Sabbatical Blog

So after much deliberation, I decided that since I was in an in-between time, on sabbatical in some ways, I would write a sabbatical blog.  I love the history that deep soil has, but in some ways, I felt like I couldn’t revision it right now and it made for some very choppy blogging.  Deep soil’s not going anywhere, but if you want to read my thoughts in 2010 (and perhaps beyond, we’ll see) head over to Wayfaring Artist and follow along in my wanderings, explorations and randomness.  It’s still somewhat under construction, but then again, so am I :-)

I hope you’ll join me there.  Happy New Year.

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10 Ways to Cultivate Creativity

1. Research ideas until you find a method that makes sense to you

Now that we’ve chosen to remove value judgments from art and to stop saying that we could never do something, go find something you want to do or create and figure out how to do it. You might need to search the internet for a while or go flip through some books on the topic until you find an explanation that works with how you learn, so get to it!

2. Keep paper and pencil handy.

41tNmAtGrAL._SL160_I used to remember everything, well, everything except things I’d been asked to do, go figure.  But now at the venerable old age of 30, I just can’t do it.  So I would miss out on all sorts of great ideas if I didn’t have pencil or paper handy.  Have lots of good ideas in the car?  See if your phone has a memo function, buy a digital voice recorder, or sign up for jott.  I also try to have a notebook or pad of paper with me or near me at all times.  Small Moleskines are good for this because they fit in pockets and purses, and you can keep things all in one place.

3. Give yourself downtime: permission to do “nothing” with any measurable productivity results in some of the best ideas.

If you fill all your time with stuff, you limit your creativity.  That being said, you don’t necessarily have to sit around and do nothing.  Often doing something manual or physical stimulates your brain while not engaging it in such a way that is distracting.

4. Make something from scratch that requires stirring or something else repetitive.

41cZuqeFB1L._SL160_I find making a roux to be very contemplative.  If you’re not used to cooking grab a copy of Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food.  She’s good at explaining things as well as giving you recipes to follow.  Heck, grab a copy even if you are used to cooking, she’ll push you to a new level of yum!

Also, one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman, just came out with a51ATpyDehUL._SL160_ new, blog-style cookbook.  She has pictures for every step along with a few funny stories sprinkled alongside, so if you’ve ever wondered what it meant to beat egg-whites until they formed stiff peaks, her picture cookbook will not just tell you the steps, it will show you the steps.  Pretty cool , right?

5.  Turn your TV off while you cook.

If you tend to have the TV or music on in the background while you’re making dinner, turn it off.  Cooking is a great time to let your brain relax while you’re working with your hands.

6. Weed your garden if you have one, or plant one if you don’t.

Don’t have space for a garden, or think that the middle of October is a weird time to recommend this? Start an indoor herb garden with a couple of pots, some herbs or herb seeds, and bright sunny window.  If you buy those fresh herbs in the little bags at the grocery store for a recipe and never use them up, try sticking them in vase of water and letting them root.  Then you can pot them.  They won’t all root, but it’s worth a shot, I’ve got some sage in my kitchen that started that way.

7. Go for a walk by yourself with no iPod.

Find somewhere beautiful or interesting and be alone with yourself, God and the great outdoors.  Wander with your feet and let your mind wander.  Oh, and bring along one of those notebooks and a pen or pencil, you might be surprised what you think of if you give yourself the space to just wander.

8. Rock in rocking chair and drink a warm drink on a nice day.

It’s relaxing, what can I say. I’m a fan of mini-vacation and anything like this is very good for the old noodle.  Porch swings and hammocks also qualify.  Napping is allowed.

9. Exercise: take a martial arts class or some other form of group activity that requires learning something new.

Muscles and brains are connected so exercise, especially exercise that makes you memorize something will help expand your brain.  And in the case of martial arts classes, will help you kick a potential mugger’s butt.

10.  Read a book about something wholly unrelated to anything you’ve read before.

Like I said in the last post in this topic, innovation begins at the intersection of ideas, so branch out, find something that piques your interest that you’ve never explored before, and go explore it.  If it bores you, drop it and pick another something to explore, there may be connections you never thought of.  The possibilities in this approach are endless.

11. Drink plenty of water.

Did I call this post “10 ways…” ah well, here’s a bonus, or perhaps, a creative way of looking at the number 10.

Seriously though, stay hydrated, everything works better when you do and you’ll feel better.

