Homespun


DSC_0035_2When I was quite young (spoiler alert) my Grandmother used to sew. Each summer I would be excited to receive my “pop top” with matching short set, exciting to me because I was wearing something new and my darling Grandmother had made it with her own hands. She used a pattern, probably Butterick or McCall, and though it was not a unique pattern, each set was made with her choice of fabric and thread, which made it one-of. I felt like a princess in my new summer handmade homespun outfit!

In autumn, I remember collecting leaves and saving them between two sheets of waxed paper, ironed carefully using my mother’s iron and an old pillow case. Or, pressing leaves between the pages of heavy books, which was even more successful at maintaining the vibrancy of colours, albeit leaves were very fragile afterwards. We did this with flowers too.

At Christmas, we often baked using hand written recipes from family members or close friends, meticulous explanations of how to craft welsh cakes and shortbread and empire cookies, and we anticipated then enjoyed every morsel of our traditional treats.

Often, at family gatherings, we congregated in the living room and laughed ourselves silly over black and white home movies, hazy images of mom and her cousins riding a calf or sledding or standing proudly in front of a new family sedan. The clicking sound of the film as it was pulled through the projector and the click clack faster and faster at the very end of the reel.

We led fairly simple lives, I guess, a middle income family with strong connections to our cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, country roots, and an earthiness that translated into deep pleasure for me in enjoyment of simple things like riding a hay wagon during harvest, or feeding the barn cats a plate of warm milk, or feeling the rough tongue of a calf on the palm of my hand, or watching sheet lightening over the fields on warm August nights. I don’t recall any feeling of competition, or any need to prove what I was doing compared to anyone else. My experiences were just that…mine. There was a lovely innocence to the time, sure I was innocent then, but when I look at my life now I wish for more of that simple way of being, unto myself.

Today there is an insidiousness about social media that has me wondering what we are doing, and why? Even as I type this blog post it feels like more of the same thing…writing, which I do love, but then I will cast my thoughts upon the internet waters in hope of…what…that you will click “like” or follow my blog, or like me? Rather than living unto myself I often live unto others.

My access to these ways of sharing myself, my pursuit of connection, wide connection, (I do enjoy the contact with those who live far away, family members whom I seldom see) encourages me to craft my life into something a little larger than it is were you sitting beside me on the couch right now, sharing a tea and a story. I post photos to Facebook, share my joy, but I wonder is my joy better served by turning back to those who have created it within me. And I wonder does social media serve me, or does it master me, subtly, yet clearly, and to what greater good?

I am beginning to pay more attention to how I present myself, and how my online virtuality spills over into my reality, affected by every single friend that rolls through my news feed. I see trends, new norms, creating expectations which are both unrealistic and burdensome at times, because truth is everyone else is tweaking their image a little bit too.

If I were to spend too much time on Pinterest, for example, I admit my homemade cookies would beg for a better design, my Christmas decor would never match up, my photos would be carefully edited prior to posting, and photo shoots would be required for a myriad of occasions I never thought necessary before. I love design, so research on Pinterest can be really fun, but it can also be overwhelming to see the finesse and extreme excellence of every craft and upcycle and undertaking. I am exhausted with the thought of meeting this pimped out status quo before I begin my own DIY. The stakes are too high!

I think we (sometimes/often) need to leap off the virtual bandwagon and rediscover the power of simple homespun imagination…unplugged. Which is very hard to do…maybe impossible? No, it is possible. Yes, it is!

Because sometimes I get a taste of it, and it is good. Like last night I watched a very sweet unpolished video of a bunch of kids dressed up in homemade costumes, telling a story in the form of a play. It was that tickle trunk dress-up my kids used to do when they were little. The lady who made the video said, sorry about the audio…but it was fine…it was more than fine…it was extraordinary. It allowed me to…breathe…to laugh…to enjoy the silly wonderful way of mistakes and imperfection and sweet innocence of those kids doing their play oblivious to any need to be…better…or slicker…or more excellent. It was pure. It was perfect.

And so I wonder, in this virtual world, with everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, available to me at a few clicks of my keyboard…can I find a way of being without all that, or with just a little bit, or sometimes? I really don’t need to know everything. I don’t need to do and post photo shoots of my Christmas crafts or cookies. I just need to know a few things, and give myself over to the pleasure of each new experience, in the moment. I need to trust  who I am, with quirky imperfections, uniqueness, imagination, my way of being and doing, is…one of…and good enough. I can be the homespun version of me and create an authentic life. And maybe I won’t blog about it either.

Slow down, log off, focus, breathe…

I wonder…

LA.

 

 

 

The elusive art of editing


DSC_0050I think writers come to believe in an innate ability to catch our own errors, spit and polish our work to its very best form, and we do so each time we offer work for submission, contests, or print. This post is yet another chance for me to make editorial mistakes, I know, I know. (Sure, you can point them out to me if you like.)

Truth is, like many artists, poets are just scraping by financially. We cannot afford to hire editors, so we take risks, perhaps believing a little too strongly in our guts, our grammar, and our attentiveness. How hard can it be, we think. Well done, we say. It will be…fine, we whisper as we drift off to sleep having pressed “submit” again, with some hesitation and a little bit of angst.

Deep down we are not entirely sure, but we bravely do what we have to do, which can lead to embarrassing moments. Like the time I spelled the publisher’s surname incorrectly, or saw a clear lack of punctuation upon my 1st read, right after submission! My personal challenges often come in the form of it’s and its, and my deep and abiding love for the Oxford comma that ripples out, abundantly.

Or, most recently, after several months of design, planning, and (several) eyes on every comma, word, line break, title, font, layout, selection of hardware, paper, packaging, and marketing approach, I felt I was finally ready to put my poetry/art books together.

I painstakingly built one hundred copies of the book, tightened each Chicago screw,  placed each stainless steel washer, organized flash card covers into fun and witty combinations, collated stacks of poetry on beautiful cream paper (professionally laid out and printed and drilled with holes for the screws), hand tinted each vintage illustration, and felt a sense of progress and fulfillment at the growing pile of books.

Then I went online to put the finishing touches on the announcement for my book launch. As I typed in the title of my poetry/art book, I felt a niggling. I spell checked a word, and it was correctly spelled…yea, me! But the niggling didn’t go away. And then it hit me…there, blatant, unchecked, WRONG…was a word. On every title page of every book that I just spent days putting together, was a spelling mistake!

POETRY PRIMER | a book of elementary principals

instead of what it should have said;

POETRY PRIMER | a book of elementary principles

ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

First anger. Then blaming. Then another hissy fit because it was so OBVIOUSLY WRONG and I missed it…we all missed it… but I MISSED IT! And then the creative problem solving began…what if this, or what if that, in an attempt to save it somehow…but I could not. It was WRONG. It had to change. Then my gratitude to God that I saw the mistake before my book was sold!

Yes, indeed. Gratitude. Two hundred times I unscrewed those Chicago screws. One hundred times I removed the offending page and, after paying my printer a substantial amount of money for a one page reprint, one hundred times I replaced the page with the corrected title page. And then I tightly bound the book with the turn of two hundred more Chicago screws! Editor, I am obviously not. Life learner, yes I am. And my thumb and index finger were throbbing proof!

What would I do differently next time? I don’t know, I run a tight ship, so I still can’t afford an editor. Or, maybe I can? Maybe we could barter something? Or, maybe if I sell all of MY POETRY/ART BOOKS (limited edition, signed, numbered, unique, collectible, fun) I can afford an editor for my next project?

Have you got a copy of POETRY PRIMER yet? If you live in Kelowna, delivery is free!

A human, being, and learning humility,

Lesley-Anne

I’m not one to pray out loud


DSC_0763That hasn’t changed for me ever in my life, and sure I could say the same thing about how I feel when I have to speak in a group about anything, but praying out loud is somehow heavier. So what happened today may be God doing what he always does, or God doing specifically what he had in mind when I prayed what I prayed, or God doing what he was going to do aside from anything I prayed. I wonder?

There’s more to it… I struggle with the repetitious nature of group prayers, the competitive feel of it sometimes, the limited vocab we use, the way I believe God might find what I say trite or redundant given he already knows everything there is to know. Still there is mystery in prayer, and I have been reading a book lately that points to a way of being with prayer that is quite attractive to me…to live my life as a prayer…everything matters…everything counts…when my heart is in a posture of reverence and gratitude before the Father. These days I am leaning more into a contemplative way of being in prayer. It’s a learned way. It’s a way I want to learn more about.

