Navigating and staying afloat


skin boats

skin boats (Photo credit: 50mm-traveller)

It’s summer. Yup. And that means change and adaptation and realignment for me. I wrote about it here. And now I’ll share a wee bit more here.

I’ve been in a slump since Easters (reference to one of my fav. movies Nacho Libre). I sang in the choir, walked out of the church with a ceiling and walls, and couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t go back. I tried to figure out why. I made up excuses. I was dejected. Apart from a place I’ve been involved with for 20 years, I felt no compelling force drawing me back. I checked out an edgy inner city church. And when nobody there met my entirely unexplainable criteria, I knew I wouldn’t go back there either. I attended to soul care, read the Book, and engaged in spiritual conversations and activities and poetry. But no church.

There’s another book I read recently called Skin Boat, by John Terpstra (An interview with the author, here). A refreshing book about navigating faith (get this book!!!). Like my own faith journey, the author experiences questions without answers, a sense of belonging some days followed by lingering feelings of marginalization and confusion. His journey is shifting and liquid, and of searching for and finding enough to return for. As Terpstra says,

“I have heard everything there is to say about the place, for and against; both its necessity and its redundancy. Have felt it all, in my bones.”

And I guess, for me, it came down to what I felt in my bones this morning when I woke up. Today I chose to go because I wanted to be with my husband, sit together on a wooden pew. With anxiety and angst and dragging of feet, I pried open my fingers and received a crumb of bread from God’s table. (I didn’t go looking for bread, yet I was given enough to appease my hunger). It’s personal, what happened. But there were tears and words and nodding of heads and something inside of me realizing the reasons for staying away were far smaller than the reasons to be part of what is “church”.

Terpstra writes as both poet and cabinetmaker: “I have thought: the reason I persist is for what is being made.”

This morning I felt a seed of persistence sprouting within the soil of sadness I had allowed to gather in me. And a hint of what is possible, what is being made, should I continue to choose this place. I felt the embrace of arms, looked into eyes, listened to words that I scribbled down madly so as not to forget. The music lifted. The tears cleansed. And the seed continues to grow…

As described in this Can Lit interview, Terpstra asks himself why he keeps being part of this wayward and suffering and paradoxical institution, he responds, “this is the only place I know where time and eternity meet on a regular basis.” 

Today, I was at the meeting place.

SDG, Lesley-Anne

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Tuned out or turned on?


I was reminded (again) yesterday of the need to make a choice. That the outcome of my life is overseen (yes ordained too… how’s that for a mind stretch) by a God who is crazy about me, but the daily choices are mine to make.

So, here’s some choices for you and me to consider,

1. How tuned in are you? Are you willing to unplug so you can listen? Yes, I mean unplug… remember those e-free plans where you literally unplugged the TV for, say a week, or two… could we still do that with our computers… really? I mean, how could we do business, blog, communicate… :)

2. How networked are you socially? I mean, I’m a big facebook fan, but a couple of weeks ago I chose to log off until I found a better balance. I want to honour face to face time with people more. And I think I’m beginning to see some change for the good in this area. Cause really, life in the ‘pack’ is more fun than life as a lone wolf! (note to self…)Image

3. How busy are you? Are you leaving enough white margin in your life to respond to the unforeseen?

4. How grateful are you? I’m still reading and re-reading that book I told you about… “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and it appears that gratitude is just the beginning of a mind shift toward living a life of fullness and joy. Hmmm… maybe it’s time for me (us) to start our own list of 1000…just saying…

5. How present are you? When you sit at the table with your family or your friends… are you really listening? When your child climbs into the car after school… are you willing to let them be silent and join them in that? (oh boy, this is hard for me!) When you husband/wife/room-mate arrives home from work and you re-enter family life… are you willing to let go of the pot, keyboard, text plan long enough to find out how their day really was?

6. Do you take time to say thanks to people for little things? You know, like the cashier folding your clothes rather than stuffing them in the bag at the checkout, like the guy who delivered the flyer to your door, like your husband for phoning every day from his business trip?

7. Do you tell people how you feel… in words, in deeds, in prioritizing them, in putting yourself and your needs after theirs? Time’s fleeting people… all can change in an instant and we’re left trying to figure out how to pack meaning into the time we have left.

8. Do you reach out for help when you need it… or are you too scared/proud/capable to ask?

9. Do you actually see the world around you? I just met a writer/educator who’s starting a movement… it’s called ‘Connect Kids 2 Nature’… and I’m sorry, but I think I can see why. How many kids do you know who live eyes down… eyes on the cell phone… texting… while they are walking on the side of the road, riding their bikes/long boards, walking with their friends, and all they have to do is look up and PRESTO… there’s NATURE… BEAUTY… GLORIOUS WORLD all around them. So, now they need to be taught how to see again… and I guess I do too! And you can experience the world in so many ways… read it, taste it, hear it, touch it… you can even… wait for it… ImageROLL IN IT!!! Oh yeah… her life as a dog… that’s our Emmy!

10. Are you turned on? I mean, in this busy, crazy, plugged in, uploaded and networked world, are you turned on to real life all around you? Are you passionate about… something? What gets you up in the morning? What really ticks you off? What makes you frustrated? What breaks your heart? I mean I want to live turned on! Don’t you? So, if you haven’t figured out what that means for you, take some time to work through the W5 of what that might be. Then go do THAT. It will make a difference… to you and to this world.

One of my new favourite quotes is this one… you might remember it from the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’,

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Eric Liddell

May you be able to say and experience that about whatever God made you to do… that kind of life is possible!

OK, well I’m off now… managed to write and post this in under 30 min. And that gives me time to get out there and take on the remains of this glorious day.

With you all the way,

Lesley-Anne

Tuesday Poem 005


Is it any wonder?

My mother will tell you the precise hour of day
my sibling fell. Outrageous claim, hearing bone crunch
from miles away. (I rolled my eyes). Now I eat salt-sweet
crow with a side of maternal melodrama.

He didn’t (do they ever) come easy, arrived on pain’s
edge, pushing, cutting, cord and apron strings. So is it
any wonder his experience is mine, our dreams like
spirit lines melded in the night. Both may die hard.

My prayers are biased. I profess a life (submitted)
to (leading) Providence, but leave bread crumbs marking
The Way. Home is this nest of plucked breast feathers.
I would give my life for him. Is it any wonder?

While his father molds a man, I prick my finger, spot
(spill) a shirt with blood, tend to the needed (urgent)
steep compassion in my cup. Stay up, unbolt the door
run to meet him on the road.

NOTE:  A special thank you goes out today to Kolembo for speaking into last weeks poetry post in such open and helpful detail. If you have never visited or read Kolembo, you must do so. His work is profoundly real, raw, and affects me each time I read it. Life has taken me away from that particular poem to this new one over the past few days, but I continue to be grateful to those who read and give me such direct and helpful feedback for when I will return to those works in progress. xo LAE

POST SCRIPT to my NOTE:  Aforementioned poet friend Kolembo just invited me to link “Is it any wonder” to Open Link Night 48 over at dVerse… an online community of poets, writers, and… well… as I’ve only just walked through the ‘door’ over there… I’m intrigued by who I’ll meet. So, I linked in. Thanks K. Now this is everyone’s invite to pop on over for more poetry if you are so inclined. xo

Moving on… I guess…


If you, like millions of people, know anything about social networks, then you probably know ‘Ning’. Ning is a platform that in their own words;

“is the leading online platform for the world’s organizers, activists and influencers to create their own social network. Design a custom social experience in under 30 seconds giving you the power to mobilize, organize and inspire.”

Quite a wonderful quote… for someone who was seeking the mobilizing, organizing and inspiring. Me. Which is why I chose to use Ning to enable me to start a writer’s community for women, almost a year and a half ago. This followed my attempt to start a writer’s group in the real world, the inaugural meeting at which I was the only attendee. So, I thought, perhaps my draw ought to be wider… and I went world wide with the web and launched… Pink Ink Workshop! Ning made lots of sense to me, allowed me to design a great site with some excellent applications to add exactly what my members might need. Primarily it was about writing women connecting… and we did.

