At First Glance

Yesterday I took my daughters to the art gallery for a field trip on Canadian contemporary art. Now I have always enjoyed viewing art that included landscapes, like Monet paintings. Abstract Expressionism and Conceptualism in art has never been something I was drawn to.

We walked into the first gallery. I looked around. There were some blank canvases, black canvases and what looked to be some wrapped in cardboard, bubble wrap and tape. My reaction, at first glance, was that this gallery was obviously under “construction” and not finished being set up. It was then that the guide began to say these were the first pieces of art we would view.

What? There’s nothing there. This was going to be a short field trip. Just give it a chance, I coached myself through this internal dialogue.

Within a couple of sentences, I was drawn to what our guide was saying. She was, by all accounts, a natural story teller. She spoke about the art pieces with confidence, knowledge and most importantly a passion to share her love of art. She talked about how some artists had a routine and process about their work. The three “black” canvases had been painted over with hundreds of layers of prime colours. Looking at it from the side one could see the multi layered progression. It caused me to reflect on how people present themselves. At first glance sometimes all we see is that first impression. Not knowing what lies underneath, the process and experiences that developed layer after layer, shaping who we become. What? These three dark shaded canvases actually moved me, caused me to react, reflect and respond to the artist’s work. If I had just gone into the gallery, looked around without hearing the story, I would have left disappointed and feeling empty about the experience.

Walking into another gallery, I heard someone mutter a phrase I have often heard about abstract expressionism art before. “It looks like a child painted this.” Again our guide began sharing how some artists use spontaneity to create their art. Without planning or thinking, the artist is actively moved to splash, smear, drip or use some other creative method to abstractly create. We were given pieces of graphite and a paper, asked to choose a piece of art to sit in front and study the lines and markings of the work. Just sitting in front of the art, observing, I began to see different aspects of what at first looked to be chaotic emerge from the painting. I loved what spontaneity created.

So my take away from the field trip:

Perspective can change with pausing to listen to the story, looking deeper than the surface and allowing yourself to feel the emotions drawn from the experience.

And I fully plan to return to the art gallery again, as I left with several stories of my own just waiting to be written.

So my friends, may your day be filled with new experiences and your cup with coffee!

It’s a Small World

When going on vacation, one of the things I look forward to is connecting with other people. Hearing their story. It is amazing when you show someone you are interested and invested in the conversation, how much she or he will open up and share life experiences, the joys and the hardships. After all, we all have a desire to feel like someone is interested in us, our story. One of the places I have found to meet a diverse group of people with unique stories is when we vacation at DisneyWorld. And this past trip to Orlando did not disappoint.

At the Animal Kingdom resort, we met a lovely young lady from South Africa. Graduating from high school she chose to delay her post secondary education, leave her family and friends for a year to join in the international program. What a journey! She has spent the year meeting people around the globe and sharing her passion for animals with Disney guests. Not only gaining leadership and communication skills, it has given her direction when she goes back to South Africa to pursue a career related to her passion of educating others.

On the other end of the spectrum, we met an employee that has been with Disney for 40 years. Now that speaks volumes to job satisfaction. And you could really tell how much he enjoyed what he did. To stay in the same job for that long is becoming much more rare. Imagine all the stories he could tell from his days at Disney.

Then there was the little boy that came up to me. I was sitting in the lounge with my husband and this little guy walked right up and just looked me in the face and stared. I gave him a little smile and that was all that was needed. He spent the next while sharing with me all the things he was good at doing. Looking up at his smiling mom across the room, I got the impression that maybe others did not always give her son the opportunities to carry on such lengthy conversations. We spent the next while talking about what he liked to do. When it was time for him to leave, we said our goodbyes and I continued on conversing with my husband. After a few minutes, this little guy came running back up to me all out of breath. He hands me an origami washcloth snail and was beaming. “This is just for you!” My heart melted. I gave him the biggest high five and thanks, he skipped off to his waiting mom. She mouthed “thank you” to me and off they walked.

Another evening, sitting around the bonfire, we met a comical crew from southern Louisiana. They were a retired group of four, off on an adventure. Well, they kept my daughter and me in stitches for the entire visit. Not only was their accent a little hard to decipher at times when they talked quickly, but they also all talked at once! They were a hoot! I will admit there were times when I just had to smile and nod, not fully understanding what they were saying and hoping I wasn’t agreeing to something I would regret. After we left them still sitting at the bonfire, walking away my daughter leaned over to me and said, “That was the show, now time for dinner!”

