The Operation


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Last year this time I started my year off with the word vulnerability.

It can mean openness or exposure.

Every time we step out into the fields of our creativity we experience a form of exposure.

Whenever we open up, we render ourselves vulnerable.

That can be scary.

So many stay locked away and don’t give of their creative ideas, or plans.

To manoeuvre your way forward – often takes bravery and courage.

A letting go of perception and a trampling of fear.

This year I have started my year with another word.

Gratitude.

I came across a blog by an exceptional woman, Ann Voskamp.

It is called a holy experience.

This woman has issued a dare.

Find 1000 things to be grateful for.

I have taken the challenge.

To find these things one needs to open up.

Become exposed to the incredible world that God has unleashed around us.

To see in the micro and the macro.

Gratitude can be found, staring at a mountain.

In the feel of your wife as she lies behind your back at night.

It can be found in a bird that walks through your kitchen door to peck at a lone crumb.

That first cup of coffee in the morning.

The way your sons smooth brown arms hug you.

Your daughters grin and thank yous.

It’s found in Christ.

It’s found in grace given and experienced.

When your team plays really hard.

When the check out lady smiles at you.

When the man carries your shopping.

It’s in the tasting of sour that you can be grateful for the sweet.

It’s in experiencing lack that you can be grateful for the provision to come.

Gratitude is a creative operation of faith.

Look around.

Be curious.

Seek it out.

Look in unusual places.

Relook the mundane.

Find it.

Do not let it escape.

Choose.

There’s lots.

Live GrateFULL.

a holy experience

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The New


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Your creativity is your natural resource.
Let’s think ideas.
Ideas are unending.
You will have new ones throughout your life.
As the one fades – a new one miraculously takes its place.
That is creativity in action.
These mental impressions,
suggestions,
thoughts,
possible courses of action.
Your mind rolls them out –
naturally…
It’s the canvas of the brain.
Creative action that sits above your shoulders!
Now some of us tune into new ideas pretty easily.
Others not.
What is your take on the new?
How do you feel when someone sprouts,
“I have a good one!”
Your life is surrounded by the brainwaves of others:
The telephone
Electricity
The flush toilet
A warm bean bag
Parmesan cheese
Chocolate
Your motor car
A feather pillow
Everything around you had its first spark.
The primary flash.
That moment when someone knew…
And then took action.
Mmmmmmm…
Let me pluck this duck and stuff the feathers into grain bag and then I’ll put my head on it….
Oooooooo…
At one stage perhaps we were a first idea in the mind of God.
A good thing.
Dynamic and generous,
He acted.
So don’t hold back.
You can act on your good idea.
Even if it is just a word that you speak.
It might just make the world a different place.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt – encouraging you to play with your natural resource.

What’s on my Creative Mind II


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There’s a coffee cupped in my hands right now.
I am pensively sitting in a line of sunshine.

So here we are.
It’s 2013.
Who would have thought?
A changing world.
Dynamic.
Fast paced.
Constant activity and motion.
It seems small in its hugeness.
This globe that spins
This human, physical life that spins and eventually slows down to a stop.

Yes.
It’s my melancholic mood time.
Bear with me.
The time I take to wonder.
Why?
How?
When?
What if?
It’s the time I ponder on my kids thrown into a rat race.
Work harder!
Play faster!
Get the goal!
It’s a time I wonder if I am the creator not of beautiful things but of the very rats in the race of life.
Now before we all start crying…
Let me say that in it all,
in all of this striving.
Beauty exists.

It’s up to me to glimpse it.
To catch it as it slides through my day.
To share it.
“Mom! Look at the amazing red sky!”
“Yes, put your clothes on you are going to be late.”
(That was a moment unshared.)

Our creativity rests in the ability to see life.
The ability to sit on the step and take in the red sky.
The ability to settle in the sun and make the phone call that spreads hope.
The ability to support the teacher who is going through the divorce and love her.
The ability to know that we are vulnerable.
ALL of us.
Fragile, creative, vulnerable people.
People who have strength and ability, talent and diversity.

To know that we are not enemies.
To allow ourselves to see the story riding deep in each one of us.
The story that makes us cringe.
Yet there is always the counteract story.
The one that causes us to delight.

