How blogging helps prevent soul clutter…and house clutter, too!

Half a year ago, as I was busy sorting through my boxes and packing up my house for our move, I found all sorts of precious old papers–boxes of dusty journals that hadn’t seen the light of day for years.

For you see, before I had my blog, writing was a covert operation. Almost nobody was allowed to see my poems. My scribbles were hidden away, safe from scrutiny, safe from the ‘horrific danger’ of being disliked or dismissed.  I’ve grown a little since then, and realized that unshared art is like a silent opera…tons of emotion just burning to be released, but kept in a bottle. It’s worth it to risk people laughing at you, to make it possible for them to cry with you, hope with you, and rejoice with you.

So in honour of the publication of my first book of poetry, I’ve decided to release some of my earlier writings from their solitary confinement and share them with you. Perhaps some sappy love poems from my early days dating my husband, impassioned prayers from my time of conversion to my faith, or other melodramatic outpourings…So if every now and then something appears from “Anna’s archives,” I hope you’ll welcome it kindly and pat it on the head, even if it is a little bit puppy love…

And once I let it live in Crazy Land, I can recycle the original! So it’s all part of my mission to delcutter my house, and by sharing these pieces of me with you, also delcutter my soul. Where is your soul clutter? Is there something inside waiting to be shared? Set it free!

 

Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood

  
I am so excited to announce that my first book, with four other awesome women writers, is about to be published!

This beautiful labour of love (sorry for the birthing pun!) started with a spark of friendship that caught fire a few summers ago, when my friend Laura’s cousin Roberta Cottam, now a close friend of mine, first came to my mom’s group. We were discussing the importance of spending time on our artistic pursuits, even as busy moms…how spending time on things that make your soul happy and stimulate your mind is actually good for your whole family. A happy fulfilled woman is a happy fulfilled wife and mother. 

This was a huge point of connection for Roberta (artist, writer, designer) and me (writer and photographer) and began a series of great conversations about the topic. We both felt that our spiritual lives and our artistic output were very connected, and encouraged each other to deepen both. This book is one of the fruits!

It also came about because of another very good friend, Monique Leblanc, who had inspired me to start blogging about a year earlier. I found her blog so genuine, funny and refreshing that I decided to start blogging myself. I liked that her writing was so real…you felt like you were having tea with a dear friend…rather than remaining an aquaintence who is only shown all the pretty bits…it was the opposite of contrived. I connected with joyful Melanie Jean Juneau and fun-loving Bonnie Way online through blogging and mutual friends, and when we began the book project, Bonnie invited her good friend Monique Les to join in as well. 

So five moms, five bloggers, five friends, brought together through the passionate work of Roberta Cottam and designer Laura Wrubleski (http://www.visualaura.net/), have resulted in an anthology which I hope will encourage and inspire many mothers in the beautiful and worthwhile vocation of raising the future citizens of the world (yup, I mean being a mom!). Look for it soon on Amazon in print or as an e-book! 

Why Posting an Imperfect Post is an Act of Freedom

Lately my husband and I have been on a theology kick and read to each other before bed…until we get totally confused, inspired or one of us ends up drooling on the pillow (usually me!)…It’s been really interesting, and definitely gives us something new to talk about beyond how’s work and what did the kids do at school today.

Tonight we were reading about freedom, and it made me ponder what it really means to make a free choice, and how it relates to the stifling danger of perfectionism in writing…as perfectionism leads to the inability to make definitive choices and complete things. (Yes, being writing-obsessed, I manage to relate pretty much everything back to blogging…just ask my husband).

Anyway, the author described the misconception of freedom as the ability to make an endless succession of choices, without any of them ever being permanent and definitive. The idea that having options equals freedom, and the more options, the more free you are. “But why not?” you might ask…”Doesn’t that sound good?” The thing is to apply this idea and see where it leads. Here are some examples of how it changes, sometimes subconsciously, how we make decisions:

“I’m not going to choose what to study, because that way I can choose to study anything at all. I’m keeping my career options open.” Yes, and your empty wallet…Being open to the possibility of all jobs but having no job = unemployment, not freedom.

“I’m not going to choose someone to marry, because that way I can marry anyone at all…I’ll be so free.” Or so lonely and jaded, because it takes one real heart to love you and keep you warm at night, not several billion theoretical ones.

“I’m not going to post anything on my blog (ah, finally, blogging!) until I have something perfect. As long as it’s in my draft box, I have the freedom to keep changing it. It won’t be permanent.” Ah, yes, that horrific word….permanent! We are so afraid of it. It implies commitment, confidence, strength, endurance…yikes!

But tell me, is having a draft box full of unexplored possibilities really freedom?  Nothing wrong with drafts, but to really mean something and come alive they need to be released, imperfections and all, into the world. You need to say as a writer (or painter, photographer, chef, etc), “This isn’t perfect and I’m ok with that. It’s not perfect but it’s mine and I stand by it. This is me.”

