May Joy and Peace Surround You

Shortly after I asked this morning, How shall we play today?, an image of a horseshoe came to mind. And not just any horseshoe, but an old black one that was hanging on the wall in my closet. This horseshoe hung for years and years on the hallway wall in the home of Leta and Bob Moore. I brought it home when we packed up their house and tucked it away and forgot about it…until today. 

May Joy and Peace Surround You
This afternoon, in preparation for retrieving this vintage horseshoe and hanging it properly, I looked up the mythology around lucky horseshoes and why we hang them over doorways. 

I discovered the story of hanging horseshoes for luck goes all the way back to 959 AD. According to Irish folklore, a blacksmith named Dunstan had an encounter with the devil. There are many variations of the tale, but the gist is that the devil asked Dunstan to shoe a horse. The crafty blacksmith grabbed the hoofed foot of the evil one and nailed a shoe to it instead. Howling in pain the devil asked to be released. Dunstan agreed, with one condition…the devil had to promise to never enter a house with a horseshoe hanging above the door. 

Because of this Irish story, the horseshoe became a symbol for luck. Additionally, iron was deemed magical because it could withstand fire. Hanging the horseshoe above the door to a house or building, with the points up so that it forms a U, keeps evil away while collecting luck. 

May Joy and Peace Surround You
Reading the story behind the luck that a horseshoe supposedly brings, changed my plans. I was going to hang Mimi Leta’s horseshoe in the backyard garden area, on the wooden fence or perhaps above the garage door, as a nod to tradition. 

But suddenly, I fancied hanging it above my front door. I believe that we make our own luck, according to how we perceive life and the world. However, I love blessings. And I have Irish blood. What if the horseshoe symbolized a blessing for all who entered through my door, rather than just luck? That inspired idea resonated deeply with me. I found the perfect Irish blessing. 

May Joy and Peace Surround You
I like that the vintage horseshoe now hangs above my front door. It draws my eyes upward, and in my heart I hold the blessing. I foresee a future art project, where the Irish blessing takes on material form and hangs near the entrance to my home. 

Was it a coincidence that as I was preparing to hang the horseshoe above my door, the first tornado watch of the year was issued? I don’t think so. We remain under a watch until 9:00 pm, as strong thunderstorms approach. 

The horseshoe doesn’t make me feel lucky. It does remind me that I am protected and loved and blessed. All is well. 

May Joy and Peace Surround You

Allowing Myself to Marvel

As I drove home this evening, I sifted through possibilities for tonight’s blog post. This was one of those days where I felt drawn in several   different directions, with no clear indication yet which path to take. Music had snagged my heart, and I listened to the La La Land soundtrack as I drove…and yet silence met my inquiry when I asked about sharing something musical.

I also felt drawn toward creating on a new page in my art journal. I am very much enjoying that artistic journey. Yet again, when I picked up the journal at home, and scanned through a new page, nothing really connected with me.

Allowing Myself to Marvel
I considered that tonight, for the first time since I began blogging, three plus years ago, I might not have anything to write about.

And yet…something…something…was trying to rise to the surface.

Reaching for my Walking in This World book, by Julia Cameron, I finished the last chapter. It was on the final two pages that the stirrings within finally surfaced and understanding dawned.

Allowing Myself to Marvel
In the final task, at the end of the book, Julia writes that each of us carries the inner capacity for awe. Different things inspire different people, and some things simply make us happy, and some things we love for no apparent reason. We experience the touch of the Great Creator, when we touch upon something we love.

Julia says, “Because the part of us that creates is youthful and innocent, an ideal place to collect artist toys is a good children’s bookstore.” I know the truth of Julia’s statement. I often pick up a book from the children’s library, when I am learning something new. These books for kids cut out the unnecessary clutter and get to the important stuff quickly.

The assignment was to find a children’s book that makes me happy. “Make it a point that your bedside table contains at least one book on a topic that simply delights you.” She goes on to write that delight opens the door for the Divine to touch us.

