Friday, February 10, 2012

Creative Challenge

So, I've been inspired.

About a year ago, I was introduced to an amazing author, Shauna Niequist. I've written about her, and have referred to and quoted her several times on this blog. She has written two books, and I happened to start with her second book, Bittersweet, and I loved that one so much, I knew I needed to read her first book, Cold Tangerines. Unfortunately, I took an extremely long time to finish reading that book, but I finally finished it tonight! And, it couldn't have come at a better time for me. One thing I love about Shauna, is that she writes relatively short chapters, which is good for me, because I can't read for too long at a time. Tonight, I realized I only had about 3 chapters left until the end of the book, so I planted myself down, and pushed through.

These two excerpts from her last two chapters have been underlined, highlighted and marked with "!" next to them (so that I can remember these were "life changing" for me) :

Needle and Thread

"I know that life is busy and hard, and that there's crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don't. Please don't. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art that you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.
And if, for whatever reason, you've stopped-- stopped believing in your voice, stopped fighting to find the time-- start today.
...Do something creative everyday."
Cold Tangerines

"Today is a gift. And if we have tomorrow, tomorrow will be a gift.
It's rebellious, in a way, to choose joy, to choose to dance, to choose to love your life. It's much easier and much more common to be miserable. But I choose to do what I can do to create hope, to celebrate life, and the act of celebrating connects me back to that life I love. We could just live our normal, day-to-day lives, saving all the good living up for someday, but I think today, just plain today, is worth it. I think it's our job, each of us, to live each day like it's a special occasion, because we've been given a gift. We get to live in this beautiful world. When I live purposefully and well, when I dance instead of sitting it out, when I let myself laugh hard, when I wear my favorite shoes on a regular Tuesday, that regular Tuesday is better." 

I was meeting with my mentor, Sarah, yesterday and she like Shauna sparked inspiration within me. She was asking me to really take this transitional time to discover what makes me move, what makes my heart stir. To take this time to find out the ways God has wired me, and seek the calling that He has for my life. Hearing that got me so pumped!

With both of these recent happenings, I feel like I have new purpose, and new drive for this season I am in. I will continue to wait for the thing I am waiting for, however it's going to look a little different. My heart still waits, that is absolutely certain, but it's time for me to regain what I've lost in this season, and that is art. I need to make more of it. I have repressed my creative self for far too long, and I think that is a huge reason why I've been so frustrated and upset lately. It's not just the fact that I am waiting, or that I am sleeping on my couch, or that I don't have a job - although these factors made it easy for me to justify my emptiness, they aren't the reason. It's because I've lost myself, or at least a piece of myself.

So, since I've been inspired, I need a structure to see this come to fruition. Something Shauna said that really stood out to me was "Do something creative everyday." That is where I will begin. I don't want to set myself up for failure and say, I am going to write 10 new songs, paint 5 new paintings and write a novel; so instead, I will keep it simple and start small.

For the next month, I will aim to create something new everyday. I am not sure what that will look like, and I am sure somedays will look more "creative" than others. But, my goal is to get back into the creative swing of things. This life is a complete gift from God, and I want to start giving back to Him, by adding things to this world.


I would love to hear any ideas you might have! Send me recipes, art projects, creative ideas, etc. I am open minded and would love the help! I will post about the creative things I am producing everyday, and hey, if you're feeling you need to re-spark that creative soul of yours, I encourage you to join me!

I will also be posting my creativity on instagram, for you iPhoners, you can find me @brendaabel 
(That goes for my twitter account as well!).
If you decide to join me, I will be using #creativechallenge

Thanks for letting me rant, friends. I am excited to see where this leads. And at the very least, this will motivate me to face each day not just as battle, since that is the reality of what this season is for me, but that it is a beautiful day; a gift.



  1. woah! Thanks for this blog. I myself haven't painted in months, it has been affecting me too. I'll join with you! :)

    1. Paloma!
      Yes! I love it. I am not a crazy, incredible painter, but I DO love it, and it has been seriously like 8 months since I've painted anything :\ Good luck to you! And post a picture and let me know when you do!

  2. THIS is inspiring! my heart has been longing to allow my creative side to come to wake up again, but i just keep pushing that part of me aside when i'm tired, stressed, or overwhelmed. EVEN THOUGH the best cure would be to create something. i have been wanting to write more poetry and draw more. i have not done either of these things in months. so, i would really love to join you. and those book quotes! amazing...i kiiiiinda want to read them. they sound so good. i read a book called "the war of art" by steven pressfield - it's a super short, quick read, but totally inspiring and very very good. i think you would like it!

    good luck!

    1. Kalie,

      Thank you!! Yeah I am on day five and I am feeling so much better! It's just awesome to wake up and think, "what will I create today?". Even if it is something simple, creating things keeps us motivated and it makes the world just a little more beautiful each day.

      And I HIGHLY recommend those books. Her second book, "Bittersweet", was my favorite, but both are great!

      I will have to look into that book you recommended :)


      PS- Do you have Instagram?

  3. Hi Brenda,

    This one is an oldie but a goodie! I really enjoyed the post and I am going to have to check out the author you mentioned. Anything specifc of hers that you would recommend starting with or just jump right in? Hope you're doing well! <3