Category Archives: Art and creativity

Art and Baking With A Two-Year-Old

My grandson wakes up singing.

I hear his voice through the closed door of his bedroom and do not go in. My heart yearns to listen and feel the joy in his song.

When I do go in, he smiles his beatific smile, holds out his panda for me to admire and asks, “Can I have my silver porch car?”

I smile and ask back, “Is there a word missing?”

He gives that same heart-melting smile and says, “Puhleaaase.”

I’d do anything for that smile and so go and find his little silver porch car.

For the next 15 minutes, I sit in the chair beside his bed as he plays in his crib with his trusty panda in one hand and the other ‘zoomin’ the car across the mattress. There’s a carwash to visit. A tunnel to drive through and a cliff to dangle the wheels over.

Eventually, he sits up, holds out his arms and says, “It’s time to get out of my sleep sack.”

And the day begins.

Each day always includes a walk. Rain or shine.

It is, ‘our thing’.

And I am into ‘our thing’.

Last year at this time when I came to visit, I wrote a post called “Lessons from a Toddler”. The first lesson was:

  • There’s no need to focus on your destination. It’s not going anywhere.

“Take time to savour every step along the way. You’ll get to where you’re going, eventually. Sometimes you’ll end up where you thought, sometimes you won’t. It’s all okay. Doesn’t matter. Where ever you end up, you’ll have discovered new vistas, new things along the way.”

With an almost 2 and a half-year-old, the lesson remains as true today as it was then. There is always so much to discover when you savour every step you take.

Inspired by the teachings of Orly Aveniri’s “Come Outside” online workshop, TJ and I have been collecting leaves and flowers and petals that have fallen on the ground. They are gifts for his mommy.

Yesterday, we smooshed our hands in paint and smeared them all over the pages of his painting book and made marks with his paintbrush and glued our collected ephemera onto the page.

It was pure delight.

Earlier in the day, we made zucchini muffins. He mixed the flour and dry goods in one bowl, poured the liquid and vanilla into the other and then stirred them all together. The kitchen ended up with flour everywhere. It didn’t matter. Though, as I said to my daughter, “One thing I forgot. When cooking with a 2 year old, make sure you have all the ingredients on the counter before you begin!” Otherwise, you risk having flour flying out of the bowl and being reminded that a mixing spoon is not just a spoon. It’s a rocketship too!

As we neared the end, he climbed down from his special kitchen stool, raced into the bedroom where his mother and sister were lying on the bed with his dad and proclaimed proudly, “I made muffins!”

I could listen to his voice forever.

I have been here for just over a week now and my heart is full.

Time with my granddaughter, Ivy, is a blessing. I savour it all.

Time with TJ and his family is a gift. A treasure. It fills my heart and memory banks as sweetly as rain trickling down a string of copper bowls into a barrel.

I will dip into it when I’m not here and come out refreshed, nourished and soaked in the sweet, tender goodness of these days.

On Wednesday, C.C., my beloved, will be driving out with my youngest daughter who is coming for ten days to support her sister and family.

She was to have flown but concerns over exposure to Covid on airplanes nixed those plans. Concerned that she had never taken such a long drive alone, C.C. offered to drive her out. They’ll rent a car so the two of us can drive home together in my car.

His willingness to take that long drive just to help out is a testament to his natural generosity and kindness.

But then, that’s family.

Heeding the call of Love to be there for one another in good times and challenging times.

These are exceptionally good times. Times to savour. Remember. Cherish.

Times to fill the memory barrel letting the sweet nectar of these days fill my heart.

Namaste

There Is Only Love

The theme of the fourth lesson in Orly Avineri’s course, “Come Outside” is repetition.

This was a challenging one for me. So many thoughts, and my inherent desire to organize them, got muddled up in my staying present with the allowing of what was seeking to appear, to appear. Plus, a real-life story unfolding in all its beauty and wonder kept distracting me.

This morning, I awoke with a clearer sense of what the story of this page was. I am grateful for sleep and dreams and the muse’s constant flow.

