Inspiration Rekindled

Eight years now, I have been blogging. It has been a process of unfolding. In the beginning, I wrote for reflection, but as life changed, so did my need. I dug deeper and poetry emerged. I remember at one point telling my husband that I wished I could create my own images to pair with the poetry. In time, that wish materialized. I expanded to a second blog. Photography ignited a desire to paint.

The creative process doesn’t dry up, it looks for new avenues. It is a spider, creeping through dark places, seeking cracks, weaving inspired webs.

There is so much inspiration to be found here on the blogosphere. I am always uplifted by those who join in my weekly challenges. This week, our work was “kindle“. I’d say we are all on fire.

Thanks to:

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch
Reverie in Reverse
Proscenium
Reena Saxena
Sharing Thoughts
AWISEWOMANSJOURNEY
Stuff and what if…
CURATING THOUGHTS
MICHNAVS
one letter UP
Sgeoil

See you tomorrow for a new challenge.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40: Things My Father Said*

(* or any male of influence growing up.)

I can’t count the number of times my father’s words hover over me, even though he’s been gone since 2005. He was the king of platitudes – constantly quoting (and making us recite) the works of Dale Carnegie, or Norman Vincent Peale.

“Mind over matter,” he’d say tapping his temple. “It’s all up here.”

I wonder if Dad knows how much he’s influenced me? Does he look down from Heaven and smile at my rumination, or is he still present – a spirit over my shoulder whispering these notions into my ear?

“Winners never quit and quitters never win!” has been lingering lately to lift me out of my doldrums.

Funny thing is, most of what my father used to say was more annoying than inspirational while he was alive. Ours was a love/ hate relationship. I guess that is one of life’s tragic ironies: we really don’t appreciate what we have till it’s gone.

Okay, now it’s your turn.

To participate, create a post on your blog and then link back here. Tag your post with VJWC and remember to read (or better yet, follow) the works of others. All are welcome.

Looking forward to your responses.

A New Chapter

I dreamt it a year ago, and with the help of my husband and the support of my much more tech savvy kids, this new chapter of our life has come to fruition.

I remember an animated breakfast conversation after that initial dream, last March. (A dear friend of mine and I were selling gifts with images and poems on them).

“Like poetry to go,” I told Ric who immediately warmed up to the idea. “We could include your photography!”

How to do it was the challenge, until one daughter suggested we look into Society6.

“They sell quality products featuring artists’ images,” she said.

I read about it and was overwhelmed; we’re not techies.

“I don’t think this will work for us,” I told Ric.

Then, last week, in an inspired moment of stubbornness, I decided to write to the company.  

I don’t now if your service would work for me… I began.

The response was swift and helpful and with the guidance provided, we now have our own virtual store, hosted by Society6: KnutsonKreations.

It’s been a whirlwind of readying material, uploading images, deciding on products and determining how to market them. We are very green, but have over three dozen designs currently on offer, with many more awaiting our attention.

Of course, it’s a huge learning curve, which is why I would be honoured if you could take the time to drop by the site and leave feedback or comment below.

Naturally, we immediately ordered product, and I’m happy to say the images are true to what is depicted on the site. I’m wearing the lizard leggings as I type (got lots of razzing about this design from the kids), and Ric is sipping from a 15 oz mug with his Caribbean Wave image.

All the images depicted in this post are also available in many different formats, from framed art to journals, apparel, home decor or giftware. If there is something that catches your eye, Society6 is offering an artist promotion as of Tuesday, February the 19th through Thursday, midnight. The offer includes 25% off plus free worldwide shipping. I’ll post a link at the start of the promotion.

Thanks to all who have encouraged me in this process. I am buzzing with renewed purpose.


Of Pelicans and Life

Ric spots them first – an almost endless line of birds heading our way. American White pelicans!

They gather as a group just above where we are stalled, waiting for the ferry, and circle the area before continuing their journey. As one group leaves, another follows in a seemingly endless stream.

“There must be thousands!” Ric exclaims, rolling down his window so I can get some photos. “Each flock has a hundred or so birds!”

I feel as if we are privy to a sacred dance. The pelicans move in and out of formation effortlessly – one synchronized glide.

