Before leaving Central Falls, RI this past weekend, I took a short walk to the park down the street. As I viewed the city from both up high and down low, I enjoyed seeing the fall colors shining bright in the sun.
I am not a multi-tasker. I am easily distracted by too many things and am overwhelmed by too many options. I am also distracted by clutter and I feel like I have to organize and clean before I can get anything done. The catch is I also like to collect and save so there are many things that I can organize and reorganize and rereorganize. I’m good at organizing the physical things around me. I am not good at organizing my life and my time. When something new and important is added into my life I tend to drop something else, which also tends to be important to me. This is dropping is not a purposeful drop. That would be different. This dropping is realizing after a week, a month, a year that something is missing. Wondering what happened. I have not figured it out yet. How to keep it all in or at least how to keep the most important things in. I want to take some time figuring out what needs to stay and what needs to go. I want to be more intentional when dropping the old out of my life. We all have limits of what we can do in one day, week, month, year and lifetime. We all have new things added in regularly. Something has to go when something new comes. I am slowly seeing what that looks like for me. I know that I don’t have control over all that comes, but I do have the ability to make decisions and choose some. I want to choose differently in some ways. In many ways I love the choices and opportunities I have been given and taken. In other ways I do not not. Something needs to change. I’m not sure what exactly, but I do want to press through and re-add certain things into my life, like writing, keeping a daily notebook, and listening to God’s Spirit. These are things I enjoy, things I need. Now how to clean out my excess in order to focus on whats left.
What do you need to re-add and clean-out?
Last week while driving to Parachute, Colorado, I tried stopping at a place called Hanging Lake. My friend Julie had just told me about it the night before and suggested going if I had the chance. When I pulled onto the road to the Hanging Lake Rest area there were cars stop in a line all the way to a bridge. She had warned me that there could be a twenty minute wait to park. I had hoped not. I stopped behind them waiting on the bridge. I had no idea how far it was to the parking lot and we were not moving. At all. The only time we did move was because a car in front of me did a 3 point turn and went back out. I ate my lunch as I waited but after a little bit I decided I did not really want to wait, I did not want to park, I did not want to walk. I wanted to continue on to my destination. I didn’t wait too long. I think it was around 20 minutes, but I was being impatient so I am not sure. I figured I could go back earlier in the day on my way home (to Denver). So I turned my rental car around and went on my way.
On my way back to Denver, I didn’t leave as early as I wanted, but I was only 30-45 minutes behind my planned departure time. As I got closer to the rest area there were signs saying “Hanging Lake Rest Area Parking Lot Full... Use Other Rest Area.” I ignored the first one thinking “maybe its not actually full... people have to leave at some point.” The second sign had me second guessing. As I approached the off ramp there was another sign and I quickly had to decide whether I would get off or not. Because of construction, if I got off at that exit I would be adding forty-five minutes onto my drive whether or not I was able to park and hike to hanging lake. Also when I waited before there were not any signs saying the lot was full so I wasn’t sure how full the lot had to be this time. and I didn’t really want to wait. I’m not good at making quick decisions, but I had to. I had to decide. I decided to not get off.
As soon as I passed the exit, I was disappointed and knew that right now was my chance and I was letting it pass by. I don’t know when the next time I will be in Colorado, never mind this area. I had noticed a bike path that ran along the Colorado River and sometimes closer to the highway. Figuring that the path connected these rest stops together, I thought, “if the next rest stop is within a few miles I will park there and walk. Its doable.” At that point, I glanced at my odometer and kept driving until I saw the next exit. I pulled off, parked, and started walking. I figured I would give myself about an hours walk then would turn around if I didn’t make it to the trail by then. Would I have really turned around? I don’t know. At that point I was determined to get there. I made it to the trail in just about my time limit so I didn’t really have to make that decision. Although I was unsure at many moments thinking I might have to turn back as I found myself saying, “Its gotta be around the next corner. Oh, not that one. Maybe the next mountain side. Nope. Its gotta be soon... I think.”
