Saturday, 30 December 2017

Embrace It All

December 30th, 2017 marks 25 years since my father left his physical body to return to the fullness-of-who-he-is. Let that mean what it means to you, or feel free to disagree. Either way, that is not the point of this.

I don't feel sad. I wondered for awhile if I should feel sad. It could be easy to focus on all the things I believe he's "missed", but I don't see it that way. I don't think he's missed a single moment. In fact, I believe that not only has he been present for all of the wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) milestones a daughter wants her father to be a part of, but he has a more complete perspective than any of us still wandering around on the planet, stuck in these physical vessels. Yes, I used the word "stuck". I believe the man we know as Michael Lindemann is in fact more alive and more free than we can begin to imagine. As such, he has been an enormous influence and faithful guide to me all these 25 years.

So, on the eve of 2018 I am writing this post filled with gratitude... for all that my father has been to me over the years, and for how much closer I feel to him now than I ever did while our hands were still able to touch.

My father once wrote, "Right now, this moment, is life. Be a worthy steward of the gift: embrace it all."

I am very happy to say, that is exactly what I am doing. Rather than wasting energy lamenting the past and "what might have been", or sweating over New Years resolutions and "what will be", I am soaking up each beautiful moment as it comes, no matter what it brings with it. For moments are what make up our lives, and the greatest feelings of appreciation cannot be found in what has come before, or what will come later, but only in what is. Right. Now.

Thank you, Daddy, for who you are. You are amazing. I love you.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Diving deep: How it feels to launch a crowdfunding campaign

How does it feel to launch a crowdfunding campaign? In a word: terrifying. One could easily talk oneself out of this. Not only are you asking people for their financial support, but you are asking them to put faith in you and your creation.

In another word: vulnerability. You are exposing yourself and your art. You are revealing that which is sacred to you. You are letting people in – friends, family, and strangers. You are letting them see you.

So there you are, standing naked in front of the masses, forcing yourself to make direct eye-contact with the on-lookers, your trembling hands clenched at your sides, saying with as much confidence as you can muster: “My art is good enough.”

But what you are really saying is: I am good enough.


That’s a loaded word, with a heavy meaning. Most of us, for some percentage of our lives, wonder or worry if we are good enough. Or enough in general. Enough for another person, for our job, for our art, for ourselves. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that we are not enough. Is that really so bad? Will we implode? Will the world stop turning?

Maybe the real question is, then: “Enough” according to whom? Where or what or who has created this perfect, gold-standard that defines this heavily laden word? We all seem to hold ourselves up next to this shining example of everything-ness, yet we don’t even know where it comes from or what it even is.

How very silly.

What I do know (we’re diving deeper now, hang in there!), is that the subject of “enough” is the Ego’s terrain. It is the Ego that weighs and measures and compares. It is the Ego that accuses us and makes us feel less-than; makes us feel unworthy. Unworthy of love, belonging, and true connection. It is also the Ego that swells with pride upon receiving accolades, or cowers in shame when discredited. Why do we trust such a wayward, fickle thing?

The Soul, on the other hand, finds this whole subject matter entirely irrelevant. Our Soul (feel free to replace this word with something that fits into your personal worldview) knows that we are already enough. In fact, the Soul doesn’t even know that word. To question your worth and worthiness is something the Soul never does, because it knows you are already complete. There’s no benchmark to meet, value to obtain, or feat to accomplish that will change that. 

The goal of the Soul is to create and co-create as much as possible, and to do so with the utmost joy. Engaging with other souls in all of their enough-ness, with all they have to offer as they are, is co-creation at its best. This is, in my opinion, what it means to live joyfully.*

It is with this attitude that I pressed “Launch” on my Kickstarter campaign, knowing that this is but one phase in this exquisite experience of co-creation.

So, friends, let us create! Not to achieve anything (though that may be a natural by-product), but simply for the sheer JOY of it, knowing that no matter what: we are enough!

