Crafting is for lovers

Last weekend I was a vendor for the first time in my life at the Tacoma Is For Lovers craft fair. I was selling my originally designed earrings and I even designed my display table complete with spray painted twigs to hang the earrings on. I decided to participate mainly because I wanted to try something new and to do something that I was a bit intimidated to do, sell my craft. What I learned was more than I bargained for.

I was originally thinking, “I’ll go and maybe sell ALL of my stuff and pocket the earnings and live a life of self inflated ego trips like the rest of my crafty sisters. Or maybe I’ll just sell half of my 50 plus pairs and, in the end, never do it again but enjoy the experience of it all. What really happened was that some people bought, most didn’t. I sold some stuff and met some great people but really, I had a pretty quiet two days.

I’ve been writing for years now as well as showing my photographs and a lot of what I write and shoot gets a great response from people who read or see my work, so I’ve felt fairly comfortable and encouraged with my artistic expression. But when people don’t want your art it takes a huge hit on your ego and you MUST maintain the right self talk or it totally deflates you. I had to conclude that my jewelry wasn’t for everyone and my display was pretty rustic compared to some of the more pro crafters. Also, I’m not good at marketing myself, I tend to feel like a used car salesman when people pass by and I have to comment on their scarves or sweaters in order to get them to look at my work. “Oh, I love that sweater. Where did you get it? Really? Well what do you think of this color to go with that beautiful sweater?” It feels phony. But “phony” sold one women a whack load of jewelry.

I kept imagining how other artists must feel when they throw themselves out there. Crafting is definitely art. There were some amazing creations at the event! But people who put out a project whether it’s their music, an album, a movie, a painting, a book…whatever it is, if people don’t want it, even if you think it’s the best you’ve ever done, you have to wrestle through what it does to your emotions and you have to make a decision: “Am I done trying to create or shall I continue to make more art?”

I love what Glen Hansard says after he won the Oscar for the movie Once. If you’ve ever seen The Commitments you know he had a small and slow start to his music which began a long, long time ago. On the stage at the Oscars he ends his speech with simply saying, “Make art! Make art!” So tonight I went back to the drawing board, literally. I grabbed a photo that I took of my daughter dancing in the living room and it’s such a lovely shot of her that I drew it. I even hung it on the wall. I’m even thinking of doing another craft fair in February but this time I think I’ll skip the spray painted twigs and I’ll put a little more effort into my own art.

Very inspiring. Happy Thanksgiving, readers. Make art!

My night with Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott in Tacoma


A little disclaimer: I did not spend the night with this woman, not really. I didn’t even say much to her. Apart from shaking her hand, asking to get a photo with her and telling her that I’d let her get back to sifting through her Q and A cards, I didn’t really spend one on one time with this woman….at all.

She was in town lecturing at our church FOR FREE so I just had to go. I’ve been reading her books for years and simply adore her candid, humorous writing style. Her lecture was superb as she spoke about writing, faith in God, raising a son and her woes through the Bush administration. I rushed home and wrote down some of her anecdotes so I wouldn’t forget them. Then I posted the picture taken with her and I on the almighty Facebook and I called it a night. Quite a night!

There was a Q and A time and I couldn’t think of one thing to ask her on my piece of paper. All I really wanted to do was take her home with me and have her as my surrogate mother. Instead I got to put my arm around her like a silly fan and walk away totally forgotten in the abyss of other silly fans. She’s really soft and fluffy though, and delightful to listen to. Twas a stellar night indeed.

My First Pottery Class

Before you conjure up images of scenes from Ghost where Patrick and Demi throw a pot linking fingers with Unchained Melody in the background, let me say my first pottery class wasn’t like this, although the young instructor did place his hands over mine in order to show me how to guide the clay. But he was a mere 22 so it was more like my son or very young kid brother helping me navigate.

It was rad though. One reason I’ve always wanted to do pottery is because I love to watch the clay grow and shrink as it’s being formed and I LOVE to watch the swirls bending in and out. It’s hypnotic. This is my first time ever making pots and cups and my instructor said I caught on very quickly. They have yet to be glazed.

