Gone Coastal

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Breathing In

The chapter I just finished in The Creative Calling was titled Breathing In, and was focused on inspiration, especially being inspired by the Holy Spirit. The section I read the other day was talking about the places you go and the things you do where you find you can breathe in that inspiration. Where the sights and sounds around you open you up to new perceptions, and lead you to sense the awe of things. For me, of course, that best of all places is the shore, especially the untamed crags that take a little getting to, and as such are a little more raw.
But when the book asked the obvious question, "When did you last go there?" I had to admit it had been a long time. Too many preparations and stuff to get ready before the baby arrives (were we not expecting, I would no doubt have found other 'obligations'). And I had to recognize that it wasn't going to get easier to slip out for a little quiet reflection. The Bear, too, had been relegating some of his favourite escapes until 'certain priorities' were attended to. As the final day has been drawing near, I'd been encouraging him to take available opportunities to get out there while it's still simple, but until that chapter, I hadn't thought about the same for myself - at least not with respect to getting out for quiet time on my own. One of my heroes, June, reminded me in an e-mail earlier today of her state of mind before her first (now married) arrived, "I remember just wanting to get it over with so that life can start again. Little did I know that I'd longingly look back and try to remember what it felt like to sleep!"
So, the obvious eventually occurred to me. When the Bear goes diving, it usually starts on the shore somewhere, and it would be easy for me to tag along, see him into the water with whatever group, and then find a quiet spot for myself until he surfaced. And this morning, that's what we did. We ended up down at the breakwater at Ogden Point as nobody else turned up at the Dive Shop for the Sunday drop-in. He hooked up with a couple of divers who pulled in about the same time. I followed them down to the second dive stop on the breakwater with some spare weights for the Bear, should he need them. I saw them off and waited 'til he got past some initial gear issues (first dive with some reconfigured gear). I took some snapshots along the way with the new camera, and once they were off, I was on my own.
Ahh, yes, the new camera. A treat that's been on our list for awhile. The old digital point and shoot that some friends gave us awhile back had been showing its age for awhile, with the biggest problem being that it wouldn't format any new cards, so we were left with only one relatively small card, which was no doubt due to fail at the worst possible time. So we talked about what we wanted, I did some research on some of the higher end compacts with the features we were looking for, and we went out Thursday night to take a closer look down at LD. When we got there we learned from one of the reps that the model up from what we were looking at had just been put on a clearout for the same price. Pretty much a no-brainer from there, but we did a side-by-side check of the key features and came home with a new Panasonic DMC-FZ30.
So while the Bear was diving, I did some breathing in through the lens, finding my way around the various features and options. Here are some of the results:

Left: Geared up on the ledge. Below: The Bear with his newly acquired dive buddies, ready to descend from the far side of the kelp.

Now the breakwater is obviously not the rugged, raw coast, but there's still some life and the ocean sounds. Below left: the far navigation beacon - it's red mate is at the end of the breakwater. Right: the layers of stone blocks that make up the breakwater.

Left: the waves, light today, push the seaweed over the lower blocks in the eddies. Right: driftwood stacks where the breakwater meets the beach.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


There's a chapter in the Creative Calling book titled Forgiving. I think it's safe to say most of us can identify people in our lives, past and even present, who have discouraged us from pursuing our arts. It may be direct or indirect, and in some cases quite well-intentioned, but some of these words or actions have contributed to the choices we've made to set aside or minimize our creative pursuits. It's necessary to recognize those barriers and forgive the people behind them if we are to move forward and invest in the gifts the Lord has given us. Some are simple to deal with, others take time and considerable effort to work through.
In the latter part of the chapter, though, the book looks at the other side. Those people in your life who helped you to recognize your gifts, supported you in pursuing and developing them, gave you constructive feedback or opportunities to exercise your talents, or simply inspired you through their own life and work. One of the exercises is to make a list of these people and write in your daybook about them, highlighting the impact of one or two of them. I've done so in my daybook, but I'd like to share at least some of my list here, and maybe inspire some of you to think about your own heroes and take courage from them.
Here's to some of my heroes:
J&J M - for sharing the vision, sharing their own perspectives on creative expression, the bumps and hurdles they've faced. For finding a special frame for the Christmas greeting I sent them.
RT - for also sharing her journey and creative explorations. For calling me an artist and writer in her own blog and sending readers my way. And reading all my ramblings.
Laila - a colleague of mine in a similar technical line of work, but also with an artists heart. A dabbler in many media, like myself, and a reminder that life can and must exist beyond the office.
Bobbie - another colleague for having the courage, after a few years of soul-searching, to step right out of the tech world to go back to school in graphic design.
Sheryl Wilson - one of the first Christians I got to know personally who was living as an artist, i.e. making art in various forms was her primary vocation, whatever else she did to make a living was secondary.
Craig Davis - a high school art teacher, dad of another student from a church I attended for awhile during university. I took the time to meet with him and discuss his own work and perspectives on being an artist and a Christian.
GA - an old roommate, for pursuing passion for supporting alternative and independent Christian recording artists, and for introducing me to some of my still-favourite musical groups, Prism Magazine and CIVA.
Colin Harbinson & Steve Scott - contributors to a collection of essays from ArtRageous, a visual arts subfestival at the annual Cornerstone festival in Illinois - a place I'd love to go in person some day. Provided much rich food for thought on arts and Christianity.
Douglas Cardinal - an architect whose work I've admired, including my favourite building in Hull, Quebec - the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Over the Rhine, Vigilantes of Love - two of the musical groups introduced to me by GA.