Our creativity is as our humanness.
In need of the hand of God.

So put down the swords and striving.
Forgive a woman her moments of weakness.
A man his moments of torment.
Slow down.
Take a deep breath.
Use your moment to do one thing differently today.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt – taking time to feel a little wistful, yet in it there is expectation and desire.

This piece was recorded live on Kingfisher FM. kingfisherfm
It was written in the warmth and comfort of my office away from home – Brioche Café, Main Rd Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Thanks Ilsa, your space brings warmth to my soul.)

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

Is it Really Possible?


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I admit to living a life where I know that the possibility to be a better human being sits there waiting for me.
It’s as though there is a better me standing alongside, waiting for me to turn and become her.
I feel choice but all too often I live in my life pattern (the one that doesn’t work for me).
I can live it over and over and over.
It’s as though I become comfortable in my defective reactions or resonses to people and life.

Do you think that we hold the possibility of magnificence in us?
The possibility to be magnificent husbands or wives, magnificent parents or friends, staff?
The lingering feel that we could be a magnificent boss but if only the workers would change…

The art of possibility is seeing with a creative eye, what could be.

Remember God brooding over the earth?
Imagine if He’d said, “Pity, nothing can be done with that swirling mess.”
He saw what it could be and he acted.
The art of possibility is something you practise.
Possibility is a verb.
It’s the thing you do.
It is an act!

Do you know that every time you open your mouth you are in a place of leadership?
You can either lead people into your downward spiral or you can take them with you into the place of possibilities.
This can be hard when we face difficulty, when we face a daughter with ADD or a husband who is indifferent.
It can be hard when we face a wife who is in emotional crisis, a mother with Altzheimers, or staff who are disgruntled.
It is hard when you face financial crisis.
But the choice is fairly simple…
Bitter?
Or better?

The famous conductor Benjamin Zander told a story of two shoe salesmen who were sent into Africa in the early 1900’s.
The one telexed the company in England to say, “Disaster, nobody wears shoes over here”.
The other telexed saying “Yreka! Endless opportunity! They have no shoes…”

Can you imagine the first guys face?
Disgruntled.
A furrow in his brow.
Shoulders hanging.
(I call it the thundercloud look.)

Now think of the other guy.
Eyes shining.
Excitement in his voice.
An air of what’s up ahead as he struts down the street observing with the eye of possibility all the dusty feet around him.

They both faced the same situation.

The one closed in.
The other opened up.

Which one are you?
Which one would you rather be?

We all live knowing that possibility lies on the horizon.
Most of us have had life knock us around more than just a bit.

Can you say yes to using your God given creativity to open up?
Or are you content to say, “Disappointment! They wear no shoes…”

This is me, Tania Ahlfeldt and I am straining against the complex pull to close in, but today I choose to follow the God who says that all things are possible.

Suffering Hurts, but it also Creates


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We are fully human.

This week in an angry racist move, a young man, lost his life on the Seaview Road.
His name was Mpulelelo Apleni.
More than that, a mother, Rebecca lost her son.

He was in his prime.
Healthy and alive.
His crime?
He was not one of the 8% of the worlds population that can afford a car.
This man was walking and he got ploughed down by a car… on purpose.
Now what do we say to that?
What to we say to his mother?
Do we say, “God knows best”?
Our humanness flops about on the floor like a dying fish, helpless and gasping when we consider this act.
This act of murder.
So brutal.
There are no glib words to gloss over this.
So, what then is our hope?
What is Rebecca’s hope?

It was Rob Bell who spoke of what pain and suffering brings to man.
“We plot.
We plan.
We assume things are going to go a certain way.
And when they don’t, we find ourselves in a new place – a place we haven’t been before, a place we never would have imagined on our own.
It is the difficult and the unexpected, and maybe even the tragic, that opens us up and frees us to see things in new ways.
Many of the most significant moments in our lives come not because it all went right, but because it all fell apart.”

