Balance – part 1

Sometimes all I need is a little treat to tide me over until the next meal. This “little carrot cupcake with cream cheese icing” photo was hiding in my photo archive. If I had one of these right now, it would only take me a moment to gobble it up. Then I could get back to writing my post without feeling guilty.

But I have a confession to make. If I had some of these little cakes in the pantry, and nobody to share with, I would probably eat them all. Of course, I would make myself walk to and from the kitchen for each one. That would remind me that I was being distracted from the tasks that I have on my today list. And if that didn’t work, then I would set myself a longer walk, and maybe even allocate a household task to complete on the way.

January 2019 site specific weaving, Blue Lagoon Conference Centre, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania, Australia. Recycled knitting yarn and balcony structure.

If I am left to myself, I can sit at the computer for hours without moving – except to eat. I’ve been trying this walk-to-eat strategy for a few years. I even used it for my final university art project in 2017. Visit my artist page here.

Finding the right balance between writing and researching how I’m supposed to do all the other things on this writing journey is a challenge. Sometimes, I get so involved in writing that I fall behind with my publishing schedule. At other times, it feels as if I’ve gone too far the other way… This is a different kind of weaving, the meandering to and fro while still keeping my eyes on the final direction.

And then there are the knots! Those little intersections of time and opportunity where everything seems to converge and I come to a standstill.

It is times like these that I return to Scripture. I believe that there will always be an answer to whatever is worrying me. Here is one of my favourites: Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my Shepherd.
How does this apply to my situation? He leads and I follow. Like all “good sheep”, sometimes I get distracted, but He’s ready to call me back. If I get into trouble, He has a big shepherd’s crook to bring me out of the tangled mess I’m in. There are even a few times when He has to carry me. But my favourite times are when He runs along beside me, helping me discover the fun in this adventure.

DO you have a favourite Scripture to help bring balance into your situation? Please share.

Farewell 2018

December 31 2016
Two years ago my vision for the future had diminished to a network of textile fibre threads weaving within my domestic space. My feet moved, my hands wrapped the threads that stretched out behind me around the anchor points I had chosen, and I listened to how my heart was responding.

What had begun as an experiment for a Visual Culture unit on identity was about to transform the final Fine Arts project that would bring me to the end of my double major degree. The experiment involved finding a way to express my presence within my domestic space, a self-portrait without any human representation. Meanwhile, my major project was about finding a way to overcome the emotional blues. As I lost myself to the experiment, my heart recognised the significance of what I was experiencing.

I had worked with textiles for as long as I could remember. I had even used yarn to explain to groups of children the connections that each of us makes when we engage in social activities. But the jump from a craft material to a form of visual expression for contemporary art changed the way I see the world.

My research had taught me that successful recovery from depression required the sufferer to find a way to reconnect to the ordinary everyday world. To learn how to take something mundane and discover the beauty and wonder that would transform their worldview.

December 31st 2017
I was emotionally and creatively exhausted. The months since I had submitted my final university assignment had been filled with indecision and idleness. My Blue Skies: Chasing Away The Blues Exhibition was fading to a memory and I was waiting for God to show me what would follow.

Now my days were spent wondering when my Graduation Certificate and Year Book would arrive in the mail, and daydreaming about possibilities. I made a beginning on archiving all my study assignments, and I put my cameras and the vast collection of assembled materials into hidden corners.

December 31st 2018
This morning I was reading one of my online devotions and a familiar Scripture leapt off the page at me. This same Scripture had a dramatic effect on me before, a few years before God moved me from the rural community where I had established deep roots and thought I would live forever.

At that time, I had been satisfied that I was ministering and working at maximum capacity, and the revelation that God had something bigger in store shook the foundations of my busy world.

Isaiah 54:2 (WEB) Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your habitations; don’t spare: lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.

As I look ahead to a new year, I have the threads of my recent endeavours trailing out behind me. Into the idleness of waiting, God had unlocked a hidden door, the dream to be a published author, long abandoned and almost forgotten. Unexpected. Unfamiliar. More than a little bit terrifying.

