Author Archives: donna

Calm Your Heart with Art

It was after I was evacuated out of the chaos of the earthquake that shattered Haiti in 2010 that I learned how therapeutic beauty is. As I picked up my paint brush, my anxious thoughts disappeared into the colours on the canvas and calm washed over me.

Art invites us to let our brains rest and pay attention to our hearts. As we navigate anxiety producing circumstances, beauty calls us to pause and savour.

I didn’t know the science behind it at the time of the earthquake, but I now know whether our artistic expression comes through creative writing, music, movement or visual media, the arts are able to change people’s perspectives, moods, relationships and overall health.

The American Art Therapy Association states that art therapy can be an effective mental health treatment for individuals who have experienced depression, trauma, medical illness, and social problems.

There is also an increasing amount of scientific evidence that proves art enhances brain function. It has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and can actually raise serotonin levels. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world.

How can engaging with art and beauty help us better navigate the crisis we find ourselves navigating now?

  • Art helps us validate and recognize our emotion.

Whether it’s a memory or a feeling, art can evoke powerful emotions. Art can cheer us up after a bad day or evoke rich memories of a moment of beauty in our life. It provides a reflection back to us that enables us to process our own reactions, emotions, and thoughts. It can provide the comfort from knowing we aren’t the only ones feeling this way.

Contemporary Artist John Demarco said, “Art is a language meant to speak the things that can’t be said.”

Without needing words, art can be the perfect way to express who you are to both yourself and others. This seems obvious when you are one who creates art, but it’s also true when you are the one who appreciates art.

Why?  Because art tells a story.

When you love a piece of art enough to buy it and hang it on your wall, that tells a story about you. Whether it’s your personality or what you value in life, art can be the perfect translator. It lets you forge deeper connections with those who come into your home.

  • Art reminds us of what is possible.

Seeing other people do what they love is inspiring. Passion is contagious. It awakens the creative impetus in us. Writer and Publisher Michael Hyatt said, “I’ve found that nothing brings me more joy and better inspires my own creativity than good art.”

  • Art has the power to point us to the ultimate Artist.

When we find joy in combining certain colours or textures, designing a pattern whether the medium we express it in is wood or fabric, plants or paint we are reflecting our Creator to the world.

As people, made in the image of God, we were made to do more than merely produce. We were made to create, to express, to give life to the ideas inside us; and the more we use our creativity muscle, the stronger it gets.

You may be thinking, “Well, that’s great for you artistic types, but what about the rest of us?”

Here are some practical ideas we can all use to add some art therapy to our lives.

  1. Cultivate a taste for beauty. As with so much in life, making room for art starts with intention. Take time to notice beauty. When you hear or see something that moves you, comment on it to someone close to you. Talking about it will deepen the effect on you.
  2. Shop for art. What a great time to add a piece that expresses your heart and makes you happy. There are lots of websites where you can purchase prints and original art online.  You can see more of my work on  my website and at Fine Art America.
  3. Revisit the Creativity of Your Youth. If you have no artistic interests now, go back to those things that you dabbled in as a child. You might even rediscover a part of you that got shut down by practical parents or a critical teacher. Did you used to draw, write, paint, or play an instrument? Even if you don’t go that direction now, it may open up doors for other kinds of art that work for you today. Maybe today you’d rather cook, garden, sew, or build things.

Go wherever your creativity takes you but by all means, if you want to really find solace in the chaos, make space in your life to enjoy and create things of beauty. 

 

 

 

https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/we-need-art-in-our-homes-here-s-why

https://www.healing-power-of-art.org/art-and-the-brain/

A Tale of Two Kates – International Women’s Day.

A Tale of Two Kates

Two events in my recent life have me thinking thoughts that should not be taking up real estate in my brain in 2017. One was seeing the excellent film Hidden Figures based on the true story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working as “computers” at NASA. These unsung heros of history served as the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

It was the early sixties and they faced all kinds of racial discrimination like having to use “coloured washrooms”, but they also had to deal with prejudice based on their sex. At one point in the film Katherine is justifying her position at NASA to a man who questioned whether a woman was suitable for the job. She responds with a curt recital of her impeccable qualifications and ends with, “So yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses.”

I love that black women do sass so much better than, literally, anyone else?

Fast forward 50 years. I’m returning from Winnipeg on a WesJet flight. As the crew are being introduced, my interest is piqued that our pilot goes by “Captain Kate”. It’s not often you hear of a female pilot so I googled her name. I didn’t find any riveting information on her but I did find a story about another woman pilot that stunned me.

