Friday, March 29, 2013

Out of Boredom Comes Creativity...

Like many of my generation, I have experienced creativity emerging from boredom first hand as I did not have the opportunities nor the distractions that exist today.  As a parent, not only did I not allow the words "I'm bored" uttered in my presence but when sensing the feelings of boredom, sent my children outside to play, and although I too went outside, I did not join them in their play.

As a parent I chose not to fill up my children's schedules so that they had little time at home creating their own schedule. Sure I have involved them in organized activities in order to introduce them to things that might strike a chord in them, helped them to see that they have particular gifts and talents that can be offered for the greater good in their lives and also to teach them about how to be in community. However, I did not want their lives to be so full so that they were unable to make creative and constructive choices when they were all alone at home with oodles of time - like during the summer.  Because television and games were not a habit in our household, my children would choose other pursuits over them.

What we do have in our yard, are four treehouses, three of them built by Max and Jillian, a trampoline, tire swing, trapeze, cement pad with basketball net, scrap lumber and metal heap, a shed with tools, a paintball course built by my son when he was 15 years old, bikes, hoses hooked up to a creek and a dugout for what would seem unlimited water, and a zipline. By now you may have gathered that I live rurally.  However, I would hope that living in the city wouldn't change HOW I have parented but that I would look to different opportunities for them to envelop the gift of creativity as well as the gift of relying on oneself for motivation.

Two treehouses connected by rope swing...

How does a parent go about instilling this in children?
  • by resisting the desire to fill up a child's schedule.
  • by resisting the desire to offer suggestions when they seem bored - instead let them know that you have great faith in them that they will be able to fill their time with constructive activities and that you can hardly wait to hear all about their endeavors and adventures.
  • allow time for daydreaming. (I learned this from Max when he was in grade one and a wise health care professional expounded with, "He's got the gift of daydreaming!")
  • ask them for their game plan for the summer. It doesn't mean that they have to meet every goal but just to have some set out. (Once again, I learned this from my son who is a goal-setter and sets one surrounding his athletics, music and school.)
  • model the behaviour that you want to see - determine what your own summer goals are?
As individuals and as a collective, we are raising children and doing so to the best of our abilities right here and now, and we can all improve on the ways in which we parent. I am in no way suggesting that I am doing everything "right" because, of course, I am not. I too am just muddling along the path in this game that we call parenting.

A good and wise friend, Linda Garvin once told me that, "kids need to be kids while they're kids", summer will be here before we know it and for us it is about being wild and free, creative and... mostly barefoot.


Thanks to my friend Linda Garvin for her continual teachings...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Live What I Believe

Not long ago, someone asked me if the reason why I exercise and eat healthily is so that I will live longer. I smiled warmly and answered, “No.”
I live what I believe, and quite simply, what I believe is that we will leave this earth when our time here is done. That’s it. I would have loved to have had my mama here longer, to create more memories but her time here, was finished. I’m grateful that she was not taken suddenly and that I was gifted time with her while she died. Would she have lived longer if she didn’t eat margarine or if she ran marathons? I don’t believe so. When my time on this earth is over, it will simply be that my time on this earth is over.
  The following is why I run, research nutrition and eat the way that I do:
1.         I run because it makes me feel so good. It relieves stress. It helps me to breathe easier and helps me connect my body with the earth.
2.         I eat real food because real food makes me feel good. I don’t want to feel bloated, full or sluggish and I know that faux food makes me feel that way.
3.         I do not eat at night because it interrupts my sleep and I like to go to sleep and wake up in the morning when it is time to wake up.
4.         I meditate because meditation offers me a way to be a better person with myself and with others. It provides me with an opportunity to breathe deeply and slip away from my physical world.
I live what I believe because it feels good…
~ Ellyn

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More On Writing...

Lately, I have been writing voraciously. Everything around me is inspiring and I love it! I even get into these little modes where I growl if someone comes to the door, or phones, because don’t they know, I’m busy writing! I am a disciplined person and even though I am currently a stay-at-home mom, working, I live by a day plan, week plan and keep my short and long-term goals in check. When I find myself stuck with no words emerging, besides listening to the whispers that find their way to me, I turn to a few blogs that I follow. I want to share these webspaces with the world because they have helped me immensely as a writer and I know that I will continue to allow them to assist me in the future.
Thank you @thecreativepenn AKA Joanna Penn, who is not only a writer herself but shares a wealth of information from a collective of writers via her blog.
Thank you Writer’s Digest, for your free downloadable worksheets that assist me in focusing on specific areas of my writings and help me to flesh out characters.
Thank you @ExtremelyAvg Brian Meeks, you are an inspiration to other writers surrounding determination and discipline. I admire the way you persevere with your writing and am in awe with how well you name things.
Thank you @MargaretAtwood for setting the bar high. Your writing is extraordinarily tight and as a young adult, caused me to become a Canadian Literature snob.
And thank you @so_you_know Annie Q. Syed, for writing from your heart and connecting rich ideas through stillness.
There are others that pop in and out of my writing life like @ejskyline who ground me and help me with structure. For all of these real tweople, I am truly grateful.
~ Ellyn

