Creating with Grace Project – Update 1

After a 10-year hiatus from music, I feel manically obsessed to create. Some around me are a bit concerned that I will get my hopes up and be disappointed in the outcome somehow. In truth, my 10-year hiatus began in disappointment, so these fears are not unfounded. This will be the challenge – and the test of grace. It’s also the opportunity to practice transcendence; to be anchored beyond the self – unselfishly.

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I was discussing this matter with a friend of mine recently. She asked me if this “would stop me from creating and sharing with others?” In part, it has for the past 10 years. On the other hand, I have always tried to be an encouragement to others, just through different means.

Another friend responded to one of my recent Purposed Imperfection posts with: “Just a reminder … whatever someone gets or doesn’t get from your music (or any other creative work) is dependent on their own life experience and not on the work itself. Your work is a catalyst for a reaction, but you don’t get to own either the bad ones or the good ones :). You get to be the person with courage to create. People will be moved (or not) based on where they are in their lives.

Good advice. It respectfully allows for others to be who they are, as they choose, without codependent interference or obligation — as grace. To live with grace in the encouragement of others.

Over the past 5 years,  Please Continue Reading …

The Creating with Grace Project

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway!”
John Wayne

I have grown to appreciate that our work provides for us in many ways. Along with sustaining us through provision (think food and shelter) our work serves to challenge our physical and mental being toward strength. The old adage of “use it or you lose it” is true in respect of the atrophy (shrinking) or growth of muscular strength and intellect ability.

In the same way, our work — especially our creative efforts — offers our spirit the challenge to grow, or atrophy. It becomes a choice, and the choice toward growth is enabled through grace — for what great (think full-fill-ing) work could ever be achieved if the spirit is seized in fear? Once achieved, how could full-fill-ing work continue if fear returns? Grace enables works to be created that touch others at a deeper level — think of someone moving in grace (physically) and you will note that you follow them, because there is something different — it just captures you attention. Grace enables capacity in the midst of creation, as the creator’s heart can find peace in the outcome — but in my life, this is a struggle. I know it to be true, and I have experienced it at times, but I must continue to the practice of the application — to grow.

So – here we go. I extend an invitation to you to become an insider — an active participant in my personal grace challenge: The creation of a full double album set of original blues-rock music, pressed in 12 inch vinyl (old school record).

You will have the opportunity for a one-time purchase a limited pressing of the record, along with MP3 downloads. Purchasers will have the opportunity to be an active participant in the creation of the album, through the presentation of draft songs, preliminary arrangements and mixes – Even the opportunity to vote.

Music is highly subjective, and so there will be many varied opinions – which serves to make my grace challenge real: to stay fully engaged without fear and/or discouragement. 🙂

If you are interested in being part of this project – let me know, and I will start to build a list – with details to follow.

Here’s a couple of short samples of early writing to get the ball rolling – One is near final mix – the other is a rough mix…and so it begins…

 

Purposed Imperfection – 2

I didn’t plan to  write a 2-part series, it just happened that the events of this past week provided another example of purposed imperfection – with another principle revealed.

I found a kayak listed on Kijiji. I contacted the owner to find a bit more information, and he described a few flaws: it was a bit too wide for him and the seat was maybe a bit low — as his paddle hit the sides with each stroke. He also went on to describe how the resin was not perfect; there were some runs in it, along with some discolouration and scuffs. I asked if it tracked well (ran straight) and he assured me that it did. We agreed on a price and I picked it up. Only after I had arrived did I come to understand that this young man had BUILT the kayak — a cedar-strip, canoe-style kayak. I told him that I thought he had mad carpentry skills to be able to build it, and he blushed a bit but it seemed hard for him to agree.

I brought the kayak home and put it in the lake the next morning. It tracks beautifully, and it fits my 6′-1″ frame much better than his 5′-9″ – wide enough to be stable without having the paddle strike the sides. I did notice some of the imperfections that the creator had pointed out, but I have determined to leave them as they are, for they remind me that it is not made by machine in some factory overseas – it is hand-crafted by a local person. The creator had to take a chance and push himself to craft it, then to pass it on to others.

This lesson is timely for me. Please Continue Reading …

Purposed Imperfection

“You can be anything you want to be if you just want it bad enough and work hard enough” — this is a popular instruction today; you hear it everywhere. It sounds reasonable, and it stands as a measure of character, as if to suggest that if we all did not get to the top of our game we must be lazy. Let’s test this for a second, before I continue: Imagine Danny Devito as a power forward for the Toronto Raptors, or Andre the Giant as a jockey aboard Seabiscuit. How much effort would it take for them to rise to the top?

