Archives For peace

Ink Doodles

Mary Liz Ingram —  July 2, 2014 — 2 Comments

One day I decided to have less noise in my life.

Since I run a preschool and have three young kids, this might sound futile. I’m surrounded by noise. Tattle tales, laughter, squealing, talking, cartoons, singing, crying; the grating sound of my son digging through legos, cereal being poured on the floor, the dogs barking, the kids asking.

This isn’t the noise I’m talking about. This noise will be missed one day, when I’m old and my kids are grown and moved away. This noise needs to be welcomed and noticed, even if it gets on my nerves.

The noise I aimed to reduce is the noise that I invite and create myself. This is the noise that clouds my vision, that distracts my purpose: picking up the phone every few seconds to check Facebook or Twitter, worrying and planning and fussing over the mundane, the stress, frustration, and a world of busyness.

I decided to find another way to be.

Habits are hard to break. To get rid of a bad one, it helps to substitute it for a good one. Cue my ink doodles.

I didn’t expect to learn and change so much from carrying a notebook and pen in my purse, but it has calmed my life and taught me to notice.

Instead of browsing Facebook for 30 minutes in carpool, I draw something interesting around me. Instead of piddling around my house until I drop, I take a break and scribble down something funny I noticed my kids doing. It’s become a journal, a record of daily life. I see so much more than when I was deafened by the excess noise in my life. I hear the birds more clearly, breathe the air more deeply, enjoy the small moments with my family, soaking it in and doodling away.

It’s almost meditative, and it has helped me live with more peace in every moment. I wake up early and draw a sketch while sipping my coffee, starting the day by noticing life.

Most recently, thanks to this new practice, I doodled my way through Europe, creating an entire book of drawings that describe my experience.

Here’s a look at how it all began, with some of my first doodles. If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, this is old news, since I post them as I draw them, beginning way back in March!



Mary Liz Ingram —  October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

This morning a giant metal claw scooped up our huge trash pile and hauled it away to the dump.

Normal procedure for a Monday morning in our suburban neighborhood, lined with rows of cute little homes, shade trees and garbage cans.

But it hurt this morning.

Little dirty tractors that had been left in the yard too long; IKEA cups that never made it back inside; wood from projects with kid-hammered nails poking out on all sides; sand buckets with cracked sides; empty dog food and grass seed bags; old crocs and dirty garden gloves; and of course plenty of sticks, wisteria vines and leaves.

Watching the little green tractor escape the claw and roll into the street actually made me tear up a little. For several reasons.

The first is sentimental, picturing my little boy rolling it through the dirt, now it’s being crunched by the garbage man…the usual weepy mom stuff.

But more so because of our shocking wastefulness. So much waste, just sitting on the side of the road. An embarrassing pile of American garbage. We buy, we play, we forget. We want, we get, we abandon. We accumulate so much, we have to throw away.

We regularly purge our home. It’s small and crowded with humans and pets, so there’s not lots of space for junk. I just put a big bag of who-knows-what on the porch for donation last Saturday. But the house is still full of junk, and we just keep filling it back up.

I’m reading a book right now with the tagline “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” We as Americans are surrounded by excess, and we always have our hands out for more. We may be thrifty (I am the queen of hand-me-downs, if I do say so myself), but we still crave more, more, more.

I feel swept away in the current of life; we’re all going the same direction, and we’re getting there fast. Too fast. So fast we miss tons of life, so many experiences, because we’re always trying to get to the next place.

We rush, we buy, we use. I want to scream STOP! and get a grip, a hold onto something that will help me pause. Moments flash by in a flood and I’m caught in the current, getting glimpses, a few deep breaths before diving in again. I want to control the current, but it is impossible. How can I work with this current of time and days, to use my strength to chart my own course? To avoid the whirlpools of excess, to escape the “habits of the mind,” and find more peaceful waters?

I simply don’t know.

But I want to.

And I aim to try.

So stay tuned…

Little Elf, charcoal and conte on paper

My Little Elf, charcoal and conte on paper

On the fourth day of Christmas sketches…

4 Calling Birds fit well into my day: lots. of. noise.

Being calm and finding peace in the midst of the rush and whirl of life takes a lot of effort. A LOT of intentional effort.

I woke up late; it was a busy day at work. I had a packed out afternoon full of complications, rude drivers, and a shopping trip (thankfully only with one child instead of all 3!) during which I discovered at the register that my wallet was at home. So, we left the buggy to the side, drove home in traffic to retrieve the rogue wallet, then drove back in traffic to the store, to stand in line yet again to purchase my load.

I was quite proud of myself: I was still feeling calm and peaceful up to this point. The traffic didn’t get to me; the rude drivers gave me reason to teach my kids about being kind; I found humor in the forgotten wallet. Yet, I say “up to this point” for a reason. The cashier lady tipped me over the edge. I recognize she’s had a long day dealing with fussy customers…I get it. I’ve had a long day too. But, man, the attitude just got to me.

In the car, I vented on the phone and reigned myself back in. My daughter (who has had a streak of bad-attitude lately) and I talked about how good attitudes and bad attitudes will rub off on others. She blamed the cashier for making me frustrated… Cue the next life lesson: we have control over ourselves. Sure, the lady got under my skin. Yep, I got pretty irritated. But I’m my own person and have choices to make.

At those times, like tonight, when I think I might just lose it, I purposefully find my calm by recognizing my family. Thinking of my family grounds me and puts things in perspective. I think of my chubby little baby, my sweet kids, my strong and steady husband: my comforts, my constants. The frustrating trivialities fade, and I am surrounded by a grateful peace.

What brings you peace?

4 Calling Birds

4 Calling Birds