So this was just a little snippet of amazing people I chatted with during vacation. My life has been enriched by the people I meet on my journeys. Listening to their stories allows me to be a better writer and hopefully a better human being. The world doesn’t seem quite so large or so scary when you take the time to connect with the people around you.

I’d love to hear from you, too! Feel free to drop me a comment for connect with me on Twitter.

Intentionally Connecting with Your Child

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September is a whirlwind of activities. From filling out a plethora of forms for each child, to making sure you have groceries to pack those school lunches and even just getting into the car on time for activities…without forgetting a child. It can be overwhelming! Calendars once again become filled with who has to be where with what and at what time. In my opinion, one can never have enough coffee for the first few weeks of September!

Last Monday I was feeling quite proud of myself for getting my daughter to tennis, packing a supper for her to eat in the car after the lesson and then picking up her friends and taking them all to their first time at youth group. We drive up to the event and I said, “Wow, we are the first to arrive!” Again, feeling proud of my organization and time management. Waiting for awhile, we realize something is “off” as there are still no others showing up. I get a sinking feeling that maybe I missed something. Sure enough, a quick look on my phone and I realize yes, I am early….by exactly one week. Youth was NEXT Monday. Here I had three girls waiting, excited to attend youth group for the first time. So plans changed. We loaded into my car and went for gelato! The girls spent the next 90 minutes giggling and connecting.

Connecting….sometimes the best connecting is spontaneous. But having intentional connecting is also important. Making time, face to face time takes planning, especially at such busy moments in the year. With school starting up and new routines, it opens up chances for stress and anxiety to creep into our lives. If we feel the pressure at these times, I can guarantee our children also feel the stress and those anxious thoughts of new classes, making friends, tackling homework and getting into a routine.

Slowing down to connect with our children is important. It helps for them to see we are on their team. We see them. Often asking, “How was your day?” or “What did you do at school?” are questions that get limited responses, “Fine.” “Good.” “Nothing.”

Make connecting meaningful. Share with them your experiences in school. Things you enjoyed, what you maybe found difficult or funny anecdotes from your school years.

I have attached a printable PDF  click here: Talk to Me-Making Connections that can guide you in sharing about your school experiences. Simply print it out, cut the questions apart and put into a jar. Each night at supper or bedtime, pick a question out of the jar and answer it. Your children will enjoy listening to your school experiences and it will draw them into discussing their experiences. They will feel connected with you. This opens the door to further discussions throughout the year when different situations or emotions occur.

Let me know in the comments below how you and your children enjoyed these questions. Did you come up with other questions that you can share with us?

Happy connecting!

Nikki

Author Deadline

if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-HarperCollins

I was given a Friday deadline for submitting to my publisher and was reminded today by my oldest daughter that Vienna is nine hours earlier. Ooops! I am assuming my deadline is Vienna, Austria time, not BC pacific time.

I’m such a procrastinator because I guess I work best under pressure. haha.

I sent the girls outside to wash the patio furniture this afternoon so I could write. Win/win right? Then realizing the paint is peeling on my 17 year old patio furniture, I went to the paint store to pick up special spray paint to repaint the cast iron chairs. Which I did.

While painting the chairs, I noticed the BBQ grill was disgustingly dirty so I looked up online how to clean grills naturally.  While gathering the supplies to clean the grill, the doorbell then rang and the patio cushions I ordered from Lowes arrived. I put the new red cushions onto the now dry patio furniture and noticed it attracted a hummingbird. This reminded me my feeder needs more food and I was out. A trip to Buckerfields occurred to pick up more hummingbird food. Seriously???

Remember the book “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie?” I need to write one, “If you Give an Author a Deadline”.

Anyways, I have almost met my deadline despite my inability to stay focused. Just a few admin details tomorrow and I can officially submit.

Now to watch a taped Hallmark movie to celebrate….

Let the Journey Begin

To tell a story, one must be present. Be aware. Be still. For there’s a story just waiting to be told in the eyes of people you meet and along the path as we journey. Some stories make us chuckle, some may bring a tear to our eyes and others fill us with excitement for adventure.

I am over the moon excited to share my author website with you as my story telling journey continues. It will be a place where you can read about my current writing projects and see my blog where I will share new books with you as well as little snippets into my life.

For my newest writing journey, I have partnered with  Little Lights Studio to write stories for their new app Bedtime Stories. Stay tuned for more info and dates for the app release as we work on this project.

Keep looking for stories to tell…..they are all around you.

Cheers!