Sunday, November 8, 2015

The House


There once was an architect who built a beautiful little house.  The design was flawless and there was no lack in the attention to detail that was put into this house.  The architect saw the house he had created and was pleased.

After a few years some people saw the house and decided to vandalize it.  They tore off the shutters and picked the locks.  They came into the house and did much damage, breaking things and destroying what the architect had designed.  

As the years went by and storms came and went the winds and the rains began to rot the little house from the inside out. It was no longer protected by the architect’s design, because the vandals had ignored its value and used it for their own purposes. 

The little house no longer cared who came inside. Anyone was welcome, because the company was better than the loneliness .

Some of the people who came tried to fix the broken parts.  They put up wall paper over the mold and damages and painted the outside to hide the rotting boards.  

The little house looked better, but inside it was still rotting away behind the fresh paint and pretty papers.  

The architect saw the little house and the damages that had been done to his creation and what others had done to try and cover them.  

He was saddened that his perfect little house was no longer the way he had designed it to be.

He began sending people to the house to pull down the wall paper that hid the mold and to scrape away the paint that covered the rot.

The house thought it was being demolished.  

More people came and stripped the house down.  Tearing out more than the house thought was possible to be removed and still be left standing.

The demolition hurt.  

Standing exposed for all to see felt worse than the rotting had.  The house wished it had never been built.

Slowly though as the old was removed and the new was brought in the house began to feel strong again.  

As the builders built the architect designed.  His original design had been perfect, but this house had seen a lot and stood through a lot of storms, the house needed a fresh design, new ways to protect it from future vandals and to stand as a beacon to others that had been vandalized.  Yes, this house would serve a new purpose.  

The vandals had sought only to destroy what the architect made.

Others thought only to cover the damages, not to repair them.

But the architect knew his home and knew what it needed and what it could do.

The repairs took a long time.  

There were times that no one worked so that what had already been done had time to set. If the time hadn’t been allowed the house would not be as strong and any new work would be built on a weak foundation.

The little house only knew what was happening as it happened, it did not see the architects design. There were days when the house thought it would never be completed.

Finally one day all the work was finished.  The house sat tall and strong.  It learned who to let in and who to keep out and if anyone picked the locks it knew that the architect would come and repair it.

The house had gone from being broken and vulnerable to the storms to now being a refuge during them.  

Friday, November 6, 2015


I have been working on a story that may end up being a novel.  I would like to introduce you all to Ruby.

*A very rough first draft*

Chapter One

Ruby walked out onto the front steps and breathed in deeply.  She watched as her breath formed a cloud in the crisp fall air.  Today was the first day of the rest of her life.  She smiled a little at how hokey that sounded in her head.  The leaves around her were dying.  She took in the bold colors.  It was a beautiful death she thought.  A bright yellow leaf fluttered past her in the wind and landed in a puddle.  She hoped her death of sorts would be as graceful.

She took in another deep breath and walked into her new life, suitcase in hand.  A bright yellow cab drove her to her new home.   As the cab pulled up to the curb she opened the door and saw the reflection of yellow from the midst of the watery sidewalk.  The symbolism between the cab and the the leaf from earlier was not lost on her.  It was her own fluttering in the wind, this ride to her future and now she was near her end; the end of who she was and the way she had learned to be.

She wanted to jump back into the cab and drive away to anywhere but here, but she knew that this death was necessary.  Just as in nature, there has to be a death before new growth can occur and if there was one thing she needed it was new growth.  New life.  A resurrection.  The old had to die so that new could come and she was ready.  At least that is what she told herself.

Once settled into her new room, Ruby pulled out her journal.

November 1

The leaves are all dying.  It seems a fitting farewell.  I am terrified of this next chapter, this shedding that I will be doing, because I know that just like the trees I will be laying myself bare.  There will be nothing left in which to hide myself behind.  
I will be exposed and left naked.  

I must remember that I chose this.  I chose to come here. This process is necessary.  I can do this.  I am ready and I am terrified.

A knock came on the door. Ruby closed her journal and placed it in her drawer underneath her underwear.


“Yes, I am coming.”

Ruby opened the door to a well dressed woman.  She was much younger than Ruby had expected, much prettier, too.

“I am Dr. Mary Robins, are you ready for your first session?”

She gathered up all her courage and gave a nod.  As she followed Dr. Robins down the hallway she noticed her shoes and how much she liked them.  They were stylish, yet sensible, if cute shoes were any indicator of a person’s personality she figured she was going to like this woman just fine.

As they entered the room Ruby took inventory of her surroundings.  There was a couch, two chairs, a desk, and some bookcases.  One of the chairs was very definitely meant for  the Doctor, the couch was closest to that chair and the other chair was at the other end of the couch, opposite the Dr’s.  The bookshelves were lined with books and some personal photos.  The walls were painted a cheery shade of tan, the perfect amount of color to give the room a homey feel, and make you forget you were at an institution.  There was a large mirror behind the couch. Ruby caught a glimpse of herself just long enough to regret it.  She may have been good at hiding behind her put together exterior for others, but she could never hide herself from her own reflection and the truth she saw looking back at her.  Yes, those eyes of hers may have been a mirror for others to see what it was they wanted to see, but for her they were always a window and she never liked what she saw inside them. She made a mental note to avoid looking there in the future.

