my brother’s wedding.  Outdoors, beautiful weather, wonderful time with friends and family.  While everybody was chatting and dancing after dinner, I went out to the porch.  I looked up at the stars… and breathed. So much happening that weekend, and in my life, it was nice to see the stars and breathe and rest – even for a moment.  Seeing the stars reminded me that as much as I enjoy parts of Houston, it cannot be my forever home because I miss the stars, the open spaces too much.

I’m unsure what draws me into deep, reflective spaces when I’m under a sky full of stars, but it seems to be.

The struggle of Story

Over the last week month or so the idea of story keeps running through my mind and life.  How each person has a story, is living a story and our stories MATTER.  Our stories intersect, intertwine, run into one another.  As I’m in this period of transition, other’s stories grab my attention.  Whether it’s a fellow Mission Year alum who is vlogging about transition or an old co-worker doing weekly blogs, friends sharing thoughts through music, phone calls, or poetry.  These stories are touching something within me that I struggle to name.

And in all of this, there are levels – depths- to the stories shared.  Sometimes a story takes me into the daily life of a friend overseas.  A blog may discuss a current issue or Christianity.  Spoken word may talk about climate change, racial injustice or the joys and pains of high school.

Unfortunately, amidst all the reading and listening I’ve been doing, I haven’t found my medium.

I haven’t found the way(s) to share my stories.

I haven’t found my voice.

There is more to be said. written. sung. rhymed. colored.  It just can’t find its way out – clearly.

But, I’m not giving up. These stories will emerge.

Justice (6)

Emancipation: An Exhibit

Early on in third trimester of Mission Year our team started discussing the looming Justice Project.  We knew of it from the beginning of the year, and I always thought it sounded rather intimidating.  What can my team and I do that will help combat/bring awareness to some injustice we have noticed in our neighborhood/community?

Living in Third Ward, Houston – our neighborhood comes with a negative stigma.  And with its location close to University of Houston and the Light Rail, is prime for gentrification. Our team decided to fight against gentrification by showing the value of our neighbors and community.

Since we all are co-creators, and we knew several of our neighbors were creative, we decided to host an art exhibit.  The question we posed to ourselves, our neighbors and eventually to all who came to the exhibit – “What does emancipation in Third Ward mean or look like to you?”

 

 

There was beauty in the process. My teammates and I had several discussions about how to get neighbors involved, where to have the exhibit, how/where to promote, what the event would look like, etc. It was tough at times, but forced us to share and communicate.  Each of us connected with a neighbor to get their input for the event… which my teammate McKenzie has already written about –

We had Marcelina, one of our few Hispanic neighbors[2], selling tamales that she makes. She had a statement about how her tamales are both her art form and her means of emancipation, and all the proceeds from the tamales went to supporting her family.

Ella was selling her cookies and signature Stuffed Cups, which are cupcakes with cookies baked into them (and believe me, they’re delicious).

Raul did a sculpture.  A neighbor named Franky contributed several of his amazing watercolors for us to display.  Josh created a video of Grandma Mae telling stories and talking about Third Ward.  Maggie made a window sculpture.  We had photographs of some of the inspiration graffiti around, as well as portraits of some of our neighbors.  We had written pieces, and in the center of the room, we had a large interactive table with butcher paper so that visitors to the exhibit could share what Emancipation for Third Ward means to them.

During our event, I couldn’t help but smile.  I watched as neighbors engaged with each other, conversations were happening between community activists, and people were sharing their opinions about what emancipation meant.  Maybe justice is about dreaming about a better future – sharing these dreams with others – moving forward to a more equal life for all.