I'm writing this in early January from the eye of the storm, the calm of the in-between. In-between houses, in-between the old year passing and the new year entering in, in-between sickness and health, exam prep and reshuffling, in-between presidents and sovereignty. There's a lot happening isn't there! My tumble dryer is humming happily and warmly behind me, a domestic comfort that life goes on and clothes still need washing.
I'm seeking solace in these pockets of grace all the more these days, tuning out the multitude of voices and leaving my phone to idle. What a portal to Pandora's box that glimmering little screen can be, and yes at times, a great blessing. I've recently produced an entire course on that subject sharing my own struggles with technology. I'm offering a free session if you'd like to take a peek.
I feel this month to bring you a basket full of calm content that will hopefully inspire deep breathing and inspiration to set our hearts and mind on gentler things, things I feel our soul needs right now.
Above you will see the first larger scale composition I created June 2020. A kind friend let me plunder her bountiful garden and these peonies (a fave) took centre stage for my debut attempt at a Dutch Still Life composition. I've only shown this on my Instagram up till now so I'm thrilled to share it with you full size. I am delighted looking at this to see how the Lord blessed me during the first lockdown by bringing me back to my camera, I also see how much I'm still growing and that this newsletter was birthed from this process. I'll be bookending this newsletter with my other first more 'official' composition called Taste & See, I'll tell you more about it later. And now, to the beauty sniffs from this month!
Enjoy these birds in winter, so soothing to watch and brings a stillness to my day.
I ordered ahead of time something I wanted last year but saw too late, Janet Morley's A Poem A Day For Lent and Easter. How could I resist that front cover! I really enjoy books like this which feature something of the arts which unfold an aspect of God's character or theology.
My family has been enjoying this game over Christmas and weeknights, in fact I'll give you three! Sussed, Uno Flip and Poetry For Neanderthals which was a gift to us so not sure what they're trying to say! A truly hilarious game :D
More Morten Hilmer who I've shared with you before. 7 Days Nature Photography and Bushcraft. So relaxing, peaceful and thoroughly engaging. Be sure to watch to the end where we get to see Morten's beautiful images set to relaxing music. That night sky at 19:46! Morten takes you BTS on his photography towards the end and his friend Bertram did all the bushcraft which can be seen here. Bertram has his own YouTube channel, his silent nature adventures are so soothing. I confess, this gets me quite excited in a primal way when I see bread being kneaded on a slice of tree! I simply love the absence of talk too.
I recommend watching this when adrenalin is low and emotions taxed, I found myself having a cathartic little weep at the end of a very long day this month. The gift of voices and music in the most unexpected places, a kiss from heaven.
My new restful creative pastime, blackout poetry. What is it you ask? Maybe you'd like to have a go
7. I fell in love this month with Dutch painter Cornelis van Spaendonck!
8. How do you let the stress cycle take its full course? Did you know we're the only species that storehouses stress? In every other instance the fight or flight process runs its course once the threat is gone; the gazelle goes back to grazing, the fish comes out of hiding. We on the other hand hold onto these worries and in doing so release cortisol and adrenaline when we don't need them. Did you know that organ transplant patients are injected with cortisol and adrenalin when undergoing surgery to suppress the immune system to stop it rejecting the new organ? We must find ways to allow our stresses to complete the cycle and in doing so be better friends to our bodies. I watched a documentary called Heal this month which was very insightful. While as a Christian I don't support every view offered, I was reminded of our beautiful design in God and that I need to be intentional about its care. I think there's a good reason we're encouraged hundreds of times not to be afraid.
9. Taken from one of my favourite films The Prince of Egypt, this lady Jada, went viral with her impromptu singing in an empty lobby. At this stage Jada had received 3.3m views and so went back to record