Posts filed under creativity & rest

why knowing yourself is essential

our alarms sounded at the normal time this morning.

i felt him sigh and curl into me, wrapping his arms around my waist. i snuggled deeper and found a place of rest.

i didn't want to get up to face the day.

normally, mornings are a rush. alarms go off, i'm out of bed and getting dressed and out the door within what seems like seconds. lately, i've landed at work around 6:30, facing a pile of must-finish that will keep me there until about 5:30 or 6:00.

today, i resisted.

i just couldn't do it. i needed something...some type of restoration or revitalization. and it's difficult to be sitting here, forcing myself to be still, when i look at the clock and see it move toward 6:15.

but it's also freeing.

i took a personality test yesterday and - not surprisingly - found out i'm an INFP.

intovert. intuitive. feeler. perceiver.

it's a lot of mushy words, you know? a lot of un-concrete. and this morning, opening my eyes to the end of another week and facing a fairly busy weekend, i needed to rest in a bit of spontaneity and resist the must finish pile for a few more minutes.

it's quiet here in this room and i can feel myself center. there's no coworker coming in asking for advice, no student needing an extra charger, no pile growing beside me and giving me instant stress. it's just me. just my books. just the quiet breathing of my heart that needed a little refuge this morning.

hopefully, my day won't be as hectic. it probably will. i call this season the silly season where tests take over the education world and teachers and principals and students alike become zombies chanting phrases like meeting standards and benchmarking and disaggregating data.

it's enough to suck the soul right out of an INFP who happens to be the testing coordinator...

but i have these moments - even if they're few - to dream of the future and wonder about possibilities.

because in these moments, i get to think of the things that make me come alive - the reasons why i got into education in the first place, the words dancing through my mind at any given moment, the freedom i feel with the complete quiet of solitude.

and just for a moment it's a different world.


also? anna & amber are the big winners of mandy's eBook! i'll be e-mailing your copies today. :)

Posted on February 3, 2012 and filed under creativity & rest.

an always in never

in elegance of the hedgehog, one of the characters talks about finding hope in a brief and random encounter with music. faced with the true meaning of never she  realizes the brunt force of suffering. but, walking down the street with a friend, she becomes overwhelmed by the shared connection of overhearing a sonata - music in the midst of an ordinary second. she calls this moment finding an always in never. as i listened to this scene in the book, tears fell down my face. honestly, i'm still haunted by it. my heart woke to these words and immediately i needed to write, needed to explore my insides with sentences forming against the quiet...the scene reminded me of something. something i've known for awhile but can so easily forget in the rush of day-to-day living.

for me, words are my always in never.

there is a certain kind of magic i experience when this happens. it's a pulsing - almost as if my heart, recognizing my pause, begins jumping up and down and questions, yes! you see me! hello?

i love this.

it helps me know her more - helps me see my true self.

you see, i have this tendency to don a mask at the precise moment it's needed. i've spoken about it before, this incessant desire to please and reject conflict rears its ugly head and i become a completely different person.

but something happens when words collide with who i really am - it's an always in never moment. for a brief second, i see myself as part of a larger Story.

i think this is what's supposed to happen - i think, in His divine mercy, the Creator of the Universe knew we'd need moments of remembering. there's so much vying for our attention - so much noise. 

an always in never moment reminds us of eternity - of where we stand - where we've been or where we're going. it's in those moments our purpose is once again illuminated against the darkness and we see just enough to give us breath and creativity and inspiration.

almost as if the Creator takes a deep breath Himself and exhales strength into our souls.

