Do you enjoy these creative practices?

Question #3 from my survey; this one is super interesting. When I put up the multiple choice answers, I focused on the things I was most interested in at the moment. I was curious to see the other ways people practice a creative spirit. (Maybe I should have phrased it that way!) In any case, the comments reflect many other activities and even, “ways of being” which are self defined as creative. I love it. Just the spirit I was hoping for.

As of 8am West Coast time, the survey has 37 responses – excellent! Thank-you so much for taking part. If you have not joined in yet, please add your voice to the conversation.

If you are curious, here is the full list of additional practices so far:

  • music
  • writing
  • fashion
  • food
  • entertaining
  • gardening
  • jewelry making
  • woodworking
  • crafting
  • building
  • beading
  • pottery
  • blogging
  • business
  • costumes
  • signs
  • painting
  • parenting
  • relationships
  • health & well being
  • up-cycling
  • problem solving
  • poetry
  • scrap booking
  • flower arrangements
  • crochet

Amazing honesty in the responses, thank-you so much. I am honoured to be connected to so many creative people. Rightly so, many times it has been noted that “creativity is a way of life”. For many of us, it can’t be separated from our daily life. It is present in everything we do. I think that is pretty evident by this list.

Speaking of creative projects, enjoy these photos from a recently completed silk scarf I knitted. The pattern and yarn came from LoopsClub in Tulsa. I’m a member who receives a kit each month. Because there is always another project on it’s way, I stay focused on getting projects finished. For me this is a good incentive. Otherwise projects sit on needles for years, waiting for me to complete them.

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How important is creativity in your life?

Wow! 14 people have completed my survey – What does creativity mean to you? That is awesome, thank-you. If you have not taken the opportunity yet, please add your voice to the conversation! I am learning so much about what the creative experience feels like on a personal level.

When I was thinking of the questions for the survey, it was tricky to generate ideas which would prompt meaningful answers. Everyone is so different and lived experiences would likely run a full spectrum of possible responses. Yet, there seems to be some patterns developing which I had not thought of in my original assumptions. Interesting stuff. When my survey is complete, I’ll post the aggregate graphs so everyone can see the clusters.

The second question of the survey relates to how important creativity is. I think that even if there are differing opinions about what creativity means or what kinds of activities should be deemed creative, everyone seems to have a sense of it’s importance. In my answer choice for “important” I included the bit about “balance”. For me, the really creative things I want to do, must be balanced against a whole bunch of stuff I have to do. For example, cooking a new recipe at dinner is somewhat creative, but all the old favourites and the dishes are not so creative. Not to mention all the grocery shopping and recipe research which had to be done ahead of making dinner.

Maybe creativity will have greater importance in everyday situations if we place more value on it? Shelley Berc wrote a good piece entitled, “Creativity in everyday life“, on her blog called, “The Creativity Workshop”. I’d never given much thought to adding creativity into my everyday tasks, simply through perspective. It is worth a try.

I’ve always thought it was important to have a space in order to “be” creative. This was a priority for me, long before computers came on the scene. So I still keep a space, is only a desk for now. Maybe one day it will be a whole room again. But for now, even my desk is hard to claim as my own. I often end up on the couch or in my bedroom. Good thing I need very few supplies for writing!

Do you think of yourself as a creative person?

I’m curious. When someone says they self-identify as being creative, what do they mean? I think of myself as a creative person, I would use that label, or agree with it if someone asked me. I create all kinds of things and have creative thoughts. But, I was speaking with someone who I think is really creative and she hesitated to characterize herself in that way. She clarified that she considered herself “crafty”, but not creative. She thought the term “creative” applies mainly to artists.

That got me wondering, is the word creative only applicable to someone who has a certain set of skills? Do you have to be paid or commissioned for your efforts? Are some pursuits not serious or special enough to be considered creative? Is knitting less creative than painting?

I was reading a comment online from a woman in Scandinavia who said that you had to earn the right to call yourself creative. Since she had completed her schooling, (in photography), she was now “allowed” to use the term creative to describe herself, but she only did that in her professional work. Do people commonly have such limiting beliefs about the concept of creativity?