I have sat and listened as God has given me new story threads to add to my already complex weaving, and I have learned a lot more about who I am and the trace of my presence that I leave behind me in the world.

In 2018, I have engaged in three large textile weavings with children as enthusiastic participants, started this blog, written many words and gained new friends.

In 2019, I hope to self-publish White Rose of Promise and to have the sequel When Promises Are Broken follow the same journey. I have the outlines for another five stories hidden away and am working on the third manuscript now. There are a few obstacles to overcome: my fear and my limited resources (time and money).

In preparation, God is asking me to stretch my understanding of who I am so that I am ready to receive whatever 2019 brings to me )i(

It is my prayer that you, my readers, will have the door of opportunity open for you in the coming days, weeks and months. That you will take hold of the threads that you carry forward from 2018 and continue to weave your own marvellous tapestry.

Thanks for being part of my journey )i(

Seek and find

The past week has been a mixture of good experiences and bad. I have made some good progress on my second manuscript but also endured disappointment after losing a computer file that contained hours of research. I have needed to go back and start again, and some online references have proven elusive. The worldwide web continues to expand and even an hour can change the search engine results, especially if the right combination of keywords cannot be remembered… 

This untitled digital drawing
captures the emotional complexity of my feelings.
How many different shapes can you find?
I can see a raven, a bear, an owl and a butterfly
when I focus on the orange markings.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

These two verses from Matthew 7 are powerful influences in my life. I used them as the foundation for my research approach when I was working on my year-long Fine Arts project that concluded in 2017. In the beginning, I thought I was going to make a series of still life paintings based on a collection of found objects, and set up a strict finding protocol.
I could only spend $10 in a single visit to a shop, and each individual object could cost no more than $2.

My weekly visits to the local charity shops were profoundly rewarding, and the volunteers came to know me well and would ask how my blue collection was growing.

Here is a link to a video that I made for my second last university submission )i(

While I was collecting objects and taking hundreds of photographs looking for some new way of expressing a still life arrangement with my collected objects, I searched the internet for contemporary artists who were doing similar things. While I found very few who were painting still life arrangements, I stumbled upon a greater number of artists who were transforming everyday ordinary objects into works of art in diverse ways. That became the foundation for the multi-media performance installation that became my final outcome.

The same kinds of skills are necessary for me to write a convincing story. I am confident with character development, but my heroes and heroines need to inhabit an interesting world and have a diversity of experiences to keep me engaged. My second manuscript takes my heroine overseas, and once again I am ‘surfing the internet’ looking for inspiration…

Another of my experiments for an art project.
This one is entitled “Wounded Paper”
It is amazing where inspiration can come from )i(

Research takes up almost as much time as writing at the moment. The topics are diverse, and I am starting to build up a strong collection of helpful reference texts about the process of writing too. I will share a small sample here today. The first one is about punctuation in dialogue. 

The second one is a powerful prayer
written by an accomplished author

Prayers for the Writing Life
Here is an excellent prayer that I found while I was working my way through my subscription emails. As I try to find the right steps along the writing journey I am turning more and more to the words of others who have gone this way before )i(

The third and final one is about an art theory. The abstract images I have selected for today come from my interest in finding shapes in seemingly random markings. Have you looked up at the clouds and recognised shapes. That is Gestalt.

Gestalt Theory
This final one is about an art theory.

When I told my friends God had asked me to sit down and start writing fiction, some of them were surprised. They couldn’t see the natural connections between the research and development skills that I had been perfecting during four years of university study. Neither could I.
Yet week by week, I am taken back to the art journey in my private prayer and reflections, and I am seeing more and more relevance with each passing day.

This is the unedited image of one of my
favourite found objects for my
Blue Skies:Chasing Away The Blues
research project

To conclude my post for the week I will include some of the inspirational images I have created using variations of the two art experiments and the found object. It is my prayer that my readers will have success in all their seeking and finding and make good progress on their own onward journey of discovery )i(