My total trip (to hanging lake and back to my car) took me about five hours: one hour to the trail, one hour up the trail, about an hour taking photos and eating a snack, a little less than an hour down, rest at the bottom with more photos, and about one hour back to my car. The walk back was the hardest. My feet were achy and at some point I just needed to take my hiking shoes off. So I did. I walked the rest of the way back barefoot. It felt so good and seemed like a good idea. The bike path was smooth and clean at first. Eventually it was falling apart in parts and was rocky to walk on. I kept on going though. As I walked I felt something under my feet and thought “Huh, it feels like I have something on the bottom of my heels.” I kept walking. A few minutes later I stopped and quickly looked noting that I had a blister forming on the outsides of both my heels. I kept walking wondering when I would make it back, wondering if I was going slower then before, wondering if I stopped would I start again.
A few minutes after I took a picture of a sign indicating to the cars on the road they were within half mile of the rest stop, a mother and her son rode by on their bikes. The mother and I caught eyes and smiled at each other. As her son passed me, he encouragingly shouted “You’re so close!!” His mom and I locked eyes again and smiled. I chuckled and was thankful for the encouragement. Although it didn’t seem like it was so close, I did make it back to my car to start my two hour plus drive back to Denver.
I’m glad I stopped. Was it a little crazy? Perhaps. If you want to go on hike to see Hanging Lake and the sights along the way, I recommend it. I don’t recommend starting from another rest stop (unless you have a bicycle) because at points you may be too tired to fully enjoy yourself, but it is doable if necessary. Just don’t have a small child in tow. I think that would be a real long five hours for them. and for you. Maybe a encouraging hiking companion who is willing to walk a lot would be good to have around. That could have been fun.
I think there are a lot more things, a lot more walking that I can do then I give myself credit for. I can’t say I was going very fast the whole time, but I didn’t give up. My decision was to make it there and back. And that I did. Tired. Satisfied. With lots of beautiful photos. and in Awe of our Creator. Our Sustainer. Our Turning Point.
At Infusion 2015 a couple of weeks ago I was creating a piece of art during worship. I had prepared my paint and the brushes I would use. God had another plan for me. Instead of using brushes I went back to the simple basics of using my fingers and hands to apply the paint. It felt great. That week I did a total of 4 paintings on cardboard done in that way. Some of them I used a brush for a small part but mostly I just used my hands. I’m a person who likes tactile experiences and decided I really enjoy painting directly with my hands. Why don’t I do this more often? I should start. So I created a few when I got home that next week.
I also started posting pictures of them on Instagram with#fingerpainting. I explored the variety of amazing art pieces created with fingers and hands. Of course I saw children covered in paint and their works of art too.
I started following this one lady, Iris Scott. She does amazing paintings with oil paints and her hands. She wheres gloves when she creates. I saw her post one painting that she had just finished of the view from her studio window. Within 24hrs it was sold. Her work inspires me. I wonder what else is out there. I think I may try oils sometime in the near’ish future.
When was the last time you painted with your hands, your fingers?
Did you enjoy it? Do you think you could again?
Have you ever had the opportunity to wait?
You were expecting to do something or meet with someone at a specific time when something else came up to interrupt what you were going to do or the person you were going to meet? What did you do? Did you get exasperated, frustrated, and waste the time away or did you see it as an opportunity to do something new, to adventure, to find beauty?
I had a waiting experience yesterday (along with many other times in my life). I was meeting a friend for dinner after work. I’m not usually in the state she lives in never mind the city she works in. As I was driving to meet her, I received a text asking me to wait for her because a client had just walked in. I parked down the street from her office waiting in my car for a few minutes. I had never been to this city before, well maybe driving through, but never near downtown. It was small but there were so many old brick buildings. I love brick buildings. They are beautiful. I decided to get out of my car to take a few photos. They didn’t come out as I would have liked, but it inspired more photo taking. I took time to walk down a few of the streets looking around seeing details and beauty. I know I didn’t see all that area had to share, but what I did see captured me for a few minutes. It was an enjoyable creative time of waiting.
Shortly after I moved my car to a free after 5pm spot, my friend was ready to go. She brought me to a lovely taqueria restaurant that reminded me of my times in Mexico. Apparently my friend is a take out regular there, but yesterday we dined in. We drank Agua de Jamaica and I ate a corn taco plate with rice and beans. It was delicious. It was a short but a lovely time with a friend I don’t get to see often.
What will you do the next time you have to wait unexpectedly?