It’s difficult to apply this truth during seasons of disorientation, such as we the one we are in currently. What does working hard have to do with losing a job, or business due to the impacts of a pandemic? But, there is a a practical principle to be applied here that transcends any pandemic; an aspect of grace is that is a seemingly paradoxical blend of fullness, acceptance and contentment. Please Continue Reading …

Grace for Life: Powerfully Transcendent

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.”
Viktor Frankl

I have had several people over the past few weeks tell me that they feel bipolar. With all due respect to people who have been diagnosed with this disorder, the term has been used as a generalized expression or label for unusual or more frequent moods swings.

If the conversation continues, people are telling me that they feel depressed, sad or hopeless and have been losing interest or pleasure in most activities. They have the occasional moments where they may feel euphoric, and full of energy – but also where they are unusually irritable. Many are gaining weight, and sleeping longer and more often – and some describe sleeping less and sensing a general anxiety. One even went so far as to say that she felt “homesick”.

In general terms, we are disoriented. Consider  Please Continue Reading …

Grace for Others: Bilateral Payback

We all have off days; days when we don’t feel stressed, agitated, fearful, irritable…you know the drill. These are days when we aren’t who we want to be. They are the moments of evidence that our inner critic files and brings back to remind us of our limitations – the hard fact stuff that is irrefutable and weighs heavy on our heart and mind. I had a recent moment like this.

I was dealing with a couple of difficult situations on the same morning that I had booked a blood donation with Canadian Blood Services. My mind was a bit preoccupied as I drove up to the building and parked my vehicle. I had completed my pre-screening ahead of time, and arrived 10-minutes early for my appointment, as per my standard practice. When I walked into the building, I removed my boots and turned to the door to my left, when I heard a voice behind me say, “good morning, do you have an appointment?” The question caught me off guard — not because of the message, but more likely due to its location. It was coming from the “out” door.

I turned to see a young man in a medical mask and smock, standing behind a small table  Please Continue Reading …

Grace Enables the Fulfilment of Promise

When you think of the word “grace” a variety of definitions may come to mind, including a lady’s name, an expression of elegance (she moves with grace), or possibly deeper religious connotations, such as a prayer spoken before a meal, or a definitive move of God.

My definition of grace in the context of resilience is “the safe space where we take 100% accountability for our actions, reconcile our mistakes and then move back into alignment with the delivery of promise”.

GRACE: I understand that no one is perfect, so I choose to embrace life, self and others with grace, neutralizing fear through empathy and compassion, enabling peace, growth, and fulfillment. #LivingWithGrace

Promise is the “indication of something favourable to come; expectation”.  Please Continue Reading …

The Tusker’s Stake

A few years back, friend of mine had a bad chest cold and so I suggested an over the counter cure that I had heard was effective. A week later we were talking again, and I asked him if the cure had worked. He was quick to respond with, “Either it didn’t work, or if it did, I would be dead by now without it!”

It can be easy to feel this way about your resilience. You keep practicing all the right things: exercise, meaningful work, supportive (reciprocal) relationships, spiritual disciplines — but you can’t be certain if your effort is paying off, or if you’d be dead without it.

We all struggle at times. I confess that I do. That’s one of the reasons I continue to write, speak and coach resilience: I need it. These are challenges times, and as hard as they may be on our economics and/or physical health, our mental health can be challenged the most.

I have been challenged in my own resilience lately. As I work on my practices, I note that a few rise to the top as being most effective: Please Continue Reading …

The Pursuit of Meaning

Here’s a bit of helpful and encouraging fun…Enneagram Types Under Stress in Quarantine!

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstance, only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Viktor Frankl

It’s hard to imagine the circumstance that Frankl was experiencing in Auschweitz, but I can’t imagine a more challenging circumstance in life.  I don’t write this here as a “suck-it-up” exhortation,  Please Continue Reading …

An Invitation to the Outer Deck

Have you ever been to a large cocktail party or reception? Was the room well lit, or did they have the lights dimmed? Was music playing softly in the background, or was it saturating your pours and expanding the diameter of your ear canal? Did it feel like a room full of people, where everyone was talking, but no one was listening? How was your energy though the evening? Did  you enjoy the experience, or did you find it draining? Did you stay late or did you leave as early as possible? Did you find the conversations enjoyable or somehow shallow and insincere?

I confess that if you bump into me at a large cocktail party, it will likely be outside on the deck. I prefer the quiet, where I can engage a deeper conversation. Make it perfect  — add a gentle, warm breeze and sunset — and I’ll stay a while. It’s not that I don’t like  Please Continue Reading …