Allowing Myself to Marvel
There it was, the connection I was looking for, the door swinging open. I had a strong visual image of looking through an open door earlier in the day, and wasn’t sure how to interpret that. And now the Divine was inviting me to enter, by way of my delight.

Because, I already have a children’s book on my bedside table, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I’ve been wondering how to share about it. However, I’m not exactly clear about why I have been drawn to read this book, and the series that follows. I recently rewatched all the Harry Potter movies. And that wasn’t enough. Now I know I am supposed to read the books.

Allowing Myself to Marvel

This magical tale, by JK Rowling, centers on Harry Potter, an orphaned boy who does not know who he is. He only knows he is miserable, living in a tiny cupboard under the stairs, in a house with horrible people. His aunt, uncle, and insufferable cousin fear who he might be and seek to prevent Harry from living his destiny.

But when a mysterious owl delivers a strange letter to young Potter, his life shifts dramatically. The letter is an invitation to a place, a world, that Harry never dreamed existed. At Hogwarts, Harry Potter finds new friends and incredible knowledge, strength he didn’t know he possessed and almost overwhelming challenges. Ultimately, he finds himself.

Allowing Myself to Marvel
I may not know yet what all the truths are for me, within these children’s books, but in this first volume, I’ve discovered…it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to an enemy and just as much to stand up to friends…fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself…truth can be beautiful and terrible…and music is a magic, beyond all we do here.

I am enjoying the magical world of Harry Potter, as I complete the first book. Book two will be ordered soon, and placed on my bedside table. Julia wrote, “Let yourself celebrate what you love and that you are the person who loves it. Allow yourself to marvel.” 

I don’t have to know why I am being guided to Harry Potter. I don’t have to figure it all out. My inner artist knows what she’s doing. I can simply marvel. I can delight. And in finding delight, I am opening the door to the touch of the Divine, and connecting to a sense of the marvelous.

Allowing Myself to Marvel

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Oscar Night 2017

For many people, Super Bowl Sunday is the most anticipated winter tv program. I do watch that sporting event. However, it is not the most keenly anticipated show for me. All my life, the end of December has not only signaled the end of the year, it signals the countdown to my favorite televised event…the Academy Awards, nicknamed the Oscars. 

Oscar Night 2017

I am posting in the blog during commercial breaks, as this award show typically concludes late in the evening. And I am loving the program already. Justin Timberlake performed one of the nominated songs as the opener, a lively number that had attendees on their feet, dancing in the aisles. I applauded as heartily as anyone. 

I confess to a slight trepidation, leading up to the award show. With the highly charged political climate that we currently live in, I felt my anticipation diminished by the concern that tonight’s focus would shift from the movies and spectacular performances to divisive speeches and statements. 

This is what I had to do…let my concerns go. I accepted that everyone is allowed to share their thoughts and opinions. Everyone. And if I reacted to something said, whether by host Jimmy Kimmel or a presenter or an actor accepting an Oscar, that’s on me, that’s something to go within and inquire about. 

Problem solved. Joy restored. 

Oscar Night 2017

Oscar Night 2017Yeah…I take notes.



I needn’t have been concerned. Host Jimmy Kimmel set the tone for the evening with a light hearted opening monologue. “We are going to have fun tonight!” Jimmy promised. I applauded again. 

Here are the six top awards:

Oscar Night 2017
The first winner of the evening was Mahershala Ali, for Moonlight. If Jimmy set the tone for the award show, Mahershala raised the bar for acceptance speeches. He was humble, gracious, sincere. “It’s not about you,” he was told as a new actor, “You are serving the characters, the stories.” My heart was pierced by his words, his tears. Mahershala is an actor to watch, as he tells stories. 

Oscar Night 2017
Viola Davis picked up the Oscar for her performance in Fences. Through tears she shared passionately that she became an actress because this is a profession that knows what it means to celebrate life…not just well known publically recognized lives, but the lives of common everyday people who hoped and dreamed and lived and died. She was asked, as an actress, “What kind of stories do you want to tell?” Viola is answering that question through the characters she chooses to portray. 