Posted in The Creative Life | Leave a comment

In other news..

…how am I supposed to get any work done when there’s cuteness like this around? How?!?


Posted in Double Trouble Kittens, Havenknoll, Random | 3 Comments

Are all people creative?

DSC_0208.jpgAs a person who expresses myself creatively in several outlets (my messy workspace being one of them!), I find myself being told how creative I am as a primary compliment, as in, “Oh, you’re so creative.”  And while I appreciate the compliment, there’s always been something about that statement that irked me just a little.  The other night, while hanging out with Gavin and discussing ways to have more people participate in the arts as a community, I finally put my finger on what was bothering me.

See, I feel there’s a very spiritual aspect of creating anything because being created in the image of God, we are all thus creative, sub-creators if you will, imbued with characteristics of God as creator.

Think about it for a minute.

If this is true, then there is no such thing as a un-creative person, even though each person’s creativity will take different forms.

But I’m told all the time not only that I’m creative, but that’s often followed by the person saying: “I could never do that.”

My thought is that there’s way too many people selling themselves short out there, so here’s some of my thought’s on creativity and cultivating it. I’ve actually added a whole category for this called “The Creative Life.” Now, I’m going to try to keep these thoughts as general as possible, but admittedly some will lean towards the ways in which I am creative. If those aren’t your ways of creativity, please go find someone who’s talking about things that resonate more with you (not that you have to leave my blog! I just don’t want people feeling like I’m placing a value judgment on them just because they’ve never had creative aspirations in any of the ways I might use as examples…)

Creativity doesn’t begin in a vacuum

No ideas come from nothing, all sorts of things inspire all sorts of other things. You can’t be creative  without multiple inputs, so go follow up on something you’ve been curious about.  A down economy is a great time to hang out at the library and investigate all sorts of things, plus there’s always surfing the web!

Don’t assume you can’t do something

A lot of statements I hear regarding creativity begin with “I could never do that…”  Why? or more importantly, “Who says?”

When I was hanging out the other night, Michael, the awesome pastor of Hendersonville First United Methodist Church reminded me of an anecdote that goes like this.

Ask a kindergarten class if they can dance, sing, draw, paint, you name it, and practically every hand in the place will go up.  Ask a freshman college class the same questions and you’ll only have a few for each category.  Where does all the creativity go?

Value judgments of creativity

I think we begin to lose our creativity when we begin to realize that there are folks out there who assign various sorts of values to different creative work.  There’s the concept of “good” art and “bad” art, but I actually don’t believe there’s such a thing as bad art.  There’s art and there’s “not art,” the later comprised of things that try to pass as art, say pornography, for example, that are in fact not art because they degrade people made in the image of God.  So if we rule out things that don’t reflect God as creator (and be careful to recognize that it’s all to easy to let personal taste label things as “Bad” when in fact we just don’t like it!), then art simply is, there’s no good or bad.

Picasso certainly wasn’t hailed as a genius when he first started breaking the “rules” and messing with people’s concepts of art.  That of course, as history proved, didn’t make him a “bad” artist.

Creativity at the crossroads

In his book The Medici Effect, Franz Johansson describes how the Enlightenment happened 410UJJ0X0BL._SL160_because of the intersection of many disciplines coming together in Florance under the patronage of the Medici family.  Scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, doctors were all rubbing elbows in one place and as a result all of them became more innovative.  Over-specializing without any cross-pollination is actually detrimental to creativity, but don’t take my word for it, check out the book, it’s a great read.

Finding your creativity

So ever wished you could… paint, make jewelry, take better pictures, scrapbook, sew… Go start, there’s nothing stopping you except your own fear.

More ideas on finding your creativity and helping it along to come!

Posted in The Creative Life | Leave a comment

This is our earth

Hat tip to Mike:

Most of our contact with the Salvation Army comes from those ubiquitous bell ringers that show up in front of our grocery stores and Wal-marts before Christmas.  Happy smiling volunteers who wish us a Merry Christmas regardless of what we drop in their pot.

Or perhaps some of us donate our usable clothes and so forth to their thrift stores.

What a lot of us don’t realize is that from the start the Salvation Army has been dedicated to helping the poor, something Jesus seems to care an awful lot about.  And in this desire, they actually go and live with the poor, and as a result, can see how things are affecting them.