As with my other pieces in this new art journal I’ve just begun, this page includes torn up bits of my mother’s prayer cards embedded within the pages as well as a prayer she used to recite in French (it was her first language).

The crosses are a reflection of the crosses we all carry with us in our life. They can burden us down, or free us. Like any burden, we can choose to struggle beneath their weight or live their gifts.

Crosses have recently been a dominant element in my creative flow – perhaps because since my mother’s passing on February 25th, I’ve been doing a lot of work on healing the broken places, and my relationship with my mother and the Catholicism of my childhood appears a great deal in those places.

For me, this piece is about the multi-faceted, complex colours, stories, textures, depth of life on earth and our separation from the whole.

When we let go of seeing our differences as a reason to fear and hate and hurt one another, we create space for our magnificence to shine. In its coruscating light, no matter how we present our beauty, wounds and wisdom, our natural human beauty shines through.

In that beautiful space, we know and live the truth — We are all one humanity, one human condition, one planet. We are all connected. All of the whole, with the whole, essential to the whole of life on earth.

In the beginning and the end, as is written at the bottom repetitively (and as I’ve come to resonate with even more deeply since my mother’s passing) – There is only Love.

__________________________

This will be my last regular posting for awhile. I’m taking a few weeks off from blogging to focus on other things.

I may intermittently be posting, but not on an everyday basis.

Enjoy this season of growth and change and beginnings and endings no matter where in the world you are!

Much Love. Many blessings. Bright light.

My Mother’s Prayers

My Mother’s Iris At The Altar – Mixed media on book page.

My mother prayed. A lot. No matter the time of day, situation, pressing need, she would pray.

After she passed away, my sisters and I sorted through her belongings and came across the leather pouch where she stored her many prayer cards.

None of us knew what to do with them so I took them, thinking I’d eventually use them in an art piece.

That time has come.

On Tuesday, I started a mixed media online course with Orly Avineri. Orly is my kind of creative force. Free-flowing. No ‘steps’. Just you, the muse, your intuition. And the courage to take risks.

The first exercise includes an invitation to use whatever papers are on hand, affix them to a page and create.

My mind immediately leapt to my mother’s prayer cards. This would be a good home for them. Not just on the first page, but on every page I create in this art journal.

In this case, the journal is an old book I found in a box that I’m willing to release to the creative forces. It is part of a set of three I’ve had for years. Unique to this one is the way the inside pages are inserted. They are all upside down.

A book with upside-down pages seemed appropriate at this time. The world right now feels a little topsy-turvy. Like everything we once knew, relied on, took for granted is no longer so dependable. So known. So inevitable.

There are no mistakes.

Working on this art journal, “My Mother’s Prayers” is stirring up my thoughts and feelings and memories of my Catholic upbringing, my mother’s prayers and her unshakable faith and our relationships. It is giving me pause to look at it all through different glasses, angles, lenses, perspectives. Upside down included.

Yesterday, I completed my third 2-page spread in the book. As with the previous two, this spread also includes a couple of the cards from mom’s collection.

As I created the page using flowers from the garden that were at the end of their life-cycle, my mind swept back to childhood days when my sister and I would help mom with the flowers in church on Saturdays.

I go back to this memory a lot. As if somehwere in that sacred space I might somehow find the key to where my mother’s and my relationship went off the rails.

Because it was. For much of our life together, not a very well functioning relationship.

In one of Orly’s videos for the course, she talks about how it’s important to live within the gifts, not the trauma of the past.

There were many, many gifts that came through my relationship with my mother. It helped forge the backbone of who I am today and who I am as a mother, an artist, a woman, a human being.

In her final years, the tensions between us eased. In her passing, they fade away leaving behind only Love and memories of the sacred moments of grace we shared.

The gifts in those moments are what fill me up today. They give me peace, hope, faith, Love.

Perhaps, one of its gifts is also in the surrendering of any guilt I may be unknowingly carrying from the past.

And I smile as I write the word ‘guilt’.

How very ‘Catholic’ of me.

My middle sister and I used to joke a lot about our Catholic guilt. We were good at it. Doused in it as children, it felt only natural to carry it into our adult years.

It took me years, and lots of therapy, to realize guilt is not natural. Nor is it constructive.

It can however, be a powerful force for change.

To not carry guilt, I must clean up my messes. It isn’t about tidying up the past as much as honouring it so that I can let it go without feeling… guilty.

And so, I create.

A book of prayers. For my mother. For me. For my daughters. My soon to be born grand-daughter.

The Crosses We Bear – first 2-page spread in My Mother’s Prayer Cards Art Journal

A book of prayers that begins with the words I wrote on the very first 2-page spread. Words that surprised me even as I wrote them: “The crosses we carry through the centuries burden us with their blind faith in what to believe in the here and now. Their weighty presence strangles our breath as we struggle to free ourselves of the guilt and shame of a past we cannot change.

I cannot change the difficult times with my mother.

I can honour our past, all of it, and in the here and now, celebrate and cherish her beautiful thread in the tapestry of my life.

Being the mother she was, her spirit is praying for all of us now.

What a wonderful gift of life and death in an unending circle of Love that remains, as always, nourished by my mother’s prayers.

Second Time Syndrome

It is a trait I’ve noticed before. One that trips me up easily, reminding me of how delicate and fragile, as well as rigid and pernicious, my ego’s need to look good.

I call it my “Second Time Syndrome”.

The first time I try something new, I am generally very patient with myself. I allow myself lots of latitude for learning, stretching, messing up and not doing it ‘perfect’. The exploration of the craft becomes a vast playground of possibility where I am both awakened and alive within the expansiveness of the creative process and the joy of stretching and tuning my creative muscles.

First time out, there’s no critter hissing about ‘getting it right’. There’s only grace dancing with me in the playing field of creativity.

Second time. It’s a different story.

Somewhere buried deep within my little reptile brain that sits at the base of my skull, the voice of fear awakens and whispers, “Ain’t no room for mistakes, lady. You get it right or you gonna fall flat on your face.” As if, come the second time, there’s no room for learning and definitely no latitude for mistakes or even playfulness and joy.

Second time. I gotta ‘do it right’. supersedes my soul’s craving for being within the creative process and its beguiling flow. Which, in ego terms means there’s no room for growth. There’s only space for ‘perfection’ – and given how my ego already knows I’m going to fail anyway, hopelessness and fear shadow my every move.

Once fear awakens, looseness, ease, grace fall away as I fall into the “Get It Right” trap. Suddenly, focussing on ‘the outcome’ becomes my point of reference. “Forget about savouring the moment and being in the flow of the creative process” the critter hisses. “You gotta focus on the final product. You gotta make it look good! Or else…”

It’s the ‘or else’ that gets me every time. The critter speaks in innuendo. He never defines, the ‘or else’. He leaves that to my imagination — and when I’m listening to the critter hissing, my imagination can go to some not so pretty places!

Case in point. On the weekend, I decided to work on eight more collage pieces using the techniques of the series I worked on last week. (See – Out of the Box)

Again, I used a limited palette (four colours + white – Ivory. Yellow Oxide. Red Oxide. Payne’s Grey). I painted on pages from old books for the collage pieces and painted watercolour as the substrates for the pieces themselves. I drew and doodled and cutout and tore up the painted book pages. And then, I started to assemble the pieces.

I felt stiff. Awkward. Tense.

My head was busy with thoughts of ‘do it right’ and ‘don’t mess up’.

And then, I remembered. Oh wait! This is my second time. I’m worrying about doing it instead of breathing into the pure delight of being immersed within this creative moment.

I had to remind myself to Pause. Breathe. Get Present.

A lot.

Pause. Breathe. Get Present.

Which also brings me front and centre with my ego’s need to protect me from criticism. “Give ’em the caveat,” the critter hisses vehemently. “Tell ’em you know they’re not that good. You’re just practicing…”

Pause. Breathe. Get Present.

“It’s okay, Louise,” the voice of wisdom deep within my belly whispers gently. “It’s not about judgements or making good art. It’s about expressing yourself fearlessly and stretching your creative muscles with grace.”

