Imperfections in Life and Writing

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The autumn colours entice my camera and me out onto woodland paths where vine maples are showing off.

Returning to the back yard I check the lone tree that stretches toward the garden from within the woods. Its colours are changing, too, but I’m disappointed to find a brown blight that spots its leaves.

It has always been spindly, so often nodding in the shade with only a small section able to reach out to the sunlight. The rest of the trunk is perpetually shadowed by crowding evergreens, its roots covered by creek dampened and mouldering debris. Most years the leaves manage to remain clear, but not this year, and I wonder why. There is still a rustic beauty in the etched colours, but it’s blemished. I resolve to clear away the smotherings and try for a better result next year.

I wonder if God looks upon my life efforts, sees the blemishes and is disappointed in the the lack of loveliness in my seasons. Still… in all my imperfections I am one of his creations. Each new season is a fresh opportunity. Each day I can begin again.

There is a comparison in my writing as well — seasons when my well-intentioned writing has faltered and been less than stellar. I labour on to complete the draft, encouraged by the prospect of future revisions. I can make it better.

Renewal  ~  Repentance  ~  Revision

The ongoing cycle seeks to improve, reaching towards elusive perfection.

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Ten months of 2011 have passed. Do you notice things that you want to do differently ‘next time’?

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Saying the Occasional “No” Without Guilt

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Daylight dwindles into darkness, and Wildwood Acres settle for the night.  Birds hush in their hidden sanctuaries and the only sound is a lonely tree frog somewhere in the marsh. Before falling into stillness, the breeze opened up the clouds and left tomorrow’s promise in the sky.

This is usually my time to settle in for a couple hours of writing, but I’m weary… too weary to be creative. It’s not that I did a lot today. It’s more what I didn’t do that weighs on me. There is a troublesome website that needs significant upgrading, a garden that at the rate I’m progressing may take me all summer just to get un-winterized, writing projects that are lagging… and then this evening’s request for sandwiches or cookies to donate to an upcoming church ‘do’. Nothing outrageous.

Sometimes it’s the little things that overwhelm. The bendy ‘last straw’ that winds the mind into tangled chaos, and shuts down ambition.

Writers know all about the Inner Critic who tries to sabotage our best written efforts, but I’m convinced that his twin brother takes up residence somewhere in my calendar. A voice nags that I really ought to do this, I really should do that, I absolutely must, must, must perform to perfection. And if – heaven forbid – there’s a blank space in my daybook, I’m obliged to fill it with some worthy chore.

When I can’t convince myself to move into overdrive and push through the ‘To Do’ list, I’ve found it’s best to just stop. I give myself permission for an hour of daydreaming, or an entire do nothing, guilt free day. Guilt free is the Rx!

Last week on The Pastor’s Wife Speaks blog Jeanette Levellie posted on the topic, “No is not a four letter word.” It reminded me of a day long ago when a concerned friend gave me a recording by David Viscott, MD, entitled, “Learning to Say No Without Feeling Guilty.” A couple years later its message was reinforced by another friend who pointed out that we are creations of God and as such ought to treat ourselves with care and respect.

With that thought in mind I’m closing the laptop and heading off to bed. The website will wait. The writing will, too. This creation of God needs sleep!

How do you handle a schedule or responsibilities that push you to the brink?