We’ve received some huge amount of rain in Tennessee and had a bunch of flash floods.  Of course, our infrastructure is set up to handle this decently well, and for most of us it’s a non-event, for some an inconvenience, and a few have been affected more drastically, but for the most part, we all just keep going along.

What happens when that sort of thing happens in a poor country, when flooding causes open sewage to mix with drinking water? People die.  And more from diseases than the actual flooding, but where it’s a nuisance for us, it’s life-changing for them.

Something to think about…

Posted in Culture, Current Affairs, Green living | Leave a comment

How to give your dog a seizure

So I was experimenting with flash settings this evening as I’ve recently gotten some new equipment, so I set up in the living room and used my dogs as something less-then-willing models.  It did require some sneaking up on them.


At first they didn’t really pay that much attention (I was very sneaky… well, except when those bright flashes starting bouncing light around an otherwise dimly lit room).


One picture was okay with the boxer-boy, but when I took this second one he started looking concerned.


By the third picture, he had moved to distinctly disapproving.  So I thought I’d turn my attention to the next (un) willing model, the stub dog (so called because of her short legs).


I caught her shredding kleenex, only at this moment she’d wadded one up in her mouth and was sort of chewing it, kind of like a cud.  She seemed appropriately embarrassed that I’d not only caught her, but recorded her in all of her cow-imitation glory.


See what I mean?  Although, by this picture (I took a couple that I deleted) I’m not sure if she was embarrassed by her actions, or more like, askance at me taking pictures of her.


Yeah, I’m thinking askance is more like it.  “Stop taking pictures of me, mom!”


“Maybe if I close my eyes, she’ll stop.”


She gets so dejected when I take her color away.


Even though I put it back, she was only slightly less dejected.  But at this point I’d given myself a headache, and it was probably a wonder that I didn’t actually give either dog a seizure.


Gratuitous kitty picture.

Posted in Chew puppy, Double Trouble Kittens, My life, The dog of many names | 1 Comment

Temporary rapid-phasing bi-polar disorder

That’s what you get when you mix all of these together along with some crazy sinus pressure and an overachieving mind.


So right now, my day has been something like this: wake up, feel stuffy and headachey and allergy-ey.  Decide to combat all of those simultaneously with a drug cocktail, vitamin drink and some coffee. Now I’m alternating between alert and feeling down right crappy.  Up down up down… you get the picture.  But whatever you do, don’t picture my tortured red nose.

Stop! I said DON’T picture it! I’m sick, it’s my birthday and you’re going against my express wishes.  Why are you doing this to me?!?


DISCLAIMER: the author of this blog received no compensation, consideration, or remuneration  from Walgreens, Walgreens Inc, or any other name that entity is known under.  That being said, I wouldn’t mind some. Walgreens?

Posted in My life, Random | Leave a comment

Rainy day

So I walked outside this morning to find this:


“Mo-om! Why are we outside when it’s raining”

“Because you’re outdoor cats dear, that was always the plan…”


“What did you say, Adelaide?”


“Hey! Don’t take that tone with me young lady! Why? Because I said so, that’s why? Why can’t you be more like your brother?” (I’m getting out all the things you’re not supposed to say to kids on my animals).






“I’m the perfect kitteh.  What, like you didn’t know?”


Did I mention these are outdoor cats…

Posted in Chew puppy, Double Trouble Kittens, Havenknoll, My life, Pictures | Leave a comment

I am a great and terrible house keeper

No, it’s true. It just depends on the week… okay, month, you catch me in.  I’m about to hit my tolerance and go on a cleaning spree.  After all, my clean sheets are on the dining room table (the other set, okay, I have two!), along with some random pieces of male undergarments, sort of my fault, I dumped them there when I took them out of the dryer one night, but the other adult in the house hasn’t seen fit to take them upstairs either.

We do have some clean dishes, but no clean counter-tops.  My half-loaf of bread grew some small green colonies the last couple of days.  And my kitchen rug is getting mildewy in the washing machine.  One dog, who shall remain unnamed DSC_0357.jpg puked on my kitchen rug (although she thoughtfully rolled the rug back over it so that it wasn’t quit so gross looking… until I tried to straighten the rug out…) and I promptly put the rug in the wash with a good amount of detergent and vinegar.  That was yesterday.  No, wait, Wednesday… okay, so I think it was Tuesday.  And I just realized that the rug is in the washing machine still.