Carey Steacy, who flies for WestJet, had flown from Calgary to Victoria on a Sunday, a couple of years ago, when a message written on a napkin by a passenger was brought to her attention.

It was addressed to the captain and stated that “the cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman.” He goes on to express that he wishes the airline would notify him when “a fair lady is at the helm, so I can book another flight!”

He also references Proverbs 31.

SERIOUSLY?

At this point in history? And he’s really going to hide behind the Bible to do this? I guess he missed the part of Proverbs 31 that mentions the “virtuous woman” had a career (verse 24).

I supposed I shouldn’t be shocked. I know sexism is alive and well around the world, but here? Now?

Women in the workforce still have battles to fight. So let’s celebrate International Women’s Day. Let’s do what we can to bring awareness to glass ceilings that limit the potential contribution of our daughters, sisters, wives and friends. Because it’s not just women who get left behind when their potential is untapped.

John Glen might not have made it into orbit until much later when the first IBM computer eventually took over from the dark skinned, bespectacled, skirted ones at NASA. I wonder what other amazing things DIDN’T happen because women were not allowed to contribute…I guess we’ll never know. But let’s determine not to let it happen anymore. Celebrate International Women’s Day by advocating for some woman somewhere. Here are some ways you can:

A21http://www.a21.org

Fundraise, pray, participate, donate.

International Justice Missionhttps://www.ijm.ca/get-involved

Update your wardrobe and help women escape poverty.

Let Freedom Reign http://www.letfreedomreign.ca/womens-shop

Defend Dignityhttp://defenddignity.ca

Not for Salehttps://www.notforsalecampaign.org

Shop and support Compassion’s child survival program

Compassion Canadahttps://www.compassion.ca/shop/csp/.

Write a letter

http://defenddignity.ca/advocacy/

 

Operation Redemption

My Grandfather was a country physician. He was the best grandpa a little girl could have and I remember sitting on his lap and listening to his many stories.

After delivering hundreds of babies at home, Grandpa Hanna opened his own maternity hospital. He was its cook, ambulance driver and attending physician. I assume it was at this juncture, that he built his custom operating table. It featured a tall table, with drawers and a cupboard beneath, and a pull out section to accommodate the patient’s feet.

Grandpa didn’t retire until he was over eighty and he lived ten years after that. The one thing I wanted to remember him by was that operating table. We refinished it and used it, believe it or not, as a kitchen island. It added a lot of charm to our spanking new house and was always a conversation piece. But a few years later when we needed to sell the house and move to Calgary, we had to leave it behind. So I placed a note inside the cupboard of the table that said something like this: This piece of furniture has great sentimental value to me. If you ever decide to get rid of it, please let me know so that I have the opportunity to claim it.

donna

We moved, years passed, and I concluded I would never see the beloved antique again. But then I got a letter from the current owner of the table. It was no longer wanted. At that point, I had neither money nor space for the table- not even in the kitchen. But I desperately wanted it back in the family where it belonged. My sister, lover of all things old and sentimental, conscripted my dad to rent a utility trailer and drive with her to Edmonton to redeem the table. She brought it back to her home and restored it.

The happy story of being reunited with my Grandpa’s operating table has a very sad chapter. My precious sister joined her Saviour in heaven late last year. And in the after math, her husband decided to sell the home he shared with her. In the process, he gave the operating table back to me. We moved it into our current, more spacious home recently. Now it is restored and redeemed. It looks a lot like it did when Grandpa used it to heal people. And once again, it belongs to me.operating table

The story is too like the Gospel of Jesus not to draw comparisons. I was the rightful owner of the operating table, but the treasure was lost to me. Then even though it should never have been removed from my possession, someone who loved me, with resources I did not have, bought it back.

Redemption.

She then returned it to its original condition.

Restoration.

Jesus created you and me. He is our rightful owner. Yet by our own choice we were torn from him and he mourned. But at great expense, he bought us back, even though by rights we belonged to him the whole time. He restored us to our untainted state by his blood so that we could re-enter relationship with him.

If we know Jesus, we have been redeemed.

We are being restored.

There is no greater story than this!

 

Are you needing a dynamic speaker to take life experiences and integrate them into teachable life lessons for your upcoming event or retreat?  Email Donna at info@donnacarter.org to learn more about how you can Kick the Boring out of your event!  Located in Calgary, Alberta but is available to travel anywhere to share kicking strategies!