Posted on December 16, 2011 and filed under creativity & rest.

pressing into Rest {lauren's guest post}

ever since i have pressed my feet to the ground in southern california, i have been diligent about getting 8+ hours of sleep nightly.  knowing that the discipline of sleep-rest is at times the holiest thing i can do.  but amidst my self-controlled physical rest, my soul has become weary. desperate for white space but fleeing from lonely that hides around every corner. 

nothing is familiar.  from pulling onto the freeway to walking into the grocery store lonely lurks.  my heart is so tired of looking for the comforts of home in a place that just isn't yet.  and even though my friends, who i now consider family, have opened their arms wide and squeezed tightthey cannot cure the lonely.  {nor should they.}

the only way to cure the lonely is to feel it.  to allow it to permeate beneath the surface i am fighting so hard to keep it on.  because i cannot heal until i allow the pain to cut deep.  healing happens in the pain.  it's in the midst of that great ugly that we feel the gentle caress of His healing touch.

it's in that unexpected moment of giving in rest comes. 

the falling backwards.  leaning into His arms open wide.  arms that have been opened wide from the moment i said each teary goodbye and boarded a plane.  arms i have refused to fall into out of some false sense of pride that i could handle it.  believing i could control rest.  dictating where, when, and how my rest came.

i can't.

because 8+ hours of physical rest isn't curing the ache of my soul.  quite frankly, my body is giving way to sickness.  telling me in its own twisted way that i really stink at calling the shots.  but tonight that is changing.  tonight i am giving in.  falling backwards into His arms.  allowing the tears to fall and my heart to ache.  hearing His whisper. . .

. . .'come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and i will give you rest.'


do you struggle with rest?  what does soul-rest look like in your life?

lauren is a twenty-something transplanted to southern california from her home in the south.  recently, she has started todream again after facing the deep, life-altering realities of a broken engagement.  she pays her bills by working as a speech pathologist, but finds herself most comfortable making sense of life with words.  lauren candidly blogs about the realities of her journey at beautifully broken and would love nothing more than to hear your story.  

Posted on September 28, 2011 and filed under creativity & rest.

on living and writing well and the balancing act in between {stephanie's guest post}

I think it was Annie Dillard who said, “I write well, but I rarely live well.” The woman who can write profoundly about the simplest things, a moth, a candle, a weasel in the woods, but had to lock herself in rooms over parking garages or haunt libraries at night to make the words come. The writing life is an open plain where the inner life runs wild, it is uncharted territory in the transcendent, and those who live in it tend to emerge from it every now and then to offer the world a wrenchingly beautiful word. And yet, you don’t necessarily think of Annie Dillard as having spirited dinner parties or being the chair of the PTA. We writers tread a fine wire. For who can write about the world if we are not really inhabiting it? But who can write honestly and well in the midst of domestic chaos, laundry, and desk jobs? We are constantly having to navigate cultivating the inner life, that will yield syllables and stories, and the life rooted in the physical world, that which gifts us with experiences. Living gives us content for writing, and writing drives us to deeper living. One feeds the other, and we rely on both.

It’s frustrating, at times, when the spark to write is just not there. I feel drained and useless. Caught in a cycle of meaningless house tasks, work projects, and filling my time with empty entertainment which does not provoke the mind or the heart.

I’ve learned that the ebb and flow of creativity between schedules and daily demands is natural, sometimes circumstantial, or perhaps for no good reason at all. But I’ve also learned that it’s up to me to bring it back. I have to make myself, and I always drag my feet. But there are a few things I’ve found to help:

Get Reading

When I’m stuck and feel I have nothing to say, I start reading. Not the addictive paperback bestsellers, but good, rich literature with words to savor. The Hunger Games might be more entertaining to read, but I’m halfway through A Severe Mercy, and this story cuts me to the bone and the marrow of life, heightening my senses to the world in a way that will haunt me long after the book is closed. Read the things that will provoke your own ideas.

Engineer Your Environment

As writers, we are in charge of curating our creative environment. Cut yourself off from distractions. Log off Twitter, close your email browser.  I find it helpful to head to a coffee shop where I can tune out everything but the work at hand. In an outside environment, I don’t have the distractions of a messy house or things that need to get done, I am left alone to my work.

