Embracing Uncertainty

At this point I just might be able to write a novel based upon the real events of my own life. If I carefully plotted out my forty-seven year old history, I’d end up with a story full of flawed characters, twisted turns, and insurmountable odds. Seriously, if you knew my tale, in all it’s strange and colourful glory, you’d probably agree that it’s near novel worthy. I am laughing inwardly now because, while I love fiction, I never really wanted my life to mimic it.

I’ve heard them, (you know them), say that the we are the authors of our own destiny. As a middle aged woman, with a fair amount of road now behind me, I know this isn’t 100% true. We do have a say in a large portion via our personal choices, but we have only to look at relationships, health struggles, accidents, and the larger world view to see that life is full of uncertainty. I’m going to quote scripture now, bear with, ’Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.’ (Proverbs 27:1)

Uncertainty is a universal truth, and if I’ve learned anything, rallying against it doesn’t work, but embracing it does.

Yesterday I learned that because of unforeseen circumstances Charting Stars will have to be put on hold for an indefinite period. (It was set to release October 1st.) I am obviously heartbroken by this, but I am trying to embrace the uncertainty (the fact that this is just life), so that I can carry on. Though I may feel like my life story could be novel material, I’m pretty sure it will not have that kind of cataclysmic finish that ends up on the bestseller list, but my prayerful hope is that, despite the uncertainty of every day yet to come, I will be able to live out whatever is left of my own story here moving forward in a positive, cheerful and worthy manner.

If you’ve read all of that, you are appreciated beyond words. Thanks for sticking with me.

Obsessing Over Numbers on Social Media

I love my Instagram account, @whimsicalillustration. I’m not kidding, it is my favourite app for following everything I’m interested in. It has been a lifeline to me during my struggles with chronic illness, it has been a critical business tool as an artist, and, above all, I have met the most amazing friends there.

I LOVE Instagram! (Did I say that already?)

However, (there’s always a however), I tend to get sucked into the numbers; the number of followers, the number of likes, the number of comments. I sometimes even let the numbers affect my day and my mood. For example, if one post doesn’t get as much engagement as another I agonize over it. Did I post at the right time? Maybe this drawing wasn’t good enough? Perhaps I need to draw more of this instead of that? Do people find I’m posting too much, or maybe I’m posting too little? Aaaaggghhh… I can literally drive myself bananas thinking things through, all because of the blasted NUMBERS!

The thing is, we humans are hard wired for approval, and those numbers feed that need. They make us feel accepted, they give us a sense of belonging, and let’s be honest, everyone needs to belong. This need for approval and belonging are natural, and not bad in and of themselves because we are not created to be alone. Humans have always survived in groups, but if the need becomes obsessive then perhaps it is time to step back.

Do I get obsessed?

Yep, sometimes I think I do.

Is there a solution?

I could sing Elsa’s theme song from Frozen here, but I don’t think it’s that easy, and I simply don’t have the magic to build myself a beautiful ice palace in the mountains where I can live out my days alone. And, for me, the pros of Instagram outweigh the cons, so, I think I’m going to have to settle for awareness. By that I mean, I am aware that I occasionally obsess over the numbers, and that I might need to start making a conscious effort to relax my internal response to them. My guess is that some days I’ll do a better job at relaxing than others, but for the sake of my emotional well being it’s worth the effort.

Do you obsess about numbers on social media? If so, have you found a way to manage it?

Do You Have A Teen Who Loves to Write? Ten Writing Tips for Teens

My teenage daughter loves to write! She spends every spare moment buried inside her little notebook creating character sketches, writing scenes and working out new story scenarios. She’s a good little writer and I’m always encouraging her to continue. The other day I came across this little graphic with 10 writing tips for teens. We both found these tips quite useful so we wanted to share – hope you are all having a lovely week. 🙂2c1a971e3771798e64f26a58e83db96d

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Hunter looked outside and remarked, “It’s really windy – I think it’s a good day to fly a kite!”  I knew that we had some old broken kites somewhere in the garage but I wasn’t up for the search.  Instead, we did a little online searching.  The kids and I found some instructions which assured us that drinking straws, plastic grocery bags, string and tape would quickly produce fully functioning kites. Perfect – we set to work!Kites_2011_01 Kites_2011_07I’m sure you are not surprised to hear that once we got our homemade kites outside, they didn’t fly at all… 🙁  Hannah took this disappointment in stride but Hunter was pretty bummed. It’s always sad when your hard work doesn’t quite pay off…Kites_2011_09Hannah didn’t give up though! She went into the garage, rummaged through and found one of our old kites. After a bit of sawing, taping and tying we managed to create a NEW-OLD kite that flew perfectly!Kites_2011_05We all know that life is often more about the journey than the end result. My kids and I had a lot of fun constructing those kites together. And in the end, I also learned that making old things new again can sometimes be a better option than starting from scratch. 😉Kites_2011_03

Happy Sunday,

Micheline

Busy Bees

Bee_smallMost of us complain, “I’m just so busy!” We often use the expression “busy as a bee” or “ants in your pants” to describe our incessant activity. But how much does our busyness really compare to that of a bee or an ant?

Apart from producing one of the sweetest nectars on earth, bees are essential to pollinating our ecosystems. If bees were to stop their “busyness” it would negatively impact all of us. Pollination helps preserve our natural forests and wildflowers providing the seeds, fruit, and nuts that sustain wild animals. Pollination of our own vast food supplies sustains us. Our very survival relies on these tiny, magnificent creatures.Paint-2a_smallAnts are equally magnificent; they turn over and enrich the soil more than earthworms, they spread seeds, pollinate plants and control the pest and spider populations. Additionally, they keep the environment clean by consuming dead animals and they themselves are a food supply for many other species.