In grace, self-compassion gives rise to fearless creative expression and the art is not measured by the final product. It’s found in the joy of being within the creative process, allowing, expanding, growing, learning, creating.

I created eight new collage pieces in my ‘Liminal Spaces’ series.

The critter had a lot to say about the process.

My soul slipped lovingly into silence, breathing deeply of the essence of my creative nature.

And I am reminded once again how art, like life, comes alive in all its living colours when I let go of my expectations of getting it right and breathe instead into my soul’s desire to be fully present and embodied in this moment, right now.

Namaste.

Out Of The Box

Boxes are useful. They pack things up. Keep them tidy. Make it easy to move. Keep things in place. Make carrying easier. Shipping too.

Boxes are also not so useful. When it comes to habits. Thinking. Doing. Boxes can be constricting.

Yesterday, I stepped out of my creative box of ‘anything goes’ to stretch my, ‘Be Mindful’ practice of art-making.

Be mindful.

Of clutter. Busy. Over-working. Over-layering. Over-doing.

Be mindful.

Of colour. Form. Shape. White space. Relationships.

Be mindful.

And in my practice, I discovered doing something I tell myself I don’t do easily, is not that hard.

I have been enjoying the online classes of Laura Horn, an Australian mixed-media/abstract artist whose style I really like.

One of her online offerings is called, Minimal Magic.

Me and ‘minimal in my art’ are not very familiar with each other.

I like colour. Lots of it. I like layers. Many of them. And I like flinging paint at the canvas until its story emerges.

In Minimal Magic, Laura invites me to explore how “limitations can bring clarity and confidence to our art-making.”

Seriously?

Think before I paint?

Have a plan?

Hmmm… okay. I love a challenge.

And so I dove in. But with a difference.

Where normally, I would paint along with the instructor, or skip through sections at random, seeking the essence of the teaching through experiencing it as I go. This time, I watched the complete series of the course videos before picking up my paint brush.

It was freeing to be so structured. I got both the essence and the substance of what Laura was doing — creating beauty with just a handful of colours and a few tools. Seeing what could happen through using less.

Most of the afternoon was spent creating backgrounds by tearing out pages from a few old books and using them as the foundational blocks for the pieces I wanted to create.

I kept my colour palette neutral. Mixing and combining colours to create different shades and tints and tones.

I even let the pages dry. Completely. Before applying marks and design to some of their surfaces.

Believe me. Letting things dry is not my forte. Usually, I have a hairdryer in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. Both compete valiantly (and perhaps blindly) for air time as I work.

Yesterday, I let the backgrounds dry naturally before I moved onto the composition of the pieces themselves.

It was a lesson in patience.

It was also a lesson in how my mind’s craving for ‘more’ is a habit founded in fearing ‘less’ will leave me feeling empty.

Working in a new style yesterday, I felt excited. Energized. Hopeful. Full. Potent. Mindful.

I found myself at home with less yesterday.

It was a wonderful, joyful, calming experience. It was mindful.

Promises. Promises. Promises.

Promises. Promises. Promises. Mixed media on canvas. 40 x 40″

When my beloved arrived home from his golfgame and saw the painting I was working on, he asked, “What kind of flowers are those?”

“I think they’re daisies,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said. “To me they look like dandelion puffs about to take flight.

It’s all in our perspective.

The original painting. Getting ready to pry off the letters.

The painting above is painted on top of an old painting that used to hang in our living room. Originally, it was reds and darks and golds. A many-layered thing, a reflection of the word that formed my intention for that year (2014) encompassed in the words I’d affixed to it – “At Onement”.

On Monday, I sliced and peeled off the letters. Sanded down what remained and then painted over the original to create a background of yellows and greens.

Yesterday, I dove in.

The outcome is not at all what I had envisioned. Yet, in the end, it doesn’t matter. The outcome pleases me.

The title, however, surprises me. Promises. Promises. Promises.

Where did that come from?

And memory immediately opens me up to thoughts of the past.