There have been many articles written which detail lists of common characteristics among creative people. While these are interesting reads, these traits are not unique to creative people alone. In fact, many smart people have these abilities. So maybe we are all creative, if we have attained a certain level of success? But there were so many highly creative artists who didn’t achieve any notoriety until after they died.

If we think back to childhood, everyone was creative. Children are creative beings. As a parent, I had the wonderful opportunity to relive that as I watched, played and created with my kids. And now I can see what happens to all that innate creativity. It gets schooled out. My children want to get rid of the lego, put away all those art supplies, cast off all those projects which once filled them with hours of joy.

Coloring

I am not worried, they will come back to it, as I did. Hopefully it doesn’t take them as long as it took me.

This is the first, in a series of 10 questions about creativity. If you are interested in my survey, please follow this link. I would love to hear your thoughts, here or there.

Art Journal Therapy

That is what my husband calls it. I have a different view of all 3 words – art – journal – therapy. I don’t see how spreading materials all over the tables, floor and shelves, grabbing this and that, coloring, painting, this is not how a real artist works? Certainly, I don’t need so much stuff to simply write in a journal. And I guess everything is a form of therapy these days.

So my desk starts to look like this:

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(Yes that is a gin and tonic in there).

That might seem like chaos. To those who have not wandered into the world of art supplies. It is like a cult. So many different pots and containers, all serving different purposes, giving different effects. All one can do is start. Laying down some of this and a little of that. Notice the effect and move on. Watch others. Covet more art supplies.

Or dig into my bins. Notice the plural. I discovered gouache paints I used about 24 years ago. It is amazing to me they survived all the moves, all the purging of excess possessions over the years. There they were, dried to hard little tubes.

Then I realized it has been a long time since I’ve applied myself to creating any kind of art. I use that term loosely. But, the only reason I ever owned gouache paint was for an assignment at school. I even own a palette. And it was used!

After getting over the amazement of how fast time has flown by and how little hands on, creative stuff I have produced in recent memory, I got down to it. And I have enjoyed myself over the past few nights.

Of course I can’t be alone. When my daughter realized there was going to be paint, she had to get in on the action. At first I didn’t like how much she talked. Kind of a babbling banter, asking me to look at her stuff every few minutes. And we have to play modern pop music, which can seriously grate on my nerves sometimes. But we have found a rhythm. I’m more relaxed and she is more comfortable to just be. (She even copied one of my pages tonight!)

So here are a few of my pages of fun!

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Word of 2015 BRAVE

It is just before 6pm on December 31st and I’ve about finished my goals for next year. My little family of 4 is nicely tucked away in a small town in the Southern Baja. I have purposely kept our reservations, commitments and “have-to’s” down to almost nothing. In fact, other than getting back down to SJD for the flight home, we got nothin’ on our list. That has cleared out the mental space I needed to finish my goals. I started back home, but “my life” did not allow me the mental space I needed.

For the past 3 years, I have been searching for a way to bring the peace and calm I feel on this vacation, back home with me. There is a sense of stillness and focus, which seems to slip through my fingers like sand as I get back in the car for the journey home. But this year, today, I may have a list of actions which will bring me back, centre my soul to this time and this place.

Here is a brief summary of my main ideas for the year. These will pop up in many forms, my goals are quite specific. I think it helps to understand the intent, the feelings associated with the goals. Otherwise they are words on paper. They can easily be overlooked, forgotten and trivialized.

*Margin. I read about this idea sometime in 2014. The idea is to create margin or space in your day. Room to breathe. Time to think. Creativity needs to bubble up.
*Mindfulness. Be where you are. I have rationalized this notion out of my life entirely, blaming my never ending “to-do” list. I’m looking at this as the opposite of multi-tasking. I’m going to plan enough time to do one thing at a time.
*Gratitude. Only by focusing on gratitude do I increase my feelings of happiness. Full stop. The minute I spiral into bad news, my mood goes down accordingly. If current events are consisting largely of bad news, then I am going to be like a stork (my husband corrected me this morning, an ostrich) with my head in the sand.
*Practice. When I threw out the other “P” word, (perfection) I didn’t replace it with anything. This year I will practice all the time. Everything I want in my life is attainable, if I give myself the opportunity to practice. This I am eagerly looking forward to.
*Creativity. When I look back at some of the happiest moments of my life, they involved a healthy measure of creative endeavor. Somewhere along the way, I have lost that part of myself. I realized that I miss her dearly. As it turns out, I’m going to need her in 2015. Much of the heavy lifting on my list of goals will require creative work. Some of it will be “artsy” and some of it will be more “problem solving”. The latter has remained in my life all along, but the former will unleash all kinds of goodness.

Now it is time to play away the last hours of 2014.

Happy New Year or Feliz Año Nuevo!

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Creative soul

After a very hectic couple of months, this weekend was my time to settle back into my groove. That means turning my focus to what matters most. Seems logical enough, and probably easily done for most. But I really have to practice turning off the world for a bit.

Started on Friday. We wanted to surprise the kids with the family pet, we had discussed, but not confirmed we would get. So we hoped over to the local animal shelter and had our new, old cat, Lynch unleashed into our life by surprise to our children. My daughter was so over joyed, she almost cried. That reaction was unexpected. Clearly she had listened when we had firmly told her, no promises.

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Saturday I started my knit along. Yarn, needles and pattern in hand, the first post also indicated I needed to create a space for my knitting. Well, that meant I needed to transform the chair in the corner into something a little more special. For that, I needed to do a little second-hand shopping. And this day turned out wonderfully.

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Sunday was about Annie Sloan paint. My newly found, old treasures needed some chalk paint love. So in between coats drying, I knitted rounds in my temporary digs. I’ll have to carve out time over the course of the week to get the wax on. Then there is the beret, which is the reason all of this started. Only half done the ribbing.

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So little time, so many creative things to do.

Inspired by paint

As Carrie Thachuk said today, “Welcome to your new obsession.” I didn’t think that could be true….at 10am this morning. Now that I have finished the course, walked around my house a bit and reflected on what I learned today, yes welcome to my obsession might be a fair statement.

To be honest, my history with paint is not great. As I mentioned in the round table of introductions this morning, I have painted many things – different pieces of furniture, interior wood decor, fences, houses, etc. All of it, under a punishment – finish the project before you can go out with your friends. Of course, going out with my friends was what got me in trouble in the first place. Mainly breaking curfew, so nothing too serious, (as far as I can remember). So I would get my friends to help me work off the punishments, a little bit like Huck Finn. And the cycle would start again. My parents had an in-house painter at their disposal. It was all just a matter of time.

Fast forward to present day where I found myself sitting in a painting class. (If my teenage self knew, she would be aghast!) The topic today was a beginner’s guide to Annie Sloan chalk paint. In the 5 hour session, we covered everything you need to know in order to feel a good level of confidence to start attacking those old wood pieces in need of a lift. Or in my case, pieces that resemble wood, (laminate) and need to look amazing in my newly renovated bedroom and I don’t have the cash to buy anything other than paint!

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The ladies at The Passionate Home in Langley were wonderful, encouraging and provided a healthy dose of inspiration. They are running a fantastic business over there. (And I’ll be seeing them again tomorrow, because instead of buying a big can of “old white” I grabbed “old plum”). Which is probably a good thing, because I might have started painting straight away. My husband is away until next Friday…I could get a lot covered by then!

 

Yarn along

Just now I stumbled across 85 other people who think reading and knitting are 2 of their favourite things….me too! Or maybe 86, in this case. Who knew! A yarn along….love it!

I have to say, I don’t associate with many people who are the same as me. My chosen profession, or maybe the companies I have chosen to work for, are not exactly full of creative types. At least not in fibre arts. This form of community becomes super important, I dare say essential for my creative expression.

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I’m working on so many knitting projects right now, but the one that I worked on as recently as last night and will add more rows tonight is Linate Classic Mohair scarf. I picked up the yarn at a second-hand store. It has been worked before, at least the first 2 balls. But it is so decadently soft. I love it. Won’t see the light of cold days for a while yet. But I’ll think of these days when I wear it.

I’m reading an amazing book called “Creating A Life Worth Living”, by Carol Lloyd. I have quite a few other books on the go, but this one is my main go to right now. It is a combination of reading, creative workshop and designing new habits, I just love it. It is meant to take 12 weeks to finish, which I think I can do.

Of course, it bears mentioning, I can’t knit and read at the same time. I can’t even knit and watch TV all that well together. Somehow I am managing to watch Glee with my daughter and knit this scarf at the same time. But that is probably because the plot line is fairly predictable. I have to stop knitting when Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker or Jane Lynch are on – I love them.

Gratitude Retreat

Enjoyed a weekend retreat in a small town in Alberta. Memories of my childhood. The quiet and peaceful nature of a small community where the neighbours know each other. Snowed in, (not really, but when will the snow stop?) There was more on our list than we accomplished, next time.

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  • Late night movies
  • Sleeping in
  • Pinterest
  • Walking in the snow
  • Fresh baked bread and cinnamon buns
  • iPads and iPhones
  • Learning
  • Loving
  • Laughing
  • Sharing
  • Relaxation
  • Reading
  • —-not enough time

Creativity

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.  Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”  ~George Kneller

“Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future.”   ~James Bertrand

After I bought tickets for the LEGO movie yesterday, I started doing a little research about the LEGO company. Other than selling online, (finally) and having a few small stores in Canada, we are still a long way from Denmark.

First I found The LEGO Foundation. After poking around there for a while, I watched a great talk by the foundation’s CEO Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary. She describes what happens to creativity as we age. As we progress through school, we become very focused on finding “one” answer, (presumably the correct answer), to standardized tests. Our brains begin to mold towards these repeated expectations and our creativity levels decline. By age 25, we are pretty much the opposite of where we were at age 3, in terms of creativity. What a shame.

LEGO Foundation

Our modern world tends to marginalize people who are creative. They are artist types. Occupations in the arts are not considered serious ways to spend your time. Most companies, who employ most of the workforce, do not honour and foster creativity or creative thinking. Chief Creative Officers are typically found in organizations who sell a creative-based product such as advertising agencies, design studios, etc.

There are many programs available, (guest speakers, seminars, conferences, etc.) where companies can help foster creativity. One of them is LEGO Serious Play. Facilitator’s use LEGO brick sets to enhance innovation, which leads to increased productivity. This seems like an extremely interesting way to spend some time, both as the participant and the facilitator. Can you imagine having that job?

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Then I stumbled across LEGO Education. OK, this was not offered when I was a kid. There are classroom packs designed to enhance core learning across a variety of subjects and home school versions. As we embark on a new chapter in education for our son, (Eaton Arrowsmith School), we will be looking for new ways to enhance his learning.

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I guess timing is everything. Just as we took in all this new information yesterday, then watched the movie, our dedication to creativity, (specifically through LEGO play), was ramped up a notch. Our house is getting some renovations this Spring & Summer. Part of that is moving the Master Bedroom and a re-purpose of the small room off the dining room/kitchen. We had planned for a library/sitting room. After yesterday, there needs to be a build table and room for LEGO. This will be a family affair. Creativity will live and thrive here.

P.S. the movie was awesome. It inspired the sound I love to hear…the tinkling of LEGO bricks as a creative mind searches for the next piece. (I’m not telling who it was, it is a snowy Sunday day here)

Wholehearted

“I now see that cultivating a Wholehearted life is not like trying to reach a destination. It’s like walking toward a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we’re heading in the right direction.” ― Brené Brown

Just started week #3 of the e-course designed to follow the 10 guideposts from the book, “The Gifts Of Imperfection”, by Brené Brown. Let me tell you, (I am trying to convey the slight Texas accent in her speech), this is big stuff. “Life changing” are words that have been uttered by participants who have taken this course already. If you scoff at the notion that a book and an e-course can be life changing, well that just shows how much you are missing out! Quite frankly, I was that skeptical at the beginning, so don’t feel bad.