The bottom of the pots will be cleaned up before glazing


There are a number of people that I miss back in Madison and every now and again they come to mind. Some have made such a lasting impression that, even if I never see them again, I think I might just be changed forever by knowing them. We lived with some great friends for a season, had our kids all around the same time and even went to South Africa together (for different reasons but that’s not important). Tonight I was looking through some old photos of my baby shower back in Madison when I was pregnant with Sylvie and I came across this shot of my friend Rose.


She didn’t know the person was taking it and that’s what I love even more. It really shows her personality, I think. It might not even be a side of her that everyone sees but I’ve always noticed a depth in Rose. She taught me a lot about hospitality and she is one of the few friends I had in Madison that would stop by my house because she was driving by and thought of me. For some reason I really enjoy that. I love it when people just stop by because they were in the area and thought they’d like to hang out at my place, with me, for a little bit. It’s like they are comfortable enough with to come over even though so many people live these lives of solitude and likely don’t want to be bothered by ‘drop ins’. Maybe that’s what everyone assumes and never decide to stop by someone’s house anymore. I don’t know. All I know is I love it when people drop in unexpected. Usually I offer them tea or something to eat if they do come around. Something I learned from my hospitable Asian and African friends. Always offer something and don’t worry about the time.


Rose was there when my son was born….I mean she was there! There! I had Matt and Rose with me. Why did I want her there? I don’t know all the reasons. She’s just special to me. She has a calming effect and I wanted that. I trust her with my life. I love Rose dearly and I actually miss her stopping by my house. She always brought chocolate and she knew which type I liked. If she saw it at the store she’d pick it up for me to give later. I’ve also seen her mature over the years. She use to be more shy but over the years I’ve a strong dignity develop in her and I can’t wait to see the lucky bastard who is going to have the blessing of a lifetime with her.


When Oliver was only a few months old Matt went out of town on some sort of outreach. The friends we lived with were all gone with him and I got a bit freaked out for some reason being in the house by myself with only my son. I called her up and said, “I’m a bit lonely and this house is empty, Rose.” She didn’t even pause. She just said, “Why don’t you come over and spend the night, OK?” I arrived to find she had given me and Oliver her bed and made up the couch for herself. Classy lady. I think I’ve always had a place in her heart and because of being there when my son was born he’s always been very special to her too. Anyone who thinks Oliver is amazing is amazing to me. She use to call him Little Man.


Time seems to make memories more meaningful but you have to fight to remember them. They get a bit foggy and less colourful over the years. If you retell them they sort of live again and the meaning deepens. So tonight I’m just remembering Rose.



Lending in the new economy

My title conveys my dream, or at least my hope. I was chatting with my husband last week about a TED talk I had watched that really inspired me. Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of KIVA, was speaking about love being the motivator behind micro lending and giving. There are tons of women (a cause close to my heart) all around the world who are on the verge of starting a small business to provide for their children’s education (which comes at a cost in most countries), put food on the table and restore dignity as they stand on their own two feet. All they need is some help to get them started. For a small amount, maybe $25, you can  loan someone money to buy a stove, for example,  to cook meals to sell at the open market. KIVA also has a payback rate of 95%. It’s pretty amazing.

Jessica Jackley is also spearheading a new project called Profounder which allows individuals to create a profile so the community can invest into small scale entrepreneurship . I LOVE THIS! The description is great: “….to ensure all entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need through the engagement of robust, supportive communities”. Robust, supportive communities! I am so intrigued by the idea of social networks providing space for small businesses to launch. I have a few friends who also started a non profit, Give Anonymously, where you can….well, give anonymously to people in need. In just over a year this organization has already seen over a million dollars pass through to people in need (I hope I have my facts correct on that number-I’m pretty sure though).

This is my hope in our new economy: We would see more empowerment for people to create wealth and quality of life through the means of  individuals. I think this is a part of the dream of God; empowerment through community and the potential for wealth to bring people into the good life. By the good life I mean having the means to not only live pay check to pay check (or no pay check in a lot of countries) but to enjoy rest and refreshment alongside working hard. There’s a heaviness that comes with poverty and it’s very dehumanizing to be utterly poor. People are forced to make desperate decisions in abject poverty.  I love the fact that ordinary people have used social networks as a platform to bridge some of the gaps between the haves and have nots. And the system is very dignifying because loans are paid back by the individual through means of relationship.