I remember as a child not trusting my father’s promises. He’d say we were going to do something. Go somewhere. And his promises seldom came to be.

I know now, my father never meant to make promises and then break them. He was mostly only repeating behaviours he’d learned when he was a young boy and struggling to make sense of a chaotic world. When he was nine, his parents divorced and shipped him off from London, England to boarding school in the wilds of the Saskatchewan prairies. A long and lonely journey for a 9-year-old boy to take on his own.

I don’t know what messages my father took as his ‘truth’ when all of that transpired. I do know that the disappointments and broken promises of his young life carried through into his adulthood.

He had a temper he often expressed with angry words and he made promises he seldom kept.

I loved him anyway. Because, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his flaws, he was very, very human. And I knew, no matter what, he loved me. He just struggled to express Love through all the layers of pain and regret and anger that clouded his vision of the world.

Which is why the title of this painting makes sense.

Work in progress… I want to quit.

As I worked on it, I had many moments where I thought… ‘this is going nowhere’… ‘Ugh. Quit now while you’re ahead.’ ‘What on earth were you thinking?’ ‘Give it up. You’re not an artist.’

Despite the critter chatter messing with my head, I kept going.

My father taught me that. Do not give up. “I promise you,” he’d say. “There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Never stop looking. Never stop believing. And even if you never find the pot of gold, look at all the beauty you’ll discover along the way.”

My father may have messed up on keeping his promises, but he never messed up on seeing beauty in this world. And he always believed in our humanity. No matter who you were. Your story. Faith. Colour. Title. He always accepted human beings as just that. Human beings. Beautiful. Magnificent. Flawed and Flawless.

He saw the magnificence of our humanity and he always promised a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I didn’t find a pot of gold as I painted yesterday. I did find joy. Peace. Contentment and the beauty of being immersed in the creative process.

And in that richness, a promise my father made me long ago came true.

“If you do what you love with all your heart, I promise you, you’ll be richer for the experience.”

He was right.

Namaste

The Butterfly Tamer (a story)

Once there was a man who loved the beauty of butterflies but disliked their disorder. “Why do they have to flit about without a pattern,” he would ask anyone who’d listen. And, because he did not like the unpredictable, he was mostly talking to himself because, his need for order and discipline pushed the one’s who loved him away.

One day, the man who loved butterflies’ beauty but disliked their disorder decided he would teach them how to fly in formation. “Yes!” he cried to the sky. He had to close his eyes to the clouds floating by. They were so very disorganized he wished he could paint the sky and teach the clouds to form orderly patterns too. But first, he had to teach the butterflies how to fly. “I will tame them and teach them not to fly so free!”

He tried everything.

Scents deposited only on certain flowers.

Webbing that held the butterflies within a flight path of his design.

Sticky goop on flowers meant to entice the butterflies to land and at least stay in formation on the flowers.

It was the goop that was his undoing, and the end of many butterflies too.

One morning he came outside and saw all the butterflies lying in random, flightless beauty on the flowers. Furious that they had defied him again, he lost his temper, stormed into his garage, which was very neat and tidy, got on his ride-em’ mower and headed out to the garden. With meticulous care, making sure each pass of the mower was straight and even, he mowed down all the flowers. He mowed and mowed never once stopping to smell the roses until all that was left was a scrub of green where once a beautiful garden full of flitting butterflies had thrived.

And as he mowed, the butterflies struggled to gain release from the sticky goop that held them in place. Most were unsuccessful and fell beneath the man’s destructive passes of the lawn mower.

After several hours, the man stopped mowing. His work was done. Sitting atop his mower, sweat dripping off his brow, he surveyed his handiwork and yelled, even though there was no one around, “Take that you disobedient, chaotic butterflies. Take that!”

And he turned his mower around and headed back to the garage.

Just then, a butterfly went flitting by. He swatted at it but it easily avoided his hand. And then, there was another and another flitting about randomly on the soft, gentle breeze of the morning. He watched, the anger growing inside his heart with every butterfly that flitted past.