American White pelicans, I read, are highly social, depending on their communities, or pods, to help with the hunt. I struggle with community – a legacy of too much isolation, issues with abandonment, and other hurts. Sometimes, it just feels easier to stay away from the pack, and yet my soul craves companionship, reaches for deeper communion.

As the pelicans perform their circular aerobics, I witness the numinosity in their instinctual ritual – life celebrating spirit; white wings soaring against a limitless backdrop of blue: a portrait of peace.

The air show ends just as it’s our turn to board the ferry. We drive away, moved by the experience. Isn’t it incredible, how a single moment, can stir us so?

(My challenge this week is ‘reaching‘. I would be honoured if you’d join me.)

The Book Club

“I’ve just been reading about you in the bathtub. That is you in the bathtub, right? At least that’s how I read it.”

It’s Mom. Calling to check up on how I’m doing. She’s been worried about me since I travelled home to see her. She’s referring to a poem I wrote: A Body in the Bathtub.

“Yes, it is.” I search my mind for the poem, written almost two years ago.

“Well, I was at book club this morning, and we were reading Robert Frost, and I told them my daughter is a writer, and I was hoping you wouldn’t mind if I shared your work with them.”

“Of course not, Mom. You’re in a book club?”

Just two weeks ago, we were afraid we were losing her.

“We call it a book club, but we don’t actually read books – more poetry or short stories. Who knows if we’ll be around long enough for a book,” she chuckles.

“How about that,” she adds; “I said it out loud: My daughter is a writer. That’s what you are, right? “

I have to smile. Is that pride in her voice? I don’t know how to respond.

“I do write.”

“Anyway, I’m rereading the poems you left me and I think this one is about you being published, and how that has given you the incentive to live again.”

I wrote long before anything was published, but I appreciate her interest.

“I remember it to be about me connecting with Dad’s encouragement from beyond the grave,” I offer.

“Oh, yeah, your father is in it too. He always encouraged you.”

I feel like I’m in a bit of an altered reality. For years, Mom has been critical of my life choices, and Dad and my relationship was a little more complicated than she is suggesting, but anyway….Mom in a club discussing literary works, reading Frost – is very… unexpected.

“You must be feeling well, Mom, if you’ve joined a book club.”

“Oh, I’m okay. I’ve just decided I can either lie here and feel sorry for myself, or I can get out and keep living. I went and watched the music downstairs this morning too. They had a couple of good singers.”

“How’s your, Mom?” Ric asks when I hang up.

“She’s joined a book club.”

He raises his eyebrows in disbelief.

“Got to hand it to her; she’s not a quitter.”

(Featured Image: Mom & Dad in earlier days. I’m guessing 35 years ago.)


Set a time limit on negativity.

“Joy needs room to breathe.” Dr Andra is my hero today. Her words are on point.

Thriving Under Pressure

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

The timer principle can also…

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #9: Home

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss.”

– Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 

Home is on my brain this week, as we take possession of our new house on Wednesday, exactly one year after having sold our last one.  For a year, we have been living in our motor home, traversing the country and living a rootless life.  It has been magnificent in many ways, and so it surprises me that I am excited to be moving into bricks and sticks once again.

“A home filled with nothing but yourself. It’s heavy, that lightness. It’s crushing, that emptiness.”
Margaret Atwood, The Tent

I often dream that I am away from home.  It’s been a running theme for as long as can remember, and causes me to question the concept of ‘home’.  What defines home?

My parents moved house frequently; Mother claiming it was better than spring cleaning.  I seemed to have caught the bug, and am always on the move – just ask my kids, and they’ll roll their eyes and moan in response.  Is it the allure of something new, or the quest for the unknowable?  That I can’t answer.

“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

What does ‘home’ mean to you?  Are you a wanderer like me, or have you dwelt in the same place for a long time?  Is ‘home’ defined by a single space, or is a feeling not confined to location?

Look forward to your posts!

(Note:  To participate, create a post on your own blog, and either drop a link in the comments, or create a link back to this post.  Photos, poetry, or other forms of expression are welcome.)