I think about some of the business ideas I have had over the years and how much I would gain from the process of community lending. I wrote a post a while ago about bartering in the new economy and I still would love to see this happen more. Just yesterday a friend asked for help in upholstering her chairs in exchange for child care. YES! I can help with that and she can give back as well. Everyone wins. Another aspect that I really like about community lending is that it takes power away from these huge monopoly-banks and puts it back in the hands of regular people, your neighbors. These corporations have far too much power and control over the wealth of the poor and middle class (which is dwindling at an alarming rate). Community lending is sort of our act of civil disobedience (sort of-I mean, going through a bank is not law or anything). It just feels like a provoking act of defiance to bypass ‘the man’ and go to the village for help.

I would love to hear your thoughts on lending, giving and bartering and how they relate to where our economy is heading. There is risk involved in lending or even giving to people. “What if I don’t have enough for myself if I give?” Yep! What if? I’m one of the most frugal people I know so I have these fears all the time. Yet I think there is something great on the horizon as these social networks are creating opportunities to help and empower more people. I hope more of us get involved to create a momentum that gains strength as we give. Do consider getting on board with any of these lending or giving communities and be a part of something great! Here’s to building hope in a new economy!

A lil’ inspiration

Since our movie-fast I’ve found that there are days the kids really don’t know what to do with themselves. It’s gotten easier as we’ve been doing this longer but there are days where they are incredibly bored and unable to create fun for themselves. Today there was a lot of naughty behavior (I think it was due to boredom) and I needed to help get them started on a project. This is the biggest way that I’ve had to engage in being a mother. I’ve had to help get them jump started on games, projects or imaginative play when they seem bored. After I provide a bit of guidance they usually take the idea and run with it.

Today I built little cubes out of play dough and they’ve been making stuff out of them ever since. I’m amazed how the little things make a huge difference for our kids. Sometimes you just need to show them how to draw a new sort of tree and then they will draw an entire forest. Kids are so creative on their own but they long to be introduced to new ways of doing things. I think of my own creative process and how I have these abilities to create all within me but it’s through others that I find more inspiration, rather than a stifling of my process. Lately I’ve been reading Robert Frost to the kids and I’m finding that I want to write more. It’s not that I want to write LIKE him, just that I want to use descriptive words more as I read his colourful language. His work is inspiring me!

I’ve found that there are times where my kids need to be left alone to create and explore but there are also those times where they really just don’t know what to do with themselves and they need a lil’ inspiration.

Here’s to inspiring our kids!

Another great blog

My friend Amanda sent me this link and I’ve been hooked for a few days now. I’m intrigued by Stephanie Neilson’s journey since her accident as she is now adjusting to her new life as a mother who deals with physical pain. Her story is amazing to me mainly because I love to see people overcoming in life as they find the resolve to live it gloriously, in spite of serious adversity. I have always felt awkward when I hear someone who still has their health or their looks say to someone who has suffered so much loss say, “You have put into perspective all that I have been taking for granted”. I know that is actually true and I feel the same at times but it often sounds like, “Seeing all that you don’t have anymore reminds me to be grateful for what I have” and it just makes me cringe. All that to say, I have asked myself while I’ve been reading her blog, “Why do I feel touched and emotional? Do I feel pity? What is inspiring me and making me want to be more?” The conclusion I came to is that her story is tragic and glorious in the same gulp. It brought me to tears thinking that a family had to endure loss but it’s glorious in that she knows she is not defined by her body anymore.

I am challenged as a mother and reminded that having a family and raising children is a gift. I can see where I’ve pushed away a child because I was busy or turned my head away from the dirty child smell that eminates from the tops of their scalp once they’ve been outside in the hot sun all day. It’s sort of a wet dog smell. I’ve lost patience and ‘wanted my space’. Stephanie reminds me what a gift it is to be able to feel our children. To have our fingerprints touching their skin or to put a little girl’s hair in pony tails and feel our skin against her hair. To feel and hug a child without pain is something I NEVER think about and I’m very inspired to remember the gifts that I have living in my home, shaking up my entire life. Thank you, Nie

Her Blog

Her Story

Her voice (I really wanted to hear what she sounded like- it made her more real to me)

On Oprah