Photos taken in Manchester, NH
While walking through Purgatory with my zealous adventuring friend who has a thing for books, we (really she) decided that we should define what it really means to be on a Red Umbrella Adventure. I wanted to make sure that defining RUA wouldn’t box it in or anything. She assured me it wouldn’t. We talked briefly what it looks like. After she described it from her perspective I made her say some of it again so I could record her. My memory is not the best and I really wanted to get the essence of what she was saying. Don’t worry Kathleen, I am not posting any of that sound bite on here. So what’s A RUA? We came up with three main areas of criteria: Beauty, Connection & Serendipity.
Finding or creating beauty while on a RUA is a must. Beauty can be seen and defined in many ways so you should not have a problem doing this. Take time to take in the little, the detailed beauty. Then step back and notice the large, the big scale beauty. Don’t pass by the beauty too quickly. Take it in. Savor it. You can document it to share it with others, but that is not necessary. Just make sure you share it with your self and those you are with.
RUAs are about connection. You can either go with someone(s), connect with someone while on an adventure or do something that reminds you of someone allowing you to connect to them in some way. Also be willing to connect with the Creator as you find beauty and connection with others.
I never remember the meaning of this word and have to look it up when someone is using it so for those of you like me: Serendipity? When you go on a RUA, you don’t necessarily have to have a fully formed epic plan, but rather you kind of look for the beauty or the connection in the moment and go with it. If you do have a plan, be willing to let go of it when necessary and see what happens. Let the adventure take on a life of its own.
This definition has taken on a life of its own. As you can see above, I started to shorten Red Umbrella Adventures to RUA. So I wondered what other meanings RUA might have. Of course google came into play here and the top three links were not only my favorite, but also seemed to fit real well. (no I did not look at all the links google gave me)
1. Rua is a Hebrew word meaning “to raise a shout, give a blast”. This shout or blast seems to be used in a couple of different ways in the Bible. It is used as a war cry, but also can be used in joy or triumph or distress. When you are going on a RUA you are giving a shout with your red umbrella, your beauty, your connection, your serendipity. Maybe you are giving a shout, a battle cry for life, for healing, for hope, for beauty, for thankfulness because you are coming out of a dark place or are still in one. Maybe you are shouting this cry out for others, to others and are calling them into a place of triumph and joy.
2. Internet Slang for RUA means “Are you alone?” You may be asking yourself, “am I alone?” The answer is --- No, you are not alone. You are never alone, especially when you are RUAing. Or maybe you are asking someone “Are you alone? Do you feel alone? Come with me on a RUA.” Go ahead. Ask. See. Know that you are not alone.
3. Portuguese Word meaning road, seafront, street, way. RUAing takes place on roads. Although these roads do not have to be a road as we know it. It doesn’t have to be paved or dirt or even look like a road, but it is a path, a way of life, an adventure
I was posing with a snowball pretending to throw it at her when all of a sudden she tossed hers in my general direction. My immediate reaction without really thinking was defense so I threw mine at her. The end result was it smashing right on her head. The snow ball she tossed at me didn’t eve hit me. This picture is the middle of that. Too bad a series wasn’t taken and the smashing and her reaction recorded. That would have been funny.
On three occasions I have had the privilege to be taken out to breakfast by my 80+ year-old neighbor. The first time was just about a month ago. Apparently she would have taken me sooner, but she didn’t think I would be able to eat anything because I don’t eat gluten. When she was talking to me about it last month, I assured her I could eat something there. No, I’m pretty sure it is not a gluten free place, but that doesn’t matter to me. Respect for people and the relationship comes before food sensitivities. I like being able to gladly accept what others offer, no matter how different it may be from what I am used to (though I haven’t been places that are too different). Going gluten free“ish” three years ago made it harder to do even though not eating gluten makes life much easier in general on my body. I still want to say “yes, I’ll receive” knowing that it will cause problems later. Sometimes I do and sometimes I try to politely decline.
