Wednesday, November 7, 2018

MBI Blog Tour, Stop #11: Feeding our Creative Side

Welcome to Mountain Brook Ink's 2018 Holiday Blog Tour! We're so excited you've decided to join us on this journey of family, friends, traditions, and memories over the next month. You as our reader have done so much to pour into our lives, and this season we want to give back to you with insights into our lives and some giveaways. The more days you follow, share, comment, and engage with us, the more entries you'll have toward a Kindle Fire Grand Prize or one of three Amazon Gift Cards! (See below for the giveaway link!)

Annette crafting
Today, it’s my turn. Welcome to Net's Book Notes! My name is Annette M. Irby. I'm a writer, editor, and book reviewer. I'm also a creative. Let's get to it!

I don’t know about you, but the holiday season inspires me. I can still remember finger painting a harvest pumpkin during a fall elementary school class. I might have been in kindergarten. What fun to be covered in a smock while I dipped my fingers in the orange paint and spread the goopy color on the page. I can still feel it. Crafting is a tactile experience. It’s also a spiritual experience for me. 

Long ago, as I was pushing my daughter’s stroller home from the library, I found a flower petal next to the sidewalk. I wasn’t too familiar with pansies yet, but I knew I liked the colors on that petal. I saved it and during my daughter’s nap or playtime, I pressed the petal to a sheet of linen paper and inscribed a Scripture to the page to make a bookmark. I used laminating paper to hold it in place. I still have that bookmark somewhere. The petal never faded! 

Pansies on fall leaves
One of my Facebook friends, who is also a fellow writer, has written a book called Soul Care.* It’s non-fiction and addresses how we can become burned out in life from working hard without resting enough. She includes devotionals and craft ideas for letting ourselves relax and enjoy creating art. I’d lost touch with that part of myself. Lately, as I’ve been working through the book, and watching her online class, God’s been reminding me of that creative side.

I’m a journaler, and I created a journal just for this class. I can record what I’m thinking, what I’m creating, answers to her book’s prompts, and lists of ideas. 

Are you a creative person? 

One of the tabs in my journal is a list of Personal Permissions. On that page I list the areas that need to be addressed so I can give myself permission to be creative. Let’s say one of them might be: It’s okay to take time for creativity. Later, as I walk to the bus there are fall leaves on the ground. In my rush to get to the work I must accomplish, I could scurry right past. But in this season, I’ve been giving myself permission to slow down, notice the colors. Even—gasp!—pick up a leaf and bring it home. Once there, I take pictures of it, or lay it under paper, use a chunk of chalk and do a rubbing, or trace it. I wasn’t giving myself permission for those “silly” activities until lately, and you know what? It’s so exciting! There’s nothing silly or wasteful about it. I’m finally feeding, again, that part of myself that feeds the rest of myself.

Now, I take pictures or create art without (as much) guilt. ;)

Do you give yourself permission to tend to your soul?

Feeding our souls is not a silly endeavor. It’s not nonsense or childish. It’s necessary. And you can gather supplies at the dollar store, so it’s doesn’t even have to be expensive. Our local dollar store carries pads of paper, stickers, markers, glitter, paints, party favors (for decorating the page), etc. They even have frames so you can mount your work and enjoy it later. I like creating bookmarks, because I’m surrounded in books. But our finished creative projects don’t have to be usable to be useful. Creating is uplifting because it’s the process that matters, as well as enjoying the finished work.

I even found some $1.00 coasters that inspire me as I work. If you look closely, you might spy one of these in the photo of me above.

$1 coasters from the dollar store--artsy

Perhaps crafting isn’t your “thing,” but I’m guessing there is something in your life, something creative, that you’re passionate about. Something that, when you indulge your creative side, you might feel peace, joy, the fun of creating. You might even sense God’s presence while you are engaged in that activity. A sense of His smile. I’m also guessing that over time that creative pursuit began to feel less and less necessary and more and more secondary. That perhaps you excused yourself from doing that creative activity—it’s too expensive, it’s too time consuming, what good does it bring to the world, etc. So, you set it aside and worked harder on the hard work of life. And when you did, your soul started to go hungry. Maybe it’s time for a permission sheet in your own life—a list of quotes that let you know that creative activities can be a beautiful way of resting and feeding your soul. It’s time to pick it up again. 

How about it? Do you feel creative this time of year? The days are shorter. We spend more time indoors. Why not set aside some unhurried time and feed your soul through creativity? Cut out a pumpkin shape and smear some orange paint around? Fill in a cornucopia coloring page. Decorate a Christmas tree for your table or desk? 

Feed that part of you that feeds the rest of you. 

Happy creating, friends! 

Giveaway Information

A note: Kindle Fire can only be shipped within the US. Amazon gift cards can be won by anyone who can use an online gift card.Click the link below to enter!

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Up Next

Tomorrow's blogger is the owner and founder of Mountain Brook Ink: Miralee Ferrell! Check out her post on November 8th here:

Read on for more information about my books: 

The Washington Island Romance series is a part of Mountain Brook Ink's Finding Love In/On line. Here is more information about the latest book:

Finding Love on Bainbridge Island, Washington (book 2)

Finding Love on Bainbridge Island
Neither of them is ready for a relationship, but love may not give them an out.