As the door was shut behind her she quickly had to decide where she should sit.  If she sat in the chair farthest away she would seem stand offish, that would not be a good impression.  The spot closest to Dr. Robins seemed too familiar and vulnerable.  The middle of the couch would have to do, safe, but not distant.

Once she was seated the panic began to set in.  What was she doing here?  What had she done?  This was too much, she was in way over her head?  What had she been thinking?  She closed her eyes, slid her hands underneath her legs, and took a deep breath, then another.  She let all the emotions out with each exhale.

“Calm down, Ruby, you can do this.  Today will be simple, she is just going to ask you simple questions.  The hard work will come later, today you will be fine.”

Ruby opened her eyes and let them move from the sight of her own feet over to the pair of cute shoes and then up to Dr. Robins eyes.  Her face was kind and her eyes held a gentle wisdom.

“Let’s start by telling me a little bit about yourself.”

There was a notebook in her lap and a pen in her hand ready to write.

“What would you like to know?”

“Whatever it is you think is important to tell me.”

Her mind raced furiously to think of what it was she should say, what she thought she was supposed to find important. She was here to be brave and her mind wouldn’t let her think.  She said the first safe and relevant thing that came to mind.

“Well, I am sitting here, so that should tell you something.”

“What should that tell me?”

“That I am broken.  A little crazy, maybe.  And weak for needing to even sit here.”

“Okay, let’s break that statement down a bit more.  What is it that makes you broken?”

“Life?  Yes, life, and maybe God.”

“So, those two things made you broken, but what parts of you did they break specifically and how?”

“Life broke my will to continue living most days.  It broke my trust.  Life and God broke my sense of worth.  Life has become this thing that I just have to get through until I can finally die.  Although there are moments of happiness there is always something lurking in the shadows, just waiting to catch me, bring me down.  God, He created me.  He created me knowing full well what life was going to give me and He created me anyways.  He created me in order to be broken, to be used.”

“What happened to break your trust and steal your joy? How were you used?”

Those question went too far.  Before the words could even form an answer in her mind the terror came bubbling up.  A nauseating pit grew deep in her belly and a sharp clawing  feeling scratched at her chest.  Just the thought of speaking the memories out loud had her nails digging into her arms.  She shook her head “No”.  She wasn’t going to answer that. She couldn’t.

Dr. Robins saw her reaction to the question and wrote down a couple of notes.

“It is okay, we can come back to that later.  Why don’t you tell me what you are feeling right now.”

“Panic, terror, it is hard to put into words.”

“That is okay, just take as long as you need and when you are ready can you tell me what makes you say you might be crazy?”

There was much that Ruby could say on that, but not right now, not after all her internal alarms had been set off.  All she wanted to do right now was to sleep, shut this choice of being here off, close her eyes and make everything around her be gone.  That wasn’t an option though. She had come here to battle, to beat the demons that clawed at her thoughts, but she felt as though she was losing.  Talking had always been hard for her.  Writing was always the safer option, but a pen can only slay so much.

She looked down at her feet as she spoke. “Sane people don’t beg God to kill them. Sane people don’t need to check themselves into mental institutions and before you ask, that is what makes me weak.  Being here makes me weak, because I can’t figure out how to continue living on my own.  I need someone else to help me and that makes me weak.  It makes me vulnerable.  In my life vulnerability is never safe.”

“I don’t see weakness when I look  at you.  It took a lot of courage for you to come here.  It is very brave to admit you need help and then to find someone that can help you.  Weakness is nowhere in this room.  How would you describe this desire within you to both want to live and to want to die?”

“It is a war.”

“Let me ask you this question, how many wars do you know that are won by a single soldier?  You don't  have to answer that, but as we leave here I would like you to think about this, if wars are won by an army, wouldn’t it make sense that a strong soldier would gather other soldiers to help win the battle?”

Ruby let that soak in as she made her way back to her room.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Giving You Permission To Shine

Over the summer I pretty much shut down all creativity.  It is hard for me to create without space to myself.  Whether that space be physical or mental.  In the summer I get very little of either with all of the kids at home.  I did however enjoy a lot of Netflix.  I made it through all the seasons of X-Files, plus both the movies, minus any episodes that dealt with demonic content.  I love a good sci-fi show. I followed up X-files with Fringe, but I have yet to finish it.  Once school started I picked up my creative vibe again and have been spending a lot of my free time painting and drawing.

I thought I would share some of them with you.

These three were all done with acrylic paints.
The first one is my attempt at impressionism. The second one is a fun Autumn tree and a lot of playing around with colors.   What I find most interesting about these is that I did not like them when I first made them. I did not like them even a little tiny bit.  I was tempted to paint right over them, but as a few days went by they began to grow on me and now I actually really like them.  I might even hang them on my wall.

