What’s in a Compliment

Encouragement is important to creativity. To hear constant criticism, or belittlement of our efforts, is deadly to most people’s dreams.

“Oh my! You are so talented.”

People love to hear this comment. But could it and the beliefs behind it be hurting, more than helping creativity?

I see potential danger lurking in the background.

Natural, or raw talent, is a beautiful thing. Each of us have it. Weather that talent has to do with speaking, writing, sculpting, painting, or listening to a friend. Perhaps it looks different for you, like understanding complex logical thought patterns.

Regardless, each human is gifted in something. But if we believe our ability to succeed rests solely on that natural ability, it will limit us.

What happens to a runner, who is fast from birth, but as soon as running hurts, they stop training? They will never stand on an international podium. It’s the same for creatives who refuse to do the hard work.

For a writer, hard work is research, editing, and lots of words that will never be in a book.

What is your talent? What is hard work and growth for you?

Can working at something you are not naturally talented at be worth it? Should you give up?

NO!

If you work hard, you will improve.
Sure, maybe you won’t be world famous. But I am confident you will reach a higher level of ability if you persevere. Hard work trumps talent alone, every time.

“Your hard work is paying off.”

“Look at you grow!”

“I love your perspective.”

These three compliments are powerful and satisfying to my soul. They acknowledge things that have happened behind the senses while still praising.

Next time we give a compliment, let’s think about what it’s really communicating and ask ourselves, could we give more than a nod to talent?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Six Word Story (35)

Even when the sky is overcast, a sunflower always knows where to look.

I am envious of this nature.

“How can you just KNOW?”
“I just do.”

A snippet of a conversation I have had on more than once occasion with someone close to me. How can you JUST know?

It is a nature given to a quiet few, and the sunflower too.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from unsplash.com


Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Reflections from a Dyslexic Writer

I remember one day trying to read my ‘A’ book to Mom, and being unable to put ‘gl’ together, to read the word ‘glad’. It took so much patience. My mother sat there, listening to me struggle over and over.

The first day I got the consonant blend out once, that was it. Only once after a half hour of trying. I have always had to battle language in written form.

I still mix up my B’s and D’s. Often write M’s and N’s wrong, have always hated grammar lessons. I even hid my workbook behind the couch and got away with it for a week, to my mother’s frustration.

So why did I choose to be a writer?

The quick answer is, I didn’t, it chose me.

Stories have been a constant in my life, and the desire to tell them and create has always been within me. I distinctly remember regaling everyone at a friend’s birthday parting, with the story of my dad using a rifle to ‘shoot down’ trees instead of cutting them with a chainsaw. That he was a logger was true, but ya, felling trees doesn’t work that way. I had the entire room in stitches.

It was an absurd story, but for that moment my dad was the hero, as trees fell around him with a single shot. A projection of how my heart saw him. It was great fun.

The need to be understood, and to understand are huge parts of my personality and I have no better way to attempt both, then to use language. But how do I deal with wondering eyes that just can’t see the words they write straight the first time?

I taking my time.

I am horribly slow with writing. I take weeks to craft these short blog posts, even longer for any of my short stories. If I am rushed, it shows. Time sensitive writing competitions are exhausting. Deadlines are important but often missed. My comments in chat boxes and social media are laughable. Even so, the landscape of language speaks to me.

I have learned there is no unfixable mistake in writing. Asking for help is not weakness, but strength. Every sentence, when you sit back and think about it, can tell a unique story.

I acknowledge I don’t have it near as difficult as other people I know. Years of repetition have improved my skills with spelling, and trained my eyes to work as a team far better than they used to. But still there are so many mistakes I miss.

Will I ever be a great poet? Maybe not… Will people ever take me seriously in the literary world? I don’t know. Will I ever write a best-selling novel? I will try. But as I try, I will do my best not to forget that day I fought to put ‘gl’ together. Remembering where we started keeps us grounded.

Where did you start your creative journey?

What walls did you have to clump?