“No!” he screamed at the flock of butterflies who danced in the morning light. “Get out! Get out!”

The butterflies, oblivious to his entreaties, kept frolicking in the sun.

The man, consumed with rage at their disorderly conduct, flew into a fury. He jumped off his ride-em’ mower and began to chase the butterflies, darting this way and that, in totally disordered conduct, in a vain attempt to catch them or at least send them away.

But the butterflies flew just beyond his reach as if laughing at his chaotic antics.

Suddenly, realizing he was racing about his garden putting footprints all over the grass without any thought for pattern or symmetry, the man stopped leaping after the butterflies and walked slowly back into his house.

Slamming the door shut behind him, he shut out the beautiful morning and began his normal disciplined pattern through his day.

And that is where he remains today. Safe behind closed doors, living his orderly and disciplined life without any interference from the world outside, especially butterflies who fly free.

_______________________________

I have no idea where this story came from. It just wrote itself in my head as I lay in the space between awake and dreaming.

It is what I appreciate about the muse the most. She doesn’t wait for an invitation. She arrives in glorious, random swoops of inspiration, darting hither and fro like a butterfly, inviting me to let go of orderly thinking and fall with joyful abandon into creative expression.

And sometimes, to keep her flowing, I must capture the ideas and give them words to remember them by.

What to do with them next is all part of the wonderful mystery that is creativity.

Life Is The Art of Finding Joy In Everything

Being in the kitchen is one of my happy places. I play music. Dance around and fling ingredients into pots and pans, stirring and swirling as I go.

My husband calls it ‘free stylin’. I call it, ‘Love in Action’.

I love to cook. I love to dance. And, I love to create.

It’s the same thing in the studio.

I play music. I dance around. I fling paint. I flirt with the muse.

Because, for me, that is what creativity is all about. It’s not the outcome or output. The outcome is simply the visual expression of the joy I find immersed in the creative process.

Focaccia Garden art

Yesterday, I created in the kitchen. Foccacia and yummy tasting, but not so pretty to look at, lemon poppy seed loaves – with olive oil instead of butter.

The poppy seed loaf was not so pretty to look at as I decided to use these pretty paper cupcake holders I’d bought some time ago — a lovely idea, except, they were wide and not very deep. The batter overflowed the tops and made one big cake! Not what I wanted to take to the birthday party we were going to, but good enough to eat. So, I think I’ll freeze them and use them later for a trifle.

See, that’s the thing about creativity. It lets go fo judgement and moves with ease into possibility. It adapts. Transforms. Evolves. It sees beyond ‘the box’ or in this case, ‘the cupcake’ for ways to create another path when the path you’re on is not unfolding with life’s natural grace and ease.

It is when I am immersed in the creative process that I experience life’s natural grace and ease most. There is no tension. No strife. No feelings of less than, or worry about being good enough. There is only the joy of being in ‘the flow’. Or, as my friend John McMahon calls it, PHLOW (Power. Harmony. Love. Order. Wisdom.)

In the PHLOW, I become all that I am. I stop paying attention to the whisperings of my limiting beliefs and fall with grace into my belief in the wonder and magic of this great big world in which we live. In the PHLOW, I am my creative expression. I am joy. I am Love. I am me.

Yes. There is dire news in this world. Yes. A lethal virus is still running rampant. And, injustices and violence still abound.

And amidst it all, Love still flows freely. Creative moments still arise. And life continues to evolve with its naturally grace-filled ease.

May we all find joy in creating a world of Love, beauty, harmony and grace.

May we all know the joy of living fearlessly immersed in Love.

Falling Deeper And Deeper Into Love

I spent the afternoon in the studio yesterday creating two small paintings.

I had only one purpose in mind. – To immerse myself in the creative process.

When I began, I didn’t know what I was going to create. I knew I wanted to work on canvas and found 2 8″ x 8″ canvas in my supply room. And that was as much as I knew…

It is perhaps one of the greatest joys of painting for me – tosurrender my thinking to the process of letting appear what is calling to become visible that I cannot see.

