Loose Threads

Hey, did you know I started going live every day on my personal YouTube channel? I’ll be doing it every day for an unknown amount of time. I haven’t set any parameters, but I’m aiming for 30 days to see how it feels. It’s an experiment!

In today’s live video, I shared my stack of “to read” books. Most of them are about writing, so I finally cracked one open and started on the exercises.

The book I’m currently going through is called “One Year to a Writing Life” by Susan Tiberghien. The first exercises involve journaling, and then targeting a particular image from your journal entry to expand upon in free-form style. I’ve shared it below.


Loose threads. A frayed rope. Bits and scraps of thread shed onto the floor like dandruff. The rope is slack, a lazy S shape, and I’ve long since stopped tugging it. I just let it lie where it lies. Sometimes I vie for tight control; marching orders, appropriate tension, twisting the rope ends together and wetting them back into position. But now, I’m too distracted. All of my energy is elsewhere. The frayed edges collect dust, rope scraps on the floor untended to. Later, I’ll pick up the pieces. When I can summon my full attention. When it matters to me. 

Times for tension and times for release. Times to make things happen and times to let things happen. Times to grip and pull and tug, and times to let go and stare into space. 

This is a moment in time. I’m stepping into the flow. All alone, float away on a river, finally I can sleep.


I’m feeling optimistic.

It’s a 45-minute drive from my parent’s place to Jane’s daycare, which is an improvement over the 1.5-hour drive from my house. When we loaded up the car this morning and drove off into the countryside, the sky was black. By the time we reached daycare, the sun was a sliver away from the horizon. I watched the transition, from black to blue, as we meandered down back roads and highways. Watched as night gave way to deep grey, the frozen fields a silhouette, outlined in shadow. Then a lighter, dustier shade, traces of clouds appearing. I blinked and the pinks appeared, purpling the brush-stroked clouds. Like a light-switch was flicked on and the world went from monochrome to full color.

Saskatchewan isn’t known for much. It’s a flat, sparsely populated prairie province, only 1.8 people per square kilometer. People usually just drive on through, seeking a bigger city like Winnipeg or Calgary. Manitoba is flat, but it’s filled with lakes. Calgary has the mountains a short drive away, always in view from the city. Those traveling here note the endless abundance of prairie grasses – wheat, rye, canola, flax, lentils – and declare it boring. Where are the trees, they say? The rivers, the rocks, the mountains, the hills?

But they’re making a big mistake, and that mistake is not looking up. Saskatchewan’s ground-level landscape is flat farmland (unless you venture north, where you’ll find unspoiled forests), but there’s one major advantage of flatlands. The sky is always with you, and the skyscape is superior to any landscape. Land is finite; the sky is infinite. Land is a story that’s been written, words set in stone, an idea that’s been had; the sky is a possibility, unnamed and untamed.

I take comfort in wide open spaces. Driving this morning, the sky an unfolding and ever-changing panorama, I felt safe. My spirit was free. In the city, buildings feel like boundaries to my soul. Mountains, though lovely, quickly become claustrophobic. But there, on the road in the black of morning, the whole universe was opening just for me.


100 Bad Ideas

Today’s video is a discussion on art, songwriting, and how most of what I create is garbage…but it’s worth it for the rare times I strike gold. We talk about getting the ego out of the way, what makes an idea good or bad, and much more. Come hang out with me! 🙂


Remembering how to be creative

I picked up my daughter from daycare on Friday afternoon to make the 45-minute trek to my parent’s place. We would spend the evening with pizza and celebration and family (Jane didn’t touch the pizza – she much preferred the channa masala we had the next night from the Indian restaurant). It’s a lovely drive around the outskirts of the city, with endless plains ripe with harvest.

As I began the drive, with Death Cab’s Plans in the background to help me think, I fell into an old familiar feeling, one that hits me each and every autumn. The feeling that I should be paying attention because everything is so beautiful, and it’s all going away so soon. The few yellow leaves scattered on the pavement will soon be in piles, and then they’ll make way for snow. Everything changes, so I need to pay attention.

The sunlight seems sharper. There’s more shadow in the blades of grass, bright green and contrasted. The air is cleaner. Pay attention, this is meaningful.

And with it comes the wistfulness. How did summer go so fast? How did the year go fast? How has my life gone so fast? How did I forget to feel like this?

My heart had hardened, somehow without me noticing. On that drive I felt it soften. I felt more like myself.

It’s the busy-ness. The hustle. Forgetting to breathe. Then the first colors of autumn appear like a brake. Remember this? Remember how everything ends?

In the car, I stopped the music. I turned on the voice recorder. Started saying disjunctive sentences, each sentence-end punctuated with my daughter’s decisive “yeah!” from the backseat, her new favorite word. An idea was coming to me, a lyric.

Some of the words were silly and would never see the light of day. But there was an idea I was getting to. I kept digging out the idea for the entirety of our drive, my daughter happily chatting in the background as if we were in conversation, as if we were co-writing this song.

Later that night, long after she was in bed, I listened through the recording, writing the words down on paper indiscriminately. It was two full pages. Mostly coal, with a diamond or two nestled within.

But coal from a spontaneous creative process is still something.

I don’t always remember to be creative. Autumn forces the reminder. I start to lose interest in doing the normal thing (say, not writing a lyric verbally during a long commute). I open up a little, get a little weirder in a way that feels familiar, in a way that feels like the little kid I always will be.

And now I have not only an idea, but also a memory of a time I came back to myself and started dictating a song in the car.

Now to keep remembering.



Love and Kindness

I wrote this on October 12, 2011, the day after my 25th birthday.

The month prior was spent in beautiful Northern California, where I breathed the ocean and lived all by myself and was lonely and revitalized. There was a creative streak that followed, but it faded (as is wont to happen without kindling).

It’s harder to write about positive shifts (ahh the angsty artist), but maybe it’s more important.



Love and Kindness

You pulled me up and
I let you down.
A mountainside, steep and promiseless
I’d forgotten how
To hold on.
And forgiveness rushes by like movie slides,
And we’re blind to it, and
We’re bound to it.

I waited for a perfect moment
But the story didn’t wait for me.
And I tell you everything, and I give you everything.
Scene by scene, again and again.
It’s all perfect in the end.
I close my eyes and watch it unwind.

I’m not a stranger, and
No one’s estranged.
This damp earth runs deep and ageless
Temporal and changeless and
I’m learning how
To move on.
And forgiveness rushes by like movie slides,
Scene by scene, over and over.
Love and kindness.
Love and kindness.
Love and kindness.



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