Create a Physical Transition

A walk in the woods, making blueberry scones, or taking a hot shower may not seem like a writing exercise, but I find that I need to transition into a writing place, and these simple sensory experiences allow me to relax and start paying attention to detail. Since activities like these don’t require intellectual effort, your mind is given free range to reflect over ideas. Then when you sit down to write, you already have a starting point.

Don’t Lose It

When you live, don’t lose it. Sometimes we’re so engaged in living that writing seems like a chore, but don’t lose it. If you’re too busy or uninterested, just write down impressions. Preserve the sensory experiences: what she said, what caught your eye, the change in the air, the shape of the scene. Write down phrases in incomplete sentences, verbs that stood out to you, descriptions. When you come back to it later, your brain will fill in the blanks and make it come to life again.

What helps you navigate everyday living and the creative life? How do you balance experiencing and writing about life as it happens?

Stephanie S. Smith is a twentysomething writer, editor, blogger and independent book publicist addicted to print and pixels. She runs her business, (In)dialogue Communications, from her home in Upstate New York where she lives with her husband. Follow her at writing about creative life, embodied faith, and millennial culture, or @stephindialogue. 

Posted on September 26, 2011 and filed under creativity & rest.

resting our gifts {amy's guest post}

I wondered why I had not felt it. The sensing I sometimes feel. This gift that sometimes does not feel like such a gift. Waking in darkness with only a heaviness to pray. At times a name given and at others not. I am learning to rather not know the details. For when I do my heart usually breaks and feels deeply for the friend. So deeply it grieves me almost. Emotionally I become weary. A few months had past and there was silence where this gift usually resided. But God seemed to be bringing me through a time of transition. A time also of healing and learning to forgive. Of sowing mercy and grace deep into my spirit.

Yet now it returns. A Sunday morning. I glance across the room. A friend enters my vision and then the prompting. "Pray," He tells me. "Why?" I ask my curiosity heightened. "You only need to pray," I sense Him saying.

Molding me amidst the using. "Yes, Lord."

The time had come for this gift to be used again.

God blesses each of us with gifts. Some of these gifts may be spiritual gifts. Others talents and natural abilities.

Maybe it takes us years to discover what ours are. Perhaps we know from a young age.

For me it has taken well into my thirties to realize mine and I am still seeking to find how God wants to use my natural gifts and talents with my spiritual gifts, how they can work together.

Yet in times of transition I wonder if God gives us rest from these gifts. Gifts that require so much of our emotional selves. For those of us who feel things so deeply. Whose hearts hurts when others share their pain.

Some aspects of life have been in transition recently. I have learned to welcome change. I ache for the change really because it means growth, but it is not always easy. I needed the rest from this gift that takes so much of my emotions. I needed time to heal from some hurts. I needed time to recharge and refocus. Time to work through forgiveness and give grace.

Our spirits can become overwhelmed. Weary. Faint.

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NASB)

We need Sabbath. We need rest. Our spirits, our emotions, even our gifts, need a deep breath at times.

And when He prompts us to use these gifts for His glory again we will be refreshed. If we will prepare our hearts during the time of rest, if we will focus our minds on Him, we will be ready to use our gifts once again for His purpose.


Hello! I'm Amy, a wife and mom who spends her days doing laundry, taking photos, writing, substitute teaching on occasion, and a myriad of things that moms do. Born and raised in the Appalachian foothills of northeast Alabama I now live in east central Alabama with my husband and our son. I blog at Ordinarily Extraordinary. Life, no matter how ordinary it may seem, is extraordinary. Sometimes we have to look, but every day is filled with the extraordinary masquerading as ordinary. It’s up to us to slow down and see the extraodinary gifts of grace God gives us. Each person has their own extraordinary story to tell. I write to process all God teaches me and hopefully encourage others along the way. You can find me on twitter as @amykiane.

Posted on September 25, 2011 and filed under creativity & rest.