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Know What's Good For Me

I spend most of my days writing. I love how words flow out of me and onto the page and I love sharing those words with others. That doesn’t mean that those words come easily. Quite the contrary actually. It takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to fall into that place where words just flow, but I keep at it. There are days that are more challenging than others and when I find myself avoiding the paper, I turn to inspirations that help me get back here.
It is my children’s spring break week and my thoughts are with my girly, travelling in France and Spain and with my son who is home working on his own writing and immersed in all sorts of activities. When someone is caught up in my energy, I find it challenging to escape from it in order to write, and so I exercise, I meditate and I marvel at the inspirations that come across my desk trying to honour them and be grateful that they have found their way to me.
Today, is Monday, an editing day for me. I am working on a longer piece that requires much editing but because I can get hung up in this process, I only allow myself one day a week to actually edit. As I sit here, stuck, thinking I might toss it in and see if Max wants to do something, I am sent this message from a friend, “You may not have realized that the thing you want, is the thing you most resist.” And then I slip onto Facebook® to see if there is any news from my girly and I see a message from someone else that says, “What you resist, persists.”  My intended interruptions and avoidances and then the reminders to get back at it, make me smile warmly. I guess I’ll pour another cup of coffee and step back onto the page…
~ Ellyn

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Step Into Your Joy

Step into your joy and all else will follow…
Last fall I posted this video on my Facebook® wall and thanks to Ben Grey, have had it cross my desktop again this morning. 

When my son Max entered grade 12, the words that kept coming out of many people’s mouths were, “What are you going to do next year?” With this simple query, even with a curious and honourable intent, he had begun to put even more pressure on himself. After a mere 17 years on this earth, he felt that he was supposed to know what he was going to do with the rest of his time.
Max has always played the role of athlete and because part of my job of mom is to help my kids see their talents and gifts and then use those for good in this world, I asked him if he wanted to study Phys. Ed. His response was never, “Ya, that’s what I want to do!” but instead it was, “I guess.” Knowing that he is a vibrant and demonstratively passionate person, I knew he needed some guidance.
For years now, I have been trying to teach Max to meditate but silly me, I was teaching him to meditate in the way that I do. After a one time visit to a gifted Intuitive, Michele at Soulite, Max came home settled with a deep understanding that it is okay that he isn’t sure of what he is supposed to do and that when what he is supposed to do emerges, he will feel it… know it! She also taught him to meditate the way that is best for him. With these learnings, before he sits to his drums or steps on the court, he takes a deep breath and asks that any challenge he is facing be thrown into his activity so that he might see clarity. This single event with Michele, has changed his life forever and for this, I am utmost grateful.
We live in a historically abundantly wealthy oil and gas area of rural Alberta where young fellows are wooed by the money that can be made. However, I also see many overweight, unhappy 40+-year-old men, with regrets, who now feel stuck where they are and those feelings manifest themselves in many ways.
And so…
Last fall as Max and I started travelling around to various open houses at Colleges and Universities, he began to know exactly what he wanted to do, right now at age 18.
As he prepares for auditions and creates monologues for different Theatre Arts Programs, he is light and happy and filled with excitement for his life after high school. He is no longer looking at where a friend might be going to University or which city to live in but with which program he wants to be immersed in. Will he spend his entire life on the stage or behind the scenes? Who knows, he’s only 18, and it just doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he is settled and has stepped into one of his joys.  Our joys show us our gifts and talents, strengthen our confidence, and allow us to be here for good in this world.
The "Max"k