Which is going to set me off on a cleaning spree  (if I stop taking pictures and blogging, that is).  And I’ll get everything spic and span, neat as all get out, and I’ll be very meticulous about keeping it that way and making the bed every day for at least a week… sometimes two… and then I’ll get busy, or I’ll leave some dirty dishes in the sink overnight, and then I just won’t feel like doing them, or making the bed is just too much in the morning, all 95 seconds of my day that it consumes… and the next thing you know we’re back to boxers on the table and mildewing rugs in the washer.


(Boxers as in undies, not this boxer… he doesn’t get on tables, he just drools on them.  And begs for scrambled eggs)


(See what I mean by drooling? He’s very talented at this.)



But really, I’m a good housekeeper.  Sort of like I’m an early riser.  At heart that is.  I mean,there’s definitely this romantic idea of waking up early and watching the sun rise with my morning coffee on my front porch, all serene and everything.

Of course, I’ve never actually done that.  The few times I get up before the sun it’s only for very good reasons and always because I have to go somewhere in a hurry.

Besides, my mop and mop bucket are on my front porch.


’nuff said.

Posted in Chew puppy, Havenknoll, House keeping, My life, The dog of many names | 1 Comment

My Next Thirty Years


“I’d like to take a moment, celebrate my age / the ending of an era, the turning of a page…” or so goes the first line of the Tim McGraw song who’s title I borrowed for this post.  Now he never says in the song that he’s turning 30, but I think it’s more than likely.

And I’m turning 30 on Sunday! I’ve been making the resolution to “not stay up so late” for several years now, and clearly, it’s not working out too well.  Salads aren’t really a problem for me though, I like salads. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go listen to the song already!)

So while 30 isn’t exactly old or anything, there is something about 30 that pushes one firmly and irrevocably into the grown-up camp at least from the perspective of many teens, though many of the then junior highers labeled me as “old” at 25 (since most of them are now in college, I am feeling somewhat older now thank you very much, but at 25, not so much).

And while I pause on the threshold of this irrevocable adulthood, I thought I’d share some thought’s on growing older that have been running through my head the last couple of weeks.

I recently grabbed a bottle of wine that while decent, definitely tasted “young” when first opened.  It improved with airing, but possibly would have been better next year (maybe it was just the wine and that as good as it got, but I digress).  New wine to put it generally, tastes “sharper” than older wine while the older stuff, or the wine that’s drunk at the proper age, since that is different for different varieties, is more mellow, rounded, and has much more depth of flavor.

Now, it’s not exactly revolutionary to compare growing older with wine, it’s a comparison that’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt, magnet, cutsie decorating signs, aprons, birthday cards, and so on.

There was, however, a specific thought that popped into my head as I sipped away.   When we are young we’re prone to passions and extremes, or, at least, I was.  We’re right, invincible, and charging full-steam ahead on whatever it is we feel strongly about today.  Growing older ought to see a depth of flavor and insight, less rashness, and an overall graciousness that develops as we finally get over those “adolescent fears” (song again for you non-country listeners).

And while the passion remains, and indeed, grows and deepens, it does so with a depth of character not indicated by the impulsiveness and sometimes melodramatic dogmatism of our youth.  As we grow more comfortable with who we are, we are free to listen and seek to understand without becoming defensive.  We are free to extend gracious welcomes and put others at ease, caring for them and respecting them without either compromising our own core beliefs nor rejecting them for theirs.  In other words, we are free to be more fully human, the way we were intended to be when we were created.

Moving into this requires first an understanding of who we are as God’s beloved children, loved not for what we can do, but simply for who we are. Loved no more nor less for our accomplishments or failures, simply loved beyond all comprehension by the one who loved us enough to imagine us into being in the first place.

Now, this is a picture, an ideal if you will, I’m not trying to say I’ve suddenly arrived at this state.  It’s where I want to go from here as I move forward into my next thirty years. Actually, there is no arrival, it’s a continual process, a constant becoming.

And now that wine can be shipped legally to Tennessee, I’d be happy to send my mailing address to any who wish to send me a bottle, case or three this next week ;-)

Posted in Musings, My life | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment
  • Welcome

    Welcome to deepsoil! I'm so glad you dropped by. I hope you'll grab a cup of coffee (or other comforting beverage of your choice) and hang out with me for a while.

    I am a Jesus-follower in the Anglican tradition. photographer. artist. dreamer. blogger. writer. youth minister. happily married. dog lover. teacher. student.

    For more about me click here.

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