To release my ‘thinking mind’ to my body’s knowing that this moment is where beauty, truth, and creativity dance together in balance and harmony.

It is meditative. Soul-enriching. Fulfilling. Peace-inducing.

It is bliss.

To begin, I loosen myself up by dancing. Wild. Slow. Sensual. Fluid. Dance.

Keeping my mind free of ‘thought’, I listen to my body and ask it, “What are you feeling?”

Yesterday, the answer was loud and clear. Connected. Mystical. Whimsical.

Feeling in my body, being present within the moment, hearing the emotions calling for expression, I began to play and paint.

With colour. Texture. Shape. Form. Light. Letting my body be my guide. Letting my emotions flow. Letting my intuition be my muse.

I am so blessed.

Dancing in my studio. Swirling colour onto a canvas. I feel. Everything. And in that everything there is beauty. There is calm. There is LIFE.

I painted in the studio yesterday. In the dance, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into Love with all of Life.

Namaste.

What’s Your What?

It took me all week to figure out how I wanted to finish off the binding on my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal.

I’d finished binding in the 20 pages. I’d even created a little video of the completed journal. Except for the spine, I felt it had come out really well.

But that spine…

There were lots of alternatives on how I could finish it off… the hows were limitless!

The unfinished spine.

Yesterday, the answer came to me. Paint a panel to cover up the messy threads.

So I did. And though the colours were slightly different than the cover itself I knew I could make it work.

But, how to give it a ‘finished’ look when I wouldn’t be able to fold over the panel at the top and bottom edge? (The inside pages came right up to the edge leaving no room for me to fold the page over.)

Plus the threads made a lumpy surface. How to smooth it out?

What about ribbon? The voice of the muse whispered. You have that beautiful blue ribbon with that rolled edge. What if you lay it on top first?

“But that’s not how I planned on doing it,” I hissed back.

Calmly she urged me on. “Let go of the how, Louise. Focus on what you’re trying to create.”

What am I trying to create? A beautiful finished spine for my journal.

I got the ribbon. Tried it out. I liked the look. I glued it down.

And then… well, I was still kind of attached to ‘the how’ that I’d started with. I wanted to affix my painted panel — but when I tested it, it still looked untidy and ‘blah’.

I sat and contemplated ‘the what’ of my project. And that’s when inspiration struck.

In the bottom drawer of the supplies drawer that sits beside me at my work table, I have a collection of tags I’ve made – for a rainy day, or perhaps just this occassion.

I dug through the drawer and found one I’d made a long time ago after seeing something similar at a craft fair.

It was the perfect fit.

I made a few adjustments and glued it in place.

Perfect.

The finished spine.

And here’s the thing — The finished spine is much different than what I’d started out to create. Remember the painted panel? I never did use it!

The lesson? If I had stayed focused on ‘the how’ of what I was doing, I would not have been open to the possibilities that appeared as I worked on the spine.

It’s not the ‘how’ that makes a difference. It’s the ‘what’.

In this case… A finished spine that created a visually appealing finish to the book.

If I had stayed focused on the ‘how’ of finishing off the spine, I would have been disappointed simply because the how was all about doing it the way my mind told me was ‘the right way’.

As long as I stay focused on ‘the what’, the story will always be about creating better. Always. Because the ‘what’ is about listening to my heart. The heart knows. The ‘how’ is an intellectual exercise. The ‘what’ engages the heart in taking action to create better.

Because that’s the thing. Staying attached to my first idea of how I was going to finish the spine would have kept me stuck in seeing only one path to getting to my goal, a path that would have resulted in an ‘okay’ finished product.

By focussing on my ‘what’, by letting my heart lead the way, I created something I really like. Something that pleases me. Something that reflects what the journal is all about — an expression of all I’ve learned, experienced and grown through during these months of self-isolation.

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And… if you want to see the video of the finished product (minus the completed spine) I created of the journal I’ve included it below.

For a first attempt at using Photoshop Premiere video editing software, I’m pleased with what I created. 🙂 The how was easy — learn the software without pulling my hair out! 🙂