In all honesty I can’t profess that my “busyness” even remotely compares to that of a bee or an ant. While much of my time is spent caring for my family and community, in all honesty I take on a lot of things that actually reduce the time I have to spend on the people and things I care about.

I suppose the issue isn’t necessarily our “busyness” but instead it’s what we are busy doing.

~ MichelineSpring_2011_17_smallIMG_8178_smallMy Father-in-law found this spectacular “Ant Castle” last year. It has roads winding round and round – all the way up to the top!

Summer Pastimes

Me, Kayla & Babe

HEY – it’s me, Hannah, I’m back! (That’s me pictured above with a little friend and one of my ponies.) If you have never seen my previous posts please check them out by clicking here >>> How to Draw a Dragon & Our Crazy Animals!

I did it! I finished grade 8 (and part of grade 9 actually… there are some perks to home schooling like; going at your own speed 🙂 ). I’m so happy school is finished and that I am on summer holidays! HOORAY!!! What do you do during the summer – when there’s no school to distract you?

Playing video games is all very well, but in the summer??? No, I think summertime is for getting outside for a walk, going for a bike ride, jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath or… you could simply drop a water balloon on a friend when they aren’t paying attention! 😉 The possibilities are endless!

Summer pastimes may vary, but in my opinion it is the best season!
For two reasons;
1: No school!! :}
2: and well…. NOOOOOO SCHOOL!!! (Hee hee! 😉 )

So what do I do during the summer?

Well… usually I go camping with my family at some point but because we live on a farm far away from downtown and a little distanced from most friends then one needs to get creative; I can train the pigs, play with the chickens, give the horses a bath, go for a walk with the dog, or give the barn cats some attention.

This is one of our newest barn kitties – her name is ‘Mrs. Norris’.
(I know, a very grown-up name for such a little girl!)
This is our other newbie – his name is ‘Eragon’.

I really like to  listen to music and hang out with the animals – sometimes daydreaming, sometimes drawing, or thinking up new ideas for a story. (I actually find that a farm also has its own type of music too: the horses are the beat, walking along, the chickens are the guitar chords, clucking and crowing while the dog is a singer barking at the cats. 😉 ) You could ride in the wood-shed wagon down a hill and have it tip with you still in it and fall – hands and knees – into a puddle. Or you could carry a hen around and see if she eats more grasshoppers than your brother’s hen. You could jump into the horses’ water trough when you’re hot and run – barefoot – around their pen, jumping, playing, rolling in the dirt and then getting back into the water… who knows?!  (Just so ya know – these are all based on VERY real experiences! 🙂 )

This is one of our piglets – her name is ‘Squirt’.
This is my favourite hen – her name is ‘Sweets’.
She is so tame that she’ll eat out of my hand and I can carry her around with me anywhere. 🙂

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!!!!!!!!!
Hannah 🙂

Of Mice and Children

When I was six I lived a couple of blocks from St. Mary’s church. Both grand and inviting this beautiful circular structure was created by aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal. My sister, friends and I loved to play hide and seek among the confessionals and pews. But we especially liked the mice that lived in the fields around the church.

One crisp October evening we got it into our heads that it was too cold for the mice to sleep safely outside. So we gathered up a dozen of them with the idea of providing warmer beds within the church.

I don’t know where we got the idea that mice couldn’t survive outside, but I have a feeling it had a lot to do with the stories we read as kids. From “The Night Before Christmas” to “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse” these critters seemed to be a lot like us humans. Thankfully, the kind priest helped us understand why mice must live outside.

Even though I no longer view mice through the humanizing eyes of a child I still love the children’s stories that do. I guess that’s why –even though Miss Emily Goes to Bat is the story about a cat –you’ll find mice on every page.

You can have a look at this amazing church at http://stmarysparish.shawwebspace.ca/photos/view/our_church/. The field is gone and the rose garden is new, but the building remains a work of art.

~Trina

Our Crazy Animals!

We very happily live on a farm in Creston, BC. The other day the sun was shining and  so Micheline’s daughter, Hannah, decided to head outside for some relaxing quiet time. The following is what she wrote about her little adventure outside and it also includes some pics of our crazy farm animals – it was so cute we had to share! 🙂

It was such a nice day out! And since I had planned on writing out the lyrics of one of my favourite songs I thought, ‘Might as well go outside and hang out in the sun and relax.’   

I got out there with my pen, paper and iPod, I sat down in the grass not too far from my ponies. The kittens were playing underneath one of the blue pine trees and Nala – our dog – was hanging out as well.

I began to write the lyrics of the song and my pony, Bandit, decided to come and say hi. He was nibbling grass, creeping slowly closer and closer, (He thinks he’s pretty sneaky. 😀 ) I thought nothing of if until he shoved my shoe out of the way to get the grass underneath! He kept shoving either my shoe or my knee or my hand. Eventually I pushed his nose away and kept writing.

Then the kittens decided to join, they came up and rubbed all over me and one jumped onto my lap and was purring in my ear and rubbing on my arms as I tried to write!

And of course who should show up next but Nala!!! She sat down beside me and was licking my hand. So I stopped writing and sat there for a minute petting the dog, petting the kittens. And occasionally shoving Bandit out of the way, thinking, ‘Yeah. This is real relaxing.’

After a bit I began to write again. This time I tried to ignore the animals. One of the kittens was attacking my headphones, one was sitting on my lap and Bandit…well he stole my pen. I wasn’t too happy with him for that.

Sigh…but those are our crazy animals! They just love you to death!!
– Hannah 😉

This picture below is Hannah with her other pony – Babe.  Thanks for your cute story Hannah!