1 The guide to adventure, travel and writing - www.colleenfriesen.com/blog - Part 848

Broken Light



Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That’s how the light gets in.

  – Leonard Cohen


Golden Repair

Photo credit: Unknown



“Suddenly I stopped, because I realized what my subconscious mind was doing while I was sobbing: my subconscious mind was busy working out a novel about failure.” – excerpt from A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Last week I told my husband about some of the comforting calls and emails I had received in response to my angst-filled post bemoaning all my good fortune. That post, about my twisted response to good news, stands as sufficient evidence as to the correctness of my husband’s rejoinder,

“Don’t they know,” he said, not at all unkindly, “that all writers are screwed up?”

We both laughed (one of us a tad more maniacally than the other).

I will allow Madeleine L’Engle to reply, “I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their validity, no matter what.” 




I have always been a fan of wabi-sabi. Not only because I love the rhythmic loveliness of that glorious word combination, but also because of the lushness of its meaning; how it holds imperfection and transience as part of what makes something beautiful.

And now I’ve discovered kintsugi or kintsukuroi  – the Japanese art of mending what is broken by fusing it with a mixture of resin and gold, resulting in a scarred and deeper beauty.

I am beginning to believe the Japanese have the best words for everything.

But more than that, I fully embrace this world view of perfect imperfection in all its ephemeral beauty.

Life, in all its forms, is flawed and fleeting. Isn’t that precisely why we hold it so dear?

Madeleine L’Engle should have the final word:

“What is mental health, anyhow? If we were all what is generally thought of as mentally healthy, I have a terrible fear that we’d all be alike…I can’t think of one great human being in the arts, or in history generally, who conformed, who succeeded, as educational experts tell us children must succeed, with his peer group…If we ever, God forbid, manage to make each child succeed with his peer group, we will produce a race of bland and faceless nonentities, and all poetry and mystery will vanish from the face of the earth.” 




Enhanced by Zemanta

There’s Something Happening Here


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Grand Design - Colleen Friesen


I’ve been known to make the odd joke about my Mennonite heritage; the genetic predisposition to being nearsighted, wearing black and loving anything dough-ball-ish made from flour and lard.

But sometimes this Mennonite thing just isn’t that funny.

Take, for instance, this past week.


I had a plethora of good things happen: unexpected assignments from two major magazines and a large newspaper. Dream trips confirmed. Signing an agreement on a fabulous new art studio to share with two other amazing artists.

This is all great stuff right?

Then, to top it all off, I found out that my last year’s grant application to the Canada Council was approved.  They believe in my book project! Now we’re in the realm of off-the-chart amazing good news.

And you know what my reaction was?


This is where that no-fun religion of my childhood (the one that declared dancing, drinking and anything that remotely looked like fun, as a great big ol’ sin) reared up its black-cloaked self and did most mightily smite me down.

Because here’s the deal… one must never commit the sin of pride.

If it’s all going this great, well…something big and dark and horrible is bound to come and squash me and put me back in my place. Back in the dark, where I belong. Because who exactly do I think I am?

As my wise and kind friend said when I told her about my inability to be happy about all this, “You realize this is dysfunctional wiring, right?”

Yes. Yes I do. This is messed up. I know that. And I don’t really know if this is a religious thing or just a totally whacked genetic predisposition. But I also know that it’s not normal to walk along the Cambie bridge crying to another friend about my good fortune. I look at my reaction, or more correctly, non-reaction and inability to enjoy my success and see that it’s ridiculous.

This knowledge, however, does not change the result.

I am hoping, that by putting this out into the world, I can reduce its hold. I can then see it for what it is and perhaps be okay with letting myself actually enjoy these moments.

I want to own this. I want to celebrate. I don’t want to apologise for it.

So. I am not going to let these squirrelly thoughts hide and loom large in my head.

Look! They’re already reduced to tiny little fonts on a cyberpage. Ha! Take that.

Get thee behind me. You heard me. Get back!


Menno Simons


I wrote those previous sentences yesterday morning.

Since then, I have spent a lot of time meditating, walking, writing, and talking to good friends and to my husband. God bless my patient husband.

I’ve sat with the emotions and named the fears. I rode that crazy-train that says I’m not able or good enough or worthy enough or whatever other bullshite I’m so good at feeding myself.

I’ve tried on those ill-fitting-too-tight-and-very-ugly-what’s-the-worst-case-scenario-outfits and then…finally…this morning, when I was once again walking over the Cambie bridge, I realized I was getting excited about these latest challenges.

I felt a fizzy thing that was strangely akin to happiness.

Lord help us.





Enhanced by Zemanta
google-site-verification: google38aa387ad858a2eb.html