Beginner

I’ve often felt discouraged as a relative beginner in my artistic field, even to the point of despairing at the prospect of never being any good at the art that is my passion. I have picked up my camera again and again with the knowledge that the photo I’ve envisioned will not be what I find when I get home and view my photos on the computer, and as hard as I work in the processing it never *quite* gets there.

The more I take that camera out, however, the closer those images get to what was in my mind’s eye…and I wish my current Self could understand what other strides Future Self will make (but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?)

The following quote from National Public Radio’s Ira Glass has been blogged/shared a few times already, but it bears repeating for the sake of all artists feeling those “beginner’s blues.”

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.  And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass (emphasis mine)

So…I guess I’ll keep fighting.

Dreamer

I’m a dreamer. Always have been. Sometimes my dreams are wild and unlikely, some are grand but doable, some are quaint and likely but must be saved for later. Often I dream out loud and scare my family (haha), though I think they often take those more seriously than I intend.

But there is this one dream I have…call it a recurring daydream. It sneaks up on me when I’m watching a sun-shower, finds me when I’m photographing flowers or ducks, wraps me in warmth on chilly winter nights.

 In this dream I am living in the country on a small acreage or hobby farm. Sometimes we keep chickens, usually there is a large vegetable garden and a dog trotting at my heels. Add a horse or two, a small (but well-planned and comfortable) house, a little barn, and a play house for the kids, and you have a little picture of the life I’ve dreamed up for my family.

And I think we can make it happen. I would love to say “in a year,” but I’m thinking more likely two to four (though as an aside, I must say that those who support me in this are sadly few, and that makes it hard…so hard). In any case, we’ll say “when it’s God’s will.”

Above all, I must remember that the thing most present in those little dreams is love. The dream exists for the love of my family, for the memories we can make…and I remind myself as I wake from my daydreams how that part starts now. So I rise from my reveries and, giving each of my children a kiss, pick up a book or a crayon, to help them become dreamers too (and silently resolve that their little dreams will also be mine).

Patience Rewarded

 “I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry. ”
Psalm 40:1

Somehow I just don’t believe it’s been another month since I wrote, but datestamps don’t lie. Well, these ones don’t, anyway. So little and so much has happened in the last month; not a lot that can be written on a list, but so much that I’m beginning to feel like a new person all over again. God’s been hard at work, as always.

About this time last month I shared briefly about a tiny decision regarding my schooling (whether I should take a fast-track program this summer, or do something else) that was, in reality, consuming hours of my waking thoughts. Evidently I’m a little thick and haven’t quite learned that lesson God’s been teaching me about worry, and how it’s completely pointless. Anyway, I did resolve to give it to God and just wait.

I managed it, somehow.

Here I’d like to tell you how I knew all along that He would answer my prayers and my patience with grace, but I’m going to be honest: I fully expected a door or two to slam shut on me.

Where on earth do I get that? For some reason, I always expect God to behave like the more thoughtless members of the human race.  Actually making sense of that attitude might take the space of a whole book, so for now let’s agree that it doesn’t make sense and that it is ridiculous.

Instead of a door in the face [I got grace! No, don’t write that.] God gave me the perfect answer to my dilemma:  The school I have already been taking courses with is starting a Certificate program this Fall, and what’s more, I only need two more courses to complete it! Which means this little segment of my dream is going to cost me about $800 less than I thought it would!

In case you’re still not impressed, get a load of this: $800 is also how much I’ve been quoted for a long-awaited repair on our Jeep to get done…and here I thought it would be school OR the repair.

Y’know, God’s pretty great. Just sayin’.

Wrestling

Sorry for the month-long absence. I’ve been pretty drained of energy both physical and emotional. Had to say a difficult goodbye, have been dealing with some difficult toddler phases, and have been pretty much burning myself out trying to keep up with the house (and now it’s landscaping season to boot!)

I’m also wrestling with some different callings on my life. Obviously one of my first callings is to honour God in my family life. This has been taking and will always take first priority as far as how I manage my time (thus the drainage right now, see above). The other two callings I’m feeling right now are my photography and this growing passion for educating people about their money. I know, to some that last one seems a little weird for a Christian. I used to balk at thinking about money because I thought that would be wrong of me, but it’s not. That’s the subject for a whole other post (in my drafts, hopefully done soon), but the point is I really want to be sharing about it.

You see, I remember how it was to not understand money, and I was even ridiculed for not understanding it (by the very people who really should have been teaching me about it instead), so I was just plain afraid to deal with it. I really feel that there are a lot of women especially who feel that way, and my heart just breaks for them.

So…there’s that one explained (a little). You’ve already heard some about my photography, so I won’t drag you through that one again (for now).

Anyway, right now it’s all about attempting to wait patiently for the Lord to open the right doors. The photography doors haven’t been opening as quickly as it seemed at first, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a while before I really see anything happen there (though I may still do a fast-track program for it this summer…we’ll see what God says about that). Maybe this other path will lead somewhere?

In the meantime you, dear readers, will just have to be my guinea pigs.
Stay tuned for a money post.

Now for your viewing pleasure (and so that this post looks good on the iPad version of my blog), here’s a glimpse into the not-so-stressful part of parenting: fun in the backyard (finally!)

If you’re wondering, no, there was no reason for my son to be wearing a dragon costume except that he wanted to (when he tired of it, his sister tried it on too!). When his daddy tired of throwing him around, he stood on the tiny rock “wall” in our garden (really barely more than a border) and said “come on mommy! Let’s go fly to the clouds!”

I love how imaginative my kids are becoming…and yes, the dragon thing might be very much encouraged in our house, what with all the fantasy buffs around here (well, two anyway).