For almost five years I lived on a magical acre on an island outside of Seattle. It rarely snows there, so winter arrives with record rainfall, big winds and oddly green grass. It was a place that Anne of Green Gables would say had “scope for imagination.” One of reasons I lived there was love at first sight for the ancient cedar tree in the front yard because it had a tree swing on a rope at least twenty feet long. I would swing at night and look up at the stars, blowing off the stress of my day job in the city. Or I would swing just for fun…because I could.
Have you ever found that places can be a source of courage? As with friends, some are for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I let the place go last year, exactly five years to the day I moved in. I’m full of gratitude for the life lessons from living there.
Fast forward to 2020. This year I’ve been working with about a dozen authors who are writing nonfiction books, hybrid memoir and self-care (more than self-help). Around August, at least three of us realized we were being called to write children’s book as well.
I decided to experiment with some old photos to see what it takes to create a children’s book — how many words, how many pages, how the images work out on what shape of page. In doing so, I rediscovered — or should I say reclaimed — my love of a “project” I began in 2003. Meet my Emotikin, an art manikin liberated from her pedestal who kindles my creativity (long before Amazon trademarked that word for its ebook device). I call her my inner artist, and the past few years think of her as my “Courage Way companion.” (Her rock-stacking inspired the cover for The Courage Way book.)
When I was writing The Courage Way for the Center for Courage & Renewal, I often faced writer’s block and struggled to find my voice as I untangled the stories of more than 120 leaders I’d interviewed and wove them with the wisdom of Parker J. Palmer and the social-technology practices called the Circle of Trust® approach. I’d take a break by taking my camera and my Emotikin to a nearby beach or out in the yard. But I stopped posting the results on my blog. My irrational inner critic was sure we’d get into trouble for “playing” when we should be hard at work book-writing.
I’ve since remembered that going outside to play is one of the most important gifts of fortitude we can give our soul. We have to do things to feed our spirits, not just our stomach and minds. In fact, play can be how we get gutsy to be creative.
Sharing our creativity takes courage, too. Giving away our creative expressions can take off some pressure. Books are my love language. I love sharing this one with you. In 2021 it will be available on paper, but for now, please enjoy this love offering online, or even by sharing your screen on Zoom with some kids in your life.
Click the image to view it full-screen or this link https://bit.ly/BrvPnCnz
What would you do with eleven forlorn pinecones that fell (too soon) off their branch in a winter windstorm?
What if you could find the right words to encourage them to go out in the world, just not in the way they expected?
May your winter holidays be full of love, returning light, lots of play time, plus resolve for more courage of all kinds in 2021. And do stay tuned for more books from Creative Courage Press and online retreats too!