Refine and Design 2016, Week Five

“These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed.”  ~Abigail Adams

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January 29

Creativity: Baking biscotti, drawing

Gratitude: modern household appliances that make life easier for me…before 6 am I’ve used the vacuum, food processor, KitchenAid stand mixer, stovetop, oven, and microwave

Joy: taking simple staples and creating a culinary delight, Sushi dinner with family

Awareness: At five am I was grinding, tossing, blending ordinary foods (flour, sugar etc.) My hands rounded dough into logs and flattened them on a board. I baked the loaves, sliced and rebaked…no resemblance to original items I used; how incredible. Life is like that; we take what we get and what we make of it is up to us. Today, I am in awe of my hands. They have the ability to cause pain or show love…I choose love.

January 30

Creativity: Writing and collage

Gratitude: picking up jewelry I’d dropped off for repairs and am thrilled with the results.

Joy: perusing the local elementary schools’ art exhibit at the mall. It’s amazing to see the talent in people of such a young age. I remember when my own children’s art was on exhibit; these are now framed in my home. I can only wonder how many of these children will actually continue artistic endeavors and how many will pursue their art in their later years…and how many will chuck it and never look back.

Awareness: Walking through the busy department store: The cash registers pinged interruptions in the blur of conversations. Hangers scraped against racks competing with the echoes of my boot steps on the tile floor.

January 31

Creativity: drawing

Gratitude: a crockpot which kept me from standing over a kitchen stove for several hours

Joy: a phone call from Youngest, being warm enough to sit outside without a jacket

Awareness: Although I call it procrastination, when it comes to creative decisions I am frozen with resistance. I know exactly what step I should take and yet I stop completely. I think this is probably what some refer to as writer’s block, or at least I used to call it writer’s block. The thing is I am never at a loss for words, and am only reluctant to share those words.

February 1

Creativity: water color, Day #1 of Creative Live 28 day challenge which involved drawing

Gratitude: I am delighted to pick up a book (nonfiction) I previously tried to read and didn’t finish to find myself totally clicking with what I am reading this time.  Sometimes the second time is a charm. I’ve found this to have been true for me more than once. I, for one, never stop learning.

Joy: 74 degrees, barefoot and in shorts sitting on the backyard swing with a glass of wine, nice way to end the day; cold cobblestone beneath my feet as I am enveloped in warm air. A book I ordered arrived!

Awareness: The dried Japanese Silver grass along the fence line bears a liking to ripened grain as the flowers curl with the breeze and the sun brightens it to a golden brown.  The leaves slowly bend as if they are waving a long goodbye to me.

February 2

Creativity: Day #2 of Creative Live 28 day challenge which involved drawing

Gratitude: a hot bath with essential oils

Joy: a free kindle book

Awareness: The candle flame is fickle. She stretches tall and then shrinks low. She leans to the sides and pulls away from her root while she tests her wing. She fans fat in an arc then shoots tall and skinny. She twists and turns and shimmies and shakes from disco to salsa. Her white glow turns amber. She changes her dress from orange to pink and accessorizes with a dash of blue. Her flame flickers, and her fire burns. Catch her eye and you are mesmerized.  She speaks a language of her own. I know not what she says, but I swear it is a thing of beauty.

February 3

Creativity: drawing and writing, Day #3 of Creative Live 28 day challenge which involved drawing

Gratitude: I lost my cell phone and found it by retracing my steps

Joy: the beginning stages of planning a summer trip out West, last time we explored Zion NP and are thinking about Arches NP this time.

Awareness: The wind has been quite the intruder today. It has banged at the door, tapped the windows, climbed upon the roof, and even thrown sticks and pinecones against the walls. With two loud barks, the dog told her she was not welcome today. She momentarily calmed and waved from the pine tree. Like a good guard dog, Wylie sat upon the window seat and held her off. An afternote: The intruder was also a thief as it took two of my garden flags upon her departure!

February 4

Creativity: Day #4 ofCreative Live 28 day challenge which involved drawing

Gratitude: leftovers

Joy: the end of a work day. Ok, I realize that was cheating. I’ll start over. After losing a diamond from the ring I just had serviced (I mean lost as in it is just gone, nowhere to be found), I decided to have another ring I’d lost a diamond in replaced at the same time as this one (though I did not make it to the jewelers today). I haven’t worn this ring in many years, and when I got it out I found I had already had repairs done and had forgotten about it.