On this particular day of breakfast and grocery shopping I had planned that we would take a slight detour in between to do some red umbrella adventuring. It wasn’t much of adventure in the sense of going far or going to places I had not been before, but it was something that I have never done with her and I’m pretty sure she had not done before. I talked to her about what we were going to do while eating breakfast. I showed her a few pictures of other adventures to help her understand. She at first said, “I will walk with you as you take the pictures” meaning she didn’t want her picture taken. I knew that would probably happen especially after trying to take the picture above. When I wanted that photo she hid her hands saying they were old. I told her they were beautiful and asked if she would put them back on the mug. It took her a minute and a second request, but she accepted to have her hands photographed. While talking about the red umbrella adventure, I assured her that it would be fun and fine. We went to a mill near water. As I gave her the new umbrella she quickly noticed that it almost matched her top. I had noticed that too. We took a variety of photos some together and some of her from the back while she faced the mill. The ones that show more of us I will not post on here because of her request. Though she did say I could post the hands, shadow, and reflection photos. Shortly after our mini photo shoot we put the umbrellas away and drove to the grocery store. After we got home she said she would be over later in the afternoon to look at them on the computer. And that she did come over. It was fun and I’m glad she was willing to accept.
Last week, I had a conversation about another friend of mine. I was talking about being able to receive what this friend desires to offer. It isn’t much and I don’t necessarily need it, but this friend wants to give what he can. I want to be willing to accept it. Talking about this reminded me of something I heard a speaker say at a conference once. She referred to it as “Host & Guest.” She talked about how we need to be able to take both positions, of host and guest. To not only host and give, but also be able to be the guest and receive. This speaker wasn’t talking only about big things like allowing people into your home, but even simple acts of sharing the smallest of items and interactions. When we are the guest and receive we allow other to be the host and give what they can. I think, when someone is able to give and watch someone else receive what they have to offer, it has an element of worth and dignity built into it. We all need that. For a variety of reasons we sometimes tend to have a hard time receiving and accepting what others have to offer. Maybe being the guest is humbling in a way, but when we do not take the positions of the guest we are not allowing others to be the host. It is and needs to be a flowing relationship of both host and guest from both sides. Some of us want to be the host all the time while others want to be the guest all the time. Either way, we need to be willing to be in the other position at times.
How about you? Are you more comfortable giving or receiving?
How can you be both the guest and the host this week?
We have so much thrown at us on a daily basis. Not only the news of the sad, scary, crazy things going on in our world, but also tasks to do, places to be, images to see, and events to be a part of. We can easily get so scheduled and hurried up that we forget to be. We forget to make space for the unknown, for the unplanned & new whether it’s plain or extraordinary. Throughout my life God has been teaching me to make space for this. Maybe its just part of the personality he gave me, but think it is a little of both being taught and being given. Don’t get me wrong, I still often get caught up in the doing. Especially thinking about the doing. Thinking about doing what “I think others think” I should be doing. I also get caught up in the abundance of amazing things people are doing and being. And “the fact” that I am not doing those things or things like them. Even with all this stimulation around me, I have learned (and am still learning) to create space. To be me in this space. To make space for the new, even if people look at me a little funny or question at first. Over the last ten years I have learned that one of the things I am created to do is to create these spaces not only for me, but for others as well. To make these spaces of joy, peace, and adventure.
Today was one of those space days. It wasn’t fully intentional, but I think the day included some space making. At some point I realized that I had nothing specifically planned after teaching an art lesson so I contacted my friend, Kara. I was near where she taught and hoped perhaps we could have a little time together. I found out that after work she was meeting her mentor at a coffee house. The timing worked out so I was able to spend some time with them chatting about stress, fear, and life decisions. On my way over there I had thought it would be great if Kara would come on a mini umbrella adventure. At what seemed to be an appropriate time during the conversation, I mentioned having two red umbrellas in the car. Although I was vague, I expected my friend to react in some great way (I assumed she had read yesterday’s post) but I was met with a look of “okay, thats nice” and the conversation continued on. As we walked to the parking lot to leave, I asked how quickly she really needed to get home. I wanted her to understand the umbrella comment, but I didn’t want to keep her from doing the things she needed to do. She suggested to sitting my car for a few minutes and I accepted. I then handed her my phone with yesterdays post. After reading and understanding my comment, Kara agreed to a mini adventure. But what to do? I saw a bench (or was it a fence) near where we were parked and suggested going to see it. It turned out there was a river behind it as well. Our red umbrella adventure was cooler and longer than I expected. Kara seemed pretty gracious with me and “my lets walk over this snow pile” to see the cool bridge. Along the way I took pictures & video and we saw a large tree made up of other trees (well, thats what it looked like to me). I enjoyed the walk in the rain. Kara did too and she said it made her day better.
I realize that the red umbrella itself is a space creator. It is helping me create adventure, fun and joy. And hopefully spreading it to others. To you.
