Thursday, June 28, 2007

More About Time

On Tuesday, I mentioned that summer is half over. How is this even possible? And how is it possible that I've hardly done anything I wanted to do this summer? I did have a much needed vacation, but that's about it.
Time seems to escape me these days. Some things take a lot of time. Some things (like slow computers) waste a lot of time. I once heard that we make the time for the things that are important to us. I think I think that's true. But I also think I spend time doing some things because they are easy to cross off my list, and they are a convenient way to avoid doing the more difficult, time consuming, and important things on the list.
What's up with that?
I think people draw a lot of conclusions about us by observing the way we spend our time. I wonder what I would think about what conclusions people make about me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday

I struggled with what to write about for today's top 10. I have a lot to do this week, and all that "stuff" was blocking me from coming up with a creative idea for my top 10 list. So, guess what y'all get? A top 10 list of the stuff on my to do list. Perhaps not the most inspiring thing ever. But maybe one of you has some ideas that could help me get some of this stuff accomplished.
  1. Come up with some written material and projects for our church's spiritual gifts program.
  2. Restructure my whole program at work to meet the new state guidelines and increase our funding.
  3. Create about 5 handmade books, some as therapy, some as gifts.
  4. Prioritize and implement the home improvement projects I need to get to this summer, (which is nearly half over- yikes!).
  5. Laundry
  6. Figure out a way to get back into freelance writing. Seriously.
  7. Read the 13 books I got for 15 bucks at the library sale. Hey, something fun has to make it on the list.
  8. Clean up this house. Any volunteers?
  9. Develop some speaking topics and materials.
  10. Decide if & how I can maintain the other commitments I have that aren't on this list because they didn't make the top 10 cut.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Sometimes we think of sharing as something that will divide and diminish the object or experience we are sharing. But some things just aren't any fun unless they are shared. As I previously mentioned, I have started watching movies on a regular basis. Since I live alone, this is generally a solitary experience. I don't mind this at all. I get to decide what I want to watch, when I want to watch it.
But some movies need to be shared to be fully experienced. I took my mom to see Evan Almighty this weekend. Nice movie, great themes I completely support seeing on the big screen, maybe not quite as funny as Bruce Almighty. Even though it was a good movie, I would not have spent the time & money to go see it were it not for the fact that I knew Mom would enjoy watching it as well.
Relationships are like that, I might not particularly like something, but I like that you like it. And that makes the experience worthwhile. Mom & I both happened to like this movie, but there have been plenty of times I have seen movies with my brother that I wasn't really fond of, but I did appreciate that he enjoyed the experience. He might even tell you the same thing is true for him.

Current Read: The Old Man and The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
Current Music: Lord of the Rings Soundtrack

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Top Ten Tuesday

Well, I don't usually stick with any one routine for very long, but I figure I might as well play with this Tuesday top ten idea for a while. Last week I shared the movies on my Netflix queue. In thouroughly modern fashion, I suppose I should follow up with the top 10 songs on my iPod.
Keep in mind these are the top 10 most played songs on my iPod, and the last several months were a little on the dark & difficult side. My song list isn't usually this monochromatic, nor this depressing. It'll be interesting to see what the top 10 most played songs on my iPod are six months from now.
  1. How to Save A Life, The Fray
  2. Something Beautiful, Jars of Clay
  3. Silence, Jars of Clay
  4. These Ordinary Days, Jars of Clay
  5. Window in the Skies, U2
  6. Hands, Jewel
  7. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, U2
  8. Pride (In the Name of Love), U2
  9. Home, Rich Mullins
  10. Because of This, MercyMe

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Questions & Cicadas

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find myself with a lot of questions I'd like God to answer. Some of them are quite serious, and some of them are more for the sake of curiosity.
For example, our finite brains have a hard time conceptualizing what heaven will be like. Recently, I read something on this subject in a collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson's letters and essays. He was lamenting the fact that his "to be read pile" of books never seems to get smaller. So he wondered if, when when we get to heaven, we will have access to all the material we hadn't read in our lifetimes. I think this question goes to the top of my list of questions for God.
One of my longstanding questions is about cherries. I understand that part of the magnificence of God's creation is the variety. And I understand that he made each of us different, so that the things you enjoy might not be the things I enjoy. So if you like palm trees or lima beans, I can appreciate that even if palm trees or lima beans don't thrill me. What I can't understand is cherries. I know there are plenty of you out there who think cherries are perfectly lovely. But I don't get it. The whole concept of cherries being something other than a consequence of original sin and the fall of man is a mystery to me. So my next question is about cherries.
Then there's the cicadas. Have you seen these things? They are ugly. Some of the creatures on this earth are a little odd. Some, like perhaps the cockroach, are downright unattractive. But the cicada is hideous. And they only get to come out from underground every 17 years so they can... ummm... mate. These poor bugs have it worse than the penguins. Yeah, I need to ask God about what's up with the cicadas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Tuesday Top Ten

I recently subscribed to Netflix. I was looking for a solution to this entertainment challenge I've had for the last few years. For most of the last four years, I've been, ummm, a little busy. Until just now, I haven't had much free time for entertainment. At this point, it's become a little bit more of a priority.
Most of my current entertainment is in the form of reading, which is easy enough because I live absurdly close to a library. But since I don't have cable, I've been wanting to branch out into multimedia entertainment options.
Enter Netflix. So far, I really like it. I don't need 50 movie and TV show options 24/7. I just need the movies I want when I have time to watch them. So here's a list of the top 10 movies on my Netflix queue.