Oscar Night 2017
Emma Stone captured this award, her first, for her role in La La Land. She thanked the other nominees for allowing her to stand alongside them. Through tears she said she still has a lot of learning and growing to do, and her Oscar is a symbol, a sign, to continue on her journey. 

Oscar Night 2017

Casey Affleck, humble and searching for the right words, picked up his first Oscar for Manchester by the Sea. His acting career has been inspired by Denzel Washington, whom he met for the first time tonight. 

Oscar Night 2017
Damien Chazelle, La La Land, picked up his first Oscar and is the youngest director in history to win in the Best Director category. He is 32 years old. 

Oscar Night 2017

In all the years that I’ve watched the Oscars, I’ve never seen the wrong winner announced. It happened tonight, for the top award, Best Picture. The presenters were given the wrong envelope, which contained the winner for Best Actress Emma Stone, La La Land. Confused, they hesitated and at last announced La La Land as the winner. During the acceptance speech, one of the supposed winners broke the news that they had actually lost…and Moonlight was the correct winner. I was as confused as everyone else was! I was hoping La La Land would win. But I was impressed with the graciousness of the La La Land cast and the Moonlight group. I wish both could have walked off the stage with Oscars. 

I so enjoyed the evening. There were many surprises, such as a bus full of unsuspecting tourists who got a peek inside the theater, and a funny Mean Tweets segment where actors read trolls’ comments about them on Twitter. And a huge number of firsts occurred: all the major categories were won by people receiving their first Oscars, Amazon had its first big movie nominated, Manchester by the Sea, and it won in two categories, the youngest director in history won, and for the first time a major goof at the end caused the wrong film to be announced as Best Picture. Wow. 

Oscar Night 2017
For me, the biggest surprise (other than the unintentional twist at the end) was finding out what this year’s theme was for the Academy Awards…Inspiration. I didn’t know until the theme was revealed, half way through the show. My mouth fell open. I loved my personal connection with the word, my word for 2017, and that men and women shared throughout the evening about the films, characters and actors who inspired them. 

And there were tears, shed by winners as they spoke from their hearts, and shed by me during those acceptance speeches, during moving performances of the nominated songs, and when Michael J Fox, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, presented for Film Editing. 

Oscar Night 2017
The Memorial segment is especially poignant, as actors who have died in the past year are honored for their contributions to the world, and for their lives. We lost so many bright shining souls, passionate gifted people who devoted their lives to following their hearts. We have been blessed by their dedication. 

I was inspired tonight. I have nine Best Picture nominated films to watch and I made a list of other movies, shorts and documentaries to view as well. In fact, for the first time, I would like to watch all of the winners, in all of the categories, a lofty goal for sure, a challenge I am presenting to myself. 

I appreciated the diversity of the 89th Academy Awards. Although La La Land collected the most Oscars with six wins, no movie overshadowed the others. The winners were from countries around the world including Italy, Syria, Iran, Canada, France and England. All races, colors, genders and ages were represented, celebrated, and honored. 

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, summed up the evening perfectly. She said, “The power of art transcends all things…the magic of movies, that’s what we celebrate tonight.” 

Yes…yes!

Oscar Night 2017

London’s Birthday Party 

The family gathered this afternoon, to celebrate London Kate Miller, who will be seven years old on Monday. London is my great niece, daughter of my nephew Eric, granddaughter of my sister Linda. 

I call all the younger children in my extended family the “grands”. The kids interact a lot, and consider each other cousins and friends. Linda is Gigi, my sister Debbie is Meem, and I am Yaya to this group of sweethearts, with the exception of little Kaleb, who has always called me by my name. 

London's Birthday Party
I looked up London’s name:

“London, you bring to completion anything that you start. You are generous and like to see returns from your giving. You possess leadership abilities. You are moral, balanced, honest and intellectual, and you may choose a spiritual path through life. You are wise and practical with an appreciation of beauty. You are direct in your communication style, methodical, and believe in law, system and order.

 Keeping the peace is important to you, and you want those you love to live in harmony. You desire to balance your life with those around you and you may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideals, wealth or work with. You can be very sensitive and appear a bit shy. You are developing your intuition. Compassion and empathy enable you to nurture others well. 

London's Birthday Party

Such powerful words, for a seven year old. And yet I see London already exhibiting many of those characteristics. She is generous, with strong leadership abilities, honest and direct, with a sense of justice, law and order. 

London is a peacemaker. The eldest of Linda’s grandchildren, she desires harmony among the cousins and helps with one while entertaining another. Watching her, I see how much London already values peace and love within her family. 

London's Birthday Party
London's Birthday Party
This loving child knows how to have fun, too, and that’s what today was about. London kicked off the party by opening presents, expressing gratitude for her gifts, allowing her younger cousins to help open a couple of them. 

London's Birthday Party
London's Birthday Party
Happy birthday was sung…with the large group present, it took a couple of attempts to get us singing in harmony…and London’s cute birthday cake served up. I passed on cake and ice cream, and enjoyed instead the closeness of family, the joy and laughter, as I chatted my way around the room. 

London's Birthday Party
London's Birthday Party
It was a fun afternoon, celebrating this precious girl. No matter what paths she chooses, as she journeys through life, I look forward to watching her continue to grow, in body, in spirit, in wisdom, grace and beauty. I choose to walk beside her, encouraging her along with her parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, sister, brother and cousins, as London offers her compassion, peace and harmony to the world. 

Happy birthday, London. I love you!

London's Birthday Party

Aubrey’s Dragons

I had the pleasure of spending some time with my granddaughter Aubrey late this afternoon. It was too chilly to play outside, although she quickly scampered up her favorite climbing tree in my front yard, and somersaulted down. We settled indoors. She played while I finished some work and then we hung out together, chatting and drawing. 

All of my children and grandchildren are artistic. I used to be a fair artist, although I’ve never been great at sketching from my imagination. I have to have something to look at while I draw. Furthermore, years of not drawing regularly has eroded my confidence in wielding a pencil. I am working on coaxing my abilities back into existence. 

Aubrey's Dragons
Aubrey loves to draw. She told me last year that one of her goals was to become a better artist. And she is meeting that goal! Her drawings are wonderful and she is definitely developing her own style. 

Aubrey's DragonsAubrey’s adorable bob cat

Sometimes Aubrey is content to make requests and watch me sketch. I used to enjoy doing the same when I was a child. My creative mom drew many pictures at my request.

So for Aubrey, I drew fish. This was an easy enough request. I created a family of fish from my imagination. 

Aubrey's Dragons
Then my granddaughter asked for a cat, swimming underwater! That isn’t something one sees often. I didn’t think I could even find such a picture to look at while I sketched. However, amazingly, as I thought about what such a sight would look like, an image came to mind and I drew with ease. The sketch was simplistic , but the cat does appear to be swimming for the surface. I was pleased with it and so was Aubrey. 

Aubrey's Dragons
Lest I feel too accomplished, Aubrey made her last request. Dragons. She asked for two dragons, together, facing each other. Dear child, I thought, can’t we just stick with fish? 

I would not have attempted such a drawing without being sweetly asked by my grandchild. Oh, I like dragons too. And Smaug from the Hobbit films immediately came to mind. But to draw two of them, and have them come out actually looking like dragons, challenged me. I didn’t know if I could do it. 

You know what, though? Aubrey had no doubts about whether I could handle her request. Her belief in my abilities made me try. Once again, an image came to mind and I began to draw. This was a new phenomenon for me, to draw from my imagination. 

Aubrey's Dragons

In a few minutes, I had a rough sketch, of two dragons, wings stretching toward each other, tails intertwined. I was drawing on poster board, which is not the best surface for pencil work. But as I tilted my head and examined my work, I decided it wasn’t bad! Aubrey was very matter of fact, telling me yes, yes, that’s right. I didn’t surprise her. She knew I could draw dragons. And dragons I drew. 

I gain so much insight from my grandchildren. Today I learned the importance of belief…belief in myself and the bolstering empowerment that comes from someone else’s belief in me. It was good, too, to be reminded that challenges are excellent ways to grow beyond my comfort zones. 

As Aubrey prepared to go home, she gave me final instructions for her dragons. She wanted both of them to be teal colored. And holding up one of my coloring pages, she said, “And do this…make shading on them.” 

I can do that!

I am enjoying working on the finished drawing, coloring dragons as I layer on color. Coloring, I do well. Also, I can draw fish and a cat, swimming underwater. And I can draw dragons, thanks to Aubrey’s belief that I can. I believe now, too. 

Aubrey's Dragons

Nature’s Scavenger Hunt

With a high in the 80s today, and abundant sunshine, I felt inspired to get outside this afternoon. What came to mind was a sort of nature scavenger hunt, a search for evidence that spring is on the way. I envisioned myself walking along the river in Wildcat Park, capturing signs of springs with my iPhone camera. 

It was an inviting idea that drew my interest. 

Except it didn’t happen. Work kept me busy today, as I took care of clients and uploaded documents, answered phone calls and met with buyers. Coming home as the sun hung low in the western sky, I considered not accepting the invitation to go on a walking scavenger hunt. It would be too dark by the time I reached the river. 

I felt I had two choices:

Switch to a different adventure, such as using my cooking experience at lunch time today for tonight’s creative blog, even though I had posted that recipe in my health blog. 

Or…stay closer to home and walk in my neighborhood, collecting photographic evidence of spring. 

Nature's Scavenger Hunt
I was physically tired. However, standing at the window, enchanted by a spectacular sunset, it didn’t take long to don a lightweight hoodie and grab my phone on the way out the door. It was too beautiful an evening to pass on this invitation. 

Nature's Scavenger Hunt
Here are the clues I collected as I wandered my neighborhood, my long hair stirring in a balmy southerly breeze, my senses alert…

Nature's Scavenger HuntI started my walk in my own backyard, where creeping phlox, transplanted from Leta Moore’s flowerbeds, is thriving and beginning to bloom. 

Nature's Scavenger HuntIrises are creating spiky fans in the garden as well. 

Nature's Scavenger HuntAlthough this Missouri wildflower is considered by most to be a weed, Henbit is one of the first plants to announce spring’s arrival. 

Nature's Scavenger HuntThe robin is a sure sign that warmer weather is approaching. 

Nature's Scavenger Hunt These cheerful jonquils not only herald spring, they are a testament to survival. They are the only remaining evidence that a house once stood on a now vacant lot. 

Nature's Scavenger HuntOrnamental trees in bloom, like this pear tree, made me smile. 

Nature's Scavenger HuntForsythia bushes are in full, riotous bloom. 

The sky was darkening as I turned toward home. I was so glad I heeded the call to walk this evening. No river gurgled nearby, but concrete streets hinted at journeys and destinations unknown as they disappeared on the horizon. My neighborhood is bereft of mature trees, due to the 2011 tornado. But young trees are growing, thriving, and breaking up the landscape again. 

Rather than spying deer or squirrels, I caught sight of birds and cats and inquisitive dogs who watched me stroll by from their fenced yards. Mossy boulders were replaced with jagged chunks of concrete, uprooted after the storm, and left clustered in empty lots. 

Beauty abounded. And everywhere I looked, there was evidence that we are going to have an early spring. The temperatures will dip again, surely, but today offered a promise that winter is almost over. 

Nature's Scavenger Hunt
I was scanning the block ahead, to see if there was anything of interest to check out, when a brightly colored shrub caught my eye. I was reminded of the story of Moses and the burning bush. This bush was aflame as well, and like Moses, I had to get closer. 

The Japanese Flowering Quince stood alone in the corner of an empty yard. The house is gone. But oh, this shrub, full of coral colored blossoms, towered above me. The artistic child within squealed with delight as I stood beneath the sheltering branches of the quince bush. I was reminded of one of my hiding places as a child, a huge flowering bush that I crawled beneath, whenever I craved solitude. 

This. This quince was what my soul was looking for this evening…beauty, resilience, a promise. The sun slipped below the horizon as I lingered within the embrace of craggy branches alive with hundreds of blooms. I felt refreshed and full of quiet joy. It was time to go home. 

I had found what I was looking for. Spring is coming. The earth and I, we are being reborn. 

Nature's Scavenger Hunt
Nature's Scavenger Hunt

Vintage Flower Prints

I enjoyed a simple yet fun creative project this evening. When Greg and I emptied out his patents’ house, after his father’s death, we packed up an old set of encyclopedias and a Book of Knowledge set, from 1951. In this age of smart phones and Google, who uses encyclopedias any more? No one. 

We checked to see if there was a market for   selling such vintage volumes. There wasn’t. Sets like these can be found in flea markets and yards sales everywhere…and you can’t hardly give them away. We decided to haul the sets to Joplin and keep them. 

Vintage Flower Prints
I am so glad we did. During this year of inspiration, several of my creative projects have been created using pages cut from the volumes. As I stayed open today, to how I would play creatively or embrace tenderness, images began to pop into my head. I recalled seeing beautifully colored pages of flowers in one of the books. I seemed to remember that Scotland’s national flower, the thistle, was included. 

When I had time to search through the old books, I couldn’t locate what I remembered seeing. I was questioning my visual “download”, and considering a plan B, when my attention was drawn to the Book of Knowledge set. I had been skimming through the encyclopedias. 

Vintage Flower Prints
Vintage Flower Prints
In a few moments, I had located the correct pages. And I was right. There were several thistles included. I love the patina of these glossy pages. The flowers are gorgeous watercolor reproductions. I have looked for such vintage prints for years. And here they were, in a set of old books. Being 66 years old qualifies them as vintage, I think!

Vintage Flower Prints

Using a craft knife, I carefully cut three pages from the book. I have a stash of empty frames in my art closet, and selected two suitable wooden frames. I also have a drawerful of parchment type paper, in a variety of colors. I selected a pale blue paper, to complement the background color behind the flowers drawings. 

A paper cutter and double sided tape made mounting the vintage pages easy. Being a fan of wabi sabi…beauty in imperfection…I appreciated spots of slight discoloration on the pages and a crease or two. In a few minutes, I was fastening on the backs of the frames, and appraising my finished work. 

Vintage Flower Prints
I am thrilled with how these framed prints turned out. They didn’t cost me a penny, as I used what I had on hand. I saved one of the pages for a future project. Repurposing is fun for me, and meaningful, as I create fresh art from something old that carries significance.  

I am grateful that we saved the encyclopedias and the Book of Knowledge set. They have given me much pleasure, and provided pages, literally, of inspiration. Obsolete books? No, they are art.   

Vintage Flower Prints

Always…and Forever

Today is the birthday of the late actor, Alan Rickman. Alan passed away on January 14, 2016, and as happened on this day last year, I wavered back and forth all day, on whether I would write a blog post in honor of this insightful man. 

The truth is, the only reason I hesitated is because of the concern that others would perceive my post to be the gushing of a fan girl. If that is the worst thing ever thought about me, I decided, that’s okay! Far from being star struck, I have deep appreciation and gratitude for Alan Rickman, who has greatly inspired me. 

Always and Forever
After Alan’s death last year, following a short battle with pancreatic cancer, I keenly felt his absence in the world. A bright light flickered and went out. Reading about Alan, in the days following his death, I discovered a quote of his that became an invitation to learn more about him. 

Always and Forever

I wanted to know more about who he was. I accepted the invitation to discover Alan through his vast body of work. It has been a soulful and amazing journey, this past year, watching Alan’s films and shorts, interviews and late night tv show appearances. In addition, I’ve read his words, primarily through collected quotes, and the words of his friends, colleagues and interviewers. 

Always and Forever

This is what I have learned from Alan Rickman, who became my teacher though we never met, who walked alongside me, sharing his wisdom, though none but me knew he was there. 

It is never too late to do what you are created to do. The heart and body know the way. Although he was always interested in acting, Alan came late into the profession. After working as a graphic artist, he at last followed his heart and his passion, performing for years on stage before breaking into film as Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Alan said that when he made that shift, “My body finally sighed with relief at being in the right place.” 

Always and Forever

Don’t let others decide who you are. Only you can do that. Because of villainous roles such as Hans Gruber and the Sheriff of Nottingham and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, Alan could have become typecast, continuing to portray darker characters. He refused to allow that, expanding himself and his viewers in such diverse roles as Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Alexander in Galaxy Quest, and King Louis in A Little Chaos. He played, with equal talent, villains, romantic leads, doctors, heroes, businessmen and kings. In one of his final films, Alan stood behind the camera as well, as the director. 

Always and Forever
Help others along the way. Over and over, I have read how Alan helped other actors that he worked with on his many films and projects. He graciously offered encouragement, support and suggestions to his colleagues, from helping a young Kate Winslet in one of her first films, Sense and Sensibility, to attending other performances and plays of Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliff. Friend Ian McKellen paid Alan tribute, calling him “a constant agent for helping others.” 

Always and Forever

Travel and see the world. I discovered that Alan loved to travel, calling it one of his favorite things to do. He saw the value of experiencing different locations and cultures. Alan wrote, “Nothing gives me as much pleasure as traveling. I love getting on planes and boats and trains.” Relationships are important. Treasure them. Not only did Alan help fellow actors, and build friendships that lasted a lifetime, he was also in a long term relationship with one woman. He met his wife Rima as a teenager, and their love story spanned 50 years. He acknowledged that their long years together were due to Rima’s remarkable tolerance, saying she deserved sainthood. 

Always and Forever
There are so many other lessons from Alan that I could list. One of the most crucial has shaped this year, and my life, in a profound way. Alan’s quote, “If only life could be a little more tender, and art a little more robust” is my focus for 2017. I have taken Alan’s words to heart. As I move through each day, having asked the question of the Divine, How shall we play?, I stay open to the opportunities to be tender toward others, to create robust art in my life. This year is shifting me in huge ways.

Always and Forever
From his perch on my writing table, Absolem the caterpillar, whom Alan voiced in Alice in Wonderland, reminds me daily of this extraordinary man and his gifts to the world, as he asks the question…Who are you? In considering that question and answering it for myself, I have studied Alan’s journey, learning about who HE was. He has encouraged me, as surely as he did his colleagues, to follow my heart, to declare my truths, to cherish my relationships and help others, to travel and see the world…and to make life a little more tender and art a little more robust. 

Always and Forever
I am full of gratitude for this man who is so much more than an actor to me, whose life has impacted so many, including me, and whom I will love and miss…

…always…and forever. 

Always and Forever

This Old House Coloring Contest

Tonight’s blog post is brief, and mostly pictorial, as I am working on a couple of different creative projects. Greg drew my attention recently to a coloring contest, sponsored by This Old House and Sherwin Williams. I am excited to participate…any excuse to color is good, after all…and printed out the coloring sheet. 

Although I have until the end of March to submit my finished page, I began coloring tonight. I enjoy very detailed coloring and layering on colors to create depth and shading.  It is not too soon for me to begin! 

This Old House Coloring Contest
Because I am a nerd, and detail oriented, I spent time researching Sherwin Williams’ color of the year for 2017. 

It is Poised Taupe.  Sidenote: I’d love to be the person who names new colors! 

This Old House Coloring Contest
And I studied Sherwin Williams color palettes that complement Poised Taupe, as seriously as I would if I had decided to paint my house exterior. 

This Old House Coloring Contest
This Old House Coloring Contest
Only then did I begin coloring, once I had color palettes in mind and felt inspired. 

This Old House Coloring Contest
A blank coloring page calls forth such creativity from within me. It is an invitation to create with color and shading and highlights. I have barely started, and yet I am enjoying the process very much. Coloring is a meditative act for me, a spiritual practice happily joined with art. 

It doesn’t matter to me whether I win this coloring contest or not. The challenge lies not in competing with others but in doing my best work and having fun while I create. 

Because the play’s the thing. 

Hamlet was remarking about a performance, in which he hoped to gather proof about who killed his father. I mean play, as in having fun and playing. I am playing as I color. I am creating. I am making art a little more robust in my life. 

This Old House Coloring Contest
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A Little Cheering Ceremony

I worked part of this gorgeous Sunday, so it was late afternoon before I turned my attention back to the question I asked this morning.

How shall we play today? 

This morning I had received a quick flash, a mental image of me sitting in candlelight. By afternoon, curious about lighting candles and with no clear idea yet of what I was supposed to do, I asked the question again.

How shall we play today?

A Little Cheering Ceremony

This time, a clear image of Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World, came to mind. I am almost finished with this creativity book, and working through a chapter strongly appealed to me.

I didn’t know how reading a chapter in the book connected to candlelight, but I didn’t need to know. Trusting the guidance given is an important part of my journey. I grabbed the book and a pencil, and began reading.

It was on page 229 that a paragraph caught my attention, causing my heart rate to increase. Julia writes about taking the heart seriously and listening to it. She says, “A heart does not need to be told, ‘Oh, toughen up’. It needs you to plan a tiny cheering ceremony and execute it.” 

I was captivated. I love little rituals and ceremonies, reminders of my spiritual walk and the symbolism and messages that I discover along the way. I knew just what to do!

A Little Cheering Ceremony
A Little Cheering Ceremony
I lit candles throughout my bedroom, realizing this was the mental picture I was given early in the day. The string of Edison bulbs added additional soft white light to the room. I prepared hot herbal tea in a dainty vintage tea cup, for all my favorite rituals involve hot tea, and sectioned a blood orange.

I arranged a pretty tray to hold my tea and orange slices, and included a silver heart tea light holder from Scotland and a stone burner with a circle of charcoal smoldering within. When the briquette was ashen, I sprinkled dried herbs from my garden on top of it. They released an earthy scent as they burned, the fragrant smoke curling into the room.

A Little Cheering Ceremony
In the next section of the book, Julia suggested making a list of 50 things my heart loves. This seemed to me to be the perfect inclusion for my little cheering ritual. In my candle lit bedroom, surrounded by things that I love, I had no problem coming up with 50 things that make my heart sing and bring me great joy.

I could have listed hundreds of things that my heart loves. I stoppped writing at 61. I had achieved the desired conclusion, which was to recognize that I live in a “rich, savory and enjoyable world where, if I will just take heart, things are bound to work out well.”

A Little Cheering Ceremony
Before I began my little cheering ceremony, I looked up the word “cheer”. For this ritual, I adopted the meaning  – “to give support to, to encourage, exhilerate, gladden, hearten.” The word originated from the Greek word kara, meaning head, and morphed through Latin and Old French to chiere, meaning face. The sense was that cheer was an outward expression of an inward condition. Beautiful.

My little cheering ceremony brought me great joy. I loved taking the time to prepare a ritual with the intention of supporting and gladdening my heart. How very precious. How very meaningful. Cheer did indeed expand my heart, becoming an expression of quiet joy on my face.

This may become a cherished weekly ceremony.

A Little Cheering Ceremony
Check out Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World:


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