Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A LESSON IN THE POWER OF CREATIVE HABIT


I started a creative project a couple of months ago called The 100 Day Project. I had watched other creative people document their experience completing the project, and decided that there was a lot of potential within the project to learn and explore. As a maker who always loves a good creative project, I decided to set myself up to start the journey. 

You may be curious what the project is all about. Essentially, you choose something creative to do for one hundred days in a row that is based within a preset parameter. The project can look so many different ways for different makers, but the general principle is that you are doing the same creative thing for one hundred days in order to establish some sort of habit. It is important to set a tight enough parameter that you have a clear focus when you start each day, but have enough space within that parameter to explore and find at least one hundred different ways to tackle it. If you can think of at least ten different ways to attempt your daily challenge right off the bat, you should be fine to move ahead with it and start.


When I began, I decided to base my project on pattern-making within the Adobe Illustrator program. I am in the process of learning how to use Illustrator, so I thought this would be a great way for me to get familiar with the program. I created a standard template within Illustrator that is four inches tall  by six inches wide, established that it just had to be some sort of pattern, and set myself up to begin. My parameters are tight enough that I have a place to start every day, but open enough for that each day's pattern can manifest in a variety of different ways.

I am currently over three-quarters of the way through my project. Today marked day seventy-seven, meaning I've hit the "under one month to go" mark. There have been so many beautiful things come out of this creative challenge. so I wanted to share some of the things that I have been learning. Today, I really want to talk about the power of the creative habit.


I first read about the idea of the creative habit in a wonderful book by Twyla Tharp. Her book essentially argues that creativity does not manifest from some divine inspired place, but instead is built through oodles of hard, dedicated work. She believes that we shouldn't sit around waiting for inspiration to hit us, but instead, we have the potential to tap into inspiration simply by building habits around our creative practices that just get us going. In other words, we will find meaning and inspiration by actually doing instead of by thinking about it. Our ability to harness our creativity comes from the action of actually creating.

When I first read these ideas, I was taken aback. Everything I had ever believed about creativity was rocked. But at the same time, it motivated me in a new and empowering way. If this was true, it meant that everyone had the potential to be creative, but it just required the effort of developing skill. Skill through habit.


This is exactly what The 100 Day Project is all about. Making daily creative acts a habit in order to improve skill, create inspiration, and explore some untapped potential. Being seventy-seven days in, I can honestly say that this daily act of creating has become second-nature. I'm constantly finding sources of inspiration throughout my day, I'm prioritizing my artistic urges, and I'm making time (even if only ten minutes) to make something. You wouldn't believe how this has inspired me in other creative endeavours. It's also challenged me in the pursuit of perfectionism, but I'll save that talk for another day.

Some days, my pattern is intricate and beautiful. I've taken up to an hour to create a little piece. But other days, my pattern is simple, predictable, and easy, as I've only had fifteen minutes to spare. But the point is that it is completed. I've made something. I've made something everyday for the past seventy-seven days.


I haven't decided what to do with the final patterns. I've compiled them in a document to at least get them printed, but from there, I don't have a finished product in mind. I'm okay with that though. Like I mentioned, this isn't meant to be a perfect, finished product tied up with a neat little bow. This is all about the process. The end result is more of a bonus.

I have more lessons that I've learned on this journey to share soon. Hopefully you'll feel inspired to tap into the potential of the creative habit by starting a project of your own. If you do, I'd love to hear about it!

#100DaysOfPatterns

Monday, 9 October 2017

LIFE LATELY (THANKSGIVING EDITION)



This weekend, we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. It is by far one of my favourite holidays because it always reminds me the value in expressing gratitude. I've been feeling so content and joyful this weekend, and I truly believe those feelings have come as a result of being so aware and expressive of the gifts in my life.


It's been a quieter weekend. One of those ones where it just feels so good to do the little chores and catch up on normal life stuff. I'm only one week into my new school term, so I was able to step back this weekend and really soak in the important stuff. Both Curtis and I were home so we took the time to work outdoors at the farm, cook some meals together, indulge in some treats, and go for some walks. We also managed to dig up a few carrots from the garden and share in some quality time and fellowship with the people that we love.

I'm really thankful for the joy and satisfaction I get from living on our little farm. There is always something to be done, but also always potential to explore something new. Next year, I've decided to grow a cut flower garden. I've been getting so much satisfaction from planning it out, ordering seeds, digging the beds, and dreaming of the potential. It has no pressure attached to it, just some experimentation and learning. I'm always up for exploring a new way of creating, so I'm excited to dive in and see how it goes. When I was younger, I made a resolution that I never wanted to stop learning. It's been a joy to see how that promise manifests into so many different projects and endeavours as I get older.


The kitties have been extra cuddly this weekend too. We haven't had the characteristically cooler October weather that we usually do, yet they seem to be in tune with the fact that the colder months are coming. They've been getting along better and better with each passing day, which truly warms my heart. Before we got Junie, I spent a lot of time praying (no exaggeration, not joking) that they would get along. Call me a crazy cat lady (I won't argue with you), but I was really scared about Sutchi feeling alienated and angry with us when we brought home June. It hasn't been a seamless transition, but it certainly has been better than I could have expected. I'm so thankful for that. There is lots of kitty love all around.