Awareness: The rain pinged and wooshed sideways at times….one drop at a time, building puddles throughout the yard.  Dark clouds paled to grey as the rain poured. The deluge of water merged sky and earth.  While sometimes the water falling sounded like fairies dancing on the roof, other times it was as if someone was emptying a pool over our heads. The flow became a trickle after it washed the sandman ashore a bit earlier than I would usually call it a night.

Refine and Design, Week Four

“May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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January 22

Creativity: Baking a chocolate caramel cake, art journal, writing, watercolor

Gratitude: a fuzzy blanket

Joy: A short day of work due to impending snowstorm

Awareness: I heard the pinging before I saw it. I sat in the window seat and watched the tiny icy pellets fall. In no time the snow turned to huge flakes. First objects became outlined in white and then they filled. The birds clustered at the feeders in a frenzy. I watched them flit and dive about. Two pairs of resident cardinals skimmed in and out of the gardenia, flicking their tails about. The snow dusted their feathers and spun trails through the branches.


January 23

Creativity: watercolor, writing

Gratitude: Went with hubby to check condition of job site, ice out there…made it home safely.

Joy: A phone call with Youngest

Awareness: hundreds upon hundreds of red-winged blackbirds swooped upon our lawn, along with about five or so neighbors. In flight, the red and yellow streaks painted like ziplines through the neighborhood. While foraging, you can only see the yellow and the red is tucked in. A few grackles and starlings mixed in with the blackbirds. I was amazed at the volume of chittering, sounded like a group of teenage girls!


January 24

Creativity: Writing, water color, art journal

Gratitude: that my Godchildren still think I’m cool enough to call and text me daily…I look forward to their sweet messages because I know one day they will reach the age I will suddenly not be cool or worth their time. Watching a movie with DirtMan.

Joy: A day spent with the hubby

Awareness: The glare of the sun as it bounces from the snow intensifies. I can close my eyes and still see it. It’s kind of like something you deny but once you admit its truth you cannot shut it out…it’s all you see from then on.


January 25

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: A quiet evening after a particularly hard day

Joy: A glass of wine

Awareness: A knot under my shoulder blade (pulled muscle?) makes me notice every move I make and the effort it requires to perform small tasks. It’s amazing to think of all the beautiful functions of my body I often take for granted. I realize how much I depend on my body to perform my job.


January 26

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: Amazon Prime; I love shopping from home

Joy: an early bedtime

Awareness: The morning grey gave way to pink and yellow cotton candy as it popped up through the limbs of the pines… Morning danced across the sky.



January 27

Creativity: Experimenting with oil pastels

Gratitude: tissues

Joy: A surprise package in the mail!

Awareness: the peace the quiet morning ushers in…nothing is sudden…darkness slowly gives in to light…a simple tweet gently transforms to birdsong

January 28

Creativity: drawing, writing

Gratitude: trust, given and received

Joy: little arms around my neck with a soft little face tucked in my neck

Awareness: children as little as ten months know how to comfort one another. I watched two ten month old little girls: One was crying and the other crawled over and wrapped her arms around her and lay her face against hers. Love is splendid. It knows no color, gender, or age. It just is. What can be greater than that?

Define and Design 2016, Week Three

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”  ~Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life


January 15

Creativity: writing and design

Gratitude: light traffic in horrendous rain

Joy: A hug from my mama

Awareness: Most people think it’s really dark out in the middle of nowhere, and so it is in the deep woods, but in a clearing it’s as light as the city…the Milky Way stretches overhead, a layer of gauze twists and turns stringing celestial diamonds, shimmering upon the treetops and spreading a blanket of light over the fields.


January 16

Creativity: Photography

Gratitude: a warm coat and gloves in blistering wind

Joy: The seat warmers in my car after standing on top of Raven’s Roost, and a home cooked meal waiting for me later.

Awareness: As we were riding on a bitter day the sun hung across the valleys while the mountains remained dark, creating a canvas of shadow and light. As we drove along the parkway we were delighted to see the beauty of natural ice sculptures where springs and runoffs hardened along the rocky crags.


January 17

Creativity: Photography and studio set up

Gratitude: a husband and son willing to move heavy objects

Joy: Hot chocolate. Home, always good to be back home.

Awareness: Heaven shook a giant powder puff, coating the leaves and outlining the limbs of trees.


January 18

Creativity: Design and studio set up

Gratitude: lunch with Oldest, time to rest after a full day of errands

Joy: the completion of my home office and studio

Awareness: Some moments the drone of airplanes overhead competes with the hum of my computer…inside or out I ask myself…I look at the temperature (brrrr) and continue to peck at the keys.