How can you make space for the new, the unplanned?
Is there anything in your life you need to add or take away?
This morning I saw a post by Betsy Garmon. It was of her, her husband, and a red umbrella. Her caption mentioned buying a cheap umbrella and having an adventure. I wasn’t sure if they bought the umbrella because it was raining OR if they got the umbrella to add some flavor, flare, and adventure into their day. I’d like to think the latter. Either way, it seemed quite magical to me and I was inspired by it. My thoughts quickly ran to the question what does a red umbrella day look like? I Imagined how fun it would be. I recalled seeing images of red umbrellas so I googled red umbrella adventure and browsed through the images (all this before I even got out of bed). I then chose one of the images as inspiration for my art. Shortly after, I gathered up my journal, watercolor crayons, and stamps and sat at my desk. I took my time creating and had a lot of fun this morning making art and taking photos.
I continued my red umbrella adventure into the afternoon as I planned on buying an umbrella for future adventure days. Why not, plan some fun into a day by adding a red umbrella? I was telling my mom some of all this when she said, “we have a red umbrella.” In disbelief I replied, “really? a BRIGHT red umbrella?” She left the room returned moments later handing me a bright red umbrella. The things I miss when I am not looking for them. What else am I missing?
Now I didn’t have to buy one, but I decided I still would because 2 is better than one when it comes to red umbrella adventuring with a friend. I already have a couple of ideas of who I might bring along. One of them being my 80+ neighbor. She might put up a fuss at first, but I’m pretty sure she would love it. The other is a friend who I know will be up to adventuring and shenanigans with a red umbrella, and possibly in the rain.
What about you? Do you have an umbrella and want to have an adventure? If you are reading this, know me, and want to join in on the fun too then let me know. I will gladly have a red umbrella adventure with you.
I took my “new to me” umbrella with me when I ran errands which of course included looking for another umbrella. The umbrella I bought isn’t the same color. It isn’t quite as bright red, but it will do. It was the only solid red one at the store I was at. As I drove, I scoped out some possible umbrella adventuring locations for the future. It turned out the future was sooner then planned. I stopped by a lake to have my own personal red umbrella photo shoot. Oh, what fun you can have with an iphone, umbrella, sandals, car bumper, and scenic view.
What will your umbrella adventure look like?
Keep posted for more red umbrella adventures coming soon.
... also today marks my first sandals and barefoot day. It might actually be spring here. though there was still a pile of snow next to where my car was parked.
I am an avoider. I don’t even realize it most of the time. That is why it has been over eight months since I have written on here. Early on I could not believe and did not want to admit how so much time had passed so I avoided writing and sharing. More time passed. I almost wrote but I didn’t write because it had been so long I thought it would be silly to write something. I avoided again and again. It became a cycle, a pattern.
But not anymore. Here I am.
8 months later.
Recently I have become aware of my avoidance, an avoidance in many areas of my life. I am taking time to acknowledging it and move towards movement.
Towards avoiding avoidance.
Although I have lost the opportunity to share the creative rhythms of my past eight months, I now want to un-avoid on a daily basis by posting regularly what I am seeing, learning, creating, changing and being. This past month has been filled with a variety of art and leading. A combination of things I planned and things that I did not plan, but gladly accepted when they arrived.
Earlier in March my two children’s art classes ended. Both classes were a lot of fun. I surprised myself when I pretty much got teary at the end of my homeschool art class. I had gotten used to seeing, leading, and listening to the energy and creativity of each of my students. They were enjoyed immensely and I was sad to see them go. Around that time I got a call from a friend asking me to come to the preschool she worked at to be a guest artist. Of course I said yes. It was a lot of fun sharing what an artist does. I showed them some of my art, talked about different types of art, and lead an art lesson. We all enjoyed ourselves greatly.
Later that week joined a group of ladies who are reading through a book “Born to Create” by Theresa Dedmon. I brought old and new art for them to look at as I told them some of the journey God has taken me on over the last 12 years. Then we created together. Our time together was short, but it was well received and enjoyed.
There were many other creative moments filling my month, but they will not be shared now. Maybe some of them will pop up in future posts as I continue to avoid avoidance.
What about you? Is there something that you might be avoiding whether you realize it or not? Take a moment to stop and see. What can you un-avoid today?