Pink Ink Workshop drew women writers from past connections I had and the ripple effect of my friends telling their friends and so on and so on (just like the Breck Shampoo Commercial circa 1970’s), and resulted in a small but committed group of writers from Canada, UK, Australia and the US. There were a handful of very active members… and I enjoyed the ability we had to inform and encourage one another, critique each others work, and connect in a world that can be quite isolating to writer types.

All this is coming to an abrupt end… and until today I’ve been OK with that. Just as I was OK when I married my husband and was discommunicated from my church… I knew it was coming, therefore I accepted it. And I recognize that it’s not all about me and my needs and my choices… there are greater powers at work. And I know that as one door closes a window opens and so on.

I received a notification a couple of months ago announcing that ‘Ning’ is no longer going to support their non-paying communities, I thought, Oh well, I guess that’s it then. I knew I couldn’t afford to carry the costs of paying to continue Pink Ink, and I also knew that I couldn’t expect the membership to do that either. So, I took the punch and decided that it was probably time for me to move on and do something else… recognize that Pink Ink Workshop has been a wonderful experience, and that it is over. (yes, I could have moved to another provider, and put more blood, sweat and tears into designing another network… like some of my virtual acquaintances have chosen to do. But, I’m tired… and I’m not really willing to do that… AGAIN!!!) I’m OK it, really I am, I thought.

Until today.  I was just cruising around Pink Ink Workshop, and looking at the photos of all the women, and reading and re-reading their words and their thoughts, and considering all that they’ve come to mean to one another… and to me. Long distance relationships really can become strong, virtual or real. These women have spoken words of life into me… have seen some struggles and some triumphs and have seen my writing take flight. They know me as a writer. This is what Pink Ink Workshop’s intended to do, and it did, until now;

A community of writing women, engaging, developing and refining our craft, and inspiring one other to use our voices with boldness.

And, once again, I find myself in a place where the community that I desire and enjoyed is being taken away… notwithstanding that we have all promised to keep in touch through emails and other social networks that we might join together. It just won’t be the same.

So, thanks Ning. Thanks a lot! I can’t imagine how money could be the only thing necessary to make your business viable… at least not just the money of small players like me. Facebook seems to be able to make a fortune without charging me anything. Facebook revenues reached $500 million in 2009, up from $300 million in 2008, according to Fortune editor David Kirkpatrick. And their revenues come from advertising… and that’s not a secret or earth shattering knowledge… is it? Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-does-facebook-make-money-2010-5#ixzz0tyvMCIZf

If I could a place to write a frustrated letter to, or someone who cared to hear about this (aside from you my poor reader friend), then I’d be all about giving ‘Ning’ a piece of my mind. After announcing their non-support, Ning wanted me (as a network creator) to fill out a feedback survey… but I’m not going to. I’m too ticked at them. And I’m just going to having to accept the inevitable, that on July 20th, community as Pink Ink Workshop knew it, will end.

To all of you PIW Inksters… keep on tagging the world with your words!!! NOTHING is lost. ALL is for a purpose.

Moving on, and I miss you already,

Lesley-Anne

‘Sol Deo Gloria

Poetry Friday011


Bird’s eye

In my conservative, fresh from the suburbs view
(from above you on the balcony),
I see how nonconformity is perhaps in itself conformation.
Dread locked into hemped up anti fashion statements,
The mosh pit is filled with organic righteous, gifted saints ‘au naturel’.
Wafts of patchouli and musked flesh rise to my nostrils, as
Bongo meets zydeco. A same sex couple touch tentatively,
Lean in, sway to the music, with bright eyes darting
‘Round the room in search of reaction, or like minded acceptance.
Side tables are laid out with found objects;  bones, driftwood, feathers, and
Mashed wool recycled broaches, silver, objet d’art, canvases layered in promise.
All the while, artists and rebels and world informers nod intently to one another
Speaking in hushed whispers, over styrofoam cups of steaming tea.

I am without.

Lesley-Anne Evans, May 2010