January 19

Creativity: collage

Gratitude: books, a home office and studio

Joy: Sunshine peeking through my windows, a call from a friend and from my niece, knowing  I made and gave the perfect gift and it was much appreciated

Awareness: The cardinal hit the window like a clump of red mud. No sooner had I heard the thump did I see his wings shake. Undeterred my little songbird flew to the pyracantha bush, perhaps to blend in with the berries while he recovered. How often have I mingled with those of likeness until I filled my vessel of courage to stretch my wings?


January 20

Creativity: collage

Gratitude: the ways in which my writing group shares their expertise to help one another, encouragement for those who need it and accolades for all levels of success…all share the joy

Joy: Oldest was offered (and accepted) his dream job

Awareness: There are often times we think we are not getting what we want when in retrospect (after we reach our goals) we realize the things that happened in the meantime were lessons we needed to learn to appreciate or fully utilize the very thing we were waiting on.


January 21

Creativity: art journal, writing

Gratitude: electricity

Joy: visitation of my muse

Awareness: How often I ignore the whisper of my muse simply because I’m lazy…no matter how active my muse is it does not benefit me unless I am willing to take on the work. And yes, fear is an awful intimidator. I will continue to remind myself that faith is stronger.

Define and Design 2016, Week Two

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.” ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, From Faust

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Week Two

January 8

Creativity: Signed up for a writing class and looking for another art class

Gratitude: A doctor appointment I’ve patiently waited seven weeks for, and with good results and was taken a few minutes early. Though heavy traffic was reported, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated. I used to work in this area, and I am thankful I no longer have to drive it daily.

Joy: My son cooking a salmon dinner, a quiet evening with the hubby, having a few hours of R&R this morning

Awareness: I was protected by a canopy of trees as Mother Nature shook her long, wet, silver tresses; the fog and sky waltzed until they became one.


January 9

Creativity: Stained glass

Gratitude: A full day of errands scheduled and all accomplished

Joy: Wine tasting

Awareness: The random lights at night in our dark house generate lovely shadow art on our walls…a dimmed lamp creates a rising moon behind the sofa and a sun to the canvas above.


January 10

Creativity: Stained glass and drawing

Gratitude: No obligations what so ever today,

Joy: I was absorbed in art inside listening to the wind howl outside…I went out to my delight to find it was 71 degrees and that wind felt wonderful.

Awareness: My body speaks to me (stiff neck, sore back) telling me to slow down, not to spend too much time on certain tasks.


January 11

Creativity: Drawing and quilting

Gratitude: My hands…my hands perform a multitude of tasks in a day, not to mention the pleasurables which include the majority of my creative endeavors

Joy: Book club

Awareness: The evening cantata of my house: the stovetop hums while the soup burps, the furnace hisses, a teapot whistles while the computer whispers, voices murmur, the steps creak upon the pitter patter of the cat, the dog’s claws clatter across the wooden floor, and a glass shatters to the floor…the beautiful melody of life.


January 12

Creativity: studying art magazines, art journal

Gratitude: clean water

Joy: Talking “art mediums and methods” with my friend while our husbands talked “shop”

Awareness: Calming the compulsion of creation is as much of a struggle as shushing the voice of procrastination.


January 13

Creativity: art journal, reading about writing

Gratitude: Being able to pull a precooked casserole from the freezer and pop it in the oven, voila dinner is done!

Joy: Smiling faces and giggles

Awareness: Purple, green, yellow, pink, and blue, lines defined in an arc against a white canvas…with the swipe of a fingertip they overlap and blend or someone might see it as a smudge; the same thing goes with altered dreams. Perception is in the eye of the beholder…life is art.


January 14

Creativity: stained glass design

Gratitude: socks

Joy: Acknowledgement, even in the silence

Awareness: Silence. It mingles in the crevice between my throat and tongue, waiting for connection of heart and mind. It gathers in the space between pen and paper. It covers me like a warm, soft blanket as I lay awake at night. It penetrates my bones as I walk through life and is the battery of my existence.


Define and Design 2016

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” -Wayne Dyer


While I chose Focus as my word for 2015, it seemed it was a year of Exploration for me. To my credit, I was “focused” as I ventured into the world. In doing so I’ve discovered much.  I’ve always been told I had a poet’s heart, and while that might be true I’ve found I have an artist’s spirit. It seems I enjoy most every creative endeavor I undertake. I’ve decided to embrace the fact I’m a Jack of all Trades (and perhaps, Master of None) when it comes to my interests or talents. That said, I’m ok with being scatter brained and chaotically organized with my projects; it works for me.

