Red Beans & Rice…Without a Recipe

This is a short, and fun, story about cooking. For several years, I have had an increased interest in the culinary arts. It’s not that I can’t cook. I raised a family. I’ve been preparing meals for years. But for the most part, I have relied on recipes, carefully following each step precisely, or I fixed easily prepared fail proof meals like spaghetti.

Since changing my diet to plant based, I have discovered a new joy in preparing healthy, nutritious and tasty meals. There is a meditative quality to chopping vegetables and combining foods together, knowing I am caring for and nourishing my body at a deep level as it heals.

I follow friends and family on social media who inspire me with their pictures of beautifully prepared food. Most of them don’t follow a recipe, or they are creating one as they go. I have envied that ability. I don’t know if it’s my first born tendencies that have kept me recipe bound, or a fear of failure, or the concern that I will waste good food if my result is poor, but I have had a hard time with throwing a dish together with “a bit of this and a pinch of that”.

Recently though, I’ve been getting these mental downloads for meals, much as I do when I am creating a vignette. I can see the end result, the completed dish. Then I just have to figure out the process to get there. I was encouraged a couple of weeks ago when I created a four bean chili by adapting another recipe. Tonight, with fresh veggies in the fridge and some leftovers to use up, I had fun throwing caution aside and experiencing cooking as an adventure.

I began with a reliable base…diced onion, celery, carrots and minced garlic, sautéed in olive oil. I simply used what was on hand: half a yellow onion, half a bag of baby carrots, and a couple of stalks of celery. I keep minced garlic in a jar in the fridge. I added a small spoonful, and continued cooking until the veggies were tender.

Next I added brown rice left over from last night’s dinner, cooking and stirring until the rice was fragrant. I had a bowl in the fridge containing the remnants of a 15 bean cajun soup. You know how it is, at the bottom of the soup pot? What was left was mostly liquid. But that soup broth was wonderfully flavored with cajun seasonings, which is what inspired tonight’s red bean & rice meal. I added a can of organic red beans to the mixture, stirring until the beans and rice were heated through.

I enjoyed cooking tonight. This was not a difficult meal to prepare, however it was fun and very freeing to cook instinctively rather than following someone else’s recipe. And I feel good about using up leftovers that I would have eventually tossed into the trash otherwise.

Of course I will continue to use recipes. There are so many interesting ones available and I appreciate that. It was good for me though, to resist looking up recipes for red beans & rice and just go with what seemed right.

And you know what? My red beans & rice turned out great! What a homey, comforting and nutritious meal for a rainy evening. And, I made it myself.

The Sweetness of Winter

Winter is my least favorite season. I love the holidays and I am a January baby, however, unlike Elsa in the animated film Frozen, the cold does bother me!

And it has been cold this week as the Joplin area experienced single digit temps, with below zero wind chills. We also received our first blanket of snow, closing schools and businesses. When today’s high hit the low 60s, I had to get out and savor the warmth!

Greg and I chose to walk at Mercy Park. It felt so good to be outside, even with a strong breeze that made the air feel cooler than I anticipated. A brisk walk soon warmed me up. I was 27 days in on a 30 day walking challenge late last fall, when a twisted left knee took me out. I have not gone on a long walk since. But with a healed knee and boundless energy, the walk this afternoon was glorious, and I felt like announcing to everyone, “Day 28!!”

The sky simply could not have been more blue, nor the sunshine more golden. It is still way too early for signs of spring, however today, I drank in the beauty that winter presents. And, I discovered, it has much to offer.

The snow melted off of yards and streets, with the warmers temps, sunshine and breeze, but the ice that formed on the pond at Mercy Park was still evident. And that amazing sight…white translucent ice, except for a donuts of turquoise water around the spraying fountains…totally enchanted me. I couldn’t stop taking pics.

Staring at the gorgeous pond, I could imagine how cold the water would feel. As we walked along the northern edge, I didn’t have to wonder. The wind carried the spray from the twin fountains to me, the icy mist making me squeal as it kissed my face.

My heart thawed toward winter this afternoon. Without flowers in bloom, trees in leaf, and green grasses to pull my attention away, I could appreciate the browns and golds and incredible blues of winter. I could see the ice as beautiful, intricate art rather than a nuisance to avoid.

The colder temperatures will return. The sun may disappear for days at a time yet, behind heavy gray clouds. However, I will tuck this day away in my heart and treasure it, not just as a promise of the spring to come, but in appreciation for the winter beauty that it offered.