*Disclaimer: I write these words as fact, because it happens to be what I believe to be true. I recognize, however, that at the end of the day it is just one opinion among many. Opinions are like… well, you know the saying. ;)

#forthejoyofliving #cocreationatitsbest #elizabethgilbert #bigmagic #brenebrown #daringgreatly

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Story Behind the Story - Final Part

"Why haven't I accomplished this yet? Or this? Or that??" we ask ourselves regarding our personal goals, whether they be short-term or life-long. We beat upon our own backs, bemoaning our circumstances, shaking our fists at the gods, and looking around desperately for someone or something to blame. Anything. Lost in this shame spiral (that looks an awful lot like a cosmic black hole), we perpetuate this cycle of goal-struggle-blame, goal-struggle-blame. By inspecting the trees we've planted with a microscope, we miss the fact that there's an entire forest that we, ourselves, propagated, nurtured, & brought into being.

Another way of saying this is, we often don't know how far we've come until we pause for a moment in our self-flagellation to take a step back and consider where we were 10 years ago. Five years ago. Goodness, even one year ago. While I don't condone dwelling on the past (since it can often be a slippery slope into the Land of "If Only"; a stinking swamp full of self-induced guilt trips and potholes of regret), it is helpful to occasionally zoom out long enough to see that progress is, in fact, being made.

So if progress is being made through the struggle, almost in spite of ourselves, how much more progress could be made, and made joyfully, if we didn't struggle? What if we just... play?

Yes, that's right. Play. Enjoy. Take risks - for fun. Follow your curiosity. I mean, if you're going to progress either way, you may as well enjoy the process.

Two years ago, I had an un-edited draft of a manuscript. Just one. I had no website, no illustrator, no book designer, no idea what Mail Chimp was, and was blissfully ignorant on what it takes to self-publish a book. I now have a all of these things, a final draft of a manuscript (plus a few more in the works), and a smidgen less ignorance in the realm of self-publishing.

To my dismay, I admittedly struggled to obtain these things. It hasn't been all toil and hardship by any means, but has been far too much sweat and tears (thankfully no blood) for my liking.

I am happy to say that from this day forth, I am changing the game by making it exactly that: a game.

Thanks to heaps of inspiration from a number of sources, but most recently Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, I have seen the light. Creativity is not about the outcome, and never will be. It's not about making a living, it's not about fame and fortune. Those things may never come to pass. They might... but they might not. Creativity is all about enjoyment, play and wonder. All of it. Making creativity outcome-dependent only invites suffering and scares your creativity away.

In short, if you're not enjoying it (whatever it is), then do something else.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Angry T.V. and the Dumb Remote

Did you ever write ridiculous stories as a kid? It may come as no surprise that it was one of my favourite things to do as a child. I'm interrupting "The Story Behind the Story" to bring you this little recently-discovered gem, written by yours truly at the ripe ol' age of 10.

(This is entirely un-edited. I've maintained all original spelling, punctuation & unnecessary underlining - however inappropriate - for the sake of authenticity).

The Angry T.V. and the Dumb Remote

"Hey! I was having a really nice nap," said the sleepy t.v. as the remote switched him on.

"Oh shut up! I'm the one doing all the work. Beside's it's time for you to entertain," snapped the remote.

T.v. exclaimed, "If you're not careful, my circuits will short out, you unsophisticated remote!"

"Is that a compliment?," replied the remote, as he flipped through the channels.

"Stop! That was my favorite show on channel 10. It's called the 'T.V. Channel'."

"Boring! Lets watch 'Remote Watch' because they always show those cute little batteries in swimsuits."

T.v. switched off abruptly and the screen was blank. As soon as remote turned on, t.v. switched off. This went on for thirty minutes.

"Now look what you did! You made me miss 'Remote Watch', you big electric square!" yapped remote.

"How dare you call me that!", raged t.v. "Plus you made me miss the 'T.v. Channel'."

Remote was outraged and kept on calling t.v. names that didn't even make sense. Then t.v. came in.

"Well you skinny little plastic button pusher, you better stop calling me names or I'll jump off my stand and crush you," threatened t.v.

"You wouldn't! I'll keep calling you names and I doubt you'll crush me!"

