Creativity: Kind of Like a Scavenger Hunt

I am a morning person.

I wake up between 4am and 5am. I go downstairs, fix a cup of coffee (two tablespoons of Ovaltine, please) and start writing fiction. I’m usually fairly content if left to shape my own world out of words—but, these past few mornings, I have felt a bit uninspired.

The problem? I’ve been sitting alone with my own anxious thoughts for far too long. Worry drains creativity. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a solution Saturday night while watching the first few episodes of Season Two of “Anne with an ‘E’”.

If you haven’t heard of this series, I highly recommend it. “Anne with an ‘E’” is a heart-warming, Canadian television show currently on Netflix. It’s based on L.M. Montgomery’s novel, Anne of Green Gables. As a child, L.M. Montgomery was one of my favorite authors. Montgomery’s protagonist, Anne, is an orphan with a rich imagination. Anne finds stories in everything she looks at and wherever she goes.

Anne’s personality and incredible knack for discovering inspiration has prodded me to open my eyes a little wider. There is creativity out there. I just have to open my heart to it, and never stop asking questions.

For instance, I took this photo with my phone:

morning fog

What are we looking at here? In our everyday lives, it is just a sunrise in early July, around 5am. Fog is blanketing the field across the road. It crawls slowly toward our house. Is the fog hiding something? What causes such weather? Does fog symbolize anything? Creepy, right? Or, is it just fog?

This, I think, is how you spin a new short-story.

I’ve never really believed in personal writing muses. The closest I have ever gotten to one was with Wallace the Wonderful. He thoroughly enjoyed harassing me when I was typing. He liked chewing the corners of my research books and lying on my print-outs. He’s been gone since February, but I still miss him every day.

Wallace guarding weather witch

We have a gallery of sorts, hanging on the wall, across from the kitchen table (where I write). It consists of portraits of friends and family—and, of course, there’s a photograph of Wallace. It reminds me that he’s never too far away.

For now, Luna, our puppy, is too high-energy to be a writing companion (plus she’s too big now to curl up on my lap). She prefers activity, like learning how to swim:

luna swimming

Someday, when she’s older and calmer—maybe, then, she’ll doze off at my feet while I type out tales. I’ll be able to pet her copper-colored ears when I’m searching for a word. I’ll whisper the options to Luna and if I’m really lucky, she’ll snore when I say one of the words. You guessed it: I won’t use that word.

Snore translation: That word is too boring, Human Mommy. Find something better.

Although I am not quite awake when dusk falls, there are details about that particular time of day that sparks my creativity. I think I can see pieces of flash fiction when studying the solar, hanging mobile on our back porch. The stars and the angels move slowly, serenely, when stirred by the breeze; otherwise, they are still, soaking up the last of the sun’s rays.

solar mobile

It’s truly the little things—the minute details—that build a strong piece of writing and fuel a writer’s creativity. I have L.M. Montgomery and “Anne with an ‘E’” to thank for reminding me of that.

And, thank you, too, Dear Readers! Your prayers and words of encouragement give me the strength to persist, to heal, to pursue my dreams. Your love and light continue to nourish my soul. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

With Love,

Laura

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“Think Happy Thoughts”

joy and books

(Caption: I did not buy “Ella Enchanted” at the book fair. I bought it at a used book store, but, considering it’s publication date, it may have been at my last book fair in Elementary School!)

 

Most of us are familiar with the Disney movie, Peter Pan. In order to fly, Pan’s friends must a) be sprinkled with pixie dust and, b) “think happy thoughts”. While I have no interest in flying, I do want to lead a positive and happy life. I would like joy to have a regular place in each of my days. As a pessimist, though, this often feels like an impossible task.

In addition to being a pessimist, I am also quite stubborn. Sometimes, I can’t tell if being stubborn is a strength or a fault. In this instance, however, I feel that my stubbornness is a strength. As difficult as being positive is for me, I’m too stubborn to give up on my goal of becoming an optimist (or, at the very least, a realist).

Huge change in perspective, right?

How do you go from being anxious 24/7 to looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses? For me, I think the transformation is going to require baby steps. I am going to have to crawl at times. In case someone else is attempting this enormous shift in thought patterns, here’s my big plan:

  1. Continue to keep my daily gratitude journal.
  2. Stay as active as I possibly can. Exercise releases endorphins, after all.
  3. Volunteer (I have a few ideas in mind).
  4. Discover what brings me joy and make it a habit.

Step Four is perhaps the most difficult step for me. Joy is something I rarely feel. At some point in my life, I became impervious to it. It was a lot easier to feel joy when I was a child—as I was recently reminded this past week.

Naps are not something I usually take, but damn this last Wednesday I was exhausted! As I sat on the couch, my eyelids grew heavy. I couldn’t fight it, so I curled up into a ball and pulled the blankets over my head. As I was drifting off, I started to think about a magazine that had arrived in the mail. The magazine featured books (mostly New Age titles). Now, as I hovered between consciousness and sleep, the magazine melded into the weekly book order forms that I used to receive in grade school. This thought then sparked my memory of the book fairs that took place in Elementary School.