I experienced the glory of winter today, and that will make summer all the sweeter.


This is a magical story that has been coming together for several weeks. With my word for the year being Story, I have given much thought to my own story and how the telling of it, the writing of it, creates the beliefs I live by. I wondered if it was time to release parts of my story that while true, no longer serve me. Was it time to tell new stories, and therefore embrace new beliefs?

The Divine responded to my musings by sending me signs that pointed toward a new path. And my curiosity, ever a faithful guide, bounded down that trail. As I explored this unfamiliar terrain, my daughter Elissa unwittingly handed me a piece of the map by sending me a meme with the definition of abracadabra on it. I was fascinated to discover that the word comes from the Aramaic words avra kehdabra, which literally means, I will create as I speak.

The final nudge to reframe my story came last weekend, while on my solitary retreat. Being alone, as I will explain in a moment, set the stage for what followed. And one of my lessons during my getaway weekend, from the Love Your Life course, was titled Identify and Change a Story You Tell. Wow.

What old story had I been telling myself, that needed to be released? How did that story make me feel? That was easy to answer. It made me feel afraid.

I grew up with a great deal of fear. Most kids are afraid of the dark…and they outgrow that fear. I didn’t. For me, the dark was full of sights and sounds and experiences that others I knew didn’t share. I was afraid to be in the dark. Alone in the dark? That was terrifying to me.

I have the gift of intuition. However, as a child I didn’t understand what was happening around me. My mom and dad didn’t understand what was happening either. Not their fault. Without personal experience, who would believe a child’s tearful claims that shadowy people visited her room at night…or that something hid in the closet?

I could tell you tales that would make you sleep with the light on at night, as I did for more than 40 years. But, those are not the stories I want to tell anymore. The shift began about seven years ago when I deliberately chose to live alone for a time, and face my most powerful fears. And not just face them…I moved beyond them by accepting my gifts and abilities.

Being alone last weekend, in an unfamiliar house, triggered my old story the first night. I’ve learned how to deal with receiving additional sensory information. I followed my practices. I burned sage throughout the entire house, to clear away old, lower vibrational energy. I sent white light through the house as well, from the land beneath to the sky above and to the borders of my temporary domain. I asked for Divine protection. I meditated to center myself.

I was absolutely fine as long as it was light outside. When the sun set, I felt a chill that was not related to the falling temps outside. How powerful for me, to acknowledge that my old story was no longer my truth, and then release it. How crucial, to do well, be well, and not give in to fear. And then how amazing, the next morning, to find that my lesson for that day was on telling a new story.

What new story would I begin telling myself, and others, that brings with it new beliefs? How does this story make me feel? My new story makes me feel confident, safe, protected and connected to the Divine.

I told myself my old story so often as a child…scary things happen in the dark…that it became my belief. And, it became my reality. The more I believed my story, the more scary life became for me.

When I faced my fears, the scary stuff didn’t all go away. But I learned more about my gifts and abilities. As my perceptions changed, my beliefs did as well and then my reality shifted to mirror them. I could at last turn off the lights at night. I could be alone in the dark. I could receive information without trying to block it and without fearing it.

The new story I am telling is this: I have a spiritual gift and I am not afraid to use it or to receive additional info because of it. I accept who I am, fully. I am safe, protected and connected to the Divine. I am surrounded by peace and love and light.

The story I am telling now allows me to move beyond my comfort zone. It continues to create new beliefs. It sustains me when I am in unfamiliar spaces. It allows me to leave my story open-ended, creating room for mystery without fear, and infinite and exciting possibilities.

Abracadabra. I am creating new stories, new realities, as I speak. And that is magical indeed.

Writing Explorations

A very long day results in a short, and easy, blog post tonight. I quickly completed vignette number four, of the Showcasing My Vision series, inspired by my work in the Love Your Life in 30 Days course by Mike Dooley.

Located in my creative studio, the Writing Vignette was built around an item I picked up recently. People laugh at me when, complimenting me on a cute outfit, I confess that I purchased it at…Cracker Barrel. Yep, that Cracker Barrel…the restaurant. I love wandering about their country store. They not only stock cute boho style clothing, they have an eclectic mix of housewares and decorative items.

I was looking at a display, when I realized that this year’s symbol, the feather quill, was waving at me at eye level. I was so excited and immediately bought the white pen.