 

Does God play fair?

The past few months I’ve been using a Harmony of the Gospels (a chronological blending of all four biographies of Jesus) to get a more panoramic view of Jesus life. Today I was reading about the legal proceedings leading up to Jesus execution.

I am amazed at how willing the Sanhedrin (the Jewish governing council) were to violate their own laws of justice in order to convict Jesus. Here are a few of their own laws they broke (there are many more):

  • They arrested Jesus at night
  • They accepted the assistance of a betrayer
  • They convicted him without the agreement of two witnesses
  • They didn’t individually pole the members of the council for their verdict.

They simply wanted Jesus dead.

They didn’t care about playing by their own rules.

They wanted what they wanted.

What a stark contrast to the way the God of the Universe was willing to submit himself—in the person of Jesus—to his own rules, even to the point of a gruesome death at the hands of His own creation. It was a price He was willing to pay out of the vast ocean of His love for humanity.

Eugene Peterson, in The Message, has rendered Philippians 2:5-8 this way:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. 

Thank you Abba that you are just. How ironic that at times we humans accuse you of being unfair! I am so grateful that I can trust you completely to rule over the universe with justice and over my own personal circumstances with compassion. Jesus, please rule over my heart!

 

 

Are you needing a dynamic speaker to take life experiences and integrate them into teachable life lessons for your upcoming event or retreat?  Email Donna at info@donnacarter.org to learn more about how you can Kick the Boring out of your event!  Located in Calgary, Alberta but is available to travel anywhere to share kicking strategies!

Boredom Buster

Where are you kicking boring out of your life?

Things were NOT boring in the office as boxes were opened and the smell of new books filled the air.  How exciting to now have a copy in our hands!  Stacks of boxes full of boredom busting ideas are ready to be shipped out to women who are wanting to work on creating a fulfilling life and legacy of joy, meaning and love.

And as you read your copy we’re getting curious………

Boredom Buster for a boring life

New release just unpacked!

 

Get rid of a boring summer!

The colourful cover of the new book!

We’re curious about where you are reading your book?  Is it joining you on holidays?  Are you soaking up the sun while learning how to think big and travel light?  Do you read a chapter during your lunch break?

WHERE are you when you’re learning how to kick boring out of your life?

We would love to see where you read (and how you relax!) and what you’re learning!  Post a photo of where you are with your copy of Kick the Boring Out of Your Life and hashtag it #kickboringout so can see where you are this summer!  Kick the Boring Out of Your Life is hitting the bookstores just in time for the August long weekend! Get started on kicking the boring out of your life and order your copy right here!

Boredom buster

Enjoying the shade, an iced tea and Kick the Boring Out of Your Life! #kickboringout

Boredom buster

Kicking the boring out while on the beach! #kickboringout

helping hand

How much can you lift?

Learn to LIFT

Our lives can become extremely superficial without our permission. How does this happen? For some people the feeling of insignificance, of being void of the ability and personality to redemptively influence others that holds them back. We look at our little collection of gifts and knowledge and think, what can I possibly do to make a lasting difference? For some people all that stops them is knowing how.

So I want to lay out a strategy so simple, every single person can do it, and do it successfully. Are you ready? Here it is.

Lift others up

Lift.

Lift others up.

Be a lifter!

 

 

Lift is a simple acronym for a four part strategy you can employ to become a lover/lifter of the people in your world. You have a unique sphere of influence. I can’t lift the people in your world. You can’t lift the people in mine. That why God needs us all involved.

look around youL stands for look.  Simply look around you. Notice your hair stylist’s mood, your co-worker’s expression, your child’s teacher’s body language. Look. And if, when you become aware of who is in your world, you realize you have no significant relationships with people who don’t profess faith in Jesus, then you need to redefine your sphere of influence. You need to get out of your Christian bubble and engage the world.

 

intercede for othersOnce we reorganize our lives so that we have lots of contact with non-Christians, we can began to pray for them daily. That’s the second letter in our acronym. I is for intercede. We can pray for the needs we know they have. We ask God to use those needs to draw their attention to their greatest need: their need to know God. We ask God to open our eyes to ways we can practically express our true friendship to them—and for opportunities to share the truth of the story of Christ.

My friend and mentor, Helene, taught me the value of writing down the names of the people God brought across my path in a prayer journal and asking God to give me insights into their lives, their needs, and show me how to pray for them intentionally and intelligently. I did this, and as I prayed for my friends, I became far more aware of opportunities to express Jesus’ love to them practically.