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brands and Branding

I lack the killer instinct and although I was engaged in commission sales for a brief period in my life, I could not stay with it for very long.
While in University, working on my undergraduate degree, I was employed at a men’s clothing store, selling suits. At the time, I was the only woman salesperson in the store, working only on Saturdays and one evening a week, and I made more money in that time than many of my male counterparts. Countless customers wanted a woman’s perspective on choosing a shirt and tie, and I would take great care in looking at the gentleman in question and supporting him on buying something that he would indeed be pleased with. I loved what I did and found it easy, until the store manager decided that he wanted to push a particular brand out of the door. It was difficult to discern whether the particular brand of slacks, suit or shirt would have been the one I would have suggested to the customer originally, and I decided it was time to leave the sales industry. I spent the rest of my working days doing many other jobs, but I never stepped into sales again.
“Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail.
Is branding business or personal? Or both?
Over the years, my blog has been linked to particular brands and I have been approached to support these brands and even though I know that I love certain brands personally, I am not interested in “selling” them to others, or swaying my readers in any way. I’ll tag my blogposts with a brand simply to provide a reference or give credit to a product, but that is all. The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, marketing, can be cutthroat at its worst. Or is that at its best? Just as I was unable to sell something for the sake of selling something, I cannot bring myself to write about something for the sake of promoting a brand. Or have I mistaken the purpose of branding?
There are many courses, books, and blogs devoted to teaching people how to develop their killer instinct in order to step into the so-called reality of this commercial world we live in, a myriad of tips out there to help bloggers earn money by delivering writings and gain many more followers, but I am grateful that I discovered early on in my working career, that marketing a brand is not the way my being operates, and appreciate that I developed the courage and tenacity to write from my heart, only espousing my own thoughts and ideas.
“Writing, for me, means humility. It’s a process that involves fear and doubt, especially if you’re writing honestly.” Kiran Desai
~ Ellyn

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Little School That Does!

Even though my teens are in high school and no longer attend our local community school, my heart is there.
I grew up in a city, graduated with 398 others and never dreamed that I would send my children to a small rural school. Following University and a few years of teaching in large school systems, I accepted a teaching position in a little country school and ended up falling in love with rural education. I saw how efficient, successful and honouring it is for a school to operate like a family. This past weekend demonstrated this to the rest of the province as well. A week ago, our local girls’ basketball team won the championship for their area and this past weekend headed off to CWAJHAA, Provincials, where they worked hard to bring home the silver. They had seven girls on their bench compared to teams who had two or three lines. Other teams, who had heard that our little school had forty students, assumed that we had forty students in Junior High, only to find out that forty students was the entire school student body from grades 1-9.
I want these kids to be proud of this achievement because it is indeed an accomplishment worthy of just that. Bravo Girls, Bravo!

~ Ellyn
A Sparky Teammate!
The Little School That Does!

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Collecting Words...

I am not a collector of stuff, but I am a collector of words, phrases, thoughts and ideas.
I find inspiration in bumper sticker like phrases that help me to live… better. I swallow entire thoughts and let them swirl around inside of me, or allow them to roll off of my tongue in a variety of ways giving them the freedom to bounce in and around me. It is during this bouncing phase that I am either brought to tears or any such other way of emoting, and through these emotions, I gain clarity and peace, smiling warmly, relaxing and breathing easier.
This is one reason why I am a good literature snob, being choosy about the books that I read as well as the movies that I watch. I have given words power and permit them to stay with me for a very long time. They become a part of who I am and I insist that the words that form ideas and thoughts that I read and listen to, be tight and come from someone’s heart. I need a story to come full circle and if there is no resolution to be had, I need to sense honesty within the story that doesn’t allow for a resolution.
I am enraptured by words and have given them a life.
I am a collector of words, phrases, thoughts and ideas, are you?
~ Ellyn
Thank you Annie Q. Syed for your Still Sundays

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Love of Self...