 

Curt is transitioning to a different position in the corn business. Although there is some added stress with the transition, it actually is a bit of a blessing. He had been feeling worn down and tied down to his desk the past couple of years, so I think this change will be refreshing for him and present him with some new (but positive) challenges. We're thankful for his job and the satisfaction it can bring. He really values the fulfillment he gets from working for his Dad and contributing to something so special. I'm thankful for his dedicated and hard work ethic and the degree to which he cares about things. It's inspiring.


And finally, perhaps a little obvious, I'm thankful for my family. I spent some time printing out some images that we had captured back in the Spring and it made me feel really sentimental about the love I have for these people. Not pictured, I am also so thankful for my married family too. I lucked out with some of the best people in my life. They are all so encouraging, inspiring, helpful, and genuine. Being able to have them as my people has truly been the biggest blessing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, 29 September 2017

FRESH (OILY) STARTS

Essential oils. Thoughts? 

I wasn't so sure how I felt myself. I don't think I'd be the first to admit that they have a bit of a conflicting reputation, but I've decided to give them a try and see if they are really as life-changing as so many people claim them to be. Last week I decided to purchase a starter-kit of oils and dive in.


In my head, oils make sense. I inherited this weird trait from my Dad where he often looks to environmental factors for the problems he is facing. We once teased him because he was convinced that his recurring earache was due to the gum he was chewing. He excessively chewed Juicy Fruit for a year after that because he believed that was the only brand that didn't trigger an earache. Maybe his gum theory was a little far-reaching, but as I get older, I've realized that I often take the same approach to my own ailments. If I'm feeling pain, irritation, agitation, or discomfort, I rack my brain for causes because recognizing a cause is the first step to finding a solution. My Dad recognized that something was causing his earache, he pinpointed it to the gum he was chewing (now whether that is true is up for debate), and he solved the problem by not chewing certain brands of gum anymore. 

Essential oils, in a way, are like this. They are recognizing the problem and finding a natural solution. They are finding the source and treating the root of the problem instead of finding temporary solutions that just mask the pain or discomfort. I'm definitely on board with that.


My journey with these oils is just beginning and I'm hoping that I find them to be as magical as so many other people believe them to be. Only time and patience will tell. In the meantime, to mark the beginning of this journey, I've decided to compile a little list of some of the direct reasons I'm giving these oils a shot and what benefits I hope to see come from using them:

1. Anxiety.
Without going into too much detail, I suffer from a lot of anxiety. Like all mental health ailments, I have good weeks and bad weeks, so at this point, I am able to go unmedicated for it. The main reason I decided to explore essential oils was to see whether or not they could aid with this. I know that becoming anxiety-free is a far cry and unrealistic, but if they can even offer a bit of relief in those especially trying times, then I am all game.

2. Cleaning.
I am a homemaker, homebody, and homelover! I love spending time at home, cooking at home, and cleaning my home, but I've come to realize that so many of the cleaning products I use are so toxic. They are full of chemicals I can't even pronounce and so suddenly, my safe little space is no longer so safe. I'm excited to tackle some awesome natural DIY's that offer some solutions to my cleaning product woes. This is actually the first thing that really caught my attention about essential oils and what really got me started on this journey.

3. Sinus.
My husband has post-nasal drip and chronic sinus problems. He had an unsuccessful nose reconstruction surgery to try and help, but alas, the problem persists. I heard through the grapevine that oils can help, so I'm excited to see if they can offer him a bit of relief in this area.

4. Spiritual.
I know that oils have a strange spiritual association to weirdo hippies and bizarre new age stuff. Don't worry - I'm not about that. But the more I've looked into the oils, the more I have recognized how many connections there are to essential oils in the bible. How many times have I read that someone was anointed with oil? Jesus himself was given the gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh - two oils in biblical times - which were of the same value as gold. I'd love to explore this further. Plus, I was reading that some oils are generally just useful for grounding your mind, helping you to relax and focus better on things greater than yourself. I really want to explore this in my personal devotional time and see if it can help me focus better and feel more connected to my Creator.

5. Digestion.
This was another big one that really got me interested in this journey. I was diagnosed with a digestive disorder five years ago, and ever since it has been an ongoing battle. Beyond the obvious unpleasant physical effects, this disorder is strongly correlated to my mental health too (fun fact: my doctor told me that within our entire body, our brain has the most neurological connections to our digestive system, so that is often where stress, anxiety, and fear manifest physically). Obviously this one connects to the first one on my list, but I'd love to find a natural solution to treat those late night tummy upsets and the unpleasent discomfort that digestive issues can cause.


It's worth mentioning that I'm also just excited about how beautiful and small these little treasures are. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I love the way they look.


How do you feel about essential oils? Would you ever consider giving them a shot to treat common ailments and improve your overall health and wellness?

I'm excited to see how this journey goes.