Friend others around you

F is the third letter in lift. It stands for friend. I’m using “friend” as a verb here, meaning to show my friendship in practical ways: bringing meals when people are sick, offering to host baby showers, helping with a move, inviting them out for coffee, letting them know I was praying over their children and job situations… This decision to friend is a choice to get involved. It’s not a short term project, but a long term commitment to a genuine relationship.

I aim to make one intentional contact each week to friend someone. I’ve discovered it really doesn’t take that much time. It just needs to be on my radar. If I’m going to make one meal, it’s not much harder double the recipe and make two. If I’m going to shovel one driveway, I might as well get a really good workout and shovel two. (Then I can actually save time by skipping the gym!) I can write cards or emails during tv commercials or when I am waiting for a ride. One way to be very intentional about friending those we pray for is to set a weekly budget for that purpose. Maybe it’s only enough for one latte or Timmy’s per week, but the thought that goes into bringing someone a coffee makes that person feel noticed, accepted and valued. Maybe you love to give flowers or you could take a co-worker for lunch after a tough morning at work. Only our imagination and initiative limit the possibilities.

People are watching us, looking for ways to authenticate what we say we believe.

What good is it dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing and you say, “Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17)

Our deeds authenticate our faith. Our representation of Christ in the world, saying what he would say, loving as he loves and doing what he would do that draws people to him like bees to begonias. People don’t really care if Christianity is true if they don’t see that it is good. That instead of bringing division and criticism into the world, it brings help and hope.

Where do we get the idea that to represent Jesus well, we have to have it all together? In my experience, it has been those times when I have been broken and vulnerable when my life has had the biggest impact on others. Often those are the times when our friend’s questions come bubbling to the surface and we are invited to talk about the Hope that is within us.

The talk about JesusT in lift is for talk. This isn’t about trying to shoehorn a memorized gospel presentation into a casual conversation about gardening. “So speaking of planting sweet peas, have you ever heard of the four spiritual laws?” It’s about honestly answering questions that arise out of the authentic quality of your life and your faith.

 

 

You can do this!

Look for people in your world who don’t know God.

Intercede for them and your interaction with them

Friend them by loving and serving them in genuine relationship

Talk about your faith in Christ when they ask questions

LIFT - look, intercede, friend, talk

Are you needing a dynamic speaker to take life experiences and integrate them into teachable life lessons for your upcoming event or retreat?  Email Donna at info@donnacarter.org to learn more about how you can Kick the Boring out of your event!  Located in Calgary, Alberta but is available to travel anywhere to share kicking strategies!

how to get out of a boring life

Sneak peek of a new book to read this summer 2015!

A new book for summer 2015!

New book for 2015

Kick the Boring Out of Your Life – Released August 1, 2015.

My new book is in the delivery room of Harvest House hospital! It will hit book stores and Amazon August 1. I am excited about sharing what God has taught me in the past few years about Leveraging Pain, Travelling Light and many other things. I hope the following teaser gets you excited too…

In the fray of the frenetic pace we keep, it’s difficult to even care about priorities—let alone keep them in the right order. Many people are like the naïve bride who spends hundreds of hours planning the perfect wedding. She gives her attention to each sequin, napkin, and ribbon but fails to prepare for the marriage itself. Six months after the last of the confetti has fluttered to the ground, she gazes at her beautiful wedding album. Everything in the photos is literally perfect—except that she is standing next to Mr. Wrong. She got what she’d set her heart on—a perfect wedding. What she realizes too late is that her heart was set on the wrong thing.

I hate the thought that I could spend my life like a small child at Christmastime who unwraps a shiny new toy and then discards it to play with the wrapping paper. I don’t want to become so distracted by the temporary that I disregard the treasure. I need clarity to know what demands on my time, money, and energy are worth saying yes to and which ones should receive a resounding no.

How can I find the heart of what I want to live for? Who am I, and what am I about? If I’m a Jesus follower, I need to figure out how to distinguish the cluttered, claustrophobic life I’ve become accustomed to from the panoramic one God calls me to. Could “zooming out” help me identify what is important? Could a broader perspective help me find a life I can get excited about?

 

 

Are you looking for a new book to read this summer 2015?

Watch for Kick the Boring Out of Your Life to hit bookstores and Amazon on August 1, 2015!