Who are some of your heroes?

the latest

Just because there's at least one or two of you who know me well enough to be wondering how things are progressing with the journey towards parenthood, here's a quick update. Firstly, we're still waiting. The early hints of the previous week settled down again, and we made it to Vancouver and back for my mom's wedding without 'popping'. But the last couple of days have been a little less comfortable, especially the nights, so perhaps baby's getting restless again? It's feeling like there's less and less room all the time, which has a lot to do with the uncomfortable nights - I've been suffering some mild heartburn pretty persistently most of the week. The last two nights, I've found getting up really early and walking around for a time, being upright, maybe having some breakfast if it's not TOO early, seems to help, and after an hour or so I can lie down in bed again and sleep soundly again for awhile.
There have been a few more contractions here and there, but nothing serious, yet. I wouldn't call myself desperate yet by any means, but at this point I'd be happy to see the baby out in the world and to be able to take a deep breath again (oh, to fill my lungs past 1/3 capacity ;) I think emotionally, I'm about as ready as I will be, and even the nursery is pretty darn close and could be made functional very quickly if needed (I've been picking through some of the boxes and stuff to downsize and organize a bit, but there's probably space to stuff most of the boxes on the existing shelves now).
So, that's where we're at. I'll try to post if anything changes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On the horizon ... continued

When I posted a couple of weeks ago about our little flightseeing trip, I had, as always, more to say, but I was running out of time and the second part was important enough to me to wait until I found time to do it right. I still have much on my to do list today, but the baby's sending signals that he or she's going to want out pretty soon. Knowing it may be awhile after the arrival before I have time for much more than baby updates, I'm putting this on my priorities this morning. Besides, it doesn't involve lifting or bending or assembling or scrubbing.

Some of my artistically inclined friends out there have shared a bit here and there over the last year or two in explorations of what it means to be a Christian artist and what we are to do about it. One of the common threads that has come up is simply making it happen - whatever it is, particularly when it's not our primary vocation.

For various practical reasons, including a long job search, a move to a new city, a (great) new job, and a smaller living space (rented until fairly recently), much of my artistic pursuits and the stuff that goes with it has been boxed away and put in deep storage for some time. In many ways, I was tempted to turf a lot of it completely. One long unfinished project that followed me down here - at least in storage - became a kind of trigger point for my frustrations. Every time we went to the locker and I had to move that piece out of the way, part of me wanted to just get rid of it - I was never going to finish it anyway.

And yet, somewhere there was a nagging sense that the talents and interests I was burying were in fact gifts, and that they needed to be brought back to light where they could grow. And of course there's something about pregnancy and the prospect of bringing up a new life that makes you step back and look at your priorities anew.

So a couple of months ago, I was on my way home from some early Saturday errands, and pulled into the Christian bookstore on the way home. I picked up a book that caught my attention, "The Creative Calling", and brought it home, where it naturally sat on a shelf, untouched except for a brief scan of the contents. By the back cover, the book was aiming to reach out to those felt they had a creative calling, but had either never developed it, weren't sure what exactly it was, or had set it aside.

When I started my leave, I picked the book up again and liked what I read. I'm currently working my way through the book, which has some great exercises to help you think through what your calling means, the place of your gifts, and to start taking steps toward making things happen. I find myself being challenged to answer some tough questions for myself. I've also been trying to at least establish certain habits, like keeping an artists daybook, before baby's arrival so that I have a better chance of continuing this journey through the course of my leave.

Anyhow, all that is to say that I'm hoping to return some of the gifts God has given me to their rightful place, to experience again that sense of balance that comes from following His lead in these areas of passion rather than subjugating those passions to the responsibilities and duties of a mundane self-contained life. And I hope to be able to share some of that journey with all of you here.

And what has this to do with flightseeing? As I said in the earlier post, it had been a long time since the Bear had done any flying. For many of the same reasons as my artistic pursuits, his flying and flight training had been shelved. But like my creative passions, his love of flying is something that stirs him in his core. And there have been a number of events and coincidences over the years that point to his abilities behind the yoke being also a gift, and one that is meant to be nurtured and submitted to God for his purposes, however they may be revealed. And I've found in starting through the book 'The Creative Call' that there is much that applies to any gifting or talent.

So I've been sharing some of the insights from the book with the Bear, and encouraging him to apply them. We're praying together for each others' journeys, and hopefully together we can learn more and keep each other accountable to our commitments as well. I'm also hoping some of my other artist friends (you know who you are) may join me as they're able so we can lift each other up.

And so a journey begins. Or perhaps just resumes. Happy trails.

Closing in

So, another stop at the doc's office today, and the day is getting closer. I've got my mom's wedding on the mainland this weekend, so I had the doc take a closer look today to see where junior's at before we hit the road. I'll be keeping close tabs on all the little signs 'til we're back home on Sunday. After that, I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be. In the meantime, I think I'll try to take it easy so I don't push the schedule up.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Finally! ...almost

This will be a short post. We're still busy with all the preparations, but I can finally say the nursery has been painted and is coming together. With a little luck, I'll get some pictures up when it's all done, but there's still some work to do. There always seems to be a little more to get done. I put the crib together today and finalized the plan for what was to go where in the room. The intent was to minimize the amount of physical arranging I need to do by playing with all pieces first to find something that works for both the nursery and the spare room (where everything that's not staying in the nursery has to go).
And it's a fine excuse to draw up little scale layouts of the rooms and cut out pieces for all the major furnishings. A bit of glue stick on the back of the furnishings so they'll stay somewhat in place, and then it's play time.
Which is followed closely by compromise time, as I realize that I need another piece from IKEA to make the modular shelves do what I want. So a few things will have to be rearranged again at a later date, but it's almost there. Tomorrow, the dresser will go upstairs and the office stuff and papers will go downstairs. And the drawers for the shelving units will be assembled where the change table will be, so there's a handy place for all those necessities.
Or at least that's the plan.