creativity

Excavating

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Tearing the pages feels wrong. Marking others words with ink to communicate new things, a little risky yes? But what beauty can be found in the excavating. Not only the job of the editor. After receiving an excess of old books for my little library, I’ve decided to reclaim messages of hope and restoration in the words of others. Send me a page number and I’ll send you a poem from that page in the mail. Send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or DM on Instagram.

Together, we can help the post office and find some beauty in old stories and traditions.

Donations accepted here.

Using Your Words for Light and Levity

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Announcing the first roll-out of 52 Beautiful Thing’s Virtual Writing workshops. My goal is to keep us connected and our spirits light – even if we pause from the pain for 60 minutes or so. I hope you can join me this month at one or both of the virtual sessions outlined below.

Share with a friend. See you soon.

Using Your Words for Light and Levity: A Virtual Writing Workshop

Being a human is hard. Knowing how to take care of ourselves and see the world with hope is a practiced skill. Join me in a one-hour virtual writing workshop. You’ll learn how to use simple sentences, poetry, and writing prompts to reconnect to joy and possibility in an uncertain world.

Come with pen and paper and willingness to be silly and seek out the good.

Each Class is limited to 15 spots

Cost is $25

Registration is a 2 step process:

1. Pay for your slot here

2. Then Pick Your Time and Register on Zoom

April 25th at 10 am MST

OR

April 30th at 6:30 pm MST

Questions? Send me a note.

Pivot Forward

Yesterday, I was every bit of a capitalist consumer. I spent the afternoon searching for  key pieces for an upcoming trip and bopped into a few shops, heading straight for the sale rack towards the back of the stores.

Each time I checked out, the cashiers I interacted with said something along the lines of, “Enjoy the sun while it lasts. Snow is coming tomorrow.”

I was ready for big flakes, fluffy blankets, and savory food warming in the oven.

When I checked the weather before bed last night, I was disappointed. Our anticipated snow day had gone from a sure thing to a 30% chance of flurries for just a few hours. When I woke this morning, no snow had fallen. The ground was dry. The light was grey.

In Colorado, this change of weather and threatening inconsistency is nothing new. I’m used to being told to wear layers to prepare for multiple scenarios.

I have been trained to prepare to be flexible.

Like a toddler pushing the limits, I frequently go in to work on blue sky mornings wearing polka-dot flats only to come outside at five wishing I had worn socks as sharp little ice drops bite at the tops of my feet. If I’m going to get cold, I’ll do so on my own terms.

We wounded wonderers are masters at pivoting.

Turn for the needs of others. Turn for the wallops of pain. Turn for the things we didn’t see coming. I’m used to pivoting to protect myself, to mask disappointment, and to forge forward telling my spirit, “It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.” when really, the situations are anything but.

Yes, the soft landings of snow flakes are missing today. In the grey sky surrounds I sit and I wonder, “How can I teach myself to pivot differently? What if I moved, not away-from but towards the things I want? Can preservation be channeled into motivation instead?”

This week I walked into the gym and climbed onto the elliptical stationed in front of the big t.v. showing the Food Network. The absurdity of watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives while attempting to burn off calories does not escape me. The choice, however, was better than the ever-present terror unfolding on CNN, NBC, and ABC after work hours.

I spent thirty minutes pedaling backward and the lights on the whirring machine began to flash.

Pedal forward. Pedal forward. Pedal forward. 

The green words blinked at me across the digital keypad.

It was time, again to pivot. To change my legs and my weight and move forward with my movements even though I was going nowhere at all.

March is coming and with it birthdays and anniversaries of death. In my head I’m pivoting between how it was then and where I am now and what it feels like to sit in the grey.  Four years have passed and I’ve found myself forgetting the electricity of shocking loss in my veins. The memories are softer now, still cold and wet and powerful in congregation with their fellow flakes.

I want snow and protection and warm food and calories to cushion me.

Machines are beeping, I am weeping, and conversations with encouraging strangers are telling me, “Now. It’s time. Pedal forward. Pivot towards the places you want to be. Create your work – the world needs you just as you are. ”

March is coming. Maybe this year, pivoting forward can be a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking For Beauty Amid the Pain – A Conversation with Non Wells

I have a hate-love with internet. I tend to spend so much time here. I easily get distracted, depressed, or feel stuck in endless comparisons. Hate.

Then, at other times, I realize this vessel is how I can connect with you, share updates, and change the narratives our culture tells about how we must live and operate. Love.

I was so excited to come across Non Wells and his project You, Me, Empathy last year. He’s setting out to tell stories and make connections for what he calls “Feely humans.” He explores topics of mental health, emotional wellness and human connection and I was tickled when he agreed to host me on his podcast.

Our conversation went live this week and you can listen in here.