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #5: Books

I can remember the exact moment that the words jumped off the page and hit me between the eyes with such an impact, my head snapped back.  I was still married to my ex-husband, and had retired to the bedroom to read before sleep.  The children were all finally asleep, and I had started the book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, a few days earlier.  Loosely based on the former Olympic champion’s life, Millman told the story of meeting a character he called Socrates, a mentor who inspired his future success.

UnknownThe book has long since passed out of my hands, so I can’t pinpoint the page, but there is a scene where Socrates tells the young Millman that his problem is that he can’t handle change.  Millman says that’s not true, he’s made lots of changes in his life:  breaking up with a girlfriend, moving, and so on – all things I could relate to, having survived many life changes myself.

Socrates then tells the young Dan that he is missing his point, that the only change that really counts are the changes we make in ourself: our attitude and perspective.  Of course, I paraphrase, but the gist is that unless we examine, and acknowledge our own  agendas and shortfalls, we cannot expect our outer life to improve.  Wham!

This week, I invite you to share your own ‘wham’ moment.  Is there a book, or passage that inspired or influenced your life?

To participate, publish a post on your own blog (creativity encouraged), and then link back to this post, or drop the address of your post in the comments.

Please take time to read and comment on the posts of others.

Look forward to your response.

(This idea for this challenge was prompted by Judy at Lifelessons.  Thanks for that Judy.)

 

Hawk Inspired

Inspired by the poem “Time Wrapped Moment…” on Windswept’s blog, Lakeshore Ponderings, I’ve decided to reblog this short story from 2016.   Funny how something written so long ago can have relevance today, but it does – perhaps even more so.  Windswept has eloquently captured in a few words the sentiments the I tried to portray in writing the piece.  Lovely synchronicity!

 

One Woman's Quest II

(A short story; fiction.)

The grey days are the hardest; you know the ones, when the clouds, so full of tears, are working themselves up to a full-blown cry. My projection, I know, but I prefer to think that the weather mirrors my own inner gloom. I am less alone that way.

This winter has been a particularly hard one – stripped me of all resolution – I am hanging on by a thread. I stopped answering all phone calls weeks ago, too weak-spirited to listen to the false cheeriness on the other end.

I linger a little longer in my bed, eyes focused on the cold, slate sky, old bones resisting movement. The kettle is not going to boil itself, I tell myself. Slipping on the battered mules that guard the side of the bed, I shuffle to the kitchen, muscles moaning.

As miserable as I sound, I…

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Maybe

Two years ago, I was barely able to get out of bed.  Two years ago, I wondered if life would ever get better, or if I was doomed to a future of isolation and deprivation.  Words were the weapon I employed to battle my way out of the kind of depression that accompanies debilitating illness.  In February, 2016, I wrote this poem:

Maybe

Maybe I just needed a new perspective –
like the famed Hanged Man of tarot –
committed to some deep, internal need,
willed a horizontal shift, landed with intent.

Maybe it is not my legs that are disabled,
but a soul longing to escape the continual
discord of perpetual motion, a never-ending
to-do list of the success driven persona.

Maybe there is a greater purpose for being
that is not encompassed by outer drive –
a mysterious meaning that is revealed only
in the quiet stillness in which I now dwell.

Maybe I have been called to a personal
pilgrimage – a Camino of sorts, a crusade
of spirit designed to cleanse and enlighten –
the journey is certainly arduous enough.

Maybe it is through acceptance, finally
having released a need to control, move,
achieve, accomplish that I am able to
embrace the true lessons of suffering.

Maybe this cocooning is an act of Grace
demanding surrender before the actual
transformation occurs, and I will emerge
legless or not, winged and ready to soar.

Maybe, just maybe, this stripped down,
barren existence is not a penance for
shameful living, but a desert crossing,
offering re-alignment, hard-fought peace.

(V.J. Knutson, 2016)

***

Rereading this poem now, I applaud my spirit’s resilience.  I give thanks for the strength to carry on and believe even when I could not see an end.  Today, the illness lingers, but it has lost its suffocating grip.  The “transformation” is occurring; I am feeling the potential of “wings”.

For all of you out there feeling trapped in the moment, keep faith – you are stronger than you know, and there really is a tomorrow.

(Image: http://www.gettyimages.com)