where creativity and practicality collide

don’t quit your daydream

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I am a “creative type” in a role of practicalities, or so it seems. The at-hand tasks of what we will eat and wear are my mission and while I love to embrace the slow life, sometimes I get bogged down by the never-ending tasks. I don’t want to worry about vaccinations and dentist appointments, I want to dream up projects and sketch them in my Big Book. I don’t want to wash the dishes again, I want to strum my ukulele. I don’t want to put away the laundry, I want to frolic through a meadow with daisies in my hair singing “The Hills are Aliiiiive”. I’m just kidding about that one. Most of my creative ventures don’t involve me leaving the couch.

As a creative type, I spent a good portion of my life thinking I was hopelessly disorganized. I took a personality test in early adulthood, the result being “disorganized dreamer” (INFP). It seemed quite accurate at the time- I was always losing important papers and forgetting deadlines, and my room was a mess. However, when I became a mom and home-maker I quickly realized that a little bit of order was in order. Being organized has been my constant study and now I’m obsessed. I LOVE order. I love minimalistic, uncluttered spaces (not my own space, of course). My whole self breathes a sigh of relief in the absence of mess.

Daily, I do battle against my own bad habits and the wake of three chaos-makers (aka my children) and little by little I have been learning new tricks and habits to maintain a sense of order. Now I am proud to classify myself as an organized person, relatively speaking. Not perfect, not tidy, but on the right trajectory.

Learning to be more organized is one of the many gifts motherhood has given to me.

But what about the creative side of me? What of my inner Molly Maker? She is a messy creature; her stuff is everywhere. Shall I push her aside in the name of a peaceful, well-run house?  Shall I wait for a more opportune time, when the kids are older and more self-sufficient?

May it never be.  Motherhood needs lots of creativity and creativity is an important part of my self-care. To break from utilitarianism and celebrate beauty, or even to make the useful beautiful, is a joy-giving, life-breathing endeavor that I will always try to integrate into my ordinary life.

More on that later…

Thanks for reading!

life inspired: we were here

we walked these streets like kings

For round three of “what inspired me lately” I bring you the song We Were Here. We Were Here is by a Swiss pop duo called Boy and I can’t tell you anything else about them because I haven’t made it past this song yet.

I heard this song on the radio recently and have had it on repeat ever since (ok, not literally :p but I have listened to it lots of times). It totally captured me, although maybe for different reasons than the artist intended. Or maybe not, who knows. In the song, the speaker describes how her presence, her roots in a city change the landscape in a way that lasted far beyond her stay. I don’t know the artist’s motivation behind the lyrics but for me it resonates with my current mandate to rise to the challenge of urban living.

I love that it’s a song about the city- it’s not about frolicking through the fields, exploring the woods, or planting crops. The language is distinctly urban and it has become my Vancouver Song.

Lyrics:

We walked these streets like kings, our faces in the wind

and everywhere we were, we made the city sing

we sang “forever young”, we had our fingers crossed

and when the city sleeps, it dreams of us

yeah, it still does

oh, love, it changes shapes, it glows in many shades

we won’t be gone as long as our echoes resonate

we need no photographs; the past’s not only past

i find us everywhere and that’s how the magic lasts

cause everywhere we’ve been, we have been leaving traces

and they won’t ever disappear

we were here, we were here, we were really here

and the rains get rough but time can’t wash us off

we won’t ever disappear

we were here, we were here, we were really here

it’s only little things; footmarks and fingerprints, a treasure hunt through town

it’s full of evidence, our monuments are all around

everything’s on the move; the paint is wet, all colours new

but if you look carefully, you’ll see us shining through

 

As a young renting family, the question of how to put down roots comes up a LOT in conversations with our friends who, like us, #donthaveamillion. So many have made community here and would like to stay but can’t quite envision growing their family in a basement suite. It might work right now, but what about in a year from now? Five years? Ten years? The picket fence ideal is diminishing and a long hard look at our priorities is in order. In a time of rising rents and reno-victions, can we really make this work?

For me and mine, our living situation is quite stable but we still feel the vacuum sucking our peers away and there are lots of unknowns in our future. What we DO know is that where God has placed us, He has prepared good works for us. We may never own a piece of Vancouver real-estate but the whole city is our oyster. We won’t hold back from investing in a place that may or may not pay financial returns in the form of an appreciating land asset. Whatever lies in the future, wherever we end up, we can always look back on these days and say that we were really here.

I know the connection between this song and those thoughts might seem like a stretch but in the muddy puddle of my inner workings, the Vancouver Question is something I carry pretty close to the surface. It doesn’t take much more than a pebble or a song on the radio to bring it all forth.

I also think this song might be about when we visit a restaurant as a family. Because everywhere we’ve been, we’ve been leaving traces…

 

tear-down town

We recently had the pleasure of watching our neighbour’s house being demolished.

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It has been a long process. The tenants were renovicted back in November and for a while, I doubted if the owners really would tear it down because nothing seemed to be happening. Prior tenants had been evicted in the past on the premise of a sale or renovation but no visible changes to the house were made and then new tenants were brought in for presumably higher rental prices. I raged “They’ve done it again!!” to anyone who would listen feeling that the owners I’ve never met embody everything that is wrong with Vancouver’s housing and rental system.

But my judgement was hasty. This time they were as good as their word and it became evident that they were dismantling the house from the inside out. First, an asbestos inspector came in a subtly marked car followed by a large group of men with cigarettes and McDonald’s coffee who seemed to be on a long coffee break taking turns doing work inside. Every other day there was a miscellany of people (official or unofficial – I couldn’t say) circling the property salvaging what could be salvaged. Then there was the shirtless de-roofer who offered to hire my four-year-old to rip shingles off the roof because “It’s impossible to find good help these days!”

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Eventually, the progress became undeniable from the pile of debris covering every inch of the back yard. After looking at the wreckage for a couple weeks and imagining what might be hiding beneath it, we were quite relieved to see the CAT truck arrive to finish the job.

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Finally, in the early hours of the first sunny day in months, the excavator began his task.

We had friends visiting from out of town so we all (4 toddlers and 4 adults) lined up on the back porch steps to watch and then removed ourselves to watch from inside after we started wondering what might be floating in the air. It was quite a thing to behold. Seeing that he had an audience, the operator put on quite a show for us, toppling the chimney in one fell swoop and sprinkling what was left in the water heater over the fragmented back-half of the house.

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After two days of crashing and crushing, moving and digging, lifting, crunching, scooping all that remained was a modest-sized lot of dirt worth 1.4 million dollars (approximate) and two abandoned bicycles mercifully spared from the metal beast.

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It was a bittersweet experience for me. In days past, I had ill-advisedly allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to live in the cute little house next to my parents’ which was admittedly run-down but still full of personality and potential. It had the most amazing covered patio with a working outdoor fireplace and there were these adorable little alcoves beside the front stairs where our kids could have played. But alas, it was not meant to be. Gone are the days of the quaint fixer-upper starter home (in Vancouver, at least).

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But I’m not bitter. I hope I don’t sound bitter. It was sad, but also quite satisfying to see that flight of fancy totally crushed and cleared. Sometimes it’s nice to see in black and white what is and isn’t an option. And really, who wants life to turn out exactly as imagined anyways?