I’ve never given much thought to the word wholehearted. I must have learned the definition in school, because the meaning seems logical enough. But to practice living in a wholehearted way, well that is another matter. There was no class about that. Not a day, or an hour or even a 15 minute segment was devoted to this extremely important word.

Ironically, it seems that as children, we were pre programmed to live wholeheartedly. It is life, school, society, etc., who have beaten back this natural tendency. One of the exercises last week, to reinforce the idea of authenticity, was to get a picture of ourselves that conveys an example of when we were most authentic. Some people had recent photos, some had to go back to being babies! Most photos were somewhere in the primary school era.

Somewhere along the way, most of us have lost our most authentic selves, those little people who knew in their bones how to live in a wholehearted way. Many of us had to focus all our energy on our school work and on the “activities” we seemed to show some aptitude in. The rest just fell away. Over the years, creativity was stamped down, no more drawing, painting, singing, dancing or playing. Writing became technical, a medium with which to answer the never-ending schedule of questions and tests.

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The fantastic news is that the knowledge to live wholeheartedly is still there, buried maybe. The children inside of us know what to do. Like waking Peter Pan after he had grown up, it is possible to easily get in touch with that authentic part of ourselves.

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Practice is a process

In those quiet moments of the early morning, the little gap between being asleep and awake, is where some good thinking is done. Lately, I’ve taken to keeping a pen and journal on my bedside table to catch some of these thoughts. We all know what happens if we don’t. The light of day casts a strange hue on those ideas. There is a tendency to minimize them with doubt and fear, put them down to a dream like state where only gibberish happens.

This morning, I took that early thought process and just kept going with it. I let my mind wander around a number of ideas and concepts. I dared to think differently and I was pleasantly surprised. The creative thinking part of my brain woke up and got right to work. The delight was in how quick and easy it was to ignite.

Normally, you can’t force creativity. We all know that. There is a deadline looming, all the technical bits of work are done and now you have to accomplish some creativity, yeah right. Not going to happen. A modern office building with sterile furniture, office walls, cubicles, printers humming – these are not creative places. My solution is usually to cruise around the internet until I find enough inspiration to finish the task.

A long time ago, when I attended design school, (presumably to learn the skills to apply in the work world), we thrived on the creative process. However, I swear, the minute we left with degree in hand, we lost much of what we learned and practiced.

As time went on and the ways of corporate life started to take hold, I somehow came to think, (or maybe I always did), practice makes perfect. My strategy became work very hard over long stretches of time, in other words diligent practice would make me perfect. Me and my work would be perfect and everything I dreamed of would fall from that.

Of course, we all know what falls from that train of thought – breakdown, burn-out, depression, spiritual awakening, (insert your name for it here). After a great deal of self-awareness training and getting a new kind of education, (still learning), I began to see that perfection is a swear word. I tell my kids, “there is no such thing as perfect”. (If my daughter follows the same route as I did, then she learned it from school, friends or society at large – which is entirely possible).

So fine, eliminate the word “perfect” – what are we left with? For me a hollow feeling. I’ve always mourned the loss of that word. There is something to be said about the quest. Powerful emotions to drive forward with.

Then this morning I came up with the notion that “Practice is a PROCESS”. For me, that links right back to the creative process that I learned so long ago and carefully tucked away in the corner of my mind. You don’t have to be painting or drawing to use the creative process, it can be applied anywhere.

Even the word process, all by itself can mean something different to each person, and so it should. Practice and process are going to become specialized to each person and to each situation. Powerful ideas and words to move us closer to dreams, in a way perfection never could.

Brene Brown ecourse

Brene Brown ecourse

Rainy day fun

I grew up on the prairies of Canada where there was a good chance you would be “snowed-in”, for a number of days every winter. Sometimes it was just the school being closed, other times it was already a weekend or vacation day and the snow and cold left us house bound. So our winter routines included lots of inside activities to hold us over until better weather returned.