A rush of pure joy awakened me.

I marveled at how I had so easily forgotten about the book fairs. I LOVED the book fairs! I have been a voracious reader my entire life and the book fair was always like a dream-come-true. So many monographs! Pretty bookmarks! Stylish pencils and erasers!

The best part of this memory/day dream? It changed my sour mood for the rest of the day. I was suddenly happy, excited. When an anxious thought tried to invade, I just blocked it with the memory of the book fair’s wheeled, metal cases.

Obviously, as an adult, I won’t be attending any book fairs in the near future. The memory of them, though, serves a purpose. They are a “happy thought”. They are a joyful memory that won’t help me to fly, but when called upon, can certainly help shift my worldview.

Positivity, here I come!

Thank you, Dear Readers, for sticking with me. I hope the week ahead treats you all well. Your encouragement has meant the world to us. Please keep the light and love coming.

 

With Love,

Laura

Counting Blessings

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Dear Readers,

It’s been a rough few days. Yesterday I had an echocardiogram, my power port was placed in my chest, and I had a bone marrow biopsy. I’ve also been receiving pain medications and steroids around the clock. I am tired. I am hungry. I want to go home.

But I can’t. I have work to do here—work that I am determined to accomplish with grace, with gratitude, with a smile whenever possible.

*Amazing Book Spoiler Alert*

Recently, a wonderful woman shared The Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy with me. In those books, the main character Morgan trusts the High One’s Harpist, Deth, who eventually betrays him to an evil wizard not once, but twice. Morgan is subsequently tortured, but during that time he learns from his torturers, gathering power, gathering strength until he finally breaks free. At first, Morgan seeks to destroy the harpist that nearly destroyed him. His plans change, though, and, in the end, Morgan discovers that the harpist was, in fact, the High One—the ruler of the land, the giver of peace, security. The High One had this message to Morgan: that he “betrayed” Morgan, he let those terrible things happen to him so that he’d be prepared, so that he would be strong, so that he would be ready to inherit the purpose that the High One had for him. The High One loved Morgan and those bad things that happened—he would have prevented them if there had been any other way to assist Morgan in his journey.

Now, I know that this book is fiction. I know that I am not Morgan and, please, let there be no comparisons made between Morgan’s torturers and the wonderful care team administering all of the procedures designed to save my life. The members of my care team are gentle, bighearted guides that I trust with my life. They are intent on seeing me through this.

No, the only similarity between my story and Morgan’s is that pain happens for a reason. I have to believe that there is a greater purpose at work here. I have to believe that what I am going through, even if it never helps me, will help someone else.

Dear Readers, you’re right to say that cancer sucks. You’re right to shout “fuck cancer” as loud and as long as you want. You can cry. You can sob. You can do whatever it is that will help you deal with this news because, truthfully, I’ve been doing the same thing (except maybe the yelling – no need to get bed restrained lol). Amid my tears, though, I am determined to see the positive. I am determined to count the blessings inherent in each day.

For instance, as I write this, there is warm sunshine pouring through my hospital room window. Right now, my back isn’t hurting as badly as what it was. Right now, I am sitting upright and doing what I love to do—write. I have to count my blessings when I can because gratitude is the key to strength, to getting through this.

As is your love.

Please keep the positive vibes, prayers and words of encouragement coming my way. They are air and food to me. They are nourishment. They fortify me. YOU are saving me from the emotional anguish of this disease and, for that, I will be eternally grateful.

The only thing I can offer is my love and the hope that all of this is happening for a reason—for a greater good.

 

With Love, Laura

Rest

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It is this first sentence that is always the most difficult.

The second is difficult, too, but in a different way.

After that, the words either flow or they fall short.

I guess, what I am trying to say is, that this week the words are falling a bit short. While I don’t believe in waiting around for inspiration to strike, I am also not the sort of writer that can force creativity where there is none. In many ways, I feel as though whispering the names of my fears in last week’s post drained me. I’m still recovering from it.

And, now, I am smiling.

Why? Because the experience reminds me suddenly of my favorite author, Garth Nix, and his wonderful The Old Kingdom Series. Within the pages of those novels, there were individuals known as Charter Mages (think wizards) attempting to push back the forces of evil and chaos using Charter Magic. In instances where the battle was especially fierce, and the mage was either wounded or utterly spent, they would flee to the nearest Charter Stone. There, they would reconnect with the Charter. They would rest. They would heal.

And that’s precisely what I need to do this week. I need to find my own rock and rest against it. I need to reconnect with the things that give me strength, that inspire me. I need to let the wounds I exposed in last week’s post heal up a little.

I invite you to do the same.

Because, yes, we live despite the threat of the other shoe dropping, of mortality, of fear—but doing so is only ever possible with adequate rest and an ear attuned to what the body and soul can handle.

Stay well and, if you need me, I will be curled up under a blanket re-reading Nix.