Instead of beating myself up for jumping around mediums and tasks, I’m defining (clarifying) what I want from life each day and designing (planning) my choices accordingly. Not exactly a daily intention (though I do that) but a smaller task to reach a larger goal. What I’m attempting to do this year is basically the same as intentional living. The difference for me is the awareness I will bring to ordinary tasks. I’ve centered my life on simple living which instills an inner sanctity. Without gratitude, a deep peace doesn’t reside within me. The neighbor of my peace is joy.

My intention is to live every day of 2016 creatively, joyously, attentively, and with appreciation.


Week One

January 1

Creativity: Designing stained glass panels, drawing

Gratitude: My husband took my drawings and fine-lined them in a computer program which cleaned them up and saved them for future projects, my home and family

Joy: Breakfast at a neighborhood pub with DirtMan, phone calls and texts with loved ones, online creativity community

Awareness: Partners in a relationship often know what the other needs without asking and proceeds; these are golden moments.

*The combination of essential oils in my diffuser directly affects my mood. I find a mixture of cedarwood, mandarin, lemongrass, and patchouli to be soothing and creatively inspiring.


January 2

Creativity: Photography

Gratitude: a hiking date with Mother Nature (and DirtMan and Wylie), reading

Joy: Sunshine in my face, online art classes

Awareness: As air temperature decreases outside sounds intensify and invade the security of my home. The wind howls, children screech, dogs bark, traffic roars, and sirens wail. The warning cries of emergency vehicles unsettle me. It takes me back to childhood…a siren meant most likely someone I loved had befallen some sort of disaster. I feared the unknown circumstances and my sense of helplessness in the matter. In knowing the origin of anxiety I am able to reclaim my calm amidst the chaos outside my walls.

* Chance encounters have helped me recognize my value in this community.


January 3

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: A slow-paced day, accomplishing part of my business taxes

Joy: A purring cat at my shoulder and a snoring dog at my feet

Awareness: I sit on the back yard swing with the wind biting at my arms and legs like a playful pup. The wind chime’s cantata competes with robin song and incessant caws of neighborhood crows. Chimney smoke from next door is a gray ghost swirling around tree branches until it disappears in thin air. I find the scent, thick and earthy, comforting. The mix of muted and lush tones in the yard is unusual for early January: the Japanese Silver grass has distorted to wheat while the geranium has sprouted rubies and amethysts dance among vinca. This solitary bite of life in my yard is soul food to me. I am well fed.

*I thrive in quiet space. Silent communication (smiles, a touch or gesture, a nod or a hug) are welcome and appreciated sometimes.


January 4

Creativity: Writing, watching art tutorials

Gratitude: Dishwasher leaked…opportunity to clean the kitchen floor.  Went to run an errand, click, my car wouldn’t start…son charged the battery. Thankful to have these things and people in my life to come to my rescue.

Joy: Snuggling babies and reading time

Awareness: Babies are hot…I mean HOT blooded…and if you are of woman of a certain age and are a bit heated (as in hot flash) and are holding two babies at the same time, I mean to tell you it feels like you’re are going to self-combust, talk about an inferno! Fortunately, I was the only thing on fire!

*My mood directs the attitude in my house and business, by keeping a peaceful atmosphere those around me do as well…at least, for the most part.


January 5

Creativity: Writing, ordering and organizing art supplies

Gratitude: Telephone, the ability to connect with people when I’m not with them.

Joy: Early morning snowflakes that didn’t accumulate

Awareness: I turned on the outside light in the wee hours of the morning to see a sprinkle of white flutter through the air. I watched the air draw white lines along the corners of my neighbor’s rooftop and along the edges of his truck bed. The flakes drifted and vanished before meeting the grass. The snow left town as day made her appearance, nothing left of the nighttime rambler but the lines on the roof and truck.



January 6

Creativity: Writing, shopping for art supplies and watching art demonstrations

Gratitude: Himalayan Salt lamps, hot herbal tea, music

Joy: simple home dinner with family and conversation

Awareness: How still and quiet everything seems to be in the early morning, light slips across the landscape like a shawl upon cold shoulders, warm and inviting.