My new quill matches the writing journal I picked up last year, part of the confirmation I received concerning the word for 2018 and the symbol. The journal is included in the vignette as well.

It rests atop a repurposed book that has become an art journal, and two books by Julia Cameron in her creative writing series, The Artist’s Way and Walking in This World. The books not only encouraged me in my writing and creative endeavors, their covers are great matches with the plaid scarf.

The feather quill rests in a candle holder, made years ago by a friend of mine. The light source for this vignette is provided by a vintage black candle holder. The red taper was too tall, so I cut it in two. Light in my vignettes represent inspiration.

The final piece is one of my favorite writing quotes. I didn’t have a framed art print of E.L. Doctorow’s words, so I very quickly created my own. I always have an assortment of frames on hand. I literally scribbled out the words on cream paper, and colored in a background that coordinates with the plaid scarf that anchors the vignette, in five minutes.

It came together in a flash, however, I like this grouping that reminds me of my desire to keep on exploring writing, and to continue to learn as I go. It is a journey.

Discovering Rituals that Serve Me

I love rituals. From mindfully preparing my food, to afternoon tea, to following the seasons as I work in my backyard garden, my life is full of these little ceremonies. A ritual is defined as an observance or practice that is performed the same way each time. Truthfully, we all practice daily rituals such as brushing our teeth, taking our vitamins, or fixing our hair.

So it was a challenge when my activity from the Love Your Life in 30 Days course instructed me to choose a new ritual to perform, daily, in the upcoming days and weeks.

After much thought, I could not come up with a totally new ritual, so often do I perform ceremonies around my various activities. I chose to group together several rituals that I enjoy, and create instead a different bedtime routine.

It is important that my new ceremony be easy to prepare and relatively brief…10 minutes or less. I performed a trial run this evening of my new nighttime ritual, and of course, I captured the moments in photos.

I chose my bedroom for this pre-bedtime routine, lighting eight candles to soften the room and relax my mind and body.

Burning dried herbs is a key part of several of my favorite rituals. I love the fragrance that wafts through the room and the smoke that curls toward the ceiling. It seemed natural to include this practice.

I prepared a hot drink to soothe me toward sleep. Tonight’s choice was a health packed apple cider flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger, cloves and cranberries. Every evening, as I prepare for slumber, I will jot down five things from the day that I am grateful for. My grandson Jonathan gave me a personalized journal for Christmas, that is perfect for writing my gratitude in.

Jonathan included a cute giraffe bookmark as well. Expressing gratitude daily focuses my attention on the best parts of my day, expanding my heart and filling it with quiet joy. And it prepares me for the final segment of my ceremony.

I concluded the ritual with five minutes or so of meditation, closing my eyes, relaxing my body, and focusing on my breathing. Long slow inhale of breath…hold for a few seconds…slow exhale of breath…pause…repeat. I love how quickly this simple meditation centers me, slowing my heart rate and releasing muscle tension.

As I finished the meditation, I visualized my bright and shiny future, full of travel adventures, writing, abundance, optimal health, love and creativity, without delving into the details, or burdening myself with the hows and whens. I just allowed joy and gratitude to bubble up, and flow outward.

It has taken me longer to write about my ritual, than it did to experience it! This is a very doable ceremony that brings my focus to the present moment and allows me to express gratitude. There is a sacredness in ending my day in this way. Sacred implies holy, set apart, and that is precisely the underlying feeling that I intend. Every action lends itself to reflection and relaxation and the releasing of joyful appreciation, making this time very much like a prayer, or an offering of my heart and soul, to my Source.

I look forward to seeing how this nightly practice impacts my sleep…and my life.

Dreamer of Dreams

I have been in creative mode today, which lent itself perfectly to creating a vignette. I have been participating in Mike Dooley’s Love Your Life in 30 Days program, which includes expansive daily exercises. One activity was to create visual representations for each of five areas in my life that I am focused on growing in.

I chose to put together five new vignettes…a fun activity for me. So far I have created a Travel vignette, and an Abundance one. Tonight, it was time to assemble a Creativity vignette.

The creativity vignette seemed to belong in my studio. And the ideal spot in my studio for this new work was the vintage ironing board, serving as a table.

Here’s how the vignette came together, and the story around its creation.

I knew I wanted to use this framed quote as one of the pieces. It is meaningful to me. As I gathered other items, I realized the tray I had set aside for the vignette was not going to be big enough to contain my idea. So the vignette outgrew its “box”, spreading across the wooden surface of the ironing board. This is very like the way creativity can start from a small seed of an idea and expand.

Next to the framed quote I added a stack of coloring books. Their covers connected together beautifully, through colors of cream, gold, silver and copper, which led me to plop the similarly toned candle holder atop of them. Mason jars held bouquets of colorful pencils.

The tray at the other end of the ironing board holds a collection of creative items.

The bright fabric balls reflect the colors of the pencils. The ceramic jar was made by my younger daughter, Adriel, when she was a child. It holds folded slips of paper for when I play the Inspiration Game.

I created the flower print, using a page from a vintage encyclopedia as the background, and colored pencils to fill in my sketch. And the canvas print has one of my favorite quotes on it, about being creative.

Blessed are the gypsies, the makers of music, the artists, writers, dreamers of dreams, wanderers and vagabonds, children and misfits: for they teach us to see the world through beautiful eyes.

I placed a wooden candlestick outside the tray…and lit the candles. It is important to me that each of the five vignettes has a light source. Light represents inspiration to me, which flows through all areas of my life.

I am pleased with the Creativity vignette. It will inspire me every time I walk into the room, and send forth my desire to live intentionally in creativity, beauty and art.

The vignette reminds me that I am a dreamer of dreams. And, I am blessed.

A Parting Gift

The weather changed quickly, on my final day of the getaway weekend. Yesterday’s threat of snow became a reality overnight. I am extremely grateful that at the last minute, a decision was made for Greg to drop me off at my destination Friday, and pick me up today. Otherwise, I would have been stuck. The lake house I was staying in is at the bottom of a hill with a steep driveway. I would not have been able to navigate it today. Greg was able to park atop the hill and walk down.

Although the heavy wet snow created hazardous driving conditions, it was pretty to watch from the windows. While waiting for Greg to arrive, I spent my last morning packing up, writing and coloring.

This beautiful house, called Avalon Landing, was the perfect place for my personal retreat. It contained all that I needed, and delightful surprises, such as the fireplace. Curious, as I always am, I looked up the word Avalon. I associate it with the King Arthur legends. It is an island in that story. The name originates from an Old Welsh word meaning “fruit bearing”.

How perfect. This time away, unplugged, has borne much fruit in my life already. Here at Avalon, I gave my imagination freedom to play. Ideas were developed. Dreams fleshed out. Games played. Rest received. Long soaks in the tub enjoyed. Meditation practiced. I wrote. I read. I colored. My heart and soul expanded. I rewrote a part of my personal story and let go of an old story. More about some of these things later.

I received one more precious gift before I left.

Yesterday, as I engaged in an ongoing conversation with the Divine, I noticed paintings and photos and artwork that had significance for me. Songs played that connected to my life. The tv turned off on its own when a scene I didn’t want to see began to play. It was a magical day.

As I walked through the house, exploring every room, open to receiving messages, I also deliberately looked for one particular item…a feather. The feather quill is my symbol for this year. Finding a feather is a sign that spirit is near. I could not find a one anywhere…not as art, or on a book or magazine cover, nor could I find an actual feather. None were found. And I was okay with that. I let the idea go.

This morning, on my way to the kitchen, directly in my path on the floor, lay a feather…a real feather. I don’t know where it came from. There aren’t any down filled pillows or comforters in the house. I didn’t see it yesterday or last night. And yet here it was, placed where I could not miss it.

My heartbeat quickened as I picked it up and cradled it. I looked for a feather yesterday. This morning the Divine said, Here you go…

A brown feather symbolizes earthiness, and the comforts of home…coziness, safety, warmth and a sense of nurturing. Had I not experienced those very things here? That sweet little feather spoke so deeply to my heart.

I am heard. I am seen. I am loved.

What an amazing weekend. What an incredible parting gift.

Tell Me More

On my last full day at the lake house I am staying in, the overcast skies never cleared and the threat of snow loomed. The area I’m in just got a dusting, however, I only ventured outdoors to grab firewood for my cheerful fire.

If yesterday’s theme was self care, today’s was creative conversation.

I set logs ablaze in the fireplace this morning, and snuggled there to read and write. I have loved the fireplace, and I am grateful the house has one, especially since it wasn’t on my list of “must haves”. It was while I was reading in Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, that the idea arose that would set the tone for the day.

In the chapter titled People are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move in. Brené includes an interview from Dr. Michelle Buck, professor of leadership at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She says that the best thing to say in a conversation, especially an uncomfortable one where we might be tempted to argue, defend or counter, is Tell me more. Tell me more causes us to listen, really listen, to the response so we can understand, even if we don’t agree.

I was captivated by tell me more. I intend to incorporate that phrase into my conversations more often. However, for today, on a retreat alone, I decided to play a game with the Divine. I was in creative mode already. I was open to inspiration.

I am always engaged in an ongoing conversation with the Divine. I receive signs, wonders, and synchronicities throughout the course of my day, all nudges, guidance and love notes from El-le (my name for God). But what about when I am, by choice, house bound? I wanted to play anyway.

Tell me more, I spoke aloud. Tell me more…about who I am and about this magical journey I am on.

The first thing that happened was that my awareness came up, and I noticed things about the house that I have not noticed until today…and it is my third day here! Near the fireplace, which has been my favorite hangout, there are a series of black and white photos. The top and bottom prints caught my attention especially. The canoe on the river was my symbol for 2016. It represented surrender. I imagined taking my oar out of the water (relinquishing control) and surrendering to the flow of life. What a powerful year that was. The top picture is one of an oar raised out of the water. Wow. How had I not seen that before?

I had appreciated a huge painting of a tree in the living room. While it has not been a symbol for me yet, the tree has significance for me. But I had not seen at all the painting hanging over the bed in the room I am sleeping in. It is of dandelions, gone to seed. They represent wishes, to me. Amazing, as I have been focusing on the desires, or wishes, of my heart while I have been here. Also in the same bedroom is a Life is beautiful framed art piece.

Every time I noticed something, I whispered Tell me more.

This afternoon, things got interesting. I used sticky notes and pieces of paper to flesh out ideas and thoughts around the five areas in my life that are experiencing shifts. I brought the tell me more idea into this creative exercise as well. I would say aloud, tell me more and then write my thoughts quickly, without over thinking or editing. I did this over and over, as an exercise for myself, and also as a way to get Divine input on what I was doing.

It was an insightful way to get beneath my first responses and go deeper. Here is where things took an intriguing turn. I brought my phone into my work area and opened my playlist. I selected shuffle, and walked away from the phone.

The Divine often speaks to me through songs. I play a game I call Spirit Songs, and ask for guidance. Today, as the first “random” song began to play, I simply said, tell me more. I have more than 400 songs on my phone, an eclectic mix of soundtracks and rock, classical and Christmas, meditation music and single songs that I have purchased because they spoke to me. I pick a song every year to go along with my theme. Those are on my phone as well.

I was doing my creative work, and humming along, when one of those songs began to play, a theme song from several years ago. I had forgotten about it. I paused to listen. And then another theme song played…and another. That caused me to tune in to what was going on. I had my phone on shuffle. The selection was random. No way should those particular songs have played one after another. Unless…

El-le had my attention. Each song that played had a strong connection to one of my previous years, or to an event or person that had a connection to me. It was my life, represented by a playlist of meaningful songs. This one made me smile. This one, from my Year of Surrender, gave me goosebumps. The next one made me get up and dance around in joy. Tell me more, I kept whispering, and the songs kept coming, until tears finally filled my eyes.

I was having a conversation with the Divine. I felt loved. I felt understood. I felt seen. I felt heard. I felt safe.

I felt a bit freaked out…when I returned to writing, and the words I wrote were being sung, on the next song, at the exact same moment. That happened several times.

It has been a magical day, indeed. There has been conversation, if I had the ears to hear it and the awareness to grasp it. The words tell me more will forever have a deeper meaning for me now.

Our last bit of conversation occurred a short time ago. I turned on the tv in the bedroom, as I prepared to write this blog post. The movie Braveheart was on. I love the movie, about the Scottish hero William Wallace. And yet, parts of it are very difficult for me to watch. I was looking down when I realized the end of the movie was coming. I don’t like to watch this part, I said out loud. I looked down…and realized the tv had gone silent. When I looked back up, the television had turned itself off. Blank screen. No picture or sound.

I was surprised, and then I laughed. I checked the tv by turning it on again quickly and back off. It worked fine.

Well okay then. Let’s not watch that.

Tell me more…I am listening.

Wrapped in Love

This has been such a joyful and restorative day. Every action I have taken has had one purpose…to practice deep self care. I have, quite literally, wrapped myself in love.

Here are pictorial highlights of my day.

I brought in all my own food. Everything is organic, healthy, and easily prepared. Being able to cook for myself is at the core of my self care, and the reason I wanted a full kitchen on site for this personal retreat. Breakfast was simple…sliced bananas and cara cara oranges, and a cup of hot Scottish breakfast tea with a splash of unsweetened almond coconut milk.

The gorgeous kitchen I have been preparing meals in today.

And below, the equally gorgeous view out the dining room windows and sliding door.

I spent the morning reading, writing and thinking, sitting wherever I felt drawn to sit. This oversized chair made a comfy writing spot.

Lunch was a light and refreshing orange, green olive and avocado salad, a recipe I picked up from Anthony William. It was so delicious! The flavors complemented each other marvelously.

I kept being pulled to the windows, overlooking the lake. I stepped outside a couple of times, but with a high in the 20s today, it seemed too cold to linger. Nevertheless, on one of my wanderings outside, I brushed ice out of a rocker. Perhaps tomorrow, I thought.

As I was reading this afternoon, the clouds cleared away and the sun shone brightly. It didn’t raise the temps, but I could no longer resist. I pulled on my warm boots and grabbed my soft, wooly blanket and headed out onto the deck. The rocking chair was ice free and sitting full in the sun.

The sunlight danced on the water and filtered through the tree branches to bathe my face. I closed my eyes and sun gazed, and colors then danced on my eyelids.

This is me. Unplugged. No make up. Wrapped in love. The air was so cold that it made my nose tingle to inhale. However, the fresh frostiness was invigorating. And the blanket kept me warm.

After a time of meditating and writing in front of a crackling fire, which felt especially good after sitting outside, I prepared another recipe of Anthony’s for dinner. Aloo Matar, an Indian dish, is such a fragrant and comforting meal. It contains homey potatoes, onions and peas in a mild tomato based curry.

I have been excited all day about preparing this recipe for the first time. I was not disappointed. It was excellent! I am even more excited that I have enough left over for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Day two of my weekend getaway is winding down. I’ll sip on a cup of hot turmeric milk soon, while I relax in the soaking tub. And then perhaps I will color for a while. However I choose to end the day, it will be absolutely perfect.

Cindy Unplugged

This afternoon marked the beginning of my long weekend getaway. I have been full of anticipation for this mini retreat, and now it is here. I am going to unplug during these four days, from my phone, from other people, from television and business and everything, really, except listening to my body, conversing with the Divine, and allowing my imagination and daydreaming the freedom to expand.

I packed a minimal amount of clothing, intending to wear comfy lounging clothes primarily. However, I brought along a variety of journals and notebooks, a Love Your Life Workbook, colored pencils and coloring books, a sketchbook and a couple of books to read, if the desire to do so arises. Because I will be cooking nutritious meals while I am here, I filled three large shopping bags with food. Overall, I packed less when I traveled to Europe for 12 days!

I will be posting in my blog daily, because this is a commitment I have made with myself. However, they will be brief, and photo heavy.

The house I am staying in is beautiful and perfect for my needs. I can see the lake from the large windows in the dining area and kitchen.

I am grateful for the windows, because although there are two large decks overlooking the lake, the cold temperatures will keep me inside. I hope to walk down to the lake at least once while I am here.

I created a wish list for the location of my weekend away. I wanted a view of water, a deck, a full kitchen, and privacy. This house has it all, and I am extremely grateful.

It also has something that I did not know I wanted…a wood burning fireplace.

Greg, who dropped me off this afternoon, and lugged in all of my bags, graciously took the time to start a fire for me. He also provided pine logs that are easy to ignite and will burn for hours. I pulled two chairs together to form a great lounging area. Piled with pillows, and a soft fluffy blanket to curl up under, this has been the space where I kicked off my weekend. I had tea and gluten, dairy and sugar free scones here. I wrote in my workbook. I meditated. I stared into the fire and felt every muscle in my body relax as I was serenaded by the soothing sound of a crackling fire.

What incredible bliss. And what a beautiful gift is this weekend, this time and this gorgeous space. I am grateful for it all, including the thing I didn’t know I would enjoy so much. I am smiling about the unexpected gift of the fireplace. I am unplugged, and undone.