Lists for Clarity

Don't get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wilderness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This is a season about becoming. Don't lose yourself at happy hour, but don't lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. 
 Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like, Am I proud of the life I'm living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I'm spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that's keeping me from moving forward?
From Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way 
Shauna Neiquist 

write a book. buy some house plants. have a massive garage sale. go to a farmer's market. walk to the grocery store. use natural cleaning products. revisit 26 things list. learn to mow the lawn. shop at thrift stores more often. cook dinner more. paint some walls. make curtains. bake bread. hang out with more women. plant garden. plants for porch. get out of debt. art and music room. actually follow my business dreams. new diet/gym 3 times a week. christmas cards this year. write more music. make jewelry. crockpot meals. work through sewing classes. create a business plan. etc. etc. etc. 

On this road trip, my mind was full of details. Lists. Dreams. As simple or as complicated as some of these are, putting them to paper brought so much clarity. There is much to do. 

Thoughts on Driving

Last week, we hit the road. No work for an entire week and the only thing in front of us were farms, the promise of BBQ from little hole in the wall places, and the realization that we didn't really have anything pulling us back to work. Paradise. 

I love road trips. I love the time that I get to think, to sort out all of things sitting dormant inside of me, and to dream about the details and future that I only get to grasp every once in a while when life slows down a bit and the office life isn't dragging me down. I was counting down to this trip for weeks, months. The countdown began somewhere around 80 days to go or so. I needed a vacation. We needed a vacation. 

We had one plan in mind: to visit this shop, where vintage dreams come true and where my creativity seemed to have a fire lit underneath it. 

Driving somewhere we've never been forces me to find some clarity. I wrote lists upon lists. Inspiration hit me like a freight train. After the last few months, I needed creativity to pulse through my veins once again. I needed to not sit at a desk for countless hours a day, all the while allowing my dreams to sit quietly next to me. 

This book challenged me to my core. 

It rained nearly most of our trip but I didn't mind. Rain has been a massive force in my life. It has washed me clean, metaphorically and literally, for many years when I lived in the northwest. It is the sign of creativity, a sort of nostalgic sigh of the life I once had and the life I now am blessed enough to live. 

Cold Tangerines

I shared this many years ago on an older blog and was reminded of it once again this evening. Just know that my absence in blog-land has been quietly intentional and will probably continue for a bit of time. As cliche as this might sound, I'm doing some major soul searching once again. Change must come soon. 

“It matters, art does. It’s one of the noblest things, because it can make us better, and one of the scariest things, because it comes from such a deep place inside of us. There’s nothing scarier than the moment when you sing the song for the very first time, for your roommate or your wife, or when you let someone see the painting, and there are a few very long silent moments when they haven’t yet said what they think of it, and in those few moments, time stops and you quit painting, you quit singing forever, in your head, because it’s so fearful and vulnerable, and then someone says, essentially , thank you and keep going, and your breath releases, and you take back everything you said in your head about never painting again, about never singing again, and at least for a moment, you feel like you did what you came to do, in a cosmic, very big sense. 
            I know that life is busy and hard, and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don’t. Please don’t. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry , that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable…..
            So to all the secret writers, late night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything.
            Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. I need it.
 Thank you, and keep going.”
Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist