Welcome Autumn

The autumn equinox today marked the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Although the equinox signals shorter, and cooler, days ahead, the temps this afternoon soared into the high 80s. In spite of the lingering heat, I decided to start the fall decorating.

As a kid, I ranked fall as number three in order of preference for the seasons. Summer, with its long days of freedom, was my favorite time of year, followed by spring and then fall and winter. Now spring and fall tie for my favorite seasons. The reappearance of my flowers, plants and herbs in the gardens give spring a slight edge in my heart. But oh, I do love this time of year.

Changing my house over to a new season begins with my front porch. The welcoming change begins here and then moves throughout the house. This is a good time to clean and declutter and throw away, in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.

I also love using an abundance of candles. I always intend to keep lighting candles, after the Christmas decorations are packed away. However, realistically, as the temperatures climb I feel less and less inclined to light candles and create additional heat. The arrival of longer nights naturally inspires me to dispel the darkness with light, hence more candles.

I usually add real pumpkins, gourds and potted mums to my fall decor. This year, I decided to do something different. Rather than purchase anything to accentuate what I have, I chose to create using only what I already own.

So instead of grouping real pumpkins beneath the table on the porch, I added a vintage gas can, a metal bucket and a weathered hurricane lantern. I like the way this fresh grouping looks.

The biggest challenge, in playing this game of using what I had on hand, was redoing my vintage red box. I call this cherished piece Annie’s Box, as I brought it home after my Aunt Annie passed away a couple of years ago. I freshen the box with the seasons, adding terra cotta pots of pansies in the spring and colorful begonias or coleus in the summer. For fall I normally replace the summer flowers with tiny mums or yellow pansies.

I nearly wavered and headed to the Garden Center. But then I had a nudge of inspiration. Near my raised vegetable bed, ground cover has appeared, sporting stalks of tiny purple flowers. I don’t know where the plants came from. Perhaps the seeds were carried in with the dirt used to fill the raised bed.

This afternoon I carefully dug up some of those volunteer plants and potted them, adding them to Annie’s red box. They look wild and beautiful, in the box, with a few pinecones tucked among the clay pots and a garland of rusty stars wound around the handle.

Near Annie’s Box I grouped a vintage copper teapot, a cinnamon scented candle, a sprig of red and yellow berries, and left over from summer, a dark red coleus in a copper pot. I am very pleased with the transformation of the box, and I didn’t spend a penny on any of it. I enjoyed revving up my creativity instead.

As twilight deepened, I lit candles on my newly decorated front porch. The flickering flames not only add warmth and charm to the porch, they welcome in this new season and and send light outward, literally and figuratively, into the world.

Welcome autumn.

Being Adriel

I started something new last month, when my daughter Elissa had a birthday. Although my son’s birthday occurs earliest in the year, Elissa is my oldest, my firstborn. I seem to reset on her birthday and then continue the new tradition as my other children’s birthdays come up.

Today is my youngest child’s birthday. And as I did last month, this is not a birthday post as much as it is a reflection on my younger daughter, Adriel, and the lessons I’ve learned from her.

I have enjoyed this rainy Sunday, and a day of rest and self care. Last night I had the opportunity to see my daughter and share a meal with her. During this peace filled day, I’ve reflected on Adriel’s life and smiled over the joy she has brought to me…and teared up multiple times as I’ve sorted through family photos and pondered the lessons this beautiful soul has taught me.

Adriel has always surprised me. Discovering I was pregnant with baby number three was a big surprise…more of a shock really. With two toddlers already, a girl and a boy, our little family felt complete. However, it obviously was not! My pregnancy with Adriel was challenging, for two reasons. A minor heart condition that I have became a major problem during this pregnancy. And I felt very alone during those nine months of weekly doctors’ visits. Greg was busy with work and a new hobby…golf. His parents and mine all lived in other towns and/or states. I struggled to care for two active kids and a house.

Before she was even born, Adriel taught me to keep going, no matter what, and to find the joy in every situation. The day I heard her tiny heart beating for the first time, was the day I fully embraced this new life growing within me and opened my heart to her. I went home and sat quietly on the bed, holding infant clothes in my hands, imagining who she would be…and who she would become. I loved her fiercely.

And fierce she turned out to be! Adriel was the game changer in our family. The girls now outnumbered the boys. She was the youngest, but that never stopped her from doing her best to keep up with her older sister and brother. She was ornery…expressive…vocal…and tender hearted. She could love on her sister and then turn around and pinch her. She laughed when her daddy teased her brother, but cried when the teasing included her. She liked to tattle on me to her dad, if a male stranger smiled or winked at me while we were out shopping.

Adriel has always been her own person, and a force to reckon with, then and now.

One of the things that Adriel taught me, that had a great impact on me, was the beauty of tears. She cried easily as a child…because she was angry, because she was sad, because her feelings were hurt. Adriel felt no shame in crying. She would grab a handful of tissues and dab at her beautiful little eyes as the tears rolled out of them.

I envied her ability to cry like that. I struggled with showing emotion, and yet this precious child simply allowed the tears to flow. How her tears always melted my heart. I never shushed her. Adriel’s tears tried to open my own heart to the beauty of releasing pent up energy by crying. I wish now I had held her close and joined her by allowing my tears to flow with hers. I still think of young Adriel with her wadded up tissues, wiping her tears away. She is, unknowingly, still teaching me about crying.

The greatest lesson my youngest child has taught me is perseverance. Adriel has a “can do” attitude that has guided her through life. She decided at an early age that she wanted to be a nurse, and she has relentlessly followed that path. This was my child who gagged if someone said the word “snot” or sneezed in her presence. I never dreamed that she would enter the medical field.

But as I said, she surprises me. She started down her chosen path by volunteering at the hospital as a young teen. She allowed her fascination with the intricacies of the human body to overcome her tendency to react to certain unsavory things that the body is capable of. She taught me, by her example, to never give up…to follow your passion and your heart…and to get up every morning and keep going.

It was a long journey for this fiery girl, becoming a nurse. There were challenges as she worked full time and semester by semester completed her studies. Nursing school is difficult, even in the best possible circumstances. She didn’t have ideal conditions, as a tornado destroyed her home and a marriage came apart. Her life was upended. And yet…she persevered. She kept going. She didn’t stop trying. And she did it. My girl became a nurse.

Adriel bought another house. She married her sweetheart, Nate, last October. She has a career she enjoys, working as a RN for a neurologist. And still she keeps learning and growing and persevering, in pursuit of the life she desires.

As I did for Elissa last month on her birthday, I considered what symbol best represents my daughter Adriel. If I was going to get a tattoo for Adriel, in honor of her, her birthday, and her life, what would it look like? I asked for guidance, and I love how I was led.

My attention was first pulled to a pair of framed prints in my bedroom, vintage drawings of flowers. So, a flower for Adriel. The word that I associate with my daughter is “perseverance “. I googled to see which flower symbolizes that character quality. And I knew…before I saw the flower, I knew where I was being led.

Adriel’s middle name is Lauren. It’s a derivative of my own middle name, Lorene, and it is associated with laurel leaves which symbolize victory. That’s appropriate. However, I looked up the name Lauren. It literally means “from the place of the laurel leaves.” Is there a laurel flower? There is. And guess what the laurel flower symbolizes? Perseverance…steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

I drew laurel flowers for Adriel. There are laurel leaves in the sketch too, representing victory. But the flowers are significant. They are beautiful, these clusters of delicate blossoms, and the plant thrives, in less than ideal conditions. Poor soil and deep shade (darkness), do not prevent this flower from blooming and offering its fragrance to the world.

And that’s Adriel. Less than ideal conditions in her life have not stopped her from blooming, from offering her gifts, her beauty and her heart to the world. I am so grateful for the many surprises and great joys that have flowed into my life, since the day I discovered I was expecting another child. I continue to learn from her.

Adriel, my youngest child, the one who perseveres and doesn’t give up, I am excited to see where your journey takes you. I’ll be watching, and cheering for you, and surrounding you with love.

Choose a Book for Me

Most of us have picked up a book, opened it to a random page, and jabbed our finger down without looking. I have done that many times, usually while asking a question aloud or in my heart, looking for inspiration or confirmation or direction in that arbitrarily chosen sentence. 

I have learned that guidance comes in all kinds of seemingly random ways. A song on the radio, a snippet of overheard conversation, a bumper sticker on a car can deliver the message needed at the perfect time. I call these signs and synchronicities my ongoing conversation with the Divine. There is always great significance in those cosmic signs, and sometimes great mystery as well. 

After visiting Joplin’s new public library last month, I felt inspired to suggest a game to the Divine. This afternoon, it was time to play. 

Choose a Book for Me
What if, rather than opening a book and flipping to a page and choosing a sentence at random, I allowed myself to be guided to an entire book? Using the library as my playground, I did some prep work beforehand in the Fiction and Non Fiction areas, counting the number of rows, the number of sections in each row, and the number of shelves per section. 

At home this afternoon, I wrote numbers on slips of paper, dropped them into a glass bowl, and mixed them up. First I drew numbers for the Fiction area…row, section, shelf and book number. Then I did the same for the Non Fiction area.  I only asked to be guided to the non fiction and fiction books that would be perfect for me today. 

Choose a Book for Me

I arrived at the library 12 minutes before closing time. That was ok. I had my numbers written out on a piece of paper. It would not take me long to find my books. 

For the Non Fiction area, I drew:

Row 9, Section 7, Shelf 3, Book #33

The book selected for me was The Independent Inventor’s Handbook by Louis Foreman and Jill Gilbert Welytok. I was excited! Who hasn’t dreamed of having a million dollar idea that becomes an invention? As a child, I was always trying to come up with an invention that no one else had thought of. My grandson Oliver has such thoughts and I love listening to his ideas. 

The blurb for this book reads, Have a million dollar idea? Make it real. From sketch on a napkin to finished product, Everyday Edisons creator Louis Foreman and patent attorney Jill Gilbert Welytok show step by step how to be a prosperous inventor and how to harness your imagination and follow the systematic process of problem solving that’s required to convert a raw  concept into a profitable business venture. 

How cool! And this was probably not a book I would have ever looked for on my own. I’m curious to see what creative ideas surface as I read through this intriguing book that was picked for me. 

Choose a Book for Me
The library lights dimmed, indicating it was almost time to close. I hurried to the Fiction area. 

Row 7, Section 11, Shelf 3, Book #19

The fiction book selected for me was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. I was immediately captivated by the word Pilgrimage in the title. I just wrote a blog post about a pilgrimage…referencing the one I took recently through northern Italy and my life journey. And the word Unlikely hinted at a journey of destiny, reminding me of the first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey. 

The blurb for this book reads, Meet Harold Fry, recently retired.  He lives in a small English village with his wife Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Then one morning the mail arrives and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. 

Harold decides to hand carry a reply to Queenie, a 600 mile walk to the hospice, believing that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. Along the way, he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long dormant spirit and sense of promise. 

Although I have not heard of this book or the author, I am very excited to begin this story. My eyes filled with tears, just reading the blurb inside the jacket cover, a sure sign this book is meant for me. 

Choose a Book for Me
This was a fun experience, and one built on trust. I had a moment of doubt as I wheeled into the library parking lot. What if I ended up with some book I had absolutely no interest in? Well, what if I did? I could play with an open heart, mind and spirit and see what happened. Or I could choose not to play at all. Did I trust or didn’t I? I decided that I did. 

I am most curious about what I will find for my heart and journey as I read these books that were chosen for me. Because, I don’t believe in randomness or coincidences. I can play like this because I believe that everything has purpose,  and every incident has a message for me. I am continually invited to dance, to converse, to engage with the Divine. 

We play…even at the library. 

Choose a Book for Me

Most Artistic

Unbelievably, today was the last day of school for Joplin. I picked up my granddaughter Aubrey after a half day at school completed her 2nd grade journey. Her eyes were bright as she climbed into the car. 

“I have something to show you,” she said with excitement. “Don’t look yet.” 

Most Artistic

As I maneuvered the car across the school parking lot, I heard her rummaging in her backpack. When I stopped at the exit to wait on traffic, she had me look at what she was holding in her hands. 

Each child in Ms. Compton’s 2nd grade classroom received an award today. From a wide range of categories, the students voted on which child would be honored with which award. Aubrey won the most votes for the “Most Artistic” Award. 

Most Artistic
Aubrey told me how pleased she was to be the recipient of this award. However, the significance was much greater than just receiving a certificate. This was an achievement that signified the realization of an intention Aubrey set in January 2015. 

Shortly after the second semester of kindergarten started for Aubrey, she brought me a goal she had written out in class. It accompanied an illustration and the printed words read: 

Most Artistic
Most Artistic

My goal is to be a betr rtist.” Aubrey

Six year old Aubrey entrusted me with her goal. She asked me to be the keeper of her intention, and I have done so…for more than two years. We’ve discussed her artwork frequently as she has gained more skill and developed her own creative style, often referring back to the goal she declared in 2015.

She understood today that this piece of paper she received at school represented two years of honing her abilities and allowing her creativity to shine forth. It represented Aubrey’s desire to be more artistic and succeeding at meeting her goal. And it encouraged her that her classmates view her as an artist. 

Most Artistic

I love Aubrey’s artistic style, which is playful and expressive. I appreciate her awareness of how life works and how everything connects together. Most of all, I love Aubrey and her creative heart. 

We had a wonderful conversation about setting intentions and seeing them realized. We discussed creativity and art and how everyone has gifts to offer to the world. Aubrey couldn’t wait to surprise the rest of her family with her award and to tell the story of how it came about.  

Most Artistic
Such a special moment deserves to be celebrated and commemorated. I asked Aubrey if she would like a frame for her certificate, so she could display it in her room. We drove to Michael’s, where Aubrey selected a simple white frame. 

I thought she might go with something more, well, artistic, but she had other ideas. 

At her house, she told me she knew exactly where the framed certificate could go. A spot was already prepared. Aubrey showed me a cleared corner on top of her bookcase. 

She carefully placed her award on the shelf and then Aubrey did her artistic thing. She added little creative touches to the plain frame, personalizing it and making it uniquely hers. My eyes filled with tears as I watched her. I learn so much from my grandchildren. 

Aubrey. From wanting to be a better artist in 2015…to Most Artistic in 2017. She shines. 

Most Artistic

The Anatomy of a Vignette

I have reset all of the vignettes in my home, except for one. The vintage wooden sieve on my dining table has patiently awaited transformation. However, no fresh idea has come to mind. I walk by that table many times a day. I’d look at the sieve and think Hmmmm…I’ve got nothing. 

The Anatomy of a Vignette

Today, as I returned a stack of books to my creative studio, a small canvas print hanging on the wall caught my eye. And BOOM…there it was…inspiration for the wooden sieve had arrived. I thought it would be fun to share the creative process of putting together a vignette, from idea to completion. I hope others will feel inspired to create vignettes of their own. 

As I work on a vignette, I am open to learning…about life, about myself, about creativity. These aha moments and deeper truths are the most important part of the creative process for me. I’ll share those insights as well, in italics

The Anatomy of a Vignette

The artwork that inspired tonight’s vignette features a bird with the encouraging words to “spread your wings and fly”. The colors in the print directed the choices I made for the rest of the pieces in the vignette. 

The bird outside a birdcage was my symbol several years ago, representing freedom and moving beyond the self imposed cages I had created in my life. It is no surprise that this artwork caught my attention today. I have been journaling and refecting on my growth these last few years and how much freedom I now have in my beautiful life. 

The Anatomy of a Vignette

This is vignette attempt #1. I play with different pieces as the idea develops. I really wanted to use the red metal birdcage with the bird perched atop it…because…see the insight above. Although I very much had the bird theme going, this arrangement wasn’t quite working. 

I have learned to be open to everything and attached to nothing. Sometimes that means letting go of something good, so something better can come to me. 

The Anatomy of a Vignette

I replaced the red birdcage with an old metal scoop, painted green and given to me by Greg’s grandmother many years ago. I recently found the scoop again, tucked away in the attic. I love this homey piece. Keeping with the bird theme, I filled the scoop with artificial eggs in soft greens and creams. I kept imagining a pair of birds building a nest in the scoop, as if it had been left forgotten outside. 

I don’t want to be afraid to try new things. Repurposing is the practice of creating something fresh from an item, using it in a new way. The scoop was repurposed into a piece of art. It still has ties to the past, as it embraces a new purpose. I want to live this way too!

The Anatomy of a Vignette

I liked including the scoop full of eggs. I didn’t like that the artwork and the metal nest were the same height. Suddenly I saw a new possibilty. I turned the scoop on its side. Perfect! 

It’s all about perspective. Often, looking at something familiar in a new way creates fresh purpose and insight for me. Perspective helps me to think and see in a bigger way. 

The Anatomy of a Vignette

I was getting close on this vignette! I swapped out the chubby bright white ceramic birds for chippy, off white metal birds with more slender silhouettes. They better mimicked the bird on the art print and tied in well with the metal scoop. Imagining the eggs in a nest, I created more of that look within the scoop by adding a pick with red and yellow berries. 

Creating a vignette is a great example of being in the flow, and staying open to change as part of life. The eggs became symbolic this evening of new ideas about to hatch, and new opportunities unfolding. 

The Anatomy of a Vignette

The Anatomy of a Vignette

I was happy with the vignette…and thoughtful as I snapped pics. I like the insights that arise as I create. 

I realized this vignette…all my vignettes actually…are reflections of who I am. My inner world is reflected in these outward expressions. This vignette reflects the truths of freedom, adaptability, perspective, flow, creativity and new opportunities “hatching”.  And there was one more thing…

The Anatomy of a Vignette

When I removed the birdcage, I removed my light source. All of my vignettes have a light source within them, typically a candle. My new vignette was not quite finished. It needed light. I added a small green tea light holder, and lit the candle. Now it was conplete. 

I carry Light. I am full of Light. My desire is that my heart is so full of Light that it spills over. 

Today truly was a good day to fly…and to create and reflect. This is how the creative process flows for me. And this is how I grow and learn. I just happen to write about it, and even that is part of being in the creative flow. 

Anatomy of a Vignette. Anatomy – a study of the internal workings of something. Vignette – bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind, by creating life representations. 

Oh yes! 

The Anatomy of a Vignette

Sandstone Gardens

Sometimes inspiration taps me on the shoulder or whispers in my ear. I get a creative idea or a very detailed download and off I go, to manifest that idea.  And sometimes inspiration takes me by the hand and leads me on an adventure. 

Today, it was more of a field trip for us. Inspiration led me to Sandstone Gardens, just west of Joplin. 

Sandstone Gardens
It was Greg who mentioned this beautiful place. We needed to get out of the house for a while. The City was installing new water lines in the neighborhood and shut off the water on my street. We took in an early movie. And then decided to visit this grand home and garden retail store. 

Sandstone Gardens began in 1986 as a side business in the garage of newlyweds, Max & Vicki Carr. The couple made molds and cast small traditional concrete yard ornaments. After a succesful first year in business, they both quit their jobs and have devoted themselves to growing and developing Sandstone Gardens. 

That’s the biz story. It doesn’t adequately convey the beauty of this enchanting place. When the company was located in Joplin, on S Rangeline, I visited Sandstone Gardens frequently. They had a showroom full of unique items. However, it was the outdoor gardens with their winding paths and attractive concrete statuary that drew me there. 

Sandstone Gardens
When the company outgrew their location, they purchased 68 acres west of Joplin, near the Oklahoma state line, and built a 50,000 square foot building that looks like a country estate. This building is amazing, filled with a vast collection of housewares, home decor items and garden accents, all for sale.  Sandstone Gardens reopened in its new location in 2004. 

But on my first visit there, I was disappointed. Although the huge store was incredible, gone were the gardens with the winding paths, nooks and crannies, benches and statues and gazebos. There were a couple of “garden” rooms full of plants and fountains and statues, however they were enclosed. It wasn’t the same. I never went back. Until today. 

Sandstone Gardens

Sandstone Gardens hasn’t changed its layout. They have added a Bistro. And of course, the product has changed since my last visit years ago. The interior of the store is just as amazing with its gorgeous displays. The garden rooms are still there, and there is a small outdoor area to wander through. 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
What has changed, is me. I have grown. I no longer place expectations on people or events or even stores. I could walk into Sandstone Gardens today with an openness that I didn’t have before, and simply let the experience unfold. 

And I was delighted with what I saw. I was drawn from room to room, exclaiming over this or commenting on that, and Inspiration walked alongside, tapping my shoulder, or planting ideas into my creative mind and soul. 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
I loved a display of Alice in Wonderland inspired garden accents. And I found a door in a garden room, which reminded me of my symbol from two years ago, signifying new opportunities and adventure. Everywhere I looked, I appreciated the grace and beauty of this place. I felt my creativity expand. 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
I even found a statue that looks suspiciously like Gandalf the Grey, the wizard from Middle Earth. I believe he will find his way into my garden this summer! 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
Walking outside, I realized that the old Sandstone Gardens in town had been my inspiration for creating my own backyard paradise. I suddenly knew what had happened. When the new store opened, without the accompanying gardens and paths, I lost that place of inspiration and also the hope I felt that I could someday create something similar. 

The dream I had didn’t die though. I was just forced to look for inspiration elsewhere, like within myself. Other opportunities came and other doors opened, and as I shifted and grew, I took responsibility for creating my own place of peace and beauty. And I did it. I made my dream a reality. 

Sandstone Gardens My backyard paradise…a beautiful work in progress. 

My garden is a continuing work. Like me it shifts and grows every year. I love it. And I love Sandstone Gardens. I am open to the beauty it offers. I can visit that magnificent place and receive inspiration and purchase items to take home. 

Next week, when I am not juicing, I will return to try a vegetarian lunch at the bistro and let inspiration lead me again through the rooms. I am looking forward to another visit to Sandstone Gardens. 

Sandstone Gardens
Visit Sandstone Gardens website HERE 

Breaking My Rules

I spent a considerable amount of time today, working on a post for my second blog, Journey With Healthy Me. It’s a good post, offering information about ten healthy herbal teas that boost health and well being. 

After I posted it, and pushed it out through social media, I realized that was it…that post was my focus today, my creative adventure. My healing journey is extremely important to me, as crucial as my creative adventure, and often the two are connected. 

But what to do? Although I don’t post daily in Journey With Healthy Me, I have made the commitment to post daily in this blog. And I enjoy doing so. However, perhaps this evening called for a bit of rule bending. After all, they are my own rules. 

Breaking My Rules
I had a couple of artistic projects that I could have shifted my attention to, after finishing my health blog post. But tonight, I chose not to do that. Tonight, I chose instead to bend my rules, and graciously offer flexibilty to myself instead. 


I am sipping on one of those healthy hot herbal teas that I wrote about, Nettle Leaf. And I am enjoying a snack of sliced bananas and apples with a spoonful of all natural peanut butter, made only with peanuts and sea salt. Further, I am about to enjoy watching a movie I have watched before and love, while stretched out on my bed in my pjs. 

Breaking My Rules
I am such a rebel. 

Please click the link to read 10 Herbal Teas that Will Boost Your Health (They really will, amazingly so!) 

And follow this link for my review about this charming movie I’m about to watch again        A Little Chaos 

And maybe, just maybe, go break one of your own rules. Ahhhh, the freedom found in flexibilty! This was, after all, the perfect choice. 

Breaking My Rules

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:

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this boy k, or any other items, through my link! 

Sunday Funday

Sundays are typically a soul care day for me, a time to relax and recharge, to indulge my inner artist, or do nothing at all. This bright and beautiful Sunday was a travel day, as I drove to the Kansas City area to visit with family and pick up Greg for the return to Joplin. 

Sunday Funday, A day of travel and fun with family
Rather than write about one event or develop one line of thinking, this Sunday Funday is best represented through a series of snapshots. 

Sunday Funday
I didn’t practice Italian phrases in the car today as I drove. With the movie La La Land fresh in my mind, I looped through my iPhone’s downloaded copy of the movie soundtrack, over and over. I have context for the songs now, and hearing them stirred my heart as I remembered scenes from the movie. 

Sunday Funday
Greg’s cousin Tim and his cousin’s wife, Lisa, have a wonderful theater room in their beautiful new home. What a treat for me! My comfy seat reclined and there were soft blankets to snuggle under. 

Sunday Funday
We started the movie Sully, and finished it after dining out. Based on real life events, this film covers the aftermath of the emergency water landing of an American aircraft, piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully). I liked that rather than focusing just on the crash, the movie centered around the investigation that followed and Sully’s struggle to reconcile what happened with the self doubt he experienced about his life saving decisions. 

Sunday Funday

Our group dined at Q39, one of the best BBQ restaurants in the KC area. I enjoyed their delicious veggie burger, minus the bun, with a side of white bean cassoulet. I tried a small bite of Greg’s sliced brisket, which is legendary at Q39. It was tender, and tasted good, however, after seven months without meat, I decided I haven’t been missing a thing! 

Sunday Funday

Fun family group included cousin Pam, cousin Tim, Tim’s wife Lisa, Lisa’s mom Anne, cousin Mallorie and her boyfriend Dan, me and Greg. These are precious people!

Sunday Funday
And then there was this amusing sight on the drive back to Joplin. We spied this truck in a convenience store parking lot that appeared to have a canine driver. 

It wasn’t a typical Sunday, but it was a fun one, a Sunday Funday. And having a different kind of day, full of travel and family connections and fun, can be just as restorative as a day of relaxation. 

There is an old proverb that says, “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”  Which means, I’m going to have an awesome week! 

Sunday Funday

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity

I love when something unusual happens. It gets my attention, causing my intuitive antenna to go on alert as I hone in on the message for me. When I opened my iPhone to Google this morning, the day’s quirky holidays were listed. I have yet to celebrate one of these unique days this year. But today’s list caught my interest. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity

Three of the holidays jumped out at me: Artist as Outlaw Day, Tenderness Toward Existence Day, and Women’s Healthy Weight Day. Robust art, tender life, and health are the focus of my journey this year. What are the odds that these three have special days, all on the same date? 

I didn’t calculate the odds. However, I accepted the invitation inspiration offered, to spend time thinking on the holidays and how my life intersects with each one. Please read about Weighing in on Ideal Weight on my other blog. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity
I couldn’t discover any information about this holiday. It seemed a strange pairing, artist and outlaw, until I looked at an alternative meaning for the word outlaw. 

Rather than seeing an outlaw as a criminal on the run, a law breaker, I considered the term outcast instead. The word originates from the Old Norse utlagr, meaning banished. Banished, relegated to the fringes of society, viewed as different, a little scary, living by his or her own rules. I could begin to relate!

And certainly, not all artists are viewed as pariahs, as outcasts. But their very creative souls allow them to perceive the world, and life, differently. From that tilted or expanded or deepened perspective flows astonishing music, eyebrow raising art, and powerful words that can change a life. 

I don’t know what the original intent was for this strange holiday, but I no longer care. I appreciate what rose within me today as I contemplated the artist as outlaw, as I thought about myself as living happily on the fringes. I am making art more robust by allowing creativity to occupy a larger part of my heart and life. Art is at the forefront of my awareness, growing stronger and more vigorous. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity
I couldn’t locate the origins of this unique holiday either, which is an unusual occurrence in itself. I’ve never clicked on a link for one of these celebrations, and not found some info. It happened twice today. 

Perhaps the personal message to me was to see where my thoughts led me. Existence is another word for life, for the state of living. Its origins are from the Latin ex – out, sistere – take a stand. Existence literally means out taking a stand or out, being. 

Tenderness is a feeling of sympathy, of compassion, toward someone or something. Kindness is another synonym. This holiday, then, could be interpreted to be a day of expressing kindness and compassion toward all living things, toward all who are out, being. 

I suddenly recalled this evening, another definition for tenderness. The word can mean a sensitivity to pain. 

How powerful this bizarre little holiday became for me. Tenderness toward existence, resulting in compassion and a sensitivity to the pain of others…ALL others. 

My heart is wide open. I want love, compassion and sensitivity to the pain of others to flow to all of existence, regardless of race, skin color, gender, orientation, economic circumstances, age, intelligence…beyond any perceived differences or imagined barriers. Compassion toward all life, all people, whether they are like me or very different, agree with me or disagree, love me or dislike me. All people. 

All life. 

A couple of nights ago, one of the possums I feed on the front porch, found his way to the back door, and into the utility room by way of a cat door. Fortunately, the utility room door opening into the kitchen was closed. But what a surprise, to have a possum indoors. 

Even though the back door was opened so he could exit, he chose not to. He was happy in the corner, beside the washer. I checked on him numerous times. There was a broom nearby. I could have attempted to chase him out. 

Instead, I spoke calmly to him each time I checked on him. I told him it was okay. He was safe. He could leave whenever he wanted. I would not hurt him. Whenever I spoke to him, he would raise his head and watch me, listening, blinking his eyes as if he understood. He never showed fear, nor did he bare his teeth or hiss. He also didn’t play dead! I’ve yet to see a possum, “play possum”. He was calm and alert. And so was I. We didn’t speak the same language, so different were we, but we connected in our mutual respect for each other. 

Sometime in the night, he returned to the outdoors. 

I thought about that possum a lot today. He offered me lessons in acceptance, grace and compassion, and in communicating beyond spoken words. He allowed me to exhibit tenderness. I am grateful. I am making life a little more tender by being aware of the sacredness of all life, of all of existence. 

If only I had grabbed a sketch book and created a quick possum portrait. I would have been celebrating Artist as Outlaw Day and Tenderness Toward Existence Day, a little early. 

Inspiration Disguised as Synchronicity