But prayer can also be specific, and at a given time, alone or in groups. And as the various members of our group prayed around the circle today I wondered, what on earth can I offer with integrity?

All I know is this…sometime between 2:15 and 2:45 pm today I prayed a short prayer out loud in a group setting. Very short. Pretty much these words;

God, we have so many needs here. And you are a God with lots of connections. Could you please send people to help us?

And when I was done praying I began to do what I always do…self analysis, critical dissection of my choice of words and how odd and how silly and really, couldn’t I have said something a little more eloquent than that? Condemnation…yes!

Fast forward 30 min to when a member of our community joined our meeting with a huge  smile, and we soon found out why. In another meeting that kept them late from ours, a meeting where our representative often feels unheard; today tangible and wide support was offered up to us in ways that left our representative dumbstruck. A shift occurred this afternoon. Between 2:15 and 2:45 pm.

Coincidence? Reading something into nothing? Or, could a short prayer offered up in earnestness count for something in the spirit world that changes something in the real world?

I wonder…

Someone at the meeting said maybe I should pray out loud more often… :) I’m not convinced yet.

 

How the poems felt about it…


Reflecting on what matters, on the cusp of an old year past and a new one soon to begin. Listen. Speak. Engage. Rest. That is all.

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It was a blue bird day, and the poems were alert in their lively cling to the wire, their flutter of twos and threes. The wind cleared their heads of winter, and they soon realized the grape vines clinging beside them were similarly inspired, weathered arms held up to the sun, green ideas budding out in the warmth and light. And then the moment came when a woman reached out and touched one of the poems. How it felt to be chosen and held like that, the woman’s eyes intent on each lettered scar, the nakedness of lines. How the women read, gently, to last letter of last word. DSC_0040DSC_0041DSC_0039DSC_0037DSC_0036DSC_0035

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Resting…


Hindsight and foresight…

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DSC_0041What a year.

Installing poems @ Los Angeles, Port Townsend, Kelowna, Penticton, and Vancouver.

Performing poetry on the streets, in cafes, libraries, churches, and in homes.

Writing poetry and submitting and having some published in literary mags and elsewhere.

Stretching and growing through all of the above.

Yes, a very good year. I am exponentially blessed.

And now I shall rest until the New Year.  And I shall bask in the good company of family and friends. And I shall be glad.

For words that pop up and expand in 2014,

Lesley-Anne, SDG

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A poem


Looking back and moving forward…

pop-up-poetry

The moments when

we sit on the porch and you look
sideways and I lean soft into
your hard and you let me as
clouds gather over top the ridge
and the garbage cans are lined up
back beside our garage door. The tick
clicking of the neighbour trimming his
side of the hedge and our lawn needing
cut and the sun pouring it’s gold onto
our bare toes. The bed rumpled and
the dog sprawled over it snoring and
another clean load wanting out of
the dishwasher. The last fragrant
fifteen minutes before the apricot pie says
it’s done and perches on back burner
stove top until some celebration
of this day occurs after supper and
we join together to open words
and taste day’s end. The parts in
my library novel that keep my throat
full and now prognosis isn’t good so
I cry over the sink while…

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Hush, hush


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Hush, hush

Quiet me, LORD.

Hush, hush.
Your love transcends
my dialect of anxious fears,
soothes my flesh
with tender words
that still my trembling,
quiets my questioning lips,
stammering, and striving,
reveals your truth is
there, there, and here.

Hush, hush.
You teach me to practice
a foreign tongue
of sighs and weeping,
soul speak,
communion
of broken bodies
and body water
turned to holy wine.

Hush, hush,
in bare footed remembrance,
my shoes removed from road weary feet.

LORD, God,
consume me within your radiant presence,
my spirit burns in silence.

 

We are not done


What has become a longer poem…

BUDDY BREATHING

dsc_0045.jpgWe Are Not Done

We are not done. We are
ongoing conversation,
not monologue, not soliloquy.
Done is undone in our transforming reality,
our we that is, and will be.
As perplexing as speech sometimes seems,
I will wrap my errant tongue unceasingly
around the shape of this dialect we long for
yet hesitantly speak. Years down the road
we’ll continue our halting imperfect communion
because we have chosen this holy union.