I didn’t realise I was learning the lessons of perseverance while struggling to read at age six, seven, and eight. I thought I was just learning letters on a page. Resilience started building the first time they teased me for not being able to read my bible out loud in Sunday school. The foundations of those lessons were messy, hard work. But a temple can not stand tall, if we do not lay the groundwork.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Note: I have not been formally diagnosed with Dyslexia. Being from a homeschool family, we did not have that opportunity while I was in school. There are other members of my immediate family what have undergone vision therapy and deal with learning differences on a far larger scale than I do. ~ Mary Grace van der Kroef


Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Creatively Christian Podcast

A few months ago my new friend Andrea Sandefur reached out to me and asked if I would like to be featured in The Creatively Christian Podcast by Theophany Media. Well, today my episode has dropped and I am so excited to share our conversation with all of you!


“Theophany Media utilizes various forms of art, media, and technology to communicate complex Christian truths to the global church.”

  Whether you are an artist, or an art lover, a writer, a reader, an actor or just someone who loves to sit back and watch other create, I encourage you to head on over to their website and check what they are all about out. My episode can be found my following the links in the opening paragraph of this email. Or search for The Creatively Christian Podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

“Our mission is to create something that brings together intelligence and imagination, creativity and Christ, fun and faith.”

Jake Doberenz, Founder of Theophany Media

My favorite place to catch the podcast is via their YouTube channel. If you enjoy watching video of the people you are listening to, this is this place to do it! If you enjoy what you hear, make sure to share the podcast with those you think would also love it. Not just my episode either, but all of them!

Thank you everyone,
Mary Grace van der Kroef

The Truth and Lies of Poetry

There is power in poetic verse. Words roll off the tongue like music and lose us in the sway of emotions that flood each word. But what about the messages hidden within poetry?

There are many ways to hide truths and or lies behind emotions. Often poetry takes us on a path we don’t control and we discover answers to questions along the way. But not always. If the engine that drives a piece is emotion, it’s inevitable that the author will sometimes get it wrong. After all, we need many more things than love to survive this world, and those that love should definitely still use the phrase, “I’m sorry.” Still, poetry has at one time taught us these things as truth.

How do we sift through the half-formed thoughts, fragmented ideas, and coloured emotions of poetry? Is it worth it? It is, especially when the poet speaks to us of their own personal story, with words that journey to understanding.

I say, you will never find gold if you are not first willing to sift the rivers for it. Maybe that is what a poet is. A prospector, braving the cold river of emotion, the pan of language in hand, searching the sediment of life for nuggets of truth. Will we find gold? Or pyrite? Or nothing but unwanted rocks?

You will never know until you are willing to jump in that river or start a poetic journey. The key is to understand it’s a journey, and a fragment of a journey, not a whole.

I thank God every day for the gift of the written word, and the gems I have found in the gift of poetry. But I also know, not every word I write is truth. They are expressions of emotion. I am also aware that the things I believe in this moment will change, as it should. Life is continually teaching us. A person who stays the same is a person who never grows.

I pray I can grow with open eyes and mind, ready for the truth, but also aware of the lies. For searching for both is necessary for growth.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

A Six Word Story (30)

Sometimes I feel like an overturned cup of confetti… Until I remember cups are for holding liquid, not everyone else’s bits and pieces. Confetti wants to be thrown around, shared, and bring colour to the world.

Remember, it’s okay to throw those bits around, as long as you clean up after the party is over.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from unsplash.com


Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Worth of Early Works

We store away our children’s scrap paper drawings as if they were masterpieces. Maybe not all of them, but the few that hold sentimental meaning. But with our own art, whether written word, the stroke of a paintbrush, or a photograph of a first cake decorating session, we push them to the back cupboard, or even throw them away.

Making room for a new and better isn’t wrong, but maybe we should hang on to one or two of those learning pieces. Treasuring them like we do the scribbles and hand paintings of childhood.

Why?

Undoubtedly your first works hold mistakes, just as mine do. So why keep any of them? Why show any of them to anyone?

They are beautiful examples of growth.

How often do you get discouraged in your creative life, and need a reminder of just how far you have come? How many times do you need help to keep your feet on the ground? Or encouragement to not give up? Keeping, and even displaying the art made while in the first stages of learning can be these powerful reminders.