We did go outside and take advantage of the snow, (not so much the cold). Once the wind chill was down to minus 20 C, my parents would let us stay in. And that is what I loved. Doing stuff inside.

As expected, “old habits die-hard”. I still really enjoy working on projects and activities inside the house. (However it is now the heavy rain that drives us inside, not snow and freezing temperatures.) My list includes:

  • cooking big batches of stew in the slow cooker, the house taking on the fragrance of my creation, (currently we are deep in Mexico with a double batch of salsa)
  • reading, having that perfect spot to curl up in with perfect light, where the hours can slip by
  • organizing – I know how weird this sounds, but I like to spend time getting papers in order, taking care of my personal inbox, which is otherwise badly neglected by too much focus on my work inbox
  • knitting, so many things to knit, so little time as I knit slowly and with limited skills
  • sewing, much easier to do and has been a standby for me since I was a child
  • photo albums, used to be the actual touching paper photo’s but has been replaced by iPhoto, just as fun
  • writing – too many projects on the go
  • Spanish lessons
  • watching movies and TV, netflix and iTunes have been amazing

Then there are the things I want to do, but either don’t know how and/or don’t have the space to work on:

  • stamp collection, started as a child and is packed away
  • coin/money collection, same as above
  • beading – actually adding beads to knitted projects
  • quilting
  • crochet
  • paper crafts, my daughter would love this, but we need more supplies, more space to lay everything out, more time

There is more, I’m sure, but these come to mind right now.

In my dream house by the water and in the woods at the same time, I have a studio. All my creative pursuits will be set up and easy to work on any time. Once inspiration strikes, I will be ready to create. For now, I share every corner of this house with 3 other people and 2 of the smallest ones take up so much space wherever they are. Their little voices, the barrage of questions and problems or a scraped knee which needs a kiss.

Before I know it the little ones will be bigger, grown up and gone. I’ll miss their presence and count the days for their return. I’ll miss the way they could fill a room. They made the house feel alive, that is how I will remember these days.

So for now, I steal moments of creativity when I can. I pull out a project from a bag that has been tucked into a corner. I knit a few rows, or pull my computer off the shelf and write a few words. This is how I feed that part of my soul while my children still need so much from me.

It is all about balance, not too heavy to either side.

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Sea glass

The only problem with looking for sea glass…is that you never look up. You never see the view. You never see the houses or the ocean, because you’re afraid you’ll miss something in the sand.

Sea glass Anita ShreveAnita Shreve wrote a book called “Sea Glass”. It was set in the Eastern USA after the stock market crash of 1929. The main character would walk along the edge of the sea and find bits of broken glass. She amassed quite a large collection and it became her most prized possession. Not that she owned much else to compete with it. From that time, I have marvelled at the human capacity to strip down to the basics. If you had next to no material goods in your life, would you find beauty in other ways?

When I moved back to the beach town of White Rock, I started my own collection of glass. It is pretty large by now. I have created craft projects from it. I have, what should be called beer steins, full of it. Over the years I have decided the collection is fairly complete. Now, when I am at the beach, if I look for it at all, it is only the rare colours that hold my attention. The aqua, the blues and the elusive shades of orange and red.

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This past week, my family from Alberta have discovered the joys of hunting for glass at the beach. So like me, they have been stooped over combing the shore, looking for treasure. There is always more to find. Each tide brings in a fresh supply. When you are leaning over a really good area, and there is so much just laying there, it brings to mind the adage, “some of the best things in life are free”.

It is an interesting pass time. Broken bits of glass which are essentially trash. Like the abandoned garbage dump on Kauai called Glass Beach. Tiny bits of every glass colour, mixed with sand, coral and shell fragments. I found that place very interesting. The sea was reclaiming her terrain and cleaning it back up. Day after day, washing the waste up against the shoreline. Breaking the foreign creations back down into their original elements.

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