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We kick off the show talking about my early childhood, wherein my parents valued downtime and play, often using the term (as did Non’s mother), “only the boring get bored.” We explore saying yes to the things we truly want to say yes to, using our time well, and tuning into what we actually want.

As two introverts, we talk about what that means to us, feeling the pressure to be a certain way in life, moving through the world at our own pace and not anyone else’s, having sensitive hearts, and then I share my experience of losing my father. From there, we talk about why grief isn’t contagious, the discomfort many have with death, and the ebbs and flows of life.

We delve into the origin of this blog and explore the highlights of the small joys, the unforeseen beauties perhaps we overlook in life—not as a dismissal of the pain, but a recognition of the overwhelming beauty that exists in our world, and the meditative practice of taking notice.

I hope you take some time to listen. You can learn more about Non and his efforts to support Feely Humans here.

2018 Give Light Giveaway

It’s Back!

The 2018 Give Light Giveaway starts today and runs through December 31st.

“Give Light and People Will Find the Way” – Ella Baker

As you know, I believe hope floats on whispers and healing can be found in the pursuit of beautiful things. Join me this season to share hope, love, and light. This year’s theme is a bit different, so read the submission guidelines on how to play. 

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Give Light Giveaway Submission Guidelines

  1. Answer the question – What gives you hope? 
    I love creative answers and want to make this as easy to enter as possible. You can write one or two sentences, make a list, or snap a photo. Sing a song, send a video, draw a picture.
    We live in challenging times and I simply want to know What gives you hope in this messy, beautiful world?
  2. Let me know how you’d like to be recognized. Please tell me your name and how I can best contact you. Optional – include a photo of you, your website, and/or social media handles.
  3. Ways to enter:
    – Send me your entry via email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com
    Send a tweet to @52beautiful with your answer and the hashtag #givelightgiveaway
    Send me a story with your answer on Instagram (@52beautifulthings) with the hashtag #givelightgiveaway
  4. I’ll share your responses periodically over the next few weeks. Email me if you have any questions.

This year, I’m really excited because two artists, Lynne Schwebach and Laura Romberger have joined me and will be donating their artwork as part of the prize pack for the winning ‘giver of light’.

On December 31st, I will put all the names in a hat, and draw one winner who will later be contacted. You need not live in Colorado to win. Winners must respond to notification within two days or I will draw another name.

**Please keep content appropriate – I reserve the right to refuse to post if I feel content is offensive or could cause harm to others. By submitting your materials, you give me permission to share your responses on this blog and on social media. I appreciate when you share your contributions with your networks, but this is not required.

 

Mine.

Unofficial titles I’ve had at work over the years. Levity Lady, Head of the Fun Committee, Social Activity Coordinator.

I like spending some of my work hours planning social outings, celebrations, and bringing humor to the office.

Some other words to describe my impulse to want to make people feel happier – encourager, coach, mentor, supervisor, friend, writer.

Whisperer of beautiful things.

As I work and I process and I heal my childhood wounds of the confusion of complex emotions, I realize just how many of my coping mechanisms involve trying to fix other’s happiness levels.  It comes out at work and it comes out in my family and I am wondering if it’s coming out here too.

I wrote this post at the end of 2016 about how hard it can be to encourage others. How challenging it is to look for the light. How lots of people prefer to yank us out of our seats and into the stinky mud on the ground. There is always more mud on the ground.

Because I feel for people, deeply, and I have trouble not dragging my empathetic toes into the circles of others. Because I care. And I want you to see the light. All of the glorious light that exists when we lift our chins.

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A beautiful friend boldly told me to start saying, firmly in my brain, “that is NOT mine.”

That grief, that conflict with your co-worker, that gut wrenching diagnosis. The government shut down, the fight with your mother, that unemployment and dashed dreams. All NOT mine.

It’s a new tool for survival. A safety shield for the ever-feeling heart.

Anne Lamott wisely says,

” there is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you’re waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind. This is the most horrible truth, and I so resent it. But it’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers. You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to. And if it’s someone else’s problem, you probably don’t have the answer, anyway. Our help is usually not very helpful. Our help is often toxic. And help is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Don’t get your help and goodness all over everybody.”

This quote got me thinking. Is that what I’m trying to do here? Acting out my need to save others by sharing what’s good. Sure, I hope my words cause epiphanies in your lives and spark you to think about small, simple blessings that dance through your days.

But I’m not sure it works, and that shouldn’t be the point.

The beautiful, beautiful point, is I do this work for me. I look for the beautiful to make me feel sane. And if it works for you too, my gosh, let’s cheers with some bubbles. I don’t want to be toxic, I want to be balm. I don’t want to be controlling, I want to be free.

And looking for the beautiful helps me, me, me, my, MINE to do that. That process of healing, of unhooking from other’s drama, of allowing me to stand on my chair, chin up, arms open and up, tears streaming down my cheeks.