  1. Mean Girls
  2. Amelie
  3. Amelie: Bonus material
  4. Chronos
  5. End of the Spear
  6. Best of the Muppet Show, George Burns
  7. Half Nelson
  8. Shine
  9. The Queen
  10. The Fountain

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Do You See What I See? Pt. 2

Last time I asked you readers to do an assignment. If you did your homework, you should have a sheet of paper with your name written all over it. It should be written with your non-dominant hand and overlapping in several directions so that you can hardly tell it's your name. If you haven't done that yet, you have one last chance. Go ahead, I'll wait.

OK, now I need you to go find your markers, colored pencils, or whatever you have. Steal your kids' crayons. Gather up different kinds of pens if that's what you have, blue, black, gel, ballpoint, highlighters. Now color in your art. Seriously. Any way you want. You don't need to color the whole thing. You don't need to stay in the lines. And you can use either hand for this part.

What do you see? Chances are you felt signing your name with the wrong hand was awkward and unattractive. Do you feel any differently looking at it now?
I've done this exercise with several groups of people and two main points come up. One is that your name represents you. And there it is, a work of art right in front of you. The second thing is that people often assume their non-dominant hand is less functional, less capable than the one they normally use. What makes this powerful is the process of creating something appealing and interesting with a part of ourselves we think of as inferior.
I bet you really wish you'd actually done the assignment.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Do You See What I See?

Degas said "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." But not everyone will have the same experience of a given work of art. So is art (including writing, music, cooking, or any other creative form of expression) process based or outcome based? I keep coming back to that question about what defines art.
I think the creative process needs more than just beauty behind it. In fact, my virtual writer's "editing room floor" is littered with many a lovely turn of phrase because, while lovely, they didn't do enough work in communicating the meaning of the piece I was working on. I've heard soloists sing in church who were technically flawless, but there was something missing. For one reason or another, the passion was missing. The meaning of the work as an act of worship was lost, perhaps because the singer was distracted. There are certain photographers and painters I like because they see something I don't see, and when I see their work, I get a glimpse of that.
I bet at one time or another (maybe even right now) you've doubted your own creative potential. Maybe you instinctively knew that art is more than a bunch of notes, colors, or words together just because they're pretty. Well, I have an assignment for you.
Grab a sheet of paper. Seriously. And I know most of you reading are friends and family, so I will check up on you! Now grab a writing utensil. Using your non-dominant hand (the opposite of the one you usually write with), write your name nice & big in the middle of the paper. Now write it again somewhere else on the page. Use your full name, your nickname, any form of your name you want. Keep writing all over the page. Turn the page sideways, upside down, any way you want. It's OK if you overlap signatures. Get your page nice & full & then you can stop.
Now, I know some of you gentle readers are slackers. So I'm going to give y'all a couple days to do this first part and then I will tell you what to do next.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What Is Art?

As I was perusing an artists' magazine for inspiration, I asked myself what defines art. Actually, the question has come up quite a bit recently. Sometimes what the viewer perceives is entirely different than what the creator intended. My friend LeAnne has a wonderful blog on art. One of the main principles she discusses is that as a creative process, art connects us all to our Creator. So even if it's never seen by another person, the act of creating art has some value for the artist.
But if I create something and if fails to convey what I wanted to express, does it fail as art on that level? Or is the artistic expression dependent on some sort of background knowledge of the artist's perspective, an understanding that would share vital information on the meaning of the work?
It's a question writers also need to ask in writing for publication. The story of how my brother & I had fun putting a puzzle together last Christmas is significant to me. But unless you know me & Brian, there really isn't any meaning behind it worth sharing. It has it's place in the pages of my journal, but if I were to try to publish it the editor or reader would wonder "what's your point?"
I sometimes have a similar experience when I look at the altered books or handmade books of others. The meaning isn't clear. It's pretty. The colors work well together. The technique is admirable. But it doesn't do anything for me. The artist may have an emotional connection to a trip they took, or a conversation they had, or whatever. But it isn't communicated to me in a way that makes me care. In contrast, some altered books or handmade books clearly tell a story. I may not know the people and places in the work, but it resonates with me. As a writer, being able to bridge this gap where artistic license is used for the purpose of enhancing the story is important to me.
As writers and artists, we need to be able to discern between "cheap therapy" and a message that needs to be shared. And we need to hone our craft so that we can communicate that message effectively with others.

Current Read: The Peacemaker, Ken Sande
Current Music: American IV, Johnny Cash