No. We are not done.
Done is baked bread filling the air
with aromas of childhood, golden crust, served up,
butter and jam, eaten, gone, done.
Done is my hair, washed, cut, coloured, and styled.
Done is your fishing trip into the wild.
Done is each finished task, our completed to do lists,
but done is not done when we both choose us.
Yes we will disagree for a time,
but when emotions
and the need to be…

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We are not done


dsc_0045.jpg

We Are Not Done

We are not done. We are
ongoing conversation,
sometime monologue, sometime soliloquy.
Done is undone in our transforming reality,
our we that is, and will be.
As perplexing as speech sometimes seems,
I will wrap my errant tongue unceasingly
around the shape of this dialect we long for
yet hesitantly speak. Years down the road
we’ll continue our halting imperfect communion
because we have chosen this holy union.

No. We are not done.
Done is baked bread filling the air
with aromas of childhood, golden crust, served up,
butter and jam, eaten, gone, done.
Done is my hair, washed, cut, coloured, and styled.
Done is your fishing trip into the wild.
Done is each finished task, our completed to do lists,
but done is not done when we both choose us.
Yes we will disagree for a time,
but when emotions
and the need to be right mellow and calm
we’ll be right back here; take my hand, carry on.

Because we are not done
striving, surviving, staying alive, relational jiving.
We are not done doing and undoing
all we’ve messed up, gluing what’s come unglued.
We don’t live the
“you complete me” sentiment.
We chose, our promise remains.
We are not done. Always, we begin again.

One day, I imagine
you will hear my breath reach
between the words I cannot speak,
nearly there, almost, there.
In that pregnant space you will hear
the language of your heart, beloved.

My heart will be the echo.

Welcome, love and fear


DSC_0593Every human being is motivated by either love or fear, he said, in every  action ever taken. I contemplated his statement, wondering how true it really was for me. Just as I held each statement this wise counselor spoke, and everything I said as well, weighing out my authenticity, the truth of my disclosures. Was I creating something more, or simply telling my story?

So, he asked, when is the last time you were able to say I trust you with my life, my love, my everything? I don’t know, I said. Maybe never. There is no right or wrong answer, he said, it’s just what you know is true in your life experience. How could this be, I thought, have I never fully trusted, have I never felt freedom in love? My mind jumped back 30 years, then more recently, then to last week, and the reason for seeking counsel in the first place. My lack of trust, and my longing to belong, and what did it all mean?

The conversation continued to how mistrust of others and a possible deeper underlying fear of rejection can result in missing out on the beautiful potential of enjoying the fullness of loving community. Fear of rejection leads to withdrawal and isolation, and the vicious self perpetuating circle of fear, mistrust, and withdrawal from relationships continues. Allowing myself to fully engage in loving community could break down my walls, crack open my heart, and trust and belonging would grow. But fear of rejection is undermining what I desire. I wonder, is this true of me? Really? I want to argue it. I want to ignore it. I want to call it psycho babble.

Today I experienced how my view of life impacts not only me but my family. And I felt a little sick to my stomach as I considered the truth; my fears are rippling out into their lives. So maybe identifying the core issue and making room for a new reality is the way forward? Rather than denial or avoidance, to welcome all in, in a new way, following some recent teaching at SoulStream, Living From the Heart. I have been learning a posture of opening to the difficult and painful things in me that need the touch of Jesus. It is called Welcoming Prayer. I feel it may be the way…in this quiet welcoming way of the heart. And so I say…

Hello fear, welcome. Hello mistrust, welcome. Hello self protection, welcome. Hello rejection, welcome. Hello disappointment, welcome. Hello hunger for love, welcome. Hello. You are welcome here. You too are loved.

The good book tells me Jesus was despised and rejected of men. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Who better to understand what I do not yet, than the one who knows me and these newly defined feelings, from his firsthand experience. Who best to be with me as I welcome all those things that make me much afraid…

Jesus, what would you say to me in the presence of all my fears and feelings that we have welcomed here together? What would you say to my heart? I’m asking…

Come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Come, my beloved. Bring your love and your fear to me. All is welcome here. Come and rest in me. Just come. Let us consider these things together.