I also read this funny article about writing on Medium today. Poet James Avramenko writes about what he’s learned from writing a poem every day for the last six years. I love this nugget of truth that he shares,

  • The ones you like often get no play, the ones you think suck often explode

My most visited post on this blog is about the tv show Friends. I’ve poured out my heart and talked about grief, and shared bravely about MY own stuff. And the light hearted post about my obsession with Friends is most frequently read. The deep stuff gets glossed over and often ignored. I thought last week’s post was awesome. No comments. Crickets. Doubts. Temptations to press delete.

As an artist, that’s frustrating. But James is right. We don’t get it, we just write. We don’t know what’s going to stick and we can’t anticipate the impact. Maybe there is none.

So for this year, I’m changing my intention for the blog. I don’t want to get my help all over you. I want to help myself. Help myself heal, love this magnificent, magical world, build gratitude, dream bigger, and experience new things. I’m going to write about it.

If you feel it’s beautiful, consider sharing. As James also says, “Once it’s in the world, it’s out of your hands.”

Thanks for joining me.

 

 

Well There You Have It!

I took a personality test today. In fifteen minutes I answered a series of questions and the tiny, little analyzer internet minions spit out pure truth.

When looking at Personal Motivators, “Aesthetic” was my highest score.

The test said:

  • Katie enjoys the beauty of her surroundings and would like others to share
    her passion.
  • She will enjoy the more traditional form of beauty as compared to the
    abstract.
  • She is in tune with her inner feelings and likes surroundings that compliment these feelings.
  • Katie seeks self-realization and fulfillment.
  • Katie needs a sense of harmony and balance in her surroundings and relationships.
  • Being recognized for creativity is the highest form of achievement for her.
  • Katie is interested in studying and appreciating the totality of a situation.
  • Creativity is only limited by external, not internal boundaries.

How do they do it? Completely GET you after a series of 12 questions! I am amazed and delighted that this analysis confirms what I sometimes deny to be true about myself.

These truths have trickled into my internet space and affirmed, yet again, that I believe in the pursuit of beauty. I believe in it ever so much!

Writing about feelings and surroundings and harmony and balance makes sense because these building blocks make up my core. I believe that creativity is worth achieving and equals accomplishment. The pursuit of beautiful things being more important to me than money or fast cars or fancy jewelry (although if this blog brings me money or fancy jewelry I wouldn’t say no.) I believe in being honest about feelings – fear, doubt, happiness, joy, confusion, grief. Bring them all on!

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Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

 

So I raise my arms in praise to the Universe for sending a confirming message that I’m on the right track. In writing, in the pursuit of beauty, in the privilege it is to just be myself.

Let’s keep at it eh?

Welcome Back

Have I mentioned my love for Whirly Pop popcorn?

Oh my goodness. The simple pleasures. Throw some popcorn kernels in with some oil, and crank, crank, crank the wooden handle. Listen closely as the beautiful, white orbs of deliciousness come to life. Add butter and salt, and you are good to go.

I’m eating a snack at 9:35 pm. And that is a beautiful thing.

On Tuesday last, Dylan and I were invited to participate in a Paint and Sip class. I signed us up because I was craving a night out and thought it would be fun to try something new. As we walked into the brewery where the class was being held (yes, brewery – welcome to Northern Colorado) I felt myself relax into the space. Or maybe that was just the beer included in the price of the experience.

Gazing upon a row of twenty blank canvases, twenty sets of paintbrushes, and twenty palettes of paint made my heart go pitter-patter. So much potential sat waiting to unfold on the table before me. I am a tentative artist who hasn’t played much with art supplies since high school. This class was the ‘welcome back’ to facilitated creativity that I needed.

I spent three hours following an instructor and applying paint to my own canvas. There is a soothing quality to spreading pigment across white, filling a space with colors and swirls. Long handled paint brushes with stained bristles make me feel powerful – there is space to create with such tools. I was astounded to realize that yes, I can conquer shadow and line, and even a bit of color theory without formal training. Well, the color theory came from my husband sitting next to me, but teachers come in various forms don’t they?

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At the end of the class twenty people had created the same concept, but each with their own unique interpretation. None of us were experts, at least I don’t think so, and yet the creativity flowed. This class was a reminder that joy comes in the process, rather than the concept of a finished product. I, myself, am a finisher. I love crossing things off the list, moving to the next task, and feeling like I accomplished many “to-dos” throughout the day. This class though, reminded me to be present with the paint. For when the canvas was finished, it was time to go home.

Playing with paint was a beautiful, fun and freeing experience, but my emotional takeaway carries more weight. Be present in the process, in the swirling mix of colors and shapes that will come together to create a scene. If you keep following the directions, surely beauty of your own variety will transpire too.