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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

inspired and ablaze




"It is not revolutions and upheavals
That clear the road to new and better days,
But revelations, lavishness and torments
of someone's soul, inspired and ablaze."


- Boris Pasternak



You might think the fact that this, my 1000th post, has ended up on the last day of the year, was a result of careful planning. I knew it was coming up. I'd mentally noted the nearness to the number a few weeks ago. Yesterday though, I was quite surprised to see 999. In all honesty, I was tempted to just let it happen, unremarked. The blog has always been about sharing poetry, but evolved from my initial plan to share a painting with a poem, to being plastered with my own photographs. Comments on the blog are usually sparse and though I've been tempted to turn them off from time to time, there have been about 2500 comments, including my own responses. There are perhaps close to 3000 visits to the site each month, and 4000-5000 page views. Which in the world of blogging means the blog is practically non-existent. Most advertisers won't consider placing an ad on a blog with less than 1000 visitors a day. Which is really fine because ads are generally speaking, ugly, distracting, and less than calm. I do advertise my books on the site and while I assume that many of my regular readers have purchased them, I don't sell them in any great numbers because of CT. I'm often asked how much money I make through this blog and you can see the answer that's coming: zero. (Though it might be truer to say I lose money.....since I now pay google $3.50 a month as I've exceeded the storage capacity because of all the photos posted).

I've written most of a book which is based on this blog and which needs adding, subtracting and revising. That's one of the projects on my back burner for next year, while I'm also continuing to write another book of poem-essays, not unlike and extending the thinking in my book Asking. You might have read the opening to the blog-inspired book, which I posted above. (Transactions with Beauty). But I don't honestly have high hopes that I'll find a publisher for it. Still, I'm compelled to see it through.

So maybe that all sounds a bit lame. Numbers, I think, often do.

What this blog has given me over the last many years, is a place for creative overflow. A place to investigate and toss out loosely connected and random ideas and quotes and poems about beauty and about how to live calmly and creatively in this messy and often confusing world. I've wanted it to be a place to breathe, for myself and anyone who happened to find themselves here. It's quite clearly a selfish enterprise but one that seems to have been useful for the occasional reader from time to time. Because of this blog, I began to seek out writers that I might not otherwise have found. And I take photographs I might not otherwise take. Best of all, I've received countless lovely notes and messages from my readers which have encouraged me in myriad ways and made me feel a little less crazy for continuing in this, my by now obsessive daily practice.

I don't really have a plan for Calm Things in 2015. Just my usual flying by the seat of my pants posting.

The photo, taken last week, seems appropriate for today's post. The heart was only noticed when I uploaded the photo onto the computer. If nothing else, this is a labour of love. The Pasternak quotation was found last night, working at the library, flipping through a book I'd come across while looking for another book entirely.

My wish for 2015 is for my own soul to be inspired and ablaze with revelations. And for yours too. Wishing you a year of calm things, as always.

- Shawna


16 comments:

  1. Shawna, please allow me to add my comment to those you've already received. I happened across this blog several months ago, and it has positively impacted my life in many ways. I am a doctoral student studying clinical psychology, and I often visit your blog prior to seeing a client. Visiting your blog helps me become grounded and center myself so I can truly be with my clients. If I've had an overwhelming day, I will read your entries, both new and old, and afterwards will find myself with more humility, gratitude, and awe. Also, I did not used to like poetry - it felt in accessible and I became frustrated if I didn't understand it- but now, because of this blog, I have found my favorite authors and even purchased books on poetry. Your pictures and your own words are equally calming and provoking, and I find myself being with myself, being in the world, and being with others in a different, more connected way. Your blog is a gift, and I think there is a great ripple effect of its impact beyond the number of views the blog receives (e.g., I am a better therapist to my clients when I soak in the content of your words and photos). Is there a way to donate to your site? I can definitely spare $3.50. Thank you for your work, and thank you for inspiring our souls. Warmest wishes to you for the new year. - Kelsey

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    1. Kelsey, your words are worth their weight in gold. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear that you've been drawn to poetry. This is lovely. Thanks for being here.

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  2. "What this blog has given me over the last many years, is a place for creative overflow. A place to investigate and toss out loosely connected and random ideas and quotes and poems about beauty and about how to live calmly and creatively in this messy and often confusing world. I've wanted it to be a place to breathe, for myself and anyone who happened to find themselves here." Exactly what it should be...in my opinion.
    Calm Things has certainly been my refuge at the end of most days and I so look forward to many more of your beautiful words and images. So thank you, Shawna and I wish you and your family a happy, healthy New Year...full of all things calm.

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    1. Susan, I look forward to your amazing images, too. Always an inspiration!

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  3. Hello Shawna! I'm one of probably hundreds or even thousands of people who take, take, take from you and have given back nothing. I'm so sorry you have had to wonder for even a minute if your blog affects anyone. I've discovered so many new poets in reading your posts. The connections you seek and make between artists remind me of Joseph Campbell at times and similarly make me feel so much more grounded and content in this world. So, thank you, thank you! Happy New Year to you and your family from chilly Colorado!

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    1. So lovely of you to comment - thank you for being here. Warmly, S.

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  4. As a person finishing one project today and (hopefully) starting a new one tomorrow, I recognize that arbitrary number/date thing you speak of. But at the same time, I think there's value in setting that date and noticing it. Not a bunch of unrealistic resolutions, but the recognition that as the year ends, things round out in some way. xo

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    1. Yes, the number has given me a chance to take stock. Remember that I'm here for the love, and not the money :) The best things in life are always about love. I know I receive back more than I ever give. xo

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  5. You have no idea what a difference you make, Shawna. Yours is the first blog I look for in my reader every morning. I can relate to everything in the previous comments, I feel the same. You are a life-saver, your words and photos are the most healing thing I know. I send your posts to so many people.

    Thanks a million! Wishing you all the very very best, always.

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    1. I love thinking of so many of us, sitting at our computers, early morning, sipping tea, or coffee, and looking for a bit of light. Warmly, S.

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  6. Shawna, my friend, you are the pebble in the pond: the ripples have touched so many, so often. I am grateful to you for showing me so much in a world that I only see through the glass - poetry, literature, art. I feel centred, more grounded; peaceful and hopeful having read your posts (I binge read). I share them often, and paste segments up to see daily. I am paraphrasing the previous readers - I started writing this after seeing Kelsey's comment - and now there are 5! You have a gift. You ARE a gift that I treasure.The very best to you and your lovely family in the new year. XO, C

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    1. And I send much warmth to you and yours with hopes of a visit in the near future :) I learn so much from the generosity of friends, met and un-met. Glad to have you in my life. xo, S.

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  7. How wonderful it is to read these comments. Shawna, your blog has been an endless source of inspiration, clarity, reminding and beauty and certainly I believe your voice is unique here in this rather wild and raucous internet territory. Thank you for being here, I can't wait to see what 2015 will bring Calm Things :) love the love gifted in your photo today. xo

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    1. I was so surprised to see that little heart when I got home and uploaded. And thanks, too, for your blog! Can't wait to see your knitting projects :) xo

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  8. Shawna, your blog is a quiet joy to me. I wait for quiet moments ... often early in the morning with my first cup of coffee or late at night when the house is asleep so that I can savour your posts. Thank you for this little island of calm. xoxo

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