Creativity: Drawing and quilting

Gratitude: time and strength to exercise, a hot bath with essential oils, peppermint chocolate

Joy: A quiet house all to myself for a few hours

Awareness: Without a short time to crawl back into myself after dinner I shut down. I’m worse in the winter…they call this sundowners at the retirement centers…does this mean I’m old already; I like to call it seasoned.

Absent, but Present

“Participate in your dreams today. There are unlimited opportunities available with this new day. Take action on those wonderful dreams you've had in your mind for so long. Remember, success is something you experience when you act accordingly.”  ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

“Participate in your dreams today. There are unlimited opportunities available with this new day. Take action on those wonderful dreams you’ve had in your mind for so long. Remember, success is something you experience when you act accordingly.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Absent, but present. Yes, that’s where I’ve been. It’s where I am.

  1. I signed up for a creative challenge which led to a second one. Both have now become groups of supporters and inspiration. Needless to say, while I could have focused on one project or form of creativity, I chose to stretch my boundaries.
  2. I joined a book club. This is not only an interesting group to discuss books and be led to literature I wouldn’t normally choose but is enlightening as a writer.
  3. I searched out a new writer’s group, and ended up joining it because I loved it! It is everything I’ve been looking for. These guys are not only supportive and inspiring (just like my creative groups) but interesting and fun.
  4. I started my long awaited creative dream-a stained glass class! It’s not as easy as it looks, but I am enjoying learning. I look forward to my first created project.
  5. I am writing, working on a project, offline not online. With a shift in my priorities, I don’t find myself online nearly as often.
  6. I’m still into photography. I haven’t had as many photo opportunities these days. And we all know even when I do, I dislike post processing.
  7. I’ve even thrown in a few sewing projects.
  8. I’ve been traveling at least every other weekend to spend time with family and friends.
  9. I’ve been creating in the kitchen…I even claim the occasional flop!
  10. How could I forget reading? I’ve read some really great books which include Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The bottom line is I’ve been living creatively. That to me is fulfillment. Success of my creations is of less importance than the act of creating. I consider the fact I create on a daily basis to be success in itself.

The Dog Days of Our Lives

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."   -Billings

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” -Billings

It doesn’t take much for a dog to wag his way into our lives, and then we’re licked. Yes, they’re clever like that.

You might think you’re so intelligent there’s nothing a dog can teach you. I beg to differ. We have much to learn from these four-legged, furry friends.

Dogs love us even when we don’t love ourselves. (Look a little deeper, there’s something wonderful the dog sees within us.)

Only a dog can turn a walk around the block into a great adventure. (A simple task can hold many joys…don’t miss this moment by living in the past or the future.)

Dogs are good judges of character.  (If my dog doesn’t like you chances are extremely high I won’t either.)

Wagging tails make friends easily. (A smiling face will do the same. Kindness and sociability open many doors to friendship.)

Happiness is free for the taking. (Sniff a little and you’ll find yours.)

Dogs teach us humility. Seriously, any creature who can sniff your butt and turn around and lick your face in a matter of seconds must be able to laugh at himself and love with a full heart! Not to mention he has no problem eating your leftovers.)

In case you didn’t know, today is National Dog Day.

Wag your tail, (or smile if the case may be!) and spread some love today!

In The Early Morning Light

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” ~ Lemony Snicket

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” ~ Lemony Snicket

I rise in the wee hours of the morning while darkness is still settled across my world like a fine dust on a country road. I watch the sun tiptoe through the pine branches and dance over the rooftops…the trees and flowers shimmer in my neighbor’s car windows, birthing my world to view. The crows caw, crickets chirp, and the robins sing as I speak thanks for this day of blessings. I set my intentions to love, care, respect, and feel this world around me and to be here in this life of mine. Where does your path lead you today?

Today’s Pondering

Beauty and thorns. Life is filled with both. Where you choose to focus is up to you. ~Me

Beauty and thorns. Life is filled with both. Where you choose to focus is up to you. ~Me

Sometimes you must let go. You let go of the untrue words written or said about you or someone you love. Do you let go because they are untrue? Perhaps. Do you let go because you think the person spewing them is small minded and self-serving? Perhaps the thought crosses your mind, but then you remember those words are from their journey not yours. You let go because they do not serve your purpose, it serves theirs. And their purpose isn’t your concern. You let go because you remember not to take things personally. You let go because poison is lethal. You let go because you must move on. You must move on because you don’t want to be stuck in those words or that person’s life. You let go to restore your own peace of mind. You let go to love. Because in the end that truly is all that’s left.