I think I am like that with myself a lot as well. What I originally see in myself as sub par and ugly can change into something worthwhile and charming, it just takes time to allow myself to get there.  Once I can let go of the pre-conceived vision of what I had wanted it (it being the painting, my life, myself, etc. ) to be I can accept the beauty in the reality of what it is.

The third was a request by a friend. It is a portrait of her daughter.  I still have a lot to learn on shading and depth. Her mouth is my favorite part.  She is a beautiful little girl and I hope I have done her justice.

As I was getting my creative spark back I bought a set of 36 water color pencils at AC Moore's.  Can I tell you how much I love these things?!  They are awesome!  For Christmas I am already eyeing a set of over 100 colors on Amazon.

This was my first time ever using them.  A lot of my inspiration comes from real life photos people have taken.  This scene popped up on my facebook feed and here is my attempt at drawing it.  I love the colors.  These pencils are like magic.  It was the first time I drew something and it made me think I could possible illustrate a children's book someday.

A couple of days later I was drawing this little turtle to kill time while I waited for my daughter at her roller skating lessons.  A little girl saw it and asked me if she could buy it from me when I was done for $4.  Her friend that was with her also wanted a painting.  I told them I would just give them to them of course and asked her friend what she would like.  She wanted a cat.

One day when I was at Home Goods they had this giant cow painting.  I took a picture of it to show my friend.  When I came home I attempted to somewhat copy it just for fun.  My youngest wanted to keep it, he is the one in the picture. He is 5, that explains the tongue.

When my youngest daughter heard that the two girls at skating lessons were getting pictures she wanted one too.  She is in love with mermaids.  The submarine in the water is in honor of her Dad.

And of course when I made one for my youngest daughter then my oldest daughter also wanted one.  This fairy is for her.  Both of these have been framed and are waiting to be hung on the wall in the hallway.  My middle daughter also wants a picture, but when I ask her what she wants she tells me she wants an evil unicorn.  I won't draw an evil unicorn and she does not want a regular unicorn, because "the Bible says they are evil." (????? Your guess is as good as mine here.) So, currently we are at an impasse.

When I bought the frames for the girl's pictures at Home Goods I saw a painting of a woman walking down the street in Paris.  I wanted to make one similar only with Seattle in it, because well, SEATTLE! (I am just a tad homesick right now.) The one on the left was my first attempt, the one on the right my second.

 When my friend Karmen invited me to come hear her speak at her church's Women's Retreat she had asked if I could draw her a turtle.  I drew the one on the left for her and had so much fun making him that I went ahead and drew a second one as well.  She and I are talking about making a children's book together.  She will do the writing and I will do the illustrating.  I can't even believe I am saying that.  It boggles my mind.  And to think I used to say I couldn't draw or paint (not that I am the best at either), but the truth is I had never even tried.  I was so afraid that I couldn't that I didn't think to see if I
actually could.  Is there anything like that in your life?  Anything where it is easier in your life to say you can't than it is to see if you actually can? Why would I fear knowing the truth and why would I happily accept thinking that I couldn't?
I am reminded of this quote below and will leave you with these thoughts, what is it you are afraid to unveil in your life?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Maryanne Williamson

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Practice Falling Down

My youngest daughter, who is 10, was asked to go to roller skating lessons with her friend a few months back. She really enjoyed it, so she stuck with it.  A couple months ago my middle daughter, 13, asked to join her.  She took to the skates like fish to water.  She was hooked.  She saved up her babysitting money in order to pay for half of her own pair of skates.  She chose a pair that was a little nicer than basic, but not so nice to break the bank. (Competitive roller skates can run upwards of $1000.)  She then also bought a pair of used skates, fully at her own expense, to practice at home with.

My youngest daughter, though she enjoys skating does not take to it with the same exuberance or natural athletic ability.  This has been hard for her.  Currently she has decided she doesn't want to go for now, at least not until she gets new skates. Her skates seem to pull and they can't fix them from doing that.  Now whether that pull is her skates or her feet I am not sure. I offered to rent skates until new ones can be purchased, but that won't cut it for her.  

The rink where they skate has a Club feature, for $60 a month you can have unlimited access to the rink when it is open, you get Saturday morning group lessons, and you get access to the rink during club skate times.  Along with this you get a private lesson once a week with a separate fee for the instructor.  All together it comes out to around $120 a month with a 1 year commitment (or until we move).  Kalen was super excited about all the skate times she could use as our house has limited skating room.  The deal was that she had to pay for half of it same as with the skates.  She was willing and excited to do it.

Today is her first private lesson and of being a part of the club.  

Watching the group lessons I noticed something interesting. The instructors have the children practice falling down.  The reason for this is three fold: first, so that they learn the safest possible way to fall to limit injuries; secondly, so that they learn how to get up; and thirdly to take the fear out of falling, because falls are inevitable.

They practice falling down.

That just resonates in my soul.  

Practice falling down 

The practice takes the shame and the fear out of the falling.

Falls in life are inevitable, but what if we could practice falling down in a way that is safe and shameless?  

What if we were taught how to minimize the impact of our falls and then the best way to get back up from them?

What would that look like worked out in my own life, in my children's lives, in all of our lives?  I don't really know, but it is worth thinking about.