There was a time when my life was all about me and I am grateful to have had that time. As a 50+-year-old parent of two teens who are actively involved in sport and music, I struggle with using family resources for myself and began to wonder if this is a challenge for many moms. Having a satisfying young adult life has helped me to put my wants to the side and provide for my children’s wants, and yet exercise, nutrition and soul care are important to me. In order to honour these priorities, I have had to create a way to incorporate self-care on a small budget. 
1.         Meditate: Meditation can be done anywhere and I utilize snippets of time to consciously breathe deeply and call for what I need, or let go of what it is that I need to release. Instead of a lovely, calming and quiet studio, sometimes this occurs at a basketball tournament in a public washroom stall.
2.         Exercise: I have been running for approximately nine years, and all I really require is a good pair of runners and socks. Over the years, my drywick and warm layers with reflectors on them have been gifted to me. Although my running watch is as old as my running years, my shoes have been replaced a few times and I just replaced some nine year old Thorlos®.
3.         Nutrition: This is actually our greatest challenge. Living on a farm, we are able to grow much of our own food but storing it is another problem.  Produce is expensive here and yet this is part of my families’ mandate; to have the majority of our food, be food that grows. A large amount of our families’ extra resources goes toward eating healthily and my heart cries out to those who are faced with buying inexpensive faux food.
4.         Entertainment: A couple of times a year, Brent and I head to the city for dinner and a movie and in the spring, we purchase a local golf club family membership and enjoy golfing with each other. Many years ago now, I had a little nest egg that allowed me to gift Brent a golf car. We utilize the library weekly, borrowing movies at a cost of $20/year. You may want to check into your local library and the resources it has, as some memberships are free.
5.         Massages, Pedicures, Chakra Balances, Energy Work, Fitness/Health Classes are extras that I have loved. Presently, I use our own fitness equipment, look for free classes online and practise other self-care treats with each other. 
All of this adds up to a whole lotta free…
To the follower who asked this question of me, I thank you, and invite others to share what it is that you do to honour self-care on a small budget.
Brent with the Golf Car I gifted him a few years ago.

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

9000 Reasons to Live

   I have this friend with whom I can talk to about absolutely anything… anything! The conversations we have, become, rich dialogues that cause one of us to research even more, dialogues to help one of us let go of strong emotions, questions propelling us into yet another discussion, chats about unique recipes or simply, advice.
   She and I create opportunities to be together to do just this and if time has passed and we are unable to, we send each other inspiring TED Talks, articles, thoughts or ideas and parley via email.
We have been fortunate to attend many conferences and lectures together, as well as sit quietly on the veranda for the occasional Happy Hour. Recently and while travelling to a medical appointment together, we were discussing the sadness that a mutual friend is experiencing, holding him gently in our hearts. Without judgment and with outmost verve, she announced that she is so lucky to have “9000 reasons to live!” I love when declarations burst out of her and I smiled warmly nodding my head. 
   Yes you do my friend, yes you do!
   Happy Birthday Kaye, I’ll see you soon…
   ~ Ellyn
Nola, Monica, Ellyn, Kaye

Monday, March 4, 2013

I am a Writer...

I believe that a “perfect career is something that emerges from within you. When you are aligned with the truth within yourself, then you magnetize people and circumstances which align with that truth.” (Marianne Williamson)
I am a writer therefore, I write…
At times I hesitate to call myself this and yet, it truly is what I am. I sit with friends or at a meeting, driving by myself or observing strangers, and I am inspired to write about what I hear, see and feel around me, and what I think about.
The other day, and while at a meeting, I heard someone state something that was quite upsetting to her, and immediately it became a funny story expanding in my mind and I began to laugh. (I really need to keep that in check.)
I am grateful that my husband supports me in writing because it is not something I do for a wage, and at times is all consuming.
I grew up in a household that honoured reading, dreaming and other artistic activities. If I was sitting and writing, I would never have been asked to do a chore. In my family, creative pursuits were of the highest value, so it isn’t surprising that at 51 years of age, I desire to spend my time on these sorts of interests.
It takes great discipline on the part of the creator to stick with a project and continue on and it isn’t easy work. I write from my heart, which can be difficult. Sometimes it is a carefree joyful experience and at other times it is distressing and challenging.
About six years ago when I went back to University to complete my Masters degree, I discovered how I write best. I had spent my life writing on scraps of paper wherever I happened to be and transferred those to little journals and then began a process of editing and over-editing until I would just give up on a piece. Currently, I treat it like a full-time job, and as soon as my teens leave for school in the morning, clad in my housecoat, I sit down at my desktop to write, and I write freely, setting and resetting a timer so that I know how long I have been here. I only allow myself one editing day and one research day a week. I write for three morning blocks of time, and then I stop, exercise, meditate, shower, get dressed and sit down to write some more. I typically see lunch as an intrusion in my day, unless I am sitting in frustration or blankness. The minute my teens arrive home after school, I am jolted into another reality, seemingly without the ability to step back into my writing self. Their energy is so grand and fills all of the space in my life that I am unable to write while they are physically present.
And that’s okay.
Actually it is more than okay, because I have been gifted the entire school day to sit and work at this job that I love, with the intent that my writing genuinely unfold from my being in the way that all of our work is intended to do so.
I am writer, therefore I write…
~ Ellyn