He kept calling t.v. names, so t.v. did what he said he would do. Then his parents got another remote...

Well, there's plenty more stories and poems where this came from! In a way, I suppose this is part of the "The Story Behind the Story". Sometimes we have to look back a few years (or decades) in order to see how far we've come.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Story Behind the Story - Part 5

I debated for awhile the subject of "Part 5". Do I write about the joys and challenges of moving across the world, and how that influenced the evolution of this book? Do I write about the roller coaster of collaborating with other artists in an effort to manifest my vision & my art? These topics may appear on this blog, but not today. I have landed, instead, upon a subject that we can all relate to.

I have been at home, sick with a virus, for a week now. I don't know about you, but illness often sends me into a time of self-reflection. Brooding, as it were. In between Netflix binges of course. In one particularly introspective moment today, I found myself wrestling with a familiar opponent known as Self-Doubt. Familiar to more than just me, I am certain. That is, do you know anyone that has not doubted themselves at some time or another?

This, for me, is often presents itself as a fear of failure. This fear has long since accompanied me on my journey as a writer. As I was pondering this concept (where it comes from, how to get rid of it, why is it such a pain in the ass, etc.), I realised that it was silly of me to fear failure when I have not first defined the antithesis of failure: success.

How does one define success? Do we listen to society's standards of such things? Is it about money? Recognition? In my musing I came across an old journal entry that, lucky me, contained a definition of success that I had penned down a while ago. It just so happened to touch on the very subject I had been wrestling with: that pesky Self-Doubt. So, I thought I would share it with you. It starts like many of my "ponderings" - with a question:

Who are the great successes? The one's who stay true to themselves. The one's who are not driven by market demands, only their Artist's demands. Even more difficult, the one's who do not doubt. I do not mean doubting one's abilities; such as your ability to rise up in society as a household name. (That, if it happens, is a by-product of your true success.) It is only natural to doubt your abilities from time to time. What the successful artists of this world do not doubt is their worth and worthiness. Their true selves. 

I do not mean staunch individualism that protests "Me against society! Me against the system!" The system and society are irrelevant in the face of artistry. Aligning with your vision, co-creating with other artists, following your excitement - here is where the relevance lies. Here is where my focus must be for true success. Success by the world's standards? That may or may not be part of my personal success. That is, again, irrelevant. 

If I have succeeded in staying true to myself, if I have not forsaken the integrity of the Artist within me, if I have sought excitement, love,  joy, & passion in every moment, circumstance and decision, then I believe I have honoured my father's legacy as a writer. Failure, in the light of following my joy, is not possible. If that is not the definition of success for Gretchen Lindemann, then I don't know what is. 

What's your personal definition of success?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Story Behind the Story - Part 4