Jenna-Shea Brown considers herself a broken therapist. Years ago, she witnessed something that caused PTSD. She can’t let her boss or her patients know about her battle. Who would want to trust her to help them, when she can’t help herself? She’s finally able to find a fresh start in her family’s beach cabin, but the renovations aren’t complete. Her parents have hired her ex-boyfriend to finalize them, but his negligence led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago.

Liam Barrett is trying to prove he’s nothing like his deadbeat dad. He’s working hard, yet still failing. Adrenaline and adventure offer him a diversion, but maybe he can’t escape his genes. He’d like to make things right with Shea, but he’s unsure if she’ll forgive him. Meanwhile, he’s challenged to forgive his father. He’s also worried about Shea and all these episodes she won’t explain. Now that they’re back in close proximity, he’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past? 

You'll find humor and hope in this story of second chances.

Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington (book 1)

Finding Love in Friday Harbor
Will keeping his promise lead to another broken heart—or help them find love again?

Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancĂ©. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. She’ll have to face her past and overcome her concerns about the future to make it through the summer.

Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and debt. He’s hoping the incoming stodgy professor will help resurrect the failing business, but he’s not prepared when that professor turns out to be Mikaela, his former fiancĂ©e. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue her if she ever returned to the island single. The more time they spend together, the easier it is to keep that promise, though she still plans to leave at the end of the season. How much will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela?

Sail to the San Juan Islands for a summertime getaway in this story of healing and hope.

Please join my reader group on Facebook to keep up with the latest information. 

Book three (Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington) will be out next spring. 

Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Group:
Amazon's Author Central:

* (Edie Melson is the author of Soul Care. Learn more here and here.)

All photos (except book cover images and the top banner) copyright Annette M. Irby 


  1. Nice blog post. On long winter nights I help my husband paint. He makes wooden American flags. I get to paint them. It relaxes me and calms my mind. Watching my dog run around outside of catches high flying balls is really fun. I love it when she brings the ball back and drops it at my feet for more!!

    1. Hi Teena! Thanks for reading. Painting does sound relaxing. How cool that you and your husband can do that activity together. Your dog sounds fun too. Dogs sure know how to have fun, don't they?

  2. I'm very creative. I've always loved coloring, cutting, and designing, so scrapbooking became a big way to use my love of color, design, and writing all together. I just started to oil paint, too, and it really relaxes me. I take all the craft classes I can, floral arrangement, photography, card-making, anything except cooking. ;)

    1. Lila! You're an official crafter. :) My daughter learns so much from YouTube videos as a way of "taking classes" and then she teaches me. I've always enjoyed acrylics for painting, but I've seen there are advantages to using oils. Watercolor painting mystifies me. ;) Enjoy the season!

  3. Great reminder to all of us to be still and know that God is there.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! Yes. That's a challenge, isn't it? Something inside us drives us to go, go, go. But all God wants sometimes is for us to be still. Listen. Let Him love on us. Happy writing, friend.

  4. I so hope that as the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, I can take more time to be crafty.

    1. Me too! It's a way to brighten those darker days. That and Christmas lights hanging around the house. ;) Enjoy! And thanks for reading!

  5. I have some adult coloring pages that I color on it is very relaxing.

    1. Hi Tracy! I've had so much fun coloring again. Isn't it great that we can enjoy this activity that was once considered only for children? Whenever I get out my stamps and stencils and coloring pencils, I do feel like a kid again. Only with a few more skills. ;) Thanks for reading!

    2. Your welcome! Have a nice weekend.

  6. I have been enjoying your books. As for creativity, I have never felt that I was creative. However, I have gone through times when I enjoyed getting out and taking pictures with my camera. I don't especially enjoy taking pictures of people posing for the picture. I enjoy taking pictures of lighthouses, covered bridges, old barns and sheds, and landscapes.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Edward. I enjoy photographing nature too. And lighthouses or interesting buildings with their lines or arches. I find that just as satisfying as painting or sketching. Then, we've captured something we can study later. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a blessed Christmas season!

  7. Spot on post, Annette ("Net") :D! As I read through the "check list" of why one doesn't indulge in their creativity anymore, I had to admit to myself: "Guilty as charged!" I'm so busy doing what's necessary (or what I think is necessary), my seed bead creations have sorely suffered. Thank you for the nudge to give myself permission to unleash the fun again!

    1. Yay! Hi Shara. I love that this was relatable. Goodness. If we enjoy creating, let's create! :D Have a wonderful Christmas season!

  8. I LOVE the idea of giving yourself permission to do things. I may just add a section like that in my journal. ♡♡♡

    1. Great idea, Carrie! I try to journal several days a week, and sometimes I have an extra half page left blank between one morning and the next. I've taken to decorating that section either with stickers, stencils, washi tape, drawings or all of the above. Enjoy! And thanks for visiting!

  9. I wish I was more creative I love making jewelry but that's it.

    1. Hi Maria! Jewelry making is something I've dabbled in. I want to be good at it. ;) Handling those beautiful pieces is enjoyable and relaxing. Choosing beads at the craft store--yum. I say if you enjoy making jewelry, let that encourage you. Explore it. Delight in how God meets you there. He delights in you while you create (and other times, of course, too). I hope you have a beautiful Christmas season. Thanks for stopping by!