That one irrevocable act of posting your little poem, photo, story or ponderings is a greater expression of true freedom and honesty than that of hoarding your drafts like treasures, choosing to hide them away lest they not shine as brightly in the light of day as you’d like. I think it was Julia Cameron who said that you need to be willing to be a crappy artist in order to become a great one. So be yourself, stand by your work, make a permanent choice to share your work and in that way really own it. Post that thing you’ve been hiding away so jealousy. Chances are what’s closest to your heart will resound in the hearts of others as well.  

Summer Evening Sunshine

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Wow, it’s been a year since I registered with WordPress, and my blogging journey began. To celebrate this, I’m going to publish the first post I composed on my blog, which never made it out of the draft box until today.

Blogging has been so good for me, because it’s helped me to write so much more regularly, and to feel more confident. Writing is now easier and more fun, especially because of being connected to a great community of fellow readers and writers online. Thank you all for each word of encouragement.

I actually feel comfortable calling myself a writer now, which is new, and have even had a few short articles published in a paper. Hurrah! 🙂 It seems the more I write, the more opportunities to write come, and I’m very happy and grateful for this. Here’s a little snippet with my name in print!

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I encourage anyone who has some crazy artistic idea they are afraid to try to give it a shot, because amazing things are possible. You’d never imagine what you’re capable of and what great opportunities may come unless you try.

So here’s that first post my then trembling fingers never hit publish on. All the best to my fellow writers, and cheers to all of my wonderful readers! I’m so glad you’re sharing this adventure with me!

Summer Evening Sunshine

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After a long day of meals and snacks and diapers and messes, stories and games and breaking up squabbles, it is the most beautiful thing to sit in the evening summer sunlight in the garden, surrounded by bees and flowers, just drinking it all in.

My big girls are jumping on the trampoline–getting along for the moment–and the baby is sleeping. One toddler is snuggling on my lap and the other is wandering about naked, eating raspberries like a chubby, curly haired garden gnome.

Moments like this, worries of the world seem far away and irrelevant, having faded in the mellow warmth and simplicity of the summer evening.

Pausing from the endless seeming cycle of distracted multitasking, I am finally quiet enough to be aware of this divine beauty that has escaped me until now, and in this moment, feel connected to eternity.

Writerly Ramblings: On Not Blogging Enough Lately

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So for one reason or another, like in the Baby Blues cartoon above, I’ve been letting the usual business take over more lately, and haven’t been blogging very often for the last few weeks. It’s very easy to find something else more urgent on my to-do list (anything that stinks or screams jumps right to the top), but constantly choosing something more pressing than pressing publish is having it’s effect. If I went to a specialist my appointment would go like this:

“What seems to be the trouble , ma’am?”
“I haven’t been myself lately…I’m more irritable and impatient, and I feel like adrenaline is always rushing through my veins, even late at night and early in the morning…”
“I see…and have you been blogging lately?”
“No, not much.”
“No ideas?”
“Quite the opposite. Words are buzzing around my head at night. I’ve got so many ideas I can’t choose which one write about next, or even if I make a draft, which one to publish.”
“Aha! It sounds like you are suffering from an unblogged duct, caused by an excess of ideas and a deficiency in publishing them.”
“But I don’t know where to start…”
“Well, the best remedy for unblogged ducts is to write something, anything, and publish it as soon as possible. This will help overcome this flare-up of perfectionism, and get things flowing again.”
“Thank you, doctor. I’ll get write to it!”
“Once you hear that little sparkle sound of a WordPress notification of someone’s comment on your iPad, you’ll start feeling yourself again.”

So here I am, imaginary doctor’s orders, writing. And I’m glad. I’ve been missing you all. You might think that writers are solitary creatures, only concerned about crafting words in the dark loneliness of a late night office. But the opposite is true. Writers have a great need to connect, to share their experiences, to inspire and be inspired, to encourage others and to be supported themselves. It’s about people ultimately…

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I’ve been wanting to tell you about our giant expedition to the park with Uncle Winston, about the inspiring homeschool conference I attended, about the Father’s Day dinner at a Chinese restaurant that ended by me being peed on by the baby, about my new Barefoot Books home business that I’m so excited about, and about all the crazy things my almost four year old has said lately, among other things. So hopefully I’ll get to all these things very soon, and let’s hope this post gets things up and running again!

And for anyone else who has been putting off writing lately, get to it! You’ll feel a lot better…

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I’ll tell you all more about it soon, but for anyone who wants to check out my new Barefoot Books site, here’s the link. Hope you’ll love these books as much as my kids do!

Barefoot Books: Colourful, Cultural Books for Creative Kids

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Belly Poem

There’s a poem in my belly
Encrypted in code
A little tiny story
Waiting to be told

It’s curled up tight
in its tiny red room
little tiny heart beating
to the rythm of my womb

On publishing day
It’ll be so fine
To see my little poem
Come out and shine

Its path in the world
is yet unknown
but with time and love
it will be shown

Then my little poem
will shout out its song
unfurl it’s beauty
and sweep us along

Its story is just starting
But it’ll end never
Cause this little belly one
Is a poem to last forever