"I'm sorry," I murmur to my 28-week-old patient in as gentle a voice as I can muster, "I'm sorry that every breath is a struggle, I’m sorry that every touch seems to causes you pain. I promise it’s helping, but I’m sorry it hurts. You’re so small, so delicate, but you are also resilient beyond understanding.” I know it's not my fault, my apology is not one of personal responsibility. I'm apologizing for Mother Nature, and the fact that we're getting in her way.
Mum shows up, wheeled in by her husband. The look on her face tells me this is the worst day of her life, and also that she has more love for this little person I'm murmuring over then I could ever comprehend. I have no children of my own and I cannot possibly understand.
I try anyways, speaking softly to her and giving her what I hope is a sympathetic and encouraging smile. "Hello, my name is Gretchen. I’m the nurse looking after your little one today.”
“Hello.” She attempts to smile back at me. Her husband wheels her over to the cot. I lower it so she can see her baby better. She puts her hands to her mouth, eyes filling with tears. “He’s so small.”
I try my sympathetic encouraging smile again. “Yes, but he’s actually a good size for his gestation!” I’m trying to sound encouraging. She doesn’t respond. She can’t take her eyes off her baby.
I trudge onward. “I know this is not what you had planned. But your little one is in good hands." Does she think I mean myself? I mean the whole team. Shit. I can tell he's only half listening to me anyway.
“Am I allowed to touch him?” she asks.
“Of course,” I say.
I open the isolette door for her.
She reaches out, an IV in the back of her hand. She's trembling as she strokes his head. "Is he going to be okay?" 
No clue. How could I know? How can I possibly know if your baby will survive, let alone be "okay"?? Deep breath. The first thought won’t work for a response. Let’s try the second one.
"Right now he's stable, and we will know more as time goes on. He's had a rough go of it so far, so he's a little quiet right now."
Stop while you're ahead, Gretchen. First of all, what does “stable” mean to her right now, really? He's ventilated for goodness sake. Without that machine he would last a matter of minutes. Don't make promises you can't keep. Is that really why he's quiet? Or is he bleeding into his brain? Or was it the hypoxic ischemic insult his brain most likely received in the birthing process? We won't know until he gets a cranial ultrasound. 
"When can I hold him?" his mom asks.
"Hopefully tomorrow. We just need to make sure he's stable and replace his umbilical lines with a PICC line."
"I thought you said he was stable now. And his what-lines?"
I back pedal and spend the rest of the next hour explaining and reassuring, without promises, while also going on about my duties. Each task of mine designed to sustain this baby's life. Eventually my patient’s mom decides she’s in too much pain and too tired to be up anymore, and her husband wheels her back to her room, on another unit. I’m secretly thankful, because now I can focus fully on the tasks at hand, without having to explain every move I make. I look at the clock. Three and a half hours to go.
By the time my 12.5-hour shift is over, I feel like “butter scraped over too much bread”. (Thank you, Tolkien, for that ever-so-applicable imagery). My energy is thin; stretched. I'm afraid a strong breeze will blow me away into a million little pieces, leaving me lost in the wind.
I get on my bike and begin pedaling home, trying to keep my focus on the road. As I cycle I can feel my Artist stretching and yawning, waking up after having been put to sleep by beeping monitors and too many medical terms.
"Can we write when we get home?" She pipes up with a voice like a small child asking for pancakes on Sunday morning.
“Write?” I reply, incredulous. Is she insane?
“Yeah, you know, putting words together to form sentences, sentences to form ideas, ideas to form stories?”
I don’t appreciate the sarcasm. “I know what writing is. It’s very nature is what makes it impossible right now.”
“But it’s been sooooo long!” she whines. No pancakes today. Even though it’s Sunday. Mommy’s too tired.
“I know, I know… I miss it too.” I feel what she’s feeling. Starved for art. Creative atrophy. It hurts in the most exhausting kind of way. “I’m just so… I don’t know. Drained.”
“Can you just switch your nurse brain off and me on?” she asks.
As if it’s that easy. I take a deep breath and sigh louder than necessary, getting ready to pedal up the last hill before home.
“I’ll tell you what. We will just rest tonight. Find something that perks both of us up. We need to refill the well and take time to transition out of work mode.” The too-quiet 28 weeker crosses my mind. I shake my head as if to remove the image. “What do you say?”
“Ok! I have an idea. How about we eat way too much chocolate and peanut butter as soon as we walk in the door?” My Artist suggests.
“Done!” I say. I like this plan. “And then?”
“Um… lie on the floor and thank our lucky stars for two days off?”
“Yep. This is a good. What else?”
“Watch Netflix because watching stories is the next best thing to writing our own.”
“Alrighty. I think we can manage that,” I reply. “We should feel right as rain tomorrow for some writing.” Inside I know that’s not true. I know it’s going to take at least another day of well-filling before we can get into the creative groove. But I don’t want to tell her that. I’ve already refused her the pancakes.
“Yay for writing! I can’t wait,” she says with enthusiasm.
“Me neither, my little Artist,” I mumble. I can hear the fatigue in my voice. “Me neither.”

As I arrive home, I turn my mind away from the fact that I’ll have one day of creativity before the next work stretch, and onto the chocolate that I’ll soon be consuming. Whiskey will go nicely with some chocolate, I think to myself. Yes, that’ll do just fine.