Above is a picture of my first 4 foot by 2 foot painting. I wanted to stretch myself and see how different it was to paint a larger piece. The water was FAR from what I was going for…

So when I finished, what did I do with it? I hung it in on my kitchen wall, and every time I looked up at it, I thought about what I would do differently next time. (Now it’s hanging in my sister’s cabin because she is crazy and loves it.) I learned so much from just looking at it every day for over a year.

Everyone was once a beginner. No one has yet ‘arrived’ at perfection. So cherish those sloppy first strokes and overused words. Let them shine a light on your future creative path.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Cherishing People While Creating

It’s thrilling, letting yourself get swept away in the moment of creation… Then someone interrupts you. A child tugs on your sleeve, or the phone rings. A spouse calls from down the hall, “Are you done yet?”

Do you shake off that tug on your arm, mute the phone, and ignore the calling? Can you? Should you?

Creativity is precious, we should cultivate and protect it. Having a space for this is ideal, having a time when distractions and interruptions are at a minimum is important. But there are people in our lives that can’t, and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s a balancing act.

The people in our lives are important. They support our creativity in ways we often take for granted. We shouldn’t ignore them. Not only shouldn’t we ignore them, but they are a pivotal part of our creation process.

In many cases they are directly, or indirectly, our inspiration. We get many of our ideas from watching them, talking with them, living with them, and all the ups and downs that go with that.

As a mother and wife, I sacrifice my creative life to care for and nurture my family. I have obligations, expectations and jobs I can NOT ignore. Families need attention, children need nurturing. But is it ever okay to say, “No, not right now, I need this time?”

Yes. Sometimes it’s healthy, and even important, to set boundaries around our creative endeavors. They are a part of us. When humans walk in their creative abilities, positivity flows out into the world. Finding the right place and time for that pulling away is the hard part, and the key to a thriving creative life amid people.

When I first became a mother, my kids became my entire world. But I let go of something that I never should have lost. My creativity. I stopped drawing, except doodles for the kids to color. I stopped learning and pushing myself artistically. I even stop writing, only picking it up once or twice a year when a fleeting spark touched my life. Because I let this part of me go, my soul suffered.

I didn’t know how to balance my creativity around the people important to me. But now that I have found my creative spark again, it’s a learning process. Like learning to juggle. But it’s one of the most important lessons of my life.

Do not lessen your light in this world by letting God given trats or abilities die. Instead, seek to learn how to incorporate new people, places, and responsibilities into your creativity.

Who are the people in your daily life that inspire you? Who are the ones that test you? Who adds flavor to your hours?

Cherish them, friends, family, and prickly people alike. I look forward to seeing them represented in your creative works.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Six Word Stories (22)

What is hope?

An intangible thing that all humanity grasps for.

Sometimes I imagine I can feel it’s edges like a feather soft thing, just out of reach.

But is it really out of reach? Is hope something to be grasped?

No.

Hope is experienced, not held. Hope is found but not possessed.

It lives in places where logic alone dares not live.

Perspective changes things. It doesn’t change truth, but can give us a wider view of what is true.

Toes can never me mountains, but they can show is a likened beauty, and defy the shoes they are so often crammed into, and hold up the weight of our lives, like the deepest roots of the earth.

As does every shoulder bent in strain, stooped in pain, and prostrate in prayer.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photos sourced from unsplash.com

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Six Word Stories (21)

I remember my Father’s back and legs, clad in gray overalls, being the only thing visible as he leaned into the open maw of his truck’s hood. If we came to close with our loud games, he would shoosh us. He was listening.

He knew the sound of a healthy engine. He could tell what was off… The sound wasn’t right.

In all the noise of the universe, I wonder if our planet sound off as it spins. Can God hear the clank of my heart and tell just what isn’t quite right?

I imagine he listens closely to our world.

A world made to work, move, revolve, expand, collide, and create in the middle of deceptive chaos.

The constant churning of ideas, peoples, matter, all looks like a blended mess from the middle. But what does it look like as we take a step back and view the whole? Is there a rhyme or a reason?

The marks of our history litter this world. Even the rusted rim of a wheel has a story to tell us. It’s a piece of the puzzle, the hand of God is laying out. Only he knows their planned order.

If the world sounds off, maybe it’s just because He isn’t finished yet.

Are we a continuation of creation?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photos sourced from Unsplash.com

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.