Category Archives: creativity

Snake Lover

She was four years old. A tiny little thing with curly pig-tails and big blue eyes. We had enrolled her in a program called Wee College. It was a weekly program for preschoolers to teach them the bible, kind of like a beefed up Sunday school for overachievers. The system was pretty old school, but the teacher was dedicated and creative, so it worked.

We coasted through the lesson on the creation of the world, but when it came to the garden of Eden we hit a snag. It wasn’t that she was uninterested in the story, in fact, she was fascinated by it. Satan in the form of a serpent tempts Eve to eat from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge and the innocence of humanity is lost. While all the other children learned important lessons about temptation and sin, she had a completely different take on the story.

“Mom, I like the sneaky snake. He’s my favourite.”

We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but settled somewhere in the middle. No amount of discussion or explanation could convince her that the snake wasn’t the BEST part of the story. She drew pictures of him, talked about him and dug through her children’s bibles to find pictures of him. Was this a sign of things to come? Did my precious daughter have a rebellious streak a mile wide? In a word, yes.

The year before, we had enrolled her in a community dance program. She disliked being ordered around and preferred to literally dance to her own rhythm in the corner of the room. In one situation when the teacher instructed the girls to dance around in a circle, she proceeded to pull her tutu over her face and run around in the opposite direction, knocking the poor little ballerinas down left and right. I must admit that after removing her from class and disciplining her, I had to retreat to another room to roar with laughter.

But she is also a free-thinker and a non-conformist. That same year she decided that she was a true princess and proceeded to wear a tiara at ALL times. It was with some difficulty that we convinced her she must take it off for baths and at bedtime (though occasionally we would go back in to check and it would be back on her head).

Lately she’s become more and more concerned with what people think of her. She still marches to the beat of her own drum, but it’s quieter now, less flashy. She’s gotten shy in new situations and less comfortable with being the off-beat, quirky one.

It makes me sad. I know that life is easier if you’re not the “weird one”, but I think it’s better if you are. Conformity to the norm is great for assembling Ikea furniture and making origami, but it’s not a virtue I admire. While I don’t want her to be weird for its own sake (a la Lady Gaga), I want her to find their own voice; to be the unique person God made her to be.

On a completely unrelated note, this same daughter has begun a campaign to get her own snake. According to her, they make great pets.

So here’s me, absolutely refusing to buy a snake, but appreciating the sentiment all the same.

Here’s a blast from the past on finding your own rhythm:


I love to write and I always have, ever since I started writing short stories about Rascal the Raccoon in the back of my grade 3 exercise book when I was supposed to be learning my times tables. I may not be the most brilliant author of all time (every single Rascal Raccoon story started and ended exactly the same, after all), but I’m fairly confident in my skills, except for one thing: I’ve never been very good with commas. It seems like such a small thing, but it can make all the difference between a well-crafted sentence and a wordy, unreadable mess.

I didn’t always appreciate this fact. When I recruited a friend to proofread my English 11 essay on Macbeth, I was frustrated by his insistence on punctuational accuracy. I mean, who cares about commas, periods and semi-colons when I have important things to say? But he knew these little breaks make a huge difference. He was a good editor.

So, I decided to keep him… and now, when my husband edits my blog posts, he teases me about my poor punctuation. Even with the casual format of blogging, I need to do better. In my last post he had to add only one comma; that’s my all-time record!

“Say it out loud; wherever you take a natural pause, that is where you put a comma” he says.

I’ve never been good with commas, in writing or in life. There are times when I need a deliberate pause. Time to take a breath before moving on to the next thing.

I tend to operate at two speeds: go and stop. When I am really busy, I often forget to eat or even to take reasonable bathroom breaks. There’s nothing dignified about a 35 year old woman doing the pee-pee dance, because she just had to get one more thing done. And on the rare occasions when I’m not busy, inertia begins to set in and it’s hard to get my butt off the couch at all. Yet life, like good writing, flows best with an unhurried rhythm and the occasional pause.

Today I needed a pause. I needed to get out of the house and find some solitude. I felt guilty about it. I worried about all the things I should be doing (knowing full well I wasn’t going to do them even if I did stay home). I asked my husband repeatedly if he minded, until he was irritated at me for thinking the world would fall apart if I left for a few minutes. “It must be hard being a single mom” (his new favourite line from Modern Family). When I finally took a walk in the woods, it was EXACTLY what I needed. Why do I fight it?

What if I took a few minutes each day to enjoy what is, rather than worry about what still needs to be done? What if I saw interruptions as a natural pause in my life, not a ghastly inconvenience? What if I took a moment to pray, to listen, and to catch my breath, whenever I can, all day long?

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

~ Jesus (Matthew 11: 28-30)

I’ve never been good with commas, but I have a good editor who’s teaching me to do better.

So, here’s me, embracing the comma.

Get Naked

I got naked in church yesterday. It wasn’t easy, but I was brave. I decided to bare it all.

No, I wasn’t streaking in the sanctuary. Nor did I go topless to prayer meeting (that’s never going to happen, just to be clear). I only stripped in a metaphorical sense.

I’ve been organizing an art project for the past several months. Half a dozen artists each painted a canvas to represent a different name of God. The result has been eclectic and chaotic and more than a little bit awesome. Each piece is so unique, and listening to the stories behind them has been inspiring.

Most of the artists have snuck into the office with their canvas wrapped in layers of paper and clutched to their chest so no one can see it. It takes visible effort for them to hand it over. I would pat their hand and say something reassuring, all the while wondering what their problem was. These are beautiful works of art… what’s with the hesitant shuffle and apologetic explanations?

Then I decided to make one of my own. Granted, this is not my medium; I am a writer, not an artist. I knew I would be the only novice in the company of accomplished artists. But we are hoping to open this project up to everybody in the church – so someone should represent the regular folks. We all have a voice, and the purpose of this project is to give everyone a chance to worship this way.

I had a great idea. I still love that idea. The final product isn’t perfect, it isn’t everything I hoped it would be, but it’s still a little piece of me.

So now, it’s me sneaking into the office clutching my canvas to my chest, afraid to show a single person. And I realized that this isn’t a new feeling. It reminds me of the way my heart drops into my stomach immediately after I press the “publish” button on this blog.

I write for myself. I enjoy the process. All day long I scribble random thoughts and phrases on scraps of paper. I would probably do it even if no one ever read it. But the minute I put it out there for the world to see I start to feel a little bit naked.

Does it say what I want it to say?

Will they understand?

Will they like it?

Will they like me?

And there it is. The crux of the matter. To quote George McFly “I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection.”

So here’s me, with a new appreciation for nudists and artists alike.

%d bloggers like this: