My artistic plans for the evening changed as soon as I walked through my front door. One of my cats, Shy Boy, wasn’t his usual self this morning. Although I couldn’t find an injury, he seems to have a tender hip. He has rested most of the day, following his own innate wisdom for healing.
He seemed better when I got home. However, he has craved attention and closeness. This big male cat followed me into the bedroom and wanted to be held. I let him stretch out on my lap as I sat on the bed, checking texts and emails, and then gently transferred him to rest atop the quilt.
But that’s not what he wanted. As I reclined in my chair in the living room, he crawled back onto my lap, relaxing with a deep sigh.
Shy Boy is one of my original rescue cats. Seeking refuge from the cold, his momma brought him and his two sisters to me when they were kittens. Marco came along a year later. Shy Boy is aptly named. He is the most timid of the cats, fearful of people he doesn’t know, the garbage truck that drives by every Thursday, and ceiling fans in motion.
He isn’t typically a lap cat. Tonight, he is. And that’s okay. We are both going with the flow. My creative project can wait. Everything else can wait for a bit. Shy Boy needs cuddling and loving right now and this is the perfect time for such tenderness. I’ll hold him until he decides otherwise.
“Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.” Joseph Wood
Warm, spring-like temperatures today lured me into the backyard garden. Donning an old long sleeved t-shirt, a ball cap, jeans and a pair of sneakers, I escaped into my personal paradise, excited about the first official work-in-the-garden day, for 2017.
During the winter, the garden slumbers, in a rather messy but comfortable bed. The ornamental grasses turn brown but remain standing tall along the privacy fence. The flowers and herbs go to sleep too, their dry leaves rattling in the breeze. There is a certain wild beauty to the winter garden, and I still enjoy walking the paths or gazing out the window at it or sitting within its embrace, in a patch of sunshine, sipping on tea.
But oh the joy as the days grow longer and the sunshine more abundant. I can feel the garden beginning to stir, waking from its deep sleep. I know that soon green shoots will appear, the harbingers of spring and riots of colorful blooms.
Before that happens, I must prepare the garden, cleaning away debris and last year’s dead leaves, cutting the ornamental grasses back to the ground, and tidying up the beds and containers.
The primary task today was to trim back the ornamental grasses…seven of them…all of which became massive last year. I have an electric trimmer, ideal for this job. However, it is still challenging to get to the base of the grass clump, to cut the stalks down.
Greg is a master at MacGyverizing (creating ingenious inventions, especially in desperate situations, named for TV character MacGyver, who was gifted with this ability). Sizing up the situation, he used a heavy duty black net to wrap around the grass clump, effectively holding the stalks upright and out of the way.
Although I cut down a couple of the clumps, it was easier for me to hold onto the netting, pulling the grasses to the side, as Greg cut at the base.
Low wind conditions and the handy fire pit made it ideal to burn the grasses and other plant debris as we worked. Out of the picture was the garden hose, water turned on, in case it was needed.
An unexpected break was called when the power trimmer quit working. Greg switched electrical cords and the trimmer worked for me, for a few minutes, then quit again. Puzzled, Greg inspected the trimmer and the cords. Both cords had been cut, one completely in two! In my trimming frenzy, I apparently cut through my source of power…twice.
I am grateful that Greg was able to repair the cords, so work could continue, and that he had a sense of humor about my mishap!
Amazingly, the whole backyard garden got tidied up today. With Greg’s help, and properly working tools, I made more progress than I expected to. What joy there was in being outside on such a gorgeous sunny day. The garden truly is my happy place. Peace surrounds me there, and beauty.
I found evidence of the garden awakening. Beneath dead foliage and layers of mulch, bright green shoots are appearing. Always open to lessons while in my backyard paradise, I recognized that I, like the plants in my garden, thrive best when clutter and deadness are cleared away. The plants can grow, I can grow, when the environment supports us, giving us space to expand and nutrients that nourish and light to illuminate us.
I realized something else. Creativity isn’t always about sketching or writing or crafting. Repurposing doesn’t always look like a metal bucket holding fragrant purple flowers. Sometimes creativity is practical. And repurposing looks like a black net wrapped around a tall clump of grasses.
I am full of gratitude for a day spent in the garden, for great accomplishments and for practical creativity. Special thanks to Greg for giving his time willingly and for teaching me a new way to look at art, robustly.
Kate Morton wrote, “It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of a new season.”
I felt those possibilities today. And I am full of anticipation.
At the bookstore recently, Greg found and bought a publication that intrigued me. Titled Art Journaling, the gorgeous oversized magazine has pages and pages of artwork and techniques for creating art journals, which are books where heart and creativity combine.
I spent time late this afternoon, slowly turning the pages, savoring the beautiful and meaningful artistic journaling examples. I was especially captivated today by the work of Ana Campos. Her journals, using altered books, inspired me to try this art form myself.
Book altering involves repurposing an existing book, turning it into a sketchbook/journal. I love books, and I have always been extremely careful with them. I don’t typically write in my books, unless I am deeply inspired by the words within, and I don’t bookmark my place by turning down a corner of the page. I was both alarmed and excited about the prospect of drawing, coloring, painting and creating collages in a book.
I recently decluttered bookshelves, releasing many books to new owners. Duplicate copies of favorite books were the first to go. As I stood in my creative studio, pondering which book to turn into an art journal, I saw The Phantom of the Opera. A possibility, I mused, yet it was the only copy of that classic that I own. I felt drawn to the closet, even though I knew I had removed and sold or given away the books inside.
I opened the drawer of a storage bin in the closet, seemingly at random. Wedged within was the book Captivating, written exclusively for women. This was perfect on several levels. The word captivated kept coming into my mind. And this was a duplicate copy. I checked to make sure that I had the book resting on a shelf in my bedroom. I had my art journal.
To move beyond the slight hesitation I had in marking up a book, I began by creating a Cindy’s Art Journal page and then enjoyed adding to the title page, by gluing on cut outs. This was going to be a fun project!
Over my nervousness, I moved on to the first page of the book. As I read, certain phrases stood out to me. I outlined those phrases, allowing images to arise that fit with the words. Grabbing my colored pencils and a black gel pen, I journaled. More specifically, I practiced art journaling.
This was such a beautiful experience. Creating something fresh and new was rewarding and freeing. And focusing on the phrases that stood out to me allowed me to take those words deep within, to contemplate them.
Coloring is a meditative activity for me. I discovered that the book paper took the color well. Using the Tom Petty quote for inspiration, I sketched flowers, a tiny heart, and a sailboat call FREE. On future pages I may employ collage making, painting, and covering portions of the page, in addition to cut outs, drawing and coloring.
Art journaling is fun! I enjoyed creating my first page so much that I am keenly anticipating spending a few minutes each evening, adding to my journal in this way.
I also have something new to look for at flea markets and junk stores…interesting and inspiring old books to create with. This is an open door that I am eager to enter through, to explore the unique territory beyond.
Check out this book on Art Journaling by clicking picture below.
I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn commissions on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this book, or any other product, through my link!
Today is the birthday of my son-in-law Josh. Married to my older daughter, Elissa, Josh officially joined our family a couple of years ago, when these two first borns said I do during their November wedding. However, I’ve known Josh his entire life. I was thrilled by Elissa’s and Josh’s union, and also by the journey of the Adams and the Moores, beyond friendship to family.
Celebrating my son-in-law, I am happy for the opportunity to look up his name. I began this practice as part of the birthday blog posts last April, missing the family members born in January, February and March.
“Joshua, you are honest, benevolent, brilliant and often inventive. You are courageous, honest, determined, original and creative. You have leadership characteristics, especially when you feel passionately about a cause. Sometimes you do not care to finish what you start, or may leave details to others. You do well in positions of authority, and prosper when you take charge. You are dependable, methodical and believe in law, system and order.
You look for opportunities to achieve financial and emotional security for yourself and others. You are a peacemaker. You understand the law of harmony and desire balance in your life and with those around you. You may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideals, wealth or work with. You can be sensitive and may appear a bit reserved to those who don’t know you well. You have developed intuition, patience and the ability to nurture others. Contentment is yours as you accept who you are and live in harmonious relationships with others.”
I recognize and appreciate these characteristics about Josh. He has an amazing heart, full of patience, kindness and love for others. He is a wonderful husband to Elissa, and a fun and attentive dad to Jonathan and Dayan. Family is important to him, and his quiet wisdom and strength are vital.
In this past year, he has stepped into a leadership role, and an entrepreneurial one, starting his own pest control company. He is diligent, and methodical, about building his business and offering exceptional customer service.
Josh is most definitely a peacemaker. He listens. He offers sincere and heartfelt advice after considering options. I believe Josh does desire harmony with others and seeks benevolent ways to accomplish that in all of his relationships…with his wife and family, with friends, and with clients. Josh is the kind of person whose presence brings peace and the sense that all is well.
His steady and consistent nature includes a delightful sense of humor. Josh knows how to have fun and laughs easily. I love watching my children and grandchildren interact. Josh is typically there in the midst of them, joking or striking a humorous pose.
Thank you, Josh, for all that you contribute to our family…for showing such love and devotion to Elissa, Jonathan and Dayan…for giving so selflessly from your heart. Thank you for joining in wholeheartedly at family gatherings and getting your license so you could officiate at Adriel and Nate’s wedding and being a peacemaker. Thank you for listening and sharing and going above and beyond in carrying out your responsibilities to your family. Thank you for making us laugh.
I am grateful for you, who you are and who you are becoming. Happy birthday, Josh! I love you.
Super Bowl Sunday is tomorrow, and across the US people will gather to watch the game and enjoy food and drink. While I am not a big football fan, this is the one game I do watch. I enjoy the commercials and I attempt to pay attention during the game. I’ve always prepared an array of snacks and hearty foods such as little smokies and a pot of chili.
This year, in accordance with my plant based lifestyle, I am forgoing the meat laden dishes and sweet treats, and dining instead on new favorites such as roasted potato wedges, homemade hummus with veggies and veggie pizza on a gluten free crust. I wanted to include a pot of chili that was tasty as well as good for me. I found a recipe, from littlebroken.com, that I tried out tonight.
I love lentils. They are inexpensive, easy to prepare and packed with protein. This simple recipe appealed to me immediately.
I added 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes for a little kick. Less could be used, or none at all, for a milder chili. I also didn’t feel that the chili needed thickening, so I skipped the last step.
In thirty minutes, the lentils were tender and I had to sample this fragrant chili tonight. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. It was delicious, with just the right amount of heat for me. This recipe definitely goes on my favorites list.
As I chopped veggies this evening and sautéed them in a little olive oil, I recalled how many times in the last three years I have expressed a desire to cook more, and have creative fun in the kitchen. All that longing to learn new recipes and improve my cooking abilities has found an outlet. Switching over to a different way of eating has necessitated a flurry of fresh cooking techniques and opportunities to learn.
One of the joys of being a grandmother, a Yaya, is being present when my grandchildren are recognized for accomplishments. I’ve had the honor of being in the audience for all five of my grandkids at various times, as they receive awards or special recognition. I believe it is important to be a witness to their young lives, so they know that I am there, cheering them on.
This afternoon, I was in the audience at my grandson’s elementary school award assembly, as a witness to Oliver’s life. At Steadley, the children adopt a character word for each month, and memorize a quote about it. They put that character quality into practice during the month as well. January’s character word was Perseverance.
The teachers in each grade select students from their classrooms who best demonstrate the month’s character word. Oliver was selected by his teacher for the award. The children don’t know who has been chosen, until the assembly. I was joined in the auditorium by Greg, and my son Nate and daughter-in-law Megan, all there as Team Oliver.
The assembly was presided over by Dr. Barlow, the school principal. Dr. Barlow is the most inspiring and engaging principal I have ever met. His love for others is evident. He interacts with the kids, leading them in fun songs, and asking pop questions. To hear several hundred children recite the Preamble to the US Constitution together, under his direction, is always deeply moving. All assemblies at Steadley begin thus.
Before the awards were handed out, the school bus drivers were recognized. What an amazing tribute! I don’t believe I have ever seen bus drivers so cheerfully and sincerely thanked for their devotion and dedication. It was during this segment of the assembly that I realized that recognition is a powerful way to make life a little more tender for others.
There was robust clapping and cheering as each child’s name was announced for the Character Kid awards. I was thrilled for Oliver. This third grader has changed so much in the last year. He still loves for me to time him as he rides his bike, and when he’s tired he enjoys snuggling up under his favorite blanket.
However, I see the young man emerging. I appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit and his big ideas. I love listening to him share those dreams and watching as he comes more and more into who he is created to be. Perseverance? Yes, this boy can be persistent in going after what he wants.
When children are toddlers, and forming a sense of self, they love to have an audience. “Watch me!” they call out, “Look at me!” What they are really saying is see me. It is an invitation to appreciate who they are and what they can do. Oh, they may not fully realize that, but it’s what we all long for, to be seen, and appreciated.
I am applauding and cheering and being a witness, for my children and grandchildren. Way to challenge yourself, Oliver, and persevere. I am so wonderfully proud of you. And I will always be watching.
Before switching to a plant based lifestyle, I loved eating sushi. Granted, I preferred California Rolls, which were primarily veggie based, however I also enjoyed sushi with fish, crab or shrimp. I have saved several vegan sushi and nori roll recipes on Pinterest. When I found vegan, non GMO sushi rice and nori wraps at Sprouts in Broken Arrow, OK, I purchased them so I could make my own healthy rolls.
I felt inspired to try this first today, making my own nori rolls for lunch.
I prepared the sushi rice according to the package directions. While the rice cooked, I sliced several veggies…celery, carrots and green pepper…into thin strips. I cut up an avocado as well. That’s the beauty of creating my own nori rolls. I can use whatever vegetables or fruits that I have on hand.
As the timer counted down on the sushi rice, I made the spicy tahini sauce, adapting a recipe I found on Pinterest.
In a blender, I combined 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon joice, 1 tablespoon mashed chickpeas (from a can), 1 tablespoon tahini (purchase at health food store or find in international aisle of larger grocery stores), 1 garlic clove, minced, 2 dates, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. I slowly added 2 teaspoons of water as the ingredients blended, to create a smooth sauce.
The tahini sauce was so delicious! It would make a great salad dressing or dipping sauce for veggies.
I covered a nori wrap with a thin layer of sushi rice. Near one end, I arranged the slices of veggies and avocado and drizzled on the spicy tahini sauce. After sprinkling with sea salt and coarse black pepper, I carefully rolled up the wrap, keeping everything inside!
These rolls were not difficult to make, however I need to cut back slightly on the amount of veggies that I used as filler. They turned out great, if a bit messy, and the taste was so satisfying!
I am connected with an amazing and supportive group of people on Instagram who are improving their health and well being by way of wholesome, nutrient rich foods. Many are healing from inflammation and diseases. Some have chosen a vegan or plant based lifestyle for their health and also for the health of the planet.
Daily I am inspired by their pictures of colorful, healthy meals. One Instagram friend, who goes by the name of Geoff the Vegan Dad, posts his daily lunches. More than meals, Geoff’s creations are works of art. I appreciate how beautiful his lunches are and I learn a lot about preparing nutritious meals as I follow his journey.
He has fun, creating a different lunch from scratch each day and sharing the results. I realized that’s so important, to have fun creating in the kitchen. It is playing really, quite literally playing with food, while experimenting with flavors and seasonings.
I love when my family and friends let me know about a wonderful product or event that they feel is a great fit for me and my journey. When my grandson Dayan sent me a text, telling me about a card game he saw at Target that he thought I would love, I checked it out. Dayan has accompanied me on many of my adventures over the years. He knows my yearly themes and my missions, and most of all, Dayan knows my heart.
The object of this game is to get rid of all of the cards. Each card contains a mission.
BLUE – ENGAGE Test your audacity and chutzpah
RED – CONNECT Find things, and not just objects
YELLOW – SURPRISE Use your sneakiness and espionage skills
GREEN – CARE Do good and give to others
PURPLE – GROW Challenge yourself in new & interesting ways
PINK – CREATE Make art with a purpose
Once the mission on the card is completed, the card is passed on to someone else…that’s the play it forward part.
Dayan was right. I was so intrigued, and purchased the game.
Examples of missions
This afternoon, my grandson and I opened the game and looked over the cards. I shuffled the deck and Dayan selected two cards randomly, one for him and one for me.
These are our first missions:
Dayan’s mission, from an ENGAGE card, is to play the world’s largest game of tag. He will tap someone on the shoulder, say You’re it, and hand him or her the card. No tag backs! He attended a Young Democrats meeting this evening. What a fun way to pass on his card.
My mission, from a CREATE card, is to create a card for an obscure holiday. The sneaky card is enclosed within the homemade greeting, to be passed on to the recipient. I chose Groundhog Day, which is tomorrow. Although it is not all that obscure, Groundhog Day is not normally a holiday in which cards are given, making it perfect for my mission. I crafted a card, using cutouts from an old Book of Knowledge set.
This is a fun, and creative game! Sneaky Cards, with categories for connecting, engaging, surprising, creating, caring for others and growing, couldn’t be any more perfect for this Year of Inspiration, and making life a little more tender and art a little more robust.
I spend every Wednesday afternoon with Dayan. We agreed that every week, we will draw cards individually or as a team, and carry out the missions. I registered my deck so we can track where the cards go, as other people play and pass them on.
When the cards are all gone, whether it takes weeks or months or years, the game will be over. Want to play? You bet we do! We are playing it forward.