Pain ours and others has a way of making us more honest.
We need to feel the anger that comes with this.
We must ask the question ‘why’?
It is ok to say “I don’t get it!”
There’s an ache, an ache that tells us – that this is NOT how it’s supposed to be.
Speak it out.
There has been a disruption in our society, a suffering.
This is a suffering that belongs to each one of us, not just to his mother.
It is a suffering that belongs to our city.
It is a suffering that belongs to our humanity, wherever we might be living.

Suffering unites, it transcends race, it crosses the barriers of our prejudices.
Do you wear a cross around your neck?
Maybe the cross is Gods way of saying “I know how you feel, my son too died.”

Rebecca has experienced the death of her son
PE, our warm little city, has had it’s box smashed again.
What can you do about it?
What are your prejudices?
What lies deep within your soul that you need to change?
What is your pain?
How can we free Rebecca up to see things in a new way?
What hope can we bring?
Can we creatively make something good come from this anguished situation?
Is that even possible?

Rebecca and her family needs more than our thoughts and prayers.
She needs a physical outpouring of our hope for both her and her family’s lives.

Our city needs it…

Kingfishers doors are open for you to do so.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt hoping that our prejudices, whatever they may be will be kicked out.
Praying that today you will write a note, send a food parcel, creatively express your grief.
Reach out PE, there is family that needs you.

Contact me on 082 586 7431
Contact Kingfisher FM on 041-3655785

Port Elizabeth, or PE for short is a beautiful coastal city in South Africa. It has a population of 960 000 people. Port Elizabeth is considered to be a safe place for families to raise their children.

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

The Child and the Pharisee


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Earlier in the week I posted the following comment as my Facebook status,
“The Pharisee in us favours impeccable conduct; the child relies in the relentless tenderness of God”.

Who is this Pharisee and who is this child?

The Pharisee is distinguished by strict observance of the law and is commonly known to be pretentious and sanctimonious.
The Pharisee always does it the ‘right’ way.
The Pharisee knows that people are watching.

The child is young, innocent and untouched by worldly experience.
The child accepts.
The child makes mistakes and gets deliciously lost in a world without prying eyes.

We come into this life as open, unique, authentic beings, true to ourselves.
We come as children.
To create is like breathing.
A floor becomes a stage, a piece of wood a steering wheel.
A blank page is soon filled, mere scribbles become a story or a piece of art.

Then we stopped being a kids, for some of us a little too early.
We were taught to behave and that is necessary…

But were there times that your authentic self was disciplined out of you?
When it all became about what others thought of you?
At what stage was it necessary to slip on the mask, the false smile?
When did you have to start to pretend in order to be accepted?
I know all about putting the best foot forward but there is a fine line between the real self and the one we put out there.

It is the same with creating something.
How often do you create, work, cook, live solely with others opinions in mind?
How free are you to express your own thoughts and ideas?
Are you used to suppressing what you think and feel?
How open are you to the thoughts of others?

What, are you disciplining out of who?

Are you hard on yourself?
(I know that often I am.)
Do you often walk away from your authentic self?

This week I want you to think back to who you were as a child.
Can you remember when the voice of the Pharisee first crept in?
What would you like to have kept from the girl or boy that you were?
Remember that free little person?

This week I am tasking you to try and write four traits that you would like to reclaim.

Remember Christ standing a child before His disciples and making a profound statement:
“Unless you change and become like one of these you will not enter the Kingdom.”

His hands were not on the shoulders of a Pharisee, but on those of a child.
We all have to grow up, but growing up does not mean losing the child within us.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt praying for your creative freedom and busily searching for the child within.

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Creative Christmas


 
Santas Boots? No way! Photo: Tania K Ahlfeldt

Play with your decoration skills this Christmas!

 
Grab a pair of your old boots, stand them
next  to the tree and get creative with them.
Yes, I am serious!
 
These are my gumboots, I’ve placed desert roses
on top with some twinkly bits for fun.
You can even stand a vase in them and
have flowers sprouting out!
 
If a creative thought comes your way ACT on it,
even if it seems silly.
Christmas is  about celebrating Christ,
do it to the full – boots ‘n all!
 
Be bold.
Send your Christmas boot pic to
taan@neurolabinc.com and I will post the
best one here.
Oh and get the kids involved –  if you dare…
 
Warmest!
Tania